The Burpham Ladies Club meet at the Burpham Village Hall in Burpham Lane, Guildford at 2:30pm.
It is a small select group of about 20 ladies, who provided a very attentive audience. The talk lasted for about an hour.
Afterwards, there was the usual tea and biscuits.
There were very few visitors in the morning due to the persistent rain, which I think puts people off. It brightened up in the afternoon, and more people came as a consequence. Of all the Saturdays that I have spent at Sandham, I think it was the least number of visitors throughout the day I have experienced.
I did the usual assortment of readings, but again the one that got the most response was "The Road To La Bassee".
One of the visitors commented on the fact I had included John McCrae's 'In Flanders Fields'. She was a member of the Fareham Philharmonic Choir, which would shortly be performing the Dies Irae movement from 'Eternal Light - A Requiem' by Howard Goodall, and which incorporates that poem.
Of all the readings/performances I do throughout the year, it is those at Sandham that give me the greatest sense of satisfaction and fulfilment.
This was my final reading for the year as the Chapel will close at the end of the month. The paintings will then be going on tour to Manchester City Art Gallery until 1st March 2015, after which they will be returned and the Chapel will hopefully re-open in April 2015.
Before then I will be giving my talk, "Lest We Forget - Poetry of the Great War" at Bateman's on the 7th November 2014.
The 8 O'Clock Circle meet at St Mary's Centre in Church Lane, Chessington.
I first visited them in January 2013, to give a talk on my role as a Town Crier. On this occasion, it was 'Kipling - His Life & Poetry'.
There were about 40 women in the audience, and the presentation lasted for about 55 minutes.
I took the opportunity to include two new poems:-
I also included for the first time a reference to the fact that Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, the first English-language writer and, to this date, the youngest recipient of that award. Also, that he declined becoming Poet Laureate and a knighthood, as well as several offers to stand as a Conservative candidate for Parliament.
The impression I got was that it all went down fairly well, and two ladies asked for my card with a view to giving the same talk to other groups.
People always seem most impressed by the fact that I can do virtually the whole thing from memory. My response is that at least Kipling's poetry rhymes, which makes it easier to memorise, whereas when I do a similar presentation on Dylan Thomas, his free form and prose is, by comparison, a nightmare to commit to memory.
Coffee and biscuits afterwards, which is always welcome.
I performed poetry readings throughout the day, from when the Chapel opened at 10:00 and until it closed at 17:00. Again, the format was to have readings lasting for about 15 minutes, every half-an-hour or so.
The Farnborough Wine Circle meet at the Farnborough Community Centre, which I have visited on numerous occasions to give talks to the various groups that meet there. I was asked to speak from 8pm onwards, and there was an audience of about 30 to hear my talk 'The Confessions of an Am-Dram Tart'.
I started off with the 'Seven Ages of Man' speech from Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' and then spent the next hour relating my experiences since taking up amateur dramatics about 20 years ago. I usually finish off with the 'Crispin Day' speech form Shakespeare's 'Henry V', but omitted to do so on this occasion.
Because it was a Farnborough-based group, when it came to the section on venues where I have performed, I made special mention of the Prince Regent Intimate Theatre (PRIT). This was a 70-seat theatre that a chap called Freddie Eldrett, a professional actor and dancer, had built in his back garden. Freddie's claim to fame was that he had been on 'Opportunity Knocks', where he had been the winner for 21 consecutive weeks. He had also appeared in an episode of Dr Who on television. Sadly, he died in November 2003 and the theatre closed.
After my talk, they very kindly gave me a glass of wine to drink (beats the usual tea and biscuits).
The Friendly Firs Ladies Club meets weekly at the Burghfield Village Hall at 8pm. There were 32 ladies in the audience for my talk "Town Crier; Part 1 - Something To Shout About'. I spoke for about 45 minutes and as usual ended with a 'shout', which succeeded in waking up a couple of the ladies who had drifted off.
Afterwards they gave me coffee, and my own plate of cake and biscuits.
The Kingsclere and Headley Wood WI meet at the Kingsclere Village Club in George Street, Kingsclere, Berkshire. They are a small group, of about 20 ladies. I arrived at 2:15pm, and enjoyed a cup of tea and a piece of cake, before commencing my talk at 2:45pm.
The topic was 'Women Poets of the Great War'. I have been doing my talk 'Lest We Forget - Poetry of the Great War' for several years now but, other than my monthly readings at Sandham Memorial Chapel, I hadn't been getting many bookings. So I decided to offer an alternative, based on the women poets, in the hope that it might appeal more to the WI, TWG, etc.
The lady who introduced me at the start of the talk said that she personally was unaware of any women who had written poetry about the Great War. The reality is that women did write poetry during the 1914-18 conflict, but from a different viewpoint. The 'soldier' poets, who actually served and fought in the trenches, could truly portray either the heroic sacrifice, as exemplified by Rupert Brooke, or the horror and futility of war, as elucidated by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Women did not necessarily have that same experience, but voiced rather the despair, anguish and endurance of those left waiting, wondering and grieving. Womens' poetry is as valid, as to the impact and effects of war, as the mens'.
During the talk, I included poetry by:-
I also talk about the background and origin of the Unknown Warrior, Cenotaph and the Poppy Appeal.
The audience, though small, seemed to be very appreciative, and were moved by the poetry and by the sentiments expressed by the various poets.
The two poems that seemed to draw most comment were:-
At the end I told them about the anthology of womens' poetry called 'Scars On My Heart', compiled by Catherine Reilly.
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