From Bluewater we went to West Malling and the reason for the trip. In a previous post I wrote about a joint venture, music and poetry, with my composer friend, Nigel Clarke (his website here). This was the big day: the world premier of What Hope Saw, A Heritage Suite, composed by Nigel especially for the occasion, preceded by the reading of my poem of the same name (also composed for the occasion). I am going to bore you all with a number of posts for this was an extraordinary and humanly very rich experience. Let me start with West Malling. It’s ‘just off the M20’ and I realised as we drove there that I must have driven past the turning off the motorway hundreds of times without noting the name properly, let alone thinking of going there. In fact, West Malling is a picturesque and historic Kent town with a number of distinctive buildings and landmarks. In May 1999 the local borough council (Tonbridge and Malling) allocated £ 15,000 for a public art initiative. The result was a sculpture, Hope, on the village green, done by local sculptor Sarah Cunnington. A woman, dove in hand, runs forward. Her cloak billows out behind her, and on it are depicted various scenes from the town’s rich history. The scenes include West Malling’s market, its airfield, its hop gardens and orchards, one of the first games of cricket, its Abbey, Wyatt’s rebellion (finally crushed near here), the Black Death (that left just 15 inhabitants alive), and a community of Benedictine nuns.