There’s a natural mystic flowing through the air…

One does not, my dear, associate the Rastafarian religion with notoriously white, notoriously middle-class Bath – yet hidden in this World Heritage city, once visited by the likes of Jane Austin and the Romans, you will find one of the most important pilgrimage sites of the Rastafarian Religion in Europe.

Rastafarian Community of Bath, Bristol and beyond celebrate Haile Selassie’s Birthday at Fairfield House, Bath

With heavy dreadlocks hanging around their shoulders, or wrapped up in colourful head scarves, the regular and joyful throb of drums beat amidst the occasional sweet waft of weed floating in the air, Rastafarian’s from Bristol, London and beyond recently met at Bath’s Fairfield House to celebrate the birthday of their most celebrated divine leader, Haile Selassie.

Bath has enjoyed it’s fair share of celebrities over the years but none have ever quite matched up to the day His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I swept into town. With royal lineage descending back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Haile Selassie I was of a royal pedigree simply unimaginable to most people.

There was great bewilderment in 1936, the year Haile Selassie arrived, Bathonian’s at that time would have only seen or imagined a black African King as part of a story in a picture book. His attire, an imposing, black, sweeping cape, alongside servants bearing parasols among his retinue was met with both astonishment and awe.

The Emperor, also known as: His Imperial Majesty, King of Kings and Lion of Judah, chose England as a place of exile after the Italian fascist Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, then known as Abyssinia, in a bid to colonise the country. In London, the Foreign Office decided it would be too dangerous to host Haile Selassie in the capital and suggested their ‘visitor ‘enjoy his ‘stay’ in the West.

Haile Selassie bought Fairfield House during his extended stay in Bath – which lasted almost five years. Today the property contains artefacts, furniture and memories of his life there, the Trust which runs the house also supports several charities, hosts art exhibitions and is currently raising much needed money to maintain this beautiful and historical Victorian villa.

Ras Bandale & Felix
Ras Bandale & Felix

I visited Fairfield House recently, with my son Felix, to experience the rich history of Haile Selassie, we were warmly welcomed by the Rastafari community who were there to commemorate the birthday of His Majesty. It was a joyous afternoon filled with music, sunshine, generosity, plenty of food and kindness – the people of Bath should be extremely proud of this unique and extraordinary piece of Bath, Ethiopian and Rastafarian history.

As poet Benjamin Zephaniah beautifully illustrated in this poem of Haile Selassie and his former home in Bath:

“This is the place,

This is the place, that the Emperor said would be African for countless moons,

This is the place,

This is the city that stretched forth its hands,

This is the house and this is the land,

And as long as the people of Bath live and breathe,

This is the place,

And would you believe…

That as Ethiopians were holding back Rome,

This is the place the Emperor called home.”

If you would like to help with fund-raising or volunteering at Fairfield House then get in touch with Trust Chairman, Steve Nightingale at or online at


Forgive me this confabulation of fromage – but it is, indeed, National Poetry, err, The States, but I assume I can still join in?…Seeing as we are all part of the global cheese eating community, what?


 My Cheesepuff
In cahoots with le toots…..

This boy whose ripe semen
made my whole body teemen-
with babies.

This man of just thirty-five-
when we kissed, made me feel so alive.
With love and lust, with crazed, wild-headed amor.
And although we were always so, so poor.
We were rich with simplicity,
Just two babies, him and me.
No mortgage, no home, no sense of 2.4
A bycycle, some lycra.

But we always wanted more…

A dusty jeep in the Spanish mountains,
a French farmhouse…and space for counting
our children, as four became five.
A wilderness, a desert, a city, a community
That certain something, a je ne sais quoi, that will make us blissful with glee…

Of course, we already have it,
Me and my cheese puff.
We already have quite, quite enough,
And more, but that won’t stop us looking
We will never stop cooking-
Up; plans and adventures, dreams and desires,
Of stories to tell our grandchildren round campfires.

British Happiness

In search of that elusive elixir: joie de vivre, I stumbled upon this BBC article which unviels the five happiest places in the UK, according to research from the government.

Tellingly all five are in remote regions – far from large, sprawling, commercial hubs; environments offering a simpler way to live, a sense of community, less industry, concrete and wide, open, green spaces.

But, we knew this already didn’t we? Or do we? Happiness seems to be far harder to achieve here in the West, despite the fact that we literally have everything we could ever possibly need, and some; and, in fact, some more – frothy milk anyone?

We strive to look right on the outside, yet can feel utterly desolate and confused on the inside. Living in a materialistic society makes it difficult to understand our role within it. Our choices are constantly motivated by consumerism – products the marketers create to help us establish our, apparent, uniqueness.


As child education expert and author Sue Barker says in her fabulous book, 21st Century Girls; “Visual media demonstrated how products can define identity; they teemed with images of successful new men and women, attractively dressed, carefully coiffed, driving smart cars, eating exotic food, and living in swish designer homes. So we concentrate on earning enough money to pay for the perfect lifestyle, clinging to the belief that this would make everything come right in the end.”

She goes on to describe how family life has turned into family lifestyle…yikes.

However, this is not our faults; this is the product of us all coping in what is an increasingly global, capitalist world.

But we can make choices based on creating a simple family life rather than a family lifestyle. We find it easier to read the marketers message – a message that our children cannot decipher between.

It is easy to fill our children’s lives with gadgets, toys and screens, it is hard to say no. Yet we need to to help our children have lives and not lifestyles, not just now but when they become adults in this progressively faster technology-based world we inhabit.