Mummers Play and me!


Yesterday morning, I found myself first researching the genre and then actually writing a Mummers Play. It is to be performed as part of the forthcoming Dragon/Beltane weekend in Glastonbury. Can’t wait to take part in, or experience as audience, everything that is going on the 29th and 30th April.

I first wrote a play when I was eleven: Still have the faded blue notebook, filled with childlike handwriting, and the memory of sitting in the back garden of Cumbraes (the house in Headington, Oxford, I lived in until I was eighteen) scribbling away. Such delight.

My next major dramatic piece of writing took place in 2011 when I wrote the play version (camped up) of ‘The Land of Green Ginger’ for Wrington Drama Club to perform as a pantomime. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out the way I wanted them to – and, long story short, the play, as twisted, er envisaged, by Ali, has yet to see the light of day. Damn shame! It was, and is, very funny though I say so myself.

So, with five novels under my belt and all the rest of it, the challenge of trying a new writing format (because the Mummers Play type of play-writing is very different to more modern ones) was irresistible.

It all started, in a sense, when I joined Shadow of the Tor a month or so ago. During Monday’s rehearsal, and having volunteered to take part in a ritual drama which is also part of that Beltane weekend, I was asked if I would like to come along to the planning meeting of the Dragon/Beltane Committee and find out what was what.

I had a lovely evening in the George and Pilgrims (G & P) – and, as a result, agreed to write the Mummers Play. Like you do! I wasn’t even drunk at the time, I hasten to add, having been quaffing nowt but Diet Coke all evening.

Once I knew roughly what I was doing, I set to – and, Oh, the joy! It was a delight to do from start to finish; I had forgotten the sheer pleasure of extended humorous writing. It has some slight resemblance to that perennial favourite ‘St George and the Dragon’  – but has been brought up to date in some very specific ways, which I won’t go into!

It has now been read by some members of the Committee – and they think it will do for the day; in fact, they think it’s pretty good, which thrilled me no end.

Yesterday afternoon, rehearsing Shadow of the Tor’s play (written and produced by founders, Francis and Brad), in Abbey Park, surrounded by verdant trees and sun-thrown shadows, I rejoiced. Clad in Mediaeval costume, larking around in Spring sunshine with like-minded people, I couldn’t have been happier!

It is so good to feel that my creative side, held under wraps for so long, is beginning to flower once more; that tight and terrified posts and journal entries are being replaced, increasingly, by free-flowing, joyous, even experimental pieces of writing. It is lovely to feel that I can contribute something to the local community in this way.

If you live in or near Glastonbury, do come along – on the 29th, the 30th or both! – and watch the Dragon Procession, hear the talks, be enchanted by drummers and Morris Dancers, watch ‘In the Shadow of the Tor’ and the Mummers Play, celebrate Beltane at the foot of the Tor. It is going to be magnificent. I shall be there, in the thick of it!

 

 

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Climbing Glastonbury Tor: Overworked!


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/overworked/

Should have been so easy, that climb, nothing like the daily toil; instead, however, I emerged dripping with sweat and feeling decidedly overworked! Read on…

Yesterday was so beautiful that my morning stroll with Jumble segued, quite naturally, into a two hour plod up lovely lanes and then up one side of Glastonbury Tor. I could lie, edit madly – and lay claim to the epitome of transcendent experiences. But I am not going to.

It was, in places, more nightmare than twinkling visit to the Faery Realms. It hurt. I was scared. I got very tense and feared that I would fall, or be dragged, over. Far from showing the world a far-away, otherworldly smile – as I wafted up in a cloud of Patchouli – I was snarling, snapping, hauling on the dog’s lead for dear life and crab-stepping my way down the precipitous steps as if I were a frail centenarian.

So, why, you may ask, was this? After all, the day had dawned so promisingly and the Tor itself was at its exquisite best; the dog is elderly (like his owner!) and, ‘…all’s right with the world…’ (as my relative, Robert Browning, said in ‘Pippa Passes‘)

All I can say to that is that Browning, when penning his famous lines of snails on thorns and birds on wings did not have an ancient canine possessed of the strength of ten far younger hounds – and, far worse, a gallimaufry of free-ranging sheep – to complicate an already-fraught situation.

It wasn’t so much the sheep themselves – though Jumble, as a border collie, has an inbuilt herding instinct and often tries to make his humans keep to the path when they show signs of straying! – it was more a matter of that which they left behind them: Gourmet, from Jumbs’ perspective, sheep poo.

Clumps of this greenish faecal matter were festooned about the Tor. The smell must have triggered Jumble’s Inner Food Taster, or something, because I swear his rheumy old eyes lit up, and his nose certainly quickened in greedy delight. The Tor, for him, was one vast Take Away – and I the curmudgeonly old cow intent upon spoiling his pleasure.

Problem was, I couldn’t take the risk of releasing him from his lead because I wasn’t sure he’d leave the actual sheep alone, and I, not built for speed, would have been totally ineffective trying to get him back, particularly as he does an excellent line in Selective Deafness when it suits him!

It was bad enough on the way up, with ovines way below on t’other side – and, when I sat down to look at the gorgeous landscape stretching for miles all around us, it was as much about resting my trembling legs as about admiring the natural beauty – but the problems really kicked in when I began the descent.

Suddenly, the luscious green and sloping ‘table’ was groaning with a plethora of putrid poo – and my stubborn and lovable old pet was off like the proverbial greyhound from the slips. I am not sure whether he had set himself the goal of eating all of it, and, thus, wiping the platter clean – but he certainly went at it like a starving tapeworm…or tried to.

Now, I have to say at this point that I would have loved a leisurely and dreamy drift down, mayhap declaiming a few lines of poetry or singing a light air or communing with the abundant Higher Powers; but, in the tussle between Ali and Jumble, there was only going to be one outcome: A small slice of Hell!

He wrenched me off the path in his pursuit of droppings. I hauled him back again as hard as I could. He ran helterskelter down the path, or tried to, while I braced myself and pulled in the heavy sails of his enthusiasm. He executed sudden little sideways leaps as he scented a particularly succulent specimen, while I growled and gibbered, and shook and trembled convinced, as I often was, that I was about to be dragged to my death down the whole flight in one skin-flaying go!

And then, when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, he smelled the sheep themselves! Ye gods, that was scary! Torn now between small food to the left and the Real Thing to the right, he went into a frenzied dance, dashing hither and yon like a mad thing. I swear I am suffering from whiplash today as a result!

Meanwhile, though tempted to shuffle down on my bottom, I managed to stay upright and minced my way down in such tiny tottering steps I am sure I looked as if I had had my feet bound as a wean! The fragrant air was blasted by regular wrathful shrieks of, ‘Oh for fuck’s sake, Jumbs!’ and, ‘WILL you stop pulling, you accursed hound?!’ – and, on two momentous occasions when I came close to going arse over tit, ‘Aghhhhhhhh!!!’

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I met several spiritual-looking Pilgrim types as I descended – and, to a man, they looked bemused (as well they might) at the sight of a middle-aged red-headed woman screeching like a bean-sidhe at a puppy-like playful dog, albeit of advanced years and declining sight, while the wonders of Avalon and of our mythic past lay in panoramic splendour directly above.

This, my dears, is how the proposed half hour walk turned into two hours. Meandering up country lanes was child’s play in comparison, as was the walk back through Glastonbury afterwards. I reckon, at a conservative estimate, it took me nearly an hour to walk back down the Tor – and I was decidedly woolly, nay jelly, of leg when I finally reached Chalice Well.

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Of Elven Knights, attempting to lure maidens (in my case, mainly from memory!) into their frabjous palaces, I saw not a sign. Mystical experiences generally were thin-to-absent on the ground. Inner peace and transcendence? Don’t make me laugh!

But, as I marched, revived, back along Chilkwell Street, in a homewardly direction, I reckon I scored an A* for Harpy-on-the-Warpath activity. Those who passed me must have thought I was channelling Boudicca at her most fearsome, and were probably looking round nervously lest the infamous chariot, with its attendant spikes, hove into view and reduced them to lean mince.

Yesterday was so beautiful…

Glastonbury: The First Three Weeks! Anti-Cling!


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/cling/

For thirty-five years, I was a woman who would cling to the safe, the familiar, and have always been one prone to emotional clinginess…

Now? Three weeks ago, I moved house! I had to prise my own fingers away from that state of clinging terror – and let go…

Wow! On a beautiful day – wild, windy, splintering the crevices in high places with shards of January sun, the swelling breast of the Moon a seductive promise for tonight, Venus winking out love’s sublime ironies – I go through the complex ritual which connects router to phone and, Open Sesame, here I am once more!

I have now lived upon this high spot in Glastonbury, five minutes from the Tor, for three weeks and one day. Since I last wrote, Yule has been and gone, New Year has popped and crackled and whizzed and banged and my birthday has slid by for another twelve months.

I have been incredibly busy hefting, heaving and ho-ing, trying to get my house the way I want it: Allowing my imagination to stretch out and bathe the blank walls in the riotous colour of my taste; moving items of furniture around until they match the subtleties of inner vision – and delighting in this lovely space.

I have also been exploring my immediate area with Jumble – and, already, we have found several fine walks, all with lovely views and the chance for the hound to be let off his lead.

The idea was for Pippa, the rabbit, to free-range in the garden. Unfortunately, Ms Houdinia, as I now call her through gritted teeth, will find the tiniest exit hole and be next door before you can say ‘Watership Down!’ The problem with this is that one of the houses near mine is home to a vicious-looking book-end of white cats which laze along fence tops and eye up Pippa as if she were part of the take-away menu; that and the snarling wolf (er, dog) which howls nightly – and the promise of foxes, badgers and, for all I know, a nest of velociraptors –  makes me a tad reluctant to let the Escapologist traverse afar!

Here’s some recent photos of me in the kitchen.

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Happy New Year!

Moving!


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It happened very suddenly in the end: Contracts exchanged on Tuesday and Completion next week. Incredibly exciting and a huge relief, for I was beginning to fear that the whole thing would fall through.

Numerous boxes arrived that same day – and I am now in the process of putting them together and filling them with my possessions. A back-breaking task, but an essential part of dismantling one home in order to create another.

Yesterday, I trawled the shops – both here and in Street Village – to find all those items I will need, and (much more fun!) to do the rest of the Christmas shopping.

Once I have moved, there will be a couple of weeks in which I will have no access to the Internet. An ill wind, I feel, since I am an obsessive personality and quite capable of churning out three or more blog posts a day. A break will, I suspect, revitalise me and refresh my writing.

Back to the packing now!

I will blog as and when I can over the next week or so…

Yay!

 

Unity, Peace and Diversity: Part Two


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sanctuary/

This lovely space in Glastonbury, on a damp July Sunday, became, for a magical hour or so, a place of sanctuary. I would love to think that the energy built yesterday will extend that feeling of inclusiveness, refuge and safety out into the wider world.

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Yesterday’s event in Glastonbury was all about peace, inclusion, unity, diversity – and never has that message been more needed than today. With three attacks in Germany in a row, in a world still reeling from the awful events in Nice and Turkey mere days ago, it would appear that the world’s collective ears are listening only to messages of violence and hatred.

People feel excluded, disenfranchised; they feel, in too many cases, that their ethnic diversity is held against them. I am in no way excusing, or condoning, the acts of violence which all too often follow feelings of estrangement and bitterness – but, perhaps, we all need to have more true fellow feeling for those who live in our communities (whichever country they originally hailed from).

Just think how powerful and healing it would be if every town and village and city and hamlet in our wounded world held its own meeting of those determined to bring peace and unity to the forefront of the community consciousness! Just think of the way the light would spread every time an act of peace were chosen! Wow!

Here are the words I read out at the start of yesterday’s powerful meeting of minds, hearts and spirits:

Light, Unity, Togetherness

We all start the same way: Whisked into being by the division of cells. We grow in the same vaulted maternal environment – and, although our entry into the world may vary (some plucked from surgical rents; others pushed down that most ancient of female tunnels), we all, eventually, exit through Death’s portal.

Cells are, in this way, far wiser than the people so many of us become. They do not care what colour our skin is destined to become; what beliefs we will, eventually, adopt in our lives; what we look like or how far back we can trace our families. Their job is simply to perpetuate the race through intelligent division; division which, ultimately, creates that special unity that, in turn, leads to another being.

WE create the artificial divisions. We, initiated from that burst of creative light, have a choice of paths. From the earliest ages, we can be gently taught the lesson of togetherness; can be encouraged by the elders in our tribes to view our common heritage as blessed and bountiful; can have our eyes opened to the human race, rather than its disparate and warring factions.

Each vast tragedy is an opportunity: A chance for the world to come to its senses; to recognise the power of beacons which, strung together on hillsides near and far, connect us and remind us of our shared humanity, our shared blood, our identical beginnings and endings.

Every time we wrench hands apart with Us and Them’s intrinsic violence, we are tearing the Collective Skin, causing a wound which is slow to heal; every time we choose the grenades of hatred and vengeance, we open those rips a bit more; every time we refuse to forgive, tar all of a nation with the brush of the fanatical or deranged few, fan the flames of fury, we add our own saltpetre to the incendiary device of lethal rage.

We all start the same way – and the tears we should be shedding, for the tragic waste of too many lives, and which all too often become caught up in the bitterness of self-justification and blaming others, would, if allowed to fall freely, unite us in sorrow’s springs (which, like our start and finish, are the same) and start the process of healing and true unity.

May Peace Prevail on Earth: Glastonbury Event


We do not have to choose a clock which ticks ever-increasing seconds of violence, hatred and terror; we have the human option to wind up and use the Clock of Light which measures its moments in acts of love, unity and acceptance.

‘May Peace Prevail upon Earth’ is the message, printed in several different languages, which forms the emotional heart of the Peace Poles – and this simple, yet powerful, sentence was at the centre of the deeply moving Peace and Unity event in Glastonbury this afternoon.

Created through the vision and determination of Morgana West, with help from the Town Crier, David, the Mayor, John, and a bevy of lovely people from the town, this meeting of kindred spirits took place around Glastonbury’s very own Peace Pole in Magdalene Street.

The day was not promising, being somewhat grey and inclined to drizzle: Grizzly weather, in a word! I set off from home at around two, with the piece I had written neatly printed and ready to read.

To my delight, the High Street was thronged with colourful stalls and a most beguiling gentleman playing catchy music on what looked like a red recorder.

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Having nourished the inner woman with a most succulent lemon and lime cheesecake in Rainbow’s End cafe, I went in search of Morgana – and, along with three other people, talked through the sequence of events.

By the time we set off, hauling chairs and flowers, fifteen laminated strips of card with segments of the Golden Rule printed upon them, notes and other essentials, the grizzle had turned into something more relentless.

People started to arrive, in colourful dribs and noisy drabs. It felt as if a tide were turning in unity’s direction. I had been given the task of dinging the dong thrice in order to calm the excited crowd (though, as an ex-teacher and with a voice like a foghorn, I could probably have been heard in Street anyway!) – and, somewhat to my terror, I was first up to the proverbial stand.

I read my piece, which I shall reproduce in a future blog post – and then it was Morgana’s turn, as our leader, to speak. This she did most movingly, encouraging us all to join in with ‘May Peace Prevail upon Earth’ – which we did, more or less at the same time.

The lighting of the Peace Candle brought a lump of emotion to my throat; I felt a kind of formless longing at that point. ‘Peace’ is such a simple word – and yet we humans seem to make the attaining of it so very complicated.

What, I ask, is so difficult about treating others as we would wish to be treated? Of abiding by the precepts contained within the Golden Rule?

We then turned to the person next to us – in most cases, someone not known to us before – and exchanged little gifts. I thought this such a lovely idea. It really underlined the unity and peace theme, allowing us to interact with someone completely foreign to us in a meaningful and warm  and giving way. It showed what can happen when humanity and peace come before all the artificial barriers we erect.

I had to leave early due to an unforeseen problem with a friend back home. I cannot divulge more than this (because it is not my story to tell); but it, ironically, very much underlined the Golden Rule principles and the fact that we are all in this together (if only we could see it).

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The energy was buzzing by the end, and it felt as if we had created something special – on many different levels – during our time together.

Many thanks to Morgana for being the inspiration and leading us so brilliantly.

Wind-horses upon Glastonbury Tor


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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/morphing/

I have taken the word ‘wind’ and morphed it into an extended equine metaphor, tying animal and natural power into one magical being.

A close friend and I walked upon Glastonbury Tor today. The wind was so strong, I swayed like a sapling and my blue woolly hat blew right off. Here is what I wrote when I got home:

Today was much happier, though I ache all over from fighting the wild herd of wind stallions, both coming up the Tor and going back down again later. Bucking and rearing on their powerful climatic legs, weather-neighs screaming out over the Avalonian plains below, they breathed their spirited rage at human limbs, bodies, clothing, a tempestuous hoof kicking my blue-knitted hat clean off my head, their gusting breath buckling knees and causing tremors in calves and ankles.

The day was absolutely beautiful: Blue skies, skittish colts of pure white cloud, grass as green-gold as world’s beginning, turning to timpani by the wild animal’s strength – all caught within the fragile bell of loveliness, a benediction way up above Glastonbury itself.

Clinging onto the reins, slotting boots tight into stirrups, pulling back upon the bunch of muscle and glide of sinew causes pain, such pain. Next time, I shall ride bareback, reins knotted loosely and shall cry out in the ecstasy of movement, the stormy exuberance of these steeds of air and spirit and passion.

And I shall be FREE!