This week saw the Pitshanger Archives summer outing to that hotbed of poetry that is St Ives. Not, alas, the one reached along a road littered with bigamous cat-dealers, but rather the one on the toenail of the trotter of Great Britain. (Whoever would have thought that there were two saints named Ive ?) Well, in truth the jury’s still out on which ancient market town was meant, and since the nursery rhyme first appeared in print in 1730, it’s fair to assume that the jury probably won’t ever be coming back in. Although the original version actually featured nines rather than sevens, so the entourage was even bigger, but it suffered the old ‘borogroves’ subconscious editing trick where rhythm wins out over truth. Rumours persist that another holiday favourite Day Trip to Bangor was originally about Rhyl, but was changed for the sake of the scan, despite Bangor having no beach. Ah well, perhaps they meant County Down instead.
Anyway, back at the Workshop: Alan Chambers has been feeling under the weather, yet the padded clouds just left him in ecstasy, while John Hurley remembered an old friend whose social climbing from porridge to peerage was almost perfect, yet she still liked to sometimes slum it in bare feet back with the lads. Ariadne Kazantzis has been revising her tale of a go-getting princess and a jeté-ing prince, and an admiral attitude to dragons that St George could certainly learn from, neatly leading into Martin Choules’ plea not to demonise the great immigrant community of Canada geese, now as much a part of the British landscape as the horse chestnut and the grey squirrel.
The Romantics were always swanning off to some inspiring landscape or rugged panorama, but then as none of them ever needed to do a day’s work, they were effectively on permanent holiday. Georgie ‘Brian’ Byron’s only visit to the House of Lord’s was to denounce the Frame Act that proposed making the smashing of mills a capital offence, but his delicate hands surely never shuttled a bobbin. Billy Blake would not have been so sure that his sword would not sleep in his hand had he ever actually had to wield it. And how could Johnnie Keats ever have admired the nightingale if he’d had to get up at lark-rise to load sixteen tons ?