Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cotesbach Enclosures Riot: 400th Anniversary / April Flurries

Cotesbach Enclosures Riot: 400th Anniversary

My friends in Cotesbach Sophy and Tom Newton and a group of the other villagers are organising a remarkable celebration to mark the 400th Anniversary of the Cotesbach Enclosures Riot on 7 July 2007.

The Cotesbach Estate, Cotesbach, Leicestershire, UK On the Cotesbach 400 website, they tell the story of the event. Four hundred years ago, five thousand people from three English counties descended on Cotesbach, which even today has a population of only 150, in a non-violent protest agin the land enclosures that was threatening their livelihoods. With what tools they could lay hands on, they tore down the enclosures in the village in what became known as the Cotesbach Enclosures Riot. The Cotesbach villagers gave the visitors sustenance from 'carts laden with victual'.

Cotesbach Enclosures Riot 400th Anniversary Count Me In logo On 7 July, Sophy and the rest of the village of Cotesbach, in Leicestershire, UK, are hoping 5,000 people will again come - the greatest gathering there in four centuries for a day of history, music entertainment and drinking.

To find out how to join them, check out the Cotesbach Quattrocentenary.

It has been a strange week. I drove back to the Leamington Garret on Saturday and went to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's new production of Richard III. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although it did have a bewildering variety of modern and ancient weaponry and costumes and a Richard III who appeared to be playing most of his lines for laughs in a style a la Rik Mayall! Still, a good night out all the same.

The Pi House, Cotesbach, Leicestershire, UK
In the morning I went to Cotesbach. It was most amusing to watch a video of Tom, Sophy and daughters' recent appearance on Sky News satellite television, as part of the channel's ecological week. It also seemed surreal to see our gathering place the Sickle and Stick on national television, with hundreds of candles burning inside and our game of choice, Staghorn, in the background. Publicity for the sport like Tom and I used to dream and joke about!

In the evening I went to see Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, round the corner from the Garret in the Apollo in Leamington. I was not prepared for the level of violence in it. I could not help wonder what would induce Mel Gibson to make a film like that, good though it is (apart from the money). He is at least 20 percent mad.

I have also spent a lot of time in the flat. It is pleasant and ordered here now. Somehow it looks completely different from how it used to be. We have a good dining table and have moved round all the furniture. My old music centre has been pressed into action, somehow linked up to my new flatmate's computer to play CDs with tremendous sound quality. Seventies working with Noughties gear.

I have also fixed the turntable, which was playing slowly, using a rubber band, courtesy of the Royal Mail. It was fantastic listening to my pristine condition 1971 LP of Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones on it. What a great album! (Not to mention my 1968 Aretha: Lady Soul, and collection of other LPs I have shipped up here).

This week is the first we have been online. BT has finally installed broadband. This blog is the first to be published live from the Leamington Garret. Having the internet has added a whole new dimension to the flat. It feels the opening of a window to the world.

On the other hand, I am finding it really tough not drinking. I am also on a diet which pains me greatly. The third of horror is applying for jobs - something I always do at this time of year despite an entrenched hatred of job applications. This enmity probably stems from my low hit rate, which I have resolved to improve.

It all tends to make me rather tetchy and overly critical. I guess January is a month where we promise ourselves we going to mend our lives and then get upset at the slow or non-existent rate of change.

So, what's ahead? Well, I want to write a piece (and possibly a poem) about The Girl With A One-Track Mind, having read and mulled over her book. I also intend to pen something about a very different volume, George Orwell's Homage To Catalonia.

More pressingly, I think I am booked to do some poems at the Reckless Moment comedy club in Leamington next Monday. I dropped in this week to get another feel for it. It seemed strange being in a comedy club and not drinking. It was another good night, though, and Pete the Meat came up to me and thanked me for blogging about the club.

On the poetry front, I haven't done a lot although I have tons of ideas. There are just not enough hours in the day.

So, I will hand you over to this week's Flashback, which is the last one of the 50 or so I prepared before launching Oliver's Poetry.

After today, I shall be busking it into the past.

April Flurries (Flashback to Monday, 10 April 2006)

Leamington Garret. Just returned from the swimming pool where, embarrassingly, I split my trunks while in the jacuzzi!

Realising this and getting out, I hoped none of the women around would notice. Fortunately they were too busy chatting, as I shuffled past the fun pool and the back of the water flume on my pathetic way to the gentlemen's changing rooms.

It is - by my calculation - seven weeks and four days (or 53 days, if you must) until the launch of my website, Oliver's Poetry and its blog Oliver's Poetry Garret.

I have started to write immediately, partly to get into the swing of it and, partly, so the blog can go forward and backward in time simultaneously. I tend to dwell in the past and the future rather than the present time. Which, according to the Royal Leamington Spa Town Hall Clock which I am currently observing through the tiny window of my lofty garret, is 9.30pm.

A blues compilation CD is playing in the living room down the narrow stairs. I put it on shortly after opening a can of Primus Premium Lager, which I got free with three others tonight from the aptly named Costcutter.

If you have been following this as-yet-unwritten Flashback (or Backblog), you probably know a lot about me. So there is no point reiterating what I have already told you in the future!

My main concern here and now is how I am going to make Oliver's Poetry a success (if that is possible). I have already laid the foundations of the site, based on a comedy website that a physics student I once met on a train designed and emailed to me - out of the kindness of his heart.

My web skills are very basic but I am fairly pleased with my handiwork so far. The problem is I would like a free (or inexpensive) statistics package and a decent blog format. I am hopeless at technology. I have not even managed to get on to the internet in this little attic flat.

When I have finished this, I shall put the information onto a floppy disk (yes, I still use floppy disks!), place it in my ancient bag (which closely resembles the UK Chancellor's Budget Case and was about to thrown out years ago by a cellist friend of mine called Ruth Boswell before being given to me) and take it to my other garret in Lewes where it will be transferred onto an old Apple Mac which is on the world wide web. Phew!

When I arose today at 5.22am in Lewes, there was snow on the ground. I might write this week's poem about April Flurries. It was stunningly beautiful and seems a good theme. That white duvet on the Downs was sublime. The virgin rug between the battered steel rails at Lewes Station, too.

The real point of starting Oliver's Poetry Home is to make me write a poem a week. I managed it last year - my first year of writing poetry - but so far in 2006 I have had the block. Worrying!

I must start the April Fluries poem.

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