Julia Hughes - writing thrilling adventures - time after time after time.
It's pretty unusual in our house for me to have the remote control, which is probably why I know so much about the internal combustion engine, and J Clarkson Esquire's likes and dislikes. One evening last week though, as the telly channels were being zipped through at a rate of knots, I caught the word "Griffin" and after the compulsory wrestling match (best of three) settled down to watch Dinosaurs, Myths and Monsters presented by Tom Holland.
This programme explored our ancestors' fascination with the giant fossils and petrified footprints left behind by creatures that continue to excite our imagination – and probably always will. Dinosaurs! Eons before the first man walked upright on this planet, they became extinct. But once Homo-sapiens got their act together – roof over the family's head, rabbit in the stew pot, a refreshing liquid chilling in the ice box – they turned their mind to higher matters. The Greeks were the first of the European tribes to get their act together; in addition to producing some mind bending equations that vex school children even today; it seems Spielberg's great great grandparent to the power of pi was also around to weave the storyteller's spell. Then as now, our ancient fore fathers took a smidgeon of fact, and ran with it – from the bones of dinosaurs grew all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures. Favourite amongst these are dragons – imagined as colossal flying reptiles with fire breathing tendencies, and griffins: Chimera imagined as half eagle (king of the skies) and half lion (king of beasts).
I'm always intrigued by stories behind stories, and watched spellbound. I particularly enjoyed Mr Holland's style of presenting – he didn't mock, neither did he employ an over enthusiastic "gee whiz isn't this amazing" breathlessness*. Instead, he explored humankind's obsession with the need to explain the world and its mysteries, in a sympathetic yet methodical manner – when experts spoke, he listened quietly, and encouraged them to expand on their theories with intelligent remarks and questions. And so the viewer became a willing companion as he investigated myths about dragons, griffins and other chimera and their possible origins. Dinosaurs, Myths and Monsters is still available to watch on line, and recommended viewing for anyone who's ever been enchanted by stories of fantastical creatures. The "special effects" with two toy dinosaurs fighting is worth the entrance fee alone!
*Other presenters please take note – there's only room for one David Attenborough and he is already pretty good at being David Attenborough – you on the other hand fail.
Wren Prenderson; "A Ripple in Time" best hero.
"The Griffin Cryer" best Urban Fantasy. Thank you to the hard working judges and everyone who voted at the eFestival of Words, organised by Julie Dawson, of Bards & Sages.
A Raucous Time, A Ripple in Time, and The Griffin Cryer. Thank you to Julie and her hard working panel of judges and reviewers.
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