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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

Take a look if you’re concerned about the state of Blake’s Cottage.

If you are concerned about the state of Blake’s Cottage from what you’ve seen of it from the outside, do please take a look at these pictures taken inside the cottage on Thursday the 1st February 2018, which is over four years ago.

NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE TO THE COTTAGE EITHER BEFORE THESE PICTURES WERE TAKEN OR SINCE.

Like you, I wish there were something quick and easy that could be done to start the repair. Like you, I think we should begin by meeting together and spreading the word about the problems that the village is facing as far and wide as we can. It will take an organisation to put this right and the organisation will have to start by making sure that Tim Heath is no longer the chair of the Blake Cottage Trust, which will be very, very difficult.

One item of news that may cheer us all up. For many years now TH has bragged that he ‘owned’ the two rooms in South Molton Street in London where the Blake’s lived. That was untrue. He didn’t ‘own’ anything in South Molton Street, he merely rented two rooms and now the owners of the place have refused to let them to him anymore, so that’s a start.

The Post Office in Felpham has been re-stocked with my Blake Booklet, if you haven’t seen it already do take a look and watch out for the posters that will follow it.

Keep in touch.

United we stand.

This entry was posted on August 18, 2022. 3 Comments

Books by the beach

It is now almost exactly a month until this local event, which doesn’t give us a lot of time in which to forewarn our local friends.

‘But the Campbells are coming hoorah, hoorah.’

I feel really must stir my stumps a little and tell you something about it.

So here is the poster made to promote the event, with pictures of the four participants, all very prettily displayed.

Peter Guttridge who writes novels set in Brighton where he lives, is going to chair and facilitate the event, so we are in good hands and there are three local writers who will be there to entertain you.

Juliet West, joint winner of the Kate Betts’ Memorial Prize, a MA from Chichester University and writer of ‘Before the Fall’ which is set in London’s East end and ‘The Faithful’ which is set in Aldwick at the time of Oswald Mosley’s ‘Blackshirts’ and the civil war in Spain.

Graham Minett, who taught in Felpham Comprehensive school at the same time as I did, has four novels that are thrillers about revenge and redemption, published by Bonnier Zaffre and is at the planning stage of book five. Stand back and prepare to be thrilled.

And then there’s me, I’m the third and I have to admit to you that I’m hideously old, but I haven’t started biting yet!

Tickets are FREE and available at Heygates Book shop in Bognor Station and The Regis Centre.

I hope to see you there.

This entry was posted on August 10, 2022. 3 Comments

Do you speak cat?

I only ask, because my latest book which will be on sale for FREE today, is written entirely in cat.

The model for it was insistent, that human language did not intrude, because he felt it entirely unnecessary. After all as he points out a cat can make his needs clear as daylight with one passionate miaow, all the human being needs to make is a certain amount of effort. Which compared to the effort that a cat has to make in order to catch and eat a pigeon or a mouse or some such delicacy, is minimal.

I hope that there will be a lot of you out there who will see my cat’s point of view and enjoy the story of his adventures, none of which quite work out in the way he intends.

Dixie wishes you to know that he quite approves of this new entrant into our lives. Not quite up to his splendiferous category, but close!

At the moment he is sleeping off the hunting excursions of last night. But if you wish to ask him any questions he is happy to answer providing you give him plenty of time for consideration.

Cats forever!

Get your FREE copy here.

This entry was posted on August 5, 2022. 3 Comments

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Pre-chewed mouse anyone? Breast of pigeon? A fine fat pair of partly-eaten house sparrows? You name your delicacy, he’ll supply it.

This cat has the answer to most things, if not quite what you would expect. Allow me to introduce this very special feline, whose autobiography is out now.

Given the nature of cats, I feel I’m being particularly daring to tackle getting inside the head of this one, but it’s a handsome head and it’s thought patterns are entirely logical if not always effective.

Come with me all you cat lovers, I think you’ll like it in here.

As an entirely practical footnote, I think it might make a welcome Christmas present to any cat lovers of your acquaintance and of course if you’re a cat lover yourself, you might like to treat yourself to a copy too!

Dixie has given it the paw of recommendation. Have fun. You can get your copy here if you like.

This entry was posted on July 28, 2022. 1 Comment

Two very different images

about the same person. The first one suggested by a literary group called WordPress, the second written by a medical professional in hospital about one the patients.

Fasten your seatbelts, here is the first.

And here is the second.

Unless you were that person you wouldn’t recognise yourself in the second one. But I AM that person, as I’m sure you’ve guessed and I don’t.

I’ve put it all up here as food for thought, so would welcome your thoughts.

This entry was posted on July 20, 2022. 2 Comments

Not quite what we thought.

My back garden can be quite beautiful at times, in fact I might almost say, very beautiful. But one or two things in it have a warped sense of humour.

Take the two huge trees, the first one was given to us by my sister as a little potted plant, ‘it’s a tulip tree,’ she said, ‘so it probably won’t grow much bigger than this, tulips aren’t very tall are they?’. We have discovered as the years went by that a tulip tree isn’t just tall, it’s huge! We found one in the gardens of a stately home which was over a hundred years old and fully mature, it would have taken about eight people to form a circle around it to give it a hug. Roy and I patted it and went onto something else feeling a bit stunned.

The second huge tree started life in a small pot as a Christmas tree. Roy bought it home for us after a hectic run up to Christmas, saying he thought it was a Christmas tree but he wasn’t sure. But it did very good service over the Christmas period and then he planted it in the rockery (where else), like the tulip tree our Christmas tree is over 30 feet tall and homes two rather gorgeous woodpeckers and several, tiny, goldcrests.

There are always compensations.

And curiosities.

The sister who gave us the tulip tree, now has a special pet in our garden, she’s been feeding him and calling to him for quite a long while. And now, although he’s a seagull and basically a wild creature, he is extremely tame, pecking at the windows to call our attention to the fact that he’s starving and if the conservatory doors are open and we’re being a bit slow to respond, walking into the house to remind us of our duties!

We’ve never had a pet seagull before and we find it wildly funny! Dixie is NOT impressed and has chased it off the premises on several occasions.

‘All things bright and beautiful!’

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

Humpty Bo-Jo sat on a wall

Humpty Bo-Jo had a great fall. But not unfortunately far enough, because he only intends to resign as the leader of the Conservative Party and if he gets his own way, will go on being the Prime Minister with all the difficulties to the rest of us that that incurs.

Oh, if only he could have a great fall.

What a relief that would be to all of us.

We selected these pictures as representative of certain aspects of the repellent creatures character, playing the fool to attract attention and admiration, it only worked on the very gullible, even back then. The bus to remind us what a powerful and incessant liar he is and how easily people are fooled by the lies. The third is with his mouth open, either yelling or yawning. But the fourth one reveals a very small brain totally baffled and is the most telling we could find.

I hope more and more tory MPs of all kinds will see what way the wind is blowing and resign. The longer this appalling saga is allowed to drag on, the more damage Blow-Job Bo-Jo will contrive to do.

I hope people everywhere in this country will push and push in every direction they know to get him out.

As Oliver Cromwell said when he stormed the House of Commons, “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing… In the name of God, go!”

“All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” And by then they had discovered that he was just a rotten egg.

This entry was posted on July 7, 2022. 5 Comments

DO NOT RESUSCITATE

This, I must warn you, is going to be a disturbing blog. The trouble is I don’t know how to pass on facts like these without disturbing people – even though I’ve thought about it a lot because I don’t want to upset my readers. But I feel that these are facts that should be widely known because of how dangerous they are.

To begin at the beginning. The red edged form pictured here is an official document. It contains written permission for medical staff at St Richard’s Hospital NOT to treat a dying patient. Some of us might call it a death warrant as the key words on it are ‘DO NOT RESUSCITATE.’

I wish I could say it’s some sort of warped joke but I can’t because this particular one was written for me on the 8th of March this year. I found it among a muddle of papers in my packing case when I finally got home and by then I knew exactly what it meant.

March the 8th was a Tuesday and one of the days my daughter Mary comes to my house to see me. We usually start the day doing the Guardian crossword together but that morning there were no crosswords. I was much too ill, running a high temperature and delirious. Mary rang for an ambulance, which arrived not long afterwards in the usual way. The ambulance crew and the paramedics diagnosed suspected sepsis along with a chest infection and at that point an undiagnosed urine infection which was causing the delirium.

And off I went to hospital. But by the time I reached a ward, I was totally demented, convinced that I was going to be murdered by one of the nurses and scared stiff. So scared that I was planning to escape into the grounds where I would be picked up by a policemen and taken home. Mary on the other hand was practical. Thank God. She pointed out to the nurses that there was a possibility that I had a urine infection. The problem was that the days went by and I was not being treated for the UTI. Why not? Battle was joined and eventually I was wheeled off to another ward and the necessary treatment began.

It was a slow process but at least I knew where I was and began to recognise my visitors – especially my lovely determined Mary. But then I began to realise something else as well. In all the hospitals I’d visited for various reasons, the staff had always been warm and comforting and friendly. In the initial ward I went to they didn’t speak to me at all. They put me on a drip to give me antibiotics for the chest infection and inserted a catheter, took all manner of soundings, blood pressure, blood sugar and so on, but they didn’t speak to me or even smile at me.

The doctor on the second ward did speak to me on two occasions but otherwise most of my communication was with the nursing team who seemed to be always on the move. The first time he/she (I couldn’t tell which) spoke to me it was to tell me I’d been constipated since I came on the ward and that they were going to give me senna to deal with it. The second time he/she spoke to me it was to tell me I’d been signed off.

It wasn’t until I got home and saw the DNR form that I began to make sense of things. And to realise what a lot of questions this form begged.

  1. For a start we need to know how long it’s been in use and where it originated from, our beleaguered NHS or the government.
  2. We also need to hear from people who defended their relatives and kept them alive. There was quite a mail about it on Twitter recently. If you were one of the writers could you repeat your story here please.
  3. We need to hear from some of the doctors who have signed the form. On my copy there were two signatures, a young woman with clear handwriting called Natalie Chong and a consultant whose signature was, Squiggle dash. I would like to see both of them being interviewed on a reputable TV channel – like Channel Four – and given a chance to tell us what they know about it.
  4. Above all we need to help and respect our elderly citizens just as we should help and respect all our citizens.

Keep in touch. We need to help one another.

This entry was posted on June 29, 2022. 6 Comments