"Whatever you dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it" ... Goethe must have sustained more people than Prozac and porridge oats. I think of that quote again as Annie Lionnet gives me a wonderful tarot reading. Annie's new in Frome and keen to contribute to the artistic community of the town, so on Tuesday I talk her into the Frome Creative Network, a project to attract future arts funding. In the meantime, once the steering committee has volunteered itself, we adjourn to the Crown to continue networking.
Emily and I visit Radstock on Wednesday, travelling rather perversely by bus to get the full flavour of community life. Only nine miles away yet such a different ambience: if Frome has ragamuffin glitz, Radstock seems dressed in serviceable grey. Maybe it's the predominance of Victorian municipal architecture upholding solid protestant values - the town centre is a giant Co-op - but there seemed to be a slight sense of Life-on-Mars (the TV series not the planet) about the streets and shops, styles and products. The museum provides fascinating insight, as well as cups of tea.
Radstock museum is a treasure trove of local history, especially the story of the coal mines - the last only closing in 1974 - and recreates the tough reality of the miners' daily life as well as the pit disasters and strikes. And the camaraderie that must have been the best part: men who worked together played together too, in quoit-throwing contests, pigeon races, choirs and bands, and supported each other in Friendly Societies.
It's the individual names and specific details - photographs, tally disks, certificates of 'conspicuous bravery', lists of the dead - which make this rummage through the past so powerful and poignant - realising that Amos Dando was 12 when he died in the Wellsway Pit Disaster on 8th November 1839.
In the exhibition of wildlife imagery by eco-poet Helen Moore upstairs, we find here too it's the detail, not the didactic, which illuminates. "Holcombe Woods 10th May 06. I just love the incredible softness of these new holly leaves..."
Friday night & I'm in London for the World Spirit poetry anthology launch, in Kentish Town to be exact, at the Torriano Meeting House which has a strong link with poetry readings since the 1960, when irascible poets were apparently banned from drinking locally for fear of fights. No squabbles tonight, just a chance to reconnect with good friends and meet some new ones, and to hear some fantastic poetry.
I loved Kate Newmann's tribute to her father's freezer with its ice-marble gooseberries and white silence, and the story of Oscar Wilde's trial, 'wit ebbing from his soliquy'... marvellous, and moving.
Much more to enjoy too - including the party afterwards, so thanks to Stewart & everyone who put on a show. And to Tamar, my sleep-over pal, great poet & tutor, and great company.
Long posting for a long week, which ended in Bath with the Rondo Theatre Company's production of "Mrs Warren's Profession" with friends followed by late supper (& animated debate as to whether better direction could have shown impact and warmth in Shaw's script rather than a laboured finger-wagging tract) and on Sunday Widcombe Studios open house with an amazing 10x10 Bid or Buy project - on till 9th December, check it out if you fancy acquiring great contemporary art & supporting the studios in one on-line bid.
PS Irony deficiency corner: In the week when BLIAR has decided to apologise for suffering caused not by himself but by other people (ie slave traders, in an earlier era with different values) can I take this opportunity to claim, through a similar process of irrational osmosis, some of the credit for achievements of the past? The visual lyricism of the Romantic poets, perhaps, & I’d like a bit of kudos for Wilde’s witty one-liners too.. surely more fun than an obsequious request for forgiveness - and less cynical if equally insincere.