Blog 29th May 2017
My Writing Life
One week has passed since the attacks in Manchester and the horror is still sinking in as each day there is more detail. I have been feeling too numb to write and hoping to do something for the writing group on Wednesday.
Here the flag is flying at half mast on our Town Hall. Yesterday I heard there were young people from one of our local high schools present at the concert. They all survived unhurt but are traumatised by what they saw as they made their escape from the arena.
In the days immediately following the bombing there were messages from all over the world offering shared grief and expressions of compassion and solidarity. The most immediate and powerful of these came from our neighbours in Europe, many of whom have experienced recent terror attacks and could voice their understanding of what we are going through as a country.
Of all of these messages the image that stays with me is of the newly elected president of France, Emmanuel Macron. He walked from the Elysee Palace a few hundred yards along the street to the Faubourg St Honore to the British Embassy. The television pictures showed him walking along the pavement with the Prime Minister and two security guards. The image was of a man walking along a street in his own city to visit a friend how had received bad news. It managed to be at the same time simple, touching and statesmanlike.
Images like this bring us back inevitably to the big question. Why, in our time of trouble are we leaving our closest and best friends, leaving the European Union, walking away in pursuit of a misguided sense of identity and of independence both of which we have already?
Surely after the catastrophic and tragic events of last Monday we should think again. As a country we could do worse than take a leaf out of Manchester’s book. All week report after report has been about w Manchester is coming together, standing strong against the backlash of Islamophobia, against our real enemies who seek to destroy our civilisation, our belief in democracy, our way of life.
Our European neighbours, and among them those who come here to be members of our families and to live and work with us, are not our enemies. They share our values and our aspirations for a liberal and free society.
Now is the time when we are up against it, challenged by the evil of extremism and fanaticism. Now is surely then the time for us to come together, and now is not the not the time to walk away.
My Reading Week
I am currently reading Helen Dunmore’s latest novel, Birdcage Walk. I have found the story moves slowly, but I do enjoy the way she writes an historical novel in contemporary idiom. The end is pleasingly surprising and dramatic!
Hare in the Headlights
Lots coming up
Most importantly I am helping Alan rice to organise Elizabeth Burns: legacies on the 23rd June her in Lancaster at the Gregson Centre. It will be an opportunity to hear some of Elizabeth’s poems, .to see the film of A potter, a Painter and a Poet her collaborative venture with artist Ann Gilchrist and potter Paul Tebble and was the last work she undertook before her death on 2015, and to hear tributes form poets and writers here in Lancaster who have been inspired by her and had the privilege of working with her in workshops and groups.
Also gearing up to give a workshop in Ambleside early in July as well as writing on …