First post in an age, i know, i know. Parzival play has taken over everything - it begins its short run at Sharpham House in Devon next week, tickets available here:
Tickets selling FAST, so please don't delay.
Here's a link to a short video about SNOWY TOWER, filmed at my writing hut just a couple of weeks ago:
## ROBIN WILLIAMSON FANS APRL 29/30TH 29/30th August. A very special two night run with master storyteller and founder of the Incredible String Band, Robin Williamson - "STORIES AND THEIR MAKING": Over the years, many of the stories Robin tells have matured with him and become lifelong friends. Many people have requested Robin to capture and make available again his favourite stories, first recorded on cassettes in the eighties and now out of print. Robin will be recording for a two night run at the Quaker Meeting house in Ashburton.
TICKET LINK: https://www.facebook.com/events/322965971213224/
TICKETS IN ADVANCE ONLY, AND VERY LIMITED.
£10 PER night, different stories per night
Ok, i think i owe it to all of us to have something COMPLETELY un-Parzival related this week. It's a section from the new book i'm working on, and concerns a meeting with yourself and character called Henry Hastings - a man from west country history.
Only you know where you’ll be when it happens. Drifting through a wednesday counting emails in the office, bent over kale at the allotment, gearing up for the school run dash through the rain.
Today is different. Today little Jacob, Nessie and Ruby will wait by the gates. You’ve gone somewhere else. Something beckoned, called you by your name, bundled you into a large black car. No one looked up from their desk. You don’t quite know where you are going, but by god you have to go. Now. You travel some distance, but finally, the car - which is now a carriage - has stopped.
As your feet descend to the earth, the driver mutters that you are a guest of Henry Hastings himself, the great Wudu-Wasa of the west country of England. Wild man. One of the last. A royal keeper of the forest. You can’t help but look around, i mean he sounds so grand. Are there ornate turrets, crimson carpets, a table crammed with dainties? Servants attending to your every need? Not so much.
A greeting chamber had been carved into the hollow of an oak. And striding towards you is a man dressed entirely in green broadcloth. Squat and muscled, glint in his eye, cheek as red as a spanked arse, he beckons that you enter the heart of the tree with him. It is here he takes your measure.
If the stink of the city is not too much with you, he leads you further into his maze. Past the stacked woodsheds, fishponds and deer thick copses to his home. The man has a reputation, like a lusty tree-spirit, or woodland-khan, every female for twenty miles has sought him out.
Hasting’s great hall seems to have long reneged on the notion of outside and inside. In the high sconces of the walls you behold both falcon and hawk, roosting like emperors. The floor is thick with both their droppings and a scattering of hunting dogs - shuddering with terriers, hounds, spaniels. Peering through the smoke you see the upper end of the room converted into a hanging wall of fox and polecat pelts, two seasons thick.
You hold your courage and advance, finding great litters of cats pawing for their masters plate, avoiding the long white wand he thrashes in their direction. But friend: by god you eat. Fresh oysters from Poole, woodcock, hare and venison - steaming on the plate or groaning tight within pastry. When you try to match him drink to drink, you find yourself sipping beer flavoured with rosemary, or wine strong with gillyflower.
Hastings great treat is to bellow at his servants; “Bastards and cuckoldry knaves”. They know his rhythms, his temperament, and grin broadly. What pleasure to allow fully volley to the tongue. If you require further feeding he will shuffle into a smoky corner where lies a disused pulpit. Reaching into its un-consecrated depths he may produce an apple pie - long baked, plump and sweet, thick crusted. If meat’s still pressing he will procure chunks of gammon or even a chine of deep cured beef.
The one that peers at us curiously over dinner - this Enkidu, this Rooster, this Woodwo, lived a full century in his time, as the gentry fall like minnows around him. His hall is a strange Arcadia, the man a Lord of Misrule. His tapestries candle-flicker like cave paintings. You settle by the fire.
No one has ever told you stories like he tells you stories.
Speech so sweet and broad that starlings nestle in his vowels, with the moon craning her elegant neck to catch just a whisper of his antlered language. Your heart hurts, and your throat is tight like when you ran fast as a kid. Please, god, don’t ever stop your telling, we’ve done for - all of us - if you do. And then suddenly it is over: you are outside - bundled up and under the stars, awaiting your carriage back to polite society.
The cell phone starts to pulse madly in your pocket, you know you’ve missed parents evening for sure. You’ll have to Skype the headmaster. But that’s not the reason you find yourself biting back tears, blinking in the dark. The oak door is pulled slowly shut on the scene: the pipe smoke, yipping dogs, larders of ale, tables thick with hawk’s hoods, fishing poles, dice and cards.
As the ale claims residence to your tongue, as your belly groans with beef, you stand in the dark and you wonder:
which of us is really the richer?
and how has this tragedy come about?
Copyright Martin Shaw 2014