As an antidote to national and international news, let's turn to the thumb-sucking comfort of The Secret Garden, the story of an unloved little girl who is eventually seen as a heroine, a healer, and - most importantly, loveable. Obviously this tale was a favourite for me as a child, re-read repeatedly under the bedclothes in a dim light that probably did, as promised, ruin my eyesight. It's by Frances Hodgson Burnett (who also wrote A Little Princess, the story of an unloved little girl... etc, another comfort-read,) and has been filmed four times: the latest with Colin Firth, Julie Walters, and - barely off screen & always mesmerising - Dixie Egerickx as Mary, the child who finds the garden that changes all their lives. Director Marc Munden has indulged in quite a lot of embellishment to the original story: it's no longer the robin who 'showed the way' but a big shaggy dog; surly gardener Ben Weatherstaff is all but erased, Misselthwaite Manor suffers a blaze on Jane Eyre scale, and it's Mary who saves her uncle.This Mary has psychic powers too, enabling her to introduce us to her dead mother and that of her ailing cousin Colin. The magical garden eschews any attempt at credibility: despite the wuthering wildness of the moor beyond, here it's CenterParcs but with Thai temples, and the secret section could be an elaborate set for Strictly. Most of the story, in short, is massively over-egged but somehow it seems to work. Showing - till stopped - at Frome's super little indie cinema Westway, where icecreams still come round on a tray.
at midnight on Wednesday the portcullis descended on live performances - and meet-ups to discuss such things. The scramble to organise future writerly and dramatic plans meant me missing the final session from the talented We Don't Scare Easy Tribe at The Mill at Rode - particularly disappointing as the band ended their set by playing Holiday in Spain especially for me & Steve... awww... This fantastic team, spearheaded by Paul Kirtley & David Goodman, plays to raise money for Fair Frome projects, usually with support from other talented musicians - in this video, Carl Sutterby is on harp. with sound support from Steve.
And now, once again, the only way is online, with Zoom re-entering our lives like Scrooge's persistent ghosts: past, present, and probably future too. The creatives of Frome are more prepared this time around: Frome Drama Club has already moved online, with Six Poems in Search of a Performance on youtube - here's Laurie Parnell with the opening words of Under Milk Wood - and their Autumn project is a full length play, Terminus, written by Al Brunker and John Palmer.
Frome writer John Payne's project, Walking the Names, has been shortlisted for a short-listed for an international Sound Walk award. This monthly event has been developed to give respect those who died in poverty in the Bath Union Workhouse, by reading their names in a slow walk with music and poetry.
during lockdown, check this brilliant directory of opportunities from Shop Frome - another of the pro-active responses to difficult times in our extraordinary town.
So at the end of a quiet week, here's two images of autumn from my 'permitted exercise': fields by Frome, and Shearwater lake. Long may these sunny chill days continue...