Sunday, 27 November 2011


Ed Alleyne-Johnson plays his electric violin.
Thursday saw me in Chester, having a day's break from proofreading Tamsin.  After a pleasant lunch of chicken escalopes with prosciutto di Parma and mozzarella, I wandered onto Eastgate Street and immediately recognised the distinctive sounds of Ed Alleyne-Johnson's electric violin.  He was busking by one of the short flights of stone steps leading onto the mews, which are something of a tourist magnet because of their 'olde worlde' charm.

So, after enjoying the music for a while, I wandered round the shops.  Why are Xmas decorations up already?  It's November still!  I really dislike the gradual spreading-out of this festival, with all its attendant kitsch.  If it was contained to the main fortnight it would be far less tedious.

Each year at Riverside Writers, when we're setting our monthly writing project, someone will try to push for December's story or poem to be on a Xmas theme.  By far the majority of us groan at the prospect.  My response has always been to point out that if a person wants to give their story a religious (or political) theme then they're 100% free to do so - just don't try and inflict the theme on the rest of us.  Anyway, I digress...

Chester.  I've probably mentioned before that Chester's one of my favourite places.  It has an attractive energy; a fusion of the historical and the contemporary.  As cities go it's a pretty small one, but it's got a river and a canal winding around it, and those lovely old Roman walls, and a heavy scattering of cafes and coffee bars...  At the height of summer the throngs of shuffling tourists can be a nuisance if you're in a hurry to cut through the city centre, but if you're smart you'll zip along the lesser-used sidestreets lined with lovely old buildings, which are a visual treat in themselves.

Chester's a place where I can easily see myself living.  Venice has great appeal, but Chester's probably more practical.  Ahem.

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