Mary Anning of Lyme is my new musical excursion.
Eight tracks, half an hour of music.
It can be streamed or downloaded from my Bandcamp pages…
and here’s a trailer.
It is 1847. Mary is not long for this world. Drifting in a laudanum haze she holds an imaginary conversation with her father Richard and relives her life and her achievements. And what achievements!
Richard was a carpenter-joiner. Like many other families in Lyme and along the Dorset coast, he and his children Mary and Joseph would seek out fossils and shells to sell to supplement the family income. Richard passed on his ample knowledge to Mary and she pursued the subject of palaeontology with a passion. Despite a lack of any serious education, Mary made and recorded many discoveries and became an authority, being recognised as such by other leading figures in the field- though not to the extent of being admitted to the Geological Society of London. Of course not! She was poor. She was self taught. She was a woman.
Mary Anning will be familiar to those of you who have read Tracy Chevalier’s novel Remarkable Creatures, and if you’ve read John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman you’ll have a way into the world I was painting in these eight tracks.
It may seem as though I’m stepping onto a bandwagon. Mary Anning is all over the place at the moment due to the upcoming release of the film Ammonite. Actually, the idea of doing this was given to me two years ago after I finished A Crossword War, by my friend (and South West of England correspondent) Colin White. He pointed me at the Mary Anning Rocks project and this fired my interest.
I was helped in making Mary Anning of Lyme by:
My sister Terry Brown, who sang with me on a couple of songs, just before the lockdown, I should add.
Sheena Masson, who played all the whistle, flute and recorder parts- the only real instruments on the whole thing. Recorded in Haringay and sent up here by magic- ‘the magic flute’, if you will.
My wife Ruth Adams, who, out of lockdown necessity, took on the Mary speaking parts and did a great job.
As for the Ammonite film, well… what I’ve read about it annoys me extremely. They’ve felt the need to make the life of this remarkable woman ‘more interesting’ by inventing a lesbian affair for which there is no hint of evidence. OK, I haven’t seen it yet, so I should reserve judgement, but I suspect that ‘lesbian romance’ is the way it’s going to be hyped in the media.
Ah well. Love makes the world go round, as my mother would say when my sister and I asked why all the films we saw on telly were full of people kissing.
Anyway, hope you like it. My new album, that is. Oh, ok, and the film.