‘Venice Preserved’ or How I learnt to go with the flow at the RSC.

Damn, I love the theatre. It’s one huge playground. A wonderful play-barn where everyone can pretend. From the Actors who play and pretend to be the characters they are playing to the Audience who pretend they know what’s going on before their very eyes.

I’ve just had a great couple of hours trying to make sense of the latest ‘play that hasn’t been performed for 400 years’, the never boring ‘Venice Preserved’.  I say it wasn’t boring because I approach all plays over a hundred years old in the same way. Like a crossword. As best as I can I analyse the lines thrown at me at increasingly high speed and treat them as I would a clue, with each solved piece of dialogue bringing me to a closer understand of what the hell is going on. And so, it was with ‘Venice Preserved’. If only I had, had as long as the cast to research the text. A month might have done it. 28 days solid of slowing the words spoken, to a speed whereby every sentence could be broken down for its meaning.  The performers don’t know how lucky they are. (Do they ever feel sorry for us the audience, who have a couple of hours to make sense of a long-dead language? A language they have spent the last few months, at their leisure, interpreting?)

At one time I would have apologised for my lack of understanding, (no confidence) but the fact is, we don’t speak like that anymore. And at speed the language becomes impenetrable. And hey, I know I wasn’t the only one having difficulty. In conversation with my squashed in neighbours we all had the same problem…basically, ’er what did they just say?’ But as I said, I did enjoy myself and surely that is the end result wanted by all involved.

I didn’t understand the directors desire to express this play as ‘noir’, I thought that a little more than an affectation. But was relieved he didn’t feel it necessary to introduce dark, balaclava-ed SAS men armed to the teeth, abseiling down from the flies (see previous directors). However, like other productions I’ve seen recently, it’s unfortunate (in my view) that heavy modern music seems to be a ‘thing’ this year.

So, my verdict?

Good to look at. The basic story not too hard to grasp even without understandable dialogue. Good acting in most cases and a comedy break to relieve any stress headache beginning to form.

I would say go and see. But be like me, don’t spend more than 16 quid.

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Why I haven’t written anything lately.

This is a sort of apology. I say ‘sort of’ because I’m not really sure who I am apologising to. I like to think it’s to the readers of my blog but to be honest, I’m not sure I have any readers, at least not regular ones.

Anyway, what I what to apologise for is not fulfilling the obligation I set myself. The task of writing regularly on my blog, ‘The Stratfordian’. A task I have failed miserably at.

My excuse?

I like to refer to it as a ‘Log-Jam’.

My head over the past few months has been in turmoil. And that is because I feel as though we (me) are in what is biblically known as ‘The End of Days’. My anxiety over Brexit and the evil musings that continually broadcast from the dark side have drained my energy. Farage, Johnson, Rees-Mogg, that awful Tommy Robinson bloke and the rest of their storm troopers have, as is their wont, sucked me dry.

The realisation that evil never dies has set itself well in my brain. The bastards are always there. Like a disease they become immune to past vaccines and spring back to life to spread their hatred. Seemingly disposed of by historic wars and heroic sacrifices they resurrect again and again, these, the devil’s children telling us for various and insane reasons that we should be hating each other rather than celebrating our differences. Such are their terrifying influences that I do really begin to wonder that those stories that have God and the devil fighting some kind of on-going battle have more than an element of truth about them. A war, where we are like pieces in a celestial chess game, sacrificed in moves that help whatever side forward towards victory. In other words, a fucking game.

OK, so I am probably mad. But as I get older, I see nothing but chaos. I see no God with our welfare at heart. If He’s there, He’s weeping at our own foolishness. Our inability to realise that it is up to us. That He does not intervene. That the Church is headquarters. A place to ponder over our next move, not somewhere to hide and hope that God will react to our desperate, screaming telepathic thoughts, that we pathetically call prayer.

Amen.

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Lord have mercy…

Is it ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ where we see the peasants praising the qualities of different types of mud, as King Richard ‘rides’ by? I only ask because it seems to me that we are sinking further and further into a Monty Python kind of world. And I’m not (necessarily) talking about Brexit.

It feels that we, unaided, (i.e. there is no-one else to blame) have fallen into a kind of time-warp. To put it simply, we appear to have allowed ourselves once again to become ‘ruled’ (See: History. Or, ‘what goes around comes around’) by a group of people who feel fully entitled to do so based on wealth, education and who they know. In short, a group of people who we, as usual have nothing in common with. A group of people who believe wholeheartedly, that they know, better than we do.

zahawi

Let’s start by way of illustration with our local MP (Nadhim Zahawi) who is (good for him) a multi-millionaire. In other words, he has nothing in common with the majority of the people he represents. He has a privileged life-style which is a complete mystery to us poor people and I am not talking about his political persuasion. He has no experience of how the ordinary citizen lives present-day. If he ever did, he will, if he has any sense, have put it behind him.

At this point let me say I have nothing against multi-millionaires. I would like to be one myself. The difference being that I hope I would be realistic enough to realise that I have stepped over the imaginary line that separates me from people who worry about paying the gas or electric bill. I will have transcended everyday problems and worries. I will still have problems, but they will be different than they used to be. I will have moved up the worry tree a few levels. I.e. ‘What will be the tax consequences if I buy another couple of houses?’, rather than ‘where is the nearest food bank?’

As hard as he might try to understand his constituents, it is an impossibility. Everything about our lives that he thinks has knowledge of is and will be second-hand. In other words, he has not experienced our various and common situations for himself. The days of the cotton mill owner improving the lives of his workers, is over. We have our own spokes men and women now. The rich mill owners like Zahawi, Rees-Mogg et al need to step aside or let history repeat itself and be prepared to be pushed.

As far as I’m concerned, a Member of Parliament who works well is one concerned about the plight of ‘his/her people’ and has at some time in his/her life ‘lived’ or at the very least, touched upon the everyday situations that his constituents experience every day. (OK, so this Stratford upon Avon, but you get my point)?

In my opinion Zahawi has proved himself unfit for purpose on a couple of occasions. Who can forget his botched attempt to claim on expenses re the heating for his stables? Can you imagine such a claim being so easily forgotten in another area other than Stratford upon Avon where horses and stables abound? Of course not. Mister Zahawi’s manner is that of the oil executive. More at home in the board room than on the factory floor. His ambition is raw and obvious for all to see. And now his blind obedience to Mrs May has rewarded him with a position to represent Children and Family, a group it has to be said, that this government has gone out of their way to reduce to poverty.

I don’t know what Zahawi is like at dinner parties, I’ve never been invited to one. He’s probably a very nice man who knows how to treat people, especially those better placed than him. I’m sure he knows how to hold an audience with amusing tales of the boardroom and of livery, but as a representative of the people…nope.

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‘Kunene and the King’ with Anthony Sher and John Kani.

anthony sher and John KaniEver since (as a stagehand) I helped Anthony Sher up onto his wooden horse in Dick the Shit (Richard III) he has been my favourite stage actor. However, and this I admit is weird, I don’t know what it is he does to make him so. It’s a mystery, and I like it that way. And here he is again doing whatever it is he does, in ‘Kunene and the King’ a fantastically enjoyable play written by the other member of                                                                                 the two man show, John Kani.

At first glance (and isn’t that always the most important one) a simple story about a Carer (Kani) and a dying famous actor (Sher), it cleverly weaves in Shakespeare’s ‘Lear’ a role that Sher’s actor prepares for but (spoiler-alert) never gets to perform.

I will never make a good reviewer of the Arts especially the theatre. When I get to see a good play, it is a waste of time me trying to dissect it into its relevant good parts. For me ‘a good play’ (I’m lucky that way) is something I never finish with. A ‘good play’, stays with me for weeks, every now and then allowing me a new discovery, a sudden eureka moment to savour and reflect on. And so, it is with ‘Kunene and the King’. It made me laugh and it made me cry and that is the best I can say. Except of course, Sher as usual, baffling me with his stupendous and mysterious talent.

For a highly entertaining evening I order you to go and see this brilliant production.

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Bash a Burglar?

I note that Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip (Harry) Seccombe has admitted that the 101 service is a load of crap, (The Stratford upon Avon Herald 21st March & I paraphrase), which must beg the question, ‘this being so, are we within our rights to bash a burglar and take the law into our own hands’?

Speaking for myself, if I find,  for instance, a nere-do-well on my property without an invite, AND the designated service (i.e. The police) are unable to attend, I would feel perfectly justified, in an effort to protect my innocent family, in causing the footpad great pain using a blunt instrument of my own choosing.

What view would the Law take?

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Excerpts from The Book of Stratford upon Avon.

‘The William’. Chapter 1. V.1-9

1…and it came to pass that in that town a child of great wisdom was born. 2. Such greatness did God bestow upon him that in later years the people did build a temple to his name. 3. Pilgrims from many lands came to lay at this wise man’s feet plaudits and praise. 4. So much were the people in awe of the wise man that they forgot their God and lay the wise man shoulder to shoulder with God in God’s own temple to be worshipped with God. 5. And God was displeased and sent fire to destroy the temple to the wise man. And the wise man’s temple fell to ashes. 6. Such was the people’s blindness and deafness to the word of God that the temple was rebuilt once more in the wise man’s name. 7. And God wept at foolishness of his beloved. 8. Yet In his infinite mercy he granted his children another chance, wishing upon them the ability to see their own unfaithfulness and make good. 9. God, being in no great hurry and aware of the flaws in his creation, drums his Holy fingers on his Holy table and waits.

‘The Wheel’. Chapter 5. V 1-5.

1…and in this land they built a giant wheel for the people to ride. 2. And those that chose to revolve upon the wheel were taken to great heights to observe land and rooftops. 3. And the wheel did revolve thrice. 4. Whereupon the mighty wheel’s passengers witnessed the same land and rooftops they had witnessed before. 5. And the people were mightily and easily pleased.

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The Royal Shakespeare Theatre – Crumbs from the High Table.

Let’s get one thing clear. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is without doubt, world class. The quality of its output is second to none and its pool of talent, well-chosen. Its record speaks for itself and anyone who says otherwise is an ignoramus and probably related to Donald Trump.

The RSC likes to refer to itself as a family, which I’m afraid is where I start to experience difficulty. As one of its Stage Managers said to me…(I paraphrase)…

‘Back in the day when there were about 500 employees, I knew everyone’s name, we were close, we were like a family…now there are over a thousand of us and I know hardly anyone. I’m glad I’m leaving. The organisation has become faceless’.

I knew exactly what he meant. Although times of course change and the old RSC contained many shall we say, ‘work practises’ that needed to be addressed, it has become as my friend put it, ‘faceless’, an institution. Whereas there used to be an emphasis on ‘community’ or to put it more simply a desire to be part of Stratford upon Avon and all that, that means, what we have now are numerous different companies for different plays and a sea of red lanyards dangling from the necks of frequent strangers. The heart has gone missing.

There was a time when the RSC seemed mightily concerned about its profile in Stratford upon Avon. About how it was seen by the residents of Stratford upon Avon, theatre-goers and non-theatre-goers alike. There was a sense that the RSC was a hub. That part of its ‘duty’ (unwritten?) was to act as a missionary to all thing’s theatre. To spread the word. There was even theatre ‘seasons’ where locals/non-professionals (if you like), were encouraged to display their talents. Now, our pat on the head, our sugar lump is cheap tickets and if you are lucky enough to work for the RSC, a chance for your local theatre group to use the RSC’S facilities. (If this sounds like ‘sour grapes’, it is). And therein lies my point.

I am of the opinion that the Royal Shakespeare should do more. I believe, that there are 16 million reasons (£16 Million from Arts Council) why the RSC should step up to the plate and truly invite the local theatre community in. I’m sick to death of ‘Them and Us’.

And I almost gagged when the RSC put on *Miss Littlewood and then went back to their old ways without a flicker.

In Stratford upon Avon there are small fringe theatre companies (only called fringe because they have no funds) who need help. And by help, I mean space. Space in which to rehearse, experiment etc. I know for a fact that the RSC has the space. I know that there are large rooms that lie empty for days at a time. Rooms, that small companies like mine would die for (yes, I have a small, very small theatre company) because we can’t afford the £10/12 per hour (going rate) that church halls and the like in the area, charge.

So, my plea to the RSC is to remember who you are.

If the conclusion is you are a business and nothing else, then hand back your arts council grant, cut your cloth, be honest and just go out to make a profit. If you still have the desire and haven’t forgotten about the healing power of theatre…help us out.

* FUN PALACES

In 1961, Littlewood and the architect Cedric Price dreamt up the ‘Fun Palace’, a radical space in the East End where local people could come together to enjoy and celebrate the arts, but their dreams were left devastated after issues with land and funding. However, in 2014 writer and theatre  maker Stella Duffy called a session at Devoted and Disgruntled asking for support to celebrate Littlewood’s centenary in October 2014. The response to the idea of creating local Fun Palaces across the UK was huge and Duffy co-founded the Fun Palaces campaign with producer Sarah-Jane Rawlings. Littlewood and Price’s vision is now an ongoing campaign for locally-led culture at the heart of community and an annual weekend of action, championing Littlewood’s words “I really do believe in the genius in every person.”

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Now I get it…Why Turkeys Vote for Christmas.

I’ve been meaning to post this for some time now but have only just stopped laughing.

Anyway, this is a picture from ‘The Style Book’ (*cough) in The Observer a couple of Sundays ago.

And it is Thanks to this amazing picture that I have had an epiphany. I now know where we are going, it explains everything. I am no longer a soul lost in the wilderness. I finally ‘get’  why Trump, Brexit, all the idiot politicians and social commentators home and abroad have taken over the world.

I now understand why we have so-called ex-pats voting for the ending of freedom of movement and their own downfall. I Understand now and at last, why so many Turkeys voted for Christmas. It’s not just them, it’s all of us.

We’re all fucking mad…

It all finally makes sense…and here was me, worried…tush.

 

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Peony Pagoda poorly positioned.

FFS.

All joking aside…what Council Knob-Head decided to build the Peony Pagoda down that end of  The Firs? #namethattwerp

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The Peony Pagoda Plot thickens…

I see this amazing gift from China has mysteriously began to cause accidents at an already traffic black spot. And to some it has also now become (even though not yet constructed), a ‘monstrosity’ AND an ‘eyesore’.

As indignation, dissent and anger rises from the most surprising of quarters, I wait for…

‘Unless the Council reject the placement of this gift, it won’t be long before The Firs is over-run with wandering, long-haired and flute-playing,🤜🙏 Kung Fu masters.’

pagoda

‘I look for The Firs. For it is there I will find the Peace I am searching for’.

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62 quid!

62 quid

feeling ripped off?

On one hand, I’ve always been a great fan of the cinema/flicks/movies and on the other, like many of my age group, I stopped going quite a few years ago.

The main reason I think was the fact that I didn’t like the ‘new system’ that came in. A system that suddenly decided that I could only go and see One Movie per sitting for my money. No more two movies side by side. Once I could get an ‘A’ movie and a ‘B’ movie (whatever that was) and a guarantee that I would spend much more than an hour and a half in a nice warm, dark environment, snuggling up (or worse) to someone I fancied, (oh what tales I could tell-with an interval for ice cream).

On Monday I ventured out to see the Lego Movie (2) (Film immaterial – I did it for my Grandchildren). And it took me about an hour of the same ads you get on the tele (only bigger and louder), to decide I wish I hadn’t bothered. When the main (the only) film eventually began, the grandchild whose treat it was,  spread his popcorn all over the floor just before falling asleep. Out for the count while the film he really wanted to see played out over his snores. The whole sorry exercise costing me...wait for it£62.

62 quid!

…and I wasn’t even one of the hungry hordes who seemed to ordering a constant supply of fried food. As ‘waitresses’ flitted too and fro in front of the screen laden down with trays of drinks, the odour of burnt sausages’ made me think I was at the mop, expecting any minute my comfy (and sticky) sofa might begin to revolve.

All in all, it was a horrifying experience. The one grand-kid who remained conscious for the whole hour and a bit seemed unimpressed, while mister sleepy-birthday-boy has no recollection at all of the expensive birthday present and I still have a headache.

Never again. Netflix here I come.

62 quid!

 

 

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Gets my Goat – Advertising

I’ve never been a big fan of advertising (gets my goat) and have always considered it ‘the real Big Brother’, ‘the eye in the sky’. I think, as the years have gone by my fears with the appearance of Facebook and the like, my fears have become justified.

gets my goatOne of the things that really gets my goat about how these incredibly wealthy organisations operate, is the way they assume willy-nilly that they can interrupt our lives, when and where they feel like it.

I am not french

‘I am not French…’

Whether it’s a large billboard that dangerously interrupts our concentration when we are *driving, or (the one I hate the most), their (the advertising companies) desire to interrupt our thought processes when we are trying to sort out the latest episode of Poirot.

I made a conscious decision, years ago never to purchase any product that does any of the above and have largely stuck by that. Laughing in the face of all kinds of sparkling tit-bits, monetary offers and other temptations I have retained my anger at these devilish manipulators and refused to buy their soiled goods.

I have openly scoffed at their attempts in some sad ‘newspapers’ to seduce me into purchasing, ‘Chum elasticated trousers’. Their badly photographed plastic shoes without laces that look like dead pig’s noses have no truck with me and as far as pullovers (men and women’s) that were over-stocked in the 1950’s and have just been re-discovered in some forgotten warehouse down by the docks, well, you know where to stick them.

Sometimes, I am glad to say, advertising firms are hoisted by their own petard. Their efforts to become ‘our friends’ are pathetic and a wonderful waste of their ill-gotten gains. The ad below is a wonderful example of their own stupidity, bringing with it so many amusing scenarios and questions….

Have fun.fast cremation

* Has there ever been a prosecution for ‘distraction by advert?

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Skylight’ at The Loft Theatre Leamington Spa

Last night I spent a smashing evening at The Loft Theatre in Leamington watching ‘Skylight’ by David Hare.

Although the subject matter, Middle-Class Angst, is not dear to my heart, it was a brilliantly acted and directed piece. For the first time in a long time for me, the difference between Amateur acting  and Professional was sufficiently blurred not to make any difference what so ever. Too tight to buy a programme, I can’t remember the actor’s names but can at least point you to The Loft Theatre Company Website, where you will find all the information that you need for a very interesting evening.

A Great Bar too.

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Disgusted of Stratford upon Avon

In an effort to quell (‘quell’ – there’s a word you don’t see very often) my anger I found myself having to take a swift walk around the river (me – in my state of health).

‘’Why, gentle writer?’, I hear you say. ‘What has led you to this uncomfortable state of affairs? You, of such a kind, peaceful persona…why has the red mist descended, clouded and disturbed one such as you? A receptacle of kindness, love…why?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

First of all, I’m sick to death of this Brexit march toward obvious disaster. I’m fed up because no-one has come forward to tell me what is going to be good about us Leaving the EU. I have asked many, many times. All I get is pumped-up and THICK little Britishers telling me WE won the war so we should be able to get through this. So, my question still remains, WHY?

Also, I’m fed up to the nines, (‘the nines’, my mum used to say that, I have no idea what it means), with watching my daughter attempting to raise thousands of pounds to fight for justice in a Court of Law. A friend of mine is in the same boat. Justice should be a human right. Not something only, the rich can afford.

Both these cases are the Family courts and both concern Child Custody. In my friend’s case the court has already passed a judgement in his favour, but the other party is choosing to ignore it. Because of chronic underfunding within the court system, on-one is apparently able to enforce the courts verdict.

A Disgraceful state of affairs.

Finally, I know this sounds trivial, but this has really got my goat (Goat?)

After the Duke’s road accident, I couldn’t believe my eyes when John Sentamu The Very Holier than thou Archbishop of York released a creepy-crawly prayer for the Duke’s well-being.

Almighty God, the Fountain of all Goodness,We humbly beseech thee to bless Philip Duke of Edinburgh:Endue him with thy Holy Spirit; enrich him with thy Heavenly Grace; prosper him with all happiness; and bring him to thine everlasting kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Yuck.

Seeping in the brown-nosing language of the old and best forgotten irrelevant language of the prayer book (there, I’ve said it), Sentamu *forgets the victims of the ancient Duke’s bad driving and seems to be angling for next years honours list.

*Although a lackey obviously reminded him that there were other people involved and a prayer for them appeared later, the whole episode still made me feel sick.

Enough already.

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You know what you can do with your Chinese Peony Pavilion…

Interesting to note that when I searched for ‘Stratford upon Avon’s Chinese Pagoda’ all I got was a list of eating houses. Of course what I should have searched for was ‘Stratford upon Avon’s Chinese Peony Pavilion’. However, my mistake and the results I received, neatly sums up the lack of good grace of some of Stratford’s citizens in their acceptance of this splendid gift from the People’s Government of Fuzhou Municipality in China, and the People’s Government’s attempts to continue the China-UK cultural exchange.

Rather than say thank you very much just what we needed etc, etc what we ended up with was a study in what the British do best. Complaining. And not only that, but that well-known sick-making British speciality…Complaining in an overly polite and well-spoken manner whilst wearing a hat.

A load of disgruntled Stratfordians complaining Brexit-like about their Council and the decision to place the thing (the peony pavilion) in The Firs Garden. We were even presented on TV with an embarrassing video documenting their pathetic objections (too embarrassing to show here). What we got was over-blown indignation that such a thing should be placed in ‘their backyard’. Classic Nimbyism. With the usual British attitude towards change, this group of puffed up complainers expelled enough hot air to float their own balloon. From, ‘this is too far off the tourist trail’ to a pompous, nonsensical statement on the lines of…

“Firs Gardens is a tranquil oasis. The erection of a pavilion, designed to be viewed by large numbers of visitors to the town, goes against the whole concept of this space and as it is nowhere near the other attractions in Henley Street area of town, is *doomed to be an eyesore that would quickly become neglected.”

The Firs is actually a nice spot. I taught my kids to ride their bikes amongst its selection of beautiful trees, homeless and the very drunk. To call it tranquil oasis is a little over-the-top considering it is totally surrounded by a couple of thumping main roads (not to mention the red-brick Police Station) If a Peony Pavilion will do anything it will brighten the place up, and I get the feeling that Marie Corelli who bought the Firs in 1910 and gifted it to the town, was eccentric enough to approve of the Peony Pavilion Placement.

It’s interesting to note that ‘ A Chinese pavilion is a type of covered structure without surrounding walls and is a traditional part of Chinese architecture. While often found within temples, pavilions are not exclusively religious structures. Many Chinese parks and gardens feature pavilions to provide shade and a place to rest.   

*Nostradamus?

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Bah Humbug…

On Friday me and specially chosen members of the brood went to see ‘A Christmas Carol’ and I have to say…I was underwhelmed.

Maybe it was something to do with all the publicity surrounding the project. Let’s face it, ACC has been written about in glowing terms by all the critics and the audience reaction has been positive all round. Seems everybody had a Christmas ball. That is until I came along. I’m sorry, but this curmudgeon was unimpressed.

Since I came back unmoved on Friday evening, I’ve been racking my brains to try to discover what it was about A Christmas Carol that left me so ‘empty’.

Of course, it’s a great Christmas story. In other words, a load of sentimental tosh designed to twiddle the Christmas heart strings. But you know that before you take your seat. I knew perfectly well what I was getting for my money, so it couldn’t have been that. I was even prepared to shed a few crocodile tears. But they didn’t come.

The acting was fine. A little too much poncing about for my liking. Too much striding. For me there’s nothing worse that actors striding (usually in tight leather trousers). Chest out, huge steps whilst declaiming to the far distance. It wasn’t that.

The music was fine. Even the ‘dancing‘ was tolerable.

A particular dislike of mine are Child Actors. The fact of the matter is that it is rare to come across kids who can actually act. Plus the fact their little voices don’t carry which I felt was a problem in this production. Also, they always look like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths. So bloody sweet and innocent. Annoying. Personally, I think they (the RSC) would do better employing short people in the roles of children. However, the presence of children actors was not enough to make me dislike this over-done famous Christmas romp.

In the end I think it might have been the David Edgar script. It seemed rushed. Like he only took it on because it was a good earner and as the story had been done to death over the years he (David Edgar) didn’t have to put too much work into it. A dead giveaway that I might be right was the fact that the ending was very abrupt and sudden. I’m also a little suspicious that the Royal Shakespeare repeated themselves (same Christmas show as last year, albeit with a different Scrooge). Maybe they couldn’t afford a new Christmas show-Only joking.

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A Funny Old Day…

MORNING.

Just over a month ago I visited a recently taken over Stratford upon Avon Theatre & Entertainment establishment in an effort to find out about hire. Unfortunately, the very nice man on counter couldn’t help me as the person with the relevant knowledge wasn’t available. So I asked for a brochure. Anything that contained information that might allow me to know the price to hire a space to put a play on. Nothing available. ‘Fair enough’ said me to myself, ‘they haven’t been in business for that long so perhaps the relevant info was at the printers – I know, I’ll leave my card, so they can get in touch with me’. I did. They didn’t.

I visited again today, still keen for the information. This time no one on the counter. Empty. Deserted. I waited, telling myself…‘maybe they had been called away by er…nature’. But no. Nothing. I left. Seems a strange way to do business.

AFTERNOON.

Went, as I often do to the Other Place for a coffee. Found a nice seat not far from a Mother and Son having ‘words’.

I paraphrase…

MOTHER:             How’s your Japanese girlfriend? What was her name…oh yes…Iwo Jima.

SON:                     You know full well that’s not her name. That was a Japanese Island fought over by the  Americans in WWII.

MOTHER:             Anyway, how are your friends at University?

SON:                      What friends?

MOTHER:             I don’t know…Tom & Jerry.

SON:                      I have no friends called Tom or Jerry.

I know it’s bad manners, to listen in but I was enjoying the conversation and hoped, to be honest, things might escalate, but sadly they finished their food and left…

Only to return a few moments later. I settled in for round two.

Only to hear them repeat the same conversation, word for word.

You guessed it. They were going over the lines of a script.

When it’s on I do not know but I will most certainly do my very best to find out and definitely go and see it.

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Stratford upon Avon Rumour Mill set to rise to 11.

The streets of Stratford upon Avon are running hot rumour. The rumour being that the first of Mister Bird’s family projects is about to close. If true, and the MAYBIRD shopping centre is set to close* and give itself over to housing, then it looks like a large number of well-known shops will find themselves without a home.

Personally, I’ve always been of the opinion that Stratford upon Avon’s so-called (at least by me) ‘first citizen’, Tony Bird was the harbinger of doom when he built the Maybird out-of-town all those years ago. He caused and his baby is still causing the slow death of the town centre. But hey, when you have the kind of influence that he has, i.e.Local boy makes Good. You more or less can do anything that you like without too much opposition.

[Just as an aside, does anyone remember the rumours when the Maybird site was being cleared that it was going to be an athletics track?]

Assuming that there is some truth behind the rumours, AND using our imagination to pretend we have a Council with brains. I think that this could be a wonderful opportunity to revive Stratford upon Avon High Street. An all out effort to take the focus off out-of-town shopping and an open-arms-welcome-back to individual shops with individual owners could be the injection of energy that S-on-A needs. Innovation and surprise and a return to the days when shopping was a voyage of discovery rather that the drudge it has become. (OK, a little over the top but you know what I mean).

Let the Maybird get on with it is what I say. Let them move so far out of town that they fall off the edge of the world. While here in Stratford town centre we can welcome individuality back. No more stack ’em high mentality of the High Street giants. It’s a long time since we were ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ and I see nothing wrong in returning to the time when retail cared (when was that then? ED). The time is right. The big names are coming to the end of their lives anyway. They’re dropping like flies. Their lack of imagination and greed starving them of footfall and therefore profit so it’s just a matter of time.

On Thursday, the next extremely thin edition of the Stratford upon Herald comes out and we shall know the truth. I can’t wait.

*Rumour has it that the shops on the Maybird will actually be relocated somewhere in the wilds of Bishopton.

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Nest of Vipers

As we are all aware the new year is a time to reassess. A time to look a little deeper into our lives and see what can be changed for the better. Unfortunately, and at the moment we are in very strange times what with an idiot in the White House and a government in the UK that has given up the ghost. All of which doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room if you care about the hardships some people have to live with and the root causes of those hardships.

I am lucky. Although I live surrounded by a Nest of Vipers (Tory Country) I’m OK. I’m older now and don’t have the same bunch of worries I had when I was up-and-coming. I like living in Stratford and have learnt to put up with the Tory hierarchy who dread change and live for profit. (My part in this devil’s bargain is to oppose in whatever way I can their local decisions). It truly pains and puzzles me how such an attractive market town like Stratford upon Avon doesn’t give a shit and as though to prove it votes Conservative constantly. If Stratford upon Avon had its own rock it would be blue all the way through.  Like they say around these parts, ‘put a blue-ribboned donkey up for MP for S-on-A and it would be voted in’. [See Nadhim Zahawi…boy do I have to grit my teeth and zip it whenever there’s a local sighting of our over-ambitious Member of Parliament (even worse when he’s pontificating on TV].

Anyway, if you are wondering what the point of this ramble is? I can only say, confusion. And a need to let it all out.

I , I guess like so many others and should the chance arrive, want desperately to do the right thing. Yet, for perhaps the first time in my life I feel democracy has let me down. Given the chance to vote whenever the next general election arrives (sooner rather than later?) I really don’t know who will get my cross.

Once a life-long Labour supporter, they can now go run. Corbyn, for me is a massive disappointment. His ineptitude, wetness and inability to grab the moment in Parliament is astounding. And don’t get me started on his support for Brexit. I honestly don’t know what to do. Lib Dems was a possibility but one look at Cable’s voting record is enough to give me the runs. ‘Bedroom Tax’? Really?

I really didn’t want to ramble so early in the new year so for that I apologise. As far as Stratford upon Avon goes, it looks like you have me until my last breath. You are officially my home town. And, in answer to our keen Lib Dem rep, Dom Skinner’s question, ‘how can we improve Stratford?’…Easy. No more statues. (See Tony Bird).

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Onward…and over the cliff we go…

I’m sorry to be so transparent but thank God that’s over. 2018, unless you won the lottery was, shit.

The world had the idiot Trump to contend with and the UK has Brexit and a robot for Prime Minister. The sad thing is, it’s not over yet. 2019 is where we pick up the pieces and try to repair the damage that’s on its way. Trouble is, we don’t know how bad it’s gonna be. Like waiting for a storm. We know it’s coming and we can do our best to be prepared but this is something new, we know it will cause problems we just don’t know to what extent.

I’m angry. I was quite happy plodding along being a European, I like most people didn’t have a complete 100% knowledge of how the EU worked but it felt good. I knew in terms of employment laws the EU was at the forefront of making life for workers bearable and that we had come a long way since the dark days of sending children up chimneys. I knew that the unlike so many of the idiots (leavers) the UK was not at the the mercy of the EU and was aware that the UK had a voice amongst the 27 and could veto if necessary. The fact that so many voted leave because of lack of knowledge and a built-in laziness to find out where we stood in all this this, really pissed me off. The long procession of ‘little Englanders’ on TV who really believed that leaving the EU would cut back on representations of Islam (and brown people) AND at the same time thought that the British Empire still existed made me sick. The level of uneducated viewpoints was, unbelievable. Anyone on the outside looking in would be forgiven for thinking that UK citizens all leave school at 10 to take up work in cotton mills. Appalling. Shameful.

Anyway, on a personal level, I was reminded of my own mortality with a heart problem. I’m still a bit shaken up and have been trying to get my head around the fact that we are only here for a short time. A bit morbid I know but hey, that’s how I roll (the pills help). If there’s a good side to this then it’s I’m more driven than ever to get some plays on this year.

So, with a new year’s resolution rattling around my head that says ‘keep the blog up‘, I wish what readers I have a happy 2019 and do your best to survive what’s coming.

Ian. X

Posted in change, family matters, oh the pain, shame, stratford-upon-avon, Stratman | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment