Sad end to ‘The Worst Witch’

Saddened to hear of the recent death, at the age of 72, of Jill Murphy, author of The Worst Witch books.

First published in 1974, the series reached its eighth instalment in 2018. The books were adapted for TV in the 80s and later for the stage. She also wrote the wonderful books, The Large Family, about Mrs Large (an elephant of course) and her offspring. My peronal favourite is Five Minute’s Peace, where Mrs Large attempts a hot, foamy bubble bath and takes her breakfast and a newspaper. Away from her boisterous children she relaxes, but her plan is short-lived.

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Animal Farm – Still relevant today?

Enjoyed spending last Sunday afternoon listening to George Orwell’s Animal Farm on BBC 4xtra read by Roger Ringrose – I never tire of the story.

If ever there was a book that was made for today it’s this one, though I’ve spoken to a few people who can’t see any similarities between the pigs and some of our current world leaders.

The reading was followed by an interesting discussion on the merits, or otherwise, in a 2016 recording of ‘In Our Time’, chaired by Melvyn Bragg.

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Benjamin Zephaniah at Hay

Just catching up with one of the Hay Festival sessions. This time it’s the wonderful poet Benjamin Zephaniah talking about his new book ‘Windrush Child’ (pub Scholastic) to Gemma Cairney. It’s always joyful to hear him talk – currently waving an ‘I love Birmingham’ mug at the camera. He says he’s seriously dyslexic and that being referred to as writer rather than a poet, makes him nervous. He’s keen to have black history taught in schools but also episodes of white history that needs to be told. ‘We are all told one story,’ he says, ‘it’s our duty to dig deeper and tell our own stories.’

His final words of the session are from an old Jamaican saying: ‘Each one teach one.’ If a slave learned to read, it was their duty to teach another slave to read.

Congratulations to Benjamin on being awarded the Hay Festival Medal for Poetry 2021.

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