Sunday, November 30, 2014

Exclamation marks (those frowned-on punctuation marks) allowed today!


After a week of dry-stone wall to dry-stone wall of FOG, I was going to share with you Thomas Hood’s poem November…here’s an excerpt…

No sun – no moon!

No morn – no noon -

No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.

No sky - no earthly view -

No distance looking blue….

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease…


But today, we can see real sky. Look! Taken from the bedroom window at 8 a.m!

real sky

Friday, November 28, 2014

A taste of February


This week we have had wall-to-wall mist, damp and gloom, and my bike rides on the Trail have become something I make myself do to keep healthy, rather than something I do because I can’t stop myself. It’s been like February, and you know how I feel about February. February is foul. It should be named and shamed and dropped from the calendar.

I’m back to where I was in the spring, when I was feeling glum and also feeling I couldn’t blog about it, when so many people are so much worse off than me – people with real problems – like the 425,000 children in Gaza that UNICEF says need immediate psychosocial support.

homeless gaza children

Or the thousands of people in Gaza who are homeless due to the war in the summer, and who are now coping with terrible flooding, which has caused the UNRWA to declare a state of emergency. The Disasters Emergency Committee began an appeal for Gaza after the war, and they are still raising funds. You can donate here.

So I’m not going to moan any more this morning. I’m going to sit and think about episode 1 of the screenplay, about how to replace a dodgy scene that doesn’t ring true. And later I’ll go out on my bike, and still later, Dave and I will walk down to Hassop Station, through the mist, along the damp Trail, through the mushy leaves. Crikey, I’m already feeling better. I hope you enjoy your day.


Tree photographs of local trees courtesy of Isaac (@isaach) taken in another November. The bottom one is the only oak I know in the village.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Love letter

It was so lovely to spend the day with my big sister Kath. Just to be with her, not to do anything special.

And I enjoyed the change of scene – the 50 mile drive there and back through Sherwood Forest and the arable lands of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. She lives so near, but the countryside couldn’t be more different. There’s not a dry stone wall or a limestone edge in sight…just ploughed fields, some of them already green with winter wheat.  And it’s balmier there - some of the beeches and birches are still sporting leaves! You expect the oaks – which we don’t have here – to be thick with rusty leaves, but not the other trees.


I came home to real post: a decorated card from Lux (4) with a message (which she dictated for Wendy to write.)

Dear Sue

I hope you have a good day and I love you.

And I want to take care of you.

I want you to have a star of good luck and many good things.

You are my Sue and I love you,



You are my star of good luck, Lux.

lux 2


Monday, November 24, 2014

Current status

work - The first draft of my screenplay for the TV serial of BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU is done. It’s currently being read by three friends.

life – I’ve finished taking the antibiotics and I’m pleased. They were making me have weird, disturbing dreams and also making me depressed.

the countryside  - (courtesy of Isaac)


readingThe Little House on the Prairie for the first time and Cut to the Chase for the second time.

today – I’m going to see my big sister and I’m SO looking forward to it.

thinking about – who could play Sol and Fran on screen. A friend suggested Alan Rickman

alan rickman

which is a great idea. But then Chrissie suggested Juliet Stevenson (whom I adore) for Fran

juliet stevenson

which is also a good idea, except I couldn’t then have Alan Rickman (shades of Truly Madly Deeply)

So Zoe suggested Dominic West for Sol, saying he might be persuaded to play the part because of the local connection (he grew up in Sheffield, which is on the edge of the Peak District).

dominic west

He’d have to be suitably aged….

but YUM.

Do any of you have any suggestions? You were full of bright ideas when I asked you the same question about Plotting for Grown-ups last year in this blog post. I need a striking man, so please don’t suggest Bill Nighy. He’s nice but much too weedy to play my Sol.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Israeli journalist who dares to criticise Israel

Gideon Levy is a brave man.

gideon levy

He writes in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. He writes searchingly and honestly and he points out things about the current mindset and zeitgeist in Israel which are truly shocking, things which the British media do not reflect. His latest piece in Haaretz starts thus:

There was a massacre in Jerusalem on Tuesday in which five Israelis were killed. There was a war in Gaza over the summer in which 2,200 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians. A massacre shocks us; a war, less so. Massacres have culprits; wars don’t. Murder by axe is more appalling than murder by rifle, and far more horrendous than bombing helpless people trying to take shelter.

Terror is always Palestinian, even when hundreds of Palestinian civilians are killed. The name and face of Daniel Tragerman, the Israeli boy killed by mortar fire during Operation Protective Edge, were known throughout the world; even U.S. President Barack Obama knew his name. Can anyone name one child from Gaza among the hundreds killed?

If you want to read more of Levy’s excellent piece, click here. I commend it.

Levy’s last paragraph is this:

The attack in Jerusalem was a horrendous crime; nothing can justify it. But the blood that flowed there is not the only blood being spilled here murderously. The degree to which it is forbidden to say that is incredible.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meanwhile, back at Hepworth Towers

I’ve kept to my resolution of not looking at the finished first draft of my screenplay for ten days (it should be a month but you know what I’m like) and I’ve been reading books about writing screenplays, where I came across this scary quote:

What writing for television really means is that the author is trying to tell a story to a single individual, who is not obliged to listen to it, who has not paid for his seat, whose attention must be well and firmly held if he is not going to switch off his set. -Sir Basil Bartlett

….which is why I realise that my episode 1 currently starts too slowly and must be fixed, in order to grab a viewer’s attention immediately. (Chrissie told me this last week but I was only half convinced.) Bother.

Also at Hepworth Towers, I’ve been prescribed some medicine that has an instruction list and a huge long list of possible side-effects which says I am not allowed to have milk 2 hours before or within 4 hours afterwards. AArrghhh. How am I expected to have my morning mug of Yorkshire tea? Black? What? I am right now drinking Earl Grey tea with lemon – nice enough in the afternoon, but not what a writer needs when she first wakes up.

Someone should check the wording on these instructions. Look at these two sentences:

"…in rare cases, depression or psychosis can progress to thoughts of suicide, attempted suicide or completed suicide. If this happens, stop taking Ciprofloxacin and contact your doctor immediately."

Lastly, the men from the council have been doing a wonderful job on the drains in the lane. Regular readers know how I love to clear the drain on the lane. Well, they have uncovered six drains I didn’t even know were there, such as this one:


I told them they were doing a fantastic job, and they said I did a good job with my wellies. We had a little mutual appreciation chat, but they didn’t mention the blue plaque I want behind my favourite drain saying “This drain is looked after by local author, Sue Hepworth.”

Sunday, November 16, 2014

You can’t please everyone

I recently got some feedback on Plotting for Grown-ups, at second-hand. Some of you will have read the book and have your own opinions. The person who gave the feedback didn’t think much of the book, though she did say there were some laugh out loud moments. What made me laugh was when she said that 60 year old Sally’s language was “like a teenager’s. I know that is how young people talk, but it didn’t quite come off in a 60 year old.”

It’s a good job she hasn’t met me, because I talk a lot like Sally. And I am over 60. I’m tempted to say “So nerhh to her!” but that would be juvenile, and I’m never that. Oh no.

If I’m not feeling vulnerable I can take criticism of my published books on the chin. If someone gives the book a really low rating, I just think - “It may not be brilliant, but it’s not a bad book” or “They just don’t get it.”

Yesterday I found a new review on Amazon of BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU and it made my weekend. Look, I tell you when I’m fed up, or desperate, or worried, or grieving, don’t I?  So I think it’s OK to tell you when I’m delighted…to show you the review – because it’s really lovely. Clearly, Lorna Meier “gets” my book.

lorna's review

Friday, November 14, 2014

The semiotics of tables

When I finish a piece of writing, I always tidy my desk.

work finished

I’ve been working on my screenplay since I got back from Boulder in September. That’s seven weeks that my desk has looked like a paper recycling depot. Yesterday I finished the first draft. Woo-hoo! Don’t tell Dave, but when I was clearing my in-tray, and the heaps that were so heapy they wouldn’t even fit in an in-tray, I found a tax rebate I’d forgotten to bank. Oops.

Now the first draft is done, I have to sit on my hands and let it settle before I go back and read it with a fresh eye, and pick out the glitches. There is currently just one thing that’s troubling me…what the minor characters get up to in the first episode. But more of this at another time.

One of the results of working so hard at my desk for so long is that I now wake up with back-ache. So I have given up having breakfast in bed, and sit in the kitchen. The mornings have been so gloomy this week, I got out the candles. And this morning Dave was playing Anji on his guitar while I ate my home-made oatcakes and home-made lemon curd.


Yes. I do like my life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


This morning I was coming to with my first mug of Yorkshire tea, while Dave was in the bath listening to the news on the radio. Except that it sounded as if there was a playground full of schoolchildren in there as well.

He said (when I asked) that it was a report from a refugee camp in the Lebanon. They were interviewing a teacher, who said that the rebels in Syria like to shell schools. It happens often.

It feels odd that I can sit here in my warm safe study writing, while:

  • children in refugee camps are being shelled and killed
  • children in schools in Nigeria are being bombed and killed
  • families in Gaza are approaching the winter with nowhere warm and safe to live, because the Israelis bombed their homes in the summer
  • female students in occupied Palestine are being harassed by armed settlers as they go home from school
  • children in Sierra Leone are being orphaned, or are dying themselves because of Ebola

and so on, and so forth.

It’s a sad world.

How can we help?

children in refugee camp

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The work in progress

Only read this post if you’re interested in writing.

Most of you know that I’m currently adapting BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU into a TV serial, and that I’m loving it.

28 Feb front cover

But I have hit some structural problems. For example, I decided the story and plot would fit happily into four one-hour episodes. So far, so good. But then when I examined it further – actually, when I started to write the thing – I realised that some of the cliff-hangers were in the wrong places. Also, the main thrust of the story – the conflict between Sol and Fran about where to live – doesn’t get going quickly enough. I need to sort that out.

And because I am a novice screenwriter I have some micro-problems with the actual script. It’s easy to show a character is moved or sad – you just tell the actor to cry. (Oh, the power!) But how do you show VISUALLY that a character secretly fancies another character, even though they have no intention of acting on it?

And how do you show that someone stops themselves from saying something specific – as in -

FRAN stops herself from listing all he has to offer.

In a previous draft this was

FRAN thinks of all of SOL’s attractive traits and stops herself from saying them.

Everything has to be pared down so that an episode fits into 53 pages. That’s what you’re aiming at for a one hour episode. A page a minute, with space left for intro and credits, etc.

As it stands, I don’t think that this line:

FRAN stops herself from listing all he has to offer.

actually works. But it does tell the actor what is going on inside Fran’s head. Maybe that is good enough. Maybe it isn’t.

It’s a dull, damp November day and I’m so pleased. It means I can happily get on with the screenplay without yearning to be outside.

And if any of you have any suggestions as to how to show visually that someone fancies someone else I’d be delighted to hear them.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Red poppies, white poppies, and rain

We (at Bakewell Quaker Meeting) had our silent peace vigil planned for months, so we weren’t going to be put off by a tiny spot of rain.

In the event, it wasn’t a tiny spot. It poured down for the whole hour we stood there with our banner.

We remember all victims of war

- civilians and soldiers.

Let’s all say no to war.

We got very wet, despite umbrellas.

Some sensible Friends wore waterproof trousers. Some wore wellies. Some wore their navy nubuck Guat boots and got soaked to the ankles.

Some had fathers or grandfathers who had fought in a world war. Some had fathers or grandfathers who had been conscientious objectors. Some wore red poppies to remember British soldiers who died in war. Some wore white poppies, a symbol of peace, white poppies, which remember all people – of whatever country – harmed by war. Most wore both.

Some of the passing public wouldn’t look at us. But we got some smiles, some thumbs up, one friendly V sign.

And none of us got trench foot.

peace vigil 8 11 14

Some of us want to do it again.

peace poster sasha

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

This morning: 7.34 a.m.

I am sitting in bed working on the screenplay.

Dave is sitting in the bath reciting Latin poetry.

I like my life.

longreave lane

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

what my life feels like right now

And the days are not full enough

And the nights are not full enough

And life slips by like a field mouse

                      Not shaking the grass.

Ezra Pound


There are so many things I want to slot into each day and I can’t – probably because the screenplay is consuming me.

Here, totally unrelated, is another gate picture: this one was taken by Rosemary Mann, whom I first met online through some of my photographs of Wensleydale. She owns a delightful holiday cottage in Wensleydale and she tweets fabulous photos of the Yorkshire Dales, with the handle @1SouthViewHawes

Rosemary Mann's farm-gate-2

Thanks, Rosemary.

Monday, November 03, 2014


What do long dark evenings at home mean to you?

We don’t have a telly at Hepworth Towers. So we watch a short DVD (45 minutes?) then we play games.

The trouble is that whatever we play – Crokinole,


Scrabble or Go – Dave always wins. After the clocks changed last week, he ordered a dart board, and last night was the maiden flight of the darts. We played clock darts, and Dave won.

Of course. 

He got 20, while I was still struggling to hit 6. He doesn’t crow, he doesn’t gloat, he doesn’t boast. He is sweet and lovely. But it’s sooooooo discouraging to embark on a game with him and know he will always get a better score.

I’m going to design a new game that involves writing dialogue. Maybe then I’ll have a chance.