2017-01 DRARA newsletter article :: Remembering David Attwooll

2017-01 DRARA newsletter article

Remembering David Attwooll

Many people in our neighbourhood are missing David Attwooll, who died last August. This article was assembled with help from Trish, and draws on Kate’s tribute to her father published in the Guardian , https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/16/david-attwooll-obituary

David Attwooll: In Kate’s words, ‘the perfect English gentleman with a wild blues soul.’
Photo: Kate Attwooll

David Attwooll was many things – an innovative publisher, a talented drummer, and an award-winning poet, to name just three. In our community, he will be warmly remembered for the energy and sparkle he brought to neighbourhood life, whether he was playing cricket for the Southfield Superstars, helping out at a local event, or drumming with gusto for The Horns of Plenty.

Having grown up in south-west London and studied in Cambridge, David spent most of his adult life in Oxford. His first graduate job was with Oxford University Press, where he launched the World’s Classics, the Oxford Paperback Reference, and the Past Masters series, as well as spending some time in Nigeria and New York. At the end of the 80s, he moved to Random Century, launching the Vintage and Red Fox imprints and publishing the first British Encyclopedia CD-Roms, before setting up Helicon, his own reference publishing company. Seven years later, he sold his successful business to WH Smith, and founded Attwooll Associates, an award-winning licensing consultancy.

In the later stages of his professional life, David became Chair of Liverpool University Press and also chaired the British Council’s Publishing Advisory Committee. In Oxford, he was involved with a wide range of cultural groups, chairing Oxford Artweeks and the Board of Trustees for Oxford Contemporary Music, as well as serving on the advisory board of Oxford Inspires.

Music was very important in David’s life. At Cambridge, he drummed for the cult band Henry Cow, once supporting Pink Floyd, and in Oxford  he was part of Humphrey Carpenter’s 1930s-style jazz band, Vile Bodies. More recently, many of us will remember his infectiously enthusiastic drumming for the marvellous Horns of Plenty street band. This was probably the activity he missed most over the last year when he became unable to continue playing.

David on drums with some members of The Horns of Plenty
Photo: Jenny Lewis

David was an accomplished and thoughtful poet. Having written poems as a student, he returned to poetry at the age of 60, inspired by a course led by Jenny Lewis, and, in just a few years, earned national acclaim. He published three pamphlets, Surfacing (2013), Ground Work (2014), and Otmoor (2016), and one collection, The Sound Ladder (2015). He also loved taking part in poetry readings, including memorable sessions at the Albion Beatnik Store and Art Jericho.

In 2016, David was joint winner of the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year Award 2016. Sadly, this news came after his death, but the Attwoolls are putting his prize money towards a fund set up in David’s memory to help young people into the creative arts.  At the time of his death, he was working on a second collection of poems which will now be extended into a larger book of collected poems.

It was evident to everyone who knew him that family was central to David’s life, and he gained huge pleasure from family holidays and shared enthusiasms. Together, he and Trish travelled the globe, walked the Thames Path and the South Downs Way, enjoyed many happy family times in Cornwall, and set up a delightful pied-à-terre in Paris, which they shared generously with their friends.

As Kate wrote movingly, at the end of her Guardian tribute…
‘David was a wonderful husband and father, a brilliant friend, and the most modest of men, instantly filling those who knew him with a welcoming sense of human possibility and kindness.’

Trish, Will, Kate and Tom have chosen this poem of David’s:

Shotover Country Park


This steep hill was once on the London road:

a hazardous way through the woods with bands

of highwaymen. From a clearing we look south

to the gleaming Cowley Works and power station stacks

past Wittenham Clumps, monumental in the sun.

We pan across to motorways and the old Ridgeway

beyond, tracking forward, then tracking back.


Where paths fork there’s the power of crossroads:

Yoruba call it Eshu-Elegbara, trickster,

skirting the edge of chaos along the seam of past,

present, and other worlds. He energizes

tangled lines of force, dances to many different

drummers; interface god of messages, talk,

ambiguity, experiment, and choices.


Here, Shotover remembers the range it once covered,

aboriginal, retreating to safe high ground:

the privileged forest where kings rode with hounds

is boar-bereft, half a hill, a lopsided saddle.

There’s no nostalgia for a peasant’s burden,

agistment and pannage and quarrying ochre;

where swainmotes were held is now common land.


When our children were small and close

as the crook of my shoulder, tired from carrying

spades to split, dam, and direct the capillaries

of little streams in the hidden bowl

of the sandpit, these woods were an enormous

wilderness, enough to get lost in.

Sometimes on walks here I miss their sawny weight.


The children make their own way now, checking

luggage into terminals filled with charged static,

neon ghosts, and grey noise: scared, excited,

as I was when I flew straight to Lagos

for my first job, gazing down en route

at the Sahara and wide open space,

on my own, airborne, suddenly rootless.


David Attwooll


DRARA Freecycle day :: Sunday 19/03/2017 10:00-16:00

Started your spring cleaning? Clearing out furniture, books, kitchen or garden equipment, CDs, DVDs, or the toy box?

Don’t throw it away!  Don’t take it to the dump!

Give your unwanted things a new home!

It’s easy.

1.Put any unwanted items that could still be useful in your front garden on Freecycle Day
2.Put this flyer next to the items you want to freecycle and remove any items from your garden that you don’t want taken
3.Let someone else find them and give them a good home
4.Walk around and see what takes your fancy – you never know what you might find!

If you have any queries, please call Clare on 456185 or email events@drara.org.uk

DRARA Events planning meeting – What do we want to make happen this year??? Thu 19 Jan 2017 20:00 – 21:30 at 84 Divinity Road

Open to everyone, this meeting is where we kick start the events year. Together we share ideas of events we either want to do again or new ones that we think would be great to do. We discuss if we think we can actually commit to them, and then put a date to when would be good to run them. It’s as simple as that!

Our events have been amazing – they really have been brilliant ways for us all to get to know each other, try something new and find out more of interest. We can only commit however, to events if we know there are people prepared to actually help. We always like to have led person, but in addition, its about having several hands ready to do a bit that together makes the processes less onerous as well as enjoyable.

We already have a small group of fab events people – we would love to meet and hopefully add to our number….so come along and tell us what you think and hopefully, give a bit of time to make the year ahead as brilliant as last year!

Tamasin and Clare

An Evening with Dementia in Mind

Tues 22nd November 2016, 7.00pm at Southfield Golf Club, Hill Top Rd OX4 1PF
(Parking available)
In order to help us better understand dementia; the needs of those who live with it and their families and carers, Claire Sexton, from the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends Initiative, will be leading the evening. It should last 1–1.5 hrs depending on questions and discussion.
This is a Divinity Road Area Residents’ Association initiative, but is open to anyone who has an interest. Please do let people know that this event is taking place and put the date in your diary. If you are coming, it would be especially helpful if you could let us know.

Nick Welch: email: nickhgw92@gmail.com or Jo Gilmour: 01865 248576

For more information on the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative go to https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=2070


Warneford Meadow Apple Day, on Sunday 9th October 2016, 12-4pm.

Hot on the heals of a spectacular Film In the Street, our next event is Warneford Meadow Apple Day, on Sunday 9th October, 12-4pm.

It’s a wonderful chance to enjoy the amazing meadow and apple orchard on our doorstep and team up with your neighbours to gather and press apples under the expert guidance of Rupert Griffin from Tiddly Pommes. Bring a container, and you can take away some of the free juice!

In addition there will be:
– tea and cake stall (all cake and biscuit donations much appreciated!)
– fruit-themed face painting and apple games
– apple pie/cake competition, with prizes (ideally produced using apples from the orchard)

Apple Day is being held in the orchard itself this year – follow signs from the Hilltop Road entrance to the meadow.

And don’t forget…
– Bring a container for juice
– Arrive early if possible, as we can’t start pressing until we have collected a lot of apples!
– bring your apple cake or pie to enter the competition, and any donations for the cake stall
– bring picnic chairs or blankets if you want something to sit on
– kites are great fun in the meadow if there’s some wind, so bring a kite if you have one!

Unless the weather is really bad, apple day will go ahead (a bit of rain never did anyone any harm!).

Any questions, please get in touch with Tamasin on 421815, or email secretary@drara.org.uk


Freecycle Day :: Sunday 25th September 2016 10am-4pm


Need to make space? Clearing out furniture, books, kitchen or home
gadgets, CD’s, DVDs or the toy box? Don’t throw it away! Don’t take it to the dump! Give your unwanted things a new home! It’s easy. 1. Put any unwanted items that could still be useful in your front garden on Freecycle Day 2. Put this flyer next to the items you want to freecycle and remove any items from your garden that you don’t want taken 3. Let someone else find them and give them a good home 4. Walk around and see what takes your fancy – you never know what you might find! If you have any queries, please call Tamasin on 421815 or email events@drara.org.uk Meet your neighbours :: find treasures :: declutter your home!

Meal In The Street, Sat 9th July 2016

It’s back by popular demand!!
As much an institution as Film in the Street and strawberries and cream, Meal in the Street returns and YOU are warmly invited to come and make it an evening to remember!

This is very much our own street party, where we close the road, get things laid out and then have fun getting to know each other!

For younger residents we’ve got a swimming pool, a crown making workshop and our very own Emma Boor who will perform her fantastic Caterpillar Cafe. We’ll put the BBQ’s on from 5pm, so you can cook your sausages for those needing an earlier supper.

The evening kicks off in style at 7pm. “The Paper Boys”, a local band of young lads are set to get toes tapping and warm us up ahead of “The Meal” which starts serving from 7.30pm.

The idea is to bring a dish of food to place on the communal tables (we’ll have different tables for savoury and sweet). We have 4 BBQ’s that will be hot and ready for you to cook any specific things you want to eat. We will have dedicated vegetable BBQ’s, but please be aware that we cannot safely cater for any allergies. Fresh strawberries, cream and meringues will be on sale too!!

Remember to bring your own plate and cutlery. You need to bring your own drinks and glasses too – but if you forget, its not too far to pop home and get them…

We will have a welcome return of two young singers from our community – Lucy Gibbons and Phoebe Alexander, who will whisk us away with their latest vocals during the evening.

The evening will be capped off with a wonderful firework display, created by Ivon – a legendary pyrotechnic in our midst!
Can you help make it a success?
We know that many hands make light work. Plus, its fun to make it all happen together. Can you help out for a bit of time ahead, during or to clear up?

We close the street at 3pm and always have jobs for people willing to put out tables, chairs and road signs. We will light BBQ’s, erect the pool and puppet theatre, and generally make it look great.

Clear up is always a time to have people who are prepared to tidy down super fast and easily.

Anyone who is up for having fun, please let either Linda know or email me back – Thanks!!
And if it rains…?? We have booked the Richard Benson Hall and will be able to enjoy nearly everything planned (the newly restored Church hall beside SS Mary and John Church on Cowley Road). So put the date in your diary!!

For residents of Minster Road, please be reminded that you will need to park in a different street by 3pm on Saturday 9th. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may create for you. The road re-opens at midnight.

Meal in the street poster for online FINAL

DRARA Picnic in the Park – Sunday 26 June 2016, 11am to 2pm

Our DRARA in the Park community get-togethers have proved really popular, we’ve played boules, balanced on the slackline, played rounders and taken football penalties, fired (stomp) rockets, hidden in the trees, munched biscuits, downed mugs of tea and had a good natter!

Unfortunately our planned picnic in the park on 12th June had to be cancelled due to the downpours (they were quite extreme), but we have reschedule our DRARA Picnic in the Park to Sunday 25th June, from 11am to 2pm… as before, just the simple, but appealing, idea of meeting up for a community picnic in our favourite park!

In recognition of the Queen’s 90th birthday, we’ve been given some funding towards our community events and want to use some of this to create some wonderful DRARA bunting together, that can be used at all future events. All materials provided – please come along and join in! (children and adults!)

So bring your picnic and picnic rugs, and lets make the most of our park.

Tamasin and Clare
PS Please tell your neighbourhood friends, and print the poster and display in your window if you can!

2016-06-26 picnic in the park