Cornwall: Plen-an-gwarry

The plen-an-gwarry (or plain-an-gwarry) is where several of my interests collide: early modern drama, Cornwall, (more or less) ancient sites, and language. What are they? The plen-an-gwarrys are circular earthworks - amphitheatres - where, among other communal events, medieval dramas were performed. These would have borne a resemblance to the contemporary English passion plays and … Continue reading Cornwall: Plen-an-gwarry

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Clive Barker: “Candyman”, “The Forbidden”, Place, Race & Time

Bernard Rose's 1992 film horror Candyman was adapted by him from Clive Barker's 1985 short story "The Forbidden", published in volume 5 of the groundbreaking Books of Blood. Candyman transports the action from Barker's Liverpool to Chicago, specifically to the "projects" (US term for "housing scheme") of Cabrini-Green. In addition to the source material's look … Continue reading Clive Barker: “Candyman”, “The Forbidden”, Place, Race & Time

Mike Tomkies: Wilderness(e) man

"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe" wrote Donne. Well, Mike Tomkies tried his damnedest. Tomkies's books sold in their thousands in the 1980s, but in today's Nature Writing Revival he is nowhere to be found. Both my Dad and cousin Colin (with whom I went birdwatching in my teens, chugging around Fife … Continue reading Mike Tomkies: Wilderness(e) man

King Coal’s Graveyard: a walk in Midlothian mining country

"Collieries where a thousand men had laboured for a hundred years became silent fields around a concrete shaft-cap." Neal Ascherson, Stone Voices I've lived in Midlothian for 13 years. The visual signifiers of the county's industrial heritage are largely gone: demolished or overgrown. It wasn't just coal: shorelines on either bank of the Forth once … Continue reading King Coal’s Graveyard: a walk in Midlothian mining country

Lodestone – the work of Benjamin Myers

Benjamin Myers is a writer whose time has come. Recent winner of the Walter Scott Prize for his stunning The Gallows Pole, Myers has been a prolific voice of the English North for several years, and his wider renown is thoroughly deserved. It also comes at a fertile time for writing from the North of … Continue reading Lodestone – the work of Benjamin Myers

Cornwall: ancient stones

"The stones, like the natural granite cast up from the earth by nature, defy the centuries. To stand beside them...on the heights of West Penwith...is to become...an astronaut in time. The present vanishes, centuries dissolve...here in the lichened stone is the essence of memory itself. Belief in immortality...Man's answer, from the beginning, to the challenge … Continue reading Cornwall: ancient stones