Dixie brings down the curtain

Dixie, I’m afraid is facing his second court appearance in as many weeks. I can’t actually say this was willful damage because it surprised him as much as it surprised me but to begin at the beginning.

We were waiting patiently for our supper to cook, I was watching the television, he was playing with his favourite toy, tossing it into the air, chasing it happily all over the room and holding it down and kicking it with his back paws, so as to put it in its place and generally having a happy time with it. But he tossed it into the air once too often and it disappeared behind the curtains. This could plainly not be allowed. He leapt after it through the small gap between the curtains, teeth and claws at the ready prepared to do battle. But it didn’t quite work out that way. Within half a second he was swinging from one of the curtains and both curtains, pole and part of the wall were tumbling into the room. I don’t know which of us was the more surprised.

I have matching pairs of curtains at each end of my living room, as you can see from this picture of the undamaged pair! Now I have one end of the room looking as it should and the other looking more like a bombsite.

He wishes you to know that the damage was unintentional and to understand that of course he had to deal very thoroughly with the run-away catnip. It was just that the curtains happened to get in the way. He finds it quite hard to understand that I would beg to differ.

He certainly knows how to bring down the curtain, I suppose I must count myself lucky that he didn’t bring the house down!

Cat pie anyone?


This entry was posted on March 14, 2018. 2 Comments

The UK Southern Book Show

I spent last Sunday in the Pavilion Theatre on Worthing Pier as part of The UK Southern Book Show. It was organised by an independent, friendly writer called Natasha Murray who gathered independently published writers from all over the South and even further afield and produced this poster, which as you can see, is very eye-catching. The object of the exercise was to provide a stand where independently published writers could display their books and their posters and whatever other publicity material they had produced and sell to as many book-lovers as could be coxed into the theatre. They were also offered the chance to address their audience and say how good their books were.

It didn’t work. And the reason it didn’t work was obvious from the moment the first speaker took to the stage. The auditorium seats six hundred people according to one of the front of house team whom I asked. But there were never more than ten people sitting there and often fewer, so the speakers were talking to a virtually empty theatre and couldn’t make eye contact with anyone, which is essential for a good speech. And they were so far away from the people they hoped would be listening to them, that they might just as well not have been there.  The noise was deafening because the walkways were full of people, all talking at once and talking to one another and although the speakers had a microphone, it was almost impossible when we were sitting at our tables, to hear them. I tried hard but heard very little because people were talking to me at my post at the table.

When I finally got up to make my own speech, I discovered how desperately isolated it was up there on that stage. The lighting was harsh, so without holding your hand up to shade your eyes, you couldn’t see the few people who were sitting in front of you. The noise of the microphone was even harsher. I gave up after a few minutes, smiled in case anybody was noticing, although I don’t think they were, said ‘over and out I think’ and went back to my stall.


The sad thing is, that this sort of event can be handled successfully, as I know because I attend a similar event, every year, in Selsey. It is held in a small hall where the tables are set all round the walls and people have plenty of room to walk from one to the other so the noise level doesn’t reach booming proportions as it did in the theatre, because there are no speakers there, only buyers and sellers. The Selsey venue, is nowhere near as handsome as the Pavilion Theatre but it works.

It was pleasant to meet up with authors I knew and people I’d taught many years ago or taught with, but none of us were selling many books, which is what it was all supposed to be about. But it was sad too. I began to wonder whether Oswald Moseley had put a curse on the place. He spoke in this very theatre in the ’30’s and led his storm-troopers out on to the promenade, in their black uniforms and jack boots and all bellowing ‘England for the English’ in their hideous way. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.


This entry was posted on March 8, 2018. 1 Comment

Felonious behaviour of Dixie the cat


Do not be deceived by the innocent expression on this cat’s face Your Honor. He stands accused of three separate felonious activities, in that on the 28th of February 2018, he threw his owner’s hearing aids on the floor while she was in the shower and when she emerged clean and refreshed, she could only find one them and was seriously concerned that he might have swallowed the other.

And, as if that weren’t bad enough, on Saturday the 3rd of March 2018 the said cat tossed his owners wrist watch on the floor – a Longines, so not something she could easily replace – and that wasn’t found until her cleaner came and retrieved it from underneath the bed. Stern words were spoken to said cat by said owner which should have been sufficient to warn him from further misbehaviour.

However the warning fell on deaf, black ears for the very next Tuesday he contrived to switch off his owner’s computer by dint of pushing his way, despite being warned against it, among all the connecting wires on her desk. The computer hasn’t worked from that day to this and neither has she, yet he has shown no remorse.

The excuse he gave her at the time was that as her literary assistant whose job it was to keep an eye on books of all kinds and the various apparatus that had to be used to produce them, he was checking her machines for any faults. The fault Your Honour lay entirely in his behaviour. Do not be deceived by that innocent face.

I urge that he be given a very stiff sentence and suggest something along the lines of:-

You’re as daft as a brush, Dixie, and you’ll end up as cat pie.



This entry was posted on March 7, 2018. 4 Comments

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

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.

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. 9 Comments