Sunday, November 29, 2009

"A Yorkshire November"

On Friday, we stayed with friends who live near Ilkley, Yorkshire, and on Saturday, we visited the village of Linton in Craven ( see above)
Linton is particularly intersting, as it's in two distinct halves.The upper village has the very old Fountaine Hospital, designed by Sir John Vanburgh in 1721, and bequeathed as an almshouse for local folk by Richard Fountaine. He was a fascinating character, it seems....having amassed a fortune as a London undertaker during the Great Plague! He also promised the village £26 be split betwixt 6 poor and elderly men and 6 poor and elderly women each year.

Also from Linton is Angela Baker, one of the stars of the famous W.I Calendar, that eventually led to Tim Firth's film, " Calendar Girls".
In the original calendar, Angela was " Miss February" and she's since raised over £2million for Leukemia Research following the death of her husband. Her part in the film was played memorably by Julie Walters.
Just 2 totally utterly contrasting stories...I wonder what others we'd unearth should we dig deeper?

And yet again this many memorable images of stark and lovely November....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"You'll Remember This Man..."

A Word to The Wise ( as "They"and my Granny would say) : "You will remember this man.... You will hear more of this man."

He's David Whitley. And I first met David in the candlelit Chapter House of Chester Cathedral ( post dated 8:10: 09)

David is young, talented and focused....with an enthusiasm for writing ( both his own and equally for that of others) that is boundless.
And today David ( aged 25 and presently creating sheer magic) visited my class.... and chatted vividly about his book " The Midnight Charter" ( published by Puffin and see )

David talked with us about writing: his personal attitudes, his experiences, his own aspirations. And I often think how priveleged we are... when creative people like David reveal so much about both themselves and their work. It's like peeping into their wardrobe...or easing open a private drawer in their desk..

David treated us to the opening of his book. ....and we were left nothing less than spellbound, by both words and acting. His voice delighted while his writing hooked us into a world where we wanted to stay, to explore with our eyes wide open ...AND he kidnapped us.....into a story we wanted to savour..... introducing us to characters, to the glint of a plot that sashayed into our minds....while we sipped our coffee at our trestle tables, supped out tea in our cosy mugs and nibbled ( as always!) our chocolate biscuits...

SO we listened. And as " They" and my Granny would say): "You'll remember this man. He's ( as they say) Going Places...."

Friday, November 20, 2009

" Little Theatre Pulls It Off!"

In 1873, writer-to-be Angela Brazil started her education at Miss Knowles Select Ladies School in Preston, Lancs.
Angela was 4 years old. And that morning, while sitting on the knee of Miss Knowles The Younger, cheeky Angela leaned upwards and pulled out all the teacher's hairpins...
Miss Knowles The Younger was NOT amused. And Angela was promptly removed , both from teacher's lap AND Select Ladies School. She'd lasted exactly half a day.

I heard that tale years ago from a colleague...when I was teaching in London and the Head of our school was insistent we rid library shelves of both Enid Blyton and Angela Brazil.

I grew up with Blyton's Malory Towers. Malory T held 2 massive attractions: the fun of boarding school PLUS a Cornish setting ( Cornwall being scene of my family holidays AND thus my favourite place In The Entire World)
And I also loved Angela Brazil: what was better than snuggling in bed under a flowery pink "eiderdown"(!) with a Lakeland terrier fast asleep beside me....while I gorged a bag of peardrops...and also gorged the adventures of the intrepid " Monitress Merle"???
And frankly, whatever my London Head thought about Brazil ( I'm on the fence re Ms Blyton) I think Brazil accelerated girl's fiction ( and even possibly girls images) up some showing female strengths/weaknesses, bonds, friendships etc ....and just as Harry Potter "encouraged" boy's reading more recently, so did Angela B for girls of my generation...

SO on Wednesday, I visited the Little Theatre (Chester Theatre Club, see for Denise Deegan's " Daisy Pulls It Off", directed by Margaret Bennett.

AND it's a pastiche of all those other schoolstories....but it's gentle, generous and above all, it's fun. There's lots of "scrummies" " toppings" and " japes", there are gym slips, feasts in the Dorm...and there are Latin quotes and Hymns we can suddenly remember, with which we hum along (!)...AND there's a synchronised hockey match and an equally clever cliff top resue.

And as ever, there's superb characterisation: Mary Pemble ( stepping in last min as Headmistress and doing "an absolutely sterling job").... also the poisonous Doubleact: Zoe Lambrakis/Ali Cooper ( as Monica Smithers/Sybil Burlington...COULD those names be bettered?!) And of course, there's Sophie Lund...see snap above (as the wonderfully loyal Trixie Martin) and Fiona Wheatcroft, perfectly cast as Daisy, the Scholarship Girl who makes her mark and solves a Mystery...ALL Hugely enjoyable.

PS: Denise Deegan is a fairly local writer! She studied Stage Management at East 15 Acting School but now lives in Wales, is a member of NE Wales Mt Search/Rescue Team and is a Welsh Border Morris Dancer...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Annie's Special Delivery! "

Annie Holland ( until recently a Hoole-igan) visited our class in Hoole yesterday. Annie is celebrating the publication ( just in time for Christmas) of her children's story book:" Stella the Stork's Special Delivery" ( An Appin Press Publication. See )
It's the tale of Stella Stork, who although retired from The Express Stork Delivery Service, flaps her old wings ...and delivers a Baby to Bethlehem. It's a lovely story (illustrated by Jane Beech) and should certainly appear in several stockings I know this Christmas...

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Homage To November"

Yesterday, with Our Friends From The North , we walked near Parkgate on the Wirral peninsula (betwixt Dee/Mersey rivers) with the coast of North Wales beyond.

And as ever ( see post 14:11:08) I delighted in the month of November...its" sheer crazy blueness!"...and again, I thought of poet Thomas Hood.

In 1844, Hood wrote that November had " No sun! No moon!.... No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease"....not forgetting "no shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees....!"

But to me, November LIVES ...with her own colours and excitements, gentle and otherwise.....her enticing frosts (?!) her dark trees etched on purple skyline....her sudden glorious sunshine. And November's unique beauty, that beauty found in decaying things.....

And then today my son reminded me of something special: I'd told him how on Saturday, we'd enjoyed eating with O.F.F.T.N...and my son remembered a similar Saturday evening ( 20 years ago) when the same friends came to stay...and we'd all sat at the same table, toasting the marvellous news of the Fall of the Berlin Wall...

All those lovely patterns, old ones with new ones weaving in.......with friends and seasons.

It's the Stuff Of Life to me!

PS: Try the fish and chip shop at Parkgate. Generous portions....made a delicious Sunday Lunch!

SNAP: Thanks to LC.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"The Times We Live In" ( Part 3:14 Months Later)

I did it before.....( 8: 8:08, 19:6:07) And my second Son enjoyed it because he said so.
Twice before, I paddled through waves of words in The Times.... then splashed a trickle of them here on Blog. And today I thought I'd have another go...although this go IS very short......Because I was a bit stunned.
I read something. And it surprised me. I couldn't believe it at 1st. But then I realised it's " in keeping" with today's world. But I'm actually not sure about it. ...It leaves me uneasy. And I'm not sure why. Perhaps the fault lies with me.
At the end of November, Pope Benedict xv111 releases a CD. It is called " Music from The Vatican: Alma Mater". It features him reciting and singing Prayers and it was recorded by Vatican Radio, while He was on His Marian Pilgrimages. His Holiness is quoted as saying music " brings together all people of good will on Earth" . That's right. Absolutely. Music is a wonderful timeless ageless universal language.
But this has surprised me. The making of a CD , featuring Pope Benedict has surprised me. It leaves me uneasy. It leaves me wondering.But it's in keeping with today's world: with its joys, sadnesses, hopes, fears....But it leaves me uneasy and I'm not sure why...