Tuesday, 4 March 2014
In the absence of The Boy, who is the only person in our household who can mix a decent batter, pour it into a frying pan, and flip it, The Cats Mother and I had to resort to buying ready made pancakes from Waitrose. As we're out tonight, we decided to invent Shrove Monday. Delicious.
Monday, 3 March 2014
Of course, the weekend starts on a Thursday these days, so Thursday evening we went to the cinema to see The Book Thief. Neither of us realised it had only just opened, but that would explain why we hadn't read any reviews. It was probably a good thing we hadn't. The reviews range from awful to very awful. Not that it mattered to us...we both rather liked it. We hadn't read the book either so had no expectations on that level either. Anyway, it is (roughly) about a girl adopted by a Bavarian family. Her brother was also supposed to have been adopted but he dies before they arrive. The mother is gruff, the father a sweetie. They hide a young jewish lad in their cellar...and no more before it all becomes a spoiler. For us, the beautiful setting (there's no getting away from the fact that Bavaria is a beautiful part of the world) made the tragedy of war, and the Jews in particular all the greater....the parts were generally well played all round, and there's nothing wrong with some obvious emotional string pulling is there? If you want to see a weepy, this is the one.
Friday night and we headed off to see A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney which is on at the National at the moment. At the time this was a quite shocking play, particularly as it was written by a nineteen year-old. Many of the issues that it deals with - unplanned pregnancy, mixed race-relationships, homosexuality, bad parenting and impoverishment, are commonplace in the media now...but it wasn't hard to imagine the impact fifty years ago....to such an extent that if you closed your eyes during the performance, it was easy to imagine the whole thing in black and white. Apart from some overacting in some places, and one or two odd directorial issues, the whole thing was superb. It's unusual for me not to fall asleep in the first half of a play these days when the performance has been preceded by a glass or two of red wine, but I stayed awake, alert and totally engrossed. The play makes the point that despite the awfulness of some people's lives, life just goes on and on and on in an endless cycle which just repeats itself time after time...and it made it very well indeed. In itself it's a perfect period piece, and does make you reflect on modern day issues...
In a much more elegant way, we had a great evening at the Sam Wannamaker theatre...an evening of Mozart and storytelling. Not much to say other than it was a gorgeous candle-lit evening, and it's always a joy to hear Mozart played on original instruments, especially when there's some good commentary to go with it.
So, back to my header.
Saturday, 1 March 2014
So last week we went to see the sexiest cartoon ever created. She's not bad, she's just drawn that way...what a riot!! The Muffins came too...
Friday, 28 February 2014
What I can remember is that last night we went to see The Book Thief...another good little film (whatever the reviews might say) that we enjoyed, even though there were some terrible clunkers in it...evidently it was the Americans who occupied Germany at the end of WW2, and when one boy dies, he throws his head back in the finest amateur tradition. Apart from that...not bad at all.
Wednesday, The Cat's Mother braved the floods and headed down to Exeter for the day...a dress for a friends wedding was purchased, and she returned home safely. The Cat is buckling down to hard work I'm told. Surely there's some wool pulling over eyes? Does any student work hard?
I had to arrange for The Boy's guitar to be taken to him by someone who was heading out to Kitzbuhel. Have a had a word of thanks. Fat chance.
Ah yes, and this year we're getting a new kitchen...and a whole new room to put it in....I feel the stress already.
I've become an artist. Well not really. I've taken the work of two artists and combined them. One is delighted, the other is OK with it. Last year I get a small sculpture by a street artist called Issac Cordal. It was a little man with briefcase looking wistfully at a landscape painting...the idea of the piece was the concept of loss. We decided to replace the picture with the painting we had commissioned from Jon Everitt. Anyway, it looks fabulous to us...and works alongside Jon's other pieces
Monday, 24 February 2014
Also farewell to the winter Olympics..they may not command quite the interest that the summer Olympics do, but they were brilliant to watch. And didn't we do well? Especially considering our lack of snow-sports heritage. One of my friends from the 2012 Olympics was a choreographer for the Opening and Closing ceremonies which added a special poignancy to the whole thing. Now if only that Mr Putin could sort himself out and stop wanting to harass and harangue anyone who doesn't conform to his view of sexuality. Anyway, it was nice to see his mistress in the opening ceremony.
So Sochi has gone, but thanks to a very, very dear friend, in two weeks time this will be me:
Yes, a flying visit to Iglis in Austria will see him and me in the four man bobsleigh piloted by a couple of guys from the Team GB Sochi bobsleigh team. I know I will never have been so terrified in my life, but what an opportunity!
Friday, 21 February 2014
All a bit stressful.
Which is bad for me and worse for The Cat's Mother. I've become a rotten sleeper as I've got older, and never was particularly good. Grandma in Cyprus will happily recount tales of my childhood nightmares...and even now I can wake up in the middle of the night sweat dripping from me after a particularly tortuous dream.Wednesday night saw me downstairs at 4.00 am drinking tea whilst trying to settle my nerves. This morning I woke up thinking I'd had a terrific deep sleep, but vaguely remembered The Cat's Mother hadn't, I also remembered her throwing my arm away from her at some stage. Still I knew she'd been a little bit tense before we went to sleep, so assumed it all tied together.
Ah no. It wasn't quite like that evidently. At some stage she says I'd screamed out in pain because of cramp, and then spent the rest of the night tossing, turning, shouting and mumbling. Of that I have no memory whatsoever. But it does explain why I'm falling asleep at my desk today. I'm hoping she may be a bit more friendly, in the form of a Ukrainian truce when I get home this evening.
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
That little fracas caused us to delay a trip to Brighton, but we got there in the end and were pleased to see there wasn't too much devastation. Our place there is an old regency flat which meant that it was almost impossible to warm up as the wind was blowing through the gaps in the window frames and under the door to such an extent the central heating struggled. That's the trouble with a listed building...the option of installing heat saving windows and doors is just not there.
We headed off to see an NTLive broadcast of Coriolanus, which I thought was an interesting counterpoint to Ralph Fiennes film. The Odeon in Brighton is an interesting experience...it reflects the faded glory that is Brighton itself. Entry was by emergency exit because the main doors were locked. The booking office was closed. The person working in the Costa Coffee was also running the Ben and Jerrys. We followed people into the screen at five to seven for a performance due to start at 7.00, only to be chased by the usher who proclaimed that if the cinema wasn't ready we'd have to leave. There were all of half a dozen of us to start with, and a dozen by the time the whole thing got going. Once, they'd finished photocopying, the ushers came round climbing through the rows of seats saying "You don't want one of these programmes do you?". Yes we did. Anyway, thank heavens the performance was fabulous.
Sunday afternoon was spent at King Lear at the National with Simon Russell Beale. It's had marvelous reviews, but I was less than impressed. It isn't a Shakespeare that I've seen before, and the first half was a staggering two hours long. Anyway, there was a lot of shouting, lots of blood and death and I didn't nod off much. Perhaps the sight of a once proud man descend into senility was a little too close to home for comfort.
Just a word of warning, I've signed up for another night ride...London to Brighton. This time for charity, so at some stage I might well post a link to my justgiving page....
Monday, 10 February 2014
This is a digital-analogue converter and headphone amplifier...about the same size as a mobile phone. When I plug it in, the music is transformed. I hear instruments that I've never heard before, the music has a clarity that is mind-blowing, the positioning of instruments is phenomenal. Headphones that I thought were poor are suddenly reproducing music with an excellence and musicality that is a revelation. I have rediscovered music that has long since been forgotten. Once again I am genuinely excited about listening to music. Yes, I am genuinely excited.
This weekend we headed to Exeter...perhaps a little rashly given the flood waters that are rising across the south and west. As it was a long journey we decided to let the train take the strain rather than forage on with the Jeep. Foolish mistake. As we headed further west, we could see more and more flood water. In many places it was impossible to know where rivers ended and 'land' started...boats appeared to be moored in the middle of lakes. Horses, cattle and sheep were in places wading knee deep in floodwaters, telegraph poles and electricity pylons rose out of great seas of browny sludgy waters.
Eventually we ground to a halt outside Yeovil.To their credit, Network Rail organised coaches within an hour or so and we were able to reach Exeter in time to see The Cat in August: Osage County.
This is a very powerful and troubling play about a dysfunctional family...and a broader comment on the state of American society. It is a play that in the wrong hands would be tedious and expose all the flaws of any amateur drama group. But, and given the standing ovation, I'm not biased when I say it was truly outstanding. Superb, heartfelt and pacey performances complemented by a fabulous set kept us on the edge of our seats throughout. No wonder there were oohs and aaahs as each new piece of dysfunctionality was revealed...the characters were completely believable. I was indeed very, very proud indeed of The Cat and totally in awe of her fellow cast members...I am sure that some if not all have very successful futures ahead of them on the stage if that is the route they decide to follow. I'm sorry you can't go to see it as the short run has finished, but I gather there is a pale imitation doing the rounds of the cinemas as a plan B.
Thursday, 6 February 2014
We were back in Austria, just checking that The Boy was eating his greens and washing his underpants. We suspect he was doing neither, but seems very happy indeed. He took two of us out on the slopes mixing some guiding with some skiing instruction...and I have to say on both counts he was very good indeed. We introduced our two friends to the delights of the Hotel Erica where we have affectionate names for most of the staff. In charge is Frau Frau, her husband is Herr Frau Frau, their daughter who will soon be taking over is Mini Frau and her husband Herr Mini Frau. Imaginative aren't we? The lady who cooks the eggs in the morning is Frau Fried Egg. May be we should have a re-think.
This was the view across the slopes...the falling snow has been added by Google 'because they can'. At some stage they'll probably make another one of their videos as they did with our last trip...it's a thing called 'Auto-awesome'.
Another technology company that's been messing around is Facebook. In our absence, Facebook seems to have marking its tenth anniversary, and they celebrated by creating a film of highlights from all our posts. What it proves is that over the last decade my life has revolved entirely around The Boy...that is the sum total of it. With one exception...it features a picture of Auntie Gwen, but not one of The Cat's Mother. I feel I may be in trouble for that one.
Saturday, 1 February 2014
Possibly the only jar of Marmite ever to go to a Lloyd Cole gig. The Marmite is for The Boy.The Marmite was a last minute purchase on the way to the concert. Smuggled in I expect it enjoyed it every bit as much as we did. The musicians around Lloyd Cole are The Leopards. As it happens it was his birthday...he's exactly 6 months older than me.
Thursday, 30 January 2014
Ok, this is not a GREAT film, but it's fun, watchable and entertaining. I don't normally enjoy Ben Stiller films, but here he's quite restrained and we walked out with smiles on our faces. If only every film was as feel-good as this
Somewhat more grown up, quite heavy going, but ultimately totally rewarding because the performances are outstanding. We had a lot to talk about once the curtains had gone down which was a good reflection of how much we had become engrossed in it
This is one film that I was over-excited about from the moment I saw the first trailer a year or so ago. It didn't disappoint. Leonardo DiCaprio is totally outstanding, and the supporting ensemble do their thing brilliantly. A three hour film and I don't look at my watch once...it was an absolute hoot that careers along, only going to prove the devil does get the best lines.
Another one that I've been madly excited about. There may have just been just 4 people in the cinema including us when the film started, but by the end of the first song, there were another thirteen....most of them rustling their sweet packets and chomping away...irritatingly. Ultimately that didn't detract from what is probably the best of the films we've seen so far. Funny (hilarious) in parts, sad in others and very thoughtful and reflective throughout. Excellent performance all round. My advice is to get down to the cinema quick with this one. Pay very, very close attention to the first couple of scenes. And from the outset, ask yourself, "What does the cat represent?" We need to see this again, so probably a blu-ray purchase in the autumn.
Wednesday, 29 January 2014
I keep getting messages from The Boy headed "Wagwan". It's been a mystery to me, so I headed to the Urban Dictionary,
"Greeting in the Patois dialect of Jamaica, rather than a "bastardization" of "What's going on" though it is the equivalent. Originally evolved out of the dialect formed by African slaves being taught to speak english by the British in Jamaica during the peak of sugar plantations. Used in a greeting as, "Hey mon, wagwan".
So now I know.
There was a piece recently that said childless couples are happier that parents. I wonder where this sort of nonsense comes from? Is it from people who don't have children themselves and feel the need to justify their position? I've seen other meaningless reports too about parents being happier than couples with no offspring. These statements are all pretty spurious, as are all sweeping generalisations. We all find happiness in different ways. In my case, I always said I never wanted children but then The Boy came along...and it has been the most rewarding experience I can imagine. The news story struck a chord at the moment, because The Boy is away...and as far as I can tell, he is having the most amazing and wonderful time. He is extremely happy. Probably the happiest he has ever been. And his happiness has infected me...there's a tingle in my bones that I don't feel often, but it feels very, very good indeed.
He was able to ski with one of his heroes this week.
The man is so famous in skiing circles, he has his own bubble car named after him
We're off to see The Boy again this weekend...I can't wait!
P.S. I discovered you can't legally send alcohol abroad...so Hippo, I'm sorry I can't fulfill my promise :-(
Thursday, 23 January 2014
Monday, 20 January 2014
Down in the deep south-west, The Cat will soon be performing in a play at the University. She sent us a trailer