My blogging style has become like that of the proverbial London bus. You wait for hours, days, weeks and then two come along together. Why is that? I have no answers as usual.
This is another looking back and ‘here and now’ post, this time about Dad’s anthology of the Cockermouth Poets, design and typesetting by Karen Sawrey. I don’t know if you remember if you have been reading this blog for a while but there were terrible floods back in November 2009., as now across Somerset, which hit the small market town of Cockermouth where Michael lives. I was reminded by seeing Prince Charles on the news that he too visited Cockermouth at that dreadful time.
The town of Cockermouth has a new flood risk management scheme in place which has been operational since 2013. This is a video of the new scheme from the perspective of David Duck at the Environment Agency. It has some interesting shots of the rivers Derwent and Cocker and a good description of the new scheme and you get to hear the distinctive tones of the Cumbrian accent and brings home how each situation is unique and needs a bespoke solution to its particular landscape.
Michael’s response when Cockermouth was getting back on its feet was to organize a poetry trail to brighten up the shop windows of Main Street which had been under so much water.
The trail was a great success and many people asked if he could produce a book with the poems from the trail which he duly did with the help of Joan Petherington his co-editor and muggins here the typist and sub-sub-sub editor. The Guardian’s Northern correspondent Martin Wainright helped give the book some publicity and took it on holiday with him and wrote about it here, where it sat on a sandy beach many miles from home. The book has been reprinted now, the first run sold out and has done very well indeed for a poetry anthology, raising funds for the charities, Mountain Rescue and Save the Children. Edit: Michael says to date they have raised £1500!
Michael however (never satisfied) hankered longingly after a photo of the book in Hobart, Tasmania. Why? Because one of the most famous poems in the book “D’ye Ken John Peel’ was written by one John Woodcock Graves, who emigrated there and made a new life for himself as a sheep farmer. “It would be so nice” he said, with a far-off look in his eyes, ” if the book were there one day…”
And now we jump forward to the present day and across the world to a park in Hobart where we find Fran!
There is a monument in St David’s Park to John Woodcock Graves and when I read that the glorious Fran of Serendipity Farm had been to Hobart with her daughters and was planning a return journey in 2014, I emailed her cheekily and asked her if she would maybe take the book to the park and take its photo at the monument. Fran embraced the project with her usual amazing enthusiasm and has sent me masses of photos. I wish I could have perched at the other end of the monument and basked in that hot Tassie sunshine for an hour!
I am going to surprise Michael with these photos later today.
Thank you so much Fran and thank you Celia and Misky for playing ‘Pose the book’ ! You are all stars and treasures and deeply kind people.
D’ye ken John Peel
D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so grey,
D’ye ken John Peel at the break of day,
D’ye ken John Peel when he’s far away,
With his hounds and his horn in the morning.
For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed
And the cry of his hounds which he oft times led,
Peel’s ‘view hullo’ would awaken the dead
Or the fox from his lair in the morning.
Yes I ken John Peel and Ruby too
Ranter and Ringwood and Bellman and True,
From a find to a check, from a check to a view
From a view to a death in the morning
Then here’s to John Peel with my heart and soul
Let’s drink to his health, let’s finish the bowl,
We’ll follow John Peel through fair and through foul
If we want a good hunt in the morning….
John Woodcock Graves (1795-1886)
I do not support hunting, but I am very fond of this song as Michael would sing it to us as small children along with ‘Molly Malone’ and ‘I went to the Animal Fair’ as part of a going to sleep settling down the children ritual. I can hear his deep almost mournful voice softly singing away in the dark as we snuggled down under the covers right now as I write. I have a feeling we all joined in with Peel’s ‘View halloo’ which was the dramatic climax of the song.
Funny the things you remember as you write a blog post. Here is a lovely recording of it being sung by Peter Dawson, not as good as Michael’s of course!
Did your parents sing to you when you were little and do you sing to your children and grandchildren if you have them?
Joanna – February 2014.
For the curious ….
John Peel the Huntsman celebrated in the song was a real person who was buried in Caldbeck, Cumbria:-