This is my first post in almost a year. Apologies but there have been so many changes and a perfect storm of “busyness”.
At the beginning of this year I moved to a cottage in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales and within a few weeks saw a snowstorm! All night the wind howled and circled and I felt as if I had been transported to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. The next morning I woke to a white landscape and a crusting of snow. Incredibly beautiful but so cold.
So, after packing up and driving five hours south of Sydney and hitting yet another reset button in my life, I settled in to the work that gives me my only steady anchor in life: writing. Since moving south I have been writing the sequel to both my books, Catch the Moon, Mary and Fields of Grace combined and am set to publish later this year.
Because CTMM and FOG have two characters in common: Rigel and Samantha, they have become the central characters in the long overdue sequel. I also introduced a charismatic protagonist to lure Mary Ferranti nee Granger back to her music after an absence of twenty years. My mother is painting a picture for the cover maintaining the extraordinary fortune I’ve enjoyed in having talented others gift me the cover images.
I have also been writing Book & Lyrics for three new musicals: THE LOVESONG OF RUBEN KEYES with composers, Frank Loman and Ricardo Nunes Fernandes and writer/performer, Lucy Aley-Parker. This is a two-hander (possibly four) musical about a middle-aged married couple who have never been compatible. Ruben is a romantic who worships T.S.Eliot (hence the title) and places his wife, Sara, on an impossible plinth stripping her of emotional ballast and the freedom to honour her wild escapist nature. Sara hides a truckload of baggage that can only be deciphered by a skilled counselor but Ruben won’t allow for her damage and as a consequence the marriage is doomed.
Composers Ricardo Nunes Fernandes and Frank Loman are creating some spectacular music and Frank, partnered with me, is writing original lyrics as well as shaping mine. Lucy is advising on script and providing a distanced eye and much-needed constructive criticism. A brilliant team based in London.
In another partnership I am co-writing a one-woman show for my talented friend, Angela Ayers. We are shining a light on the wasted talent of 50+ women who find themselves shelved in our outrageously misogynistic industry. It’s a depressing subject but Angela and I have injected it with some much-needed humour. We have called the show “A Rat in a Mask” because Angela told me she was painting a kangaroo in a scarf to ease her feelings of loss but she said it looked more like a rat in a mask. I said, “there’s our title!”
And finally I am writing Book & Lyrics for THE LAST TALE with brilliant composer, Shanon Whitelock. This has been a long project with lots of marvelous people offering support. A large-scale show set in Baghdad 800 A.D. about the famed storyteller Queen, Scheherazade. This musical is a joyous romp underscored with a darker message about women’s rights and freedom.
If I had to choose one discipline that brings me the greatest joy I would choose lyrics and the most exciting aspect of writing lyrics is hearing the music a gifted composer creates for them. Working with inspiring others raises the bar for all concerned. It’s the allowing of another’s ideas to meld and permeate your own that creates something that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
That’s my world, the bubble I live in and breathe in and have the privilege of occupying without the chaotic intrusion of the outside world. But regarding the outside world: when will mankind learn to put the needs of community ahead of selfish individual cravings and desires? I see the actions of Putin as desperation stemming from inadequacy. He is not alone in this, millions of people across the planet only see what affects them but his power, platform and reach are insidiously wide and many will die before he is sated or halted. Trump set the tone for retrograde misogyny in America and the overturning of Roe versus Wade is a direct result of the selfish immaturity he exhibited and unleashed when he sanctioned the opening of Pandora’s Box. Perhaps he has shown the true face of that abberated brand of Christianity that bleeds into every aspect of American life and stains the corridors of power with its hypocritical sanctity. I’m not sure I understand how so many Christians believe themselves God’s personal messengers. I hear interpretations of the Bible that are so skewed as to be laughable but somehow they are sacrosanct because they are lifted from that book so many believe is God’s diary or memoir.
It is disturbing watching women slowly being reduced to servitude and desperation in a country that prides itself on equality and freedom. Again I am grateful for my bubble where I am free to think and observe and express without asking permission.
I have a friend who said that ultimately we must silence the arguments and simply leave the stubborn and the stuck behind. Jesus did that, too, when he could not make himself understood. He left the village, wiped the dust from his robes and said, “Let them sleep forever.” I know this flies in the face of God being aware of the fall of a sparrow but I wonder if we have time to debate with fools. When I was at school I was on the debating team and we invariably won even when we debated a POV we didn’t agree with. We did it by listening and constructing sound counter arguments that addressed salient points and then we presented our water-tight argument. As I said we invariably won but we could never have done so had we been unable to listen. What I am seeing today on social media are inflexible opinions expressed by people who cannot listen and sadly, what they mostly use to back up their fallible stances is the Bible.
The Bible was written two thousand years ago…by men. One of the beliefs back then was that the earth was flat and the sun and planets and stars revolved around it. America and the Antarctic were unknown to Europeans and Middle Easterners. Flight was a myth and sailing any great distance was impossible, except maybe for the incredible Phoenicians. My point here is that beliefs and positions held two thousand years ago are ripe for revision based on new information and discoveries. A small but salient point I would make to those people who believe absolutely that the Bible is the word of God – did God not know about the Universe? Did He not know about countries and racial groups outside of Canaan? It just seems very odd that the person who created everything had such a narrow view.
Finally, late 2021 the world lost two genius lyricists: Marilyn Bergman and Stephen Sondheim. I wonder if we will ever see their equal again. Growing up my favourite lyrics were Windmills of Your Mind. I considered it the perfect song: the circular lyrics spiraling upwards with the rising melody and then I discovered Sondheim and found my altar and idol.