An evening of poetry at the Crypt Gallery on Wednesday 12 September, at 7:30 pm will take place as part of Seaford Live! 2012. Readers include:
Peter Martin, reading from his collection, Ghost Music, poetry informed by the history of Seaford and the Cuckmere Valley
Rachel Playforth, contributor to the Frogmore Papers. Rachel blogs at the spledidly named Toast in the Machine Robin Houghton,. Robin’s poems have been published in The Rialto, The North, Obsessed with Pipework, Iota, Agenda and others. Her poetry and musings blog is Poetgal.
Ralph Taylor, reading from his late wife Pam Hughes's work, including her last collection, Shadows on the Downs
We also have Felicity Pogle, who has recently published a collection, and Patricia Adelman, who will read her own work and John Parry's.
Other readers are welcome and there will be an open mic sessions as part of the evening. If you would like to read, contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or 01323 873564.
Admission: £3, to include a glass of wine.
The Crypt Gallery is at 23 Church Street, Seaford, BN25 1HE , just down the road from St Leonard’s Church. The building is less than three minutes walk from Seaford Railway Station and about five minutes walk from the sea front. Find it on Google Maps
It is one of the clichés of Seaford conversation that the town neglects, indeed is almost ashamed of, its position on the coast. The sea-front, as I hope this picture conveys, is hideous. The town prefers to sell off the few amenities that might make it more interesting, such as the only pub on the front, to property developers.
An exhibition at the weekend, which might have offered some hope, was infected by the same disease. Supposed to show the town some ideas for development of the seaside, it only ran for two days, in a cramped space. Although University of Brighton architecture students were involved in preparing some of the designs, the only thing the organisers put online was the YouTube video below, with tedious music, and more appearances of the Union Flag than a Conservative Party conference c. 1959. It conveys nothing to the viewer.
What a pity. If the organisers had spent a little time in thinking about how to convey their ideas to the town's population, online and face-to-face, something more productive would have emerged.
Though I've had my own study, for the first time since school-days, for nearly three months now, the Guardian have yet to send a photographer to capture it for their writers' rooms series which appears in the Review on Saturdays. They prefer to give space to less significant talents. No matter, because now we have blogs and every man and woman can be their own Guardian Review.
My desk. It belonged to my father, a GP, and he sat behind it in his surgery on the ground floor of our house in Cambridge. It is Victorian, but I do not know its provenance. It may have belonged to my grandfather, also a doctor, or my father may have bought it. He would sit behind it; on the other side, tens of thousands of patients sat on uncomfortable chairs, to be told good news or bad, to hear diagnoses and prognoses, to be given prescriptions or referrals, to have their infants vaccinated and their suffering alleviated.
This pestle and mortar sit on the desk. My father still, in the early stages of his career, dispensed his own medicines, my mother acting as apothecary's assistant, but he kept these for decorative purposes. I still regret that, when he retired, he sold his leech jar to a local chemist who collected such things, though it would have been too large to keep on a desk.
Some books. At last all my books are out on shelves, rather than inaccessible in boxes in a garage. They are two or even three deep in some cases, and the arrangement is not yet logical. There are a lot to add to LibraryThing.
Technology corner: this doesn't do justice to the mare's nest of cords, chargers and other electronic detritus here. It needs a thorough purge.
A writing case, used by my mother. Like so many of her generation, she was a great correspondent, with her mother, her sister and old friends, and disappointed that the practice fell into abeyance. I know use the case for writing paper and envelopes for my much rarer letter-writing.
And finally the view from the window of Seaford rooftops and gardens. Corsica Hall stand slightly elevated to the left of the photograph, behind it the sea
I often fear that people believe the Sussex coastal town where I live, Seaford, to be a gerontocracy. Perhaps they're right. They've closed the town's youth centre and sixth form and now, in today's local paper, a town councillor sounds off against a planning application for a 3G mobile-phone mast, not on aesthetic grounds, nor on the spurious risk to health grounds that the feeble-minded usually invoke, but because no one in Seaford will want to use 3G because we're all too old.
Councillor Roy Bennett is quoted thus in the Sussex Express: 'How many people have these phones? They're expensive and I think the majority of people in Seaford just have mobile phones for convenience and emergencies. We are going to get more and more masts put up but I don't think the demand is there. Seaford has quite an elderly population and it will be years before it has a population which uses this sort of technology.'
Next time I come home on the train of an evening, I expect the train to be boarded at Bishopstone by a mob of vigilantes with councillor Bennet at its head, confiscating iPhones, iPods, laptops, and other evidence of the 21st century.
I went to the Friends of Seaford Library Annual General Meeting. FOSL, in spite of the advanced age of its members (aged 51 I was the baby of the meeting), is a very active group and as well as raising funds for has been campaigning for a new library for Seaford for some years. Norman Baker reminded the meeting that Seaford is the largest town in the constituency, bigger than Newhaven or Lewes. Why then do we have a library better suited to a village or a suburb?
I was puzzled that they haven't yet linked up with other campaigns around the country. They had a meeting with other East Sussex campaigners, but it would be useful for them to connect with the Library Campaign, and perhaps some of the groups detailed on the Good Library Guide blog. I'm not going to give detail of the meeting. The Sussex Express carried a more-or-less accurate account, though the local news for Seaford on their site is lamentably out of date
A new library is now a possibility. An old Rover car show-room, empty since the collapse of the last of the British automotive industry, could be the site for a new development, This depends on a property speculator, who in return would take a very large site for housing (in other words yet more flats, not affordable housing) and shops, but we were shown plans which seemed quite detailed. I'm worried that the plans will go ahead without any thought for what people might want or need from a 21st century library. There is more to the library than the building itself. I have a nasty suspicion that East Sussex County Council feel that, if they deliver a new building, they have fulfilled their responsibility. To my mind, there needs to be a full public consultation, not only on the buildings but on what the library should contain and do. Here's what I'd suggest:
Radically improved opening hours. Seaford library is never open after 6 pm and closes for a half-day (how quaint), so evening and Sunday opening are vital.
Free wireless access and lots more computers; the public access computers are always in use, better bandwidth would be good too.
Considerable investment in stock: the existing stock simply will not do, and a new library will attract more use. This would be the golden opportunity to add recorded sound. I cannot understand why I have to order CDs from Lewes or Eastbourne, and pay for the privilege.
Increased staffing, including at least one qualified librarian on site
A meeting room, bookable by the public, community organisations etc
Thinking more widely, no library is an island. East Sussex need to start investing in their libraries (they are one of the low spenders of English local authorities when it comes to libraries). A new library management system is long overdue, with an up-to-date catalogue, that not only allowed readers to see what East Sussex has, but links out to other library catalogues with a single search interface, links out to Amazon and Google, allows readers to post reviews, delivers RSS feeds and so on. At the moment, if I want to ask for something East Sussex do not have, I have to fill in a paper form and pay a fee. What price Universal Availability of Publications? Why can't I simply fill in a request on the e-library website?
There's a dolphin off Seaford beach. I took some photographs but failed to catch the beast herself, Damaris, as I call her; spectators seemed to be convinced she is female. She came into shore in pursuit of a shoal of mackerel.
True to the great tradition of citizen journalism that fuels blogs the world over, I shall not be silenced on the matter of Seaford's new beach huts.
Here they are, photographed in yesterday afternoon's sun:
Personally, I think they look quite nice. I hope the kiosk comes back though.