Showing posts from November, 2009

Cream Cracker Man

I've just been watching Sue Perkins doing a show on BBC 2 about 'domestic art'. I hadn't planned to watch it but started to get sucked in when a picture of Brighton Beach came up on the screen. I always have nostalgia for Brighton having been born and brought up just 20 minutes away. This was also my father's birthplace and where he lived through WW2 - his childhood memories of doodlebugs, mined beaches and bombings are vivid and extraordinary. My mother-in-law grew up there too. My own memory bank is huge and full of iconic images and experiences of this highly influential, quirky, arty, historic town - but I will write about that another time.

As the programme progressed I started to get the picture (excuse the pun). We were moving happily through the decades in terms of the pictures that hung on a thousand walls - and when we got to the 70s and the Girl on Tennis Court one (scratching bare bottom in fading evening light, tennis balls strewn artfully about), I kne…

Remembrance Day - 'Just show business'?

As I look out of the window, damp grey clouds hang heavily in the valley, the top of the escarpment shrouded in mist. A few black crows peck in desultory fashion in the sheepless field. It certainly looks raw and grim out there in the fading November light.

I'm in no-man's land - caught between Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day - and my thoughts are on the military. Not the larger entity, no - just the individuals and their immediate band of comrades and mates. The people they do their job with, the people they are far from home with, the people with which they laugh, cry and die.

This time last year, the three remaining British survivors of World War 1 were, remarkably, still alive: Harry Patch, Henry Allingham and William Stone. I watched them at the televised memorial service and I was deeply moved by these once strong, brave men. Great age had taken its toll, inevitably, but their strength of spirit still shone through their eyes. The emotion in their own faces was powe…

Jeremy Vine gets a Taste of the North

My husband has just called me. He had spent the night in Manchester having attended the Manchester Evening News Business of the Year awards dinner. N was up on stage presenting the last award after a fairly riotous evening in the best northern tradition. Anyway, seems that Jeremy Vine, as the celebrity host, was on stage with him - and just before N presented the last award in a decidedly upbeat and banter-filled atmosphere, old JV strides over to him beaming all over his face and says 'this is a good awards ceremony, isn't it!'

And you know what, that's one of the truly great things about living up here and a big difference between north and south (she says sweepingly) - they really know how to enjoy themselves and it's an immensely endearing quality. The south can be so self-conscious, so anonymous at times. Here you always feel part of the pack. There's a solidarity, I think, which comes out of this corner of England (true, I'm sure, of the north-east too…