Archive for November, 2007

Etymology

Readers (if there are any . . .) may be puzzled by the title of my blog. Well, in the Middle Ages a ‘chapman’ was a pedlar – a travelling salesman who went from village to village with his pack of trinkets and gew-gaws. The name comes from the Old English ‘cheype’ – ‘to sell’ – which still survives in place-names such as ‘Cheapside’ in London – once a market near St Paul’s – and Cheap Street in Sherborne. Both Chaucer and Shakespeare mention ‘chapmen’.

So my surname is one of those, like ‘Smith’ and ‘Miller’, that indicate a former occupation.

I keep making tiny alterations to the text of my book – re-reading and polishing. I recently wrote to a Famous Actress in the hope that she may agree to write a foreword. Until I hear from her I can’t take the next step towards publication. I plan to self-publish, on a ‘print-on-demand’ basis, as I am not prepared to have my manuscript sit in a traditional publisher’s ‘slush pile’ for months, only to be rejected in the end.

First verse

Here’s a little bit of nonsense that I wrote over forty years ago – but I think it is still relevant:

The Fashionable Rebel
The worst of the social diseases today,
Which the public in general condones, is
That ultimate symbol of moral decay –
The race to keep up with the Joneses.
Initiative’s dead, Eccentricity too;
Conformity’s Lord of the Revels.
High-seeking Ambition is limited to
These uniform Jonesian levels.

But I have burst open these bonds without fear –
To do as I please I am free now!
And the joke of it is that the Joneses, I hear,
Are trying to keep up with me now . . .

Who will read?

This whole blogging thing is so new to me – and, frankly, I am puzzled. Here I am, typing away – and who the hell is ever going to read it? How – or why – would anyone find this site? And yet one is told it is a wonderful way of communicating with thousands of other people . . . There must be something that I am missing, or not understanding. Still, I’ll persevere – casting my bread upon the waters.

By the time one has finished writing a book, whether fiction or non-fiction, one has lived so close to the thing that – in my case, anyway – one has lost all critical faculty. I simply don’t know whether what I have written is any good or not, let alone whether it is something others will want to read. In some ways it’s like the theatre: no-one ever knows whether a new show will be a hit or a turkey.

Talking of turkeys – a happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

A cover job

Spent much of the day developing a cover design for the new book. I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted – using one of my own photos, taken in Kuala Lumpur, together with an 80-year old b&w and appropriate text – but it has been interesting and challenging fitting it all together to achieve a pleasing balance while at the same time meeting the printer’s requirements.

When things are a little further advanced, I will post the final cover design on this blog.

I agreed today to play God in some rehearsed readings to be performed around Easter. As I am a confirmed atheist, it can hardly be called type-casting!

An end and a beginning

It’s finished! I have just typed the last full stop (or period) in the manuscript of my first book. Oh yes, I’m sure there will be revisions and corrections before it finally goes to the printer; but it’s a great feeling to have drafted the final chapter and completed the main project.

The book? It’s a biography; the life of a woman who was born in 1903 and died in 2004. A woman I knew personally, both in the Far East and in the UK. Not a celebrity, but a remarkable character nonetheless. In her active years she was involved in the final decades of what used to be called the British Empire. I will reveal more in due course . . .

This is a beginning, too, in that it is my first blog. In it I will try to record the birth-pangs of my first book. Also my musings on life as an actor, photographer, writer and human being. At 75, I haven’t a lot of time . . .