Last Tuesday:  7/7/15. A time to remember what I observed on that day ten years ago.

I was one of the many confused and bewildered London workers trying to phone or text from central London streets that morning. What was going on?

Then we found out what was going on.

Last Tuesday I had not one but two poetry appreciation groups to attend. The first was the poetry appreciation group of the mid-Northumberland U3A. If you don’t know about the U3A, you’re missing out. The University of the Third Age has almost 350,000 members in the UK! See http://www.u3a.org.uk for more information.

The poetry group meet near Longhirst once a month and share favourite poems over coffee and biscuits. It was wonderful to see and hear the similarities between this group and our Poetry with Friends groups in North Tyneside.

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I shared my own work as well as introducing the group to poems by Mary Oliver and Vicky Arthurs. Members also shared Heaney’s The Tollund Man and Rhythms for Sonny by Easton Lee.

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I hadn’t read Lee, a Chinese-Jamaican poet before. I also hadn’t heard about Centre 42, playwright Arnold Wesker’s  idea in 1960 for spreading the best of culture beyond the elite. Thanks to mid-Northumberland U3A for enlightening me! I thoroughly enjoyed my morning.

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In the evening we had our final Tuesday evening Poetry with Friends before our summer break. We gathered once more in the Station Masters’ garden next to Whitley Bay metro and shared work including Long Lion Days and Days by Philip Larkin plus work by David Bateman and new original work by group members Alan, Elizabeth, David and Linda.

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We talked about 7/7 as three of us were in London that day. One poem shared had the line “London’s Bent Citadels” and I misheard a poet’s name, mistaking it for Pam St Clements, actress from soap opera Eastenders. Jason Connery and Hilary Mantel popped up in conversation too.

Sadly Larkin’s  “hammer of heat” did not hit us. We were freezing and wound up finishing early and legging it to nearby pub, The Rockcliffe to defrost.

The weekly pub quiz was running. We should have entered as I reckon we’d have cleaned up. But what would we have called ourselves? Why  “Are ‘Friends’ Poetic?” of course. It would be a nod to 1980s culture when pub quizzes were all the rage!

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Poetry with Friends at The Mission in North Shields will return in September. Meanwhile our Thursday group will meet in the Station Masters’ Garden this Thursday at 11 am. If you would like to join us please book a place by contacting Gail on 07752356880 or email gail@happyplanetcreativearts.org.uk

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