steepholm: (tree_face)
In my Marie-Kondo-fuelled rage for tidying I came across some material from the Diana Wynne Jones 2009 conference that [livejournal.com profile] fjm, [livejournal.com profile] chilperic, [livejournal.com profile] lady_schrapnell and I organised at UWE, Bristol. This included a copy of the message Diana recorded for the conference, since (because of illness) she was unable to attend personally - something I know she regretted. In it she reads the beginning of the (then still unpublished) novel, Enchanted Glass.

I thought that this might be of interest to some people here, especially those of us who miss her.

steepholm: (Default)
In my Marie-Kondo-fuelled rage for tidying I came across some material from the Diana Wynne Jones 2009 conference that [personal profile] fjm, [profile] chilperic, [personal profile] lady_schrapnell and I organised at UWE, Bristol. This included a copy of the message Diana recorded for the conference, since (because of illness) she was unable to attend personally - something I know she regretted. In it she reads the beginning of the (then still unpublished) novel, Enchanted Glass.

I thought that this might be of interest to some people here, especially those of us who miss her.

steepholm: (tree_face)
This is very charming in itself (and occurred on a road I often drive down), but I put it here because the combination of an escaped horse and a string quartet is so very, very Fire and Hemlock. Needless to say, the quartet are travelling in the direction of Bristol, or possibly as far as Burnt Norton...

ETA: The escaped horse is not visible in this picture, but it's what caused the traffic jam, and thus the jamming.

ETA2: From the Telegraph: 31-year-old Lu Jeffery, of Portishead, near Bristol, said: "It was a lovely moment, one the quartet will treasure. Between us, we have played some of the most incredible concert venues globally and the one afternoon you play the M5 it all goes crazy."

A very Portishead thing to say.


steepholm: (Default)
This is very charming in itself (and occurred on a road I often drive down), but I put it here because the combination of an escaped horse and a string quartet is so very, very Fire and Hemlock. Needless to say, the quartet are travelling in the direction of Bristol, or possibly as far as Burnt Norton...

ETA: The escaped horse is not visible in this picture, but it's what caused the traffic jam, and thus the jamming.

ETA2: From the Telegraph: 31-year-old Lu Jeffery, of Portishead, near Bristol, said: "It was a lovely moment, one the quartet will treasure. Between us, we have played some of the most incredible concert venues globally and the one afternoon you play the M5 it all goes crazy."

A very Portishead thing to say.

Firewalk!

Feb. 25th, 2013 12:15 pm
steepholm: Calcifer (Calcifer)
Being naturally cautious, I feel I ought to listen to my daimon when it urges me, as it occasionally does, to take a bold or uncharacteristic step. Nevertheless, I may live to regret this one...

26th March will be the second anniversary of Diana Wynne Jones's death, which took place at St Peter's Hospice in Bristol. Accordingly, I'm marking the event by taking part in a sponsored firewalk in Millennium Square, here in Bristol, with the money going to St Peter's. It involves walking barefoot along a 4-5m pathway of red-hot coals. Somewhat on these lines...

Firewalk_LG


The event takes place on 22nd March, and the Burning Time is 7.15pm. If you would like to sponsor me to send money to a very good cause in DWJ's name, my donation page is here. Any amount, large or small, will be very welcome. My blisters will weep with gratitude.
steepholm: (Default)
I was intending to do a full report on the Diana Wynne Jones celebration on Sunday, but I didn't have a moment until today, by which time of course there are several excellent accounts already out there, such as these two by [personal profile] gillo, and this by Cheryl Morgan. I will also be doing a brief account tomorrow over at The Awfully Big Blog Adventure. So these are just a few interstitial notes.

[personal profile] ashkitty had come down from Aberystwyth the previous evening and was staying over, and at 10am I arrived with her at St George's to help get things ready for the Event. (There was, throughout, some hesitation in my mind about what to call this happening. Memorial service was too grim, while celebration - though it was the official title - seemed to evoke balloons and party poppers, especially in sentences such as "When does the celebration start?") Getting things ready largely consisted of heaving many boxes of books down to the crypt and setting them out on trestle tables. I cannot, however, claim credit for the magnificent Babel Tower of Diana's foreign editions, which had been accumulating in her house for years: that was I think the work of [personal profile] ashkitty and Diana's son Micky, who was directing operations. I did however nab a rare copy of the German Skiver's Guide: Handbuch zum Webtauchen. I also had to sort a set of her book covers into chronological order for a display by the bar - something I think I did more or less correctly from memory, although I was a bit hazy about the late '80s and early '90s. Upstairs, the Steinway concert grand which is a fixture at St George's (which is often used by the BBC for lunchtime concerts) was being expertly played by an array of Diana's relatives, including her daughter-in-law, grandson and nephew. I state as a matter of record that the latter two musicians are both named Tom.

I was expecting a bedraggled Polly to turn up, but instead [personal profile] nineweaving came, amongst various others of Diana's friends and relatives, and after a while she, [personal profile] ashkitty and I made our way up the hill to the pub where an ever-increasing number of DWJ's fans were assembling, including [personal profile] fjm, [profile] chilperic, [personal profile] gillo, Cheryl, Gili Bar-Hillel and her husband, who had come from Israel, and (all the way from Australia) [personal profile] splanky, who was doing Eastercon and this on a kind of fan scholarship (I had no idea such things existed), as well as many friends from the 2009 conference and other DWJ meets past. Apart from having to wait almost an hour for a burger, it was a very pleasant lunch - and our party eventually ran to four concatenated tables, taking up much of what was, thankfully, a particularly cavernous pub.

The Event itself is already well described elsewhere. I thought it went very well, and managed to stay dry eyed until Dave Devereux's account of being with Diana at the end of her life - but there was plenty of laughter too, and I think Diana was approached from enough angles that we managed by a process of - not triangulation, perhaps, but polygonization? - to see her before us, if in a fitful way like a Star Wars hologram. It was the kind of event where one thought, "I wish Diana could see this - she'd really enjoy it!"

In the interval and afterwards, I met more old friends, including a student (whom I didn't recognize because she was in the wrong context - agh!), and the indefatigable and generous Jessica Yates, whom I never see but she gives me some carefully-selected photocopies from her bag. Blackwells had taken up position in the crypt, and were selling advance copies of Reflections, which looks a handsome volume. I hear that David Fickling, its publisher, was also somewhere about, but I managed to miss him.

Speakers, partners and dogsbodies went to Diana's house for a bite to eat afterwards, and I did a bit of ferrying of both people and unsold books (giving directions to Diana's house is like playing three-dimensional chess: it's generally easier to give the person a piggy-back). This occasioned my meeting the charming Megan Whalen Turner, who had come over with [personal profile] sdn and who helped me defy gravity by carrying dozens of books in a box that had very largely ceased to be. My opening conversational gambit was, "I guessed the twist in The Thief!" (I am so gauche.)

[personal profile] nineweaving was staying overnight, as was [personal profile] ashkitty, and we spent the evening watching The Owl Service on DVD - or at least a portion of it, for [personal profile] ashkitty, despite her expertise in matters Mabinogioniac, had somehow neglected ever to read the book, and I didn't want to give her too many spoilers. In the morning I went with [personal profile] nineweaving in a rather chilly drizzle to see the underestimated stones of Stanton Drew, the pockmarked grimness of which is mitigated by the rosy pink with which they are flecked, and by the little rock pool worlds of moss and lichen that have evolved on the flanks of their fallen. It was both too wet and too early to have lunch in garden of The Druid's Arms (where three outlying stones stand next to the picnic tables - the Cove of the monument), but we went the extra mile to Chew Magna and ate there. I've been round Chew Magna church several times, but only on this occasion did I stop to read the list of incumbents and their patrons. Most of the latter are local noblemen, although in the mid-16th century several of the Chew Magna vicars seem to have been installed directly by Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth (I wonder why?); but the most strking entry was for 1643, in which "Stubbs - a Preacher" was listed as vicar, while the entry in the column of patrons read simply: "The Mob".

Later that afternoon I took [personal profile] nineweaving to Bristol Airport, whence I hope and trust she made it to the next leg of her European tour - and so came home to catch up on marking, European bids, and proofing of articles - from the tight deadline parts of which I have just emerged.

Altogether, an excellent weekend.
steepholm: (steepholm)
This is by way of a signal boost, to let anyone who may be interested know that there are now more details of the Diana Wynne Jones Celebration, due to take place on April 22nd in Bristol, here. In particular, this site gives directions on how to reach the venue from pretty much any direction, and by most modes of transport other than airship (sorry, Mr Miyazaki).
steepholm: (Default)
I suspect that most of the people on my friends list who would wish to know about this already do so, and I beg their pardons, but this is by way of a signal boost.

A celebration of the life and work of Diana Wynne Jones will be held on Sunday 22nd April, at St George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol. St George's is a rather lovely early nineteenth-century ex-church (now concert venue) in the heart of Bristol.

The doors will open at 2pm, and the event proper will begin at half past. It will feature short contributions from Diana's family and friends, editors, fellow writers, fans and others. Subject to gaining the relevant permissions, it is also hoped to show extracts from film, TV and ballet adaptations of her work, and there will be a display of photographs from her life. There will also be about five minutes of audio from her last interview, which I conducted with her in February last year.* The event will end by 5pm. (There will be an interval.)

The event is free, and open to all.

* This interview is due to appear in full in Reflections later this year.
steepholm: (Default)
To cheer myself up, I unearthed some pictures that I took back in 2005, when I arranged a pre-birthday treat for Diana by giving her a picnic in Castle Park. This was followed by a trip in the tethered balloon that used to summer there. The light was wonderful, the balloon had a touch of Miyazaki, and we had great views of the bombed-out church, the old warehouses, and everything else that time and the Council had left standing in that part of Bristol.

Somehow the height and space and light and warmth feel like a good antidote for today.

DSCF0078

DWJ balloon

DSCF0074

DSCF0072

More photos here.
steepholm: (Default)
To cheer myself up, I unearthed some pictures that I took back in 2005, when I arranged a pre-birthday treat for Diana by giving her a picnic in Castle Park. This was followed by a trip in the tethered balloon that used to summer there. The light was wonderful, the balloon had a touch of Miyazaki, and we had great views of the bombed-out church, the old warehouses, and everything else that time and the Council had left standing in that part of Bristol.

Somehow the height and space and light and warmth feel like a good antidote for today.

DSCF0078

DWJ balloon

DSCF0074

DSCF0072

More photos here.
steepholm: (Default)
Very sad to hear of the death of Diana Wynne Jones this morning.

I visited her in the hospice a few times over the last week, and it was noticeable how rapidly she was declining. They had been hoping to bring her home yesterday, but she was pronounced too ill for that - so I'm not surprised by this, but still shocked.

She had been in a good deal of pain, and the painkillers were making her drift in and out of consciousness much of the time. Also, the cancer had affected her eyesight. But when she was awake her mind and her humour were still there, even when I last saw her on Wednesday. I shall miss her a great deal.
steepholm: (Default)
Very sad to hear of the death of Diana Wynne Jones this morning.

I visited her in the hospice a few times over the last week, and it was noticeable how rapidly she was declining. They had been hoping to bring her home yesterday, but she was pronounced too ill for that - so I'm not surprised by this, but still shocked.

She had been in a good deal of pain, and the painkillers were making her drift in and out of consciousness much of the time. Also, the cancer had affected her eyesight. But when she was awake her mind and her humour were still there, even when I last saw her on Wednesday. I shall miss her a great deal.

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