Monday, 3 February 2014

On Returning With The Promised Spring ...

Good Morning Dear Friends!



It has been so long since I've put pen to paper - or, in this instance, finger to touch screen - that I suspect that I've lost all my ever-so faithful followers; if this is the case I know full well that the blame lies squarely on the joint shoulders of indolence and a certain lack of spirit on my part and for that I can only apologise and hope that, as surely as Spring will arrive, so the words will once more blossom forth from this particular room ... Such poetry, eh! 




Many things have happened and occurred over the past two years and a half years that have dulled my creative edge to a point where it was practically pointless and the whole process of writing this blog - a process that once filled me with deep joy - became first a chore and then something of a ghastly, recurring daymare; hopefully, however, I'm in a much better frame of mind and, although there are still a number of clouds remaining, the beautiful blue is not quite as tarnished as it was. Anyhow, that was then and this is now and here you are visiting me for the first time in a veritable age and I haven't even offered you the slightest sustenance - you must forgive my manners; they have been, like the rooms here in Myrtle House, shuttered and unused for many a month but now pull up a virtual chair and I shall spirit up a beverage of your choosing and we'll see if we can't have a good old chinwag.

Actually, in terms of creativity, I haven't been totally idle,  with three or four short stories a month being produced. I must confess, however, that in terms actually doing anything with them I have been most remiss; the poor old Myrtle House blog which I originally set up to promote my work,  hasn't seen a posting since August 2011 and so that's another matter that needs attending to ... but, back to the stories, I am looking at ways of trying to get some income from them; there are opportunities via Amazon of course, though it has to be said, I'm hardly at one with their company ethos and working practices - the curse of a conscience I'm afraid - and there are also things worth investigating over at a Project Gutenberg which, of course, is one of my favourite repositories for old writing on the web. In any case, it's time I put my shoulder to the wheel of fortune and got it rolling ! 

I've recently spent quite a large amount of time working with some very fine musicians and revisiting the world of my youth; I should point out that I haven't been forcing my music upon these people but merely helping out with a word or two for newsletters and the like ... On that front it looks like I have to venture into the world of website building too which is something of a novelty for me; "it's just like doing a blog" they said - I can report that it isn't and, although not exactly a slouch when it comes to things technological, I have  been left feeling quite stupid and clumsy ... still, with good friend Percy Verence, I hope to have at least conquered the basics soon ... another technological thrill is writing this blog on iPad - poor old Blogger doesn't seem to like it very much and I'm having the devil's own job actually seeing what I'm writing - a blessing in disguise as I'm sure you will agree and one I'm expect you wish were heaped upon your head. If I may add here a small techno postscript as it were: the blog was written on iPad but had to viewed on my ancient iMac in order to format it; it seems Blogger doesn't like iOS, OSX or Safari very much at all - I have spent a good hour now trying to get it to a vaguely recognisable appearance . . . hmmm, not very good at all; I have been considering a move to Wordpress - mind you, will that like my system any better? Oh hum  . . .


Ah well, the day calls and I must about my business ... No, there's no need for you to stir yourself if you're comfy; why not have a look back through the dusty old archives and see if anything tickles your fancy - or at least irritates your mucous membrane to the point of a sneeze! It's been lovely chatting to you again; I hope we meet again very soon and, as always, you are more than welcome - nay, encouraged even - to leave comments below, just so that I don't feel too much of a Miss Haversham, left in my decaying finery and talking to myself !


Until next time  - which I hope will be very soon -  I wish you a simply wonderful week


Be Seeing You



PS: If you though that the somewhat bizarre photographs appear to have very little connection to the writing you would be almost exactly right; they are in fact odd little items from my time at the Writers Lodge on Jura where if you recall, I spent a week in 2011

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Full Moon and The White Evening Star *

Good Evening Dear Friends!

 
Welcome to the still-warm, still, warm rooms of Myrtle House where, although the heat of the day has dissipated somewhat it's still too hot to think of doing a very great deal except perhaps indulging in a few moments pleasant chat with dear friends; it's so good of you to tramp your way here, especially given the what other less charitable folk might refer to as 'unseasonable' weather; pull up a chair, sip a lemonade and let's see what's been occurring whilst you've been elsewhere . . .

Lots of bits and bobs happening, notably my involvement with a couple of dedicated friends whose ambition is to bring some world-class acoustic music to our sleepy backwater and, in fact, have been managing to do so on a monthly basis for nearly five years so far; they go by the collective name of Acoustic Roots and all of the concerts use All Saints Parish Church just around the bend from here as a venue because not only is it a beautiful setting but has the loveliest of acoustics.  In August they are hosting a wonderful group from Atlanta, Georgia named Larkin Poe (after the grandfather of the two girls who front the band!) and tickets are still available . . . I've been asked to become involved in publishing a monthly e-newsletter on their behalf which, if you'd like a copy, you can get by dropping your name and email address here and one will be winging it's way to you immediately!


For quite a number of months now I've spent a couple of hours each Wednesday evening in the very delicious and pleasant company of some fellow scribes; we meet and each week pull a topic randomly out of a 'hat' - in this case a musical biscuit tin which plays 'Silent Night"  - and the following week we present our offerings for comment and appreciation.  This has meant that yours truly has finally got his finger out and begun to format the fruits of his labours in a form ready for publishing and, because I don't feel you've suffered enough simply by reading this blog, I've decided to include a few links should you wish to download an example or two of my works; they are, of course, completely free of both charge and viruses and are in PDF format so it shouldn't matter which particular implement you use to access them.  So here, for your delectation, are ChoicesThe LookoutThe Unopened Present and the one pictured above Family Photograph - I do hope you enjoy; please feel free to let me know, whatever your opinion !

The gloaming has begun to seep into the brickwork of the old homestead and here, in my sequestered grange as dear old Matthew Arnold would say, it feels as though it's nearly time to seek my straw . . .  I think of all the words I have written and what they mean; and all the words of people gone before and wonder what will happen to mine, lost in the maelstrom of all the others - for example, does anybody read Matthew Arnold these days? I know but a few scant verses of The Scholar Gypsy and Thyrsis and find it so emotive, even given its age, but does anyone under fifty even know who he was? Ah well, us poor scribblers have no choice it seems but to write and let our words drip into the vast ocean and hope that someone, somewhere,
sometime feels a glimmer of recognition;  just like Matthew, I sit and wait for the spark from heaven to fall . . .

And look, the curfew tolls the knell of parting day, and it is already nearly time for you to plod your weary way homeward and leave the world to darkness and to me; its been lovely to see you once again and I do hope you've enjoyed your brief sojourn.  As you walk perhaps you could mull over these last few words from Thyrsis; I've quoted them before often I know but I find them so beautiful that I steadfastly refuse to make an excuse for doing so again:

Let in thy voice a whisper often come,
to chase fatigue and fear:
Why fainstest thou! I wander'd till I died.
Roam on! The light we sought is shining still.
Our tree yet crowns the hill,
Our Scholar travels yet the loved hill-side.

And so there we have it; I hope the weekend ahead fills you with love and joy and all that you truly desire becomes yours. I'm off to roam a hillside!


'til next time


Be Seeing You !




* from Thyrsis by Matthew Arnold

Monday, 27 May 2013

All the World's A Stage . . . *

Good Afternoon My Dear Friends!

Welcome to yet another posting - it's becoming quite a habit isn't it! - and, as the photograph to the left tries to demonstrate albeit in a rather typically  understated manner, you find me amid the showery splendours of yet another Bank Holiday Monday; this month really does seem to have a surfeit of these double-Sundays and, of course this being England and the merry month of May this tends to preclude any kind of hey - nonny - noe-ing due to a preponderance of precipitation . . . oh hum!  Still, how can one be downhearted with stout fellows such as you willing to trudge across the sodden meadows to join me for tea in the study? Pull up a chair and butter yourself a crumpet and we shall begin; shall I be Mother?

So what has occurred since last we met? Well, I'm involved in a somewhat exciting, precarious and, as some doubters would probably say, foolhardy attempt to hold back the veritable tsunami of austerity and depression sweeping the land by struggling to keep a little lifeboat of art and culture upright in treacherous seas . . . if it works it will be by dint of the sheer willpower and courage of Cap'n Jayne, my good friend and collaborator who is much nicer to have in the boat than a tiger for example, but is probably just as fierce in fighting for what she believes in! It's all at a rather delicate phase at the moment so I shall say no more on the subject but please watch this space for how you may help, should the desire arise . . .

Other than that the year speeds by at an unconscionable rate and I find to my surprise that in a few days time it will be the eighth birthday of The Famous Sally Dog and, a few days after that, the second anniversary of the Old Duchess' death . . . "time is an illusion; teatime doubly so" as I read in my first book all those years and tears ago and the verisimilitude of that statement has become more so down the days since . . . and now, today, as the Bank Hol winds down - if such a energy-less day could become more so that is - like a forgotten grandfather clock and the light dims and the gloaming is upon us once again, I find myself wondering whether there was ever a plan to all this madness, or did it just sort of happen?  . . . I can only give thanks to the great goddess iCal for keeping me on track and providing me with some sort of structure to my life; sometimes it seems to me that my life is not dissimilar to a drunk at a cocktail party, stumbling around and bumping into situations and conversations, politely and randomly experiencing things which appear to make little or no sense before going home to sleep it off; perhaps that's how it was meant to be? 

Oh, but look how rude I am; rambling on with my inner dialogue whilst you sit there, pretending not to be bored, a look upon your face that suggests mental and metaphorical thumb-twiddling if ever I saw it! And who can blame you? It is the curse of double Sundays I'm afraid and for that I can only beg  and crave your pardon.

I hope the rest of this foreshortened week can be dragged into a positive perspective for you all and that the miserable drizzle which has been the year thus far becomes something more akin to Spring - just in time for the midsummer solstice! I do hope you have a wonderful time; please call back and visit me soon;  I notice that my answer to the last quiz still remains to be conjured up, you could always have a go and drop me a line?  In the meantime, have a marvellous time and may your best bib and tucker be permanently splattered with love and best wishes.

'til next time


Be Seeing You !







*  . . . which could have ended " ... that I'm going though" ... but was, in fact:
 "All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.”  ― Seán O'Casey

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Words, So Beautiful And Sad, Like Music *

Good Evening My Dear Friends !

Welcome to this which is, I am ashamed to say, the very first blog of 2013 ! The last time I saw you was on the 19th of December last year and much has happened in between and betwixt as the old tautology goes, far too much to go into in this brief but, one hopes, enchanting encounter; suffice it to say it has not been the easiest of times - then again I'm pretty sure the same could be said for us all!  Allons! and let us get on with the scribble which is surely why you are here in the first place!

It is Tuesday evening and the sun is still slowly dripping, albeit in a somewhat desultory fashion, through the windows of the study at Myrtle House. Spring, according to experts and hedge-pigs alike, seems to be about a month adrift this year and everything, not unlike Yours Truly, seems to be on something of a go-slow; even the positively feral Rose Campion (a lovely girl deep down!) is somewhat reluctant in her occupation of the courtyard this year so far; snails are few and far between and there is only a poor showing in the nettle department too . . . now whilst this is undoubtedly good news for those of us hardly to be regarded as sons of the soil, I'm sure it holds more trouble in store for us down the line.  In conversations with friends deep in the heart of Costa today, where Sister Cate and I held court, the subject of the weather was, of course, briefly touched upon and they had heard tell that Flaming June was more likely to be flaming awful with nothing much but rain to look forward to - bad news indeed for masses of wildlife and pollinators who have but a short span as the assuredly wise saying goes . . .  Like most things in life it seems we can do little but wait and see, oh hum!

Of course it would be positively churlish to go any further without mention of that doggy doyen and star of stage, screen and supermarket dog-food aisle The Famous Sally Dog; the large contingent of readers of this blog who count themselves as avid followers of her antics - well, alright, everyone who reads this blog and numbers themselves in that category - will be pleased to hear that, as she approaches her 8th birthday at the end of the month very little has changed . . . arguably the difference in size between either end of this canine cutiepie is increasing somewhat and it is a race to see which one will come out on top, as it were ! As her nether regions extend due to the numbers of treats she purloins from friends, relatives and absolute stranger, so too her does her bonce from the masses of compliments and adoring cuddles she receives every day . . . me? Jealous? The very thought . . . Anyhow, here she is depicted doing her best to persuade those lovely people at Taylor Guitars to donate one of their lovely 414s to her beloved pack-leader as he so obviously and desperately needs one to join the family of ukuleles and the gorgeous GS Mini in the Music Room at Myrtle House . . . if you are unfamiliar with the wonderfulness that is a Taylor guitar I can only suggest you rectify this gaping hole in your existence by popping into a reputable music store - such as the superb Symphony Music located not too far from the old homestead in Wigan - and try one out; it will change your life ...and deplete your bank balance somewhat but hey-ho!

And on that note (geddit?) I fear our brief sojourn must end for today at least; it has been lovely to have you here again and I hope very much that the gap between now and our next visit is considerably shorter than the last . . . I do hope you also enjoy the picture just above these words; I think I could be justified in offering a small prizette to the first responder who is able to accurately identify the dapper chappie enjoying what is probably a chord of A Major on a rather curvaceous creation from, I would guess, the 1920s possibly . . . a clue? well ... a: it isn't me b: you will have heard of him and c: he is (was) a writer!
So now that your enthusiasm is fired up and a whole evening of febrile searching Google awaits you, I shall bid you a fond farewell for the time being.  I am aware that this posting is a bit of a Parson's Egg of a blog; in my defense I would ask you to consider the amount of time and water that has flowed under a number of bridges since your last visit - one does get out of practice and, of course, I would be only too happy to respond to any comments you would like to leave . . . hint, hint!

So may the time 'til we meet again be awash with sunshine and love

Be Seeing You !  







*“He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music."        A Portrait of The Artist As A Young Man - James Joyce

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A Butterfly In The Winter Woods *

Good Morning Dear Friends

First and foremostly, let me begin this verbal onslaught with a dollop of the seasons finest greetings; and, as that season happens to be winter and also because Saturnalia is approaching with almost indecent rapidity, I thought I'd illustrate my salutation with a charming portrait by the Swedish artist Carl Larsson of his daughter Britta as the goddess Iðunn.

If you're up to speed with your Norsk mythology - and who isn't? - you'll recall that Iðunn (pronounced like Eedun) is associated with apples and youth; it is told how the mischievous god Loki is forced by the giant (or jötunn) Þjazi (a bit like Thiazi) to lure her into leaving Asgard her home and into a wood by promising her interesting apples.  The said Þjazi changes into an eagle, snatches her from the wood and takes her home.  Her absence - and that of her apples - causes the gods to grow old and so Loki promises to return her which he duly does . . . so I suppose at this time of the ageing year, we need her and her eternal youth to remind us that, although it may seem dark and gloomy, Spring is not too far away. 

It's also worth considering that this beautiful illustration has given Britta a form of enduring presence; we look and see a portrait of a delightful child who was born some 120 years ago; that's one of the reasons why I love paintings and photographs but I also feel that the same result can be achieved by writing down and recording the story of peoples lives; we make them immortal and keep their memories safe beyond the touch of time . . . which is my new project for next year - I shall keep you informed.

In other news, yesterday  - as well as being the birthday of my oldest and dearest friend and architect extraordinaire Mr DCR H. who, instead of sunning himself on Marco island as is his wont at this time of year, is sadly laid up in hospital and, it must be said, being missed ferociously - was the day in which dear old Myrtle House became Myrtle House Creative Publishing Ltd! This means that, along with a resurrection of the blog for that side of things in the very near future, some of the short stories and whatnot concocted by Yours Truly will slowly begin to filter into a wider sphere than before . . . be afraid; be very afraid! I will also be looking at other material and am happy to hear from anyone who feels they might like to see their name blazoned for all to see  via digital means as well as, it is hoped in the nearest of futures, as a 'real' printed book too !

Output on the writing front has been steady but not overly prolific due to the amount of time I'm spending having tremendous fun with a varied bunch of displaced persons masquerading as professionals. In between the giggles we are actually working on a fantastic and world-changing proposition which has me tingling with excitement; I am tremendously lucky to meet and work with the people I do; they are are,  to a man/woman/upright-hoover, immensely talented and dedicated but more importantly have not lost the ability to dream and, what is more, to believe in those dreams with a passion

I forgot to mention that all this tip-tapping is taking place down in the The Barn in deepest Cheshire where, beyond the arched window, the day (which has never really got its act together in terms of being properly light) is growing darker and the rain more insistent; I fear I shall be in for a dowsing on my way to the station . . . ah well, never mind; I shall perch on my eyrie-seat in the buffet on platform 6 at Crewe and indulge in some comestibles and a large green tea . . . its all about trying to remain positive and seek the sweetness in everything.

So I shall end where I began; with another of Carl Larsson's lovely illustrations -  this time of another of his daughters, Kersti in her sleigh . . .  Hmmm, it would be so good to have snow instead of rain - then again, I don't suppose there would be any trains running if that were the case

So until next time, which I'm sure will be sometime around the cusp of the new year, I shall say toodle-pip and wish you all the very merriest and most peaceful of Yuletides and, with the sound once again of The Incredible String Band ringing in my head I ask

May the long time sun shine upon you  
All love surround you  
And the pure light within you  
Guide your way on 

'til next time

Be Seeing You !



 

 
*They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods - Edith Wharton

Friday, 7 December 2012

Winter Is The Time For Comfort ... *

Good Morning Dear Friends!

Welcome once again to the wintery blast that is December - with a somewhat tardy trio of Snow Hares to usher in the first of the month of course - and today finds Yours Truly viewing the world via the study window in the barn in Deer Crossing, a tad further south than normal, in deepest Cheshire . . . I'm here housesitting as artisans splash paint and ensure boilers keep the home fires burning as, beyond the Velux, the day crisps nicely !

So, what's been occurring since last you popped by? Well, work has been progressing on a number of short stories, though not as many as originally planned due to other fun-filled tasks connected with some lovely folk I've met in the Wigwam who - as well as sharing a vision about just how nice the world could be if we were all just that bit more connected and friendlier to each other - have elected to share their time and talents with moi-même in order that together we can create a nouvelle vogue that will, tsunami like, wash away the old order . . . and, what is more, we're going to have fun doing it!  I'll also be showing these people these meanderings for the first time too in this post so a huge hello to you all - you know who you are!

I'm also working with groups of fledgling writers alongside some not-so-recently out of the nest and enjoying the process immensely; it's really rewarding to see people who perhaps haven't written very much since leaving school suddenly find the courage and the will to commit their thoughts and emotions to paper.  I'm also very fortunate that the groups contain others with much more skill and experience than this poor scribbler who inspire and encourage their peers more than I could ever hope to do.  Anyhow, we meet and drink tea and eat cakes and chocolate and gossip and counsel and cajole . . . we even sometimes write!

Meanwhile the day drifts on and I have a list of jobs to do before the light fades; I am being entrusted with the de-tangling and subsequent arrangement of over 1200 lights ready for the seasonal festivities about to befall us all in a mere 18 days or so; they are, I have to say, very subtle and small lights and I do have some experience of the task in hand . . . still, I'm sure I will be unable to complete it without some personal injury or affront to my dignity; not to mention a probable appearance of a few degrees of frost bite around my extremities! Still, I suppose its all part of the great and glorious festival we all call Saturnalia . . . don't we? Oh! 

I hope I manage to get a least one more post out to you good people before the festivities begin;  you are more than welcome to drop in here for a cup of something warming and cheery and an assuredly warm welcome.  In the meantime. please try not to get too stressed about the business of buying presents and what to wear etc; I'm happy to reassure you that were you to come empty-handed and dressed in rags there would always be room in this particular virtual inn

I hope you have a truly wonderful week and that there is enough warmth and cheer in your soul to keep your toes and hearts from freezing; if the snow arrives please use both it and the time it affords wisely and with love . . . perhaps by sitting by the fire and reading what I think is my favourite book of 2012 . . . there is a lot to be said for surrendering to solitude and peace and quiet and an equal amount to gained by offering your company to those who need perhaps just a little more love in their lives

Thank you for popping by; I hope you have a super time and enjoy yourself in the coming days . . .

Whoops - I must away; The gas man commeth!

'til next time



Be Seeing You !


  




* "Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home" Edith Sitwell





Monday, 19 November 2012

What's Gone, and What's Past Help, Should Be Past Grief*

Good Afternoon Dear Friends! 

First of all, I must completely, totally and unreservedly apologise for the recent dearth of posts here; whilst it true there have been momentous difficulties and problems to deal with and still more to overcome, I have to say that  I have been a tad neglectful of you, my dear readers and loyal visitors to this verdant plot that is forever Myrtle House ...
... where, interestingly enough, were you to pop your ever-welcome phizzog around the door jamb you would find me not at my desk, head bowed in the waves of creative productivity but rather as an altogether more dishevelled creature, fleeced and somewhat forlorn on my bed as I seem to have succumbed to some viral visitation or other.  Anyhow, the lack of movement such infestations afford mean that I can attempt a tippytaptoe version of said blog on the lovely iPad whist attempting to focus and stop shivering long enough to compose a line of text!

Talking of which, and whilst we wait for the kettle to thrub and sing in order to allow us the excellence of a warming tisane, I can take the opportunity to tell you about a number of new works which have seen the light of day since last we spoke:

"Choosing" was written for and submitted to the Salt Short Story Prize and concerns two women and their lives as viewed on a rainy Wednesday evening in the car park of a local sports and leisure centre. It examines the choices - or lack of such - that they each feel they have and must make and I really rather like it! 


I've been doing some preliminary work on a community- memory project; I want to do a bit of a Cecil Sharp and collect the memories of local residents and weave them into a collection portraying the lives of people seventy plus years ago ... I feel one important aspect of this work is to persuade the contributors that their lives, their stories,  are as important and as worthwhile as anyone else's and deserve to be written down  In an attempt to introduce this concept, I quickly wrote a very short yet I feel timely piece entitled "Remembrance Day" which uses one tiny, momentary fragment of my life which I recall happening one Remembrance Day Sunday when I was nine or ten years old ...  And since that day so many moons in silence, have swum across the sky and gone below - as dear old Bertie Brecht said when remembering Maria A but it is the tiny things that make such memories fascinating and vital. 

Another such fragment of my memory was the starting point for a submission to the Book Week Scotland 2012 Flash Fiction competition; in less than five hundred words one was asked to consider one of four images from the special collections department from The University of Aberdeen and be thus inspired; the one I choose was entitled " On Thin Ice" which also became my story title. It showed a Victorian couple skating and was rather a bland image but for me the immediate feeling caused by memory was of blueness; that special blue of a midnight sky with snow; of frozen Norwegian landscapes from thirty years ago and of the colour of an illustration in an Andy Pandy annual I possessed as a child. The story is a brief, psychological insight into the female skaters thoughts and she follows the man silently across the thin ice.

I do believe I can hear the kettle whistling to attract my attention; not to mention the grumblings and rumblings surfacing from beneath my bed as The Famous Sally Dog tries to decide just what to do with a raw hide bone nearly half the length of her good self - simply eating it is not an option, of course, it must be carried around, hidden under cushions and behind tables, rediscovered and exhumed and carried about once more - along with the more amusing aspects such as leaving it in my bleary-eyed path whenever possible in order to watch me express myself in the terpsichorean mode whilst howling and holding my foot aloft ... Such are the joys of canine companionship!

Which reminds me, if you think you are beginning to see double and that images are repeating themselves on this bloggage, fear not! You are correct; it seems that Google who operate Blogger the software I use for blogging want me to download their atrocious Google+ software in order to upload pics from my iPhone or iPad; naturally this is not going to occur and so, for the time being at least, you may have to suffer a monotonous round of very familiar pictures, for which I can only apologise. 

Ah well, the light is fading in direct relation to my energy and so I shall take my leave of you; if you'd like to help yourself to tea on the way out please feel free, I won't join you just at the moment as I'm aching rather more than I want to and can feel the lure of a swift kip of the serene in the offing!

I hope you've enjoyed this brief sojourn at my bedside; and I hope not to have to do the same for you - may you be in rude and ruddy health, both hale and hearty and have a week simply overflowing with all possible love and sunshine. 

'Til next time


Be Seeing You !