About drnicko

Cultural Architect

Game, set and match: Janice Owen reads Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player for Mothering Sunday.

To celebrate mothers and their impact of tennis players of the future, Janice Owen reads Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player

Janice is a mother, writer and an ageing tennis player. Living in the village of Beetham as a small child her fascination for tennis was lured by the grass court at the big house which was very much a private court. Curiosity killed the cat in the summer of 1969 when her primary school class was invited to play croquet and have homemade lemonade on the adjacent lawn. She thought it was all very proper and very nice.

Janice’s grand slams were truly focussed on her father’s garage door where she practised and played against the her tennis opponents of the day in the 1970’s. Her mother’s objections to such activities led to quicker returns and an improved back hand. A family friend, John Ladell, realising her potential, gave her his own racquet, a gift treasured to this day.

Great tennis players of her school, and village club, Arnside, took court priority but that did not deter her spirit. Seeking out lessons she sought to modify her self taught bad tennis habits at the village club and appreciate the more competent players of every age.

Her grand slam and croquet techniques were later transferred to the squash courts and hockey pitches. As a mother she continued garage door grand slamming, she was the best solo player. Teaching her three sons to play and having matches on a sloping driveway, not ideal but great fun.

Today alongside her ageing but much loved tennis racquet she is the proud owner of a croquet set. Her continuing love of hockey, and the speed of ice hockey sit alongside her ambition to grand slam in walking tennis.

Whilst Mothering Sunday is special, some mothers are isolated from their children through estrangement. 50% of all donations received by 23 March will be made to MATCH, the charity supporting Mothers Apart from Their Children.

Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player: all episodes now available on YouTube

In light of the very difficult times we’re all facing, I shall now be putting out every single episode of ‘Confessions’  on the YouTube, so If you stick with it, you’ll hear the whole book in its entirety!

Episode 1: Warm Up: One day I will play Roger Federer at Wimbledon and probably beat him.

First Set: how to Play Tennis.

Episode 2: First Game: How to deal with the irritation of 13 year olds on the other side of the net.

Episode 3: Second Game: How to Enjoy Net Play.

Episode 4: Third Game: How to Fly Solo in a Doubles Pair

Episode 5: Fourth Game: How to Play Percentage Tennis.

See the full campaign here.

Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player: it’s your go!

Hi Y’all!

Hope you’re keeping well in these very difficult times! In the next few weeks of the Tennis Player campaign, I’m offering you the opportunity to become the tennis player you always wanted to be!

Just imagine you’ve become your favourite tennis player, write me a short blog about you as whoever it is, and I’ll post it along with the promotional video! It can be as long or as short as you like!

And if you fancy reading the script of the promotional video, just email me at richardnyowen@msn.com and I’ll help you sort it out.

Keep safe!

Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player: ‘May I Be The First’ played by Robert Coyne

This year, I’m planning to give Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player a major re-boot by publishing it with Troubadour books.  I’ve been fortunate to meet a Derby based illustrator, Paul Warren, who has provided a fantastic set of images for the book which you can see on the campaign page here.

I’ve also been very lucky to involve the work of Kevin Coyne and his two sons, Robert and Eugene, all of whom are also donating tracks.

Robert  plays guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and sings. For this campaign, he has donated ‘May I Be The First’.

He and Eugene appeared on some of Kevin’s recordings including Tough And Sweet (1993) and Sugar Candy Taxi (1999). As a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, Robert eventually joined Kevin’s band and contributed to several further albums, including Room Full of Fools (2000), Carnival (2002), Donut City (2004) and One Day In Chicago (2005, with Jon Langford and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts).

You can see more about his work here.

Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player: read by Candace Lott.

This year, I’m planning to give Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player a major re-boot by publishing it with Troubadour books.  I’ve been fortunate to meet a Derby based illustrator, Paul Warren, who has provided a fantastic set of images for the book which you can see on the campaign page here.

I’ve also been very lucky to involve Candace Lott who has generously donated her time and skills to support the campaign.

Candace’s passion for reading, started out when she was a little girl. She loved  reading books with unique characters and a lesson weaved into each story. Reading was a clear escape to an adventure, whether she experienced a bad day at school or wanted to expand her knowledge. When Candace entered elementary school, she discovered a new love centered on writing. After high school, Candace enrolled in college and worked hard to improve her writing skills. After graduating college, it still didn’t occur to her, that she was born to be a writer. Until one day, God led Candace to her calling.

Candace is now, a ghostwriter, proofreader, freelance editor and voice-over actress.  Here, she writes about her life as a writer.

Have you ever heard that writing is an art form? Well, whoever said it, they weren’t kidding. Writing has been one of the most challenging adventures—I’ve ever signed up for. One because some days the writing process can drive you nuts. Does that word fit? Should I put this word, instead of that word? Will my audience enjoy this style of writing? Or will they hate it? What to do? I don’t know! Boo, who! And sometimes you have to start over from scratch. Because nothing works. Wowser! However, I wouldn’t change this writing phenomenon. I started writing early on as a child. Before anyone says, “how can a child understand writing?” Let me stop you! Sometimes people know early on. Sometimes you don’t get it, until you’re into your adult years. So, it has always been relevant in my life. From writing stories, poems, lyrics, plays, and now books.

The Child Writer vs. Adult Writer

The child writer vs. adult writer. Highly different. Child writer has tons of fun. No pressure. That’s my childhood experience as a novice writer. Child writer does it without second thoughts. Child writer doesn’t take him/herself too seriously. Adult writer doubts him/herself. Hyperventilates over the thought of a rejection letter. Fears judgment from others. Pours hope in receiving representation from publishers and agents. Anywho, like most things in life, if you want success and longevity, it will require much practice. Every day I write and then edit. Write and then edit—some more. The cycle continues. I am blessed to have earned both titles, writer and editor. Yay! Pretty lucky, eh? I’ll say, it serves a great purpose. Can’t have one without the other.

For more information on Candace Lott on her website or follow her on Twitter:  twitter.com/lott_renay

Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player: ‘The Story is Told’ by Martin Milner.

Martin Milner, a long standing colleague from my work in Wallasey, UK, has kindly donated one of his songs, ‘The Story is Told’ as the backing track for the promotional video of Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player.

Martin says:

“Music and education have driven my life and career since I can remember. Music making, and being involved with learning in a general way. I am not a fan of big institutions, although I have co-existed with some (eg, LIPA -Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, BBIS -Berlin Brandenburg International School).

I am a creative improvisor, and not just musically. Also a father, a poet, and I like to cook. Cycling through the woods makes me happy. So does meditating. I stand up for my beliefs and support causes such as anti-capitalist initiatives, community-building projects and good work generally, but not because I think it will make a big difference.

Maybe I’m too small to save the world, but I can help out in the neighbourhood.  After 30+ years as a singer-songwriter I finally produced an album of 13 songs in 2015, for the record. A second set is on the way.  Like the rest of you, I am too caught up in my own life to really pay attention to what people write in places like this. Anyway, peace and music be with you, dear reader!”

You can hear more of Martin’s work here.

Martin and I collaborated between 2007 and 2008, together with Nicki Dupuy and Andy Escott. We developed some exciting creative music opportunities with pupils and staff at Riverside and Somerville Primary Schools and the Oldershaw School in Wallasey, Wirral. Funded substantially by Youth Music and a host of other charitable donations, the project – Deschooled? Re-Engaged! aimed to bring about the inclusion of vulnerable and ‘at risk’ children aged between 5 and 14 years from the most socially deprived areas of Wallasey by ‘re-attaching’ them to learning and routes of positive personal development through collaborative working practices between musicians and educators.

You can read all about that project in The Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning here.

Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player: read by Jessie Antonellis-John

Dr. Jessie Antonellis-John  has generously donated her time and skills to support the campaign.

An aspiring actress, musician, and writer in her dreams, Dr. Jessie Antonellis-John is actually a science educator.

She hails from New England but is happily relocated to the Pacific Northwest. She currently resides on the Oregon coast with her wife and two cats, where she writes curriculum by day and fiction by night.

Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player: read by David Robertson

This year, I’m planning to give Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player a major re-boot by publishing it with Troubadour books.  I’ve been fortunate to meet a Derby based illustrator, Paul Warren, who has provided a fantastic set of images for the book which you can see on the campaign page here.

I’ve also been very lucky to involve David Robertson who has generously donated his time and skills to support the campaign.

This is how David and I came across each other in Leeds.

At a morning rehearsal at the Workshop Theatre, we learned to dance (as a couple) ‘La Comparasita’ while gliding over a corpse, in Mrozek’s Polish comedy, ‘Tango‘. David played a cynical, smarmy know-all and Nick, a callous brute of a butler. That horrific ending was strangely harmonious. Perhaps it led to our friendship, with the American director (Terry Conder) joining us.

Under the title ‘Three Way Split’, we went on to stage ‘The Dock Brief,‘ ‘The Zoo Story,’The Road to Emmaus’ (from a mystery cycle) and ‘The Madness of Lady Bright’ by Lanford Wilson which appealed to Nick. He changed his mind, however, and got a shock when he found the play was in fact to start. He went backstage and in the gloom asked a blonde where David Robertson was.  David gave him his Marlene Dietrich “Well, hello” voice, which knocked him sideways.

As well as setting up Three Way  Split, David was instrumental to a whole host of small scale touring theatre which toured across the UK including Swarthmore Studio Group, Pocket Theatre, Two Way Traffic, Wales Actors Company, Leeds Actors Company, Theatre of the Dales and recently, Hidden Leeds.