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COLENSO BOOKS: A selection of titles

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Sunday, 28 March 2010

Guy Tortora Band

Great blues gig last night, the Guy Tortora Band. He's Italian-Californian; his band consisted of a Hungarian on keyboard, an Italian on electric bass, and an English drummer.

GT is a brilliant and versatile guitarist, on acoustic, electric and bottleneck.

He played his own compositions and interesting arrangements of "Nobody's Fault But Mine", "Viola Lee Blues" etc.

Well worth considering for the Aghiot Festival. His website is

Originally from Pasadena, he now lives in London.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

There's a call from Castle Cary; John Mackie; Parson Woodforde; R.R.C. Gregory

“TeƤke I, when my zun’s-a-zet,
No vurder west nor Zomerset.”

 Ground plan of Normandy, Castle Cary

Castle Cary has a very special place in my heart. My feelings for Castle Cary, as it once was, are well expressed by John Mackie, who was a master of the Somerset dialect ("Dialect Poems and a Play", Folk Press Ltd, 1925).

There's a call from Castle Cary

When the dew be on the daisies, when the dawn be in the sky,
When the birds do start their praises in vull-droated harmony,
There's a tuggen at the heart-strings, there's a stirren in the breast,
Then once more do vlow the mind-springs droo thik message vrom the west.


There's a call from Castle Cary, whispered by the western breeze,
There's a call vrom Castle Cary vrom the hedgerows an' the trees.
Vrom the grass-grounds, brooks, and uplands, vrom the dawn and close o' day
There's a call vrom Castle Cary- I must go wi'out delay.....

As someone who has spent much of his life in "vur-off lands" and who often has to 'twist his tongue' with French and Greek, I enjoy John Mackie's poem "Zomerzet"

What languages the volk do speak
To I, wold vashioned, beant no odds;
They’m vree wi’ Latin, Vrench or Greek,
To twist their tongues; but by the Gods!
Just pray I never shan’t vorget
The speech o’ good wold Zomerzet!

Some volk do goo to zee the zights
Athirt the sea to vur-off lands;
An' climb the white-capp'd giddy heights,
When scenes so veair be close at hand.
Thik view once zeed who can vorget
Vrom Lodge Hill down to Zomerzet?

I used to live in Castle Cary, close to Lodge Hill, which could be the reason why I love that last couplet:

"Thik view once zeed who can vorget
Vrom Lodge Hill down to Zomerset?"

Mackie writes in his foreword (25 November, 1925):

"If I can lay claim to any merit in the verses it is that they are from the heart, and if any of them strike a responsive chord in the breasts of my readers I shall rejoice...Some of the happiest hours of my life have been spent in the delightful company of sons of the soil in Somerset, under whose homespun coats beat some of the truest and noblest hearts in Christendom; nature's true gentlemen."

John Mackie on William Barnes, Southern Times, April 21, 1923

Parson Woodforde chronicled the life of Castle Cary and Ansford in his diary. Here's a typical extract, from September 22, 1769:

"Great rejoicings at Cary to-day being the Coronation Day. Bells ringing all day, Cudgell playing at Crokers, a very large bonfire on the top of the hill and very grand fireworks in the evening with the firing of many guns. All at Mr. Creed's, Mr. Hindley and Mr Potts and Duck's expense. I was at all...The fireworks were sent from London and were Sky-Rocketts, Mines, Crackers, Wheels and divers Indian Fireworks."

Finally, a poem by R.R.C. Gregory, from "Poems in Dialect" (1922)

and by Douglas Macmillan - published in  "From Camel to Cary"

Friday, 26 March 2010

Winterborne Came and William Barnes

Dorset has William Barnes and many beautiful small churches like that of Winterborne Came. The Revd. William Barnes, who was rector at this church, is buried in the churchyard. The church is mainly 15th century; the screen is 16th century and the pulpit 17th century.

Members of the William Barnes Society will be attending the Annual Service of Remembrance at the (redundant) church on 25th April.

Barnes may never be canonised a Saint, but he should at least be restored to his rightful place in the literary canon of the Western world (and not just in Wessex)!

"Vor I do zee that 'tis our sin
Do meake woon'es soul so dark 'ithin,
When God would gi'e woone zunsheen."

From William Barnes "The Spring".

Winterborne Came, from Dorset History Online

Monday, 15 March 2010

Maiden Castle and Jordan Hill Temples: better than the Acropolis? Not quite Sounion?


I visited two ruined temples today, Roman or Romano-Celtic.

The one on top of Maiden Castle may have been dedicated to Minerva (Athena).

With the skylarks singing on a warm day, it is almost better than the Acropolis, if not quite the Parthenon!

Jordan Hill, Weymouth, isn't as impressive as Sounion, I admit, but the view below the temple out across the bay to Portland is special. Not a bad spot from which to watch some of the sailing Olympics in 2012.