Bookmarks – what’s your preferred choice?

Do you have a favourite bookmark? Do you always use the same one or change often? Perhaps it’s a piece of throwaway card or a receipt. Maybe it’s half a birthday card or a fast food menu. Or a present from a bookseller like a nice bit of tartan or a cartoon rabbit.

Double Deathshead by Jake and Dinos Chapman

This is my ‘dangerous’ bookmark from Tate Modern. It was meant to instil fear in train passengers on the 1607 out of New Street. It didn’t. The man wearing slippers and a tea cosy for a hat did that much better.

Hendrick Goltzius’s Bust of a Man with Tasselled Cap (1587)

This is a well-thumbed and well-travelled one ( hope that’s never said about me). It’s from the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. I wanted something different and everyone else was buying that vicar skating. I like this fella too. He likes a good deal, a nice wine and a cigar.

Boxing clothes label

This one fell off a hooded top I bought and travelled around with PG Wodehouse, Kate Atkinson and Louise Welch. What a great line up of fighters.

Christmas cracker

This one’s from a Christmas cracker but it can nip at pages. Really, your bookmark could be anything. There’s a sauna and swim receipt from Wimbledon leisure centre still marking Andrew Marvell in my Metaphysical Poets Penguin Classic.

Do you have sentimental attachments to a bookmark or will the local Pizza-the-Action menu suffice? Feel free to share…

Burleyfields Forever

I’ve written about Burleyfields before in this blog. It is (or was) a hamlet of farm cottages at the foot of Stafford Castle, about a mile or so west of the town. I don’t begrudge anyone a house and properties are clearly needed but it’s sad to see these fields – where there was a sea of poppies and where Norman cavalry clashed with Saxon rebels – buried under tarmac and block paving.

End of the road (for now)
Looking towards Stafford
The houses getting closer

There are beautiful bridleways, holloways worn deep between hawthorn, and majestic oaks. Some will survive but the noise and light and traffic will change these fields forever.

We have an almost complete town centre bypass which was claimed to cut delays but was basically built for all the new houses. Thousands of houses are being built in Stafford. I’m not sure where the jobs will come from but it’s natural people want better lives. Although nature has to adapt and be pushed a bit further out it is still there to be enjoyed.

In a coffee shop in town there is an almost unrecognisable street map of Stafford. Its actually from the 1960s, but the town seems so small, so contained, you could be forgiven for believing it’s from the Victorian era. Doxey has new signs optimistically calling it a village but it has been swallowed up by the town.

The only constant in life is change, as Heraclitus said. And he’d probably want granite-topped working surfaces, a Jack and Jill bathroom and heated towel rails too.

I’m a sprinter!

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I enjoy doing creatively and where I might reach an audience.

Sitting in our beautiful (holiday let) cottage in North Yorkshire last week I stumbled across this piece by Barnsley poet Ian McMillan.

It instantly chimed with me and I mentioned to Ian on Twitter and he was kind enough to respond.

Yes, I’m a sprinter too. Not in the 100m sense (I’m built for comfort rather than speed) but in the sense that I prefer to be inspired and write a piece or poem I can execute in a day or a week, or a few hours even.

It doesn’t mean I’ll not attempt a novel again but as per the points above, plus the endless waiting, rejection and more waiting….well I don’t need it.

There’s a great documentary about Larkin where he says you can pick up and put down a poem after a long day at work. Tinker a bit….whereas novels…

I’ve had far more success with non fiction so it’ll perhaps be that path too. But yeah I’m too easily distracted and like the fast and fluid idea. I’m a sprinter.

Endless notes

Widgeon’s Rest

Now start writing….

I’ve got the name of the sitcom while out walking the dog this morning.

Now I just need to write the first six episodes and see if Matt Berry is available to play Widgeon.

Perhaps inspired by yesterday’s viral hit (Handforth parish council) I see Widgeon as a local authority big hitter from London who thinks he’s in for a relaxing retirement in the rural Midlands.

When he joins the parish council to ‘keep his hand in’ he has no idea what’s in store…

There’s certainly no rest for the Widgeon….

Writing again….

A selection of my many notebooks

I know from the pieces I read online that many people are struggling to read, let alone write.

After a difficult few years when a major project stalled I flitted between poems, non fiction, short stories and trying to write another novel.

It’s been a tough time and lockdown and other issues have added to it. However I have learned a few things along the way…

1) The Stoics make great reading in touch times. Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius have plenty of sound advice and it really helps. It’s not for everyone but the discipline pays off. Imagine a wise older relative who is always right…..that’s them.

2) Read anything. With a diminishing attention span I’ve been reading sport magazines, poetry, journalism. Try to discover someone new. I can’t believe I’d never read Charles Causley’s poem Timothy Winters. Wow. What a poem. Read it and see for yourself.

3) As for writing…..I’m not going to say much except I’m enjoying it again and doing a little each day. I’m superstitious and I believe that talking about projects while you’re working on them can let some of the magic escape. So the lid stays on for now and hopefully my enjoyment is retained along with all those words on the laptop.

4) I’ve some work out there, submitted or in competitions, so just maybe….

I hope you’re enjoying your reading and whatever you’re creating and if you’ve discovered something that made you say Wow! please share it.

Looking out……