Dear Meryl, I have a Moon Daisy for you
I am releasing a seed of hope on to the ceaseless airs of the internet. What chance is there I can get a message to an outstanding actress via one of you?
Well, you never know unless you strive. If you don't ask you will never have an answer. Read on.
With vivid imaginings of the wetland wilderness of Norfolk co-starring with violinist Meryl Streep on the silver screen, I tapped away at the laptop on the farmhouse kitchen table, failing to notice that the room was filling with smoke. It was only when my eyes starting to water from pain rather than emotion did I snap into action and panic.
Maggie’s invaluable feminine counter-balance to my completely normal male peripheral vision deficiency – optical and mental – was of no use because she was a thousand miles away in England.
Man home-alone is, in my case anyway, quite shambolic; always well-intentioned with as positive a manifesto as you are ever likely to hear, but rapidly disorientated and ultimately pathetically unhinged, with desperate final hours of trying to clear debris and feign an ounce of the art of independence.
Nor did I have a 16-year-old Ella or 11-year-old Joe for meaningful rhythm and life support - they were with their mum - so for an alarmingly long week the hands of the clock rain like a train without stations.
Days merge when I try to write. Razors rust. I forget simple things; like it is wise to turn off an electric fencing before straddling it; like it is a good idea to test significant adjustments to the wood burner before lobbing on copious amounts of olive logs and some old uncracked hazelnuts for good measure, and then forgetting about it.
Second on my list of home-alone tasks, after fixing the wobbly refectory table that is the hub of family, was to boost our heating system before winter grew fangs of icicles and whistled its lamentation through the copious gaps around doors and windows.
As always with the onset of winter I’d sealed the charmingly original but woefully ill-fitting front door with precision pieces of rolled newspaper, old scarves and a vast blanket. But, after 11 years, I suddenly figured that our wood burner could raise its game if I put steel plates between it and the wall, hence reflecting waste heat into the room. Genius.
The wood burner was raging and the smoke had a chemical aroma which I immediately deduced was like smouldering loft insulation: (Should the retrieving of a step ladder from a barn, carrying it upstairs, erecting it and clambering into the loft while wearing overalls and slippers ever become an Olympic sport I could be in contention).
But the loft was cold.
Down I raced, sniffing walls and the chimney pipe that rises through the floor and into the roof hence emitting a degree of upstairs warmth. It was dangerously hot, but there was nothing to explain the pong.....until I fetched a torch and reviewed my handiwork. In manhandling the steel sheets into place I had somehow overturned two night-light candles. They were on top of the pulsing stove, upside down, their liquid wax coating the steel and giving off the acrid paraffin smoke.
Gawd. With luck and all the windows open there won’t be a whiff of any drama by the time Maggie gets home. She will be none the wiser.
And still I potter about utterly distracted, seeing with increasing clarity Moon Daisy, the film. A one-time seed of thought is now so close to blooming.
Fourteen years ago, at about 2am, en route home after putting the English regional newspaper Eastern Daily Press to bed in my then role as night editor, I pulled over at the end of a lonely bypass and made my first jottings for a novel. Count The Petals Of The Moon Daisy was published in 2007 and shortly afterwards Eye Film and Television secured the film rights.
The screenplay by creative director Frank Prendergast is now public while senior producer Charlie Gauvain has just been to Canada and America for co-production talks. Applications and negotiations about funding and casting are happening for a film which, just like the book, will laud the beauty and history of Norfolk, specifically the north rivers of the Broads.
But it will resonate far further than that - across the Atlantic among North Americans with English roots, with all lovers of compelling mystery and classic English drama, with everyone who craves overwhelming beauty and emotion in a film.
I don’t see many films like that these days, but I love them and I think others do too.
People ask what it is like. I say that Moon Daisy, with its opening scene of a Norfolk wherry, will have the epic historical impact of a Thomas Hardy adaptation, enthralling contemporary human and musical themes of films like "Shine", with the Trans-Atlantic touchstones of motherhood and ancestry.
This is the storyline. Haunted by a childhood boating tragedy, American violin virtuoso Jess abandons her son, her career, and attempts suicide. But her actions hasten another death, not hers. She is bequeathed a cottage more than 3000 miles away in Norfolk, England, where, lost and bewildered, she discovers Anna’s diary. Can a life story from the past lead her to recovery?
We see it as a film project of profound significance in a world of overload, with the themes of loss, struggle and healing reflecting each other through the story, the landscape and the music: A rich tapestry of emotion, sound and vision that will give the film real depth.
These are critical days for the project as we go public, hence my extraordinary distraction.
Moon Daisy was initially supported by Screen East and then was contracted for further development funding just before Screen East went into liquidation. So other sources of funding are now being pursued, fuelled by valuable support from leading film professionals who have read the script.
For what it is worth, if there is anyone among you who is interested in helping this happen, then let me or Eye Film know. Meanwhile we press on, spreading the word, pitching, making a commercial case for a film that is not about murder, sex, comic heroes or spies.
And we ponder constantly which American actress in her late fifties or early sixties, musically trained preferably, could play violin virtuoso Jess. I have one fixed in my mind's eye. Yes, the tremendous Meryl Streep plays the violin as well as being perfect in a host of other ways, so if she is a friend of yours (we have countless North American visitors to this website every month seeking, no doubt, the finest extra virgin olive oil), or she is the friend of a friend of a friend, kindly tell her we would love to talk to her. I’m serious. Forward this on. Let's see if it carries to her door. And if it has, well Meryl, thank you for reading, and allow me to offer you a very beautiful Moon Daisy.
Sticking with North America for a line longer, our first pallet to Toronto has almost sold out and another will be leaving in a few weeks for continent-wide distribution.
All of us here at Mother's Garden in Catalonia wish everyone around the world a very peaceful year of fulfillment and happiness.