An Inspector Calls

Of all of JB Priestleys work, and there is a lot of it, the most well known is this play. I myself have been drawn back to it repeatedly since I studied it in school. It deals with an intrusion by a mysterious Inspector to the family life of the Birlings who are having a dinner party for their prospective son in law and daughter.

The crux of the play is that all the characters have, by degrees, contributed to the suicide of one Eva Smith. It is a clever idea and shows JBs view that we are all part of society and all must look after each other.

A good version of the play can be found here. But I do find the actors a little bit too posh for the “pulled myself up by my bootstraps” Birlings. I would love to hear your comments below.

Happy Founders Day

As you all know I am a graduate of the University of Lampeter otherwise known as St. Davids University College. I spent five happy years in West Wales where you are only half an hour from the sea, half an hour from the mountains where buzzards fly and people have lived for time immemorial.

Today is the Founders Day when the College was founded. Today I will be raising a glass to the memory of Bishop Burgess and dining on roast beef.

I have chosen roast beef and red wine because I am unaware of the actual traditions of the college. My only criticism of the college is that formal hall was abolished in the 1960s. I learnt this in the late 20th century and when I asked why I incurred the wrath of my lecturer who told me that it was elitist. I must admit that made me laugh.

So in memory of better days and my lecturer I will engage the traditions of Porterhouse Blue and try to emulate the great feast. Wish me luck, at least there will be no speech.

Day of Rememberance

Today marks the end of the First World War. No other even in modern history has had the same impact of this four year conflict and I believe we are still affected to this day.

Photo by Veronika Valdova on Pexels.com

The war started in 1914 and by the end of it men, women, children and even nations and empires were no more. Many European monarchies came to an end and the very map was redrawn.

Fighting took place all over the globe, even on the lakes of central Africa. In deserts, fields bombed into moonscapes and in the skies men fought and every year we remember them and pledge ourselves to the goal of … never again.

Lighting up the Canal — Coventry Society News

A spectacular one Kilometre trail of lights, projection, music and reflection is planned for the Coventry Canal in November. Random String is Ludic Rooms’ biennial festival of arts and technology. This year they are bringing light, sound and projections to a stretch of the Coventry Canal, following a 1km trail that ends in the Canal […]

Lighting up the Canal — Coventry Society News

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.