Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie

We Read – We Write – We Review


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Work in Progress…

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Today, I finished uploading our holiday journal to the PC. While I had been doing this, it was interesting to discover just how little information I had managed to write down all those years ago. For instance, we visited Norwich, one of the largest and oldest cities in Norfolk, and all I wrote down that evening was one and a half sentences, and they were cryptically short sentences too.

Now, I do remember being far too busy enjoying ourselves to worry about the content of a journal, but a little more detail would have been nice. I shouldn’t really complain, for my writing habits haven’t changed much over the years. Because of my appalling memory, I scribble copious amounts of cursive notes on anything within reach, only to look at them a few days later and wonder what the hell I was trying to say. And that’s when I can actually read them!

Editing this WIP will be difficult, to say the least, as I am fishing through parts of my brain that haven’t seen daylight in years, so I am enlisting the help of everyone who was there with me to add their memory to mine. But after several cries of “Bloody hell, Jaye, that was 40 years ago!” it looks as though I am on my own with a memory that has always resembled Emmental cheese.

Which brings me to a question. If this book turns out to be 40% fact (remembering) and 60% fiction (imagination) which category do I put it in?

All answers seriously considered…


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My Hero…

I first watched Jack Nicholson in the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and vividly remember being instantly struck by his boyish and slightly naughty charms. He is one of those people who can convey so much emotion and feeling with just one raised eyebrow, not to mention the wicked gleam in his eyes.

Over the years, I have watched him in awe in so many different roles. Sadly frustrated in “Terms of Endearment” with Shirley Maclaine and the comical devil in “Witches of Eastwick.” He played the maniacal hotel caretaker in “The Shining and the grumpy obsessive-compulsive writer in “As Good as it Gets.”

The other day I watched him in “The Bucket List” with Morgan Freeman. Old and not as attractive these days, but the charm was still there if you looked hard enough.

Jack was fascinated by the actor Marlon Brando, watching the film “On the Waterfront” over forty times, studying the method acting style Brando professed to have invented. This surely had an impact on Jack’s development as an actor. If proof were needed, and certainly not by me, Jack has 12 Academy Nominations to his name.

I don’t know much about his personal life, although I suspected it hadn’t been a rose garden. I have since learned that his life almost mirrored my own. No father on the scene, Nicholson was his mother’s name. His ‘sister,’ who was in fact, his Irish mother, brought him up. Regarded as the class clown in High School, he had detention every day for a year. And one failed marriage, yet several children by other women.

He has said that he attributes his eccentricity to being born on the cusp, the point where two star signs meet, on April 22nd, 1937. They say this gives you the characteristics of both astrological signs, and I think the mixture of Aries and Taurus would indeed produce someone like Jack Nicholson.

He is 80 this year, just a few years older than I am. I wonder how he is faring in his old age, for he looks lonely sometimes. Is he still searching for that special someone, or has he resigned himself to remain alone.  Like myself, he has been branded ‘difficult to live with,’ but maybe we would have got along just fine…

“Nicholson is the Hollywood celebrity who is most like a character in some ongoing novel of our times. He is also the most beloved of stars—not even his huge wealth, his reckless aging, and the public disasters of his private life can detract from this…For he is still a touchstone, someone we value for the way he helps us see ourselves.”        David Thomson, film critic.[53]

 

 


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My Latest Project (or self-inflicted nightmare!)

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A long time ago when I was younger, I kept a journal. Just the one you understand, which is why it has always stood out in my memory as being more than a little special.

The occasion it covered was special too. A family holiday,  something we hadn’t done before and would never do anything quite like it again. Although we didn’t know that at the time.

I have carried this tattered little notebook with me through all the years, kept it safe when not much else survived the journey. I always intended to develop it into a proper story.  As a journal, it is hardly more than a collection of observations, made in the midst of all the glorious chaos of that magical time. It does, however, chronicle all the dates and places, which will guide my memory down that almost forgotten lane.

As yet is has no title, and rummaging around in the darkest corners of my mind is slowing the creative juices down to a trickle, making writing difficult. It seems so much harder to write a personal memoir, than creating something out of nothing.  Looking back, it is hard to believe that our mainly dysfunctional family did any of those things and lived to remember them during those two special weeks in that long ago summer.

I can feel the memories awakening, each one beginning to grow, eager to be remembered. It will be an emotional experience, reliving all those wonderful moments.  Moments that were never to happen again. So many of our dreams are only realised the once, and although this is better than never happening at all, they are so much more emotional for their brief life…

 

 

 

 


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Paper Paradise…

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I was a lonely child, and London was a lonely place to be when I was growing up there after the war. All around me, people were busily trying to put their lives and homes back into some kind of order.
I remember walking around the streets, confused by all the chaos that still had to be dealt with. All the piles of dusty bricks and rubble, all that remained of so many people’s lives.
This could be what made me such a melancholic child, and the reason I retreated into the world of books.
My favourite book was a copy of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte and I would love to have that particular copy back in my possession. I remember it as being illustrated, full of hauntingly beautiful but tortured imagery that managed to scare the living daylights out of me (I was only eight years old)

I often wonder if my memory is at fault. Was this book really illustrated, or did the words simply conjure up what I thought I saw?
I do love a good book and I must have read thousands of them in my lifetime. Which brings me rather neatly to my favourite author of all time, Stephen King. (see above) He wrote about everything, from a crazy car to a tormented child and just about every scary subject in between. I have spent so much time in his company.

Which brings me to one of my favourite authors, Anita Dawes. You meet her here most weeks as she shares this site with me,  and she is not yet getting the recognition I think she deserves. I can see a similarity with Stephen King in everything she writes, for horrible things happen to her characters too, but you can’t help but love them anyway.
What follows is an excerpt from Bad Moon, my all time favourite…
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“Watching the truck coming towards us seemed to take forever like Pa was going deliberately slow. We waited for Pa to get out of the truck and I could see from his dirt streaked face that it weren’t good. Nathan’s face looked worse.
Ma tried to stop me from running to the truck, but couldn’t hold me. I climbed on the back and didn’t see Nathan getting out. Suddenly he was there beside me. I remember kneeling and touching the blue check shirt that covered Josh’s face. I remember the touch of Nathan’s hand on mine and the gentle way he said, ‘Don’t look, Annie, please. Just let Pa bury him.’
 But I had to see for myself, had to know if it was the tree falling on him that had killed him. My eyes were wet, but the tears wouldn’t fall. I pulled the shirt back and a scream tore at my throat, trying to find a way out.

No sound came as I looked at what was left of his face, dark gaping holes looked back at me. Gone were his blue-grey eyes, the very thing I had like most about him had been gouged away.
His face was torn and bloody. Dried blood matted his hair and dead leaves were sticking to his face.
Nathan tried to take me away, saying I had seen enough. I felt myself being lifted slowly from my knees and as Nathan carried me away, that’s when my mind registered what it had seen.
The torn flesh on his face hadn’t been caused by the fall. The skin standing away from the bone and all the dried blood made it hard to read, that was why my mind didn’t see it right off.
They had cut Pa’s name down one side of his face as if taking his eyes weren’t enough.
The scream that wouldn’t come before finally broke through and shut down my brain like an axe blow…”

See what I mean? See you next week…

Ps… Have you entered the Goodreads Giveaway for a signed paperback copy of ‘Secrets’ yet? Just click on the box on the right side of blog!

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The Church in the Woods

 

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One of my granddaughters has inherited my love of discovering and exploring unusual places. Not surprising really, when I think of some of the places we visited when she was small.

So when she announced that she had found something that I had to see, her excitement rapidly transferred to me. Rather than wait for a better day, we set off late the other afternoon. She assured me that with a bit of luck, we should get there before the light faded.

She also said it wasn’t far, and I eyed the gathering evening clouds with suspicion. I hoped it wouldn’t turn out to be a wasted journey, becoming too dark to see anything for I wanted to take some photographs of whatever it was.

On the way to Winchester, we turned down a leafy lane and found ourselves driving through a forest. I would have to come back here one day and explore. I feel very at home in a forest. The magical closeness of all those trees does beautiful things to my soul.

We passed a massive ragged tree stump that had been hit by lightning, the eerie sight reinforcing the feeling that we were far from civilisation. What on earth had my grand-daughter found, way out here? There didn’t seem to be anything but trees for miles.

We drove into a clearing and stopped. We were here, wherever here was. It was getting darker, although the forest was so dense it probably always looked like this.

A small overgrown path wound its way through woodland plants of ferns and mosses, and still I couldn’t see anything. Surely, we hadn’t come all this way to look at a tree?

The smell of leaf mould was strong, wrapping itself around me, making me feel like some kind of wood nymph. My steps were getting lighter and I wanted to run, my heart soaking up the wild greenness of this magical timeless place.

Then, just as the light faded away, I saw something.

In a clearing, I caught the glimpse of some kind of building. It wasn’t very big and looked old. What could it be?

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As we drew nearer, it began to take the shape of something out of a fairy tale. Enclosed by a fence was what could only have been a church. Built of corrugated iron and painted green, it sat in in the middle of the clearing as though dropped there. I had expected some ruin, an old building barely standing, but the church looked to be in pristine condition. Someone must spend a lot of time here, I thought.

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It had a steeple with a bell and one window was stained glass, although it would only have been visible from inside. Through a window, I could see the window and rows of old wooden pews and an altar. I retraced my steps to the gate to read the plaque to discover the history of the place, eager to know all about this “Church in the Woods”.

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The following information and the photographs used are supplied through the courtesy of Hampshire-History.com

It took just five days to build this mission church in 1883. The great sheets of corrugated iron and timber frame would have been carted in and the whole constructed with missionary joy and zeal. We are uncertain what the base would have been constructed from but a small flight of steps brings you to the doorway. Above it, the church bell sits in its turret and an iron steeple points skywards, topped with a weather vane.

Many of these iron churches or ‘tin tabernacles’ as they are known were built around the country. Hampshire has a few more of its own, the church of St Peter’s at Beech near Alton and St Francis Gosport included.

The iron church was a Victorian solution to a number of problems

Population growth was rapid during the Victorian period and a new wave and enthusiasm for church and chapel building began. Although the Victorians wanted their church structures to be magnificently designed and beautifully decorated, for those on the margins of society, the architectural designs were sometimes an expensive step too far. Many of these churches had to be raised at the cost of the congregation and clerics themselves. The new flat pack corrugated church was the solution. This allowed missionary churches to spring up wherever there was thought to be a need. Local populations could build them for themselves. They could also be sent overseas and were ideal for those settling in frontier lands.

The corrugated building started to be mass-produced and were sold through catalogues. There were not just churches for sale, cottages, schools and even railway stations were sold. Each was illustrated with a picture and a price. The size could be altered according to what the customer wanted.

Prefabricated iron churches were relatively cheap to buy, costing anything from £150 for a chapel seating 150 to £500 for a chapel seating 350.

By 1875 hundreds of iron clad churches were being erected, many with extensive gothic style embellishments as can be seen at the church in the woods at Bramdean in Hampshire.

 

 


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What Do You Wish You Could Do?

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Growing up, I was told repeatedly that my father played the piano like a professional, describing the joy he felt and how he managed to transmit his joy to anyone who heard him.

I have the abiding image of him in his army uniform, huge boots beating the floor in time with the music. Unfortunately, I never met him, as he was lost in the war when I was a baby, but I wish so much that I had.

I have been told that I am just like him. He was tall and liked to build and mend things, always good with his hands with unending patience. Sounds just like me!

The one thing I didn’t get was his talent on the piano. I know it is inside me somewhere, for I can feel it and sometimes the feeling is so strong, I think I could sit down at a piano and miraculously start playing. But with the best will in the world, I can’t, and is one of the strongest regrets in my life.

Music has always been my passion and my inspiration, and some of my favourite pieces are piano concertos. I still wish I could learn how to play, even now, at 72 years old.

I did try to learn when I was younger. I learned how to read music and could play simple tunes with my right hand. But my brain drew the line at both hands on the keys, refusing to let my right hand play the different notes. I am one of those people they say couldn’t walk and chew gum, and I suppose I am. That party game where you try to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time is impossible for me. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Just try it and see how hard it is.

In my life, I have encountered many things I wanted to learn but had to walk away from, much to my disappointment. My ego has been subjected to so much frustration during my life, and even though I eventually have to give up on things, the desire remains.

I have always insisted that you should be able to learn anything, given the right instruction and determination. However, I have discovered it isn’t possible, and have had to admit defeat on so many occasions.

I am sorry that I never met my father, but sadder still that I cannot play the piano as he did.

I am sorry dad, I did try…


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Ever loving Sisters?

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I read a story once about Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine and found it fascinating for the following reasons.
Firstly, I am a sister myself, so I could easily identify with what I read. Oh boy, can I!
Secondly, because I really didn’t know that these two well- known stars were sisters. Maybe I did somewhere along the line, and it has become another one of those facts that has drowned in the morass of this ageing brain.

Thirdly, that they are the only set of sisters ever to win Academy awards.

What really surprised me though, was the discovery that these two literally fought like cat and dog their entire lives. Yes, I know that sisters tend to argue and fight a lot, but it’s not compulsory and not all the time?
Not knowing they were related is easy enough to explain, as their surnames were different. Although if you compare their younger photographs, they do look remarkably similar. Olivia kept her real name, but due to some peculiar favouritism of their mother, Joan was never allowed to use hers and had to call herself Joan Fontaine.
What on earth could that have been about?

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It would appear that the feud between the sisters was part of an ongoing family situation with everybody at odds with everybody else. Even Joan’s daughters joined in and took their grandmothers side against their mother.
This is all reading like a Hollywood script, don’t you think?
As with all family squabbles, and I say that tongue in cheek and with a fair amount of experience, you are never sure who to point an accusing finger at. These things tend to start over something quite trivial, which then accelerates into a monster before you know what’s happening. By then, it is usually too late to do anything about it, more is the pity.

I wonder what it was all about, and how it could have gone on unchecked for so many years.
They ended up living on different continents, but you get the feeling that the distance didn’t matter.
Joan died peacefully in her sleep, although I’m sure that wouldn’t have made her feel any better. As she was once quoted as saying,” I married first, won an Oscar first. If I die first, she’ll be livid because I beat her to it.”

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Basically, I wanted to write about these two, because I am a sister and know only too well what can happen.

Because we are so different, with very different ways of doing things, Anita and I have had some pretty horrendous rows. Some would call them spectacular, but most of them hurt both of us pretty badly at the time. We may be a pair of stroppy old cows, but we do hate it when we fall out. The thought of it going on for years doesn’t bear thinking about, and I for one couldn’t live like that. Even if we were filthy rich and continents apart!

 

After what has happened this year in particular, I am incredibly grateful to be part of my family, for there was a time when I had no one. Tragic circumstances had done their utmost to make me an emotional cripple and I bear the scars to this day, although they have faded a good deal, thanks mainly to the love and support I receive on a daily basis from my family.

A sometimes annoying, often demanding, but eternally surprising family, all of whom I love so very much.

We have a Father’s Day and a Mother’s Day, why not a Family Day too?