My first submission to Dialect has now been handed over, a 20 minute radio script called ‘Something Purple’.
All of my original ideas for the project were set in and around the Lake and involved recording actors on site, using the natural, ambient sounds of the lake and its occupants as a background.
Unfortunately, Lockdown 3 made this impossible and forced a major rethink. In a way it has proved an advantage, requiring me to think outside the box and come up with a new idea to suit the new circumstances: sometimes the first ideas you have about a topic can be very obvious.
So, instead of a story about people interacting with each other and the Lake, my first piece ‘Something Purple’ is about two people coming to terms with not being able to get to the Lake at all.
Lockdown 3 has just been announced and teenager Carl is phoned by his Dad over Zoom. Carl is a very keen sailor and was due to sit a major practical exam on the Lake, but this has now had to be postponed, leaving him (in typical teenage style) angry and upset. Dad is calling to cheer his son up, offer support and (mostly useless) suggestions. Carl’s parents have divorced some time before and Carl’s mother has a new partner Paul, with whom Carl (and his Dad) often don’t see eye to eye. Over the course of the conversation, as Carl can no longer get to the Lake, Dad tries to cheer him up, by bringing the Lake – or clips of it – to him. Carl reveals an up-and-coming trip which not only makes Dad reassess what he thinks of Paul, but forces him to accept that he may no longer be the main man in Carl’s life.
I have used Carl and his dad before, in a still-to-be recorded script ‘Ten Famous People From Swindon’, in which Dad drives Carl back to his place in Swindon for the weekend. It’s a road movie, showing Carl and his Dad reconnecting and trying to adjust to their separate lives.
I decided to walk down the Lake on Sunday morning, as I’m not keen on cycling or driving over fresh snow. It took just under an hour to get to Lake 32 down the Quiet Lane through Shorncote.
The Lake was silent and almost deserted, a couple of people using the facilities and one person working. Another day suited more for capturing images rather than recording sound. Although I do love photographing in snow, especially somewhere like the Lake, filled with weatherbeaten objects such as the yachts and kayaks. I love the contrast between the freeform and the regular, between the natural outlines of fresh snow against the artificial and usually well-worn. The snow always seems to reminding you who’s really in charge.
At the lake for more recording, a cold but beautifully clear day. The sun bright, with enough of a haze to make your photographs look extra special. Due to the new Lockdown I was the only person there, apart from a couple of dog walkers.
The wind was low enough to avoid microphone noise, but too low to generate any of the cable rattling that sounds quite sinister on playback, when you have no context and have to imagine what it is. Recorded some miscellaneous birds and some fighting moor hens. Even on a quiet Sunday morning regular car and aeroplane noise.
Three swans passed, one after the other. The first gliding serenely, the second in great pulses of effort, as though it were doing the breast stroke, the third coughing.
My first official visit to Lake 32/Waterland yesterday as Writer in Residence for January. A 15 minute cycle from home down the Quiet Lane, even quieter now it’s been sealed off with concrete blocks at both ends.
The threatened rain didn’t appear and I had the place almost to myself as I missed the early rush of outdoor swimmers when the centre opened at 8am. So, a first reconnaissance and a chance to work on some character and story ideas in situ. I walked around the entire lake recording what I could (despite a fair amount of wind noise), a few coots, some intriguing water sounds and the oddly sinister rattle of cables against yacht masts.
Everywhere had closed by the time I finished my circuit so I had the added fun of hauling my bike over the locked gate at Cotswold Water Park, my own fault for not checking the times before I set off.
Most of the recordings pretty much useless due to wind noise, so my first task is to buy get a proper ‘dead cat’ wind shield for recording outside.