forgive me, my dear —
but this year, for your birthday
I shall marry you

I dreamed last night of Barbara Windsor. In the dream, her age was under discussion. It transpired, to my surprise, she was about 61 or 62: and I realised this meant she was only a couple of years older than me. It was mid-afternoon by the time I came to write a poem about my dream, and I had on my mind the problem of what to get my partner Liz for her birthday. She will be sixty in July. When I was fifty in 2006, she surprised me by making a big fuss of this particular birthday. That is, she met me from work and presented me with no less than 3 birthday gifts: a wallet, a watch and a ring. The ring in particular was incredibly moving for me to receive from her. I have worn it ever since. Maybe therefore it was inevitable that I would think eventually of marrying her as a sixtieth birthday present. But the name Windsor also had something to do with it. I’m not sure if the connection is obvious, between marriage and monarchy. They are both incredibly rich institutions at the symbolic level, where the boundary between the archetypal and the everyday tends to break down.


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