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The 2010 CONFERENCE Overview

Geoffrey Winch

Mary Simmonds

 

My Conference (2010)

Christopher Uren

 

I first joined the Society in nineteen-eighty and within three years plucked up the courage to attend the Powys Society Annual conference which that year took place in Weymouth, fitting start for any voyager into the world of Powys. I was very nervous at first, not having any literary background or credentials, but I found all the members present most genial and inviting. Having collected and read a large number of Powys books in the preceding six years stood my in good stead and I was able to participate in many a good conversation. At that time I was privileged to meet several people such as Derrick Stephens, Kenneth Hopkins, Isobel Powys Marks, Bill Degenhardt and many more. I attended four conferences in the early nineteen-eighties but then other work and family issues beckoned me away. I still continued to be an avid reader and collector of all things Powys.

Twenty three years on, still a member of the Society, a regular visitor to the Powys website, and with family responsibilities diminishing I was attracted to the idea of making a physical presence at a Powys meeting. This happened to be at Dorchester in May 2009. Here I met a few familiar faces and made many more new friends. I felt I had never been away. It was here that I first learned of the 2010 conference.

This year I again attended the Powys Day in Dorchester. Meeting someone who actually remembered me from the early eighties, I now felt that this was the time for my return to the Powys Annual conference. Living in Cornwall, Street and Glastonbury are but a few hours’ drive and I left home full of anticipation hoping to meet new friends and be reunited with old ones.

The hotel seemed very functional at first, but within a very short time, with the conference in full swing, it became a very cosy venue and I cannot emphasise how friendly and helpful were the staff. The conference went off to a good start with “A Personal Approach to a Glastonbury Romance” by Paul Weston. This focussed on the mystical nature of Glastonbury, prompting a hot debate in the bar afterwards, something I am sure that John Cowper himself would have enjoyed. Next morning after a hearty breakfast we were graced by the presence of Harald Fawkner with his talk,” Modes of Regeneration in a Glastonbury Romance.” This offered a Naturalistic approach, almost a complete contrast to that of Paul Weston, prompting yet further hot debate.

The next presentation came as light refreshment to the heavy philosophy. Stephen Powys Marks gave a fascinating study of his family tree, concentrating on the not-so-known other Powys branch of the family. Stephen’s mother, Isobel, was a “double-dyed Powys as her father A. R. Powys married Dorothy Powys from this other distant branch of the tree. He focussed on Caroline Powys, a keen “journalist “ who gave us a fascinating insight to late eighteenth, early nineteenth century life of the gentry at that time.

In the afternoon we were given a guided tour up and over Wirral, “Wearyall,” hill by Paul Weston. From here one can see the whole expanse of Glastonbury new and old, and at the northern end the canvas on which was painted the chapter “Maundy Thursday.” I could almost picture Mad Bet  running off down this hill. In the evening we viewed the much anticipated short film of the screen tests John Cowper Powys and Bertrand Russell. We were then treated to a slide show and reading from the Powys sisters of the visits to brother Will in Africa.

The following morning we were treated to an excellent presentation by Anthony O’ Hear revealing his philosophical interpretation of A Glastonbury Romance. The conference concluded with the AGM and a Powys quiz. Lunch followed then we had to say our “good-byes” and off home. I would certainly recommend attending the conference to all who have not done so. It is quite an experience and the members who attend are a good cross-section of society but possess that spark that all true Powys lovers possess.

From The Powys Society Newsletter, No 71, Nov 2010

Christopher Uren

 

[I am a Biomedical Scientist who has worked in the Microbiology department of  the Royal Cornwall Hospital for over thirty years. I am married with two children at university and live in Falmouth. I first read A Glastonbury Romance at the age of twenty-one, some thirty-three years ago and have been “hooked” ever since.]

 

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