Category Archives: Miscellaneous

A rattle-bag of items that could not be placed elsewhere

Workshop, 18th April 2017

The Archives are fuller than usual of late with a recent delivery of boxes, crates and assorted tea chests full of papers unearthed during the restoration work at Pitzhanger Manor.  Much of it dates from “Sir” John’s time, and fascinating it is: one sheet instructs Mrs Conduitt to arrange for the iron boot-scraper to be cleaned and sharpened by a suitable local tradesman, while another appears to chart the complex and ever-changing liaisons of his Mattock Lane neighbours, and a third is a draft of an angry letter fired off the director of the Uxbridge Road Turnpike Trust for the delays his stagecoach had once again suffered on account of the ever-present workmen and navigators digging up the highway for their endless ‘drainage works’.

Fascinating though these snippets may be to the amateur local historian, one does wonder if they are ever dashed off with an eye to posterity – after all, why else have they survived intact these past two hundred years ?  Did Mr “Sir” Soane decide that rather than keep a diary as would any self-respecting gentleman of letters and intrigue, but rather leave his thoughts and gossipings to Providence via the note tacked on the pantry door ?  Or even the front door in the case of the slip addressed to the milkman requesting an extra pail that morning on account of ‘expecting cats’.

No laundry lists at this week’s workshop, but plenty of dazzling white pages.  James Priestman has been meditating on the Tower of Babel and the Camp of Dachau, and John Hurley paints a vivid picture of a woman clinging to a fire hearth to shut out the sounds of a dark and threatening sea.  Nayna Kumari imagines God (whoever that is) being very choosy about his (or her) next messiah, while new member Aisha Hassan has been imagining a nasty pile-up in a poem that was no car crash.  Daphne Gloag has been pondering the age old conundrum of where does all the time go, while poverty and well-meaning social reform have been keeping Pat Francis’ labouring hard, and Peter Francis has been getting metaphysical with his Seventeenth Century orbs and goats.  Martin Choules has been perturbed by a cuckoo being raised by a flywheel, while Alan Chambers’ has been looking for the autumn colours and ignoring the rotting mulch.

But getting back to the Pitzhanger Papers, why have they been dumped upon the Archive in the first place ?  Well, it seems that many of these posteritous pages relate to accounts of the weekly workshop, and a good many meetings that we suspected can finally be confirmed.  Were these records removed because they were too scandalous, or perhaps too boring ?  Reading through, the answer would rather appear to be that the host was too absent-minded to file his paperwork with any kind of system, a legacy whose aftermath we still have to battle daily at the Archives.  Many minutes are scribbled on the back of flyers for Mr Short’s improvable corsets or in the margins of broadsides aiming to Pithily Puncture the Presumptions of Mr Pitt.

However, one particularly revealing memorandum recounts a workshop in a much finer grain of detail than is usual, attempting to capture the spirit of genius verbatim:

J. Soane, esq:  Mr Byron, would you read your latest for us ?

Lord Byron:  That’s Lord Byron.

J. Soane, esq:  I do apologise, your Grace. Would you care to read ?

Lord Byron:  It’s not as if I’m one of your minor nobility jumped-up Johnnies.

J. Sloane, esq:  Pray forgive me, my lord. Please, we are agog with anticipation.

Lord Byron:  Right, pass these around.  My quill ran out, so a couple of you will have to share.  Honestly, it even says ‘Lord Byron’ at the foot of the handout.  Right, everyone got a copy ?

     (His lordship clears his throat)

Lord Byron:  “The cat / Sat on / The mat.”

     (There follows two minutes of silence)

P. Shelley, esq:  I like it, but I wonder if ‘cat’ is the best animal. Perhaps something more…canine ?

J, Keats, esq:  It might be a bit snappier if you left off the last line.

W. Wordsworth, esq:  Have you considered turning it into a sonnet ?

W. Blake esq:  I’d just like to point out that cats don’t actually sit, they kneel.

Miss A. Seward:  Well, I think it’s perfect as it is and wouldn’t change a thing.  Except the title.  And the full stop.

Fascinating stuff, although of course our workshops are nothing like that nowadays.

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Workshop, 11th April 2017

I enjoy a tidy, ordered life.  I always know where to find those small but vital attributes of everyday existence without which it would be unwise to venture forth from the abode; keys, wallet, sunglasses, straw boater, phone, my trusty catapult.  This is in no small part due to the endless care and attention of my man who has a rare talent; being able to find a thing without first saying ‘where did you have it last?’ or, ‘it’ll be in the last place you look for it.’  I have never understood why the penalties for uttering these futile phrases is not more severe. Even when capital punishment was in vogue it was still possible to offer such unhelpful advice (with or without the aid of sarcasm) and merely be transported to Australia for seven years, which is getting off a bit lightly if you ask me.

This week’s workshop was entirely lacking in futile phrases, every line a bon mot, every criticism constructive.  Doig Simmonds got us off to a great start with a new poem, a haunting observation of a victim of Parkinson’s disease.  The mood was changed dramatically by Pat Francis who has been practicing her rhyme and meter by writing a lullaby.  Peter Francis then took up the cudgels with a boyhood memory of the death of his father.  Daphne Gloag has been spending her time on Time and the rhythm of life.  Danuta Sotkin-Kondycki brought us something of a dramatic verse-play, imagining a newly-minted Adam complaining to a slightly careless God about his love-life.  Martin Choules told us  a story of the creatures of the brownfield site.  Gerry Goddin made a welcome return to the group, with a new guitar and a song about a girl equipped with machine-gun lips.  Ann Furneaux brought us an experience of mortality and fresh linen from hospital.  John Hurley wrapped the meeting up with an admirable portrait of a man who became admirable, Martin McGuinness.

For all my boasts of living a life of structure and order, the fact is the other day I could not lay my hands on my set of Waverley novels.  Those classic works of fiction were written by the great Sir Walter Scott and set in the Station which the burghers of Edinburgh had presciently built in 1814 in fervent anticipation of the arrival of the railway a mere twenty-eight years later. Scott was by all accounts a polymath, a renaissance man; not only a lawyer, a historian, collector of folk tales he was also a poet, novelist and very good at finding things.  For example, around the time he was getting into his stride as a novelist, he offered to locate the Scottish Honours, or crown jewels, which had been missing for a hundred years.  The Honours had been locked in a large wooden casket in Edinburgh Castle but were then thought to have then been removed and spirited away.  Scott and a team of military men opened the casket to find the jewels were where they should have been all along.  As men of dignity and resolve, they presented the unearthed treasures without once saying; ‘Ah told ye so’, or, ‘Who’d a thought it, eh?’ or even a ‘Did ye no’ think of looking in the last place ye ken’t it was?’  Any gentle sarcasm was saved for the 80 Shilling session in the Malt Shovel later that evening.

As a result of this heroic escapade Sir Walter found himself a big deal in the finding things business.  He became a vital adjunct to His Majesty’s Government, largely because George the Third reputedly had a talent for losing his possessions.  It is said that this habit began when he lost the American Colonies, which is surely a little cruel.  However, rather a more worrying trend for an absent-minded monarch (nick named ‘Farmer George’ for his attraction to worldly affairs) was the increasing part high finance was playing in the workings of his nation.  The expense of fighting wars was met by a National Debt, which needed a Bank and an impressive building to house it in.   Our very own Sir John Soane was employed to construct the edifice, which leads us to the one time Sir Walter Scott and he met at Pitshanger Manor.   The young Scott arrived at the Manor looking forward to a lively evening but instead found Sir John in somewhat of a tizzy.  He had taken charge of one of the keys to the Bank of England, a symbolically huge thing over three feet in length.  He had then mislaid it and it was looking like he would be in no mood to host a poetry workshop until it was found and King George could regain access to the public debt.  Scott ascertained the gravity of the situation and headed directly to the fine lobby of the Manor.  There, hanging on one of a row of hooks by the front door was the Bank of England key.  Scott handed it to a grateful Soane with barely a word, ensuring the Government could finance another war and the senseless waste of human life could continue.  Britain never forgot about the young man with a talent for the written word and looking in the right place, and memorialised him after his death with a hugely gloomy edifice in Edinburgh which is very difficult to miss.

If you have been, thank you for reading.

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Workshop, 28th March 2017

It has been a while since I last gave my loyal readership an update on work at Pitshanger Manor.  Work on the Pitshager Poets’ alma mater continues apace though thankfully the house is no longer being pulled down so much as being put up again.  The Victorian ‘infill’ has been demolished and stonemasons are working on restoring Sir John Soane’s classical colonnade.  The Council’s Project Manager, Sue Smeed tells me I am always welcome to visit the workings and always seems pleased to see me, although more than once I have come across her seemingly hiding in a cupboard or behind a door when I arrive.  I can quite understand that she must need to make a lot of phone calls and that privacy is important, nevertheless it appears she can be quite challenging to locate when I am in the neighbourhood.

The last tranche of heavy earthworks uncovered foundations of the older, former Pitshanger Manor.  As you are no doubt tired of hearing, the origins of Ealing’s premier poetry workshop are lost in the mists of time and are at a severe risk of becoming mythologised by irresponsible bloggers.  Be that as it may, records of visitors to the Tuesday meetings were diligently preserved, and this week I repaired to the Archive to locate the visits of any notorious poetic grandees from the distant days of the eighteenth century.  The house was owned from the mid 18th Century by Thomas Gurnell, son of a wealthy banker and a man who enjoyed the company of the great and the good.

Speaking of the great and the good, this weeks’ Workshop was another packed affair (and where were you?).  Martin Choules took an early lead, musing on what Daedalus has said to every airman since Icarus.  Michael Harris bemused us all with a piece twinning parks Mullyash and Hyde with a single sad event.  Peter Francis took a turn around the garden in a speculative attempt to discover how he uses words.  Pat Francis recalled a racy visit to a museum in a city a long time ago in a country far, far away.  Caroline Am Bergris made a welcome return to the group with a poem that nonetheless fails all attempts at adequate description.  John Hurley recalled seeing a young lad in happier times.  Katie Thornton brought us a remarkable first-person piece describing a woman scorned.  Olwyn Grimshaw is sure she needs a new computer; however her repair man has a different opinion.  Daphne Gloag brought us something experimental written for another workshop, which work we very much hope she continues.  Nayna Kumari is working on a series of poems on ‘difficult people’ and this weeks’ was an acute observation of the sort of man who operates more on transmit than receive.  James Priestman has been channelling the Bible according to Hamlet, as spoken to Horatio.  Finally, Nick Barth rounded off with a poem about not being able to write a poem, but nobody seemed to mind.

Rustling through the illustrious pages of the Archive my eye was suddenly caught, not by the name of a poet but an artist.  It seems that Thomas Gainsbrough was more than once a guest at Pitshanger Manor on his way to exhibit his work at the Royal Academy.  Gainsborough has of course been in the news recently due to a dreadful act of vandalism carried out upon one of his most famous portraits, The Morning Walk.   Much was made in these reports of Gainsborough’s decision to switch from landscapes to portraiture, and of course the hacks of the fourth estate assumed the reason was all to do with filthy lucre, portraits of nobs and their duchesses paying much more than trees and hills, however airy the brushwork.  Studying the Archive, I was struck by an incident which contradicts this theory.  It appears that Thomas Gurnell had invited Gainsborough to spend a few days on the estate on his way to London to take in the parkland and maybe knock up a few landscapes for the Royal Academy.  Gurnell was good enough to lay on some materials and had a stack of canvasses delivered for the purpose.  However when Gainsborough inspected the canvasses he found that they were all Portrait rather than Landscape, a technical nicety having apparently escaped the art material suppliers.  Stuck with the wrong aspect ratio Gainsborough was forced to paint portraits for the duration of his stay and found that he preferred the new medium.  History, once again, being made in Ealing.

If you have been, thank you for reading.

 

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Workshop, 22nd November 2106

“Words, words, words”, as the Danish Prince so pithily put it before tearing the Lord Polonius off yet another strip.  Words are our baggage, our currency and our legacy.  The English language is stuffed with words like some sort of alphabetised Chesterfield sofa, while other tongues get by with a narrow Chaise Longue or spindly Mies van der Rohe chair to settle back on when they want things to make sense.  Is it any wonder the world rushes to learn English, considering how many words we have to choose from?  Thank goodness the English no longer own their own language or who knows how we might conspire to ruin it.  Enough! I hear you cry.  Break off this interminable preamble and get to the point.  In which case I will.  It has not escaped my notice that this is the time of year when The Dictionary Industry of the English Speaking World likes to corral an annual crop (is it possible to corral a crop?  What would work better? Harvest a herd?  Wrangle a regiment?) of neologisms.  Now, there’s a word that must have sent ruddy-faced Colonels to their blotters to dash off a flamer to The Times.  Why the devil do we need a word for new words?  Piffle!  Yours, Apoplectic of Andover (Mrs).

Any new words appearing in this week’s Workshop were handled in the traditional and time-honoured way; humanely netted, delicately stunned, they were then pinned to a green baize board alongside a small hand-written paper label.  Daphne Gloag does not always approve of neologisms but is always inventive in her use of words, as in this evening’s Tintorreto-inspired examination of Christmas Journeys.  David Hovatter was not one to discourage new words as he traced the journey from fish hook to sushi.  Jagdish applied a new meaning or two to old words as he told us about a potted plant at prayer.  Pat Francis played with words and form as she contrasted two views of fate.  Alan Chambers returned us to fish, lines and nets with another contrast- this time of two farms in a sea Loch.  Danuta Sotnik-Kondyck is embracing the English language with a poem about wolves she translated from a piece she originally composed in her native Polish.  Peter Francis chose some disturbing words for his imagined evidence to a truth and reconciliation commission.  John Hurley rendered extraordinary ideas to paper as he imagined an Irish President’s introduction to a President Elect. Nick Barth brought us a stranded astronaut, hearing words from the ether.  Martin Choules has not got anything to say, but he chose some great words to say it.  Finally, Ariadne Kazantzis pictured an alien learning English in order to teach young Anthony a few things about our planet.

I am sure you will be familiar with the more headline-grabbing neologisms of 2016.  Brexit has followed the increasingly unfamiliar Grexit and foreshadows the hypothetically water-logged Nexit.  The alt-right have caused many people to become trumpatised following a momentous event of some moment over the pond.  The OED now recognises moobs, whether or not they are scrumdiddlyumptiousSlacktivism is joining clicktivism in replacing activism, or the messy and exhausting process of painting banners and catching agoraphobia in the company of hordes of unruly strangers.  The now over-familiar mamil is being supplanted by the much more attractive spandexual, often on individuals who are beardtastic.

Which rampant hashtaggery brings me to the word which The Pitshanger Poets will strive to bring to popular usage in 2017, if only because we strongly advocate its application in this world of chronocide (the killing of time), via wexting (walking while texting) and linkulitus (the habitual sending of web links to others).  The word is unliterate, meaning a person who knows how to read but staunchly refuses to do so.

If you have been on this occasion, thank you for doing so.

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Workshop, 5th July 2016

I used to enjoy browsing the newspapers.  Following the initial cup of needful at the crack of nine my Man returns with the egg and soldiers and a selection of freshly-ironed national dailies.  I normally allow a mere hour or two of browsing while toying with an odd morsel of toast and marmalade before preparing myself for the onslaught of the day.  The most enjoyable part of observing this country’s Fourth Estate is to see just how far Journalists are willing to go to induce a condition of sheer terror in their unsuspecting readership.  Ah, happy days!  My mornings are not so jolly any more.  With the recent momentous series of momentous events, one thinks back on warnings of the break out of a new killer epidemic, news of a terrifying and unforeseen effect of global warming or confirmed observations of a huge meteor on a direct collision path with the Earth with a sort of misty-eyed nostalgia.

It is thus a relief to escape to the Pitshanger Poetry Workshop once a week.  John Hurley filled the kettle for tea with the story of a politician rocking the boat.  Olwyn Grimshaw set about lighting the grill with her observation of a scuffle amongst Magpies.  Alan Chambers started slicing the bread for toast with the story of a diversion.  Owen Gallagher warmed the pot with a boy’s dream of swimming.  Christine Shirley made sure the butter and marmalade were on the table in time for her piece on a gathering for friends.  Peter Francis brought in another poem from his wife, Mrs Francis who crisped the bacon with a poem about the life of the mind in an attic.  Doig Simmons made the tea and poured the milk with a piece about the face of his daughter.  Nick Barth fetched the orange juice from the fridge with a meditation on seizing the morning.  Finally Martin Choules kept an eye on the toaster to make sure nothing burned because the knob does not really work any more with his recipe for Gall Ink.

Another source of relief has been the recent goings-on at my Club, the British East-Asian Opium Eater and Retired Schoolmaster’s Club.  As you will recall, this is the organisation which does such a lot of good for retired schoolmasters here at home and also for the hard-working poppy farmers of the world.  The Opium-Eating wing of the club has always welcomed members from like-minded clubs around the world with the result that Retired Schoolmasters were submitting complaints to the Chairman that all the most comfortable wing-backed leather armchairs were occupied by somnambulant Opium-Eaters from Afghanistan, China, Russia and who knows where just at the time when the Schoolmasters dropped in for a whisky and soda.  Matters came to a head and the Retired Schoolmasters proposed that foreign Opium Eaters be barred from the club.  The Opium Eaters countered that without strong relations with overseas opium enthusiasts there would be no more opium and in an attempt to resolve the situation the Chairman called a vote of unity, which he then lost.  As a result, we are now voting for a new Chairman who will resolve once and for all the relationship between the Club and the International opium culture which we have done so much to create.

Everyone at the club had been expecting a straight fight between Boris Brummel, a descendant of the notorious ‘Beau’ Brummel and the ex-master of Squeers’ New, Free And Open Academy for Pedantry, Mr Wackford Given.  However, Brummel had to withdraw from the contest having suffered a severe injury to his back and two surprise candidates have entered the fray from the School Ma’am section, Ms Angela Lansbury and Ms Theresa Wont.  Ms Wont appears to have a clear lead with the Retired School Masters, partly, it is said due to her large collection of antique walking canes, an interest I have never shared but which has the Retired School Masters queueing down the corridors when she brings them in to the Club for a private viewing.    We are promised a lively contest when the ballot is held in a few weeks’ time and it certainly offers some respite from the momentous period of momentous events we currently find ourselves in.  If you have been, thank you for reading.

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Workshop, 28th June 2016

You know, when a chap walks down the street, strolls into the lounge bar of his local hostelry or lowers his newspaper in the club and just happens to catch the eye of another chap, it helps if the party of the first part is broadly aware of the what is going on in the bean of the party of the second.  Up until the momentous events of what we shall call the last few momentous days there was a good chance that a shirt, arm band or button badge would be enough to give the game way.  Even though both sides utilise the trad. colours of red, white and blue it was still possible to ascertain the allegiance of the other cove at a glance.  Care could then be taken with any subsequent conversation not to cross a line, raise a hackle or prod at a sore and harmony would be maintained.  However, since the momentous events of the last few momentous days, recognisable identifiers have been cast aside.  What is more, it’s not as if they look appreciably different from us.  However, before one becomes despondent, contemplating the burden the last few decades in Europe have imposed on this country of ours and the many more years of pain we are likely to experience, it is worth remembering that it’s only a game and that it’s nice to see a tiny country like Iceland doing so well.

It was also nice to experience such a rich and varied collection of poems as this week’s workshop.  Olwyn Grimshaw was first off the spot when the whistle blew, pointing out the inconsistencies in allowing Mr Mark Carney to print his own money when a few creative hours playing idly with a decent colour laser printer can put you or me into jail.  Owen Gallagher then sped off down the left wing with a concentrated piece on the modern face of the Highland Clearances.  Martin Choules just avoided a high tackle with a tightly argued poem about the reluctance of young people to vote.  Daphne Gloag maintained possession with two versions of a recent poem concerning the light of now.  John Hurley did well to stay on side as he covered Brexit, BoJo, MiGo, NiFar, DaCam and WhatNow?  Nick Barth chose to boot it up the park with a hazily-remembered road movie to Berlin.  Peter Francis maintained formation with a solemn poem about a lost love.  Alan Chambers perplexed the back four with his memories of JS Graham.  Finally, Ariadne created a solid finish with a revision of her story about Georgia being late for school.

What with the momentous events of the last few momentous days it has been my solace and indeed happy privilege to spend time among the recent archaeological discoveries at Pitshanger Manor.  Items that have, no doubt, been carefully and painstakingly revealed by the precise fall of a size nine steel toe-capped boot or careful swing of a five-kilo sledgehammer are now emerging thick and fast from the priceless clouds of Georgian dust.  Once again I cannot go into too many details, however, suffice it to say that we believe we have come across another copy of the very document that must have inspired the all-too-serious Ealing Comedy, Passport to Pimlico.  The document is now with a team of crack, highly-offensive combat lawyers and while I cannot reveal the name of the London Borough that we believe is no longer (and, indeed has never been) a part of the United Kingdom, it will be fascinating to see how much a pint of London Pride will cost in Euros in the Grapevine Bar here at Questor’s once the dust settles.  If you have been, thank you for reading.

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Workshop, 21st June 2016

You know, as I stroll around the clean and airy streets of this fair borough, by chance catching the eye of an acquaintance, offering a cheery wave and perhaps interrupting their progress down the Queens Highway for a brief chat, I believe everyone agrees with me that there is only one subject worthy of consideration:  What does the EU referendum mean for Poetry?

In the Leave Camp, parallels with Switzerland are high on the agenda.  If Britain so to offer more of an arm’s-length relationship with the EU, as does the home of cuckoo-clocks, triangular chocolate and well-stocked nuclear shelters, then we should look to the way they do things.  The Swiss we are told, cite the British as having created their Tourist Industry, the key event being a notorious Chalet Holiday on Lake Geneva in 1816.  So imprinted on the collective consciousness was this near-legendary trip that for many years it was impossible to take a Thomas Cook Coach Holiday to any Alpine resort without being offered a thick volume of Gothic Fiction and a quart of Laudanum on departure from Dover.  The implications are clear; leave the EU and Britain will naturally open itself up to coach parties of hallucinogen-swilling Romantics in Empire-line frocks and velvet suits, disturbing the peace with their rambling nocturnal declamations and assertions of post-apocalyptic societies populated by monosyllabic human salmagundi roaming the countryside and frightening the peasants.  In the words of Messrs Hall and Oates, I can’t vote for that.

Something I can vote for is the success of tonight’s workshop.  John Hurley launched us into memories of an abandoned Hotel near his birthplace in Ireland.  Owen Gallagher brought back a poem about TVs (Transvestites, that is) in the RC (Church, that is).  Alan Chambers has been working up an older piece revolving around five words of conventional greeting.  Peter Francis brought another poem by Mrs Francis, who could not be with us, on the subject of Gaudairenca.  Nick Barth brought us something of a polemic on the Balkanization of, well, the Balkans.  Martin Choules has written a collage poem containing lines from The Golden Journey to Samarkand by James Elroy Flecker.  The form he used (in which each stanza’s last line is the next line from the quoted poem) has a name and I have the Ferranti Pegasus working on finding the specific term for it.  Daphne brought back the opening poem from her ‘Time’ sequence, presenting us with Past, Present and Future.  Finally Ariadne brought us her greatly enjoyable children’s poem – the tale of Lucie Lu and the Pumpkin Pirates.

Back to the referendum if you can stand it; I know how much I am asking of you.

The Remain camp has, I am afraid to say adopted fear as a weapon by spreading concern among my fellow creatives as to what precisely will happen to the Poetic License if we go it alone.  Under first the Lisbon Agreement and then the Maastricht Treaty the rights of poets have been enshrined in EU Law.  Current Legislation protects the poet’s right to use such such techniques as beginning a sentence with a preposition; mixing a metaphor; combining feet or rhythms (for example combining an Amphibrach with an Anapaest and a clipped line ending); starting a line with a lower-case letter; certain forms of assonance and half-rhyme; enjambment; protection of both the Petrarchan and our very own Shakespearian Sonnet forms, and so on.  In fact, there is an enormous amount of detail I could go into here.  It is likely that at least two thirds of the EU legislation Nigel Farage rails against on the British Statute is specifically applicable to poetry and prosody.  If only this was better understood by the British public, perhaps we might have obtained the vital de-prioritisation of subsidies for the Iambic Hexameter at Maastricht, a measure which only benefits French poets and a handful of strolling Basque Troubadours, who by the way gave up strolling years ago because they can afford to drive Mercedes-Benzes.  I recall the frustration at the time; John Major was clearly not interested in pressing the issue and hard-working British poets lost out as a result.

The great concern we should all have is that Michael Gove is in the Leave Camp.  Should EU Poetry protections be removed my guess is that he will not be able to keep his hands off the Poetic License and a decade of mandated A-B rhyme schemes and tum-ti-tum metrics will follow.  A poetic brain-drain is inevitable and the best and brightest will leave the country to join prestigious Poetry Workshops in English language-friendly cities such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen.  There, the opportunity to work on highly paid projects such as Eurovision Song Contest entry lyrics will make it all but impossible to attract our best poets back to the UK any time soon, and a generation of fine writers will be lost.

You know what to do.  Vote early, vote often and if you have been, thank you for reading.

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