15 January 2023

Ronald Blythe

There have been so many deaths of people about whom I could write, but did not want to turn this blog into an obituary column! However, news of the death yesterday of Ronald Blythe prompts me at least to refer anyone reading this to the wonderful obituary in the Guardian by Patrick Barkham, at https://www.theguardian.com/books/2023/jan/15/ronald-blythe-obituary

I missed Akenfield when it came out in 1969 but, of course, since moving to Suffolk it has become of particular interest. I first came to notice and appreciate Ronnie’s work when I started to subscribe to the Church Times, as the only way of getting a copy of my own reviews when I started writing for it, and read – usually before anything else – his weekly back-page column, ‘Word from Wormingford’, which I invariably enjoyed. I once wrote to tell him so, and received a lovely reply. His memories of working for Britten and Pears were also very fascinating, especially as told in his book The Time by the Sea (2013). He did well to reach his centenary while still living independently at home.

I never met him, but I thank him for his wonderful evocations of Suffolk life, never sentimental, but always with the ring of truth. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

01 January 2023

New Year’s fireworks

It was an absolutely stunning fireworks display to welcome 2023 in London, and it cost £1.5 million!

I’m sure homeless people on the streets, those at home cold from trying to save energy, people forced to use foodbanks, would have really loved this demonstration of so much money going up in smoke that could have eased their burdens somewhat (and repeated at various venues around the country).

Not to mention the pollution being thrown into the atmosphere at a time when carbon emissions have already done irreparable damage to our climate and to curb which we are making sacrifices in the hope of easing the situation.

The estimated 100,000 people watching at £15 a head would of course cover the cost, but the pollution problem would still be there, and there would be no benefit to others on whom such a sum of money might have been spent. (And how many new Covid cases will result from so many people in close proximity to each other?)

Sorry to be a killjoy but the country is in a very serious situation and this simply won’t do. The mayor has questions to answer.