Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Bless me!

Despite my mantra of 'It's only a cold', I feel pretty rubbish at the moment - a situation not improved by people telling me that 'yoga teachers are never ill'. I'm coughing and sneezing all over the place. No, really, I'm fine. It's nothing that gallon or two of honey and lemon won't fix.

Anyway, sitting feeling sorry for myself yesterday evening, I turned to the i-Player for comfort and chose Cider With Rosie. Is it me and my mucus-addled brain or is it a bit dull? I've not read the book (shame on me), so perhaps I'm basing my assessment on the Beeb's interpretation, but nothing seemed to happen and the young Laurie was extremely irritating. Was he a simpleton in the book? I stuck it out to the end, but only because I couldn't be bothered to switch it off.

Just because something is considered a classic doesn't necessarily mean that it is. Harrumph.

Thursday, 24 September 2015


My article on buying a woodburning stove is in the October issue of Smallholder. That's it on the cover: 'Winter warmers'. My journey into this publication was fairly straightforward. I was introduced to it by a fellow freelance who already contributes on a regular basis, so I approached the editor with a couple of ideas. Thanks to luck and a following wind - and, it must be said, a bit of badgering - there I am.

The route to another assignment has been rather more strange. I mentioned on Friday that a new job was in the offing. Well, I got it. I knew it was a good sign when the editor I was meeting suggested going to an independent coffee shop, where he bought me a fabulous pistachio-cream-filled pastry. It turns out that he had discovered my contact details in a rather odd way. He had Googled a few relevant keywords and was scrolling down looking for suitable links in the results, when he spotted a Kettering phone number. Following the link took him to my entry on - and I can't believe I'm typing this - the Sun Online! I can't begin to guess how I ended up there, but I did, and he found me, and I'm glad he did.

There is a warning there, I'm sure, about being aware that anything online is fair game. We can never be sure where what we write or post will end up. Conspiracy theories abound, and perhaps not without cause. A friend is in the process of helping her son with the legal ramifications of signing a new lease on what will be his first post-student flat. Needless to say the landlord wants a guarantor for the rent, since the son is in his first job. No problem, said my friend. Of course she will vouch for her son. The estate agent has now passed her details to a referencing agent who wants to check that she is 'good for it', as they say: to which end she has filled in a 10-page online document that would give any potential identity thief an easy journey to her life. Part of this process is for her to get a reference for herself, which is where I come in. I'm not sure why they think my say-so is any more reliable than my friend's. Perhaps they intend to ask someone to vouch for me. This one could run and run.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Wedding bells!

We have a proper celebration this weekend, as we're off to a wedding. Our friend's daughter is getting married, so I'm dusting off my posh frock and preparing to shed soppy tears.
Other, smaller celebrations are that my eyes are as they were two years ago, so I don't need new glasses; I have a reader's letter in next week's My Weekly; a potential new editing job has presented itself to me; and it's comedy club night tomorrow.

Not a bad week, all in all.

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop. Visit Lexa's Blog for the rules, and then post every Friday about something you're grateful  for that week. Originated by VikLit) and co-hosted by L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Definitely not another fine mess

If you live in or near Musselburgh, Croydon, Stroud, Maidenhead, Porlock, Guildford, Banbury, Thame, London, Leeds or Richmond, may I suggest you check out the touring one-man show by Jeffrey Holland that is coming your way? He was at Kettering Arts Centre on Saturday night with: '...And this is my friend Mr Laurel', a one-act play by him and Gail Louw. The publicity leaflet tells you what you need to know:

'Set in the bedroom of a sick Oliver Hardy, the show takes place during Laurel's visit to the dying man. Recounting their past success as the comedy double act Laurel and Hardy, this is a humorous and touching look at one of the great cinematic partnerships of the last century.'

You don't need to know much about the lives of Laurel and Hardy or to be a fan of their work to enjoy this play. In the second half of the show on Saturday, Jeffrey Holland (as himself) told us anecdotes and answered questions from the audience. He was generous in his praise of his co-writer and said that her excellent ear for dialogue is one of the reasons for the success of the play. (He took it to Edinburgh in 2012 and again this year.) For aspiring writers like me, it was a real lesson in how it should be done. Pop along if you get the chance. details are here.

On other matters, my post on Friday has raised several enquiries as to what a gong bath is. All is explained on my other blog: Yoga? Here's what I'm thinking.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Friday celebrations

Welcome to the Friday bloghop. Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop. Visit Lexa's Blog for the rules, and then post every Friday about something you're grateful  for that week. Originated by VikLit) and co-hosted by L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog.
I'm celebrating (in no particular order):
  • that one of my students gave me a bar of chocolate this afternoon
  • that the person who signalled one way and then turned the other didn't clatter into me
  • that we had a lovely family meal this evening
  • that I'm going to a gong bath tomorrow
Have a good weekend, folks. 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

I'm a patron of the arts...
... or at least I would be, if I could afford it. I rather like the idea of taking a penniless sculptor under my wing and nurturing his talent. *Sigh*

Sorry: where was I? Oh, yes. Art. There is a splendid event going on in our county at the moment called Northants Open Studio Trails, which continues until the last few days of September. It is an opportunity to visit artists in the wild in their studios to see the creative process in action and to talk to the talented folk about their inspiration and their work. Many of these studios are in their homes, and some are in rooms and sheds that have been cleared out and converted for the duration of the exhibition. There are painters, photographers, jewellery-makers, carvers, knitters, patchworkers: name a creative technique and there's someone in Northamptonshire doing it.

I am in awe of anyone who can create with their hands. I can barely draw a straight line with a ruler, and my idea of handicrafts begins and ends with some carefully applied PVA and perhaps a stapler. One such talent is my friend Elaine, who is not only a fantastic photographer, but also a talented and prize-winning author. A group of us went to see her open studio event in her space that she is sharing with a couple of crafty types.

On our 'grand tour', we also went to our town's permanent art gallery and into a bar, where they had several works for us to consider as we sipped our margaritas. We also went to a heritage centre in a nearby village, which has gallery space upstairs. I was all set to put a few coppers in their collecting tin when one of my friends spotted something rather shocking. There was a rack of greetings cards boldly labelled as 'hand-made', and there amongst them were some of those cards that are given away by the British Red Cross when they send out their appeals for money - like the one pictured here, which was sent to me. They were on sale at 50p a time. Is it just me, or is this a bit off?

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Reading aloud

East Farndon Church
I went for a walk along the Jurassic Way on Saturday, which was lovely - apart from it being my turn to be stung this week. It really hurt, but fortunately we were on our way to the pub, where the landlord was happy to soak a napkin in vinegar as a good old-fashioned antidote.

One of my actor friends uses his daily walk to practise his lines, declaiming loudly to the birds and bees and no doubt bemusing any passers-by. When I first moved to London I joined a drama group as a way of making new friends, but I was never comfortable on stage, and I'm envious of those people who have a natural ease as performers. My mum has it, but I don't seem to have inherited it.

In reply to a comment left on the 'Under the Fable' blog, author Andy Gibney tells me that reading in public is easy: 'You just have to have faith in yourself and your words.' That's all there is to it, apparently. I've written some monologues that one day I'd like to share with the world, but for now they lie filed away.

What are your experiences of performing at spoken word events?