I had a surprising gift in March 2013, which came from Canada after some ‘out-of-the-blue’ email correspondence from Wendy Weaver in Toronto. It was two books published by Frederic Warde and Broadway theatre producer Crosby Gaige at their Watch Hill Press: The Enchanted Barn by Helen Pearce (1929) and Letters to Master Jeremy Gaige from his Uncles (1930). Both books were signed by Warde, gifts to Wendy’s mother Kay Skelton, who is mentioned in the first letter to Jeremy, by future New York Post publisher George Backer.
In Letters Warde has written:
pour ma petite Kay
And in The Enchanted Barn:
pour ma petite Kay
avec fidele =Freddy
Watch Hill =1930
Letters also has, pasted onto the endpapers, pictures of Crosby Gaige’s son Jeremy. Two of them, taken in the garden at Watch Hill Farm, feature Kay, who was clearly a member of Crosby Gaige’s circle of friends.
I would like to thank Wendy once again for giving me the books, which have such a strong personal connection for her.
2014 saw the return, after a break of 13 years, of my ‘A Ghost Story for Christmas’ seasonal greeting card. In 1994 I hit upon the idea of doing a series of Christmas cards that, as well as working as a little piece
of professional self-promotion, would
be an echo of, and tribute to the TV dramatisations of ghost stories – a genre
I’ve always loved – that the BBC ran at Christmas during much of the 1970s. My original series ended in 2000, and these were the stories featured:
1994 A School Story, M.R. James
1995 The Visiting Star, Robert Aickman
1996 Afterward, Edith Wharton
1997 Smee, A.M. Burrage
1998 Harry, Rosemary Timperley
1999 Schalken the Painter,
J. Sheridan Le Fanu
2000 The Children of Green Knowe,
Lucy M. Boston
So far, the second series is:
2014 The Wendigo, Algernon Blackwood 2015 The Library Window,
2016 Oke of Okehurst, Vernon Lee
In autumn 2014 children at Fairfield Infants School and Colneis Junior School in Felixstowe, Suffolk, were invited to enter a competition to design a flag to represent their parliamentary constituency, Suffolk Coastal. The winning design would be made into an actual banner that would fly with others in Parliament Square to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta in 2015. I was asked to help the children with their project.
We looked at some examples of existing flags, then thought about things that might reflect the nature and geography of the area.
During playtime I honed their drawings down to eight concepts, and in the second session the children formed into groups, taking one idea each, and developed the design. I then recreated the designs as Illustrator files, to make the colours and their juxtapositions conform to the competition rules. The school then chose one design, featuring a Martello tower, of which there are several along the coast, and a rising sun, to represent the eastern ‘sunrise coast’.
We were all very pleased that the design was chosen by a committee of MPs to be one of
those made into a flag. In the first picture it can seen be flying in Parliament Square, in a prime position at the Whitehall corner. A second, smaller version was made, which was flown at the Magna Carta anniversary ceremony at Runnymede, which was attended by the Queen and the Prime Minister. The school received the big version. When unfurled in assembly, all the children gasped at the unexpected size of it. In the second picture, it is being held up in assembly with, to the right, Suffolk Coastal MP Thérèse Coffey. Finally, we see it flying outside Colneis Junior School.