Friday, 4 May 2012

Facing the Music

There came a point some years ago when I realised that Marcia often listened to the same piece of music time and time again when she was writing. Obviously Elgar’s Starlight Express was important during the creation of Echoes of the Dance as it was to be the theme of Daisy’s first venture into choreography. During that year, I came to know this piece very well indeed!

Anyway, I decided to ask Marcia to explain the part that music plays in the writing process and was quite surprised by some of her comments.

It seems that this all started with the very first book: it was two of the characters that had theme tunes. In the case of Kate it was Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto number 2 whilst Felicity’s was Sibelius’ Symphony number 4.

‛Whenever I heard either of those two pieces of music,’ she said, ‛I was aware of either Kate or Felicity. In fact that remains true to this day.’

Both of these characters appeared in the second book, Thea’s Parrot and so it was during the writing of the third, The Courtyard, that another piece came to the fore, this time representing Nell: Vaughan Williams’ Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.

It would be a mistake to think that all the music is classical: it is a CD of Jamie Callum’s called Devil May Care that accompanies Jess in The Sea Garden. This is the book to be published next October.

Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now gave solace to Dossie in The Christmas Angel when she was dealing with the problems she had with personal relationships. For what it’s worth, Marcia considers the eponymous track from that CD sums up her personal life view.

Sometimes it is more general. Brahms accompanied Marcia throughout the three years it took to write the Chadwick Trilogy: no particular piece of music but a wide range of his works.

It was the same for The Golden Cup. Delius, that very English composer, represented the feel of that rather old fashioned grouping in its quite hidden valley.

It was the way in which an artist treated some works that was important during to The Summer House. Here it was not just any rendition of Chopin’s Nocturnes but specifically Angela Hewitt's playing of Chopin’s Nocturnes.

Test questions for the week.
  1. What was the theme tune for Facing the Music by Willa Marsh?
  2. What is Willa Marsh’s real name?

And last but not least I must mention Frummie from Forgotten Laughter. Her love of Nina Simone singing My Baby Just Cares for Me was to have an interesting long term effect. Most years, Judi Spiers asks Marcia to visit the studios of Radio Devon to talk to Judi on her chat show. She always plays Marcia out with My Baby Just Cares for Me and last time, as Marcia reacted to the music she commented – on air, ‛I never thought to see Marcia Willett throwing shapes in my studio.’
Judi Spiers and Marcia


Have you noticed how much it has rained recently? At the same time most of us are living in a drought area. It really doesn’t make any sense at all. If where we are is anything to go by, one problem is that all the rain has washed off the land rather than sinking in, causing local flooding and doing very little good.

The main ponds are filled because the downpipes on the garden side of the house: are all fed into the top pond which overflows into the other. I was getting quite worried about the tadpoles in the top pond who have been doing very well recently (better than last year) but they become more vulnerable as the water level drops: blackbirds in particular happily take them when there only half an inch of water over the shallow part of the pond. Well, all this rain has seen to that and the top pond is now full and overflowing into the other one which is almost up to the right level.

Meanwhile the tadpoles I am looking after in the utility room need fresh water every other day and I was reluctant to take it from the ponds when they were so low. Using tap water is not good: tadpoles can die thanks to the chlorine that is put in our mains water to kill of all bugs.

That, however, is a problem we won’t face again for a while. I have started collecting rainwater from the roofs of the outbuildings so we have a good reserve should we have another dry spell.