Last week I finished the last two first year portfolios for my MA; the Writer with the Writerly Name’s Creative Writing Workshop portfolio, and the Agreeable Doctor’s Creativity and Marginality in Contemporary Writing portfolio. There’s a dissertation to write now; and a year to complete it in. As ever, I was just one day short of having enough time to finish those last two pieces nicely and I was up until three on Friday morning compiling them.
A few hours later Ian hefted me weightily into the car, folding my legs and arms in after like an inexpertly doubled deckchair and we set off for Crail, via the Humanities Office to hand in the assignments. The Humanities Office was locked and deserted; but I can’t talk about that yet. It’s enough to testify that the kind lady from the Ceremonies Office took the portfolios from me and gave me a receipt, and a hug.
There is an assignment drop box but how I feel about assignment drop boxes is: what about the bad person with the lighter fuel and the lit match? That’s all I’m saying.
On the way to
The 1964 film, Zulu, depicts the Battle of Rorke's Drift. It was a terrible fight between the British Army and Zulu warriors. Preston are observing the event because the padre, George Smith, became the chaplain at Fulwood Barracks, here in Preston, on his return from South Africa and is buried in New Hall Lane cemetery (that was after he died, obviously).
Apparently one hundred and thirty-nine British soldiers successfully defended the garrison at Rorke’s Drift against several thousand Zulu warriors (reported numbers vary). Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defending soldiers; the largest number of VCs conferred to a regiment for one action. George Smith received the Zululand medal and clasp for gallantry; only soldiers can receive the VC.
I felt ill at ease when I saw first saw the Avenham Park flowerbed a few weeks ago. I know the soldiers were brave and doing what they were employed to do, but it somehow seems out of place to be commemorating the defeat of native people who were defending their stolen land; just as Victorian Prestonian warriors would have defended Avenham Park, armed with fettlers and yard-brushes, if Zulu pastoralists had rolled up and set about grazing their cattle on the sward. Ken Blakeson's play reinforced my disquiet.
Crail is in Fife, across the Tay from
‘thon raws o flint arraheids
in oor gret museums o antiquities’
are likened to the sharp tongues of Grannies who cannot stop themselves from putting you back in your place;
'ye arenae here tae wonder,
whae dae ye think ye ur?'
We’ve all met one of those Grandmas.
Crail is a picturesque fishing town (see above) fixed in another time and place. Like the
The graveyard at