I came to writing mysteries through poetry and still think that a well-constructed mystery is very much like a well-constructed sonnet. Both are artificial forms. Both start off in one direction and then, with a twist of the concluding couplet/surprising ending, both reveal that they were headed somewhere different all the time.
Then about 12 years ago it dawned on me that folk music - the music of Woody Guthrie and Phil Ochs, early Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger - could be as heavy as anything that comes through a Marshall stack. The combination of three chords and the right lyrical couplet can be as heavy as anything in the Metallica catalogue.
We have all lived through that shriveling moment when a parent walks into a room and repeats, with sardonic disbelief, a couplet picked up from the stereo or the TV. 'What does that mean, then?' my mother asked me during Top of the Pops. "Get it on / Bang a gong"? How long did it take him to think of that, do you reckon?' And the correct answer - 'Two seconds, and it doesn't matter' - is always beyond you, so you just tell her to shut up, while inside you're hating Marc Bolan for making you like him even though he sings about getting it on and banging gongs.
For the hundredth time tonight, I'm back with Lulu, on Jacques's barge, the improbably named Viola. She'd just toldme the story of double happiness and we were arguing over the meaning. She'd thought it meant the luck of the boy getting the job and the girl. But I'd disagreed. It was the couplet fitting together, the two halves finding each other. It was love. But maybe we were both wrong, and both right. It's not either or, not luck or love. Not fate or will. Maybe for double happiness, you need both.
Great things are done when men and mountains meet; This is not done by jostling in the street. -William Blake This admirable couplet should be posted in conspicuous places all over England. The truth it embodies is threatened by two parties of opinion: on the one hand by those who hold it as a sin against nature to try and control the increase of population in any way and on the other by those who believe in 'growth', the pursuit at all costs of a standard of living which entails more and more industrialization and urbanization. If the believers in nature have their way, England will in the end be so full of people that they will be jostling each other even on mountains: if the believers in 'growth' have their way, the whole country will be covered with streets and we shall hardly be aware that mountains exist.