Saturday, July 11, 2015
Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, and onwards
News from everywhere
July. The English summer in full if intermittent swing. England winning a Test Match against Australia. Strawberries and the occasional covenanted addition of cream. This month means many things to me, and one of them is the birthday of this blog, which began with a post about the extraordinary spa buildings in Tenbury Wells, shown in the photograph above, in July 2007.
I had no idea that English Buildings, which I began to entertain my friends, would last more than a year or two, let alone garner thousands of readers, but I'm pleased that it has done so and thankful to my readers, both those who find something to interest them en passant and the ones who have stuck it out for years. Good as it is to have readers who clearly like the buildings I post and the comments I make about them, my pleasure also comes from their comments and the way they make writing a two-way process. I have lost count of the number of things I've learned from the people who comment on my posts.
I've heard from men and women who live (or have lived) in houses that have been featured in my blog, from people who have worked or been to school in buildings that have appeared here, and so I’ve found out something about what these buildings are like to inhabit and use. Readers have shared their enthusiasms and interests too: I’ve been pointed in the direction of a gilded lion in Seaton and a wonderful black bear in Wareham. I’ve been told about old garages and petrol pumps in a variety of places. I’ve been directed towards remote churches and surprising shops and obscure public houses.
Connections too. I've joined in speculation about the links between a blue corrugated-iron garage and a coach company with a similar coloured livery. I’ve been reminded of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films in Art Deco settings and a Michael Winner film shot in rural Herefordshire. And I got really excited when one of my pieces, reposted with additions on another blog, The Dabbler, led to a discovery. I'd shared my enthusiasm for the book Looking Round London by Helen Carstairs, and lamented that this totally unknown illustrator and writer did not seem to have produced any other books. A message came from the artist's grandson, and all was explained. Such are the revelations that the web makes possible.
These revelations are among the things I most enjoy about the internet. When they blossom into conversations, it can be especially rewarding. Among my favourite conversations (accessible in the Comments section of each post) are:
• Musings back in 2009 about the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire that led to memories of a production of The Tempest, books inspired by the stones, the relationship between the site and county boundaries, and the depredations of tourism (in the mid-19th century the King’s Stone was said to be ‘daily diminishing in size, because people from Wales kept chipping off bits to keep the Devil off”). Not to mention the spooky feeling that many people seem to get when visiting this atmospheric ancient monument.
• A discussion in 2011 about AA roadside telephone boxes, encompassing such topics as AA badges, saluting, gardens and picket fences.
• Comments on a post (also in 2011) about a pub sign, which involved reminiscences about fireworks manufacturers, the book High Street by Eric Ravilious and J M Richards, the ban on domestic fireworks in Australia, pubs named The Antigallican, and Antonioni’s film Blow-up
• A more recent collection of thoughts, provoked by a post about some colourful cottages, on the manifold usefulness of the pig (we use ‘everything but the squeal’, people used to say), and the French chanteuse Juliette Noureddine, and her renditions of all sorts of songs, from works of Erik Satie to a song, ‘Tout est bon dans le cochon’, about pork products… ‘Only on your blog,’ as one friend put it.
My thanks to you all for reading, commenting, and sharing your enthusiasms and discoveries.