‘Incredibly cool, mysterious and deep’ – the film I want to make.

‘Incredibly cool, mysterious and deep’ – the film I want to make.

When I was fifteen I wanted to be Jean Luc Godard – or possibly Alain Resnais, whose L’Annee Derniere a Marienbad seemed incredibly cool, mysterious and deep. My friend Ro and I made films on the school’s Standard 8 cine-camera and showed them to captive first-formers at lunchtime on a whirry projector connected to a reel-to-reel tape-recorder which kept the soundtrack in sync – sort of. On Fridays we got out of domestic science by sneaking off to the Classic Cinema in South Croydon and waiting for an old lady to turn up, to take us in to the ‘A’ rated movies. We were planning to go and live in Paris, work nights in a telephone exchange, and make films by day. Ro grew up to became a psychotherapist, but I did make films – trouble is, they were documentaries.

I did sometimes get the chance to direct drama sequences, and I wrote some books along the way, so I was always skirting around the possiblity that I might write a film script. But it wasn’t until I hit 60 that I realised that I had better get on with it! So, I got started, went on courses, started a screenplay group, watched films relentlessly, always asking myself: why do I like/not like this? How does she make this work? (By the way, I reckon Precious, Head On and The Tree of Life are my favourites currently.) A group of talented local actors did a reading of it for me, and I made some changes after hearing what worked and what didn’t, so am now approaching the moment of truth when this dream needs to become a reality.

I have had great help and mentoring from friends. Now I need a producer. The film, The House of the Waters, is about the solving of a riddle from the Mabinogion. The heroine is a psychiatrist called Sita, half Indian and half-Welsh, who comes back to Wales to find the beloved uncle she has neglected. But he is dying, and challenges her to solve the riddle – and inherit his House and the magical lineage that goes with it. You can find a link to the little taster I knocked together on the PC a couple of blogs back.

So, if you know of a producer who might work with me…..I promise I will invite you to the premiere, at the Brecon Coliseum, reception afterwards at Llandefalle Village hall, overlooking the Black mountains, Dunkertons cider only to be served. Ok, I am jumping ahead, but at least I am keeping it local!


Llyn y Fan Fach

The lake of Llyn y Fan Fach

Over the next few weeks I am going to write a series of posts about my ten favourite places of pilgrimage, ie places with a special quality or atmosphere, good to go to when you need inspiration or comfort. The lake above will be one, and I’ve just done a post about St Margaret’s Church in Herefordshire – known for its rood screen but, for me, it’s the astonishing stained glass windows which make it particularly wonderful.

I am hoping that you, the readers of this blog will respond with some notes about the places you love, saying why you do.

I’ll definitely be writing about Skara Brae in Orkney, Skellig Michael off the west coast of Ireland, and Queen’s Wood in Highgate.

Rivers out of Eden in deepest Herefordshire

Saint Margaret at the gates of the Holy City

It was death that sent me back to St Margarets, the brutal death of a friend’s brother by suicide.  The thought of this man’s suffering haunted me all day so I wound up the tiny narrow lane, past clumps of meadowsweet waving in the warm wind, to the old church, to say a prayer for him.

St Margaret’s was my place of pilgrimage at a transition time in my own life.  I’d hike up through the fields to it, a couple of times a week, to sit and gaze at the blue-infused stained glass windows showing Saint Margaret at the gates of the Holy City.  Here they are.  Go and see them, it’s in Herefordshire, miles from anywhere really, but worth the effort.  It is a special place, a thin place, it has a quality of stillness and timelessness which never changes.

It sits on a hilltop, surrounded by farmer’s fields and graves which have quatrains of verse on them, in the border tradition.  The sheep who nuzzle the girl saint’s legs are the same sheep who graze in these fields, and the roses and lilies in her meadows are growing in the farmhouse gardens too, just next to the churchyard.  The river flowing from the City could be the sparkling Dulas brook or the fast-flowing Wye, both not far from this place.  Her name, Margaret, means ‘pearl’ and the gates of the Holy City are made of pearl.  In the centre of the City is the Tree of Life, with Mary and her baby in it.  It’s an image of innocence, renewal, a reminder of the radiance always pouring through the everyday scene, if only we can open the ‘doors of perception.’

iYou can see what the church looks like because Margaret holds it in her right hand.  Like most saints she died a horrible martyr’s death.  She would understand that poor man’s pain and desperation.  She’d hold it and dissolve it away.  As for me, when I learned to love this place, I had run away from London, my marriage and a right old mess in my life.  I was living in a showman’s wagon, without electricity or running water.  Badgers snuffled outside it in the dark, dark country nights. When the moon was full, I could hardly bear to go indoors to sleep.


Gradually my old self, the old mess dissolved and new love wakened in me, for this land, this debatable land, which had been Welsh and was now English. Now I live in Wales and no longer make my regular visits to this old friend –  because this place, infused with the radiance of the idea of the Holy City, was a true friend to me, cooling me down when I was agitated, inspiring me when I was dull, comforting me when I was sad.  I took a lot of friends, Christians, Pagans, atheists, Buddhists, there and they all loved it, they all noticed the special quietness.

My brother, Steve, who is a meditator too, talked the other day of ‘that emptiness you reach which seems nevertheless full of the most wonderful things,’ (sorry, Steve, I paraphrase!)  If you need to restore your connection with that, visit St Margaret’s.