Sorry for the delay between blogs- most of my time has been taken up with editing the children’s’ blogs and making or finding sound effects (great fun), and getting everything ready for the Tea Party event last Saturday. Before I go on- want to say a massive thanks to Kathy and Gill at NXL, all their amazing volunteers, Raidene Carter who ended up being quiz mistress! Joe Gibson, Cathy Myers, (techies and photographers as well as amazing librarians), Vicky Foxcroft our MP who ended up making tea,and my friends and family who painstakingly picked up the paper “snow” I had thrown all over the floor! all the primary school teachers and pupils who came, and a big thanks to Deptford and New Cross residents who made the afternoon such messy fun….sorry in advance to anyone I have inevitably forgotten…
The stories the children wrote were fantastic, and were enjoyed by the 220 visitors we had during the event at New Cross Learning.
Next we will be burning CDs so that each of the children has a copy of all of the stories themselves- plus there will be more opportunities to listen if you didn’t make it along on Saturday. We also had the Deptford Quiz (with plant prizes from Brett on Deptford Market) , urban myths and legends from Deptford, and guest spots from Lydia, Freya and Isaac.
Here’s the room all ready for action
It all looks quite civilsed eh? We even had scones and jam and cream dontcha know? The pop up museum was also set up, for people to at during the event…
But then things got messy…. I always think it is a measure of how good a party is by how much mess there is left.. well there was a lot. Cathy Myers thankfully took all of the pictures in this blog, hence the amazing quality! Here are some to give you an idea of the afternoon:
This is officially the end of my time as Writer In Deptford.. but we still have loads of stuff coming: there will be a tour of each of the libraries of the work created this year so far, plus there are lots more interviews to come with local people, which I have been doing during the year, and now will have a bit more of a chance to edit, polish and post… plus there is loads more stuff coming from Hothouse, which is the longer term project that this was part of. To find out more about Hothouse go here
Lastly, just for today, below is one of the stories I wrote to perform at the Tea Party, hope you enjoy
The Secret of the Deptford Gold
This story is from a long time ago in Deptford, 1663 to be precise, when a man called John Evelyn had a great big house in Sayes Court with a beautiful garden. The hero of our story, Mr Magpie, loved to visit the garden that Mr Evelyn had made.
The magpie loved the summer days
He loved the sun and its warm rays
He dreaded feeling winters’ chill
It made him shiver and feel quite ill
Then one day when magpie was speshly cold
He peeked through a window and spied some gold
Solid gold coins locked in an old wooden chest
At the lady of the house’s behest
The gold coins gleamed and twinkled in his eye
At the sight of them he began to cry
“Those golden discs will replace the sun
and keep me warm till winters done”
So when the people in the house weren’t looking, Magpie snuck in by hopping through the open window, and he snapped the gold coins up in his strong beak and took them home
The magpies nest was soon a-glow
He paid no notice to the snow
And other birds gathered from afar
And sang by the moon and under the stars
But the people noticed the coins were gone
And fought and argued for so long
Blaming each other for the missing gold
Till no one was speaking so I’m told
The magpie knew that Christmas was near
But instead of the usual yuletide cheer
There were people sulking and angry with each other
And arguments between sisters and brothers
And he realised that he was to blame
And considered putting it back again
But then realised the gold had caused nothing but trouble
So he came up with another plan at the double
You see the magpie was a very clever fellow.
It was the gold made everyone argue and bellow,
Even though they just counted it and hid it in a chest.
So he let them see him carrying one golden coin away to his nest
“It’s the magpie what has the gold!” cried John Evelyn, quickly scribbling it down in his diary “DO NOT TRUST MAGPIES THEY ARE THIEVES”- and everyone gathered around the bottom of the magpie’s tree, and they saw the nest glowing with gold.
“I knew it wasn’t you cook” says the head gardener even though just the day before he’d shouted “no one should trust a person who mashes potatoes so furiously!”
And all the people stopped blaming each other for the missing gold and they dashed off to fetch a ladder to rescue the gold from the magpie’s nest, leaving the magpie to hatch the next part of his plan.
Now there is one creature in Deptford so clever and fast that no human being can ever catch up with her. And this creature is the fox. With this in mind, one at a time, the magpie transported the golden coins to the fox for safekeeping.
The fox hatched the perfect plan. Blink blink, she hid the gold coins behind her eyes, blink blink, and they’re gone. As if by magic.
Poor Mr Magpie took all the blame for this of course. People never trust magpies again, they say things like“the magpie has stolen my pants!” “The magpie has stolen my socks! My biro! My engagement ring” when really they have just been forgetful, and the magpie doesn’t really mind, he can be heard to say: “caw caw course it wasn’t me you nincompoops!”
And from that day on, all foxes, but especially Deptford foxes, carry gold in their eyes, sometimes the gold coins behind the eyes of the fox can be seen on clear cold winter nights, shining in the dark, safe and precious.
And some of the wisest people see that, and know that that’s the best place for gold, just out of reach, not to be spent but to be enjoyed as a beautiful thing, like sunshine, or the eyes of a magical fox, flickering like so many candles, or like a tiny piece of the sun in the deepest wintertime.
And to this day when you see a magpie you hear people say: One for sorrow two for joy three for a girl and four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told!
And this is the secret the magpie never told-
The secret of the Deptford Gold