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
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...
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!