Blog Archive

Sunday, 12 August 2018

John on our visit to Victoria Park

Why are there so many magpies here?   They don’t move away when I lie down (as crows would) and  there’s one which squeaks as it jerks  but then doesn’t quite fluff out its wings . Just a few steps now, left, right, left, right.  Stop.   A quiver of a scratch.  Now in profile staring somewhere.
Ding gong ding dang!
Leaves on the grass are blowing along like little wheels.
A single small white feather by the pine tree roots.   Now all the pigeon’s have gone again.  And father off, as I look,  Valerie’s coming with Sarah who’d gone to find her from the taxi in the square.
Now everyone’s arriving, and driven off all the birds.   There’s a woman in a wheel chair with a child in the sun.   She holds her hand to shade her eyes.   I can’t see anything.   Sounds of children.
Round and round us is the moan of traffic.  Quite loud and yet you don’t hear it.   Now some sort of howl like a cleaning machine, sucking, moving, nagging.   It makes a bicycle silent – as if flying on the ground.   Now hammering, each hammer blow doubled by an echo.
A few minutes ago we came through lists of the glorious dead.   To here, this.   The careful red and yellow beds of flowers.  But I think they spoil the place.  Gaudy.   Look how bright and shiny and well arranged we are!
A little boy is getting into the bottom of a tube slide and climbing up, two boys, one squealing down to meet the other,  who’s watching now.
A seagull.  Tall neck and prim and thin  White at the back of the eyeballs.   Legs moving but no rhythm carried through the body -  like a cartoon character’s walk.
A pine tree long since fallen sideways but still growing almost lying down.  Someone’s chopped the lower limbs off, zigzag round the trunk now, only four or five boughs left, at the end of the tree, slightly across the path.   How firmly embedded in the dust and leafy ground it is.
Ah here comes Christina, flying just above the branches of the pine-tree with her white nightdress spreading out like wings and a tail,  very slowly,   lying in the top boughs of the pine now with eyes so blue that when you look you think you are looking right through them, through her head, and hair, into the blue sky beyond.   Then without warning the folds of white are lifting away from the twigs and she’s dissolving back up into the clouds again.  
I find I am holding a choc-ice.  

Then as I hold it, dribbling a bit, the choc-ice is whisked out of my hand and there is Sharon's chair lifting into the sky and witchy cackling sounds fill the sky.    

Write a Dialogue

Write about a page of dialogue,  focusing on two people.    You can do this as fiction or drama.  Think about the overall kind of ‘speech’ acts that are going on.   You could have one person talking to the other, along the lines of:


Saturday, 9 June 2018

People session 3 Poetry

Poetry (1)
All poetry began as song, song which gradually managed without the musical accompaniment.  Some poems are still called ‘lyrics’.
Usually poetry is written in lines, so that there is some sort of repetition involved, line from line.   The most straightforward repetition is that of sentence pattern.   This method is used in the Psalms in the Bible, and elsewhere.   Here’s a passage from the famous Song of Solomon.

I belong to my beloved,
and his desire is for me. 
Come, my beloved,
let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages.
Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates are in bloom-
there I will give you my love. 

Some poetry uses rhymes to mark the ends of the lines.
And there was the lovely Christina
By God you should have seen her

 Some poetry uses alliterations.  So many for each line.

Lee looked at the line
of  perfect polish helmet pigeons

Some poetry uses just the number of beats and/or syllables per line.   This last is a common one to us because Shakespeare uses it.
Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I
says Hamlet.  Ten syllables per line, and five of them stressed
Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I
Five beats and five non-beats and they alternate.  Di-dum, di-dum.
This is the so-called ‘iambic pentameter’ which is in fact the commonest of all in English poetry.   You can add rhyme to it as well.
The rhyme marks out the ends of the lines.
Wild Gabrielle once took me for a drive.
I came back pale of face but still alive

Or you could measure out the line by the number of stresses (beats) only.

Eddie’s ship is home at last in its harbour.
Now he has one home and one wife

In modern times, since the early twentieth century many poets have decided not to measure out their lines, and simply make the them sound in some way parallel to each other, and in some way musical.
You could just follow the natural pauses in what you’re writing
Deborah was sucking a soft chocolate log
and closed her eyes
and groaned

Also poets tend to like repetitions of sounds and patterns, apart from using them to mark out lines.  Note  the  repeated sounds in suck, soft, choc, log.

All this -   lines and sounds and so on – is connected to the general point that in poetry the writer savours the sound of the language as such

(1) Write a poem called:  For Someone in Trouble.  Use any type of line.

(2) Take any sentence or passage from the paper and mark the beats (stressed syllables)   Imagine you had to beat a drum in time to it.

Linda Hillborne was arrested last night for dangerous flying.  She suddenly glided out of her bedroom window.  

Or do both

People session 8

 The person in the possessions                                                Describe a person by talking about their possessions

Possessions tell us about people.  There are obvious dramatic things to with wealth.  A wealthy person is ‘expressed’ by the design of their yacht or private jet, or by the cut of their expensive (usually) clothes.    But all of us are expressed by our possessions, and often the more humble is more interesting, especially if you  think of loved ones -  dad’s old battered hat, his fountain pen,  his model ship, his favourite cup.    We think of such things, often, when we think of someone now dead.  

Describing possessions is valuable in giving atmosphere to a piece of writing, and also hinting a character and age.  George’s treasured paintbrush which once belonged to Van Gogh.   You can also use possessions as symbols for ideas.   Your husband’s favourite viper.  Your wife’s statue of a weeping angel.

You could approach describing a person’s possessions (some of them, that is) by creating a situation in which:

·         The writer or a character is alone in someone else’s house waiting for them and looking round.  Could be a friend or complete stranger. Might sneak into the bedroom or study.

·         A researcher is looking (as in a museum) at surviving possessions of a person.  Could be doing with this a son or daughter of the person who can give anecdotes about the things.   “He always used to put this on his head when he was drunk.”

·         A detective checking the house of a person who’s been found dead, or who has gone wild in the street and broken windows.  Finds an unexpected collection of.  .  . 

·         A thief  (perhaps two thieves chatting), who may be looking for a particular object, or just sifting through to see if there’s anything valuable.

·          Paparazzo who’s heard rumours something scandalous about the person.  

·          A suspicious spouse in the wife/husband’s room when they’re out or asleep.  Pockets, handbags,  attic,  desk

·         Yourself in a dream going back to your childhood room.   Just describe all the things there and we’ll know you!    I can see (and this is just a list) a small dinky toy aeroplane which Father Christmas brought me and left at the side of my bed,  several wartime planes I’ve carved and then hung from the ceiling on cotton so that they’re ‘flying’.  There  are some luminous china rabbits on the dressing table, and a copy of The Children of Cherry Tree Farm for Dad to read at bedtime. Aircraft recognition books. A penknife. Grandma’s opera glasses used as field glasses to see planes.  ‘My’ dog George sleeping under the bed. A Spitfire diagram on the wall. 

People 6 Monologue


Write a monologue which shows a person in a difficult situation.  In some ways we can see her better than she can see herself.  But as yet we don’t know fully what the situation is. She is speaking to herself, but also gradually revealing what’s happened, happening, bit by bit.

A monologue is when one person tells a story, often as part of a play, or it can be a whole short play as in Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.  Or it can be written down as a story or poem, or as your diary.    The term ‘talking heads’ was original tv jargon for too much talking on the screen, not enough action.
    In The Outside Dog   the speaker (played by Julie Walters) never quite lets us know what she’s thinking, and when she describes how she speaks to the police she always answers indirectly and slightly aggressively. But we begin to feel she’s being defence.   We can only suspect what’s happened, until right at the end when  her husband is arrested.

Write a monologue.  If you want to do something which would suit tv, you’ll need to spend some time describing what the view will see. what the speaker is doing as she speaks,  which way she is looking, or what sort of music is in the background.   Or You can do that simply by writing a piece of description, making it a story or poem.   


I don’t know what happened.  How do I know what happened?  How do  I  -  know – what -  happened!!!

                         SHE LOOKS OUT OF THE WINDOW.  NOW SHE’S IN TEARS

I wish Al was here.  But Al’s . . .   Al’s. . .  

                          COMING OUT OF IT


Friday, 9 March 2018


Loss of Love for Someone

This could happen in different ways
I used to love you.  Now I don’t  love you.   So what’s happened? 
Have you done something to hurt me? 
Has something happened to change things?
Have I realised you weren’t the person I thought you were?
I’m bored with you?  
Have I realised I didn’t really love you in the first place?
Have I changed my idea of what ‘love’ is?

An I telling myself this because you’ve stopped loving me?

What kind of love is it?
A kind of ‘romantic’ love to do with physical attraction
Love that’s not primarily to do with physical attraction
Love between mother or father and child
Non-sexual love, say between friends
Love of God
One kind of love may, of course, change into another -  for example as married people grow older or ‘grow together’

Write a fictional letter or diary entry in which someone explains how they no longer love someone else.
            Or the ditched one’s letter or diary entry in        response.
How can you make the piece into a whole, that is, with an end which pulls everything together and yet is unexpected?   Not just ‘April fool!’

Friday, 2 March 2018

HANDOUT: Loss of Love Theme 6 A LIE

6  Loss of Love theme: A Lie

Write something about a lie.   It could be a lie you once told, a lie told to you.    Or you might discover a lie someone has been telling.

Why would someone tell a lie?

Is it to protect themselves?

To gain something?

To deceive someone into doing something?

Imagine someone you’ve always admired as a hero or heroine.  After almost a lifetime you discover that their heroism never happened.  They made it up, or it was someone else.  The medal in the little glass cabinet is a fake, or earned really by someone else who happened to have the same name.
Or the lie could be something about your long dead father or mother, or even you.
Maybe it’s something that’s always inspired you, or something that’s made you feel second rate.
They don’t know you’ve found it.  But that’s the reason you’ve invited them for a drink or to supper. 

Now you can confront them with it.  Why did they do it?  What’s their reaction?   Maybe yours is quite different from what you’d expected.

Or maybe you are put in a position where you have to tell someone something which will hurt them very much.   Someone about a relative.   Something about your feelings towards them.  Some way in which you’ve deceived them.  Maybe only you know about it.

You intend to break it to them, because that’s the honest thing to do to keep your relationship with them honest.  But as you talk you find it hard to do so.  Your problem is whether to summon up your determination and tell them the truth, or to save their feelings by telling a lie.

But then imagine that already know, and see how now you are the liar.