How the Blog Works

How the blog works

The most recent entries or "posts" appear at the top. To find older ones, scroll down. On the right at the bottom of the page are links to older posts, which you can click on to find material posted last year, last month, etc.

Contributions are welcome and can be e-mailed to me at . Content can include 1) announcements about, or introductions to, forthcoming meetings and other events of possible interest to members. 2) Summaries of talks given at Literary Society meetings or at meetings of the Book Group. 3) Announcements of forthcoming TV or radio programmes of possible interest to readers. 4) Reviews of books read recently or in the past.

Ideally, contributions should be submitted as documents in Word format (.doc or .docx files) and pictures in the form of .jpg files but other formats, including .pdf files are acceptable.

Links can be included to give easy access to relevant material on the internet.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

July party

There was a party for members at Rye View, hosted by Howard Norton and David Page. Because of threatening weather the meal was indoors, preceded by drinks in the garden.

For those who couldn't be there, here's a quiz we did on the given names of authors often known by their initials.

Answers are at the bottom of last month's post, below. Good luck.

TS Eliot                                  
HG Wells                              
JRR Tolkien                         
PD James                             
Dorothy L Sayers              
Jerome K Jerome             
JG Ballard                             
AA Milne                            
VS Pritchett                        
EE Cummings                     
WB Yeats                             
PG Wodehouse                
WH Auden                          
JM Barrie                             
EB White                              
CS Lewis                               
JK Rowling                          
LM Montgomery              
Arthur C Clarke                 
CJ Driver                             

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Upcoming Events, July 2019

1) Our July monthly meeting will take the form of a summer party on Friday 19 July hosted by Howard Norton and David Page at Rye View. Members should have received details in a recent e-mail from Hilary Roome.

2) On Saturday 13th July at 4pm, as part of the JAM on the Marsh Festival, Jonty will read from his sequence of 22 poems , entitled BEFORE, and published as a book last year.  The cellist, Helen Thomas (London Philharmonic Orchestra), will perform excerpts from Bach's Cello Suites.

The venue is:
St Mary the Virgin Church
St Mary in the Marsh
New Romney
TN29 0BX

Link to map from Marsh Festival website: CLICK HERE

3) Rye Arts Festival 14 to 28 September 2019 Here's a link to the "Literary" part of the programme:

On the Rye Arts Festival web site you can also find details of the Music and other events, with details of how to book for all events.

Quiz Answers:


TS Eliot                           Thomas Stearns
HG Wells                         Herbert George
JRR Tolkien                     John Ronald Reuel
PD James                         Phyllis Dorothy
Dorothy L Sayers             Leigh
Jerome K Jerome             Klapka
JG Ballard                        James Graham
AA Milne                         Alan Alexander
VS Pritchett                      Victor Sawdon
EE Cummings                   Edward Estin
WB Yeats                          William Butler
PG Wodehouse                  Pelham Grenville
WH Auden                        Wystan Hugh
JM Barrie                           James Matthew
EB White                           Elwyn Brooks
CS Lewis                           Clive Staples
JK Rowling                        Joanne K (or Kathleen*)
LM Montgomery               Lucy Maud
Arthur C Clarke                 Charles
CJ Driver                            Charles Jonathan (Jonty)

*Apparently, Joanne Rowling was told by her agent or publisher that she would benefit from an extra initial. She chose "K" possibly because her mother was "Kathleen"

21 June Meeting "Telling the Truth" talk by Tony Peake

Thanks to Bill Doherty for the following account of the Society's June meeting:      

Had that idiosyncratic sage of the baseball diamond, the late Yogi Berra, been in attendance at this meeting of the Lit. Soc. he would surely have been moved to repeat his famous aphorism “It’s déjà vu all over again!” as we welcomed another expatriate South African walking in the footsteps of Marion Molteno, Douglas Reid Skinner and Jonty Driver. Any suggestion of surfeit should be swiftly dispelled; these are not Eliot’s” hooded hordes swarming over endless plains” but rather acolytes of James Joyce’s Artist/Young Man, choosing exile “to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”
The evening’s “artificer” was Tony Peake who chose truth telling as the subject of his talk.and  elaborated on this theme primarily with reference to two of his books – “North Facing”(2017) and his authorised biography of Derek Jarman (1999). Jarman had been something of a local artistic celebrity after moving to Dungeness. No van der Merwe, Peake was born in 1951 to English parents who had emigrated after the Second World War and was brought up in a village near Pretoria. The speaker hinted that “North Facing” contained a strong autobiographical element as it recounts the experience of its principal protagonist, the 12 year old Paul Harvey, watching the 1962 Cuban missile crisis refracted through the prism of  apartheid-era South Africa, where the shades of Sharpeville still hovered in the wings. Warned that nuclear war would announce itself by obscuring the sun, Paul and his schoolfellows sought reassurance with behaviour common  to so many life forms – heliotropism – going out at dawn and dusk to see the sun rise and set. The novel explores identity – cultural, racial and sexual – and also has Paul as the adult narrator execute a belated atonement for the deeds of his youthful self. Craving acceptance by the dominant social unit in the class, du Toit’s gang, he lands the thoughtful, independent-minded schoolmaster, Spier, in serious trouble with Afrikaner officialdom in the person of du Toit’s father. Peake uses the adult Paul’s return journey as a way of reconnecting and concludes  that everyone suffered in South Africa, some more obviously than others. He endorsed the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and advised any aspiring writers to “write what you know”.   
After graduating from Rhodes University in South Africa, Tony was drawn to the still swinging London of the 70s where, married with two small children, he found life hectic and took time out to teach English in Ibiza While striving to produce a varied artistic output he was advised to try being a literary agent and his first client was Derek Jarman, at the time a forceful, Gay Rights activist and the” enfant terrible”  of avant-garde cinema, directing works with strong homoerotic overtones on subjects like Caravaggio and Edward II. Jarman tested HIV positive in 1987  and moved to the edgy” interzonal” setting of Prospect Cottage in Dungeness where he acquired an unexpected fame as a gardener, cajoling  unlikely flora from the inhospitable shingle and beating the metropolitan “gastro” scene to the wonders of sea kale by about 20 years. These years, before the advent of the anti-retrovirals, were punctuated by the death knells of friends succumbing to the ravages of AIDS and his own health steadily declined  before he died in 1995.  Tony completed the bulk of the biography in the four years after his subject’s  demise. Comparing and contrasting the writing of fiction and non-fiction our speaker felt that fiction was a more effective way to convey truth, likening it to a torch beam illuminating a dark cellar and allowing the reader to draw wider inferences from the obliquely presented information. The presentation was  embroidered with sensitively selected and delivered readings from both books.   
Tony Peake came across as a reflective craftsman keen to share the outcome of the exploration of his own and both his fictional and real life subjects’ multi-layered identities which he laid out for us like a series of matryoshka dolls which we studied carefully, remembering Yogi’s wise words “You can observe a lot by just watching.”   

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

"educated" by Tara Westover - a brief review

This autobiography, published last year, is very well written and I found it inspiring reading. It questions the importance of early education and up-bringing in achieving academic success. The author was born in Idaho in 1986. Her family lived in a rural area, and was dominated by her father, who was a fundamentalist Mormon with extreme ideas, even by his Mormon neighbours’ standards. Tara’s mother, also a Mormon, was a community midwife and herbalist. The state was so distrusted that the Westover children had no formal education. Conventional medical care, even for serious injuries, was shunned and Tara’s birth was not registered. Needless to say, the children were not vaccinated. Father made his living as a scrap metal dealer and builder of barns etc. He hoarded food and ammunition in anticipation of the imminent “End of Days”. In spite of this unpromising environment, and the abuse she experienced, Tara managed to educate herself, and to her credit, and that of a few academics who were open-minded enough to discount her unconventional upbringing, she got herself to Brigham Young University, enabling her to embark on an astonishingly successful academic career.

Lawrence Youlten