Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king

 

I’m certainly not going to argue with Thomas Nashe, although I know there must be plenty of you out there who love Autumn and Summer and maybe even Winter as much as Spring. But for me the first of the seasons can’t be beaten. I look for the first signs of it every year and I’m never disappointed. It’s such a joy to cut the first bunch of daffodils and have them on my table. And here they are again this year.

 

Charlotte and I have just been on a tour of the garden, enjoying the birds, finding one we couldn’t identify although we think it might be a warbler returned to us again, somewhat early this year because they usually come in April. What do you think?

The blackbirds and the thrushes and the various tits and finches have been feeding happily from our bird table all through the winter, but now they are singing their spring songs and beginning to build their nests and there’s so much for us to watch, I don’t think we shall be doing very much work, however pressing it might be.

 

 

That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!

Home-Thoughts, From Abroad by Robert Browning

The lawn is still a quagmire but there are four bubbly mounds of frogspawn in the pond and of course, the cat is throwing himself about with the excitement of it all!

 

 

And then collapsing with exhaustion on the sofa!

It is a season for new life, new ventures, new choices, although as Robert Frost reminds us, the road we don’t take might be the one we really needed. How can we tell, when the daffodils are dancing?

The Road Not Taken
BY ROBERT FROST

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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This entry was posted on February 22, 2018. 2 Comments

The impact of graphic photographs

I was disappointed when Kevin Smith of the Bognor Post put an article about the state of Blake’s Cottage in last Friday’s edition. He reported what I had said on my blog ‘If Blake’s Cottage had a voice, it would cry HELP!’ but sadly he didn’t include the pictures and I’m afraid that without the pictures to endorse what I have to say the Blake Cottage Trust can dismiss my blog as coming from one of “A small but vociferous minority of people who oppose the cottage” and therefore something worthy of no attention at all.

So yesterday I contacted one of the officials at the South Eastern branch of English Heritage.

When I took the 500 strong petition to the cottage and gave it to Tim Heath, I met up with a friendly official from English Heritage whom I promised I would contact if the cottage decayed any further. It has, as these pictures will have shown you, so I have. My original contact is on maternity leave but another official called Sarah listened to what I had to say and while we were on the phone, opened my blog and saw the pictures. Oh how much louder pictures speak than words. She was concerned by them and asked me to fill in a form and provide her with copies of the pictures and any written information I had so that she could pass it on to the Heritage at Risk team. This I have done this morning. Now I wait with great interest to see what will happen next.

I have also discovered, since my last blog, that Tim Heath is still squatting in his parents’ house in Corringham Road which is right near Hampstead Heath and refusing to budge even though his mother has been dead for over 2 years and it really is high time he stirred his stumps. And as if that weren’t a pearl enough I’ve also discovered from a reliable source that Tim Heath will inherit £400,000 from his mother’s estate and no more. The last time I spoke to Peter Johns, he estimated that repairing the roof and the rafters would cost at least half a million and to build Tim Heath’s dream edifice which he is very happy to tell us will be a RESIDENCE as well as a set of display rooms and a conference centre, will cost over £2 million.

So I have also been in touch with the Charities Commission whose job it is to check on any wrong doing or misappropriation of funds or suchlike matters in the various charities that operate in this country, including of course, The Blake Cottage Trust. I wonder whether it’s permissible for the chairman of a charitable trust to be ‘a person of no fixed abode’ with ‘no gainful employment’.  Now there’s a thought. More in my next perhaps.

With luck, I shall be in Chichester Cathedral tomorrow evening listening to a lecture on Blake by a scholar who is obviously a great admirer. A treat. Maybe I shall see some of you there.

 

 

 

Spoilt brats are dangerous

Somebody on Twitter put up a very interesting observation at the end of last week, and it set me thinking. ‘Kids’ (s)he said ‘who never have any accountability for their actions will continue through life thinking nothing is their fault and everything is owed to them.’ 

I would call that type of kid, a spoilt brat. I’ve met quite a few in my time and most of them were impossible. Violet Elizabeth Bott is a literary example of the type. But there are plenty of them out there.

They all have some unpleasant characteristics in common. One is that they consider themselves the centre of the universe and expect to have everything they want the minute they ask for it.  Another is that if they don’t get it immediately, they will thcream and thcream until they’re thick or declare that the person not handing over the goods or services, will make them ill – and, believe it or not, they are quite capable of making themselves ill. I lived with one for the first 19 years of my life and she could produce a high fever and have to take to her bed within seconds of being thwarted. Her performance was so good, it fooled the doctor when he was called. Funnily enough, when she got what she wanted, she could recover in an equally rapid and miraculous manner. It would have been comic if it hadn’t been so ugly. And her behaviour was ugly.

Of course there are spoilt brats in every walk of life and most of them are self centred, determined, cruel and capable of terrible temper-tantrums and frightening rages.

Political life is full of them and if you know what you’re looking for, you recognize it at once. They tell lies because naturally if they say a thing it is bound to be true and if it is pointed out to them that they have in fact lied, they say it was all a joke and not to be taken seriously. Look at these fellas and the way they carried on when they were campaigning for Brexit.

 

 

 

 

 

And because of the rages, nobody dares to hold them to account, so they just continue on their determined way, trampling all over everybody.

I’m sure you will be able to think of many who fit the pattern and you will find men and women on your list.

But what do you do if you need to take a stand against a spoilt brat? What possible action can anyone take against someone who is so determined to go his own way, regardless of what that does to other people, that he simply takes no notice of anything you say or do.

For the last two and a half years I have been trying to persuade the man who considers himself the ‘owner’ of Blake’s Cottage in Felpham, to start repairing the place. He has taken no notice whatever of anything I have said and when I gathered a petition of over 500 people asking that the place be repaired as a matter of priority, he simply tossed it aside as if it didn’t matter and took no notice of that either. His great dream and plan is to build a wonderful, half a million pound building, containing a display room, a conference centre and a RESIDENCE. He has managed to find £30,000 to pay architects to design his dream but he hasn’t spent a penny on the cottage that he is supposed to be ‘holding in trust for the Nation’.  And now his brothers are having similar difficulties with him, although in a different situation.

Let me tell you a little bit about that and you’ll see what I mean. These facts are all in the public domain, having been put there by the Daily Mail on Tuesday the 23rd of January 2018. The man is sixty two years old and unmarried and he has spent his entire adult life living in his parent’s house, first with his mother and father and when his father died, with his mother, who died in October 2015 aged 92. He has never paid any rent as far as I know, nor earned his own living – his brothers say he’s never done an honest day’s work in his life – but has unconcernedly sponged off his parents who have presumably paid for his keep and granted him any other little luxuries he happened to require. He has certainly got a very ugly temper as at least one of the people who has worked as an unpaid trustee for the Blake Society of which he is chair, can and does testify.

Now, since his mother’s death, he’s been squatting in the family home and refusing to leave it. His two brothers, are both hardworking doctors, with wives and families and homes of their own and, naturally enough, they want to put the house on the market and settle their mothers affairs. She left a will instructing that her estate should be divided in three and that each of her sons should be given a third, which seems to me perfectly straightforward and fair. But Mr spoilt brat won’t budge. And how do you persuade a grown man who has never grown up and has never ‘had any accountability for his actions,’ to start taking responsibility for his own life?

I wonder what a psychiatrist would make of it all? And what they would advise his brothers to do. If he were the size of Violet Elizabeth Bott he could be picked up by the scruff of the neck and physically carried out of the house. Most of the young spoilt brats I’ve met have fairly cried out to be taken in hand and made to mind. But a 62 year old who’s been brought up to believe that nothing he says or does could possibly be in any way reprehensible, that if he wants a thing then of course he should have it, and that if he doesn’t get it he has every right to throw a temper tantrum, and worst of all, that if he believes a thing to be true, it is true, that sort of man is almost impossible to handle.

I’d be very interested to hear what you think might be done. It is a very real problem, for this particular man is not a fantasy figure like Violet Elizabeth. He lives and breathes and has pernicious influence. I’m not going to tell you his name, because you can find all that out in the Daily Mail.

 

This entry was posted on February 14, 2018. 4 Comments

If Blake’s Cottage had a voice, it would cry HELP!

This is not a virtual tour of Blake’s Cottage, all romantic interiors and drifting angels but a real tour of the cottage as it is now. If you have been working for the repair of the cottage, I urge you to study it carefully.

These pictures were taken on Thursday the 1st February 2018. The three men of the  Blake Cottage Trust have now held the cottage in trust for the nation since the 21st of September 2015, in other words for two years and five months. Those of us who care about the place have been asking them repeatedly to start repairing it. NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE. Over 500 of us signed a petition urging that money should not be wasted on architects plans and drawings but spent to start work on repairing the cottage. The architects have been hired and paid. NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE TO THE COTTAGE.

Now, as you will see from these pictures, it is in such a bad state that I wonder it hasn’t been condemned by a health and safety committee. More and more of the rafters have broken. Broken rafters and thatch have fallen into the upstairs bedrooms. The damp walls are covered in black mould. There is disquieting evidence of insect infestation.

 

 

 




 

 

This is a very serious state of affairs. If it is left to go on much longer the cottage will be condemned as dangerous and pulled down. And that is something that none of us who are concerned about it would want to see. So what is to be done?

 

As far as I can see there are only two organisations who can rescue it now. One is the Felpham Village Conservation Society which is local to the cottage, the other is the National Trust, which is wealthy enough to be able to afford the repair and which has the historical know-how for that repair.

One old woman can be pushed aside and people can be told that she is ‘against the cottage’ and can be ignored. One of the visitors to the cottage on Thursday afternoon told me as much to my face when I was talking to two friends about the deplorable state we were witnessing. But, a large local organisation pledged to preserve, protect, promote our local heritage could, if it worked together, and were to mount another petition this time to the National Trust asking them to take the cottage over and repair it, could do much more good than I could on my own.  I will help them in any way I can.

The National Trust still seems to be believing all the fairy stories that they’ve been fed by Tim Heath. When I phoned them to book an appointment to see the cottage, they told me how there were plans for its restoration and urged me to look at architectural model of the building that Tim Heath dreams of erecting in the garden, which was also on display at Petworth House at the same time as the Blake Exhibition.  I have said over and over again that everything Tim Heath says is a pipe-dream, that the BCT have no money for repairs, even though they managed to find £30,000 to pay the architects, now I will say as loud and clear as I can, that the cottage is no longer saleable. No potential buyer would touch it with a barge pole. It will cost several million pounds to repair it and that was being admitted by one of the BCT triumvirate present at the open afternoon.

Can we save it between us? Is there still time? What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on February 7, 2018. 8 Comments

The Gentle Gentlemen

This blog grew out of two rather disparate things, a thread I followed on Twitter and a conversation I had with my second daughter over a cup of tea. Let me explain.

The thread began when somebody said they thought all living creatures had violence in their genes and that human beings were simply responding to the gene. I took issue with this almost at once, feeling instinctively that they were wrong and that there was nothing natural about human violence, although heaven knows there is plenty of it about. I tried to explain that many living creatures are indeed violent but always for a reason, in defense of their young, in competition for a mate – where the rules of the encounter are so obvious that it seems to me they are genetic – and in order to catch and eat prey. It was an interesting thread because we were all exploring the things we believed and testing them against one another’s opinions.

At one point one of the participants said that if you were a violent person and had hurt somebody else what you had to do was to say sorry to the person you’d hurt and go somewhere and get some help. ‘You are doing something that is perfectly natural’ she said. That filled me with horror, for I cannot see anything natural at all in one human being deliberately hurting another and I’m quite sure that all of us have inbuilt into us a tenderness and kindness that we saw during the Blitz and see now whenever there is a major accident or a terrorist attack. People rush to offer their help. They are kind and gentle.

But it wasn’t until I had tea with my daughter that my thoughts converged and made sense. We were comparing the behaviour of the men and boys in our family and it occurred to us that one of the nicest things they had in common was their capacity for affection and gentleness. We’d both seen it so often and sometimes in a very young little boy and it was a joy to remember it because we both knew where it had come from.

The two men I have loved most in my life were my son and my old darling and they both had it in abundance and gave it freely whenever it was needed, which is why we loved them so much. So I thought i’d put up a few pictures up of my gentle gentlemen. In this one they talking to one another in their gentle, intelligent way, as they so often did.

And the talk and affection began between them almost as soon as our son was born, I just love the total attention on my old darling’s face in this picture. It says it all.

So respec’ to all our Gentle Gentlemen. We are not all violent and you show it.

This entry was posted on January 26, 2018. 1 Comment

Daily Mail blows the gaff on Tim Heath!

This blog is for everybody who has been struggling to persuade Tim Heath to repair Blake’s Cottage.

First let me give you a bit of background information. Please skip this section if you know it already.

The Cottage has ‘belonged’ to the three man Blake Cottage Trust which is dominated by Tim Heath seen here on our left, for the last two and a half years, or to be accurate since September 2015, when they bought it ‘for the nation’. Absolutely no repairs have been done to it, although it is desperately in need of them and over 500 people in Felpham signed a petition to urge Tim Heath to take action.

Now this article, has appeared on page 5 of the Daily Mail this Tuesday and it blows the gaff on the reasons why, showing how little money Tim Heath actually has and what he has been doing since he bought the cottage.

He and his two brothers have been at loggerheads over the division of their mother’s estate since October 2015 when she died. She left her estate to be divided equally between her three sons, Jeremy aged 65, Timothy aged 62 and Dominic aged 53, it should be straightforward but the in-fighting about it has gone on for over two years and has finally ended up in court, where Tim’s two brothers had taken legal action against him to ask that he be removed as an executor of his mother’s will due to an ‘inherent conflict between his duties as an executor and his own personal interests.’ During the course of the trial some very interesting facts emerged.

For a start it transpires that Tim Heath has lived in the family house since he was ten, in other words for 52 years, and for 44 of them i.e. since he was 18, he has lived rent free and sponged off his mother. His brothers say he has never done a day’s work in his life, which annoys them because they are both doctors and have worked extremely hard. He calls himself a ‘self-employed creative’ but another term for it would be an idle scrounger. Now he wants to take a larger share of the inheritance than his brothers explaining that he ‘looked after his mother’ when she was very old, although as the court also heard, she had two £45,000 a year, live in carers, so he can hardly claim to have been her only carer.

I was very glad to read when I got to the end of the article that the judge had ordered Timothy to step down from his position as executor  and to be replaced by an independent solicitor. It cost his brothers £25,000 each in legal fees but it was a very good result.

So now we all know that Tim Heath has no income because he has no job, that when his mother’s house is sold he will have nowhere to live, that he has no money to repair Blake’s Cottage, no matter what any of us might say and just look at the state of it.

 

I hope that as many people in the locality and especially those in the Felpham Village Conservation Society will take advantage of the six open days at the cottage which have been organised and will presumably be run not by the Blake Cottage Trust and Tim Heath but by the National Trust (thank God!). The number to ring to book your ticket is 0344 249 1895.

It really is high time that Tim Heath stopped pussyfooting around with this prestigious property, admitted that he can’t afford to repair it, and handed it over to the National Trust, which is the only organisation in the country who could.

Pipe dreams and shilly-shallying have gone on long enough. I for one am heartily sick of them and I hope you are too.

 

This entry was posted on January 25, 2018. 2 Comments

We can get inside Blake’s cottage at last!

 

 

This blog is for all those people in Felpham and elsewhere who have been waiting in vain to visit Blake’s cottage so that they can see for themselves what a parlous state it is in. It was bought ‘for the nation’ two years and four months ago and since that time it has stood empty and apart from putting in steel supports to prop up the roof and the rafters, which were in danger of caving in and falling into the cottage, absolutely nothing has been done to repair the place. The three man trust who now ‘own’ the cottage, have held two open days during that time which was nowhere near enough to enable all the people who wanted to look at it to get inside.

Now, however, there is an exhibition of Blake’s paintings in Petworth House curated by a man called Andrew Loukes who works for the National Trust and under the auspices of that organisation the cottage is now going to be open on six days – no less! – during the running of the exhibition at Petworth.

Here are the dates and the link which will enable you to book your entry. There is no entry fee.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/4ef17a51-da70-49b1-8fc6-7c3284147d68/pages/details

Don’t all rush!

Please don’t be conned by the BCT propaganda about the ‘wonderful, half a million pound, state of the art’ building they’re going to erect in the garden. From the tiny model on display at the exhibition it looks like two buildings, one a single-storey display area, the other far too much like a house. But then, they have always said that this new building would be a display area and RESIDENCE. The important thing, which they keep pushing to one side, is that Blake’s cottage needs repair urgently.

I shall be interested to hear what your opinion of the state of the cottage is.

This entry was posted on January 17, 2018. 1 Comment