September Musings by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
The Causley Trust invited me recently to spend a weekend at Cyprus Well in Launceston, Charles Causley’s home where he lived for many years with his mother. It is a wonderful two-bedroom house, very peaceful with lovely views from the small garden. The only downside is that it is on a steep hill so my muscles got a lot of exercise going up and down the lane! The house is pretty much as it was when he lived there with all his belongings in place. There are many interesting paintings, photographs and displays of small objects on the walls, all fascinating and I was minded to write a list poem about one display.
It’s the Little Things That Matter
After a display of Charles Causley’s effects
A bottle of Parker’s Quink, black,
permanent, not to be spilled,
a writer’s tool which reminds
me of my fountain pen at school.
A silver whistle from Navy days,
HMS Destroyer, the name
of Causley’s ship. A luggage label
hints at days of travel. He loved
cats, a warm welcome when he
came back. They’re pictured
on matchboxes, collectable items
to keep safe. An airmail envelope
at the top of the display,
is inscribed the wrong way up
with ‘T-RIBBON’ in pencil
then repeated lines,
‘The Quick Brown Fox Jumps
over the lazy dog!’ slightly
different capital letters each time,
some sort of typewriting test.
A key, penknife, debit card,
an old pocket watch. Also
a pencil sharpener in a box
for Faber-Castell Apollo 50/95.
A miniature tin trunk, rusted,
from the Savoy Hotel, London.
A decorative owl made of felt
with a school-masterly look.
On the Saturday morning, I went along to the Trust’s pop-up shop in Launceston town centre to talk to anyone who dropped in. I did a short interview with Kevin Wadland for Plymouth Hospital Radio. I also did a reading from my two pamphlets and was delighted to sell a few copies. I then bought a couple of books from the Trust’s bookstall, so good recycling! I met Mark Crees there who is involved with The Writers’ Block, a creative space in Redruth. Their autumn programme is full of stimulating activities. For example, Falmouth Poetry Group will present Fiona Benson doing a workshop on Myth and Montage followed by an evening reading on 9th October. Also Mor poets have the launch of their new book Mordardh, a Speakeasy and workshop on 21st November. To book either set of events: https://thewritersblock.org.uk/events
Later in my long weekend in Cornwall, I visited Penlee House near Penzance. I was interested in their exhibition about the Lamorna colony of artists. I was surprised to find that Sir Alfred Munnings was great friends with members of the group and it was lovely to see some of his work including an amusing cartoon about Christmas where huntsmen are sitting down to dinner together with the fox. I often visit the Munnings Art Museum in Dedham, Essex – it is well worth a visit if you are in East Anglia – a beautiful house in itself but also filled with Munnings’ work.
It was very good to get to know more about Charles Causley, what was important to him and what shaped his writing. That sense of place can be so important to a writer; it is something to return to again and again. I find I often write about where I grew up, a farm in the middle of Suffolk marshes by the North Sea. Home was an oasis of stability whatever else went on in my life.
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