Strange thick wisping clouds behind St John's this evening when I finished teaching, changing the landscape into something more like - well, I'd say the Yorkshire moors, apart from the foliage. Today, in class, was Englishness, and icons of Englishness, and then a whole range of poetry from Penshurst to Ted Hughes via Gray and Goldsmith and Betjeman - I've somehow gone through life without discussing "Pike," so today was the day. The "icons" that people brought along were the usual predictable suspects - a red phone booth (not the actually pee-smelling artifact, of course), and the Beatles, and Downton Abbey, and a guardsman in his bearskin, and lots of cups of tea (cue for me to play John Agard's Alternative National Anthem). And then I upturned the stereotypes by showing a recent Simon Armitage interview about poetry and violence and the national (bleak) mood, and we lightened things up a little with Carol Ann Duffy's "John Barleycorn" as a lament for the traditional English pub/encapsulation of history through pub names, which wasn't, come to think of it, very cheerful, at all. Jackie Kay et al's Out of Bounds anthology of black and Asian poetry should do some more challenging on Wednesday.
My offering for the day (didn't have time to do the cooking I'd planned - that'll have to be for Thursday, too - was the weather, since it was, during class, pouring.