COVID. The weather. Riveting. Not even deserving of sarcasm, it’s completely mind-numbing! Even Nature, herself, has thrown in the towel and cast seasons to the wind. Get this year over with! Yes, I know it’s not even the end of August yet but we’ll just fast-forward to November. Torrential rain? Incessant torrential rain? Why not. A taster of what’s to come …
Boy, oh boy! Am I still allowed to write that without employing security? I’d be an absolute gift to Twitter; however, despite the slings and arrows and a world which landed on the longest snake (Snakes & Ladders? Spiralling down?), there are still things I want to do; places I want to see, so best avoid – Twitter, that is.
I spent most of yesterday – and all of yesterday evening – penning a new post for my Seriously?! page and attempting to upload it. Simple. Don’t be silly! Just because I have always done it, successfully, the same way, it does not follow that said way will continue to work. You see, I have learnt from experience that one should never assume; rather, wait to be surprised. Note to self, it doesn’t help.
Another thing, always err on the side of more and shorter rather than less and long. Paragraphs, of course. What else could I mean?! The same can be said of chapters. There is nothing worse than a never-ending chapter of never-ending paragraphs. Psychologically, it has a huge impact on one’s energy and enjoyment – although, a plus for insomniacs, I suppose. I do think it should be something which raises alarm bells with editors. Without naming and shaming, it tends to follow that I am no fan of the authors who write in this way but, then, it would seem I may be in the minority (now, there’s a first!). There are three books which come to mind, all of which have won numerous literary awards. Two were recommended to me and the other I chose myself but I struggled to finish all of them, learning much along the way. If one resorts to flicking forward to see how many pages are left until the end of the chapter, there is no engagement. Unfortunately, I share the late Magnus Magnusson’s mantra: I’ve started, so I’ll finish. Self-inflicted torture, really.
I do look at books in a different way now, bemused at the prolific ‘talent’ of all and sundry. Perhaps my greatest bugbear is those for children. No surprise that Becca was party to classics such as Black Beauty and The Secret Garden while still in her cot. Unable to retrieve her arms from inside her shawl morphing as a papoose, she was a captive listener. Decades earlier, I used to insist on reading aloud to my brother, too, despite his protestations. Indicative of an early love of books – or just the sound of my own voice!
My point? Every celeb is at it! Cashing in on children’s books, supposedly channelling an age-long desire to make a difference. The content is all but irrelevant when attributed to the likes of David Walliams or Holly Willoughby. The real talent lies with the illustrator who adorns the pages, ‘enhanced’ by a couple of lines or, dare I suggest, the work of a ghost writer, all for the ‘bargain’ price of £6.99, or thereabout – not forgetting the high five to the agent who came up with the concept. Win! Win! For some. Thankfully, the classics can still be found and the magic of Michael Morpurgo is still tucked away on the shelves. My absolute favourite, he is wonderful and his stories should form the library of all children; gentle tales, relevant to both history and everyday life, with a moral. One of his first, The Dancing Bear, is quite difficult to find now. I remember him telling me – many years ago at the Edinburgh Book Festival – that he received many complaints apropos the sad ending. It is sad but sometimes sad is good, affirming the power of the written word. Michael Morpurgo is the master when it comes to touching the heart. A former teacher, he is a natural storyteller and each and every one of his books is testament to his warmth and affinity with children. Untouchable, in my book (pardon the pun!), not only have I been known to give The Dancing Bear as a christening gift but, also, as a 21st present! Therein lies the Morpurgo appeal: while he writes for children and young readers, parents, too, are captured by his spell and the message is universal. Take War Horse, for example. Nonetheless, my favourite will always be The Dancing Bear. The end of the innocence … Anyone else hearing Don Henley?
A ‘helluva week’, last night found me struggling out the back door to the tumble dryer (don’t ask!), negotiating the frog which had found its way in amidst the torrential rain! Makes a change from the tarantulas which frequent our abode, threatening to engulf in a web anything – or anybody – remaining still for too long. I jest not. Any day now, I may be re-enacting Miss Havisham, albeit against my will. Meanwhile, if I’m not washing bird shit from my poor car, I’m breaking through the cobwebs in a bid to enter, to say nothing of the abundance of cats in the environs … Little things, as I was reminded this evening, walking on the West Sands. The smell of the sea hit me the minute I stepped from my car – fresh, inviting and nostalgic – and, while the tide may have been miles out, the frothy white waves were clearly visible in the distance as I strolled along the vast expanse of sand towards the iconic backdrop of the town. Little evidence of my fellow man – bliss – I did wonder how I managed to miss Nigel Havers? I saw a clip, last night, of a segment he is doing for This Morning, entitled Britain’s Best Parts, starting next week. Where was he? Exactly where I was this evening! The backdrop for his breakthrough role in Chariots of Fire. 1981? Oh, help!
So, adding another post to my Seriously?! page, today, it came to my attention that, apparently, I have had no cause to write on my Seriously Good! page since March! Says it all, really, and I can’t help but smile at my introduction, on said page, suggesting the likelihood of it being empty. I refute the idea that it reflects any negativity on my part, however. Believe me, I would love to have cause to fill that page but real life, today, offers little incentive. My Seriously?’ page, on the other hand, has a virtual waiting list! Don’t forget to take a look at what amounts to my version of therapy.
Friday night. Funny how one never loses that feeling, regardless. On the phone to my friend, Fiona, the other night, she, sarcastically, asked if I had any plans for the weekend, unashamedly channelling her inner hairdresser. How we laughed at the ridiculous nature of said question and, then, I remembered … Tom Cruise! 5Star is showing one of his films every Saturday and, this week, it happens to be the turn of A Few Good Men. One of my favourites, Tom is, unsurprisingly, brilliant in it, eclipsing Jack Nicholson in his portrayal of a young military lawyer assigned to defend two US marines charged with murdering a fellow marine at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay. That’s it! My weekend is, now, complete: The Voice Kids Final followed by an hour and a half of Tom Cruise in a naval uniform! Can’t think, for the life of me, why that Seriously Good! page is so empty …
‘You don’t need to wear a patch on your arm to have honour.’
Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise), A Few Good Men (1992).
1992? You cannot be serious!
This is Trish, signing off.