Saturday, 5 October 2013

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old novelist for children called Michael Morpurgo who gave them 'Warhorse'

Michael is 70 years old today. I saw the stage version of Michael's 1982 story, 'Warhorse', on the stage at the New London Theatre in the Summer. With its technical virtuosity, the audience suspend their disbelief at both the beasts and the storyline : a recruited First World War soldier eventually reunited on the battle line with his horse from home in England.

What you possibly didn't know about Michael, that :

* his mother, the actress, Kippe Cammaerts, met Jack Morpurgo while his biological father, the actor Tony Van Bridge, was away during the Second World War.and didn't find out about him until he was 19, when his mother revealed it while they watched 'Great Expectation' which featured his father.

* went to a series of schools in London, Devon, Sussex and Kent including an unhappy experience at boarding school which would inform his novel, 'The Butterfly Lion'.

* after leaving school, attended King's College, London University to study English and French, followed by work as a teacher in a primary school in Kent where he discovered his talent for storytelling and later said  : "I could see there was magic in it for them, and realised there was magic in it for me."

* marked his writing with themes like the triumph of an outsider and survival and set in vivid settings like the Cornish coast and the Fist World War and in 2003 became the third person to become 'Children's Laureate'.

* married Clare, eldest daughter of Sir Allen Lane, the founder of 'Penguin Books' and in 1976, with Clare set up the charity, 'Farms for City Children', to give kids from inner city areas a week's experience of life in the countryside with farmyard work and to date has seen about 85,000 take part.

* has seen films made of his stories : 'Friend or Foe' in 1981 and 'Why the Whales Came' in 1989 with 'My Fiend Walter'. 'Purple Penguins' and 'Out of Ashes' adapted for tv around the turn of the century.

For 'War Horse' John Tams arranged :

The Year Turns round again

I'll wager a hat full of guineas
Against all the songs you can sing,
That some day you'll love,
And the next day you'll lose,
And winter will turn into spring.

And the snow falls, the wind calls,
The year turns round again.
And like Barleycorn who rose from the grave,
A new year will rise up again.

And there will come a time of great plenty,
A time of good harvest and sun.
Till then put your trust in tomorrow, my friend,
For yesterday's over and done.

Ploughed, sown, reaped, and mown:
The year turns round again.
And like Barleycorn who rose from the grave
A new year will rise up again.

Phoebe arise, a gleam in her eyes,
And the year turns round again.
And like Barleycorn who rose from the grave,
A new year will rise up again.

Michael and John talking :

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