The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

The passing of Arthur

They say it rains all the time in the north west, but be fair. Sometimes it snows. It’s been a white fluffy week, so I escaped to That London for National Poetry Day business including a meeting with Poetry Planet, and one at Kensington Palace with Children & Arts. The Georgian buildings around Hyde Park looked very grand in the sunshine. Even as a grudging northerner, I concede that our capital is a glory in the spring.

I stayed with friend Ruth on her lovely boat in Little Venice – half the length of mine, but twice the width. In boating as in other things, girth can be more significant than length. It made me pine for a bit of space, and a room where you can’t touch both walls at once; but back on Tinker I felt disloyal. Why would anyone need a home more than 6ft 10in wide?

Back in’t North, there were meetings with the Arts Council about our next live show – now called (ta-dah!) Fourpenny Circus – and with a friendly landlord in Macclesfield about using his pub for poetry and music. I had a too-rare visit from friend Kirsty, an admirable and dauntless woman who is restoring her Georgian chapel brick by brick, window by window and learning the skills as she goes. She isn’t dauntless at all – the reason she is so admirable is that she is sometimes daunted, but gets on with it anyway. Long may she reign.

All else paled against the sad passing of my friend Arthur Gardner, a victim of Motor Neurone Disease. Arthur was a good and generous man, and I will miss his gentle humour, his generosity and his intelligent commentary. His poor wife Julie and their families are suffering, but he died at home and on his own terms. In an effort to make some stand against the disease, he and I co-edited the Lifemarks anthology with friends Andrew Bailey and Derek Adams, in aid of the MND Association. The book was a great success and is about to be reprinted – you can support the MNDA by ordering the book.


One comment on “The passing of Arthur

  1. Harry Owen
    April 11, 2008

    Hi, Jo – It’s very sad news about Arthur and I too send deepest commiserations to his family. I’d be grateful if you could pass them along for me. How good, though, that he was able to see the publication of ‘Lifemarks’.

    A friend of mine here, and one of South Africa’s most prominent poets, Don Maclennan, also suffers from Motor Neurone Disease but continues to write and to support other poets in their work. Indeed, he cast a wise and honest pair of eyes over the ms of ‘Five Books’ for me recently. I have given him a copy of ‘Lifemarks’ and will be talking to him about it next week.

    I hope you and the others are all well and happy: you certainly seem to be busy! And, just in case you hadn’t realised it, I’ve always been an advocate of girth over length. Not much choice really.

    Look after yourself.


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This entry was posted on April 8, 2008 by in Boating life and tagged , , , .
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