Bridport’s Best Outing

Elegy Written in a Country Dump
By Nick Pitt

You find yourself at a loose end. The weather’s fair and you need to get out.
I know, I’ll go to… West Bay? Hive Beach? Eype? Pilsdon Pen?

No. Go to the new dump, Bridport’s number-one attraction. Easy access. No ticket required. Free parking. Plenty to do.

Nothing to dump? Don’t worry. Go there empty-handed. Go purely for the experience.

On entering the site, observe, with a thrill of virtuousness, the sign that records that last month 65% of waste has been recycled. Park and sit comfortably. Imagine for a moment the old dump. The queues; the tight turns and spaces; those iron ladders; the hauling of garden waste, or waiting at the base while some codger creeps down; the dirt; the dump men dressed as pirates; and no doubt some paltry recycling percentage.

Now compare. Oh bliss. Watch the happy folk of Bridport and far beyond get rid of rubbish, and with such leisured ease. And what of the dump men? Same fellows, but these are operatives. No longer do they retreat to their cabin with sandwiches from Morrisons. They have meals delivered to their office. Now they smile and parade their domain like lords.

Look up and take in the wider vista, the surrounding landscape of mounds, trees and lake. What hand and eye shaped such symmetry? Forget Stowe and Chatsworth for Capability Brown never achieved such sympathetic grandeur. Reflect that like the ranks of saplings all around, this magnificence will grow.

Alas, and all too soon, the shadows lengthen and the church clock sounds the knell of parting day. The dump’s work is done. The key is turned in the ignition, the wheels turn away. Outside the gates of majesty, all seems humdrum, normal life resumes. Do not be sad. Rejoice. The Bridport dump, once a slough of despond, is now a gleaming citadel.

By |May 23rd, 2016|Nick Pitt|2 Comments

Elaine Beckett

Elaine BeckettFaber New Poets 13
Available from The Book Shop, South Street, £5

BR Rating *****

By John Pownall

Elaine Beckett is a Faber New Poet. She lives here in the Bridport area, and has written for the Review on several occasions. She is one of 16 selected by Faber, the publishing house that is the apotheosis of poetry publishing.

Elaine arrives with a collection of 15 poems, none of them overlong, and all of them seemingly accessible and lucent. This is the trick of her work, to have the surface of simplicity, but the depth of complexity.

The opening poem, for example, Melting, appears to work on a simple narrative level. A conversation is struck up between strangers; a fishmonger and his customer –the poet herself perhaps. It’s the melting of polar ice and social barriers which works the core meanings in the poem; everything is going to water, it seems, including the atmosphere outside the shop:

..he sloshed about with his bucket/and I enjoyed the rain/that was coming down like a veil/between us, and the passers by

So ends the piece. The collision of sibilants acting as a sonic echo to the poem’s meanings; everything is liquid – even the consonants.

The collection takes in a broad range of ostensible subjects; ecological issues sit side by side with stories of love and loss, and indeed it is the latter which often stand out. A poem such as The Woman Who Cries does what any great psychological poem should: it encapsulates a moment, or series of moments, that resonates in a life – it distils, even more successfully than a good short story does, the gist of an epiphany. Here, the poet (perhaps) receives a postcard of a Picasso painting, and a message from (one assumes) her lover. The message instructs her not to be the woman in the painting:

don’t be La femme Qui Pleure –

it says. First she thinks of the poor woman in the painting, but then turns to think of him, the lover who sent the postcard:

a man who could match me to a painting/that summarised the trouble we were in.

That final couplet is utterly perfect, and astoundingly revelatory. This is tight, polished, wonderfully economical language that signifies a depth and acuteness of feeling, subtly understated because of the tightness of the verse.

Possibly the best poem of the collection, Sometime This Month, is saved until the end. It is a lovely lyric about spring that updates Wordsworth and Shelley with its talk of texting boys and sunbathing girls. It works with repetition and wonderfully observed detail, and is worth quoting at length for the effect of its music:

By the hedge at the end of the lane/where the gate has swung open,a may tree will bloom; /
Five petals to each milk flower, pink- /tipped with stamens; a thousand buds/ by the hedge at the end of the lane.

The poem pivots on these alternating tautologies, the may tree blooming, the hedge at the end of the lane, focussing our eye upon and tuning our ear to the patterns and rhythms of the year as they pass. But this is not picture postcard nature:

… boys walking home/will be struck by the stink of it down/by the hedge.

What is it here that stinks? The blossom, nature, or is there something else going on – the hint of sex perhaps as they check their text messages in the following stanza? Spring is about fecundity, not just prettiness – you sense that somewhere in the undergrowth, off the page, other stamens and buds will be ripening.

Beckett’s poetry is strong and effective; not a word is wasted. Faber has, as you would expect, selected extremely well.

    • Elaine Beckett’s collection can also be bought online from the Faber shop: Click here.


By |April 12th, 2016|Elaine Beckett, John Pownall|0 Comments

Daniel Kemish

Daniel KemishNo Country for Old Men
James Weston

Electric Palace 9 April 2016
BR Rating ****
By Alison Lang

And Nashville came to Bridport. The country vibe was strong and good at the Electric Palace. The evening kicked off with Bridport’s No Country for Old Men, a train-track rhythm and tight guitar licks that set the mood.

Headline act Daniel Kemish is a Nashville recording artist hailing from round the corner in Southampton, with Portugal and Devon connections and two members of the band from Sweden. Yet they could be pure-bred Nashville.

Kemish has an extraordinarily beautiful voice that he stifles dramatically. Many catchy original songs and a fabulous band half picked in Nashville. Looking like a hippy version of Bruce Springsteen, he runs through the most gorgeous collection of guitars imaginable.

The show is slick and it’s easy to picture Kemish as the next country-music pin-up.

Their van-driving companion and companion act, James Weston from Chicago via Nashville, had the beautiful raspy voice of the evening. Echoes of Tom Waits. He endeared himself to Bridport with plenty of personality by offering round-the-clock serenading in exchange for a property in town. An offer worth considering.

All in all, a fantastic night for country built around two sensational voices.

By |April 10th, 2016|Alison Lang, The Electric Palace|1 Comment


Bridport’s great coaching inn has reopened after its makeover. Sam Barker is not impressed

What were they thinking? What crossed their minds when they removed the block-coloured seating and replaced it with triangles? When they dispensed with the comfortable sofas? When they went for the black-tiled-mirror-prefaced-by-floral-array, like a thing you’d find in beauty parlour in 1980s Romford?

I don’t know who the designed the new interior of the Bull Hotel, but it’s hard to commend them. Their vision seems to have been for all that’s ‘posh’, its expression a pastiche of cognitive dissonance. Hence we have the geometric shapes on the chairs alongside the waves on the walls, the Sea Blue seating alongside the Tardis Blue bar, that incongruous tiled mirror, the furniture reminiscent of bamboo and conservatories.

Are we having a wash and set in Essex, a coffee in Dorset or a tea in Tunbridge Wells? Whatever, we’re in a place of deeply disparate visual influences mitigated only by the wooden tables (look down and rest your eyes). Someone who ventured upstairs to the loos reported that it’s even worse up there. “I wouldn’t go in after a few drinks,” she said. “I think I’d pass out.”

By |March 2nd, 2016|The Sam Barker Column|0 Comments

Willie and The Bandits

Bridport Arts Centre
6 February 2016
BR Rating *****
By Jonah Corren

Once again, Wille and The Bandits displayed why they have become such a highly regarded band. Their unique mix of bluesy, mellower beats and up-tempo rock music has sent them all across the continent, and it remains a privilege that time after time they light up the Bridport music scene.

As always, the sound the Bandits produced was fantastically powerful. Songs such as Chillout, Forgiveness and Virgin Eyes threw the crowd into the inescapable ambience, whilst inspiring some often frenzied dancing. One particularly notable tune was Angel, a long, varied instrumental that allowed each of the three band members to showcase their talents. These numbers were well balanced out with slower, more delicate songs such as I Want To Watch You Grow; an excellently written tribute to Wille’s daughter that sported some catchy and melodic percussion.

It was clear how much fun the band were having, breathing in the atmosphere and throwing it back out into their music. Front man Wille Edwards used his voice as an effective instrument, particularly on emotive songs such as Angel and Forgiveness. In Mammon, an exceptional number about the dangers of materialism, all three band members came to the front of the stage, and their passion and conviction shone through in their interaction with each other and their instruments.

After the show I caught up with Willie beside the band’s selection of merchandise, and asked about how he’d enjoyed the evening. ‘There’s been a great atmosphere and great energy,’ he said. ‘It’s always a pleasure to play in Bridport.’

Despite adverse weather, a sizable crowd turned up to witness the spectacle that Wille and the Bandits always deliver. Here is a band that only gets stronger every show they play and build up a bigger fan base everywhere they go. If they come around again they are truly a must see, and Bridport will be lucky to remain one of their favourite venues.

By |February 7th, 2016|Bridport Arts Centre, Jonah Corren|1 Comment