Monday, November 11, 2019

Autumn leaves, historic memories, and goblins

A historical thread runs through this post as last week ended with a splendid tour of the town's trees, historically spanning over 300 years from ancient oaks to self-renewing saplings in recovery from elm disease, as arborist & enthusiast Julian Hight led a Heritage Tree Walk during the weekend of walks organised by the Town Council. A sizeable troop of dendrophiles enjoyed the romp through Rodden Meadow's ancient Selwood Forest veterans, and into the heart of town where Thomas Bunn's Cedar of Lebanon is still thriving despite his grumpy diary entry in 1843 "Today I observed that this beautiful tree was despoiled of several of its spreading branches – my mortifications of this kind are so numerous that I will not attempt to recount them."
Unfortunately this was another of those weekends when Frome offers an exuberance of options, like a mast of trees shedding nuts to excess, and the Heritage Tree and the Awful Killing of Sarah Watts walks both ran concurrently with Frome Multicultural Day so I can't report on this - last year's one was wonderful.
Still on a historical theme, last Monday was the launch of a plaque sponsored by the Frome Society for Local Study in honour of John Webb Singer, the foundry manager who oversaw the making of many of the world's iconic sculptures, statues and monuments: it's said if you stand on the Embankment in London you're surrounded on all sides by works forged in Frome.  Historical researcher Sue Bucklow, who was aided by hundreds of photographs on glass slides rescued in the 1970s, is the driving force behind a long-delayed placement of J.W. in Frome's public history, with trails around town and displays at the museum: 'You can't overestimate his importance' she says, and certainly he's more deserving of a plaque than the actress playing James Bond's Miss Moneypenny who was thus honoured in 2017.

Moving on to words:  A writing-group trip to Novel Nights in Bath on Wednesday revealed the Three Pillars of Writing Bliss according to author Tim ClareBurdall's Yard is a delightful venue, combining boho atmosphere, great stage lighting, and student bar prices - the perfect combo for a night out - and Grace Palmer & Colette Hill, who organise these writer-support events, have a good formula: three short readings from local writers, plus a feature talk. Tim offered us GUTACHE: his 'Grand Unified Theory of Achieving Creative Happiness Easily' - far more stimulating than HYGGE. Lots of his tips were ways to simply free up, outrun your self-critic, and find your characters with Proust's Questionnaire.

Another focus on writing on Saturday, this time for a session with a group who met each other nine years ago, in The Grange on the Isle of Wight, and  have continued to meet for a writing session twice a year ever since. It's always enjoyable joining this group for a catch-up and this time discussions ranged from Extinction Rebellion (Chris & Mike have both been involved) to classic TV comedies and why they're timeless, with writing exercises  and much coffee courtesy of the Abbey Hotel in Cheltenham.

So what with one thing and another, this week's report is light on music though I did get to the Three Horseshoes in Bradford-on-Avon on Sunday to hear the fabulous Backwood Redeemers - great energy and dark humour. The lighting was also energetic and dark - not image-friendly but evocative for mood and dancing...
Let's end with goblins, courtesy of Mutartis Boswell and Ann Harrison-Broninski's Goblin Shop at Three Swans on Friday, all kinds of sensual goblinalia - painting,  badges, books, weird sucky sweets, and a handy pocket guide to Goblins illustrated in full colour, with useful insights: The goblin kingdom is ruled harshly. It is not a democratic world - and yet the goblin, as an individual, is an anarchist. They also love poetry...
Have a good week, and may your goblin go with you.

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