RSS

Category Archives: History

Distractions, creativity and workflow

At 19:30 GMT on a Sunday evening, what are you doing?

Would that be a favourite time to write for you?

Or are you an early bird, a night owl or a mid day magpie writer?

When proofreading my authors’ books the work discipline is naturally enforced with the production deadlines for publishing and marketing but when venturing into my own creative writing there always seems to be some ‘obstacle’ in the way that prevents me from settling down into a disciplined work flow.

For example, this evening, I was pulling together some research about the 1970s for a fantasy novel I’m planning to write but so far I’ve managed to let myself be distracted by the Strictly Come Dancing Results show, laundry, Twitter, Facebook and other networking and social media metric sites. This is without the most delightful distractions of my lovely family and pets. What should I do? Give up writing and stay with the day job? Lock myself away like a hermit?

No, I have made a decision… starting tomorrow the networking sites that are not working for me will be pruned away and I will concentrate on the 1970s fantasy novel. Saying that though I am so pleased Audley Harrison is still in Strictly …  

From the BBC Strictly Page Team Audalie
Advertisements
 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 30, 2011 in 21st century, History

 

Tags: , ,

Radio Ramble

From Wikipedia RNI campaign bus

As a youngster I was a big fan of the pirate radio stations, Radio Caroline and Radio Northsea. I was just a naughty kid listening to the radio late at night when I should have been sleeping, I didn’t know that Radio Caroline helped get the Conservatives elected in 1970. Nor at that early age did I care about the other suggested events reported on that particular Wikipedia page. Now we have huge television screens, 3D/HD, on demand, 24 hour a day television, if you want it. I enjoy television but there is something about radio. Radio 4 plays are always enjoyable, challenging and brave enough to showcase new talent.

Absolute Classic Rock My getting ready music; doing the housework music; singing and dancing, when I’m in the house alone, music. I adore Absolute Radio but it was stations like Radio Luxembourg (Fab 208) the precursor of the pirate radio stations Caroline and Northsea that made me a lifelong radio fan.

Originally I just used to listen on my little transistor, frequently warming up batteries on the radiator to extend their life. Then for my 12th birthday Mum bought me my beautiful bright orange Dansette Record Player and Radio and I could listen to my favourite radio stations whilst doing my homework or reading. But still saved my little transistor for late at night whiling away the wee small hours with Santana, Led Zeppelin and the sweet talking DJs,

Radio Northsea used to close with Move Over Darling by Doris Day. An evocative song sung by a beautiful lady who also starred in the film of the same name. The Calamity Jane star’s romantic role and a song that still makes me feel that it’s time to go to sleep.

From Pirate Radio Hall of Fame : Tony Allan, broadcasting on Radio Caroline during the seventies. Photo by Martin Stevens, reprinted from ‘Offshore Radio’ published by Iceni Enterprises.

Tony Allan was one of the great stars of pirate radio. Sadly he died in 2004 but if you’d like to read and hear more about the life and work of this wonderful man I would suggest you visit the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame .

Special effects in film and television are very clever and there are many great stories and breathtaking visuals for us all to enjoy but there is something about radio that stimulates my imagination; makes my heart sing and makes me feel like a teenager again.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 10, 2011 in 21st century, History

 

Tags: , , , , ,

1969 – Pivot Point

In the previous post of this retrospective, I talked about my own sense of loss at the end of the 60s. To me it was a ‘golden decade’.

As the 60s was coming to a close – I felt scared of going to the High School and scared of the sense that my magical childhood days were slipping away. Like Black Beauty, I was no longer free to gallop amongst the trees, fields and grass but I now had to become a ‘work horse’.

Looking back I do realise that I had an incredibly protected and privileged childhood. My creativity was encouraged by my lovely Mum, even when I painted my bedroom ceiling dark blue with silver and yellow stars. I was trying to recreate the constellations, with an emphasis on Orion. This was my “Patrick Moore” phase.

**************

The 1st Moon landing had stirred up much interest in the stars, as did The Sky at Night with Patrick Moore. Patrick Moore wrote some wonderful books including the annual astronomy year books.

**************

In September 1969 I started at the Girl’s High School. It was uncomfortable. A shy 11 year old, who blushed every time anyone spoke to her (teachers or pupils). I was used to the atmosphere of a cosy junior school, with one class teacher who taught you all subjects. Basically a kindly “Auntie” type figure. Safe and reassuring. Now there was a form teacher, who also taught French and Latin and specialist teachers for all of the other subjects. The lessons and homework were not a problem but I always felt like an outsider. During break times I would normally have my nose in a book. There was a long bus journey home, again I would read my way home. On arriving home, I would have tea, do my homework, watch some telly, bath and then more reading until bedtime.

**************

I’m sure I’m not the only kid who felt disconcerted about the transition from junior school to high school but there were many great books, music bands, films, pirate radio stations and television programmes that helped me get through this phase.

from Wikipedia

Patrick Troughton was no longer the Doctor, an event that was also a source of much sadness for me and we had to wait until 1970 for Jon Pertwee to introduce his dandy version of the Doctor in full colour. Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) and Monty Python’s Flying Circus were first aired, both of which I was not supposed to watch, but I sneaked down to watch them anyway.

**************

The Beatles had already split up, their final live performance at Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969. Many bands and artists were getting ready to fill the void left not least Jethro Tull with Ian Anderson’s resonant flute playing and the most commercially successful and influential rock bands of all time, Pink Floyd

**************

Book-wise, the library at the High School held some delights I hadn’t found before. My interest in astronomy and the constellations named after characters from Graeco-Roman myths led me to reading as many books as possible about Greek and Roman mythology and the works of Homer. Heroic deeds, strong women, magic powers, shape changers, it’s all there. If you’re a writer and you’re looking for inspiration. I would highly recommend looking back at the Greek and Roman classics.

**************

Image from Wikipedia :: Ummagumma  by Pink Floyd released in 1969

For me 1969 will always be a creative pivot point. A time when I truly started to immerse myself in as many books, bands, films and television programmes as possible. By the end of 1969 my sense of loss had changed to a sense of adventure, alongside discovering the total joy that was pirate radio.

**************

…to be continued…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 2, 2011 in History

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Patrick, George, Mr.Watzisname, 11 plus, Men on the Moon and a Black Horse

In the last post, Getting lost with Doctor Who via Mary Poppins, a brief description was given of my early memories and encounters with books and television.

Whilst I was discovering my literary and televisual delights, my sister J was also discovering her own musical delights via the Beatles. We had this blanket, very similar to the one pictured here. At that time everyone had their favourite member of the Beatles. J’s favourite was Paul, Ringo was the joker of the group and John was, even then, the more avant-garde Beatle.

My Beatle was, the ever gentle, George Harrison. George reminded me of Patrick Troughton.

In fact I can remember thinking that George was Doctor Who’s son (Patrick Troughton’s incarnation of the Doctor). There was a gentleness and other worldliness about George and Patrick that I loved then and still do, now. This was a magical time in my childhood, with all of the buzz of the Beatles, the cosmic and quizzical Patrick Troughton as Doctor Who and growing up in the sixties.

A memorable book that was read to me at school was the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. There have been some name changes to some of the original characters. Fanny is now called Frannie and Dick is now called Rick. But despite this desire to censure names due to slang references to female and male body parts, the magic of this series still lays in waiting to introduce children to the world of imagination and magic. Wikipedia gives a brief introduction to the main characters below:

The main characters are Joe, Beth, and Franny, three siblings. Franny is the youngest, Beth is next in age and Joe is their big brother. They live near the Enchanted Wood and are friends of the residents of the Faraway Tree. Other characters include:

  • The Angry Pixie : He lives in a house with a tiny window and has a habit of throwing cold water or any liquid at hand over people who dare to peep inside.
  • An owl lives in the house after the Angry Pixie’s. He is a friend of Silky’s.
  • Silky the fairy : Silky is so named because of her long, silky, golden hair.
  • Mr.Watzisname- : He cannot remember his name (for a very good reason) and sleep and snores all the time. During a particular episode at the Land of Secrets, Mr. Watzisname discovers that his name is ‘Kollamoolitumarellipawkyrollo’. Funnily enough, this is forgotten by the end of the episode (even by the man himself) and he goes back to being Mr. Watzisname.
  • Dame Washalot : She spends her time washing her clothes and throwing the dirty wash water down the tree. If she has no clothes to wash, she washes the dirty laundry of other people and even the leaves of the Faraway Tree!
  • Moonface : Moonface is named because of his cute little round face that looks like the moon. His house is likewise round, and filled with curved furniture. There is a slippery-slip in the middle of his house, which is a slide which lets you slide down to the bottom of the Faraway Tree instead of climbing down!
  • The Saucepan Man : lives with Mr. Watzisname. His name stems from the fact that he is covered all over with saucepans and kettles. Sometimes, he cannot understand what his friends are saying because he is quite deaf, which is further aggravated by all the noise from the pans and kettles which he carries all the time.
  • The Saucepan Man’s mother- lives with Dame Washalot. She runs a cake shop.
  • Dame Slap- runs a school for bad pixies which in adventures, the friends accidentally land in.

Where we lived, in North Yorkshire, our home was surrounded by trees and fields and I spent a large part of my time up trees, playing make-believe and pretending that I was living in the Faraway Tree. A bright and carefree time.

Then, came the first of a series of exams. The 11 Plus. Suddenly from being allowed to play with paint, plasticine and enjoy stories of magic, our worthiness was measured, based on our abilities in Arithmetic and English. Success at the 11 Plus meant you were considered suitable for further academic education, with a possibility of being considered for university. Failure meant you were considered suitable for a more vocational and practical education and perhaps with a consideration of further education at a Polytechnic. Looking back I wish I gone for a vocational and practical education, it would have been a lot more fun. Safe to say this is the time when I started to dislike school. Instead of being a place of stimulation and creativity, the daily schedule became mechanical. I remember thinking that my class teacher was trying to turn us all into Cybermen, soul less, joyless and identical. Apart from a few brief escapes (including pop festivals and holidays) 1969 – 1981 was a period of my life when I felt very much like I had been programmed to function in a certain way, behave in a certain way, work within a limited environment with fewer chances to enjoy the magical time of my early childhood. There were many joyous times, but from an educational and work perspective, those areas of my life were something that were endured, rather than enjoyed.

Back to the end of the sixties. My 11 plus was passed and the Junior School gave me a book as a reward. The book was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. This book is written in the 1st person from the perspective of the horse, Black Beauty. Wikipedia displays an admirable and memorable quote as below:

“…. there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham….”
Black Beauty, Chapter 13, last paragraph.

At the age of 11, this was the first book that made me think. It is not a children’s book or a fairy tale. There are many sad moments and I can remember this book making me cry. It is the first book I read that was not “sugar coated” .

My final summer days at Junior School marked the celebration of the Moon Landings, one giant step for man, etc. Although there was a lot of excitement and news coverage, I would still rather have jumped into the Tardis than have been a crew member on Apollo 11.

As the 60s was coming to a close – I felt scared of going to the High School and scared of the sense that my magical childhood days were slipping away. Like Black Beauty, I was no longer free to gallop amongst the trees, fields and grass but I now had to become a ‘work horse’.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 17, 2011 in History

 

Tags: , ,

The 1st Civilisation of the Western World?

Image from Bettany Hughes Official Web Page

Watched a documentary on More 4 yesterday. “The Minoans“,  is one episode of a series called “The Ancient World with Bettany Hughes”

More about Bettany Hughes here.

Wikipedia information about Minoan Culture here and Arthur Evans here.

There seems to have been much debate about “The Minoan Peace
The society seems to have an equality of class and gender that I have not heard of before and also seems to have been formed through matriarchy rather than the normal patriarchial regimes of the region.

Perhaps we in the 21st century can learn a lot from Minoan culture?

“Though the vision created by Arthur Evans of a pax Minoica, a “Minoan peace”, has been criticised in recent years,  it is generally assumed there was little internal armed conflict in Minoan Crete itself, until the following Mycenaean period. As with much of Minoan Crete, however, it is hard to draw any obvious conclusions from the evidence. However, new excavations keep sustaining interest and documenting the impact around the Aegean.

Despite having found ruined watchtowers and fortification walls,  Evans argued that there was little evidence for ancient Minoan fortifications. As Lucia Nixon said, “…we may have been over-influenced by the lack of what we might think of as solid fortifications to assess the archaeological evidence properly. As in so many other instances, we may not have been looking for evidence in the right places, and therefore we may not end with a correct assessment of the Minoans and their ability to avoid war.”.

“.It seems that for many centuries Minoan Crete remained free from any invaders and managed to develop a distinct self-based civilization which was probably the most advanced in the Mediterannean area during the bronze-age.”

From Wikipedia : Archeologist Sir Arthur Evans, bust located at Knossos palace, Crete.

Bettany Hughes’ documentary brings forward other factors to bear not least the many earthquakes that ravage Minoan Crete and the resilience of the Minoans to rebuild their homes and live a civilized life,

Introduction to the programme from the Channel 4 Website

Bettany Hughes visits Crete to recount the story one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever made.

The tale of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth is perhaps the most compelling of all Greek myths. Just over 100 years ago, English archaeologist Arthur Evans went to the ‘Minotaur’s Island’ to explore the roots of this myth and discovered instead a sophisticated Bronze Age civilisation that had been lost to history for thousands of years.

He called them The Minoans, and the riches of their culture astonished the world, prompting Evans to proclaim them the first civilisation of the Western World.

But was this view unduly romantic? Recent archaeological discoveries have added fascinating layers of complexity to the picture originally painted by Evans.

A fresco found at the Minoan site of Knossos, indicating a sport or ritual of "bull leaping", the red skinned figure is a man and the two light skinned figures are women.

There also seems to have been a gender equality within Minoan culture:
The Minoan religion focused on female deities, with females officiating.The statues of priestesses in Minoan culture and frescoes showing men and women participating in the same sports such as bull-leaping, lead some archaeologists to believe that men and women held equal social status. Inheritance is thought to have been matrilineal.The frescos include many depictions of people, with the genders distinguished by colour: the men’s skin is reddish-brown, the women’s white.

It seems there is still a great deal more to discover and be learned from Minoan Society and Cuture:

The Minoans were primarily a mercantile people engaged in overseas trade. Their culture, from 1700 BC onward,shows a high degree of organization.

Fresco Image from Wikipedia

It is believedthat the Minoans were involved in the Bronze Age’s important tin trade: tin, alloyed with copper apparently from Cyprus, was used to make bronze. The decline of Minoan civilization and the decline in use of bronze tools in favor of iron ones seem to be correlated.

The Minoan trade in saffron, the stigma of a mutated crocus which originated in the Aegean basin as a natural chromosome mutation, has left fewer material remains: a fresco of saffron-gatherers at Santorini is well-known. This inherited trade pre-dated Minoan civilization: a sense of its rewards may be gained by comparing its value to frankincense, or later, to pepper.

Objects of Minoan manufacture suggest there was a network of trade with mainland Greece (notably Mycenae), Cyprus, Syria, Anatolia, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and westward as far as the coast of Spain.

Minoan men wore loincloths and kilts. Women wore robes that had short sleeves and layered flounced skirts. These were open to the navel allowing their breasts to be left exposed, perhaps during ceremonial occasions.Women also had the option of wearing a strapless fitted bodice. The patterns on clothes emphasized symmetrical geometric designs. It must be remembered that other forms of dress may have been worn of which we have no record.

Concentration of wealth played a large role in the structure of society. Multiroom constructions were discovered in even the ‘poor’ areas of town, revealing a social equality and even distribution of wealth.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 14, 2011 in History

 

Tags: , ,

Riots in England -v- The Wit, Wisdom and Inspiration of John Lennon

Image from Wikipedia

The media reporting of the Riots in England this week made me feel like the world was drowning in negativity. Like a drowning woman I found myself searching for something to cling to.

Everytime I picked up a paper, or tuned into the news on TV and Radio, I kept hearing the words

“All we are saying is GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
in my head.

There are many You Tube tributes to this powerful song.
This is my favourite.

If, like me, you want some more of John Lennon’s Wit, Wisdom and Inspiration,
please take a look at the John Lennon – Wikiquote page.

One of my favourites is below:-

________________

It was just a gradual development over the years.

Last year was “All You Need Is Love.” This year it’s “Give Peace a Chance.”

Remember love. The only hope for any of us is peace.

Violence begets violence. If you want to get peace, you can get it as soon as you like if we all pull together.

You’re all geniuses and you’re all beautiful.

You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are.

You are what you are.

Get out there and get peace.

Think peace, live peace, and breathe peace and you’ll get it as soon as you

like.

Okay?
______________________
John Lennon to the press on July 1969 after the release of the Plastic Ono Band’s single “Give Peace a Chance” (as quoted in The Beatles: An Oral History by David Pritchard and Alan Lysaght (1998). New York: Hyperion. ISBN: 0786864362. OCLC: 39093547. p. 285.)

Image from Wikimedia Commons – Statue of John Lennon in public park, Vedado, Havana. December 2006.

You say you want a revolution,
Well, you know, we all want to change the world…
But when you talk about destruction,
Don’t you know that you can count me out.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 13, 2011 in 21st century, History, TaTUM

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Society – Lady Eve Balfour

Image from Wikipedia

Society

Lady Eve Balfour

Lady Eve Balfour (Evelyn Barbara Balfour; 1899-1990) was a British farmer, educator, organic farming pioneer, and a founding figure in the organic movement. She was one of the first women to study agriculture at a UK university, graduating from the University of Reading.

She began farming in 1920, in Haughley Green, Suffolk, England. In 1939, with her friend and neighbour Alice Debenham, she launched the Haughley Experiment, the first long-term, side-by-side scientific comparison of organic and chemical-based farming.

In 1943, she published the organics classic, The Living Soil, a book combining her research with the initial findings at Haughley. In 1946, she co-founded and became the first president of the Soil Association, an international organization promoting sustainable agriculture (and the main organic farming association in the UK today). She continued to farm, write and lecture for the rest of her life,

****************************************************

Footsteps

Footsteps - image created by Maggie Baldry

Legal bit

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the authors.  Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this work neither the author, contributors, employees or advisers are able to accept any legal liability for any consequential loss or damage, however caused, arising as a result of any actions taken on the basis of the information contained in this work. All third-party brands and trademarks belong to their respective owners.  Please note this notice is to protect the source research material. Please feel free to link and quote with references back to this page. Thank you. Copyright : Maggie Baldry

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 14, 2011 in History, Soft Footsteps

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,