I was cheering The Archers this week. Out there in the Borsetshire Triangle strange, subversive events are unfolding. The rich kids of the eponymous family are taking work out of the hands of the poverty stricken Emma and Ed. The depiction of Ed and Emma’s struggle to get by on a low income has been well handled, and the plotline, in which Josh gets offered £30 per week to help out with the Carter-Tucker hens is all the more delicious because Neil Carter is, of course, Emma’s dad – an innocent abroad, offering his daughter the odd £10 hand out to stave off starvation, while the comfortably-off Josh gets what all good rich kids deserve – more money! At least we know he won’t be forced to spend it on anything boring, like food and shelter. I’m looking forward to the day when, with the backing of the guileless but loaded Peggy, Josh, in partnership with Tom Namesake, the acceptable face of rapacious free market trading, drives both Neil and Hayley out, and the entire Tucker-Carter clan, shoeless and wrapped in threadbare blankets will be forced to seek shelter, hopefully on Christmas eve, in the dark stews of Borchester. A Dickension Christmas then, in Ambridge, to look forward to.

Radio Four also came up with the goods in respect of an interview with the dapper octogenarian Tom Wolfe, he of Bonfire of the Vanities, which has had the odd mention on this blog before. It was great to hear the old guy tell us what was what in the world of American writing, and who was who, or even whom! My favourite line was about young Ameerican writers in the post Second World War period: They were taught to write like Frenchmen, and did their best. Who are we being taught to write like, and, from a purely personal perespective, not least by me? Worth giving this one a run on Eye Player if you dothat sort of thing.

While I’m on the BBC, I might as well mention how irritating I find it when that great and much loved organisation is reporting its own achievements, and/or misdemeanours, that it refers to itself in the Third Person. Stalin was fond of this practice too, and the comparison is not reassuring. Why can’t they settle for saying we? Do they really think we don’t realise they are talking about themselves as they read out their various navel gazing news items?

You’re getting this blog post a day early this week, because I’m slotting it in between appearances at the Maryport Literary Festival, at the Senhouse Roman Museum. I’ve just come back from the Poetry Lunch. Grevil Lindop & Carola Luther had run workshops during the morning session, and lead the readers in an afternoon of poetry. It’s amazing how much talent we have in all sorts of genres, poetic, prosaic and dramatique in the county – something, I suspect, that we have in common with the rest of the UK, rather than separating us from it! Here’s a roll call of our readers, in no particular disorder: Sue Banister (with one ‘n’, note!), Joanne Weeks, Mike Baron, Mark Carson (who was Highly Commended TWICE in the poetry competition, and Sue Kindon (who WON the aforesaid competition), and Martin Chambers, who also ran; Sam Smith (publisher of The Journal), Chris Pilling, Jacci (got it right that time) Garside, who, like BHDandMe has several identities – but none, I hope, in crisis -, Hazel Stewart, Zoe Thomson, reading one of spouse Hugh’s poems, Gillian Greggain, Michael Bohling (hope I’ve got that right), Ann Ward, Charles Woodhouse, and Angela Locke. Several fine poets sat it out! Malcolm Carson among them! Uncle Tom Cobley and All – the all included Mick North who turned up with a sheaf of Fire Cranes – if you can have a ‘sheaf’ of them? As always, from this marvellous mix of voices, a sort of harmony, rather than a discord, emerged. A tremendous lunch was served, seemingly without effort – because its all done out of sight – by Jayne and her wonderful staff at the museum. A good thing to be involved with whether you’re in the procession or swelling the scene. Another swell at the scene was the inimitable Mary Birkett, to whom respect, as they say, or said… And tomorrow………

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