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Lewes, East Sussex, United Kingdom
Hello and welcome! I am Colin Bell, a novelist and poet, previously a TV producer-director of arts programmes, also known as the blogger Wolfie Wolfgang. I hope you find something here among my daily blogs. I write about anything that interests me - I hope it interests you too. Let me know.

Monday, 5 October 2015

My Lewes weekend apple harvest

My little apple tree has been a source of pleasure all year and this weekend its season reached its climax with an unusually large amount of bright red fruit ready for picking here in my Lewes, UK, garden.

This is a French variety of dessert apple called Croquella which is grown as a miniature tree and which works well in my small urban garden. Not only are its fruits like Christmas tree decorations from summer to autumn but the blossom is one of my favourite flowers. This is what it looked like in April this year.

In 2014 it didn't blossom at all and there was no fruit last year so I was doubly pleased to so it in bloom this time round in the seventh year since I planted the tree as a tiny sapling.

For a moment, this weekend, I regretted that the time for picking had arrived because these little red balls have been so decorous out there in my garden.

Harvest-time has its own imperatives and I followed its orders on a lovely sunny weekend.

It always amazes me how much fruit is produced by this plucky little tree but this year has seen a bumper crop.

With the apples picked and stored, my garden has lost one of its seasonal highlights but the dahlias and heliotropes continue their autumnal starring role.

The passion flower too continues not only to flower but to fruit.

I wasn't expecting this extra fruit harvest but the passion fruits taste delicious.

I've still got Bramley cooking apples ripening on the espalier tree too. So it's been a successful season for fruitfulness.

These Croquella apples don't just have pretty faces - they taste good too.

Juicy and sweet without being too sweet - just how you want an early season apple.

Some of these Croquella apples made it into a splendid and traditional harvest feast of roast pork on Saturday.

Some more of them are now sitting in the kitchen fruit bowl and the rest are stored in the garden shed - my harvest is definitely home.

Friday, 2 October 2015

I'm breaking my silence on Foreign Affairs.

Barrack Obama

I wrote yesterday about my recovery from political depression after the British General Election in May this year. I've kept my thoughts to myself about politicians ever since but, if I'm going to talk about the new Brits on the block, I might as well confess admiration for some overseas politicos too. Politicians are mostly unpopular and derided - it is probably easier to say horrid things about them than nice ones. To show that I can, occasionally, be generous-hearted, here goes.

I've always admired Barrack Obama, the US President even if I'm worried about his wobbly policy over Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. I've written a lot about him over the years but, sufficient to say, he's been impressive with his cool, his dignity and his thoughtful and eloquent words at important moments of crisis. I shall miss him when he leaves at the end of his term.

Bernie Sanders

Just when I thought well any Democrat is better than any Republican, even if she is the only candidate, along came the wonderful Bernie Sanders. Well, far be it for me to second guess the next American presidential elections but it is truly amazing to hear an ancient American politician talking like a modern man of the left. Hey, you guys aren't meant to talk like that over there or so I'd thought. Anyway, I suppose, I'd be happy to have Hillary Clinton as the next President rather than any of those scary Republican candidates.  Donald Trump! You're kiddin' me, America, he isn't really a front runner, Come on!

Yanis Varoufakis

The shameful way Greece has been treated by its European partners is another political story that I've shirked in my self-imposed silence. It's been a bad year for the European Union with the bullying of Greece and the fracturing of its membership's will over the fate of thousands of refugees. I'm a fan of the EU but if I had my reservations about its short-comings,  I now have some more and I'm now scared that its current record is going to encourage, wrongly in my opinion, too many Brits to vote No in David Cameron's misguided EU Referendum when it comes along. Out of the politicians,  I've loved Yanis Varoufakis, well, I always go for the losers these days. He might love himself a bit too much but he's stuck to his ideals and made some biting comments about the great European hierarchy - ones that we should all take on board. With or without Mr Varoufakis, I send all of my best wishes to Greece.

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel might have been the bad guy over the Greek crisis - her intransigence was a genuine obstacle to a sensible European compromise and sensible compromises are what the EU is supposed to be about. Well, so bad marks there to Chancellor Merkel but, who would of thought it, full marks for her out-spoken defence of all those refugees and, in one stroke, elevating herself to become the conscience of Europe in one of its worst moments of crisis since the formation of the EU. When Britain's leadership is almost invisible in Europe and the World these days, it is to Frau Merkel that we have to look for vision and compassion. Wow! Did I really say that? It shows how desperate the situation in Europe really is.

Pope Francis 

Oh yes, and then there's Pope Francis. What am I saying? Even if I'm no fan of the Roman Catholic church's position on all those well-debated liberal issues, you have to hand it to him. He really does live what he believes and he says it too - face to face with anyone and everyone. It would be a stoney-heart indeed that could disagree with his words to the United Nations last week. Maybe these days with so many profound issues pressing on the World from Global Warming to Syria and its displaced citizens, it is important for us all to hear this gentle voice reminding us that it is always the poorest who suffer the most. As the Pope suggested in his charming speech to  UN workers, if we can't pray for him at least we can wish him well.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

My political depression is over. Some British politicians might not be that bad after-all.

 That day in May 2015 seems such a long time ago - do you remember all those hopes, fears, wild predictions and, yes, cynical sneers? Well, I do. I remember writing enthusiastically about what could be and I was spectacularly wrong. I suppose we all had a sneaking feeling that David Cameron might squeeze back with a bit of help from some of the other parties but I, for one, never imagined a Conservative majority. Maybe, we try not to predict what we dread. Anyway, it seems a long time ago now.

Norman Baker loses in Lewes 

Another failed prediction was the defeat of my excellent local MP, the Liberal Democrat Norman Baker here in Lewes, UK and the election of a Conservative for this most Liberal of towns. I decided in my depression not to write about politics on these blogs for a bit because 1) I was getting it all wrong 2) I found it too depressing and 3) I was trying to get on with a book.

The Camerons back at No. 10

So there it was - David Cameron, the smarmy dilettante himself, back at Number Ten without even the troubled safety-net of his Liberal Democrat coalition partners. Since then it's been pretty much as that non-Conservative minority here in Britain feared while all around us the other parties appeared to disintegrate before our eyes. As far as politics in Britain was concerned, I thought it was time for a long lie down.

Anyway, I thought I would explain my silence here at wolfiewolfgang.com - the wolf was depressed and not a little disillusioned.

Then, if I wasn't feeling sad enough about Britain's politics, in June, there came the sad and tragically premature death of Charles Kennedy, former Liberal Democrat leader and, as everyone agreed, an able and truly decent man but also an imaginative politician whose career was thwarted by alcoholism .

Charles Kennedy

Since then of course we've had all those leadership contests and yet more predictions and contradictions - more hopes, fears and cynical sneers but, amazingly, I have to tell you, I'm feeling a optimistic again.

The Labour Party produced a big surprise by electing what many observers saw as a crazed left-wing fanatic as its new leader and, in spite of the negative media campaign against him, many people were surprised to find that Jeremy Corbyn was actually a nice, sensible kind of guy and that a lot of those crazed left-wing ideas were actually intelligent alternatives to the conservative received opinion of the last few decades. Most encouraging of all was his declared intention of taking the bombast and spin out of political debate.

Jeremy Corbyn

We were told by the commentators, and not a few sitting shadow ministers, that all might be OK under Corbyn if he didn't appoint another crazed left-winger, John McDonnell, as the Shadow Chancellor. Well he did and, you know what, we find out that Mr Mcdonnell is charming, witty and, yes, perfectly sensible too.

John McDonnell

I must be going soft after all that depression but I find myself liking these people - don't forget though that I always get it wrong.

More than that, I even like the new leader of the Liberal Democrats. Tim Farron too says it as he sees it and, you never know, he might be a decent, sensible guy too. He's now the leader of a tiny handful of MPs in Westminster and he will have a marathon of a job if his party is ever to recover its former strength but, don't give up on him, he could actually do it if the sneerers just stop to listen to what he has to say in the run up to that vital EU referendum.

Tim Farron

After the election and all the predictions of a surge, Britain decided to stick with just one Green MP, the splendid and effective Caroline Lucas and I'm glad about that. Who knows, as the new leaders settle in, she might find that she has more in common with Labour and the Lib Dems than we had thought. There's nothing depressing in having Caroline Lucas' Green voice at Westminster.

Caroline Lucas

I suppose the biggest surprise for me though was discovering that, after all my fears about Scotland leaving the Union, I found myself agreeing with many of the new input of Scottish Nationalist MPs after their triumph at the General Election. I still find Nationalism distasteful and, ultimately an old-fashioned philosophy, but, I'm persuaded by a lot of their other policies. You know, I've even got to like Alex Salmond, the former SNP leader and now a rather civilised and perceptive Westminster MP.

Alex Salmond

The 'Progressive Alliance' might not be quite so Utopian after-all - I hope that's true but, maybe I'm just getting soft over politicians. Looking at some of these people, I dream that we might, one day, find that there really could be an alternative to British conservatism.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

... and the rain came to Lewes

Yep, after all that sunshine here in Lewes, UK, things changed.....but remember....

...rain has its charms and, anyway...

...every time it rains, don't run under a train or anything like that, it's time to sit yourself down and watch an old film in black and white....

Monday, 24 August 2015

Virtual Writers ask me to remember why I wrote Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love.

The lively online writers' community, Virtual Writers, has asked me to do a questions and answers session about my novel Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love (published by Ward Wood Publishing). It was enjoyable thinking back over the time when I wrote it just when I'm finishing my new novel, Blue Notes, Still Frames (soon to be published by Ward Wood Publishing), and working on the third one, Over The Hills Is A Long Way Off.  All three novels are based in Brighton, UK, but in different decades - 1967, 1994 and 2017. Sometimes, it's difficult to remember what year I'm living in.

I'm grateful to Virtual Writers for encouraging me to go back to my first published novel and to remember or try to remember the impulses that led me to write it. If you'd like to find out what I said, here's the link:

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Death and fireball horror for travellers on my regular Sussex weekend drive.

A lot of people here in Sussex feel shaken by the horrific air-crash on the A27 road at Shoreham yesterday. So far the police have confirmed seven deaths after a plane attempting a loop at the annual Shoreham Airshow crashed into Saturday afternoon traffic on the busy road between Brighton and Worthing.

Horrible accidents happen every day all over the world but when they happen in such familiar surroundings, the reality of such things quite literally strikes home. This is the route I often take at weekends when driving from my home in Lewes to visit my mother in Worthing. I imagine that some of those killed yesterday were about just such a trip on a beautiful summer's afternoon.

We decided not to go this weekend because of the expected traffic build up around the Shoreham Air Show where you can often see the planes flying over head as you drive past. Instead of driving into that accident, I was sitting in my garden at home.

The pilot of a vintage Hawker Hunter was opening the afternoon session at the show with a loop which went very wrong ending with the plane coming too low and then struggling to avoid the trees lining the busy A27 road.

Former RAF pilot, Andy Hill, was seen at close quarters as he tried to gain height but he was now much too low.

The plane crashed into the side of the road creating an enormous fireball which resulted in the multiple deaths on the road. Extraordinarily the pilot wasn't killed and was rescued from the crash site and taken to hospital in Brighton where he is reported as being critically ill. The police say other bodies may still be found.

The whole event was watched by hundreds of spectators at the Shoreham Airfield and, of course, by hundreds more from their cars driving along the A27.

One of my sons rang telling me about this horrifying incident as he was worried that we mighty have been driving there at the time. He reminded me that when he was young I'd said we wouldn't go to an airshow because I'd told him that they were too dangerous.  That may well have been over-cautious on my part but I do wonder about the wisdom of having risky aircraft gymnastics next to a busy major road

One eye-witness said that there could have been even more traffic in the area of impact if the traffic lights hadn't just changed to red.

When the smoke cleared it became evident just how devastating the crash had been.

My sympathies are with those who have lost friends and family and for all those who were injured or shocked by this terrible event. Hopefully, action will be taken to prevent similar incidents here in the future. I know that I'm not alone today feeling lucky but also oddly guilty about not making that journey yesterday.