Booking my place at Lumb Bank for a course on writing was rather unusual for someone who was already eighty four years old, but that is exactly what I did. I never expected it to change my life so completely. Lumb Bank itself is a writer’s heaven. The dramatic landscape for a start. The solid stone house that was once the home of an owner of textile mills, their remains almost vertically below and set about a beautiful little stream, their half ruined chimneys still towering above the foliage of massive beech trees. One can imagine the mill owner standing on his lawns, looking down on all the activity below. And then the period when Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath lived in the place. One is drawn into the dramas, the tragedies and yet the beauty of the place when one is there.
At my age I had not expected to exactly fit in with my fifteen companions, but it happened and gave me unexpected joy. It was marvellous to be accepted as one of ‘the gang.’ There was something magical about that week, we were fortunate to be led by Toby Jones and Kapka Kassabova, those two hours of personal tuition were very revealing. With their advice ringing in my ears I went home and wrote a very different book. The result has been More Then Than Now, a book covering the first thirty years or so of my life. To my great joy the publisher says ‘where it excels is in the crystal clarity of her memories and her haunting narrative style. There is much vivid and colourful incident but the emotional undercurrent is always strong and much is conveyed by the subtlest of touches’. I still can’t quite believe the book has now been published.
It was wonderful that Mette Jackson flew from Norway for the launch and a delight when Jules Fernandes came up from London. Michele Moore helped me with everything at Lumb Bank. I was and am pretty hopeless with reference to the refinements of working on a laptop. Michele remained close through the following years, she pushed and encouraged. Rie Harrison came and stayed a couple of weekends and did the same. All on the same course we were! How lucky for me. It was Michele, however who never allowed me to give up, Michele who introduced the needed publicity and I can never thank her enough for getting me there.
If you are thinking of going to Arvon – anything can happen!
More Then than Now is published by StoneTrough Books of York www.stonetroughbooks.com
How to buy More Then than Now:
Sandoe bookshop in Chelsea
Bolton Abbey gift shop
By contacting the publisher – 01904 670323
Follow Pamela Hirsch on Twitter @MrsPamHolliday