Dad was a fan of The Archers

Who knew that when Archers actor Sunny Ormonde performs her one-woman show, she likes to include work from poets living near the venue? I didn’t know, until she contacted me by email, asking if she could read one of my poems in Bewdley on October 13th. We chatted on the phone so I could find out what kind of piece she was looking for and it was clear that she wanted humour. It was also clear that she’s a really nice person. During the course of the conversation I told her about my Dad’s ‘addiction’ to The Archers, and it wasn’t long afterwards that I began working on a new poem on that very subject. Sunny was delighted with it and, though I sent her alternatives to choose from, she decided to include Dad was a fan of The Archers in her show, and arranged for me to have 2 complimentary tickets.

As we arrived at Bewdley Baptist Church, my mother and I passed ‘Sold Out’ signs and were guided to central front row seats. Although I haven’t listened to The Archers since the days when I lived at home, I enjoyed every minute of the show, which was entertaining, inspiring, hilarious and, at times, moving. It was packed with poetry, including limericks, extracts from Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and of course, my Archers poem. Sunny had asked me how to pronounce my name so I sent her this poem which she also read out:

Heather Wastie rhymes with Tasty not with Nasty,
Heather Wastie rhymes with Pasty not with Pastie,
not with Frosty, not with Asti,
rhymes with Hasty, Heather Wastie!

I love the way she ended her show with a gentle and moving extract from Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine. Throughout the performance she had dipped in and out of her Archers character, Lilian Bellamy, with ease. I was mentally taking notes about ways of moving in and out of character in my own shows.

Afterwards Sunny obviously enjoyed meeting and chatting to people and it was a pleasure to work with such a warm, friendly woman. There were discussions about the possibility of us collaborating again in the future. It did seem to work rather well.

img_0585The show was part of Bewdley Festival 2016. The Director, Dave Collins, contacted me after the event saying “…. the audience loved your poem. Several have asked if it will be available on-line or in a forthcoming book”. I had already decided to blog about the event, sharing the poem, so here it is. Thanks, Sunny, for inspiring me to write it:

Dad was a fan of the Archers

Every weekday evening,
His radio at his side,
He’d monopolise the toilet
From just before 7.05.

His friends knew not to phone him
Till after twenty past seven
And those who called at quarter past
Were usually given

A reason not quite truthful
For why he wasn’t free.
Dad was a fan of The Archers,
A treat after his tea.

And if we drove to see a show,
A concert or a play
We had to leave by five past seven
And whisper all the way

And when I heard the theme tune
I’d sing it way off key
On purpose just to tease him.
He took it manfully.

Sometimes he had to miss it
And catch the omnibus.
This everyday story of country folk
Didn’t appeal to us.

In the days of Walter Gabriel,
He loved his evening treat.
Dad was a fan of The Archers;
It made his week complete.

© Heather Wastie
October 2016

Squeeze Me, BBC Local Poets commission

This poem was commissioned by BBC Local Radio for National Poetry Day 2016. The brief was for 40 poets across England and the Channel Islands to write from the point of view of a landmark or object associated with the area their BBC Local Radio station covers. For me it was Herefordshire and Worcestershire. You should be able to work out what it’s about, though you may not guess exactly what I’m referring to at the end. I’ve added a note at the bottom of the page so you can see if you guessed correctly!

Squeeze me

Close your eyes,
take me in your hand
and squeeze me.

Am I
the sweet smooth-skinned Sandlin Duchess,
the blushing May Queen,
the mysterious Scotch Bridget, worth keeping,
or Gwendolen, appealing, with a hint of wine?

Am I Dick’s Favourite?
Am I
your favourite?
The apple of your eye?

Feel how small I am,
small but robust,
quality not quantity;
my breeding dictates my destiny,

Lizzy, Vicky, Gilly,
Amanda, Jane …
when I have matured,
when I have spent time
with Hilda, Lucy, Dora, Jessie,
Hereford, Worcester, Wilfred, Raven,
Darby, Joan …

you will have forgotten my name
but you will thank me
and bless me, dancing and singing,
as you drink from the Wassail cup.

© Heather Wastie
September 2016


I performed the poem on BBC Hereford & Worcester yesterday, National Poetry Day. To hear my interview and poem, go to around 1:22 of Tammy’s show. I am also just about to post a recording of the poem on Soundcloud

There are 3 sets of names in this poem (in order):

  • eating apple varieties ‘deemed to have originated in Worcestershire’

  • bittersweet cider apples grown in John Worle’s cider apple tree nursery in Herefordshire

  • names given by Westons Cider (Ledbury) to their oak fermenting vats

Poetry workshops Thurs October 20th

I’m in the process of writing a song cycle – both words and music – to help bring to life the history of these wonderful Weavers Cottages, currently being restored in Kidderminster.

weavers-cottagesIt’s a bit of a race to see which are finished first, the songs or the cottages! The songs are all about the people – the workers, their families, the Masters – and the activities which went on in and around the cottages. Now there’s an opportunity for you to become involved and write something yourself. See below.


A Taste of Words poetry workshop

On Thursday, October 20th, come along to explore and develop your own poetry writing skills with Heather Wastie, the Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015/16.

Two FREE workshops will run, from 10.30-12.30 and 1.15 to 3.15 pm, suitable for all abilities. They will draw inspiration for your ideas from Kidderminster’s wonderful heritage, including current research from the Weavers Cottages project. At the end of the sessions, participants will be encouraged to work on a piece for inclusion in the final Weavers Cottages open day and celebration events later in the year.

The venue is The Gatsby Emporium, Unit 3 Carlton House, Oxford St, Kidderminster DY10 1BB in the centre of Kidderminster.

Places are free but limited. To book please contact Sue Pope on: 07875 377243 or email:

Download the poster:

Changing a space for ever 

A performance can change a space for ever. When ‘engagement and creative arts warrior’ Rachel Sharpe said words to this effect, I was struck by the truth of it. Having toured Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways to venues unused to hosting performances, I knew what she was getting at.

A good example is the Wildside Activity Centre in Wolverhampton, alongside the Staffs & Worcs Canal. The room was laid out for us to perform against the short wall of their rectangular space, the ‘top’ of the room – a wall cluttered with displays and other bits and pieces – but we chose the long wall which had several windows. We asked for the chairs to be arranged in a wide arc so that people could see us more easily, and we drew the curtains which created a simple dark backdrop without distractions. The organisers had never hosted a theatrical show before and were very accommodating. At the end of the evening, the Centre’s Project Leader, Steve, looked up at the strip lights and commented that for future events of this nature, it would be good to improve the lighting to make it more atmospheric. So a space previously seen only as an ‘activity room’ now has an added dimension as a theatre, and the success of our show has encouraged them to put on more events of this nature.

Wildside Activity Centre, Wolverhampton

There are other venues where we didn’t feel as if our hosts had noticed that they could easily have done more to give us a quiet space where we wouldn’t have to compete with, for example, the ring of a till or loud conversation. A pub which hasn’t hosted theatre before won’t necessarily have realised that it’s not appropriate to book people in to have a meal during the show. It may not occur to them that clattering cutlery and the necessity to communicate over dinner orders is not ideal for audience and artists alike! Some hosts will have taken things like this on board for the future and others not.

Not only does a performance change the space, but the audience changes the performance. A large responsive audience in a compact space gives a virtual sounding board which lifts us. Concentration was harder when we had: a sprawling audience with people chatting at the back, a bloke in the second row holding up a device to take photos or a video, wandering and/or barking dogs, a drunken woman (who was really enjoying the show), a man in a loud shirt whose phone had a very loud ringtone …. Every performance feels different and has its own quirks, not least because of the venue and the audience, and taking theatre to non-arts spaces means working round all sorts of inconveniences whilst hoping to develop use of that space and raise awareness of how arts events can work well in community venues.

Some people have come to see our show at least twice and have said it’s even better the second time, which is good to know! Tomorrow night we’re at Theatre in the Dock in Banbury when there will be a special announcement about our exciting plans for 2017. Next year there will be opportunities for our show to have an impact on new spaces, as we take audiences into another world where much of their surroundings are imagined: the back of a boat, a pub, a lock, the towpath, top planks, tarpaulin, sirens, doodlebugs … and lots of women!

For details of our forthcoming London shows and for more information, go to the Alarum Theatre website.

The wrong word!

I write a tiny poem, decide to share it in a blog, spend ages writing a description of the tiny poem for the blog, agonise over one word in the tiny poem, find the perfect word, tell myself to stop dithering, post the poem, immediately look again at the poem and add a comma and a full stop, chide myself for concentrating so hard on one word that I neglected the punctuation. Go to a meeting, come back from the meeting, look at the tiny poem, see the word in all its dullness and think No! After all that hunting through the thesaurus, being sure I had it, I chose the wrong word! Another much better word pops straight into my head. I’m cautious this time. Has this new word been sent to fool me into a false sense of security? Wait. Do something else. Look again at the tiny poem. Have a meal. Look again at the tiny poem. Go to bed thinking, if I still like the new word tomorrow, it’s in. Next day, edit the tiny poem (about sausages, for goodness sake!) to include the new word. 

Is it really that important? Yes it is. The tiny poem is no masterpiece, but I will not leave it languishing with the wrong word. In fact the first word I chose was ‘languish’, which then became ‘beefy’. If you really care about my tiny poem and the difference one word can make, you could go back and look at the shiny new word. You may think Pah! Why did she bother? You may not look at all, having far better things to do, or you may be a poet who knows exactly what I’ve been going through.

Free range sausages

Free range sausages

My haiku about sausages was inspired by a conversation in a pub restaurant. On the menu were ‘free range sausages’, conjuring up images of happy little sausages growing up in relative freedom before ending up on a dinner plate. One of our party had a poetic description of how he likes his gravy, hence this:

Free range sausages,
bullish on mash, with descent-
controlled gravy.

© Heather Wastie

I’ve got lots of performances coming up. Here’s a link to my DIARY which, as I type, needs updating so you’ll have to look past the old dates!



Absent Ginsberg Now Available

My contributor copy of Absent Ginsberg arrived in the post today. The ebook went straight to No.1 on Kindle. It’s a lovely inviting book and, having read a few of the poems, I’m really looking forward to getting to know it better.

A Swift Exit

41Ipl6HatvL (1)We are thrilled to announce that the books are now live on both the Amazon Kindle site and on Amazon Marketplace for the physical book.

Physical Book

eBook here

Copies for UK contributors have been posted out today and overseas contributors will be posted out tomorrow.

In the meantime, a cup of tea and a Jammy Dodger seems like a good way to relax.

If you would like to buy from us directly, the cost is:

£7.99 + £1.50 postage (£9.49 total) (UK and Europe) or

£7.99 + £4.75 postage outside of Europe. (£12.74 total)

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