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...

Back to school!

 
What an interesting evening I had yesterday, invited to view my contribution to Lawnswood School’s ‘alumni’ wall. For non-Leeds friends, I should explain that the current co-educational school was created many years ago to replace two grammar schools, Lawnswood High for girls and Leeds Modern for boys. Apart from Old Mods John Craven and Alan Bennett, I think I’m the oldest contributor so far, but the wall will continue to evolve.
 
 
(In anticipation of people who remember their Latin grammar pointing out that I’m an ‘alumna’ rather than an ‘alumnus’, I know, but I thought it would be churlish to point it out.)
 

              

21 September, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Research recognised

Having done a lot of research for my latest writing project, I was very pleased when Val Penny decided to feature it on her blog. You can read it here. What a Summer That Was! (Writing Research) by Maggie Cobbett (valpenny.com)

31 August, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Swanwick 2023

How quickly  the time goes by at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, even more so this year with the programme spread over a shorter period than usual. The magic was still there, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Some building work was going on at the main house, but the grounds of The Hayes were as well kept as ever. Despite a gloomy forecast, we had mostly fine weather and plenty of opportunity to sit outside with our drinks at different times of day.

As well as brushing up on several aspects of writing with tutors who are experts in their fields, I wore my purple lanyard with pride and – as an ambassador – did my best to make new Swanwickers feel welcome and help them to settle in. Fellow Ripon Writers’ Group member Susan was amongst them and soon felt at home.

Having won second prize (£100 off this year’s Swanwick fees) in the Val Penny/SpellBound books short story competition, I was very pleased to meet the SpellBound team of Sumaira Wilson and Nicola East before their course on digital publishing. The ladies had kind words to say about my writing and also encouraged me to submit my next project directly to them. 

In the evenings, I enjoyed talks by Birmingham poet Roy McFarlane and romantic novelist Sue Moorcroft, who was accompanied by her agent Juliet Pickering. In addition, I took part in both the poetry and prose open mics, co-hosting the latter with Jen and making sure that no one ran over time. Harsh, perhaps, but it’s the only fair way with so many Swanwickers keen to read their work.

The fancy dress evening is always a good opportunity to pull out the stops. The theme was fairy tales this year and I found a willing partner. If you look closely at Liz’s hand, you’ll see that her Granny Wolf mask is at the ready.

As ever, there was a weird and wonderful set of characters wandering around the bar, with some costumes showing a remarkable amount of ingenuity. Was Cinderella about to ask the genie for a ball gown or inspiration for her writing, I wonder.

I knew that basket would come in handy one day. Bought in 2006 for a production by Ripon Amateur Operatic Society of ‘Fidler on the Roof’ – I was one of the mamas – it’s never actually been used for shopping but came into its own that evening.

All too soon we were packing to go home, but not before enjoying PRINKS (pre-dinner drinks) on the lawn and the farewell evening with its awards and prize draws. The die-hards gathered in the bar or around the fire pit for a sing song, but I felt my comfortable bed calling me. I’m such a light weight these days!

 

 

 

 

11 August, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Open mic at the Claro Lounge

With the closure of the Curzon cinema, Write-On! Ripon Unleashed had to find a new venue and the lower ground area of the Claro Lounge fitted the bill perfectly.

Here am I, strutting my stuff as well as showing off a new hair do. It was a great evening all round!

4 August, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Writers’ Narrative

The demise of Writers’ Forum left a gap in the market that this new emagazine is attempting to fill.

How successful it will be remains to be seen, but I’m happy to have an article on ‘filler’ writing included in the first issue.

At the moment, Writers’ Narrative is available from Amazon for £1.99, but the aim is to make it free to download.

31 July, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Good news!

For one thing, I’m back on my feet, although still having to take it easy. A slow plod is the best I can manage so far, but I’m working on that. It’s wonderful to be fit enough to resume normal activities, including meetings of Ripon Writers’ Group and Write-On! Ripon. (The latter group, following the much regretted closure of Ripon’s Curzon cinema, now meets at the Claro Lounge in the Market Place.)

Secondly, with Swanwick Writers’ Summer School 2023 only a few week’s away now, I’m delighted to have come second in an associated competition. Prolific crime author Val Penny and her publishers Spellbound Books set the challenge to write a story with the theme of revenge. Mine, set around a baffling murder in Amsterdam, has given me £100 off the cost of my place at this year’s School.

Amsterdam holds many fond memories for me and I was a great fan of the original Van der Valk television series with the late Barry Foster, both of which influenced the story.

There is also a Whitby connection and a nod to singer John Leyton, who provided inspiration for one of the main characters. Who of my generation could forget his haunting rendition of ‘Johnny, remember me’?

12 July, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Bye bye, halluces valgi!

My Latin is rusty to say the least, so I hope I’ve got the plural right in the heading to this post. Hallux valgus sounds much more glamorous than ‘bunion’ and I had one on each foot operated on a couple of weeks ago, which is why I now only see the light of day when taken out in a wheelchair. (That’s not strictly true, because I can hobble out into the garden, but I’m aiming for the sympathy vote.)

Apart from the post-op pain, the details of which will probably surface somewhere in my writing at a later date, my abiding memory is going to be of the vulnerability of the wheelchair bound. The men of Team Cobbett have been magnificent, but I now know what it’s like to be fearful of being bumped into or let go on a slope, feeling the need to apologize for getting in other people’s way and having conversations conducted over my head. Only four more weeks of this to endure if all goes well, but it’s given me a fresh perspective on the needs of those less fortunate, with whom I can now empathize as well as sympathize. Not quite a Damascene moment but close. 

Thinking about that, I’ve just reread Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did and enjoyed it just as much as when I was a child. A century and a half separate Katy Carr’s experiences from mine, but there are definite parallels to be drawn and it’s a very good read.

 

If you can’t be famous, be infamous. Wheelchair bound after a tragic accident, revenge is on Kaz’s mind when she joins the school trip to Paris…

I also thought about the heroine of the children’s book I brought out a few years ago. which is still available from Amazon. The plan then was to follow up Kaz’s story and my recent experience might give me the motivation I need to do just that. Watch this space!

 

31 May, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

A-quizzing we will go!

Wednesday saw the first meeting of a new quiz team drawn from local writers. Divided into two groups, we took it in turns to ask and answer  questions prepared in advance and brought along to the gathering.

It was a very convivial evening and, I hope, the first of many. The idea is to have a pool of people willing to compete in local quizzes, of which there are many, under our (as yet undecided) group name. Something along the lines of the Eggheads, where a few members at a time take part. 

Our pool is still very much open to new people.

 

13 May, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

An Afternoon with Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett Joins Lineup For 1001 STORIES at Leeds Playhouse

What a wonderful afternoon I had at Leeds Playhouse ‘in conversation with Alan Bennett’. Not on my own, of course. The session was sold out and Alan certainly didn’t disappoint. Frail physically now, his mind and sense of humour seemed as sharp as ever as he read extracts from his diaries and fielded questions from the audience. Apart from a woman on our row who insisted on whooping every time applause was called for (and sometimes when it wasn’t) and couldn’t wait to get hold of one of the roving microphones, it all went very well. There’s always one, isn’t there!

6 May, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Wodehouse in Wonderland

Today’s show at York Theatre Royal featured a tour de force from Robert Daws as P.G.Wodehouse, better known to his friends as Plum. (Apparently that came about due to his inability as a small child to pronounce his given name of Pelham.)

I’d seen Robert on television many times as Bertie Wooster’s friend and fellow Drone Tuppy Glossop as well as in person when we both worked on ‘The Royal’, but this was the first time I’d heard him sing, which he did very well. As the show progressed, I realized how little I’d actually known about Wodehouse either, including the fact that he’d written musical comedies for Broadway in collaboration with Jerome Kern.

The second half of the show was darker, as it dealt with the aftermath of Wodehouse’s WW2 internment by the Germans and subsequent accusations of treachery when broadcasts intended only for the United States were played on British radio.  There was also the tragic death of his much loved stepdaughter Leonora and his long exile from his homeland. 

The thunderous applause at the end included considerable whooping from some members of the audience, including the lady who’d been seated next to me throughout the performance. We hadn’t exchanged a word, so I shall never know whether she was just an ardent fan of Robert’s or always carried on like that. Not as odd, perhaps, as the couple on the other side who’d arrived wearing face masks but removed them to enjoy the show. 

22 April, 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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