Dancing in the Wind: Extract 7: How Like Your Mother You Become


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Dancing in the Wind: The Story So Far

The story opens in 1916. The world is at war, Irish freedom fighters have just staged an armed rebellion in Dublin, and the three characters we first met in Her Secret Rose are deeply unsettled. The world famous poet, WB Yeats, “having come to 50 years” has decided it's time he was married. By coincidence, the love of his life, Maud Gonne, has just been widowed by the 1916 Rising and she is frantic to get to Ireland to join the freedom fighters there. And her daughter, Iseult, now 23 years old and as beautiful as her mother was at that age, longs for love, escape, and artistic achievement.

As three talented mavericks try to redeem their past against a background of escalating war and revolution, can they rise to what they truly need from each other?

Dancing in the Wind: This week's extract: How Like Your Mother You Become

WB is composing. His desk is strewn with tobacco and cigarette papers; a pack of tarot cards. His notebook, open at a belaboured page on which lines have been written, scratched out, rewritten. The title: “Easter 1916″. He fingers the first line, it's not quite right. He hums the lines, “I have met them at end of day/coming with vivid faces…” His pen hovers, is put down, “End…End”?

He scrapes his chair back and gets up to pace, humming and beating out the stresses, his whole body searching for rhyme and rhythm, as he ranges back and forth across the room.

He passes his bookshelves, which display his own books, in various editions, alongside Greek and Roman classics, theosophy and Eastern philosophy, Kabbalah, strange objects d'art that evoke Western magic and mysticism. He passes the Blake print, occult drawings, Aubrey Beardsley's, Salome, and stops before the publicity poster of Maud Gonne, he continues to hum the lines…. Dum dum dah dum da dum da dum…/ I have met them at close of day/…He returns to his desk, scratches out “end”, writes “close”.  “Ha! “Close. Yes”.

In May during the evenings, WB’s study is awash with orange light, angling beams full of dust and mystery on his new wall hangings. A satisfactory effect. For twenty years, he has lived in these rooms. Some months ago, the drunken woman below set fire to her sitting-room, getting herself evicted, and he took over her rooms too and attempted to tie the two together into a space fitting for a man of his age and inclinations. He had the walls scraped and repapered in an effort to remove insect life, and painted the stairs blue and the woodwork a variety of colours. Almost 50 and still the bohemian.

In the pantry, Mrs Old is cleaning about, catching up on work. Outside the window, children are playing, unselfconsciously enjoying the length of the day, the warmth of the sun.  It is one of those moments he so often longs for but so seldom wins, a moment of quiet. Then, to his massive irritation, the doorbell rings.

He sighs, theatrically. Mrs. Olds, his housekeeper, puts her head in. “I’ll get it. Are we in”?

“No”, he replies, “emphatically not”.

Down she treads and from the door comes the sound of voices. Another female. Then four feet treading up the stairs, Mrs Old’s heavy gait dominating. A rap on the door.

“Did I not say…”?

“Well yes, Sir. But… it's Miss Gonne…”

“What? Maud? But the war…”

“No Uncle, not Moura,” says a voice with a strong French accent. “It's been forever since she was Miss Gonne. “It is me.”

Of course, Iseult.

Iseult, sweeping into the room, hair swept up into a pompadour topped with a fashionable fascinator, clothes in full Parisian style.

“Well, there’s a nice surprise,” says Mrs Old.

“My dear, of course.” Willie rubs a hand across his eyes, as though dazzled. “How like your mother you become”.
“Thank you”, says Iseult, pausing theatrically. “I think.”

They share a tinkling laugh, old comrades in childish crime against the mother.

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