Narrow Escapes

22 Aug

When we were kids, my brother owned a copy of The Book of Narrow Escapes. Aimed at children, it was full of stories about people who survived experiences like falling out of planes (as you do), or getting lost in the Amazon: always follow a river downstream to civilization was the advice, though how a child – or this adult – knows the difference between upstream and downstream escapes me, and not narrowly, either.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure that book, full of horror stories along the lines of Alive! was suitable reading for kids.  Unless I’m thinking like a be-fair-everyone-has-to-come-first-and-be-safe millennial.  Or a mum.

This morning, I was humming the tune to the seventies’ show Black Beauty because of a Facebook meme I’d seen, and that got me thinking that I read Black Beauty as a child and found it tedious, but loved The Book of Narrow Escapes – me, who never took a risk in her life unless it involved eating my weight in chocolate and thus the possibility of an obese, diabetic future.

As I was on the loo while all of this thinking was happening, that naturally reminded me of my own narrow escape, about twenty years ago: I went to the loo one day, finished, stood, turned around, and there were two wasps, flying around the neck of the bowl!  Talk about a squeaky bum moment.  To this day, I can’t sit on the loo without first inspecting it.  Thoroughly.  So if I visit your house and you catch me at it 1) I’m looking for stinging insects, not dirt and 2) why are you in the bathroom with me?

Do you have your own squeaky bum moment to share?

Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Who Cares?

14 Aug

Picture the scene: a new box of cereal, too tall for the cereal shelf.

Solution: reduce the size of the box.

Here is the Hub’s handiwork:

           Crunchy Neat

Here is mine:

            Rice Tearmies

Where do you stand on the Seriously?  It’s just cereal! debate?

Fringe Benefits

8 Aug

Alex is at the Edinburgh Fringe this month in two shows, both of which have been shortlisted for the National Student Drama Festival’s Emerging Artists Award 2017 .  That’s twenty shows of over three thousand appearing this year.

I’ve seen both shows and they’re fantastic (there’s a reason they were nominated).  One is hilarious with music and the other is a musical with hilarity.

The music is great in both.  You can check out some of The Iconoclast songs on SoundCloud.  Sadly, there’s no link to Buried‘s music (yet), but I’ll share three of six from The Iconoclasts.

For me, this is the best song in the show: Estelle’s Song.

 BURIED

An exhilarating and witty look at love and the places it can take you. He’s a shy, seemingly-average young professional. She’s a sarcastic thrill-seeker. After matching on an online dating service, this young and fun-loving couple form a unique relationship when they discover something special that they have in common: they’re both serial killers. Tom Williams and Cordelia O’Driscoll’s dark, new piece of comedic musical theatre puts a sinister spin on relationships in the twenty-first century. Colla Voce Theatre make their Edinburgh debut with a bold new musical.

You can buy tickets for Buried here.  

britishtheatre.com describes the show as:

perversely charming and entertaining, full of dark humour and some killer songs..the music is richly melodic and soulful…book and lyrics are sharp and often funny.

THE ICONOCLASTS

The Iconoclasts tells the story of an exuberant family façade that is just about ready to crack. Music, magic, poetry, drag and comedy meet in an explosive night of would-be redemption for the former celebs, but the cabaret-style comeback night just goes further and further off course. Half-farce, half-tragedy, the Northern Irish family’s plight leads the audience through their chequered history with poignancy, humility and irreverence – all backed by a live funk band. If they’re going down, they’re going down swinging! ‘Beautifully played’ (Sunday Times).

Tickets for The Iconoclasts available here.

Listen to Alex’s solo: Razzmatazz

The Iconoclasts has been forecast by Fringebiscuit as one to watch:

They had me after four words. Part tragic theatre, part comedy cabaret night, emerging company Dear Hunter Theatre have basically put everything I love into one show. This could be a huge hit.

Their first review from Broadway Baby gave them four stars; here’s the opening paragraph:

The Iconoclasts is a perfect example of why one should never go into a show with any expectations. Based on the poster and description which I had only briefly skimmed, I was expecting a run-of-the-mill artsy cabaret show, with a bit of overdone backstory thrown in. What I got was a unique, political and thought-provoking piece of theatre, which worked on so many levels it is still making my head spin to think about.

The show’s closing number: Finale.

If you’re in Edinburgh this month, do yourself a favour and go and see both of these shows.  You won’t regret it.  

 

Train Pain

24 Jul

It’s hard to believe that Viv has been gone just over a year.  I went to her funeral and I wanted to tell you about it at the time, but I couldn’t bring myself to write that post.  A year on, however, I have some emotional distance, so here goes. I am writing from memory because, when I checked back to my notebook, there is nothing at all.  Not one word; just the funeral programme, taped in.  I couldn’t even write about it for myself.  That’s grief for you.

Viv’s daughter Sally invited me to read Viv’s self-penned epitaph poem at the funeral.  I was honoured.  I wouldn’t have missed her funeral for anything, but it was lovely to be invited to be a part of it.

My travel anxieties have been well-documented on this blog so you won’t be surprised to learn that as the funeral was held in Newcastle and I live in Stockport, I made sure to leave with time to spare when I arrived.  To be fair, I’d have done the same if I was going one town up: that’s how I roll.  Or clickety-clack.  I don’t trust public transport; or myself on public transport (remind me to tell you why I once missed the first twenty minutes of The Lion King at The Palace Theatre, Manchester, seven minutes away by train).  

To be more fair, the Hub booked my ticket and made sure to leave me with some time to spare when I arrived – but not for my change at Sheffield.  I was miffed to have only 25 minutes because I had to find the platform for the next train and Sheffield is a big station and I am a big panicker.  The Hub assured me I’d be fine.  What could possibly go wrong?

He reserved seats on all four trains for me, over my objections: I always run onto a train and grab the first free seat I can, because that’s how I clickety-clack.  The train from Stockport to Sheffield was packed, however, and I was glad the Hub is bossy because I was able to turf someone out of my reserved seat.

The seat-with-my-name-on-it went a long way towards earning the Hub forgiveness, because it was standing room only all the way from Stockport to Sheffield.  There was no refreshment cart, ergo, no tea, ergo, anxious, panicky, uncaffeinated me.  There was a delay, a slow train, only ten minutes – NOT twenty-five as I had been assured by my perfidious man – to find the platform with my next train.  I fairly erupted onto Platform 1, hitting the ground running, eyes peeled for information screens, clichés exploding from every orifice.

DSCN0956 Sheffield was obviously still feeling the effect of Austerity because there wasn’t one uniformed human in sight.  I ran up the steps to the concourse – no screens!  I ran left – no screens!  I ran right – a screen!  Heaving, bent over my shaky legs, I slowed down enough to glare at the screen which informed me my train left from…Platform 1.  That’s right: the platform I had just run away from.  I had four minutes to get there and had to use the lift because Sheffield Station is just stupid in its weird layout with no stairs down to Platform 1 and absentee staff who probably don’t carry wheelbarrows on their person for exhausted travellers anyway.

I hit the lift button and…waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally – finally! – the doors opened and I ran forward; and then backed up as a thousand people who obviously had at least an hour to find their platform were disgorged.  At last they got out of my way and I jumped onto the lift, slammed the button, and was transported on the slowest elevator known to man to the platform below. Sucking in such oxygen as I could muster the energy for, I ran along the platform just as my train to Newcastle pulled in.

I collapsed into my thankfully reserved space and waited for the sweat to puddle on the seat, the breath to return to my aged lungs, and the spots to disappear from before my eyes.  Then I heard the bad news: no refreshment cart again.  I muttered to myself long and hard.  No one would have heard me if I’d muttered aloud, anyway, because I had no spit to help me articulate my uncaffeinated state.

I settled in, anxious and fidgety – you know, the normal addict state, except that my fix is Earl Grey, black, hot – for the longish journey, and became more anxious and more fidgety as the journey became ever-longer.  I discovered later that there had been a lightning strike on a signal box the day before, causing extended delays.  I watched the time and stressed.  I watched the time and fidgeted.  I watched the time and became tearful. I watched and watched and watched my watch and guess what?  I arrived in Newcastle about the time the funeral started.

I made sure to be first off the train – get out of my way, mother with a baby and elderly wheelchair user!  I’ve got a deceased friend to honour – and ran and ran and ran some more, finally finding the taxi rank when I wiped the sweat from my eyes and could read signs again.  I ran to the first taxi, but I was hailed by a uniformed human – better late than never, eh? – and we had the following conversation:

UH: Oi!  There’s a queue!

TB: OhpleaseI’mlateformyfriend’sfuneralandI’mreadingthepoemandit’salreadystart
edandthetrainwaslateIdon’tknowwhybutI’vegottogetthereassoonaspossibleplease
pleasecanIhavethistaxiplease?Sob

UH: Uh, sure, go ahead.

The taxi driver was wonderful and sympathetic and got me to the cemetery as soon as possible – perhaps wanting to get the hysterical woman out of his cab, but I prefer to think he had the milk of human kindness in abundance – where I encountered a problem: two chapels.

Seriously, folks, how I didn’t have a complete meltdown at this point, I don’t know.

Like a Wimbledon viewer trapped between two players serving high-speed aces, I gazed back and forth, back and forth between the chapels, paralysed by uncertainty.  What if I burst into the wrong funeral?  The odds were good that it would happen, because I never met a blunder I didn’t make. My favourite photo of Viv

Just then, a limousine rolled up and I was inspired to ask the sad-faced woman emerging, ‘Excuse me, I’m looking for a funeral and I know it’s not yours because you’ve just arrived; can you please tell me which chapel you’re going to because I’m so late and my funeral must be in the other.’ Bless her, she did.

I burst into Viv’s funeral as quietly as possible and only eighty percent of the people looked at me, including the eulogising vicar.  Small mercies, eh?  I was ushered to a seat, given a programme, offered a glass of water – because I clearly looked like Mr Rochester’s first wife at this point – and sat my trembling bum on the seat so I could frantically scan the programme to see if I’d missed my spot.

I hadn’t missed my spot!

If I had never believed in God up to that point, I believed in Him that day.  The vicar finished talking and it was my turn to get up and read Viv’s poem.  I’m proud to say I read it as if I’d travelled to Newcastle the week before and spent three days in a spa, being massaged from head to foot and back again.  I would never have let Viv down.

Several people came up to me afterwards and greeted me as if they knew me. Turns out they did: Viv’s friends I’d met and fellow bloggers amongst them.  I was still in Yellow Wallpaper mode, however, and couldn’t register anyone until at least two teas later.  I apologise if you felt slighted, but I assure you it was not on purpose.  Travel in general and lateness in particular send me a little crazy; throw in grief for a beloved friend and it’s a wonder I didn’t end up in Newcastle-Under-Lyme instead of Newcastle Upon Tyne.  Viv’s family were wonderful and understanding, and I was so grateful to them.

My only consolation is that Viv would have loved this post.  As far as I’m concerned, that makes any craziness on my part entirely worth it.  Just as well, eh?

 

What Are You Up To, Dad?

7 Jul

Here’s a gratuitous pic of my gorgeous grandson.  We call it ‘Suspicious Baby’.

Cough, Cough

16 Jun

 

It’s my choir’s concert tonight.  We’re doing stuff from musicals, including a fantastic arrangement – by Ollie Mills, our choir director – of Cats.  His alto line for Memory is the most fun I’ve had singing anything, ever, not least because that’s the only bit in the whole show I can sing without mistake.

Don’t tell that to the audience.  I’m pretty sure Ollie and everyone around me already knows, but we still have some tickets available.

We had a rehearsal last night and I coughed all the way through it.  I have had a persistent cough for months, for which I’m now being treated because I finally dragged myself to the doctor after hearing a horror story from a friend about a friend of her friend’s who ignored a persistent cough, and things ended badly.  

Mine is nothing so dramatic; it’s probably a post-nasal drip.

I misspoke when I told my singing chauffeur (the lovely woman who gives me a lift to choir) about it, accidentally calling it a post-natal drip, and we giggled for an hour about me developing a twenty-one-year baby-related condition that wasn’t excess weight.

The cough is always worse after exercise: for example, from the walk to church on Sundays.  I hack through the first half of the service but I’ve noticed that it improves after communion, just from one sip of wine.  That thought brought on a brain wave – I’ll take alcohol with me tonight!  

Alex tells me alcohol is bad for the vocal chords, but we’re not talking great singing on my part; and I’m thinking, better no voice than Coughy McCoughy in the chorus, ruining the best bits.  You might suggest that I could, of course, nobly stand down and not be in the concert tonight; but I’ll thump you if you do.  I didn’t spend six months learning these songs (some of them, anyway; my first paragraph refers) only to sit sulking in the audience on my big night: yodelayee-yodelayee-yodelayeeNO!

I tested my theory when I got in from choir by supping a tot of rum and, yup, no cough after it.  I’m taking a small bottle with me, to sip throughout the concert. I’ll just have to be careful not to get drunk: no one wants to see a sozzled alto tottering around the stage, defending McCavity against the slurs on his character.

Although…if you do, tickets are a fiver.

 

Good News, Bad News

14 Jun

Bad News

The Manchester date of The Iconoclasts tour is cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.  

Good News

I can stop nagging my friends and family to buy tickets to support them.

Good News

Which is bad news for you if you live in London, Nottingham or Bristol – the other dates are still on:

18th and 19th June @ Camden People’s Theatre LONDON, 20.00 – 21.15
Tickets: https://www.cptheatre.co.uk/production/the-iconoclasts/

21st June @ STUFF NOTTINGHAM
http://newtheatre.org.uk/stuff/

26th June @ Alma Tavern & Theatre BRISTOL, 19:30 – 20:45
Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-iconoclasts-the-alma-tav

Image may contain: 4 people, text

Good News

My choir is staging a concert on Friday, with songs from the musicals.

Bad News

I can nag my friends and family to support us.


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

Bad News

You visit this blog, expect to be hounded.

Good News

Buy a ticket and watch my colour change from red to less red as my hot flushes [desperately searches for a singing pun] [gives up] [if you can think of a good singing pun, you know where the comment box is] come and go at random.

Or, as Home’s Cool, one of my American readers so memorably put it, watch me as I flash in church.

 

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