We were working in the garden yesterday, so unexpectedly mild. I had my camera with me, hanging on a snagged branch in the orchard, 'just in case ....' and I spotted these mummified pears. They seemed symbolic, somehow. The tree budded, blossomed, set fruit, ripened - and withered on the bough. It set me thinking: is that what happens to so many of our creative dreams? Do they never reach complete fruition? Significant, I thought, because all the while I was clearing old undergrowth, I was reflecting on the questions that Rosie (a rambling rose) had set me.
Thankyou, Rosie for challenging me to think back, to delve deep into my inner self. I don't know where this 'necklace of interview beads' began, but it seems such a marvellous way to learn more about the other bloggers and the people we admire. Here are Rosie's questions, and my responses.
1. Somerset appears in your name and your blog title - tell us more about that: it’s my middle name (I was born in Bath, Somerset, England, in 1937). I decided to use it as part of my blog title because it takes me back to my childhood and dreams I feel I have never fulfilled. I was VERY naughty and disobedient as a little girl, wanted to be ‘different’, never wanted to conform. I was a loner, yet fiercely competitive. I suppose I still am (both); though age, marriage to a dear husband for 50 years, children, grandchildren – and running a publishing business – has sobered me somewhat. I am still a wild loner at heart.
2. What makes your child's heart wild? Poetry – it always has, ever since my godmother gave me a fantastic anthology (‘A Child’s Garland, edited by Jane Carton) when I was six. It’s the sound of words that I so love. I subsequently had a marvellous and much beloved English teacher when I was ten, and for four years she nurtured my passion for poetry, words, literature, theatre and Shakespeare. I was so fortunate to have this encouragement in my formative years, for it has set the pattern of my life.
3. As a mature woman getting to grips with new technology and blogging - what has been the most rewarding and most frustrating experiences? The most rewarding experience has been to discover the wonderful camaderie out there; through cyberspace to encounter so many people, learn of their own hopes and joys. This sharing of creative dreams buried within the commonplace of everyday things is something I could never have envisaged. My frustration has been in making the technology work for me – to make the layouts look the way I want them and not to have to follow templates! I guess the failure’s my own stupidity, so having been posed this question and acknowledged to myself that there is SO MUCH to learn, I’ve ordered a book on HTML!
4. Where will your visual journalling take you next? Where would you like it to go? Now this has really set me thinking – and if you could read all the emails that fly back and forwards between me and my dear ‘guiding spirit’ in South Carolina, you would know why! So many little things spark an idea which flame into notes, scribbled sketches and experiments for the beginnings of a journal; but then something always intervenes, or I get cold feet and shove them in a box, and there they sit. I have countless notebooks filled with these ideas. As to where I would like my visual journaling to go this year – well, how perceptive of you Rosie to pose this question. For, recognising this failing on my part, I was already determined this year to complete some of these embryonic pieces. And that is why I have set up my other blog (‘Journaling the Journal’), as a challenge to myself, to share what I create and the notes that accompany the making. It would mortify me to have nothing to post!
5.Your father was conductor with the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra so you have had a musical childhood. How has this influenced your own journey as a writer, poet, gardener and journaller? Being contrary, I decided early on that I would have nothing to do with music, yet years later graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in London (speech and drama teaching degree); more significant was that I met my very dear husband there. Musical influences there were nevertheless: a love of sequence, cadence, rhythm and folk dance, and this still affects the words I write – the sound of them, and their look, like musical notation. Gardening influences came from my grandmother and mother and a love of journaling comes I guess from my great-grandfather who was curator of an academic library and encouraged my love of books, and from my grandfather, who did likewise. But the greatest influence was that of my father’s dedication to the responsibility of ‘putting on a show’ no matter how you were feeling; with my mother’s devoted support, a commitment to duty and perseverance. That I know has rubbed off on me – if they were alive now, I hope they would be proud of their ‘wild somerset child’, for whatever I may have achieved in life has been tempered by their example.
6. If you had no limitations tomorrow what would be your perfect blissful day? What would you eat, play at, dream, wear, where would you go and who with? Please add to this wild somerset child! Ah, well now; if this magical day ever arrived (tomorrow, you say?) I would: eat a salad - a slice of brie with mixed green leaves and snippets of herbs grown in our garden and scattered with toasted pine nuts. I would play at making a ‘book wrap journal cover’ as taught by Angie Hughes (see her blog in my list). Slathering paint over a surface prepared from curtain interlining mixed with diluted PVA (the result feels like suede), embellished with ripped and stitched cotton scrim, gessoed when dry, then coloured. I would dream that I had time to continue the book I am supposed to be writing (through dreaming about it will not achieve anything)! I would wear a beautiful Indian dress I bought on a whim in a thrift shop: dyed muslin in soft shades of currant-red and rust, printed with motifs in indigo and a delicate ochre; ethereal and theatrical, and not ‘me’ at all (I bought it to rip apart for the fabric). Where would I go and with whom – with my ‘guiding spirit’, Kristin Steiner of South Carolina; I would take her to a stimulating local bookshop-cum-café (Jaffe & Neale) where we would eat carrot-cake, drink coffee and would chat for hours about the musings of our respective hearts, perhaps buy a book or two (and maybe we will do that for real, Kristi, when you visit after tutoring at Oxford Summer School in August). This perfect blissful day will need to extend to a week if I am to become a true ‘wild somerset child’ again!! Maybe.
Continuing in 'interview' mode - 'getting to know you': If you would like to be my interviewee, please follow the instructions below. The first two bloggers who ask yo be interviewed will be sent a list of pertinent questions by me. Let's keep this going.Here are the instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "interview me".
2. I will respond to the first two who ask by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else
in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five