Following Tim Peake’s adventures in space there seems to be a pent up demand for space adventure stories with realism. Two of my books are on AmazonKindle although it is difficult to publicise them effectively. I am a writer, nearly full-time worker not a publicist! It is disappointing to receive a rejection from an agent for my latest story, about Planet Earth. Need to have a deep think…
My talk about the history of the Norman Lockyer Observatory and a brief biography of Norman himself was very well received by an audience of about 15 in my local library. I also gave them some astronomy highlights such as the flyby of Jupiter, sizes of stars and some info about the Moon. One member of the audience actually put the Lockyer telescope back together in the 1990s and has a box of minutes relating to the period. I encouraged him to take these to John Ponsford. He said he would bring them to the Astronomy Fair on 13 August. Many friendly faces were in the audience – a nice lady from church and who sees me at the Mint in my Reception role plus two others from U3A, Sue from Tuesday Fellowship (who would like me to give a talk), Iryna from Stella Maris Trio and Roy with Gareth and Amy. Plus Dad and a Daughter from church who is a space enthusiast. Great time. Exhausted….
Well, life imitates art, is that what they say? A couple of weeks’ ago I sent off my new adventure story containing an episode with a creature who had an enormous eye…and my daughter produced a delightful painting of a giant squid to accompany the text. The characters had an interlude in Iceland and I used my own photograph of the geysir Strokkur about to erupt…and Iceland is all over the place having won a football game. Now, it just needs those pesky publishers to see the potential… 🙂
Still in shock at the result of last week’s referendum. So sad. Especially sad following the global excitment at Tim Peake’s adventures in space. And seeing those photos of the beauty of the Earth. Hope the politicians can untangle the mess.
Well, at risk of duplication the week has been one roller coaster of highs and higher highs and music. Last Saturday we enjoyed the superb performance of the Gondoliers by the Southampton University Gilbert and Sullivan Society. They have expert actors, comic and serious, singers, designers…and lighting designers (my own son!). There was more music yesterday evening as we enjoyed a Mozartfest of beautiful singing by the Cathedral Choir plus some professional soloists. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to say hello to Iryna Illynska but she knew I was there and it is always a pleasure to hear her faultless mezzosoprano voice. She is also a very nice, kind lady who is very clever – fluent in several languages – as well as musically gifted. She also likes cake and extolled the virtues of healthy eating while indulging in a great big Danish pastry.
Today we took my parents to an Afternoon Summer Organ Recital with Afternoon Tea featuring John Draisey, an organist who is part of the Mint commmunity. It was a treat for Fathers’ Day which they both enjoyed. The music and singing were a delightful selection with an organ-related theme. Again, it was all of a very high standard. A particular piece I had looked forward to was The Lost Chord which was something I studied as part of the Arts Foundation Course at the beginning of my Open University degree studies. It is haunting both in words and tune.
Amidst the musical week was an astronomy talk I gave to a group of Year 5 children from the local primary school. They loved it and I had one or two interactive activities which went down very well. I began with a display of fruit to the scale of the universe. Real photo of fruit to be substituted once I upload it! It was a jaw-dropping moment though at the end when a teacher came over (he had just arrived to collect them) and mentioned, questioningly, ‘Whitegrove Primary?’ – he said his name and I just said “Gosh”, “Wow”, “Gosh”…it was 15 years ago back in Bracknell back several lifetimes…and I simply said to him that my life has changed so much since then. Then it was back to “Gosh”, “Wow”, etc.
And if that was not enough excitement, my son texted me to say he has achieved a First in his Maths Masters degree. Wow indeed. And he has been involved in theatre, amateur radio, enjoying life, enjoying gigs, and taking part in national coding competitions. Wow. And so to calm down…
What a week this has been! So full of nice surprises and excitement. Last Saturday we enjoyed a train ride to Southampton where we had a rest before meeting son for a meal. This was followed by another superb production of a Gilbert and Sullivan show, this time The Gondoliers. My son’s lighting was sympathetic to the set and we clapped loudly to him at the end. The characters were just great; expertly interpreted with great singing voices to match.
On Wednesday morning I gave a talk to a class of Year 5 children from the local primary school. This was very well received and I enjoyed doing it. I had been very nervous beforehand but once I got going I was fine. I took along a selection of fruit to represent the scale of the planets. And a ball of string to show the relative distance from Earth to Moon…and asked them to show me whereabouts the space station is.
And, there was a jaw-dropping moment at the end when a teacher approached me and said the name of a primary school followed by his name. He was a trainee teacher back in Bracknell at a school where I was working as a Specialist Teaching Assistant working with groups for extra maths and English support.
What a surprise! I think my jaw is still on the floor…seems a lifetime ago I was a TA in Bracknell. My life has changed so much since then and I said as much to the teacher.
And my son texted me on Thursday with news that he had achieved a First in MMaths. Looking forward to the Graduation next month – a huge celebration…and maybe some photos together.
I have still yet to come down from the ceiling.
What an exciting morning! The Year 5 class from local primary were enraptured with the facts they learnt from my talk about the solar system and space generally. What was amazing was that the teacher who came to collect them was one I had worked with in Another Life back in Berkshire. At the time he was a trainee teacher and I was a teaching assistant working with small groups for numeracy and literacy.
The children loved the display of fruit representing the sizes of the planets to scale and the ball and string activity to illustrate the distance between the Moon and the Earth and, as a finale, the distance to the space station.
Well worth the effort involved.
I came across the Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder which won the 1928 Pullitzer Prize. It is evocative and contains the powerful final paragraph:
But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
Barrack Obama quoted the book following the twin towers terrorist attack in 2001.
Hanging out washing
Busy birds feeding
Blue Tit exhausted
Babies flying, first to line
then to trees.
How fine a sight!
30 springs pass
heartache and joy
laughter and tears
Baby birds feeding
Shouting fit to burst
Hanging out washing,
Baby birds feeding
Great Tits this time
in a flower filled garden.