I recently came across the little known musical “Miser” the story of Margery Jackson of Carlisle, a fascinating story which had me writing the following review:
‘Miser’ the Musical
Anthony Steven’s production gives the audience colourful snapshots of the life of the remarkable Margery Jackson of Carlisle, based on the biography written by Helen Hallaway.
This clever musical presents the audience with fascinating insights into the life and prospects of an orphaned girl in the eighteenth century. Born in 1722 daughter of the Mayor of Carlisle, Margery was orphaned at the age of ten. From that moment on her life was extremely hard but she appears to be a determined lady who though apparently a spinster comes to possess a Court Mantua dress of blue silk. Though high fashion for a short period these extremely wide skirt dresses were the dress of married ladies, therefore Margery’s ownership of one raises unanswered questions. Through hardship and protracted legal battles over her rights to a share of her parents’ estate she doggedly battles on in a world where ladies wanting and deserving status needed to have access to a dowry in order to marry well. Much hampered by the lawyers in the Court of Chancery in London she pursues her brothers and their heirs through the courts until late in life she finally succeeds. However this success does not bring happiness to this now old woman whose life experience has made her miserly. Though now relatively wealthy her manner and reputation as a miser grows.
Anthony Steven’s script and production of this musical version of Margery’s life is handled with great skill and sympathy. The choreography and singing were excellent and the team of David Day (Director) and arrangers Jerry King and Mark Johnson should also be congratulated. Most definitely this production deserves to be given a wider audience and would justify a run at Keswick’s illustrious Theatre by the Lake at the very least.
All in all ‘Miser’ is a clever and edifying production worthy of wider recognition.
If anyone comes across a performance of this musical go and see it, and for those that write, like myself, I am sure you will be tempted to dramatise it.
Most authors find themselves writing false starts to novel. Ideas that seemed to be good at the time become bogged down when they realise that either they don’t really know where the plot is going or that it has fallen off the rails. Perversely this author wrote an ending with absolutely no idea of where the plot was to begin. It has however been filed away, just in case. Strangely so far I have been unable to give Ian Vaughan a happy ending to his exploits, justice yes, but not happiness. Maybe there will come a time for him to find peace and joy.
TO LIVE AGAIN
Richard V. Frankland
One by one the stars faded and died in the gathering light of the eastern sky as slowly silhouette images of palm trees emerged from their night-time hiding places. The ocean, a few minutes before a steel grey, had developed a silver sheen planished by a gentle breeze. Away on the horizon dark shapes appeared as the dawn back lit the Deserta Islands.
Stepping out of the bedroom onto the balcony he turned and closed the curtains behind him. Did he not want to disturb her sleep or was he selfishly wanting the magic of this unfolding beauty to be his alone? The flicker of guilt passed in an instant wiped from his consciousness as the eastern sky turned a pastel yellow, which, deepened with every passing moment to a brilliant orange that now formed a fiery crown over the distant islands. The breeze, woken by the dawn, idly stirred the palm fronds and inspired the first notes of the dawn chorus. He glanced to the west at the last remaining stars fleeing from the light of this planet’s life giving mother, the sun, that now had pushed her head up to peek over the islands and bring back vibrant colour to the exotic landscapes of Madeira.
The greys and blacks of the night were now lush greens, rich reds, joyful yellows and dazzling oranges. The ocean minutes ago dappled silver was now a deepening blue. He looked down at the manicured garden and a bed of bright bird of paradise plants, their heads pointing imperiously at a slight upward angle, as if showing distain towards the lower plants in the nearby borders. He lent forward resting his elbows onto the balcony balustrade transfixed by the scene unfolding before his eyes. It felt as if this was the first dawn he had witnessed, but it was not, and as he thought back through his life he recalled many more that he had seen, cold dark and dangerous, none that filled his heart with the joy that he now felt rising within him.
A gull lazily hanging on the breeze glided past towards the sun, and his gaze following it at first wandered away, distracted by the sight of Funchal’s neat terraced rows of white-walled houses with terracotta roofs, picked out in sharp contrast by the sunshine against the greens of the surrounding gardens. Letting his gaze stray seaward again he noticed in the far distance the approach of a cruise liner, no doubt laden with tourists who in a few hours will, in their thousands descend upon the town, filling the gift shops, cable car and wicker sleds. Where should they go today he wondered; his thoughts ranging over the map conjured up in his mind? Ponta Moniz was a good place to enjoy lunch, and set on northwest corner of the island, a spot where the vast Atlantic shows its strength, even on the calmest of days.
He had not heard the curtain being pulled open and jumped slightly as her lips touch his shoulder. “So here you are, my love,” she said, kissing him again and wrapping her arms around his waist. He felt the coolness of her silk dressing gown against his skin. “You better put some clothes on before the early risers start to go outside; I don’t want you arrested and put in prison now that I have found you again.”
“I was so taken up with the beauty of it all I totally forgot about clothes,” he replied, carefully turning so as not to break her hold. “Shower?” she nodded, and giving him a gentle squeeze let her arms fall to her sides and led the way into the bedroom discarding the dressing gown as she went.
He was home, back from the nightmare that was Helmand Province, home for good, no fear today of a snipers bullet or roadside bombs, he was home to live again.
Having read this again a plot has just come to mind, but not one set in Afghanistan. Bizarre, totally bizarre. The question is, will it truly end happily? Probably not.
It is ten o’clock at night and the end of an eleven hour day which has felt like only four. Odd you might say, but not for an author when the plot is in full flood and the words impulse through the finger tips as they hammer away at the computer keyboard. The typing errors can wait until tomorrow but today is first draft day, and when it goes like this I find little other than spelling to adjust. Oh, if only everyday I could find the words and ideas coming as they did in a blast of around five thousand like today.
As I leave my action station, that garden office where I write, lost in my other world, the world of Ian Vaughan and those other characters he rubs shoulders with, I feel tired but content that my day has not been wasted and my new novel ‘ A Shadow Beneath the Long White Cloud’ is much further on, and on a surer footing.
Maybe tomorrow will be different and I find the words, unlike today, hidden in the recesses of my mind reluctant to show themselves and forcing me to divert my attention to the research required for scenes later in the plot. It is, however, more than likely that by reading back through todays marathon achievement, sorting the spelling and odd clumsy phrase as I go, I will pick up the pace again and achieve another step forward all be it a shorter one.
Now however it is time to turn the lights out.
At Winchester Discovery Centre’s 10th Anniversary event
on 25th November 2017 from 10am to 4pm
I am offering a three book deal.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Winchester’s Discovery Centre, Hampshire Library Service have invited Local Authors: Richard V. Frankland and Richard Hardie together with Alison Symes, Heather Chamberlain and Finian Black to talk about their writing and give short readings from their works.
Entry is FREE and the event runs from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 25th November.
With Christmas just around the corner the event also provides a chance to purchase signed copies of their books from the authors. With the choices from Richard V. Frankland’s, Ian Vaughan thrillers, through to Richard Hardie’s Temporal Detective Agency teenagers novels alongside the novels of Finian Black and the childrens books of Heather Chamberlain and Alison Symes to choose from, what more could you want for?