I was looking last week at the importance of making space. This week I’ll look at this topic specifically from a writing perspective and share a few tips I’ve found helpful.
I was looking last week at the importance of making space. This week I’ll look at this topic specifically from a writing perspective and share a few tips I’ve found helpful.
I am surprised to discover that Gran even entertained the idea of using a weed-killer in the garden of The Ridge, but on October 23rd 1958, we read:
I squeezed in a little gardening this morning, raking up leaves from the front grass and then putting down a second dose of Fison’s weed-killer and grass fertilizer, which has already much improved the front lawn. Early this afternoon I cycled along to the end of Hiltingbury Road to get some beech leaves to preserve for Winter. I found that the coloured ones were already very prone to fall, but there were still plenty of green ones, and all go golden brown when preserved in glycerine. Linnets were flying about where the old Polish Camp is being demolished.
If ever there was a city that knew how to make the most of its space, I would say it was London. I was there just over a week ago for a committee meeting and, afterwards, visited the Sky Gardens, which are the highest roof gardens in the capital.
Summer is in full swing, and to keep your garden looking lovely there are a few things to do this month.
Dead head regularly to maintain flowering, cut back perennials that have collapsed. Continue to summer prune wisteria.
“This afternoon, I was just finishing painting the Lesser Dodder”, writes Gran on September 2nd 1958, “when Jane arrived home from Scotland. She had had a wonderful holiday and had a great deal to tell”. Not only had she brought her mother some flower samples from the north, but:
She also brought me a superb new tennis racquet, the best on the market, which I could hardly wait to try. I did, however, wait till after tea and then Jane and I went up for a game. The racquet was wonderful and we had some splendid games. Although I actually won the first set we were very closely matched in spite of the score of 6 – 0, but in the second one the first game took twenty minutes with an uncountable number of deuces, and we were forty minutes playing three games. Jane eventually won the set at 8 – 6 and we had been playing an hour and a half.
Gran cannot wait to use her new racquet again and she bemoans the fact that she has a “full week ahead and I go to Kingston next Monday!”
A couple of days later:
We had good news this evening! The two remaining yew trees opposite here, my favourites, are to stay and a green belt to be right opposite this house, with shops further up and behind the yews but hidden from our view. It could have been so much worse, and, whilst I shall never cease to regret our lovely “opposite wood”, I am consoled by the preservation of, at least, two of our much-loved yews.
Well, in hindsight, it seems that Gran’s feelings of consolation were premature: just a single yew remains and there are shops opposite The Ridge, unscreened and in full view. No doubt we shall read her views on this in a future journal!
Apologies but the title of this spoof is so long for the boxes CFT has for its posts, I thought it best to truncate it. Truncate or not to truncate, that is the question… (oh and apologies to Shakespeare too).
Image Credit: As ever a huge thank you to Lionel Elliott, Mike Morris, and all of The Chameleons for the pictures.
I discussed titles in last week’s post and the latest production from The Chameleon Theatre Company has one which is a humdinger! They Came From Mars and Landed Outside the Farndale Avenue Church Hall in time for the Townswomen’s Coffee Morning doesn’t trip off the tongue but is a classic example of a title showing clearly what the story is – a spoof!
Last Thursday I watched the latest Chameleons Theatre production – They Came From Mars and Landed Outside the Farndale Avenue Church Hall in Time for the Townswomen’s Guild’s coffee Morning – yes that is the title. A double parody of both amateur dramatics and sci-fi, the play is hilarious in how layered the comedy was, with multiple levels of humour. This performance also came ploughman’s dinner beforehand, which I thought was a nice touch and made the fourth wall breaks more immersive and “in tune” with the style of the play.
The nature of the play also meant a fake programme was created with lots of funny notes such as “Tickets cost £1 each- a strip of 5 is a bargain at £6” and the fact that Mrs Reece is the only member of the behind the scenes crew. The basic plot has the fictional Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society putting together a really, really, really dreadful version of They Came From Mars. Hilarity ensues.
News for all writers on how to write? Previously I have relied on what I was taught by teachers, with the aid of raps on the knuckles with a ruler in earlier years. Now we have the advantage of the new Rees-Mogg Style Guide which recommends the use of Esq. which needs a full stop but Miss and Ms doesn’t. He declines to advise on how the write the plural of Ms. (I put the stop here as it is the end of a sentence.)
I am pleased to learn that certain words are unacceptable and occasion disappointment; they are deemed no longer fit for purpose. The Right Honourable Jacob Rees-Mogg M.P. would be most upset by that sentence because it contains thirteen words he wishes to ban. We should be grateful to Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons also, by self-appointment, Leader of the Comma Man. He cannot be addressed as Esq., one cannot be both Right Honourable and Esquire.
Before Rees-Mogg, I took advice from the Guardian book of English Language who tell how to write ‘lumpenproletariat’ and to use ‘girlie’ as a noun but ‘girly’ as an adjective; the guide declines to say whether such words are politically correct or not. Then there is help from Fowler’s Modern English Usage; three columns on the ‘questionable constructions’ using the word ‘like’ and that ‘Headmaster’ is a single word. There are seven pages on the use of the hyphen but we are still left with the clumsiness of when a lay-preacher becomes an ex-lay-preacher.
Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, a great American guide advises us to avoid using, or rather not using, understood verbs; ‘Polly loves cake more than me’ or is it ‘Polly loves cake more than she loves me.’ They explain the correct use of ‘nauseous’ and ‘nauseated’ and describe ‘nice’ as a shaggy, all-purpose word to be used sparingly.
Then there is New Hart’s Rules, The Oxford Guide to Style which has five pages on the use of the comma, and I still can’t do it right.
Use Imperial measures, says Rees-Mogg. Gone now, are the millimetres, metres and kilometres, we are back to Poles, Chains, Furlongs and Leagues. When it comes to medicine, we will have to measure in grains again. How much is a grain? as much as a grain of wheat, silly. How accurate do you want to be? Ten grains, is that ten small, dry, shrivelled-up grains or fat, swollen, wet grains? How many grains in a pound (weight)? Seven thousand for a pound avoirdupois but only 5670 for a pound Troy. I am not sure about the Apothecaries’ weight system, they dealt in scruples (20 grains) and nothing as heavy as a pound. A grain is officially defined as 64.79891 mg. I had to learn this a medical school as in the early 60’s we were moving from the apothecary’s to the metric system. No more 5 grain aspirin tablets, we rounded it down to 300mg.
I recall from my days in the Young Farmers’ Club that the weight of a pig is given in ‘score’. One score is 20 pounds avoirdupois. When it comes to age, I have exceeded three score and ten (score, not scores.)
How large is your house? You may be able to answer in square metres but now it must be Imperial. How many Perches? Sounds fishy to me but one perch is 30.25 square yards, so conversion is easy. I filled up my car with fuel this morning, it took a Bushel or 4 Pecks or 8 Gallons or 36 Litres).
Perhaps the new Ress-Mogg guide will demand that book and chapter titles are written in a former style, e.g. Chapter XII – In which our Hero proposes to the Lady of the Manor and is rebuffed then goes to seek his fortune in foreign lands.
The Right Honourable Jacob Rees-Mogg M.P. (include the . after M. and P.) did not mention numerals. These new-fangled Arabic numerals are probably an unnecessary development for him and should be replaced by the classic Roman style; VII times IX equals LXIII, easy isn’t it. Please write your date of birth here in Roman Numerals……..
Ress-Mogg M.P. must be pleased about the latest democratic exercise where only the paid-up members of the Tory Party got to vote for the leader of the whole country. The system is just like early democracy in ancient Greece. The important people got to vote on the new leader. Slaves, serfs, women, tradesmen, professionals, artists and craftsmen did not have a say. Same with the Romans, only the Praetorian Guards were permitted to vote; that’s how they got Nero – plus ça change.
Janet and I will have seen The Chameleon Theatre Group’s latest production, They Came from Mars and Landed Outside the Farndale Avenue Church Hall in Time for the Townswomen’s Guild’s Coffee Morning, by the time this post goes live. The play is written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Junior and I look forward to sharing a review next week.
This production easily has the longest title of any play I’ve seen but it is a great illustration of one of the prime purposes of a title for any piece of writing. That is, it should give you some idea of what to expect! No doubts here – this title practically screams out “sci-fi spoof” at you! I love a good spoof so this ticks all the right boxes for me.
“This evening”, Gran writes on a dry St Swithun’s Day, July 15th 1958, “brought today’s main interest, for, after working at Fowler’s this afternoon I went up to Bassett to have tea with Mrs Eagle, with whom I was going to watch Badgers at Lordswood… for I had yet to see my first Badger.”
They walk from Mrs Eagle’s house, through the Sports Centre grounds, to Lordswood, reaching the area of the Badgers’ sett at half-past seven. Gran continues:
…I had changed into corduroy trousers and Wellington boots, with an old mackintosh, and was liberally smeared with insect repellent on all exposed parts, having been forewarned by Mrs Eagle. We crawled underneath some very large rhododendron bushes, amid the roots of which the Badgers had made their home, scuffling out huge mounds of earth at both entrances, and made ourselves as comfortable as possible on cushion and rug among the branches. We held Bracken fronds in front of our faces to screen them from the Badgers and prepared to sit it out…
They wait, in growing pain, for a long time:
My feet had gone to sleep and the tree-trunk against which I had earlier reclined so comfortably now became a hard and unrelenting rod down my spine, and, as I eased my wedged left foot it slipped to the ground with a thud that sounded like the drop of a ton weight, and my Mackintosh creaked like stiff paper! I closed my eyes, hoping that if I relaxed completely I might forget the increasing discomfort… but the sound of movement on the dry leaves instantly re-opened them. And there, before my eyes and scarcely four yards away, was my first Badger. It was ten past nine! No wonder we were stiff and cramped!
Gran describes the experience at length: noting stripy head, white tipped tail, the body darker than expected, and two animals appearing together, which foraged among the rhododendrons, and into a field nearby, where, she writes, “they made a series of extraordinary noises; grunts, growls and little yelps like puppies, and Mrs Eagle told me that she once heard one of them utter an ear-splitting and eerie yell.
Are you looking for some social tennis in Eastleigh?
A small group of mature players play every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 10 am and 12 am at Places for Leisure (formerly Fleming Park). It’s outdoor on hard court.
It’s a friendly group and we play mixed doubles for fun. We are looking for new players. Just turn up and play. No Club fees. [Read more…] about Tennis In Eastleigh and Chandler’s Ford
I’m a great believer in Murphy’s Law. “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Why? Because humans have such a wonderful creative capacity and, simultaneously, an equally wonderful capacity to muck things up. (It’s just wonderful in a different direction, that’s all!).
On May 10th 1958 Gran writes:
This afternoon I went with Jean Hockridge to the Open Day at Hudnut’s Factory, where Ken is Production Manager. Though I do not use cosmetics myself, I found it very interesting, and other drugs and liniments and such are also made there. It was fascinating to see the various machines turning out tablets, mixing powders and creams, mixing toothpaste and putting it into tubes, filling, corking and labelling bottles of shampoo, and liniments and many other things. A very nice tea was provided and all guests were given various samples of the productions.
She plays tennis that evening and ends her entry for the day: “Tomorrow I go to Oxford with the Fowler family to see Diana and, hopefully, to look for Fritillaries!” It is not clear what Diana, Tommy and Bob’s younger daughter, is now doing in Oxford. Is she at the University? Gran describes the next day at some length, including the journey to Oxford, and includes this:
…through Newtown, Newbury, Beedon and East Ilsley to Harwell, the New Town built round the Atomic Research Station, which, to my mind, should never have existed at all, and the sight of it was the one disquieting feature in an otherwise lovely day.
The day is spent in and around Oxford with the Fowler family, and Gran finds her Fritillaries – in a Thames-side meadow, close to where students are rehearsing Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale. She says, “…gentlemen in doublet and hose, and ladies in farthingales strolled everywhere”.
Did you look forward to your end of term report or was it something you dreaded?
My reports came in a yellow book and were filled in year by year at secondary school level. I only got to keep it at the end of my final year. No surprises really that I did well in English and History, less so at Maths and PE (though ironically now with the swimming and walking the dog, I’m probably healthier now than I was then!).
Prevent leaf scorch of container grown Japanese maples by keeping them well watered and in a sheltered spot out of strong sunshine and winds.
Divide congested clumps of bearded iris after flowering. Dead head bedding plants, roses and herbaceous plants to encourage more flowers. Trim evergreen hedges, including conifers. [Read more…] about 2019 July Gardening Tips by Wellie
An Organ Scholar is needed at St Boniface CofE Church, Hursley Road, in Chandler’s Ford.
Can you play a keyboard instrument to Grade 4 or above?
You could be eligible to have some organ lessons and to play organ in some services.
Interested in this great opportunity?
For more info, please contact Hug: Email: HBenham@soton.ac.uk
It is just as well we can’t control the weather. For one thing, we’d never agree with what it should be. Even if we all agreed we needed some rain, we’d never agree on the timing, yet alone how much should be “allowed” to fall. It would always inconvenience someone no matter when we selected it! For others the amount selected would be too little or too much.
We have a revealing insight into Gran’s preferred brand of Christianity in early March 1958. The Hockridges, the family next-door, active in their faith, are evangelical in their views and have on a number of occasions encouraged Gran to attend meetings at their church and elsewhere. On this occasion, Gran puts into words her thoughts thus:
I went to a film shown by the Chandler’s Ford Evangelical Mission at the local School, entitled “Dust or Destiny”. It was wonderful, showing many of the wonders of nature, all previously known and appreciated by me, who, as a naturalist and, I hope, a Christian, have never doubted the Creation nor the power of the Creator, and I truly did not feel in need of the rather loudly proclaimed tirade afterwards. But I like quiet things and I like my teaching about God to be quietly proclaimed for I cannot imagine our Lord shouting, and I find it neither more coherent nor more convincing than the well-modulated speech of my own Rector at Compton. It holds no particular message for me. I hope I am not wrong about this but I find my own Church’s teaching far more satisfying and much less embarrassing.
The promised flower stamps from Mr Cashmore, arrive on the 11th:
…the beautiful flower stamps of San Marino and Jugo-Slavia, which made me wonder why our Post Office is not more enterprising. Why should we not depict on our stamps some of our lovely native flowers – surely there are many that would make excellent subjects?
Christmas 1957 is approaching and Gran expects a full house, with Jane coming home from Nottingham, and the family also due to arrive from Mill Hill. Arrangements are made with the Hockridges for Barry, Jock, Julian and Ricky to spend the nights next door. Jane arrives on December 19th:
I expected Jane home late this evening but when I reached home at half-past six, there she was, cooking herself a meal! She had been able to catch the through train after all. It was raining slightly when she went back to Winchester for the rest of her luggage, and it was late when we eventually retired.
On the following day:
…as we were having tea, Barry and the family arrived. It was grand to see them all again, and how the little boys have grown! Julian tells us he starts school on January 7th, and we all received Christmas cards today that he had coloured and in which he had written his name and Ricky’s. It seems quite incredible.
Clear though it is that Gran loves the family’s presence, she writes the next day that it was somewhat nosy and hectic. “If only I were not so deadly tired”, she says. “But everyone is being very helpful and Mother [recently unwell] is able to come downstairs for a little while each day now. Julian and Ricky are delightful”. [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 89)