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Friday, 5 August 2011

Yesterday I visited the grave of Sylvia Plath. For anyone who doesn’t know, she was an American poet who was married to Ted Hughes, the poet Laureate. He was from this part of West Yorkshire originally, and they lived at Lumb Bank, Heptonstall, which is now an Arvon Foundation house.  

Sylvia committed suicide in 1963 and is buried in the graveyard there, high on a hill overlooking the steep wooded valleys where Ted grew up, and found inspiration for his poetry. 

Her grave has become something of a shrine. Yesterday I stood with a friend (who co-incidentally comes from the same part of the US as Sylvia) in the pouring rain, studying the wilting flowers, little goddess figures, polished pebbles and all sorts of other odds and ends that people had left, but the main image that has stuck in my mind was the big pot of pens tucked in beside the headstone. Old pens, new pens, cheap pens, and some that could have been relatively expensive. Their value, though, wasn’t in what they may or may not have cost originally, but in the fact that someone had put each one there as a tribute to Sylvia Plath. And I wonder too, how many of those people were also budding poets, who whispered a little message asking the woman lying in the grave for inspiration.

Monday, 1 August 2011

It’s not all about writing.

In Halifax, the town where I live, there is an Industrial Museum which was closed down about twelve years ago. We’re in the heart of the West Yorkshire woollen industry here, so there’s a lot of history about. Unfortunately, like most places these days, there’s not a lot of money about and the chances of the local authority reopening it are zilch.

So a few of us have got together to form a group to work on getting the museum open again. We’ve had a meeting with the director in charge of museums and he is open to the idea. He, and the council as a whole, recognise that there is a lot of support for reopening the museum and I think they're heartily glad to find someone willing to take it on. Tonight we’ve had a committee meeting to start working out all the numerous jobs and tasks we need to do.

It’s very exciting – not to mention daunting – but we’re up for it. If you live in or visit the area, and would like to see the museum reopened, either post a comment here or go into the Tourist Information Centre in the Piece Hall and tell them.