The connotations of incest in 'Grasmere' are greater than its musical element. It seems to me that the different abilities of children in a family are difficult to reconcile, divisive even. (I've written a story about this called Mutual Friend, recently published in Prole magazine. Two siblings, one a 'worker' the other an academic, are unconsciously switching roles late in life and dealing in their different ways with the amnesia of their father.) 'Grasmere' ia about a lot of things I don't really understand. I've stayed in the place a lot. The incest thing and the idea of a waning prodigy perhaps suggests the Wordsworths. Who knows? Writers don't know. I enjoyed writing about the wild ducks on the lake.
I'd give up everything, even writing, to be able to play the piano well and professionally. My idea of a musical hero is a jazz pianist who can sit down at a piano and launch into Love for Sale without knowing how it's going to turn out. The old tunes are the best. I'd even put up with deprivations.
VG: I loved the story 'Mrs Kuroda on Penyfan', particularly, although it is hard to pick ones I like out of a strong collection I enjoyed so much. Congratulations on the prize it won. I can quite see why. Can you say something about this story and its inspiration? And also, if you could choose one scene from this story to be painted, which scene would it be, and who would you choose to paint it. (alive or dead...!).
The most pictorial scene depicts the Japanese wives flitting across the yard of a Valleys leisure centre in their kimonos. That might have interested Josef Herman, the Polish artist who lived in Ystradgynlais and immortalised its coalminers.
|'In the Pitt' 1952 Image from Aberystwyth University website|
As someone who can draw and paint after a fashion, I'm as much interested in visual art as in music. I do see a lot of stories in terms of pictures. I also love the questions visual art throws up. There's a linguistic element to it. If a pile of bricks is not 'art', just find an alternative word for what it is. Only a fool would try to hoax the public in this way, and only a foolish brigade - the righteously indignant tabloid Press - would think there was an issue. What right do the red tops have to be indignant?
My theory is that the internet will eventually become mainly a marketplace, which is what it's already very good at, rather than a viable alternative to print culture.
Who's carrying the baton for the story in Wales? No-one. Three websites have recently accepted work from me. I don't know whether to leap about or cry into a Kleenex. I know one thing: Funderland is here in my hand with all its faults and finery. Barring flood and fire, I'll be able to pass it on.
VG: Some of your lines are so quotable - saying a lot in few words. Eg: "the... evasive way we diminish madness by calling it eccentricity" "the difference between love and the memory of love" and there are many more in that story - 'Nomad' - which seems to hold a particular resonance. Can you talk about that one?
I've been criticised for allowing some of my characters to speak 'out of their class'. I don't do 'class' in that sense. If someone hasn't the vocabulary and the phraseology, I provide it. It's my duty to provide it. It's a writer's duty to provide it. Will Self said he wan't interested in character and therefore not interested in the questions of hypergamous or hypogamous speech. I know what he meant. Do we despise Swift because he was similarly uninterested? I've read enough accounts of the lower orders and their corny vernacular.
Families in my stories might be divided, or heading for division, but I'd prefer them to be happy - adventurous, loving, creative, un-repressed, undivided and happy. The odd affair on the way does make life interesting. So that's adventurous, loving, creative, un-repressed, undivided, happy - and broadminded. I think I jest.
Thank you Nigel, for a very interesting interview. Lots of good luck with both Funderland and the forthcoming poetry collection.