Trees and the Assembly of God

As I said, a rich and varied life! This week I’ve been back working on my North Lodge Park residency in Darlington; literally talking to trees, or at least trying to get them talking to me. I’m also trying to collect memories of North Lodge Park, from residents of the area, and that’s how I ended up at the Assembly of God Luncheon Club last Thursday! (Beautifully cooked chicken, proper cabbage and fabulous mash, followed by real rice pudding with a dollop of raspberry jam)

What a great crowd and such a warm welcome. I got step-by-step instructions of how to play mount-a-kitty, as well as stories of the railings being taken down in aid of the war effort. They brought the park alive with the sounds of the Salvation Army Band. As to the antics they got up to in the air raid shelter (now buried under a mound of crocuses), well I think I’ll need a return visit to get that whole story! But the poems that come from their musings could prove interesting, and could well be included in the anthology of North Lodge Park, which I’ll be pulling together later this year.

Don’t forget, if there are any Thornaby-ites reading this blog, (actually you don’t have to be from Thornaby to enjoy it), my latest collection, ‘The Works’ is all about life below the railway – about the pubs, chip-shops, characters and crises of hard men, feisty women and the adolescent agonies of children in Trafalgar Street, and is available from Biscuit Publishing (see my website)

Back to thoughts of the sea next week, in preparation for work in Barnard Grove Primary School in Hartlepool as part of the Sea Britain Project.

But right now, it’s Easter Egg time! Yeah!

Bridlington Rock

I’m just back from the Bridlington launch of Mike Wilson’s book, ‘Full Fathom Five’, which chronicles the life of a local hero, Kit Brown.

Mike took me to Flamborough Head, (we were supposed to be going up into the lighthouse, but it was closed to the public when we got there. Typical of my luck – a chance to be flashy and I miss it!) Anyway, the skylarks were in good song and gulls sparkled in the sunlight over the sea, so it was worth it. (In this year of Sea Britain, do I perhaps feel a poem coming on?)

Back at our hotel we found four young people spilling down the steps. South African they were, (the people, not the steps), and I think one of them had just been introduced to the idea of a ‘mild evening’, because he kept repeating the phrase to us, inviting us to say it too. I suspect it was another kind of ‘mild’ that had made him so friendly. He, along with his mate, wandered across the road and down towards the sea. We didn’t see them again. One of their wives wished us happy birthday, so being typically British, we wished her happy birthday back. Mike introduced me as a ‘famous poet’, (if only!) and happy-birthday girl’s friend said, ‘Oh yeah! and I’m Rohl Darl’. They asked if we wrote about sex, drugs and rock and roll. My publisher, Brian and Mike’s wife, Diane, creased up, while pathetically, Mike and I trawled our brains, trying to prove we did. I quoted ‘The KIssing Place’ from my latest collection, but they weren’t impressed and wandered off towards the beach muttering, ‘happy birthday…. sex, drugs and rock and roll, that’s what we need’. Well don’t we all!