Untidy Lounge, Untidy Mind.

21 Dec

My house is cluttered; you know this.  

You also know that from time to time the mess gets me down even though, for the most part, I can live with it.

Last Wednesday was such a day.

This was my train of thought: I‘m never going to get rid of this stuff.  Well, not until there’s just me, anyway, and I can decide without argument what stays and what goes.

Here’s what I said to the Hub: I can’t wait until you die and I can get rid of this stuff.

Worst wife ever.

Wonder if I’ll get a Christmas present this year?

Miss Liberty at Sheffield University

8 Dec

The songover is Alex’s voice

You readers must be wondering why this blog seems to have turned into an Alex Cosgriff fan page.  The problem is, the Hub does nothing; Wary Boy tells us nothing; I remember nothing.  Alex is the only one who does anything worth writing about.

I can tell you that I did something on Sunday that I did exactly a year ago, but without the defecation: I went to a brass band concert with my friend Alison.  I enjoyed it.  

That’s about as interesting as it gets; if you want the poo story, I suggest you re-read last year’s visit.

This week, Alex is singing in a concert – with some dialogue, including narration by someone from The Great British Bakeoff (not Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry) – of the songs from Miss Liberty.  The cast is singing with a 40-piece orchestra.

Miss Liberty is a forgotten musical by Irving Berlin.  As far as is known, it has never been staged outside of the States, and has rarely been staged there.  As a result, the concert at Sheffield University is creating noise here and in the US. There have been some radio interviews and articles on the BBCThe Stage, PlaybillBroadwayworld and elsewhere.

For the background story on why it is being staged, read here.

The concert takes place on two nights, including four songs for one night only:

…on Thursday 10 December 2015 audiences will have the opportunity to hear world premiere performances of four songs that were cut before the musical opened on Broadway in 1949. They were discovered by McHugh and Malone in Berlin’s papers at the Library of Congress and special permission has been given to perform them for one night only by the Berlin estate.

University of Sheffield News

Can you tell me, then, why I spent all of yesterday upending Alex’s room to find the two suits, one jacket, one shirt, several ties, and two pairs of trousers Alex simply MUST have if he’s going to appear on stage this week?  And why that was a complete waste of time when I couldn’t find half of them – the suits in particular – and Alex suggested I look behind the door…and there they were?  I’m not in it, so why is there so much work for me?  That boy is taking a liberty.

I suspect I’ll get payback in being able to poke fun at him, however: Alex, who thought the modern dancing he did in Godspell was naff (and read here for how I let that slip to the choreographer), is going to TAP DANCE without benefit of any training whatsoever, in front of a live audience.

I’m cringing all ready.

Hee hee hee.

Tomorrow And Yesterday And The Day Before And Tonight

20 Nov

The Tree of War is no more.  Now it’s death in Macbeth.

Alex is playing Macbeth.  Here he is in rehearsal:

Photo (C) Cog Photography

That boy knows how to commit to a part.  So much so, he passed out briefly last night when the Witches yanked his head back while he was hyperventilating. Fortunately, the Witches were the only ones who noticed.  He said he came to, mumbled for a moment, then went straight back into his line.

He’s a physical actor.  He bruised his hand quite badly in The Tree of War, punching a piece of wood each night.  He also hurt his back a little, falling (as per the script) from the wall going over the top.  He didn’t say anything until after the run because he didn’t want any of that ‘health and safety rubbish’ putting a stop to his performing.

Here’s the Macbeth trailer:

An interesting fact: WordPress spell checker suggested ‘machete’ for Macbeth.  Who knew blog hosts could be so Freudian?

A Little Ocular Jocularity

23 Oct

Image from PictureSpider

I’ve had a busy few weeks, giving poetry readings and attending poetry events of one sort or another.  A lot of saliva flies around at poetry readings; have you noticed?  Sibilance by its very nature demands a level of spit not seen anywhere outside of a snake hissing contest.

The result of all that liberated discharge, however, is that at some point I contracted a cold.  I felt rough – really rough; rougher than a cold should make one feel; but I am of a delicate nature, of course, as I might have mentioned once or several hundred times.  I was useless for the first three days and then the mucus began its exodus and then it eased and then I started with a sore throat and then the sneezies came.

It was at that point, lying in bed feeling very sorry for myself, that I remembered that I had once read that you can’t sneeze with your eyes open, or your eyeballs will fall out.

Now this is one of those things that I believed I didn’t believe, so when I felt a sneeze coming on, I decided to try to keep my eyes open.  The things we invalids have to do to keep ourselves amused.

When it came to it, however, I chickened out. Apparently, I do believe that if I sneeze with my eyes open, my eyeballs will fall out. I was assailed with a terrible image of a huge sneeze and…plop…plop…stinging eyeballs caused by carpet fibres (apparently you can feel carpet fibres even though your retinas are literally detached.  In my world, anyway).   I could hear myself screaming at the Hub, My eyes!  My eyes!  Don’t stand on my eyes!  

There was I at three a.m., 52 years old and afraid to sneeze in case my baby blues fell out. (My baby blues are actually hazel, but ‘baby hazels’ doesn’t have the same ring to it).  I think may have overdosed on the cough medicine.

Tell me you’ve got a similarly ludicrous fear; please.  Eye don’t want to be alone.

A Grand Day Out

6 Oct
Everything you need for village living

Everything you need for village living

The conversation went like this:

Friend Pam: Look at these fabulous desserts at the restaurant where we took Mum and Dad for their anniversary.

Tilly Bud: Drool…

Friend Pam: I’ll take you there one day; you have to eat these puddings; they’re fabulous.

Will she, bud?: Droo…l

Friend Pam: Hang on a minute…your birthday’s coming up…I’ll take you for a meal on your birthday!

There is a God: Thank yo…r….oo…l…

And so it came to pass last Wednesday that I found myself heading out of Manchester and into Burnley.  To misquote Field of Dreams (and, in fact, tell an outright lie for comic effect), the only thing we have in common is that Pam came from Burnley; and I had once heard of it.

Pam suffers from a chronic condition: she cannot plan an event without it being a huge success and, as we were heading in that direction, she reasoned, why not go up the famous Pendle Hill (never heard of it) and be tourists in the famous Witch Trial/Trail area (never heard of it).  We could see the famous Eye of God (never heard of it) in the famous centuries-old church (never heard of it) where her husband had proposed to her (I’ve heard of him); call in at the Elizabethan Towneley Hall (never heard of it); eat lunch there (definitely heard of that!); call in to see her parents for some northern hospitality (we’re all famous for that up here); and finish off at the famous pudding restaurant (which sells other food but, seriously, who cares?).

The woman is a genius.

DSCF3292We had a fabulous day.  Pendle Hill was gorgeous; the witch business was fascinating and a little sad (hanging innocent women gets me like that; I dunno why).  The church was…open.  It was hard to believe we were in 21st Century Britain when we could walk into an open, unmanned church and be trusted not to damage/steal anything.  Amazing.  Of course, it probably helped that it was situated halfway up a mountain in the middle of witch country.

DSCF3264I forgot to take my camera but Pam obliged by taking photos with hers, including my request for a pic of the inside of the public toilet – it had a high cistern with a chain!  I was back in my childhood (complete with cold seat) particularly as, technically, it was an outside loo.  Pam and I have a friendly rivalry going to see which of us is most common and I think I win because I was born in a Liverpool slum and come from Irish peasant stock (hence the Liverpool slum): an outside toilet with a lock was a step up for me.

My favourite spot: The Long Gallery. Can you see me way back there?

My favourite spot: The Long Gallery. Can you see me way back there?

Towneley Hall was wonderful.  Walking through rooms which have been inhabited by who knows how many people over the past 500 years is one of my favourite things to do and I’m afraid my mouth got stuck in the Wow! position until it hurt Pam’s ears.  But that’s to be expected of a slumdog, of course.  I was, like, well impressed.

DSCF3297There was a slight change of plan when we saw the queue outside the restaurant door and, as we’d only had huge slices of cake for elevenses we decided – which is to say, Pam decided and I went happily along with any plan intended to feed me – to head straight for pudding paradise and eat there, calling in for a brew at Pam’s folks’ afterwards.  Which is just as well as Pam’s Mum was having her feet done and didn’t really want her guest to see that.  I don’t know why; I’ve got feet; I know how the whole thing works.

I am praying for the strength to dig in and climb out the other side

I am praying for the strength to dig in and climb out the other side

I forget the name of the place where we ate because I was too busy stuffing my gullet with a delicious carvery (which could have been called a spoonery because the meat just fell off the bone and the chef told me that sometimes he has to use a spoon to serve it) to write it down.  Pam tells me it’s called Sycamore Farm.  Check the desserts:

DSCF3386

Now tell me it wasn’t worth turning 52 just for that.

We rolled out of there for the short journey to Pam’s parents’ house and I’m not sure that it wasn’t the best part of my day.  Her parents are lovely and her mother is adorable.  She hugged me despite never having met me before and then gave me an entertaining rundown of some of her neighbours, past and present.  They included friendly drug addicts who ran in to help during a crisis to the creepy bloke who introduced himself with the words, I’m not a paedophile and I’ve got a letter to prove it.  Pam’s Mum – or I should say, Pamela’s Mum, because that’s what she called her the whole time; no one ever calls Pam Pamela, she’s too friendly to be full-named;  but you know what mothers are like.  As I was saying, Pamela’s Mum wasn’t convinced by the not-a-molester, though she was glad to see him go when he was arrested for his cannabis farm and stealing his neighbour’s electricity to supply it.  I can’t decide which of her neighbours was my absolute favourite, but it’s a toss-up between the biker who stripped and rebuilt his motorbike many times over fifteen years, in the middle of his living room and partner and children; or the dominatrix who kept a dungeon in the basement but lived elsewhere.

DSCF3278Don’t think that any of this is my usual hyperbole; I swear I had it straight from the horse’s mouth – which was wearing its false teeth at the time, as she happily informed me.  Only the best for Pam’s friends.

I think I love her.

Thank you, Pam, for giving me a brilliant day, showing me a fantastic time, and for having a wonderful mother.

All photographs courtesy of Pam Robinson.

An Ode to Tilly Bud: the worst birthday poem ever

1 Oct

I’ll blog details about yesterday tomorrow; but today, here’s the best poem I’ve ever read:)

Janie's Place

happy birthday banner

Thinking of you today, dear Tilly, and sending sincerest wishes:

May your day be filled with good friends, loving family and slobbery dog kisses,

May your box of Maltesers over floweth,

And may the sun shine where ever you go-eth!

May your tea kettle freely flow,

May the pile of crumpled wrapping paper grow.

May you grow old and wise,

(Though I feel a need to clearly emphasize,

That’s not to imply that you are still young),

And have travels far-flung.

For ever and always, I hope life treats you well,

In short, have a birthday that’s totally swell.

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The Tree Of More

19 Sep

IMG_0324

It’s been quite a week.  We spent all of Saturday afternoon at The Tree of War rehearsal, filming and photographing background stuff.   Monday evening we were at the press preview; the show opened on Tuesday.  It is phenomenal.  

I can’t tell you how good this new piece of theatre is: the music, the lyrics, the story.  And to see it acted and sung with such passion and enthusiasm; to hear the wonderful music from the live band; to come out crying after every single performance…there is no one involved in this production who doesn’t believe that it is something special, something above the ordinary.

One of the most consistent comments – though you heard it here first, last year – is that it belongs on a West End stage.  As I stand behind my camera each night and listen to the audience as they file out, many sobbing into their snotty tissues – men and women – I hear them saying it over and over.  People with no connection to the show rave about it; and they are right to do so.

IMG_0281

Some reviews, personal and professional:

Ollie Mills’ and Rachel Mann’s masterpiece is beautifully poignant, thought-provoking and utterly authentic.

Chris Oatway, North West End

Scottish hard man Dougie (Jamie Rahman) gives a sweet rendition of ‘Being A Lad,’ and it’s a stony individual indeed who won’t be moved to tears (as I was) by the heartbreaking climax.    4 *

  Philip Caveney, Bouquets & Brickbats

I thought Alex really brought out the personal, but also universal, pain and intensity of the WWI horrors. As the show progressed, he displayed real pathos – having been excellent too in the earlier, happier, scenes. I thought both he and Sam made very strong leads. But then I felt the whole cast was strikingly good – having, I judge, been brilliantly prepared by [Ollie].   

A personal email to Paul from Roderic Dunnett, a professional reviewer, whose official review will be out shortly

Comments left on the official The Tree of War Facebook page:

Went to see one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen today! Well done to all the Cast and Crew of The Tree of War you were AMAZING! You completely reduced me to tears.

Amazing piece of theatre! Really powerful.

Just got back from watching The Tree of War what a fantastic play each and every cast member played a brilliant part, it should go on TV or all around the country, well done to all of you, it was just brilliant.

It was, quite simply, one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I’ve seen. Oliver Mills’ score is brilliant and if he and Rachel Mann don’t make a cd I shall be really disappointed. The cast were all fantastic. Sam Gilliatt and Alex Cosgriff in particular. Remember Alex’s name. He’ll be winning Olivier awards one day. I don’t know if they have any tickets left, but if they do and you’re free, go!

Ollie Mills’ music was quite amazing.

If you live in the area, today is your last chance to see it.  There are a few tickets left for the matinée and evening and they are on special offer at £5 each on the door.  But booking online will guarantee you a seat.

Trust me: go if you can.  If you don’t, you will always regret missing the start of something big.

Vivinfrance's Blog

mainly poetry, also quilts, pictures, life-writing and the occasional short story.

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notices and reflections in ministry

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