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Monday, 7 April 2014

Books and Life: Books on Billboards

Amazing and clever.

Books and Life: Books on Billboards: I thought the authors featured at Look 4 Books would like to see how their book covers would look on a billboard. Here are a few I ...

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Saharan dust ‘very high’ air pollution warning in London

What a difference a day makes. 
 "Saharan dust prompts ‘very high’ air pollution warning." Or London in Victorian times.

St. Paul's Cathedral April 3, 2014

A Magnificent View of London from The Shard

I had a FAB time in London yesterday. My friend Valerie is full of surprises. "Let's go somewhere nice for lunch to celebrate out birthdays," she said. (Mine was last week and Val's is next week.) "Let's go to the Oblix." Fine by me, I thought, I didn't know it, but Val knows some nice places, so... Nice? When we arrived at London Bridge and she pointed to The Shard I almost fainted. The Oblix restaurant is on the 32nd Floor and has the most spectacular views over my favourite city. The wine was lovely, the food was delicious, and waiters were good looking. Ooops! I meant the service was very good. And when we finished eating a young waiter filled our glasses and suggested we might like to drink our wine at a table by the window. We'd already quaffed our wine.  What he had given us, while we relaxed and took in the view, was complimentary.

The Shard

Here are some of the views from the oblix restaurant on level 32.

Tower Bridge

St. Paul's Cathedral 

The Mobile and The Gherkin

A working barge on the Thames. PO Tower in the distance 
- and a view across London all the way to Primrose Hill

Me sitting in the bar looking at the view of

Parliament and Big Ben in the distance 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Which came first, a love of writing, or a love of animals?

Contribution to Liz Hurst's Blog What fun.

* Which came first, a love of writing, or a love of animals?

Animals came before writing, but not before acting.  Let me explain.  My first cat adopted me just before I went to Drama College in London.  I had a hairdressing salon in Rugby and the girls who worked for me insisted I took in a scruffy little stray.  I said no, but by the time the girls had fed him for a couple of weeks, they had fallen in love with him and he had taken over my flat.  Toby Two-Shoes ended up living with my parents at the pub I grew up in, when I went off to London in 1974.  

Susie Kit-Kat adopted me when I was an actress living in London

My second cat, Susie Kit-Kat, was fifteen when she came to live with me.  I was an out-of-work actress and she had been orphaned when her mum of ninety-three died.  The lady was famous in South London after a court appearance for not paying her TV license.  She told the magistrates that she had enough money to pay the TV license, or feed her cats, but not both.  She chose to feed her cats.  Susie travelled with me to several repertory theatres.  She wasn’t much help when I was leaning lines though, she used to fall asleep.

* Describe your pets.

My first cat, Toby, was jet black with white front paws – hence the name Toby Two-shoes.  Susie was a tabby, very soft and very pretty with big eyes.  Her lips were strange.  Most of the time she looked as if she was smiling.  A regular feline visitor to my garden is, Blanca.  She disturbs my writing so much…  She stalks the fish in my pond, so I run out and shoo her off.  She is pure white with piercing blue eyes – and she is very cheeky.  She knows I would never hurt her, so she sits and stares me out.  Only when she decides to leave, does she slink off.    
Blanca, hiding in my wildflower garden under the apple trees

* Take me through your writing day.

My day starts early.  I wake as soon as it is light, which is not so bad in the winter but in the summer, it can be too early.  However, it is as I’m waking up that I have my best ideas.  I have to write them down immediately.  Like dreams, they are very real at the time, but they quickly go out of your mind once you’re awake.
     Sometimes I'm bombarded with ideas for my next book before I’ve finished writing the current one.  I was line editing my second novel, Applause, for twelve hours a day.  Stupid I know, sitting at the computer for that long is bad for your legs.  However, two nights running I was kept awake by the plot of China Blue, the third book in the Dudley sisters saga,  which I haven’t started writing yet.   

Editing Foxden Acres I had Applause wake me up.  Editing Applause I had China Blue wake me up.

In the spring and summer, I make a cup of tea and switch on the computer.  While it warms up, I take my tea and walk round the garden.  I fill the birdbaths from the water butt, put down seeds for the birds and look at the fish.  One my garden creatures are happy I go back to the computer and, with a second cup of tea, check my emails, Facebook and Tweets, before opening my writing file.  Once I start writing it’s a cup of tea and a chat to the fish and frogs every couple of hours. 

* How do your pets help or hinder the writing process, and/or inspire you?

That is a good question.  They hinder and inspire in equal measure.  I was prone to being stressed, but my pets calm me.  Fish and frogs are fascinating to watch, which is relaxing.  On the other hand, if the weather is good, I am in and out of the garden all day, which is a hindrance.  In the summer, I eat my lunch outside so I can watch them.  By then the frogs are used to my voice and will sit and watch me as I am watching them.  

Frog sunbathing on a lily pad

The fish too are used to my shape and come for food.  But my favourite time is the end of my writing day.  Around six o’clock I sit and relax by the pond with a dish of olives and a glass of wine.  Perfect.  

Shubunkin, goldfish, yellow and black tench.

Summer is the best time for man and fish, except when you lose one.  I was heartbroken when I returned from Swanwick in August 2012 and found a beautiful red, silver and black, Shubunkin and two red goldfish were missing.  My neighbours saw a bird of prey in my garden and I guess it took them.  However, the good news is, last year I saw two tiny baby ‘black’ goldfish.  I can’t wait to see how much they have grown, if they survived the winter, which I’m sure they did.    

In the winter, my workstation faces the garden and I spend far too much time gazing out the window at the birds.  I hang suet balls, seed, and nut feeders in the trees for the tits and sparrows, throw seeds on the steps for the ground eaters like Robins and other small birds, and put currents and apples out for the blackbirds.  Two beautiful little doves visit every day and what they don’t eat the pigeons see off.  I love my garden, my birds and my fish and frogs.  I never tire of watching them – and I never tire of writing.
     Popping in and out several times, a day is good for a writer.  I spent far too many hours at the computer without taking a break, while I edited Foxden Acres and then Applause, and had extremely painful legs as a consequence.  Writers need to get up every hour or so and move about. 

Thanks Liz.  I enjoyed answering your questions.  I love my pets, but I didn’t realise how important they were to me as a writer.  I’m off now to make a cup of tea and have a walk round the garden before I settle down for the afternoon to write.   

The Forgiving Sand by Theresa Le Flem

Theresa Le Flem

Theresa Le Flem's novel The Forgiving Sand is set in St. Ives, Cornwall and is being released in large print paperback format on April 1st.

It's a romantic story that will instantly whisk you away to the beach with the seagulls screaming overhead and the waves breaking on the shore.  Christina is fighting to keep her quiet Sea Cafe going against all the odds.

Nestled on the sand, it is threatened with closure when her bullying brother-in-law arrived from Lodnon with ideas on taking it over.  Local fisherman John, earnestly seeks her attention.  Widowed, with a small child, his intensity moves her.  Could she love him?

When old school friend Peter comes down from Cornwall and steps in to help save her beloved cafe, will she be bowled over by his passionate embrace.

         "The Sea Inside His Head"            
         "The Forgiving Sand"  both published by Robert Hale Ltd  
          Member of the Romantic Novelists' Assoc. & The Society of Authors


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Photorealism - at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery built in 1885 has a collection of international importance covering fine art, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery, archaeology, ethnography, local history and industrial history.

BM&G Chamberlain Square, Birmingham.

The Museums Act of 1845 “[empowered] boroughs with a population of 10,000 or more to raise a 1/2d for the establishment of museums.” In 1864 the first public exhibition room was opened when the Society and other donors presented 64 pictures as well as the Sultanganj Buddha to Birmingham Council and these were housed in the Free Library building but, due to lack of space, the pictures had to move to Aston Hall.  Joseph Nettlefold bequeathed twenty-five pictures by local artist David Cox to Birmingham Art Gallery on the condition it opened on Sundays.

Bridge between "Gas Hall" and Art Gallery

The Industrial Gallery

Round room including Jacob Epstein's Archangel Lucifer 1945-45

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is the only UK venue to host Photorealist exhibition.

50 Years of Hyperrealistic Painting Showcases key Photorealist artists from the 1960s to the present day.  Developed as a touring exhibition by the Institute for Culture Exchange, this is the largest and most comprehensive Photorealism retrospective to be held in Europe.

Hyperrealistic Paintings

Don Eddy Untitled (4 VWs) 1971

John Salt (b.1937) Bride 1969


"Brum" Our Second City
City of a thousand traders
"Workshop of the World"
Birmingham's motto: Forward

Pretending I arrived on a bicycle

On the steps to the Gallery

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Famous Five Plus Author Showcase Trailer

This fabulous trailer shows all the books and by the authors of Famous Five Plus.
Pauline Barclay
Gilli Alan
Lizzie Lamb
Chris Longmuir
Madalyn Morgan
Tanya J Peterson
Eileen Schuh
Suzy Turner

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Famous Five Plus: Madalyn Morgan Shares her Writing Process

Famous Five Plus: Madalyn Morgan Shares her Writing Process: Madalyn Morgan, author of Foxden Acres share her Writing Process with Famous Five Plus What am I working on? I’m reading re...

Monday, 24 February 2014

Madalyn Morgan's Fiction Blog: Blog Tour: My Writing Process

Madalyn Morgan's Fiction Blog: Blog Tour: My Writing Process: Blog Tour: My Writing Process Thank you Elizabeth Ducie for asking me to follow you in answering four questions on Cathie  Hartigan...

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Pauline Barclay : Shades On! With Madelyn Mogan

Pauline Barclay : Shades On! With Madelyn Mogan: Throughout February I am having a number of special peeps join me for some warm winter sunshine. All my guests will be answering four...

Thank you for a lovely interview Pauline. x

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Script: The Lutterworth WI Entertainment, December 12, 2013

Good evening, Madam President, and the Ladies of the Women’s Institute.  Thank you for inviting me to your Christmas party and, more importantly, to share this very special meeting, the last of the Lutterworth Women’s Institute.
In words similar to those of one of my guests tonight, I would like to share with you the collective and unfinished works of Madalyn Morgan.  And, I’m hoping you’ll help me by writing down the names of my guests and where you know them from. 

[Pass note pads and pens round]  I shall give you lots of clues, I might even sing.  And if the clues aren’t good enough, you must make me work harder.  I hope you enjoy it.

My first guest this evening is a CBE.  She was born 1929, Cheshire.  One of our most talented comedy actresses.  Never been married, no children.  She’s 84 and still working

Oooops!  The telephone. [ring ring, ring ring]
'The Bucket residence, the lady of the house speaking!  [Shouts to kitchen]  It's my sister Violet!  She's the one with the Mercedes, sauna, and room for a pony.  [phone] Poor daddy.  Hang onto him dear until we get there.'
The telephone again. [ring ring, ring ring]

'The Bouquet residence, Lady of house speaking’    Sheridaaaaaaan!  [to Richard  It's Sheridan!  Calling to say hello to his mommy. [ phone, to Sheridan]  Now, what is it dear?  [stops and blinks] Hyacinth: How much?'
What was Mrs Bucket Christian name.      Hiacynth
What was the television series called?       Keeping up Appearances
What is the actress’s real name.                 Patricia Rutledge
TV Series in the 1990s?                             Hetty Wainthrop Investigates.

My second guest's 
mother was an eccentric American, one of the beautiful Langhorne Sisters.  Her grandfather was Chiswell Langhorne, the American railway millionaire, and her aunt became Viscountess Nancy Astor.  She grew up around the Clivenden set; around people like George Bernard Shaw and Noel Coward.  And she made my stage debut in 1939 in, The Little Revue.  And she is famous for her monologues.
In 1942, she wrote her signature song.     I'm Going to See You Today 
Does anyone know her catch phrase?      George, don't do that.
Her name is?                                             Joyce Grenfell
My third guestA British comedienne and actress.  Born: 1905, Lancashire.  She became one of the biggest stars of Music Hall in the 1940s and 50s before moving to film and television in the 1960/70s.
She was short and stout. Her female friend (a man) was six feet five inches tall, thin, and silent. 
 Some of her Catch Phrases were, "She knows you know" "Be soon I say...  Be soon”

“You big girls blouse”
Does anyone know the name of the comedienne?                Hylda Baker
Anyone know the name of her tall friend?                            Cynthia
Does anyone know the name of actor called Cynthia ?         Ely Woods
More clues: 
In the 1970s she starred in a television series called,  Not On Your Nellie, playing Nellie Pickersgill, a tea total Bolton woman who moves to London to help run her ailing father Jed Pickersgill's pub 

And 1968-75  ‘Nearest And Dearest’.  Pledge's Purer Pickles factory, falls into the hands of Nellie and Eli Pledge. Who played Nellie’s brother Eli - Jimmy Jewel 

The Mistress of Malapropisms with remarks like "I've had lessons in electrocution” and “What are you incinerating?" "You haven't had the pleasure of me yet have you?"  "I'll inhale that remark"  "This is a fine hysterical building, kept up by the National Truss" "I can say that without fear of contraception."  "I must get a little hand put on this watch"  "Have you been, Walter?"  
Fourth guest: She is an OBE. An English singer, entertainer television personality  Born: 1943 Liverpool.  She has just celebrated 50 years on showbiz.  Her husband, Bobby was her manager. Known for her red hair, nose and teeth job.  Knew The Beatles, The Cavern, and two or her famous UK singles from 1964  (Anyone Who Had a Heart"  You’re My World.)
You're my world
You are my night and day
You're my world
You're every prayer I pray
If our love ceases to be
Then it's the end of my world
End of my world
 End of my world for me

Anyone who had a heart
Would take me in his arms and love me, too
You couldn't really have a heart and hurt me,
Like you hurt me and be so untrue
What am I to do

Who is she?                                                               Cilla Black

Fifth guest:  Born 1947 Oxfordshire.  MBE – English poet, comedienne & presenter of radio & TV
They Should Have Asked My Husband
My husband has an opinion on everything – Politics,  teenage mothers, immigration, crime – you name it, and he’ll discuss it, in an ever rising voice that is twice as loud as yours or mine.
So any little niggle, anything you want to know
Just run it past my husband, wind him up and let him go.
I often wonder what it must be like to be so strong,
Infallible, articulate, self-confident …  and wrong.

1970s Dentist surgeries all over the UK had a notice that read:
I was young then, and careless, and My toothbrush was hairless
How I laughed at my mother’s false teeth,
As they foamed in the waters beneath.
But now comes the reckonin’
It’s me they are beckonin’
Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth.

More recently:
I’ve just had my hair done
At the new place what’his’name.
It cost me fifty quid,
What do you mean it looks the same?

Who is she?                                                            Pam Ayres 

Last guest: Born: 1932, Epsom Surrey. She has a CBE.  She' an singer, actress, and composer.  At 81 she's been working for 70 years.  Her professional career began on BBC Radio during World War II
She became known as "Britain's Shirley Temple,"   When she was 11 she appeared in films; Medal  For the General, followed by Strawberry Roan and I know Where I’m Going.

In 1947, she met Joe "Mr Piano" Henderson who introduced her to her record label. 
In 1961 she met and a Frenchman, Claude Wolff.  And in 1964 recorded this song,

When you're alone
And life is making you lonely,
You can always go downtown
When you've got worries,
All the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know, downtown

Composed by Tony Hatch, the song?                     Downtown
Who is this Blonde curly haired singer?                 Petula Clark

The outgoing President, Frances with Margaret and Kitty

Mickey and Frances - An emotional Goodbye
Enjoying a Christmas Buffett
 After the party, the quiz of 'Who am I?'
 It was great fun.  Everyone won a prize for guessing who I was impersonating.  One lady got 12 right out of 15, others less.  But everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
Thank you ladies of the Lutterworth WI.  I shall miss you. x


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Wear your poppy with pride

Lest we forget!


My father was in the Royal Navy during The Second World War.  He was on the minesweepers.  His ship wasn't a big British built ship with the proud name of, HMS Harrier, or Hazard, and a crew of a hundred sailors. It was a small wooden craft, not much bigger than a boat really.  Some had come from America. They didn't have names, only numbers, and some weren't even seaworthy when they arrived on our shores. 

Dad's job was to guide the anchor when the ship entered or left port.  He was locked in an airtight compartment.  If a mine had touched the anchor, or its chain - the only part of the minesweeper that was metal - it would have exploded.  The small compartment would have flooded, dad would have drowned, but the ship would have been saved.  Whether it was luck, or that dad was good at his job - I'd like to think the latter, though I expect luck played a big part in it - the ship survived the war and, thank God, so did my Dad.

My handsome father, Jack Smith, is standing top left as you look at the photograph.  As an amateur boxer for the Royal Navy he was exceptionally fit, in every sense of the word. 

Dad's ship was the first up the Seine, France, and the lead ship into Copenhagen harbour, Denmark, after sweeping the North Sea.  He told me once that an officer on his ship fell overboard into the North Sea and he jumped in and saved him. The officer got a medal.  Dad?  He got a double ration of rum.  Which he told me was his reward for doing the dangerous job he did.     

Many brave men and women have lost their lives in conflicts before and since WWII.
We remember them all .  

I wear my poppy for the men and women who did come home,
and the men and women who did not
More photographs from WWII

Dad, back row second from right,
taking a break on a beach somewhere
Dad's Ship
Dad, back row far left, and the football team

WWII (Left to right) Uncle Tom (Army), uncle Arthur (Navy), Aunty Dorothy (WAAF)  
First World War, grandfather Tom Ward (Royal Engineers on horseback)
Two world wars - Two generations

Sunday November 10th  2013, Lutterworth Church

World War One helmet on a cross
made from two sticks in front of the alter

Flags at salute

With my lovely friends, Mickie and Ken Secker.
Ken was with RAF Bomber Command in WWII


Friday, 18 October 2013

Pauline Barclay : Sitting Round my Pool is the Amazing Multi-Talente...

Thank you for your generosity in interviewing me about my acting career, Pauline. Talking to you about it brought back some happy memories, and some life changing ones.  I don't do bitter or anger, I believe everything happens for the best, eventually, though we don't always see it at the time. If my life hadn't gone down the road it did, I wouldn't be a writer now which, I love.  I have no regrets. 

Today I am so pleased to have Madalyn Morgan sitting round my pool. I met Madalyn a few months ago on Social Media and from the first m...   Log onto the link below to read the interview.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

A trailer, "Entertaining the WI with sketches by Joyce Grenfell"

Click on the link below for Entertaining the WI Trailer

Performing at The Leicester & Rutland AGM of the Women's Institute, Oct 2013

Fifteen minutes of entertainment at the Leicestershire and Rutland Annual Women's Institute Group Meeting, hosted by Lutterworth WI and held at, The Lutterworth Cricket Club, on October 4th 2013.
Madalyn Morgan in dinner suit

It was a fantastic evening.  Lutterworth WI President Frances welcomed everyone, and then we stood up and sang, Jerusalem, which got the evening off to a great start.  

    Toastmaster, Geoffrey Harris
When we arrived both Geoffrey Harris and I were dressed in black. Then Geoffrey changed into his red Toastmasters tails and I changed in to... Well, you'll see what I changed into lower down the page.

Geoffrey had been a school teacher, and then a professional clown. Ten years ago he trained as a Toastmaster and is now a Fellow of the National Association of Toastmasters, working in some of the grandest hotels and houses in the country.

"A Toastmaster's Tale" is a light amusing talk about his work, which Geoff has performed in a wide variety of venues all over the UK.
N.B. And, Geoff knew every word of Jerusalem. What a star!

I was asked to judge "A Diamond Celebration" with the WI Federation Representative. So difficult.  The half a dozen amazingly clever table top designs were made of white and silver, fabrics and crystals. They were, Diamond Jubilee arrangements. I know everyone says it, but they really were brilliant. They were all winners, but there could only be a first, second, and third. Thankfully we both agreed on the placing. There was a lovely home made buffet with wine. I was given a large glass of very nice red wine, which I put on a side table for after I'd finished my stand-up performance. In more than thirty years as a professional actress, I have never had alcohol before going on stage - and I wasn't about to start then. So after putting my wine on a side table, alongside a glass of water, which I might or might not need between sketches, I set out my costume. I needed to put it in order, so I could slip in and out of it easily, unobtrusively, while introducing the next sketch. I'd rehearsed it until it was slick.

First, on the table behind me, I put a black chiffon and sequinned stole and a string of pearls for Mrs Fanshaw in "Stately As A Galleon." Next to that a polka-dot headscarf, already tied in a bow at the top, wave grippers, nappies and clothes pegs. I draped a 1950s bibbed-pinafore on the back of a chair, so I could easily and quickly slip my arms into it while introducing the second sketch as a cockney girl, "Rainbow Corner." Finally, I set a simple brown cardigan and a beige woollen scarf for the nursery school sketch where I play the nursery school teacher in "Story Telling".
Frances introduced me and I joined her in the middle of the room in front of the table.  I smiled broadly, but I had never been so nervous in my life. 
Mrs Fanshaw in "Stately As A Galleon"

I thanked Frances for inviting me, said what a lovely evening I was having - and how good the Toastmaster was - and began chatting about Joyce Grenfell's life and career while I took off my jacket and put on pearls and stole to play, Mrs Fanshaw in, Stately As A Galleon.

The audience laughed in all the right places (not difficult to achieve when you're saying Joyce Grenfell's amazingly funny lines). And, after being more nervous than I had ever been, I was enjoying myself. At the end of the first sketch, still talking, I went for the second costume, the pinafore on the back of the chair. And it had gone. I got myself ready all but the pinafore, and then said, 'Who's nicked my pinny?' The audience laughed. They looked around. I think they thought it was part of the show. Then I said, 'It was on a chair just here.' The super lady who had adjudicated with me said, 'I took the chair.' I pulled her leg accusing her of trying to steal the show and there was more laughter. She had been sitting on it. It was great fun.

Cockney friend of Gladys and May
in "Rainbow Nights"
This sketch is set in a kitchen some years after WWII where London girls look back to when they were young; when they used to go, up West (the West End) to a US canteen called, Rainbow Corner.  I play, Me, Gladys, May, and four yanks - Joe, Hank, Red and Slim.  Yep! No kiddin.  I don't think I could have written a better bit of audience participation script, if I'd tried.  At the end of the first paragraph I look to the left and say, 'Me and Gladys had some fun.  We did, didn't we Glad?'  And before I could say the last line as Glad,  'We did.' The lady on the table where I was looking said, 'We did.'  It was perfect.  

A photograph of London girls dancing with American servicemen at Rainbow Corner, 1944

A Getty image, borrowed x ? x

The last sketch, Story Time, was written in 1944 and is one of Joyce Grenfell's Six Nursery School Sketches.  It has the famous line, 'George...  Don't do that!'
                                   Nursery school teacher in "Story Time"

                 Preparing to play the girls in "Rainbow Nights"

  'George...  Don't do that!'
 Work in progress.  More photographs to come. x