Saturday Poem - The British

Rejoice, rejoice - we are still a United Kingdom!  My relief has been extreme.  I love Scotland - always have, always will.  I have such joyful memories dating back to very early childhood of emerging from the dark underworld of Waverley Station to the wonder of Princes Street, Edinburgh where there always seems to be a bagpiper playing.  I spent four years of my life at University of St Andrews.  If they had voted for independence I would have felt so abandoned.  Still, it's clear that there is a real disenchantment with our nominal identity as a British nation.  And so I got to thinking about this poem, the way that Benjamin Zephaniah defines us.  The recipe metaphor is really funny but it makes some very important points.

The British

Take some Picts, Celts and Silures
And let them settle,
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors

Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years
Add lots of Norman French to some
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously.

Mix some hot Chileans, coll Jamaicans, Dominicans,
Trinidadians and Bajans with some Ethiopians, Chinese,
Vietnamese and Sudanese.

Then take a blend of Somalians, Sri Lankans, Nigerians
And Pakistanis,
Combine with some Guyanese
And turn up the heat.

Sprinkle some fresh Indians, Malaysians, Bosnians,
Iraqis and Bangladeshis together with some
Afghans, Spanish, Turkish, Kurdish, Japanese
And Palestinians
Then add to the melting pot.

Leave the ingredients to simmer.

As they mix and blend allow their languages to flourish
Binding them together with English.

Allow time to be cool.

Add some unity, understanding, and respect for the future,
Serve with justice
And enjoy.

Note: All the ingredients are equally important.  Treating one ingredient better than another will leave a bitter unpleasant taste.

Warning: An unequal spread of justice will damage the people and cause pain.  Give justice and equality to all.

Benjamin Zephaniah

A Book A Day #20 - Favourite Literary Friendship


Rat & Mole
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

Girl with her Head in a Book Interviews Katherine Clements

I have been asked to participate in a Blog Tour for The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements, a novel of perils and persecution in the climax of the Civil War.  Her novel was an emotional and enjoyable read so I was very grateful to her for sending me it and then she was kind enough to answer some of my questions in an interview which I am posting here.

Katherine Clements

Review: The Crimson Ribbon, Katherine Clements

Katherine Clements' début novel takes the real life figures of Elizabeth Poole and Oliver Cromwell and links them with a character of her imagination, Ruth Flowers.  It is always difficult to marry up an author's own creation with history's genuine movers and shakers but The Crimson Ribbon manages to pull it off almost seamlessly.  Set as the Civil War was reaching its grim conclusion, Katherine Clements' book takes themes of persecution and paranoia and tells a story that is still of great relevance, where the risks are all too apparent and the rewards are few and far between.

A Book A Day #19 - Best Sea-Faring Novel

Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brian

Review: The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, Martin Sixsmith

Being honest, I was drawn to this one by the film.  I have yet to see the film.  I may not see it.  I don't know.  Either way, I wouldn't have picked it up without the previous publicity.  I felt slightly misled though because the film appeared to show Philomena Lee's search for her child while the book itself does not offer us Philomena's story, but rather that of her son.  And this made me uncomfortable.  I ended the book with distinctly mixed feelings.  I was glad that Philomena had discovered what had become of her beloved baby, sorrowful that the ending could not have been more joyful but although this is the story of people who were silenced for far too long, I was not sure if this was the right way to tell their story.

A Book A Day #18 - Best Coming Of Age Novel

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Authors I've Only Read One Book From But I Need To Read More

This week I am once again following the Broke and Bookish's commands and search for the top ten authors of whom I have only read one book ... etc., etc. - see above in the title for further details.  I was sort of in two minds about participating in this one as I felt that I'd done the list thing yesterday with my Personality Challenge but then I got to thinking about authors who I would really like to hear more from.

Some authors (hello Philippa Gregory) bash out book after book with the same cardboard characters and fill-in-the-blanks plots.  As a child, my mother banned me from reading Enid Blyton because she herself felt that she had missed out on reading opportunities in choosing to mainline Enid Blyton instead.  She relented when I got a little bit older and I was allowed to read Malory Towers.  On the other side of the coin, there are some authors who I read one book from and decide never again (Gillian Flynn).  Also, I keep trying with Virginia Woolf.  I really do.  She just annoys me - authors who keep intruding often do.  Still, there are yet other authors who can kind of 'sneak up' - those who you'd never heard of, those who only publish a book every ten years, those who don't get the massive book launches but whose books leave an indelible mark in the memory.  Which are the authors who I would most want to read more from?

A Book A Day #16 - Favourite Picture Book

Noisy Nora, Rosemary Wells