SYDNEY - Sad to hear Clive James has died ... I loved his books.
My Clive story: I got to interview him once a long time ago at his favourite cafe in Circular Quay, and we got on like a house on fire, talking about reading and low carb dieting.
And went on to have more lunches.
At some point he wrote me a poem, a delightful party trick he did to flatter and please people who crossed his path.
This is it….
Dear reader of the great good books,
You with your long and slinky looks,
Your pale blue eyes ---
It's getting late, and I can do
Little but say goodbye to you
As the light dies.
For you it shines like the young spring sun
On the harbour where, our dining done
But not the wine,
We talked an extra hour away
As if the title to the day
Were yours and mine.
We owned the ferries and the gulls,
The yachts that flaunted their sexy hulls
In a puff of breeze.
At our first meeting, all of this
We shared like a protracted kiss,
Weak at the knees.
Or so you subsequently said.
I should pour blessings on your head
For treating me as some kind of romantic threat
Instead of merely not dead yet,
Though soon to be.
Not that I'm sick with anything
Except what age is bound to bring
And love for one
Whose life, when put beside my own ---
Forgive the patronising tone ----
Has barely begun.
But it can hurt, the thought that though
We'll meet again, I'll never know
How your tears taste,
And all the other secret stuff
Of which true lovers get enough ---
Enough to waste.
When I come back, fair-weather friend,
This love affair is at an end.
How did it start?
I'll wait for you in the same place,
Praying that you'll kindly have the grace
To break my heart.
You only have to sadly shake
Your head, and say this big mistake
Was not your style,
And the job's done. To make it stick,
However, here's an extra trick:
Try not to smile.
Do that, and I'll be lost once more,
Dissolving as I did before
In sweet regret.
You didn't see it happen then,
But we can't go through that again ---
So don't forget.
Remember that I'm short of time.
It's not your fault, it's not my crime:
It's just our fate.
Nobody runs, nobody hides
For long from what the clock decides ---
And it's getting late.
- Clive James