Sunday Slackers

The internet of fascinating things to while away your Sunday.

Shakespeare

Literature into Film: The Top 10 Shakespeare films

Animals: Sweaters for penguins – gotta love the Penguin Books one!

Creativity: A messy desk is a sign you’ve got it

Trickery: Illusionist fun

Life: The hidden danger of comparing yourself to others

Creativity

Art: Modern day painted ladies

Game of Thrones: (Spoilers Alert) George’s original plans

Nature into Art: Fantastic Fungi

Star Wars: Snow Sculptures

Travel: The fun side of the London Underground

Perspective: How to destroy your understanding of time

Time

Images: Pixabay

Rochester LitFest: Six Ways to Wellbeing Swale

An innovative new collaboration between Ideas Test, Swale CVS and ourselves is set to help teenagers in Swale boost their wellbeing.

6 Ways to Wellbeing Swale logos

Ideas Test and Swale CVS will be offering an exciting programme of free taster sessions and workshops through autumn as part of Kent County Council’s Six Ways to Wellbeing campaign. The events will explore how getting involved with something creative can improve health and wellbeing. If you’re a young person (age 13-19 or 25 SEN) this is your chance to have fun with poetry and spoken word, both writing and performing.

We’re delighted that the brilliant and exuberant Dan Simpson will be with us to run poetry and spoken word sessions, which will culminate in a short performance at a finale of the whole project. He’ll be kicking off the entire Ideas Test Six Ways project by crowdsourcing a poem from 10am on Monday morning, finishing on Friday 24th October. The finished result will be recorded for broadcast at the finale event. Read more about the poem here or join in on Twitter with #wellbeingpoem

The first of the LitFest hosted sessions is Capturing Stories – a digital storytelling workshop by Jaye to make the most of smart phones or tablets when attending events. Covering the basics of Twitter, Vine, Audio Boom and Storify, this session will help the participants capture and document their activities across all the different sessions they take part in, aiding them in their quest to obtain a Bronze Arts Award by having an easily accessible digital archive. Blogging will also be covered. (This and ‘Captured Stories’ are also available for those not doing an Arts Award or taking part in other sessions).

The workshop dates are as follows:

Saturday 25/10 12 – 4pm Capturing Stories. Pulse Cafe, Sittingbourne
Tuesday 4/11 6.30pm – 9pm Poetry/Spoken Word. Sheerness County Youth Centre
Thursday 13/11 6pm – 8.30pm Poetry/Spoken Word. New House Sports and Youth Centre, Sittingbourne
Saturday 15/11 11am – 3pm Poetry/Spoken Word. Sheerness County Youth Centre
Monday 17/11 5pm – 7.30pm Poetry/Spoken Word West Faversham Community Centre (disability group/all welcome)
Saturday 29/11 11am – 4pm Poetry/Spoken Word. Phoenix House, Sittingbourne (open workshop and final rehearsal)
Saturday 6/12 6pm – 8pm Finale Performance Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Saturday 13/12 12noon – 2pm Captured Stories. Pulse Café, Sittingbourne
The finale performance will include activity from the other partners in the project overall. See the Ideas Test website for more information.

The ‘Captured Stories’ session on 13/12 will bring together and share all the media surrounding the project.

All sessions are completely free to attend and you can book on line here or by calling 07713 865955. Cassy will be delighted to send you all the information you need to know. Please note that photography and other media will be shared on line and in promotional material.

The Six Ways to Wellbeing are all about doing more of the things you enjoy, with research showing that this can help improve your moods, strengthen your relationships and even add seven years to your life! It can be something as small as having a dance around, meeting a new person or learning a new skill.

The Six Ways are:

Connect – with family, friends, colleagues, neighbours
Be active – walk, run, garden, dance
Take notice – be curious, reflect on experiences
Keep learning – try something new
Give – doing something for others
Grow your world – planet care for its sustainability
You can find ourselves, Ideas Test, Swale CVS and Six Ways to Wellbeing on Twitter @RochLitFest @IdeasTest @SwaleCVS and @liveitwelluk, all of whom will be tweeting about the project under #sixwaystowellbeing. Six Ways to Wellbeing is also on Facebook, please search for ‘liveitwellkent’.

Find out more about the Six Ways to Wellbeing at http://www.sixwaystowellbeing.org.uk.

This programme of arts events is being funded jointly by Kent County Council, Artswork and The Royal Opera House Bridge.

Rochester Literature Festival 2014: Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

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We’re delighted to be opening this year with an hilarious and heart-warming one woman show with actress Sunny Ormonde – the outrageous Lilian Bellamy from BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, the world’s longest running soap.

Over the course of the next ten days, we’ll be joined by as-seen-on-tv-off-his-trolley comic genius Phil Kay, master of freeform performance and storytelling, and notorious Australian, Trenton Oldfield – who served six months at her Majesty’s Pleasure for disrupting the 2012 Boat Race in a protest against elitism.

We will be hosting two wonderful authors who’ll fascinate you with insights and anecdotes from their latest books: Angela Buckley introduces us to The Real Sherlock Holmes – Detective Jerome Caminada, whose methodologies mimicked Conan Doyle’s genius, and Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, who will discuss the impact of reality on fiction. While No One Was Watching is set against the backdrop of the Kennedy assassination and the abduction of a young girl from the grassy knoll on that fateful day.

Sadly, we have to announce the postponement of one of our family events,Assassin, due to technical issues. Featuring the fantastic Joe Craig reading extracts from his Jimmy Coates series – part boy, part weapon, totally deadly – and music from Jacob Bride, Graham Sykes and Jamie Godfrey, this will hopefully take place early in the new year. However, we do still have the awesome Keeper of the Realms author, Marcus Alexander, who is Charlie’s Keeper, who will entertain and inspire you with his delightfully wicked fantasy adventure series – get your read on! Waterstones in Chatham have kindly agreed to sell books in the venue on the day, if you need to complete your collection.

Our interactive story game this year is Murder in the Crypt, in which you’ll be invited to solve mysteries and puzzles with Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes and Auguste Dupin. In addition, we’re holding a Cafe Crawl, where you can sample poetry and storytelling, while Bookmark’d is a chance to buy books, swap books or just listen to books, read aloud by their authors.

Our Night at the Theatre will this year be held in conjunction with Chatham Grammar School for Boys and be presented by award winning 17% playwrights,Sam Fentiman-Hall, Sarah Hehir and Maggie Drury. The Spirit of My Dream is inspired by Byron’s poem The Dream and features new plays with a fantastical theme.

An exhibition curated by ME4Writers especially for the festival, An Assemblance of Judicious Heretics, has channelled Byron to produce work inspiring madness, badness and dangerousness in the hearts of artists. A live reading will bring the visual carnage to life!

Byron’s Teapot will be our finale – a mad mix of unusual and quirky music, poetry and theatre, featuring The James Worse Public Address Method, JP Lovecraft,Dylan Oscar Rowe and Brides of Rain.

We look forward to welcoming you to our exciting – and only slightly scary – second full length festival!

To read full details, download a copy the 2014 programme and buy tickets, please visit rochesterlitfest.com.

If you have any enquiries regarding any of the events or festival in general, please email rochesterlitfest@gmail.com or telephone 07904 643770.

We look forward to seeing you 🙂

My favourite opening lines in fiction

Challenged by James T Kelly on Twitter @realjtk, I plundered my own meagre, mainly fantasy, collection, to select a few of the best.

None are from the literary giants that The Independent – who started this challenge – took theirs, but my own favourites, plus a couple I’ve bought and got as far as the first line but then … well, you know how it is. They’ve been chosen because they paint a picture in my head without describing anything physical. Or they just make me laugh.

First Among Sequels – Jasper Fforde

The dangerously high level of the Stupidity Surplus was once again the lead story of The Owl that morning.

My number one – encapsulates the ultra alternativeness of the alternative Swindon in one line.

firstamongsequels

 Stargazy Pie – Laura Lockington

Nobody understands the meaning of the word embarrassment unless they have travelled on a packed Inter City train with a small masturbating monkey, trust me on this.

We don’t know the how or why but we get it.

stargazypie

 Chocolate – Joanne Harris

We came on the wind of the carnival.

And we knew something magical was going to happen.

chocolat

 The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.

I read this for the LitFest Skywatcher event (scroll down), writing my own piece using his descriptive language to capture the feel. Reading it aloud on the Sunday afternoon, with Sophie and Lance acting it out, all was silent apart from the bells of Rochester Cathedral and Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus paying softly behind me. It was quietly chilling.

Photo: Nikki Price

Photo: Nikki Price

The Truth – Terry Practhett

The rumour spread through the city like wildfire (which had often spread through Ankh Morpork since its citizens had learned the words ‘fire insurance’).

Master of the * and turning a cliche on its head, I could probably have filled the list with lots of Pratchett.

thetruth

In fact …

The Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett (favourite first whole paragraph or two!)

The wind howled. Lightning stabbed at the earth erratically, like an inefficient assassin. Thunder rolled back and forth across the dark, rain-lashed hills.

The night was as black as the inside of a cat. It was the kind of night, you could believe, on which gods moved men as though they were pawns on the chessboard of fate. In the middle of this elemental storm a fire gleamed among the dripping furze bushes like the madness in a weasel’s eye. It illuminated three hunched figures. As the cauldron bubbled an eldritch voice shrieked: ‘When shall we three meet again?’

There was a pause.

Finally another voice said, in far more ordinary tones: ‘Well, I can do next Tuesday.’

Irresistible.

wyrd sisters

The Righteous Men – Sam Bourne

The night of the first killing was filled with song.

Macabre beauty.

righteousmen

Valhalla – Tom Holt

‘Oh, look,’ observed Napoleon. ‘There’s a speck of dust.’

The diminutive French general concerned with housekeeping? Really?

valhalla

The Northern Lights – Philip Pullman

Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening Hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.

He spelt demon wrong differently to everyone else. And why does a Hall need a capital letter? Do the Landings have capitals too?

northernlights

The Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling

The villagers of Little Hangleton still called it ‘the Riddle House’ even though it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there.

The first Potter book not to begin at No.4 Privet Drive; the first to show us how far she was prepared to take these characters; the first to give us real background on He Who Must Not Be Named; the first to give us pay-off from that trip to Olivander’s.

goblet

Jackdaws – Ken Follett

One minute before the explosion, the square at St. Cecille was at peace.

The juxtaposition of war and peace. And a must if, like me, you’re slightly obsessed by the Special Operations Executive.

jackdaws

My favourite two I’ve only read the first lines of, saved on my Kindle:

Night at the Circus – Angela Carter

‘Lor, love you, Sir!’ Fevvers sang out in a voice that clanged like dustbin lids.

Shades of Grey (God, no, not that one – relax!) Jasper Fforde

It began with my father not wanting to see the Last Rabbit, and ended up with me being eaten by a carnivorous plant.

Roll on the summer holidays …

Ok, there is one ‘classic’ that’s probably on everybody’s list:

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Defines ‘Evocative’.

rebecca