I never liked the idea of a calling bird. It smacked of the Judas Goat, even when I was a child. But I’m told that “calling” is a mondegreen in this context and the original was probably “colly birds”. Which apparently are blackbirds.
Hmm. Bit of a cheapskate suitor there, then. I mean, blackbirds come free with the landscape. All he had to do was scatter a few breadcrumbs on the lawn and then point out the descending blackbirds as her present.
Mind you, the Easter Island stamp version is along the same lines. And gulls call all right. Anglo Saxon poets thought they were the souls of dead sailors. Give me a blackbird every time.
Two turtle doves are, perhaps, the most understandable of the strange gifts the True Love sent to his beloved. They are the symbol of perfect romantic contentment, billing and cooing and utterly absorbed in each other.
Whether she needed ten more pairs after that first gift, of course, is debatable. Continue reading →
“Ooo yes, let’s do a series of book recommendations for the Twelve Days of Christmas,” we said.
But those 12 days of presents were really pretty weird. I mean, if a pear tree was small enough to give someone as a present, it wouldn’t be big enough for a partridge to perch in. A problem faced by the designer of the 1977 UK postage stamp, I notice. A solid bird, the partridge.
So our list is going to be associative, rather than literal, if you see what I mean. There is a connection, in our minds at least. But not always necessarily obvious. Continue reading →
I remember watching the last Royal Wedding on television (well, bits of it) in April 2011. To be honest, I was surprised at how moved I was.
There is something heroic about that promise, “Until Death us do Part.” Especially so, when the two people making it have actually chosen each other.
After all, in the past, many royal weddings took place between people who were not much more than pieces on someone else’s chess board.
In 1922 my grandmother went to see the procession for the wedding of the Queen’s aunt to Viscount Lascelles. She came home, shocked, and told her sister that the young princess’s eyes were red with crying. Princess Mary was 24, her bridegroom 39. He looks grim in the wedding photograph. Continue reading →
I’m intrigued by subtext and, in particular, the space between the words in a novel.
Yet perhaps the most perfect example of this is not in a novel at all, but in a movie. It’s the little miracle that is Roman Holiday, starring a luminous Audrey Hepburn as a stifled princess. Gorgeous Gregory Peck plays against type as a distinctly dodgy expat newspaperman. They don’t have a Happy Ever After ending, either. Yet its perfect, mostly because of that extra layer of meaning.
Why Subtext in Roman Holiday is Interesting for Novelists
Writing for a reader is how I finished my very first book. That probably sounds strange, after my heartfelt blog about writing for one’s own inner reader. But the truth is that, although I’d been writing all my life, the very first book I finished was written for a particular reader.
We’ve had an exceptionally busy week at Casa Libertà.
Joanna had serious train travel and a full diary, while still reluctantly convalescent. Sophie had much writing – blogging, a magazine article and catching up with belated Amazon reviews of recently-read books – together with a trip to see Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance.
Above all, we were running up to part two of our Sparkle editing workshop, otherwise known as Bling it Up. So we spent Friday on a full day’s dress rehearsal before Saturday when the curtain went up. Continue reading →
My Inner Reader and Editing have rather taken over my life in the last few months. This is for a range of reasons. The reasons were all pleasant – or , at least, interesting. But her arrival was a surprise. And, as it turns out, a game changer.