Showing posts from March, 2021

One Year On: N M Browne

 It is a year since I had Covid and this time last year I wrote this:  'I suppose I should write something funny about working in isolation. To be honest I have  been ill for most of it so far – not desperately-not-breathing ill, more fall- asleep-in-the- afternoon- blancmange- brain kind of ill, which has been almost restful.'   A couple of days later I was able to go out and wrote this: After a fortnight of quarantine I wake to a different world the air is clean and no planes plough their  white furrow across the blue sky. I buy a coffee ( takeaway) and it tastes like my first, a sweet butter- fest of croissant is the best I ever had. I say hello to everyone I meet,  ‘It’s still London’ my daughter says as though I’ve moved from sick bed to dotage but this is not the London that I know. Along the silent tow path people smile I wave at a toddler on Richmond Green her startled mother laughs surprise and beams. And this  Everything is growing wildly, even death, buds shooting ev

Poetry time by Kirsten Bett

      Photo by Kirsten Bett In the UK and most of Europe we are missing an hour of sleep... Yes, it's Sunday and yes, it's only a day -- we are not in Stephen King's Insomnia . Thank God. But still. I know I will just have started recovering when we go back to normal time, whatever that might be these days.  Time is strange. Why do writers care what time it is. I get most ideas for poems while nearly sleeping, I think I will remember them, don't get out my notebook but repeat the lines until I fall asleep, like counting sheep. In the morning I slightly remember what it was about... a tree? Well maybe...All those fantastic lines gone. Sometimes a swim -- pre-Covid activity -- will help make the words come back. Sometimes a walk.  Pantoums use repetition in a different way. I got the idea to write a pantoum from Sheena Blackhall's poetry workshop at the conference of the Scottish Writers Association (SAW) last weekend. A pantoum repeats lines in a set format to creat

I Remember, I Remember...Number 5, Brades Row -- by Susan Price

A washing dolly My mother hated me saying that I was born in a slum, but I was.   Brades Row was a terrace of houses at right angles to the surfaced road into Oldbury. The front doors opened directly onto ‘the track’ which was exactly that — an unpaved dirt track leading down from the rough fields of scrub and hawthorn to the road. On the other side of the track stood a row of ‘brew-houses’ or ‘wash-houses’: the names were interchangeable. (‘Wash’ was pronounced with a hard ‘a’, as at the beginning of ‘acorn.’) The wash-houses were of damp, blackened brick. They contained a large stone sink, a pump, and a boiler with a fire-place underneath. This was for heating water for the laundry. It took all night for the boiler to heat the water. Some of the hot water was poured into a tub, which was where the clothes washing was actually done, the clothes being pounded in the hot, soapy water with ‘a dolly’ (see right.) The short legs went into the water and the person doing the laun

Why Write? by @EdenBaylee

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about writing of late, more thinking than writing, especially late at night. This makes me want to beat myself up mentally sometimes, makes me wonder why I can't sleep.  In the past, when want-to-be writers wanted to chat about writing, I obliged but with some trepidation. I don’t do small talk, and to wax poetic on the craft of writing seemed meaningless unless there was real life application. Were we writing a book together? If not, then what I had to contribute would probably be of little help. I’m not an academic, and theorizing about writing can never take the place of the act of writing itself. It’s a discipline that's learned while putting it in practice.  Writing is also a solitary endeavour, not a group effort. I say this even though I write with a partner every month. Bill Kirton (who also contributes to this site) and I compose stories together , but our individual pieces are written without prior discussion, so the act of writing i

Signs for Lost Children: Respectability is all in this an Untidy World... Mari Howard

Last month my blog post  partly looked back at couple of interesting facts about my own family ancestry, including two studio photographs showing middle class women smartly dressed in the fashion of the time. In this post I want to talk about Sarah Moss ’ s follow-up novel, which continues the story of Alethea, (once ‘poor baby’), begun in Bodies of Light , the book which brought to mind for me the strange fact that the two families who would be later joined by my parents’ marriage both had connections to the Pre-Raphaelites. One thing which has really struck me reading these novels, and was brought to the fore of all our minds in the past week or so, is that the position of male and female has not changed since Victorian times. What do I mean by this? Surely today's woman is an independent person, capable of earning her own living in any field she chooses, spending her own money without necessary reference to any male relative?   Of course she has the vote, won by the hard campai

Census Day! Completing the census through history - Katherine Roberts

Today is the official date of the 10-yearly census in the UK. If you haven't filled in your details ahead of time (and I'm assuming nobody risked doing it early in the middle of a pandemic?), you should do so today, or as soon as possible afterwards. According to the letter I received through the post informing me of my legal responsibilities, I'll need to complete this year's census or risk a £1,000 fine - which is quite a lot smaller than the £10,000 fine for breaking lockdown, I note. I also note that this time around I am expected to complete the census online, whereas ten years ago my letter included a paper form to fill in and return by post. The census being online makes it somehow less official but hopefully it'll be straightforward enough, and at least I won't need to break lockdown to complete it. My elderly father, however (who does not have access to the internet during lockdown because libraries are closed) first needs to phone someone to request a