Gently into 2014

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“He had managed to keep his brain intact and alert, and so nothing could make him succumb to poverty. He might be ragged and cold, or even starving, but so long as he could read, think and watch for meteors, he was, as he said, free in his own mind.”

– Description of Bozo, “an exceptional man”, and a screever or pavement artist, as described by George Orwell in “Down & Out in Paris and London”.

Gently was the word I breathed out just before I breathed in the New Year. And I hope it will be a gentle year for all my readers.

I like to start the New Year with the right word and the right foot, so that’s why an organised walk entitled: “New Year, New Paths” appealed to me. Hope you like the photos, winter skies are one of my most beloved things. The walk took place at Disley. Geography is something I plan to improve on this year, so for now I’ll just give you the directions of how to get to Disley (Disley Railway Station, SJ 972 845, Directions: M60 clockwise to junction 26. Take A560 following Buxton to Disley. The station is on the right).

Unlike me, who approached my walk on a bacon bap and a good cup of tea from a famous grocery store, in Down & Out in Paris and London, George Orwell walks great distances on an empty stomach. As well as the colourful descriptions of the physical side of poverty and anecdotes about his companions on the road, the book also gives insight into how povery changes a person. Although the book was written in the 1930s, I feel that much of it is still sadly relevant today.

Back on my own turf, there’s a very good exhibition at Touchstones, Rochdale, called “Place, Displace” by artist Jill Randall. I’d like it even if it wasn’t art with a capital A, as it features models of garden sheds and I love miniatures.

And, finally, I was much entertained by Rochdale Poets between Xmas and New Year. They performed at Hollingworth Lake Visitors’ Centre with That’s All Folk (a youth band) and Rossendale clog dancers. There was no charge, but the audience were asked to contribute items of non-perishable food to Rochdale Food Bank. When I say they performed, I don’t use the word thoughtlessly. These poets sing, do the actions, and laugh at themselves. It really was a damn good show. I believe you can enjoy Rochdale Poets at The Baum (award winning Rochdale pub) every second Sunday of the month (7.30pm).