Take away that bauble!

Children’s secretary Ed Balls on the dangers of the humble bauble – and other lessons from 2008

‘With a little more care and forward planning, most accidents and the resulting trips to A&E could be avoided,’ according to today’s Guardian. Sheila Merrill, Rospa’s home safety manager for England, was speaking at the launch of a Christmas safety leaflet from the Department for Children, Schools and Families. If only she had warned Ed Balls at the beginning of the year of the avoidable accident caused by the inflammatory combination of SATs, an American contractor already notorious in its own country, an Australian Chief Executive and a sleeping quango! Then the great SATs crash might have been avoided. The DCSF reminds us that ‘the pieces can be very sharp,’ as Ken Boston and David Gee will doubtless ruefully agree. Best put away all those nasty tests next year, then?

My hasting dayes flie on with full career

Looking back (a bit) on 2008

St Peter's, RomeAs I read the Christmas letters, I wonder what happened in the last twelve months that’s worth reporting. It’s hard to remember now – though we did get quite excited when Ben popped his head out of his window to give us a shout as we were passing. That’s him you can just see in the window high up on the right. Nice house he’s got, isn’t it?

There’s also been a trip to Texas, where I received another warm welcome. Before that it’s a bit of a blur, though you can read a few things elsewhere on this blog. As Milton hath well said in his Sonnet VII:

How soon hath Time the suttle theef of youth
Stoln on his wing… &c

Happy 400th birthday, John! He’s received some overdue recognition this month – and, appositely, he wrote a fine ode On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity. Just don’t ask what he might have said about the Pope.

Happy Christmas!

More Christmas listening – poetry and music

Christmas CandleA happy and melodious Christmas to all our readers! As a follow up to last year’s entry on Christmas poetry (which you can read about in more detail on the Literary Connections Christmas page), I’ve just noticed that last December’s Woman’s Hour interview with Carol Ann Duffy about her Manchester Carols is still available on the BBC site. The Manchester Carols also feature in Aled Jones’s Radio 3 programme on Christmas Music for Choirs on 14 Dec 2008 at 19:00. Happy listening – and I hope you enjoy some singing of your own too!

A new memorial to William Blake?

Call for new memorial to mark burial site of poet William Blake

Blake's grave in Bunhill Fields Burial GroundThe Islington Gazette reports today on a campaign to erect a new memorial located on ‘the exact spot of the grave of one of Britain’s most famous poets – William Blake’. Enthusiasts claim to have located the exact place in Bunhill Fields Burial Ground where Blake was buried; you can see a picture of the spot with the newspaper article. As often, there is a motive: there’s money on offer for the park that receives the most votes from Londoners and visitors in the vote for your park campaign. What, I wonder, would he have made of all this fuss?

There’s more about Blake, including a picture of notes left for him by his gravestone, on the Literary Connections Blake page. Bunhill Fields also holds the remains of other famous Dissenters, such as John Bunyan and Daniel Defoe; more on the City of London page about the burial ground.