by Norman Warwick

Also in attendance, along with Ray, Robin and Eileen, at a recent  evening´s virtual poetry reading event presented by Those Bard From The Baum in Rochdale, were jazz poet Steve Bewick, the wordsmith Katie Haigh and her daughter Ashleigh and our old friend Maureen Harrison who delivered an intriguing poem that delivered completely an opposite meaning when read from bottom to top. This was really clever stuff and, spoken at first in the voice of a very guilty narrator, was so very contemporary and socially relevant. If anyone knows the name of this upside down technique, please feel free to let me know at normanwarwick55@gmail.com.

Ray Stearn invoked the spirit of rustic poet John Clare by reading the poet´s piece, Badger. Or rather, Ray read only the first verse, suggesting the rest of the poem might be too red in tooth and claw for our sensitive ears.

Whatever savagery might have been inflicted by or upon the Badger we were informed by Michael Higgins that even worse savagery has historically been exchanged between Welsh and English patriots, though whether he meant physically or purely in literary and intellectual terms was not made clear.

According to Michael, author of a recent excellent post on this subject for Sidetracks & Detours, it turned out, anyway, that Taffy Was Not A Welshman.

Katie Haigh and her daughter Ashleigh read a piece that previewed this weekend´s televised semi-final of Britain´s Got Talent, in which the Rochdale based charity group ´sign along with us´ will be competing This is an organisation that came into being when the sheer joy on the face of four year old Christian Kilduff, who endures profound deafness, whenever his eighteen year old sister, Jade not only sings, but also signs to him, the words she is singing. Jade is ais a friend of Ashleigh Haigh, and the two of them and Ashleigh´s mum Katie, have worked really hard, along with others, to publicise this great success.

To the new friends I ´met´ at this zoom event but with names I couldn´t catch, I´d like to say thanks for making me welcome and for supplying  evidence to my firm belief that Rochdale is a hot-bed of compassionate and creative talent.

Robin Parker

More evidence was provided when Robin Parker read his first piece. He mentioned Rochdale´s proud tradition of marking the UN International Day of Peace. In recent years individuals and organisation from the whole spectrum of the Borough´s richly diverse communities have come together in the Town Hall to demonstrate a common desire to create a more peaceful world and I´m sure Robin, a former mayor of Rochdale will have participated on World Peace Day with the town´s multi-faith group he has supported for so long.

´For obvious reasons, however,´ said Robin. ´this will not be possible this year, so we need alternative ways to mark the day.

The 2020 theme for the International Day of Peace is Shaping Peace Together and all members of the public are invited to:

•        Celebrate the day by spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of the pandemic.

•        Stand together against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred, including those based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

There is currently much dialogue and individual thought being devoted to the ‘new normal’ not only in terms of coping with current changes but also with identifying what the future should look like – ‘shaping peace together’.

We can:

•        Share our thoughts about ‘shaping peace together – the new normal’ through such as poems, stories, statements, videos, visual art etc.

•        Celebrate our richly diverse cultural heritage by sharing words and images that raise our collective awareness and promote greater understanding and tolerance in the wider community.

Steve Cooke
all across the arts

Steve Cooke, of our sister company all across the arts in Rochdale, has told residents that he is willing to collect contributions to the above and then share on 21st September on the website allacrossthearts.com and across social media.

This is the launch of an on-going sharing that Steve and his all across the arts colleagues would be happy to curate online with a view to creating a physical exhibition when we arrive at less restricted new normal.

Robin, therefore urged all those attending the zoom event this evening to participate in and contribuite to World Peace day if possible.

The International Day of Peace Organisation has announced that this year the day will be celebrated on Monday 21 September and that further details are available at


The organisation proclaims itself to be ´United in differences and diversity´ and reminds us that living together in peace is all about accepting differences and having the ability to listen to, recognize, respect, and appreciate others, as well as living in a peaceful and united way.

This year, it has been clearer than ever that we are not each other’s enemies. Rather, our common enemy is a tireless virus that threatens our health, security and very way of life. COVID-19 has thrown our world into turmoil and forcibly reminded us that what happens in one part of the planet can impact people everywhere.

For the United Nations, the year 2020 had already been identified as year of listening and learning.

To mark its 75th anniversary, the UN has invited millions of people worldwide to join UN75, the largest and furthest-reaching global conversation on building the peaceful and prosperous future that we want.

As we struggle to defeat COVID-19, your voice is more important than ever. In these difficult times of physical distancing, this International Day of Peace will be dedicated to fostering dialogue and collecting ideas. The world will be invited to unite and share thoughts on how to weather this storm, heal our planet and change it for the better. Even though we may not be able to stand next to each other, we can still dream together.’

António Guterres
Secretary General Of United Nations

In an annual message the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres. declares:

‘Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19.

The virus does not care about ethnicity or nationality, faction or faith.  It attacks all, relentlessly.

Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world. 

The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price.

They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.

Let’s not forget that in war-ravaged countries, health systems have collapsed.

Health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted.

Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable.

The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.

End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.

That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.

It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.

To warring parties, I say:

Pull back from hostilities. 

Put aside mistrust and animosity.

Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.

This is crucial…

To help create corridors for life-saving aid.

To open precious windows for diplomacy.

To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Let us take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties to enable joint approaches to COVID-19.  But we need much more.

End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.

It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.’

That and, I´m sure Robin Parker and Steve Cooke would add, writings  from Rochdale people to continue the town´s proud World Peace Day Traditions.

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