Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Plain sailing?

I've had a bit of a breakthrough with City of Ships this week, as well as getting another extension. So I hope to be sleeping better.

Jess is feeling better and made pancakes for us all on Tuesday. I'm giving up chocolate, wine and cake for Lent, not that I eat much of that. Still we had a trip to Worcester to see the cathedral yesterday and successfully eschewed cake with mid-morning coffee, pudding after lunch and stuck to just a cup of tea in the afternoon even though a friend was treating us.

I had a successful meeting with my Frances Lincoln editor about the Great Big Book of Families and we started plotting for the 20th anniversary celebrations of Grace.

We saw the RSC's Othello in Oxford which I pretty much hated. It was the direction, not the acting, I had a quarrel with. Patrice Maianbana was more than adequate in the main role and we knew him from the RSC Histories.The Cassio turned out to be an old friend of middle daughter's from the Guildhall. (This happens more and more often these days)

But we had a jazz band (OK), a clown in blackface, a golliwog, a Desdemona doll whose private parts were groped on two separate occasions, performances of You made me love you etc etc. The dress was '40s/'50s so Othello's wonderful line "Put up your bright swords or the dew will rust 'em" was delivered to soldiers wielding pistols.

We had to have a semi-naked Desdemona miming sex with Othello in the background in the early Cyprus scenes and - worst of all - the tender willow song scene between Desdemona and Emilia had Emilia's lines given to an incongruous apparition of Brabantio that turns up in D's bedroom.

The director who perpetrated all this was Kathryn Hunter. Beware!

Worcester cathedral next day was balm to the soul, with its Norman crypt, lady chapel and decagonal Chapter House.

I've at last finished The Audacity of Hope, which was good but much less readable than Dreams from my Father. And since then I've re-read Susan Price's two Sterkarm books because I had to write a review of the marvellous The Sterkarm Handshake for a book. And a book I'm reviewing for the Guardian.

World Book Day next week and I'm off to a school in Reading. I do hope the PowerPoint works!

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