Lament for the Library Gallery

I wrote this lament when we were fighting to stop Worcestershire County Council closing Kidderminster Library Gallery. Sadly we lost, and the Gallery has been converted into offices. I’ll leave it to the Lament to explain what happened.

I am running some poetry workshops over the coming months, starting with one next Tuesday morning 10.30-12.30 at the New Meeting House, Church Street, Bull Ring, Kidderminster DY10 2AR. See the Feedback page of this blog for reviews of my previous workshops. I welcome people of all abilities from beginners to more experienced to Learn from other poets’ work, Write our own and Share some of what we have written in a relaxed, friendly environment. Each workshop will be self-contained and cost £10. Future sessions are Wednesdays 21st May & 9th July 7.30-9.30pm. See http://kidderminster-creatives.org.uk/uncategorized/poetry-workshops-2/ for more information.

For a diary of my forthcoming performances, see http://www.wastiesspace.co.uk/Wasties_Space/DIARY.html.

CMS 2

CMS 4

“Without art and industry we die” Painting by Kay Wood

A Campaigner’s Lament

They had a lovely library
in Kidderminster town
but the council said the roof leaked
so they knocked the library down.

The locals had protested
and the council were quite miffed.
The building was Victorian
and very hard to shift.

They said they’d build a new one
with a swanky gallery,
applied for lots of money
from the National Lottery.

The Arts Council approved it,
delivering such wealth
knowing that art and music
are good for people’s health.

And so the gallery made up
for the council’s big mistake.
A Steinway grand piano
was the icing on the cake.

Architects designed the room
so nothing could compete
with its excellent acoustic.
Humidity and heat

were tempered for the Steinway,
a special piece of kit.
You’d think the county council
would be very proud of it,

an asset to the county
and its economy,
of national significance,
a public facility

where visitors can stand well back
and contemplate the art;
a peaceful place, away from noise,
to calm a frantic heart.

Without this precious venue
there’d be an aching gap -
musicians come from far afield,
put Kiddy on the cultural map.

But after less than twenty years,
the council looked about
for savings from their budget
and they kicked the Steinway out.

They hadn’t made the most of it,
they hadn’t publicised
the jewel of the county
so it came as no surprise

that the Gallery was underused.
The council didn’t care.
“If we were building now” they said
“we wouldn’t put it there.”

They filled the Gallery with desks
and said they’d ‘reprovide’
a room for hanging pictures
with much less space inside.

The locals had protested
and the council were upset:
“How dare you sing your songs at us!”
The town will not forget.

© Heather Wastie
October 2012

The Bleeding Hearts 3P1040185

 

 

 

408 engagement 10

 

 

Blame the weather man

The very first image which sparked off my interest in writing about Kidderminster and the carpet industry was one presented by Melvyn Thompson during a tour of the town. He talked about dyes from the various factories combining their colours in the River Stour. Very recently I was sent a poem about The Stour which includes that image so I have added it to the collection of writing by others on the Your Stories page, with thanks to Roger Mathews.

Since we’re on the subject of rivers, I wrote a piece recently which refers to the flooding issues along the River Severn. It also collects together quirky quotes from TV weather presenters. The verses are spoken and the chorus (in italics) sung. I sang it at Mouth and Music (www.mouthandmusic.co.uk) and hope to perform it again some time!

Blame the Weatherman

There are a few teething problems with Spring.
The winds are up to no good
and there’s some unctuous warm air
- a weather sandwich.

The barriers are up in Bewdley,
Worcester racecourse is inundated,
the long range weather forecast
is for a 6 week hose pipe ban

so there’s no need to dredge the rivers
and there’s no point clearing out the bridge holes,
water water everywhere
and no-one will carry the can

It’s all down to global warming
that the ice is melting in our greenhouse,
the shifting winds will blow your house down.
Blame the weather man.

Hail and hurricanes and earthquakes -
Blame the weather man
(or the weather girl)
Blame the weather man.

The sunshine’s been in the shadows.
There’ll be rain romping in from the west on Wednesday;
It’ll be a real windscreen wiper of a morning.
There’ll be a psychedelic storm followed by some cool days.

We’ve got weather in the forecast today.
It’s going to throw lots of things at us.
The showers could be quite punchy
but we’ll be shoe-horning in some sun.

There’ll be some usable weather flirting with the south coast -
crisp, cold and deliciously sunny.
In the Midlands there’ll be a disappointing fog
and some clearly not helpful rain.

Today will be jam packed with plenty of weather;
I’ve been going mad with the crayons!
It will be colder than the figures on the weather map
due to cold air.
It’ll be 10 degrees. But it will feel like 9.

© Heather Wastie
March 2014

 

#BehindtheArt for #MuseumWeek

Originally posted on Museum of Carpet:

Today’s #MuseumWeek theme on Twitter is #BehindtheArt.  All over the world, curators and collections staff are showing images from behind the scenes.

We thought you might like to see a few shots of how it looked behind the scenes here at Stour Mill before we opened in 2012; before the builders got to work on creating the  new home of the Museum of Carpet.  Hard to believe these were taken only 3 years ago!

What they reveal now is the wonderful amount of light in the building, even on a gloomy day: essential to the weaving industry in order to reduce the costs and hazards of lighting before the days of electricity.

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Working Women in Kidderminster

I regularly perform for Alzheimer’s Society cafes. In January I was booked to do a performance/workshop for the Kidderminster group and, for obvious reasons, focused on the carpet industry. Here are the lyrics to a short song which quotes some of the women who were there that day. The photos, taken by Liz Evans, are from a session at a day centre for people with dementia, Among Friends, also in Kidderminster.

I’ve added a new poem by Eric Harvey to the Your Stories page. It’s an atmospheric piece called Memories of a Draw Boy.

Heather Wastie at Among Friends 1

 

 

 

Working women in Kidderminster

Clocking in early
or clocking in late.
Shopping in the town at lunch time,
passing through the gate.

Reelers, Doffers, Colour finders,
Pickers, Weavers, Setters, Winders.
Working women in Kidderminster.

Laughing with good yarnHeather Wastie at Among Friends 2
or struggling with bad.
Independent working women.
Such good times we had.

Reelers, Doffers, Colour finders,
Pickers, Weavers, Setters, Winders.
Working women in Kidderminster.

© Heather Wastie
January 2014

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve 2013

A day like any other
but we put it in a box -
It’s Tuesday … it’s your birthday …
it’s the day you change your socks.

The thirty-first before the first,
the last day of a year,
an arbitrary numbering
Gregorians hold dear.

Tomorrow is tomorrow
by any other name
with happiness and sorrow
and chances, just the same.

When we say it’s New Year’s Day
it has a hopeful ring;
the old year is behind us
though it doesn’t change a thing.

Every day’s a new day;
all yesterdays have gone.
Each day’s an opportunity
for us to act upon.

© Heather Wastie
December 2013

Happy New Year!

Kidderminster

Kidderminster has had some bad publicity over the years because people have a habit of abusing the name for no apparent reason! When I moved to the town in 2006, I began searching for other poets by googling “Kidderminster Poetry”. This is what I got:

Kidderminster Poetry
from E. Cobham Brewer‘s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898

Coarse doggerel verse, like the coarse woollen manufacture of Kidderminster. The term was first used by William Shenstone, who applied it to a Mr. C., of Kidderminster.

Thy verses, friend, are Kidderminster stuff;
And I must own you’ve measured out enough.”

Doggerel from Wikipedia

A derogatory term for verse considered of little literary value. The word probably derived from dog, suggesting either ugliness, puppyish clumsiness or unpalatability (as in food fit only for dogs).

Sylvia Herbert, who was Public Relations Officer at Brintons, tells me that in the 1990s, comedians Punt and Dennis famously derided Kidderminster as ‘carpet town’ so the Mayor invited them to switch on the Christmas lights! He asked Brintons to make a little commemorative rug for them. I like Punt and Dennis but they were deservedly on the carpet here.

I recently heard that Olivier award-winning playwright Alan Ayckbourn has called one of his latest plays The Kidderminster Affair. It is one of two short comedies written and directed by Mr Ayckbourn called “Farcicals”. When asked why he chose the named Kidderminster, Mr Ayckbourn simply replied: “I just liked the name.” I’m a fan of Ayckbourn but I think it’s unfair of him to name his play after a town just because he likes the name. The Kidderminster Affair is described as “a frivolous comedy of fun, infidelity and food fights”.

Next year, Kate Wragg and I plan to tour show Kidderminster Stuff, and most people I have spoken to feel we should change the name to give it wider appeal to promoters and audiences outside the area. After all, it could be the story of any town which grew and revolved around an industry and then suffered when the industry declined. Though we want to share the stories of Kidderminster people, it seems you have to be Alan Ayckbourn to get away with using the name in a title.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas!