A building is not a book

Can we change the world by the way we build? Possibly, but building – architecture – comes at the end of a social process. Whether it’s a humble shed, a magnificent concert hall, a zero-energy office building, or a massive new government complex, it is a cultural act that must first be planned, decided upon and initiated as a result of people agreeing on a set of ideas. A building is not an idea – it can only be an expression of ideas. Those ideas evolve through social exchange and communication. In the beginning were words. There was never a building as powerful as a book.

Francis Cadbury talks about ‘Inland’

This is the original, unedited version of the first interview that, to the best of my knowledge, has ever been conducted with Francis Cadbury. You will be able to find ‘Inland’ and other poems by Cadbury on instagram and twitter.

Paul Downton:     Hi, I’d like you to meet a long-lost friend of mine, Francis Cadbury.

Francis Cadbury:     Hello.

PD:     Francis, it’s been a helluva long time; I was beginning to think you were just a figment of my imagination! So, what are you up to these day?

FC:     I needed a platform for some of my ramblings and I discovered that you were now styling your Ecopolis site as a publisher. I didn’t know any publishers and I know you from a long time ago, so… but, now look, you said this interview would be respectful and I take umbrage about being dismissed as a figment of your imagination! We could end this now if you so desire.

PD:     Sorry Francis, that was more a commentary about me rather than you. I’d like us to continue, if that’s ok? I’m…

FC:     Okay. I feel a little uneasy but carry on and let’s not spin this out any longer than it needs to be.

PD:     Gotcha.

FC:     Gotcha? You’re an imitation American now are you? I swear the English language is dying the death of a thousand cuts. The best English I hear these days comes from Singapore! (sighs) To quote one of your favourite songsmiths ‘I guess I just wasn’t made for these times’.

PD:     You’re notoriously camera-shy and, if I may say so, reclusive, so I’ll try and keep this brief – yes, and respectful – and look, you know you can always stop me if…

FC:     I can walk out. I can magically disappear with the press of a button, or swipe or whatever it is I do. One of the very few benefits of our ‘virtual’ world.

PD:     Yes. Yes, of course. Francis, let me say it really is good to be talking with you again after all this time and I feel humbled and honoured…

FC:     Oh for goodness sake Paul! You know I hate that kind of phoney language! I thought you did too, that’s one of the reasons I contacted you.

PD:     Sorry, yes, I do try to avoid being ‘humbled’ and ‘honoured’, it is so much bullshit nowadays.

FC:     So how about asking some questions? Skip the flattery, which you’ve failed at anyway, and let’s cut to the chase, as they say. A strange expression when you think about it; came out of the US film industry early in the twentieth century…

PD:     Thank you. Okay. When did you start writing poetry? I don’t remember you being much interested in poetry when we were younger.

FC:     I was. Like a lot of people I liked it and wrote it but felt a bit of trepidation about sharing it.

PD:     What made you decide to share it? Was there some catalysing event or trigger?

FC:     I realised I was getting older. Simple as that.

PD:     From what I’ve seen of your work so far I think it would be hard to pin you down to a particular genre or style, although you do seem to be fond of rhyming couplets. Would you consider yourself to be a traditionalist?

FC:     I don’t consider myself to be anything. I write what feels right. With ‘traditionalism’ becoming a dirty word now I certainly wouldn’t want my work tagged with something that’s increasingly becoming what, in my view, is a pejorative, so no, I’m not a ‘traditionalist’.

PD:     You seem to avoid obscuratanism – you seem to favour poems that have to the potential to be accessible to a wider public.

FC:     That’s nice of you to say so. I want people to feel they can understand and relate to my poems. Usually.

PD:     Usually?

FC:     Usually.

PD:     Well, it will be interesting to see how your work is received.

FC:     Yes.

PD:     And you’re about to start putting up a sort of mini-epic on Instagram and Twitter?

FC:     You should know, you’ve been helping me set that up.

PD:     Yes. And your little epic is called ‘Inland’. I’ve been reading it and sometimes I can’t work out how much your tongue is in your cheek and how much is wordplay and how much is deadly serious political and social commentary.

FC:     Your problem. Not mine.

PD:     And you’ve been working fairly closely with Trudy Hollow on ‘Inland’ haven’t you? I don’t know Trudy…

FC:     And you probably never will.

PD:     Is she your muse? Your editor? A co-writer?

FC:     That’s for me to know. Suffice to say, without her ‘Inland’ wouldn’t have come together the way it has.

PD:     She’s a vital part of that poem?

FC:     She is. But I’m not sure it’s really a single poem. It has 216 verses at our last count and they don’t always scan the same way. Plus they can be read in any order the reader sees fit. It might be better to think of ‘Inland’ as a thematic compendium of work. We call ourselves ‘expedictionaries’. It’s an exploration of words and the human condition, if you want to be pointy-headed about it. With some seasoning of humour here and there.

PD:     That’s a great description Francis, thank you.

FC:     It is what it is.

PD:     And Trudy?

FC:     We are who we are.

PD:     Meaning?

FC:     I think this interview is over now, Paul, so if you don’t mind – and even if you do – I’m finished for now. It has been interesting to catch up with you, let’s leave it at that, shall we?

PD:     Are you still…?

FC:     I have to think about it. You’re well aware of how much I despise social media and the whole modern paraphenalia of half-baked virtual existence, but I do need a publisher. Don’t call me, wait and see.

Francis isn’t always the easiest interviewee by all accounts, but I’ve continued to receive material from Francis Cadbury and Ecopolis will publish more in due course.




On Thursday 19 March I made a number of changes to the ecopolis site. These are designed to streamline the menus, clean up its presentation and clarify its purpose.
A similar exercise will be undertaken with the Paul Downton site in the next day or two.

The challenging tedium of building an online shop…

I’d thought my ‘shop’ was ready to rock and roll, but there’s still a step I haven’t figured out yet. But hey, I’m a writer! And I must confess that I harbour a strong antipathy to having to derail my brain in order to translate techspeak into understandable instructions just to be able to sell a few words. But such is life. Stay with me folks!

Book of Doggerel available soon!

Just as soon as I’ve loaded the necessary software and confirmed that this site is sufficiently secure, I’ll be putting my toe in the water of the oceanic internet to make a booklet available that has been inspired by a small white canine. Yes, really.
It’s called The Carrum Doggerel Collection – Pooch Poetry by Snowy Dog. He wrote it, I translated and illustrated it, Chérie edited it, and the local dog-on-the-beach community seem to love it! So I hope you will too. You can follow Snowy Dog on Instagram: instagram.com/snowy_dog2015

Spam and nonsense

I thought the idea of a spam catcher was to stop the stuff clogging up the site. Maybe I got the settings wrong. Anyhow, now that I’ve got rid of over 4,300 ‘pending comments’, I’m hoping things might speed up, improve, whatever. And it’s high time I got the site active as intended.
I’ve made some adjustments to change my status to retired architect as I’m now focussing on writing, drawing, and survival!
The nonsense? That’s a whole lot of verse I’ve been condemned to write by my fevered brain. You’ll be able to see some soon on the pauldownton.org.au site and on this publishing site for my various musings you’ll eventually be able to purchase a little booklet.