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Monday, 17 November 2014

Hugh Grant's Books

The Travel Bookshop photo: Bookshop bookshop-thumb.jpg

Or to be more precise, William - Will - Thacker, is the owner of an independent travel bookshop on London's Portobello Road called The Travel Bookshop: William is the fictional character played by Hugh Grant in the movie, Notting Hill. I always romanticised about working in a bookshop until I watched this movie; realising customers may ruin the magic.

Customer: "Do you have books by Dickens?"

William: "No, we are a travel bookshop. We only sell travel books."

Customer: "Oh right" (Pause, browses a little.) "How about that new John Grisham thriller?"

William: " No, that's a novel too."

Customer: "Oh right." (Another browse.) "Have you got a copy of Winnie The Poo?"

William to his colleague, exasperated: "Martin your customer."

The Travel Bookshop actually existed (until it closed in 2011) and tourists would seek it out and have their picture taken sitting on the bench outside. To find and map out all the locations from the movie go here, where Laura Porter has listed a tour guide of Notting Hill.

I'm definitely off the idea of working in a bookshop more so now on finding that George Orwell (and he's a relatively good judge) worked in a book shop in the mid 1930s and wrote:

'The real reason why I should not like to be in the book trade for life is that while I was in it I lost my love of books ... The thing that chiefly struck me was the rarity of really bookish people. Our shop had an exceptionally interesting stock, yet I doubt whether ten per cent of our customers knew a good book from a bad one ... Many of the people who came to us were of the kind who would be a nuisance anywhere but have special opportunities in a bookshop.'

No to nuisances, thank you very much!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

What Do Artists Do All Day? Jack Vettriano featuring Kara Tointon

Go to bathroom; cups of tea; disrupting ringing phones (ignore); unexpected external interruptions (frustration!); 'turping' (quart of turps poured over precious art) and in this episode with Jack Vettriano (my favourite episode of series: watch it here) also stars the beautiful Kara Tointon.

I think I know why I'm attracted to Jack's work - and aside from liking him as a person: down to earth, funny ... naughty, has books about Marilyn Monroe - reminds me of Edward Hopper (Another of my favourites who in turn reminds me of my work; funnily enough).

Best quote by Jack,

'Would you rather be on people's walls or in the basement of the Tate?'

(Painting above, 'Suddenly One Summer')

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Eight Signs That You Have Made It

Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast At Tiffany's 1961
(Or at least heading in the right direction).

1 You are smiled at on your dating site by semi successful men - owner of ranch in Texas, coach to Olympic athletes in Australia, aspiring movie director LA, neighbour and friend of Brad Pitt's brother. As opposed to swithering with shaky index finger to be the initiator of smile to aforementioned men.

2 You are mentioned in the media by your surname only, 'McPherson is one to watch.'

3 Your friends stop talking to you.

4 Your neighbours still talk to you ... and talk ... yawn, yet never mention your success (as author, contestant on X Factor, Lotto winner). Just as you think they obviously don't watch TV or read the papers, as you are waving goodbye, they shout, 'Oh, can I have one of those books, CDs, backhander.

5 The joiner, plumber, electrician gives you your money back at the end of the job (putting up shelves, extension etc). 'No no you've paid too much, take this back ... take it all back, it's a pleasure working for you.'

6 Lorraine Kelly sends you a text.

7 Your family start calling you by your surname, 'Hey McPherson it's your brother here.'

8 You are given free pies at the baker's shop, just so you are loaded down with Greggs paper bags (cheeky marketing ploy). Then snapped by paparazzi to be front page on The Courier:

 'McPherson Eats All The Pies'

See the backlash has started already!

Monday, 22 September 2014

I want to write. I Want To Write. I WANT TO WRITE!

old books photo: Stack Of Old-School Books random544.jpg

Feel good about your writing and your decision to be a writer.

'From the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web ... we must pick out what is good for us where we can find it.' - Pablo Picasso

Finally, I stumbled across an inspirational article by Linda Newbury at the Writers and Artists website. Hurrah! A dame after my own heart. Linda addresses many of the concerns about a career as a writer. She legitimises self doubt,

'If you had no self doubt, you'd lack the ability to be self critical.'

Linda explains one of my biggest demoralisers; that of listening to the spin (set up by marketing departments remember) regarding the latest title X, by author X, being better, best, biggest etc. She says,

'Many writers acknowledge receiving news of other authors' six figure advance, publicity tours, film deals and glowing reviews only makes them want to give up.'

The advice in the article is to NEVER give up. Keep writing - you will improve, Improve and IMPROVE.

Read Linda Newbury's article and others at the Writers and Artists website here.

Monday, 8 September 2014

If Not Now, When?

Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie, performed by Dundee Rep Ensemble
As a person rather attracted to words, how they look, what they mean; it will be no surprise to learn that I collect sayings and phrases. (I have a little note book and write slogans down as I go along.) I saw: IF NOT NOW,WHEN? printed on a tee shirt in H&M. This imprinted itself on me. I had one of those YES moments, JUST DO IT! And I did.

An 8 week playwriting and play reading course at Dundee Rep theatre, was my go for it moment. I've dabbled a little in creating characters for stage and I'd like to learn more. Except H&M's subliminal message came too late as places had already been filled. Agg Murphy's Law. Back to the drawing board. To cheer myself up I bought tickets for Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie. I've got a lot to learn, and being part of an audience is as good a place to start as any. And if I don't start learning about stage plays now, when?

Monday, 25 August 2014

Working on Commission

Illustration and caption by Hugh Scott, as appearing in Writer's Forum issue 152 2014
Are writers' lives glamorous? Rich? According to an article in this months edition of Writer's Forum magazine a research found that the average full-time income for writing was £11,000 in 2013. Part-time writers' earnings were just £4,000. So why do we do it? Answers on a postcard.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Poetry of Old

Home Front was TV series on the BBC
I don't know if it's just me or the culture we live in, but I'm always throwing things away. Chucking out books, clothes, cds, dvds ... it's like I'm either psychologically dismissing a bad year or desperately looking for a new me and this habit is my proactive attempt. Remarkably, something new has arrived on the scene, even though its old. Vintage.

If only I'd known vintage was going to be trendy; I'd have appreciated my old clutter. Been patient even. I was rummaging through a second hand - oops - vintage sale yesterday and guess what? I discovered the very book I'd packed to a charity shop over 15 years ago, The Home Front. So what did I do? Bought it back of course, for 50p.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Look I've Adopted Dayzee

Dayzee was orphaned at 9 weeks old and came to Mountains Animal Sanctuary, Glenochil by Forfar in 2010, which then became her home. Dayzee is a Flabella, which is an Argentinean Miniature Horse and she has settled well into her new little herd of pony pals. Dayzee and the majority of the 92 ponies, horses and donkeys are available for adoption from the 250 acre sanctuary.

I wanted to support Mountains Animal Sanctuary and the excellent work that they do, so I paid £15 for my adoption pack. The pack includes a welcome letter, information on the pony's history, rosette, photos and an invitation to visit your new furry  friend anytime.

Here is a small selection of other deserving animals looking for your support.

A Fun Day Out

Mountains Animal Sanctuary are hosting a spectacular event that will please all animal lovers and the proceeds will help support the charity.

This event will take place on 17th August 2014, 11.30am - 4.00 pm. I''ll see you there!


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Can Performing Your Writing Make You a Better Writer?

theatre photo: WordPlay Scene 1 DSC06905.jpg

That is the question.

Always on the look out for tips and tricks in becoming a better writer I decided to try Stand Up. That is, I decided to attend a Writer's Open Mic Night, called Hotchpotch being held in The Burgh, Commercial Street, Dundee. Of course, being someone not used to the pub scene it took a bit of nerve to walk into a pub on my own, except, with great relief, I found that, The Burgh is a rather pleasant coffee house on two floors. The second floor, where the event takes place, is kitted out like Sherlock Holmes study, having a hotchpotch (pardon the pun) of furniture; floor to ceiling bookshelves, comfy tub seats, lazy sofas, dining sized tables and chairs and Internet points - writers' heaven. Yikes! Except, I'm here to perform not relax with a coffee!

I'm going to be honest, this being my first time (that's my excuse), I didn't actually take to the stage. I thought I'd stare out the competition first. I was impressed. IMPRESSED! R-E-S-P-E-C-T. A group of around 12 poets, story writers and playwrights performed a hotchpotch of themes from love, the scariness of being a writer (very apt), war, crime, mystery and politics (ie. John's poem about the upcoming vote for Scottish Independence).

According to the level of performance from the attendees, I can see I'm needing an evening class in drama before next months open mic night, when I will participate. Armed with props - umbrella and scarf - and a recording of what sounded like gale on a cliff top to accompany Mark Andrews and John Quinn's theatrical performance of The Well Meaning Palimpsest; all I can hope for in the reading of my writing is a dream that my very appreciative and kind audience will, to quote Gavin's poem Performance, cry out,

'You were fabulous Darling,
Your a Star!'

And break a leg.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Can Your Favourite Movie Truely Be A Reflection of Your Personality?

Brokeback Mountain photo: Brokeback Mountain BrokebackMountain.jpg

I can only watch so many movies in a week, month, lifetime so unless I can watch every movie ever made how can I best decide my favourites? And if my state of being changes like the tides, what may be my favourite in any one year may be in the bin the next.

And what constitutes a favourite? That the movie inspired me, stirred emotion, made me laugh, envied even? Or did I learn something from the production, the location, the characters. Or simply is this movie one I return to time and again on a subliminal level; do I just plain fancy the lead man!

Bearing this in mind, here are my top 6 favourite movies to date:

1 Good Will Hunting
2 Brokeback Mountain
3 No Country for Old Men
4 Eat Pray Love
5 I Am Legend
6 Into The Wild

I Am Legend photo: I Am Legend IAmLegend.jpg