Filed under families

Concubinage in Wales

Concubinage in Wales

I’ve just discovered this fascinating incident in the wonderful ‘Kilvert’s Diary’ written by a cleric in late 19th century Wales: Friday 8 April 1870 In the green lane between York and Cefn y Fedwas I came upon Smith of Wemwg hedging. He told me that a child had arrived at Pen-y-worlodd and wanted to know … Continue reading

The Heroism of A Stranger

The Heroism of A Stranger

In the park adjoining the Museum of Childhood is a drinking fountain with an unusual and tragic history. Most marble fountains were erected by local worthies to provide refreshment for visitors, a few are memorials, but I doubt if any has such sadness associated with it. Water is essential to life. It is central to … Continue reading

Fish Tank

Fish Tank

This is the third Andrea Arnold directed film I’ve watched, so I think that’s the whole of her output, and this is another intriguing story of a young woman at odds with the world. Mia lives on a council estate in Essex. Her single mum has a boyfriend, an early appearance of Michael Fassbender. The … Continue reading

Policing Morality

Policing Morality

When Henry VIII closed the monasteries, local parishes had to enforce not just criminal, but also moral codes, which could get a bit messy, and often involved women. Here’s a list of incidents dealt with by the churchwardens of St James’ parish in Bristol in the 17th century: 1627 Item. for a warrant for her … Continue reading

Manchester By The Sea

Manchester By The Sea

This is a hard film to review and it’s taken me some time to figure out how to write this. It was nominated for loads of awards and Casey Affleck received best actor at the Oscars, Golden Globes and Baftas. The screenplay was also highly praised, yet it was not an obvious prize winner;  yet … Continue reading

An Empty Cot

An Empty Cot

This is on display in London’s Museum of Childhood, amidst a variety of child sized furniture and toys. But this one stands out – not for what it is, but for what it is not. A baby sized bed should hold a baby, a miracle, the start of a life, a celebration of family and … Continue reading

Child Prodigies

Child Prodigies

James Ferguson grew up in rural Scotland in the early 18th century. Like most families, the Fergusons could not support their children so sent them to work at an early age. James became a shepherd but spent his days making models of mills, spinning wheels and any other mechanisms he saw. At night he lay … Continue reading

Imprisoning the Mentally ill

This is from Patrick Cockburn, award winning war correspondent with the i paper. It seems a far cry from his usual topic, but not really. The criminalisation of the mentally iill is one of the cruellest and most easily avoidable tragedies of our era. He discusses a number of cases of impending executions for the … Continue reading

Walking and Talking

Walking and Talking

This is a subject that is of increasing concern to me as communities across Britain battle to preserve open spaces. In Cardiff the Central square is now a huge building site. It feels threatening, the metal monsters rising where once was windswept bus shelters and skateboarders and people able to catch sight of the sky. … Continue reading

The Last Days of Solitary

The Last Days of Solitary

This is a really disturbing documentary by the BBC on the US prison system, in which solitary confinement has become widespread as a last resort for dealing with violent uncontrollable prisoners. But for centuries they’ve known it doesn’t work, and in many cases makes prisoners worse. It also costs a hell of a lot of … Continue reading