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Friday, 31 August 2012

Cadbury Castle ('Camelot'), Somerset

"Cadbury Castle, appropriately for Camelot, 
was plainly a kind of British Troy".

('Cadbury: is it Camelot?' Leslie Alcock and Geoffrey Ashe, in
"The Quest for Arthur's Britain", ed. Geoffrey Ashe, 1968).

From Cadbury Castle to Glastonbury Tor

Richard Tabor (pdf)

"Cadbury Castle, The Hillfort and Landscapes" by Richard Tabor.

For Norman Ackroyd's etching, South Cadbury Hill (1992), see his website (section, England, Southern Counties)

Pilsdon Pen, Dorset

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Patrick Leigh Fermor, Forthcoming Biography

News about the Artemis Cooper biography.

THESSALONIKI, Centenary of Liberation, with Charles Dickens (Bicentenary of Birth)

Press Release from the Municipality of Thessaloniki, re two day event at Makedonia Palace Hotel, 30 and 31 August. Dedicated jointly to the Centenary of the Liberation of Thessaloniki and to the Bicentenary of the Birth of Charles Dickens, and to the strong tradition of foreign language teaching in Thessaloniki. There will also be an exhibition of books.

25η Επετειακή Διημερίδα ξενόγλωσσης εκπαίδευσης & έκθεση ξενόγλωσσου βιβλίου
Αφιέρωμα στα 100 χρόνια από την απελευθέρωση της Θεσσαλονίκης & στα 200 χρόνια από τη γέννηση του Κάρολου Ντίκενς

Ο Σύλλογος Ιδιοκτητών Κέντρων Ξένων γλωσσών Βόρειας Ελλάδας – PALSO, οργανώνει επετειακή, εκπαιδευτική Διημερίδα για καθηγητές ξένων γλωσσών, ιδιοκτήτες κέντρων ξένων γλωσσών, φοιτητές των ξενόγλωσσων τμημάτων του Α.Π.Θ., γονείς και μαθητές. Η εκδήλωση που πραγματοποιείται στο πλαίσιο εορτασμού των 100 χρόνων από την απελευθέρωση της πόλης, θα φιλοξενήσει εισηγήσεις από διάφορα επιστημονικά πεδία, καθώς και ανθρώπους των γραμμάτων και τεχνών.

Την έναρξη της εκδήλωσης έχουν κληθεί να κάνουν ο Υπουργός Μακεδονίας Θράκης κος Θ. Καράογλου και ο Δήμαρχος Θεσσαλονίκης κος Γ. Μπουτάρης. Μεταξύ των εισηγητών θα παρευρίσκονται οι Γιάννης Μέγας, συγγραφέας, Κατερίνα Κίτση, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια Τομέας Αγγλικής Λογοτεχνίας του Α.Π.Θ., Χρυσάνθη Σωτηρίου, Εκπαιδευτικός Αγγλικής, μέλος της Ομάδας Αγγλικής για το Ψηφικαό Σχολείο, Αναστασία Ροθώνη, Υπ. Διδάκτωρ του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών, Ελένη Λιβανίου, Εκπαιδευτθκή Ψυχολόγος, Albertos Azaria, Πανεπιστήμιο Μακεδονίας και πολλοί άλλοι Έλληνες και ξένοι ομιλητές από το χώρο της ξενόγλωσσης εκπαίδευσης.

Επίσης θα συμμετέχουν φορείς πιστοποίησης και ξένα μορφωτικά Ινστιτούτα όπως το Βρετανικό Συμβούλιο, η Ελληνοαμερικανική ένωση, London Exams (Edexcel –PTE Exams), MSU – Anatolia College, κτλ. Τις εργασίες της διημερίδας, θα πλαισιώσει έκθεση ξενόγλωσσου και εκπαιδευτικού βιβλίου, multimedia και εποπτικού υλικού.

Η διημερίδα θα πραγματοποιηθεί στις 30 και 31 Αυγούστου στο ξενοδοχείο Makedonia Palace από τις 10.00-18.00 με την είσοδο για το κοινό ελεύθερη. Περισσότερες πληροφορίες σχετικά με το πρόγραμμα της διημερίδας μπορείτε να βρείτε στο site:

Tempest: Roll on, Bob

Video of song from Bob Dylan's forthcoming album (Guardian).

Rolling Stone has it too

I guess the song title refers to the Pennsylvania passenger train which ran from New York to Pittsburg. It was apparently named after Pittsburg's Fort Duquesne.

The best track on the album (for me, the only good song) is "Roll on John"

Eva Rausing, Olof Palme

An extraordinary development reported in The Telegraph.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Coleridge and Wordsworth in Somerset

Some well-known passages, related to Nether Stowey:


"During the first year that Mr. Wordsworth and I were neighbours, our conversations turned frequently on the two cardinal points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination. The sudden charm, which accidents of light and shade, which moon-light or sun-set diffused over a known and familiar landscape, appeared to represent the practicability of combining both. These are the poetry of nature. The thought suggested itself (to which of us I do not recollect) that a series of poems might be composed of two sorts. In the one, the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, supernatural; and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real. And real in this sense they have been to every human being who, from whatever source of delusion, has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency. For the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life; the characters and incidents were to be such, as will be found in every village and its vicinity, where there is a meditative and feeling mind to seek after them, or to notice them, when they present themselves.

In this idea originated the plan of the 'Lyrical Ballads'; in which it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. Mr. Wordsworth on the other hand was to propose to himself as his object, to give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind's attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us; an inexhaustible treasure, but for which in consequence of the film of familiarity and selfish solicitude we have eyes, yet see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel nor understand".

From This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison:

"Now, my friends emerge
Beneath the wide wide Heaven—and view again
The many-steepled tract magnificent
Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea,
With some fair bark, perhaps, whose sails light up
The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles
Of purple shadow! Yes! they wander on
In gladness all..."

Richard Burton reads Frost at Midnight

Dorset : an equivalent view

Dorothy Wordsworth's Alfoxden Journal (1798) can be found here

Coleridge's Somerset by Victor Osborne (The Telegraph)

Monday, 27 August 2012

Lewesdon Hill, Dorset

William Crowe's Lewesdon Hill (1788)

An extract, with map

Greece again

Reuters reminds us.

Keep Talking Greece

Athens News

Kathimerini: A Sizzling September

Migrant raids and reception centres (Athens News)

An interesting crop of readers' letters to Athens News

Keep Talking Greece, on health and medical expenses

Hadspen House, near Castle Cary, Somerset

Daily Mail, 14 August:

"HOLLYWOOD heart-throbs George Clooney and Johnny Depp have been named potential buyers of art dealer Niall Hobhouse’s Grade II-listed pile Hadspen House near Castle Cary after they were spotted in Somerset over the past few weeks. Hadspen and its 850 acres has been in the family for 227 years and is a snip at £13 million. Niall, who lives in Chelsea, won’t confirm the celebrity interest, but adds: ‘It is too big a commitment. The house needs a lot of love and attention.’ Hardly selling it, Niall!"

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Combe Florey Thoughts and Anecdotes, Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh,  18 July 1961. A few of the thoughts that Waugh had jotted down over the years, and transcribed in Combe Florey, Somerset (The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, ed Michael Davie, 1976):

We are all American at puberty; we die French.

Doppelgängers don't recognise one another.

Politicians thrive by concealing the price-tags. 

Where are you dying tonight?

A paragraph from "Decline and Fall" (yes, we are amused):

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Remembering R.D.Laing, The Politics of Experience

These words from R.D.Laing's "The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise" (1967) seemed profound back in the Sixties:

"Words in a poem, sounds in movement, rhythm in space, attempt to recapture personal meaning in personal time and space from out of the sights and sounds of a depersonalised, dehumanised world. They are bridgeheads into alien territory. They are acts of insurrection. Their source is from the Silence at the centre of each of us".

They still echo on. They were some of the words and ideas that were in my head when I first went to Corfu in 1967. Word salads, knots, human relationships, divided selves. Was he more confused or confusing?

The first chapter of  "The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise".

More on "The Politics of Experience"

Friday, 24 August 2012

Samuel Daniel on the Global Future of the English Language (1599)

Samuel Daniel, Somerset-born poet (born 1562), prophetic lines from his long poem Musophilus (1599):

And who, in time, knows whither we may vent
The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores
This gain of our best glory shall be sent,
T'enrich unknowing nations with our stores?
What worlds in th'yet unformed Occident
May come refined with th'accents that are ours?

A longer extract

Complete text of Musophilus

Some see these lines as a source of national pride, others see them as a precursor of 'linguistic imperialism'.

Somewhat Anglocentric, indeed, but I'm more interested in the Somerset connection.

Caliban had an answer:

You taught me language, and my profit on't
Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!

Shakespeare, The Tempest.

Hellas Airlines, new Greek Budget Airline

Sounds good, see Hellas Frappe

Some competition at last.

Official website here

Will Corfu be included?

Greek Theme in Dorset (West Bay), Vanessa Gardiner, Margaret Eddershaw

Saturday night (25 August):

'Classical Elements' a major solo show of paintings by Vanessa Gardiner, who won the Prince of Wales Bursary for the Arts by the British School at Athens, enabling her to embark on a series of trips to Greece. Her British perspective on Olympian architecture and landscape is bold and rigorous. See her work alongside contemporary furniture by Petter Southall, a former traditional boat-builder in his native Norway. Visit and have a preview of the works exhibited

Also, taking place at Sladers Yard on Saturday 25th August at 8pm is ‘Bearing Greek Gifts’, with poet and actor Margaret Eddershaw performing classic Greek poetry (Homer and others), alongside poems inspired by the current Vanessa Gardiner exhibition.

More from Sladers Yard

About Vanessa Gardiner

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Greek Crisis in a Greek Context

Inside Greece on the economic crisis, Nick Malkoutzis

The result of people losing faith in the accuracy of all economic statistics?

They tend to believe the evidence before their eyes.

They count the customers in the coffee shops.

They are not unaware of the number of houses and apartments that many of them still own.

Islands for lease?

On the Credibility Crisis (Kathimerini)

Update, 24 August, Samaras/Merkel:

'Samaras insisted that the coalition would seek to restore trust with its eurozone partners, saying that Greece was attempting to fix its “credibility deficit” as well as its public deficit'. (Kathimerini)

Reuters on the Merkel/Samaras meeting

Athens News report

Cautious support from France (Kathimerini)

New plans for income tax overhaul

Sept 1, New Taxation Legislation (Kathimerini, in Greek)

And the UK statistics?

A moveable feast.

UK Economy Tracker (BBC)

Cloistered from the Crisis (Spiegel Online) 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dorset Tunnel Landslip

Developments here (BBC)

Thomas Hardy Festival Walk; Hardy and The Trumpet Major

A splendid walk yesterday, organised by The Thomas Hardy Society as part of the Festival and Conference.
It started at Sutton Poyntz. We walked up the Dorset Ridgeway behind the village and to view the hillside chalk carving of King George III on his white horse, then to the villages of Bincombe and Upwey.
Sensitive and well-selected readings of extracts from The Trumpet Major and The Melancholy Hussar made it a memorable literary occasion for the whole group; some came from as far afield as the USA, Japan, Germany and Ireland. The weather was ideal, the five mile walk had been extremely well prepared through some beautiful landscapes, even if one brief diversion under barbed wire, and through brambles and stinging nettles, brought this idyllic rural experience a little too close to the realm of non-fiction, especially for those with bare legs and unsuitable shoes. The Dorset cream tea ensured a happy ending, unlike that of  the melancholy hussar.

"What feature of the Dorset landscape would be most strong to evoke the spirit of the county for her exiled sons? Perhaps the White Horse to the east of Weymouth would serve best for such a purpose". 
Llewelyn Powys, "The White Horse".

Sutton Poyntz, 'the smooth mill-pond'

"With its mill ponds, and duck ponds, and cool broad elder-tree shadows, Sutton Poyntz is a delightful village. Many old-fashioned cottage gardens may be seen here, story-book cottage gardens  of returned sailor boys, with lavender and myrtle at their doors, and their low upstair windows jasmine-muffled". 
Llweelyn Powys, "The White Horse".

Upwey (by the wishing well)

Hardy and The Trumpet Major (Dorset Life)

The Scarlet Tunic (clips) (The Melancholy Hussar)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

"The Beauties of Nature"

I've been leafing through an old book, "The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live In" by The Right Hon. Lord Avebury (1st ed. 1892; Macmillan and Co, 1904).

In the introduction (Chapter 1), the author writes:

"The greatest traveller cannot hope even in a long life to visit more than a very small part of our earth, and even of that which is under our very eyes how little we see! What we do see depends mainly on what we look for...In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the coloring, sportsmen the cover for game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not at all follow that we should see them."

He refers to a number of writers who have described the scenery of England and foreign scenery, of  'countries across the ocean', including Professor Colvin, who 'speaks with special admiration of Greek scenery':

"The air has not only a new transparency so that you can see farther into it than elsewhere, but a new quality, like some crystal of an unknown water, so that to see into it is a greater glory".

We should not complain, says Lord Avebury, especially about the south of England, "our winters are mild, and every month has its own charm and beauty:

In January we have the lengthening days.
In February we have the first butterfly.
In March we have the opening buds.
In April we have the young leaves and spring flowers.
In May we have the song of birds.
In June we have the sweet new-mown hay.
In July we have the summer flowers.
In August we have the golden grain.
In September we have the fruit.
In October we have the autumn tints.
In November we have the hoar frost on the trees and the pure snow.
In December we have, last not least, the holidays of Christmas, and the bright fireside".

That sums it up quite well, even in a double-dip recession!
Nature is not in deficit.

Portland's Olympic Village, New Homes

Dorset Echo report

I didn't even realise that these Olympic Village houses were for sale.

Sailors and windsurfers, you'd better hurry!

Update: vandals (Dorset Echo)

Monday, 20 August 2012

Culture in the Provinces (UK)

Casn't complain about the lack of culture down yere in Darzet:

Two nights of fantastic "live" opera from Glyndebourne: Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and a Ravel Double Bill (L'heure espagnole, and L'enfant et les sortileges). Brilliant.

And between the two, a wonderful and witty evening of Roger McGough reading from his new collection, to launch the Thomas Hardy Festival and Conference. We talked of Prague: I was pleased to find out that he'd read my blog posting in advance of the event, and even printed it out.

Hot on the hills of Lazy Lester from Louisiana...

That's cultural democracy.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Dorset Seaside (Sharks and Scallops)

Two items in The Sunday Times today, on opposite pages.

Page 20, Daisy Goodwin on her favourite beach in West Dorset, on sharks, beach cafes etc.

Page 21, Charles Clover on Lyme Bay, illegal scallop pirates, on sharks and dolphins, reefs damaged by dredgers, lobster and crab pots towed away.

More active management of the sea needed, and of the beaches and beach cafes.

National Trust take note, as well as Marine and Fishery authorities!

Bridport News on the shark sighting

Folklore and Folksong (Dorset and Somerset; William Barnes, Cecil Sharp)

William Barnes on Folklore (written 1886; published 1922, in Dorsetshire Folk-Lore, John Symonds Udal

Barnes concludes his Fore-Say: "Neither folklore, nor a form of folk speech, is confined by the outline of a county; and if no piece of Dorset folklore should be given in a book of Dorset folklore because it is found also in Somerset, Devon, Wilts, or Hants, then it should not be given in a book of the folklore of either of those shires, because it is found in Dorset".

From introduction (C.L.M.) to Folk Songs from Somerset, First Series, 1904, by Cecil J. Sharp and Charles L. Marson:

"Folk-song, unknown in the drawing-room, hunted out of the school, chased by the chapel deacons, derided by the middle classes, and despised by those who have been uneducated into the three R's, takes refuge in the fastnesses of tap-rooms and the wilder parts. It is a treasure to be sought and found in nooks and corners, underneath much mental and some moral lumber. It comes out shyly, late at night, and is heard when the gentry have gone home to bed, when the barrack-room has exhausted its Music-hall menu. It is to be found when men have well drunk. The parson hears of it, but rarely hears it. Domesticated and holy Penelope does not sing it at her loom...You must ask our Arcadian Aspasias if you want to get news of it".

Ralph Vaughan Williams, National Music, 1934:

"The folk-singer, being un-selfconscious and unsophisticated and bound by no prejudices or musical etiquette, is absolutely free in his rhythmical figures".

On Cecil Sharp (Wikipedia)

"No Sir!" Not the familiar Somerset version of 'O No John' I was taught in a Somerset school!
From the Cecil Sharp Mss, as reproduced in James Reeves' 'The Idiom of the People' (1958) 

"I find myself that, although I can rapidly unlock the hearts of our Devon and Cornish singers, I find more difficulty elsewhere- I do not understand the peasant in other parts so thoroughly as I do in the West, for there we have a score of subjects in common: we know about each other and each other's friends and companions, about places associated with each other's old recollections- we are on common ground very soon."

S. Baring Gould, "A Garland of Country Song", 1895.

"I have written out the songs exactly as I heard them with no attempts at Bowdlerisms or expurgation. I thought it best upon reflection to treat the songs just as the tunes, though it is of course clear that a certain number of the verses are quite unprintable".

Henry Hammond, Letter to Lucy Broadwood, June, 1905.

"The song of the land, the song of rural labour, the song of delight in the many forms of life with which we share our physical world, is too important and too moving to be tamely given up, in an embittered betrayal, to the confident enemies of all significant and actual independence and renewal".

Raymond Williams ("The Country and the City", 1973)

"There was the abstract and limiting definition of  'folksong', which in Cecil Sharp was based on the full rural myth of the 'remnants' of the 'peasantry', and which specifically excluded, as not of the 'folk', the persistent songs of the industrial and urban working people, who did not fit the image but who were continuing to create, in an authentic popular culture, what it suited this period and this class to pretend was a lost world. It was then not only that the real land and its people were falsified; a traditional and surviving rural England was scribbled over and almost hidden from sight by what is really a suburban and half-educated scrawl. That is the damage which can never be forgotten."

Raymond Williams ("The Country and the City")

Countess Martinengo-Cesaresco, "Essays in the Study of Folk-Songs" (London, 1886), p.1, on the study of folk-songs and "the way to set about seeking after old lore":

"We ought to shake off as much as possible of our conventional civilisation which frightens uneducated peasants, and makes them think, at best, that we wish to turn them into ridicule. If we must not hope to pass for spirits of earth or air, we can aim at inspiring such a measure of confidence as will persuade the natural man to tell us what he still knows of those vanishing beings, and to lend us the key to his general treasure-box before all that is inside be reduced to dust".

No comment.

A folk-song about folk-song collectors:

Cecil Sharp he scoured old Somerset,
The Appalachians too;
Henry Hammond biked round Dorset,
All in the foggy dew.

They cycled and they hiked it,
They rattled round the lanes,
They searched in pub and workhouse
For old-fashioned folk-song strains.

They noted down in note-books
One half of what they heard;
They cut out all the juicy bits,
And every other word.

Before Cecil there was Sabine,
A double-barrelled squire-cum-Rev…
He hunted down his song-birds
Then rewrote the truth they’d give.

Before Maud was Lucy Broadwood,
Charles and Percy, Ralph and George;
Henry went with brother Robert,
To ensure no song was forged.

But they edited and they censored,
And tampered with each tune,
So what they handed down to us
Wasn’t even fit to croon.

The Reverends were most worthy,
The collectors all meant well;
But those toothless peasant singers
Were all left to go to hell.

  With a fol-derol-de-rol-de
  With a right fol-derol-de-day!


Finally, a Marshwood Vale saying (a suitable subject for a folk-song?)

"Faults be thick when love be thin"

(from "Some Folklore of Marshwood Vale" by Cecil Walter Creed, as told to J. Stevens Cox, Toucan Press, Guernsey).

Friday, 17 August 2012

Greece and Corfu: Random News Roundup

Some items of passing interest:

Keep Talking Greece on Fake Pensioners

Phoenix Ark's Blog on Incident at Agni, Corfu

The Pink Palace, Aghios Gordios, Corfu (The Greek Reporter)

Farewell to Edward Lear (Corfucius)

Shrinking economy, David Jolly, New York Times

Survival Fund, Hellas Frappe

"We all binged", Pangalos on Collective Responsibility (Athens News)

War of nerves; sticks and carrots (Kathimerini)

Hans-Peter Keitel etc

Allergic to business? (Kathimerini)

Samaras Interview (Bild; in German)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

John Steinbeck in Bruton, Somerset; Bruton Town

When I was at school in Bruton, Somerset, I had no idea that John Steinbeck was living nearby, at Discove Cottage, Redlynch. He rented the cottage (found for him by Robert Bolt, the playwright and Millfield schoolteacher) for nine months in 1959, three years before he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. What an inspiration he might have been, had I been a few years older, but I wasn't even 15 then.

One of Steinbeck's typists in Bruton was a Mrs Webb, and another was Sallie Vallins, the wife of John Vallins, an outstanding teacher at King's School, Bruton from 1956-1965. John was to be my English teacher in the Sixth Form (he introduced me to the poetry of Hopkins and Donne, and helped to prepare me for Oxford). He writes, in King's School, Bruton Remembered (edited Basil Wright, Castle Cary Press), p. 126:

"I was teaching English to their fifth-form year and had read in a teacher's manual that "Time spent reading a good book aloud to a class is seldom wasted". I was reading Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Sallie had a part-time job at Discove House, and the Leslies were to let their cottage to an American, who turned out to be John Steinbeck. Sallie typed for him, and we visited him and his wife. I asked him to talk to the class, but he said that public speaking was his last virginity, which he intended to hang onto (I did not know at the time that this was a quotation). He would, however, welcome ones or twos who might go out to the cottage on a Sunday. I think John Mole* and Tim Blanning* went several times. One became a History don and the other a poet, having read English at my own college".

For Steinbeck's correspondence, posted from Bruton Post Office, see the appendix to "The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights" (ed. Chase Horton); pp 329-361, letters dated from March 24, 1959 to September 10, 1959.

March 24, 1959:

"The countryside is turning as lush as a plum. Everything is popping...All in all, this is an ancient place...There's a quality here that I haven't known for very long. The twentieth century seems very remote."

March 30, 1959:

"The peace I have dreamed about is here, a real thing, thick as a stone and feelable and something for your hands...Meanwhile I can't describe the joy. In the mornings I get up early to have a time to listen to the birds. It's a busy time for them. Sometimes for over an hour I do nothing but look and listen and out of this comes a luxury of rest and peace and something I can only describe as in-ness".

April 20, 1959:

"The wife of one of the masters of King's School is a good typist".

May 1, 1959:

"Yesterday something wonderful. It was a golden day and the apple blossoms are out and for the first time I climbed up to Cadbury- Camelot. I don't think I remember an impact like that. Could see from the Bristol Channel to the tops of the Mendip Hills and all the little villages. Glastonbury tor and King Alfred's towers on the other side...I walked all around the upper wall. And I don't know what I felt but it was a lot- like those slow hot bubbles of molten rock in a volcano, a gentle rumbling earthquake of the Spirit. I'll go back at night and in the rain, but this was noble gold even to use Tennyson's phrase- mystic- wonderful. Made the hairs prickle on the back of the neck."

July 3, 1959 (from Elaine Steinbeck):

"Yesterday we drove through Plush Folly, a new addition to our place-name list. It is in Dorset...We drove down to below Dorchester and climbed Maiden Castle, a vast hill-fortress which goes back to 2000 B.C. It's a marvelous and enormous flat-topped hill with 8 ditches, deep and steep-sided. You could sure defend one hell of a lot of people up there...We also went to Cerne Abbas to see the Dorset Giant...I think they put him there to scare the tar out of passing ladies..."

 John and Elaine Steinbeck outside Wells Cathedral 
(rear cover of "The Acts of King Arthur")

Guardian article (Lindesay Irvine)

Bruton School Days- How times have changed...

From the Steinbeck period: Film Review, The Dolphin, Christmas Term 1959: 

* From "The Jazzmen", a poem by John Mole (dedicated to Tim Blanning; John Mole is also a jazz clarinettist) published in Encounter:

"Did we really talk like this
With such absurd self-consciousness,
Deadly earnest, deadly cool
Young gentlemen from Public School
(A minor, country one what's more
And deft at turning out a bore)?
I think we did, and were, perhaps,
As awful as the other chaps.
Honour, though, our little clique
That dinned the Music Room each week."

And, to finish, from a poem called "Bruton" from Ian Kelway's Poet's Light:

"Sweet Somerset, thou should'st be proud to hold
Within thy fond embrace this tender spot;
Something unfocussed, something half forgot-
A glamour- rests upon thee here of old
Mediaeval days........

I should not deem it strange, if passing by
I met a mounted knight, armed cap-à-piè! “

It seems that John Steinbeck had much the same feelings about Bruton,
and also dreamed of meeting noble mounted knights.

Update (23 August): since this posting, I have bought James Crowden's excellent book "Literary Somerset", in which he has entries on Steinbeck in Bruton and on John Mole. He reproduces John Mole's poem "The Other Day- Summer 1959", an account of his visit, with two other boys from King's School, Bruton, to Discove to meet Steinbeck and his wife.

A folk-song collected by Cecil Sharp
Folk Songs from Somerset, First Series, 1904:

The Bramble Briar

Bruton Town (YouTube 1)

Bruton Town (YouTube 2)- with lyrics and chords

The best version is by Martin Carthy

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Melbourne, Australia, Most Liveable City in the World

The Economist Intelligence Unit makes a good case

Global Liveability Report, Economist Intelligence Unit

Shark sighting at West Bay, Dorset

From the Dorset Echo
Swimmers evacuated from West Bay

Greece seeks two-year extension; German reaction

An excerpt from yesterday's Financial Times:

"Greece is seeking a two-year extension of its latest austerity programme aimed at  improving the country's debt sustainability and prospects for a return to growth, according to a document obtained by the Financial Times.

Antonis Samaras, the centre-right prime minister, is expected to outline the proposal during talks next week with Angela Merkel, German chancellor, in Berlin and French President François Hollande in Paris."

Register with the FT to read more.

Extremely negative German reaction

FT Germany, 17 August update:
Griechenlands Premierminister will in Berlin um mehr Unterstützung für sein Land bitten. Doch der Politiker muss sich darauf einstellen, dass ihm die Deutschen eine Abfuhr erteilen. 

Hellas Frappe, behind the scenes

Juncker again (Telegraph)

Trying Times (Nick Malkoutzis)

In spite of the moratorium on public spending, nothing can put a damper on the 15th August celebrations!

Chronia Polla! Enjoy the panigyria!

Flights to Corfu (The Corfu Blog)

Castle Cary and Lodge Hill (Somerset Songlines)

From Highways and Byways in Somerset, Edward Hutton (Chapman and Hall, London, sixth edition, revised, 1955), p.218. The first edition was published in 1912 by Macmillan and Co. I agree with Hutton's description, except for the comment about Alfred's Tower, a folly perhaps, but a landmark which has always meant a lot to me

"Castle Cary is a most delightful place...on the summit of Lodge Hill...the view is the thing. In the centre Glastonbury Tor, on the right at further distance Brent Knoll; on either side hills over hills- the whole length of Mendip from Crook's Peak to Creech, the Poldens with Butleigh monument, the Quantocks from Cothelstone to Channel, the hills of Curry and Ham, the Blackdowns with the Wellington monument, and the Brendons backing on Dunkery some forty miles away. What a view!"

From "Somerset" by S.E. Winbolt (Penguin Guides, 1939, revised 1949).

The View from Lodge Hill:

"Cary's crowning glory is the wonderful view from the hill at the back of the one steps from the shelter of a thick hedge to the stile at the very edge of the ridge a panorama with few equals in England breaks upon the delighted gaze. Towering heavenward in the very centre of the picture is Glastonbury Tor....A volume could be written upon the things of interest to be seen from Lodge Hill, but here it must suffice to add that the whole of the landscape which lies before the spectator is hallowed ground, the land of kingly legend and romance, the land of Avalon and Camelot...the supreme spectacle to be obtained within ten minutes walk of the town- a view of which the native never tires and at which the visitor never fails to marvel."

"Castle Cary and District", Somerset Folk Guides, Folk Press Ltd (undated, after 1926?).

"The small market town of Castle Cary lies in the most beautiful country in Somerset. From Lodgehill, just above its climbing street and vanished castle site, strange hills looking like beached whales rise up from the endless levels below- Corton Denham, the height of Camelot at Cadbury, the Tor of Montacute, Hamdon Hill, Glastonbury Tor, Brent Knoll. In the far distance are the blue Quantocks and Severn Sea."

"Castle Cary, Somerset", Unwrecked England, Candida Lycett Green, The Oldie, October 2001 (Candida Lycett Green is the daughter of John Betjeman).

See also: "There's a Call from Castle Cary"

and "John Mackie, Castle Cary Dialect Poet"

"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?"

From R.R.C. Gregory's "Poems in Dialect" (1922):

From Douglas Macmillan's, "Spring Morn on Lodge Hill" from "By Camel and Cary" (1921):

I grew up in Castle Cary, in a house on Cary Hill, near the top of Lodge Hill, not far from the site of of the old castle.

A poem by Douglas Macmillan:

Two old Castle Cary songs:

Down Hell Ladder Lane

Down Hell Ladder Lane one warm summer evening,
My love and I went a-walking, not talking at all.
We sat down together on the stump of a tree-trunk,
Just listening to the birds as the night it did fall.

In silence we sat there till the sun it was sunk low,
Behind the pine-trees on the brow of the hill,
But an unwelcome guest came a rudely intruding,
The cold evening breeze broke love’s golden spell.

She shivered with the cold and asked for a covering,
So I gave her my coat and we started to talk.
Before I knew that the evening was over,
We were walking again up Hell Ladder Lane.

Moving House

My mother’s moving house today-
My childhood home for twenty years;
And I’m so far, so far away,
I cannot hide these childish tears.

I’ll never see my room again,
Nor my favourite chestnut tree.
The move is made, I won’t complain,
I’ll throw away my front door key.

My father’s grave neglected now,
The old home town is home no more;
Were he alive, would he allow
Strangers to walk in the door?

It’s farewell to the wedding bells
Which sounded on a summer’s day;
There are certain things one never sells
One should not even give away.

My toboggan and my cricket bat,
Old photographs and things like that.
But I hope you’ll be happy, I want you to be,
And I’ll try to imagine your house by the sea.

(written in Nairobi, Kenya, about Castle Cary and the move to West Bay, Dorset)

Newcomers' guide to living in Castle Cary and Bruton (The Guardian)

"Great and many are the divisions in C. Cary, and some almost irreconcilable. Send us Peace O Lord! With Thee O Lord all things are possible" ( The Diary of Parson James Woodforde, Sept. 14, 1768).

My Somerset Songlines 
(Glastonbury Tor, top left, Alfred's Tower, top right;
Castle Cary and Bruton (centre);
Cadbury Castle, Queen Camel and Sparkford (bottom left);
 Wincanton (bottom right)

Wincanton was at the outer limit of 'my territory' or Somerset songlines. Here's a poem by Jeffrey Boss ("The Manoeuvring Sun"(Bristol, undated):

The twilight closes: points of light
Leave undisturbed the bough-framed night,
Where church tower, gravestones, cloud-streaked sky,
The street in which I do not live,
Fall gently from my drinking eye.
A bitterness disturbs the grace
Of beauty where one has no place."

John Leland on Camelot (from The Itinerary):

"At the very south ende of the chirch of South-Cadbyri standith Camallate, sumtyme a famose toun or castelle, upon a very torre or hill, wunderfully enstrengtheid of nature, to the which be 2. enteringes up by very stepe way: one by north est and another by south west. The very roote of the hille wheron this forteres stode is more then a mile in cumpace. In the upper parte of the coppe of the hille be 4. diches or trenches, and a balky waulle or yerth betwixt every one of them. In the very toppe of the hille above al the trenchis is magna area or campus of 20. acres or more by estimation,.wher yn dyverse places men may se fundations and rudera of walles. There was much dusky blew stone that people of the villages therby hath caryid away. This top withyn the upper waulle is xx. acres of ground and more, and hath bene often plowid and borne very good corne. Much gold, sylver and coper of the Romaine coynes hath be found ther yn plouing : and lykewise in the feldes in the rootes of this hille, with many other antique thinges, and especial by este. Ther was found in hominum memoria a horse shoe of sylver at Camallate. The people can telle nothing ther but that they have hard say that Arture much resortid to Camalat".

From Cadbury Camp, in 'Somerset Essays', Llewelyn Powys (1937):

"I have not been to Cadbury Camp since my schooldays, but I remember it as clear as though I were looking at it on an old engraving above a parlour chimney-piece...Malory's narrations have an innocent way of sliding out from under accepted proprieties. They are profoundly amoral. 'Goose if I had you upon Sarum plain I'd drive you cackling home to Camelot' ".

Hell's Ladder Lane, footpath from top of Cary Hill to Higher Hadspen

Symbolic Tree
"Zoo I do like noo tree so well
'S the girt oak tree that's in the dell".
(William Barnes)

 The King John Oak, Hazlegrove House, Queen Camel/Sparkford
When I was at Hazlegrove, the tree was 32 feet in girth
at 5 feet from the ground
 and was approximately 1000 years old
(source "A History of Hazlegrove House", R.P.A.Lankester, 1958)

King John Oak (died c. 8 years ago)

Cadbury Castle (Camelot?), by W. Stukeley

Gustav Holst, A Somerset Rhapsody

Vaughan Williams, Folk Songs from Somerset

Adge Cutler and The Wurzels, Twice Daily

Castle Cary, An Archaeological Assessment (pdf)

Folk Songs from Somerset, Series 1, 1904