Write around the Isle – turnips, thrillers and special guests

Sir Tony comes to town for BroadstairsLit

(c) Carlos Dominguez Photography

There were turnips on display when Baldrick fans packed The Pavilion on 10th March to welcome Sir Tony Robinson to Broadstairs.

The actor, presenter, author and comic genius who, we decided, must by now have national treasure status, delighted the audience with hilarious tales of stage and screen from his childhood start as the Artful Dodger in the west end production of Oliver to that going-over-the-top iconic Blackadder finale.

The queue for signed copies of his memoir No Cunning Plan (Pan Macmillan) – stretched a while…

***

Tiverton Books

And on the subject of paperbacks – six years ago, Carol Clarke invited me to visit the bookshop she’d opened in Cliftonville with her husband, Dave. It sounded delightful – I love a second-hand bookstore – and I promised to pop along. Last Sunday I finally made it!

Tiverton Books is tucked away beneath the Smiths Court Hotel and offers good quality, used books across a range of subjects and genres, quirkily laid out without category headings under a system that Carol knows like the back of her hand, but which is suitably cryptic to ensure the potential buyer gets to have a good browse.

With everything from Blyton to Dickens to Jilly Cooper to a tome on quilting, there is something for everyone (I left Carol a couple of my own works – pristine and unread – if you want a bargain) without breaking the bank. I came away with four thrillers for under a fiver. Wish I’d got there sooner!

Tiverton Books can be found “Down the Steps” at Smiths Court Hotel, Eastern Esplanade, Margate CT9 2HL

Open every Sunday from 10 am to 2pm. www.tivertonbooks.co.uk

***

Kent Festival of Writing

For anyone with writing dreams of their own, the Kent Festival of Writing started life 3 years ago and welcomes “all writers from absolute beginners and those writing just for fun, to would-be and established authors at all stages of their careers.” The day aims to provide “inspiration, support and the opportunity to develop skills with hands-on workshops designed to encourage and inform.”

Director Sue Basset is a writer herself and has recently acquired an agent for her Gothic thriller which is currently being submitted to publishers. “I know how important it is to meet other writers,” she says. “Their support and encouragement, along with the advice I have received from published authors and tutors, have been invaluable on my journey. I wanted to provide something similar for aspiring writers which was accessible and local.”

Events include workshops on blogging, finding your writing voice, interviews with published writers and a mystery book swap. (I’d be there myself but I shall be teaching elsewhere – at the fabulous Chez Castillon – if you have dreams of writing with sunshine and wine, check this out too www.chez-castillon.com)

Kent Festival of Writing will be held on Saturday 14th April 2018

Whitstable Community College, Whitstable, Kent CT5 1PZ

For details and tickets see https://www.kentfestivalofwriting.co.uk

***

Back here in Thanet, the writing scene is flourishing too with the well-established Isle Writers group being regular and entertaining contributors to the monthly Broadly Speaking sessions hosted by BroadstairsLit. The group meet regularly for discussion and critique sessions and have produced an anthology Small Things. Find them on facebook https://www.facebook.com/IsleWriters/

If you have a story to share, or would simply like to listen, Broadly Speaking is held on the last Sunday of each month at the Yarrow Hotel, Broadstairs from 7.30pm. Visit https://broadstairslit.co.uk/broadly-speaking-3/ for the full lowdown.

***

Don’t miss Hunter Davies!

And if you really like a good yarn, then the BroadstairsLit guest for April has more tales than you can shake a stick at. In his memoir A Life in the Day (Simon & Schuster) witty raconteur Hunter Davies reflects on life in London in the Swinging Sixties, his time as editor of Britain’s first colour weekend supplement The Sunday Times Magazine; his friendship with the Beatles (he wrote the only authorised biography of the group) and his partying with and ghost-writing for some of the biggest names in television, film and theatre of the day. We’re talking Sir Michael Caine, George Best, Melvyn Bragg, Dame Joan Bakewell, Sir Sean Connery, Cilla Black, Paul Gascoigne, and Wayne Rooney among others. It is also a moving account of his deep love for and marriage to the acclaimed novelist Margaret Forster who he sadly lost to cancer in 2016. Hunter will be joined by their author daughter Caitlin Davies, whose latest book Bad Girls (John Murray) is a fascinating look at the history of Holloway prison. Both will be in conversation with me, spilling the beans about all of this and more. Come along – it’s going to be riveting!

Hunter Davies and Caitlin Davies will be at The Yarrow Hotel, Broadstairs from 7pm 6th April. Tickets at £15 include a welcome drink and canapés. Please see https://broadstairslit.co.uk/events/ to book

***

Still to come…

  • Friday 11th May – Extra Time with James Brown. The TalkSport host talks about male friendship and his love of football
  • Thursday 21st June Being David Archer. Tim Bentinck (David Archer) and Sunny Ormonde (Lillian Bellamy) take us behind the scenes at Britain’s favourite radio soap.

Details of all events and how to book https://broadstairslit.co.uk/events. Original article at https://theisleofthanetnews.com/jane-wenham-jones-write-around-the-isle-turnips-thrillers-and-special-guests.

Plain Jane 110316: We don’t want a new town

Plain Jane 110316“We’re almost there–” proclaims the latest shrink-wrapped brochure from Stone Hill Park, above a photo of children hopping, somewhat bizarrely, in sacks, through fields of what appears to be rapeseed flowers (was the farmer told?) and grinning fixedly for the camera.

By this, the powers behind the proposed development of Manston, mean they are almost ready to submit their proposals to Thanet District Council, which include “jobs, homes, community facilities and £75 million for local investment.” Ray Mallon, spokesman for the Stone Hill outfit, would have us believe it’s what most of us want. “We are finding that the more people hear the facts about what we intend to deliver, the more supportive they are,” he says. Not over here they’re not, Love. I still find the whole “new town” concept completely ghastly. What Messrs Cartner and Musgrave have done at Discovery Park is one thing – credit where credit is due for the excellent deployment of the abandoned Pfizer’s site – but I shudder at the thought of a massive housing estate plonked in the middle of one of our precious green spaces. Not to mention the traffic queues. Yes we need more homes but yes, we also have plenty of empty, disused buildings, pubs, shops and patches of wasteland that could be utilised to provide them too. I am loving the look of what is being done with the former Rank Hovis Factory in Ramsgate, for example, and am pleased to learn from last week’s Gazette that 58 new council homes are planned on 12 former garage sites. (Even if at a suggested cost of 10 million quid this makes them quite pricey in terms of build-costs per unit. I trust there’ll be some shopping around done.) Google has not immediately revealed exactly how many properties are currently empty in Thanet but it does offer the sobering fact that the figure was standing at almost 4,000 a few years ago and that there were 19,000 empty homes across Kent in 2012. The Empty Property Initiative has allegedly made some inroads into these but it would be heartening to see a lot more houses and flats refurbished before 2,500 new ones are stacked up either side of the runway. I suspect, however, that unless there’s a miracle, the “Stone Hill” plans will be bulldozed through. I just hope our good councillors will have the grace to remember the fine words and assurances so many of them gave while out canvassing last May. When they promised us, suckers that we were, an airport instead…

I confess I was not out last weekend, with my litter-picker, Clean for the Queen. It is not that I don’t wish Her Majesty a thoroughly delightful – and pristine – 90th Birthday but it does seem a little sad that we can’t already keep the place tidy – for US. I do not drop my rubbish on the pavement and have been known to pick up that of others’ if it is particularly unsightly. Or even, on one notable occasion, instruct one of those others to do it himself. (I remain bemused that the six-foot bloke, rugby-sized did obediently bend to retrieve his discarded kebab-in-wrapper while I berated him as though he were five and I were his mother.) And I can’t help feeling that those who did venture forth with a bin bag were those who would anyway, and those who don’t give a toss still won’t. At the time of writing the weekend is still in progress so who knows how much of a success it has been but if I’m wrong and this has worked a treat, then perhaps we can roll it out further. Could we pick up our dog poo for the Queen, stop our road rage for the Queen, be kind to animals and children, quit our pilfering, tackle our obesity and stop getting drunk on a Saturday night perhaps? While singing Happy Birthday!

Read the original article at: http://www.thanetgazette.co.uk/Plain-Jane-don-t-want-new-town/story-28898016-detail/story.html
Follow the paper at: @ThanetGazette on Twitter | thanetgroup on Facebook

Plain Jane 250714: Royalty, politics, tourism and how not to waste money

Plain Jane 250714

Originally published last week but I’ve been away teaching at the fabulous Chez Castillon

HAPPY Birthday Prince George and congratulations on being able to walk.

The day before the smallest royal heir turned a year old, I was on BBC Radio Kent reviewing the papers, amused to see how the different publications approached the anniversary.

Beneath the official photo of the toddler strutting his stuff, the Daily Mail made much of the fact that Prince William was getting a job nearer home so he could be a hands-on dad (jolly good!) and informed us that the baby’s fetching blue dungarees cost £27; the Times pointed out that the Queen is ahead of her grandson when it comes to shifting royal memorabilia on eBay (8,716 items sold featuring Queenie, only 1,202 for young George), while The Sun was able to reveal that Andrew Morton, late biographer to Diana, Princess of Wales, was predicting that Prince William would one day abdicate in favour of his son (goodness and we haven’t even got Charles on the throne yet). Apparently above having its head turned by any sort of Windsor excitement, The Guardian appeared to ignore the entire event and was more interested in the fact that students in Massachusetts have developed a printer that can churn out 3D ice-cream. John Warnett, Radio Kent’s Breakfast Show presenter, seemed rather more enlivened by this too.

THERE has also been much in the news about the need to increase funding for the NHS. A recent poll suggested that 48 per cent of those questioned thought this should be done by raising taxes while 21 per cent considered patients should be charged. For the 12 per cent who answered “don’t know”, can I suggest some basic savings. Last week my husband received a letter informing him who his GP was, despite us having had the same (wonderful) doctor for the last 24 years. He was being told this, the letter said, because he is now over 75. Whether it was thought he’d forget his doctor’s name at this great age, who knows, but with an ever-increasing elderly population, with those over 75 set to double in the next 30 years, and second class stamps costing 53p, please don’t start writing to them all…

SOMEONE at the Times must like Thanet. The isle has made no fewer than three “best of” lists published by the national newspaper, with Kingsgate Bay appearing on Best Hidden Beaches (won’t be quite so secret now); the fab Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate coming in at a well-deserved number ten for the best places to stay on the beach (overlooking the sea, would be a more accurate description, but we know what you mean) and the new Sands Hotel in Margate scooping a spot on Best Beach Restaurant for its Romney Marsh lamb and Kent cheeses. Hurrah and well done to all concerned. I trust the powers that be at our esteemed council are suitably thrilled. And fully primed to meet the influx of eager trippers, anxious to try these gems. Never one to shirk my responsibility to state the bleedin’ obvious, I would remind them that visitors to the area will want available parking, clean loos (that stay open) and a spot of tourist information, easily gleaned. Just saying…

WHAT I can’t say is that I was overly gripped by the comings and goings of David Cameron’s reshuffle, which is perhaps why I was only half listening to Radio Four and misheard. For a brief, joyful moment I thought our Prime Minister had displayed a stroke of genius and it was not Liz, but Lynne Truss who was to join the cabinet. Imagine my delight at the thought of the novelist, journalist and expert on punctuation being in a position of influence. At last, someone in power who would haul the BBC over the coals if they dared allow reporters to say “less” when it should be “fewer”. And who could be relied upon to take decisive action against any greengrocer found wantonly using an apostrophe to make a plural from potato.

***

You can read the original article at: http://www.thanetgazette.co.uk/Plain-Jane-Royalty-politics-tourism-waste-money/story-21937654-detail/story.html

Plain Jane in the Isle of Thanet Gazette from Friday 21st June

Bit late getting this up here as have been away to the Winchester Writer’s Conference where I had the enormous privilege of hearing Julian Fellowes speak! Fabulous. Top quote: “just because nobody’s found you, it doesn’t mean you haven’t got it”. Could have listened to him for several more hours. I have come late to Downton Abbey (currently on series three of boxed set  so please don’t tell me what happens) but adore it. In love with Maggie Smith, Jim Carter and Lady Mary. ANYWAY, the column won’t be of particular interest to those of you living outside the fair Isle of Thanet as it is a rant about local parking (high cost and general inconvenience of/Council ineptitude over same).  But just in case and because  after an encouraging start with the new website, it is impossible to find online again, (My-mate-Mike eventually tracked me down but you wouldn’t know I’d written it if I hadn’t just told you), I am sticking it up all the same.

The basic premise of it is that there’s nothing like parking to bring out one’s inner tightness, but if you’ve nothing better to do you can read the whole lot HERE. Hope you are having a nice weekend even if the weather is shite. jxx

Plain Jane 210613 blog

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑