Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Summer's Here...And So Is Vintage Script!

Summer’s here…and so is the latest edition of Vintage Script! Take a peek inside with our mini reviews of this issue’s stories and articles.

Oliver Hambley
Lucy E. M. Black
We welcome back expert storyteller Lucy this edition, with her tale set in mid-twentieth century Canada. We meet Oliver Hambley, unsophisticated and flawed, but with a hidden depth and sensitivity: ‘Oliver listened to the magnificent organ intently for a moment, and then he began to sing also: his voice soaring in the cavernous space…Dulcie edged toward him and saw that his face was wet with tears. Oliver felt her move close to his side and he looked at her tenderly. Still singing, he reached for her hand and pressed it tightly against his heart’.

Happy and Glorious
Roger Harvey

It’s 60 years since the Royal Yacht Britannia first set sail, and Roger celebrates the landmark in his lively article. Roger paints a picture not only of a majestic yacht, but also a cosy, much-loved home, replete with its original 1950s furniture and fittings…sounds like heaven to me!

China’s Sorrow
Clare Reddaway

Another thoughtful and masterful tale from Vintage Script favourite Clare. This time she takes us far away to China, to the banks of the Yellow River, and powerfully describes a strategy that became a tragedy: ‘An old lady, white hair cropped below her ears, wide black trousers flapping around her spindly legs, hobbled through the water on her tiny feet. She was trying to get home…The water rose over the village and took the roofs and the trees and the crops and covered the land with yellow brown water and corpses’.

Digging up the Family: Victorian Juvenile Justice
Gill Garrett
Gill finds inspiration in research done into her family tree, and here she uses her grandfather’s detention in Little Mill Reformatory to explain the fate of young criminals in Victorian times. The details Gill includes tell their own stories: the names of Little Mill boys carved into the pews in the local church, and the brass tablet bearing the names of nine young men, former residents of the reformatory, who fell in the Great War. ‘One hundred and thirty “old boys”, branded as criminals as children, served the colours; many received honours and decorations, including the Distinguished Conduct Medal.’

Baret’s Voyage
Jerry Saville

Jerry’s fictionalised account of a true—and remarkable—story is enticing, intriguing and inspiring. We learn of a well-kept secret that is revealed at last, and delight in Jerry creates a thirst for adventure: ‘The easterly breeze stretched the creaking canvas of the square-rigger…The helmsman had set a steady course and the weather-beaten wooden helm groaned against its lashings on the deck behind me,’ and peppers the narrative with delightful details that make us want to read on: ‘We sat side by side on the beach gazing across the lagoon where the two ships were being readied for departure. At our feet lay a bag of roughly sewn sail canvas from which bright orange and red flowers overflowed’.

Pippa Brush
Hope and disappointment go hand-in-hand in Pippa’s exceptional tale, inspired by Matthew Arnold’s poem Dover Beach. Her observations on human nature are acutely drawn, and expressed poignantly through fine detail: ‘The room darkened around her, all light pooling on the page in her lap…She felt the tightness of her dress around her waist, the pull of her collar at her throat…She raised her head enough, just enough, that the hot salt tears did not fall upon his proffered devotion, but slid down her face where she could hide them on her tongue’.

Mary, Queen of Scots: Conspiracy, Intrigue and Murder
Stephen Davis
Stephen takes through the ups and downs of the life of one of the most controversial—and fascinating—Scottish monarchs.  As Stephen’s title suggests, the Queen’s life was a turbulent one, coming to an abrupt halt in the winter of 1587, found guilty of conspiring against Elizabeth I. Stephen’s narrative draws together the strands of Mary’s dramatic life, and leaves us wondering what if she had succeeded in establishing her historic claim to the English throne?

The Hollow
Bruce Harris
Bruce was inspired to write this story by the impending two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.  Robert waits anxiously for news of his soldier brother. A dip in the cool waters of the Hollow offers relief, and Bruce’s magical words give the Hollow a life of its own: ‘I knew the Hollow like the back of my hand, quite literally, every nook and cranny, all the depths and obstructions, and the contrasting worlds of the surface and the dimmer, hypnotically quiet underwater realm’. Time is suspended as Robert experiences something supernatural, unexplained while in its waters. It may be a hot summer’s day, but Bruce’s story leaves a chill in the air.

Against the Grain
Maria Watson

Maria reconstructs her ancestor, James Cooter’s youth, here, imagining his various occupations. Her story is lively and full of detail and drama—after an unfortunate tumble into a bin of grain at the mill (‘The grain inside is like quicksand…keeps shifting under his feet and he is screaming by the time the kernels move up his chest, past his chin and over his face’), he reinvents himself as a beetroot farmer, then an ostler. The reader can only admire his versatility and optimism.

The Story of Catherine of Braganza, Neglected Wife of Charles II
Michael Montagu
Michael describes Catherine as, ‘…a good woman, plain, pious and virtuous,’ but explains that ‘…this did not make her the ideal wife for the outgoing and uxorious Charles’. It’s a sad story, ending with Catherine’s return to her native Portugal, but told with the zest and attention to detail that we have come to expect from Vintage Script regular Michael.

Trafalgar Dusk
Rebecca Stonehill
We end with this thought-provoking vignette from Rebecca, packed with revealing detail (‘Iris’ dark hair is loose around her shoulders and the placard she is holding momentarily rests at her side as she kicks away the army of pigeons that peck furiously at our feet’) and a sense of the shifting sands of history (‘…as she takes me in her arms…I gaze happily upwards as the pigeons fly scared and crazed by the commotion into the darkening sky’).

The summer edition of Vintage Script is on sale now.

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