Category Archives: Television

Katie Morag

I’m probably the last person to know that Katie Morag is now on television. Oh well. I know now.

But it can’t possibly be as good as the books! We used to read Katie Morag a lot at Bookwitch Towers, when Offspring were tiny. Now that I’ve recently unpacked the books, I’ve seen with my own eyes quite how many Katie Morag books we actually have. I was suprised, but I shouldn’t have been, really, as Mairi Hedderwick knows how to make a good book; great story, wonderful illustrations.

The Isle of Struay

And now we have The Katie Morag Treasury, which means lots of old stories in one volume, with six bonus folk tales, as told at Grannie Island’s Ceilidh. I approached those with some level of suspicion, which was silly of me, because they were fantastic. Too.

I have come to the conclusion, however, that Katie Morag isn’t for children. It’s for us oldies. We love all the romance of living on a remote Scottish island, with a boat once a week, and bad weather all the time. And drop dead beautiful scenery all around. We like the idea of living quietly, with the Aga and the friendly neighbours, living off the sea and the tatties grown in our back garden. A little dancing at the ceilidh every now and then.

Sheer romance, the well-worn, old-fashioned way.

I’d never stopped to notice Katie Morag’s mother openly breastfeeding her baby. But I did now. I suppose it’s very New Age, but life on the Isle of Struay is a dream come true. I wasn’t concentrating on the stories, which are very good, because I could ogle the cottage interiors and the perfect but rough landscape. The scones (I’m sure there were scones) and the public toilets and the tearoom and the sheep, and you know… everything.

Katie Morag

The good thing is that children like these stories too. And there’s some pretty decent morals to those folk tales. I’m a firm believer of inviting a smelly goat to come and live with you. And what’s some spinach-stained clothing between friends?

I knew that. I think

Things tend to get done when Son is around. He won’t tolerate the slow pace at which the old people do what they need to do. (I mean, I obviously didn’t get any of my other things done, but at least a fair few of the house move related jobs got tackled. Head on, at a speed to make us oldies feel giddy.)

So my lone trolley has been joined by quite a few items. No more trendy minimalism, but still acceptably nice.

Anyway, I thought while we had the whirlwind with us I’d mention my idea of setting up the old DVD-player to play R1 DVDs, while the other box takes care of the rest. Felt that with Son here it’d happen faster than if left to the Resident IT Consultant.

I mentioned this. Son asked what box I meant. I waved my hand vaguely in the right direction. He flung open the cupboard door and after a split second informed me the offending box is region free and can, and will, play anything.

It seems when it was new a few years ago he arranged this, to make our lives easier.

The thought of this fact seeped slowly through my mind and I think I can almost remember it. Shame I’d been eyeing my Man From U.N.C.L.E. DVDs as though they are from outer space for so long. To prove how right he – always – is, he played the first episode.

The situation is this: I get some very good ideas. I have my Resident IT Consultant to help make them happen. Meanwhile Son has already done what I wanted in the first place.

Sigh.

Impossible!

How I have waited for ‘the next’ Michelle Magorian novel! And here it is, and it is absolutely perfect and well worth the six-year wait, and I love it! (No apologies for the exclamation marks. There is one in the title of the book, too, and I’m not sure I understand the title. I might have missed something.)

Impossible! is a continuation of the theatre saga featuring the Hollis family from Cuckoo In the Nest and A Spoonful of Jam, as well as blending in with the Carpenters from Just Henry. I just love re-visiting old friends! Ten years on from Henry, we meet Josie Hollis, Elsie’s baby sister; the little girl born at the end of Cuckoo In the Nest 12 years earlier. And what a girl she is!

Michelle Magorian, Impossible!

Josie has just started stage school, and is living with her Auntie Win in London. She misses her family, but desperately wants to act. But somehow it seems as if her school doesn’t want her to. They obstruct her every step. (Between you and me, they turn out to be a useless bunch, in more ways than one. But fear not.)

Struggling to make friends and to survive her school’s rules, Josie still lands some acting parts, before she is kidnapped. It’s a case of mistaken identity, and she has to be very brave.

This book is also a tribute to (the real) Joan Littlewood’s theatre company, and it’s where Josie ends up when she’s on the run from the baddies. It’s where she learns what acting should really be about and her life changes totally, again.

You can tell that Michelle knows her theatre/film/acting world, and also that she knows exactly what life in 1959 was like. This is a wonderful adventure as far as the kidnapping drama goes, and a marvellous tale of life on the stage and on the screen, big or small. The dreaded ITV was in its infancy, and it wasn’t the done thing to watch it. I guess Michelle did anyway, just like Josie.

There is no need to be interested in acting. The story will make you want to know. As far as I’m concerned it could have gone on for a few hundred pages more than the 600 it is. This is feelgood excitement of the very best kind.

(Impossible! was published last month, right on cue to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Joan Littlewood’s birth. I wish she’d been here to read it.)

Bookwitch bites #125

You know how interested you are in things I’ve not done? (You are! I know you are.)

Well, anyway, the other week I could have gone to Norröra. ‘Where?’ I hear you ask. Saltkråkan. The summer island Astrid Lindgren wrote about. The place that is summer to many Swedes, especially people my age.

For once I was in the right part of the country, right time of year and with time to spare. Well, I had, but then plans changed and the Norröra idea was no more. My free day disappeared. It was especially galling as people I know had just been and it sounded rather nice. Apparently they have kept the house from the television series intact and you can go back in time.

Sigh.

But let’s look on the bright side! I’m back home. The other home. I’m always home. Mostly.

And the Edinburgh International Book Festival starts today! I’m here for the duration, except I don’t think I can go straight off the plane to Charlotte Square, even though the Resident IT Consultant pointed out it would deal with the taxi issue. He’s right. Again. But older witches need rest, too.

So I’ll be in soon. Raring to go.

Interning

We put Daughter on a plane yesterday, and then she put herself on yet another, bigger plane. She’s off to see whether Dr Sheldon Cooper is real, or not.

I believe he is. (How could he not be?)

Up, up and away

My eleven weeks of Daughterlessness is Pasadena’s gain. She packed a number of books to read for fun, which I applaud. Her choice of reading material was perhaps not what I’d like to tell the world about, so I won’t. Needless to say her suitcase was over the limit, but it appears ‘real’ airlines don’t fuss too much.

Now let’s see what we can get up to… I know! We could move house!

Barbro Lindgren’s prize

It’s no use. I couldn’t make sense of what I might find on the press pages for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. And after all these years when I’ve cracked irreverent comments about what fun you can have on Swedish television, I have been proven wrong.

Not saying it wasn’t good. I’m sure it was. Just not on television. At all. I mean, what do you have a perfectly good Crown Princess for, if not to televise her telling us yet again that Astrid Lindgren was her favourite author?

I tried the links, but I can’t find anything I can use, apart from this lovely photo of Barbro from last week. She looks like she’s having a good time, and I hope she did last night, too.

Barbro Lindgren by Stefan Tell

They did invite me, but it was the wrong part of the country for me. (Not to mention an unexpected train strike striking me rather unexpectedly.) I was cool about it, expecting to watch on television. And then I couldn’t. I thought the email said I could watch online afterwards. Fearing my dodgy internet wouldn’t allow this, I wasn’t even contemplating not being able to find a link that would refuse to play.

She has written nice books. And so did Astrid. I imagine the Crown Princess read and loved Barbro’s books, as well.

An Austen-free upbringing

After wondering why I didn’t read the books by Jane Austen or the Brontës in my early teens, I suddenly realised why, and who I could blame for this regrettable shortcoming. (Always important, because it certainly wasn’t my fault.)

My Swedish teacher when I was 15, is who. The last year of secondary school we had free reading once a week. I am – with my mature adult hindsight – guessing it was a way to get the non-readers to read. Anything. At. All.

We were allowed to read whatever we wanted, and could bring our own books or use the school library. I generally sat down with an Alistair MacLean, or similar. Generally in English (which is odd for a Swedish lesson, but never mind). Naturally the teacher would have preferred me not to.

So she suggested books I might try. The only one I remember is Pella. I am sure the Pella books were fantastic, and the teacher had most likely loved them when she was young. But I was 15, and I was reading MacLean. Pella would – possibly – have been right for me about three years earlier.

All these years I’ve remembered the teacher’s badly chosen suggested books and I have understood what she was hoping for. I just haven’t thought of what she ought to have pointed me in the direction of instead, because she was quite right in wanting me to better myself with something other than MacLean.

I already loved all manner of romances; the kind where a young governess meets her new employer who is a brooding and somewhat strange man, and where they eventually fall in love and live happily ever after. The Jane Eyre copycats. Reader, I had no idea there existed the real thing and that it would have been much more satisfying. (Not better than MacLean, obviously, but as good…)

We knew of Pride and Prejudice because it had been on television. At that point I was of an age where understanding there’d be a book as well was too much to expect. We knew about Vanity Fair, because that too had been on television. Also, Heathcliff ran around the moors on television, and I knew there was a book, but it didn’t tempt me at all.

I knew about Dickens because we had children’s abridged versions. And yes, he’d been on television.

Mother-of-witch was many things, and for someone of her background she had an astounding number of proper books and books in English. But she had not been brought up on the classic governesses, and so she could not point me in their direction. Which is fine.

But my well educated mother tongue teacher could have. And should have.