Thursday 18 October 2012

Kenneth Allsop Memorial Talk

Kenneth Allsop is often mentioned in these parts - some liked him a lot and some disliked him even more. He died in 1973 and was the sort of chap I think my father quite liked. He watched Allsop present the current affairs programme "Tonight" (BBC) in the 1960's.

I get the impression Allsop had no fear of upsetting the apple cart - I've mentioned in a previous post that we have much to thank him for in these parts as he was indeed a pioneering conservationist when atrocities were easily overlooked and indeed at a time when caring for our natural environment was thought by some to be quirky.

The rather interesting and humorous blog westdorsetconfidential will give you more information on the man, but I would recommend that you read the rather lovely piece by his friend Brian Jackman at the end of the above blog first.

I was looking forward to last years Bridport Literary Festival where we were expecting to see Ronald Blythe at the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Talk - unfortunately it was cancelled. It was a great shame as his book Akenfield is a classic and anyone who has a sense of place should seek it out. The talk was also to be used as the launch for Allsops book "In the Country" (Little Toller Books).

Little Toller have also started to publish some unpublished writings by Allsop - unearthed in Brian Jackmans loft, they were left to him and some are now published for the first time - buried treasure.

The 2012 Memorial Talk takes place at our very own Electric Palace in Bridport on Friday 16th November at 18:30 - Richard Mabey (Country Matters - A Writing Life) is the guest and he will be in conversation with Sue Clifford of Common Ground. His talk will be complimented by a celebration of Kenneth Allsop's "In the Country".

Eggardon Hill is my favourite place - when I am away it is the place I have in my mind that not only reminds me of home, but reminds me of who I am. When I am home I visit it often - on a journey I often take a route to purposefully circumvent it so I at least have it in sight. It's never far away.

Eggardon Hill with birds - Kenneth Allsop

It meant an awful lot to Allsop as his house was shadowed by its gigantic form and I'll finish with some appropriate words of appreciation from Richard Mabey:    

He celebrates the commonplace in uncommon words, and makes these arcane Wessex prospects suddenly accessible - none more so than the great whaleback of Eggardon Hill. In the finest, defining piece, he takes an amble round an unfamiliar side of Eggardon, and looks back at his mill, past the echoing Iron Age barrows and the bog oaks of King John's Powerstock Forest, past "gorse spitting yellow sparks. Rooks blowing like charred scraps across great fields", and recalls Hardy's rhapsodies for Wessex, "that wondrous world of sap and leaves".

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