Unusually for us, we have done glorious ‘nothing’ today, a bit of tidying up, read 50 pages of a book, played on the X Box, watched Minecraft Youtube videos on the tablet, trampolined, walked to Marks and Spencers to buy bread, talked about swearing, blaspheming and the etymology of the word ‘crap’, cooked roast chicken, listened to all the carnival-related programmes on BBC 6 Music, had a dance off to Original Nuttah and Brown Paper Bag – “*THIS* is drum and bass” -snuggled up and watched Streetdance and ended up robot dancing…
On Thursday 16th June, I attended a writing workshop organised by the brilliant SouthWestFest and run by writer/poet/kindred nature spirit Lucy Furlong. It was at Morpeth Arms, a pub that faces M16 across the river and used to be the watering hole of the prison guards of Millbank Penitentiary – one of the places that prisoners destined for transportation to Australia were held.
Given that I’ve spent the last twelve years of my live writing strictly fantasy, sci fi and a fair bit of nature, the workshop was wonderfully refreshing, even though (or because?) the subject matter was bleak and dark. The pub is meant to be haunted by the ghosts of both prisoners and guards that never escaped Millbank.
So here’s what I produced on the night – a haiku, a longer poem, and an only-slightly longer story.
N.B. New Holland is the name Australia used to go by in Europe.
Un-rehabilitated prisoners were taken through the dark maze of tunnels beneath the streets of Pimlico to the lock up under the pub, where they were kept before being put on boats at Millbank pier, and eventually transported ‘Down Under’…
Panopticon Prison Plan
Millbank Pier (with MI5 in the background)
There are records of prisoners and prison officers dying in these cells, and in the tunnels connected to the prison, and as Gary, the landlord at the pub, was telling me when I went to do some research, a team of paranormal enthusiasts have carried out readings in the cells late at night….Brrrrrr
Gary very kindly took me and Sinead Keegan, a trustee of the festival, for a tour of the spooky cells, and answered questions about the pub and its history. As MI5 is situated directly across the river, the Morpeth Arms has some fascinating pictures and snippets of information about famous spies on its walls- which could be great stimulus for a flash fiction thriller!
Do join me in the snug, for what I hope will be an enjoyable couple of hours writing stories inspired by this fascinating place!
The workshop is FREE but numbers are limited so please email me to book your place: firstname.lastname@example.org and see the Facebook event here.
Ghosts, POMS and Panopticons at The Morpeth Arms, Thursday 16th June from 7.30-9.30pm, 58 Millbank, Westminster, London, SW1P 4RW
The Seethingography Blog is a month old today, and is a place where I hope people will continue to send their writing and pictures about Seething. I am currently writer-in-residence at the Museum of Futures, and the first Seething Writers meet up takes place there next Monday, 6th June…
In Regency times when life could be a bit ooh la la in Seething, it became the tradition to leave an offering of pommes frites at the threshold of one’s abode, after an evening of revelry. Before the introduction of this French delicacy (by Le Duc Gordes Benet, who often travelled through Seething on his way to do business de fromage serieux in Cheesington) villagers left a potato, or stretching further back into the mists of time, a turnip. This was a way of offering Seething ancestors a spiritual morsel, and assuaging any guilt for waking the dead with the unholy racket they were making at that time of the evening…Shhh….vestiges of this traditional practice still take place today, mostly after 11pm on a Friday or Saturday night.