Because it was on display for such a short time, on a picture-postcard Spring day I went to Trafalgar Square to see the Palmyra arch. I haven't posted an image, partly because there are so many online, but also because it would have been spoilt by so many people posing for selfies. The replica looked so startlingly new, but then as a colleague on Facebook so wisely pointed out, that's how it would have looked when it was first built, only then it wouldn't have had the small missing bit at the top. I was surprised to find it so apparently, unprotected and open to the public, although there were one or two 'heavies' walking around.
Curious about Digital Archeology, I walked over to the information centres and had a look around. Apart from the technical stuff (which was fascinating - the amount of work that went into this project was phenomenal), there were two stacks of cards. On one, you could write a general message of peace etc in Syria; on the other, you could write messages that would be conveyed directly to the Syrian archeologists who'd been involved in this project. I did both. It was so moving, especially knowing what had been done to the elderly curator by Isis. If, ten or fifteen years ago, anyone had suggested the world might be involved in a major war based on religion and ancient gods, I think most people would have felt that this was the stuff of fantasy fiction. Now it's actually happening.
Last night, I watched the big Shakespeare bash from Stratford on Avon, on the bard's birthday. It was enjoyable, in spite of the fact that I dislike compilations and variety shows. The extract from MACBETH has been haunting me - it's the fact that, in spite of the fact that he's just committed bloody murder, he has a conscience, which is why he's suffering and will continue to suffer, as will Lady M eventually, and this got me wondering... if your culture allows, and even glories in, advocates, sadism and murder, might any literature at all come out of this (again thinking of Isis with its ghastly beheadings...) We're deeply involved with Macbeth because he's so human, so like us; without his ambition-driven actions and consequent remorse, there'd be no story. Did Hitler feel remorse? Did Stalin? Pol Pot? Many of the Roman emperors, and, more currently, Isis? It was Macbeth's immediate horror at what he'd been forced to do which moved me last night.
I've very recently completed editing and revising a novel: 'COUNTERPOINT', which I first began writing twenty five years ago. It's been a very strange, and often painful, journey, communing with the writer I was then, so much fuller of passion and energy than the person writing this blog, and for the first time ever, I had the manuscript read, edited and criticised by a professional colleague who was interested enough, and kind enough, to offer. It was an enlightening experience. She picked up oddities I hadn't even noticed, and gave me a perspective which I could never have achieved for myself, however much I assumed I was doing so. Her name is Rosalie Warren, and she's a very interesting, talented and unusual writer - do Google her latest book: LENA'S NEST, imagining a future in which the science of robotics has advanced beyond anything we have today (and we're certainly going that way).
'COUNTERPOINT' was accepted for publication back then, but for personal reasons I withdrew it. The prospective publisher had even sketched out a possible cover image, and written a publicity blurb, which I meant to post here but Blogger won't recognise it as an image. I'd decided to publish under a different name - Sian Lewis, which I may well still do. On the other hand, I have quite a track record as a children's author. Thoughts on this dilemma are most welcome. And as there's no relevant image available, I'm posting one of my daughter aged around three and looking very thoughtful - not at all relevant, but rather nice (as it's black and white, you have to imagine her ginger hair). She is now one of the shakers and movers of Pipeline Theatre, based in Cornwall, which has just received yet another Arts Council grant. look out for these people in Edinburgh this year - they are seriously good.