POPPIES, ALLIUMS, REVIEWS and ROBOTS
Yet another small garden miracle happened recently. Three years ago, we planted two spectacular alliums (well, we believed the pictures in the garden centre). In their first year, they produced masses of rather floppy green leaves, and in the second, likewise, but this year in Spring a single stem began growing out of the limp salad mess, and I didn't even notice it until it was tall enough to produce a round, fat bud, out of which came this star-burst. David, with his passion for all things astronomical, would have loved it.
And concerning other things astral, I'd like to mention Amazon's star rating system for books, which is so open to abuse. A very well-established author friend and colleague of mine, Jean Ure, recently posted on Facebook that one of her books received a one star review from a young reader who wrote that she'd absolutely loved the story, but had then detected an omitted full stop! I found myself wondering if she might have been related in some way to Michael Gove who (seriously mis-quoting Bob Dylan) could take the stars out of the night-time and paint it midnight black. Yes, punctuation is important, as is spelling - they're both vital elements in the communications toolbox - but stories and poetry and the sheer music of words are so much bigger than the rules. It's a complex problem, though... I know I couldn't read a badly punctuated book because it implies ignorance of the craft of wordsmithing, but I doubt if I'd notice a single omitted full stop unless I were actively looking for it, which is not what reading's about.
A few days ago I was given a general anaesthetic for a minor wrist operation, and I'm still recovering from the after-effects of it. The reason I'm mentioning it is because Jude, my daughter, came up from Cornwall to stay with me, and we did, as always, do a lot of talking. One of the things we discussed was the fate of one of my Y/A novels: SIRIUS RISING, which has been doing the publishing rounds for a number of years, and which has nearly, but not quite, made it. If I put it on Amazon KDP, which I've been long considering doing, then formatting and cover design become major issues. Jude is now quite a whizz at Photoshop, so we began playing. The other important thing she talked about was "SPILLIKIN", which is the play her company's pitching to the Edinbrough Festival. Its theme is fascinating and thought-provoking - the use of advanced robotics to cope with the problems of dementia in an ageing population (a robot has infinite patience, and yes, there's a real one in the play). I will be saying more about this in my next blog, but in the meantime, do take a look at Pipeline Theatre's website.
And lastly, of course ...