marjorie73: Skeleton of monkey jumping (photo taken at the London Natural History Museum) (Default)
 On Wodin's Day evening, after a lovely meal with a good friend, we made our way to the auditorium for the evening with Neil Gaiman, speaking about his new book, Norse Mythologya retelling of some of the Norse Myths.


 

Just before going in we were lucky enough to bump into Chris Riddell, so I got to tell him how much I had enjoyed his event, and he also kindly signed my '100 hugs' book. (And he asked whether we'd seen the Terry Pratchett docu-drama 'Back in Black')

 

Neil's event started with him reading 'Freya's Wedding' from his new book; very funny.

 

Then he was interviewed, about the book and other matters. He explained that he first met the Norse Gods through the original Marvel Comics version of Thor, then read the Roger Lancelyn Green version of the Norse Myths, before reading Kevin Crossley-Holland's versions, and the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda as an adult, and he loves the human-ness of the Norse gods, and the fact that they have stories - they are dodgy gods, much more human than divine!


We then got to see a trailer for the American Gods TV series, and after that, a not-quite-final trailer for How to Talk to Girls at Parties both of which look very interesting (although I am still just a little doubtful about Ian McShane as Mr Wednesday; I find it hard to get past thinking of him as Lovejoy!


Neil spoke a little about the Good Omens TV series,which is about to start casting. He explained that he and Terry Pratchett had always agreed that they would do any sequel or adaptation together, but later Terry asked him, as a last request, to write the TV series, so he has. And that he spent time being angry with life, because he couldn't phone Terry and tell him when he wrote a really good bit, and angry at Terry because he wasn't there to call to ask him for ideas when he got to a tricky bit. 


He explained that the show is being made by the BBC with Amazon. The interviewer (whose name, unfortunately, I didn't make a note of) expressed reservations about Amazon' involvement, so Neil explained that the BBC are making the show and Amazon is simply providing wheelbarrows of money.


He also said that he thinks that it is the best thing he has ever written. Which when you think about it is pretty exciting!


We then moved on to the Q&A section of the evening.


He was asked about current works, and confirmed that he is writing a Neverwhere sequel, and that he feels that when he wrote Neverwhere, he had things to say about how society behaves towards the homeless, and that now, with his work with UNHCR, and seeing  attitudes towards refugees and the dispossessed, he feels he has things he is angry about, and cares about, and is writing Seven Sisters.


Another question was about whether he would write stories about the Norse goddesses, and he explained that it was harder, as while we know the names and attributes of some of the goddesses, no stories have survived. He also explained, which I didn't know, that the stories we do have were written down only after  Christianity took hold, and a large part of why they were written down was out of fear that 'kennings' (metaphors etc.) in the Icelandic sagas and poetry would no longer be understood, not out of a wish to preserve the tales and beliefs themselves. 


He was asked about his favourite lines, or the lines of which he is proudest, in his own work. He said it's not any of the things which get quoted a lot, (such as " you get what anyone gets, you get a lifetime"), it's a line from American Gods - "Chicago happened slowly, like a migraine"


And perhaps the most entertaining answer to a question was in relation to a question about what he reads to Ash. He told us that he reads the Chu books (because his publisher gave him copies!!) and that Ash enjoys the books also he has to read them over and over, and thinks it's a pity there are only 3, but that he has not, despite that, sat down to write any more! He also re-tells the story of the Three Little Pigs, because Ash enjoys the Big Bad Wolf, but he pus lots of variety in so *he* doesn't get bored (he mentioned, for instance, conversations between the Pig and the Hay salesman, extolling the virtues of hay as an ecologically sound building material) and that Ash puts up with it because he knows that the Big ad Wolf is coming. 


Which made me want to ask him to tell us the story of the 3 little pigs, to see what happens this time!


The tickets which we had included a signed copy of the book, so after the evening was over, I got to take the book away and am going to try to ration myself and make it last...



Finally, for anyone who missed it when it was published in the Guardian, or when Neil retweeted it, have  look at the wonderful Tom Gauld's cartoon about the tour.  


Tom Gauld's wonderful cartoon / tweet

(I didn't spot Odin in the Festival Hall, but I wouldn't like to say, with any confidence, that he was not there!)

 


Oh, and check out Chris Riddell's Tumblr. He was sitting a few rows behind us and drawing his way through Neil's event, and the pictures are wonderful!
marjorie73: Skeleton of monkey jumping (photo taken at the London Natural History Museum) (Default)
Thanks to my friend A, I had a ticket for Neil Gaiman's London event for his newest book, 'Norse Mythology' on Wednesday evening, so I decided to make a day of it and also to attend Chris Riddell's event, earlier that same day.


I love Chris Riddell's art, and I've had the good luck to go to his events in the past and to see him drawing live, so was hoping for more of the same.


Chris had invited along some friends, Cressida Cowell (Author and illustrator of the 'How to Tame Your Dragon' series), Liz Pichon, creator of Tom Gates, and Posy Simmonds, who I know best for her creation of 'Gemma Bovery', (a graphic novel, modern take on 'Madame Bovery)


Chris's drawings of Cressida Cowell,

Liz Pinchon and Posy Simmonds
 

 

As we all filed into the auditorium to take our seats, Chris was making sketches of audience members. Sadly I wasn't one of those who was illustrated! (he also reassured everyone that they were not late, he just started early!) He then sketched his guests, from memory, before bringing them on stage.

 

Chris also introduced another, special, mystery guest - 'the Wise Wizard Gaiman'.



 

Once the guests arrived, he introduced each of them and invited them to speak and to show us their sketchbooks.


Liz Pichon explained that she had started out as a graphic designer before moving into picture books, and the writing the first 'Tom Gates' book, while Chris drew our attention to her beautifully painted fingernails and customised shoes. I'm not familiar with the Tom Gates books but they are clearly very popular, and it was interesting to hear about her creative process. She mentioned that Tom's dad is based on her own dad, who used to embarrass her, as a child, by turning up to collect her from school in his old gardening clothes (and showed us a card she made for him when she was young)


The next guest was Posy Simmonds, who showed us some of her sketch books, a recent one with beautifully detailed sketches of people in the street, and also selection of things she created when she was at school, including a comic strip murder mystery, drawn when she was 8, a spoof 'Observers book of Gurls' including a section on 'How to make yourself look excessively common' and a women's magazine she created while at boarding school, including careful illustrations of girls in bikinis, advertisements for imaginary products, and a short story which, she explained, got her into trouble, as it contained bad words, and a married woman with a lover!


She finished by showing us a sketch book which was the basis of her picture books, 'Fred', which involves cats and funerals..


Chris then introduced Cressida Cowell, explaining that he first met her when he was 'on a hot date with the Duchess of Cornwall', on a bus, and that Cressida was there to, and was not only managing to keep her balance on the bus, but also looking very glamorous and drawing things at the same time!


She told us that the 'How to Train Your Dragon' books were autobiographical... that as a child, her parents took them to a remote, uninhabited Scottish island every year, where there were ruins of Viking era houses, and she learned that the Vikings believed that Dragons were (or had been) real, and it started from there.

She also explained that she was inspired by Roald Dahl, and his willingness to have terrible things happen to people (for instance, James's parents (James and the Giant Peach) are eaten by a rhinoceros),and that her drawings are the kind which show readers they are "in the hands of a lunatic, who might do anything".She also explained that the books are about growing up, and that as they go through the serious, the style of the illustrations changes, they become less funny, and more difficult to draw!

 

She told us that she is working on something new, coming out in the autumn and set in the Iron Age.


Chris's final guest was Neil Gaiman.

 

Chris explained that he sees Neil as 'the Wise Wizard Gaiman', and pictures him arriving in robes to invite Chris (hairy feet and circular front door) on an adventure, which may involve Asgard, or London Underground, or Volcanoes and Time Travelling Dinosaurs. Neil claimed that he asked Chris to illustrate FTM "A very silly book" and that Chris got his revenge by drawing the Dad in the book as Neil.


 

Neil then read an extract from 'Fortunately, the Milk',while Chris sketched, and also read a poem, 'Witchwork' (which Chris had pre-prepared sketches for)


Neil had brought along 'Odd and Frost Giants' to show how gorgeous Chris's illustrations are, and claimed that Chris 'sneaks around' and illustrated things he's written, and he only finds out when they pop up on his facebook or other social media.


It was a lot of fun, and did feel, as the title said, like a conversation between friends, rather than a scripted event.

The Miser

Feb. 18th, 2017 11:21 am
marjorie73: Skeleton of monkey jumping (photo taken at the London Natural History Museum) (Default)



Last Friday I went to see The Miser in Bath. It's a new, very free translation of Molière's play, and is in Bath prior to transferring to the West End. Which means that it is, in effect, in previews and the cast are still finding their feet. I did feel that perhaps a couple more dress rehearsals wouldn't have gone amiss.


That said, it was an entertaining evening, albeit more than a touch of pantomime and farce, which isn't my favourite thing. 


The production is based on a (very) free translation of the original play, and a lot of topical gags have been added, some of which (inevitably) worked better than others.


It works pretty well, but it is not subtle - CléanteHarpagon's son (Ryan Gage) appears as a cross between a 17thC dandy and a pantomime Dame, complete with gags about underwear.


Lee Mack, as Maitre Jacques, Harpagon's servant (forced by Harpagon's miserliness to combine the roles of chef, sommeliere, groom, and others) is very funny, with lots of ad-libs, and physical comedy.


All in all, it was entertaining, but not in any way subtle! 


It's showing at the Garrick Theatre in London from 1st March to 10th June

marjorie73: Skeleton of monkey jumping (photo taken at the London Natural History Museum) (Default)

Well, I suppose technically Winter is here, and Spring is coming, but the other makes a better headline.
It was bitterly cold last night, and I was expecting frost, but woke up this morning to find we had actually had a sprinkling of snow. 

 

After which he apparently decided that the others would have watched, and learned their lesson, and that he didn't need to catch and kill all of them, so he came back indoors to try out his new cat bed.


 


I *think* it meets with his approval.


marjorie73: Skeleton of monkey jumping (photo taken at the London Natural History Museum) (Default)
It's that time of year again.


Last weekend I was able to buy plenty of Seville oranges, and last Suday I made my first batch of marmalade, yielding around 7lbs.


 



I have another 5lbs or so of oranges in the freezer so will be making another couple of batches over the next week or so, and I am planning to see whether I can find some blood oranges and make a batch with those, too.

marjorie73: Skeleton of monkey jumping (photo taken at the London Natural History Museum) (Default)

Hi. Sorry, it's been a while. Mostly because 2017 so far has not been great, personally or in the wider world. 


I came down with the Cold-From-Hell-with-added-Sinus-and-Chest-Infection  to coincide with returning to work at the start of January, and have been coughing, wheezing, sneezing and mainlining on Lemsip and honey ever since.


I am, at long last, starting to feel a little more human, but still not 100%, and it is soooo very frustrating,not least because it is so exhausting. Fortunately I haven't had anything much planned outside work so the fact that I've been too exhausted to do anything outside work hadn't been a major issue, although I had planned to see the RSC 'Tempest' at the cinema and wasn't able to go, which was annoying (and expensive, as I had pre-booked!)


Work is somewhat stressful - one of my Partners is in hospital and I've taken on some of his  tasks, which is tricky, and involves some fairly steep learning curves, and of course as he is a friend as well as a colleague I'm also  worried about him.


So January is not winning any friends in this household.


I'm hoping next month will be better.


My colleague is, we are told, starting to improve, I can almost breathe normally again and live in hope of being able to sleep lying down soon, and I do have some things to look forward to.


On 15th February I'm going to see Chris Riddell at the Southbank centre, then meeting up with a friend before going to Neil Gaiman's event (for his new Norse Mythology book) that evening.


The previous weekend I am seeing The Miserwhich is going to be presented locally before going to the West End, so with any luck, there should be some high points to the month! 


Meanwhile, it is marmalade season - I have about 7lbs of Seville oranges so plan to make a start on my marmalade this weekend.


Oh, and I did manage to get tickets for 'Hamilton' in London, so next June I'll be seeing that, with a friend.Which should be fun. (although the ticket prices are insane. More than seeing Cumberbatch's Hamlet, even though I didn't go for the top price tickets!. Top price are £200 a pop, which is just nuts. )

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