This was a heading in my uncle’s stack of Reader’s Digests. Here is a new word discovered courtesy of the Irish Independent. Tsundoku: the Japanese word for the practice of buying books and never reading them.
That’s how my great-aunts dismissed books. Like all households they had Bibles, prayer books, a cookery book or two, and “ready reckoners” with curious rod, pole or perch measurements. The prayer books were miniscule with tissue paper pages and tiny print, but the horrors of childbirth could be imagined from The Churching of Women.
I have my grandmother’s Enquire Within upon Everything should I need to address the Younger Son of an Earl, prepare a potion for my children because I have made them sick with Brimstone and Treacle, or dance a Quadrille.
What did they do for stories? Woman’s Weekly perhaps, but I think it was taken for the knitting patterns. My mother had a collection of Home Chat magazines that might have contained stories, but I remember its “make do and mend” fashion pages.
Himself and I have shelves of dust collectors in every room. When it comes to novels he and I rarely read the same authors. A mutual favourite is the Bryant and May detective series by Christopher Fowler. Having finished The Water Room I suggested it could go to a charity shop. ‘No,’ he said, ‘when I’m old(!) I’ll have forgotten the plot and will read it again.’
I am not a re-reader of novels. (I can spend hours dipping into Enquire Within. I think I need paragraph 1530 Rules of Conduct drawn up by the celebrated Quakeress, Mrs Fry.)
Exceptions to my no rereading rule are Jude the Obscure – but not Tess of the D’urbervilles, too many dramatisations perhaps – and The Diary of a Provincial Lady, maybe the latter as I have a curiosity for outdated domestic detail, engendered by pouring over those early self-helps.
I think I may be alone among my fellow ninevoices. Tanya has declared that she will not read a novel unless she considers it will be worthy of rereading. This is evident from her character analyses of the works of Austen, Eliot, Trolloppe and many more. Often, too, she is reminded of passages from her favourite novels. However, she has inspired me to buy and rediscover Barbara Pym. I probably read library editions before: one way of limiting the dust collectors.
To read and reread, or enjoy the memory of the first experience? which may, of course, be faulty.
At a recent meeting one of our members (bless) suggested that we should have homework that we would bring to the next session. The first theme set was on being awoken by a galloping horse at 3am. Ghost stories, a wife’s revenge and a rant on royal pageantry followed. Maybe these will be developed into fully-fledged stories (not the rant). Is it a good idea? Or does it distract us from other writing?
There’s a PS to this. We’ve had two other “homeworks” since and one of our members has become a poet.
Thank you all for your entries. We will discuss them at our next meeting and announce the winner mid-month.
Ninevoices Summer Competition ends on Thursday, 31st August 2017. A mere 99-199 word story incorporating at least one of the endangered words associated with nature featured in our 22nd June post could win you £100. The entry fee is £5 and any profits will go to the charity PMRGCA-UK.
The Director’s Cut Company under Heather Ward has called for writer’s submissions of 5 to 7-minute monologues/duologues for the Director’s Club Showcase at Southwark Playhouse, London. The deadline is in pdf format by 6pm on Friday 19th May to: firstname.lastname@example.org
From the website but please read the brief carefully. There is much more to it than this short teaser …
NOTHING TO DECLARE
Or is there?…
She is a free spirit. Constantly moving, from one European country to the next. Embracing culture and people from all walks of life. She likes change, adventure, risk and discoveries…and she chooses when and what she gives away. Once you encounter her your life will never be the same again. Are you ready?
A moment with her is all you have. And then, she is gone.
WRITER’S SUBMISSIONS NOW OPEN!
This is a unique and exciting concept, we are looking for stand out pieces that respond to the below brief.
We envisage Nothing to Declare to be a play about humanity, culture, connection, encounters, self-discovery, anonymity, love and freedom. This woman, whose name or nationality is never mentioned, and who you only hear about from the people who have met her, moves freely and spontaneously, whenever she chooses, from one European country to the next, picking up different jobs, sharing in random and meaningful, sometimes life changing encounters, meeting people from all walks of life, remaining interested and curious, impacting those she meets, and unraveling their story…as well as her own.
Please read the brief carefully before applying.
We are looking for:
- Monologues and duologues 5-7 minutes in length …
For more details go to http://www.directorscuttheatre.co.uk/writers/
I am a review junkie. Before an anticipated purchase I will be found scouring other people’s opinion. Often the project is then abandoned and money is saved. However, I glean an insight into new characters who produce their praise or venom often sans punctuation, sans capitalisation. I visualise those who say, ‘I loved it so much I bought it in every colour. I haven’t worn it yet,’ with their wardrobes, colour-coordinated, of course, awash with identical outfits.
Then there are book reviews. Reading some, I feel I know the story and so why bother? But recently, for the first time in a long life, I immediately ordered two books, both non-fiction. The Butcher, The Baker, the Candlestick Maker by Roger Hutchinson is an account of the British decennial census since its conception in 1801 by John Rickman. Fascinating for anybody who has dabbled in family history or is interested by the changing demography of society, it is a book of facts and figures amongst which are snippets of interest and amusement.
In the 1841 census in Liverpool, four families gave Ireland as their place of birth: their surnames, McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starkey.
There are accounts of well-known families, among them Marks, Macmillan, Flora Thompson, and the unknown: the bigamist and those who truthfully gave their occupations as prostitute, brothel keeper, beggar. Later the suffragists would enter “domestic slave” or simply “slave” as a protest at being disenfranchised.
In 1881 when women were recruited as enumerators they were satirised by imaging a conversation between the female enumerator and the lady of the house. Neither could keep to the point, but discussed the carpet, their clothes and pudding recipes. “I must be getting on. I haven’t done but three families all the forenoon.”
The second book is Not Just Jane by Shelley DeWess who, eagerly, awaiting a dramatisation of Pride and Prejudice, was devastated to find where she had “seen erudition, subtle wit, and quiet country vistas the director had seen flirtation and farce”. This set her on the quest to discover the now, but not in their own time, lesser-known contemporary female writers of Jane, Charlotte and Emily. (Anne, “the forgotten Brontë sister, who refused to wear rose-tinted glasses”, she places in another category.) Invariably the seven authors whose lives and works she describes turned to writing for economic reasons, usually caused by feckless husbands. Denied the cosy corner of a paternal vicarage, they laboured to feed children and to liberate husbands from a debtors’ prison. No longer household names they were once highly-regarded by William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, Dr Samuel Johnson. Now “They are not remembered, they are not canonized….What I came to understand was that, first and foremost, the game of lasting fame is an inherently unfair one.”
Skipper, of the canine literati, unprompted, reviewed a dog-training manual. His opinion was entirely subjective.
‘I can speak for all 20 or so members of the autumn playwriting course that we found it really quite wonderful and that Philip is such an excellent tutor. We’ve decided as a group to continue to meet independently and develop our work.’ RM, Course participant
10 Week Playwriting Course with Philip Ayckbourn
Philip is leading a 10-week playwriting course at the Lewes Little Theatre, Lewes, East Sussex, starting 6th April 2017 to 15th June (NB not 18th May).
Each session last 2hrs on Thursday evenings 7pm-9pm. The course includes a written assessment of your play by Philip and entry into the ‘writenight’ showcase (if chosen). The total cost is £130.
Explore the fundamental elements of play construction such as character, motivation, conflict, subtext, theme and plot. This practical course will help you discover the tools needed to craft and shape a play. You will be encouraged to produce a 15/20 min piece by the end of the ten weeks. There will be a ‘writenight’ showcase post course (29th July) where six of the best pieces produced will have a public performed reading at the theatre with local actors. The course is open to writers of all abilities.
To book a place, email Philip at: email@example.com
2016 and many of those six years of the Common Era (AD in old money) have become zero anniversaries. The Battle of Hastings, the death of Shakespeare, the Easter Rising, the Battle of the Somme, the birth of Princess Ellizabeth and Sir David Attenborough. An assortment of celebrations.
Old money? You wouldn’t say that in 1966.
Lots of things you wouldn’t have said in 1966. Internet, Instagram, Google. Girls from Essex were no different from girls from Devon or Middlesex. We did have dolly birds.
Paramount was a Hollywood film studio, not a politician’s go-to word.
Brexit, newly minted.
Go-to. Must-have. You must have your own words to go-to.
Now we have our own zero year, five zero.
‘How do you want to celebrate?’ he said.
‘With a new bathroom,’ I said, ‘Yourself?’ (I’d have said ‘You’ in 1966.)
‘Not with a new bathroom,’ he replied.
Brexit means –
‘I’d like to see tigers in India,’ I said. ‘There’s a tour in this brochure.’
‘Yes, but I’ll search around, go online.’
OMG, I thought, delaying tactics.
I didn’t really think OMG. It was probably WTF.
Not in common use in 1966, despite Philip Larkin. We didn’t fuck in 1966, golly gosh no. Now it’s obligatory, ubiquitous.
Anyway 2016 was a year of celebrations for us whenever we took time out from the gloom of the year, the Referendum, the US Presidential Election, Syria, and personally the passing of dear friends.
Easter saw us in Ireland, visiting the relations, joining in the Dublin celebrations, forever grateful to Robert Gogan for empowering us to an understanding of Ulysses with his dramatisation and punctuation of the book.
We toured the battlefields of WW1 and witnessed the nightly Menin Gate ceremony. Later we went to Scotland, first time in 35 years, and saw the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, one for the bucket list.
Bucket list? Probably not in 1966.
Several visits to Spain.
Our eldest grandchild became an adult, the rest will follow soon. Now she can vote. She couldn’t do that in 1966. Our children are middle-aged, unless they live to 120.
We won’t, of course.
But if we run out of words – and there’s no silver bullet – then:
😀 😃 😄 😁 😆 😅 😂 ☺ 😊 😇 🙂 😉 😌 😍 😘 😗 😙 😚 😋 😜 😝 😛 😎 😏 😒 😞 😔 😟 😕 🙁 😣 😖 😫 😩 😤 😠 😡 😶 😐 😑 😯 😦 😧 😮 😲 😵 😳 😱 😨 😰 😢 😥 😭 😓 😪 😴 😬 😷
They think it’s all over.
We are going to see the tigers.
And the plumber’s been to measure the bathroom.