Discover more from Nerina Pallot
How Naive I Have Been
Poems, hot boys, the economy and art.
Hello Dear Reader
What I am about to do might strike some of you as the height of laziness. It is not. I just feel that we could all benefit from more poetry in our lives - not mine, mine is dreadful apart from a poem I wrote once to impress a hot boy who turned out not to like ladies - but a poem by Sierra DeMulder I came across recently. It appeared serendipitously on a day when I went up to my studio, switched everything on and then heard my little self saboteur voice pipe up not today, sunshine. Not any day. There is enough music in the world and it doesn’t need anything more from you, lady!
Then I did what I usually do in these situations which is to go on Google and type in one or all of the following search terms:
“how to write a song”
“how to write”
“what time is too early in the day for a nap”
“why even bother”
Usually when my smartphone wants me to know it’s secretly listening to my inner thoughts, I get an advert from Wish for a portable peeing device. This day however, the following poem appeared from out of nowhere.
How Naive I Have Been
Our midwife told us to have
a song ready to sing just in case
our daughter needs resuscitation
after birth. A song to call her in
while they work the physical:
the new and hesitant muscle, lungs
delicate as orchids. She said
it should be a song our baby knows,
heard before from inside
the softened bower,
sifted through skin like sunlight
sinking to the bottom of a pond.
How naive I have been—the many
times I have said, art saves lives
and never meant like this.
Sometimes I think we have been disenfranchised from our artistic birthright. Art is so often a heavy word now - something removed, something other, something beyond mere mortals. It has systematically been made abstract to the point where just saying the word makes some of us snigger. And that is a great tragedy because the art that means something to us can be as useful as medicine, for it is the soul’s medicine.
It matters not how small or humble the art we make or the art we love. It is what it does for us that counts.
So for those of us who make work that we hope on a good day could be artistic and on one of those very rare amazing days could just about be art, it pays to remember that the end result stands outside of ourselves. The moment we make it, it is no longer ours - it is of the world, for the world. And the good stuff can indeed save lives.
It is also a duty and a privilege just to attempt to make it.
There are so many things in life we see as adjunct to existence, or extracurricular from the shoulder to the wheel every day real stuff. We rob ourselves a little as a result. Art is your loving friend. It is the dream of a room in your home you didn’t know was there. It is not the preserve of stern faced, black clad folk with severe haircuts who carve it up into high and low. It could never be that pedestrian.
Faced with a world that is currently a binfire, I don’t think art has ever mattered more. Only a few moments ago I was having a civilised discussion on Twitter - astonishingly, this is still possible - about which items are used to calculate inflation each month so that we can all be collectively buggered yet again by the Bank of England and their multi millionaire counterparts in government. Gig tickets and computer games were described as luxury items, and I thought, how sad. We are going backwards. We are being told to live within our means by people who have never had to live without a housekeeper or take a Ryanair flight from the Seventh Circle of Hell that is Luton Airport. We are being told to ditch the Netflix subscription. Ditch the nice coffee. Ditch the heating. Ditch the aircon. Ditch the takeaways. Ditch anything fun. Fucking crawl into the corner and feel profligate for ever wanting to do anything other than work and pay tax and bills and for so many, save whatever is left over for a deposit to buy a house by the time you’re fifty. We are paying for a mess we didn’t create and we are being made to feel guilty for wanting just a little pleasure in life.
Don’t you ever, ever feel guilty for just wanting some nice thing, even many nice things. Don’t you ever. I absolutely forbid you. Life is not meant to be forbearance and hair shirts and we’re all in this misery together, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Fun and joy and art are not luxuries - they are reasons for getting up of a morning. They are your birthright.
So this is where I part company from my birthday brother, that cheery japester Wittgenstein who said ‘I don’t know why we exist but I’m pretty sure it’s not to have fun’. (I paraphrase. In a bad German accent. Or was he Austrian?) He really did let the Taurean side down, but I presume he had a lot of Scorpio in his chart, and they really are a fatalistic bunch.
This evening I shall head into the capital and do my bit to bring some joy if only for a few hours. It is the first show of my summer residency at Zedel in Picadilly and although tonight is sold out there are still some tickets available for the following dates over the summer. Wales, I am delighted to tell you that I shall be playing the Edge Festival in Solva on July 30th - it is in one of the most beautiful parts of the British Isles and I am so looking forward to it.
I have more news to come but this is enough for now. All that remains is for me to command you to:
DO NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR FUN NOW, IN THE PAST OR IN THE FUTURE.
When you are on your death bed, you will not wish you had had less fun.
I send you all love as ever,