Note Number 4…Getting Involved with the Story…

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BBC Radio 4 ‘The Archers…’

 

What makes us become so involved with a story? I’m thinking here of the recent events in The Archers between Helen and Rob Titchener. Even if you don’t listen to the programme on BBC Radio 4, there has been much talk on the Internet about Rob’s ‘coercive control’ behaviour, Helen’s stabbing of him and subsequent trial by jury which found her not guilty of Attempted Murder or Wounding with Intent. I got to the point earlier in 2016 when I had to stop listening because I became so emotionally involved with the storyline and began to hate Rob so much (I’m not really a hating sort of person) and wanted Helen to speak up for herself even though I understood why she wouldn’t. I worried about her son Henry and baby Jack.  I couldn’t bear to listen to the lies Rob told and just desperately wanted someone to remove him from storyline and I didn’t care how they did it. He could have been run over by a slow moving rubbish truck or cornered in a field by a flock of maggot ridden sheep and trampled to death. I’ve always maintained that whatever the circumstances, I could never bring myself to kill anyone but…Rob must have stirred something deep in my psyche…

If this had been a novel, what would I have done? Stopped reading? Turned to the back of the book to see the ending or skipped a few pages so that I could see how the story might be trending? What I did with The Archers was to read the twitter feed and check the the full synopsis on the BBC website. All this before I dared listen to any of the episodes, and, if I thought it was going to be too horrible then I would give that one a miss.

As a writer, I do not have the same fear for my characters even though I become inextricably involved in their lives and I care about them. I get excited about what they might get up to. I don’t mind getting them into awkward situations, killing them off, having them lie, becoming murderers and all number of other horrible things. I know where they’re going and I know their motives and I can control them – to a certain extent. But, have I got the knack to move my readers to the extent that I have been moved by The Archers? Is it the acting, the script or the storyline that are pulling me apart?

I do know people who can watch/read/listen to pretty much anything fictional that’s scary/disturbing/ghastly etc., and not be concerned. ‘It’s only a story, what’s your problem?’ they say as I hide behind a cushion, run out to the bathroom at a crucial moment or distract my mind by checking my emails on my phone or making a cup of tea.

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What are you like? Do you become drawn into a story to the point of screaming at the book/screen/radio, throwing the book/TV/Radio, in total frustration even though you KNOW it’s just a story and that the people aren’t real? That’s the bit that worries me about The Archers. I know it’s all fiction but I can’t help worrying about Helen and getting exasperated with characters who can’t see any wrong in Rob and worst of all I want Rob DEAD and he’s not even properly alive! I wonder how much hate mail he has received? I’ve only written a couple of letters…

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Films…walks…films…

AshLane

Walking Across the Farmland – Public Footpaths and Bridleways

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Dorset. Lots of walks, eating, theatre and cinema going and plenty of…RAIN… ah well, you can’t have it all. I’m missing the sunshine and warmth of Italy, that I cannot deny but, the upside is that we have been fortunate in choosing a great place to live. In fact, last Friday in The Times, Bridport came second in a poll of the best places, by the sea to live in England. I’d like to put a link on here so that you can read it but, The Times won’t allow anyone to read anything without subscribing – so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I am managing to walk everyday for a minimum of 2 kilometres and sometimes more, perhaps five or six. Jpeg and I take a different route each time we go out, there are so many public footpaths and bridleways around here. Last week we dropped The Man off to collect his bike from Symondsbury and he joined his mates for a bike ride…yes he does have mates. I took an hour-long walk, part of which was along The Hardy Way. I rarely meet anyone or any other dogs when I’m out walking but on this occasion we were close to Colmer’s Hill and bumped into several people who were on their way up or down this iconic Bridport landmark. It made me realise that in the summer months I’ll have to be careful where I choose to go, if I want our walks to remain peaceful and private…

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Colmer’s Hill

The Parish Council has been replacing the local signposts, including the one on our corner. So we discovered this week that the junction at the end of our road is Ebenezer Corner…

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I cross here often and go over the style into the field and walk to Pymore. This interesting little village was, I believe, once a Quaker village. There was a rope making factory here, the Bridport area was well known for it’s rope and net making…check it out here and find out about the Bridport Dagger, it’s interesting. The Bridport Museum is on our list for visiting but it only opened for the season a week or so ago.

But, back to Pymore…the village has been redeveloped – tastefully – the factory and buildings converted to apartments and houses and new places also built.

There is footpath which passes beside the reed bed and along the river Brit. Some of the houses are a little bit ‘toy townish’, but that’s just my opinion.

From the 30th March until the 3rd April, The Bridport Film Festival has been running, From Page to Screen  it’s been fantastic. Evening Screenings took place at The Electric Palace, which is an amazing vintage cinema from the 1920s Daytime screenings were shown at the Bridport Arts Centre. The Man and I went to see five films in four days and we loved it. Over the five days at least twenty films were screened, The Man and I managed to get to these:-

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Plein Soleil
A Month in the Country
The Big Short
The Lady in The Van

This is not a film reviewing blog so I’ll refrain from writing about each film. For me the whole experience of being able to get to the theatre in less than five minutes by car and see such a great selection of movies together with live interviews from producers, writers, actors etc., was a marvellous opportunity.

On Friday, A Month in the Country was shown at eleven in the morning and it was really strange coming out of the theatre at lunchtime. It put us out for the whole day and then in the evening we went to see The Big Short – two viewings in just less than twelve hours, a bit like a long haul flight.

The Director Charles Sturridge was the organiser of this year’s festival and did a wonderful job. He is of course a well-known director, the TV series Brideshead Revisited and the film a Handful of Dust (shown at this festival) to name just two productions. He certainly put together a great selection of films and arranged some interesting guest speakers, including Alex Jennings who played the part of Alan Bennett in The Lady in the Van and Claire Bloom, one of the stars in The Spy who came in from the Cold. She was at the Bridport Arts Centre for the screening and did a Q&A session at the end of the film. I hope that at 85 years old I will be as elegant and eloquent as she was.

Thank you Bridport Film Festival, Charles Sturridge and all the volunteers who helped the week run smoothly…you must all be exhausted.

For a moment, this week, I became a little nostalgic for my past life and wondered where I would be now had I pursued my career in the theatre…would I have been successful? Would I have risen through the actress ranks and now be rubbing shoulders with Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren and all the other famous actresses of my generation (well I’m actually a teensy bit younger than most of them – I think)? What about all the gorgeous actors too? Ah well, it’s easy to dream but when I think about it, I do have a wonderful life, family friends etc., so probably took the right path. It’s never too late though – is it? Perhaps I’ll get a copy of The Stage next week and see what auditions I might be eligible for…

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Nah..too scary…on second thoughts I’d better stick to the writing…