What Happened Next?

The Arts

I often write about ideas that occur because I’m thinking about current events, but I don’t follow up with what happened next. Here’s a quick round-up of what DID happen next after certain recent articles..

1. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I was still at work on a historical epic called ‘The Foot on the Crown’. I finished the draft and set it aside to rest, and chatted with Jake Arnott, whose own ‘The Fatal Tree’ was a historical reimagining of real events. He made me decide whether the book should be strictly historical or a fantasised version of English history. I settled on making it a story you might expect to see depicted in an embroidered tapestry. There are enough history academics writing true-life versions. I’ll be going for a final draft this winter. The next problem I have to solve is whether to touch upon religion, considering all social life back then revolved around it.

2. I wrote a piece called ‘On a Dawn Journey across London’ which made me think afresh about the city vistas which have always been in my head. My affinity for city life is why I don’t apply myself to descriptions of rural landscapes – they’re alien to me. The piece made me plan to use London better this winter, partly as a survival mechanism for getting through the long dark months ahead, partly because I need to see more than just tourist views of central London. I’m drawing a plan for the first of several sojourns into less usual territories. Know your own back yard first.

3. I saw the gender-revised play ‘Company’ in preview and mentioned I loved it. It opened to universal rave reviews, and will now be impossible to get into. The star who put the ‘Broad’ in ‘Broadway’, Patti Lupone, is only in it for a few scenes but makes them count. Lupone said, on performing in ‘Les Miserables’: ‘The perfect part. 20 minutes on stage, sing a great song, die. 2 hours off stage, come back as a ghost, taxi.’

4. I was looking for a biography by my purported uncle, a film director and writer called Jeffrey Flowers Dell, and saw some of his films, which were charmingly odd and oddly charming. Reader Roger very kindly offered me his copy of ‘Nobody Ordered Wolves’, Dell’s book about working for Alexander Korda, which seems to have been mysteriously expunged from history. Roger, DM me on Twitter and I’ll send you my address!

5. Re: the ‘Books left in hotels’ piece – I was seated next to a couple on a flight yesterday who were reading Jo Nesbo and Jojo Moyes respectively – adventure and romance. The husband described other favourite authors, all from the ‘left in hotels’ category. This, I suspect, is the norm, and su books are treated as disposable commodities. I find all books divide into ‘chuckers’ and ‘keepers’. I also worry that this places me on an outer limb of the mainstream, here only the weird ones live. I described what I wrote and my companion said, ‘Well, you’re definitely not mainstream’. I wanted to ask him to leave one of mine in a hotel.

6. In ‘Madness from Nowhere’ I pointed out that the TV drama ‘Killing Eve’ has everything a producer wants his audience to see; mayhem, action, great costumes and sexy women with guns, plus delightful non-sequiturs and game-changing twists. Now along come a new long-form version of Shirley Jackson’s  ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ which, along with drug-therapy trial drama ‘Maniac’, are helping to establish something between the multiple-episode series and the one-off – the eight-part drama. So, a full circle, then. Didn’t the BBC make six-part dramas for decades?

BTW, that thing at the top is my 1920s reporter’s typewriter; it slides inside a leather bag, and at the touch of a button…

10 comments on “What Happened Next?”

  1. Ian Mason says:

    London wise – If you fancy something a bit more off your patch, may I suggest a (longish) walk roughly following the river from Canning Town, via Silvertown Way and then via Factory Road in Silvertown to the Woolwich Ferry.

    It takes in some interesting territory that’s different from much of modern London. You start at an area undergoing rapid redevelopment, past some arches at Caxton St/Peto St associated from time to time with some genuine villainy. Further down in West Silvertown there’s relatively recent luxury riverside flats, then the Thames Barrier (with City airport to your north). Then down North Woolwich Road there’s St Mark’s Church (now home to the Brick Lane Music Hall) and then down Factory Road past possibly the last truly industrial landscape left in London including the Tate and Lyle sugar refinery that’s been there since Victorian times and finally to a good view of the river by the ferry.

    Just before the ferry there’s a little hidden area by the river with some maritime and dockside hardware converted into sculptural fixtures – it’s not somewhere you’d find unless someone said “look for it”.

  2. Agatha Hamilton says:

    ‘Purported’ uncle?

  3. admin says:

    ‘Purported’ – see article passim.
    ‘Woolwich Ferry’ – As a school kid I had to spent a day on it crossing the river back and forth, doing an art project. I threw up. I must take another look.

  4. Vivienne says:

    The ferry is not working up to December so don’t get stuck. There is still the foot tunnel though.

    Having lived most of my life in/near London I realised some years back that there were whole pages of the A to Z I’d never been to ( I don’t count driving through). So I started to randomly go off to a station and walk to another one to get back home. I feel I have really got to know the place, well, at least geographically. But then, who can say what makes a real Londoner?

  5. Helen Martin says:

    I just finished the third part of a trilogy which I am pleased not to have experienced beyond Part III. It’s total lack of logic, unrepressed sexuality (how many men really are total magnets for attractive women, let alone pass that quality on to their sons), inclusion of historical characters as if they couldn’t find inspiration within their pwn worlds, ugly characters in all the security services, and the use of women to breed the automatons necessary for their obscene “library” caused me to promise to destroy the book, something I have now done. I looked up other reviews and found that in several languages, including Russian and Spanish, that ratings from 1 to 5/5 were given this series. What were these readers seeing that I couldn’t see? Is rapid action and an ending in all out war on the Yorkshire Fells enough? Does a plot not have to make sense? I return to Mr. Fowler with relief. (My husband did not finish the book and said it was total tripe.)

  6. Jo W says:

    Helen Martin – hello(waving) how are you?
    Read your comment and I’d love to know just what you were reading to make you destroy a book. I mean you – destroying a book?

  7. davem says:

    Woolwich Ferry re-opens 1 January with brand new vessels.

  8. Roger says:

    Tweeted – my first attempt ever.
    Quite a few of the characters in “Nobody ordered Wolves” have the air if being based on real people, which when they’ve been forgotten takes away some of the interest.

  9. Jan says:

    Doesn’t Tate + Lyle have its own Separate sort of flood barrier?

    I’m in Sydney for f##ks sake why am I thinking about London?
    This one of the countries growing the sugar cane not refining it!
    Interesting what IM had to say.

  10. Helen Martin says:

    Jo W – hello back (waving wildly). I’m surviving and the husband is recovering from a shattered femur. As for what I was reading- Keepers of the Library, the last in a trilogy. The book turned up in the house, possibly from a bargain bin and I’m glad not to have had the other two around because I would have destroyed them as well. I can develop a real rage against authors who can’t be bothered to make their fantasies hang together and above all have some recognizable point. Tripe, it was just tripe, although if you read other reviews (including some in Spanish – see later blog discussions) you might wonder what I was on about.

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