#awkward

8th – 10th september 2016   |   7.45PM ACANTEEN   |   NEW LONDON ROAD   |   CHELMSFORD TICKETS £10 What’s the most awkward dinner conversation you’ve had?  For our debut at ACante…

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About Us

Mad Apple Collective was formed in 2013 when Artistic Director Danny Segeth was approached by Chelmsford City Council to produce an event for The Fling Festival. Since then, we’ve been workin…

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Diary of a dog called Beth: Agility.

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Equation: One hour at agility with Beth = a lifetime of pure frustration. 

‘You’re supposed to go through the tunnel. Not run along the top.’ Beth looks so pleased with herself. She is in paradise, all these dogs. This is pure playtime. The trainer I call ‘Grandma trainer’ shouts at her collie to stop chasing the long-haired hound round and through the course, totally distracting all the other dogs who want to join in, mayhem rules. I try to control Beth who desperately wants to join them. Once order is restored, we go back to the start of the course and I position Beth to go over the jump and through the tunnel.

She’s got the message, into the tunnel entrance she runs and in ecstasy I rush to the other end. She’s not there. No. Madam is still at the entrance, peering along the tunnel at me with a cheeky look, laughing at me.   Seems my signals still aren’t clear enough. ‘We’re getting there,’ says the grandmotherly trainer kindly.

At last all seems to click into place, the tunnel, yes, run through it. Now over the jump – There is a God, she has – throw her toy over the last jump. She stops, looks at me as if to say, ‘I’m on strike. Where’s my treat.’ So, back we trudge to the start for our nth attempt. ‘Don’t worry,’ says Grandma trainer. I’m not. ‘The others have been coming for a long time,’ she says sympathetically. My focus is Beth not the other dogs and owners. She needs the stimulus and I am in desperate need of the training.

Later, trying to get Beth along the plank, which, requires Beth stopping at the end with her two front paws on the grass and hind legs on the plank end I’m told ‘Your commands. They’re not clear enough. Beth doesn’t understand what you’re signalling, I mean, Beth’s great. She’s trying to understand. Just look at her.’ Miss Unpronounceable Greek name trainer says in a gooey voice. ‘She’s really enjoying herself.’ Basically Miss unpronounceable Greek name is saying ‘Beth’s great, you’re rubbish.’ Which is exactly the reason I am here, to learn how to do it.

Beth loves the seesaw, where the lessons learned on the plank come into their own. She stops like a good girl at the end with both front paws on the grass and hind paws on the plank. ‘Such a good dog,’ coos Miss Unpronounceable Greek name trainer. Beth glows in her glory.

The question is, will I survive? Let’s see what happens next week.

Jim was there to meet us to walk home over the fields. The Swan was en route, which gave me the opportunity to relax and Jim the excuse for a beer. Jim is quite taken with this agility plan. It was dark when we arrived home, with Venus shining brightly in a sky clear of cloud. Good day, tired dog, lovely walk home. Bliss is…… Let’s see what happens next week.

Autumn: time to move.

Places to go, places to see

When I used to keep bees Autumn was the cruelest time for drones, dragged mercilessly from the comfort of their hives by fierce worker bees, to be chucked out into the cold autumn weather. It’s hard being a male in the bee world, death by bee sting for those drones refusing to leave. Workers need to seal the hive from winter winds, collect and protect their food supplies. This is no place for Drones, who take rather than give to the colony. September worker bees will live through the winter months to support their queen and colony until the early spring sun warms the hive, with snowdrops and croci flowers, heavy with pollen, food for bee larvae and pupae. Then the workers know it’s time to alert their queen, directing her to cleaned wax cells to lay her eggs. Fertilized eggs for female, her new colony, it’s too early to lay drones. Here, the worker bees rule.

Autumn is a busy time for beekeepers. We’ve collected all our colonies and settled them into our winter Apiary beside the River Ure, where the river bends. Oh yes. We know advice from beekeepers is “don’t keep bees beside a river because of possible flooding.” But our bees are on what’s known locally as the “High Bank,” well away from floods, a place of magical mystery, thick with Himalayan balsam still in flower, which provide a late source of nectar for our bees to fan into honey, their food for the cold winter months. A row of lime trees border the High Bank, sheltering our colonies from the cold North wind, protected also from the wicked East wind by a thicket hedge. All our hives have been brought together, from the heather moors, the field beans and from my allotment, where they have expanded to strong colonies from the abundance of summertime pollen and nectar.

Fifteen colonies were prepared for winter. All had feeders over their Brood Boxes and Supers providing each colony with a gallon of thick syrup to supplement their foraging for nectar around this wild place. Each colony was cocooned with a quilt beneath the roof and a covering on the North and Eastern side of their hives. All on stands and belted tight should they be blown over or knocked by a predatory animal looking for food. Their entrances narrowed and nailed to help their sentry bees prevent wasp attack and hibernating field mice entering, looking for somewhere warm with stores of food to over winter.

One evening I remember the setting sun throwing its pale rays over the fallow field. Shivering in the chilly evening breeze we turned from watching our bees. All was calm. Breathing the aroma of damp soil and water it was time to journey back across the big field.  In the dimming light the sky of a sudden was full of geese. Canada Geese in migration fly towards this field to descend in RAF Formation, landing quietly, gabbling, and fluttering, settling in for a night’s rest. More geese in V-Shaped flight formations zoomed onto the field, followed by more, and more, and more. Soon the field was full of geese, resting overnight, before taking off at the rise of the sun to fly to their winter homelands. We felt the season’s change to winter in this wild world as we quietly stumbled awkwardly over the rough field in the rapidly failing light, trying not to disturb these birds. Alfred Hitchcock’s film, “the Birds” comes to mind. Flights were still arriving as we reached our car parked by the Keeper’s Cottage. We watched them settle onto the fallow field in wonder. How did they know which field was their resting place to gather on their migration routes? Why this particular field? Life is strange but beautiful. Total bliss.

Another dollar, another day

As my mother used to say.  So, this pitching to publishers, or whomsoever?  What’s it all about I might ask?  Seems it depends on not on;y the pitcher’s expertize in expressing an idea in as few words as possible but a way of reading the person pitching to.  Yes.  This is vital.  My latest experience last Saturday was a wonderful view of the different ways a ‘publisher’ reacts to different ‘pitchers’. This was a workshop by a well respected writer/director/etc etc etc – who worked mainly in the field of  television and radio. The day rambled on with interesting discussion about writing for film, TV and radio.  Great, though my chair became increasingly hard.  Some of the others showed their faces and marks.  I did tend to keep quiet.  It was interesting to hear people’s views about programmes I haven’t watched or listened to.  I was there to learn – about what was expected from writers when they pitch a story.  AND this workshop promised an opportunity to practice a pitch to a REAL LIVE Producer of film and script for radio.  REASON I WAS THERE.  The time came – and as I had been told, the producer fired tough questions.  I’d prepared something I wasn’t really wanting to write as a script – just  for the exercise, – and was really interested to see the way he shot my idea down.  Brilliant.  This is what I wanted and need – to learn to overcome the challenges.  Interestingly, because I wasn’t committed to my story idea I wasn’t able to respond to his hard questions, and response that the idea wouldn’t work, wasn’t realistic.  OKAY.  That’s his view from his experience.  Then he surprised me by asking if I had any other ideas.  Well – I had.  Something completely different, that wasn’t even written down.  He asked me to pitch it, which I did from the top of my head.  A subject I knew thoroughly, and was full of funny experiences and situations.  He liked it and asked to see the script – SOMETHING I HADN’T PREPARED OR CONSIDERED SUBMITTING FOR CONSIDERATION.  So – What does this tell me?