Challenge No 3: 99 words

Jul. 24th, 2017 06:33 pm
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Debriswoman recommended You have breath for no more than 99 words.  What would they be? collected by Liz Gray, and suggested this as a writing challenge.  So this month I have been writing 99 words for some of my characters.

It quickly became apparent the characters I would write had to be those for who I have written series, so that I could really get inside their heads.  I frequently write say, John Watson, both in BBC Sherlock and ACD Sherlock Holmes, but each time there may be subtle differences.  Whereas taking the Watson in Sussex Retirement I had a far greater idea of how he would think.  This also served to narrow down the characters I would choose.

I had decided to include the gang from the Marylebone Monthly Illustrated really as a bit of light relief.  Only when I came to write the first of them, the Ocelot, I came across the Editor with very strong views, and found myself writing one of the most dour of the entries.

None of the characters explicitely contradict my own views.  This might be a fault in a writer, but I think if I'm investing the time in a character to write a series then I want to be in agreement with them.  This is, after all, a hobby rather than a career.

The last chapter, which I have just posted, is my own 99 words, for I felt it was appropriate to leave a little bit of myself there too.

It's been a fascinating challenge, nothing like I expected when I started, and totally worthwhile doing, so thank you Debriswoman

99 words

Richard III

Jul. 22nd, 2017 01:47 pm
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I wouldn't normally see two different productions of the same play within the space of two months - inevitably the two will be compared, and anyway there are lots of other plays out there.  But on this occasion it was inevitable.  I had already booked to see Greg Hicks when Antic Disposition announced their new tour.  We really enjoyed their production of Henry V last year, and I would have looked at seeing them again anyway, but since they were once more in Gloucester Cathedral I had to go.

The play was performed in the choir and right at the edge of the presbytery - the doors at either end providing entrances.  There was very little in the way of props, two thrones at one end, some boxes to give added height occasionally at the other, but their absence didn't matter.  Again it was in modern dress, suits for the most part, formal army dress for Richard on his coronation, battle dress for the battle.  The parts of the two young princes were played by two of the female actors, who also played two of the queens, so smart outfits as queens, torn jeans as princes.

Richard, played by Toby Manley, was excellent as the manipulative future king.  At one point, after his wooing of Anne he turned round smiling broadly at the audience.  I was smiling broadly too and he grinned at me.  We were sitting in the front seats of the choir.

There was plenty of engagement with the audience.  In anticipation of the young Prince Edward's arrival in London, Catesby handed out flags to wave.  I was slightly disappointed SM was given one and I wasn't - but he waved his furiously at the right moment.

One of the things I particularly liked was that as the various characters were killed they would take their place at one end of the space as silent witnesses to the following action.  The characters alternated, so it didn't become overcrowded, but I felt it was particularly effective.

Apart from the young princes, there were a number of other actors who had two roles, but it wasn't noticeable and without looking at the programme I wouldn't have been aware of who was who.  In particular one actor played both Rivers and Richmond and I would never have realised.

It was a really good production, very different from the last one I'd seen, and one I'd recommend.

Gloucester Cathedral )
It's taken from the Organ Loft.  We were sat about half way down at the front on the right.
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The more astute among you will possibly realise I rather like Richard Armitage.  Even the guy at work who transferred all my phone details to my new phone probably knows this, although he may not realise who it is.

So, recently RA did the voice for one of the characters on Castlevania, an anime of a computer game thingy on Netflix.  I do not like anime, I don't play computer games and I don't have Netflix.  But ...  It turned out with Netflix you get a one month free trial before having to start paying - so there was nothing lost.  And there were only four episodes of about 20-25 minutes each, which meant I could space them out nicely over four days.  Or in fact, watch all four in an evening.  Much to my surprise I enjoyed it, and am now looking forward to the new season next year.  Yes, there is a lot of swearing, and blood and gore (but if I can sit in the front row for Titus Andronicus I can cope), but in fact it was fun.

RA has also been in a film called Pilgrimage.  At first I wasn't going to watch it (lots more violence and unpleasantness) but the premise sounded interesting, and the question of the role of religion in the lives of the people is one I'm interested in.  So, when [personal profile] vix_spes  said she'd got a copy of the DVD for £7 from Sainsbury's I nipped into one on my way to work - and it went through the till for a fiver.  It's an interesting film, which I might watch again.  A proportion of the film is in Irish or French, and the subtitles weren't very easy to see - or at least not from my position behind the ironing board (no guilt whatsoever to watching a DVD during the day if I'm doing the ironing!) but I was taken with it.  And not just because of Raymond de Merville.

And I'm still waiting for Berlin Station to make it to Netflix UK!
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I took part in the Multi-Fandom Drabble Exchange on AO3, which was great fun.  It worked on the same basis as any exchange, with the ficlets all being drabbles.  So nice and quick, with the possibility of writing treats and generally enjoying yourself.

I was very fortunate in receiving one gift and three treats.  One of my requests had been for The Hobbit, Thorin Oakenshield/Bilbo Baggins, and I received my gift Growing Things, plus two treats, For You and Gems of the Garden.  In addition I received Heatwave, a Forever treat.

I wrote a Life on Mars drabble Beware of Gene Bearing Drinks and a Call The Midwife pinch hit Speak Through the Earthquake, Wind and Fire.  And then two treats, an anthropomorfic knitting drabble Fair Isle and another Call the Midwife drabble Learning from the Television.

The Drabble Exchange was new for me, but I've also recently taken part again in Not Prime Time, which is an exchange for medium sized fandoms, which are too big for Yuletide, but don't tend to have their own exchanges.

I received a Forever fic as a gift, Acts of Kindness and unaware of it managed to write a treat for my author in the same fandom: Abe's Bet.  My own assignment was once more Call the Midwife, Even on Holiday.  And lastly there was an irresistible Spooks Adam Carter/Lucas North prompt, which produced Under Surveillance.  I chose to write a slightly different take on Adam and Lucas first working together, although somehow the final outcome may be similar.

What drew me to Brownies?

Jul. 14th, 2017 01:11 pm
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Faithful readers of this blog will know that sometime last month I asked if anyone wanted to ask me something.  Most of you already know far more about me than is strictly necessary, but [personal profile] aome  asked how I got involved with Brownies in the first place.

The simple answer, which is probably the same for three-quarters of leaders, is because the daughter's Guide Unit needed help.  But there's more to why I'm still involved.

To begin at the very beginning:  The daughter was always a very enthusiastic guiding member.  She began Rainbows a little above the minimum age, but the first time she went she came home asking if I could sponsor her, could she go to an event, and when did she get her uniform.  When she moved onto Brownies she had the option of joining two trips at the end of the summer term, or waiting until the autumn - there was no question, she was going on the trips.  And so onto Guides - one week there and she's signed up for camp the following month.

So when her unit were in desperate need of help, I wanted to make sure she could continue with something she enjoyed.  I started as a Unit Helper, but was persuaded to take the qualification and become an Assistant Leader.  And inevitably the leader moved with her husband, and I took the final part of the qualification to become the Unit Leader.  The daughter got older and moved onto Explorer Scouts.

Time passed, and my Assistant Leader could no longer help.  The daughter took GCSEs and started college, where she was residential.  We needed to pay for the accommodation which meant I needed to find a full-time job (I had worked part-time whilst the kids were growing up.)  So with less time and less help I did one further term as Unit Leader, but then was forced to close the unit.

I still wanted to do 'something' and having had involvement with the Scouts whilst the daughter was there, I went to help with a Beaver Scout unit.  It turned out that Scouting wasn't for me.  So after a couple of terms I stopped.

And enquired at the village Brownie pack whether I could be of assistance.  I knew the leaders from my time with the Guides, and had helped them with the annual London trip and on other odd occasions.  Strangely enough, it turned out that an experienced pair of hands would be very welcome.  So I completed the group specific part of the qualification, so I could lead Brownies.  Then, when one of the Brownie leaders proposed starting a new Guide Unit in the nearby town I offered to help and provide experience of the Guide programme.  So for two terms I was doing both Brownies and Guides.  (By that point I had changed job again and was working slightly less hours).

Then, when we moved to Gloucester, I asked one of my current Brownie Leaders if she knew a pack I could join.  She recommended the one I'm at now, which was ideal because it suited my style of leadership.  So, 14 years later, I'm still involved as a Brownie leader.

Friends to Lovers?

Jul. 12th, 2017 08:32 pm
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I was discussing this theme on Twitter with [personal profile] loz  and said I had sufficient thoughts that I would write a blog post.  And then promptly didn't - in part because that was the day I then went to see Titus Andronicus, which isn't condusive to such thoughts.  But now it's come up again as the Trope for the Day on [community profile] ushobwri  and [personal profile] brumeier  has asked for our thoughts.  So no escape.

It's not a trope I'm that keen on, partly because two of the fandoms I belong to seem desperate to make it happen.  Yes, one is Sherlock (principally the BBC version) and also Lewis.  If that's the way you like things that's fine, I'm not saying it's wrong at all, just that it doesn't appeal to me.  I have come across too many fics where the writer has contrived to bring the two together and suddenly it's wonderful.  There are times when remaining as friends would be perfectly acceptable.

So where does that leave me, and my most written pairings?  Which isn't to say I don't write other pairings for gift fics or for friends, but here I'm concentrating on my favourites.

My first fandom was Life on Mars - the UK version.  And the classic Sam/Gene.  They snark, they argue, they get to know each other better, and the relationship begins.  Now it may be my age, or my outlook, but I don't see that the relationship has to immediately include sex, but this is more than just friends.

Onto BBC's Sherlock.  I don't see Sherlock/John.  John/Greg yes - they see each other in a professional context and realise they want to get to know each other better.  For me it's fairly quick.  I'm currently not writing this pairing.  Sherlock/Stanley Hopkins - again a professional interest moves on to something deeper quite quickly - of course, this is Hopkins of the Met River Police, entirely my own creation based on ACD's Hopkins.

ACD Sherlock Holmes - Nothing will ever take Mary Morstan/John Watson away from me.  This post-hiatus Holmes/Watson is one of my few real friends to lovers, but as the relationship is described only in the Sussex Retirement 'verse it all happened in the past, so doesn't really count as a trope.  Watson reflects on the relationship in the first in the series A Quiet Retirement.

So to Lewis.  I liked Laura Hobson/Robbie Lewis, until the series seemed to spoil it for me.  In Oxford Tales I have Lewis and Hathaway working together and then moving in together, but there's never any description of how it happens.

Two of my other fandoms are both rare pairs.  Adam Carter/Lucas North in Spooks - there's a spark between them from early on, it takes time to catch light because Lucas is mentally scarred, but it's more slow burn than friends to lovers (some might say I'm being pedantic, but they both know what's happening).  And Guy/Much in Robin Hood (BBC) - in my world there's an instant attraction, and since I'm the only one who writes it, I can claim it's the only interpretation ;)

So no, as a trope friends to lovers doesn't particularly appeal.  Friday's Trope of the Day on [community profile] ushobwri  is Established Relationships and I shall be sharing my thoughts there ;)