Friday, 19 October 2012

Oh dear

It's been a bit of a busy week, especially at work, so I've either been doing stuff or collapsed in word that's a good way to be!

The Cat's Mother was gallivanting on an away day on board the Orient Express with her girly friends somewhere in the Cotswolds...or was it the Chilterns? You could tell it was a party of girls because when The Boy and I asked whether it was a steam engine pulling the carriages, we got a blank look back.

I, on the other hand, spent an evening on an 'architectural photographic walk'.  I'd booked it to try and pick up some tips and hints.  Our guide was a Michael Palin look alike, so perhaps it was surprising that nearly half way through the rainy trek, he managed to lose three of us.  Oh dear.  We never found them again, even though we had the route map, and followed it exactly.  Anyway, we took some photos, and with a good deal of irony the ones that I took before the start of the walk and after we were abandoned turned out best...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A long way to fall

Do you remember the moon landings?  The first one.  The whole world stayed up late/got up early just to watch Neil Armstrong (God Rest His Soul) take a shakey first step on to the gravely surface of the moon (or the local film studio if you're a conspiracy theory subscriber).  We were all mighty was mankind's greatest achievement.  No one was disappointed.

However, I suspect there must be an awful lot of extremely disappointed people out there today.  A man, called Felix Baumgarten has jumped out of a capsule to achieve the highest free-fall by man (or woman).  The result was filmed and achieved the highest rankings on YouTube ever recorded.  A double first is never to be sniffed at.  But have you actually looked at the footage?  Yep, pretty damned impressive to start with. But, but, then switches to a view, presumably from the ground, of a small white dot sometimes in shot, sometimes not, which frankly could be anything.  I suspect someone just lobbed a sugar cube in the air.  Where was the headcam to give us the man's view as he hurtled to earth at 833miles per hour facing almost certain vaporisation as he reached ground zero?

I'm sorry, and call me a kill-joy if you want, but I was disappointed.  And that's why I'm delighted that someone has taken it upon themselves to make a much more convincing version.

He was not the only one to fall a long way this year.  Yesterday Lt General Sir John Kiszely resigned as  President of the Royal British Legion after allegations of taking money for lobbying the Government on behalf of armament firms.  What a sad end for him, and another nail in the coffin of the pillars of society I think.

Anyway, we will be buying our poppies this year, and probably putting in a few extra coins to the collecting tin as well.  Every year, the British Legion holds a Festival of Remembrance:

"This annual Festival, held at the Royal Albert Hall, commemorates and honours all those who have lost their lives in conflicts, and is both a moving and enjoyable evening. There is a matinee (2pm) and an evening performance - both are exactly the same except that the Royal Family attend only the evening performance."

I am particularly proud that The Boy has been chosen to represent Cadets from across the country.  If you tune in, you will see him march and play a key part in the Festival.  This is a great honour for him, and us.  Obviously we wanted to get tickets, but they're as rare as hen's teeth so we'll be watching at home on the Box.  Of course we will not be forgetting that this is about the men and women who have fallen on the fields of battle this country has fought in recent times.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Going over the top

There was a bit of a nuclear conflict in our house last Thursday between the teenagers.  It's been coming for a while as they have both developed in quite different ways over the last few years...there is a real clash of personalities and world outlook.  The fall out was still settling over the weekend, and will carry on for a while....which may be a challenge as we're all off on holiday in a couple of weeks.  Hopefully I've made it clear to both of them that they are old enough that they need to sort it out between themselves, rather than indulge in tit-for-tat 'they started it' tantrums.  But I have a feeling that it's going to be a real challenge unless one of them wants to show that they are big enough to make the first step to putting everything back in order.  I'm not sure that parental intervention at the moment would be the right thing.

There was a bit of a diary cock up some months ago, with the result that our Sunday was absurdly over-full. We knew it was coming, but couldn't find a solution that would sensibly work.

So in the afternoon we were at The Globe to watch a much praised performance of Twelfth Night - a production that has been very widely praised indeed.  So it came as a surprise that the first five minutes were dreadful, and the performance struggled to recover from that thereafter. Lines were tripped over, and the pace was...well not what it should have been, certainly in the first half.  The costumes were noticeably amazing.  I was completely spooked by the way Maria and Olivia moved around the stage, and their somewhat mad-making make-up...I can't quite put my finger on it, but I know that sooner or later they will feature in one of my nightmares...even on Monday morning I'm somewhat unsettled by the memory.  There was a stand out performance from Stephen Fry and another from Mark Rylance...but the person who excelled above them all was Paul Chahidi as the scurrilous felt it was a part that he'd wanted to play all his life and was just overjoyed to be performing.  Brilliant.  Of course, my perceptions may have been dimmed by restless Friday and Saturday nights, the fact that sitting watching Shakespeare outside in October is a chilling experience, and I was clock-watching.

As it wrapped up, we had to make a mad dash across town to get to George Michael who was playing at Earls Court.  I knew from attending a previous George Michael event that he starts early, and was pretty sure we were going to miss the beginning.  I wasn't that bothered because I remembered the last performance I'd seen was quite clinical and so there wasn't a high level of anticipation on my part.  But it's funny how things work.  We got there in plenty of time, and it was fabulous, fabulous was a real show, and he really made the audience feel that he was pleased to be there, pleased to have them there and was loving singing to us.  There were blinding versions of some of his classics from across the decades, and a remarkable version of The Police's Roxanne.  He was supported by an orchestra and the production was truly terrific - instead of the usual light show, there were hi-def visuals screened on to an enormous backdrop which were so realistic that you couldn't help feel that a flaming cross might at any moment drop down and burn us all.  A wonderful end to a long weekend.