Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Happy birthday to a music legend

One of my all-time musical heroes is eighty five today.

Take a bow, Mr John Williams. You are epic.

By Chris Devers (Flickr: DSC_0937.JPG) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
This man, this incredible man, has provided the soundtrack to so many wonderful films which have become the soundtracks to our lives.

Of course, there's Star Wars and Jaws and ET and Indiana Jones. He also wrote the music to Schindler's List, Lincoln (now there's a film for current times), Saving Private Ryan, Memoirs of a Geisha, Home Alone and many, many more. The man is a legend, bringing classical musical to the masses through these fantastically atmospheric film scores.

How can anyone not like the theme to Jurassic Park?

So when Mr Grigg and I were travelling travelling up to Heathrow last year (on our way to Colombia, don't you know) and heard a plug on the radio for a special Radio 2 Friday Night Is Music Night concert devoted to the music of John Williams, played by the BBC Concert Orchestra and hosted by film critic Mark Kermode, well, we almost stopped in our tracks.

We were just passing Stonehenge at the time. I whipped out my notebook and wrote down the details. Watford Colosseum on a school night in January. Watford? That's where my brother lives.

So I texted my sister-in-law to get us some tickets. We could go up during the afternoon, go to the concert and then stay overnight. Perfect.

And that's what we did.
Picture: BBC
From the opening bars of the Star Wars theme to the finale, I was gripped. Each piece was like one cliffhanger after another. I was an emotional wreck by the end, crying pure tears of joy.

I love the music of John Williams. And I loved the Friday Night Is Music Night concert.

And so will you. It's on Radio 2 this Friday evening.

You can listen to it on the radio or catch up with it on the iPlayer. I shall be playing it continuously until the broadcast disappears from the BBC website.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Forever Archive - films about West Dorset

I was trawling through the internet the other day, looking for something specific, when I came across something completely different.

(That's the thing with the internet. It can take you down rabbit holes - some of which land you, like Alice, in Wonderland while others take you to a painting by Hieronymus Bosch.)

Anyway, I came across a number of videos that formed part of Forever Archive, a project I helped research back in 2012.  Scarily, I was the subject of one of the inteviews, as they ran out of people to film.

Here's the blurb:

In 2012, the Forever Archive project set out to increase awareness of archive film and its relevance to our lives today, and to put across that the idea of archive film is a continuous process – the films from a hundred years ago are a fascinating insight into the way we used to live and similarly, the films we create today will be of huge interest in another hundred years.

Archive film is not something alien and remote, locked into another time; just random fragments of boring history. It goes on as long as life itself and is utterly relevant to now. In the early days of film cinemas often commissioned a cameraman to shoot films of local events and scenes, involving local people in the pictures as an encouragement to come and see themselves and their friends and neighbours on the screen. It was a simple concept but one which made film an intimate part of the community. 

This project aimed to be more far-reaching but with the same kind of impact and in the same tradition. 

With its focus on West Dorset, the project was overseen by Windrose Rural Media Trust, and enjoyed the involvement of Bridport Arts Centre, Dorset History Centre and Bridport Museum. 

The films were produced by James Harrison and featured ten local people, including singing teacher Penny Dunscombe, photographer Kris DutsonDorchester tour guide Alistair Chisholm, Lord and Lady Sandwich from the Mapperton estate, Palmers head brewer Darren Batten, apple farmer Rupert Best, balloonist Steve Davis, Emily Fearn from The New Hardy Players and [my alter ego] writer Margery Hookings.

So, in no particular order, here are the films:

That's about it.

Love, Maddie x

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The sun still rises in the east

Over on A Dorset Year, I'm enjoying the beauty in nature in a world gone mad.

As my famous ancestor, Ernest Hemingway, would have noted, the sun also rises.  To read more, please visit A Dorset Year.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 20 January 2017

Something terrible has happened

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 16 January 2017

A big old moon plays hide and seek in the morning sky

Over on A Dorset Year, I'm talking fly-tipping, longed-for snow and a big old moon.

That's about it.

Love, Maddie x

Friday, 6 January 2017

And so the year begins

On the first day of the New Year, brave souls in fancy dress head for the sea at Lyme Regis in the now traditional ‘Lyme Lunge’, organised by the local Rotary Club, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
‘Dip into the balmy waters of Lyme Bay,’ the promotional material states. You can almost hear the Cadbury’s Caramel bunny doing the voiceover. But it’s cold in that there ocean. My brother swims about six strokes and then he’s out, like a flying fish.
Rather him than me.
Go to A Dorset Year for more.
That's about it.
Love Maddie x

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Here's to a peaceful, happy Christmas, wherever you are

Back from Colombia, weary, jet lagged and minus a suitcase, we pay a fleeting visit to North India, courtesy of a Bollywood Night at Bridport Electric Palace with the mighty Dhol Foundation.
It's the launch of the town's first-ever Winter Solstice Festival, which I've helped to organise. Tonight, it's Billy Bragg with Grace Petrie and Whatever Happened to the Protest Song?  It's sold out, so I hope I can get in.

The loud and joyous music of The Dhol Foundation is a tonic to the ears and tired bones. There is nothing to do but smile and dance and show off a henna tattoo I had done on my hand by a very beautiful and gracious young lady in the foyer. I'm fifty-five and have never had a tattoo, henna or otherwise, in my life.

I like it.

Mr Grigg and I must visit India next. And get tattoos.

It's been a busy old year, travel-wise, with trips to Budapest, Madeira, Iceland, Dublin, Corfu, Sicily and Colombia. Phew. In hindsight, it was too much really but I've become addicted to travel. So it's probably a good thing I've been very busy work-wise, to pay for it all.

They say travelling broadens the mind. It does indeed. But it also makes me realise how lucky I am to live in this wonderful part, the best part, of Dorset.

A woman travels the world over in search of what she needs and returns home to find it.

Despite the travels, I'll be glad to see the back of 2016. Personally, it's been the worst year of my life, losing three close members of my family, suffering a heart attack as Brexit became a reality and then international events conspiring to make my little world a whole lot worse.

On the strength of this blog, I've been invited to apply for a part in a reality TV show about the supposed division between young and old. After much soul searching (about five minutes), I turned it down. I'd get angry and emotional with bigots of any age, which would make great telly but would be terrible for me.

Next year has to be better. It's got to be. All I can do is be kind to others, embrace the beauty in the details of nature and beat on, boats against the current. I do believe in Gatsby's green light, even if in reality its promise does not exist.

This year and next, I'm supporting Water Aid and The Woodland Trust. Not instead of sending Christmas cards but as well as. I'd hate it, in this internet age, if greetings cards became a thing of the past.

So this year, I hope you have the Christmas you would like to have. May 2017 be healthy and full of joy.

In the meantime, you'll look back with laughter on those little moments of Christmas Chaos, just like I did when I failed to surface until Boxing Day...

Here's a leaflet about it. One of my stories is in it.
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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