My poem about the Chibok schoolgirls. #amediting #bringbackourgirls 

Yesterday I was reading the paper and a story caught my eye. It was about the 276 schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in Northern Nigeria two years ago. I thought I had read that many of these women had been brought back. The report says that David Cameron called the kidnapping ‘an act of pure terrorism’ and promised the UK would ‘do what we can’, but when 80 of the girls were found, nothing was done.

I can’t imagine the pain and hardship these women go through every day of their lives and I can’t help thinking if they were soldiers of some sort, we would have gone in. If there was oil there, we would have gone in. If we were settling a score, we would have gone in. David Cameron is not representative of everyone in the UK.

Reading about this initially led to a poem that I thought I had blogged. I haven’t. If you would like to read it, please comment below.

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The theme of this International Women’s Day: Remember but Don’t Give Up!

I am pretty sure the unofficial theme of International Women’s Day 2016 is don’t give up. After all, we have got so far. Pity we have so much further to go.

As this is a writing blog, I’m sharing a poem that I wrote about my grandma Connie, who died a long time ago of breast cancer. So much has changed since then. (Check your breasts.)

So here’s the poem of the few that I sent to Faber and Faber in 1998 that was said to have ‘the best atmosphere’.

 

Connie

The large print novels with the lilac titles. She’d

Read without the light on. Her back was hunched from

 

 

Making tea in gasworks that now hang

Skeletal on the landscape. In the war she was beautiful

 

And wooed a Scottish footballer to the factory.

Then, years later, still up before the cock crowed, I’d ask

 

Why she wasn’t resting. ‘Layards to catch meddlers,’

her reply. She’d give me a sweet, and I’d suck it hard

 

To try to understand. And before she went out for a lager and

Lime or a game of bingo she performed the lipsil lipstick ritual.

 

 

At seventy-five she was still in its thrall.

(c) Rebecca Deans 2016

 

 

 

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Would Teachers Waste?

When teachers are too tired to write

they photocopy pages

of complicated, useless things

That seem to last for ages.

 

They could have written notes themselves

that we could understand.

If we could read their writing

in their very shaky hand.

 

Copies all are given out

to uninterested eyes

who never read them anyway,

hate work in any guise.

 

So when the final bell is heard

we hear the leaving din

They crumple up these boring words

and throw them in the bin.

 

OK. So some might keep the notes

but when they should re-read

They find that they have lost them

in their very hour of need.

 

So the moral of this story is

that trees are slain in vain

while thrownaway, unwanted sheets

lie sodden in the rain

 

And trodden on by muddy feet

(that’s something they delight in)

So turn the photocopier off

and make them do some writing.

 

 

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About Friends of Codnor Common: About us

Formed in 2013, we are a non-profit making organisation dedicated to preserving and enhancing these ancient lands. We share a love of Codnor Common, land between the villages of Codnor, Waingroves and the town of Ripley, and our members come from all these areas. We’re dedicated to maintaining the land for future generations.

The Village Green application was made to preserve the land. From our questionnaires we can see 60 years of use, with generations using the land without challenge. If we had won the enquiry and gained Village Green status, the land would have had some protection, and the 96 houses at the Waingroves end would have been stopped.

Thank you to the many friends and neighbours that provided written evidence, oral evidence, or attended the inquiry to support us, but the inspector recommended that the land should not become a village green.

 AVBC Planning Board met on 13 May at 7pm at Ripley Town Hall and refused the application to build 79 houses on the Common behind Holborn View. Peveril Homes resubmitted the application, which was heard by the Planning Board on 12 August. The planning board again refused the application. Peveril appealed against the first refusal. This appeal was held at Ripley Town Hall on 22 and 23 October 2013.  

 On 11 February 2014, three months later than expected, the Planning Inspectorate published their report. This stated that the appeal has been upheld. Peveril Homes will be able to build on the land, leaving a strip. We understand the ownership of this small strip will be transferred to Ripley Town Council and Codnor Parish Council.

This strip appears to be the land designated as Local Green Space on the Ripley Neighbourhood Plan.

We believe this strip will be so subject to flooding that it should remain in the ownership of  the developer: Peveril Homes/Peveril Securities/Bowmer and Kirkland.

We also believe that properties in areas such as The Orchard, Codnor, and Eastfield Road, Ripley will be at high flood risk due to the extra water pushed into the two streams bordering the site, one known locally as Bailey’s Brook.

We would like to see a proper flood risk assessment carried out after Phase 1 of the build (on the Waingroves end of the site) has been completed.

We would also like to see the oak and ash trees that Peveril Homes/Securities had cut down before they had full planning permission replanted in the place they were taken out without permission. Peveril Homes could have potentially be fined £20,000 for each tree with a Tree Preservation Order cut down, but an internal investigation at Amber Valley Borough Council did not lead to this outcome.

Posted in Codnor Common, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

About Friends of Codnor Common: The Neighbourhood Plan and Local Green Space

Planning legislation introduced in March 2012 enables communities to identify areas of open space that are particularly important to them for special protection, called Local Green Space. 

To this end, Friends of Codnor Common launched a petition to bring pressure on Amber Valley Borough Council to designate this land as Local Green Space and protect it for the future.

We hoped our petition would influence the Inquiry Inspector of the appeal when making his decision.

To some extent, the Common is now designated as Local Green Space in the Ripley Neighbourhood Plan, but we believe that more land needs to be protected if we are to preserve the Common’s unique character and accepted rights of way.

The planning application to build on more of the Common can be found at http://www.ambervalley.gov.uk – to go Environment and Planning – View a Planning Application (drop down menu) and search for Holborn View or AVA/2016/0127.

You can also see comments on there which appear to be from Chris Emmas-Williams, a Labour Amber Valley Borough Councillor. He advocates putting a mini roundabout at the junction between Holborn View and Glasshouse Hill (the route of the Pentrich Revolution).

Information about the designation of Codnor Common as Local Green Space can be found at http://www.ripleytowncouncil.org.uk/uploads/4/6/2/1/46219635/ripley_np_final_draft_june_2015.pdf

Ripley Neighbourhood Plan was accepted by the voters of Ripley Parish in October 2013, though the information stated that Codnor Common would be given protection. Not all of it was.

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About Friends of Codnor Common: our struggle

For more than thirty years local people have demonstrated time and again that Codnor Common is special to them – for a number of important reasons – and should remain undisturbed as a valuable open break between Codnor, Waingroves and the fringe of Ripley town centre.

In 2013 I was involved in the attempt to give the remaining land village green status.

Many friends and neighbours provided written evidence for the resulting inquiry at Lumb Farm, Marehay. Some volunteered to provide oral evidence in support of the application. Many people, including local councillors such as Steve Freeborn, attended to show their support.

The village green enquiry took places between 18 to 20 and 25 to 28 March. The enquiry ran from 10am to 5pm, with an evening session from 6pm to 8pm on the first day.

The developer, Peveril Homes, sent a barrister as well as its legal representatives and managers. The leader of the inquiry was from the same chambers as Peveril Homes’s barrister.

Friends of Codnor Common were largely represented by Sylvia Mason, one of the applicants.

You can find out more here http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/images/2013-06-10%20Peasehil%20Codnor%20VG130_tcm44-225701.pdf

 

 

 

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About Friends of Codnor Common: Wildlife

More than half of this rich habitat has already been built on or spoilt, with stiles taken out and Heras fencing protecting most of the site. Two trees with Tree Preservation Orders, an ash and an oak, were cut down by contractors on behalf of the developer in 2015 before the developer had full planning permission but the developer was not fined a potential £20,000 per tree.

With three different types of habitat on this small area of land, wetland, grassland, and brush, Codnor Common is rich in wildlife – so many animals and plants are at risk.

 The Common is a great destination for bird enthusiasts. Birds recorded on the site include the song thrush (Turdus philomelos), wood pigeon (Columba livia), blackbird (Turdus merula), starling (Sturnus vulgaris), carrion crow (Corvus corone), chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), coal tit (Periparus ater), goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), robin (Erithacus rubecula) and magpie (Pica pica).

 

Visitors and residents have also reported seeing house sparrows, dunnocks, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, long-tailed tits, mistle thrushes, redwings, fieldfares, greenfinches, chaffinches, bullfinches, lesser redpolls, siskins, wren, collared doves, stock doves, black headed gulls, pied wagtails, buzzards, kestrels, sparrowhawks, tawny owls, little owls, jackdaws, rooks, jays, great spotted woodpeckers, goldcrests, swallows, swifts, and house martins. Not to mention these grey herons. RSPB red and amber declining species are regular visitors to the site.

 

But the Common promises more than just birds. A wide range of species live there. The hedgerows in particular are a hugely important for small animals such as hedgehogs and the areas of long grass provide the perfect habitat for small rodents. In 2011 the hedgehog was named in the top ten most threatened species in the country and we have them in abundance. Bats roost in the trees. Foxes hunt on the land and are left out food by residents. Squirrels compete with birds for nuts (and my suet balls). There may well be badgers.

 

Many species of trees can also be found on the Common, including the rare black poplar, horse chestnut, English oak, and ash. Some now have Tree Preservations Orders. The hedgerows are significant and there may be evidence of an ancient green lane.

 

The meadow itself is also a habitat type in decline across the UK. Meadow plants identified by a member of the group include common sorrel, red clover, white clover, meadow buttercup, creeping buttercup, common knapweed, common cats ear, creeping thistle, birds foot trefoil, tufted vetch, hairy tare, and silverweed. Natural grasses include yorkshire fog and red fescue.

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About Friends of Codnor Common

We set up our group to protect the land and stop the developer, who now has planning permission for 98 homes in Phase 1 and has started building. Residents have been fighting for over 30 years to protect this ancient common land.

Wildlife

With three different types of habitat on this small area of land, wetland, grassland, and brush, Codnor Common is rich in wildlife.

Ancient Common Land

Due to its name, we believe Codnor Common is ancient common land. We believe the fields were farmed using the strip system and the land is ancient ridge and furrow. We have not been able to carry out or inspire an archaeological study as yet to prove this.

The ‘Pentrich Revolt’

The revolutionaries came through Ripley and Codnor on their way to their ill fated revolution. They stopped at the old Glasshouse pub on Glasshouse hill, so it is likely some of the revolutionaries were familiar with Codnor Common.

Literary significance

At only five miles away from Eastwood, it is likely that DH Lawrence knew the Common. His story, ‘Tickets, Please’ describes the tramline between Ripley (the last vestiges of the Common are now in Ripley Parish) and Nottingham and the tram went past the Common. In Lawrence’s time, the Common would have been farms, including Codnor Gate Farm and Meadow Farm (now an industrial estate and a council estate respectively, though many houses on the Meadow Farm development are now privately owned).

 

 

 

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Legal deposit is forever

I have the phrase ‘legal deposit is for ever’ on my mind, but then wonder who on earth I think I am for even hoping that my writing will last. As Lorde says, ‘only bad people like to see their likeness set in stone.’ To be fair, I’m not asking for a sculpture, just someone to read my writing!

I now know that the novella is in at least one university library (in the USA). I was on the publishing team for Magpie (the year 2000 anthology of writing from UEA from those on the 1999/2000 MA in Creative Writing course) so that has an ISBN. And I have been published in the major newspapers, albeit as a copywriter. I suspect the poems are on-going and will be published at some point, even if I have to buy my own printing press.

Sometimes I think it is far more exciting to make things happen and write about them later. So here goes…

Mrs Thomas de Quincey

‘Not quite the right sort’
The report of the poet with a Phd
In snobbery, the Lakeland straight man
William Wordsworth.

‘What are you thinking, giving a ring
To a milkmaid? Affairs are one thing,
Marriage something else,’ he said, pacing
Around the room on elegant feet.

‘I mean, just think where her hands
Have been,’ he protested, dabbing his
Troubled forehead with a finely starched
Handkerchief, wringing it out

Onto the ice-sleek polished floor,
Watching the sweat drip, flicking
A lock of hair gone stray back
To the left, then right again.

De Quincey paced the room around
With his eyes, surprised by the
Reaction of his friend, so keen to
Lend his voice to the meek and poor,

To champion the cause
Of the idiots and the mad, then
Thomas became glad, because what he had
What he had raised mountains

Stopped streams in their tracks
And made his blood run hotter
Than the sky. He had his life
And would let the others write.

Posted in Derbyshire Ripley, Musings, prose, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

He loved one thing…

He loved one thing

The smell of onion and garlic

Cooking, leaking out

Of her skin, branding her clothes.

That promise of a meal, ready to turn

With repetitive force.

The comfort of nothingness

Of whole countries debased with

The same roughly chopped onions and garlic

Browning, burning

In that wedding present pan.

 

Apologies for the lack of blog posts. I have been writing, but nothing that I immediately wanted and needed to share. I’ve also been busy organising a writers’ group which is now ten strong. And this is the fruit of one of our exercises on Saturday.

This particular exercise was to read a poem and discuss, then write a poem based on it. We used ‘He loved three things’ by Anna Akhmatova.

We had an interesting discussion about translation within the group. The version I found online for free had the title ‘He loved three things: alive’. Other members went on to find different translations. It makes me want to read the poem in the original Russian, but I can’t speak or read Russian!

I only had time for one thing, so here it is.

Posted in poetry, workshop pieces, writing | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments