Friday, August 07, 2020

Times a'changing: a random mix as doors reopen.

Anyone who's read my novel The Price of Bread set in Belfast at the start of the 1970s, or remembers 'the Troubles' escalating onto UK's mainland, may wonder how such ferocious anger and historic grievance finally abated.  John Hume, primarily, is the answer. Coming from the Bogside, Derry's large Catholic area (which had suffered much during his growing years as the port and the city were deliberately run down to force trade to more Protestant Belfast) he worked consistently for a solution to the age-old divisions in the Northern Irish community. He founded the Social Democrat Labour Party with a commitment to non-violence in 1970, negotiated privately with Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams throughout the next decade, and finally engineered the signing of  Good Friday agreement in 1998, earning him that year's Nobel Peace Prize. He died this week and is rightly mourned as Ireland's Martin Luther King. You can read more about his work here, and his own words here (thanks David Thompson for this).

Meanwhile in the real world, the return to gigging for Frome bands creeps cautiously on. This image is from a great session in the garden of The George at Nunney, led by talented performer, and master of effective non-planning, Paul Kirtley.  Great classic folk/rock songs, great playing & great sound, with conscientious space-awareness from the pub - a very enjoyable evening made even better for me as I walked the 2 miles from Frome through fields of corn as the sun set... sharing that image, too.  

Also in the music category: the excellent indoor self-recordings continue on local musicians' facebook pages - Open Micsolate has a wide variety of individual contributions - and Al OKane has a new single out:  Butterfly Mind is available on Spotify here

Poetry hasn't gone live yet but discussion is in progress, with the Merlin's ECOS amphitheatre a possible venue for our postponed Poetry Cafe open mic evenings.  And the Fromesbury Group writers, founded more than 20 years ago and still meeting monthly, celebrated the new permissions with a reunion in Victoria park on a sultry night last week. Our fourth member was granted leave of absence as she's in Majorca. My personal writing success story this week is in the category of bizarre, with acceptance of my submission to quirky 42 Stories Anthology in response to their call-out for stories written in 42 words with a 42-word biography and a 42 letter title. The collection is due publication when they get enough off-the-wall entries to fulfil their 42-centric requirements - online here, if you fancy entering! And The Price of Bread is now featured in my website, courtesy of designer David Goodman. 
As the world cautiously opens up,  Frome's Westway cinema does so too so in
 a spirit of mingled curiosity & support, I went along - appropriately cautiously - & shared the afternoon showing  of Back to the Future with an audience of four others, finding the venue superbly well-organised with all standard precautions and the air-con circulation turned off, and such a pleasure to time-travel back to those innocent days when the future didn't need a mask to mingle...
So for now, the Blog Goes On. Moving to a different provider would lose access to archived posts, but the new layout is frustratingly limited and learning how to compromise is taking a g e s . . .  
Meanwhile in the real world, Frome like the rest of the country has its own struggles in these extraordinary times, as evidenced by town councillor Andy Wrintmore in an excellent piece in the Frome Nub, and two areas of town are under threat of invasive development. Rambling the meadows, riverside, and woodlands around Frome in this continued sunshine has an edge of poignancyall are 
full of thriving wild life and sublimely beautiful, yet several are under threat. This is the water-meadow that Friends of the River Frome is working to protect, now recovered from a previous assault but with its future still uncertain, and there was an unexpected attack on scores of trees in the heart of town this week in the name of 'strengthening' the railway support. A support group - Willow Vale Trees - formed immediately to protest this ill-timed and excessive damage in a conservation area, but when wealth and profit always win over the health of the environment, and with projected dismantling of the need for planning permissions, it's a worrying time.  

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