BHD’s new collection of short stories, Not A Matter of Choice, is due out mid November from Sentinel. Here’s a sneak preview of the proposed

cover art:




In the meantime, TalkingtoOwls  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand   APennySpitfire-frontcoverare available from local bookshops, including

The Wordsworth Bookshop in St Andrews Churchyard, Penrith

Where you can also get a very good cup of coffee, and something to eat!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were in the city [of London. Is there another?] last weekend; a rare and exciting experience for us CBs. Among the many delights on offer was a night at the theatre – to see Top Hat, the stage adaptation of that old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie. The show, at The Aldwych, was snappy and crackled with sharp dialogue as the protagonists took a pop at one another. I’ve been ear-wormed with one of the Irving Berlin tunes ever since!

But also, I’ve been fascinated by photographs in the show programme. What strikes me is the way that, in the big production numbers, when the stage is full of dancers all dressed the same and doing the same thing, it is the individuality of the pereformers that stands out.

I noticed it during the show. One dancer, top hatted and tuxed, seemed for a moment to be even better than the lead! But when I look at the programme, the moment can be held, and studied. Whether it is the dancing girls in their cloche hats and tassel skirts, or the men in their top hat and tails, with canes, look closely and you will see that however similar they appear at first glance, they are in fact, all slightly different: the angle of the head, the position of the hands. Each, as Gerard Manley Hopkins told us ‘selves-goes itself’.

Most of all, it is the faces that paint the difference, those pairs of sparkling eyes, those mouths ‘Deals out that being indoors each one dwells’. I have noticed similar peculiarities in photographs before, but they have been photographs from the past: regimental groups, old school photographs, with their ranked and uniformed scholars. I think that I had assumed that it was them being of the past that made the faces so scrutably interesting – but the Top Hat programme is of my own time: these faces telll their stories in the present. Of course they do! And nowhere do they tell those stories more obvioulsy than when those faces look out from a group that has been choreographed into apparent conformity.

This is, or aspires to be, a writer’s blog. So what can these reflections, upon photographs of a stage production, offer to a writer? Perhaps the raised question of how we get such individuation into the characters we present in words alone.

(you’ll find those GM Hopkins lines, btw, in ‘As Kingfishers Catch Fire’….)