… even if the rose at its centre is black and not exactly a Gertrude Jekyll, or a Dusty Springfield (no – really) or Peace rose. Though peace is one of the concepts at the heart of the project. And, come to think of it, more than a fair few of Dusty’s songs apply too.
So inevitably it rained for the official opening of the MK Rose on Saturday, November 9. But were the spirits of those attending dampened? Maybe a little, though the idealism still shone through – as, inevitably, did the sun as proceedings drew to a close – and hearts were gladdened. It’s worth mentioning Mayor Brian White’s speech was especially worthy of the occasion. There were a lot more people there for that than the photo suggests. Forget all the jokes, there’s a pride to be had in being a citizen of Milton Keynes. Here at Lillabullero we have got somewhat behind in our chronicling labours of late so (reproduced here with his permission) I think I’ll leave it to the capable hands and fine words of MK’s Poet Laureate Mark Niel to tell what it’s all about:
A Place To Be: for the opening of the MK Rose
by Mark Niel
And so we are gifted a Rose
that speaks of love
and so much more.
A unique space:
from amazing grace
to Olympic gold,
of triumph and tragedy
are simply, honestly told.
A place to grieve
in that sea of liquid loss
only true love knows,
A place to count the cost
paid too many times
in war’s countless bitter blows.
A place to think
and be inspired
by giants that have gone before;
the inventors and pioneers
that helped unpick the
locks of once closed doors.
A place to be proud
of our citizens
like Jim Marshall, our Father of Loud;
Doreen Adcock, who taught us to swim;
John Newton, a turned round life
captured in his famous hymn.
A place where pillars teach us;
in marble letters,
and whether your faith is in
higher or human beings,
a place to decide “I will be better”.
A place for kisses on Valentine’s day,
for Patron Saints and
festivals of light,
for thanks and tears on Armistice Day,
honouring those who fought and
lost their fight.
A place that will shape
how the world sees us
and how we see the world,
A place for the unexpected;
for May Day dance and
wisdom’s greatest pearls.
Let the MK Rose be
a new member of your family.
There’s only one in the world and it’s ours!
So use it, visit on days
that are special to you
to remember or simply lay flowers.
The city has been gifted a Rose,
a place of reflection and grace.
Let us now own it, make it our space.
If you want more on the background to the project, including some fascinating illustrative material from artist Gordon Young‘s pictorial research prior to producing the designs for his impressive creation (along with some future developments in Campbell Park) then the official website is the place to go: http://www.mkrose.co.uk/index.html. You can also find more of Mark’s poems there. Most of the marble pillars bear an inscription and a date – the blanks are built-in future-proofing – many of local relevance. It’s a shame they haven’t (as of 18.11.13) kept up with the pillars now actually there on The Rose on the website – for there are more installed now than listed.
One I personally was particularly pleased to see included in the quirky pantheon was writer Jack Trevor Story‘s (Click on the picture to enlarge if you can’t read the inscription). I’ve blogged about his work here on Lillabullero and intend to do more. Completely in the spirit of the Rose is the text that continues out of sight:
In the same vein the pillar for another local writer from another century, William Cowper, gives the full text of his To the Immortal Memory of the Halibut, on which I Dined This Day, Monday April 26, 1784.
Some, including a few local British Legion branches, have objected to the Rose in principle – saying an Armistice Day commemoration has no place being anywhere near a pillar for National Joke Day (as it happens, July 1) – but there was a dignified non-religious civic ceremony there on Monday, 11th November, at which the British Legion was represented. The joke about the International Joke Day pillar is that … well look at the picture (and some very bad jokes were made as part of the opening ceremony). The point of the MK Rose is to echo what used to be the News of the World‘s motto – “All human life is there” – without the prurience and the paper’s dark side.
I bet gigging with Whitesnake back in the day (1978, as it happens) rock guitarist Bernie Marsden could never have imagined a day like this (that’s Mark Niel at the back in the photo, him with the poppy). Jim Marshall – ‘The Father of Loud’ – was a big benefactor and sponsor to various causes in MK, including the MK Dons, as his business blossomed in Bletchley. Jim Marshall’s pillar has an electricity plug wired in. I shall now commit an incredibly corny bit of rhetoric as I tell you that Whitesnake‘s first UK hit was a cover of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s Aint no love in the heart of the city. Cue pantomime response please.
The Wolverton Silver Band were part of the celebrations – of course. The melancholy of a decent silver band’s sound never ceases to get to me. Playing in a marquee because of the rain, some of their instruments added a neat parallel bit of found geometrical art and design to proceedings: