Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Of roof gardens and other things

Nine years ago I led a writing workshop in Kythira which was where I met poet & now novelist Christine Coleman, and story-writer & now biographer, Roger Jinkinson. I can't claim to have launched them on their subsequent careers because they did that themselves, but the other great outcome is that ever since we've met annually in London for a catchup and supper with stop-over. Chris and I walk along the riverside at South Bank where there's always something on ~ it was a Festival of Neighbourhood this week, with window-box allotments under the plane trees.  Inspired by this bucolic idyll, we embarked on an exploration of city roof-gardens, discovering beds of mauve and cream flowers in Queen Elizabeth Hall and amazing views for miles across the city at Coq d'Argent. We wandered alone around the seven-storey high lawn, which looks a bit like something Tim Burton might landscape, supervised at discreet distance by one of the staff who admitted his role was suicide watch. 'It is surprising, in this beautiful city,' he said, 'but yes, they do it.' The skyline glimmered silver in the dusk as we sipped prosecco. So touching in its majesty, Wordsworth called this river view back in 1802. Still true today. Then on to meet Roger, who has a new book out: More Tales from a Greek Island is the second collection of vivid slices of real life in his adoptive home of Karpathos. As the review promises, a wonderful collection, written in easy style with honesty and love.

Amateur Dramatics, a phrase generally intoned with fastidious dread, doesn't inspire high expectations of performance, or even choice of play: Frome's am-dram Troupers under the direction of Philip de Glanville totally confound all prejudice. Their current production ~ Act 1 of Peter Nichol's 1967 classic A Day in the Death of Joe Egg ~
is so good it's off to Derry to represent England in the finals of the Amateur One-Act Play Contest. The company beat literally hundreds of other groups throughout the heats, and opened up their final dress rehearsal as a free performance at the Merlin. It was fantastic: outrageously funny, searingly sad, brilliantly acted. Super Troupers, the local paper bragged, and they were right. Can't wait to hear how they get on in Derry.

And now as we quiver on the brink of Frome Festival, I'm taking a quick look ahead to autumn as Chateau Ventenac is offering £100 off all writing courses to early bird bookers ~ read more here!

No comments: