History first but I hope you will read to the end. Yet again I am aware of just how weird my life can be. How many people have a kitchen full of armour and plague rats in the living room? So far during this weird historical week I have watched a fisherman of my acquaintance walk round one of my ‘one-places’ on Channel 4 TV’s Great Canal Journeys. He did a great job and as a direct result there was a noticeable spike in the hits on the Bucks Mills page of my website.
Then there was our Swords and Spindles seventeenth century fun day. Part of the activities involved making cardboard plague rats, so I had to do a trial run first. As I commented on the Swords and Spindles blog, ‘safety glue’ is a description that is only 50% accurate. Safe it may be, glue it is not. Hence eyeless, noseless rats abounded – no chance with the tails and whiskers, I used a reputable brand of adhesive tape to affix those. Our team was out in force to entertain the hordes, well to be honest hordes might be a tad of an exaggeration but those who came stayed for hours and were very enthusiastic. Now the armour lies in the kitchen ready for its annual oiling by my non-resident armourer.
As for the author in the kitchen – my friend and local historical novelist, Liz Shakespeare, has written a novel about the life of Edward Capern, postman poet, who used to walk from Bideford to Buckland Brewer and back on a daily basis delivering the mail. He would wait in the village, writing poetry, before his return journey. Liz’s meticulous research has discovered that it was my cottage where he rested. Liz decided to follow his route and undertake the walk herself. I was proud and pleased to be able to offer her hospitality, reflecting the actions of my predecessor in this house, Mrs Ley. I have to report that no poetry was penned whilst she was here. Her report of the walk is on her website and makes me sound like some sort of domestic goddess. I wish to put on record that I cook twice a year, chutney and Christmas pudding/cake, she just happened to call in on one of these two days. Now to look forward to her book launch in March. What of my own novel writing efforts? Well, some progress is being made. November is allegedly novel writing month and some people are attempting to write 50,000 word novels in thirty days. I won’t be joining them but I do plan to increase my output if I can.
In September, John Reid of Anglo-Celtic Connections announced the results of the annual international competition to find genealogical ‘rocks stars’. I recorded my thoughts on the competition at the time and I was honoured to be listed fourth amongst British and Commonwealth nominees and fifth in Europe. Given that I have never spoken to a US audience and more than 50% of the votes come from the US I was very pleased with this. This year the voting system changed; to feature in the British list you needed to live in Britain and the nationality of the voter was not relevant. This week John issued ‘Rockstar Extra’ lists, showing who would have won under the old system. This was based on the nationality of the voter. Thus those on the British list might live anywhere in the world but were voted for by British voters. Amazingly, this placed me in gold medal position for Britain. I am stunned and hugely grateful to all who voted, thank you.
I normally subscribe to the view that politics has no place on this blog, or on my social media feeds. That has never been their purpose. They are though also a reflection of my life and for the second time this year, I find myself moved to express my profound sadness at the hatred, invective and xenophobia, along with downright ignorance, that I have seen or heard expressed over the last few days. Tolerance and empathy are words that appear to have dropped from the lexicon. I fear for my descendants growing up in a world of hate. If you are reading this, I would ask you to stop and think, show compassion, treat people as individuals not as an amorphous representative of a particular race or religion. Do not believe the un-attributed, unsubstantiated media-fuelled drivel that is being circulated. Peace begins with ourselves and we need it to ripple outwards to those with whom we come in to contact. Fortunately I know that most of my friends feel as I do. If, on the other hand, you are unable to love your neighbour, when ‘neighbour’ extends to all in despair or need, wherever they happen to be, please don’t leave a comment, just quietly take yourself to a different sphere, virtual or literal, from mine because there is no room for you here.. The picture that accompanies this blog is illustrative of peace, love and beauty. Please share the emotions and the picture with those whose lives touch yours. If that makes me sound like a hippie, then guilty as charged and proud to be so.