Mudlarks and Poppies

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A day in London to sing for water aid coincided with the last day of the Thames Festival.

The Lord Mayor had organised or perhaps more truthfully, had organised in his name, various events of which the singing was one.  We stood in the concrete amphitheatre, the scoop, which afterwards doubled as great place to let children run amok, and sang our hearts out to raise funds so more people could have clean water.

A small fair had pitched tents beside Tower Bridge; there were sheep in pens, and chickens for children to get close to, the RSPB had a stall encouraging people to learn more about birds and nature.  Then there were a couple of stalls who were there, ‘because we enjoy doing it.’  A sign by the Edible Hats stall said simply, JOIN IN.  Haven’t laughed so much in ages. The premise, also a simple one, seemed to be  try on hats made of cabbages, or daisies or trailing ivy,  green beards made of cress, take a photo if you like and have a good laugh at each other.

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There was a wonderful activity involving making a clay doubloon,  to be  filled with wild flower seeds and buried it in your garden or any flower pot when you got home after three days drying time and then waiting for the flowers to grow.  Sadly, I was too old for this activity.  I wish I had thought it up.

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North of the river were mudlarks; a game that happens twice a year when the tide and time  are right to forage in the mud bank on the shore and see what can be found.

Beside the Tower was the display of poppies, a spectacle in itself.


More Fringe Benefits

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Every first sunday of the month in Paris there is free entry to museums and galleries. We chose the Louvre and  waited patiently in line.  It was hot, men sold water from heavy bags and the queue that seemed to hold thousands of stationary hopefuls under the  long line of   statues, snaked round the square in barely forty minutes.

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Once inside we were told that the Louvre has recently had to stop participating in the free scheme.  Some might turn down the joys of the Louvre for twelve euros.

Walking in Paris on a Sunday morning is an absolute delight.  We walked the length of Faubourg St. Honoré, past palaces and former homes of stars, to arrive on the banks of Seine and the Louvre.  Even the queuing wasn’t bad.

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Fringe Benefits

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A good book leaves a lingering  sense of  satisfaction with the story, characters, setting and a feeling of having learned something new. All of that happens with Kanukamari, Hazel Manuel’s prize winning first novel published by Cinnamon Press.

Fortunate to attend the launch in Paris the sense of satisfaction did not end with a good read, it was a chance to meet old friends and make new.  Held at Krishana Bhavan vegetarian restaurant there was Puja and the food was excellent.

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Tarta Santiago versus Sachertorte or Poetry with Cake


The first literary evening at the Viennese cake shop, Aber House in Barmouth, has come and gone. The cake turned out quite well using a combination of recipes from the web.

One Spanish recipe added cinnamon and alcohol  but, a bit of a purest, these were left out. However, the recommendation to grind the almonds leaving some texture and then to roast them in the oven to dry out, wholeheartedly adopted.

Another recipe, American I suspect, offered  a stencil for the cross of St James – or is it a sword?  He was a warrior saint after all and claimed by crusading Spaniards wanting to drive out the infidel.  (Plus ca change) Only the icing sugar disappointed as it sank into the cake almost without trace before we got to eat it.

The sachertorte was chocolately and unctuous, but then I did not make that.

And the readings?

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Bernard Young is a performance poet with  a light touch, a delight of whimsy and wistfulness. He mostly writes poems for children these days who, one suspects, would  love his gentle delivery and humour too.

As for Murielle’s Angel? one can only hope and keep putting it out there.

There is to be a second evening, with different cake and different readings, but the welcome will be the same.

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The Second Gathering or The Last Taboo.


Apart from families, memories, Ireland and a host of other things, The Gathering is about child abuse. There is nothing in the blurb that even mentions this and I feel in the light of recent disclosures and the extent of institutionalised abuse that this is very telling.

The book is about the knowing, the guilt, the suspicion and the total destruction of the child and perhaps all those who knew and, either were too young to know what they knew, or denied it.

It seems with Rotherham in the news so dramatically that we are all guilty of silence. A culture of silence when no one would believe you if you said the word aloud or accused the favourite uncle, brother, father, grandfather, step father, or even friend of the family.

The prevalence of paedophilia feels like the fall of the Roman Empire. Those last  days of debauchery when the worst of the worst of people’s nature was allowed to let rip.  Perhaps a penchant for sex with children is part of some people’s nature and as difficult to renounce as over eating or over drinking but that does not make it  OK or mean that control cannot be exercised.  I think I’d be with Nancy Reagan on this – Just say no.