Impossibly Positive

One of my favourite parts of summer is the world’s greatest music festival, the BBC Proms.

It didn’t always belong to the BBC and it wasn’t always held in the Royal Albert Hall. The first Proms concert took place on 10 August 1895 in the newly built Queen’s Hall in London. The aim was to reach a wider audience by offering more popular programmes, adopting a less formal promenade arrangement and keeping ticket prices low.

The first radio broadcast of a promenade concert by the BBC was in 1927 and every prom is now broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and repeated, so there is plenty of chance to listen at home.

The Queen’s Hall was destroyed by bombs in 1941, during WW2.

The Royal Albert Hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and is inextricably linked with The Proms. Even if you have never been to South Kensington you may recognise the famous round building and the warm red interior. Some of the prom concerts are broadcast on television and always of course the Last Night. When a camera pans down the height of the hall you feel dizzy and the top seats and gallery are very high. We once had cheap seats near the top for a concert with a famous pianist; we looked down as a tiny puppet tip toed over to a toy piano. The year we booked lots of concerts, so we could qualify for last night seats, we planned with care; big symphonies sit anywhere, but if you want to see your favourite soloist get the best seats you can afford nearer the stage. Live concerts are always different from listening to recorded music and The Proms have extra atmosphere; everyone is there to enjoy themselves and because they love music. At the end you emerge into a summer night and surge with the happy throng walking down Exhibition Road to South Kensington tube station.

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But there is a lot to be said for watching on television. As happens every year, with life getting in the way, I have recorded more proms than I have watched since they started on July 19th, but I have enjoyed several very different concerts so far. What struck me this year was how wonderful it is to have two hours of positive thoughts and enthusiasm with no mention of Brexit, world leaders or general doom. Music is a universal language that brings us together.

The advantage of television is having presenters to tell you about the music and chat to musicians during the interval. Our presenters are impossibly positive; after all they are listening to the best musicians from around the world and being paid to share their love of music. One of them is so enthusiastic he talks at twice the normal speed, if he was a piece of music he would be ‘Flight of the Bumblebee.’ Often presenters get so excited they nearly topple off their high balcony.

If we are not musicians we may not always understand what presenters and musical guests are talking about, perhaps they don’t either, but that’s all part of the fun. They may spend longer talking about a new piece of music having its world premiere than the piece actually lasts. If you hear the words this wonderful sound picture it probably means there is no tune, but hearing pieces of music you don’t know is all part of the experience.

When the music actually starts, there is more entertainment. The camera pans over members of the orchestra, to the happy prommers standing in the arena, then round to the huge choir. We can wonder why the biggest bloke in the choir has been put next to the skinniest, we can make comments on the dresses of the soloists and we can marvel at the blur of bows in the string sections. It’s all very different from 125 years ago.

Read more about The Proms

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1sgMxZvFzHQG3Y1HktMfg6w/history-of-the-proms

Have you been to The Proms? Are you a musician or a listener?

My novel Brief Encounters of the Third Kind follows the story of a golden couple of music. The Royal Albert Hall has a walk on part.

As the first in a trilogy you can download for just 99 pence.

sunshine-blogger

 

 

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Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Wimbledon

No, not how to cheat playing tennis at Wimbledon…

Nor how to cheat your way to the front of the queue the night before the gates open at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, or how to get a cheap ticket for Centre Court on Finals Day…

I have been to Wimbledon the railway station ( many times ), the town hall ( amateur dramatics ), but not the tennis. How do you cheat at Wimbledon without going there?

My best Wimbledon was played when I was at junior school. Our friends round the corner had six children in their family. The eldest girl no longer a child, but a sophisticated ( to my eyes ) teenager at the local secondary modern. One year she was going with the school to Wimbledon and had made her own tennis racquet brooch, properly strung with cotton sewing thread; a perfect miniature that fitted in the palm of her hand. The excitement filtered down through sister two and sister three, my best friend and with wooden racquets we played tennis in the middle of our little road. The sophisticated game consisted of seeing how many times we could hit the ball back and forth without dropping it; no referees, no losers.

Learning tennis at high school was quite fun and a friend and I cycled to a Saturday morning tennis club, where the height of our achievement was a certificate for doing 20 forehands and 20 backhands in a row.

green tennis ball on court
Photo by Bogdan Glisik on Pexels.com

For most adults, tennis means watching Wimbledon on television. This is where some of us have to cheat. I dread the frequent question at this special fortnight of the summer. Not how is your novel going or have you been busy in the garden but

‘Have you been watching the tennis?’

I cringe in shame, I could simply say NO, but find myself apologising… not yet or just caught the end of er um oh how about that fifteen year old who beat Serena or was it Venus.

It is very difficult to cheat at watching tennis on television, you cannot pretend you watched Venus Williams being beaten by Coco Gauff; even if you get the names right you need to recount how play went. You cannot claim to have watched avidly every day without knowing every name, who played who and for how long. Some people book their annual leave so they can watch it all properly, so why don’t I get around to viewing?

Perhaps the protestant work ethic, watching television during the day? Or the sunshine; I may live one hundred miles from Wimbledon, but if it’s sunny there it will probably be sunny at home and how could I stay indoors on a nice day. I have tried to watch, I like the notion of tennis and have a fair idea of what they are supposed to be doing; hitting the ball before it hits the court or not hitting the ball before it lands outside the court. It is exciting when players make horizontal leaps and lob the ball two inches over the net, five yards from their opponent. But you have to concentrate; don’t tackle a complicated knitting pattern, sneak a look at your smart phone, doze off, or pop to the kitchen to make a sandwich, for you will miss the shock defeat or the fastest volley in history.

If you have not been glued to teletennis you can cheat by catching up with the sport highlights on television in the evening. Write down the relevant names and scores and memorise them so at work the next day when someone asks if  you saw the tennis you can reply

‘Did you see Selina Kalashnikov in that last set?’

sunshine-blogger

 

Have you been watching Wimbledon?

Have you been there for real?

 

 

 

The Game of Life – A Game of Sevens

sunshine-blogger

A real game of life is played out on a television documentary every seven years.

Seven Up! was commissioned by Granada Television as a programme in the World in Action series broadcast in 1964. From 7 Plus Seven onward the films have been directed by Michael Apted a researcher on Seven Up! who helped choose the original children. The premise of the film was taken from the Jesuit motto “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_(film_series)

This has been proved and not proved; the rich children, who already knew at seven the private education mapped out for them, have indeed been successful in predictable careers, but some of the ordinary kids have achieved a lot. Would we have guessed a Yorkshire farm lad would become a nuclear physicist in the USA?

I have followed much of this series and most of the participants have stuck with it, what an opportunity to create an historic record of society and your life. The interviews seem dignified, but candid. The most interesting has been Neil, at seven funny and full of life, but by 21 finding life difficult and over the years he has had ups and downs. It may be fashionable now to talk of mental health issues, but Neil has always faced the camera when he could easily have dropped out.

https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/63-up-cast-now-7-up-line-up-what-happened-itv-when-time-episodes/

Does the taking part in such a programme influence what you do in your life? How many of us would want our lives exposed. I guess seven years is long enough to get on with your life unobserved before the next episode. How would the rest of us fare under the seven year spotlight? At seven I was in a Church of England junior school and life was pretty simple and good; I would never have guessed that at fourteen I would be living on the other side of the world. We emigrated to Australia when I was eleven.

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I can imagine sitting giggling with my best friend and being interviewed like the three girls at their comprehensive school. However I do not think I would have liked my gauche pimply self filmed for posterity. At fourteen I would never have guessed I would be back in England just before my twenty first birthday; ostensibly on a working holiday, but with absolutely no idea what to do next. I wouldn’t have wanted Michael Apted probing into my ‘life is something that happens to other people ( quote from Alan Bennett ) period.’ At twenty eight, married with a toddler and over extending ourselves to buy a little flat, I could have put in a reasonable appearance, with career failures pushed into the background…

The ‘seven uppers’ have a unique record of their lives, with 63 the latest episode shown recently. Will the director Michael Apted still be around to make 70 Up? In the twenty first century bloggers can write about their lives in minute detail for everyone to see, will young bloggers keep blogging for their whole lives?

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Meanwhile in real life Cyberspouse finished his chemotherapy course, followed a few weeks later by a scan and last week we saw the oncologist to hear the results; everything still stable, nothing changed since the last scan, report back for check up in six weeks. Take an extra throw of the dice.

But a visiting in-law heard her relative had just died, four years after being given six months to live.   The Game of Life has no rules, or at least not rules the medical profession can understand for sure.

Sunday Salon – Views and Reviews

Three books, a BBC television comedy and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra rounds off the season with two very different concerts.

Kill Joys by Martin Stratford

Twelfth in the  Havenchester Crime series

Private detectives Alec and Julie Tanner have a good team and their colleagues’ skills are vital in solving cases and saving their lives. There is more going on than anybody on either side of the law realises in delightfully dark plots at odds with a respectable hotel, a pleasant village and a museum that should only be of interest to lovers of literature. Can a feud between two families be resolved by two young lovers or are they putting themselves in danger? The action increases in pace and an innocent woman finds herself in a nightmare situation. Events move rapidly to the denouement in a deliciously complex plot spiced with the author’s usual dark humour.

 

Fancy Meeting You Here  by Jim Webster

A relaxing book to dip into, with tales and thoughts of Jim Webster who has farmed all his life near the Cumbrian coast. Poignantly we gather that for a farmer governments come and go, Brexit or no Brexit, people with little idea about real farming or local conditions can come along with new regulations and policies. For a sheep dog there are no worries about politics, but Sal has set views about what the sheep should be doing and what humans should be doing and when. There are pleasant walks and even a recipe for no cooking apple chutney. Whether you live in the countryside or have never set foot in a field, you will enjoy this book.

 

More Glimpses by Hugh W. Roberts

I enjoyed the first book and this is another great selection of stories. Topically the last story is about plastics, has a solution been found? Yes, but only at a terrible cost. Each story is delightfully unique; a new slant on fairies at the bottom of the garden, a wedding bouquet like no other, royal shopping and some very tiny dark tales.

I read these three books as e books downloaded onto my Kindle. I posted the reviews on Goodreads, but they have all been rejected by Amazon. Two of the authors I have reviewed before with no problems; but out of all the long list of guidelines to adhere to could this be the one I am breaking?

To contribute to … Customer Reviews…  you must have spent at least £40 on Amazon.co.uk using a valid payment card in the past 12 months.

As Amazon allows us to buy books for as little as 99 pence this seems unfair to authors and readers.

Now for some comedy. I love a good half hour television comedy and there have been some very different series, gentle, dark, clever that we have enjoyed or are enjoying at Chez Beachwriter. Just finished last week was ‘Don’t Forget The Driver’ co written and starring Toby Jones. An exquisite six episodes of dark and gentle humour about Peter, a coach driver, who lives in Bognor Regis with his daughter and nearby his elderly mother. The first episode opens with Peter on his mobile phone to his identical twin in Australia; he stands on the beach in front of the webcam – Facetime the hard way – the Australian family spot something on the beach, which turns out to be a dead body…

Every character is subtly created and each episode takes us on a different outing, with the first a trip to France, returning with an extra passenger…

Another trip full of Japanese passengers interested in culture finds a very serious gentleman asking Peter to help him understand Shakespeare and iambic pentameters. The confused conversation ends with Peter saying ‘Okay Mr. Pentameter’.

The last episode finishes poignantly with Peter diverting his coachload of school band pupils to the cemetery.

https://www.comedy.co.uk/tv/dont_forget_the_driver/

 

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Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is Classsic FM’s Orchestra in the South of England. Classic FM is a commercial radio station which is often good except for irritating advertisements. Over the autumn, summer and spring the BSO play a few Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees at the Bournemouth Pavilion. A Classic FM presenter introduces popular pieces, with of course some jokes, mention of the weather, the seaside and interesting tit bits about the composers. The last concert on Saturday 11th May was ‘Hall of Fame’ with four pieces guaranteed to be enjoyed by various ages. The theatre was packed. William Tell Overture was followed by that great tradition of half the orchestra retreating while the men (and a woman ) in black stack chairs, manoeuvre the grand piano onto the stage and hopefully remember to lock the wheels in place. The chairs and music stands are repositioned and I always wonder if the musicians will end up with their right parts of music.

The second piece was Beethoven’s Fifth Piano concerto. After the interval the stage was reorganised again while the audience went out for an ice cream. In the second half the Carmen Suite was followed by the 1812 Overture as finale, a Classic FM favourite for finishing concerts and loud enough for someone near us to open their bag of Malteasers.

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Wednesday 15th was very different; the end of the main season at the Lighthouse Poole, being broadcast live on BBC Radio Three with chief conductor Kiril Karabits. Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, a great choral drama with the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and three top soloists. Elgar was a Roman Catholic and based the work on Cardinal Newman’s poem of the same name ( no, I haven’t read it ). One hundred minutes which seemed to go by quickly. Part one finds Gerontius, American tenor Paul Appleby, on his death bed and the priest sends him on his journey. In part two his guardian angel, mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, appears and eventually he sees God for the briefest moment with the chorus building up to the famous climax ‘Praise to the Holiest in the Height’. His guardian angel then gently leads him off to rest in purgatory, which doesn’t sound too bad.The whole work is a great drama with plenty of spine tingling moments, obviously a piece still popular with modern audiences whatever their beliefs. Kiril Karabits allowed a long moment of silence after the final chords of ‘Amen’ before lowering his baton.

https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/17644256.review-bso-the-dream-of-gerontius-by-elgar

https://www.facebook.com/Bournemouth-Symphony-Chorus-252826548066372

 

Game of Stones

I am not the only person in the world who has not seen Game of Thrones, there is at least one other person; I know that because I saw their post on Facebook. With the worldwide plethora of channels and other means of watching programmes there are not enough hours in the day to watch everything and we don’t all have legal access to much of the output. Neither lack of hours nor technical and legal barriers affect some viewers, who seem to have seen everything – three times over.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed it, though I prefer drama set in this world, but I fear it is too late to catch up; boxed sets, whether real or ethereal do not appeal. I enjoy watching serials one episode at a time. What I have finally caught up with is ‘Outlander’, a series involving time travel, so it is touching that we are only able to watch it with that prehistoric tool, a fire stick. This particular magic tool is an Amazon Firestick, acquired when Cyberspouse accidentally joined Amazon Prime via my account and obtained lots of toys. Now we are watching in real time and have to wait till Monday for episode 12 of series four, so I decided to find out more, especially as I have not read any of the books.

Diana Gabaldon is the author; she started writing the story in the eighties and there are nine in the series; with only five filmed so far that means plenty to look forward to and reassuringly genuine, not ‘based on characters created by’.

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/books/outlander-series/

When I read these words     There is one more addition to the OUTLANDER series— THE EXILE, a graphic novel,  I thought she had written an edition with even more sex,  but it’s okay – For those unfamiliar with the term, a graphic novel is—in essence—a comic book for grown-ups.

Diana and I have a few things in common, born in the same decade and we both write about time travel…    ‘Outlander’ starts with our heroine Claire on holiday in the highlands of Scotland, reunited with her husband after being separated during the second world war. Wandering, she finds ‘The Stones’, touches them and falls into 1743. Adventure, love and lots of history follows.

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I imagine it is easier to write about time travel than actually survive if you found yourself back in the past. Perhaps you think you would use your future knowledge, it may give you a useful guide as to what happens next, unless you were not very good at history, but could you recreate modern inventions or modern medicine? Claire has the advantage of medical knowledge, but not the right implements and drugs. Few of us would be able to build a car from scratch,  install electricity in our peasant hut or offer to install hot running water in the laird’s castle. Few of us understand how the structures and infastructures that surround us are made, but if we ended up in the past we wouldn’t know how to make a wattle and daub hut either.

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On the other hand we might be delighted to get away from the world as it is and discover the past was better.

If you want to get ahead and read my trilogy before Amazon, Netflix or Sky snap it up to turn into a blockbuster, you can read the first book for only 99 pence or us$1.26

 

 

 

Sunday Salon – Reading and Viewing Reviews

A book, a television series and a film.

MARLIE   BY ANNELI PURCHASE

I posted this review on Amazon and Goodreads. Marlie is set in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands – Haida Gwaii an archipelago approximately 45-60 km (30-40 mi) off the northern Pacific coast of Canada.

Janet Gogerty

5.0 out of 5 stars   Island life is always good for a story and this tale has everything.

16 December 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I knew nothing about the islands and little about this part of the world, one of the reasons why I had downloaded Marlie. Anyone who has found themselves with a new career in a place where they are the stranger in town will find Marlie’s story resonates. We may not have met a bear, but islands and remote places anywhere in the world can be surrounded by space and the illusion of freedom, but also have an insularity. On Marlie’s new island there are the locals and the original people and then there are the incomers, most of them ‘getting away’ from their previous life. Everyone knows everyone else, except of course Marlie who has no idea who to trust or how to avoid upsetting anyone. As for any young single woman, dating is a complicated game and it is easy to make a mistake. Enjoy the beauty of an island and the seas, but this story will also have you on edge as Marlie faces the elements and some sinister characters.

 

‘Mrs. Wilson’ A BBC 1 television drama of three episodes.

We have just finished catching up with this enthralling series based enticingly on real life. One fact about Alexander Wilson we know to be true is that he was an author of thrillers, you can find him on Amazon and Wikipedia, but unlike most writers his imagination spilled over into real life. He spun his lies to four ‘wives’, only the first was legally married to him. We follow the story of his third much younger ‘wife’ Alison Wilson; she is played by her granddaughter Ruth Wilson. The women in his life were real, as are his seven children. It’s almost certain he did work for the secret services at one stage, with his excellent language skills and intelligence, but what he actually did and for how long remains closed in the files. His own large family are never likely to know who the real man was. If we didn’t know it was true we would hardly believe that one man could be loved dearly by his women and children, despite all the trials he put them through; none of them had an easy time. Only after his death did Alison start to discover the truth. Eventually all the families got together. Perhaps only God knows if his Roman Catholic faith was more genuine than the rest of his life! It all made a cracking good story for viewers.

https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2018-12-11/what-is-the-real-life-story-behind-ruth-wilsons-new-bbc-drama-mrs-wilson/

 

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We don’t have Netflix, but Cyberspouse knows someone who has… he has his name on Netflix with two family members, either side of the Atlantic. In his explorations of what is available he occasionally comes up with a gem and this was one of them we watched a few days ago. But was it a book of short stories or a film? Each tale was begun with the turning of a page in a beautiful old book. When I looked it up I was surprised there were only six tales, it seemed like more.

‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’

The Coen brothers turn their Netflix series into an anthology film made up of six tall tales of the Old West.

Each story opened like a scene in the theatre or a painting. The singing cowboy riding his white horse and playing the guitar. Residents at a city boarding house sit at the dinner table, but two of the characters in that scene are to set out with a wagon train. This is the longest story, it moves gently until events take a turn… A travelling entertainer sets up his stage at each tiny town, but silently things move towards a dark ending. The story of the gold panner opened like a Disney film on an idyllic scene in a peaceful valley and progressed gently until a stranger came along. A stage coach is the setting for the final story and final it certainly is… If you get the chance, see this film.

https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80200267

Sunday Salon – the alternative to the Sunday Supplements

Dip into two books and two television dramas.

I review every book I read on Amazon and Goodreads and also share my reviews here.

This week, two very different English novels; one dark, one light.

Out of Time  by Jaye Marie

4.0 out of 5 stars In the mind of a killer.

By Janet Gogerty on 21 September 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I hadn’t read the previous novel about Kate, so knew nothing about her, but Kate knows nothing about herself either when she wakes up. This is a thriller with no heroes, the Snowman is desperate to help her and it seems at last he can, but it is not to be. If this was a television thriller the Snowman would save the day, but the story becomes more complex. We follow the killer’s thoughts as well as the other main characters, an advantage of books over screens. The reader will never sympathise, but we might comprehend what’s going on in Jack’s mind. Michael is another character who we think might save the day, but he is a mix of flaws and must face up to the grief he has caused the woman he loved and the other woman who loves him. This is not a novel for the faint hearted; what starts as a mystery of unconnected murders is also the story of those unfortunate enough to be in the path of a killer or know his intended victim. We know from the news that bizarre killings can occur when a murderer becomes obsessed and this murderer is obsessed with Kate.

Mum in the Middle by Jane Wenham-Jones

5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and humorous.

ByJanet Gogerty on 8 October 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I downloaded this novel onto my Kindle as it sounded fun and we have relatives who have become DFLs* on the Isle of Thanet. But this is a story that would make an enjoyable read for anyone with family or lively family as neighbours. Whether you are married, divorced or thankful to be single, the lives of Tess and her family and friends will probably sound familiar. The story bowls along, with prospects of romance dashed at every twist and turn and plenty of modern life problems.

*‘Down From London’ – a good train service from St. Pancras, lower property prices and the seaside have made the Isle of Thanet, Kent a popular choice for workers needing to commute and also artists and entrepreneurs.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

How do you watch television these days, perhaps not even on a television set? But drama serials are still ever popular, whether we sit down each week, catch up digitally or binge watch. I like the idea of the TV schedule, but inevitably if we’re out or have visitors I am thankful we can record or catch up. PAUSING programmes is also a brilliant asset as my good intentions to leave the computer or the kitchen by 9pm always fail.

There have been so many good dramas lately we have some still to watch. My two recent favourites were very different.

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray is a long novel that many people on social media have confessed to not having read. But with a film and at least four television adaptations we can be forgiven for not being sure if we have actually read the book. BBC 1967, 1987 and the one I remember really enjoying was a few years ago – no it was 1998! So how would ITV’s new production compare?

Thackeray, played by national treasure Michael Palin, took his rightful place as the narrator at the beginning and end of each part; he watched his characters go round and round on a carousel.

The story starts in 1813 England, a turbulent society embroiled in war for twenty years. Thackeray introduces a world where everyone is striving for what is not worth having. The impossibly smart red and white soldiers, beautiful women, lovely horses and clean streets were not out of place because he wanted us to watch his characters in a performance. The battle field sequences contrast with this.

Becky Sharpe has nothing, but is determined to have everything, whoever she hurts on the way. We are whirled through years of love, heartbreak, family troubles, business disasters and tragedy with one love story ending happily.

https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2018-10-12/vanity-fair-cast-itv-amazon

BBC4 on Saturday nights is a must if you love Scandi Noir or anything with sub titles. We have followed Danish politics, Swedish thrillers, Sicilian detectives, Paris police, Belgian undercover in French and Flemish, but most recently it has been Outback Noir.

Mystery Road in six episodes, was filmed in the Kimberly region of north Western Australia. Having lived in Perth, Western Australia and with family there, I try and watch any Australian series that come our way. I have never been to that part of the state, another country to suburbanites in the city. The series was worth watching for the scenery alone, wide landscapes of dusty red soil and long roads, a fascinating country town and a cattle station homestead that makes you yearn to live somewhere with endless space. A great cast did justice to a complex story linking past and present with layers of secrets. The old landowning family, the indigenous people and European backpackers all find their lives bound together in small town life.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2018/mystery-road