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Effie poster small.jpg

Okay, so the poem below shows that I would have been much happier

going to see the film based on the Ruskin/ Millais/ Effie relationships

rather than mooning over Magic in the Moonlight, an anodyne feel-good

fantasy.  I haven’t seen Emma Thompson’s latest script, but it surely

must have more psychological depth to it than the Chantilly froth which

curdled any baristic attempt to recreate the creamy caffeine reference to

the era of You’re the Tops.  Incidentally, the film opens with an illusionist

show set in 1928, which was the year that Hold Everything!- the musical

whose most famous list song I have just referenced was first staged on


I have thought about writing some satirical lyrics: You’re the Pits!

John McEnroe could sing them.

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Anyway, here’s something for those interested in a psychological

study of neurosis and sexual repression.  You can listen to a man

talking to himself.  Imagine the horror he would have

experienced had he found a hair in his bath!


They thought I was in contemplative mood

when I gazed at those lichens and bubbles.

In fact, non-consummation makes one brood.

Damned rain exacerbated our troubles.

Effie assiduously sewed red cloth,

her hair crowned with a garland of foxgloves,

while Everett circled her like a moth,

the pair of them billing like turtle doves.

You’d look like a hyena if your wife

was trailing around the Trossachs like that.

You’d feel that you could take a palette knife

to the one against whom she leant and sat

for hours, reading Dante, while he drew.

And, having him cooped up in that snuff box,

tickling her with fern- as if I misconstrue.

His doodles made me uncomfortable.

He’d come in damp from studying these rocks,

clutching his oils, sepia ink, sable

brushes, teasing her, calling her Countess.

She even trimmed his hair for him one night,

collecting the blonde curls on The Witness,

some Edinburgh newspaper, not quite

read by William, or myself.  And his hand

was bandaged because the fool had injured

it, trying to make unstable stones stand

in the stream, for her to cross.  I’d endured

enough by then.  I watched the salmon leap

in Glenfinlas waterfall and pondered

what was being sown and what would be reaped.

They played battledore in the barn, wandered

the moors and bogs.  He said chilly mountains

made him love soft, warm breathing bodies and

all the while it incessantly rained- rains!

Do they think because they are in Scotland

the normal marriage vows do not apply;

that they can shelter under a shared plaid

and return soaking with another lie?

The bubbles have all burst, I’m afraid.

I stand in the midst of this turbulence.

Passions, torrent roars: I counter silence.