Established 2003. Now incorporating The Sudbury Hill Harrow and Wherever End Times

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Thoughts

They put me in school. They do it to us all
and they teach us the alphabet and how to read,
how to add up and take away and memorise
the dates of battles, the names of kings,

while round outside the classroom the sun
illuminates the unread leaves and stirs
the untaught robin to sing his rhapsody
for which there is no do-re-mi, no metronome.

And we learn like Pavlov's dogs; how to please,
to supply the formula, to recite the text
we copied from the board and in return we get
rosettes, prizes, kisses, presents, Easter eggs.

But when the teacher has retired and our mams
and dads have forgotten everything or died,
we're left to wander abroad with nothing
but ciphers, tokens, money from a vanished state.

And late, now very late, the sun breaks through
a bare giant tree to solitary benches
where, as this afternoon, I wonder who to ask
to teach me how to read the day, the light

on public footpath signposts and leafmeal,
to diagram the last of the afternoon sun
warming a railway bridge in a country lane,
to derive the angles in a fine terrace below.

And I think of Yeats, Spender, Goldsmith,
walking through a classroom and being moved
to mystic reverie, fierce compassion, wonder.
But beyond the class there was a secret school

that taught us how to hear the ocean in a seashell,
to observe a crab blowing bubbles, the local names
for honeybees, how to draw houses, smoke & flowers.
Take me back to the school of streets and fields.

Stephen Moran

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Shoes - a YouTube music playlist

With most tracks suggested by friends on Facebook

Merry Xmas

Jacintha Pucka & Bartell Darcy

Monday, December 16, 2013

Closing date this Friday - 20 December 2013

Thanks to everyone who has supported the competition, re-tweeted, sponsored and generally been what we can only call angels.

The last email-shot went out this morning and you can read it online here. The numbers are going up rapidly now. I'd rather have more but I know the quality is always high before the end. Always has been to date and expecting no less this time. That's the end of the spam.

Merry mid-winter everyone (where it is even possible). Already had some South African hot cider made by someone who knows what he's doing. It's like a mulled wine. Cheers to Mr Mandela, wherever he is now. Good luck to all. (Steve)

Update, January 2014: 381 entries were received. The judging is still in progress.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Save Kensal Rise Library at Christmas

Christmas Carols
At Kensal Rise Library

Wednesday 18th December - 6pm start

*Mulled wine
*You don't have to be a good singer - just in possession of Christmas cheer and goodwill towards all!
*Bring candles in jam jars (or borrow one of ours) and come along for a sing song.
No need to be able to sing well, just come and join in outside the lovely library.
Christmas hasn't really started until you've hung around on the library street corner singing with the community. Everyone welcome!

Cards for Christmas (and beyond)
The campaign has a new hand-painted card (no message inside so it can be used all year) based on an early photo of the library's original reading room. Inside is the report of the opening in 1900.

The cards come in packs of ten, costing £5 per pack.

They are available at Mr Patel's corner shop, Mohammad's shop and cafĂ©, all College Rd, and
Daniels estate agents in Chamberlayne Road.

Visit the campaign website for the latest news and ways to get involved -

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More about that writing retreat prize


More info has come our way about the mysterious Writing Retreats in the Welsh Borders which form part of this year's short story competition prize. LitCamp, who some of you may remember, is putting on a spate of retreats in the New Year. "If you plan to get real with writing a book in the new year, check it out. You can even drop Xmas hints about this to your nearest and dearest as EarlyBird tickets rates run until 24 December - you heard it here first. Or, Plan B, win the short story comp!"

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Tips for writers: He draws to the left so lean to the right

When Bob Hope goes out to a gunfight in Paleface, the townsfolk cowering in doorways all give him different advice about how to play it.
"He draws to the left so lean to the right."
"There's a wind from the east - better aim to the west."
"He crouches when he shoots so stand on your toes."
It's hilarious to watch him try and implement the various contortions as he walks down the street to face his doom.
Sometimes we get stories that sound as if they have been written by committee. Over-edited, they're herky-jerky and riddled with non sequiturs. The story has been shredded and stuck back together with sticky tape.

Monday, December 02, 2013

A long way from Willesden


Virginia Gilbert's debut feature film as writer/director, A Long Way from Home starring James Fox, Natalie Dormer and Brenda Fricker opens at cinemas throughout the UK this December.

Virginia is a previous winner of the Willesden Herald short story competition. We reported recently on the launch of her novel Travelling Companion.