Monday, August 28, 2006


Well, the Notting Hill Carnival weekend has rolled around again. I'm not going this year, but I have very clear memories of the festival in 1998. It must have been one of the first times that Raybs came with us when we went out. I remember that I had to lift him onto my shoulders so that he could see the floats over the heads of the crowd. He was so small back then that I could put my hands under his armpits and swing him up on one easy movement. I thought of it often in the years since then as he grew to tower over me, and the idea that I could ever have hurled him around like that seemed more remote and ridiculous.

I took him to school every day for a long time and now I don't even get a reply when I call and leave a message asking how he did in his GCSEs. Can that be right?

I'm surprised how much I expose writing here, I'd probably never reveal the sentiments above in a conversation in a million years.

As a betrayer of my own soul however, I am still a beginner compared to Robert Hughes, I couldn't believe it when I read this lacerating piece last week. Graham Greene spoke of a "sliver of ice" that a writer needed in his heart and Alfred North Whitehead said that "art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern". When you consider the bombshell that Hughes drops about his son in the penultimate paragraph and the fact that this must have been a clear eyed structural decisison intended to maximise the impact of the writing, you have to wonder if the game is worth the candle.

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

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