Diary of a Writer – Coping Mechanisms 5

Embarking on a new Season at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in online format with Angela by Mark Ravenhill and starring Pam Ferris in the title role, held out promise for things to come later in the year.

The theatre had organised a virtual bar and we were able to sit at home and chat with other theatre goers. We met a nice lady from Balerno we hadn’t met before and also Mairi Rosko, the theatre’s Development Director. Not the same as being in the actual bar – but hey, it helps.

Excellent walk in the arctic temp today with a longtime friend. Visited Warriston cemetery where I hadn’t been previously and bumped into (yes, really) two young friends on the way back. Non-guided tour of the tram works as we attempted to follow the Diversion signs. Goodness, there is a lot of the Eastern New Town.

I’m busy working up my talk on writing drama for Edinburgh Writers’ Club ( Monday 26th April at 7.30 – tickets from Eventbrite).

Today is Publication Day for friend Jo Allen’s latest story in her Lake District detective series. Death on the Lake is available here

May be an image of sky and text that says "Three young people on a boat. Vodka and the wrong sort of coke. JOALLEN DEATH ON THE LAKE Three people aboat. Vodka and nd wrong ot What possibly wrong? What could possibly go wrong? DCI Satterthwaite #5 Now available.or Kindle and in paperback Free to read on KU"

So, together with Sandi Toksvig’s wonderful Between the Stops and Olga Wojtas’s Miss Blaine’s Pupil and the Vampire Menace, my reading material is sorted.

Keep Safe,



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 126,127,128 – Expanding Horizons

Charles Street

So, intervals are creeping into this diary, however, thngs have been going forward. Sunday saw DH and I in front stall seats chez nous to hear David Greig, Artisitic Director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre address its patrons, and to watch the short scenes the Lyceum have commissioned and filmed called Shakespeare in Isolation. They were all good, but as a granny, my favourites were the two involving children. From Coriolanus, Valeria has taken up quilting which, she says, is hers and no one can take it from her – the lockdown has separated her from the little boy she so often looked after – heartbreaking – and Peaseblossom who represents the home schooling mum (of the elves) trying to broker peace between her warring parents (Titania and Oberon) – by zoom – brilliantly funny.

Monday it rained, and rained, and…

Not to waste a day, I devoted a lot of it to The Nonesuch which might be about to replace Frederica as my favourite GH.

I also helped a writer friend with some Edinburgh research – hence the pic of Charles Street, above. Here’s another of the house in George Square where I settled some characters in the early nineteenth century.

The Menzieses’ House

Yesterday, was the actual expanding horizon as we crossed the Forth and visited in Clackmannanshire. Driving along Glen Devon is so beautiful and our friend’s garden was looking fabulous.

I won a resounding scrabble victory although to be fair DH sat with 5/6 vowels on his tray for most of the game. I caught up with some of the National Theatre shorts and was mesmerised by Peter Mullen’s performance as the alternating jackdaw/human/pigeon. Well done to him and to writer, Douglas Maxwell.

Horrified by the accident to a No 24 bus on the cobbles in the New Town. So pleased noone was hurt.



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 77 – Cotillion

Dress for Dancing by Freya

Now that the bee sting is downgrading to just being itchy, I could think about dancing but it seems to be an activity, Scottish Country Dancing, that will take a long time to return. Lots of hand holding is involved. People get out of breath in some of the faster dances. Social distancing isn’t the point…

I finished The Toll Gate yesterday and moved on. Cotillion is up next and it prompted me to find some u-tube videos of people dancing the cotillion in regency gowns. A square dance, it does involve hand holding, but in costume the ladies are wearing gloves. It’s not danced much now but is a forerunner of Quadrilles (which I have had a lesson in doing) and the English Square dance.

Aren’t we spending our time in lockdown profitably learning all these things?

Joanne Baird runs the Portobello Book blog and this morning she’s reviewing an apposite novel called Four Minutes to Save a Life by Anna Stuart. It’s apposite because the hero is a delivery driver and we’ve all needed them in these times. Currently on offer for kindle at 99p.

Went to an online drinks party, byob, hosted by Marie of the Royal Lyceum theatre with David Greig to mark last night’s broadcast on BBC Radio 3 of Adventures with the Painted People. Took a walk. Cooked a trout caught by a family member – delicious. There’s enough left for tonight with salad. Spoke to another family member on the phone.

See you tomorrow in week twelve.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 59 – Hibernation

After the Night Before

I slept in! How, when not doing much, can one do that?

Sadly, and while doing huge amounts of wonderful work, this week brings the news that our Royal Lyceum Theatre is in hibernation until next spring. There are several articles explaining the thinking behind this sad decision. Try Alex Wood here

I think the auditorium of the Royal Lyceum is probably my favourite public space and therein lies the problem. Stopping the spread of deadly diseases doesn’t involve people sitting in close proximity for an hour or so at a time.

However, BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine will premiere David Greig’s new play, Adventures With the Painted People on Sunday 7th June at 7.30 on Radio 3. Written for Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s 2020 season, this is a joint production with the Lyceum. Be there.

Okay, and in Stenhouse towers: new jigsaw; all but giving up on Friday’s Child; pre-publication copy of friend’s novel arrived in inbox Yay!; won the scrabble thanks to masterly use of ‘cartels’; armchair travelling to Spain and Orkney.

What’s the biggest miss on your calendar?


A – Z Challenge O is for Oscar and Olwen

Oscar Wilde is a man whose life creates strong feeling. His work, varied, vibrant, ahead of its time, was created in a short life and much of it in a very intense period early in his marriage to Constance Lloyd.

Oscar wrote Salomé that unrivaled work on how to bring a man down. Not John the Bapist, but his jailer, Herod is reduced to moral defeat by the will of a teenage girl. (oh, and her delightfully sexual body and wholly sexual dancing)

In 1989 when babysitting was the single thing most likely to bring me to a nervous breakdown, Gate Theatre Dublin brought Olwen Fouéré to the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh in the title role of Wilde’s Salome. It was directed by Steven Berkoff and Alan Stanford played Herod. The stunning set was designed by Robert Ballogh and the action played out to music by Roger Doyle.

I had a ticket for the first Edinburgh performance which was running in a rep style programme after something else (can’t remember – were you there?) and the set change wasn’t working. One hour late (and how many babysitting tokens?) the curtain went up. Within a minute, there was total absorption throughout the theatre.

It remains in my memory one of the best and most intense theatrical experiences of my life. Thanks to all of the above, and to the babysitter, Anne De Diesbach. Also, novelist Su Bristow, who suggested Oscar Wilde when I was panicking about who to choose.

Bella’s Betrothal is on special offer till April 28th. for 99p you can find out what happened when Bella did not stay off that horse:

Amazon UK http://goo.gl/P3lmzk US http://goo.gl/7mh8FI  AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1

Ca http://goo.gl/1j33Tk

Kobo http://goo.gl/k0b8SN

MuseItUp http://goo.gl/f0zFKa

/apple itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id713274218

smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355001

Festival – itis

After the Night Before

After the Night Before

Festival – itis is a serious, but treatable, condition. It’s contracted by persons whose lives are compromised by over-indulgence in an art form. Some difficult to manage cases involve more than one art form.

Edinburgh during August and early September is a challenging place to be if your addiction to an art form is live. Remember, there’s no shame in admitting this. None at all.

If the art form you struggle with is Books and Reading, then avoid Charlotte Square while passing through Edinburgh. Also there are book shops selling new books. These sit cheek by jowl with book shops selling old books.

Is Drama your passion? Really hard few weeks for you, then. The Traverse Theatre in Cambridge Street should be avoided at all costs. More shows in rep than you can imagine and mostly of five and four star quality. You’ve been warned.

Amateur Drama? Oh dear! Turn back now or be prepared for three and a half weeks of sleeplessness.

What about Music? Classical, orchestral, chamber, ethnic, guitar, solo voices, choral voices, pipe-bands, big bands, one-man-bands … Really, you need ear-plugs, but take care: visitors do find our traffic hard to manoeuvre. and there are the trams: silent except for the bell, apparently.

Dance? Okay, the Playhouse may give you the shakes, so stay away from the East end and watch out for the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. It can sneak into that space and they’ve erected a Studio Theatre now, too.

Opera? Well, the Festival Theatre needs steering around for you.

Street Theatre My own personal addiction is listening-in. Other than adopting artistic purdah for the month, there’s no cure for this one. Characters are all around. Enjoy.

Art – Is Art your art form? Sculpture, painting, drawing, screen-prints, textiles… It’s really easy to see a gallery – they’re generally quite large purpose built buildings. Or they’re a converted school. Keep your antennae polished.

Okay, so you’ve been warned. I’ll probably see you there. I was at Bloody Trams last night. review is here


http://goo.gl/pASdjp Mariah’s Marriage amazon US

“Oh, Mariah, let us not quarrel. We will be married within the month. At least your papa’s house contains plenty of books. You may practise throwing them.” anne stenhouse

http://goo.gl/NxYxj5 Mariah’s Marriage UK

http://goo.gl/PKptQg Bella’s Betrothal US

 …a solitary figure ahead among some gorse and shrubs. Charles thought she made a beautiful picture in her riding habit with the exquisite hat Jenny Menzies wished to inherit. He thought the girl might get it sooner rather than later if he followed his instincts. At that precise moment, he wanted to shake Bella hard. Then he would lock her in the castle in Strath Menzies and hold her forever. anne stenhouse

http://goo.gl/5RBzIm Bella’s Betrothal UK


html https://www.omnilit.com/product-mariah039smarriage-1173550-149.html