Pilgrimpace's Blog


… and yet there was an honesty about him …
March 29, 2011, 2:26 pm
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Really excellent play this afternoon ‘The Spellbound Horses’ by Julia Blackburn about her father Thomas Blackburn.  From the website:

Julia’s father was the poet Thomas Blackburn. He was an alcoholic before he became a poet, but in spite of his drunken rages, his erratic behaviour and his crazy obsession with death, she always knew he loved her.

She learnt the transforming power of words from him, and she clung to them, a life raft in a stormy sea. ‘Find the metaphor, darling!’ he’d say, ‘and when you’ve got that, you’re on the way towards facing whatever it is that needs to be faced!’

Julia is older now than her father ever became, and here is her son Daniel, about to get married. She worries about the impression she has given Daniel of his grandfather. There are no aunts or uncles to give a different twist on Thomas’ life so it has all come from her: stories of bad behaviour and drunken excess, told to make Daniel laugh with disbelief but not to bring him closer to the man who was his grandfather.

And what has Daniel inherited as well as that lanky body and those bushy eyebrows? Could there be a locked box of trouble somewhere inside him, a smouldering present from the past?

A work of mesmerising delicacy from the winner of the Pen Ackerley prize for memoir 2009.

Listen again here.

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