Battleaxe gets jazzy and meets someone completely new

Jazzy? Jazz? Yes, real live jazz at the Sea Angler’s Club. A new person? Battleaxe used to be a regular attender at the WI Virtual Murder Mystery Book Group, and sneaked back in again to meet guest author Helen Jacey, who I have never met, and lives in St Leonard’s.

Here’s a misty sunset the other night, on our way to fish and chips… it is so good to see the evenings getting lighter.

Now, here’s the oddest thing. Hastings is not a big place – according to Google, the population in 2021 was 91,000. But, Battleaxe lives her life in a particular social group without ever running into others who have similar interests and live parallel lives in entirely different worlds.  Very strange becasue I know lots of people, have a lot of ‘crossover’ via all the arty groups I am involved with… and Battleaxe likes to stick her nose in everywhere.

I go, somewhat sporadically, to a WI Virtual Murder Mystery Book Group, hosted by WI chum Hilary Lewis. Hilary contacted me and said that Hastings author Helen Jacey was coming to a meeting as a guest, and would I write an article about her for the national and local WI mags. Helen Jacey? Who she? I had never heard of her, never heard anyone I know mention her, and her name had never cropped up in any of the groups I go to. But there she is, living just near me.

She has an interesting life. As well as writing the first two ‘feminist noir’ books in a series featuring fearless 40s female sleuth Elvira Slate, Helen has authored a book of short stories and the ‘The Woman in the Story’, a guide to creating strong female characters that defy conventional stereotyping. Her company, ‘Shedunnit Productions’ promotes feminism and diversity across the media. You can find out about Helen and her work on her websites, and

Of course, Helen does live in St Leonard’s, all of a mile away. Us more Old Townish types think of the ‘St Leonardsistas’ as slightly apart, and I presume they think the same about us. But I know loads of people who live in St Leonard’s. I do wonder how many other layers of unknown people there are, waiting to be discovered. Interesting…

Talking of unknown groups, back to Jazz. Our friends Richard and Liz used to live in the Old Town and were down here for the weekend. They used to be regular attenders at the jazz sessions in the Angler’s Club, and wanted to revisit their old haunts, so off we went, plus other friends Peter and Jenny (who provided the fish and chips). To be totally honest, Battleaxe is not that much into jazz. She remembers yawning and scratching through so many jazz and beer evenings with the first Mr Battleaxe, who was very keen on both. As, like me, Philosopher isn’t that fond of jazz, we’ve never been to a jazz thing since we’ve lived in Hastings. When we rocked up to the Angler’s Club we were fully expecting to encounter an entirely new group of people. In fact, I don’t know if they were new or not – the place was so crowded you couldn’t have recognised your own mother across the room.

Now, jazz fans, don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly happy to gently snooze in a darkened room nursing a pint of Harvey’s while listening to a mellow sax, twangy bass, the gentle tsk tsk tsky tsk of the drums or whatever. The band (The Xhosa Cole Band), were very good, but they had an interesting addition – a young woman tap dancing, balanced on a box on the stage…. I’ll say no more.

Here’s a not-very-good photo… That gyrating woman is just a blur…

Anyway, some of us left at the interval. Goodness, it was already half-past nine. Quite late enough for me.

Next day we went for a walk in the Country Park. It was even sunny.  Here’s Battleaxe with Richard and Liz

Philosopher and Battleaxe have actually joined a walking group. Unknown people? Well, some, but plenty of overlap – poets, writers, people Philosopher knew at the WEA, friends of friends. We’ve been out three times with the group so far. Good walks and excellent company, but one trouble I have is that when I’m walking with other people I never notice my surroundings, or where we are going. Philosopher took this first  photo of a Rowland Hilder-ish scene at some unknown location near Powdermill Lane, and the second somewhere in the fields between Winchelsea and Rye. You can see in the second photo that the weather is about to collapse – it started hailing, cutting straight into our faces. Us two skived off and caught the bus back to Winchelsea…


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