Nostalgia theme at August’s Write Angle


Write Angle – poetry and music cabaret 

The Townhouse, Petersfield

Tuesday, August 22

As it was warm in the upstairs room at The Townhouse, the opened windows admitted the noise of traffic, police sirens and revellers spilling out of the downstairs bar but in spite of that, the audience seemed well tuned to the music and poetry that filled the evening.

Guest poets for the evening were Claire Dyer and Claire Booker. Although the two Claires were booked together, they do perform separately and each is a strong, headline performer in her own right.

Coincidentally, there was an unplanned element of nostalgia, within the 29 poems read and performed by the two Claires which seemed, somehow, to continue with the open mikers.

Claire Booker started with a beguiling poem of her First Kiss – “you are seven, I am six”; about her father suffering from dementia in Visiting My Father – this is full of gaps, like his mind with occasional “bright berries of memories”; of her bossy elder brother in Building My Brother’s Sand Castle as, King Canute-like, he tried to hold back the incoming sea; in On the Centenary of My Teacups, memories “of mouths, people who sipped on roses, their lips figures of eight” and “stories lost, family lore, weddings, wakes, heart-to-hearts…”.

Clare Dyer’s  poems included one about her great-grandmother, Queenie – her grief at her child buried at sea; her rebellious grandmother in My Grandmother Played Tennis in 1916 – it was with her brother, “home on what will be his last last leave”; and her mother’s baking in The Memory Cake, including as ingredients not flour, butter, etc but all the favourite things of a seven-year-old. Though their styles are quite different, both held the audience in their grip from beginning to end.

Poet and potter, Colin Eveleigh, was a strong start at the open mic with his Red Dot.  His work was exhibited at the Petersfield Arts & Crafts exhibition and he described “making an exhibition of myself” –  telling of the anxiety to get red dots by each piece to show it’s been sold (all his sales proceeds go to charity).

Leah Cohen read two poems about Hiroshima, one serious: Hiroshima Hiroshima, – “Truman’s expensive new toy” – the other, Holiday in Hiroshima, humorous in a macabre, cynical way – “Well, here’s your one-way ticket, LITTLE BOY”.   She finished with a short poem, Words – “What harm can they do?”

Jilly Funnell followed with some musical nostalgia: Hello My Baby, a ragtime song from 1899 penned by Howard and Emerson; her poem Looking Back: My Thirties in the Eighties – “Gosh, was I in good condition” and, then, her song All the Way to America. There is something in the way music and poetry blend so well with each other.

Your reviewer read Typhoons and Hurricanes about the shock when the 1987 hurricane attacked “this green and pleasant land”; then Letter Writer, Letter Writer, about an unfriendly neighbour – “We met your family, they say: It’s you she talks about so much”.

Bruce Parry, who brought his music teacher with him, set up his trusty hammer dulcimer, for the lovely Gilbert and Sullivan’s When a Merry Maiden Marries, followed by a traditional Irish tune, My Own House. He then read his new poem, Time Immemorial – “Rest in peace my 1970’s wild!”  Julie Beaven, his teacher, who plays the Celtic harp (she constructed it herself) played My Love is Like a Red Red Rose and Greensleeves, followed by another Irish tune Shulearoon.  They completed the set with a lovely duet, Gentle Maiden. We’re hoping they return with some more music. The harp and dulcimer make a wonderful sound when played together.

Jake Claret

Ladies charity style evening at Haslewey

Three local ladies are organising a Style Evening at Haslewey, Haslemere, to raise money and awareness of Walk the Walk, a breast cancer grant making charity, most well known for organising the MoonWalks in London.

The event on Friday, September 8 will include a presentation by a professional image consultant and stylist, and makeup tips, tricks and demonstrations by local experts. There will also be free make overs and consultations, reflexology tasters, and a number of local businesses will be supporting the event showcasing their products and services. The evening will be fun and informal, and ladies of all ages are welcome. Tickets are £10 which includes a glass of Prosecco and are available directly from Haslewey or by emailing

If you are not able to attend the event but would like to sponsor the ladies for their Arctic Marathon, please visit

Starry year for Churcher’s sixth form

Churcher’s College sixth form in Petersfield is celebrating yet another starry A level results year.

Headmaster Simon Williams said: “After the quite exceptional levels of success last year we had expected this year to be a little more modest but we are absolutely delighted to note how this year’s group of students have exceeded expectations.

“Durham University and their Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring use various baseline tests to give us a prediction of the A level outcome for the students and, from that, as a year group as a whole. The Sixth Formers here at Churcher’s have exceeded those expectations of them; our value-added score last year was outstanding; it is likely to be similar again this year.

“For the majority of our students, university is the next destination and it is the top, most competitive courses and universities they aspire to. The confirmation of places is still coming in, but with 18% of the A levels graded A* and over 45% A* and A grade, the level of A level success here means that they invariably achieve their aspirations. To be awarded an A* grade candidates must achieve a cumulative score of 90% or more, and with fifteen, of the year group of just over 100, achieve straight A* and A grades there have been many quite outstanding performances but it is not just the academically highly capable who have exceeded expectations.

“With all the changes that have been taking place with A levels, linking one year with another becomes like comparing apples and pears. There has always been a natural variation in ability between year groups but this is being exacerbated by exam structure changes such as no re-take opportunities and the loss of modular exams. What doesn’t change, however, is the Churcher’s students’ determination to give and get the best, inside and outside the classroom.

“Those of us who were lucky enough to witness the Churcher’s orchestra tour’s hugely successful concerts on their tour in Barcelona this summer heard applause aplenty; and there is another, well-deserved, standing ovation for these A level exam results.”



Forgotten playwright offers a work to remember

The Stepmother, by Githa Sowerby

Minerva Theatre, Chichester

It is always a joy when a new playwright bursts onto the theatrical scene. It is equally thrilling when a forgotten author is rediscovered. Githa Sowerby’s excellent 1923 play ‘The Stepmother’ has been revived at Chichester under the unerring guidance of Richard Eyre, director of the National Theatre from 1988 to 1997.

Her first play Rutherford & Son’ was staged in 1912 under the name K G Sowerby, which people presumed was a man, and it ‘caused a sensation. Originally programmed for four matinee performances, it was such a success that it transferred to the West End and later to America, with translations in many different languages. Although Githa Sowerby was hailed as the ‘new Ibsen’, success seems to sent her into her shell; and her second play, ‘The Stepmother’ was not finished until the 1920s and staged in 1924, but for only for one performance in a private club. Her third and last play has remained unpublished.

‘The Stepmother’ was revived in 2008 by the Shaw Theatre in Canada. Eyre extols it as “very much a play for our time. It is underscored by a passionate belief in the massive injustice of the position of women. The play embraces the topics of money, sex [gender], and class.”

Shy teenager Lois Relph (Ophelia Lovibond) has come to live with the family of businessman Eustace Gaydon (Will Keen) after the death of his sister Fanny (who had taken her under her wing five years before). The clearly shifty Gaydon is aghast to discover that his sister has bequeathed her small fortune to Lois, as he had been eagerly expecting the money to underwrite his losses on speculative ventures.

In the second act the story has moved on 10 years and Lois has become Mrs Gaydon and the stepmother to Gaydon’s two teenage daughters, Monica and Betty. Lois has entrusted her inheritance to her husband – apparently this was common practice at the time – and she does not enquire what he has done and is doing with the money. She also working hard to sustain a successful fashion boutique she has set up in London.

Monica (Eve Ponsonby) is in love with and secretly engaged to Cyril Bennet (Samuel Valentine), whose father was once Gaydon’s solicitor and knows all about his dodgy dealings. Mr Bennet (Simon Chandler) had begged Lois not to trust Gaydon with her money and does not want his son to marry Monica.

This simmering concoction of money, gender and power boils over when Lois tries to force Mr Bennet’s hand by offering him £10,000 as a dowery for Monica to marry Cyril. Will Gaydon be exposed or will his continuous machinations succeed?

Will he retain his power over his wife through secrecy, lies and manipulation? Or will she discover the truth and recover her money and power? Will the lovers marry?

Will Keen and Ophelia Lovibond in The Stepmother. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

While this may seem like plain melodrama, the way Sowerby manages her plotting and characterization is brilliantly dramatic. Many scenes brought sharp intakes of breath and knowing laughter from the audience. All the key characters are clearly and carefully drawn and the result is memorable and thrilling theatre, thanks to Eyre’s skillful direction and some splendid acting.

It is a pity that there is only one other Sowerby play to savour, and that has been revived at the National Theatre in the last 10 years. ‘The Stepmother’ deserves an extended run in this revival and hopefully this production will not disappear from view after Chichester.

Nick Keith

Free Heritage Open Day at Waverley Abbey House

Every year in September, thousands of hidden, historic places open their doors to the public for free during the Heritage Open Day event, to celebrate our fantastic history, architecture and culture.
And you can take this rare opportunity to explore the stunning setting of Waverley Abbey House for free.

Waverley Abbey House

Learn about its rich history, dating back to King George I’s reign, discover the remarkable role that Waverley played during WW1 and walk in the footsteps of some famous visitors.
Find out what happens today at Waverley Abbey House and enjoy a free day out with family or friends in the beautiful Surrey countryside.
Free guided tours of the house will take place throughout the day and a history display will be available on the first floor, accessible by stairs only.
Visitors are welcome to enjoy the grounds and a game of badminton or croquet, weather permitting. The ruins of ancient Waverley Abbey are only a short stroll across the footbridge opposite the house.
Homemade light lunches, delicious cakes and refreshments will also be available in our café.

I love my WeLove transformation

The Barn which used to house Victoriana in Station Road, Petersfield has been sympathetically restored and revamped to create a light, bright salon, WeLove.

But this isn’t really a hair or beauty salon; it’s something new and rather unique.

Actually, it’s more like the front room of some lovely barn conversion; whitewashed brick walls, a large corner sofa, a huge painting of a meadow on the wall, reflected in the mirror opposite, and a woodturner in the fireplace.

What WeLove aims to offer is a day spa – hair stylists, make up artists, therapists and nail technicians all under one roof, with a relaxed but luxurious home from home feel.

My day spa experience begins with a cup of herbal tea and a chat on the huge sofa. Creative director Rae asks me what changes I’d like to my hair and whether I have any questions. “Good lord, just make me look like a grown up!” I think. Rae explains the treatments and who will be working the miracle of my new look.

Firstly, local make up artist and beauty consultant Nicky Rattray completes my colour analysis, laying swatches of fabric over me to see which tones and colours suit my skin tone best. I’m a Summer, it turns out – cool, muted tones. I do tend to choose grey greens and blues, silver rather than gold, and I never wear coral or orange, although it has taken me 20 years to work out what suits me. “It’s easy to wear whatever is in fashion, but all that happens is people focus on the clothes rather than you,” she explains. “The best choice is flattering to the skin and something which brings out your eye colour and makes people see you rather than what you’re wearing.”

Once my skin tone is established, I am handed over to Sarah Spiers, art team director and head master colour technician, to work out which hair colour would suit me most. She advises that I needed to get away from the brassier tones of blonde and go for cooler tones with natural shading and highlights. She gets to work with foils and colours as I chat to Rae about the whole concept of WeLove. Each of the staff are self-employed, so they have the flexibility to fit work around children and other commitments, but they have a share in the business which means they care about it working well. Weddings will be a mainstay obviously, but Rae also offers pre-wedding days where the bride to be and attendants can get a preview of the hair and makeup they’ll be getting on the day, all with a few glasses of bubbly, obviously…

Rae herself is an award-winning hair stylist who trained in London with the top creatives of the day, eventually setting up her own very successful salon in Southsea. But she wanted something more; something different.

She fell in love with the Barn as soon as she saw it, and knew it would be perfect for what she wanted. It’s central, within walking distance of the train station and town centre, it has parking and is in an iconic building. “When we first started work on it, I had quite a few people who came in just to see what we were doing. They really care about this building; they were worried I’d spoil it. But I think we’ve done it justice. I wanted to keep as many of the original features as possible – I love it. It’s beautiful.”

She now lives nearby and her daughter is at Bedales. “I love Petersfield,” she said. “It has a really good sense of community and it is a very creative place.”

The upper storey is still a work in progress but ultimately the vision is to have more treatment stations, a healthy juice bar, and room for yoga or Pilates. Dr Rupert Critchley has been invited to run a medi-spa here, too. She’s open-minded, she says, and is happy to hear from anyone who is interested in offering their skills.

While I wait for the colour on my hair to take, Nicky gives me a manicure, using a range of products called nailtiques. My nails being quite weak, I need Formula 2, which gets painted onto my nails in a thin, strengthening coat. I have a bottle to take home, so I can continue the strengthening treatment. A hand conditioner contain collagen, pure aloe and jojoba oil is massaged into my skin and there’s an oil therapy for my cuticles, a nail conditioner and cuticle gel applied. Nicky tells me she came to Rae when she noticed WeLove signs going up and offered her services. “It’s so lovely working here,” she said. “I love what I do and the people I’m working with here are like-minded.”

Hands done, she sends me back to Sarah to wash my hair colour out, then I’m brought into the therapy room for a relaxing hair treatment and scalp massage. WeLove uses Eksperience hair products from Brittany which contain sea minerals and hair-enriching algae. I drift off to soothing music as Sarah massages.

I’m feeling like a pampered mermaid when I emerge, ready for the next phase of my transformation.

Then Rae appears with a bag containing lunch – Madeleine’s Kitchen in Lavant Street has provided a delicious sweet potato frittata, chickpea, tomato and harissa salad and a whopping slice of French almond cake which I feel it only fair to share with my therapy queens.

Birute Thomas is next in line, to do my make up. The Lithuanian-born style expert has just returned from a photoshoot in Richmond. She likes to keep busy; when she’s not beautifying or photographing she can’t stop herself from tidying and cleaning. There is definitely an atmosphere of calm capability at WeLove; people just getting on with whatever needs to be done. Like, well, mums.

None of the women here are heavily made up; all look natural and youthful.

Using make up by British company Delilah, Birute applies a light foundation. I have a few single false eyelashes applied, tones of grey eyeshadow, and blusher and lipstick with blue rather than orange tones.

Then Rae takes over for my hair cut. She leaves a much of the length as possible but gives me some shorter layers at the front; nothing too drastic but enough to give it some more volume and movement. It’ll be easy to style, she says, as I’m a busy person and like to spend a minimum amount of time getting ready in the morning. She dries and shapes it, moving my parting to the other as it suits me more, she says.


I wait until the very last moment to put my glasses on – for the final reveal. I look like a grown up! I feel fantastic.

Not once throughout the whole process did I feel I was just being processed. Everyone was very friendly, interested in me as a person, good-humoured and professional. And I love my new look!

WeLove Salon
72 Station Road, Petersfield
01730 231000
Open Mon-Fri 8am-10pm, Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm

Railway Children play at steam heritage railway

THE Mid Hants Railway (MHR) Watercress Line at Ropley Station will play host this month to an open air production of E Nesbit’s classic story The Railway Children.

To be performed by Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre, it is full steam ahead for this captivating new adaption, which tells the story of Roberts, Peter and Phyllis as they get up to adventures surrounding the steam railway near their home.

Woodies Mountford, marketing manager at the Watercress Line: said: “We are delighted to be working with the Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre on its production of The Railway Children. This will be the first time we have had an open-air theatre production here at the Watercress Line, and we’re encouraging people to bring picnics and come along for a wonderful family afternoon.

She added: “Showing such an iconic tale about the nostalgia of steam railways surrounded by the real sights, sounds and smells of our railway will be a truly immersive theatrical experience for visitors of all ages to enjoy.”

Nick White, head of youth and education at the Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre, believes Ropley Station will provide the perfect setting for the production. “When we were looking to find venues for our upcoming production of The Railway Children our first approach was always going to be the Watercress Line.

“The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre recently produced some training videos for Network Rail that were filmed on the line and it was then that we fell in love with the idea of bringing a touring production to the railway. We are delighted that the team has embraced the idea so whole-heartedly.”

Performances of ‘The Railway Children’ will be held at 12.15pm and 2.15pm on both Friday and Saturday, August 18 and 19. Tickets can be purchased online at or call 01962 733810.

Free lecture on tuberculosis history at Haslemere Museum

Historian of medicine and science, and author of ‘Spitting Blood: the history of tuberculosis’, Helen Bynum, is presenting a free lecture at Haslemere Museum on tuberculosis in the context of the history of the sanatorium movement.

The lecture, A Design for Living, takes place on Thursday, September 21 at 7.30pm and is one of the events being held by Haslemere’s Holy Cross Hospital for its centenary. The Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross of Liege established the Hospital as a tuberculosis sanatorium is 1917.

Tickets for the lecture are free and available from Reception at Holy Cross Hospital. There will be a reception on arrival and a chance to take in the Hospital’s centenary exhibition which will be on display at the Museum from September 1-30.

See to find out more.

Rain never stopped play for fifth Petersfield Shakespeare Festival

Petersfield Shakespeare Festival

Outdoor theatre space, Bedales School, Steep

July 2017

Hey ho, the wind and the rain. The fifth Shakespeare festival braved the open-air space at Bedales just as the backlash after the heatwave struck – but gales and lashing rain were a trifling matter for the hard-working cast.


Company in rehearsal before the rain cover had to go on!

The main event, As You Like It, directed by Jake Smith and Chris Cuming, and starring a number of local performers, was a very agreeable torrent of colour, music, comedy and general bonkersness.

The costumes, from the slick blacks and greys, leather and tailoring of the court attire to the hippy/90s grunge-glam multi-coloured flamboyance of the forest-fest crowd, were excellent – well done Nicole Small for design and Eve Oakley as wardrobe mistress.

The production rolled along a fair old pace, interspersed with lively musical numbers, and it was good to see people taking a number of roles, including some scene-stealing sheep! The shearing was an inspired touch, adding extra laughs to a scene between Audrey (Katie Solly) and William the countryman who is pursuing her (Freddie Wride).

Several cast members were also proficient musicians – jumping onto the drums or grabbing a guitar when not required onstage.

It feels unkind to single out actors as everyone was so good, but Twyla Doone as Rosalind gave a very strong performance, engaging and expressive, as did Laura Peterson as Celia.

Twyla Doone as Rosalind

The night I watched it was Sam Hollis playing Orlando – and he did very well as the young lover, as did young Crispin Glancy as Silvius, mooning after Phoebe, played by Freya Sollis, the youngest cast member. It was easy to forget just how young many of the cast are.

William Bedford-Russell played Touchstone as a rangy, bewhiskered hedonist, rude and rough. He reminded me of a film character but the name escapes me.

Albert de Jongh as Jaques had great stage presence and the PYT gang of Adam Young, Fred Hughes-Stanton, Tom O’Kelly and Susie Coutts brought out much of the comedy, as well as pitching in with the singing and dancing.

Meanwhile, representing both the more mature section of the cast, and Petersfield’s Lion and Unicorn theatre group, were Simon Mackarness as Adam and Norman Stewart as Corin the old shepherd, providing some calm in the midst of the feverish goings-on.

Ed Taylor-Goodby added his solid professionalism as both boo-worthy Oliver and the drunk priest, with David Podger as the Duke bringing it all together, and Nada Sharp as Duke Frederick (not sure why the part was played by a woman but it didn’t make a jot of difference to the story).

Dannie Pye as Hymen the god of marriage, as a silver-clad drag act, leading the singing at the end, pushed the whole thing completely over the top as everyone crowded onto the little circular stage in a melee of sound and colour and movement.

The wind threatened to drown out the voices, and whisk away the sheet which protected the stage, and the rain lashed down on the poor cast, but they battled on regardless. I hope they each got to have a hot bath after the show! Well done all – great fun.

Shakespeare’s Lost Women is a new play by Greg Mosse with onstage music by John Gleadall. It is a one-woman, one-act show about an actress, Deirdre Compton, who has made a career playing the milkmaids, victims, fools and clowns – Shakespeare’s bit-parts – while her mother mourns a fading career playing the leads. Harriet Benson swept us along with her as she told us the tale of these female characters, which she fleshes out with empathy and good humour. She moved adeptly from character to character, bringing the women to life, with songs revealing their ‘back stories’. A clever, inventive and interesting play.

The Buried Moon, written by talented young playwright Laura Turner, brings the relationship of Caliban and Miranda from The Tempest, up to date. Set in a Lincolnshire marsh, where teen tearaway Caliban’s tent is pitched as he fishes for eels, and miranda seeks solace after the death of her mother, the play looks at issues of friendship, sex and love, parenting, loss, and being an outsider.

I found the two performers, Georgina Hellier and Michael Kinsey, absolutely mesmerising. The play takes twists and turns, getting ever darker and more difficult, but the pair carry it on their young shoulders, inhabiting these characters completely. These were subtle, mature performances in a thought-provoking, beautifully scripted play.

Kat Wootton