Sunday, 30 December 2012

Poetry Book of the Year 2012 - 'Naked Clay' by Barry Hill

From concept to delivery this book of poems really excels. The idea of tackling a painter’s work and transposing those images as words may not be new but the honest, sometimes brutal, way that Barry Hill sets about portraying Lucian Freud’s work is nothing short of masterful. My relatively new introduction to poetry, Dylan Thomas and Basho to one side, has been further excited by this incredible body of work.

Unlike a novel which has a narrative that propels you along urging you to follow its course until you reach that final page, poetry, or so it strikes me, is far more contemplative. As I read one poem I found myself dwelling on it, ruminating over its marvellous rhythms, its meaning and the way the words cascaded.  This book has left me breathless. I return to it again and again.

Barry Hill not so much praises the art of Lucian Freud, although in circumspect fashion he does, as examines it. His take on the famed artists work, his portraits, is as honest an appraisal as it often is blunt and questioning. He really does ask of the art and the artist why? Did Freud ever consider the implications of painting his daughter naked whilst menstruating? It is the 'edgy' approach that elevates this set of poems above all else I have read this year.

Barry Hill is an Australian historian, poet, journalist and academic. He was born in Melbourne, Australia and studied at the University of Melbourne where he gained his Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Education (B Ed) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and from there went to London where he gained his Master of Arts (MA) degree from the  University of London.

Hill has worked in both Melbourne and London. In London he worked for the Times Literary Supplement. Since 1975 Hill has been a full-time writer and is currently Poetry Editor of  The Australian newspaper.

Monday, 24 December 2012


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Peter Hawkins

Another unsung hero who almost single handedly did all the voices of the childhood television characters I grew up with and loved like Billy Bean, The Flowerpot Men, Captain Pugwash and the Daleks to name but a few. I actually wrote him a fan letter once when I was at art school in the 60's and he sent me a very nice letter back which I treasure ( if only I could find it!).

Wikipedia says -

"Born in London and a native of Brixton, Hawkins' long association with British children's television began in 1952 when he voiced both Bill and Ben, the Flower Pot Men. In 1955–1956, He voiced Big Ears & Mr. Plod from The Adventures Of Noddy. He also provided all the voices for the animated series Captain Pugwash, The Family Ness, The Adventures of Sir Prancelot, The Adventures of Tintin, and Bleep and Booster, the latter of which was a regular feature of the long-running children's magazine series Blue Peter in the 1960s and early 70s. He was also the narrator for SuperTed. Peter Hawkins also narrated Jimbo and the Jet Set.
He voiced several characters on Doctor Who in the show's early years, most notably the Daleks and the Cybermen. He was also the original voice of Zippy on Rainbow during the first year of its run (1972). Coincidently his replacement on Rainbow, Roy Skelton, also went on to voice the Daleks. Hawkins and Skelton also voiced the Cybermen in The Tenth Planet. He voiced Penfold who had a Welsh accent & Mr. McNasty who had a Scottish accent on The Pilot Dangermouse episode, The Mystery of the Lost Chord in 1979.
Hawkins was the original voice for the character of Frankie Mouse in the fourth radio episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, originally broadcast in March 1978.
During the 1960s, 70s and 80s Hawkins was one of the most sought after voiceovers for television and radio, being a regular face and voice around the Soho based circuit of commercial production studios, and working regularly with the likes of Patrick Allen, Edward Judd, David Tate and David Jason amongst whom he was highly respected.
Hawkins was the owner of a fine art collection, including works by Monet, Pissarro & Alfred Sisley, owned a collection of Japanese sword guards and was very keen on Japanese delicacy.
Hawkins retired from the acting profession in 1992 due to illness, which also prevented him from contributing to any DVD release of Doctor Who outside of archive footage. He died in London, aged 82, on 8 July 2006, coincidentally the same day that the 2006 season finale of Doctor Who, "Doomsday", the first to feature Daleks and Cybermen confronting each other, was transmitted.
Nicholas Briggs, the current voice of the Daleks, paid tribute to him in Doctor Who Magazine, praising him as the best Dalek voice artist, saying "...all of us who've provided Dalek voices over the last 40 years owe him a massive debt. None of us have been as good as Peter, but he supplied our inspiration. He was truly the Emperor of the Daleks."

Monday, 17 December 2012

Quirky Quotes from Quirky Quoters

"I'm glad he died before me, because I didn't want him to sing at my funeral."
Spike Milligan on Harry Secombe's death
aNOtHEr bAiL sTuMpeD ofF tHe WIckEt.