Dear reader, I have to admit from the outset that January and I have never been the closest of pals and it remains the one month I would not save from the pitiless wabe as Lewis Carroll would have it. Winter exerts a tighter grip, tiny tot’s eyes are no longer all aglow and the parks are awash with dead Christmas trees. I had planned to do a deal and offer December an extended run all the way through to February, however when the old two-seater struggled to mount Mount Avenue and then failed to crest Hillcrest Road on the climb to my weekly session at the Hanger Hill Pitch and Putt (I never fail to birdie the little windmill) I knew change was in the air. My Man advised that the Seasonal Mince Pie intake had resulted in my girth exceeding the old girl’s available horsepower and he would have to put me on a strict diet. So, he has me rationed to a single Stilton, no black pudding after eleven in the morning, just the one Mille-feuille for supper and I am just about scraping by on a case of Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francais 2002 a week. I told him life had become tantamount to a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou, but he gave me short shrift.
Shrift was available in generous quantities at this week’s Pitshanger Poets Tuesday Workshop. Gerry Godin kicked off proceedings with a song concerning various old themes of love. We poets struggle to offer meaningful musical crit to Gerry for a beautiful McCartney-esque melody but the lyric came in for fulsome praise. Caroline Maldonado brought a jewel of a poem discussing a rose she is disinterested in. Caroline Am Bergris brought us the story of a journey to reach her mother. Nick Barth has been following padres in Rome. Martin Choules has been wondering why one particular prophet is so camera-shy. Daphne Gloag brought back a longer piece on the true meaning of Christmas. Finally Owen Gallagher rounded things off with a tribute to his father, a member of the McAlpine’s Fusiliers. Alan Chambers was not able to be with us this evening due to a bout of ‘flu, and we hope he gets well soon.
This reference by my man to the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam put me in mind of a less than savoury episode in the Pitshanger Poets’ chronology. Pitshanger Manor was honoured to receive the somewhat unobtrusive poet and translator Edward FitzGerald. FitzGerald was riding high on the recent publication of the Rubaiyat and was welcomed with some anticipation by the community. However, a fanatic young maker of tents, angered at the representation of a figure very much seen as the prophet of the yurt, awning, and marquee-manufacturing industry as a louche, feckless romantic, took it upon himself to disrupt the meeting, bursting in and throwing eggs at the poets, including FitzGerald. The response of the people of Ealing to this extremism was quick and decisive. In a remarkable display of unity, a march was organised down the Uxbridge Road in which banners were waved and enamel badges handed out, carrying the slogan; ‘I too like a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou’. The tent maker, a Mr Thomas Burberry, rumoured to have exiled himself to Basingstoke, was never heard of again. Happy New Year, and if you have been, thank you for reading.