On the Road

The Big Arts Day, July 2011

Barry and I were over the moon to make the front pages of the Swindon Advertiser yesterday with our jiving routine to the rhythm of William Carlos Williams by the main stage.

Barry Dicks was a popular replacement for poet Ursula Pitt at ‘Swindon Big Arts Day’, writes Barry Dicks, in the shadow of Mabel Watson, Barry brought hi-visibility to the Artswords Literature Zone. Mabel herself was in fine form in a polka dot dress and colourful headscarf.

Barry astonished too, including double takes his teeth were seen by over 45,000 people.

In a dreamy glade behind the walled garden Artswords Literature Zone enticed the curious with words, flamingos, cherries and fizzy cherryade served from a china tea-pot. Local poets Tony Hillier, Cristina Newton, Eve Marshall, Emily Harrison and Katherine T Owen all took to the specially constructed ‘Cherry Stage’ making people’s days from a bright red dais.

The general public thronged and many left no more general or public, but special ‘Big Arts  Day’ poets having conquered their verse terror to proudly peg their own unique words on Mabel’s washing line. Children marvelled at Edward Lear read by a brilliant Spanish poet and were entranced by the taste of fresh cherries all the more delicious for being included with the entry ticket price (FREE).

Domestic Cherry came to life as Barry and Mabel broke free from the Artswords Literature Zone and trawled the rest of the Big Arts Day site in search of the astonishing and fascinating of Lydiard Park. Hugs were given, a sly kiss from Barry here and there, main stage jiving and some much needed Heart FM deckchairs.

Evoking memories of Ursula and Father Samuel on the Cheney Manor Industrial Estate late one Friday night, Mabel and Barry crammed into the back of a car in front of the main stage to watch a StandandStare.com production of Robot Love; it was a perfect moment of Dolly Parton sound tracked romance. 

Joining the two Domestic Cherry stalwarts was an unsuspecting SwindonWeb photographer who when it boiled down to it was taking pictures of children’s toys on a wooden pole inside a car, crammed up against two characters from a women’s poetry annual, he legged it pretty sharpish when THE END came up. All in all a fine day, only slightly sullied by Ursula’s constant banging on the other side of the padlocked shed door keeping Barry awake when he got home.

The Great Domestic Cherry Bus Trip to the Honey Pot Cafe, Wroughton.

You're Wearing a Pinny!

It was a long walk this afternoon in shoes that didn't quite fit and surprising how Barry and I fitted right in at the Outlet Mall. I was able to have a brief chat with the pan man .... 'Jamie Oliver or Le Cruset?' I asked.  'You just can't compare them,' he said. 'One's cast iron, the other is really made by Tefal.' Imagine my disapointment. I thought Jamie Oliver made them himself. Barry explained that he is really just a front-man celebrity cook, that he doesn't actually sit out back putting pans together. 'Can't even cook really, that's his wife that does all that, see.'

In the tunnel between the Outlet and the Mechanics we were pleased to find a very nice looking green dustbin. How decorative Swindon had become. We arrived at the bus station and found the 72 with time to spare and chat with other hopeful Wroughton bus riders. How nice Swindonians are! I was given advice about how an apple a day was certainly a good idea by Grace of Wroughton. This backed up what I had been told by all my grandmothers rather than what The People's Friend have been printing: 'An Apple a day...isn't nearly enough, according to John Taylor.' (People's Friend, June 2011). Nice poem in there this month though...There was also time to reapply rich cherry red lipstick in the kind reflectives of the front window of the 72, to keep my lips supple and prevent bus diesel dust discourchment (a well known phenomenon of avid bus travellers with exposed lips).

We arrived at The Honey Pot in Wroughton a little late with kisses waiting from the lovely poets Katherine T Owen and Elinor Brooks'They didn't know you were coming,' said Elinor, 'I nearly left.'
'That's because we didn't tell them...this is pop up poetry you know. And we are popping in! Thank you for joining us.' After discussions of June's People's Friend, Elinor read a poem from the that latest edition and Katherine T Owen read a poem of her own writing, 'The Hare and the Tortoise.'

Cups of tea were ordered and shared, waitresses upset by Mabel's over enthusiasm ('understandable' said Barry) and we left for the Coop in disgrace. 'You have really done it now Mabel, you fool! Can't just barge in with poetry fluff when the lady is taking orders you know. Learn some blinking manners.' shouted Barry by the traffic lights.

'I was particularly pleased to be re-acquainted with The People's Friend and delighted that people of discernment are still reading it (my grandfather worked in the industry in Dundee). I enjoyed reading the blog - though I think it's a shame Mabel caught the Honey Pot ladies at a bad moment - they were disappointed afterwards not to have had their photos taken! Must try the M and S cafe on M's recommendation. Suggest Barry carries a packet of those coloured plastic bendy straws so he can enjoy the hot tea with his teeth in. Upwards and onwards, DC.'  Wrote Elinor afterwardsBravo Elinor!

Back on the bus we met some lovely young people from the Ridgeway School. Bravo Ridgeway! You turn out some lovely folk you do. They read us poems, giggled, used interesting language that Barry understood more that me, and discussed the joy of the written word. We hope they follow this through by googling 'Domestic Cherry' as was requested. Pop up poetry at its best this!

Now for the joy of the day! Marks and Sparks cafe. Bravo Dale! of Marks and Sparks cafe. What people skills, what coffee art and joy he spreads. Actually, all those cafe people are a credit to the company...Bravo Marks and Sparks for providing Swindon with a comfortable spot, good coffee and most of all lovely staff. Esther & Salvador awaited us and joined us for frolic and fun that included cake. Salvador did a bit of entertaining and I met Carol of the Great Western Hospital...lovely nurse lady. Don't we love the nurses girls?
'Are you a comedy act,' asked one lady. 'No', I explained, 'we are serious poets!'

Later, in the YMCA charity shop (Sorry ROY, we didn't make 'Blue Cross' because my shoe split) we met up with Julie Bradslatter. Oh how I love that girl...she's got it all as far as I'm concerned: friendly, kind, chatty, full of wisdom...'Radio 4,' she suggested, 'a life story of Germaine Greer. I think you will both love it.'

My shoe totally let me down and split completely as we boarded the number 8 to West Swindon. We got top deck front seats and met with Jacki three seats behind who shouted, 'I love your glasses, where did you get them?' I stood up to show her the whole attire, my 'total look'. And she gasped, 'you are wearing a pinny!' Brushing it down and realigning the pegs clipped to the pocked I answered, 'Yes, I always wear a pinny to the cafe, in case of spills.' 'Hmm', she pondered, 'how sensible, I might just start doing that too.' Mabel is a trend setter, obviously.

And homeward bound we went. Me to Westlea, and Barry to Eastleaze to visit Ursula who hasn't been getting out much lately. Our only regret is that due to shoe problems, we didn't make it to 'the Harvey' just outside of Asda, a favourite 'Domestic Cherry' writing spot.


Photos of Cafe Diana, London
This photo of Cafe Diana is courtesy of TripAdvisor

On Wednesday, writes Ursula Pitt, we sat sonnect dissecting in the 'Diana Cafe' on Bayswater Road with our friend Audrey. As the beautful people of Notting Hill fragrantly wafted past Holland Park's pre-eminent icon themed caff, we had a really good natter about iambic, pentameter and was she carrying Dodi's kid? You see, Ugly Aud as she is known and loved spends every evening (late afternoon Sundays) Mr Sheening the 500 or so portraits of the worlds most hunted woman that adorn the walls of this shrine. She says if it was Cafe Camilla she's just spit on a J-cloth and be done with it, but with the Queen of Hearts she won't ven use own label, she says it would be cleaner treason to defile the frames with Smart Price or Value. I asked Mabel and Audrey if they could see any irony in the number of photo's in the cafe.

        'Mabel and Audrey, do you see any irony in the number of photo's in the cafe?'
        Mabel just chomped her Apple Turnover down, but Audrey said,
        'What do you mean Ursula, she's was a beautiful person?'
        'Well in the end it was those paparazzi that did for her' I replied,
        'Unless you've seen that conspiracy theory about the Duke of Edinburgh
         swerving in front of the Merc on a Vespa' I continued.
With that, the waiter starting tutting in Arabic and I suddenly felt the bonhomie graph go flat and Audrey went very pale. The tutter had a badge on saying Theo, he marched to the back of the cafe, took a picture from the wall and brought it back to our table, he said nothing but then he didn't need to. Audrey gasped and dropped her muffin, Mabel coughed flaky pastry off of her lips and I said,
        'Wow, who's done that?'
        'We don't know' said Theo,
the Diana picture in the frame, the one with her in that see through dress, had CAMILLA scrawled across it in marker pen and the Duchess of Cornwall's face had been torn from a magazine and glued over the People's Princess.
        Audrey was reeeling with shock, but at that moment my clutch bag began to vibrate, it was Barry, phoning from a stewarding job he had at Clyffe Pypard, I explained the whole horrid saga to him, it seems he knows Theo and offered to come right up with some meths and a pairs of tweezers, I handed the phone to Theo, who told Barry not to bother, just to call in the next time he was in London. Audrey, Mabel and I stepped out into the street, it was spitting with rain and a ginger haired kid rushed past whistling 'Candle in the Wind', us two Swindonians bade farewell to Audrey and made our way back to Paddington, confused enough to need the assistance of a lovely bearded American couple who kindly found us a quick routeright to the back door of the station.

It's been a long time since I had a decent ice-cream and Daljit Nagra has invited me to the launch of  Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!! with the promise of a Mr. Whippy!!! He's promised this pleasure before mind, so I'm going to keep him to it. I don't tend to leave Swindon on a whim. 'Bring rolling pin just in case the ice cream is too lumpy and needs smoothing out…'said Daljit, ah, there's metaphor in his madness me thinks.

Yesterday, Barry informed me of the new naked poets calendar out on the wordly shelves and asked me to guess which poets are in it...'you know one of them.' he grinned. My inner twin tub started to spin and I guessed Daljit, with a gobi gobi covering the glory. 'No,' he said, 'you are absolutely wrong. Why don't you stop fantasising and think straight?' Of course! I should have known, Alan Buckly, who else? Barry tutted, he always tuts ... I'm left wondering what Alan is not wearing and where.

Whatever, I shall wear my best pinny for the launch and perhaps a tiarra...

But does ice-cream beat Belgian Buns?

and get your wild cherries around this ladies...

Naked muses calendar

Over the next few weeks Roy of  I AM ROY PHOTOGRAPHY will be taking snaps on his camera phone of his favourite places in Swindon. He'll upload them here with some 'Stories on the Bus' by Mabel thrown in - amazing what happens on that 1A between the fabulous West Swindon Link (where one can also shop at Asda) and the town centre. Mabel's favourite bus is Prometheus...what's yours?

I have just found this great link...a new friend: 

Swindon Centric: Top Ten Poetry Things Heard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 103

This is the favourite deli of the Domestic Cherry team. Roy took this snap when Ursula was reading poetry at Open Mic in the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in March.

There was no better way to launch Domestic Cherry into the world than at 5:30am, the Dawn Chorus for the 18th Swindon Festival of Litrature, hot on the tail of Robbert Stredder (oooh) under his Greenwood Tree, with cherry puffs on the picnic plate and a drop of champagne in plastic tea cups. Maudy and Ursula did us proud with the adorable community man and poet Tony selling Domestic Cherry like hotcakes! We could all keep warm by the poetry pod of Alison Brumfit with our bunting blowing in the wind. I'm a bit worried we won't have enough Domestic Cherries for launch  as they sold so well and above expectations. I also hope Ursula gets out of her dressing gown and rubber gloves back into her usuals. Perhaps a visit to the YMCA charity shop will cheer her up...that and a nice cup of tea I expect. Do come to our main launch tonight, the Arts Centre, 7:30 pm.

Photography Jill Carter