Friday, August 30, 2013

SEAMUS HEANEY - MY FAVOURITE POET AND HOW I BECAME A 'HEANEY-BOPPER!'


So sad to hear of the death of Seamus Heaney.  My blog followers have already read this piece when I met the poet last year and blogged the following feature:

2012 : Millions of girls remember 22nd February - known as "Thinking Day" in the world of Brownies and Girl Guides. As a former Brownie, Guide and now freelance writer - I've used this term as a topic. This year is special as it is the centenary of the Girl Guiding movement.

However, in the future, the 22nd February will be another important 'thinking day' for me. Last night at a superb evening organised by the Royal Society of Literature at London's Kings Place, more than 700 people were spellbound by Nobel prize-winner for Poetry, SEAMUS HEANEY, for more than two hours. The two halls were packed (live relay was used for Hall 2). Thanks go to Colin Thubron, President of RSL and The Bloomsbury Hotel, too, for organising such a happy evening. Oh! and the goodie bags were much appreciated. The superb Rachel Page and her team worked hard to make the evening so memorable. I met poetry lovers from around the world and think we have a few more recruits for our own SWWJ as a result.

To top the evening, I met Seamus Heaney, himself as he was leaving and told him how much I had enjoyed his performance. He grinned and seemed pleased - said 'thank you very much - glad you liked my choice'. Then off he was whisked by his minders out into the rainy night, but what a moment! Help! - I've turned into a Heaneybopper!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

FOLLOWING LAST NIGHT'S TV PROGRAMME RE ZEPPELINS

 
Lots of comment following TV programme last evening.  Billericay wasn't mentioned, but on 24 September 1916, local folk were in the midst of world-shattering news of the L32 being shot down.  I have used this story in several books and articles and the following was published on this weblog six years ago!

This is the field where the L32 zeppelin was shot down. Still some remnant of the old barn exists
 


Billericay certainly made worldwide headlines that morning when the airship was shot down over Great Burstead. This ‘super’ new zeppelin was one of four that flew that night, via Belgium, over London and the Home Counties, intent on destruction.

Although Britain boasted that her armed forces on land and sea were among the best trained and equipped in the world, at the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, little had been achieved in the development of aircraft for military use. However, Germany had aggressively pursued the science of aeronautics from its inception. Before the turn of that century, German strategists had determined the military role of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s dirigible airships. They were huge: 92 feet high including gondolas, 650 feet long, 78 feet in diameter and displacing 50 tons of air, they were capable of 65 mph, with 5-ton bomb-loads.

Commanded by Oberleutenant Werner Peterson of the German Naval Airship Division, the L32 was forced to jettison its bombs over the River Thames before its intended attack on London. Flying from Suttons Farm, Hornchurch 23-year-old Second Lt. Frederick Sowrey on routine patrol in his BE2c (Bleriot Experimental) aircraft spotted the airship in the searchlights and began firing repeatedly into the Zeppelin, hitting the centre of the ship. Within seconds, it exploded and the vessel plunged earthwards, crashing into John Maryon’s fields in Greens Farm Lane. There were no survivors.

All this time, the action had been watched by sightseers who woke children from their beds when gunfire sounded and rushed to the crash-site to gather souvenirs. Pieces of the Zeppelin were sold off at sixpence each, although the local police quickly secured the area. Vendors selling horsemeat sandwiches set up in Jacksons Lane. One of the first police officers to arrived at the scene was Inspector Allen Ellis who had watched the stricken airship crash. Cycling to the scene, he arrived shortly after the crash and was joined by constables from Great Burstead, Hutton and Brentwood. They guarded the bodies of the crew until the army arrived.

Twenty-two crew were buried at Great Burstead with full military honours, but in 1966 were exhumed and re-buried at the military cemetery at Cannock Chase. Between the two World Wars, several high-ranking Germans visited the churchyard at Great Burstead, to pay homage to the crew.

Poor John Maryon of Snails Hall Farm had to wait three years before the government coughed up compensation for the destruction of his trampelled crops. Remains of Zeppelin L32 can be seen in Billericay’s Cater Museum.

 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

THE FISHWIVES NEW SINGLE - LIVE ON BIG BREAKFAST

I'm a big fan of Jane Dolby who started the fabulous Fishwives Choir who are making great waves on British TV and radio.  Every penny from the sale of their music goes to the Fishermen's Mission.
 
Their promotional video for this single is here Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-IZtSTWEDQ.  Hope you enjoy it. They received more than 6,500 viewings in just five days.  The girls were interviewed and performed live on BBC Breakfast Show, reaching an international audience with their piece with the World Service which featured their home town of Leigh on Sea. Check them out at https://www.youtube.com/user/FishwivesChoir

 
Links to the digital download and actual physical release are at: www.fishermensmission.org.uk and you can find out more about the singers at: www.fishwiveschoir.co.uk

Jane Dolby and choir on BBC TV
 
 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

SUNDAY' MORNING ON BBC - A VISIT TO ESSEX'S OTHONA AT BRADWELL ON SEA -

This morning, the BBC visited Britain's oldest church, St Cedd's on the Essex coast built in the seventh century - beautiful place alongside the North sea.  We also learned a little about Othona, just a short walk away. A beautiful service.

From its beginning in 1946 as a summer camp in tents on the Essex marshes, Othona has been a  meeting place for people from different countries and backgrounds.  They came then and they come now – all the year round and not only in tents -  to be refreshed, to take stock, to make friends over the shared chores, perhaps to learn something new, and to go across the field together to the ancient St Peter’s chapel looking out over the Blackwater estuary. 
 
The community attracts anything between 15 and 50 people, depending on the theme and the season.  At any given time there will be some who have been coming for years and others there for the first time.  Especially in the summer the dining room echoes to the sound of many languages and children’s voices.
The very first little building
 
Othona has a special concern for living in harmony with nature – with wind-turbine, solar panels, and eco building and much else.  The beauty of the natural world is all around – from a green woodpecker to an unpolluted starlit night sky.

Friday, August 16, 2013

ANITA MARIE SACKETT'S INTERVIEW ON PHOENIX 98FM IN BRENTWOOD

Many listeners to Michelle Ward's daily programme   EAT MY BRUNCH enjoyed hearing what Anita Marie Sackett had to say on this morning's programme - BOOK CLUB.   Anita is a well known speaker in this part of Essex and is also in demand on cruise ships where she gives talks on 40s and 50s style topics.  Anita was, until recently, the Poetry Advisor for the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

OFF TO LONDON WITH MY RESEARCH HAT ON - CITY HALL HERE I COME

City Hall London England


Lots of research going on for my new book - am spending time in libraries and museums in and around London.   Lots of new photos and help from some wonderful photographers, such as Jason Hawkes.


 

Thursday, August 08, 2013

RESEARCH INTO THE DE ROUGEMONT FAMILY AT GREAT WARLEY IN ESSEX

Members of the Union Hunt in Billericay around 1910

Currently researching the De Rougemont family of Great Warley in Essex. Would appreciate any old photographs or information about this famous family who lived at The Goldings in Great Warley (now the De Rougemont Manor), a lovely hotel run by the Hilton family. Earlier is was known as The New World Inn