It is with great sadness that the first Tower post is to mourn the sad loss of our good friend Bill Griffiths.
9.45-am Saturday 15 September
This time Last Saturday was Dialect Day : the
The other week he came to tea after one of his popular meetings at Gateshead Library he was really delighted with the reception of his new book Pitmatic and so we were looking forward to a terrific Dialect Day.
When he didn’t arrive till ten I was surprised but he explained that he had been waiting at the Station for a friend who was coming from London and he then spent time anxiously giving 'Steve' instructions on how to get to the Tower on his mobile phone. The tower is famously difficult to find.
By the time I came back from the Co-op with the milk, coffee and buns he had already gathered a group of people together and was hard at it listening, talking and explaining and directing friends to pamphlets.
At one point when there was a lull Bill had a little nap. That was not unusual for Bill as he drives himself so hard. It only dawned on me gradually that all was not well for as one group dispersed and another was forming he looked pretty exhausted and then began to tell me to my horror that he had discharged himself from hospital the previous week.
We decided by two that he should get a taxi back home. I said I would look after the books. The rest of the day went well according to the way he had set it up a lot of friends asked about him. His books are beautiful, the work is amazing.
I last spoke to Bill on the phone on Monday I think his friend was still with him.
You never really tell your friends how much you appreciate them but Bill like Bunting was an enormous presence in the literary revival in the North East and it will be some time before we can understand the full measure of the heritage they have bequeathed. Bill will be sorely missed.
Morden Tower 15-09-07 - post
(photograph by Joanna Voit)Bill’s funeral will be on Wednesday September 26th at Sunderland Crematorium at 2 p.m.
RACHMANINOV, TEA and A ROOM FULL OF LOVED PIANOS
Kevin Cadwallender 2007-09-17 : Email 00.42
Bill Griffiths in our thoughts
I just want to add to Kevin’s fine appreciation that Bill Griffiths was in our thoughts last week when Kevin and I were meeting for a chat and cuppa on my balcony. We both exchanged fond reminiscences of Bill without realising that he was ill. Bill would have enjoyed the context of talking about poets and poetry in the autumn sunshine as the birds were diving around the sky. I would like to pay tribute to the modest scholarly man who also had the fiercest poetry passions. I visited Bill in Seaham to ask his advice about Anglo-Saxon and how it might have sounded. His translation of the Battle of Maldon is one of my treasured possessions and has been around my classes a lot and passed onto students. Bill was also a funny man with a dry sense of humour as his book of ghost stories bear witness. He was a clever critic of modern Britain. His hatred of the modern culture never let him forget to make a witty aside at its expense. One of my favourite memories is of him reading a poem at Morden Tower about visiting a supermarket. It had the same quality of burlesque as the passage from James Joyce’s Ulysses when Bloom ascends to the heavens in a chariot. I was also present when he and Barry MacSweeney read at the Voice Box in London in the years when Barry was fighting his alcohol addiction. Bill’s gentleness and care towards Barry were exemplary. When Colpitts Poetry was fighting its battle for survival, Bill was one of the many senior poets who supported our cause. We know that he bore Love and Hate on his knuckles from his biker days. What an extraordinary mixture he was of those deep passions, hating pomposity, greed and the debasement of culture, and loving his native Durham, classical music and avant-garde poetry. He kept hope alive just by living the way he did.
Jackie Litherland 18-09-07 Email 09.35