Doug Sandle writes:
|Linda Marshall and Lis Bertolla Photo by Sheila Chapman|
During this year’s March LitFest we held two events at the delightful Meanwood Institute and we decided it was the perfect venue for a pleasant Sunday midsummer afternoon listening to readings of poetry and prose on the theme of cafés and food and drink generally, presented by two local poets Linda Marshall and Lis Bertolla -especially as there was an opportunity of an afternoon cup of tea and to partake of the delicious cakes on offer.
The Institute decked in bunting and the stage set up with a table, cake stands and tea cups, the two poets entertained a full house with their readings. The programme featured the writings of such as Nigel Slater, John Betjeman, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carrol (the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party of course) as well many of their own writings. A highlight was an amusing dialogue between the two that was based on a conversation overheard by Linda in a café in downtown Leeds. With titles such as Making Jam Tarts with Mother (Nigel Slater), At Betty’s (Linda), The Friendly Cinnamon Bun (Russell Hoban), How to Eat an Orange (Lis), In a Bath Teashop (John Betjeman) the audience soon had an appetite for the delicious cakes on sale.
The two highly talented poets entertained a very appreciative audience, many of whom remarked that it was a delightful way to spend a Sunday afternoon – and please could they have some more!
Many thanks are due to Mary Francis of the Headingley LitFest, Tracy Cooper of Café 57 and currently on-line purveyor of antique china (The Leeds Vintage House)* for their delicious cakes and to Malcolm Coles for flowers from his allotment - and of course to the two café poets, Linda and Lis themselves. [*https://www.facebook.com/TheLeedsVintageHouse]
MADEIRA (Linda Marshall)
If only Madeira
Were nearer -
Then happily I would meander
Under the blue jacaranda.
Meander - I say it with candour,
Because after the sweet, heavy wine,
I'm unable to walk in a line.
If only Madeira
For the sake of the tea and the cake
And the view
At the Villa Cliffe.
If only Madeira were nearer,
Then our lives would be simply
First, lift gently in both hands.
Raise it to your nose, inhale the sharp sweet smell
of sunshine, the excitement of childhood Christmas -
whatever is there for you...
Then, use your eyes; study the skin, porous yet
protective. Regard the navel, recall your own births.
Remember, imagine, orange blossom on laden trees
fragrant in some foreign land.
Look and smell...
Inside, a small miracle of segments, contained yet
conjoined, nudging each other for comfort.
Ease them apart; the first one you select is important.
Now put it in your mouth, the skin will break
without force, release juice.
Finally the richness is yours, a trickle of goodness
bathing in the taste buds, soothing the throat...
Thank God then, for simple, complicated things.