Archive | September 2022

Let’s have an appeal

I can hear you asking what for? and what about? or the unwritten question, I hope this isn’t about money? So let’s answer the unwritten question first. No this is not about money, that’s not my style. So the next question is, what is it for and what is it about?

And I shall have to begin it with a confession. Until now, if I have wanted anything done, I had to be prepared to do it myself. When it was generally agreed that a petition urging the Blake Cottage Trust to start repairing the cottage would be a very good idea, I spent all my subsequent time walking the streets of Felpham, handing out petition forms to various helpful shopkeepers and gathering in the forms when they were completed. After a while I found that I didn’t have time for anything else. Now I have reached the horrible point where I don’t have the capacity for anything at all. I am hideously old, blind in one eye so I can’t see very well, can’t hear very well and I can just about walk to the end of my little close, but no further and no more. So to put it another way, I’m absolutely useless as a campaigner.

And yet, another campaign to either get the BCT to start repairs or to admit that they have no money to start anything and that all their talk about persuading other people to hand over enough money at least to begin, is pie in the sky. I’ve been over this time and again on this blog and the poor cottage goes on getting worse and worse.

So what is to be done?

That will depend on how many people in Felpham and its environs will be prepared to step up and put in the hours, I’m more than happy to act as a gathering point or a headquarters of some kind and to be a purveyor of any information we gather. Between us this should be possible. Think how small the Big Blake Project was and what a lot they accomplished.

If you would be ready to join in a group to work towards our aim, perhaps you would let me know.

I can’t just sit here and do nothing. It ain’t in my nature.

This entry was posted on September 22, 2022. 3 Comments

A downright lie in an expensive setting.

This expensively produced website is available here. It was written by a man called Ken Blamires, whom I met for the first time at the ‘Books by the Beach’ event in the The Regis Centre, in Bognor Regis on Sunday. The website gives you a link to a booklet called ‘A guide to novels set in Bognor Regis’.

This contains a list of all the people who have written books set in the Bognor Regis area, among them, a book about Blake’s trial for sedition which I set in the cottage in Felpham where he lived at the time and called ‘Gates of Paradise.’

I spent quite a lot of time in that cottage with the then current owner Heather Howell, it was a thrill to walk into the room where William and Kate used to sleep, it touched me to see that there was a stoop for holy water attached to the bed head. And when we got downstairs and explored the room where he wrote his poetry and drew, painted and printed his amazing pictures, I was surprised at how small it was given that it had to contain a very large and tall printing press.

You can learn a lot by simply being in a place. And I learnt a very great deal from being in that cottage with our Heather. But when she grew too old to look after herself in that place and had to leave it, the cottage was put on the market and then its troubles began.

For it was bought by a man called Tim Heath and two “colleagues” called Peter Johns and Michael Phillips and although once it was no longer occupied, it very quickly began to show signs that it needed repair, it did not get them. From that day to this, which is seven years, it has not been given any repairs or attention at all and is steadily and now rapidly decaying. Even people walking past the cottage can see from the outside what a terrible state it’s in. And here’s a little selection of pictures of what it’s like inside.

I’ve written a full history of this sequence from sale to the present day and I know how shameful the neglect has been, there’s been constant talk, making enough money in a years time, two years time, ten years time… but none has ever materialised and nothing has been done about it.

So you can imagine how cross I was when I read this paragraph in Mr Blamires’ website.

The first sentence is true, the second is a flagrant lie. Let me explain.

There were originally three members of the Blake Cottage Trust, there are now, since quite recently, five and none of them have the faintest idea how to gather the very large amount of money that would be required to repair the cottage. Although there has always been constant talk and bragging about how they will be able to persuade big business dealers to come across with the money, next year, the year after, in four years time…. it is always jam tomorrow. And these five men or one of them are the people who would have provided this false information to any investigator or member of the press. Which makes this matter very important and very dangerous.

Those who know how bad the situation is, know that the repairs to the cottage would cost an estimated £2 million pounds. The Blake Cottage Trust are so impoverished that they don’t have to submit yearly accounts to the Charities Commission and as it to being an ‘internationally respected’ society, THAT IS TOSH! Very few people have heard of it. It is much, much too small.

They do not make ‘frequent visits’ to the cottage. In fact I doubt whether any of them have been inside it for a very long time, it simply isn’t safe enough. The gentleman in the village who holds a key to the front door to let in the gardener and the cleaner – although I’m not sure she could still be operating in a mess like this – could tell you exactly how many times the cottage has been open to members of the Blake Cottage Trust, for he lives immediately opposite the side door which gives entrance to the garden and the cottage.

And as to ‘researching the work of this great man’, reading small snippets doesn’t count as research. You have to have read the whole oeuvre and know it well, and that’s a life’s work and extremely difficult as Heather and I both discovered.

I suggest they try ‘Vala or the four Zoas’ which starts on page 263 of this book and ends on page 382.

Anyone studying Blake needs patience and a formidable brain.

Now what? For the moment, I genuinely don’t know. But if anyone in Felpham could enlighten me, I would be very, very grateful.

This entry was posted on September 14, 2022. 4 Comments