A bit of winter pruning…

Hi all,

We’re having a bit of a tidy up in the background here at gillblow.co.uk. Part of this is getting rid of a lot of spam accounts that we’ve gathered over the last year or two and putting some measures in place that will stop them from coming back.

There’s quite a few of these little blighters, and I’ll be very careful not to delete any real people’s accounts – but I might just snag one or two, especially if the email address doesn’t match the username in some way, or they haven’t posted any comments etc.

Anyway, if I do accidentally snag a real person, please accept my humble apologies – it’s nothing personal. You will be able to register again with no problems – and I shouldn’t have to do anything like this again if the measure I mentioned earlier work (and it looks like they are!)

Thanks for your understanding :)

Graham

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Special Christmas Offer ‘SPLIT SECONDS’

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I’m off to Gainsborough Library (Cobden St., Gainsborough DN21 2NG) on WEDNESDAY 10th December to SIGN COPIES of my little booklet of Short Stories – I will be there between 11am – 1pm and because it’s Christmas they are going for half price – only £2! You can order here via website – at this special price. Don’t miss!

FREE WRITING WORKSHOPS  and to show my support for libraries and particularly Gainsborough I will be running FOUR FREE Writing Workshops in Jan and Feb 2015.

MORE NEWS SOON.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS FOLKS!

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Afternoon Tea at Betty’s and the missing girl…..

BALIThe Belmont Room, hushed, thick carpets, a piano playing in one corner of the vast room where waitresses in white caps and aprons smiled and served the champagne and cakes impeccably. It was how I imagined life was like before the wars, (for some people) elegant, sophisticated, the clink of china cups in saucers, Jasmine Tea sipped, tiny cakes consumed in two bites. It was a gift from my son Graham and his wife Sarah, who accompanied me, what an absolute treat! It was like being in a time capsule, concealed from the real life outside which hurtled along in a festival of sprungsteel-jumping lads, a marching youth band, a living statue of a purple man on a purple bike his coat flowing behind him frozen still in mid-air. Trumpets and drums and a man playing classic Beethoven on his piano not far from the Cathedral.

It was York Races. It was busy. I arrived in York earlier by train. The crowds were dressed in their best, fascinators wobbling, skirts tight and short, the girls and women tottered on spiky high heels. The men lounged near the bar self conscious in smart suits, tanned, sleek hair, arms draped around their women. Wedding parties, hen parties, wandered in and out of the station in large laughing yelling groups, swigging wine from the bottle, dancing, embracing, it was one huge celebration.

My train home was delayed, an incident at Newcastle. We were informed later that someone was on the line. Further delays, I changed platforms, about six traffic Police charged down the platform, a girl had climbed onto the track, I watched as she later walked ashen-faced between two grim policemen.  Excitement as a steam train pulled in puffing clouds of smoke, pulling the old carriages bursting with passengers. A portly man with glasses, wearing cut off trousers and pushing a shopping trolley stopped in front of me, I heard tinny music from the tiny earpieces which were slung round his neck. His mobile phone rang, ‘Hello?’ pause ‘Er, at Devon.’ another pause, he looks around, ‘Yes 148.’ pause ‘Thank you.’ He put his phone away and walked on, muttering to himself. At a deserted Retford station where I had an hour’s wait for my train, a young policewoman asked if I’d been there long (I immediately felt guilty, as if I’d been attracting unwanted attention by hanging around), she then asked if I’d seen a little girl in a white nightdress who was missing. No, I’m sorry, I said, picturing the little girl somewhere in the dark, frightened, her parents frantic, agonised. Yes, I said, if I see anything I will report it.

I thought of that little girl later at home, as I sipped a glass of wine. Later still, I recalled the taste of macaroon and cream.

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Number Two in Blue

BALIShe hangs in my kitchen. Sometimes I see her, sometimes I don’t, she suffers from the invisibility of the familiar you see. But, when I do catch sight of her, leaning over my chopping board as I cry over onions, I wonder about her, who she was, what was she thinking as she was sitting (or standing) there, sucking a blade of grass, or is it a barley stalk, being painted? Look at her hair, covering her eyes, as if she has a secret she’s not going to tell, and why not paint her eyes? I guess they were hazel, or maybe brown, deep brown to convey a generous nature, a kindly girl, eager to please. No! Let’s be more adventurous, she’s not secretive, she’s sly, manipulative, posing, presenting a fake image because a few years ago something happened….and her story begins…..

 

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Happy Birthday Alan Bennett

BALI

The incomparable Alan Bennett, an author I have admired for years since his unforgettable ‘Talking Heads’ series. He’s 80 today, and many congratulations. He’s interviewed by Nicholas Hytner tomorrow at 9pm on BBC4 and afterwards you can see ‘A Chip in the Sugar’ one of the Talking Heads plays in which he performs a man who finds out that his mother has taken up with an old flame. Afterwards there’s another gem, starring Maggie Smith as a vicar’s wife in ‘Bed among the Lentils.’ In my opinion there’s nothing quite like his writings, I’ll be glued to the TV! His plays are marvellous, think of ‘The History Boys’ and’People’  and the unforgettable ‘Lady in the Van’, a true story from his own experience. As is most of his work, for example he used his life with his parents, their aspirations, or lack of them, their sayings, even the fabric of their settee I remember!

This is a quote from ‘Untold Stories’ (which, if you haven’t read you are missing a treat!)….in the first chapter, which is mainly about his early life with his parents there’s this…… “Your Dad and me are going to start to mix,” Mam wrote, “We’ve got some sherry in and some peanuts too.” Never having tasted the mysterious beverage though, they lacked any notion of when it was appropriate and treated it as a round the clock facility. Thus the vicar, calling in with a Free Will offering envelope, was startled to be offered a sweet sherry at 10 o’clock in the morning.They of course, stuck to tea; or, when they were trying to fit it in, Ribena. “Well,” said Mam resignedly, “it doesn’t do for us. Our Kathleen used to put it in the trifle and it always rifted up on me.”

It’s funny yes, but it tells us so much more, it gets us right into that tight little world of his parents, frightened, it seems of venturing out.

He is, to my mind, a master. Thankyou AB.

 

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We’ll gather lilacs

BALI

With abject apologies and all sorts of no good excuses I have to tell you that this is my first post for 3 whole months! It won’t do. So today I made a promise to gather lilacs, it’s Spring, and I’m springing my much neglected Blog back into life!

First up is Workhouse Players at Caistor Arts Centre Pudding Club tonight….Beryl will tell her tale in the story ‘Argentine Tango’.  We are booked for two Festivals on the week-end of spring bank holiday, and then in July. Details on www.facebook.com/workhouseplayers. A new story ‘Treacle Tart’ is currently in rehearsal.

Secondly is the question of what I’ve been doing all the time I haven’t kept up my blog, well folks, I’ve been writing, and this time not a short story, but possibly a novel. Big deep breath! I’ve written over 40,000 words for the first draft – which for me is something of a miracle! I have managed to avoid reading over what I’ve written, and just write! Will keep you posted.

I would love to know what books you are reading, or have read this year, and which really grabbed you? I’ve got a few, but I’ll wait to hear from you first………

Congrats to my poet friend Terry Quinn, who has just won a prize for his poem ‘Blessings’ which will be displayed on public transport in Guernsey in May this year. Wonder where Terry is going for his hols?

That’s it for now, look forward to your book comments……..

 

 

 

 

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Oops! A lovely Christmas present

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Winner of the 2013 International Rubery Short Story Award! So delighted I have been awarded this great honour with my story ‘On the bench’! It will be published in the RBS Anthology soon. And if it hadn’t been for taking my actor friend Phil for day surgery at Mexborough Hospital on a stifling hot day last summer, it would never have been written. Thanks Phil, and there hangs a tale or two, and the tendrils of the story. Happy Christmas to you all.

Workhouse Players have celebrated National Short Story Day today, on the shortest day, with great performances from Laura Martin, playing dear Jean and the sparky Beryl at Caistor Arts & Heritage Centre! The New Year swishes in with all the Workhouse team performing at the Sheffield Library Theatre on 24th and 25th January 2014. Don’t miss it! Details www.facebook.com/workhouseplayers or follow us on www.twitter.com/workhousep

Happy New Year!

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‘She’s covered in a wet sheet!’

BALI

It’s National Short Story Week! Come and see TAKE 7 to discover which of the tales these quotes are from!  ‘TAKE 7’ is written and directed by yours truly and performed by the fabulous Workhouse Players, Phil, Laura and Sue on 28th and 29th November at The Old Nick Theatre, Spring Gardens, Gainsborough 7.30pm. To book: e-mail workhouseplayers@outlook.com or phone 077907366410. Tickets £7.50 and £5 concessions.

And also to celebrate National Short Story Week I am running a one day Workshop ‘Writing Short Stories’ on Wednesday Nov 20th from 10am – 4pm at The Trinity Arts Centre, Trinity Street, Gainsborough DN21 2AL. The fee of £25 includes a free copy of my pamphlet ‘Split Seconds’ and a light lunch. It will be informal and informative and everybody will go home with 200 words under their belt! E-mail me cuckies@btinternet.com to book a place.

 

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Night Tricks

It’s National Poetry Day today so here’s one of mine…..

Night Tricks

 

When the house stands sullen in the darkness

and the windows are bleak blind;

When the light throws pot plants centre stage

and the garden is a looming shroud;

When the car lock clunks with an orange flash

and the garage door shuts with a thud;

When a single star sits in a navy sky

and branches are black-laced fans;

When the silence rings like tinnitus

as I aim for the door with my key;

When the soft footstep behind me is

simply a dried leaf  –

then, do I weep.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ebbs and Flows

BALI

A strict set of instructions to my writer self:- STOP thinking you’re rubbish, can’t write, never will write another word, that you’ll never write a novel or a short story or a radio play because you can’t even write one blinking sentence. This is not true, I have written loads of words and sentences but they’re rubbish! Sorry, told myself to stop thinking that.

I’m at a low ebb. Don’t go telling me all writers go through this block (it’s not a block it’s Everest!) I feel lousy. Don’t tell me it will be fine. It won’t ever never be fine again!!

Right.

I’ve just got to wait.

Something will happen.

It has before.

Forget about writing, Gill. Go for a walk – go to the beach – watch the ebb, wait and wait …… and wait for the flow. It’s bound to come…..it always does.

 

 

 

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