Body odour and love poems (for lesbians)

“…Was it then I bought a peach?
That’s as I remember.
From a stall near Charing Cross Station.
It was the first peach I had ever tasted.
I could hardly believe how delicious.
At twenty-five I was dumbfounded afresh
By my ignorance of the simplest things…”
TH

I’m ever so slightly in awe of people with the ability to write things like that. I’m a relatively recent convert to Ted Hughes, having spent most of my adolescence obsessively absorbing Slyvia Plath’s contorted pearls of angst-ridden wisdom. Like any other self-respecting well-read lezzer. Now I feel like I am learning the other side of the story, and very interesting it is too.

Re-reading Ariel umpteen times without dipping into Hughes’ Birthday Letters made it all too easy to assume that poor Slyvia was royally shitted on by a two-timing love rat, end of story. Now I have a little more time for old Ted and dare I say it, am even sympathising a little with his cause. If nothing else I genuinely believe he fell off his chair when he met her and that counts for something, doesn’t it?

“…On a bombsite becoming a building site
We clutched each other giddily

For safety and went in a barrel together
Over some Niagara falling…”
TH

Everyone should know that barrel racing is a dangerous sport and falling long distances is not advisable if you value your kneecaps. And if you’re not prepared for the undesirable side-effects of both of the above, should you have a less than smooth landing, it’s going to be uncomfortable, if not excrutiatingly painful. Poor Ted. Poor Sylvia. And poor anyone else who’s barrel has split, whether it’s through no fault of their own or otherwise. Ahem.

Anyway, onto more graceful matters. My recent regular trips to the Tate Britain on my work lunch breaks have afforded me the opportunity to absorb the marvellous neoclassical sculpture on display in the great hall of the gallery. In particular Antonio Canova’s Three Graces which dominates the end of the hall. He knocked this one out (of a large slab of marble) circa. 1815-7 for the Duke of Bedford, following an earlier work of the same theme he did for Napoleon’s one-time wyf Josephine. And very nice it is too. Beauty, joy and elegance, all rolled into three.

After wondering into the hall and chancing upon this exhibition a few weeks ago, I’ve been back numerous times to stare in awe at the superbly lit collection of figurines. It really is good -and that’s coming from somoene who’s not generally a fan of anything that pre-dates colour TV. Ho hum.

And so it was that I found myself choreographing three young ladies into a pose somewhat reminiscent of the aforementioned graces as I art directed a group portrait earlier in the day. Today was Day 2 of my photography course (the one I mentioned I was doing) and yet another gloriously sunny Saturday spent indoors – using studio lighting – Tungsten and flash – to illuminate my fellow course-goers and create square format works of portait-o-graphic art.

It’s fast dawning on me that I’m a natural daylight photographer. I LOVE the sun – thrive off it. So being in a little studio with a pack of sweaty men with intolerable body odour is not cool. In fact it was far too hot for my taste. The resultant photographs had better be worth the pain my olfactory system had to put up with today. The world would be a far better smelling place if testosterone and Lynx body spray didn’t exist.

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