Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...

A croquet taster

When our local croquet club advertised taster sessions, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Common sense told me that we were unlikely to be playing with live flamingoes and hedgehogs,  but further than that my knowledge didn’t stretch. However, always up for trying something new, off I went.

 

The game was more complicated than I’d imagined, but knocking a ball through a hoop wasn’t too difficult. Until, that was, I discovered that the practice hoops were considerably wider than those used in actual matches.

Shall I go again? Maybe, but not until my back, shoulders, arms and hands stop aching from the rigid stance. Perhaps I’ll be better off just turning the experience into a piece of writing. Watch this space!

18 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Purely social

Write-On! Ripon certainly knows how to relax with good food and good company. 

It’s just a shame that Beverley, Kevin and Dan missed being captured on camera during our evening at Ripon’s Claro Lounge.  

15 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Write-On Ripon! Unleashed

It’s over a year now since I joined Write-On! Ripon, a group of lively individuals who meet every Tuesday afternoon to share work and swap ideas. We’re eternally grateful to the management of our local Curzon cinema, which allows us the use of their Lounge every week and their basement aka our Cavern of Creativity every couple of months or so for an open mic session.

Last night’s was particularly successful. Not only did we have poetry and prose of various kinds but also the first public performance of Caroline’s play for voices, which was inspired by the Salem witch trials. Several of us volunteered to read parts and it went down very well with the audience. The injustice of such trials, with no one wanting to be out of step with their neighbours, has been repeated many times during the course of history and it still takes a very brave person to stick their head above the parapet.

 

7 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Living on Fresh Air

Newly retired couple Caroline and Dave have everything they have ever wanted; a nice house, a hot tub, a small mortgage, a few savings and a new smart meter. But with Covid and the cost of living crisis things are changing. Their son has moved back home, their money is disappearing, the hot tub’s gone, the lights are going out and the smart meter is stressful. No wonder they feel like starting again, and with their new found hobby of walking it feels like they have. From the Wolds, to the Dales, from the Lakes to Scafell Pike, they’re determined to get out and keep positive, but with rising bills, rising temperatures and the family home full, there’s only so far you can go when you’re living on fresh air.

Seen at Harrogate Theatre today, John Godber’s latest production had the bonus of John himself on stage with his real life wife Jane Thornton.  Supported by Pete McMillan as their son, they presented a state of the nation comedy that expressed fears and frustrations that many of us have been feeling since the first Covid lockdown. Will things get better or worse in the future and what on earth can we do about it anyway? 

 

1 April, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Spike no longer!

Jeffrey Holland’s one-man show ‘and this is my friend Mr Laurel’ at Ripon Arts Hub last night was very entertaining. Inspired by a love (ever since boyhood visits to the cinema) of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, his monologue was an excellent blend of humour and pathos.

I also enjoyed the second half, when he came down amongst the audience out of costume for a Q & A session. (Can it really be 40 years since ‘Hi-de-Hi’?) As a curtain raiser for this year’s Ripon Theatre Festival, it was an ideal choice.

31 March, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Writing challenges

We at Ripon Writers’ Group have creativity coming out of our ears this year with new challenges thought up by Ian Gouge, the Chair since the last AGM.
 
The flash fiction evening – writing inspired by character profiles he got us to compile as a group – went very well, but even that may have been surpassed by this week’s task.
 
The thought of writing a new poem inspired by a well known one but in the style of a completely different poet caused a lot of head scratching and yet most of us got there in the end.
 
Examples ranged from ‘Humpty Dumpty’ rewritten in the style of John Betjeman to a Rabbie Burns version of William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’. Much hilarity ensued and everyone agreed that it had been a worthwhile exercise.
 
My own contribution, an attempt at the style of Ian McMillan, was inspired by A.E.Housman’s war poem ‘Here Dead We Lie’. Written with the greatest respect, my response is dedicated to Uncle George, who fought in the trenches, and Uncle Albert who died at the Battle of Jutland.
 
However ultimately pointless WW1 may seem in retrospect, no one should ever underestimate the courage of those on both sides who suffered and died.
 

A.E.Housman

Here dead we lie because we did not choose

To live and shame the land from which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;

But young men think it is, and we were young.

 

In the style of Ian Macmillan

So we’ve kicked t’ bucket

And does tha want ter know why?

Cos we wasn’t conchies

And nooan were gonna ‘and us white feathers

Or call Yorksher lads shirkers

We got usselves organised

Joined t’Pals and off we set for France

Us mothers wept o’ course

But they was proud. Us fathers too.

We’d come back ‘eroes, or so we thought,

Afore we turned nineteen.

It weren’t to be.

Pity really.

 

10 March, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Books and Beverages

 
First time back at Harrogate Library since before the onslaught of Covid. As part of the regular ‘Books and Beverages’ sessions, I was invited to join a panel discussion on Women’s Writing with fellow author Julia Bell. Kate Swann on the right had plenty of questions for us to get the conversation flowing.
 
The topic was chosen to celebrate Women’s History Month.
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3 March, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Glowing Bright

What a treat it was to watch Alison Neil’s one-woman show about the life of Marie Curie! Having set it in the luxurious cabin of an ocean liner on the way back from a successful but exhausting tour of the United States, Alison acted out the story of Madame Curie’s life from her birth in 1867 in Russian occupied Poland to her twilight years. 

As someone who gave up both Physics and Chemistry with a sigh of relief at the end of the Third form – although I did once have the honour of shaking Nobel prize winner Werner Heisenberg’s hand while I was teaching in Germany – I expected to be baffled by an account of the Curies’ scientific discoveries, but Alison took care to deliver the information in such a way that I could follow most of it with ease. 

I’ve already seen her show based on the life of Mrs Beeton and look forward to being in the audience for others when they come round our way. Highly recommended!

 

 

19 February, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Ripon Writers’ Group in the Stray Ferret

Ripon author Maggie Cobbett

 

Great article today by Tim Flanagan, who always has Ripon’s interests at heart. Thank you, Tim. https://thestrayferret.co.uk/ripon-writers-group-extends-invitation-to-new-members/

5 February, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Remember ‘the curate’s egg’?

Right Reverend Host: “I’m afraid you’ve got a bad Egg, Mr Jones!”; The Curate: “Oh no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!”
True Humility by George du Maurier, originally published in Punch, 9 November 1895.

This morning was rather like that for me. Invited to give a talk on ‘filler’ writing for a local group, I took along a selection of my books for display and – with any luck – to sell. The talk itself went well, but disaster struck when I knocked over the glass of water I’d been given and placed on the same table. Entirely my own fault, I know, but still very disappointing. 

Above  are some of the books drying out at home later. Others are irretrievably damaged. Lesson learned but a bitter pill to swallow.

1 February, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Check Out My eBooks
Supporting artists, or ‘extras’ as they’re more commonly known, are the unsung heroes of television and film. Maggie Cobbett recalls the ups and downs of twenty years of ‘blending into the background’.
A working holiday in France for so little? “It sounds too good to be true,” says Daisy’s mother, but her warning falls on deaf ears.
The 20th century has just dawned when David is apprenticed to a Yorkshire coal miner. But what of the younger brothers and sister he has been forced to leave behind in their London workhouse? Will he ever see them again?
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