Ealing is a feverish wasp’s nest of activity this week as chaps in hard hats scurry around in their miniaturised earth movers desperately attempting to shove enough of Walpole Park from here to there to complete the refurbishment and enable the hosting of the Ealing Festivals. Not that Mr Eavis or his delightful daughter need fear for their livelihoods but Ealing’s series of big tent events are the jewel in the crown of the Queen of the Suburbs and it maketh the hearts of all residents glad to know they can experience a little entertainment, have a few pints of Bishop Blougram’s Silent Apology and enjoy the walk home without needing to pitch a tent, don wellingtons or contract Trench Foot.
It’s at this time of year that we Pitshanger Poets like to acknowledge Ealing’s dept to our venerable org, for it was in the 1920’s, when the Tin Hut was but a glint in The Questors’ eyes that Walpole Park played host to the first ‘Festival of Poetry and Music’ as this Veritable Eisteddfod of West London was termed. In those inter-war days, men were men, life was cheap and poets were nervous. However this was long before the age of Everybody Wins and All Shall Have Prizes, when poetry was still an Olympic Sport and there was no dope testing to speak of.
Certainly everyone in tonight’s Workshop (and where were you?) should have won prizes. Alan Chambers revived an older poem about various ways to term a greeting card, even if one cannot write. Marilyn Keenan saw her child growing up and meeting her only on the landing. Clare Glynn-Chitan asked us to count our blessings. Owen Gallagher wrote about a fearsomely handsome priest, perhaps not a priest for long. Lastly, John Hurley brought us a prayer for peace, and giving it a chance.
Not many Ealing residents know that the great Edith Sitwell used the stage of the Ealing Poetry Festival to preview her poetry cycle ‘Facade’, in the hope of winning the prize. She employed a small orchestra, got that nice Bill Walton to write the tunes and designed the costumes for a poetry cycle that lasted over an hour. While the impression given to the judges was stunning, after a short deliberation they nevertheless awarded first prize to a young Irish poet, one William Butler Yeats who had worked up a few lines inspired by the bunting hung from the tents. Embroidered cloths, don’cha know. If you have been, thank you for reading.