About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Friday, 23 December 2011

In Moments

Christmas comes in moments.  For me, it's buying red cyclamens to put in my blue Brannam bowls; the ritual changing of the nose stud, from chip of diamond to a rather more festive ruby which my mother mistakes for a scab; gazing at the landslide of cards to write and presents to wrap and realising that Only Whiskey Can Save Me Now.

Then there's my father.  He has his moment too, which he chooses with style.  It's usually about three days before Christmas when my house is upsidedown and it's all coming to a head. 

'Going to town, Deb?  You couldn't get these few bits and pieces for your mother, could you?'  He brandishes a list. 'And pick up some boxes to put them in.  Supermarket ones will do, so long as you cover them with wallpaper and make them look nice.'

I was determined to pre-empt him this year.  Being shopaphobic, I bought as much as much as I could on-line, thus whittling trips in person down to two, one to town, the other out to Cribbs Causeway.  Before each one I asked him what he wanted me to get but he didn't respond.  In the end I did something he's always despaired of me ever learning and Showed Some Initiative, coming back from The Mall clutching fifty pounds' worth of Marks and Spencer vouchers.  Plus, I had a very impressive box in which my leaving present from my old job had been packed and I'd even remembered tissue paper.  Sorted.

'Oh … all right,' he said.  Then, 'I'll need some Nivea Light as well, mind – two tubs.  She doesn't like the ordinary stuff.  And some of that Island Mix from that place in The Galleries – you know, where you got it last time.  And sugared almonds.'  Perhaps sensing my rocketing blood pressure but only making it worse, he added, 'Your mother's out having her hair done so I wrapped up the other things I've got. Thought I'd save you a job.'

'Thanks, Dad,' I heard myself say.

Another ritual: the carol service at St Mary Redcliffe.  This is Chatterton's church and I can never quite believe my luck at getting to sing in such a hallowed place, even if my voice is all wrong for the music and I must pitch it right down in my boots.  Even better is knowing that up in the Muniments Room Thomas is blowing the dust off the parchment that he's found, with all his life before him, while somewhere Wordsworth picks up his quill and Henry Wallis begins a painting that's already famous, of the marvellous boy, that damned shitten arse boy …

Then there's the one-off moments that mug you, send you flying.  A Christmas twenty-four years ago, during the first of many house moves, this one from Taunton to London, so technically homeless.  I'm thirty yards away from where I sit now, in my parents' house, my first-born in my arms.  The baby’s father is going out to wet her head; his friends take a scant glance at the ostensible reason for their revelry and push off down the pub.  Alone and suckling my daughter, I'm holy as Mary …

A candle-lit midnight five Christmas Eves ago, and the minister speaks of T S Eliot, dazzling darkness, Henry Vaughn …

It's Christmas Day 1998, and somehow I'm on my own.  As I collapse onto the settee a programme comes on – an appreciation of Ted Hughes who's just died.  I pour myself a glass of Shiraz.  At the back of the house I can hear voices but no one comes, no one disturbs my miracle.  I plump up the cushions and relax.  Once more the story of 'Birthday Letters', and Heaney reading 'The Day He Died', his voice rusty with grief …     

I hope your Christmas is filled with moments.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Winter Solstice


      Winter Solstice

      Come all ye candles, ye fairy lights –
      sparkle with all your tremulous might
      against the cajoleries of the dark,
      the cosy winding cloths of night.

             Deborah Harvey © 2011

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas 1934

'Tis the season to be indulgent', as the old carol goes, and so I'm posting an extract from 'Nanny  1897 – 1991  An Uncommon Woman', which was written about my grandmother, Hilda Hill, by my uncle, Noel Hill, after her death.

In the early days we always went to my father's parents' home for Christmas Day.  Nanny Hill, or Big Nanny as we called her, was a tall, rather elegant kind of woman, in contrast to my mother's mother who was short and stocky with a ramrod back, and who, as was appropriate, laboured under the title of Little Nanny.  Whilst Little Nanny was less well endowed with culinary skills, Big Nanny was an excellent cook and as a devout Anglo-Catholic had the additional advantage of having no inhibitions about feasting at the appropriate time in the liturgical calendar.  At Christmas time her table groaned with the weight of her provisions, and it is not just the quantity that I recall.  My father's forebears had been farmers and Grampy Hill loved good food which Fanny Tutton, his wife, knew how to provide.  She was one of 16 children, most of whom were girls.  Her sisters were called by names such as Rose and Polly and Nellie, and wore long frocks and black bands around their throats.  Although my great-grandfather had been but a farm worker, all these girls spoke well and knew how to conduct themselves with refinement, for the Tuttons had had little option but to place them all in service as they reached 13 or 14 years of age, if only to free bedroom space for their burgeoning family.  When the girls married, however, it was to boys appropriate to their original station in life.  I have this abiding memory of my great-uncles and -aunts – the men all stout Somerset yeomen speaking with broad accents in which the sound of the letter 'z' supplants that of the 's', whilst their wives all sounded like ladies of leisure and insisted that my name was pronounced 'Noelle' and not 'Nole'.  The lives of these most impressive ladies seemed to be dedicated to the fruitless task of improving their menfolk. 

We would arrive at Big Nanny's shortly before lunch (dinner).  My father would take a glass with his parents but Big Nanny would instruct Grampy not to offer Hilda the sherry since it would be a waste.  (Her teetotal tendencies were viewed with approbation at my Little grandparents, with disdain at the Bigger edition.)  I need hardly describe the Christmas dinner, except to refer to some of the little touches, like the chestnut stuffing, the giblet gravy, the pudding flamed with brandy and stuffed with silver thru'penny bits, and plated mince tart with clotted cream.  I will not dwell on the presents after dinner, the carols we small children sang to the grown-ups – three or four of us lined up with our backs to Big Nanny's larder door, our tummies full and the grown-ups even fuller, and all of them trying to stay awake and show proper appreciation of our discordant renderings of 'Away in a Manger' and 'Whilst Shepherds Watched', with my mother, the most alert for having supplemented her meal with lemonade rather than more dissolute beverages, acting as a prompter and mouthing every word as we sang.

I shall also pass over the tea, excepting perhaps to mention Big Nanny's home-made blackcurrant jelly on freshly-made crusty bread with thick butter and scald cream or the junkets lightly sprinkled with nutmeg, because I am impatient to get to the supper, for on Christmas Day we stayed up for supper and Big Nanny's were well worth staying up for.  Cold meats were at the core of the meal and extended well beyond the remnants of the turkey.  Big Nanny could cook a 'fore spur' (pronounced 'forceburr', a West Country term for the foreleg of a cured pig) so that it tasted better than York ham.  She made her own brawn (mixed cold meats in aspic), she pressed tongue and salt beef and served it all with fried, mashed potatoes or bubble and squeak, and her own pickled walnuts, onions and red cabbage, and salads like no one else's, all shredded and dressed with her own dressing.  And puddings and tarts made from bottled fruit from the garden or delicious things called fritters, a bit like cr
êpes but better, with crisp batter all around the edges.  And it all came to an end, and all because of mustard.   

I must have been about nine years of age, by which time I had five brothers and sisters.  Grampy Hill would have been 'getting on in years', as they say, and whilst he dearly loved his grandchildren, it was a bit thick having six of the little so-and-sos round your backside all day.  They never stopped talking and fancy having to listen to them sing carols just after dinner when a man ought to be having a nap.  He had tried to have a word with his son, Jack, and had said 'Now look here, my zunner (he called anyone he liked 'my son', be they male or female, only it always came out as 'my zunner') don't 'ee think five little 'uns is enough?' but Jack hadn't listened and now they had this new baby, Mollie, and he just didn't know how it was all going to end.  Grampy just about survived the day; well, at least until supper time.

Now to have proper sympathy with my grandfather you really should have met him, but since you didn't, I should try to describe him.  He was not very tall – perhaps 5'8", but a well-made man of substantial girth and weighing in at about 16 stone.  He had ginger hair fading to silver at the sides and still had a good head of hair to the day he died.  He boasted a large, ginger moustache that prickled when he kissed you.  His complexion was ruddy, his eyes blue and his hands huge and horny.  He was a carpenter by trade and could do wonders with those hands, including measuring saw cuts by holding up his thumb, closing one eye and estimating the required length.  He could also hold a piece of cheese in his palm and pare it with a pocket knife, putting the cheese to his mouth on the knife blade, to Big Nanny's everlasting shame and disgust.  He drank cider from a huge mug, slurped as he drank it and smacked his lips with relish at anything that pleased his palate.  I always picture him dressed in a light brown pair of dungarees, the kind with bib and braces, over a collarless shirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows, although on Christmas Day his discomfiture with his numerous grandchildren was compounded by the stiff white collar and suit Big Nanny insisted he wore.

Like so many men of his era and age, Grampy Hill was a creature of habit who viewed with disfavour any attempt to change his ways.  Big Nanny was the proud possessor of a rather fine mahogany, Regency, twin-pedestal dining table which, with leaf in, accommodated us all for supper.  Grampy had an equally fine, spoke-backed oak carver which was his chair at its head, and although it did not match the table, he defied anyone to say so.  On this fatal Christmas Day, because of the growing number of Jack and Hilda's children, the beloved chair was removed by Big Nanny and a bench introduced.  Grampy Hill was banished to the settle along the long wall of the dining room.  The settle was rather low, Grampy's tummy was rather large, the kids had been getting on his nerves since teatime and his face was purple, his countenance dejected.  Big Nanny was on her feet organising us all (she organised everything) when Grampy disappeared beneath the table.  Big Nanny adjusted her spectacles (she did not use a lorgnette, but Big Nanny could make the most ordinary pair of spectacles look like one) and in her haughty and refined voice proclaimed 'Tom, what on earth are you doing?'  We had already detected Grampy-like grunts from between the claw-footed pedestals of the table and then one of my grandfather's huge hands appeared above the sparkling white tablecloth and dripped freshly-made Colman's English mustard upon it and a voice from below deck thundered 'Mustard! Shit!'  My grandfather had dropped the rather oversized mustard pot beneath the table, failed to recover it by groping whilst seated, had slid beneath the table and put his fingers straight into the mustard.  We were never asked for Christmas again. 

Lest you think the slightest evil of my paternal grandparents, let me just add that they were the very salt of the earth.  They were pillars of their parish church where my grandfather served for years as a sidesman.  My grandmother was a great seamstress and would darn clothes until there was more darn than cloth.  She did most of my mother's mending, searched church sales for frocks for the girls, and was like a family nurse in dispensing medicaments to us all if we had a cold or a cough.  Amongst Big Nanny's potions was a cough mixture called Syrup of Squills and Fox's Lung Tonic.  It was quite pleasant to the taste and I could usually muster a sufficiently harrowing cough to be invited to take a teaspoonful of what I thought for years was syrup of squirrels and foxes' lungs. 

Without the support of their relations, I think my parents would have been hard-pressed to rear their enormous flock.  I don't know what their financial input was, although it could only have been modest, for both sets of grandparents were of humble means, but I did see the gifts they lovingly bore to Douglas Road and I can see Grampy Hill now, puffing in through the back gate on his bike with the two quarts of skim milk he brought up for his grandchildren most days, and sometimes sprats caught by his brother-in-law Joe at Clevedon, or a joint of meat he had purchased cheaply, late on a Saturday night.  I also knew that despite the burden of his eldest son's brood, Tom and Fanny Hill helped another family in their Church all through the Great Depression when the breadwinner fell out of work.

This good man died in agony with cancer of the bowel, but as I walked away from his house a day or so later, a perfect stranger asked me whether I was Tom Hill's grandson, and when I said I was, he said, 'If you grow up half as good as he was, you'll be alright, my son'.  I thanked him and walked on, only to be accosted by another stranger who said almost precisely the same thing.

They say that I look like him and even more like his brother who died not long after I was born.  At the age of 23 I called on a farmer in Gloucestershire called Ford.  As I walked towards him, a look of apprehension crossed his face and he said, 'Don't say anything – your name is Hill, isn't it?'  When I agreed, he said 'Lord bless me, you nearly scared me to death, I thought old Billie Hill was walking through my gate and he's been dead for nigh on 20 years.'  He was talking of my great-uncle, whom I had never seen but who had farmed next to Ford before the latter moved to Gloucestershire from Easton-in-Gordano in Somerset.  It seems that I must have been the spitting image of my great-uncle and quite like his brother, Grampy Hill.  Would that I could be half as good a man as my grandfather was.

Photo taken in 1940

Saturday, 10 December 2011

'Communion' reviewed in Bristol Review of Books

Sensuous Energy

New Work by Deborah Harvey

It’s always good to stumble on a surprise – in this case a hidden pulse of activity that has been just under my nose but I didn’t notice. A stone’s throw from me, the Halo Bar on the Gloucester Road hosts the Bristol Acoustic Nights – a fine mix of music and poetry, along with various related events including, the other week, the warmly communal launch of Bristol poet Deborah Harvey’s first book of poems, Communion. Interspersed with lyrical, intelligent songs from singer/guitarist Reg Meuross – a wonderfully calm, humorous and engaging performer – Deborah and friends read her sensuous yet precise poems.
            These often unerringly home in on things close to home – families, relationships – 
though also often getting there via historical or mythological themes which erupt suddenly and compellingly into the present. The poems are most successful when this happens – when Harvey manages to strike a kind of bright, resonant
overtone of personal meaning from the old iron of    
historical context. Such meaning is frequently just hinted at, present between the lines as much as in them – but you know it’s there by the charge of energy.
             The title poem, for instance, subverts the 'warning against lust' of a mural in St. Winifred's Church, Devon, by describing in the most sensuous language the 'communion' (itself a clever subversion of a Christian term) of the lustful couple, who 'partake of each other...in sanctuary, chapter house and chantry'. A rampant paganism, oblivious of, or perhaps feeding on ecclesiastical suppression of sexuality, comes alight in the poem.  Even the 'thrust' of the devil's spear in the couple's sides is appropriated by a charged eroticism.
               Poems often work through such tension or juxtaposition – two or more disparate elements playing against each other to create something alive and resonant.  A more overtly personal but similarly sensuous poem, 'Nettle Rash', starts from the straightforward and, one might have thought, unpromising process of making junket, to lift into a Proustian moment of sensuous memory in which the sting of nettles strangely enhances the immediacy of a sexual tryst:

Nettle Rash

Every now and then
I get out the milk pan
to make junket,
warming the milk and the rennet
to the temperature of blood,
then letting it thicken and cool.
Barely set and freckled with nutmeg,

its taste conjures
moon daisies, drowsy peonies,
a windfall of laughter and stories
in apple-deep shadows,
licking fingers,
sticky with raspberries
and bottled cream,

and the memory of you,
tracing the nettle rash
staining the milkiness of my skin,
in the treacherous depths
of our thicket bed,
our lips stung with kisses,
our quickening breath.

After the first six, factual lines – essential for rooting the subsequent memory in the mundane, against which it is juxtaposed – the poem raises its ghosts in a single, increasingly breathless sentence (just one small quibble: a few unnecessary commas slightly impede the flow). The last, highly charged verse takes your breath away with its auditory culmination: ‘the treacherous depths / of our thicket bed’ with those thick, close-packed consonants – aptly conveying close, dark confines – suddenly kindles through the three bright i sounds of ‘thicket’, ‘lips’ and ‘kisses’ into a blaze of surprise in the word ‘stung’. Robert Frost said, ‘No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader’ – and it is moments like this that convey a truth that no logic can quite account for.
            The best poems in this collection have a honed economy and complex simplicity. In ‘Duplicity’, starting from the mythological figure of Janus, who looks both ways – back to what is old and dead and forward to the new – Harvey again conjures the involuntary resurgence of a relentless sensuality. Note here too the highly sexual ‘sliding’ of the key in the lock and the way the shock of that single line compellingly changes the whole tenor of the poem:


Janus is dead.

She has eclipsed his eyes with pennies.
She has zipped his bloodless flesh in a bag and buried it.
She has painted her walls white.

Now his key slides in the lock.

He is as dangerous as buttercups
gilding their bane
at the turn of the stairs.

At times, some of the historical themes don’t quite find the personal resonance that gives life to a poem. For instance, one dedicated to William Morris, despite genuine feeling and a sensitive meditation on the relic of his overcoat, ends up a little lamely, telling us what to think rather than really conjuring meaning in us. But elsewhere, especially perhaps in her sense of generations of unsung women, Harvey shows historical awareness that invokes the past without merely enlisting it.
In ‘This Healing Hour’, about a grandmother to whom the whole collection is dedicated, she connects her own, dishwasher-aided life vividly with a very different and tougher past, and her own poems with the scribbled, pencilled verses on greaseproof paper of a woman who could only make time for writing by, for brief moments, ‘shouldering back’ her innumerable tasks. In her first collection, Harvey has, one senses, also shouldered away some of the difficulties of her own past – a number of poems hint strongly at the ending of an unrewarding relationship – to kindle some vivid poems in a new hearth of her own making.

Deborah Harvey
Indigo Dreams, £6.99

Review written by Matthew Barton

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Yesterday Christmas came ...

 ... to Horfield Common

and made the child in me, who is still in love with the Romani wagon in Bristol City Museum (below), very happy.  

I have resolved not fret over how, when I told them that I had asked my cousin to make me a proper Romani wagon bed with curtains in my future forever home, a second cousin AND my neighbour (and erstwhile friend) both claimed that I would be too old and arthritic to change the sheets.

Instead, I shall reflect on that lovely etching 'The Plough' by Robin Tanner, forbearing to mention that for years I puzzled over why it was so titled when everyone can see it's a picture of a vardo ... 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Third Review of Launch for 'Communion'

This review is from local free magazine, filtonvoice. OK, so it isn't the Times Literary Supplement.  It's a positive review, though, and filtonvoice is an excellent magazine. (I should know, I'm the arts correspondent ... though I didn't write this!)

Book Launch for 'Communion' by Deborah Harvey, Halo Cafe Bar, 4th November 2011

I had never been to a book launch before, let alone one for a book of poetry, so I did not really know what to expect from the launch night of Deborah Harvey's first collection, Communion. I now fear the bar has been set rather high: Harvey delivered a night of excellent entertainment, interspersing her poems with arch commentary on their origins, and thoughtful folk music from Reg Meuross.

Filton poet Harvey led her audience into a labyrinth of ideas and themes ranging from local places (Bristol, Somerset and Dartmoor all made appearances) to relationships to mythology to war. In spite of this variety, and the weight of some of the subject matters, encountering her poetry felt a consistently personal experience: the poet has a particular knack for drawing out the more intimate aspects of her themes and making her work accessible and relevant for her audience. Although being witness to her poetry was, at times, an emotional experience, Harvey is no sensationalist: she evokes others' feelings with consideration and precision. 

Part of the success of the evening lay in the way Harvey's poems dovetailed with Meuross's songs: he echoed her themes in his work, at times performing songs about the same places and people. They functioned seamlessly as a double act, each enriching the other's work with their own and, between them, maintaining an atmosphere of laughter and sharing. Rather than watching disparate artists perform, it felt as though we were observing a conversation between song and poem, a sense that was particularly heightened by the use of multiple voices in some of Harvey's poems.

Now I am no longer a book launch virgin, I greatly look forward to the launch of Harvey's debut novel, Dart, in 2012.

'Communion' is published by Indigo Dreams, and is available from their website, or from Amazon.co.uk and .com, W H Smith online, or good independent bookshops, price £6.99 (or less).   To read some of my poems, click here.

Photos © Dru Marland

Friday, 2 December 2011

Рукописи не горят

It was off to Vue Cinema in Longwell Green last night to see a live screening of the new play by John Hodge, 'Collaborators', a satire based on the relationship between writer Mikhail Bulgakov and Joseph Stalin.  Much as I love Bulgakov (I studied 'The Master and Margarita' as part of my Russian degree and it's still right up there in my top three books ever), I found my enthusiasm waning as we hacked across Bristol through rainy rush-hour traffic.  But although I have some reservations, upon reflection it was worth the effort. 

Even in reality, Bulgakov had a somewhat surreal relationship with the great dictator.  Stalin was a self-declared fan, particularly of the 1926 play 'Days of the Turbins', which he claimed to have seen 15 times.  This was enough to protect Bulgakov from the fate suffered by almost every other critic of the Soviet Union during the 1930s - exile to the gulags or execution - although his plays were not produced, his writing not published.  Then Bulgakov was promised that his play about Molière would be unbanned, if he wrote one about the young Stalin to commemorate the dictator's 60th birthday. 

In 'Collaborators' we are taken deep into the terminally ill writer's feverish imagination, where, in a sort of Faustian pact, the two protagonists virtually swap places, with Stalin writing a suitably heroic play  about himself while Bulgakov finds himself sanctioning orders that will eventually lead to the Great Terror of 1937-38.  And this is where I have a problem.  'Collaborators' suggests that Stalin was the ultimate winner in this battle, with Bulgakov reduced to a cipher representing the compromised artist.  As it is, both Russia and the Ukraine claim him as a national hero, and the iconic 'The Master and Margarita' is regarded by many Russians as the greatest novel ever written.  As Woland himself says, 'manuscripts don't burn'. 

Hodge's flawed concept is redeemed by some great acting, particularly by Alex Jennings as Bulgakov and Simon Russell Beale as Stalin.  Both evolve through the course of the play, Bulgakov seeming to age as his ordeal and illness progress, and Stalin metamorphosing from a seemingly bumbling, avuncular innocent (with a disturbingly Bristolian accent) to the monster he finally declares himself to be: 'Killing my enemies is easy.  The challenge is to change the way they think, to control their minds.  And I think I controlled yours pretty well.  In years to come, I'll be able to say: Bulgakov?  Yeah, we even trained him.  He gave up.  He saw the light.  We broke him, we can break anybody.  It's man versus monster, Mikhail.  And the monster always wins.'  It is a terrifyingly accurate portrayal of the psychopath - master-manipulator behind a buffoonish mask which only slips towards the end of the play to reveal the evil behind it. 

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tomorrow We'll Be Sober!

'What's The Croft like as a venue, then?' I asked my daughter.

She wrinkled her nose. 'OK, I s'pose. You do stick to the floor a bit, though'

Armed with this information, my 89 year old father and 83 year old mother decided not to attend the Blackbeard's Tea Party gig, even though they love watching their grandson, djembe-playing Dave Boston, and granddaughter-in-waiting, Laura Barber, play.  I had no such qualms. I've been sticking to various floors, at gigs and domestically, since the late 70s.  So accompanied by most of my offspring, I swanked in courtesy of the guest list just in time for the opening song.   

Blackbeard's Tea Party has undergone a fairly major personnel change of late, with the departure of singer and melodeon player, Paul Young.  I was a bit apprehensive when I heard the news, as I thought Paul's voice very distinctive and really well suited to the band's material, though his stage persona was pretty dour.  His replacement,  the singer and melodeon player Stuart Giddens, couldn't be more different, scoring about 8.2 on the campometer.  I particularly enjoyed the subtle change to the lyrics in 'I can hew', and once he's memorised the order of the verses in 'The Landlord', he'll be fine.  

 Elsewhere, Blackbeard, that local Bristol boy made good, was well served by his band's excellent musicianship.  I have a bit of a penchant for fiddle-playing, and Laura is superbly talented.  For energy and passion, I can only really compare her to that maestro, Seth Lakeman. 

Support was provided by local rappers, Silver Flame - that's rappers not rappers - who also performed with the band in Sidmouth, back in the summer.  By the end of the evening the entire audience in the packed back room was dancing, and the band received a well-deserved ovation.


Another perk of being Auntie to the band is that you get to put most of them up afterwards.  They're far too nice to demand a rider, but the beer went down well (£17.99 for one box in Sainsbury's; £20 for two. What's that all about, then?)  Following a slap-up breakfast next morning, my parents popped around for a quick visit and stuck to my kitchen floor, so they didn't miss out either.  

I think I'm right in saying that with the exception of their two appearances at Sidmouth in August, this was the first time Blackbeard's Tea Party had performed in the West Country, and that seems a shame as surely it's here they would be best appreciated.  Hopefully they'll get booked for more festivals and carnivals in these parts over the coming months. In the meantime they have an excellent new CD out, called Tomorrow We'll Be Sober, which will be just the job for all those approaching Christmas and New Year parties.  

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Chichester in October

Back in the second week of October I visited Chichester, where there is nary a straight line and a surprise around every corner.

After an extremely reasonably priced lunch in Raymond Blanc's brasserie (all the more tasty for being paid for by friends as a birthday treat), we passed the beautiful 15th century market cross ... 

 to visit the Cathedral, which I'd long wanted to see.  And full of delights it proved, old and new ...

... graffiti with serifs, 1699! ... 

... leaves in free fall ... 

... and a very modern gargoyle.

I loved this decidedly porcine cherub ... 

and this stunning stained glass window designed by Marc Chagall ...

matched for drama by this tapestry designed by John Piper. 

I'll be here for ever if I post pictures of every delight - the early 12th century Chichester reliefs; a consecration cross; more graffiti from centuries ago; more cherubs, distraught at the 1696 death of Bishop Robert Grove from a broken leg; a Roman mosaic pavement; a wonderfully delicate ceiling painting of twining foliage. I shall, however, post photos of two tombs which caught my eye, above of Joan de Vere, who died in 1293 and who has the most graceful face of any effigy I've ever seen, and below the Arundel tomb, made famous by Larkin's poem of the same name, with its marvellous last two lines.

Larkin says it all, really ...