Posted by: Michael Holliday | March 30, 2012

Springtime for Hinckley and Leicestershire

The Divine Cruella

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. Actually this isn’t true, I’m at my desk, with Missy at my side, but these are the opening lines to Dodie Smith’s enchanting I Capture The Castle. I read this book over thirty years ago and haven’t been back to it since. It takes the form of the journal of a young girl, Cassandra ‘poised between childhood and adultery’ living with her genteel, eccentric and penniless boho family in a ruined castle. It’s well worth a read and I now give you the opportunity to do so. Months back, I volunteered to help out with World Book Night ( by giving away 24 copies of one of 25 selected books in the week before April 23rd – a million books are to be given away.  Markus Zurak’s excellent, thought provoking, The Book Thief was my first choice from the list and obviously that of many other volunteers; so I’m delighted to be able to introduce you to the Mortmain family. I thought that as I was soon to give it away, I’d better reacquaint myself and thoroughly enjoyed it, again – if you want a copy let me know.  Incidentally, Dodie Smith created one of my favourite characters: the divine and delightful Miss Cruella Deville. In an effort to increase my reading list for the year, I’ve just reread Herman Melville’s Bartleby The Scrivener, it’s profound and very brief and, for years, provided me with the perfect response in reply to impertinent requests: ‘I would prefer not to’. I’ve also been working my way through my grandmother’s life in 1956.A few weeks ago I saw Betty Swollocks[1] in a tatty pub in Leamington, I’ve seen them a few times before, have always enjoy the experience (and it is always an experience) and each time I’m reminded of days more interesting. In 1976 I had an awakening, changed my hair, my clothes and my drugs and spent a happy year or so as a Punk – clubbing (Rebecca’s and Barbarella’s mostly) two or three nights a week with a few different bands every night. I saw them all: the Clash, Pistols, Jonny Thunders, Damned, Siouxsie, Blondie and hundreds more now forgotten – Suburban Studs anyone? And usually for 50p or less, then it all went overground and we moved on to more fancy dressing up and posing at the Rum Runner or dressing down and chilling at Blues parties.

I see that Mr Osborne has come up with yet another act of blatant piracy. Along with any/everything else that’s left (Schools? NHS? Roads?), he needs to privatise the Post Office but knows that, with its current pension liability of £38b, it’s not that attractive to any of his mates. He intends to take over the pension scheme, pocket the £28b in assets and worry about the ever- increasing liability in twenty years or so, when it’s nothing to do with him, or the private sector. Another great example of  privatising/pocketing any profit whilst leaving the risk and debt with you and I. Clever boy eh? And don’t get me started on his robbing the old ‘uns to enable his mates to buy a few more bottles of fizz, whilst pensioners won’t be able to afford the price of a stamp to write to their MP and complain about it all. Bastard. And then there’s the pies (I warned you about that earlier) and the petrol…. On a brighter note – Respect for George Galloway.

But what about the weather? Springtime for Hinckley indeed. And have I been wasting this glorious sunshine? Not a chance, back to shorts and flip flops and outside every sunlit minute – making sure that Missy (who seems to have settled very well, she got her cat flap fitted on Sunday) doesn’t run away, or off on my little bicycle. So it’s so long to pasty pallor and a top up of Dominican colour, life is better in the sunshine. Gotta’ go now, off to see a college production of Les Mis. (which I’ve never seen before) in Leicester. Have fun, enjoy the remainder of the sun and respect Holy Week, but remember ‘The tower bells chime, ding dong, they chime. They’re singing Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine’. Gloria

Poet Patti


[1] A local Punk covers band complete with their own following and all fairly true to the spirit of 1976 if not exactly the playlist – Dead Kennedys’ Too Drunk? ANL’s I Hate People? and The Specials’ Gangsters?


  1. Thanks Mike,

    I enjoyed that. Also reminded me of the tape you made for me “Springtime for Hitler” etc.

    So when do I get to read your old Diaries?


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