I am sure that I have bored you, the dear reader, to tears with the only slightly speculative observation that Sir John Soane was loopy about poetry. Many critics eulogise (if that is the correct term for ceaselessly banging on about, although it sounds a little funereal to me), as I say, eulogise, Sir John for his contribution to the appreciation and understanding of Classical Architecture, but if they are referring to Pitshanger Manor, they are missing the point. Sir John’s own drawings indicate that building was constructed as a paean in stone, brick, mortar and subtle shades of eggshell paint to the declamatory arts. Thus any guest of Sir John who felt the sudden urge to dine, draw, spend a morning, smoke, go to bed, be still, dance the fandango, wash his neck, shoot himself or borrow a dicky could do so in the sure and certain knowledge that each and every room in the house had been designed to nourish and enhance the inherent acoustic of the spoken word. On Tuesday afternoons of yore, as the various romantic souls washed up on the front steps of the Manor for the evening’s workshop they would be ushered off to some corner of the house or other where they could prepare themselves with the poison of their choice, whether that be alcohol, laudanum, tobacco, Indian ink, throat pastilles or simple rowdy self-castigation. Sir John clearly loved to observe poets in the wild.
Speaking of observing poets, we observed a fascinating and somewhat tinsel-tinged workshop this week. Ann Furneaux brought us a wry prayer to peace, followed by a longer celebration of commercialism from her husband William. Caroline Am Bergris took an opportunity to describe her own Midnight Mass, drunken revelers included. Nick Barth told us about a pair of mysterious beggars who bring their own interpretation of Christmas cheer to Ealing. Peter Francis introduced another chapter in his own family history, remembering the not-so-high church of his childhood. John Hurley only just avoided indulging in a rant following a similar theme, the remembered church of his younger years. Owen Gallagher revised his piece concerning the owner of a sinister beard observed riding on a tube train. Daphne Gloag gave us something from another workshop, an interpretation of Ariadne by Titian. Finally, Martin Choules weighed in with two poems on Christmas Themes, one concerning ringing-in and another pointing out that this time of year has always been about money.
It will not have escaped the owner of even the cheapest of Chinese Take-Away Wall Calendars that there is but one more Tuesday before the Christmas debacle. Please be aware that as per our habit, we will be welcoming your favourite published poems from other authors as well as your own work on what will surely be the last Workshop of the year.
I was mulling on the architecture of Pitshanger Manor for a purpose, as I am sure you will have guessed by now. As I observed during my daily pootle up Mattock Lane in the faithful two-seater, the latest phase in the rehabilitation of Walpole Park is well underway and the front of the house is now entirely obscured with constructor’s hoardings. Happily, the ‘players’ of Her Majesty’s National Lottery are now ensuring that the house will be restored to a state that Sir John would recognize. But, I ask, what will this mean to the Borough’s poets? Indeed, I had the opportunity to collar the very horse’s mouth in the shape of esteemed local MP Rupa Huq in Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre last weekend. After I had harangued her for certainly not more than forty-five minutes on the pavement next to the pungent German Sausage stall, the gracious representative of our national democracy went to some pains to assure me that, yes she would ensure that the Council entirely realised my vision to return the Manor to its former position as a sort of Temple to Poetry and would it be alright if I just let her get on with her shopping now as it was quite cold outdoors and she was no longer enjoying the smell of cooking wurstchen? Mission accomplished, I let her and her shivering children return to their Sunday afternoon. If you have been, thank you for reading.