Tag Archives: Holmfirth

Bicycles … Yorkshire … Africa?

19 May

Me. Fresh as a daisy! Yeah, right.

Back from sub-saharan Africa … a houseswap … a work-related project … and a ‘holiday’ (employing inverted commas here because is it *ever* a holiday when accompanied by humans under the age of 21 who happen to be your own, delightful offspring?)

So much to report on  and to ruminate over after our little jaunt to The Motherland. To begin with – how we dealt with such an enormous lack of internet, cell phones, a TV, doorbells and immediate neighbours (none within a mile …)

All of this was utterly weird at first. And then it became incredibly wonderful.  And I am missing it already. After the first few hours of adjustment, we began to see it all as a bit like a gift from the big guy upstairs (NB – apologies to my Brit next-door neighbour, Lisa  – who really shouldn’t take offence at the above paragraph. Our Lisa is welcome anytime of the day at our slum – especially if the cuppas are accompanied by our usual bitch-fest with regards to certain Kirklees household refuse collectors!)

But one thing that I am really noticing since we got back is the sheer volume of giddiness with regards to Le Tour Yorkshire here in The Valleys.

Don’t get me wrong – I am chuffed to mintballs about the fact that Le Tour is going to be wheeling it’s way through God’s Own Country. Many of our local writer-sorts worked their batties off in order to get a teensy bit of grant-funding so that we could mix n’ mash writing and the arts and expose the usual wheely-obsessed sorts to our local scribbling talent (YOU GO Holme village and the Yurt and our postcard project!)

But having had many conversations with desperately poor people in southern Africa as to the the tiny things that would improve their lives, I cannot help but have a slightly different perspective on things on my return home.  Apart from food, healthcare and education – one of the things that cropped up time and again was ‘transport’.

“Just a bicycle to share between our families, would really make such a difference,” was something that we heard an awful lot…

Owning a bicycle would mean that those people in Namibia, in rural Botswana, Zambia, Zim or South Africa – those who might live out in the former townships and who are the fortunate ones to have jobs out in the towns – don’t have to spend one-fifth of their meagre wages on transport. Owning a bicycle would mean access to emergency help when problems arise. Owning a bicycle would mean true independence – a foothold on the ladder to dignity. Owning a bicycle would mean having enough food in order to stop your children from dying of malnutrition.

And really, I am not exaggerating this last point. I’ve just arrived back home to the UK. I witnessed a deterioration in circumstances for the poorest people in Namibia since only a few years ago, when I lived there myself. I saw what a difference just a few pennies a week can make. In terms of life and death amongst the bairns in the Kalahari…

But more on that, later.

So. for now.  Let’s celebrate our marvellous chance to show the world how Yorkshire Rocks in terms of our hills and valleys – but let’s also have a serious think about how we can turn some of the media spotlight and the inevitable money involved in Le Tour – into something that will actually benefit the world’s poor.

And yeah. I am inviting Answers and Ideas On A Postcard. Please!

Le Tour Yorkshire – and indeed Holmfirth – came with us. But we would have loved to have left a permanent legacy in a land that so desperately needs two-wheelers…

 

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The Book Has Left The Building…

5 Mar

It’s finally up there for people to buy.  My first fiction book. You can find it on Amazon here.

I allowed myself a small, self-indulgent moment when the first dribblings of tweets and publicity trails arrived.

I felt good about the fact that I’m honestly not out to make money from this book. It’s always been  about the process of creation for me. About the fact that I finally listened to my inner voice …. that I simply had a story that I wanted to tell and to share with others.

I smiled and I pondered as I looked out upon our beautiful valley here. It really has been a mammoth task – but so satisfying and so uplifting an experience.

So, I got ready to go out, to meet my fellow writers and to bask in the warm glow of their support and artistic inspiration.

And then my husband said; “I hope you’re not going out like that. The budgie shat in your hair and you never even noticed.”

Mind Games & Ministers by Chris L Longden (now available at Amazon and soon to be on all of the others of course...)

Mind Games & Ministers by Chris L Longden (now available at Amazon and soon to be on all of the others of course…)

A Flat Head? EJ Howard, writing and the waterways…

3 Jan ej howard

One of our local librarians managed to push aside the fear of her own redundancy in order to try and engage with me. There I was.  Wild eyed and raddled mother of second, newborn baby. Desperate for something both entertaining and intelligent to get me through the wee small hours of brain and boobie-overdrive boredom…

Without Anon Librarian-Lady, I would never have heard of Elizabeth Jane Howard.  Or the Cazalet chronicles. Without Unknown Kirklees Library-Lass, I would never have ended up corresponding with E J Howard herself.

All it took was a certain librarian making a certain recommendation (sans Amazon, sans Kindle estimates of previous-purchases help…) “Oh – judging from your returned books – I think that you will like EJ Howard and the Cazalet chronicles – we don’t lend them out enough these days. A real shame!”

And this was…what? Some FOUR years before BBC Radio 4 decided to credit Elizabeth J Howard for her societal, spiritual, humanitarian and yes – beautiful prose, dialogue and character-observation.

Oh, dearest BBC Radio 4 commissioners I hate to say this, but yes. I really want to say ‘I told you so.’ Elizabeth’s writing was and is amazing.  Tasty, profound, political – without being preachy. Even though many of her contemporaries – and especially the Literahti – perceive her to be ‘domestic, upper class. old fashioned commercial women’s fiction’

Cobblers, my fellas. Just read her stuff.

And yes, how I wish that Radio 4 had re-discovered her before the very recent time where her Cazalet Chronicles were snatched up as new fodder for a Radio 4 audience who had enjoyed ‘Downton Abbey’ etc… But hey. Better now, than never.

I was fortunate to have been able to correspond with her directly.  She was an exceptionally rare person. A woman able to disreguard the birth prejudices of all of us in terms of economic family of origin.  A fellow ‘starting writer in heart’ even though she soared above us all.  She adored books, grassroots, off-the-wall, boho society. She admired socialism, quakerism and pacifist thought. She venerated books and the ‘simple life’. Here was a woman who ‘way back when’ had braved the infamous Standedge Tunnel and who still admired those crazies of us, who still square ourselves up for that all too rare  200 years old tunnel experience right here and now on the waterways today.

And poignantly, she admired and priorised the extended family. She was a subtle reminder to us all that ‘love affairs’ of the heart can and do change but that actually ‘being a parent’ has nothing to do with whether you have actually given birth or not.That parenting per se goes far beyond biology, paperwork and gushing sentiment…

As for me, I will never forget her kind responses and encouragements to my yearning to write whilst being a mother to small children. And that particular encouragement as to how parking the mammoth Cazalet chronicles on the noggin of child number two might not simply lead to a ‘peculiarly shaped, flat-head’…. but also might lead to a life-long love of books and learning…

ej howard

Last of the Summer Whine…

6 Sep

DIALOGUE BETWEEN 8 YR OLD DAUGHTER AND FATHER – LISTENING TO BBC RADIO 4 MIDDAY NEWS

FATHER:  I can’t believe what he’s on about. I used to like Nick Clegg. He’s talking utter twaddle.

8 YEAR OLD:  Yeah. But it isn’t really him, anyway.

FATHER: What do you mean?

8 YEAR OLD: It’s not even him! I know what he sounds like. They’ve got someone else on here. It’s so stupid!

FATHER: What on earth are on about?  How would you know what Nick Clegg sounds like?

8 YEAR OLD: I told you – it’s not even him! Do they think we’re stupid or what?

FATHER: You’ve totally lost me now…

8 YEAR OLD: Because he isn’t the real Cleggy! This bloke’s always on the radio.  And they say it’s him but we watch ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’ on the telly all the time at Grandma’s and its obviously not Cleggy! He’s got a very distinctive voice,  has Cleggy. And this one is…well. Just some boring bloke pretending to be him. It makes me so mad! And this bloke on the radio never does anything funny like fall over stone walls or whatever. He just keeps wittering on about Cereal!

FATHER: (the light is dawning now) I think you mean Syria.

8 YEAR OLD: Well, whatever.  We all know it’s not him. Because  the REAL Cleggy isn’t as posh as this bloke. Or as trampy as the other one. There’s always 3 of them, right?

FATHER: (thinking) Erm…do you mean  that we’ve got 3 political leaders or 3 main characters on ‘Last Of The Summer Wine?’

8 YEAR OLD: Who knows? I mean, who cares? But yeah anyway, that Cleggy just sorts of puts up with the other one. His friend. You know – the tall bloke who likes to talk about wars and how really cool Britain is and how we should just fight people ’cause we’re well better than everyone else and are well good at smacking people about with our armies and all of that. And thinks he’s in charge just ‘cause he’s dead  posh.

FATHER: (thinking aloud) Ah..Foggy. Heh. That’d be Cameron then…

8 YEAR OLD: Yeah. Probably.

FATHER: You’ve got a good point there….I like this analogy.

8 YEAR OLD:   And then there’s the other one. The trampy one that everyone laughs at.  He’s a bit littler and scruffier than the other two and you just can’t take him seriously. And everyone says he smells.

FATHER: Right. So that would be Ed Compo Miliband then?

8 YEAR OLD: And also – why is it the ladies in the show are either crabby or old ugly moany ones like Norah Batty? Or tarty ones with hardly no clothes on like that Marina woman? And the women never have the main parts when one of the old blokes dies or whatever? It’s not fair!

FATHER: I think you’ve been spending too much time talking to your mother dear…

[Note from author: Oh the Joys of Dyslexia and other Forms of the Literal Language Mind…]

Cleggy, Cameron and poor old Ed...

Cleggy, Cameron and poor old Ed…