Me and Edith Sitwell

It was just a name I’d heard, the way you do. One of The Pancakes turned me on to her, as we used to say, when it didn’t mean that.

“You should hear her stuff on You Tube.  It’s like the stuff you do.”

edith sitwell
“Apparently my stuff’s like Carl Bennett’s.”

Hmm. I’m not sure Still Falls The Rain is anything like the stuff I do, frankly. I can feel the pain in it. I can’t go along with the thing that says ‘my invisible friend says somehow all this is alright.’ Mrs Miniver I can handle. Mrs Masochist not so much.

I thought maybe she had something to do with the Mitfords and all the rest of those semi-mythical people the British idolise primarily because they’re rich, have dysfunctional families and usually have something wrong with them. It’s our national obsession, that and living in the kind of stone house that points to slavery or tobacco. Of course,  if you want the really biggest, most absolutely Yah kind of house, sorry, hise, you have to kill lots of foreigners. Absolutely loads of them if you want something like Blenheim Palace. Apparently the Duke of Marlborough went off to war, his wife built the house (and yes, me too. I’d really, really like to have seen her with a hod full of bricks over her shoulder, or having a sausage sarnie while she read Ye Sunne, wiping the brown sauce off her hands on the leg of her jeans) and he shagged her in his riding boots when he got back. Although why she was wearing his riding boots instead of her own was never made clear.

But anyway, Edith Sitwell ticked all the boxes. Allegedly. A hundred and one years on and we seem to have a lot in common. “Sitwell published poetry, some of it abstract and set to music. With her dramatic style and exotic costumes, she was sometimes labelled a poseur, but her work was also praised.”

My step-sister lived around the corner from where Edith lived, admittedly at a different time, so another tenuous link there, I think you’d have to agree. Apart from the rich thing. I’ve never had the knack. Like all True Brits, nor did Edith Sitwell. She inherited it.  Oldest child and only daughter of a baronet who was fantastically “an expert on genealogy and landscaping,” two of the most irrelevant things you could ever aspire to be an expert in. Her titled mother claimed descent from the Plantagenets, but rather more medieval money seemed to have come with her ladyship than attached itself to  a friend of mine who grew up in Farnborough who equally claims descent from them.

Edith ticked the dysfunctional family box pretty well, being locked into a metal cage to straighten her spine, which she doubted was ever bent in the first place. She could probably knuckle-bump Eminem too, whose mother pretended he had something wrong with him other than just hating her, something any normal male teenager is supposed to do anyway. Unlike Eminem’s mum and rather to his disappointment, obviously, she ended up in a wheelchair with Marfan Syndrome and died of a brain haemorrhage

So me, Edith Sitwell and Eminem. We’ve got a lot in common. Maybe that’s why the comment I hear about my stuff is it’s good. You do know it’s insane, don’t you. But it’s good. And I can live with that. Unlike Poetry Voice.

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