You’ll have noted that The Writing Game has strayed into the peaceful stretches of Sunday afternoon. I hope you enjoy it in this more leisurely space. And, as always, if you can’t make it then and there, you can download our podcast after the 10th April http://blogs.bishopfm.com/thewritinggame/category/podcasts/and listen in your own selected leisurely time where listening to writers and thinking about books could be a very good thing to be doing.
Commentators from outside say how much they like the way the Writing Game renders an image of a certain part of England. I think they and our local listebere will like today’s programme - on writing local history
Like so many Writing Games our April programme is grounded here South Durham – today specifically my own town of Bishop Auckland which is the home of Bishop FM . And always we place ourselves in the broader context of the nature of writing history. The Writing Game is local in its focus, but never parochial in its attitudes
So today our main point of consideration is the local history of Bishop Auckland. Both of my guests today talk about how a sense of local history fosters a particular, unique identity.
In pubs, cafes and shops onNewgate Street, our main shopping street - if you dig several feet down you will find Dere Street an important Roman Road - on Newgate Street in the pubs, cafes and shops, you can witness the habit of Bishop people of reflecting on their intricate, shared past. They talk of the people and the families they have known – names emerge like a biblical litany – his mother.. his grandmother .. his cousin – and so and so begat so and so –
You can her talk of the schools as they were, the celebrated football tam, the Thursday and Saturday markets, the choirs, the churches, the anniversaries, the Romany funerals, the old bishop with gaiters……
Stories sing in the air of Bishop Auckland ringing with pride and a true sense of identity
My first guest for April, Barbara Laurie has tried to capture all this in words, to nail it to the page in her local histories. As well as writing these histories. Barbara is a teacher from a family of Bishop Auckland teachers, has been Mayor of Bishop Auckland, a county councillor and is now a district councillor. Peter Laurie her husband, will read a wonderful piece that he wrote about the traveller- hawker tradition in Bishop Auckland from their website www.bishopaucklandhistory.com
(Look it up! All the books we mention are shown on the website.)
Then, to complement Barbara’s view of writing local history ,we have regular Writing Game contributor Glynn Wales reflecting on the way the historical idiosyncrasies of Bishop Auckland may or may not fit into the context of historical writing in general but how it may reinforce a sense of local identity in a national setting.
I hope my regular listeners find me here on Sundays and continue to enjoy The Writing Game. I’ve had messages – word of mouth and email from listeners here in South Durham and – through the magic of the Internet – from much further afield - as far away as Melbourne in Australia and Kentucky and New York in America.
Here is one from America
> “I enjoyed the podcast conversation with David Almond. I want to look for his books. These programs are wonderful. I loved listening to the children talk about the books they'd read (of course I adore their accents); and I closed my eyes listening to the Fireeater---my God the suspense in that and feelings it drew out. The reader is marvellous. You are so fortunate to be able to participate in such a great undertaking as The Writing Game programming. “
> “I listened to the podcast of The Writing Game with Wendy Robertson. The poet who spoke about basing much of her work on Horace sent me to my old school anthology, in repose right here beside me on the bookshelf, to read him again after 48 years. One of four included poems is Mortality---of course, why not. AND, it is an ODE--- Horace: Poetry 101. Love your comments.”
NEXT MONTH – May Programme – Words and Music
The Writing Game talks to another couple who live at the heart of Bishop Auckland – Andy Jackson and Su Kane. Andy is a composer and musician who is, among other things, the creative director of The Cobweb author which performs across the region hundreds of times a year. You will also remember Su, who ran The Evergreens and also gave poetry and drama workshops at Bishop Auckland Town Hall. They will be talking about their writer-musician collaborations, particularly their cantata Whispering Stones, about Durham Cathedral. We will hear the magical blends of their words and music. A treat in store for all of us..