Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Coleridge, Iron Maiden and the Paris students by Miriam Halahmy

I am holding a version of the Rime edited by Sassie, Anne Rooney.
After visiting a Paris school in January to run workshops on Peace and Tolerance, the Sixth Form students came to London last week on a literary tour and I invited them up to Highgate Village. I was keen to share my enthusiasms for Coleridge, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and all the literary connections in Highgate.  The students walked up Highgate Hill which warmed them up on that cold and drizzly Sunday and I told them about the Dick Whittington.

Painted by Ben Wilson, Chewing Gum artist.
Our first stop was my chewing gum painting, completed by Ben Wilson in 2010. I told the students how Coleridge and Keats had met in 'Poets Lane'/ Millfield Lane and shaken hands. Afterwards Coleridge had said that Keats was 'not long for this world.' Keats died the following year aged 25. All of this was recorded by Ben on a tiny piece of chewing gum and as you can imagine, the students were bowled over.

We then walked on to number 3, The Grove, where Coleridge lived for the last 18 years of his life with the Gilmans. Dr Gilman helped him to reduce his addiction to laudanum. I read extracts from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner to the students and explained how Coleridge was a radical, influenced by the French Revolution and often regarded with deep suspicion in England as a possible traitor. An outsider, who suffered terrible nightmares, the ancient mariner reflects so much of the character of the poet.

The students in The Grove near Coleridge house
where Kate Moss now lives!

"Aha!" says Viktor ( the one with the thumb up in the photo and long hair) "have you heard the Iron Maiden version of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner?"
No, I hadn't - I mentioned that when I grew up Led Zeppelin was rather popular -
 Viktor - who plays just about every musical instrument - learnt to play guitar bass to 'Whole Lotta Love' when he was only twelve!
But if you are keen to follow this up - here is the Youtube link to Iron Maiden and the Rime. It is quite mind blowing!

It was lovely renewing all my friendships with the Paris school. These students will be leaving next term and going on to university in the autumn. I have been invited back to the school in October to run more workshops for their European peace project. But I won't be seeing Viktor and Janis and Julie and all their friends again. I wish them all the best and it was great to take them round one of my favourite bits of London. Salut mes amis!

Now we are friends on Facebook and here are some of the comments.
"C'etait geniale, Miriam...thank you for your visit, I enjoy to see you again." Julie.
"We really enjoyed visiting Highgate Village, it was interesting and fun." Janis.



Sue Hyams said...

What a great post! And I love the chewing gum painting!

Richard said...

Iron maiden's Rime (I know it well; I have it on vinyl) isn't the only metal version of Coleridge, although it is probably the most faithful and the loudest. There's also Rush's Xanadu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAoUgKVpe10 Be patient; the lyrics start at about 4:30. It doesn't follow the poem, and it doesn't agree with my interpretation, but it's a very good piece.

Miriam Halahmy said...

Many thanks Richard - I'll check it out and then see if Viktor in Paris knows it too.

Lynda Waterhouse said...

Formidable Miriam! Your passion and enthusiasm shines through - what a great experience for the students before they move on to the next stage of their lives.