Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The lush landscape of Dorset in Far from the Madding Crowd

Mapperton is one of the loveliest places on earth. This part of West Dorset is sublime. And it's one of the reasons why I call my village Lush Places. Dorset is beautiful, wherever you go...

Monday, 20 April 2015

Celebrating with the fans at Bristol City

They're playing Drink Up Thy Zider at Bristol City's ground, Ashton Gate.

It's their song.

So we drink up our cider and head for our seats, having gone through the turnstiles in a numbered entry system devised by the Romans for the Coliseum and other public buildings like it.
But, unlike Ancient Rome, we're not segregated, we're all in this together. So we're sitting in front of a row of people in wheelchairs, a mother and young child two seats away...
...and, next to us, wafting across the stadium, are the strong smells of body odour, pasties and something with the aroma of Marmite (which, in this context, you wouldn't like at all even if you usually loved this foul, black yeast extract on your toast).

It's approaching three o'clock and the crowd behind us starts singing. Their musical programme begins with the adaptation of a song by 70s glam rock group Slade, which starts off with an expletive followed by the words Swindon Town and the fact they are staying down. I am so glad Mrs Bancroft is not here. Swindon is her team.
There is singing and getting up all through the match, which is not very interesting but exciting nonetheless because City are going up into the Championship League and a 0-0 draw, which is what happens today, means they are League One champions. 

I am not a football fan in any sense of the word but I'm here today because Mr Grigg couldn't find anyone else to go with him. However, from a sociological, crowd-watching point of view, being in this stadium is an experience not to be missed.

There is comedy gold when the fans sing Always Sh*t on the Welsh Side of the Bridge, to the tune of Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. The rivalry towards their brethren on the other side of the Bristol Channel is legendary.

And I wonder who makes up these songs, and whether they practise them in someone's front room or back yard before unleashing them on the football public.

And then the shaved heads launch into Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Going Up, Up, Up and people start dancing and waving their scarves.
The game comes to an end, there is an announcement not to go on to the pitch and then, as fans of all ages walk down to the hallowed turf regardless, Mr Grigg asks me: 'Shall we go on the pitch?'

So we stroll down onto the grass, the stewards standing aside for us and smiling. And here we are, walking on the ground where Mr Grigg's team, which he has supported since he was a small boy, have played year in, year out.
'Have you done this before?' I say. It's a rather smug question, as I'm an old hand at invading the pitch. I once jumped over the barrier at Wembley, although it was for the Ladies Hockey Final in 1975. (One of my schoolfriends has still not given me back the Bay City Rollers striped socks I lent her for the day).

'No,' Mr Grigg says, a grin on his face as wide as the Severn Bridge.

'Good, isn't it?'
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Far from the Madding Crowd: the new film

Here's Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, president of the Thomas Hardy Society and Bridport Electric Palace patron, saying a few words before Far From The Madding Crowd was unveiled to its Dorset audience at last night's gala screening.
Here's a review by my alter ego.

Go to see it if you can.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Coming soon: Far From The Madding Crowd

There is great excitement in this neck of the woods as Dorset prepares for the local premiere of Far From The Madding Crowd on Friday.

Based on Thomas Hardy's book of the same name, it stars Carey Mulligan as the wilful heroine, Bathsheba Everdene, and is due for general release on 1 May.
Much of the film was shot here in West Dorset, with the lovely Mapperton doubling up as Bathsheba's manor house.

Having lived and worked on this estate, I can vouch for its beauty. There is nowhere quite like it.

So when others are wondering how the film will compare with its 1967 predecessor, directed by John Schlesinger and starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates and Peter Finch, I know I'll be just gazing at the real star of the show: the West Dorset landscape.

Here's a taster:

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A huge thank you to my blog readers. Wouldn't be here without you.

Once upon a time I had a dream.

I was seven years old and wanted to be a zookeeper.  It was Johnny Morris's fault. I loved Animal Magic.
By the age of eight, I had a guinea pig. I soon learned that mucking it out was a real labour of love. And I didn't love it very much.

I did love writing, though. I wrote a mini-novel with illustrations. Like most children of that age and of that era, I was very animal-centric, particularly as I was born and raised on a farm. My book was about a cat called Tom and a dog called Blackie and how the pair of them foiled a kidnapping plot.

I've still got it somewhere. When I find it, I'll show you.

So in my ninth year, I decided if I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, the best thing I could do was become a journalist. I'd seen a film on television and loved the fast pace and the wisecracks.
I loved this remake, too, of The Front Page.
My journalistic career wasn't quite like the movies, apart from the fags and clacking typewriters. But it was great fun. And a privilege to meet people, write about them and get paid for it.

I'm not a journalist any more, not as such. But I'm still writing. And loving it.

And to be approached by the oldest weekly magazine for women in the world on the strength of this blog - this blog - well, it's just incredible. I am still pinching myself. I am indebted to my loyal readers, many of whom have been with me when I started The World from my Window in 2007 while I was doing a creative writing course with The Open University. Thanks so much for sticking with me.

Now I just have to put on my tractor beam to get the Guardian to take me on as a television critic.

Anything is possible.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

A horror film for Halloween

On Halloween, I head out under the cover of darkness, a tub of sweets by the front door for young trick or treaters on the prowl with their ...