Random round-up post from Hastings Battleaxe

This post is a bit of  a random round-up.  First thing, it was just as well we went to see the Pashley Manor tulips last week – see the last post.  At the weekend we had unseasonably stormy weather including  strong winds which shredded all the tulips in our garden.  Battleaxe has been very busy – with social things, with WI things…  it all feels a bit stressful at the moment because we are all so unused to doing these things… and oh, at last I’ve had my hair done and it’s Election Day today.

The weather is really very strange – cold, and still far too dry, with just occasional short, sharp showers that don’t wet the ground.  Just look at this gorse in the Country Park – totally brown and shrivelled from lack of water. I don’t ever remember seeing it like that. It must be a horrible fire risk. Very strange cloud formations, too…

It feels like all of a sudden I have gone from lying round like a pudding to doing an awful lot… Take yesterday,  for example. I hosted lunch for a group of five women friends, which meant a certain amount of sorting china etc unused since the brief relaxation of Covid rules last summer. I planned to make a cake but for the first time ever my sponge mix went all curdled. Ended up rushing up to Ore Village and buying nostalgia-fest Gipsy Tart – only those of us above a certain age will remember the joys of old-fashioned school dinners. It was/still is so sweet it makes your mouth shrivel but how we enjoyed it!

We tried the Kent food so rare we couldn't find it in Sainsbury's, Asda and Tesco - Kent Live

Googling up Gipsy Tart to find the photo above, it claims to be a Kentish speciality – but I enjoyed it at my Oxford public school, at grammar school in Winchester, and even, when I worked for Birmingham City Council, it was produced in the Council’s school dinner cook training school…

Battleaxe used to love school dinners, especially the puddings – spotted dick and custard, chocolate pudding and chocolate sauce, pink custard, rice pudding with jam, and even prunes!

Anyway, after the lunch I had a brain-intensive WI-related virtual meeting with a solicitor from Tunbridge Wells – about transferring the East Sussex Federation from an unincorproated charity to something called a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). As a Trustee and now also First Vice-Chair, (why, why would you do this, they cry) I have undertaken to be one of the leads on the project… Yuch. Then, in the evening there was the Zoom launch of the latest poetry collection ‘A Suitcase Filled with Hope’ by my friend and local poetry Stanza group leader Antony Mair, organised by London-based poetry outfit Live Canon.  They have published the book. Antony is a very good poet indeed, and although I have not yet got a copy of the book I found the readings quite inspirational.

I have mentioned before that during Covid times I have scarcely written any poetry, and feel bad about only attending a couple of the Zoom Stanza meetings that have been happening every month since March 2020.  I have written a couple of poems ‘to order’ including the poem for Richard Coles that I have referred to before on here. Would you believe I sent him a copy of ‘his’ poem after his talk and he never even acknowledged it?  Poor show, Richard… However, it was quite well received by the East Sussex audience and I was pleased with it.  However, as my brain is slowly waking up, I am beginning to feel like writing again – well, maybe only a bit, but it’s a start.

So, yes, I actually had my hair done on Tuesday, for the first time since mid-December. Look at this pile of my hair on the salon floor – there is enough to cover the head of another person.

During the first lockdown I made some effort to cut it myself and keep it in order, but had no real will to do it this time, apart from hacking at my fringe so I could see out.  On Sunday we went to Tunbridge Wells to meet our old friend Shaun McKenna and his new friend Rich.  I felt quite demoralised by my unkempt appearance, particularly as Shaun has lost a pile of weight during Covid time, whereas I have put some on…  What creative friends we have – as well as celebrating Antony and his poetry, on Friday we watched, virtually, the first performance of Shaun’s new play, ‘Rocky Road’ from the Jermyn Street Theatre. We had a slight problem because for technical reasons I won’t go into, we could only view it on my mobile phone – with the help of a magnifying glass! But it was well done, and has received some very good reviews. Talking of Shaun, sadly we are resigning ourselves to not going to Turkey again this year. It won’t be on the (still hypothetical) ‘Green List’  and hence would be just too risky/stressful/difficult.

So yes, Election Day today.  Those of you that do Twitter will know that there is always an Election Day thing #dogsatpollingstations. Today was one of our days to take neighbour’s dog Bear for a walk, so we took him to the Polling Station and made him pose outside in the approved manner.  Trouble was whenever we got him to sit down in front of the sign he’d embark on a vigorous session of unphotogenic scratching. Philosopher got very ratty and said he wouldn’t hold him any more. I should be starting a new hashtag #grumpyphilosophersatpollingstations but I eventually managed to take a few pictures of the dog. He looks rather fed up, but has gone onto Twitter with all the other thousands of canines.

The voting process was somewhat complex – three ballot papers, one for Hastings BC, one for East Sussex CC, and one for the Police and Crime Commissioner. Can’t say we saw hide or hair of any of the candidates for any party canvassing round us, and only had one leaflet through the door (Labour). I have not got a clue what Katy Bourne, our current Police and Crime Commissioner, has achieved, if anything. I have met her – at a WI do in 2018 where she was a guest speaker, she seemed OK, but couldn’t vote for her as she is a T**y.

Rumour has it that Labour are facing a wipe-out in these elections. Battleaxe doesn’t know what to think. Readers will know only too well my views on the current Government, but Keir Starmer has done little to set out a clear way forward for Labour that anyone could identify with. All Labour spokespeople seem to do is whinge and snipe at the Tories for their failings, but they put forward no alternatives.  Thoughts now should be on the post-Covid world, and what we want society to look like. They need to be pushing big things like proportional representation…

One last odd thing – fits with this random post. You remember before Christmas we swapped our Skoda Yeti for a Nissan Juke? Well, the bloke at the dealership told us that our Skoda had gone down to Penzance. Interesting, we thought, we might see it when we go down to Cornwall (in October). Well, the other day we were walking along Clive Avenue, just round the corner from here, and look what we saw! Penzance? I don’t think so!


  1. Jill Fricker
    May 6, 2021 / 5:46 pm

    Always enjoy your posts, Steph! I much enjoyed Antony’s launch – and it was good to catch a glimpse of you and Philosopher. Hopefully Stanza can go live again – next month even?
    Jill X

    • May 9, 2021 / 2:05 pm

      Thansk Jill! I am really looking forward to live Stanza – venue might be a problem – the bar where we used to meet has gone bust/changed hands. See you soon!

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