Monday, April 05, 2021

The cafe edition - short, but with an otter.

The  Barrel House Ballroom in Totnes has been home to the Word Cafe created & run by Julie Mullen since 2019, and on Thursday Julie introduced a 30-minute film of poetry and music from local poets and performers which hopefully will stay on YouTube because it's delightful. Beautifully filmed in a variety of enticing local locations (cinematography by Chris Plant) this features poetry and music by local creatives, including Matt Harvey, with an acrostic about Totnes to compensate for his recent move to Dartington, and Brian Patten, still ruggedly scouse. Brian Patten was one of my poetry heroes - the title my published collection Crumbs from a Spinning World is derived from one of his poems - and his book launches unmissable, a fact I confided to him after his eighth, Storm Damage, and received the sighed reply 'Yes, we're all getting old.'  That was back in 1995. Here he is now, and here too is Susie David reciting her poem The Sea Calls.

Back in Frome, Black Swan Arts is preparing to reopen its gallery and the cafe reopened on Friday as the River House Cafe relocated - lock, stock, and staff - from its popular but cramped location on the bridge to the spacier premises - with courtyard seating too - of the Black Swan building. It's another upward step for this 17th Century alehouse, nearly demolished in 1974 until rescued & reopened in 1986 as an arts centre. Here's me looking very happy to join the queue on the official opening day. Thanks Emma Warren for the snap! 

Also in Frome: Our last couple of weeks' sunshine has coaxed the swirling mudscape beside the river bank to regain its role as a path, thus widening the range of rambles available in town and beyond. Frome's online Wildlife Watch group, a treasure trove of birds, butterflies, and recently beavers,  been getting excited about otters, and I was lucky enough to spot this sleek-headed little guy in the exquisite garden of Marston Mill on the Mells River after a writing group meeting. 

Drama has been coming at us from all sorts of places since our theatres, initially muted apart from pleas for donations, have regrouped and come back with online options and now National Theatre has premiered their Romeo and Juliet on the telly - Sky Arts on Sunday night. Directed by Simon Godwin and commendably contracted to 90 minutes, this pandemic production of Shakespeare's violent love story becomes a timeless tale of families and passions. Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley are the lovers, but it's Tamsin Greig as Juliet's powerful mother who stands out in a production that changes relationships and scythes speeches but creates the constraints of family dynamics and social controls in a fantastic, and memorable, way. Look out for repeats.

This blog, or rather this blogger, is determined to chicane through our present Troubles, as the Irish so eloquently delineate stuff too big to name, without discussing either of them, nor the western religious calendar,  so this spring holiday bulletin will conclude with a 'poem for today' as chosen by Poem for the Day (1) ed. Wendy Cope which is by Maya Angelou: Still I Rise was written 1978 and is shockingly still relevant, read it and weep. More cheerful is the other choice for today, from Poem for the Day (2) ed. Andrew Motion, which is Adrian Mitchell's ditty to Celia: 

When I am sad and weary
When I think all hope has gone
When I walk along High Holborn
I think of you with nothing on

They later married & lived happily ever after, which shows there's more that one way to look at Easter.  


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