Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Under the hood

I spent my teenage years in the 1980s, a modern era which had no mobile phones and no internet. Thus our media focus was pop music and TV. The music is still with us, thanks to YouTube and Spotify, but the TV programmes have faded rather more into the background. And the one which sticks in my mind the most is a show I never actually watched whilst I was growing up...

In 1984, a show came onto our screens which felt very much out of sync with the styles and aspirations of 1980s Britain. This was no flashy magazine-style production promoting the trends and fashions of the decade. Rather, it was a thoughtful reinterpretation of a centuries-old figure of English folklore, Robin Hood, in an adaptation called Robin of Sherwood.

Of course, Robin Hood had made many previous screen appearances but this adaptation seemed to indicate a move to a more realistic, 'grittier' son of Sherwood. The production is authentic, with practically all of the scenes shot in outdoor locations and in genuine historical buildings. Outdoors, the natural light fills the frame; indoors, interior shadows heighten the drama.

Whereas a modern director would shoot digitally, Robin of Sherwood was shot on film. However, there is nothing pedestrian about the camerawork in Robin of Sherwood: the director, Ian Sharp, makes very creative use of camera filters and of angles which would not look out of place in any modern film.

I have discovered this telling of the story of Robin Hood only in the last couple of months. I cannot now remember why I never watched any of it the first time around, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it now, thanks to the purchase of DVDs of the show.

At the moment, I'm halfway through the first series. I'm struck by how quiet the show is compared to modern fantasy films: the dialogue is wonderfully written, but sparing; in the woodland scenes, birdsong fills the air; the actors use facial expression and movement to convey much of what they need to say; and, often, as the drama builds, there is silence. It is almost another world.

The show, though now over 30 years old, still has a devoted fan-base. Much more about the show and its creation can be found online. A good place to start is the Spirit of Sherwood site, and there are many others.

There is much more to say about this wonderful production and the themes which it draws together. For now, though, I will simply recommend you seek out an episode or two. And if you're ever up in my neck of the woods, as it were, we can wander into Sherwood together.



Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Proud of Pride

I don't make it to many festivals, even over the summer months. It's largely to do with the fact that I work weekends on 48 weeks of the year (people tend to be a bit upset if the Vicar doesn't turn up to church on Sundays!). But last weekend, on a day of annual leave, I went along to Pagan Pride (PP) in my home town of Nottingham.

I've been to PP once before, in 2014, so knew something of what to expect. The festival is a wonderful mixture of talks, workshops, dancing, bands and the chance to meet old friends and to make some new ones. There is also an eclectic mix of stalls selling clothes, books, jewellery and hand-crafted items ranging from musical instruments to wands.

The atmosphere at PP is very relaxed and friendly - there are folk from all sorts of spiritual paths but nobody is trying to prove a point about their own path or to convince anyone else that they should abandon theirs. Indeed, one of the talks I attended was given by Matt Arnold. Matt is a Christian minister who spoke about his journey from 'grey to deep green' and the way in which Pagan folk had both welcomed and enlightened him. The comments he received from the audience were ones of genuine interest and support. It was a wonderful thing to be part of.

Throughout the day, I was struck most strongly by the individuality of the festival-goers. It may be the clothes they wear, or the piercings and tattoos on display (lots of these!) or simply their willingness to turn up at the festival to declare their allegiance, but at Pagan Pride people seem to be free to express something of who they are. I came away from the festival feeling inspired to continue my own journey into the green, and to have a little more courage in expressing my individuality, too.

Goddess bless Pagan Pride. I'll definitely be there next year!

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