A Bitter reflection on the closing of The Big Comfy Bookshop at Fargo. 

I was listening to the Today programme on Radio4 and happened to hear the boss of the City of Culture Trust, or whatever it is called, boasting about Coventry. He said that;

"Coventry was the City Break you did not know that you wanted" 
Photo by Sam Clarke on Pexels.com

Now I am proud of my little city and think that it has got a lot of selling points. He sounded like he was struggling to identify good reasons to go to Coventry. He pointed out the Transport Museum, which I think is like car porn, soft car porn. He mentioned the galleries and I though to myself, there is only one! Isn’t there? If there are more then I do apologise. Meanwhile I went to the Herbert this afternoon and found the Turner Prize being exhibited. As if Coventry had not suffered enough. Or maybe it was kind of fitting. The Turner Prize, art without the people in mind, in a rebuilt city where no regard was taken for the people who lived there. I do remember that the New Cathedral is also an art gallery, but I think that this is a ploy to make the worship look amazing in contrast. The final selling point of the city was that it was in the process of redevelopment and was opening itself up. I nearly crashed the car in rage at this ignorance. The city has been in a state of redevelopment since it the 1900s. City planners actually regard the Blitz as a good thing because a load of lovely building were destroyed without annoying public consultation. 

But lets imagine that you do choose to take a break in Coventry, what are you going to do? Well I think that you should consult a few guide books and one that I would recommend is 111 Places that You Shouldn’t miss in Coventry. The Amazon blurb says that it is the ultimate insider guide, so insider that one of the authors lives in Rugby and the other in London. The guide itself misses a good many of the real gems of Coventry but one of the shining lights is the Big Comfy Bookshop at Fargo. The Big Comfy Bookshop hosts events such as the famous “Rangers of Mordor Minor Tolkien Readers Group”, a literary festival, hosting workshops for the Coventry Writers Group, regular poetry nights and gigs. It has been the beating heart and living soul of Fargo for years but now is closing at Christmas. In the year of Coventrys City of Culture we are losing one of the most important cultural venues in the city. Should we just repeat that? I can’t be bothered to type it. Please re-read the paragraph but do not get stuck in a logic loop, do not re-read it more than once.

Coventry is a city where things get done for or too the population. Its like the essay by George Orwell, How the Poor Die. What strikes me about the events being run by the City of Culture is how many are during working hours. I would love to attend so many events but they are when working people are working. The is true of FaB Lab. Their fantastic courses are not open to working people even if they are willing to pay for them. If you are working and you want to do culture in Coventry then you have to get involved with clubs and societies outside of the mainstream providers. Furthermore with the City of Culture people there seems to have minimal involvement of Coventry people on the stage, the role of Coventry people seems to have been as unpaid labour as city ambassadors and they look depressed. 

I am going to have to leave this now because I have a few months of The Big Comfy Bookshop left and intend to get to as many events as possible.

Poetry Van at Fargo, Part of Coventry City of Culture

Today, as is my usual Saturday, I went to Fargo to buy books at The Big Comfy Bookshop. I noticed that there was a mobile poetry van and decided I would like my own free poem. I waited for three hours, drank tea and bought too many books and then the van opened.

The poet I buttonholed was Lewis Buxton. He is a very nice, enthusiastic young man, intelligent and confident. He explained to me what they were doing and said I could suggest any topic for him to write a poem about so I chose the Tyrant Vortigern. Yes I was being naughty but he said I could have anything. He asked me a few questions about 410AD which marks the withdrawal of the Roman Legions from Britain, the decline of Roman Britain and the emergence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. I must admit that he did ask me a stupid question, how did I feel about the facts but he does not know I am autistic and do not have “feelings about things” (except, maybe, strange questions about how I am feeling about bald facts).

I am not sure it would be fair to subject the poem itself to criticism. I have reserved criticism of the material to my History Talker blog. Lewis is a professional poet and would normally spend days and sweat blood over every line. This he banged out in fifteen minutes. The gimmick of the van is that it does not serve burgers but poems, if this poem were a burger would it be a Burger King Burger or a dodgy 11pm I am so drunk I do not know what I am eating burger? I can answer this in the former. Its a good solid poem utilising a number of good techniques to achieve first a complete poem and second to communicated an interesting episode in British history. Just like the blinding of Vortigern by the Jutes the poem is fast and brutal encapsulating my potted history of the coming of the English (these word inspired much mirth in Mr Buxton who said it sounds like a porn film).

So to conclude this is a lovely gimmick for the City of Culture and is part of the BBC Strong Language event. I have enjoyed my poem and intend to take my son tomorrow to give the panel another difficult topic to write a poem about.

Coventry, from 2 Tone Ghost Town to City of Culture — Julian Worker Travel – A few ideas for your next trip in every direction

As it starts its reign as UK City of Culture, two new exhibitions celebrate the groundbreaking multicultural music born in the Midlands that became the soundtrack for a generation

Coventry, from 2 Tone Ghost Town to City of Culture — Julian Worker Travel – A few ideas for your next trip in every direction

The Alchemist’s Studio September 2021 Survey — The Alchemist’s Studio

As many of you know, I am working hard to turn my passion of pottery into a career as an artist. In order to do so, I am hoping that I might get your opinions to help inform how I move forward with my website and social media. Please find included below a survey.

The Alchemist’s Studio September 2021 Survey — The Alchemist’s Studio

Street Art at Fargo

Today I saw an amazing piece of street art being created at Fargo Village in Coventry. The Youthful Cities project is part of the Coventry City of Culture programme and brings together young people from the UK and Columbia in an artistic project to celebrate their cities and culture.

My philosophy of art says that art is a combination of two elements. The first is something to say and the second is the ability to say it. When I approached this… I do not know the correct for it, let us say mural I did so as an outsider. I am not a fan of street art or public art but since my humbling experience am trying to approach things with an open mind and not jumping to conclusions. So despite the frosty response from the artists I had a good look at the work.

First, it is very well executed. The technical level was very high and presented perfectly. I myself have the artist ability of a hedgehog but I can tell a good bit of work from a bad bit and this is a good bit. A lot of skill, effort and public money has gone into this and it shows. Look at that representation of St Michael! Its wonderful, the representation of Godiva almost rides off the wall with all the energy of a big fat Stone Age pony! I am not kidding, go and see it. Its actually really good. So we pass the first test.

The second test is far more complicated and I spoke to the frosty, suspicious and sniggering organisers as well as one of the young people who really came across well. I forget her name but her confidence and articulate manner really sold the work to me. Her main contribution seemed to be Godiva which meant a lot to her because that was where the BLM rally was in Coventry. She saw a connection between Godivas Anglo-Saxon protest and the BLM protest which I though was interesting and deserves more thought. In the mural Godiva is green to represent the statue rather than the actual woman. She is a vibrant goddess character with a fine figure and a powerful gaze. My guide told me she made Godiva “relevant to modern youth” with her tattoos. This I found a bit opaque, probably because I am no long ‘youth’ and second because I feel that art that speaks so narrowly and on the sophistical ground of ‘youth’ is less powerful than art that speaks to a universal audience. I think she was wrong here. Her Green Godiva certainly speaks to me and I get a lot from the message despite clearly not being aimed at my demographic.

So to conclude a very impressive piece of work that challenges a lot of my prejudices about ‘youth’ and ‘street art’. It certainly has a message and it certainly is well executed which qualifies it in my mind as art. It has improved a grotty wall at Fargo and improved their property and if you were to go and see it you might go into the village and have a look at the traders.

Playing Hnefatafl in the Park (with a pagan) — Historytalker

Today I ticked a point off my bucket list playing two ancient boardgames in the park with a friend. We played about five games of Hnefatafl and one of Fox and Geese in the War Memorial Park in Coventry. Hnefatafl, also known as Kings Table, is a board game popular in the Viking period. Fox […]

Playing Hnefatafl in the Park (with a pagan) — Historytalker

Soveida Ensemble Charity Concert in Coventry

I just got home from playing board games in the park and received a email from my City Councillor telling me that Sovedia Ensemble are playing a charity concert in Coventry on the 18th September. Below is a concert played at the British Museum in aid of oppressed minorities in Iran, the Coventry event will be to benefit Afghan refugees.

The group performs Persian traditional music with rhythms and warm sounds that you will never have heard before and has been organised by Cllr Mattie Heaven and Cllr Barbara Mosterman who are members. This is a special benefit concert with all proceeds going to the Afghan Refugees.

A charity concert from Soveida Ensemble on 18th September from 7:30 to 8:30om

I think that this event gets me on two levels. First, on this blog I am a ‘culture vulture’ who is fascinated with people, their societies and sharing that. On another level, and in a different life, I am a historian and Soveida Ensemble use rhythms that have been culturally relevant for thousands of years. To hear music that has been important and relevant to a society that reaches far into the past and was touched by Alexander amazes me. That it is accessible to us today is wonderful and I for one will be taking advantage of this great opportunity.

To register go to www.CharityConcert2021.eventbrite.co.uk. Reservations are needed due to limited space. If you have any issues using the Eventbrite link you can make a reservation by replying to mattieheaven2020@gmail.com with your name and guest names.

Please note that this is not a paid post, I have not been offered or would accept any payment to advertise a benefit concert for refugees. Please consider going or sharing this post to advertise the event.

Catching People doing well

I know that this one seems a little bit commercial but todays “Quiet Bat People” see here for the, reference, is Sainsburys. Now at this point I do need to say all the boring things that this is not a paid for post and that I have had nothing for this from the company. I am writing this because I think they have done something good and I want to celebrate that.

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

I was walking through my local Sainsburys last week like Diongenes. Diongenes was a famous Greek philosopher who lived in a barrel, insulted Alexander the Great (and lived) but most importantly loved going to the marketplace and looking at all the things he did not need. Now this is important because he like us lived in a materialistic age with waremongers trying to bubble us out of our hard earnt cash for trinkets. I bet the marketing people at Sainsburys are loving reading this so far. Well as I wandered, lonely as a reluctant consumer I came across something I did need, a new Soda Stream CO2 bottle.

Now the cool thing about Soda Stream is that you can have fizzy water, my favourite, without polluting the planet with loads of plastic bottles. Sometimes you have to just “Walk Away from Omelas” and if my love for fizzy translates into death and a legacy of pollution and desolation then I will not drink fizzy. But then with Soda Stream I can have my fizzy in reusable bottles and that is at least a step forwards. As a Christian I am well aware of the role of the devil as accuser and very soon he was well at work pointing out all the CO2 canisters sent off for an unknowable fate at the hands of Coventry City Council. This is why Sainsburys gets on my list of good guys (and gals) because if you look carefully at the picture… do not worry, I will blow it up for you.

Okay so that does not really help, that is because I am writing this at late o’clock and I have not read my “How do edit pictures for dummies” book yet. The point is that Sainsburys is offering to exchange CO2 canisters when you buy a new one. That is brilliant, like glass milk bottles!

Well done Sainsburys, have fifty house points.

How To Calm The Restless Mind — Awake Your Inner Dragon

Anxiety takes energy. Your heart speeds up, you sweat, and your muscles tense. Anxiety might be better if it had the decency to burn more calories, but there really isn’t an upside. Having a restless mind destroys your focus, concentration and can cause many a sleepless nights. A restless mind drains you. Then, when it’s […]

How To Calm The Restless Mind — Awake Your Inner Dragon

Listing the Firs — Coventry Society News

The Firs, the former Coventry Preparatory School on Kenilworth Road, is one of the finest Georgian Buildings in Coventry. It is currently the King Henry VIII Preparatory School which is shortly to close. It is architecturally important and has some fascinating historical connections. Over the last few months the Coventry Society has been working with […]

Listing the Firs — Coventry Society News