I recall sitting in a carriage on the London Underground -don’t ask which line – staring into my hands and recalling the kaleidoscope I had as a child. I have never found another like it. The pieces moved. At the slightest movement, one pattern shattered, while another came into entrancing being. No pattern ever repeated (unlike all kaleidoscopes seen since). I would hold my breath, enthralled by the beauty, trying so hard not to breathe it into disappearance, never to be repeated no matter how much effort and wishing went into attempting a repeat.
Looking into my hands, with the almost matching lines upon my palms, it dawned that each fragment represents the fractions of a whole within each of us.; common to us in content, but unique in the internal arrangements as mirrored within and viewed by another.
To me, the fantastic feeling of the night before, still leaving me mind-blown, occurred when reading and having the sensation of stepping from behind to share, for a moment, the author’s mind and thus seeing the world from another’s perspective. Sharing insight and such a gift when written for all to read and some to experience.
I had already written a couple of poems from within the space of a doomed marriage, but these were a way of working through my feelings and problems. They were not intended to relate in any meaningful way to anyone else.
I returned to my bed-sit in Frognal Lane, Hampstead, and wrote the poem to thank the giver of so much sexual pleasure which had blown me apart. As with most, if not all, of my poems, it was written without a title.
Several months later, at his request, I handed Patrick Wymark a handful of my poems over the counter at the Sir Richard Steele’s where I was a barmaid. Patrick said he may as well read the work of a living, rather than dead. poet during an upcoming event. A while later a barman mentioned Patrick was reading poetic the Old Vic the following evening. I took the night off and went to the Old Vic theatre not knowing whether he had chosen any of my poems. I knew it would not be the one about the bush orchids as he commented the note made at the end of the poem was more poetic than the poem itself.
The theme for the evening was ‘Love and Death’. Apart from one actress reading a love poem, the only other living poet that evening was Ted Hughes. I can’t recall his contribution. But the last reader before the interval was Patrick Wymark. He read Donne’s Ecstasy then said. ‘The next poem I am about to read, believe it or not, was written by a young Australian barmaid at my local pub.’ With no title, he read that which I now call If I Could Spin then moved onto Blake’s Tyger.
At the interval I heard a couple remark on the beauty of the poem. I thanked them for the words and scooted backstage to thank Patrick. Already with Patrick was the Mirror’s sports photographer. I am sitting here with a mental blank after 52 years. I would have mentioned his name within ‘Life Before Lithium’ and I could do without the distraction of trying to recall his name just now. Suffice that he arranged for the three of us to head off to the pub to have taken the photograph published the next day on the sports page. A first for an actor and a poet?
Someone came up with the title. Love which is where it stayed until I found myself in need of a title for a collection of poetry very much later. (2011). But in the meantime it was recognised as a love poem or, more succinctly put: fucking fantastic or was it fantastic fucking?