Saturday 28 November 2020

We are the World Blogfest # 43 Poor Clares of Arundel …


In these very challenging days … many are struggling with being able to cope without our social interactions, which are such an important part of our family and our lives.

St Clare of Assisi

The Poor Clares of Arundel, are members of a contemplative Order of nuns in the Catholic Church in West Sussex, who have been socially distancing for centuries (in England over 750 years) – while in Arundel since 1886, when this particular order was founded.

So … who else better to ask how they cope than the nuns … Sister Leo, a member of the order since 1976, advised “Pay attention to regularity in your life, and do things by a timetable”.

Poor Clares' Convent, Arundel, West Sussex


Each day is similar … arising at 5.00 or 5.30 am …

Meditating, pray and working in the garden or on spiritual direction …

Lunch is eaten in silence, while listening to a reading or spiritual text, after a rest …


More work, followed by recreation – when they catch up with each other; 


Sister Aeired, who’s been member for 59 years, confirmed that they sometimes fall out, but also from time to time enjoy a glass of beer, or wine.


Music, particularly chanting, plays a huge role in their lives … they had been approached to record an album before Covid lockdown struck.   But … as things were meant to be … they agreed the album should be produced, as they only had one rehearsal left.


Part of their routine is music every Wednesday – so the album was crafted and created on Wednesdays …


… it was voluntary for their 23 members, not all wanted to be on the album; as with most of us … some could sing, some struggled … but the album was produced.


The album, with Latin hymns, features writings from St Clare and St Francis, including medieval texts – with a 21st century overtone.

Clare of Assisi (1194 AD – 1253 AD) was one of the first followers of St Francis, who founded the Order of the Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life – the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman.


I’ve been listening to their music – and it is encapsulating …  so soft, quiet, meditative … and really takes me away from the ‘noise of our unworldly world’ …


Enjoy and here’s to all those who are there for us in our hours of need …


We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light


Poor Clares, Arundel ...

The Catholic Universe - news report ... 

The Poor Clares Order - Light for the World album trailer (2:12 mins)

YouTube - full recording: The Poor Clares of Arundel

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday 21 November 2020

Steve McQueen – Small Axe anthology film series #1: “The Mangrove Nine” …


Mesmerising … two hours of complete spellbinding tv … stunningly documented …


Sir Steve McQueen with his Oscar
for 12 Years a Slave

I was bowled over … an incredible film … it felt so real – and has had outstanding reviews.  It is a film for everyone – about Caribbean people’s history in Britain that has never been brought to life and should be available for us to understand the struggles of their backstory.


The storyline is ‘perfect’ for a film to tell the narrative of a ground-breaking true life drama … with excellent acting – I really can’t praise it enough.


The actors as defendants in the film
c/o Bustle media

One member of the Mangrove Nine was a friend of Steve McQueen’s father … while his parents were part of that community during the late 1960s and 1970s … so the Mangrove Nine’s landmark 1970 Old Bailey trial would have been well known to McQueen’s family …


Frank Crichlow, who owned and set up The Mangrove’s Caribbean restaurant, became a community activist, after racially motivated police persecuted him, his friends and the restaurant.

Shaun Parkes plays
Frank Crichlow

The restaurant was over the years a meeting place for the Black community in the area, as well as for white radicals, artists, authors, and musicians. 


Vanessa Redgrave at Cannes 2016

Famous customers included Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Vanessa Redgrave, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Sammy Davis Jr and many activists, journalists and historians from Britain, South Africa, Australia, Trinidad, Guyana …  

Jimi Hendrix (1967)

... a small newspaper, The Hustler, was published on the premises, underlining the community aspect of the restaurant – which also served as the informal head for the Notting Hill Carnival.


Some links I give below give more background to this fascinating story, but I thought I’d relate back to the posts of my recent return visit to Notting Hill where I lived back in the 1970s and to my visit that day to Tate Modern – when I first encountered Steve MacQueen’s Small Axe series.


Part of Tate Modern's brochure
regarding McQueen's exhibition
earlier in 2020 - and where I first
came across the mini series "Small Axe"

I gave some background to the development of the area from the 1750s onwards – but which did not touch the cultural and political aspects of life in the 1960s – 1980s in the Notting Hill area … so I’m weaving in and adding to the development I wrote about in those posts.   NB I was politically and culturally unaware … time does change one’s perspective.


I know in my previous posts I only mentioned the Notting Hill Carnival – but from the origins of The Mangrove’s troubles with the police the Notting Hill Carnival developed.   I did not participate … I didn’t understand what it was about … and I really don’t like large crowds, nor am I musical or creative in that sense.  But – the learning today is fascinating having lived in that area …


"Small Axe" (the name came) from Bob Marley & The Wailers' 1973 Songs of Freedom album!  The name comes from an African proverb ... 'if you are the big tree - we are the small axe' ... 


Small Axe (miniseries) – there are five films … four true stories, one imagined … which premiered at the 58th New York Film Festival this year.  They are being shown on BBC1 and are available on Amazon Prime.


“The Mangrove Nine” – was the first shown last Sunday on BBC1 – I am now looking forward to four more Sunday evenings of engrossing films.


Letitia Wright as Shuri in
Black Panther poster

There are many well-known actors in these films … Letitia Wright – who was Shuri in the Black Panther series – plays British Black Panther leader Altheia Jones-LeCointe, who, along with eight other Black activists, was arrested and charged with inciting after a peaceful protest in 1970.  John Boyega of Star Wars fame appears in a later film.


John Boyega appears in one of the 
later films (c/o Gage Skidmore)

The latter part of the story line centres around the trial at the ‘Old Bailey’ (the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales) and the activists’ rightful non-conformity to the British legal system. 


Lady Justice statue on Old Bailey

Legacy: Ian Macdonald, QC wrote in Race Today*: The Mangrove Nine trial was a watershed because we learnt through experience how to confront the power of the court, because the defendants refused to play the role of ‘victim’ and rely on the so-called ‘expertise’ of the lawyer.  Once you recognise the defendant as a self-assertive human being, everything in the court has to change. 


I kept on finding out more as I explored articles for this post … including the fact that the area became gentrified during the late 1980s – 90s and onwards – which explains the changes I came across.


Interior of Old Bailey

The Mangrove was near recording studios that Iron Maiden, Bob Marley, The Clash, Queen, and many others came to record their music - known now as SARM studios (an acronym of Sound and Recording Mobiles).


I think I’d better wrap this up … but as you’ll have gathered … I highly recommend this series.

The Mangrove Nine *

The Mangrove Restaurant

Small Axe (mini series) ... 

Bustle - the media company's review of McQueen's first Small Axe film: The Mangrove Nine

Youtube 1992 recording of Small Axe song by Bob Marley and the Wailers ...  

My post on Steve McQueen's exhibit at Tate Modern early in 2020 ... 

My post (first of three) on my Notting Hill visits - the history and my memories ... 

BBC News article on 'Mangrove Nine' - echoes of black lives matter from 50 years ago ... with press footage, details of the coverage ... and photos ... this is excellent to read.

Steve McQueen's exhibition at the Tate - there's a downloadable brochure via the link.

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Remembrance Day 2020 … one hundred and two years after the end of World War 1 …


Over the years I have written a few posts on past Remembrance Days …


White Peace Poppy

this year I am concentrating on the white poppy – the emblem of peace … in today’s world an appropriate remembrance to hold in our hearts.


White Wreath for Peace at the
Cenotaph, Whitehall, London: 2018 

Michael Morpurgo – the Children’s author – decided to wear a white poppy alongside the British Legion’s red one … symbolising those who fought, were injured, or sadly died for us in war … keeping us safe …


stating that the white poppy is for our peace … as today remembrance is changing, and will change, as the decades pass since those two world wars.


We are grateful for all who stand for us in action and in peace … protecting our families, so all peoples can live in respectful harmony.


Michael Morpurgo – best known for his children’s novels such as War Horse and the film …


First edition of his novel
War Horse

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday 5 November 2020

Updates and odds and ends … # 1


A few notes on various subjects … that are outstanding, or ones that are of interest – written in a few sentences … one hopes?!


Claremont Hotel on fire 2019

Claremont Hotel … the fire spread exponentially leading to it being engulfed, because the vertical internal gas main was boxed-in with other utilities against the side of a lift shaft, which encouraged the rapid vertical spread of fire to sweep across the roof …


I’m not sure, now it’s been made safe, what will happen in the future … the seafront can’t have that open blemish for too many years – but now’s not the time …


Shipton Mill - in the Cotswolds

Flour … lack of in early lockdown … I was at a friend’s house in the summer – and spotted a bag of flour … not any old bag – but half a hundred weight of it!  (56 lbs in our imperial weight; 50 lbs in USA weight). 


I expressed surprise … and was told when flour wasn’t available … because there were insufficient small bags (believe it or not = true though) … her husband had trawled the neighbourhood searching for a miller who would sell him a sack of strong flour for her.  Hence the stash of it!  Wonderful thoughtful hubby – she thought so!!


Black Eyed Susan

Rudbekia hirta (hirta is Latin for “hairy”) – Linneaus’ botanical classification to the flower more commonly known as Black Eyed Susan (the state flower of Maryland) …


Olof Rudbeck

Carolus Linnaeus (1707 – 1778) honoured his patron and fellow botanist at Uppsala University, Olof Rudbeck the Younger (1660 – 1740), with the botanical classification …


False Teeth along with Football’s World Cup - this just amused me to think about and I hadn’t heard about before … Nobby Stiles who has recently died … apparently celebrated winning the 1966 Football Association’s World Cup – by cavorting around the pitch with his false teeth in one hand and World Cup in the other. 


I enjoyed watching England’s winning performances until the spectacular win … back in the day! And this snippet reminded me of the end of my childhood – before life changed rather a lot, as it can do …


and just amused me … as too it brought back memories of my mother – who for some reason was totally bemused with my post on teeth – in particular Washington’s falsies – he doesn’t look comfortable does he …


A light-hearted post for these times … I just wish everyone peace and calm – and take care … we’re now into a month of lockdown …

More anon ... 


Claremont Hotel Eastbourne fire ...

No Flour

          Shipton's Mill - a miller in the Cotswolds ... 

Linnaeus - The Compleat Naturalist book

Washington's False Teeth ... absolutely nothing to do with Nobby Stiles and the World Cup ... but ... as usual bemused me to link the two together ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories