Wednesday 21 December 2011

Time and tide and buttered eggs wait for no man

The wonder of Christmas through a childs eyes is something to behold especially when you see them take part and consume the rituals that have been with a parent for many a moon. We have many - the specific Thomas Hardy location where the holly is cut, the yule log and Christmas Eve Kelly Kettle brew up and fire. There is one other however that brings more excitement than all the others put together and that is The Box of Delights.

If we are lucky we get to read the book by John Masefield (1935 - also known as When The Wolves Were Running) but the most eagerly awaited ritual is the delightful 1984 BBC adaptation starring Patrick Troughton as Cole Hawlings and Robert Stephens as the evil Abner Brown. A perfect BBC production at the time of the Radiophonic Workshop.

The central character is Kay Harker who, on returning from boarding school, finds himself mixed up in a battle to possess a magical box, which allows the owner to go small (shrink) and go swift (fly), experience magical wonders contained within the box and go into the past.

The owner of the box is an old Punch and Judy man called Cole Hawlings, whom Kay meets on a railway station. They have an instant rapport, and this leads Cole to confide that he is being chased by a man called Abner Brown and his gang. For safety, Cole entrusts the box to Kay, who then goes on to have many adventures which are set with a magical Christmas backdrop.

I can remember, back in 1984, excited beyond belief as on Christmas Eve the final episode was transmitted. The excitement begins a few days before we start the first episode and we finish on Christmas Eve with the last. The screams of excitement are just as loud as those on Christmas morning. Long may it continue - whatever our age. 

Monday 12 December 2011

Buried Treasure Part 2

This could so easily have ended up in a rubbish sack somewhere between 1968 and today. Thankfully it remained hidden away until recently - I can just about remember it from an early birthday and hope that somewhere there is similar wrapping paper being produced today. Delightful stuff. I particularly like that badger in his party hat!

Friday 9 December 2011

Thursday 8 December 2011

Reading Matter

My ever expanding pile of books to be read has just got bigger - a visit to two of my favourite Wessex bookshops yielded a volume from each by the most excellent Little Toller Books of Wimborne Minster. 

The Cross Keys Bookshop in Salisbury never ceases to amaze me. It hasn't failed me yet. I find books on the shelves of this orgasmic shop that I didn't even know had been published - new Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious titles that I hope and pray may reach my Christmas stocking. I came away with A Shepherd's Life by WH Hudson (originally published in 1910) - I am ashamed to say I have never read Hudson, he is now firmly in my reading pile. I know of him through the writings of "BB" and that is as far as it ever got with me. I do have an interest in shepherds though - the Gabriel Oak and Barclay Wills sort and this was my reason for purchasing this lovely Little Toller edition.  

The other book I have read and will do so again. I originally came across Kenneth Allsop when I first read In The Country back in the 1980's when bunking off from college studies. I found a 1970's edition and I couldn't put it down - it's strange looking back now as I sit only a couple of miles away from his Mill at West Milton, West Dorset that our paths would cross in some sort of way. Such an interesting chap (known to millions in the 1960's through the Tonight programme on the BBC which was the first early evening news programme).

I have him to thank, for if it were not for him I wouldn't spend so much time enjoying the delights of Powerstock Common with my children. He fought bitterly with the Forestry Commission to stop them clear-felling Powerstock Common (now a most lovely Dorset Wildlife Trust nature reserve) which follows the old Bridport to Maiden Newton railway line and it is now enjoyed by many thanks to him.

I came across the new edition quite by chance in Bridports delightful bookshop (one of the top 50 bookshops in the UK - The Guardian and The Independent). I also found out that the recently cancelled Kenneth Allsop memorial talk, as part of the Bridport Literary Festival, will take place in the new year with Ronald Blythe. Certainly something to look forward to in the dull days of new year!

Look after your local bookshops, support them and love them. Support the Indie Bound Get Local campaign and keep books on the high street - keep money in the local economy, embrace what makes them unique, help the environment, create more choice, benefit from their expertise, make them a destination and importantly keep the high street healthy!