Gruff is 2! At the moment he’s completely obsessed with the TV show Octonauts and the ocean, so his favourite presents were a toy orca, white shark and manta ray, which he has been swishing around the house all week. For his birthday I took him to London Sea Life, which is weirdly in a leaky ex-county hall, with dank narrow corridors and empty vending machines, but the shark tank was pretty cool. We just stared at it for over an hour. The graceful rays soaring overhead and the giant turtle.
A two-year old’s curiosity about the world is very inspiring. He can’t even say his own name, but can recognise tiger sharks, bull sharks and whale sharks, and name five types of whale (Orca, Minke, Humpback, Bowhead, Sperm). He’s discovered my reef-guides (I’m an avid snorkeller) and we’ve been looking at them every morning, trying to find Nemo and eels and an octopus. I’ve found myself enchanted by the names: muddy argonaut, mourning cuttlefish, moonsnail, kimono, obscure damsel… I’ve ended up getting two poems out of it, one about the Red Sea and one about Jonah. And I reread Robert Lowell’s great aquarium poem For the Union Dead this morning, thinking of Gruff (‘Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass; / my hand tingled / to burst the bubbles / drifting from the noses of the cowed, compliant fish’)
Also inspirational was Patti Smith performing Horses at Field Day this Sunday, with her wild straggle of grey hair and jacket sliding off her shoulders, completely rocking. Is ‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine’ the best opening line for an album ever? (And talking of horses, hope to see some of you at the Dark Horse launch in London this Friday)