Too Hot To Write Anything…

So I’ll repost some old favourite black and white photos taken around North London. Till next time!

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Some Thoughts On Prisoner Cell Block H

I’m wary about taking trips down Memory Lane and I wouldn’t wish to give any clues as to my age, but recently I found some free videos of an Australian TV Drama Prisoner Cell Block H.

Addictive, definitely. I watched seven episodes over a couple of evenings, and then decided not to watch any more.

I will list the reasons and state how authors might treat dramatic material differently in a written novel.

Cell Block H features a high level of violence, even in the opening episodes. Many books contain great levels of violence. Personally, I would prefer not to see such degrees of violence. Nevertheless, society ought to explore the dangers that some people experience on an almost daily basis, especially vulnerable people. As a writer, I feel that depicting distressing scenes must educate the reader in some way and that the action must not simply act as entertainment.

Cell Block H does introduce social topics of the day, and I found it interesting that a number of the lead characters had come from good backgrounds but had fallen into a trap, leading to eventual arrest, trial (or Remand) and imprisonment. However, as the episodes progressed, I felt less convinced by the social themes presented.

Early on in the drama, a riot occurs that leads to the death of one of the staff. The deceased man’s widow understandably reacts angrily towards the inmates and the prison. Yet, she returns to working in the prison the following day. Initially, she expresses her loathing of the prison inmates before softening when an inmate reveals a horrific back story. The switch from one to another does not work.

I’m sure novelists would find ways to deal with apparent contradictions (humans are, after all, multi- dimensional), but the television production does not deal realistically with the aftermath of the bereaved prison guard’s reaction to the death of her husband, and the scenes that follow come across as ridiculous and almost painful to watch, in my opinion.

In past blog posts, I discussed the Story Arc, essentially eight stages that most stories pass through. Novelists adhere to the Story Arc (or at least, try to), unless they are particularly gifted and daring and wish to make a point by breaking the rules. In Prisoner Cell Block H, the structure of the Story Arc is lacking. The producers introduce a social topic, and then they introduce another one while developing the previous (and so forth) until each episode becomes a mishmash of intensely dramatic and over dramatic story lines that contain the same intensity, without a pause to breathe. Where are the eight stages of story telling? And what does the viewer learn from watching the treatment of a social theme?

Novelists also have to deal with this, but I think writing offers more opportunities. A writer grows, a character grows, a novel grows. Screenwriters, perhaps, miss this opportunity.

After watching the opening seven episodes of Prisoner, I decided I could not invest in any future episodes. Admittedly, I feel some degree of nostalgia for the first episode (the background music is certainly haunting), but I cannot follow a drama that is unbelievable and deeply distressing in places.

Just a few of my thoughts.

Summer At Last! June 2019

Temperatures have soared today in the UK after months of bland weather. Summer has arrived, hopefully.

I have little to report. I continue practising classical piano works, writing poetry, and brushing up my foreign language skills (French, German, Russian).

I’ll close with a poem I wrote about a year ago and published on the sister blog site. Since then, I’ve taken advice on the construction of poetry and I know now that the poem should be set in single spacing, preferably with little or no punctuation. Today, though, I will repost the poem in it’s original layout:

The Month Of June

Humidity in the midst of June.

A hint of thunder.

The patter of rain.

Silence then, and chirping birds.

The scent of pollen and damp grass.

The residues of a summer day,

Lingering on into evening.

© Lawrence Estrey 2018


Till next time!

A Revolution In Sheet Music

I always take a cautious approach to free downloads or other “freebies” courtesy of the Internet. After all, nothing comes free; if it does, then there must be a catch.

And yet, the Internet has opened up many legitimate avenues, including downloading content where the copyright has ceased. In such instances, the content comes under the Creative Commons License and anyone can download it.

For the classical musician, the opportunities can seem staggering. Maybe frightening. A touch of guilt over getting something for nothing?

I’ve started rebuilding my collection of piano scores – digitally, this time. The Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies. Late Beethoven piano sonatas. Chopin Scherzos.

It feels exciting but scary. So many choices. So little time to practise everything. And free, of course, but costly in other ways. The Internet offers much, but it also causes a great deal of stress and a lack of rest.

The pros and cons.

Personally, I would prefer to pursue the countless opportunities available through the Internet. Stress matters, obviously, but stress would exist regardless of the Internet. In the meantime, I will continue practising the piano – and downloading major piano repertoire.

Till next time.

The Delay

Apologises for the long delay in posting. The constant changes in weather (warm, cold, humid, rainy) have left me drained and unwell, and I have my usual work commitments, piano practise, and language studies.

There’s little to report, so I leave you with a couple of old photos of rural North London, UK:

Till next time.

Writing Poetry, Some Common Mistakes

Writing prose. Writing poetry. Surely, the process is the same, except the poet delves deeper into the language and draws attention to rhythm and breath.

Not exactly.

Of course poets may narrate events through poetry, telling a story in effect. Similarly, novelists may introduce a poetic element to the narrative, drawing the reader in further.

And of course, I’m no expert in poetry, having spent years writing fiction.

However, during the past year, I’ve worked on about ninety poems and received feedback on some of those.

Three points come up frequently:

First, when writing fiction or academic projects, the author normally sets the text in Double Spacing with all paragraphs indented, apart from the first paragraph of a new section. Modern day poets generally set their work in Single Spacing.

Second, academic writing and fiction prose requires adherence to basic rules of grammar, such as punctuation and a capital letter at the start of a sentence. Poets often omit punctuation, unless it is absolutely necessary, and many will begin each line with a small letter.

Third, creative writing tutors would caution against needless repetition, which becomes more apparent in poetry. Talented poets strike out unnecessary words.

I’m still struggling with using the definite and indefinite articles when they are not needed, but I guess I will improve with time. It takes practise and perseverance. And writing when I don’t always feel like.

Just a few of my thoughts.

Some New Language Learning Resources

I recently came across the website RussianEasy.com. It contains 164 podcasts, each lasting just a few minutes, and available for download, free of charge.

The first twenty or so deal with the basics of the Russian language and some learners might get impatient, especially with the repetition of words and phrases.

The pace soon picks up, though, and introduces more complex conversation (still simple for native Russian speakers but the sort of language that confuses and frustrates the average non-Slavic learner, for instance the numbers and case endings, etc).

The presenter, Elvira, speaks very well and is a good teacher. She comes across as compassionate and willing to teach the Russian language, simply for the joy of it. I recommend the website.

I would also recommend the 50Languages app. It appears to be free, and covers many languages.

The audio course takes the listener through a hundred short lessons, covering much of the vocabulary required for the A2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (some 4000-5000 words, if not more).

Although the course doesn’t specifically teach grammar, many of the examples develop key grammatical skills due to the structure of the lessons.

Meanwhile, I have started watching French and German videos to improve my understanding of the spoken language and have reached the second part of the FSI French Course, an intensive grammar based course offered free of charge through LiveLingua, another excellent resource.

Today, the Internet offers countless opportunities to learn languages. These opportunities did not exist ten or twenty years ago.

Till next time.

My Story In Pictures

I found some old docs and photos recently while dusting and tidying and thought I would make digital copies to share online. After all, everyone has a story.

Shortly before I left Devon to study music in London:

A few years after arriving in London, just before playing the piano for a Supper Club in Golders Green, north London:

Shortly after arriving in London, I won the Fritz Gottlieb Memorial Scholarship for Piano (patrons Vladimir Ashkenazy, Richard Baker, Daniel Prenn), and I studied with Vera Yelverton for two years:

I gave regular piano recitals, including a recital made up entirely of solo Chopin at the venue below:

Fast forward a few years, and I made a CD and published my autobiography, My Musical Journey

You can access the abridged version of My Musical Journey at http://mypianobio.wordpress.com


Thanks for reading

My Poetry Blog Is A Year Old

Twelve months ago, I started a poetry blog.

I’ve learnt a lot in a year. Prose and poetry demand different skills, and punctuation (essential for prose) assumes lesser importance in poetry. Additionally, the poet sets their work in Single Spacing.

Initially, I resisted the changes, wanting to stick to Double Spacing and strict punctuation, but I’ve had to adapt.

I’ve published many of the poems online. You can find the blog here.

In the meantime, I leave you with one of the later poems, set out in Single Spacing and the minimum of punctuation. I hope you will enjoy it:

The church bells ring
Chimes from afar
Fanfares, near whispers
A choir of angels

Sounds that carry over the river
Through the fields
As the sun sets
Painting the sky magenta

An Indie Music Career – New Directions?

I haven’t posted a great deal recently. A lot of behind the scene stuff happened during March and April, and I had to deal with those matters.

At the moment, I’m relying more and more on the Internet to further my music career. I’ve swapped musical scores for digital ones and practise new piano works using a Tablet instead of the printed music.

Currently, I’m reworking the sonata in A-flat op 110 by Beethoven, The Pathetique by Beethoven and Chopin’s second Scherzo in B-flat minor, along with a selection of Hungarian Dances by Brahms. Obviously, I hope to perform these works at some point.

In 2016 I released a CD of piano music and I am now placing many of these tracks on streaming sites, to get more exposure.

My CD Cover

The sites include SoundCloud, Audiomack, ReverbNation, Veto, MusicWeMake, and YourListen.

The joy of the Indie voyage.


Meanwhile, I continue to write poetry and publish online, and I maintain my foreign language studies in French, German and Russian.

Till next time.