Sadly, the guest poet had to cancel, and, in a helpful and completely mad moment, I offered to step in. And now I can’t find my glasses as I’m about to read to seventy-odd children and adults, from a book of Basho’s beautiful haiku. It’s another Lewes Junior Film Club event: the films are poignant and very poetic – The Red Balloon and White Mane, both made in the 50’s by Albert Lamorisse. Before the showing, the kids sit at the tables in All Saints, drawing up storyboards (involving Lewes and – yes – a red balloon) and now (when it comes to it) I suddenly get nervous. I read a couple of haiku that I made up; we’re to make some up together on a big smeary white board.

Once on the Kisoji trail in Japan I stepped on a snake (apart from snakes and bears, there are very sophisticated toilets on the trail) so I tell them this:

Scared by a snake on the path–
How comforting is a warmed
toilet seat!

which gets a bit of a laugh. After the first film, the kids write messages on tickets hanging from a great cluster of red balloons, and then burst out into the sun in All Saints’ churchyard to launch them.

Silent stone walls.
Then a squeaking red eruption
Up! go the balloons


One red balloon
Drifts along the golden street
Looking for an owner

Seventeen syllables do not
a haiku make–