Friday, 21 September 2012

Cafe society

Sorry but we leave the realms of the novelist's wonderfully descriptive writing and go back to the more mundane reportage of your typical hack.

It being many years since I have enjoyed café society, it has been a great joy to wander into Totnes every now and then and to chill out in bistros such as Rumour or Woods and to meet old friends in pubs like the Bay Horse Inn.
A very old photo of Marcia with Trubshawe (left) and Bessie.
Rumour holds a very special place in our hearts. Many, many years ago when it was still owned by Jenny and Phil, we used to take our Newfoundland dog in with us. Dear old Bessie was a great favourite with everybody and there were no problems for a long time. Then the idea of taking dogs in became attractive to some whose animals were less conducive to the social scene and one evening the atmosphere was somewhat damaged when two such decided to determine which one was 'top dog'. This fracas led to all dogs being banned and you really couldn't object: it is not possible to say 'yes' to some and 'no' to others. There is always a danger in going back after a gap of eleven years: places can be so disappointing. Not so here: the atmosphere remains much the same, our old friend Chris still works there and there is even a Jenny: a delightful and lovely girl.

I do find that sitting in Rumour gets the juices flowing and I have been writing some of my political pieces in there. That has been in an old fashioned reporters' notepad and so they have had to be typed out again when I get back to the computer. Dragging myself kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, I have ordered an Acer tablet with a 10” screen which divides, one half being a full size touch keyboard (but without the number pad) and the other the bit where what you type is displayed. I will let you know how I get on with it and what other things I can do with it.
The Narrows in Totnes
Woods is new to me although Marcia used to go in every now and then. It is up in the “Narrows” as the top end of High Street is called where, yes, you've guessed, the houses are built very close together. They all pre-date the motor car but even so I can imagine it was a pretty tight squeeze whenever two pack horses going in opposite directions met there.

Most tourists and visitors never go into the Bay Horse Inn because it is right at the top just before the old road, Cistern Street, meets the new which goes by the glamorous name of Western By-Pass. Thus it retains much of the character of a true pub where you will find well kept real ales and cider, some of the town's great characters and a deal of folk singing, jazz and so on.

The town has great literary connections: the bookshop there is owned by nearby Dartington Hall where each year the literary festival, Ways With Words, is held and famous residents included the late Mary Wesley and Joan Brady whose Theory of War was the first winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year Award back in 1993. Both of them were very kind to Marcia when she was first published. It was Mary Wesley who said, on hearing that Marcia had received her first contract, “Many congratulations. You will never be happy again”. She went on to explain that on the completion of the second book the questions would hover in the air. Will my agent like the book? Will my publisher like the book? What sort of reviews, if any, will the book get when it is published? Will my readers like the new book? All very true, and just as true of book number twenty-eight as book number two.

Before I 'sign off' I would just like to wish Gillian, one of Marcia's readers, many happy returns of the day. The sun may not be shining today in Yorkshire but at least it should remain dry.

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Jackdaw Jottings

Well, I said I would give this a go. No promises. First up is from an email that Marcia received from in response to my last blog. Here is a small extract.

The weather has been quite autumnal of late with the expected wet weather. We managed to get a second cut of grass & that’s all baled & waiting to be brought in from the fields. Paul’s tractor decided to go on strike (must be a male tractor as it’s very temperamental. . .) but is now back on form & seems willing to oblige with the said bales. The rooks & jackdaws love to sit on top of them, I think it must be a good vantage point for them, but they also like to peck at the wrapping thus creating holes which then lets the water in!! My job is to go round & put tape over all the holes.

Thank you for that. I look forward to receiving other jackdaw stories as I am not sure that the ones we have here will provide enough news to see us through the winter.