Has your child/grandchild ever dammed a stream?
Charlotte Lamb and her daughter Jane Holland
On Saturday, in his Charkinblog, Richard Charkin, CEO of Macmillan, wrote a piece headed Crime shouldn't pay. It ended with this comment -
"I cannot believe that the Government would be silly enough to try to enforce unenforceable and constrictive legislation in this area. The problem is that Governments sometimes do silly things in response to tabloid headlines. The book trade should help the Government not to be silly on this occasion."
Having been around rather longer than Mr Charkin, I can easily believe that governments of all colours are capable of any folly. They have demonstrated this, usually more than once, in every decade of my lifetime and long before.
Earlier on Saturday morning I had read an article by Ross Clark, "a freelance journalist and columnist on the Spectator, Times and Sunday Telegraph" with a blog called The Red Tape Blog, described as "A look at the silly rules and ridiculous regulations that are strangling Britain".
His article was headed Big Nanny rules - When did your child last build a den, or dam a stream? Ross Clark reports on the red tape binding parents' hands and narrowing our children's horizons
Mr Bookworm spent his boyhood playing in woods and by rivers. As long as he was home by tea-time, nobody worried. Even I, an unadventurous child, was allowed to take an old frying pan to the wood at the bottom of a large garden where I managed to get a camp fire going and cook baked beans.
How many children are doing that sort of thing today?
Mr Clark starts his piece, "The growing interference of the state in the bringing up of children came home to us the day in 2005 when my wife went to a post box 50 yards from our house with our eight-year-old daughter.
Unknown to my wife, shortly before they set out our daughter had managed to lift the telephone receiver and dial 999. While my wife was out, the police rang back and found that our 10–year–old son was alone in the house. Was there, they wanted to know, anyone else with him? Who normally lived with him? Briefly, the Cambridgeshire constabulary had a major incident on its hands.
My wife returned to another call from the police. The policewoman she spoke to accepted her apologies for our daughter having caused a false alarm for the 999 service, but told her that leaving a child under the age of 11 alone in a house, no matter for how short a time, constituted neglect.
Whether my wife thought our son trustworthy or not was irrelevant, said the policewoman. As far as the police were concerned, a 10-year-old left alone in a house was on a par with a missing child."
By the way, this article is supposed to run to three pages, but I couldn't get the 2 and 3 links, or the Next page link, to work.
Ross Clark's book How to Label a Goat : The Silly Rules and Regulations that are Strangling Britain
was published in November by
Harriman House. Read the comments in the right-hand sidebar.
New look for Charlotte Lamb memorial blog
The young woman in the photograph is Jane Holland, daughter of Sheila Holland, better known as bestselling romance writer, Charlotte Lamb. I borrowed the photo from Jane's website where we read – "Award-winning poet, novelist and editor Jane Holland was born in Ilford, Essex, in 1966. She is the daughter of best-selling novelist Charlotte Lamb and classical biographer Richard Holland, moving with them to the Isle of Man in 1977, where she lived for 23 years before returning to mainland Britain.
From 1989-1995, Jane Holland played snooker on the women’s professional circuit, rising to 24th in the world, but retired from the game after a dispute with her local governing body in 1995. She began writing poetry the same year and won an ERIC GREGORY AWARD from the Society of Authors in 1996.
She founded BLADE in 1995, described by Neil Astley as ‘one of Britain’s gutsiest poetry magazines’, and edited the magazine for nine issues until 1999.
Her first collection of poetry - THE BRIEF HISTORY OF A DISREPUTABLE WOMAN - was published by Bloodaxe in 1997. The same year, she performed on the New Blood UK Tour with fellow Bloodaxe poets Roddy Lumsden, Julia Copus, Tracey Herd and Eleanor Brown.
Jane's first novel, KISSING THE PINK, came out with Sceptre in 1999 while she was at Oxford University, reading English as a mature undergraduate. Her poetry, reviews and critical articles have subsequently appeared in many UK journals, including Poetry Review, Acumen, Poetry London, The North, Mslexia, Stand, Thumbscrew, London Magazine, The London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement. She has run poetry workshops for adults and children, and has tutored for the Arvon Foundation alongside Alan Brownjohn."
Some time ago, Jane set up a blog in memory of her mother, and this has now been given a new look which I like much better than the rather gloomy original version.
Extract : "The late 70s was a golden era for Charlotte Lamb; she was working at full stretch during those years, her writing at its most confident and flamboyant, the tireless author regularly producing more than ten novels a year, some of them 100,000 + word romances and historicals for mainstream publishers.
Why was this? Perhaps because, as mentioned above, in 1978 she had moved with her family to settle in the Isle of Man, exchanging the crowds of suburban London for rolling green hills and a restless seascape. This radical move certainly seems to have inspired some of the best writing of her career, with spirited independent heroines falling in love against their will with rugged demanding heroes, often in settings of great beauty and scenic intensity. This was also the time when some of her settings became far-flung and tropical - a row of palm trees grew outside Lamb's sea-facing study in the temperate Isle of Man - while other novels still nestled cosily in rural areas of England or drew on the familiar backdrop of London's cosmopolitan bustle."