3 stents later…

3 stents laterFor those of a nervous disposition (snowflakes), turn away now…

First of all, I have to say to sorry to myself for not keeping my blogs up to date. It was something I promised myself right at the beginning. At least one post a week. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control (or were they?) that particular target has not been possible. Due to recent developments in the heart department, I have had to take a break.

As my follower will know a few weeks ago I had an angiogram to discover the cause of my breathlessness, my angina (in this case painless, yet uncomfortable). It was discovered I had a mildly furred-up artery and therefore needed an invasive procedure, in this case a stent.

Coventry Hospital here I come.

I ought say at this point that although initially nervous I wasn’t too worried. I knew that the procedure was the same as the angiogram. An insertion of a ‘wire’ into the artery at my wrist, then up the arm turn right at the shoulder and onward into the heart. Easy.

As it was the angiogram was simple and better still, even without something to send me to a better place, I never felt a thing. OK so the new procedure was different insomuch it would be carrying a payload ( *a stent) but so what? There can’t be that much different.

How wrong I was.

Apart from the fact that it took probably three times as long it was the most uncomfortable and invasive piece of ‘fiddling about’ I have ever experienced, I did not like it one bit.

OK, so it wasn’t painful as such but imagine having someone pushing about in your interior and you feeling their every move. Worse than that, being asked to take huge breaths so the manipulator can manoeuvre his way through the many twist and turns of your blood vessels so he can find the main route to your ticker…’right so go down here, turn left at the junction and straight across…when you get to the McDonald’s pull a sharp right over the level crossing…’ That’s what it was like and it seemed to go on for ever. Add to this the surgeon’s cries of…’pressure on…14….20’ and that was my day. Horrible. I felt like an on-line game. Exhausting and a little scary.

Any road up, **three (3) stents later (all varying sizes)

three stents laterI was done and returned, clad in my rather fetching paper suit to Rosie who was napping in my bed space (except you don’t get a bed now, you get a rather snazzy ‘easy boy’ chair like Frazier’s Dad has in er…’Frazier’.) Then follows a three/four hour wait to check that you don’t bleed out or explode. You are wearing a pressure bandage over the entry wound in your arm artery that allows you hand to match the colour of the paper scrubs you are wearing and you are freezing cold. Tea, biscuits and sandwiches do not help. You just want to go home and die.

Battered and bruised (internally) and feeling sorry for myself I am at home and sleeping well away from the house hub-bub in my converted garage. I have to take a week off (from what I’m still trying to figure out) without any exertion. I’m still a little uncomfortable after 4 days but notice improvement every day. There’s no sign of ‘the new man’ everyone says I will discover but I’m hopeful.

There are two things that I will always remember about this experience and both are really nothing to do with the op.

ONE:

The fantastic care I received from the Staff. The doctors, the nurses, the porters, everyone. There’s something magical about human beings in Caring Situations. The sheer humanness of the people involved. Beyond words.

TWO:

The diversity of the people involved. God knows how many different races and religions looked after me. There was laughter, kindness, humility. The whole world was there and for one or two moments I will always treasure they were just there for little old me.

You know what? I feel sorry for the racists and the haters who judge their fellow men and women by the colour of their skin or their faith.

There is something wrong with the haters biological/psychological makeup. They are lacking something. It’s almost as though they missed out on a vital component as we progressed from ape to man. And the sad thing is…THEY REALLY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE MISSING.

  • A small Russian motorbike.
  • **three (3) stents. The surgeons assures me the number of stents used is nothing to do with the progress of ‘the disease’ but more to do with the artery itself.

Peace out.

Posted in family matters, Stratman, the pain | Leave a comment

Stratman’s solution to the rapidly approaching shopping Armageddon

elton john bootsQuite a few years ago now when I was cool and even though I say so myself, was admired by many for being at the height of fashion, I used to buy a lot of my clothes from a place called ‘Oasis’ in Birmingham.

Basically, Oasis was many shops within one. It, if I remember correctly was a couple of storeys high and absolutely (in its heyday) crammed with market stalls. The thing was, although it looked like a market and indeed, had that market feel about it, (apart from the strong scent of Marijuana) it was better than a market. What I’m trying to say here is the fact that Oasis didn’t sell tat, the usual market fare. Not only that, it was the place to be. It was fashionable and an entertainment in its own right. There was music, colour, choice and quality.

If, for instance I wanted a pair of ‘Elton John’ high-stacked boots (see above) then, Oasis was where I had to go to get them. Or maybe, by way of a change I wanted my Levis flared more outrageously than usual, then it was Birmingham and Oasis where I would head. It was instinctive. I knew there wasn’t a Hope in Hell that quaint old Stratford-upon-Avon would stock my Levi loons, so it was the price of a train fare (6 Groats and a dustbin lid) to Brum.

Oasis was not only an Aladdin’s cave full of stuff from London, it was also quality. Of that there was no doubt. AND…it was also a day out.

Now, you may be thinking that I’ve lost my marbles by all this harking back to my lurid past but there is reason behind my madness. And it was the not surprising news that Debenhams is looking to close a high number of stores on our boring old high streets, because they say, the nature of shopping has, (like it always does), changed. Rather than blame themselves for their complete lack of initiative, imagination and forward thinking, once again we’re told it’s down to the internet. Whatever they see as the cause of their demise, there’s no argument from me about the state of our town centres. Empty and Boring. Devoid of independent thinking.

So…anyway, I’m thinking, if Debenhams has to go (in Stratford-upon-Avon?) why not fill the space that it leaves empty, with independent retailers? Make it like the Oasis of my memory. Bring in the retailers who can not only outdo the Debenhams Dullness but also the cheap as chips, low quality marketeers we have become used to every Friday in the rain. Retailers who can give us quality but sell it to us in a different way. Shopkeepers with imagination and an attitude that makes us feel welcome and willing to open our wallets and purses for them. Shopkeepers with style and less of the bland corporate approach.

The other benefit being the fact that with enough shop-keepers on the ground floor upwards, there’s hopefully enough profit going around for everyone to chip in with rent for perhaps a more adventurous and understanding, Landlord.

So, there you have it.

The Stratfordian’s simple solution to the rapidly approaching shopping Armageddon caused by Brexit and the change in shopping habits.

You can thank me later.

Stratman.

Posted in change, Eureka, shopping, stratford-upon-avon, Stratman | Leave a comment

‘Tartuffe’ at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is Brilliant. Go see.

tartuffe at the rscOn Tuesday evening me and a buddy went to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (The Swan) to see ‘Tartuffe’ (The Hypocrite)…and boy, it turned out a fabulous evening. I haven’t laughed so much for a long time (it must have been good because the American woman sat next to me stayed for the entire first half even though it was obvious she didn’t get the humour/humor).

For those in the know, the play was written by Moliere (17th Century) and so I’m told it went down very well at the time (sort of). For your information the show has been re-written and the action transported to a Pakistani Household in Birmingham…(from here on in my lips are sealed).

If you want to know more…

1. Read this from the writers and…the RSC

2. Go get tickets.

Before I go, just some notes for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (who are always banging on about bringing in new audiences) and especially their publicity department…

  • Don’t be so up your own Back-Side.
  • If you want more people to come to your shows, especially this kind of show, don’t be so bloody exclusive.
  • Spread the Word Far and Wide.
  • Tell people, (all sorts of people) what they are going to get.
  • You are in ‘Show-Business’ so SHOW…resist the urge to ‘keep it in the family’.
  • Get out more.
  • Maybe a newspaper ad might get it to a wider audience?

So once more. This is a great show and a wonderful evenings entertainment. Go. See.

Stratman.

Posted in entertainment, stratford-upon-avon, theatre | Leave a comment

The Train that never arrives at the Station no-one knows exists…a tale for Halloween

Seeing as it is coming up to Halloween, I thought I’d publish three photos I took about 3/4 years ago at Stratford-upon-Avon’s phantom train station that goes by the name of Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway.

I ought to explain that the mist could not be seen by the naked eye…oooer…

waiting for the train that never comes...waiting for the train that never comes...waiting for the train that never comes...

Personally, I think the mist is actually the souls of people who are still waiting for the train that never comes… 

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Battle of the Bypass

And so, the battle of the bypass‘ rages on…just like it has for the last 40+ years I have been here.

On and On it goes…

Every few years a plan is revealed and regular as clockwork it gets panned and rubbished for being too ugly, too big or just too damn expensive. And it becomes obvious to us sensible people that there is no way anyone is going to reach an agreement.

However, there is one possible solution to the problem that I don’t think has ever been mooted, (love that word…mootedMOOTED) so, as it looks like I am the first ever to think of it, I shall refer to it as…

…‘The Stratman Plan’.

Like all good ideas, ‘The Stratman Plan’ is simple. It will involve little disruption to our trips out to labour in Stratford-upon-Avon’s onion and turnip fields and for those who are lucky enough to spend their lives shopping, well they (lucky bastards) will hardly notice a thing.

Perhaps the only downside will be the massive expense…but hey, think of the benefits. ‘The Stratman Plan’ will mean that Stratford-upon-Avon can stay the same but without the soul and lung destroying traffic.

‘How so?’ I hear you cry. Stratford-upon-Avon without the traffic? Without the pollution? Impossible.

Not so my friends, if, with some effort we change our thinking.

Instead of ‘UP’ we think ‘DOWN’.

Yes…you’ve got it. In the words of one of my favourite trios The (traffic-geddit?) Jam, we think...‘Going Underground’. Simples. We dig for victory.

WE DIG UNDER STRATFORD-UPON-AVON. We re-route everything UNDER the town.

From the top of the Banbury Road (for instance), the weary traveller not looking forward to the usual Stratford-upon-Avon traffic jam would suddenly find themselves in a tunnel that takes them down and under the Banbury road to resurface at the Birmingham road roundabout.

There’s more…

Like-wise, travellers coming down Borden Hill would suddenly disappear into a tunnel, reappearing on the road to Warwick.

The possibilities are endless. Every traffic problem solved. All it would take is someone to say…’YES’.

[I have to admit that this brilliant idea formed whilst watching my brother-in-law’s on-going efforts to work in the Middle East, where he digs holes. Not your average spade and pick-axe hole but holes formed by those out of this world, science-fiction-type boring machines. Gigantic earth-moving mechanical worms that forge deep tunnels under the desert sands. SEE HERE).

Bring the technology to Stratford, I say. Think about it, sure there would be the usual complaints about noise and grubby workers using Stratford-upon-Avon’s world-class facilities but this would only be during construction. Once completed the tunnels would be a life-safer

And think on this…once finished, no-one would have a leg to stand on as far as complaints go. Stratford-upon-Avoner’s would lapse into their usual lethargy and why?

Because…the tunnels would be…OUT OF SIGHT – and therefore, OUT OF MIND.

(Another brilliant idea from and MOOTED by) Stratman.

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Wellesbourne-upon-Snobbery

wellesbourne-upon-snobberyI write this today as one hell of an angry parent. I’m fuming. If there was a competition for the most fuming parent, I would win it…and it concerns my daughter.

My daughter has recently been on the look out to rent a property to facilitate her move from ‘oop North to lovely, leafy Warwickshire. The idea being that she would be closer to her Mum, dad (me) and other members of her family. So far, so good.

Her efforts to find a property have not been easy for various reasons (I shall explain). However, a suitable property came up in Wellesbourne and negotiations began.

  • The fact that she had six children was accepted.
  • The fact that there was a dog…OK (although the deposit went up-but fair enough)

Everything seemed to be going ahead amicably.

Until she revealed she was a recipient of Housing Benefit.

The owners of the property soon changed their tune (as they have every right to)…and the offer was withdrawn.

I repeat…because my daughter received Housing Benefit the offer was withdrawn.

So, here’s the thing.

My daughter has a good job as does one of her older children, (three are at college/school, one will be looking for work on the move down here and one is a baby). The important thing is this …she has regular money coming into the house including her entitlement of Housing Benefit, which one would have thought the landlords would be looking on as an advantage?

So, I have to ask myself what on earth is the problem?

What have the Landlords got against recipients of Housing Benefits?

One can only assume in this case, snobbery. That somewhere in their sad little lives they have taken on board the fantasy that all receivers of government assistance are somehow…lacking. In what I’m not sure. Moral fibre. Stiff upper lip. An inheritance. God knows.

All I can say, is that because of their snobbery, their obvious idiotic views on ‘Class’ etc they have deprived my hard-working, well-educated daughter of a happy ending. And for that, I curse their bones…grrrr…

Posted in family matters, shame, stratford-upon-avon | Leave a comment

Taken for a Ride at The Stratford Mop

the stratford-upon-avon mopI’ve suddenly realised that it’s that time of year again when Stratford-upon-Avon gets a day and a night’s relief from the traffic pollution and instead gets to breath in the all-the-fun-of-the-fair fumes of the Mop. All beefburgers and onion rings. Luverly…the Stratford-upon-Avon Mop is in Town.

For those that don’t know what the Stratford-upon-Avon Mop is…look here.

In all the years that I’ve lived in Stratford-upon-Avon I’ve gone through the whole gamut. From quite enjoying the spectacle (a great excuse to get drunk) to absolutely hating it, to where I am now…

…Couldn’t care less.

Basically, the Mop is a massive ‘fun’ fair that takes over the Town Centre. It’s a (yet another) time of year when most of Stratford’s shops suffer a drop in profits because most of the precious foot-fall is out on the street ‘enjoying’ themselves.

(Forgive the inverted commas but I’ve had three kids since I’ve lived in Stratford and when it’s Mop time the wallet takes a hit).

The Mop is, like Shakespeare’s birthday one of Stratford-upon-Avon’s traditions. And like most of of Stratford-upon-Avon’s regular happenings it is year after year, chaos. Roads are closed and old farts like me spend what little time they have left, complaining. Except, now I don’t. It’s not worth it (nobody takes any notice) so one is best locked up in the house grumbling away to one’s heart’s content.

Although I say that the Mop is a tradition, some might take that to mean ‘that everything stays the same’. The Mop unfortunately, is not that sort of tradition. Every year, most things change. From the sophistication of the fairground rides to, as one might expect, the prices. They, (the prices) rise like bubbles in Champagne, the drink that the owners of these rides must consume like water after toting up their profits on the last night. What does tend to stay the same is the volume of the music and the demeanour of the heavily tattooed ‘sales assistants’. I hasten to add that this is not a criticism, for two reasons.

One, I do not want to get kidnapped and used as an exhibit and two, didn’t we all at one time in our lives want to run away and work on the fairground. I know I did. It’s a known fact that the guys who run & ride (see them go) the dodgems have a high. although hasty success rate with the ladies.

Anyway, the Mop will arrive and be erected over-night. Which in itself is one hell of a feat considering the size of some of the stuff. Massive pieces of hastily connected heavy metal will spend a few hours whizzing round at a high rate of knots just inches from some high-class jeweller’s windows while the angry owner sits in his empty shop watching his profits walk by clutching candy floss. People will scream out of insane enjoyment and at how fast their pockets will empty. Kids will have an amazing time. They will be sick, wet themselves and turn all the colours of Christmas (mainly green).

And the next morning? It will all be gone. As though it never happened. Just a bad dream.

Posted in entertainment, seedy, stratford-upon-avon | Tagged | 1 Comment

‘There’s nothing for our young people to do’.

there is nothing for our young people to do

A typical Young Person

One of the most popular (and annoying) cries that goes up around these parts on a regular basis is ‘There’s nothing for our young people to do’.
Personally (and even when I was a young person), I have never understood the thinking behind this pathetic plea. I actually in all honesty, do not know what it means. In short… I would like to know what it is that young people do that old people don’t?

OK, so you may say…skateboarding…

But that really has nothing to do with the above whine. All you need is a skateboard and judging by the racket on the wide pavements and the chipped low walls of the Bancroft, you can do it anywhere and no-one can stop you.

I think what the people (young/old) really mean by their plaintiff moan is, ‘There is nowhere the youth go to indulge their youthfulness?’ But again, this makes no sense. Try as I may I can not think of one activity that spotty youth need exclusively for their own use. (Help me out here?)

To illustrate my point, I have seen one or two suggestions that what we need is a ten-pin bowling alley…well yes…I agree. That would be very nice. I’d like one of those too. What I’m saying here is…I don’t see the connection between ten-pin bowling and youth only.

The truth lies in the phrasing of the original question.

What is really being said here is not ‘There’s nothing for our young people to do’ but, ‘where can young people go, to get away from old people’. Which makes much more sense, is understandable to all parties and a solution much easier to find.

Of course, this piece wouldn’t be complete if as an old fart I didn’t refer to my own painful and spotty youth-time. Us old codgers always say the same thing. That we never complained about ‘having nothing to do’. In my case, it is true. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of my early years on the edge of lush farmland. So obviously, my friends and I spent many a hot summer’s day setting light to it, topping of a wonderful and complete day by helping the Fire Brigade put it out.

If we weren’t doing that then we hung about in pub doorways smoking and listening to radio Luxembourg. If we could do that with a couple of girls who were er…rude (sorry #metoo) then all the better. Otherwise, it was the bus down-town for more hanging-about. Hanging-about is obviously a lost art. You rarely see it these days.

Taking into consideration the above, were you to ask me what the solution was, I would have to say, an empty warehouse. Fill it with young people left to their own devices and not one older person would venture within a hundred yards.

Except maybe to share the drugs.

StratMan.

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Goodbye Old Friend

One of the things that is inevitable if you live in Stratford-upon-Avon for any amount of time (5 years?), is the development of certain ‘tics’ or ‘symptoms’. Unfortunately, there’s no cure and no satisfying explanation, they just happen and you become someone you don’t recognise.

One of the more noticeable changes in your character (and probably the most annoying), is you start to become ‘a-stick-in-the-mud’. What this means is you become unnaturally offended by and *fight furiously against signs of change within Stratford-upon-Avon and surrounding areas.

[‘To *fight furiously’ in the ‘Stratford-upon-Avon Book of Spells & Maps of the onion fields that surround the Town’, is defined as ‘Writing to the Herald’.]

Any major change to road structure (i.e. traffic lights), a new colour scheme, even the unexpected pruning of a favoured bush can bring a furious reaction from all and sundry. Such is the anger that can pulsate through the Town’s highways and byways you can almost hear the pens scratching on paper as folks begin their angry missive’ to the Herald.

Which brings me to my point…

As a full-blown carrier of the ‘Disgusted’ of Stratford upon Avon strain, I hereby extend my right to complain to ask,

‘What happened to my favourite tree in the RSC gardens (op the ‘Brass Rubbing Centre’)?

See pictures.

I know it has been a few weeks since it was chopped down (been busy) but I do have to ask why I wasn’t consulted?

This tree, was my all time favourite. Not only that, from the moment my three kids could walk I used to take them to play amongst the massive amounts of leaves it would shed every Autumn (‘Fall’ for my American friends).

I was so shocked and upset when I saw the sad stump I found it difficult, through my tears, to count the hundreds of rings on the now exposed trunk.

Was it diseased? And perhaps more importantly Why did the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald miss the chance to report on it (or did I miss it?).

Anyway, I just want to make the point and complain bitterly, that a major part of the Town’s history (and the Royal Shakespeare’s) has been taken down, seemingly in secret and without so much as a goodbye-old-friend-type-ceremony. Shame on the Town and The RSC.

 

If you know why this tree was dismantled please let me know in Comments. Thanks.

StratMan.

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something completely different

EU

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Heroes and Villains

You know, all those years ago when I first started commenting on Stratford-upon-Avon, there were two things that used to crop up with annoying frequency.

One. Dog shit. council

 &

dog shit

                                                                           Two. The Town Council.                                                                               

Interestingly enough, these days they are hardly worth a mention.

Dog poo has vanished from the agenda because, some might say, people pick it up and take it home. There may be some truth in this but I’m not convinced it’s the whole story. I don’t believe for one minute that there’s been a huge swell of civic pride or that dog-owners have suddenly become aware that their furry friends harbour all sorts of horribly diseases. I think there’s another reason why piles of the brown stuff (you don’t see white dog poo anymore do you?) have suddenly ceased to be.

I’d like to think it was the threat of a fine but because the dirty deed and the dirty do-er in most cases will have long since left the scene of the crime it can’t be that. And anyway, signs threatening prosecution are far and few between.

Thinking about it, I believe it is something to do with where dog owners take their doggy friends for walkies.

For instance, where I live there are a couple of large fields well within walking and therefore shitting distance. Early mornings these vast expanses are full of dog people and dogs all doing their business before work.

I suppose in one sense it’s a good thing. However, it’s one less place for the kids to play isn’t it? You obviously wouldn’t want your children flying their kites on these fields but hey…I suppose its better than returning from the Coop with a turd clinging to your smart shoes.

The Town Council is an interesting one.

In the old days one blamed them for everything. From the ‘Disneyfication’ of Stratford-upon-Avon i.e. too many Americans. To the blocking of pavements by the previously mentioned Americans (there-bye stopping you from stepping in dog shit – ha. Every cloud does have a silver lining). But all that seems to have ended too. There are hardly any American tourists anymore (replaced with the Japanese) and the Town Council seem more inactive than they ever used to be.

Their influence is hardly felt anymore as Stratford realises it doesn’t need anyone from officialdom to drive it to ruin. Ruin is something it is now quite capable of driving itself.The other thing is there are no identifiable Pantomime Villains in power anymore. There’s no-one left to boo and hiss at.  ‘The Saint’ (da-da-da-da-da-da-daaaa. See what I did there?) has retired from mischief-making (SDC) and those left seem oddly respectful, although Tory.  Still, time will tell.

My own hope left that might liven up the old place, is that our MP will make another brilliant mistake and become a headline for a week or two. But to be honest these days and since the warm horse debacle, he’s being very careful and staying out of the limelight more than usual. Also, since receiving his much wanted promotion (any promotion) as a Children and Families Minister so soon after the Jimmy Saville scandal, it makes sense to curtail any nefarious activities that I’m sure he doesn’t partake in anyway.

dog clean up

StratMan.

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Breaking News. Amanda Chalmers to leave as Editor of the Herald

For all my mickey-taking of the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald and its gossamer-like pages.

For all my ‘hilarious’ comments about its constant and on-going unsuccessful search for News in the news-free zone that is Stratford-upon-Avon.

For all my ‘jokes’ regarding possible headlines...’Man’s hat blows off in High Street’…

I don’t apologise…

But…I would like to praise Amanda Chalmers and the new ‘feel’ she gave to The Stratford-upon-Avon Herald. In my view she (almost) turned a lacklustre, boring, Dickensian broadsheet into something a little more Community driven. Dare I say the paper (almost) became Crusading in its editorial content and in its efforts to present an actual point of view.

I’d like to think that she was driven out of her post but of course I have no evidence for that. Mind you,  there the sad fact that the paper remains steadfastly Broadsheet (not a decision Ms Chalmers might have made?), instead of the more sensible Tabloid. Although such decisions were, I believe way above her pay grade, one can’t help being bothered by other rulings the Hearst-like Boyden family have made. It is often rumoured that the Boydens have banned computers from the Herald premises based on their belief that they are works of the devil, whilst at the same time, insisting all male staff should wear starched winged-collars whilst on the premises. (No staff available to comment at this time).

Anyway, a sad day. Together we could have achieved so much. Whatever your reasons for leaving Ms Chalmers good luck in your new life. Take heart that there were a small band of readers that greatly appreciated your efforts.

StratMan.

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Seedy is Good

Stratford-upon-Avon

I’ve just been to have a look at the new (what would you call it), housing complex(?)  The almost ready buildings stand where the (appropriately) cattle market used to be and opposite Stratford-upon-Avon Railway Station and you know what? I love it.

I have to disagree with the multitude of naysayers and miserable sods who say it’s dismal, looks like a prison and not at all appertaining to the sophistication and style that Stratford-upon-Avon is known for (*cough).

Although I actually agree with all those descriptions I think there is a positive side. I actually believe think that the ‘natural disaster’ that some are predicting, is exactly what this old Market Town wants, now, right now…in this its hour of need.

The Cattle Market Project/The Arden Quarter (?) has all the makings of a place that in a few years’ time will develop an amazing living, breathing personality of its own.

Just look at it.

There are corners and crevasses where the sun will never shine. Everything is so cramped and squashed up together that the streets will give the impression of being rain-lashed even when it’s not raining. On a hot day it will be baking, and at night fierce and biting winds will hurl around every corner. Lamp posts will throw moody circles of light on to a litter-strewn pavement and it will be fantastic.

And it’s blindingly obvious what will happen next.

It will become the place to go.

Café’s playing sultry jazz will spring up overnight. There will be never-ending card games in smoke-filled rooms. Ladies of the Night will congregate on the dark, damp corners to harass passengers alighting the late-night London trains, both coming and going. Artists, authors, philosophers and pimps will populate the bars and restaurants that will serve exotic food and stay open to the early hours.

Drugs will not be in short supply. Friendly and nonchalant Policemen will  pass through lazily waving at groups of randy folk all out for a good time with a knowing, ‘just behave yourself and all will be well’-type nods. Political pamphlets denouncing Nadhim Zahawi will be stuck randomly to the new but crumbling brickwork and all will be welcome to the on-going celebrations.

In short, it will be wonderful.

It will add the character to this charmless little town that it has long needed.

The question that people like me have always asked….’how can you have a town that prides itself on artistic endeavour without the danger that naturally follows such work’, will be finally answered. Stratford-upon-Avon will no longer remind one of Dylan Thomas without the drink.

At last, at long, long last there will be a much-welcomed stain on Stratford-upon-Avon’s up until now, pristine bed sheets.

And to that I say Hurrah.

StratMan.

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The Art of Standing Still

The word on the street is that over the past few years tourist numbers to Stratford-upon-Avon have grown. If this is true I can only assume that the more visitors we get in Stratford then the less money they spend. Otherwise, why else would there be so many empty shops and according to the press, more to come? Someone somewhere, I’m afraid, in an effort to make us feel better about the town’s economy, is telling porkies. However, putting that to one side for a moment, let me refer to something that is definitely, increasing. Street Entertainment.

The humble Busker.

Over the past few years there had been a growth in the numbers of ‘entertainers’ on Stratford’s narrow by-ways. Some talented, most not. The noise levels have increased with the advent of battery-driven amplifiers that are constantlyreminding us what a golden age the 60’s was for music. But not only that…

If I hear Nessun Dorma one more time or another selection from Lloyd-Webber musicals (I use that term loosely), I shall scream and get down on my knees to pray for a return of the Morris Dancers that jingled and jangled on the pavements before the plaque wiped them all out a few years ago. I refer of course to that larger young gentleman who stands opposite the Garrick on a Saturday morning, and with the aid of a microphone, shouts.

[It always amazes me, that the British General Public go misty eyed at the sound of popular opera and bear no resentment to the fact that they are not allowed into the bigger opera houses to watch the real thing. It’s almost as though they know their place].

Anyway, it is the most recent addition to this so-called street entertainment that causes me the most concern. I worry about the proliferation of the ‘Living Statue’.

entertainment. the living statueThe ‘Living Statue’ requires no perceivable talent at all. Unless of course one considers the ability to stand still and not require the lavatory for long periods of time, a talent. What is required however is what appears a small monetary lay-out. There’s make-up to buy, how much depending on what character one chooses to ‘play’. Some rapidly hardening paint, hard enough to render the costume as much like stone as possible. Possibly a sword (character-led) but most definitely a box to stand on. And that’s it. From my own observations it would seem that out of all the street entertainment in Stratford-upon-Avon, the ‘living statue’ is the most lucrative.

So impressed am I at this lazy way of raking in the cash from gullible citizens, I myself have formulated a plan to improve upon it. A fool safe way of relieving the Great British Public of even more of their hard earned cash.

It took much thought and was not without its failures. My first idea was to replace my ‘living statue’ with a dummy. Simple enough I thought. Why had no-one thought of this before I asked myself? The answer of course was obvious. There would probably be a good chance of fisticuffs at the end of the day especially when it came to clearing the er…’performance area’. Spotted by your ‘supporters’ and you could guarantee that most of your audience would want their money back by fair means or foul.

But then…it came to me.

My ‘living statue’ would be a portrayal of The Invisible man. All it would require would be the box and a sign stating identifying what the audience was looking at i.e.…’The Invisible Man’.

That, and a large hat to receive the never-ending contributions from an adoring public.

entertainment

Cha-ching!

Stratman.

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And it’s Hola and Welcome to Bell-Court.

bell court stratford-upon-avonYou know what…and I have to admit this is probably not how things are going to continue. I thought I’d start of by writing something nice. Something in Praise of Stratford. I thought I’d start of by saying how much I am enjoying Bell-Court (or whatever it’s called now).

Me and some remnants of my family went for a meal at the Steakhouse (Bell-Court) the other evening and I have to say I really enjoyed myself, and I’m not just referring to the meal.

Having lived through all the incarnations of Bell-Court, it looks like they (whoever ‘they’ are) have at last, GOT IT RIGHT.

OK, so it needs a nice warm evening to truly appreciate the European feel of a 5 minute stroll through its entirety but everything about it feels good. From the twinkly lights in the pavement, to the soft colours of the buildings and advertising. My first thought was to hope fervently that it would survive a Stratford-upon-Avon winter with its low footfall and rushed Japanese tourists. Hopefully, that has been thought through. There is however, a greater threat.

Yes indeed, Bell-Court is a real if tiny taste of Europe. For one brief moment there, I thought I was in Barcelona.

Which is a shame considering in a few weeks’ time anything vaguely ‘foreign’ is due to be banished from these shores.

Thanks to a bunch of unimaginative ‘little Englanders’, dining outside will be banned. And for those who must eat, they will find themselves dining from my Aunty Doris’ discarded 1950’s dining table and four chairs, ladling soggy pale green vegetables on to chipped china plates covered in a thin layer of watery gravy. Gruel Britannia.

Places like Bell-Court will fall into disrepair. The cinema in an effort to survive will start showing ‘Carry On’ films and anything with Kenneth More in but it won’t work. After a few weeks without an audience it will become a homeless shelter. While Bell-Court itself will become the favourite haunt of drunks and drug addicts.

Screwed up copies of last week’s Sun will roll like tumbleweed riding on the cold breeze that will cut through what was once an attractive walk-way. ‘Blue Nun’ will make a return as our most exotic drink of choice. And the smell of fried food will fight with traffic fumes to win the ‘Stratford aroma of the Year’ award.

The fact is, Bell-Court is a minor triumph. Unfortunately, we don’t deserve it.

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