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Friday, 31 October 2014

That time again

Down to the last couple of hours local time, and NaNoWriMo starts again; The Obedience of Fools is on the back-burner for the next month and Gone To Earth starts tonight, taking the story of Control Escape beyond Arkwright's leap from the lightweight land Rover in Hull and picking up when he needs the assistance of The Grange once more...

and to everyone out there who's up for the challenge, good luck!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Almost that time of year!

It's coming around again, the nights are starting to draw in, the hours of daylight shrinking as the calendar clicks onward, counting down to the fateful moment, that quiet tension in the still of the night when thousands of excited faces wait in hushed expectation, watching, waiting for that shift of the hands or the flicker on the digital screen and the zeros line up.  A moment, one second long breaks the tension and the rush starts. Fingers held poised over keyboards, hesitating to mark the first keystroke, searching a mind suddenly choked with the rush of freedom. One word, the first of fifty thousand and the midnight strokes sweep across the globe drawing a wave of creativity in their wake. The race is on, minimum rules, a definite target and a deadline - 30, 50k, 0!

Up for a challenge, throw the rule book out of the window, prop the dodgy leg on the table with it, then throw yourself at the challenge. Tell a story, write they way you talk, witty, confident, engaging! let it rattle on to the page and when the midnight hands reach the end of day 30, pause, look at what's already there - and go for it!

You're first draft should be as good as the brilliant story you told the other night socialising with friends. You can do that off the top of your head, put it down on the page.
Believe in yourself, and others will follow suit, they will see and appreciate what you have to offer, and offer it to them. Don't let it be "One day..." any longer, seize the moment and start the journey, spend thirty days with your imagination off the leash and see where it takes you.

Leap into a new world on the page and build it as you go, meet the people who populate its landscape and bring them to life.

Get to know them, they may be around for a long time; they may have more stories to tell in the future...
It's easy to remember; Thirty days, Fifty thousand words, and you're responsible for your own excuses.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

On the straet where you live

There is only one daft question, at least that's what I've been telling people for years. It's the one you didn't ask, and went away not knowing the answer. It does occasionally put me on the spot, It happened a short while ago, two separate conversations curiously linked.

The first mentioned the seven gates of  Rotherham inferring some strange mystical quality, seven being that sort of number, Perfect and spiritual; (lots of things come in sevens - days of the week, deadly sins, pillars of wisdom, dwarves, stars in the sky, feel free to add to the list) and the second simply asked, with there being a number of gates in Rotherham what happened to the walls?

The answer unfolds part of the history of the landscape; Rotherham does have seven gates, (check it out on Google maps if you wish) Moorgate, Hollowgate, Wellgate, Doncaster Gate, Upper Millgate, Westgate, Bridgegate, but they are the names of streets in the town centre. Doncaster Gate heads out of the town in the direction of Doncaster for about two hundred yards and the suddenly switches to Doncaster Road and heads off across country. 

It's the Vikings, after their intital plundering raids across the North sea to sack and pillage some of them decided to stay and work the land. The Scandinavian influence in Yorkshire and other parts of the North is considerable and the older Anglo-Saxon references were replaced. So Straet (It's not a spelling mistake at the top of the page), we would say street, became gata - a way, and Moor Street is Moorgate, Bridge Street is Bridgegate, etc.

So why think the town had walls? It's easy to see a wall with an opening in it, say a field wall and the way in is by the gate, some would say through the gate. The opening in the wall is the gate, yes? Sort of, where the Vikings settled it's slightly different. 

Lets look at it from a more familiar location. York, the county town of Yorkshire is a mediaeval walled city (there is evidence of the Roman town - Eboracum - having walls) and the walls are largely intact. The four main entry points are Bootham Gate, Monk Gate, Walmgate and Micklegate, each one is straddled by a fortified tower, the Bar. The tower effectively bar-red the road and closed the gate. Incidentally, there are a quite a number of English and Welsh towns that had, or have the remains of town and city walls. 

Rotherham has no Bars, just gates, and in the past there may have been more than have survived. In the Fifteenth Century the College of Jesus; founded by Archbishop Thomas Rotherham stood on the present College street, and the street was known as Jesusgate. I think the Reformation changed that. The gates of Rotherham are part of the ancient street plan, most of them have been around for a couple of hundred years at least and may even stretch back as far as the Scandinavian settlement of Yorkshire in the eighth and ninth centuries. Rotherham was certainly established by then, The Domesday Book records it as Rodreham - the hamlet by the Rother in 1086. Attaching the suffix ham stopped before the eighth century, 

It can be said with reasonable confidence that Rotherham is an Anglo-Saxon settlement and came under the influence of the Vikings, hence the different street names, much earlier than that and the evidence becomes sketchy, almost non existent.

No walls, no bars, just a handful of gates, an echo of Rotherham's past and for me, fascinating words,