Wednesday, 27 August 2014

'The Heat Is On In Saigon....' ( - but it's getting chilly here!)

We were off to the West End again this week - it was a birthday treat for DD - to see the new production of 'Miss Saigon' - again! (well, we went to see it when it re-opened here in London in May - it was for MY birthday treat that time! ;-p)  The cold and wet weather was not enough to dampen our spirits, even if we did require umbrellas! (.....Autumn seems to have arrived suddenly, out of the blue!)

....just one more shot....

At the risk of being a musical-theatre-bore I have to say this production is truly stunning!!  (...and after the dozen or more times we've seen it, it just keeps on getting better!)

.....and the helicopter's back, of course!

If you are in the UK I'd highly recommend you invest some of your hard-earned £££s in a ticket; worldwide readers - bombard Cameron MacIntosh and his production team with emails until they agree to take the show back out on the road!

If you haven't already seen it - here's a clip!

(and if you HAVE - well, just ENJOY!!!)

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Beautiful boating weather....perhaps not!

You've heard of 'getting all your ducks in a row'......well, this time it's boats, rather than ducks (but one just sneaked into shot!)

Now that Spring is finally arriving and the soggy Warwickshire countryside is drying out enough to make walking rather than wading an option, I ventured out along the nearby Oxford Canal yesterday morning.

It's a while since I last came this way but very little has changed; some of the narrow-boats at the boatyard are still 'parked' up waiting for warmer weather and people to hire them - it'll soon be Easter and they'll be gliding up and down the canals regularly.

There was a slight break in the clouds as I turned round and headed for home and was greeted with a "Mornin' Missus!" salutation from the driver of a floating 'craft-shop' (judging by the signs on the side and the carvings in the windows).  As I snapped a picture, he chugged off into the distance - slow, calm and sedate.

 A great antidote to the helter-skelter world we live in these days!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

As Doc Brown would say - "GREAT SCOTT!"

Yes - those were my first words, too, when I heard about the plan to create a stage musical from the iconic 'Back To The Future' movies!

With British Director Jamie Lloyd and music by the film franchise's original writer, Alan Silvestri, it is a production that has been a decade or more in the planning. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have reunited their partnership from the original movies to write the new show for the stage.

We are promised illusions, skateboarding extraodinaire and a host of other special effects, along with many of the original soundtrack 1950's favourites.

Due to hit London's West End in 2015, it will be a fitting way to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Marty McFly and his cohorts' first trip in the De Lorean time machine! (...perhaps they should get the 'flux-capacitor' running now, then we wouldn't have to wait!)


Another show, this time already receiving plaudits in the West End, is 'From Here To Eternity'

From Here To Eternity Musical London

Based on the book by James Jones (and of course, the film directed by  Fred Zinnemann) with music and lyrics by Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson, it is turning out to be one of the hit shows currently on the London Stage - we're going to see it this coming Wednesday and I'll report back! (see edit. below video)

In the meantime, here's a sneak preview........... :-)

Edit. 21/02/2014 - well, we had really good seats thanks to an upgrade by theatre staff on arrival! Really enjoyed the show, three or four of the tunes are still bouncing around in my head. The stage production was clever and not too sophisticated so I hope they take this on tour. Just a short run in the West End so I hope it makes it to the provinces. Now I shall have to re-watch the Burt Lancaster/ Deborah Kerr/Montgomery Clift film version and see how it compares - may one day have to read the original book!

Next week: just have five shows lined up.....busy's a hard life! ;-)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Walking on water ....... not quite!

So here's 2014 and I haven't made ANY resolutions, not because I'd fail hopelessly before the week was out, but because in the past they been mostly negative - you know, 'This year I'm going to stop/give up doing xxxxx.....'

This year I'm opting to take time and 'enjoy' the journey and aim for quality of life. I'm fed up hearing so many people bragging about what they've achieved and then reflecting on what I HAVEN'T managed to do (it sounds like the Anglican General Confession: "I have done those things which I ought not to have done, and I have left undone those things which I ought to have done, and there is no health in me....' !)

To that end, I joined DD this afternoon to resume our previously-frequent walks down through the fields near her house. As you can see, the path petered out.......! And neither of us can quite manage to walk on water ;-p

We knew the fields themselves might be under water -  this was the view as we approached:

Then we got a bit closer.....
.....until all we could do was gaze across the rippling water that had obliterated our path!

Oh well, there's always tomorrow.......probably have a flock of Canada geese sailing by!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Gone, but not forgotten

One of my passions is genealogy - regular visitors here will know that for this year's A-Z blog challenge I concentrated on the joys (and frustrations!) of family history.

Most of it is just names, dates and places, but every now and then there comes a bit of information or a photograph that brings the individual almost 'back to life'.

One such occurrence happened quite recently when an off-the-cuff remark by a family member led to the discovery of a number of letters from WW2 - from a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.

Donald 'Donnie' Brown was my husband's Great Uncle. He was in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force and when the island was captured by Japanese forces he was interned in Stanley Camp for the duration.

A few of his letters managed to find their way back to his sister in India and we have been privileged to see them and preserve them for posterity.

They make harrowing reading, as they are filled with positive emotions of looking forward to the day when the war would be over and the family could be reunited. Sadly, although he survived and was able to get back to India, his sister was just returning from England. They later realised their ships would have passed each other in Bombay.

Donnie returned to Hong Kong and resumed his career with the RHKP, married and started a family and finally relocated to New Zealand. Though both he and his sister lived well into old age they never saw each other again, although they communicated by letter and phone.

Seeing the cards he wrote from prison, with their Japanese pictograms, brings home an aspect of WW2 in the Pacific that I'd never really considered; in the UK, most of our knowledge of the war is centred on the European conflict.

Reading the four-page letter he wrote on release, unfettered by lack of censorship, it seems a romantic engagement had been called off and he found himself footloose and fancy free......there's a novel in that, somewhere!

And the story of Donnie is still bringing new discoveries, for just today I received this picture at the top of this post - taken as preparations for defence were being carried out; sadly they were not to know how swiftly the enemy would arrive, nor in what numbers that would quickly overwhelm them.

Still, he looks rather dashing, at the wheel - a bit of playboy charm about him!  You may be gone, Donnie, but you are most definitely NOT forgotten!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Banging The Drum For 'FRIDAY GIRLS' !!

One of the best things about blogging is that every now and then you come across people who you will probably never meet face to face, but with whom you have an instant rapport. One such, in my case, is the extremely talented writer, Cathy Olliffe-Webster.

(the delightful Cathy, with husband Dave)

We met through a love of writing and now she has published not one but two books! So here I am to 'bang the drum' for her in promoting her work and......

......oh, here's the lady herself:

I wouldn’t know Sue Harding if it wasn’t for #FridayFlash. I wouldn’t know that she has a brand new kitchen almost ready for bangers and mash. I wouldn’t know she is an absolute knitting fiend who, if she had a dollar for every ball of wool she has stashed in her cubby, could afford to buy Buckingham Palace.
Or at least the services of one of those taciturn but extremely handsome fur-hatted guards at the palace gate. I myself would skip the palace and opt for four or five of those guards. Ménage a cinq, anyone?
But I digress. The fact is, I wouldn’t have any idea who Mizz Harding was, I wouldn’t be a writer and I wouldn’t be the author of two (count ‘em) books if it wasn’t for #FridayFlash. I would, however, be a sad and lonely homeless person laying on a subway grate, sluicing down a bottle of cheap plonk and peeing on storefronts. That is the amazing way #FridayFlash changed my life.
You may be wondering what it is, this marvelous life-changing thing. It’s an Internet meme, actually, the brainchild of American writer/poet Jon M. Strother who, back in 2009, wanted to create something that would encourage, support and showcase short fiction from writers around the world. The writers wrote a story of 1,000 words or less, they posted it on their blogs and tweeted it with the hash tag (that’s the # thing-a-ma-bob on Twitter). Then they ran about reading and commenting on all the other writers’ stories. A bloggy friend named CJ Hodges MacFarlane introduced me to the phenomenon and I took to it like toddler-pee to swimming pool water. The absolute rush of having other people read my work was stunning and I quickly picked up on a lot of writing know-how.
Basically I was a #FridayFlash addict. I wrote a story every Thursday night for more than a year. On my honeymoon. The night before my wedding. I wrote when I was sick and I wrote when I was run off my feet. I became part of a community and meeting people like Sue was as good or better than the writing itself.
Eventually my attention turned to writing a novel, Green Eggs & Weezie, an all-consuming 

voyage that put Flash on the back-burner. But I never forgot the stories that made Fridays magical, and eventually I chose my favourites and created an anthology called Friday Girls. Why girls? Well, there are some stories featuring men, but mostly my stories are about “girls” of all ages, of all backgrounds, but all with the same insecurities and foibles that mark my own life.
When it came time to give the collection a title, Friday Girls seemed perfect. In my mind, Friday girls are tough when they need to be, with big hearts and even bigger dreams, and they launch into the weekends of their lives with fearless abandon.
The book is one of the best things about being involved with #FridayFlash – next to getting to know Sue Harding, of course.

Starting tomorrow, Friday Girls will be available for free, for five days, on Amazon. Here’s some  links:

If you read Friday Girls or Green Eggs & Weezie, and you like them (!), please tell your friends and leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon. If you don’t like them, take your dear old mother’s advice: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.”


You can catch up with Cathy over at her blog- 'Cold Lake Cathy' - Cold Lake, Alberta, being the place her and Dave have recently relocated to. I don't take it personally that she decided to move several states away just at the time when I announced I was coming over from the UK to visit cousins in New England and we might even take a run up to Toronto and be within striking distance of meeting Cathy and Dave  from their their home on the Muskoka River, Ontario! There's friendship for you!! ;-p

(...and what happened to my #fridayflash stories? Well, a lot of them are just over to your right, in the sidebar, if you fancy trying them out for size! Maybe I shall have to think about following Cathy's lead and publishing them myself....... ;-p)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Words for Wednesday - a rather irreverent poem!

Over at 'Under the Porch Light' , the blog-host, Delores, is running a word-meme each Wednesday; she provides a prompt which may be a group of random words, a phrase or a picture, and invites us to let our imaginations get to work.

This week's words were:

insignificant, crimson, mottled, track, border, and spinning


"She was stiff as last years Christmas tree...."

So, here's my version of what that little lot inspired me to write:

The Big Send-off

She was stiff as last years’ Christmas tree,
Laid out in her Sunday best,
The family had gathered to toast her passing 
And pay their last respects.

The trestles, draped with a crimson cloth,
Supported the weight of her coffin,
And outside stood, as red as blood, 
The hearse they would carry her off in.

“It borders on the ridiculous!”
said an elderly aunt, “Why not black?”
“She refused to go quietly,” muttered another,
“it looks like her plans were on track!”

An insignificant cough stilled the scene,
Disguising a deep-bellied snort,
As a mourner tripped over the cat on the floor 
And let go of his glass of fine port.

Uncle Bert raised his beer and we all gave a cheer
As the errant glass flew through the air,
As it hit the deceased, the port was released 
And quickly spread everywhere!

We all gasped in shock, as down her best frock, 
Appeared a trail, mottled and red,
But the silence was broken by what was next spoken, 
As Aunt Maud leaned forward and said:

“It’s all for the best  - she’ll be laid out to rest
In the dress she last wore as a bride,
“And at least she now matches 
The hearse that despatches her off to the ‘other side’!”

We had to admit that the dress did now fit, 
As we looked round the room at each other,
Uncle Bert chipped in fast, “Well it worked out at last
 - 'cos she told us to “have a drink ON 'er!”

With a laugh and a cheer we banished each tear 
As we toasted her name with a smile,
With the angels she’s singing, and what a yarn spinning
- how we sent her off in such style!


This has turned into just a wee bit of an homage to "Ackroyd's Funeral", by comedian and folk artist Mike Harding (no relation), you can judge for yourself :