Arts

The Road Home

Next Tuesday - October 26th - at St Thomas' Roman Catholic Church in Jersey there will be a very special event.

It's a Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving, and it's an opportunity for all of us to remember those who have died and who meant something special to us and to celebrate their lives.

The service has been organised by a local Funeral Directors - Pitcher and Le Quesne - who have held similar events before, but of course in the past couple of years that's been impossible because of the COVID19  restrictions.

We know that since the pandemic began, so many of us have been unable to to remember loved ones in the way we may have wanted. Either we've had limited opportunities to say a proper 'farewell' or we've been unable to travel to pay our respects and to grieve with families members and friends. So next Tuesday is an opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for the lives that meant, and still mean, so much to us.

But the service is not just for folk who've lost someone in the pandemic ... it's open to everyone who wants to keep alive the memories of their dear ones, even if they passed away years ago.

PLQ-remembrance-facebook (2)The evening, which starts at 7pm, will be just an hour of poems, readings, prayers, music and ... we hope ... smiles along with the sadness.

Church and faith leaders will play their part, and we'll have the magnificent Malcolm L'Amy on the organ at St Thomas' ... which is in Val Plaisant in St Helier (if you don't know it ... it's the big Catholic Church!) 

But we'll also be joined by some amazing singers. 

Georgi Mottram is a Jersey-born soprano. She's already a Classic Brit Award Nominee who’s debut single shot to No.1 in the iTunes Official Classical Charts in May 2021. Georgi is a very special talent and we're so thrilled she'll be joining us.

The Aureole Choir will also be part of the evening. The choir (founder and director Nicki Kennedy) was set up during the early stages of lockdown in early 2020 to give people who love singing a chance to celebrate their love for music. They initially met online and recorded music to raise money for local charities but now have over 100 members of all ages who meet regularly to sing, have fun and fundraise. They also run weekly ‘sing-alongs’ (with requests) to boost morale among those living alone and in Jersey’s care homes. They're a great bunch of people, so talented and so committed!

Next Tuesday will be an evening, as I said, which will be reflective, but it will also be filled, we trust, with smiles and hope!

During and after the service there will be an opportunity to remember loved ones and leave messages in a ‘memorial garden' at the back of church and those who wish to do so are also invited to give a donation to the Royal British Legion Jersey Poppy Appeal. That appeal actually starts next week!

Now you might be wondering why I know so much about this?

Well, it's because I've been working on this for months with the managing director of Pitcher and Le Quesne, Paul Battrick, and St Thomas' Church ... helping to communicate, finding the artists and speakers, sourcing the poems and prayers etc and getting involved in a little bit of PR as well.

I have to say, it's one of the best 'jobs' I've had for a very long time. It feels like we are doing something which will make a big difference to people and maybe bring help and comfort in their sorrow and grief.  But hopefully it will also just be a general uplifting hour! It's made me really happy to be involved, but also it's given me much time for reflection myself, and moments when I've been moved by words and music and remembered MY loved ones, including my darling Dad, who have 'gone before'.

If you are in Jersey on Tuesday, we would love to see you! If you are not here in the island, please pray for us, that people will come and be blessed. It's a big church and we'd love to see many people... and we hope it will bless us all.

So, on this Sunday, to bring you all into the circle of love we hope will surround us on Tuesday evening, please click on the link below to see/hear a presentation that will be part of the Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving.

It will be the first of two musical offerings from the Aureole Choir  and it's actually one of the first projects they produced when Jersey was in lockdown in Spring 2020. The song and video (which is on YouTube as well as the Aureole Music website) raised money for local charities, and it brought music into our lives at a time when choirs could not meet, we could not sing even in church (and anyway churches were closed)  and we felt so bereft of the joys of music and performance.

Enjoy the beautiful Jersey landscapes and seascapes and images and people, and the even more beautifully talented islanders who joined together for this very special project.

See you on Tuesday! 

 

 


Land of Hope ... and Glory

There are some pieces of music which are iconic, and for me that includes not just rock and pop but also the occasional piece of 'classical' music.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a classical buff ... I don't listen to a lot of what might be described as 'classical'  music, but I do enjoy the occasional iconic tune.

So I was interested when I discovered that On this Day - October 19th - in the year 1901, a piece of music which would become one of the most well-known in Great Britain at least, was performed in public for the first time.

The Pomp & Circumstance March No 1 is perhaps best known because it includes the tune which is the song Land of Hope and Glory. which is especially well known in the UK because it's a highlight of 'The Proms'. otherwise known as the 'BBC Proms' because the series of mostly classical concerts are shared with the world by that broadcaster. The march and the tune is traditionally also an integral part of the Last Night  of the Proms concert.

Edward elgarThis iconic piece of music is the creation of Sir Edward Elgar and many of his works are part of the British and international classical concert repertoire. Apart from the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, another of his best-known orchestral compositions and works is another favourite of mine -  the Enigma Variations - but he's also well known for concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. Elgar also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius, chamber music and songs.

Elgar is often regarded as a typically 'English' composer but the most interesting thing I've learned about him is that his musical influences came not from Britain but from continental Europe. He also felt like an outsider including musically - this was a time when music was dominated pretty much by academics and Elgar was a self-taught composer. Now THAT'S astonishing!

Socially Elgar also felt out of place.  He was a Roman Catholic in a largely Protestant Britain, and as a result some people were suspicious of him. He was from humble origins but lived in a very class conscious society in Victorian and then Edwardian Britain. He apparently was sensitive about his beginnings even after he gained recognition.

And another interesting point about Elgar - his major success didn't come until he was in his 40's ... 

That's encouraging I think ... it's never too late!

Just a note about the Pomp And Circumstance Marches - full title Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches. Although No. 1 In D and March No. 2 premiered today in 1901, actually they are a series of five (or six) marches for orchestra. The first four were published between 1901 and 1907, when Elgar was in his forties, but the fifth was published in 1930, a few years before his death and a sixth march was compiled after his death, from unpublished sketches. This was published in 1956 and in 2005–2006.

But back to Marches No 1 and 2. Both compositions were played two days after the premiere in Liverpool, at a Promenade Concert - a 'Prom'  - in the Queen's Hall in London. It was  conducted by Sir Henry Wood, who is synonymous with the annual promenade concerts. Wood actually conducted The Proms for nearly half a century and introduced  hundreds of new works to British audiences, and after his death in 1944 the concerts were officially renamed in his honour as the "Henry Wood Promenade Concerts".  In 1901 he conducted Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1  second, after March No 2, and Wood later recalled that the audience  "...rose and yelled... the one and only time in the history of the Promenade concerts that an orchestral item was accorded a double encore." (Henry Wood, My Life of Music p. 154)

And a final point before I leave you and you can enjoy this presentation of the iconic piece ...  The piece now known as Land of Hope and Glory in its original form was just a tune.

It was a big hit, including with the new British monarch - King Edward VII - who happened to mention to Elgar that he thought his March No 1 tune would make a great song. So when the composer was asked  to write a work for the King's coronation, he worked the suggestion into his Coronation Ode, with words written  by the poet and essayist A. C. Benson. Unfortunately the coronation was postponed because the king was unwell, so Elgar created a separate song, which was first performed by Madame Clara Butt in June 1902. And part of that original work - the first of the seven stanzas of the Ode's original final section - is now a feature of the Last Night of the Proms, and has become an English sporting anthem and a  general patriotic song.

Final thoughts on all this - apart from the fact that some people are just brilliant Elgar teaches me that sometimes we have to wait for things to happen for us. And sometimes what we create turns into something more wonderful than we might ever have imagined or dreamed.

How wonderful!

 

 


The Candle of the Lord

This past few weeks I've been thinking quite a lot about light and candles. 

Although we're in the early weeks of October, I'm already commissioned to work on a few Advent and Christmas projects so I've been thinking about themes.

The idea of Jesus Christ being the Light of the World and being born to be one of us is an overriding Christmas theme and of course, candles are often synonymous with the festive season. 

It's a time when we may think a bit more than usual about the Light coming into our world but also, it's a time when I think about my responsibilities to be a person who brings light to others. A person who doesn't sow discontent and negativity, but peace and positive vibes.

For inspiration today I turn to a song written by an amazing Christian leader, singer and songwriter ... Joy Webb .... She is a Salvation Army officer (minister) who in the 1960's led a Christian pop group called 'The Joystrings' - they made it into the UK pop charts! 

Major Joy has devoted her life to God  and since those heady Joystrings days, she has blessed us with many incredible songs which are loved and appreciated, and not just in The Salvation Army.

What I love about Joy's music and songs, writing and words,  is that she really goes to the heart of what it means to be a person of faith.  Her songs, in particular,  are always 'real'. sometimes poignant, many times challenging.  Down the years, her God-inspired words and music have inspired me many times.

There's a song which Joy wrote years ago and which is still one of my favourites ... it sums up that whole idea of US following the example of Jesus and being a light in our world.

The Candle of the LordIt's called 'The Candle of the Lord' and the words are incredible ...

Please click on the link below to read the words and immerse yourself in the music.

There's are many versions online, including vocal renditions, but today I've chosen an interpretation by a friend of mine, another incredible musician called Gaz Rose ... and his imaging of the song in music and pictures/video.

Thanks Gaz!

Thanks Major Joy!

And to you all ... have a great day!

And be blessed!

 

 


Imagine

IMAGINE!

You just need to say the word and immediately a particular song starts resonating in my head and heart.

It's a classic 'pop' song, that is much more than a 'pop song', by one of the legends of pop and rock music - the inimitable John Lennon ... he of the legendary pop group The Beatles ... singer, songwriter, musician, peace activist ... what a guy!

I'm thinking about John today specifically because it was on this day (October 9th) in 1940 that John Winston Lennon ... later John Winston Ono Lennon ... came into the world. 

Today I could have chosen SO many songs to celebrate John Lennon - and those of you who know me might have thought I might choose one like Strawberry Fields Forever which is directly linked to a Salvation Army children's home in Liverpool of that name in the grounds of which Lennon played as a child. Today it is an amazing centre run by The Salvation Army which works with the community and people with special needs, and pays tribute to the Lennon legacy.

But no ...  instead I've chosen another of John's iconic songs, composed and recorded and released after his time with The Beatles had come to an end.

IMAGINE!

Rolling Stone magazine described Imagine as Lennon's "greatest musical gift to the world" ... for many many reasons musically ... I won't go on about that now, but if you're interested, please feel free to investigate by clicking on the link embedded in the name of the song above.

Actually the eponymous album on which the song appeared was released in the USA in October 1971,  a month after the international release in the UK.... and the single was the best-selling one of John's solo career.

ImagineIt's a song which resounds with people around the world. 

Some believe this song is 'anti-faith' but I don't think it is. It actually encourages us to imagine a world of peace, without borders separating nations and peoples and without materialism which divides. Yes, it says 'no religion' but note it doesn't say 'no faith', and the two are very different.

John Lennon is credited with writing the song but just before his death in December 1980 he said that much of the song's content and the lyrics came from his wife, Yoko Ono. 

In an interview, actually for Playboy magazine, Lennon said that he and Yoko had been given a Christian prayer book which inspired the concept behind Imagine

He said this:

The concept of positive prayer ... If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion – not without religion but without this my God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing – then it can be true ... the World Church called me once and asked, "Can we use the lyrics to 'Imagine' and just change it to 'Imagine one religion'?" That showed [me] they didn't understand it at all. It would defeat the whole purpose of the song, the whole idea. 

Some might think this sounds rather 'pie in the sky', but I love John Lennon's sentiment and he and Yoko's idea that we can dream of the world living as one ... one day!

So, to celebrate John Lennon and this brilliant song, here's the official video for Imagine, which is also iconic.

I love that the first 45seconds actually has no music ... but just the sound effects of John and Yoko walking. I love it's rather surreal concept ... rather like the song actually.

It's actually the first few minutes of a longer 81-minute feature-length film or 'documentary rock video' that was made to coincide with the launch of the Imagine album.

From the shots of John and Yoko walking through a thick fog and mist, arriving at their house as the music begins, to a sign above the front door to their house which reads: "This Is Not Here" (the title of Yoko Ono's then New York art show) and then to the interior shots of John at the piano as Yoko gradually opens the shutters to let in the daylight and reveal an all-white room. It's all so symbolic. But the end is where it gets me. Until that moment it all feels like a piece of art really, including when Yoko sits down beside John at the piano as he concludes the song, and she just looks at the camera.

But then ... as the song ends ... the couple look at each other and ... wait for it ... they kiss!

Fabulous! 

So let's sit back and enjoy the song today ... and dream.

 

Oh and by the way ... remember earlier I told you about the Strawberry Field project in Liverpool? 

Well, click on the link and you'll find information about the 'Imagine' Piano which is there.

It's actually THE world-famous piano that John Lennon used to compose and record one of the great peace anthems of the 20th century and it's on loan to the exhibition, courtesy of the estate of the late George Michael. It's a walnut-finished upright Steinway model Z piano and George bought it back in October 2000.

I haven't seen it myself yet but I'm looking forward to going to Strawberry Field when I can!


Talking Movies

This past weekend the latest James Bond movie hit cinemas across the world.

'No Time to Die' is the 25th in the series of films featuring the British secret agent James Bond -  based on the original spy novels by author Ian Fleming 

For actor Daniel Craig it's his fifth outing as '007',  the fictional British MI6 agent, and it's his final Bond film so next time around there will be a new Bond.

After various delays in production, the latest movie in the Bond franchise was due out in 2019 and then 2020 but release was delayed several times because of the global COVID19 pandemic.

The producers and distributors resisted temptation to release the movie early via one of the streaming sites and decided instead to wait to release it in cinemas. And finally, No Time to Die had its world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 28 September 2021. An exciting, sparkling event by all accounts packed full of royalty and celebrities!

Loads of my friends have already seen the movie - it was released in cinemas on 30 September 2021 in the United Kingdom and here in Jersey (as well as other countries like India where Bond is huge) . It is set to be released in the United States on Friday this week - October 8th -  and is now being rolled out across the world.

But it's already a massive success - in its first weekend Universal Pictures reckon No Time to Die took $121 million at the international box office! 

In fact, No Time to Die is being credited with 'saving' cinema. Across the world, the coronavirus has closed cinemas  and James Bond is bringing people back to movie houses in their millions!

But I'm not talking about this today just because of the latest 007 phenomenon, but also because October 6th marks another important day in movie history.

It was on this day in 1927 that a film called The Jazz Singer posterThe Jazz Singer was released.

Starring Al Jolson - a big stage and musical star of the day and reckoned to be the most well-known American entertainer of the 1920s - although it wasn't the first film to have pre-recorded sound, it was the first feature-length movie to have pre-recorded dialogue as well as music and song. 

And so it's gone down as the first 'talkie'.

The movie premiered on this day at the Warner Theatre in New York and it was a sensation! Although many people in the industry may have thought 'talking movies' were a 'flash in the pan',  actually The Jazz Singer revolutionised the motion-picture industry and marked the end of the silent-film era. It was a huge investment and gamble for Warner Brothers, who were just a small studio in those days ... but it paid off.

Film dates back to the 19th century and by the early part of the 20th century movies were very popular ... but they were 'silent'.

There were HUGE stars of the Silent Movies (just think people like Charlie Chaplin for starters), but no one heard them speak or talk, or sing. There was no sound at all and when the films were shown in cinemas there was usually organ accompaniment which was a whole genre of entertainment in its own right.

And then came The Jazz Singer!

The film is the fictional story of Jakie Rabinowitz, a young man born into a devout Jewish family who defies tradition - he decides not to follow in his father's footsteps to become a 'cantor' in a New York  synagogue but instead decides to aim high to make it in the world as a jazz singer. It's not just a change of name (he becomes Jack Robin) but also a change of direction which puts him into conflict with his faith, his culture, his home and his heritage.

Although it's gone down in cinema history as the first talking film actually most of The Jazz Singer is still silent with subtitles. There are actually only nine scenes with lip-synchronous singing, two of which also include a few spoken words, lasting less than two minutes.

But it was enough to see off the silent film era. In 1928, the year after its release, The Jazz Singer was given an Honorary Academy Award and by mid-1929, Hollywood would be producing almost exclusively sound film. By the mid-1930's movie makers in Western Europe were doing the same. If you're interested in all this, why not go to  A Brief History of Sound Film (1895-1930) to find out more or click here?

The Jazz Singer has been re-made a couple of times as movies - namely in 1952  starring Danny Thomas and Peggy Lee; and - one of MY favourite movies - the 1980 remake starred Neil DiamondLucie Arnaz, and Laurence Olivier - a classic, in my opinion, with some amazing songs!

Cinema has come a long way since 1927! The majority of those who flock to the 'movies' to feast on No Time to Die may never have watched a black and white film and some might even turn their noses up at the 'old stuff', thinking them to be unsophisticated, 'old fashioned' and a bit 'simple' because they don't have all the bells and whistles, effects, tensions and pounding soundtracks of today's films.

But it's worth remembering that without the trailblazers of movie making, those willing to take a risk, try something completely new, step outside the normal conventions of the day and reach, literally, for the stars ... we wouldn't be where we are today, and not just when it comes to movies!

So to mark this landmark day ... let's enjoy a clip or two from the original 'talkie, learn more about his amazing film that broke the mould, and give thanks for those pioneers of cinema1

Have a great day everyone!

 


I Find Your Love

Don't you just love modern technology?

There was a time when to listen to music you had to sit in the house, switch on the radio or put on the record player, cassette player of CD machine.

Now we can take our music with us on our 'phones. I can take mine to the beach, can listen as I walk and I can even plug my 'phone into my car's audio system and listen to hundreds of my favourite songs to my heart's content as I motor along. 

I do have masses of music and songs on my playlist, some are just great pop songs, some which remind me of younger and happy days, some more 'religious' and some which sort of cross over different genres.

There's a song on my list which I want to share with you this Sunday. When I listen to my music on the 'phone I have the system on 'shuffle' and for some reason this one's been popping up a lot recently.

It's a great song, I think... and one which works for me on the faith and the pure music enjoy front.

'I Find Your Love' reminds me to look for love in everything and in all circumstances. Thanks to the fabulous singer Beth Nielsen Chapman for a wonderful song and sentiment! 

So inspiring. 

Enjoy!

 


Friends (I'll be there for you)

Today I'm going to indulge myself a little, and share with you one of my favourite TV programmes of all time.

If I mention the main characters in the sit com in question, many of you will know exactly what show I'm talking about.

FriendsMonica, Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe!

It was on this day - September 22nd - in 1994 that 'Friends' aired for the first time on the American TV network NBC. . It's the unfolding story of six friends in their 20's and 30's who live in New York City. Over ten seasons until May 6th 2004, the final episode, we saw their lives and loves unfold.  Lots of laughter and quirkiness, some tears and tragedy, amazing moments. 

I have to say 'Friends' captured my imagination from the get go. I just thought it was so cleverly written - we were drawn into the lives of these people, all of whom were very different and all of whom really were nothing like me. Plus I've never lived in New York ... but it was just fun.  Actually, I found it to be a weekly escape  from the realities and stresses of life - in those days there was no binge watching, we had to wait a week for the next episode! 

It became a 'water cooler' type of show, one which we would talk to our friends and family about. My niece, Vicki, in particular was and is a great fan of 'Friends' and it was something we had in common, moments remembered that we could laugh about.  Quoting from 'Friends' is a thing for us! Even now!

This was a sit com which brought people together. It's been described as an one of those 'iconic, culture-defining shows' and although it's been 17 years since the last episode aired, somewhere in the world and in the UK it's playing right now!! And if that ends I always have the boxed set.

Down the years there have been calls for new 'Friends' episodes but this year the cast did come together for a one-off  special called ‘The One Where They Got Back Together’,which celebrated the mega-hit comedy’s 25th anniversary.

Would I want a new series? 

Probably not ... it was fun while it lasted but time has moved on. The cast have moved on to new projects but still, if they are reading this (wow wouldn't that be fabulous?) I'd just to to say a HUGE thank you to all the writers and producers and staff who gave us so much pleasure down the years, and especially the Iconic Six - Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Courteney Cox (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (the weirdly wonderful Phoebe), Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Mathew Perry (Chandler) and David Schwimmer (Ross) - THANK YOU GUYS!

One of the things that defines a great TV show, I think, is the theme tune. Every time you hear it when the show is being aired, it gives you a shiver of anticipation. Now that the show is over and only existing in 're-runs' that theme tune is just like a bit of a comfort blanket.

In the case of 'Friends' it's 'I'll be there for you'' by The Rembrandts, with that iconic chorus which really sums up friendship. Well it does for me, anyway.

I'll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I'll be there for you
(Like I've been there before)
I'll be there for you
('Cause you're there for me too)

In the year or so after 'Friends' was aired for the first time, I was in the USA on holiday, in Florida with a friend and we were out for dinner in the Disney resort area. It was a warm night, masses of people around on the boardwalk and there was a huge TV screen in the central square where, I think, there was a fountain and seating area. We were walking through there and on the screen came the official video for the 'Friends' show! We and loads of other people ended up singing the song  at the top of our lungs ... and laughing until we cried. 

What a memory! Fun, friends and feeling happy. Doesn't get much better than that!

I'm blessed to have great friends (and family members) who I know will stick by me, whatever. And I'm so blessed and thankful for that. We may not live in New York City, and actually we're often separated, but true friends will always be there for each other!

So today, to mark the anniversary of the first time the world got to know those six 'Friends' ... here's the official video ... not only featuring The Rembrandts but the main cast members!

Sing along if you want. Out Loud is good. 

Smile, laugh and ... enjoy!

 


A Scrumdiddlyumptious Day!

Now here's something you may not know ...

Today is Roald Dahl Day!

Or to give it it's official name ... Roald Dahl Story Day !

It's a global annual celebration of the most brilliant British novelist, short-story writer, poet, screenwriter ... and wartime fighter pilot - Roald Dahl, and today we're encouraged to enjoy and celebrate our favourite Roald Dahl stories, characters, and moments.

We do all this today because it was on this day, September 13, in the year 1916, that the author was born!

Roald Dahl is best known as a children's author, of course ... think The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  and Matilda - and that's just for starters, I think you could probably name more.

But Roald Dahl wrote not only for children, but also had a successful parallel career as the writer of macabre adult short stories (I was scared witless back in the 1980s by television dramas based on his spooky and and bizarre Tales of the Unexpected.) Briefly in the 1960s he also wrote screenplays including two adaptations of works by Ian Fleming - the James Bond film ‘You Only Live Twice’ and 'Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang'

Roald Dah quote - change the worldIf you look online you'll see loads of quotes from Roald Dahl - and this one here is one of my favourites I think.

He could be funny and profound at the same time. He could write about cruelty and kindness in equal measure. And, as we've learnt from some of the films which have been created from some of his stories, his words encourage children, and all of us really, to be the people we should be, to dream big and to believe in ourselves.

He was and still is a true superstar!

In fact, as it says writ large on the building which houses a Museum named after the author, he and his creations are 'Truly Swizzfigglingly Flushbunkingly Gloriumptious!'

When I lived in the UK, I actually lived quite near to a leafy village called Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, which is home to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.

Dahl - Willy Wonka gatesStep through the doors of the museum and the Willy Wonka Gates and prepare to leave reality behind as you enter the weird and wonderful world of Dahl.

The gang’s all there including the aforementioned Big Friendly Giant, Charlie, James, Matilda ... Danny, the Champion of the WorldThe WitchesEsio Trot, Fantastic Mr Fox and so much more!

If you fancy it, you can dress up as your favourite Roald Dahl character, and get crafty making a mask of, as the museum literature says, ‘a crodswoggling creature’.

Dahl - museum exteriorJust like Roald Dahl, who invented hundreds of new and whacky words and phrases – over 200 just for the BFG ‘gobblefunk’ dictionary apparently – you can even let your imagination run riot and create your own crazy words. It’s fantastagorically hands-on and fabulously intriguing, even if you’re not 6 to 12 years old! 

His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide but his talents actually extended much beyond the written word and the Museum and Story Centre is also a window on that world.

In the ‘Boy’ Gallery we can find the famous ‘mouse in a gobstopper jar’ and learn more about Roald Dahl’s schoolboy days and pranks! There’s loads more about his life as a Welsh-born lad with a Norwegian heritage and as a husband, father and grandfather as you read original letters and delve into the Dahl family photo album.

Step through into the ‘Solo’ Gallery and discover more about Dahl’s life as an RAF (Royal Air Force) fighter pilot in the Second World War and his unique literary archive. You might have to fight a 4-year-old for a place by the touch-screen monitors, but if you are forced to wait your turn, you can always sit back and enjoy extracts from some of the films which have been created from Roald Dahl’s books.

Then, if the kids haven't already beaten you to it, it's into the Story Centre and Crafts Room. There you'll find the aforementioned dressing up box, and that word creation area, tables where you can be all messy and crafty, and there's even a space where you can make your own stop-frame animation film.

Roald Dahl originally wrote his stories for his own 5 children and encouraged creativity in all the kids he met, so it's not surprising that his Museum is a place where the words ‘Don’t Touch’ are banned! Here there are items to play with, spin and manipulate, holes to peer into and wonder what lurks beyond, things to prod and poke. Anything that is not for touching is out of harm’s way or under glass. In fact, touching and feeling and getting into a little bit of mischief is positively encouraged!

However, my favourite spot at the Museum is the replica of Roald Dahl’s Writing Hut - it's in the Story Centre and it's fascidoodly - here I go, making up words already! 

It was in the 1950s that Roald settled down with his family in 'Gipsy House' in the little village of Great Missenden in the county of Buckinghamshire (sort of north east from London). He was then married to his first wife, the American actress Patricia Neal, and it was here in the quiet and idyllic countryside that they raised their family.

At the bottom of the garden at Gipsy House, Roald had a little hut to which he retreated to write most of his unforgettable stories. Research tells us he couldn’t type - he always used a pencil to write for several hours a day locked away in his hut, sitting in a big old shabby chair, leaning on a ‘writing board’ which he fashioned to fit perfectly around his body.

Apparently the hut wasn't warm or particularly clean and tidy, but it was here, in his special writing place, that Roald wrote for two hours each morning and two hours every afternoon, using exactly six freshly sharpened, yellow, Dixon Ticonderoga pencils which he popped into a small Toby jug on the desk next to his chair. He'd worked out that he needed six pencils for a two hour writing session and always started each session sharpening the pencils!

Dahl - The writing hutIt’s just one of the rituals which Roald had when it came to writing and, as you sit in the replica chair in the replica Writing Hut, surrounded by the fascimiles of the author's special objects, you feel something of the man and the genius. Well, at least, I did!

This is me some years ago trying to channel a tiny fraction of Dahl Inspiration in that replica of his very own chair!!

Small Kid or Big Kid - whatever age you might be, there will something for you!

The Museum and Story Centre regularly hosts Revolting Rhymes sessions from roving storytellers in the Courtyard around which the museum nestles. In Miss Honey’s Classroom there are ‘fantabulous’ weekend and holiday workshops with storytellers, authors, crafts experts, scientists and chocolatiers (Roald Dahl ADORED chocolate which makes me admire him even more!)

For an extra special treat for adults and slightly older children you can enjoy a special tour of the Dahl Archive, a behind-the-scenes experience where you get to meet an archivist who will show you some of the locked-away archive material, providing an even deeper insight into the mind, life and work of the author. When I went, we discovered that Miss Honey (the perfectly lovely teacher in Matilda) was originally intended to be an alcoholic and Miss Trunchbull (the hideous headmistress in the same story) started out as a much nicer person!

For those wanting to do more research on Dahl, the Archive and Museum Reading Rooms are also open to researchers by appointment and they also welcome researchers who can't actually get to Great Missenden - via the website.

Dahl - Cafe Twit signFinish the visit with a stroll through the Shop where you can buy everything from books and pictures to Dahl themed games and weird stuff like a ball made entirely of elastic/rubber bands.

Finally, grab a drink and ‘delumptious’ cake in Cafe Twit. 

Dahl - cakesIf it's a fine day sit in the Courtyard and just watch how much fun everyone - young and old - is having.

And forget any diet - because the cakes are perfectly delicious.

In fact, you could say they are ... Scrumdiddlyumptious!

*This blog is based on a article I first wrote for my Hub Pages website pages ... and it's still there if you fancy looking it up ... and also please feel free to check out my other hub stories!

Thanks!

 


We can be Kind

If you joined me yesterday, you'll know that here in Jersey, Saturday September 4th was a day to celebrate kindness at the fourth Jersey Kindness Festival.

I've been working with the festival organiser Brian Clarke, founder of Kindness Connects here in our lovely island, to promote the event which was held in the beautiful setting of St Aubin's harbour.

Kindness is a big thingAround 30 charities were there, talking to people and showing what they do every day to share kindness in our island. 

There was loads of fun for all the family, and art and music ... it was phenomenal.

Hopefully the thousands who came along will have been inspired, to be kinder in their daily lives but maybe even to help some of the charities in their work. 

Kindness, as this image says, is a REALLY big deal ... it can make a difference to everyone ... those who receive the kindness and those who give it. 

Yesterday I saw Kindness in Action and it was a privilege. I was at the Kindness Festival all day just helping out and I have to admit, today I'm pretty tired.

So I'm not going to try to wax lyrical  ... there will be more about kindness coming down the line because as I also told you yesterday, I'm actually also writing a book about the subject.

Today I'm just going to share a song with you which says it better than I do I think.

It's from the British singer/TV presenter Aled Jones and, I have to admit, it's one of my favourites on my playlist.

Enjoy and be inspired!

Have a kind day everyone!

 

 


Celebrating Kindness!

Today in Jersey in the Channel Islands we will celebrate Kindness!

Kindness Festival Sept 2021It's the fourth biennial Jersey Kindness Festival - previous events happened in 2015, 2017 and 2019 - and it's a celebration of all the people here in our lovely island who live lives of kindness. Simple really.

At the beautiful harbourside in the village of St Aubin around 30 charities will set up stall to show off what they do, to chat to people, to have fun, and to show how every day their acts of kindness are making a difference to those living in our island and to the world.

Each of the charities has been tasked with bringing something fun to the party - so there are competitions and face-painting, arts and crafts, sculpting, yoga, hand reflexology and lots of conversations to be had.

It'll be educational as well. There's a chance to walk through a giant inflatable bowel - yes, you heard right - and to see how a specially adapted car works for disabled people.

And, one of the most favourite fun things to do, I'm sure, will be free pats with a Therapy Dog.

In the St Brelade's Parish Hall which is also on the harbourside there's an Affordable Art Show, with all the proceeds of sales going to the charities involved in the Kindness Festival.

Because of the COVID19 pandemic, lockdowns and restrictions, for the charities taking part, this will be the first time many of them will have had a chance to meet the public face-to-face and there will be loads of smiles all round.

Now, you might be wondering why I know so much about this event.

Well, it's because over the past few months I've been helping the organiser, Brian Clarke, to promote the event. And I shall be there, in the sunshine, to help out!

As you'll know if you've been following my daily blog since the start of the year, at the end of March I lost my job with the BBC so I've been doing a few writing and PR jobs in the past months. And the Kindness Festival popped up quite early. In my previous life as a radio producer and presenter I worked with Brian and covered the three previous Kindness Festivals, including interviewing and reporting from the festival itself.

It's been fun being involved again, from a different perspective, and it also fits in perfectly with another new project that's on the cards for me.

A few years ago I wrote a fun book with a friend of mine - Debbie Duncan. 'Lifelines' is the story of two friends sharing laughter, challenges, and cake and now I'm writing another book with Debbie ... and it's all about ..... KINDNESS!

Forgive me if over the next few months as I enter the final quarter of this year-long blog, I mention kindness a few more times.

I'm doing lots of reading about kindness and doing interviews and chatting to people, and in fact today at the Kindness Festival I'll also be doing just that! What a great opportunity to have loads of kind people in one place to chat to!

Kindness is freeIf I didn't know it already, I'm learning kindness is something that really defines us as humans. Anthropologists believe kindness is the strongest possible proof of our common humanity. Co-operation is the reason why, anthropologists believe, humanity has evolved and developed over more than 600 centuries.

All the science aside, of course we also know that kindness makes a difference, not just to those who are on the receiving end of kindnesses, whether they are 'random' acts or not, but also it affects the person who is GIVING the kindness. 

When you do something good for someone, it makes YOU feel great. To see someone else's smile is amazing.  Hopefully we're not kind to others to make OURSELVES feel good, but it can be a side effect.

Performing acts of kindness, with no thought of a return will, bit by bit, act by act, prove life-changing for giver and receiver alike.

We can all make a difference – and we can all help to change to the world! 

Today we'll celebrate kindness, and all those people who do so much to share kindness and make our world a better place, but kindness is something we can all do ... it costs nothinbut it is a great gift!

Be Kind to each other everyone!

And it you're in Jersey today ... we'd love to see you at the Kindness Festival!