Beyond the Beehive

It’s happening!  It’s finished.  The final stages of editing are underway.  Beyond the Beehive is on track to be here in time for your (late) summer holiday reading.

Beyond the Beehive front cover

To paraphrase the Beatles, it’s been a long, cold painful winter in the Woodcraft household, but gradually the sun is shining, not least because the book is finished.

If you were wondering – how can we go Beyond the Beehive if we’re not even entirely sure what a Beehive is.  When we went out shooting for the cover of the book Billie spent a long time preparing by watching videos on the net.  Find out how to do it here. I have to admit that I have never had a beehive – though I will admit to a bit of back-combing on occasion.  It does seem cruel to hair – pulling and teasing it into shapes that we usually only see now on Bake Off when contestants do magical things with spun sugar.  But you know, when you belong to a group, be it beatniks, rockers, and even mods, you have to go with the flow.  And for rockers, the flow for the girls was a beehive.

This was what the world was like when Sandra and Linda, way beyond the beehive, wore their suedette jackets and dreamed of going to the mods’ coffee bar, the Orpheus.

Sandra and Linda are young women living on a council estate in Essex, as is the exotic Sylvie – a woman with a past.  All three have very different dreams for their lives.   Played out against the wonderful music of the 60s – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Crystals, the Animals, Chris Montez, and even Miles Davis – they grapple with love, loss and the American Way.


Also – another recent pleasure – along with finishing the book, and having lunch in the garden, was a trip to see the new movie Miles Ahead, directed by and starring the wonderful Don Cheadle.  It’s an imagined episode in his life, but gives an interesting view on the life of an artist in the 50s, 60s and 70s.  Go and see it, if only for the pleasure of listening to the haunting music Miles Davis made.


The Fair

The best time to go to the fair is after the carnival.  Everyone has had the shared experience of watching the floats go by, throwing pennies, shouting to people they know, talking about the Carnival Queen and the Carnival Princesses, and now they are ready for a good night out. Night is falling and groups of people walk beside the railway arches towards the park.   First you see the lights on the sideshows, as kids jostle for one last chance to catch a goldfish, then you smell the oil from the generators as they chug power through the thick electrical wires snaking across the grass.  And then – then – you hear counting, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3 then drum beats and finally the harsh sound of Chris Montez singing Let’s Dance.  His voice speaks to you of the excitement of the dodgems and the swinging of the waltzers, the smell of the aftershave of the mods, and the sweat of the boys pushing the chairs round, leaning against the posts of the roundabouts, watching and waiting for what will happen next.

The best songs at the fair are rockers’ songs.  You wander round the fairground with your best friend, eating a toffee apple, queuing for the Big Wheel and it’s the mournful harmonica before Bruce Channel calls ‘Hey Baby’ that makes you jump on to the Cakewalk and hold on for ten seconds, and then laugh your way up to the candyfloss stand where you hope you’ll meet the person you’ve waited  all week to see.