Chesil Theatre 10 x 10 New Writing Festival – a homage to David Bowie.


, , , ,

I’m just back from Winchester, and the Chesil Theatre 10 x 10 New Writing Festival. Each year they put on ten new one-act plays on a specific theme, and this year the theme was David Bowie.


The building was originally a 12th century church (it’s the oldest building in Britain that’s in use as a theatre) and stone arches are still visible at the side of the intimate auditorium – so it seemed like the perfect place to leave some leaflets plugging my book.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in, and did feel a bit choked-up when the image of the Brixton Bowie mural was projected onto the stage. Thankfully most of the plays were very good, and some, such as Strangers When We Meet, were quite moving – although some of the plays were more Bowie-related than others (The Golden Years, though very funny, had nothing to do with Bowie at all apart from the title).

David Who? was probably my favourite. Two rather dense Doctor Who fans try to decide if regeneration is the same as reincarnation, and wonder whether Bowie will come back – as a piece of lino! Don’t ask – very silly, very funny – though I think I was the only person in the audience who got the Caves of Androzani reference. One of the characters was wearing a Labyrinth T-shirt (the only nod to the movie all evening – one of the other plays had a character billed as Jareth, but he didn’t look/act like him in any way).

I also enjoyed Try To Get It On Like Once Before – inspired by the song Drive-in Saturday, it’s about a man and woman from the future taking part in an experiment, trying to figure out how to people used to have sex – by watching 21st century porn. Christina Pye and Felix Price were absolutely hilarious in this. Their reactions to watching the (unseen) porn were priceless, and I know that from now on I’m going to smile whenever I hear that song.

Modern Love was another play that didn’t really feature Bowie (just a quick quote or two) but it deserves special mention just for Holly Truslove, as Tallulah – a young woman who finds her one night stand’s mobile phone and starts ringing his contacts to tell them what she thinks of him. She was alone on stage for virtually the whole thing, and managed to make all those conversations totally convincing – a brilliant comic performance.

Jareth’s Entrance



As it’s Poetry Day, here’s an extract from my book – Labyrinth: one classic film, fifty-five sonnets:

The goblins heard. The goblins came. Strange calm
descended swiftly on the baby’s room
and Sarah, fearful of some eerie harm,
searched for her half-brother, in the half-gloom.
Beneath his blanket, someone – something? – stirred.
She drew it back – but there was nothing there.
Then low unsettling noises could be heard,
behind, around her – goblins, everywhere!
A shadow, a reflection somehow strange,
a glimpse of tail, of helmet or of horn.
A white owl, flapping at the window panes,
attempted entry through the long French doors.
One more lightning flash, a blast of thunder –
she turned, to see the windows flung asunder.

The owl became a man; his majesty
such that the very air did seem to sing.
And Sarah wondered if she should curtsey,
for surely this was Jareth – Goblin King.
His windswept hair, a mane of tawny blond.
His eyes most magical; one dark, one light.
His face a mask of mischief, cruel, yet fond.
His garments, darkness; blue, his cloak of night.
Black were his boots, his gloves, his collar high,
and breastplate leather, with accents of bone –
upon his chest, a pendant triangle
with curving arms, wrought of silver, of gold.
Though Sarah tried her rash words to retract,
“What’s said, is said” he uttered – stating fact.

Want to read more? Buy my book!

E-book available now, hardback book coming very soon.

What is that plastic thing?


, , ,

I pre-ordered some Funko Pop vinyl Labyrinth figures from Amazon back in August, but they still haven’t managed to fulfill the order – it seems, like so many others, they’ve under-estimated the appeal of Labyrinth.

Anyway, today I went into Dark Side Comics in Chelmsford. It’s their third birthday, so the place was packed with people in costume – but what caught my eye? Yes, near the top of a towering stack of Pop figures was Jareth, in all his plastic glory! I took the Goblin King home with me (thirty years I’ve wanted to do that LOL).

Here he is – so cute!


But the best part is the box. I giggled at the warning that said:

“Not intended for children. Unsuitable for anyone under the age of 14.”

Then I read this:

“Warning! Choking hazard. May contain small parts.”


Labyrinth Location


, , , ,

I’m off to visit West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire. Why? Because that’s where they filmed the opening sequence of Labyrinth. Fellow Labyrinth fans will know that’s the scene where Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) runs across a little flint bridge beside a lake, and starts reading lines from her book, The Labyrinth – watched by an owl/Goblin King (David Bowie).

I first spotted the lake in the background of a scene in another movie (The Importance of Being Earnest) which had the location listed in the end credits. The house appears in a lot of period drama, from Downton Abbey to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I’ve been meaning to visit for ages, but the house is only open June to August – and then only Thursday to Sunday – but only between 2 – 6 in the afternoon.

And as I rely on public transport – let’s see, bus-train-tube-tube-tube-train-bus-bus. It’s not quite “Through dangers untold, and hardships unnumbered” – but I think it’s going to take a few hours.

For once I make all my connections, and arrive at the park before the gates are even open. I ask the National Trust lady at the entrance if she knows where the little flint bridge is. She doesn’t even know that Labyrinth was filmed here – and the house is set in 42 acres of grounds, with several bridges. Luckily it’s perfect weather for wandering

I turn left down Broad Walk, past Britannia Pillar, then turn right when I reach the lake and carry on until I come to a stream. I see an owl’s feather on the grass – a sign I’m heading the right way?

There it is!



Thirty years later, some things have changed. Ivy and bindweed are taking over one end of the bridge, and as it’s high summer there’s a lot of pondweed growing in the stream – but it’s unmistakably the same place. I resist the urge to run across it, spouting lines from the film – but I do take a lot of photos.


Labyrinth bridge 01

There’s no obelisk for an owl to perch on, no bench for Sarah’s dog (they were just set dressing). The clock tower isn’t there either – that must have been shot in America, as was the sequence immediately after the scene by the bridge. But there is a family of swans on the lake. I wonder if they’re descendants of the swans you can spot in Labyrinth, and I start to imagine an elderly swan grandfather boasting to bored baby cygnets about the time he once starred in a film with Jennifer Connelly.

The lake itself is said by some to have been designed like a swan – lake as body, river as neck, two streams for legs. Was it deliberately included in the film as a reference to the ballet Swan Lake, which also features a villain (Rothbart) who’s an owl – with ballet dancer’s tights? Probably just coincidence. When you’ve watched a film as often as I’ve watched Labyrinth, it does get inside your head.

And that’s why I’m here. To mark the film’s thirtieth anniversary, I’ve written a sequence of sonnets (fifty-five of them!) telling the story of Labyrinth in verse. I sit down on the grass under a tree and, like Sarah, begin to read aloud from my little leather book…

It takes me an hour. This has been a poignant year for Labyrinth fans, but reading these poems, in this location – I feel quite ridiculously happy.

By now the park is starting to get busy. I’m glad I arrived early enough to read my poems aloud without a baffled audience.  More people are here now, and another girl is posing for a photo on the bridge – and a guy is taking pictures of his special edition Labyrinth DVD!

If I miss my bus there won’t be another one for two hours, and although West Wycombe village is pretty, I don’t want to be stuck there on a Sunday afternoon – between the pubs and the traditional sweet shop, I would eat far too much (I can recommend the crème brûlée fudge). But I don’t want to leave…

And then a bird swoops across the lake. It’s not an owl (that would be too perfect) but a red kite – one of Britain’s most beautiful birds of prey. It makes a couple of lazy turns over the lake, then soars off above the trees.

Today’s not going to get any better than this. Time to head home.

Remembering Jim Henson


, , ,

As it’s Jim Henson’s birthday today, I thought I’d post a picture of this sweet painting of him with Kermit that I saw at last year’s No Strings Attached exhibition at the Dart Gallery, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

(And if you like art inspired by film and television, their Dart Trek exhibition, celebrating 50 years of Star Trek, opens next week.)


I’m sure Jim would be delighted to know how popular his work is today – including Labyrinth.

“What we were trying to do with this film… is to make a film that would make a difference to you, if you saw it.” (Jim Henson)

It did, Jim – it did. Thank you.