Episode Six of Letters From England is ready. It is an episode that focuses solely on Darcy Livingston. I decided that since this episode is all about Darcy, I changed the title from The First Date to Darcy Livingston Croons Like Joplin. The episode has also helped me determine an interesting place to take Darcy’s storyline. It will involve the promise of fame as she becomes the new lead singer for the band formerly known as Rippled Water. They are now called Darcy and The Misty Blues. I want to thank my sister Lowell N. Murray for being the inspiration behind this character and this episode. The brief musical portion of her life helped create this part of her storyline. As always, I leave a link for the episode for you to read along with the previous five.
As a writer, you always use something from your life, whether it is a story a friend told you or something from your life. Using something from my life helps me to connect to the characters and that creates a better story. Not every character I create comes from someone I know. There have been some characters that came out of nowhere. In Letters From England, I am loosely basing characters on my own family. This is a daunting task as you want to do your family justice.
MEET THE INSPIRATION BEHIND DARCY LIVINGSTON MY SISTER.
Growing up my sister Nancy probably wondered why I kept pestering her and following her around all the time. I did it because I admired her. As we grew up together, the bickering and fighting became less and less and we found a way to respect each other and get along. I think it is true, that the younger sibling always looks up to the older one. That was the case in my house. The younger sibling wants to learn from them so they don’t make the same mistakes. My sister has not always had it easy, she has had to fight hard for the life she has now. There were times when my parents worried about her and the direction she was going in. I never wavered. Privately, I was rooting for this woman. You see Nancy has a lot of my mother’s strength in her. She’s a horse lover and has been all her life. My mother never understood that and it was a constant battle in our family. I remember that changed when my sister’s horse passed away. She called to tell us. My mother spent a good forty-five minutes on the phone consoling her. For the first time, my mother found that Nancy’s sense of loss was hers too. It’s that mother-child bond that never dies. That day, my mother came to grips with the issue and supported my sister’s obsession with horses. I took that lesson and applied a few years later in my own life.
In Episode six I finally have a chance to give Darcy Livingston her own stage to croon on and she does in so many ways. The episode is called The First Date and concerns her first date with Noah Dorset, which does not go according to plan. I start the episode with a new wrinkle. Originally Ned was going to be the main Narrator for the episodes, but I decided to let Darcy speak for herself and write her own letter to her friend Eliza. (My real sister wouldn’t have it any other way.) From the offset, the idea of this letter was hysterically funny. I played with an aspect of my sister’s personality that is spot-on. First, the idea that my sister would write a letter to anyone is laughable. I can’t even get her to write an email to me let alone a letter. There may be a reason for that. You see my sister is a horrible speller. I took the terrible speller aspect and played with it in this narration. First, she spells Eliza’s name wrong and she crosses it out several times before going back to the correct spelling. She does the same with Noah’s name. Then she mixes up the name of the town she went to the night of the date. She calls Bogner Regis, Bugner Regis.
From the beginning her date with Noah gets off to an ominous start. Noah takes her to a dance club in Bogner called Damianos. Noah wants her to hear his friends band called Rippled Water. Wel,l Rippled Water is more like comatose water. As Noah introduces Darcy to his misfit mates, his ex-girlfriend Lucy Swan appears and is not too happy with the way Noah broke up with her. She takes him outside the club so she can have her say on the breakup, which becomes melodramatic and we discover that Lucy is as the British say Starkers. The interesting thing is Lucy was not based on anyone I knew, but for some strange reason, this girl came into my head that I went to school with in England. She had long dark hair. I remembered her personality as extremely hyper and she was loud. I imagined what that girl would have been like if she were 17. The ideas began to flow. So I guess I did base her on an image of someone I knew, but older.
While Lucy has ruined the date for Darcy and Ned, Darcy is forced to deal with Noah’s misfit friends. She isn’t too happy with Noah and not sure she should continue the date. She tries to find out through Noah’s friends how many girls Noah has dated. This creates all sorts of confusion between the friends and they finally admit that they don’t know. This leaves Darcy with nothing to talk about. Rippled Water has now gone from comatose to ruptured water. Darcy can’t take it anymore, and in the true fashion of my real sister, Darcy takes the bull by the horns and takes over as lead singer. She has the band start off with Brown Sugar by the Stones. The minute she belts out the first note, she has floored the crowd. A dead dance floor now becomes a packed dance floor. Then she takes on the Dusty Springfield hit “Take Another Piece of my Heart” which was classically covered by Janis. We discover that Darcy is a huge Janis Joplin fan and she croons it just like Janis Joplin would. She finishes off the evening with the Animals “House of The Rising Sun.” and brings the house down. By this point, Noah has returned to the club and is floored by Darcy’s singing. He does nothing but talk about this in the car on the way home. When he reaches the house, he apologizes for not telling her about Lucy and asks for another date. She readily accepts. I have yet to move into act four and five yet. The first three acts of the episode have been a blast to write and is why I write. There is one true aspect to this story, my sister did sing in a band for a brief period down in Massachusetts. The night she told me she sang Barracuda I was floored. Having seen my sister in a musical when she was in high school(My sister rarely did any acting, but she did do some.), I knew her voice was pretty darned good. Her taking over the entertainment hit me on the fly. It seemed to fit. Here’s to Darcy Livingston, loosely based on Lowell N. Murray. There will be more from Darcy in future episodes, she’s too much fun to ignore.
Pigeons By the Charles is a play I’ve been working on for close to thirty years. I have fine-tuned it to the best of my ability. I am proud of the finished product. I believe the characters are richly developed and the humor is it’s strength. I am ready to unleash it locally. I am currently working hard with some local theatres to do a staged reading of the play. If no theatre is interested then I will put together my own stage reading. It’s a show about friendship, love, and the tests that we go through with both. The questions will be asked. Why write a play whose theme has been explored countless times? Why write the same story, unless you have found some new way to examine the theme. I admit, I did not. I believe in this play and I believe the characters, the situations I have put these characters in and the humor sell this. I always believe any writing can always sell itself with humor. I like humor. I find life funny, so I write about those things that are not funny, poignant, or serious and find the humor in those situations to make a topic easier on others.
HOW DOES TAMWORTH COME INTO THIS PLAY?
True, this play is not exclusively set in Tamworth. It’s set in Boston, mostly at the Charles River, where Pigeons become the metaphor for its theme. I do mention Mt. Chocorua as the female lead Julie, likes to hike and I do set an important scene at the Big Rock Cave in Wonalancet. I mention the drive up and the South Tamworth Country Store, where Barry was proprietor for so many years. I do not mention Barry, but the South Tamworth Country Store is in the scene. I also make a reference to Mt. Katherine, named after Katherine Sleeper.
THE CONCEPTION OF PIGEONS BY THE CHARLES.
This show was originally conceived by watching the sitcom Mad About You. I enjoyed that show. Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt were so funny in it. One night I was fixated on the relationship between the two characters. I began to realize that these two characters weren’t just husband and wife, they were best friends.
Then bingo, I started asking a question? (Asking a question always means I have the seed for an idea.) When a friendship builds and later turns into a relationship, how does that friendship evolve within the relationship? Does it evolve? Then a further question, when Sex enters the equation of the relationship, how does that friendship change. We know it changes, but how? That question gave me a great idea for a play. Yes, this has been examined before, but I wanted to put my take on the subject.
At first, the title was Just Friends. I hated the title and since a movie by the same name had been done, I worked hard to figure out what to call this darned thing. It took me months. Then it hit me. The two main characters are constantly at the Charles River feeding the pigeons. The pigeons become the metaphor for their relationship. Bingo Pigeons By The Charles just seem to fit.
THE SIMPLE SYNOPSIS
Kurt Denmark and Julie Alexander are both Freshman at BU. Kurt is a Marketing and Business Major, while Julie is studying journalism. They meet at a college frat party. The two of them are at a crossroads. Julie has been dating the soccer frat brother Blaine Morgan who constantly proves how unfaithful he is. Kurt is getting over his relationship with his high school sweetheart, who dumped him over the phone a week before the frat party. Kurt and Julie share a common bond throughout the show, their love of the pigeons by the Charles. They feed them, name them, and watch over them like proud parents.
Through the narration of their two best friends, Chet Brewer and Phyliss Crum, we watch Julie and Kurt navigate the tricky terrane of friendship into love and marriage and how their friendship, love and marriage is challenged by the struggles of trying to have a child.
Chet and Phyliss meet at that same Frat Party. Chet is a Psyche major, while Phyliss is a Political Science major, looking to get into law. Chet is intrigued by this Southern Belle, Phylis’s sexual repression has finally been let loose from the control of her televangelist Father Sanford Crum. Chet thinks he has a chance with Phyliss. Phyliss thinks Chet is an annoyance and tries to avoid him. Through a strange series of occurrences, Chet and Phyliss keep running into each other, sometimes at a bar, sometimes at the Charles, where they become caught up in the pigeons. At every opportunity, Chet tries to gain Phyliss’s attention by Psychoanalyzing her. At first, the Psychoanalysis frustrates Phyliss, but, then begins to intrigue her. After a series of bad relationships with comedic results, Phyliss finally asks Chet why she keeps dating the freaks of society. They are further brought together by their two friends Julie and Kurt. We watch them tolerate each other while trying to keep Julie and Kurt together. In the end, after an odd drunken night, at Kurt and Julie’s wedding, we see what happens between Chet and Phyliss. Is it love, is it sexual attraction, or is it fate?
Hopefully in the future, COVID 19 aside, I will finally see Pigeons by The Charles on a stage. If there is any play I would want to be a worthy follow up to Crossing The Bridge, this is the play. Out of anything I have written, Pigeons is the best piece in my writing arsenal. I am proud of it and I hope when it shows up, you will like it too.
if you wish to read this play and give me some feed back, here is the link.
Yes that is Butlins. I couldn’t resist using it for this blog post.
Today, I had one of those writing moments that happens when you least expect it. I was performing the second edit of Episode five when I reached the last act and there is this scene between Noah and Darcy, followed by a Ned narrative. As I am editing the Ned narrative I began to think of what I wanted to do for episode six, which is the continuation of this date between Noah and Darcy. Then bingo it hits me, why have Ned write this letter, why not Darcy. In fact, why not have Blake tell some stories to his friends back home and Eileen do the same, so you are looking at the whole family’s perspective. This completely spontaneous and that is when I like the ideas to hit me. I had also planned in future episodes to have Marty and Chuck both write back to Ned and they tell a story about their lives.
Episode five, is ready for reading. As always I will post the previous episodes in order. Five will be the last one.
Enjoy the read.
One of the great things about any sort of storytelling, whether it be fiction, or any sort of scriptwriting is it allows for embellishment. Episode five is more or less embellishment of two stories. The first is the completion of the Secret Passage, that I had started in Episode four, called Welcome to England. The passage never happened but where the passage leads to is a rumor I read. I also wanted to include a Football story, which is also completely embellished, or at least some of it. The Football matches with my friends are not that embellished, but this one is and involves the story of a man I call Dennis Baskins, loosely based on a Sussex Football Legend named Alan Arnell.
I had never met Alan, but my Dad may have met him as Ted Walker would take him to Alan’s pub called the Wilkes Head which was in Eastergate. I probably had one of the famed Wilkie Burgers. I remember those. Talk about one of those memories you never forget. They were the most delicious hamburgers I ever had in England. Alan’s pub was around the corner from where I went to school. I may not have met Alan, but I did know his stepdaughter and stepson, who attended Eastergate Primary, Jackie Grant(Later changed her name to Arnell.) and Michael Bielsey. My last year at Eastergate and I began to hear about Alan, through some of my friends, who definitely knew who he was and I learned that he had played football at the professional level.
Alan’s story began in Sussex. He was an alumnus of Chichester High School, something I had just recently learned. Alan cut his teeth with Worthing. Oddly enough Worthing was where I went to the Dentist. Alan was a Striker and had been making a name for himself at the nonleague level scoring bags of goals. In 1953 Liverpool sent a scout down and bingo, they signed him. His debut came against Blackpool in December of 1953 while in the Second Division. Alan scored. However, these appearances were sporadic at best.
He did manage to score 35 goals in 75 matches while filling in for Scots legend Billy Liddle. Realizing he really had no chance with a legend in front of him, Alan asked for a transfer. Bill Shankley offered him up to Tranmere Rovers where scored 34 goals in 68 matches. After his stint with Tranmere Alan went on to Halifax scoring 6 times in 14 matches before finishing his career with Runcorn, another nonleague side. Unfortunately, I don’t have his stats for that club. All in all he netted 75 goals in his pro career, which turned out to be pretty good for a guy who played second fiddle.
After Football, Alan did a number of different things. He ran newsagents and worked as a local Football Scout and as a declaration officer at racecourses.
The scouting aspect of Alan’s life allowed me to do something with one of my Football friends. Enter one Gareth Langemere (Loosely based on two people from my days in England. One is a Footballing chum of mine from days gone by. While the other part of him is loosely based on a boisterous fellow I knew at Chichester, who grew up in a military family. ) The kid that played Football, was probably the most talented player I ever saw. Even at the age of 10, this kid was doing things with a Football that most of us could only dream of. He was technically gifted with his feet, his pace, and that first touch. His first touch just exploded off his feet. He drove us all mad, trying to tackle him. The wonderful thing about this kid is he loved showing you up. He did it with such cheek and with passion and a smile on his face. He was also one of those people you liked being around. Lots of kids looked up to him. There were times, you wanted to scream at him but after he had burned you with some act of brilliance, you couldn’t help but tip your hat off to him.
In this episode, Dennis comes to scout Langmere, but he isn’t there, due to his military dad forbidding him to play Football. (I chose to hang Langmere back a bit. When you do meet him, I want it to be memorable. The memorable story is based on this other person I knew at Chichester. The day I met that kid was something I will never forget. That Episode is coming. I have two possible titles, The Queen of England. Or maybe it’s going to be the Bloody Queen of England.) When a dispute breaks out about letting the new kid Ned Captain, Dennis pipes up from the sidelines. The kids all become excited. To them, Dennis is a pop star. They ask him if he is going to give them pointers. Dennis says he might, but he would prefer to referee the match if they allow Ned to Captain one of the sides. I haven’t finished this scene yet and it is where I have left off.
This has been an interesting episode to write. I particularly like the passage story because I added some thrills into what happens. Then there is the Football scene and I have added some interesting characters that I played Football with. Being able to take two stories and embellish them just enough makes the episode interesting.
Episode five is called The Secret Passage. In this episode I use one of my favorite places in all of Arundel as a locale.
Ned and Simon find themselves lost in this secret passage with all kinds of scary obtacles. Their parents are searching for them all over the place. I decided that I needed a way for Simon’s brother Noah and Darcy to get escape the orientation. I wanted them to have a get to know one another date. I chose a unique spot. I chose Belinda’s tearoom on Tarrant Street. Belinda’s was a treat. My whole family loved it, particularly my sister and mother.
Belinda’s is a small little place with white wood panelling and a wooden roof and black trim. I think it had been open only a few years when we moved. No one knew about this place, but by the time we left England for good, everyone knew about Belinda’s/ As i am writing about Belinda’s I can smell it. I imagine onto Tarrant street and there it is, the delicious sweet aroma’s. The Chocolate cakes, the strawberry tarts, the mince pies and the scones made my nostrils and taste buds ache for that first pleasurable bite. My mother was a connissuer of cheesecake. Every time it was on the menu at any restaurant we went to she would order it. My Dad would ask how it was and she would say, “No it doesn’t match up to the best cheesecake I ever had. We never knew where this place was. However; the first time I heard about this mysterious cheesecake was right after we moved to England. I began to realize was the best cheesecake my mom ever tasted at Belinda’s. It had to have been, because they had a killer cheesecake.. The minute you took a bite, it melted in your mouth and the sweet taste lingered for hours. You were heaven.
The owner of Belinda’s, who was one of the sweetest women you’d ever meet. After we became regulars Belinda immediatly knew what we wanted. My Dad and I always had the mince pies, because those also melted in your mouth. If I was with Dad or Mom on the weekend and they had to go into the college for any reason(Usually Mom did the laundry next door to the bookstore.), it was always Belinda’s afterwards. Perhaps Dad and I would go to the barbershop first and then go in afterwards. Belinda’s was as much a part of NEC Arundel as say the Nook was to Henniker. The place had it’s own charm. It was small but was split into two levels. It was quiet place where you couldn’t hear conversation from the next table. It was so quiet it was almost like having tea in a library.
I never knew I would be using this small, quaint tea shop in my television series, but I have the feeling this will not be the last time I do. It seems to fit Letters From England. Thank you Belinda’s for the great memories and all those wonderful cakes and my mom thanks you for that melt in your mouth cheesecake.
The two pictures I have used in this post have nothing to do with one another in real life. I used artistic license to create an interesting two part episode involving the supposed passageway in the library at Arundel Castle. In my fictitious tale, Ned and his new friend Simon Dorsett hear of a passageway in the Chapel theatre. They search and find it, but where does it lead?
In this episode we finally see Ned write a letter to Chuck about his first few days in England, while he struggles to find anything to say to Marty.
For this episode I felt it was important to use the narrative as much as possible. I wanted to show Ned’s new experiences. For instance the three wheeled cars he sees all over England and his fascination with them.
In this episode we meet one of Blake’s poker buddies from Juniper a wild character named Marlon Grainger, whose opinionated and uses colorful language. Ned is also introduced to two new characters, Simon Dorsett, Daniel’s youngest son and the untouchable Rosalyn Atherton-Hall, daughter of the rich and powerful Lord Atherton-Hall.
if you have read the three previous episodes then I welcome your comments as well as any comments on this episode.
Of all the interesting stories my mother told it was Free Wheeling Frank. The first semester, this student(If he was.) came into the NEC Arundel bookstore every day like clockwork and asked my mother if she had the book Free Wheeling Frank. Now my mom never knew this guy’s name, maybe she and Bea Gay didn’t think to ask, or maybe she liked the idea of not knowing. It certainly made this guy seem mysterious. Throughout the years I have thought about this guy and wondered who he was and what his story was. I never really could come up with the story, until recently. As the years wore on, this image came to me. I saw a biker with perhaps a ponytail, smoking camel lights or perhaps Marlboro’s tucked underneath a white short-sleeved t-shirt. Sometimes I saw him in a leather jacket and I always imagined he was on a motorcycle. After all, why wouldn’t he be, the book he was asking about as Free Wheeling Frank and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Recently, as I thought more and more about Free Wheeling Frank, more of his story came into my head. I got to thinking he didn’t go to NEC, he just hopped on a plane with his girlfriend who was an NEC student. I saw him as a guy, who came from a wealthy family. After all, how else would he be able to put a motorcycle in the cargo hold of a plane? His girlfriend’s parents didn’t care for this guy. He was James Dean on a Harley and dangerous. I see him being a disciple of Jack Kerouac. I took it upon myself to order “On The Road” and ” The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. My mom never found the book Free Wheeling Frank. After six months, Free Wheeling disappeared just as mysteriously as he arrived on the NEC Arundel campus. I have often wondered if anyone from NEC, knew this guy, who he was, and what his story was. Maybe if there was a girlfriend, she can tell me about him. Maybe other students came into contact with this strange Jack Kerouac character and they can tell me who he was.
This episode may not be part of Episode Four, but it is coming, maybe episode 5 or 6. I for one and darned interested in Free Wheeling Frank, the man who showed up one day in a bookstore and kept asking if my mom if she had Free Wheeling Frank. I always like to think that one day, he got on his motorcycle and rode off into the sunset, never to be heard from again. The legend of Free Wheeling Frank coming soon on Letters From England. I am intrigued to discover what I come up with for this episode.