Christmas bloggery

Considerable warm glow spreading through the Mundy corner of the Western Hills this morning, generated by the news yesterday that Jo Shapcott has been promised the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. I can claim modest credit for introducing her to Hay and its environs, and the poems in her book Tender Taxes carry many of the area’s place names. So mull the wine and raise the glass to a thoroughly deserving recipient. The medal has had an odd history – introduced on the initiative of John Masefield when he was Poet Laureate in 1933 but only awarded intermittently until the late fifties. Even after that there were many years when it was not given, and the 1980s were particularly sparse. Really it has only been the most recent Laureates, Andrew Motion and Carol Ann Duffy, who have been assidious in nominating. With Jo this year and Gillian Clarke last, the Wales connection is doing rather well just now. 

Meanwhile just a little advice for getting through the Christmas trough when TV is dreadful and the radio is given over to reviews of the year. A simple resolution takes you out of earshot of the disputatious family, away from the need to wrap and stuff, and far from the rush of seasonal emails from people you thought you’d dumped months ago. Just bury yourself in a corner by the fire with that pile of books you got signed at Hay Festivals around the globe and never quite got round to opening after the flush of enthusiasm that followed the author’s exposition. You’re not allowed a second whisky until you’ve mastered that chapter on underwater quantum pyschiatry or worked out which century the plot refers to. If you failed to turn up at any of the Hay extravaganzas, tough, but you can rectify that easily enough by nipping over to Colombia at the end of next month.

May your Christmas be much more fun than you expect and a lot less stressful than you fear.