A New Week

It was just as I finished my last video, which was all about Conway Stewart’s demise, that I had a contact from a wonderful couple of guys who have set up a new company. This firm, called Bespoke British Pens, has been dealing with Onoto and other pens for some time, and now they have bought up the last stocks of Conway Stewart bits and bobs. That being so, it’ll be possible to buy the pens for some time to come. That, I think, is good news!

Very cold week

Very cold week

Last week was a mad rush to complete two read throughs of BLOOD ON THE SAND, which will be published in June. In fact the story is fine, but there was a little finessing of some details, and then I had to write up all the corrections and areas of grammar that needed amending. To my horror, when I finally finished last night, having worked through Saturday and Sunday afternoon, I suddenly discovered that I’d written up 29 pages of little details. It’s the way these things go. Sometimes when you think there’s nothing much to be altered, you find you’ve put in a great wodge of comments! Next is the arrival of the proof version. However, before that can get here, I have to finish off the map so that can be printed.

My latest painting: Triple Row at Cawsand Beacon

My latest painting: Triple Row at Cawsand Beacon

I managed to get out quickly on Sunday morning for Morris practice, and walked the dog (only 30 minutes, poor pooch) and that was the weekend done.

The book had to be finished. A deadline for a publisher is one thing; I had to get everything finished in a hurry because today was the funeral for Shelagh Palmer.

I’ve already written about her before, but that won’t stop me adding a bit here. She was a lovely lady, utterly devoted to Morris and folk music, an inveterate reciter of poems and tall stories of a more (not less) dubious nature. With her innocent smile it was hard, sometimes, to believe she understood the double-entendres she was voicing. But she was a nurse years ago. Guy’s Hospital trained ladies understand lots of that sort of thing. I believe …

We had a wonderful celebration of her life today in Chagford. She was deeply religious, and the church was packed with many friends from the church community, and a vast array of Morris and folk friends. Yes, there were many times when tears flowed, but I can honestly say that more time was spent laughing. She was a lady full of the joy of life, and I will seriously miss her hugs. After the service in the church, we moved on to one of her favourite pubs, The Globe, where Mike, her widower, their family and lots of friends gathered for a talk. There were so many that a notice had to go up to warn visitors that the main bar, the sitting room and dining room were all full – as, indeed, they were. I had to come home after a couple of hours, but as I type this I am quite sure that the party is continuing, with songs and recollections of a full and happy life.

And now I’m back to work. I have lots to do. A story to write for a Canadian anthology, then a detective story to finish, before attacking Poitiers. Somehow I need to find time to paint more pictures, as well as reading some more. I’m so far behind on reading for pleasure and for research that I cannot see how to catch up just now.

But I will. Somehow.


3 Responses to “A New Week”
  1. Busy as usual, Mr. Jecks!

    I’m so happy to read your description of Shelagh’s funeral and wake. I have no doubt, no doubt at all, that she had the best possible send off. But even as we rightly think positively about remembering her at her best, those nearest and dearest mus’n’t forget that the next months and years are going to be very bleak for poor Mike. I’m sure everyone will be supportive and mindful of that, however brave a face he puts on it.

    Do you know that Mike was also known as ‘Mike the Bike’? That’s how I first met him (we’re going back not much less than twenty years, I think) – I took my old bicycle to him to fix. I encountered Shelagh the first time at an open storytelling evening at Tina and Richard Thomas’s house on Southcombe Street. She told a story that started out as a confessional, in the first person. She pulled the thing off perfectly. Several people in the room began to shift uncomfortably as she narrated the story of her early life, becoming pregnant out of wedlock and being forced to leave home with a man who was not the father of the child and so on. Little by little, as the narrative developed, we all realised – with wonder and relief – that she was telling the story of the Nativity of Christ! She was telling the story from Mary’s view point. It was a masterful piece of storytelling and she had us all deeply in her thrall. There was much delighted laughter afterwards, too.

    I’ve seen off several dear friends in that Church, whose bones now lie in the graveyard behind, at rest in the peaty memory of Dartmoor soil. Fond memories of them all.

    Still, we remain and we must be about it. Onward!


    • It really was a lovely service, and the Morris and folk friends are going to be looking after Mad Mike to the very best of our abilities, don’t you worry. I have no doubt that the send off is continuing right now in the Globe, and damn right, too. She will be hugely missed.

      Mike the Bike. Yes, he was still fixing other people’s machines for several years after I came down here. Not sure that he’s still fixing them, sadly, but I may be drawing on his expertise this summer.

      It is a gorgeous church, isn’t it? Really lovely atmosphere, and with the raised cemetery all around, it has a very different feel to the usual churchyard.

      Incidentally, the picture of the triple row is one I did specially for Mike. It’s quite large and we had all the Morris side sign inside for him. I know that Mike was always very fond of the row and Cranmere Pool in particularly. I hope he liked it.

      Thanks again for the comments, Austin. I’ll pass on your words to Mike.


  2. ann slicer says:

    Hi Micheal thankyou for your lovely pictures it looks very cold and I love your painting you are one busy man take care Ann


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