• Nigel Speight

Blog 4

You’ll never guess but a poem in part inspired by Tish has won a competition run by the Holland Park Press, a small independent publisher that specializes in Dutch literature translated into English. Yet another weird combo for “Merrily”.

The Dutch have a royal family too of course, without our pomp and ceremony, so I expect the judges had a lot of fun dealing with entries on their “Is Royalty relevant?” theme.

Royalty was certainly relevant to Tish. She did have a distant relative who regaled us with stories of having tea with Princess Margaret in her later years, but it was Tish who spent her childhood in a Hammersmith children’s home where she adopted the royal family as a substitute for her own. So “Auntie Florence” is a composite figure and the poem is not about one person. It’s about a state of mind.

When researching for a lecture on Women's Magazines many moons ago, I came across the "Knit your own Royal Corgi!" feature. In the same magazine could be found "50 ways with Sausage Meat."

I must admit I have always found the British obsession with the Royals ridiculous - as I hope the Royals must do themselves, Their cage is gilded, but it remains a cage and they must need all the light relief they can lay their hands on. Imagine their memoirs of eccentrics they have met. The way in which we use them and celebrities, in general, to give our lives an uplift is fascinating. For some, they clearly fulfill a deep psychological need. So I wanted the poem to mix comedy and pathos. Our Auntie Florry was a lovely lady who warranted respect. Those suffering from Alzheimer's often seem to have become calm and gentle souls, but our Florence was a kindly person long before she was afflicted. 

You can find the poem here:

It did not exist a fortnight ago, so I feel very lucky. These publishers have around two dozen authors on their list and their comp. was free to enter but with a cash prize, so my thanks to them. They seem to combine the feel of a cottage industry - selling books at stalls in market towns where you can, of course, enjoy a chat with your customers - alongside full exploitation of 21st century IT and social media. One of my favorite mixtures.

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