Archive | May 2017

Shed tears. I have a moribund mouse

No, not the furry variety I hasten to add, although there are times when I wonder how much longer our daring mouse-thief will last. Remember him? The one who helps himself to suet cake, to the disgust of my birds. No, the mouse in question is the mechanical kind which has absolutely no business doing anything but work non-stop to satisfy the demands of its owner. Mine has got it’s wires crossed in every sense of the word and now, I have a frozen cursor and can’t get into my desktop computer, no matter how many times I turn it off and on or how much I threaten it with the direst of punishments.

I am reduced to writing this blog on my laptop, which is a very old war horse, willing, but long in the tooth. In fact, I’m not at all sure it will have the energy to pass this on to you. Although I’m living in hopes.

I have told it that the most dire punishments await any machine belonging to me which doesn’t behave in exactly the way I want. My iPad has been put in the washing machine with the dirty clothes and given a thorough wash. It hadn’t done anything wrong, poor thing, but that’s what I did to it. That was somewhat moribund afterwards. In fact so moribund, I had to buy a new one, which cowers under the bed-clothes every time I look at it.

My mobile phone was left in the fridge overnight and hasn’t been speaking to me since. My mechanical appliances cower in terror every-time I enter the room.

Ah well! Press on regardless as we used to say. Lets see if I can send this over the airwaves to you. Wish me luck.


This entry was posted on May 31, 2017. 2 Comments

A tale of superb talent and touching modesty

Last Tuesday I went to a reception in the V&A Museum, having been invited there because I was one of the three judges who chose the prize winners for this years Illustration Awards. It was a happy experience from start to finish.

For a start there was a display of the work of all the prize winners, which was, without exception, stunningly good. And then came champagne and the awards.

Here I am standing beside the overall prize winner, a delightful young man called Richard Allen. His award winning entry was a subtle and brilliantly executed cartoon of Donald Trump as the ‘Hokusai Wave.’ When I first saw it before the judging session, it took my breath away, because it was so apposite and so daring. I was very surprised to think that he could have got away with it in a national newspaper, but he had and it made me want to cheer.

So when I found that I had been the judge chosen to give him his prize, I was really chuffed. An honour, without any doubt. The short speech I had to make before I presented him with the prize was one of the easiest I’ve ever made, for really all I had to do was say how much that drawing had impressed me and how skilled and subtle it was. Then I handed him his envelope and his trophy and discovered that this talented young man was modest. He took the microphone to say thank you and for a few seconds, didn’t actually know what to say, how refreshing is that.

And he wasn’t the only one. All the other prize winners, had come forward looking shy and unsure of themselves. I could have hugged them all and in-fact I did hug some of them! It’s not often you find superb talent linked with such touching modesty.

I salute you, prize winners. Respec’ !






This entry was posted on May 24, 2017. 2 Comments

The end of Blake’s cottage.

And no, it’s not just me being pessimistic. I only wish it were. Let me explain.

Over the last few days I’ve had three phone calls from a gentleman called Glen Powell, whom I have met on two occasions and who, in his own estimation, is the most powerful and important man in the village and a leading light in the Felpham Village Conservation Society. I said it would all depend on what he meant by a ‘chat’ but on the third call I gave in – stupid idiot that I was – and agreed to meet him.

It wasn’t a chat. I was right about that. He didn’t want to hear anything I had to say and shut me up whenever I offered him any information at all.  ‘We don’t want to know anything about that.’ It certainly wasn’t an exchange of views either. It was a ninety minute diatribe in which he blew his own trumpet loud and clear so that I could be left in no doubt at all that I was dealing with a very powerful man.  He told me about his childhood and the mother who had deserted him when he was a toddler and his wonderful successful father who had brought him up: moved on to stress that he’d been educated at a Grammar School and had gone to university – he was very proud of that: and then completed the story by telling me about all the well paid and highly prestigious jobs he had held down in all the best parts of the world and how he had been Chair of this and Chair of that in the village and had ‘rescued’ the FVPS and raised it to its present successful glory.

But in the course of his long trumpet voluntary, he let drop two significant pieces of information, both of which were news to me and both of which I told him I would pass on to you.

The first was that the FVCS had voted not to attend the ‘open day’ that Tim Heath had invited them to last summer. We were told at the time that they had other meetings and events arranged but no, they had voted not to have anything to do with it.  I’m not sure whether the decision was taken by the entire Society or just their committee but it was taken and it was binding. If I had known that, I would never have tried to interest them in what was going on behind the scenes. So my apologies to those I approached. Despite their honourable motto, Protect, Preserve, Promote, they simply don’t want to have anything to do with the cottage at all. Understood.

The second was sadly a lot more significant. Tim Heath has already been given planning permission from the Council to demolish the 50’s extension to the cottage. So to all the people in Felpham who took comfort from the fact that the entire property had been listed Grade 2 and couldn’t be touched,  my very real sympathy. We were wrong. I’m not sure when he will do it, but do it he will. Mr Johns has apparently told Mr Powell that the BCT had been given a ‘private’ donation to pay the architect’s fees, so the stage is set for that magnificent state of the art new residence that he’s set his heart on, to be built in the grounds.

So what will happen to the cottage? Your guess is as good as mine. It might be patched up so that some of Mr Heath’s friends and cronies can come and stay in it  but don’t imagine for a minute that it will be open to the public. Or it might be left to rot and fester until it’s in such a bad condition it will be condemned and demolished. And yes, even a grade 2 listed building can be demolished if it’s in a bad enough state.

So there it is. The time has come for me to say ‘Over and Out’. There’s nothing more that one ricketty old woman on her own can do against such determination. And there’s been altogether too much secrecy and too many lies and obfuscations in this affair for anyone to be comfortable being part of it. Sometimes it’s felt like wading through sewage.

Thank you to all the people who signed my petition and displayed it in their pubs and cafes. I do appreciate what you did. See you on the beach, maybe.

This entry was posted on May 13, 2017. 5 Comments

Word of warning about Blake’s Cottage

I’ve got some information from the Blake Cottage Trust which has been sent to the members of the Felpham Village Conservation Society (FVCS). I’m passing it on verbatim and accompanying it with the picture of the parlous state of Blake’s Cottage, which, as you will see, is relevant to what I’m now going to tell you.

Dear FVCS member,
We have been asked by the Blake Cottage Trust to circulate their invitation to attend a meeting on 3rd June to meet their architect and hear about their vision for Blakes Cottage. The Society has now set up a working group to monitor progress with the cottage so we will attend and report back to members in due course. Members are also invited to attend.
The FVCS Committee.

The invitation from the Blakes Cottage Trust reads:

“We have organised a public meeting in the Memorial hall for Saturday June 3rd. It would help us to spread the word if you could circulate the following to your members:

The Cottage Trustees have invited the architect, Stuart Cade, who will
undertake the restoration of the cottage, to address a public meeting “Meet the Architect” in the Felpham Memorial Hall at 11:00 on Saturday June 10th. The purpose of the meeting is to share with the community the vision for the cottage and to respond to any questions or concerns that people may have about the cottage’s future.

We would be grateful if you could circulate this to your members”

Peter Johns
The Blake Cottage Trust”

Sounds lovely doesn’t it? But, I’m sorry to have to tell you, it’s a con trick, and, what is more, a familiar one. It’s exactly the same trick that was played on us in the article printed by Bognor Regis Observer on Thursday June 16th 2016, when the headlines told us “Blake’s Cottage to be restored as £500,000 plan is revealed.” This meeting will be a re-run of that article. It worries me to think how easy it will be for the people who attend the meeting to be taken in by it.

The original article told us that around £50,000 would be spent on architectural plans and drawings for a half million pound, state of the art, new building to built in the grounds. It did not tell us what the building was for (except to say that it would be a ‘world class centre’) that came a great deal later when Tim Heath admitted that it was to be a multi functional building, having a secure space for small but important exhibitions, space for conferences, alternate space for a SECOND RESIDENCE, as well as office and administrative space. Please note that word “residence”. It’s going to cost half a million at least, half the cottage is going to be knocked down to make room for it and somebody’s going to live in it.

The one new fact in all this is that Mr Heath has chosen his architect, whom you will meet if you attend the meeting. His name is Stuart Cade. And I think it is fairly safe to assume, as he is now speaking for the BCT, that he will have been paid his £50,000 fee. Now let me tell you a little bit more about the gentleman. I have Googled him of course. Anyone reasonable would assume that he will be skilled in the restoration of period dwellings, but I’m sorry to say his specialties are different.

I have recently been in touch with the John Clare Cottage Society, which bought John Clare’s cottage and has restored it to what it would have been when he was living there. In order to be sure that it was as well done and as accurate as they could get it, they employed an architect whose specialty was 19th Century listed buildings.

So what is Mr Stuart Cade’s specialty, I will quote from his website. He has worked on “The Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Wallace Collection, The Southbank and an extension to the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.” And he says he is experienced in “master-planning, educational, residential and cultural projects”. There’s that word RESIDENTIAL again. Well, well, well.

So this is my message to anyone attending the BCT meeting. Take a large packet of salt with you, remember the word RESIDENCE and this picture of the terrible state our Blake’s Cottage is in (which is probably even worse now) and bear in mind that NOTHING AT ALL has been spent on restoring the cottage. I hope you get the chance to ask someone from the BCT why not. And I do so hope that you do not fall for the con trick and that you can get some answers from the BCT.

This entry was posted on May 10, 2017. 2 Comments

May Day with a difference

I wrote this a long time ago when Blake’s Cottage was not under threat of ultimate decay and of being condemned and pulled down, as it is now. I’ve put it up now as a reminder of easier and happier times.

May Day in the Rectory Gardens beside Blake’s Cottage, Felpham

May 1976

And two by two, their innocent faces clean,
The children file to dance upon the green,
Beside his bosky cottage, which they skirt,
Policed by grim-faced teachers, on the alert
For the least sign of infant insurrection,
And watched by parents full of anxious pride
Who’ve come to admire the costumes that they chose,
The hair they brushed into such careful curls.
Six pink embarrassed boys and sixty girls
Each primly sweet beneath her paper crown,
Each neat and well-behaved, her eyes cast down.
Polite taped music smooths them on their way.
Policemen smile benignly. It is May.

Above our heads the riotous blossom roars,
The sap has risen, the sky is rude with light
And birds scream sex and instinct and delight.
Bold and erotic and unsuitable
Grass grows long hair, the spikey hedge erupts
Into a busy tangle of green hands
And heavy bosomed buds thrust into life.

A decorous queen is crowned and tea is served
To decorous ladies young and old, who smile,
Happy together round the vicarage lawn.
Dancers arrive, six geriatric Folk
Still going strong despite their eighty years,
Who creep and tortoise to an antique dance
To celebrate this time of youth and chance.

Blake’s wild, glad Angels sit in every tree
Howling with laughter at such company.
Love will not be subdued or quiet or neat.
The word is risen upon splendid feet,
The world’s on heat, the sun’s a blazing sword.
Oh May Day! M’aidez! M’aidez, Lord!



This entry was posted on May 3, 2017. 1 Comment