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Aldeburgh – Writer-insighter

South Tower

One Saturday lunchtime last October I went to the Suffolk Arts Club. Because that’s what I’m like. Because that’s what I do.

There was an art event going on in the tower, right up at the top in a little wooden cell you have to climb up into, literally, swinging on wooden hand-holds if you didn’t want to fall to what would very likely be your death on the concrete floor twenty feet below. Someone asked me if I was going to go and contribute something and I got it in my head that art meant painting and painting meant poster paints and probably because it was at the seaside I thought of blue paint, the childhood deep blue of the sea, the blue of the sky back then.

It was October though and the wind was gusting and the sky was grey. I was half-way coming out of a massively upsetting time of my life and trying to learn not to force my pre-conceptions onto events and people.  When I swung up into the wooden tower there were no paints. But there was a notebook on a small table underneath the window. So I wrote this.

Looking out.
Looking out.


South Tower, Aldeburgh

I was to put my hand here.

The fingers, knuckles and nails

Coloured blue, poster paint

Flaking from my skin,

Sloughed off. Instead

I listen to the wind,

The sound inside my mind

And try to listen to my heart.

Blue hands. Grey sky.

No poster paints outside my expectations.


Carl Bennett 2013


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A lesson in humility

I went to a music thing the other week. Or I tried to, anyway. It was in Aldeburgh, except around here Aldeburgh and Snape Maltings are interchangeable terms. For some things. You never know which. The Aldeburgh Food Festival is at Snape, for example. So is the Aldeburgh Music Festival. Bits of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival are, and bits of it aren’t.

But I was fairly sure that this music thing was actually at Snape. It sounded as if it should be. I rang the ticket office.

The girl who answered the phone had never heard of it.

It was the right number. I thought maybe the phone had been misdirected or something, so I phoned it again. Same thing. Same girl answers. Has never heard of the music thing. Is not the ticket hotline. Has no clue what I am talking about.

I rang off and rang the number again. An older woman’s voice answered. Yes of course. It’s on tonight. Come on down.

So I went down to Snape. Nothing doing. Went into the Plough & Sail. No music things on at Snape tonight. So I got back in the car and drove down to Aldeburgh. It’s about five miles. Maybe a little more. The thing was, there was nobody on the street at all. Just two teenage girls. It’s been quite some time since I accosted teenage girls on the High Street.

They’d never heard of the music thing. Maybe I should try in Prezzo. They might know. That’s a sort of happening place. They didn’t need to say ‘for old farts like you.’

On the fifth attempt I found someone who actually spoke English. No, I’m not making that up. This music place, is it a bed & breakfast? Only if my luck improves, but it wasn’t going to that night.

Maybe it was in Snape. It’s not. Can’t help you.

It was one of those nights you know the only thing you can do is go home. So I did.

Next day I went out to a lunch thing I sometimes go to on Saturdays, a club on the beach. I got talking with a glass of wine, as you do. I had this really, no seriously it was, really funny story about what happened to me last night, yes, just up the road.

You see I kept calling this number and I knew it was the right number but this girl, this girl kept saying she didn’t know what I was talking about. I could see the woman I was talking to getting a bit tight lipped, but I couldn’t see why.

Anyway, third time lucky, this older woman who did know what she was talking about answered the phone the third time. Phew, eh? Still. Young girls! Tchoh!

“That,” the older woman’s voice said, out of the mouth of the woman I was talking to, “was my daughter.”

I wish this stuff didn’t happen to me. But it does, sometimes. I really need to work on that not happening. It upsets people, people I don’t mean to upset.


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