It might not quite feel like winter yet with the warm weather but the great drifts of brown leaves on the surrounding steps and the library packed with good natured East European revellers writing postcards home tells us it’s time to strap on our red noses and pass round the Winter Warmer.
We try and keep the good cheer on tap all year around with the Chelsea coffee morning where a group of twenty plus regulars meet every Wednesday at 10.30am to share homemade cake, traditionally prepared Croatian sausage and gossip about the human condition. Among them an expert Musicologist, a financial whizz investing in a new post-Brexit currency, QuikCoin, and a mysterious lady who hands out fortune cookies in the lending library.
In November we had busy craft events using some of those huge yellow leaves that look so much like abandoned kippers. They were turned by Diane into bushy squirrel tails. The mini-beasts were back in the children’s library- the slinky black millipede made a break for the air conditioning vent but the quick thinking of new staff member Atlas, using an old copy of Biffer and Chips, prevented the escapee making the children’s library his permanent home.
One of our recommended reads this month is Charles Beaumont’s Perchance to Dream, the collected stories from the Twilight Zone scriptwriter and spinner of fantastic tales. Beaumont is great at unpicking the dreams and fears of 1950s America, the killers and the recurring dreams of a beautiful unchaperoned woman on a rollercoaster .
The winter began with quite a bang when children’s book author and illustrator Michael Foreman visited Chelsea to talk about the inspiration behind some of his best loved work. He described his wartime childhood in Suffolk and his excitement when one night a bomb flew through his bedroom window, bounced across the floor before exploding in the fire. Orange flames burst from the chimney of his family home. The experience was hugely enjoyable. The child was unaware of the danger: instead he was caught up in the drama of the moment. The war is still a big influence on Michael’s writing and he even improvised a quick picture.
Children are often unwittingly brave and that is certainly the theme of Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea which we read in Chatterbooks. Young orphan Maia is sent off to the Amazon to stay with hostile English relatives. The Amazon is a hell or a heaven depending on your state of mind—to Maia’s adoptive family the jungle must be kept out, bugs sprayed regularly and tinned food imported from Blighty rather than risk eating local produce. There are lost children in the jungle dreaming of Victoria Sponge, an Earl’s son gone native hoping to disappear into the forest and Maia herself a receptive and delighted traveller enjoying the night time music.
Don’t forget as it grows colder that you can still have a hot cup of coffee and slice of homemade cake at our coffee mornings every Wednesday at 10.30. We have had some good guest speakers, community police, a milliner and most recently a talk on diabetes—perhaps the double chocolate cake wasn’t such a good idea after all! And watch this space for details of a special Christmas Electric Babylandwhen the vintage Danelectro guitars will be wrapped in tinsel!
Book of the month
For all you Christmas bibliophiles: you might be aware of the great range of smart reissues of classic novels by The New York Review of Books. They are lovely editions. This month I read George Simenon’s Dirty Snow. A gripping read about a young man living in occupied France drifting into crime out of boredom and a desire to be noticed, Frank commits acts of almost suicidal stupidity in a search for meaning while everything is frozen: the only running water is by the sewer. The dirty snow is a symbol of all the cinders and ashes of the occupying army and the petty criminal enterprises of the locals, no fresh white powder can cover it up for long and the reader and Frank long for a thaw.