Ramon de Something, who gave lectures from an elephant

I have a confession. In considering ever more desperate ways to save my finances, it did occur to me recently that once I’ve moved I could make money by being one of those artist’s models, i.e. sitting around in the nude in some draughty art-school studio. Maybe, I told myself, just maybe, you’ve now got so old that you wouldn’t be self-conscious…. And apparently it’s quite good money.

Countering that, there was the memory of my ex-husband, who went to two art schools in the sixties (maybe the fifties, even – he was so much older than me I kind of lost track of his timeline) laughingly recalling the hideous naked old men and ladies he and his fellow students had been provided with – though of course, the more hideous the better, in a way. The lumpy, ugly ones, he said, were more interesting. He told me one story of an elderly gentleman who often fell asleep, mid-pose. There was a notice up, something like:

SILENCE PLEASE, WHILE THE MODEL IS POSING

And of course, somebody altered the ‘p’ to a ‘d’. Anyway, irrelevant. Maybe…

But why I started this post, when I hadn’t planned to post at all today – let alone confess my bizarre naked ambitions, which will no doubt horrify Rose and Daisy – is to share with my readership a small triumph.

Today has not been a good day, generally. My days are rarely good nowadays. I awoke with the same little worm of pain on the right side of my head that I had been dozing fitfully with all night, in between rolls of thunder, flashes of lightning and torrential downpours. In the middle of the night also a great stack of packed cardboard boxes fell over at the far end of my bedroom, burst open on the carpet and all the books inside spilled out. That’s what comes of using cheap boxes, and boxes too big for the weight inside. I kicked them out of the way and tried to get back to sleep, but couldn’t. Outside, thunder and lightning; inside, a floor-full of battered old paperbacks, the accumulated heat of a thundery summer night and three or four hot, furiously scratching cats.

In the end, I got up, and in the process noticed that one of the tumbled books happened to be The Colour of Saying, an anthology of verse spoken by Dylan Thomas.

Which reminded me this poem I’ve been looking for. Since 1974. All I could remember was it was about a Spanish gentleman who collected broken chairs. I knew there was a lamppost in it, and it was something to do with Dylan Thomas.

I don’t give up, folks. To be more accurate, I can’t give up. Once I decide I must look for something, particularly a poem, I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life fretting about it. So I sat downstairs, too hot, with a headache, and a thunderstorm raging outside trying to resist the cats’ demands for breakfast at 3 in the morning. Idly leafing through this book – there it was – the missing poem.

It’s a strange poem but I thought I would copy it out since I happened to mention it in comments beneath a post called The poetry is in the pity and unintentionally corralled others in the search:

I think the appropriate reaction might be a ‘Woot!’

MYTHOLOGY by Lawrence Durrell

ALL my favourite characters have been

Out of all pattern and proportion:

Some living in villas by railways,

Some like Katsimbalis heard but seldom seen,

And others in banks whose sunless hands

Moved like great rats on ledgers.

 

Tibble, Gondril, Purvis, the Duke of Puke,

Shatterblossom and Dude Bowdler

Who swelled up in Jaffa and became a tree:

Hollis who had wives killed under him like horses

And that man of destiny,

Ramon de Something who gave lectures

From an elephant founded a society

To protect the inanimate from cruelty.

He gave asylum to aged chairs in his home,

Lampposts and crockery, everything that

Seemed to him suffering he took in

Without mockery.

 

The poetry was in the pity. No judgment

Disturbs people like these in their frames

O men of the Marmion class, sons of the free.

(Featured Image: blind monks examining an elephant)

3 thoughts on “Ramon de Something, who gave lectures from an elephant

    1. I think I know which scene you mean. Read the book, though a long time ago. Were watching that nude posing scene on TV in 1975 when two gay friends arrived unexpectedly. I knew, husband in denial at that point.

      Somehow or other we couldn’t turn it off and all just stood there attempting to converse but riveted to the screen, for different reasons. Strange mix of embarrassing and funny. After that they wrote Ex a long letter in green ink, explaining, though by then it wasn’t necessary, and all went on as before. Must watch it again in YouTube.

      Liked by 1 person

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