India Blog 3: Jalandhar 27 June 2019

We took a taxi to Alawalpur via Phagwara. The driver waited while we joined a family celebration of granddaughter Nimitta’s 9th birthday. Once settled in my house in Alawalpur we set off for the Haveli and the museum and restaurant called Rangla (colourful) Punjab.
Photo 1: Nini in front of a tableau of women cooking roti in a tandoori oven.
Photo 2: A butter churn. My grandmother (and I) used one in the 1960’s so this is not that old an item.
Photo 3: A quern. Same comment as above.

India Blog 2: Goraya, Punjab 26/27 June 2019

On our way north-west there was much catching up with sleep; two breaks spaced out : long haul flights seem to be much busier, possibly due to having a TV screen at every seat. I made arrangements to have our internet connections set up as soon as we reached home. We have five mobile wifi hotspots between us which have been bought by members of the family on previous trips. Everyone needs the internet! Next, we cleaned the floors and removed dust covers from the furniture. During the night the electricity went off and, as there was a breeze, Nini and I moved out into the courtyard. Next day we visited the local temple where, in the 19th century, a member of my family was a holy man and is still revered.

Travelling in India: 26 June 2019

Seven Travellers
Coming out of Delhi Airport, the first thing was to locate our driver and vehicle which took longer than I had expected. I am going to copy my friend Mairi’s family nomination system. Grandson15 loved the spaciousness of the Tempo Traveller people carrier. He sat in the middle behind the driver and had a good front view of DelhI streets. In previous years I have loved driving through Delhi on arrival (in a non-airconditioned vehicle in those days) but the air is now very polluted; the streets are clogged with cars, the buildings covered in dust as are the people who, I feel, struggle to keep life running. We make slow progress (two hours of the six that Google maps tells me it should take to reach Goraya in the Punjab). Delhi seems to stretch closer every year towards the next town on the Grand Trunk Road but we are happy to be heading north-west and home in India!

GoT and Me

This is the story of how I came to watch the whole series of Game of Thrones. I have told it to several people so it’s about time I shared it with you. It must have been before Series 1 was broadcast when my stepson gave me the first book as a Christmas present. I read until Ed Stark beheaded the lad who had come from the Wall with the warning about the return of the White Walkers. I didn’t read any further. The same fate awaited episode 1 – this time I managed to watch until Bran was pushed from window of the tower. Not for me, I thought. Eight years from then and I joined my local branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild and went to the Annual Scottish Gathering in Stirling. The main speaker happened to be Michelle Carragher, embroiderer for the costumes of the main characters of Game of Thrones! Her presentation was excellent covering how her embroidered motifs changed with the development of the characters. She worked by herself and had to have several copies of embroidered pieces because if blood was spilled on one (there’s a lot of blood spilling on GoT), and the scene needed re-shooting she had to be ready with another. It was a fascinating lecture and we joked that we would now watch GoT to spot the embroidery. Though Michelle said she would spend hours on an item only to discover that in the finished scene it was covered up!
Over the previous Christmas I had recorded a programme about the writer, George Martin. He is worth 64 million dollars now but lives in the same house as before he was rich. I liked him. He had been a screenwriter in Hollywood and written for ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’. I remember these. I liked him even more! The people in Santa Fe love him because he has spent money on the town. What an admirable man!
Series 1 to 7 of GoT was shown in blocks of three episodes a night over Christmas. I recorded it and tried to watch it again. But still it couldn’t hold my attention. Five months later, in May, my son told me, ‘Mum, you have to disregard the violence and the sex and concentrate on the story. It only really gets going in Series 3’. I tried again. So weird to see the Christmas adverts even though I was fast forwarding them. And I was hooked. Not just on the embroidery, though that was magnificent too.
Once I’d watched Series 8 (it was on national news because the fans were so hyped up about it, especially in the US), I found a programme about the making of it. The people in Belfast who had worked on it were pretty thankful for seven years of employment.
George Martin said that in Hollywood his stories were knocked back because ‘there are too many characters. Can’t you cut some out?’ He always said no and held on until the right offer came. Good for him.

The Grill on the Corner and The Wee Drunk.

We were invited out for a late Father’s Day meal organised by Nini (whoever said she was bossy? Only in a positive way and what a brilliant organiser!). She chose the Grill on the Corner and it was a superb venue. The food was delicious and Father was spoiled, as he should be. I chose Aubergine steaks with couscous and it was beautifully served and delicious. The waiter (Calum – he introduced himself) was most attentive. We had taken the bus into town. Going in, the bus driver was really slow and there were some noisy people. On our return there was a long wait at the station for our bus and again some noisy people. At Balgrayhill a young woman with a baby in a pram tried to get off at her stop but a wee drunk man blocked her way to the door. Driver got out of his cab but the drunk said no she wasn’t passing him because she hadn’t let him sit in the seat that was for the disabled, as he said he was, and should have been allowed to sit there (though there were two prams in that space for the whole journey). A young man pushed past the pram to manhandle the drunk off the bus (the driver was wisely not touching him). But the drunk was not for moving until other people shouted that the reserved for disability seats next the stairs were empty and why wasn’t he sitting there? Come on and sit down! So he did, though now shouting abuse at the young man who had tried to push him out of the bus. The girl with the pram got off and the driver drove to the next stop whereupon the wee drunk man got off. What amazes me is that drunks always seem to know which is their stop!

Neil Gaiman Masterclass

This is the second writer’s masterclass that I’ve signed up for. The first was James Patterson’s and the most memorable thing about it is that he advocates outlining your novel and building on the outline. I’m trying that with my Book Four. Not so much writing the words at the moment, but imagining the skeleton. Neil Gaiman writes fantasy and it’s wonderful. I loved ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ and ‘Anansi Boys’. And if you are a writer get hold of his non-fiction collection ‘The View from the Cheap Seats’. Some of the material he covers in the class is in the book as speeches he has delivered. He teaches Creative Writing at university level so knows his stuff and is easy to relate to onscreen.
Margaret Atwood next. Each masterclass costs £85. www.masterclass.com

BBC writers room Scotland

On 31st May 2019 in Glasgow, Peter Shelley presented 10 screen writing tips. Nothing new but it was good to hear it again.
Write every day, generate new ideas away from your computer, read and watch, communicate your passion, be more entertaining than your competition, tell your story through action, develop your story carefully, be driven by your characters, take great care with your dialogue and think about what your reader is looking for.
Another important point was that ‘pitch’ is a two-way conversation.
It was a good day.