The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Ice with a twist of Lyme

I have always had my doubts about Nicholas Parsons. The final straw came when he introduced the Barnsley poet Ian McMillan as ‘a local lad’ during a recording of Just a Minute in Manchester. How could a self-respecting Yorkshireman cope with such an insult? Politer than the average Tyke, Mr McMillan held out for a while. But ten minutes later I cheered as the Bard of Barnsley cracked and spluttered, ‘I’m not a local lad, I’m from YORKSHIRE!’ Even the red-rose folk applauded. United in the face of a common enemy…. 

As Poet Laureate in my adopted county of Cheshire, I expected to get a crown of Cheshire cheese but never did. Ann Atkinson, Poet Laureate of the Peak, presumably gets a crown made of

The Great British Poetry Audience

The Great British Poetry Audience

gritstone and Bakewell Pudding. On Tuesday she held forth in Bakewell at Poetry in the Garden. Naturally, it rained heavily and I was reminded what a marvellous, stoic and patient thing is the British Poetry Audience (left).





We met again, with Kate Genever, to finalise ideas for the companion stones project. With a good wind behind us, our stones will be in place at Longshaw next summer – watch this space for news and pictures. In the meantime, here are Anne and Kate with furrowed brows and a lot of cake inside them, working on our great plan….

On Wednesday I was in That London (that’s near Ipswich, Mr Parsons) for a National Poetry Day meeting. It was tipping it down, and still raining in Macc when I got back. But to be fair, it doesn’t rain all the time in Macclesfield. On Tuesday, for instance, it hailed. My longed-for August weekends of boating have been completely sabotaged and now it’s too late for me to get to Leek and back in the weekends I have available this year. Bugger.

Very Andy Goldsworthy...

Very Andy Goldsworthy...

But friends Jamie and Kate appeared for the weekend, and we squeezed in a little boating before the heavy rain set in. These two are amongst the most delightful people I know, but disgustingly fit. They’re like human whippets. If you turn your back you will find they are off to walk the Apennines or run over a few fells before teatime. Last time they came, I made them work all the locks in Manchester and we were lucky not to be eaten by cannibals or sold to skunk traffickers, so they deserved something a bit more restful this time. We had a day of boating on familiar waters, and took their six-month bump for a short walk to Lyme Park where we found a mystical pile of ice. There was strong evidence of recent Pimm’s consumption. 


 An amazing thing happened this week. I spent every single night in my own bed. It was very peculiar. I lead a very peripatetic life: I’m never quite sure why, but every time I try to settle down I end up getting a job sixty miles away, or buying a boat, or just running off. I usually stay at least once a week with members of my lovely tribe, who insist that they like it. A ghastly diversion on the A52 made it impossible to get anywhere useful without a 2-hour round trip, so I thought I’d try out life in my own home. It seems alright so far. If it gets tiresome I shall retreat to the spare room (below).  


The spare room!

The spare room!







2 comments on “Ice with a twist of Lyme

  1. Rachel
    September 8, 2008

    GASP – a crown of Cheshire cheese??? Surely such wonders cannot exist??

    Nce to see you here 🙂 I’m not stalking you, honest, just finally getting round to upping the bloggage.

    TTFN x


  2. Rachel
    September 8, 2008

    GASP – a crown of Cheshire cheese…surely such wonders cannot exist??

    Nice to see you here – I’m not stalking you, honest – just finally getting round to upping the bloggage 🙂

    Later tater
    Rach x

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on August 20, 2008 by in Writing exercises.
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