A bottle of champagne in welcome – from The Hurst writer-in-residence

31 Jul 2013 / The Hurst

Deborah Alma is The Hurst writer-in-residence in 2013, during the renovation of the Manor House, former home of playwright John Osborne. She will speak to, or read the writing of, people connected to the past, present and future of the house and create ‘found’ poems  from their words.

On Summer Days

On summer days, dressed in boater and striped blazer
like a rep’ actor in The Boy Friend,
waving a cigarette,
he held up a bottle of champagne in welcome.
John Osborne and champagne,
inseparable as Fortnum and Mason.

Champagne was their ubiquitous love,
it was always available in the kitchen,
it did not seem to matter what time of day it was.
It is said that the whole of the big pool
is full of champagne bottles and glasses.

Words from an interview with Keith Pybus and from
John Osborne Entertains, by Meg Pybus and Gordon Dickins

Photograph by Shaun Gardiner
Photograph by Shaun Gardiner

Ironing Board

If we take you back to 1956,
I think it would be impossible for you to imagine
that a single theatrical piece
could have such an impact.
There had been a type of theatre,
drawing-room comedy
and suddenly this man arrived
with a rather scruffy setting.
Let me stay on the ironing board for a moment;
I read that Pete Postlethwaite had said
he’d been to Liverpool Everyman
and when he saw an ironing board on the stage
and heard people speaking in regional accents,
he thought I could do that.
When I gave him an apple tree from the orchard
I reminded him of the link
and he loved it.

From an interview with Keith Pybus



The Orchard

Blenheim Orange, Bramley’s Seedling, Howgate Wonder, Carlisle Codling;
In our home village of Clunton
there is a communal juicing plant
an apple macerator and a juice squeezer,
they have also acquired a pasteuriser;
Mrs Shepherdson of Clunton Scrumpers.

We are in the Garden of Eden after the fall,
we have inherited this orchard as part of the legacy,
no golden apples then.

We gathered apples and there is good news,
we have a local rarity, and a very distinctive one.
The only Curl Tail whose Shropshire roots go back fifty years .
A somewhat small cooking apple.
Of no particular merit except as a curiousity.

I shall never forgive Mr Bultitude,
he must be a very dull man
who cannot see its exceptional merit.
A pig’s snout rather than a stalk,
but they opted for the other end of the pig.
I doubt whether you have seen anything quite like this apple,
In king fruit, stalk characteristically swollen and fleshy
curved and sometimes beaded.
begins a bright green and becomes clear yellow.
The fruit grows all along the branches
and at the tips.

Words from a Hurst newsletter, Meg Pybus
and  ‘Apples: A Guide to the Identification of International Varieties’ by John Bultitude


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