Thursday 24 October 2019

Wandering in Worcester

For no reason other than that we'd never been, Mr T and I have just spent a couple of days in Worcester. It's less than two hours away, but it was far enough from home to give us the chance to explore somewhere new and recharge our batteries.

Any town or city with a river always offers the opportunity for lovely walks, and Worcester is now exception. There is a huge project going on to rewild part of the Severn that should bring back flora and fauna, fish and fowl, which can only be a good thing. There were lots of people about enjoying the autumn sunshine.

The centre is very pleasant. Despite the inevitable proliferation of chain shops, there is still a lot of lovely architecture to admire and on the day we were there a fabulous market was in full swing. There was also a craft fair in the Guildhall, where I won a bright yellow brolly on a charity tombola. The real reason to go in, though, was that from the street we could see some fantastic chandeliers through an upstairs window. They did not disappoint up close.

Of course, we had to go to the cathedral; it would be rude not to. Not wishing to offend the good people of Worcester, but while it was a fine  example it was nothing special. There was, though, an array of wooden carvings of 20th-century icons. The one of Mother Theresa had the accompanying text:

'Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.'

Sad, then, that my overriding impression of Worcester was that there is a huge number of rough sleepers curled up in doorways.

Our trip finished, somewhat inevitably, with a visit to a National Trust property: The Firs, which is a museum in honour of Edward Elgar. It's a lovely cottage, but very small, and it's the place he lived for only the first two years of his life. The chap on the door told us that Elgar was very fond of the place, however, and wanted it to be the house where he should be remembered, should such a thing be thought appropriate.

In the little garden, there is a bronze of the man himself, sitting on a bench and looking out to the Malvern Hills. I sat with him for a while and enjoyed the view.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Announcing the launch of 'A Sparge Bag on the Washing Line'

Finally, I have a publication date: 30 October. If you happen to be in Kettering at 6.30pm on that day, please pop along to the Arts Centre and help me celebrate.

What's it about? This is the back cover blurb:

I’m sitting at my computer, but can hear the food mixer going, which is encouraging. Then Clive comes in to the office, rummages in his desk and retrieves a pair of pliers. I’ve been known to take a chisel to my pastry, but I’m disconcerted as to why he should resort to such desperate measures. He returns the tool a few minutes later and says simply, ‘Sorted.’ I decide it’s best not to ask.

When her husband retires, Julia Thorley starts to keep a diary for her own amusement. She doesn’t tell Clive, in case he starts to do daft things on purpose. She needn’t have worried.
This is the record of that first year, a period of transition for both of them, bringing laughter, irritation, frustration and negotiation as they find a new way to live together.

Thank heaven for the allotment.

Copies will be available on the night, but if you can't make it you can order one from the publisher or, of course, direct from me.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Is this what democracy looks this?

I sat in tears last night watching a live stream on Facebook from Trafalgar Square. Whatever your views on the climate emergency and the actions of Extinction Rebellion, these scenes were horrific. Pictures of the police moving in to evict a lawful assembly, under cover of darkness, throwing away people's personal belongings and all this with only half an hour's notice made my blood run cold.

I was in London over the weekend. Despite the passion of the XR protest, it has been a peaceful event in line with the organisation's pledge to take part only in non-violent direct action. Last night, there was no shouting or screaming. Even while they were being moved on, rebels were working round the square cleaning up rubbish.

This morning I am sad, but I am also proud to have played a very small part in the action. I am not brave enough to stand and be arrested, but I'm grateful to those who are.

Love and rage.