Having pre-arranged a place and time with him, Jonathan Davidson surreptitiously passes me a copy of his new book.
I imagined its brown paper wrapper, it turns out.
Money exchanges hands
I scarper before he changes his mind …
I don’t know if you have read Jonathan’s Smith/ Doorstop 2011 collection EARLY TRAIN ? It is one of my favourites that I return to over and over – but its author, in my mind, has surpassed himself with this newest gem.
Apparently, Humfrey Coningsby, lord of the manor of Neen Sollars in South Shropshire walked out of this world on 10th October 1610. This isn’t the first time he’s gone missing – after all a neighbour reports
I lent him a small horse to take him
to the other side of the valley to see
a man about a dog. He was gone four years;”
and as Jonathan himself comments – people are still going missing, all over the world, on a daily basis. The remarkable part about this story is that Humfrey Coningsby walks back, four hundred years later – and has found time in Jonathan Davidson’s very busy diary to get him to write down his poems, complaints, explanations and demands for satisfaction without straying from Humfrey’s voice at any juncture…
This is, of course, absolutely beautifully written, not a word out of place – lines to linger on, to make you salivate, and guffaw. This – for me – reminds me of Terry Gilliam films – or the poem below – that I first came across in “101 Sonnets” – edited by Don Paterson. For some reason I never forgot it… and I won’t ever forget Humfrey Coningsby !!
If you get a chance to meet Jonathan Davidson on a street corner, a railway platform – or – if you venture out of West Midlands – even at a poetry reading – I urge you to grab him by the collar and demand a copy of your own…
or… Published by Valley Press… This can be bought at http://www.valleypressuk.com/books/humfreyconingsby/ for £6.99
Humfrey Coningsby’s story is the subject of a BBC Radio Four Afternoon Drama, also written by Jonathan Davidson – broadcast date : 24th June 2015
and here’s the sonnet I mentioned – I can’t find my copy of 101 sonnets right now so this is a version I found on the internet – This is NOT penned by Jonathan Davidson – but gives you a flavour of his book (in my opinion) – without giving it all away to you … and is worth a read I think?
A sonnet by John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester (sixteenth century I think)
I rise at eleven, I dine about two,
Get drunk before seven, and the next thing I do,
I send for my whore, when for fear of the clap,
I spend in her hand and I spew in her lap;
Then we quarrel and scold, till I fall fast asleep,
When the bitch growing bold, to my pocket does creep.
Then slyly she leaves me, to revenge the affront,
At once she bereaves me of money and cunt.
If by chance when I wake, hot-headed and drunk,
What a coil do I make for the loss of my punk
I storm, and I roar, and I fall in a rage.
And missing my whore, I bugger my page.
Then crop-sick all morning I rail at my men,
And in bed I lie yawning till eleven again.