Monday, 7 May 2012

Under the Queen's Colours on HMS Dragon, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Under the Queen's Colours by Penny Legg

Capt Simon O'Brien and Penny Legg with Under the Queen's Colours
Presenting Under the Queen's Colours to Capt. Simon O'Brien RAN on board HMS Dragon

Contributors to and supporters of Under the Queen's Colours

Penny Legg under the Queen's colours

Capt. O'Brien RAN, Kevin MacDonald, Antony Chambers and Kimberly Linehan, all supporters of Under the Queen's Colours

Penny and Under the Queen's Colours

Under the Queen's Colours on board HMS Dragon
Under the Queen's Colours Contributors: Colin Baxter, Peter Imrie, Eon Matthews, Kevin MacDonald, Joe Legg, Vicki May

Many thanks to everyone at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and HMS Dragon for welcoming me over the weekend.  It was great to see some of the people who made Under the Queen's Colours possible there.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Under the Queen's Colours - National Servicemen

Time flies, doesn't it?  I am sure it has for the contributors of my latest book, Under the Queen's Colours out this week (The History Press).  They all served in the Armed Forces in the sixty years of Her Majesty the Queen's reign and their stories showcase the range of experience in this commemorative Diamond Jubilee publication.
   In the 1950s Britain still had conscription and so, when lads hit 18, they were shipped off all over the world, to serve their country.  As Dave Hart, Royal Hampshire Regiment, recalls,  

I didn’t feel too bad being called up.  We used to go to the Guildhall dances every week when we were that age.  Everyone in Southampton used to queue to get in there Saturday and Wednesday evening and everyone was going off to the Hampshire’s to do their bit.  I think it came as a bit of a shock when you actually got there because at 18 I hadn't done anything.  Not like my grandson, who was a man of the world at 18.  I hadn’t been further than Winchester (13 miles), where we did our ten weeks basic training.  Suddenly, I found myself 8,000 miles away, in a completely different place.  There was no mum there!  I thought, I’m in the army.  I’m with all these other people.  I’ve got to get on and do it.   We all buckled down and did it.  I was frightened more than anything else because I got shouted at a lot.  
In January, I went along to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, to take pictures for the book.  I was really pleased to see a memorial there for National Servicemen.  They are often overlooked and their experiences thought of little account.  I hope the National Servicemen's stories in Under the Queen's Colours go some way to redress this.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

I've had a spot of trouble ...

I've had a spot of trouble with my blog.  Regular readers must have given up on me and I would not blame them.  The trouble is that I am getting old and I could not remember the passwords for this blog - even though I have been writing it since 2006!  Blogger could not help as to get assistance I had a series of security questions to answer - and I could not remember the answers! So, no blogs on this site for five months - until now when, with a flash of inspiration, all came back to me and here I am!

Hello and welcome, belatedly, to 2012.

I usually do a recap of the year at the end of each year.  2011's round up will have to be brief as there is so much to say about 2012 all ready.

January saw me working on my book of reminiscences from the people of Southampton (what a super bunch!); still working at the Diplomatic Service Families Association (DSFA), where I am the Publications and Communications Officer and eagerly awaiting my book of ghost stories, Haunted Southampton, to be published. The Writing Buddies came back from their Christmas break full of writing enthusiasm.

February dawned and I started teaching a creative writing class for Age Concern Southampton and met a lovely set of septuagenarians in the process.  I held a small launch party for Haunted Southampton. I joined in a ghost hunt with Haunted Southampton Ltd , a group I have now worked with several times and look forward to doing so again in the not so distant future.  I finished my Southampton reminiscences book and, later in the month, spent some time book signing at Waterstones.

March saw me at more bookshops signing books; teaching at the York Festival of Writing and enjoying an evening of ghostly encounters with 120 fans of ghost stories at Waterstones Above Bar, Southampton.

April came and with it a talk at the Lordshill History Society. More books signings were interspersed with a visit to the London Book Fair, which proved very useful and was to ensure I was a busy writer for the rest of the year.   Winchester: History You Can See came out. This is my favourite book so far.  Attending the Bitterne Historical Society History Fair was useful.

May came and I was beginning to start work on my biggest project to date - Under the Queen's Colours - a commemorative Diamond Jubilee book of service personnel's reminiscences.  It was very busy at the DSFA.

June saw me giving interviews, interviewing for Under the Queen's Colours  and stopping respectable men and women on Weymouth sea front in the quest for service personnel to contribute to the book.  Great fun!

July passed by in a blur.  Interviewing, book signings, more interviewing and writing, which all stopped when my husband and I went to Buckingham Palace for the Queen's Garden Party.  This was delightful, despite the rain.

August saw me on BBC Radio Solent as a guest on the Katie Martin show.  I joined the lovely ladies of the Wordwrights of Titchfield as I guided them through a day-long workshop.  I met some more super (ex)servicemen and women for Under the Queen's Colours.

September saw the launch of Life to the Full  magazine for Age Concern Southampton.  This was a vehicle for my students' work.  They learnt all aspects of writing for publication and slowly understood the concepts of word counts, layout, content etc.  They are a lovely bunch and I loved every minute working with them. This month also saw the publication of Voices of Southamptonmy fifth book.

October soon came along and I recorded a 'Spooky Solent' slot for Katie Martin at BBC Radio Solent.  The Age Concern Southampton magazine gained momentum and I was busy at the DSFA.

November was busy.  Wordfall, the Writing Buddies's anthology, my lovely group of writers, came out in the middle of the month and the Mayor and Mayoress came to the launch at Waterstones, Above Bar, Southampton.  I edited this book, which is the work of the group.

December, end of the year, and I was scrabbling to hit deadline for Under the Queen's Colours.  It had to be at the publisher at the beginning of the month.  I was so happy when it was ready!  It was the biggest of my projects and the one that I have had least time to complete.  I can't wait until I see it on the bookshelves.  It is full of super stories from a range of fantastic men and women.  It really has been a privilege to work with them.  The book will raise money for service charities.

December also saw the launch of the first edition of Life to the Full.  The Mayor and Mayoress came along to help launch it, which was great.  The year ended with a deadbeat Penny enjoying a quiet Christmas and New Year with her family.  Phew!

Now I have the blog back, more blogs will follow.