Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April - far from cruel

My garden in spring always makes me happy, and these last few days, with no rain, and sunshine as warm as May or June, have allowed me to wander in and out just to see what’s coming up. My ideal is that there should be colour and flower throughout the year, but somehow, this year at least, the early flowers have stayed and many of the new ones have arrived.

So today, I’m taking you on a virtual tour. I can’t really capture the whole view in photographs, so probably there won’t be any. You’ll have to make do with words and descriptions alone. At the back, at the end of a lawn, there’s a mixture of laurel and leylandii, which despite its reputation does a good job at screening us from neighbours. In front of that I can see three pieris, one of which was planted last year and the others, the year before. Pieries bear a white hanging flower, not dissimilar to a catkin, but though these have few discernible flowers this year, they have bright red new leaves, contrasting with the old lime green ones. At their feet, the first of the bluebells are making an appearance, contrasting with the pillar box red foliage. At the moment three tiny rabbits are frolicking on the grass and eating what they can of my plants, no doubt.

Down the side of the grass, there’s a mix of shrubs in greens, grey and wine red, in front of which are yellow and red polyanthus – or primula, or primroses, whichever you like to call them. Blending in are forget-me-nots and the shrub, mahonia, which has evergreen leaves but these have red mixed in with the greens, and now sport bright yellow flowers.

Outside of the front window of the house are two further beds, and there is a far one, where little grows because of the huge chestnut tree which shades it. We have started growing daffodils there, and they were in evidence, a couple of weeks ago. On the other beds, there are still some daffs, polyanthus - and bluebells just starting, plus a mass of grape hyacinths (muscari). These tiny flowers, which, like the daffodils, will be untidy in another week, have nevertheless cheered us with their brilliant blue colour, impossible to record on camera. Here too, we have another group of mahonia with their bright yellow flowers, and more pieris, showing both creamy white flowers and vermillion leaves. We used to have a gap in May, just after this cornucopia of colour, when almost everything turn to leaf. But the first of the cranesbill blooms, the size of a two pence piece and bright pink – almost periwinkle – has made its appearance, and more of these tiny perennial geraniums will encircle the beds as the spring progresses.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Learning about rejection at Panton House

I was listening to a programme about actors today – some time back in the 60s or 70s. They were short of money, trying out all sorts of things – a bit like writers, really. Now of course, they’re the important actors of our time – Bill Nighy, Alun Armstrong and others. Back then, they struggled. It reminded me of the theatrical agency that I joined as my first job. Where are you now, Renee, I wonder. We were a foursome in a small set of offices in Panton House, Panton Street, not far from Picadilly. The boss, Renee (never work for a woman!), next one down, Basil. My sidekick and Renee’s secretary, Carole (now was it with or without an e.? ) And me, the office junior.

I thought it would be exciting, but it was boring, because I didn’t have challenging enough work to do. We had very few stars through the door, but an inordinate number of young hopefuls, each clutching their portfolio of photographs and their CV of accomplishments. My boss expected me to make coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon, but I had to heat the water in a saucepan. My coffee turned out really well – but the tea was hopeless – you really should have a kettle for tea. She bought the cheapest tea, anyway – I think it was Brooke Bond Dividend – because I know her little son use to get some sort of benefit, like a stamp or similar from each pack.

One day the little blighter – he was 3 – was brought to the office and put in my care, because there was no babysitter available. While I wasn’t looking, he opened all the drawers of the filing cabinet and it nearly fell on top of me. When she went abroad, she used to ring in and get me to telephone her husband’s office on one line and her father in law on another. (We only had three lines.) The first time I did this, I cut her off. But Basil covered for me.

We never discovered anyone important, but that’s not surprising because most of the young actors and actresses who darkened the door were sent away. I learned about rejection long before I experienced it.

I’ve been out to lunch today, and we sat in the sunshine in a pub garden. Then we moved to our friends’ garden and sat there. Yesterday, we walked through our lovely woods delivering leaflets about the meeting in a week’s time. We do not want our wood destroyed and fenced off.

Earlier in the week, I took 1000 words to Guildford Writers; progress is being made slowly on the novel, Innocent Bystanders. Ditto my reading book The Lacuna. I can appreciate the writing, but I can’t say I am being drawn to read it. As far as I’m concerned, it is putdownable.

At the weekend, we visited the family in Cambridge. The two granddaughters are both in a position to look down on me, as even the 9 year old is taller than I am.

This morning I got a notification that my story, An Affair of the Mind had been reviewed by

Aquaflame64 of Night Owl Reviews, who said:

The story is three and a half pages long but has a relatable charm and a tiny sense of humor. I believe everyone out there has let paranoia get the best of them at one point in their lives. We've all had that moment where we look over our shoulder because we think someone is following us. Rosalind has months filled with these moments after a bus ride. The story has two twists that I didn't see coming and found very satisfying.
The only bad part of the story was Rosalind’s obsession with a man she meets on the bus. I can understand the attraction towards the man. The months of obsessing and fantasizing about the man seems to go a bit far and feel forced. Other then that minor problem this is exactly what a short story should be.

Aquaflame64 gave it 3.5 points out of 5, and I was quite happy with her review. You can see it here: