Day out in Cornwall. First a visit to Wheal Martyn china clay museum – good visitor centre with café and shop. The tour took us outside on a drizzly day but the view of the current workings of the quarry was spectacular. It was huge and the pleasant hills roundabout were not quite what they seemed – landscaped heaps in fact. After lunch, a quick visit in the rain to Mevagissey, not at its best of course and then to Charlestown when the sun briefly deigned to appear. A successful trip despite the weather with good company. I am looking at all my old stuff with a view to reviving some of it – interesting because I haven’t looked at some of it for ages and it was as if I was reading it afresh.
Spent the day in Dartmouth on Saturday. I went with a friend on the bus from Plymouth. It’s ages since I sat on the top deck of a double decker bus and it was lovely to see all the things over the hedges that you don’t see in a car. Some of the village streets on the way were very narrow and we could almost see into the bedrooms as we edged past with inches to spare. What a fantastic driver! Dartmouth was bustling as there was a music festival (Dart festival) going on and lots of street musicians adding to the entertainment. The bus was crowded with barely a seat to spare and everybody was in a very cheery mood – oh for more days like this.
Gave a talk at Buckland Abbey Social Club’s Annual Review meeting. Preparing it made me think very carefully about how ideas for a story come about. It is a complicated business and it was interesting to try to analyse it. My cat Lucy killed a rabbit the other day after patrolling the grounds and proudly carried it – with difficulty – to the front door. Thank heavens I don’t have a cat flap so she didn’t bring it indoors. What can you do? It is the hunting instinct and I can’t really blame her but I did go off her a bit because it was distressing.
Ringside seats at the Moscow State Circus in Central Park, Plymouth. Tumblers, jugglers, no swinging from a trapeze but girls performing stunts up high on ropes and new-style clowns – no red noses and painted faces so probably less frightening for the children. Funny though with some grown-up humour that tickled the adults. Something missing and that was the ringmaster strutting his stuff. No performing animals now thank heavens - it seemed fine when I was a child watching the lions and elephants at the Tower Circus, Blackpool but is awful now to think that we watched animals being trained to behave in an undignified way. All in all it was a good night but I do wonder if time is running out for the circus experience.
Watched a TV programme last night about coastal walks with a dog. I have done one of the walks from Ilfracombe along the coast path to Woolacombe and it was interesting catching sight of some of the places my son and I passed by on the route. It was a long walk beside the sea and we were more than ready for refreshment by the time we neared Woolacombe. Woolacombe Bay Hotel was the inspiration for Eight Days at the New Grand although I moved the location. A long walk breathing in the fresh sea air is the very best medicine. Happy memories!
Happy birthday to our wonderful Queen. I remember as a child watching the coronation on our brand new 12″ television set together with a crowd of neighbours who didn’t yet own a set. My mum was kept busy providing tea and sandwiches throughout the day. I am very nearly finished reading The Widow by Fiona Barton and it’s one of those books where you are reluctant to arrive at the final page because you are enjoying it so much. Just a few more pages to go but I stopped reading at 11 o’clock last night so that I can savour those sometime today.
Sometimes it is impossible not to eavesdrop. The café where I had a solitary lunch today was quiet with a nearby table occupied by two young ladies. It was quite a long wait for the food to appear and they were chatting with little attempt to lower their voices. One of them, poor soul, was having terrible problems making the final split from her boyfriend and ‘moving on’ as she called it. The other girl who could barely get a word in was sympathetic but you could sense an impatience there. As for the boyfriend – the way she described him she would be better off without him. How could I not listen in? There was nothing else to do other than pretend to read the rubbish magazine I had bought in WH Smith – an essential when you dine alone. I left before they did so had to leave them with the problem unresolved. I hope she does the right thing. She was a pretty girl and should have no trouble moving on.
Just found something lurking in the dark recesses of the freezer. No idea what it is but am defrosting it. I must learn to label things. Another brighter day today which makes me think of taking a look at the potted plants on the patio with a visit to the garden centre in mind. Busy with the talk I am doing next month. I am attempting a power-point presentation which fills me with dread but I think it will be more interesting for the audience to have something to focus on rather than just me talking. Am in limbo just now with the writing but doing lots of reading. Have read The Night Manager but it was spoilt by the TV series and I couldn’t get used to the idea of Burr being a woman in that and a man in the book. I don’t think that quite worked for me and couldn’t understand why they felt the need to do that.
Easter been and gone. Good Friday was a glorious day and I enjoyed a long walk along the cycle path meeting so many people blowing off the cobwebs from being stuck indoors with so much rain lately. Saturday and Sunday turned wet and windy again and I was on duty at Buckland Abbey on Monday on the welcoming door – muddy wellingtons galore, pushchairs and people shaking themselves free of rain at the entrance. I am working on my talk for the social club in May – looking back to see where the ideas did come from for my stories - a trip down memory lane for me as so many are triggered off by something that happened in the past. Not everything for there is a good chunk of imagination there too but there has to be a beginning.
My short story ‘The Decision’ is currently editor’s choice on the Alfiedog.short story website available for download for 0.25p. Now and again I return to short story writing and what a challenge it is to come up with a really good one. I realise now that when I first started writing, I missed the point of what makes a true short story, a tricky genre to get right. Some of my earlier short stories were in fact ideas for a novel and so were not wasted. A short story is exactly that, tightly told and impossible to lengthen. I have just read Roald Dahl’s collection, a true expert in the genre.