“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.”
Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
In September 2012 I stood on a floodlit off-West End stage. The final act of a play called ‘Life Begins‘ and my most challenging scene.
“When it comes to it,” the director had told me some weeks before, “You’re going to have to find your anger. You’d better find it, pull it out of somewhere deep and let it go!”
The scene was a hospital waiting room.
“How dare you!” I tore across the stage at a fellow actor and had to be held back from hurting him. The audience was on the edge of their seats because no-one knew yet whether or not the lead character was going to live or die. Continue reading February S.A.D.s
“Niggle was a painter. Not a very successful one, partly because he had many other things to do. Most of these things he thought were a nuisance; but he did them fairly well, when he could not get out of them: which (in his opinion) was far too often. There were other hindrances, too. For one thing, he was sometimes just idle, and did nothing at all. For another, he was kind-hearted, in a way … it did not prevent him from grumbling, losing his temper, and swearing (mostly to himself). All the same, it did land him in a good many odd jobs for his neighbour, Mr. Parish, a man with a lame leg.”
Leaf by Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkien
I was bemoaning (to a Thespian friend of mine) the realities of hiring Millennials. “This means,” I wined, “that Hubby and I have to become boss-parents to grown people – teaching them patience; how to get up when they fall down; that things worth doing don’t come easy; that making an impact will take more than a day, a month, a year.”
To which my dear honest friend replied, “But don’t we all need to learn those lessons?”
Ah, the voice of wisdom…
She’s an empathetic listener, but annoyingly too much like my conscience. I felt convicted right away.
I’m just like those millennials! #innerscream Continue reading In other words … you can do it!
“All the suspects in a classic murder mystery have secrets, and to keep them they lie, dissemble, evade the interrogations of the investigator. Everyone seems guilty because everyone has something to hide. For most of them, though, the secret is not murder.This is the trick on which detective fiction turns.”
The Suspicions of Mister Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale
Bonjour à tous! ça fait trop longtemps!
Il fait intéressant pour vous: The word ‘clue’ comes from ‘clew’, meaning a ball of thread or wool. It came to mean ‘that which points the way’ from the Greek myth in which Theseus uses a ball of wool, given to him by Ariadne, to find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.
The plot of the ‘who-done-it’ – one of my fave genres – is a kind of knot. The story can only end satisfactorily with a denouement, an unknotting. Continue reading Being bookish
“Good-bye,” said Michael to the Bird Woman. “Feed the Birds,” she replied, smiling. “Good-bye,” said Jane. “Tuppence a Bag!” said the Bird Woman and waved her hand.”
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
I stood in the warmth of the church after the service sipping a hot tea in a paper cup. Outside a small boy, puffer-jacketed, gloved and woolly-hatted ran back and forth on the lawn chasing pigeons. They settled. He charged. They flew up into the chilled air and swirled around him for some seconds. Then they settled again on the other side of the lawn. He squealed and charged again. They took flight. He waved his pudgy coated arms around. They swirled. It was mesmerising, this game. Continue reading Pigeons, Pantomime and Christmas vibes
“I hadn’t been driving long when I felt what I thought was a bug fluttering around my left leg and ankle. I tried to brush it away, but it persisted. With my eyes on the road , I leaned down again to shoo it away, only to feel something much larger than an insect against my hand. Looking down, I saw the head and about 10 to 15 centimetres, of a snake. We had somehow picked up a passenger.”
‘The Biyamati Stowaway’ by Gordon Parratt, from ‘101 Kruger Tales’
A shriek came from a nearby cottage. Then we heard the crash of crockery shattering on a stone floor. A man shouted and swore in German.
Within seconds a large male baboon bounded onto the lawn in front of our cottage. He looked back a few times towards the last shouts of the angry German, then settled down on the grass. Continue reading Profiling a villain
“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning; We will remember them.
From ‘For the Fallen’ a poem by Laurence Binyon
Around the world today, many gathered in respectful silence in churches, and cemeteries, on grassy banks, along memorial walls and around commemorative statues. The trumpeter sounded the last post, throats tightened and eyes pricked with tears.
In 2010 I had the privilege of visiting the Somme battlefields in France and Belgium. Though the sun shone, Continue reading Lest we forget
“My dear young lady, crime, like death, is not confined to the old and withered alone. The youngest and fairest are too often its chosen victims.”
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
We gathered around our Mancunian ‘lecturer’ for Forensic Anthropology.
“Skeletal analysis is all about 4 things: Sex, age, stature and cause of death,” she counted down with her fingers.
“Let’s begin with the golden rule – ‘Sex before maths’! Come on detectives, you heard what I said. Use your noggin, do some loggin’. ”
Some of us turned to each other and sniggered, but quickly scrambled for our notes. Continue reading A Night at the Museum