In 2016, despite overwhelming opposition from the community, North Yorkshire County Council granted Third Energy permission to frack for shale gas by the village of Kirby Misperton (KM8) in Ryedale, some 25 miles from where we live. They plan to start fracking soon – by the end of 2017.
Today is Solidarity Day at Kirby Misperton, and this is my small contribution to making sure fracking doesn’t happen there:
The York Culture Awards ‘celebrate excellence in the arts and culture sector and reward outstanding innovation, creativity and quality …’ And looking through the list of finalists makes you realise just what a vibrant arts and culture scene we have here in York. Many talented people! It’s a privilege to be among their number.
The York Culture Awards’ aim is: ‘by showcasing the city’s cultural uniqueness and diversity … to ultimately make culture more accessible to everyone and to encourage more people to take part.’
Amen to that!
I’m looking forward to meeting the other finalists at the award ceremony, which takes place in York Minster next month.
Meanwhile, thank you to everyone involved in the publication of my Flying High! book.
Never has the run-up to a gig of mine been so nerve-wracking, or so top secret! How come? Read on …
It all started when BBC Radio York contacted me to let me know (highly confidentially!) that they’d chosen my ‘Birds and the Bees’ poetry show at Easingwold Community Library that week as the ‘Treasure’ in their Saturday-morning treasure hunt, called Finders Keepers. Not familiar with Finders Keepers? All is explained in this clip, from the 9am beginning of this Saturday’s show:
So, six cryptic clues that listeners have to solve by noon, taking the Radio York reporter (+ side-kick) to locations around North Yorkshire. And come down to the wire it did, this week!
The idea had been that the Radio York reporter would reach me (i.e. the ‘Treasure’) at Easingwold Community Library at around 11.50. My first job, therefore, was to arrive at the library nice and early, get myself set up and ready to hand over the all-important envelope – i.e. the solution to the final cryptic clue – and be interviewed about the upcoming event that afternoon.
And thanks to my driver-and-roadie husband Mike, that I managed to do:
Arrived at Easingwold Community Library at 11.20 with the Finders Keepers ‘Treasure’ envelope
From then on we just had to wait and hope that Radio York reporter Abigail would find her way to us. Diana, one of the Easingwold Community Library volunteers, set up a tranny in the library to follow events:
Library volunteer Diana following Finders Keepers on the radio
It got later, and later, and later – and the final clue was finally picked up, at Ampleforth College Prep School at Gilling Castle, at 11.40. The clue was:
The good news is that a couple of people phoned in not long after, with a possible solution to this clue:
The bad news is that by this time it was around 11.47, and it takes some 20 minutes to get from Gilling Castle to Easingwold. So we in the library were somewhat despondent, convinced that no-one was going to reach us by noon. Which would mean no publicity for the library and my event there.
Nevertheless, hope springs eternal, so library volunteer Diana despatched me to stand outside the library with my ‘Treasure’ envelope to see if I could spot the Radio York reporters and get them to us asap.
So there I am standing outside the library, and a woman comes running towards me with a phone clamped to her ear and she’s waving at me. I assume this is the miracle we’ve been waiting for, and I hand the ‘Treasure’ envelope over to her. She’s puffed and one-handed (other hand occupied with the phone), so together we tussle with the envelope and get it open and she reads out the ‘Treasure’ down her phone.
Now what I didn’t realise was that a) it was 11.59 by this time (i.e. one minute before the noon deadline) and b) this wasn’t actually the Radio York reporter. This is what had been happening whilst I was stood outside the library scouting for BBC reporter Abigail:
The fabulous Jess, at Easingwold Community Library, with the ‘Treasure’ envelope
So, mission accomplished! The ‘Treasure’ was found – albeit in a rather unorthodox fashion – in the nick of time. The ‘Treasure’ being:
The Finders Keepers ‘Treasure’ revealed!
‘Explanation: Easingwold Library hosts poet Anneliese Emmans Dean and her Big Buzz stories this afternoon. TREASURE’
With Jess, Treasure found, outside Easingwold Community Library
Some time later Abigail, the Radio York reporter, did reach us at the library. By this time, though, the Finders Keepers programme had finished, so there was no time to broadcast an interview with us about our event.
BBC Radio York Finders Keepers reporter Abigail with Easingwold Community Library volunteer Diana, and Jess, who saved the day!
However, Abigail did record an interview with us, and it was broadcast around 40 minutes later (as part of the next programme, hosted by Ross Dickinson):
So, our event and the library did get publicity after all!
Following all this on a phone app in her car on the way down from Scotland was Lyn Fenby, one of the volunteers at Easingwold Community Library, and the person who had invited me to come and put on a ‘Birds and the Bees’ show for them. She and her family arrived at the library just in time for the event that afternoon. I’d like to thank her for inviting me to the library for – as you heard – the first of what they hope will be a series of regular, monthly Saturday author events held there.
Having spent quite some time at the library on Saturday (!), I got to see the excellent work the volunteers do there. It’s clear that this library – like all libraries – is very much a community resource, a community hub, and it’s vital that it stay open, continuing to serve its local community. Since April, when it ceased to be run and funded by North Yorkshire County Council, the only way it can continue to perform that vital role, is through the work of dedicated volunteers. Hats off to you all!
Gig-wise, what I really enjoyed about this one was the age range of the audience. From 8 to 80-something, I’d say. And at one time or another I saw smiles on all of their faces. Very gratifying.
Some of the audience joining in
Though most gratifying of all was when, at the end of the show, 8-year-old Gus from the audience spontaneously – and very fluently – read out my Kestrel poem from my Flying High! book. Fabulous!
And finally … as it happens, this was the first show I’d put on since it had been announced – the day before – that my book Flying High! had been shortlisted for this year’s York Culture Awards (in the ‘Excellence in Writing’ category). I was bowled over when Lyn mentioned this in her ‘thank you’ at the end of the show, and presented me with a fabulous bird-themed bottle of wine to mark the occasion. Gosh! It’s been quite a couple of days!
p.s. There’s been some lovely feedback on Easingwold Community Library’s facebook page:
‘We are keeping our fingers crossed that you will come back and see us again, such an excellent, inspiring, educational and buzzing workshop last Saturday, thank you again.’
With Gill Perkins, who organised the London launch of the BBCT’s Bees for Everyone
Fast forward five years, and Gill is now the Head Honcho of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, which this year held its AGM in my home town of York. Gill was Head Honcho-ing the AGM, and I was performing at it. So our paths crossed again.
With Gill Perkins, BBCT CEO, at the BBCT 2017 AGM in York
What I take from these two encounters (apart from the fact that my hair has grown more than hers in the interim) is that wardrobe-wise, Gill and I seem to have an uncanny knack of choosing similar colours/degrees of stripy-ness for BBCT events.
More importantly, what I take from these two encounters is how wonderful Gill, and all the BBCT staff, are. If you’re not already a member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, then why not?! Join here and now! They are a fabulous organisation doing vital work – innovatively and with passion. And they are small enough for individuals (both staff and members) to matter and count. Something that was very evident at the AGM.
Now perhaps your heart leaps at the prospect of attending an AGM, but when I think ‘AGM’, the first words that come to my mind are: ‘dull as dishwater’. What I hadn’t realised is that the BBCT AGM is actually more of a Members’ Day, packed with fascinating talks about BBCT research and projects. Oh, and this year, a performance from yours truly too.
On the one hand, the decline in bumblebee numbers – as outlined/alluded to/quantified by speaker after speaker – is deeply depressing and worrying. But on the other hand, the work the BBCT is doing to try to remedy this, with farmers/landowners, school children, members of the public and policymakers, is very inspiring. I was particularly taken with their ‘polli:lab’ project, which will take bumblebee science into secondary schools. I wish a polli:lab had visited my school when I was a lass!
Speakers at the event were: Prof. Pete Hollingsworth, Gill Perkins, Dr Richard Comont, Sally Cuckney (doing fabulous work Pollinating the Peak), Helen Dickinson, Dr Kate Ashbrook, Sinead Lynch, Lucy Witter, Hope Moran, Steven Falk, Judith Conroy (check out their fabulous Blooms for Bees app) and Stuart Roberts. Particularly inspiring were the young student speakers. Hope for the future!
Whether I was inspiring or not is not for me to say. However, I can say that my poetic interlude provided a slight change in tone. Here’s a snippet of what I got up to:
That poem is from my Buzzing! book, that the Bumblebee Conservation Trust wrote the Foreword to. As is this poem, too (though replace the word ‘hive’ with ‘nest’ – a slip of the tongue in the heat of the moment):
Thank you to award-winning BBCT volunteer Dylan for manning my camcorder for these clips. And to Gill for joining in the show.
So, go forth and join the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (who, incidentally, wrote the Foreword to my book Buzzing!) They are doing vitally important work – and they want you to join in with it. Your life will be enriched as a result!
Oh, and if you’d like me to come and perform at your AGM (I have form when it comes to AGMs …) or other event, then just get in touch!
So excited was I by the prospect of judging the Ryedale Book Festival P-Factor Grand Final this year that I penned a poem. But I only penned it a couple of days before the event. Did I have time to learn it? Did I have the nerve to perform it at the event itself?
As the poem aimed to inspire the children to give the very best of themselves in their performances that afternoon, I decided to take my courage into my hands and give it a go. Here’s the result:
The results that really counted that day, of course, were those of the P-Factor competition itself. Schools from around Ryedale came to Malton to perform the poems they’d learned in front of a panel of three judges – poets Mandy Coe, Catherine Boddy and me (all of whom had performed for the children in the morning).
The P Factor 2017 Judges: Catherine Boddy, Mandy Coe, and me
The props this year included a real live chocolate cake, which a child proceeded to consume in front of our very eyes as part of his rendition of Michael Rosen’s ‘Chocolate Cake’ poem!
Over the course of the afternoon children performed a wide variety of poems. They rapped, they made us laugh, they brought a tear to our eyes. They all brought poetry to life.
We judges were only supposed to come up with one winner and one runner-up. But the three girls from Kirkbymoorside Primary School were so good that we had to invent a special ‘Highly Commended’ prize category just for them!
The Runners-up of this year’s competition were … the team from Wellburn Hall School with their fabulous rendition of an Anansi Spider poem:
The Wellburn Hall School P-Factor 2017 runners-up, with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets
And the winners were … the Langton Primary School team, with their faultless performance of Michael Rosen’s ‘Strict’ poem!
The Langton School winners of the P-Factor 2017 – with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets
This is such an inspiring event. An entire auditorium full of children cheering about, and performing, poetry – for a whole day. Whoof! And the competition gets live-streamed back to all the schools involved!
Hats off to Karen Saunders and Sarah Tyson of Ryedale Book Festival for all they do to make this event happen. And to all the other Festival volunteers and tech people who made this year’s event go so well. Massive thanks too to the teachers and pupils of all the schools involved, for the time, energy and creativity you put into the competition.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!
P-Factor 2017 runners-up from Wellburn Hall School in costume!
Here’s a wee round-up of my August book signings, following the publication of my Flying High! bird book this summer.
So, we start in Waterstones in York, where The Nest Test was first put into action (see middle photo below):
Book signing at Waterstones, York, 5 August 2017
One of the highlights of this signing was the completely unexpected appearance of Marcus – yes, the very Marcus after whom the Marcus poem on p. 148 of Buzzing! was named. (You can see Marcus-the-person holding Buzzing! up at said Marcus-the-ladybird’s page in the left-hand photo above.)
Book signing at Wardle & Jones bookshop in Scarborough, 19 August 2017
One of the undoubted highlights of this book signing was Mabel, the Wardle and Jones dog! (Seen here in the arms of Wardle & Jones store owner Rachel.)
And then on to the UK’s City of Culture, where you are met off the train by a poet (one Philip Larkin), and where I was book signing in Waterstones:
Book signing in Waterstones in Hull, the UK City of Culture, 26 August 2017
One of the highlights of this book signing was stroking a little girl’s imaginary hamster. (And a softer, sweeter hamster you never did come across!) Another highlight was selling more books than JK Rowling! (I can say this with confidence as I was sitting right in front of the Harry Potter shelves.)
What all three of these signings had in common was the joy that performing my poems to and with so many children gave me. Watching their faces light up during the poems was priceless. Particularly special was when children performed poems from the book to me. It’s a thrilling experience to watch and listen to your words being lifted off the page by a child.
So, the next book signing is … well, it’s not in a bookshop, but it’s part of York’s Heritage Open Days. I’ve been invited to spend the morning of Saturday 9 September at the historic Unitarian Chapel in St Saviourgate in York – the theme of the day being ‘Aspects of the Garden’. I’ll be there from 11(-ish). See you there!
Thank you to all three of these bookshops for hosting me. If you fancy a book signing in your bookshop, or in a bookshop near you, just get in touch!