Monday, 17 March 2014

Crunch time

Give or take an artillery round or two, it's a century since the outbreak of the First World War.  Whilst most of Europe has debated how to acknowledge that conflict, the Russians seem to have taken it upon themselves to celebrate by partying hard in the Crimea.  Whilst I'm hopelessly confident that we're not going to collapse into the conflagration that would be World War 3, there are some uncanny parallels between the start of WW1, and indeed WW2 (in the latter case, substitute Putin for Hitler and his desire for a greater Russia, and it all falls into place).  Anyway, kudos to Vlad the Impaler for using democracy as a novel weapon of war...normally democracies find it difficult to start and engage in military conflict...well if you exclude all the ones that Mr Blair got us involved in.  So on the one hand, I'm quite pleased to have predicted the fall of Crimea to the Russians, but on the other, I'm a little sad, because I can see eastern Ukraine and Georgia heading that way.  I'm so hoping Dave the Rave pops over to Moscow and comes back waving a piece of paper declaring peace in our time.

I'm a little bit stretched (read, completely under the cosh) at the moment, so I'm not managing to read people's blogs as I like....I think it will stay like this until that gives me something to focus on; a bit like a promised holiday.

We overdid ourselves this weekend with a trip to the Sam Wannamaker theatre at The Globe to see Knights of the Burning Pestle.  The key device in this love story was that a grocer, his wife and their apprentice are sitting in the audience, and just as the play begins they jump up and insist the apprentice has a part.  As the play progresses - two steps forwards, eight steps sideways - the grocer (played by the irascible Phil Daniels) and his wife keep interrupting and demanding their apprentice be given more time on the stage.  If I didn't know it had been written in 1609, I'd never have guessed's as contemporary as anything on the stage at the moment.  It was uproariously funny, brilliantly played by all the actors, and a real joy to be a part of.  For me the tragedy is, that if you could take it out into the wider world and persuade people to come and see it, almost everyone would enjoy it.  As it is, it is restricted to a small and somewhat elite audience.  That's a shame.

We were fortunate enough to get some returned tickets for Oh What A Lovely War, which has been put on in Stratford (the London one) where it was originally performed nearly half a century ago.  If you've seen the film, you'll know what it's about.  It changed our attitudes to the First World War.  But this revival didn't quite cut it.  The format of the play just doesn't really resonate with an audience not used to a music hall experience, and in truth the performances were tellingly week.  I enjoyed it more than the Cat's Mother, but it will be remembered as one that had to be seen, rather than  one we enjoyed seeing.

I've not been out on my cycle this year...a combination of laziness and rain has allowed my belly to enormous proportions....I can practically balance a tray of champagne glasses on it at the moment.  So with the sun shining, I decided that I'd ride into work today, and quite pleased I was as it didn't seem too tricky...until I got to a short, sharp cobbled hill at Three Mills.  About three-quarters of the way up I heard and felt a crunch from my lower spine.  On the upside I still seem able to cycle.  On the down side I don't seem able to walk....