A new month and a new moon - the Moon of the Long Night. My adoptive home of Frome traditionally greets the solstice season with street festivities and a mass countdown to the ceremonial illumination-switching-on moment. The Extravaganza, as this was magnificently titled, centred around the big tree beside the market cross, with shops staying open late and plying mincepies mulled wine and chocolates as well as their trades. We had carols, bellringers, bands... ah, the good times rolled. Last year, presumably responding to a directive from Brussells, the tree was surrounded by an iron fence Michael Eavis might envied, and local youths naturally rallied to the challenge. So this year there is no tree in the market place. Instead we had a Sunday market in the Cheese & Grain and sporadic santa-related activity in the precinct with sound effects from a radio van and a merry-go-round. Not quite what Strictly judge Len would call a smorgsbord of gorgeousness, but with quaint charm, especially the Christmas fairies dispensing snow from Siberia.
"Christmas decorations are a kind of defiance" Rose Flint suggested in her poetry workshop at the library, "Awareness of the night sky is deep in the human psyche. We're bringing the stars inside, and helping the light to return." We wrote about snow, and glitter, and stars, shaping constellations like gods. Winter glitz for wintry glums.
The Poetry Cafe was crowded for "Difficult Journeys" and we had to clear the window sills when we ran out of room for chairs. The theme's tenuous connection with The Wizard of Oz, the pantomime at the Merlin, was largely ignored by guest poets Rose Flint and Malinda Kennedy and 19 open-mic contributors who opted for more personal interpretations.
It always inspires a sense of privilege when writers share intimate feelings, and there were some glittering gems.
Dianne Penny's beautifully-performed poem was a favourite for me: I never knew I had the right to speak... listen, listen, listen... Paula as theatre director picked out many for special praise and donated prizes, with Linda Perry and Rosie Jackson agreed as worthy winners of the theatre tickets.