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My aim in writing “Cheshire Cheese and Camembert” was to take some of the younger characters who appeared in “Blessèd are the Meek and “Twenty-six Nil” and place them in a more modern setting, ie. the early years of the 20th century. The turbulence of the period between 1913 and 1919 made for a vibrant background: the suffragette movement, the Easter Rising in Ireland, the Russian Revolution, not to mention the Great War.

Inevitably the war had the greatest impact on families like that of my narrator, Charlie Knott, but I did not want to turn my novel into a war story. Reports of events in northern France come only from newspaper reports or more graphically from letters from Charlie’s son Alfred.

As Charlie has left Hyde for work by the docks at the eastern end of the Manchester Ship Canal, the town of Hyde is less of a feature than in the previous books. However, perhaps I should have made at least a brief mention of the sacrifice Hydonian men and women made at that time. 710 men of Hyde who gave their lives are commemorated at the cenotaph on Werneth Low, a windblown hill overlooking the town and the great pattern of distant boroughs. It is one of my favourite places in the world.

  • Writer's pictureBrent

Briantspuddle Christmas Craft and Gift Fair, 29th November 2015

A late decision to spend some time at the Briantspuddle Christmas Craft & Gift Fair was very well justified.

Although the village is only a couple of miles from Tolpuddle it feels further apart: it is in a different district council for a start (Purbeck as opposed to West Dorset – different school system, different bin men, etc.), and seems to look east rather than west for its centre of gravity. Just an impression, perhaps.

Anyway, in spite of being a latecomer I was found a table by the kitchen with a minimum of fuss and set up a stall, quite rudimentary in comparison to some of the extravagant craft displays in the village hall. There were plenty of volunteers providing a real community event which was well supported. And why not with such a variety of gifts, excellent home-made lunches, a choir, a raffle (obligatory in Dorset) and a visit from Santa? Well done, Bob, by the way. Although there was no sign of snow in the lanes I did wonder if he had arrived by Bob-sleigh.

I had intended to stay for two hours at the most but ended up spending nearer five, largely because the sales of Shillingstone Station were steady and going well. So well, in fact, that I had to leave the venue briefly to go and fetch extra stock. The position of my table helped: queues for refreshments, raffle tickets and Santa’s grotto all filed past me and provided a willing captive market. My total sales had been creeping towards one hundred in recent weeks but today’s twenty-eight sales have smashed past the century mark.

So, thanks to all the buyers I met, and to all those who made me welcome, especially, at the heart of the operation, Maggie and Philip.

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Seven hundred and ten

My aim in writing “Cheshire Cheese and Camembert” was to take some of the younger characters who appeared in “Blessèd are the Meek and “Twenty-six Nil” and place them in a more modern setting, ie. the

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