Thursday 25 February 2016

A Pocket Full of Ferrets

Last night I went off-piste to ITV3 and watched a Miss Marple from 2008: A Pocket Full of Rye. Kenneth Cranham got the rye grains in his jacket pocket and blackbirds both in a pie and his desk drawer and Rupert Graves put a clothes peg onto the nose of a corpse, just to keep it more-or-less in the spirit of the nursery rhyme.

Then of course my mind started to wander, and knowing I was safe with Miss Marple solving everything by being incredibly nosey, I remembered a nursery rhyme book in the East Wing with plates in it by the superb Lawson Wood, and searched it out to see if this rhyme was in it. It was, it's above. But then I was brought back to the screen by a fabulously outrageous performance by the unique Ken Campbell playing a dodgy butler. One scene had him lying on his bed declaiming the rhyme with a bottle and cigarette on the go and his blue eyes bulging. This was to be his last performance, and The Guardian judged him to be "one of the most original and unclassifiable talents in the British theatre of the past half-century. A genius at producing shows on a shoestring and honing the improvisational capabilities of the actors who were brave enough to work with him." One of those actors was Sylveste McCoy, who competed against Ken for the role of Doctor Who and won. But they still did shows together where they stuffed ferrets down each others' trousers.

Blackbirds, clothes pegs, pies. And on Tuesday a corner of my curious and utterly delightful extended family gained yet another ferret to add to two others who, I assume, are also frantically trying to find trousers to run up the inside of. The connections didn't stop ferreting around my mind when I also recalled that I had once attended a wedding reception in the old Diorama in Peto Place near Regent's Park and Ken was a fellow guest. When it came to dancing (and I doubtless did my usual pogo-ing to Van Halen's Jump!) he danced across the floor and half way up a wall. Again, and again, and again. I have never seen the like before or since. Right, off to Waitrose to see if they have any blackbirds. Three frozen packs with eight in each perhaps. 

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Monday 15 February 2016

Spring Loaded

Spring hadn't sprung yesterday, but it certainly felt as if it was about to. Youngest Boy and I decided to go down the road to Kirby Hall, somewhere I've continually gone back to for, ooh, a very long time. Snowdrops gave a soft patterning of white as we went down the avenue, the Hall itself welcomed us with window bar shadows reaching out into the bare empty rooms. After the obligatory hiding from each other and then jumping out with blood-curdling shouts (annoying those with audio tours clamped to their ears) we ventured outside. The upturned willow had to be climbed, but I took great pleasure in seeing what had happened to it since it fell over six years ago or so. My first picture of it above was taken in 2010, and I was so gratified that it hadn't been attacked with a chain saw (probably because willow spits like hell in a woodburner) or replaced by a sapling in a rabbit-proof plastic tube. No, it had been left to itself, and now wands of new willow have shot up in profusion. Sometimes we manage too much.

It was all very invigorating, and when we got home ready to start preparing lunch (well, I did) we found that the daffodils had trumpeted out from the Adnam's jug. Spring really does seem to be around the corner. Let's hope.

Pledge for the Unmitigated Postcard Box here.

Monday 1 February 2016

Unmitigated Postcards

Anybody who has been within five miles of me in the last year will have heard of the progress of this latest addition to the Unmitigated Stable. It’s taken a while to fine tune, which involved immense research and drinking in London, Leicestershire and Oxfordshire. (In fact it involved drinking just about everywhere really.) So at last, thanks to those marvellous people at Unbound, here is an opportunity to go even deeper into the hidden recesses of Unmitigated England.
The Unmitigated Postcards Box is my first go at a crowd-funded project. Which basically means that subscribers elect to support an author, usually for a book, at different levels from signed collectors’ editions right up to something really special at the top end. It’s all so exciting. You’ll see from the Unbound site that the yellow carton (a pastiche of a well-loved Kodak photo paper box) contains 100 ‘eccentrically eccentric’ postcards. A few you may have seen; most you won’t. All are my favourites, and it would be brilliant if you thought that you could support the cause. Thank you all very much.