Baz's competition about openings is well worth a go. It's being taken seriously, which is as it should be. So, off you go and post your opening.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I felt it might be time for a bit of the ridiculous. We have done this before, although not for a while, unless I missed it. Think up a single opening line that is guaranteed to make the reader read on. And, although it isn't an absolute requirement (no-one can control where a blog goes), points will be awarded for the preposterous. This is purely for the fun of it.
As this is a single line thing, if it gets any interest your opening line is almost certain to appear on the front page in full unconcealed glory. Can I therefore ask, nay beg, that profanity is moderated or ****ed if you must have it.
My own, to kick off:
"They called him Bog Brush because his backside was so big that no-one could work out how he wiped it"
Writing, Sea Caves and Cyclamen
In the Spring of 1973, wild cyclamen carpeted the hills at Amathus, Cyprus, a place associated with Richard the Lionheart and his Queen Berengaria. Under blue skies and with the soft rhythms of the Mediterranean as a backdrop, it was a delight to wander amongst the tiny flowers and archaeological remains. I included this experience in an article submitted for my first writing course more years ago than I care to remember. We had just returned then from living for a second time on the island and its beauties were still fresh in my mind.
I was a mere twenty-five in 1972 when we first landed in Cyprus for a three year tour, with my husband working alongside the military. We looked forward to experiencing another culture and way of life and for almost two years, the lovely island of Cyprus, known as The Island of Love because it is the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, did not disappoint.
The Troubles of 1974, during which our son was born prematurely, resulted in evacuation back to England along with hundreds of other service families and our personal store of memories. We had made both Greek and Turkish Cypriot friends and also felt a great affinity with the island. For us the Turkish Invasion was a trauma, but it was a tragic time for so many Cypriots with the loss of their homes and family members in the fighting.
We returned to a now sadly divided island in 1977 for another three year tour, accumulating more friends, experiences and memories during this time and I shed tears in the taxi on the way to catch our flight back to England. We were not to revisit Cyprus again, for a holiday, until our son went off to university and we carried on holidaying there for several years,, each time feeling as though we had returned to our second homeland and each time exploring the coast and mountains to the full. On every visit we noticed more development - so called progress – but the countryside remained largely unchanged and just as beautiful, with cyclamen and other wild flowers still there to be enjoyed and appreciated.
After a break of eleven years, we flew off to Cyprus at the end of last month for a special holiday to celebrate my seventieth birthday, visiting old haunts and also mountain villages we had not found previously. We met up with old friends and reminisced over a meze in a traditional family-owned taverna. Age has changed us physically; we have all mellowed, but are in essence the same people and greeted one another as though it was only yesterday. There has, of course, been a great deal more change and development in the resorts and towns since our last holiday there, but the countryside and mountains continue to be a delight to visit, with roads vastly improved in the interim. Amathus is now an official neat archaeological site for tourists and I spotted no cyclamen, but the countryside generally was lush this Spring with masses of fields filled with bright and cheerful yellow wild flowers.
One morning we visited a spot overlooking sea caves and I stood reflecting on how Cyprus is an important and integral part of our life history and how it and our experiences seem to have influenced much of my writing over the years. In particular, my ‘opus’ in which Lucy’s secret hideaway is a sea cave and the location from where she is able to enter a parallel world – an island on which she eventually finds her birth mother.
Having not written for a long time, nor carried on with the process of submission, I felt compelled to write this blog this morning. Maybe our return to the island which I feel is such a part of me, combined with the start of my next decade have shifted something inside? Maybe by reconnecting with the rich Cyprus soil and my younger self I have recaptured the writer within I have always felt myself to be? Time marches on and time will tell.
MRS. D's PROSPECT OF PARERDISE
Now we come to the denouement and if you are not one of these literary types (bonkers in my book, bonkers the lot of them) and you can afford a box of tissues prepare to shed them now cos its not so bad for me, what with a simmerin pot au rat for sustenance but for dear ol Charlie I can hardly bring myself to tell you what happened.
He had worked is way through his bottles from the blackin factory so what was there left for this indominatable spirit but the scrag end of a roll of toilet paper and the blood in his veins? Sobvious, isnit? If he had had a neditor they would have told im just a minite Charlie CUT all that c**p about fog this an fog that too much repititition and the readers won’t stand for it an nobody knows better than us cos we are neditors and if we don’t know what readers want they can’t ave it anyway and those great long interminerable sentences that never seem to come to an end and who do you think you are that monsewer proost they go on an on for ever n ever amen you can’t get away with that sort of nonsense not these days. Short. And to the point. Go easy on the nadjectives. None of them adverbial clawses. Go easy on the...well, go easy on everything cos it puts people off an they watch telly instead an aneditor would have told you that your pov (point of view to us professnals) went right up the spout not more than two minutes in to this dissertation of yours and as for your psychical distance you didn’t get within a mile of it anon anon he went.
But that was Charlie’s perennial problem. He jus never ad anyone to tell him enough is enough an its time to go on one of your great long walks, Dickie. He just went on an on creatin while he had blood in his veins but by the time he got to the best of times his blood ad run out and there he was stretched out on the floor where I found him with is pen nib, blunt as a copper’s trunchon stickin out of his wrist surrounded by rats lickin their lips an vultures not sure whether they was comin or goin.
I couldnt even make out the title great expectorations it looked like to me nuff to make a girl spit but one good thing he won’t need a neditor not up there not where my good old Charlie’s gawn. They won’t let neditors nor nagents nor covers in not up there they won’t luky tho e ad yors truly to take over wheree left off.
This, to the relief of one and all, is the penultimate entry in Mrs. D's Diary. It is apparent that there has been a marked improvement in some aspects of its presentation. This is generally attributed to the acquisition of a lap-top and judicious use of what Mrs. Dickens quaintly refers to as its spil chucker.
EVEN WORSE TIMES THAN BEFORE
An according to my poor ol’darlin Charlie didn’t need just a nagent an a neditor but someone for covers!
“Covers,” expostulates I, (again) “wots wrong with a nice tasteful bit o rexine? They didn’t ave covers in Boots Lendin Libry, they had two bits of cardbroad stuck together usully green.”
“Oh not just a cover artiste but a cover designer and not just a neditor but one for copy and one for lines and one for commas and one for foolstops an a specially brainy one wot has been to cambridge Unerversitory for semi-colons.”
“You’ll be tellin me next you need one for spellins and grammer an...”
Mr. D responded in the affirmative but I did not give him time for elaborations.
“Mr. D,” says I, “don’t you let me hear no more of this defeaterist nonsense. Don’t you dare put up with it. What was good enough for Mr. Chaucer all those years ago is good enough for you and me.
He tried to defend his corner but I was too quick for him an ever so much more ferocious.
“Now, old it right there,” says i. You would have been proud and you would have bursted into a round of applause to hear ow sweet ol’ Mrs. D laid it along the line an’ put her foot down firm enough to squash a rat never mind one of his hefty manuscripts let us consider the financial implerkashons of this little lot. Which is what we did, he shiftin about on his bum (we had nowhere else to sit by this time) and me goin a lot whiter than any sheet that had been in our lean-to accommodation for many a long while.
By the time the cost of all these neditors an such was all reckoned up it was like feedin time for the vulchur department at the noverlist writers’ zoo. Peck peck peck, I never felt so queasy since I found all that was left of little Dorrie and the final result £2987.41p.and what did we have in the bank, exactly what you would expect - £2987.40p.
There, just like I told my dear old cherry pie all those years ago, if you have got a surplus you don’t need none o those neditors an you can forget all that stuff about needin a nark as well. The last one who needed one o those was that Noah and when you think of all those years he spent shovelling elephant how-dyou-do overboard and pollutin the ocean you should be graceful for small mercies so there was me an my Charlie face to face with financial disaster and nothing to be found under the sofa cushions cos we didn’t have no sofa nor no cushions and besides I had already checked and used the change to buy one of them big boxes of matches for little Dorrie’s remains so she could ave a decent funeral.
Daniel Radcliffe will be in a live feed from the Old Vic. The play is Rosencrantz & Guilderstone Are Dead’ by Sir Tom Stoppard which was performed at the Old Vic in 1967. The play will be broadcast in a cinema near you on 20 April 2017.
There is a film version which had been directed by Stoppard himself, but it is rather different to the stage play.
The revival of ‘Travesties’ was certainly enjoyed by the audience on the night that I saw it Stoppard does not appeal to everybody but if you like the rather absurd sketches in Monty Python, you might enjoy the play, It is best if you know Hamlet but this is a play!
I saw the live feed of Hedda Gabler at my local cinema last night, It is a National Theatre production. I would have preferred to see the play at the theatre, but it was not an option as the production had been fully booked. It is always possible to get a seat on the day but I did not feel up to the standing and possible queues
I enjoyed the event, and there is one advantage to a live feed. The voices are much clearer than in the theatre. This is especially true if you are in the circle or balcony. And you do have a close up view of the stage and the actors. The cinema price is also about a third of the ‘price of a stall seat. (Internet booking fees can be quite high too.)
I am writing out a Stoppardian play as a short story. I did plot a play to its conclusion, but there is one problem. Tom Stoppard is absent. As Word Clouders well know, I am a minor character from a Stoppard play and am, naturally, engaged over this problem.
A chance to repay the many kindnesses of Debi Alper:
As some of you will know by now, our incredibly generous and talented Editrix, Debi, has been through a really hard time recently, with the loss of her inheritance from her father to an unscrupulous business owner who took her money, even when he knew he was going bust. She's recently been told she'll never get that money back. Anyone who knows Debi will have known a kindness (or many) from her at some point. She gives her time generously, always going above and beyond, and always without asking for anything in return. She champions, guides, encourages, consoles, celebrates and teaches us all as we endeavour to be the best writers we can be - and where would we be without her?
Here is our chance to repay all those kindnesses. Please click here for our fundraising page and donate what you can. Please also share far and wide.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: Debi does now know about the fundraising campaign but she has requested that we please continue to change custom settings to exclude her from posts on facebook and likewise on Twitter, don't tag her. She is overwhelmed (in a good and positive way) by people's generosity. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated and shared so far. We've been running the campaign since Monday and the response so far has been fantastic - it would absolutely wonderful if we could reach our target.
(Fundraising page link in case the clicky link doesn't work: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Debi-Alper)
I understand that there are those who have become impatient with Mrs. Dickens, that some have even stooped to caracterising her as a Moaning Minnie. I am quite sure that this does not apply to the membership of the Order of the Blessed Brother Bingham and if it does in isolated cases I would ask them to remember that this was a grim and grimey time without even the relief of OFP's Friday jokes to look forward to.
EVER SUCH HARD TIMES
I eard my darlin charlie sigh one o them theatrical sighs that starts somewhere under the tongue of his boot and works its way up e was thinkin of the good old days wen what started im off was im “borrowin” a couple of bottles from the blackin factory and a pen nib oh the pain an nagony of creashon scratchin away on toilit paper wiv a pen nib when you cant erford one of them fancy olders wot they keeps under lock and key so they don’t get “borrowed” by aspiring literary gentlefolk.
E does his best to explain an i do my best to stay in the loop as they say an there we are thinkin outside the box but charlie, i seys, darling i seys getting all exacerberated and that which e says i shouldn’t i bought you a brand new biro tho to tell the truth i “borrowed” his biro and it isnt new but it was hangin up loose in the bookies and the tempertation was more than a literary wife of modest pretentions could withstand.
Then e goes an drops one of is bombs hells wot i needs e seys is a nagent.
Obvious o course when a persun thinks about it the sort of thing that every man of literary pretentsions should have but what is a nagent if I had been willin to reveal my ignorance I did not get the chance cos once my charlie starts there is no stoppin him first seys e i needs a neditor
Crikey! I starts to wrack my brain cos there must be charities devoted to the provision of nagents and neditors to those subject to the immuterable laws of poverty.
Would i asks opefully and I hoped elpfully a little cheap neditor do a nebay neditor frinstance.
Not on your Nellie seys e empherasising the n just to show how he never could loose his sense of humour even in the face of nadversity.
E goes on to explain ow nowerdays anyone can be a genius an rite outstandin works of literature but without a nagent you might as well engage in chemical warfarin or wife beatin but I tells him that if e ad that sort o thing in mind e ad better get an nagent double quick in case I got my retaleriation in first as they used to say in niternashnal ruggerby circles but what is a poor fellow of a literary an naspirashional turn of mind to do?
As we all know from the Bible, people once spoke one language. They gathered and began to build a tower. The Tower of Babel. I suspect that they wanted to reach not merely the sky, but Heaven. So, God decided to stop them. He made them speak different languages. I suppose He sent among them a particular type of demons who caused that. I suppose as well that those demons still live among us. They do everything but die, and continue to cause misunderstandings. And here is my question: Are they demons or angels? On one hand, they keep each side of the divided humankind from domination over the other, thus preventing disbalance and, eventually, a fatal military world collision. On the other hand, they fail any possibility of change of the hopeless impasse the life of most of us is.