The dramatic situation in Stratford upon Avon

The dramatic situation in Stratford upon AvonThe dramatic situation in Stratford upon Avon has become a common sight on social media (including print). To see various organisations pleading for their very existence is very sad. Bodies one thought that were invulnerable and would go on for ever, are reduced to pleading for funds, desperate to keep-going and still be there when this is all over.

In wealthy Stratford upon Avon the situation is of course no different from the rest of the country, except of course it is Stratford upon Avon, the Bard’s home town. And everybody knows that theatre courses through its very being. So the fact that the loudest survival-type noises come from the theatrical quarter both professional and amateur should be of no great surprise.. However, for me personally any sympathy that I might have had initially has dissolved pretty quickly when I read some of the claims that are obviously designed to raise the aforementioned sympathy level to 11 and get folks to dip into their well-worn pockets.

For instance, there appears to be a lot of weight put upon the very useful word ‘Community’. (A bit like the RSC use the word ‘education’ to fill their coffers – another story). ‘Community’ used in the sense, as far as I understand it, that we are as somehow ‘one’. That we are all ‘theatre-people’ and care passionately about one another. That so-and-so theatre group was formed out of thin air not only for the benefit of ‘the community’  i.e. punters, but more than that, formed for the struggling base of performers/purveyors. Galling to say the least.

For instance, the suggestion that prices have been kept at reasonable levels so that the local purveyors of theatre (in all its forms) could benefit is something I must have missed. Not only does it suggest (falsely), that it is relatively cheap to hire a space to rehearse and put on a production, it, worse than that, suggests that all along there has been dialogue. That those in a better position (both financially and with er…’friends in high places) have reached out to their Brothers and Sisters in Arts to enable rehearsal and performance space at reasonable rates. This has not been my experience. In fact, I would go as far to say that there is a great divide between those companies with membership and therefore money, and those of us who operate on a play to play system without a pot to piss in. In short, encouragement (of any sort) would be nice.

I ought to say at this point that I do, sort of, understand.

Once a theatre group has had some ‘success’ it becomes more and more difficult to plan. The urge is to put as much drama on as possible. Which it turn eats up all the empty space that might be free for rehearsal if said successful theatre group hadn’t been so greedy. To put it in another way, it obviously becomes more difficult to find empty spaces that would allow fellow drama people to share in that success, as said ‘successful drama group’ would be eating up free space for their own non-stop production schedule.

My complaint is, don’t promise, or pretend to promise that your particular enterprise is for the benefit of all when in fact that is a damn near impossible goal to achieve. Be honest.

There is all sorts of drama going on in this town. Which is great.

Although I am a great believer in drama that relates to the human condition and holds up a mirror to our behaviour and like a parable maybe offer a solution, I also see the reason behind what I would call ‘impersonation drama’. Drama for example, that offers copies of successful TV sit-coms, that sort of thing. Although I dislike that stuff intensely, I see the point, which is quite simply ‘entertainment’ and a good night out without too much thinking. I am very aware that this branch gives a lot of enjoyment to a lot of people, so until I begin to understand a little more, I will zip it.

The thing is, and perhaps the whole point of this rather angry article (or sour grapes as some will no doubt call it) is… we could perhaps learn from each other if only we would talk to each other.

If we could get some kind of Federation of Drama Companies on the go, where we could exchange ideas and perhaps more importantly, information (even equipment-I have some lights) then a real community could be formed that would indeed benefit us (inc the audiences) all. As it is, in all the years my little company has been going (on and off) it is only recently I have had a chat with another (albeit wealthier) company concerning the problems they have faced over the past year..

I guess in the end I will be accused of being bitter and twisted and to that charge part of me pleads, ‘guilty’. I just think it’s about time in the long theatrical history of this great little town, that the surprisingly large number of drama/dance etc groups that exist, swallow their pride and make a real and genuine attempt to get together.


the dramatic situation in Stratford upon Avon.


Birmingham Ninjas

Birmingham ninjasThe word on the streets says the tourists and sightseers are making a stealth-like and illegal comeback. Using skills adopted from the long forgotten Birmingham Ninjas (later to become the infamous Peaky Blinders), they have taken to hiding their smoked-stained and pollution grained second-city faces behind masks thickened to muffle their easily recognisable Brummy tones.

The police have reportedly denied this saying…(The Herald full report)

’ Stratford police were adamant this week that the town was not experiencing a significant rise in out-of-town visitors despite worries continuing to be expressed by local people on social media.’

Far be it for me to contradict our Boys in Blue, but I must disagree.

I was out on Sunday and the river paths were busy with a lot of what I would call ‘near-local tourists’ and by that, I mean visitors within a 20/30-mile radius. Of course, there is no way I can prove my observations but believe me there were rather a lot of outsiders out for an obvious jolly. And judging by the abundance of thick cheese and tomato sandwiches and loud references to ‘snap’, it was obvious where their point of origin was…Birmingham.

And I get that.

We all know what it’s been like to be locked down for as long as we have. Two words…Cabin Fever.

The thing is folks we are making progress. The plague is on the back foot and there’s only one thing that can make a complete hash of all the hard work and sacrifice people have made. That one thing? US.

The vaccination program is making good progress thanks to a very stressed looking Zahawi (never thought I say this but he AND THE NHS are doing a good job and the knighthood looks secure). So let’s take a deep breath and be patient. Not long to go.

Keep to the rules. Keep wearing the mask and just because you can feel Spring in the air Don’t Get Cocky.

OK, so you have survived (so far) but all it takes is a few idiots to think they are invulnerable and off we go again. More than ever lockdowns. More Brutal Lockdowns that will go on forever and prove more that a problem than the original Covid 19 ever did.



Peace, patience and er…parsnips.

The Stratfordian.

Shocked and Horrified

I have to say how shocked and horrified I am that Stratford upon Avon council have, verified by the Stratford upon Avon  Herald agreed to increase Council Tax.

No matter their excuses (see Herald), I am appalled that during this time of deep National and Local suffering that this bunch of heartless Tories have proved once again that WE ARE NOT IN THIS TOGETHER.

They should (but won’t be) ashamed of themselves.

shocked and horrified

It really is time that the residents of Stratford upon Avon started to think deeply about their voting choices.

The odd desperate smile

the odd desperate smileJust came back from a nice walk around the river. I have to say that this weather suits me. I’m afraid I like the rain and if it’s not too cold all the better. There were a number of people about and nod’s and the odd desperate smile was exchanged. I think it’s pretty obvious that people have had their fill of the Lockdown and wish normal service could be resumed as soon as possible. I wouldn’t call myself a particularly arms-out-wide kind of person, (in fact I’m a curmudgeon and life-long grumpy bastard) but even I have have had to fight back the urge to ask ‘how you doing?’

Something I quite miss is talking to strangers. Although, to be honest such a thing was never a regular occurrence in my life, (my appearance seems to put people off. The eye patch, three cornered hat (tricorn?) and a peg leg don’t exactly draw people to me), and although I have learned to live with it, when people do take the trouble to communicate, I love it. When people (usually fellow pirates admittedly) put their fears aside and make the effort to talk to me it’s always appreciated. As my dear old mum was fond of repeating, ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’. The truth is I’m more Enid Blyton than Stephen King and am always open to conversation, especially unexpected conversation.

When I think back it has always been conversations with complete strangers that have stuck in my mind.

I remember when I was a Dry-Cleaner, a wizened old woman came to the counter of my shop and demanded to read my palm and look at my er…. nails. She declared in no uncertain terms that one day I would be extremely famous. What for, I never could work out because at that time I was particularly unambitious and was just ‘bobbing along’. Anyway, although her predictions were complete rubbish, her memory has stayed with me for a very long time.

I do wish we would engage a bit more. It would be really good to find out more about people and their lives. I know from the time I was a counsellor with MIND that other people’s lives are usually unbelievable and useful tools for living out our own existence. In other words, there is such a lot to learn. Communication is the key and cure for so many of our ills and maladies.

Social media just doesn’t cut it. It’s like distance learning. Sure, its useful and in some ways it fills a need but we are sociable creatures that without face to face contact and touch, we wither.

Radical plan to cut cars and pollution (again).

Radical plan to cut cars and pollution

I can’t tell you how much my heart sank when I saw that old familiar headline regurgitated in The Stratford upon Avon Herald. ‘Radical plan to cut cars and pollution’. For a moment there I thought I had climbed into my highly polluting DeLorean and travelled back in time.

OK the words may not have been the same in the old editions but my first thought was ‘Here we go again’. And I was transported back to the seventies to when I first heard the magic word ‘Pedestrianisation’.

I remembered the experimental closing of High Street and I remembered a hot summer sitting on a bench outside The Garrick getting slowly merry and enjoying the wonderful lack of traffic. Nothing happened.

I remembered the experimental bus (was it electric?) that drove around Stratford promising a clean future for our kids. Nothing happened then either. 

Here we go again. 

This time they’re calling the radical plan to cut cars and pollution, ‘Sweeping Changes’.  Me, I’m calling it ‘Deja Vu’.  Believe it or not there are ‘Plans to dramatically cut carbon emissions’ (in the 70’s we used to call it pollution). And get this…surprise, surprise, there’s even plans (gasp) ‘to reopen the Stratford to Honeybourne railway line’.

Looks like someone’s be trying out those new-fangled ‘Brainstorming sessions’ at the Council House. Either that or they’ve been holding a séance. A communication with past/passed councillors.

It gets worse or better depending on your point of view and patience…

The Herald reports… 

‘Other suggestions include relocating road space to discourage single occupancy car use in favour of public transport …’ (surely they don’t mean…pick up points where people can leave their cars and hop on a bus to be taken into town? Wait….I have an idea. Why not call it ‘Park and Ride’? Brilliant, even if I say so myself.) 

And finally, then there’s this… 

Whether invented by the Council or The Herald, I’m not sure but ‘tis truly a wonderful phrase…

ACTIVE TRAVEL is the key…

I don’t know about ‘Active Travel’ but ‘Time Travel’ certainly exists

My brain hurts.

The Stratfordian.

Radical plan to cut cars and pollution

Just a little Prick

just a little prick
                 NOT MY ARM (STUNT ARM)

A very good start to the day today and after all the fuss it was just a little prick. Yes indeedy, today was my day to be  summoned to the hospital for a shot in the arm of the AstraZeneca virus beater. The first of two, I’m glad to report that all went well and I was in and out in a flash. I thought I would have to hang on for a bit to make sure there weren’t any side effects. But no, as I wasn’t driving, I was allowed to go immediately. It would appear that it’s OK to collapse in the street but NOT when in charge of a vehicle.

There were some people who were required to stay and as far as I could see most everyone seemed fine and dandy. There was admittedly a set of empty clothes smouldering on one of those plastic hospital chairs and a very distressed woman who appeared to have grown an extra set of limbs, but when I inquired of the nurse she told me not to worry ‘as it would pass’.

Unfortunately, there was nothing anyone could do for the gentleman who once owned the empty set of smouldering clothes but once again I was assured that this was an extremely rare occurrence and the next of kin were on the way to remove the debris.

I was advised to increase my pace and move swiftly on by a large er…doorman,  passing the pool of thick (and steaming) purple liquid and the gentleman whose socks appeared to be rolling up and down of their own accord, with barely a second glance. Then out into the fresh air. Hurrah for the NHS.

I’ve managed to walk from Stratford hospital through a fairly deserted town with no major side effects as far as I can tell. Although, (how can I put this)…to be honest, I have noticed a surge in a er…personal area that I am going to put down as beneficial, although of course only time will tell. I suspect (sadly), as the nurse told me earlier...’it will pass’.

So, to all those who are worried about the vaccination and to quote a well-known Carry-On film (Carry On Doctor?) again, ‘it’s only a little prick’ and it goes without saying, worth it.

May I also say at this point a HUGE THANK YOU to the team of volunteers at the hospital who made today and easy and quite pleasant experience.

the stratfordian

Thanks from The Stratfordian.

The Fat Stratfordian

the fat StratfordianYesterday, cunningly disguised as ‘The Fat Stratfordian’ (I wish). I got to escape what I have come to call my sheltered accommodation for an appointment with my local surgery’s Diabetic Nurse.

The mission was to discover why I had turned from a Greek God to a large and it has to be said, rotund gentleman, seemingly overnight. Or, to put it another way, why I could easily be mistaken for ‘The creature from Planet Lard’.

With my excuses in hand and well-rehearsed, ‘Honest it was the lockdown what done it’ I prepared for battle with the no-holds-barred Nurse C.

The Verdict. (She won).

The straight-talking Nurse C went for the jugular.

Basically, if I didn’t lose at least 2 stone by March I would become a died- (see what I did there?) in-the-wool Diabetic and on the pill forever.

Even, if the truth were told, this did not come as a great shock I still had to have a sit-down. So I got myself a coffee… (I do like the fact that a number of shops are selling coffee from literally their front doors. Long, (unlike the virus, may it last), and deposited myself on a backless (what’s that all about?) by the swan fountain thingy on the Bancroft, to do something I hadn’t been able to do for a long while, people watch.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to mention this but Town feels wrong. Everybody drifting along as though in a dream.

No-one appeared in the hurry you usually associate with Town centres (even Stratford upon Avon Town centre). In fact speaking as an expert on how people pace themselves in Town Centres, the rhythm was what I would call zombie-like. Very strange. Odd in fact. Although I have to admit that it has been so long since I have been around more than four people, it could have been me.

Anyway, from where I sat it was obvious that there were one or two illegal visitors. (Easily spotted because of their need for fish and chips and the way that they just didn’t fit). I was surprised not only by their presence but by the fact that they nearly all appeared to be in the most at-risk group, older people. Perhaps I wondered shockingly, they had given up and this was the most pleasant way of suicide they could think of. Death by sight-seeing.

The other thing that baffled me was the number of shops that were open. I was under the impression that only essential shops were allowed to do business. W H Smiths…. essential? I’ve was obviously missed something here. Possibly something about Toblerone being a necessity.

Anyway, curiosity sated and boredom creeping in, I began my long drudge home to Trinity Mead carrying extra weight and contemplating life as a one potato a day man.


The fat Stratfordian.

The Stratfordian writes…

the stratfordian writesI’m sorry if you had just become a keen follower and were perhaps even enjoying what the Stratfordian writes (the last version).

You have been let down.

I’m sorry if this sudden change on the Website has reduced you to tears and left you distraught, but I’ve been having some trouble (Betty).

I’d tell you what it was if I could understand it myself but suffice to say it’s to do with the dreaded Internet and is very technical, therefore beyond this tiny brain.. In short I have lost the contents of my last ‘The Stratfordian’ website.

So forgive me if I’m a little testy and short with you (5′ 6″). At the moment, I’m very angry and pissed off because It’s way past my bedtime (2.55/05.05) and I’m still at it trying to retrieve what I can.

BUT, basically, and there’s no getting away from it, I have to face the fact that I’m going to have to start again…so…deep breath…



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