I was very pleasantly surprised to get a mail the other day asking permission to screen The Shepherd Lord trailer at an International Independent Film Festival in the Ukraine. Would I be interested? Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back? Do the Krankies like Irn Bru? You bet I’ll be interested. I packaged up the DVD safely and tenderly kissed the envelope for luck as I sent it off to the Steppes this morning. All sounds very romantic doesn’t it? A homely Yorkshire tale capturing the imagination of somebody else in a far off land. On that note, I am also intrigued at the hits I get on my Web Site from other parts of the world – 22 countries and still counting. There are the obvious ones of course, like New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Canada but then there are the exotic ones – Japan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
Wish me luck for the Film Festival. I can only hope that a talent scout from Hollywood sees it.
Archive for March, 2010
I had a great day out this Sunday at Towton. Over a thousand people came through the gates and next year’s event, the five hundred and fiftieth anniversary, is set to be even bigger.
I was amazed at the number of Ricardian Societies that were represented there and quite a few of them bought my book so they must be an open minded lot, as my plot is mainly based on Lancastrian families
The bonus for me was speaking with a lot of enthusiastic people who are keen to volunteer information on local history and folklore. One chap has a theory about the family that raised The Shepherd Lord – he reckons that they lived on some land known as Robinson’s farm. Another gentleman told me that in his lifetime, he remembers the lodge house of Bolling Hall being dismantled with a promise to rebuild it elsewhere. I have since found the location of Bolling Park Lodge – it is now a housing development, just off Wakefield Road. Whether it has been re-built somewhere else, I’ve yet to find out but what a cracking story – I hope it’s true!
I was delighted to get my first two bits of fan mail through the post today. I have had some wonderful comments from cyberspace but getting stuff delivered by the postman was a great feeling. As well as receiving these, I got a nice signed picture and a note from Kate Humble as I sent her a copy of my book, following her brilliant performance on the BBC with Lambing Live. I thought the programme was brilliant and really conveyed the harsh realities of shepherding. I tried to convey this in my book and hope that this was achieved. Personally, I think lambing is not as hard as shearing. Try holding a 90kg struggling animal down to give it a haircut when it doesn’t want one and you’ll maybe begin to understand why. I don’t have a sheepdog to round up my little flock, so catching them is like playing rugby – only rougher. They instinctively know when it’s shearing time and deliberately head for the nettle patch!
The vet called recently to check the beasts out for Tuberculosis, EEC rules you see, although unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for me) I wasn’t there. He managed to test them all apart from my demonic looking black goat that is the self-appointed leader of both sheep and goats. That’s a job for me over Easter, catching the wily fleet-footed black goat. Last time I caught her she rewarded me with a backwards butt of her head that gave me a fat lip for a week. I’m wearing a gum shield this time
This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the anniversary of the Battle of Towton and the event that led to me writing The Shepherd Lord. The old hawthorn tree in the photograph was there when the battle was fought and is said to be located in the spot that was the epicentre of the battle. Just think about it, Edward IV may have rested under that tree or leaned against it when he was seeking some respite from the heat of he battle.
I chose this picture as it gives a clear view of the battlefield which has been largely undisturbed since medieval times. The large boundaries are pretty much the same as they would have been when the Houses of York and Lancaster slugged it out for the throne of England.
This Sunday morning there are to be a series of guided walks on the battlefield – large areas of which are normally closed to the public. You will be able to walk the battle lines where the Lancastrian forces were deployed. I have done the walk several times now and the guides are really knowledgeable and help put the battle in perspective from a geographic as well as a historical perspective. This promises to be one of the biggest Palm Sunday events for a long time – with re-enactors, a medieval camp, a memorial service, a falconry display and a hog-roast amongst the many attractions.
There will be a number of stalls in the barn selling merchandise and books.
I have been given the most comfortable billet of the day in the nearby Rockingham Arms, where I will be showing The Shepherd Lord trailer and selling my novel to unsuspecting members of the public.
So, if you want a cracking day out, just put the village of Towton into your SatNAv and once you get there, the car park is clearly signposted.
I hope to see you there.
I was honoured when I was invited to a local school to give a talk on World Book Day recently. Walking into the classroom to be greeted by Years 5 and 6 was a big departure from the daily drudge of the office. No-one greets me there, with an enthusiastic chorus of “good morning Mr. Algar.” Perhaps, they should.
There is something special about meeting so many fresh-faced young people, before they get knocked about with the rough and tumble of adulthood, the failing job market and juggling finances to pay the bills.
They were, without exception, a quick-witted bunch so that put me on my mettle straight away. I was surprised at the intellect that was behind their questions. One young chap seemed to know his history as well as I did. I got one of the girls to help me read out one of the passages and she did a better job than me; with clear enunciation, pitch-perfect timing and enthusiasm.
Not everyone likes books of course, but I was quick to point out that some of the best movies are derived from books and then showed them The Shepherd Lord trailer. I then went on to explain that writing a screen-play for a movie is a very different kind of writing and that mopped up any resistance to the notion of creative writing.
You can read more about it on the following link, if you like:
I was reminded today of the debt I owe the good people of Sheffield. I have to admit it has fostered some remarkable talent.
Firstly, a Sheffield lady was recommended to me to make a fantastic fruit cake, iced with the Bolling coat of arms for the book launch. It took months in preparation but as you can see from the photo it was worth the wait. Secondly, it turns out her daughter is a theatrical costumier and I employed her to make the Shepherd Lord costume – I literally threw two sheepskin rugs from Ikea through the door, said get on with that and look at what she did with them! Finally, I needed a banner making for World Book Day and was passed onto another friend of theirs. You can’t really see from the photo but the work is built up in applique stitching. It is so fine it looks like it has been sewn by the tiny mice tailors of Gloucester.
So, thanks once again Sheffield, I owe you one.
I am delighted to announce that my Publishers have entered my little book for the Portico Prize. There is a long way to go between being entered and getting onto the shortlist, but nonetheless who can blame me for being excited!!!!!!!!
For those of you that do not know about this competition, it is targeted at work that shows literary merit and is based wholly or partly in the North of England. Well, there’s no mistaking Tom Lawkland for an effete Southerner and the backdrop of the beautiful Dales and Majestic Lake District hits bang on the mark.
Past judges have included Ludovic Kennedy, Dora Bryan, Bill Tidy, Jenni Murray, Martin Bell and Kate Adie. The prize is announced at the Great Hall in Manchester Town Hall on November 18th.
Please wish me luck and say a prayer for me – I need all the help I can get.