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Author: MrBert (page 1 of 25)

An Unforgotten Life

I recently went to the superb exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery about Charles II and his art collection.  There were four magnificent full length portraits hanging together, all of which were fascinating but this one I found very moving.

https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/405667/bridget-holmes-1591-1691

 

Quote

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.

William Styron

Welcome To My World

Spent the afternoon visiting some squares and gardens as part of London’s Open Squares Weekend. Here are some snippets of the conversations had during the afternoon.

1.  [Context: On tube platform.  Station Manager announcement being broadcast]

“You don’t need to put on your sunglasses here.”

“They help me hear the announcement better.”

2.  “Part of me really wants a dog.”

“How much part of you?”

“93%.”

3.  “Have you done your diet days this week?”

“Gently.”

Quote

[I like all my quotes but I LOVE this one]

In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Flicker

It is a bit tricky writing about the theatre from the perspective of someone who works on live performances but who also cares  that the magic of theatre is untouched, but it’s a balance I am striving to achieve.  Forgive me for any failings.

Some of you folk may be wondering about my flicker.  Well it’s very important, but I can’t say very much more about it, as it is part of a play steeped in  theatrical history, and I can’t give away its secrets.  What I can say is that I have the weight of that theatre history heavy on my shoulders.  The irony is if you were to watch me at work you’d probably think I had the easiest job in the world, but I have an enormous responsibility and with one twitch of my finger could bring about disaster.  I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.  My job adds to the reality and the mystery – the atmosphere, the magic – of  the performance.  Not one person in the audience will be thinking about the little factory of operations going on behind the scenes – without which there would be no show – because they don’t know about it.  As previously written on here I have the privilege of stepping through a portal (through the wardrobe, down the rabbit hole) into  a world that is a unique mixture of magic and the utmost banality.  It’s a world that has to run like clockwork, and yet it is at its most exhilarating when it doesn’t, for whenever possible the audience must not know that the cogs aren’t turning smoothly. Then the magicians has to summon all their powers to keep the illusion intact.  That may be a member of stage management or an actor improvising.  It may be me rethinking which button to push.  In each case the thinking must be fast and accurate.  At worst the theatre is a dangerous place where accidents can and do happen.  Many theatre traditions are in fact what we now call Health and Safety.

I’ll be flickering twice today.  Joking about it is a way of not thinking about it too hard. Deep down I am a little scared because these two numbers are watching over my shoulder.

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Waiting For The Last Bus

Waiting For The Last Bus Book Cover Waiting For The Last Bus
Richard Holloway
Canongate
2018
Hardback

I picked up this book (partly because of its beautiful cover I admit) because I read Holloway's Doubts and Loves some year's back.  I found him a writer of profound compassion, with an ever-questioning mind and much wisdom.  He has journeyed from Christian fundamentalism, through the Church as Establishment, to the age of 84 as " a doubting priest" who writes and broadcasts.  I've been dealing with deaths of family and friends and knew I needed this book.  He writes from a Christian perspective but he is steeped in knowledge of many religions as well as science and his beloved literature.  Again and again he turns to quoting poets to describe the human condition.  To put it simply this short book is about us "denying" death because we have lost the rituals surrounding it that religion gave us.  But more than that it is a book about how to live at peace with ourselves, and how we can do that at the very end of our lives.  in so doing we help ourselves and those around us. He believes that we are resurrected through remembrance in the hearts and minds of those who know and love us, and writes much about the various ways we can create remembrance.  It is not a sad book, it does not depress  the spirit; it gives out hope and love. When Holloway himself dies, the world will lose an extraordinary mind.  But he will live on in the grace and wisdom of his beautiful writings.

The Word Is Murder

The Word Is Murder Book Cover The Word Is Murder
Anthony Horowitz
Arrow
2018
Paperback

Although this is a novel, it is a rather dazzling refraction of fact into fiction. Horowitz with his ingenious mind is playing with the idea of how a writer turns their life experiences and influences via inspiration (for want of a better word) into a narrative - a novel.  It is a very entertaining crime novel, with the twist in its concept that the storyteller is Horowitz himself.  Written like a memoir the narrative references his life ("fact") as "Horowitz" meets an ex-detective, now consultant to the police, who is investigating a murder and asks "Horowitz" to write about him and the case ("fiction").  The case itself without this extra dimension is clever enough, but although I guessed the murderer fairly early on, "guessed" is the operative word as I had no idea of the unravellings that followed.  And the ex-policeman Hawthorne is a  classic creation, it has to be said.  This could easily be a book too clever for its own good but for the fact that Horowitz is a master writer.  Superficially it is huge fun but you can also take it as an investigation of the writer's mind.

I listened to the wonderful Rory Kinnear (whom I've just seen as Macbeth on stage) reading it, and he does so adding even more entertainment value.

Notes From My Life

In the spirit of the great David Sedaris, here are some (recent) notes from my diary;  some of it written at work:

23rd May

To write or not to write.  That is the question.  Spent the morning writing to my parents as usual but as I was describing the play I ended up writing ten A4 sides, so I’m not sure if I can keep up more writing now. (A friend described my weekly handwritten letter home as “an act of love.”)

Applied for a very small job this morning – an ASM [Assistant Stage Manager] to cover one night at a  pub theatre.  £150.  Watch one night, shadow the next and work the third.  You never know.  Decided to presume there’s not going to be a job next in here for me.

I’d quite like to have a quiet doze now but for the actors talking on stage.

19th May

Watching this play, very much in the mould of a traditional repertory play, reminds me of a play I saw with my parents when I was a child.  I think it was in Cheltenham – we must have been on holiday.  I remember it was very nasty with horrible images at the end of each scene or act.  I specifically remember a character having his head hammered in – he was lying down, maybe on a table as the  lights changed and dimmed and he screamed, probably a sound effect.  We also saw Rattle Of A Simple man at the Savoy with John Alderton and Pauline Collins, married in real life, a comedy about him failing to have sex with her – they were client and prostitute.  And then there was Alan Bennett’s Habeas Corpus at Harrogate Theatre, I remember being astonishingly rude as only Alan Bennett can.  I wonder what my parents felt, thought or said about these plays and how I would react to them at such a young age.

25th May

I’d love a bespoke suit.  My own tailor even more.

27th May

Looking out the Green Room window and saw two homeless people totally drugged up and moving their limbs in the repeated “mad” manner that you almost expect people in their state to.  Later on between shows I bumped into a friend in Covent Garden.  Whilst talking to her a homeless man came up to us with his “last” Big Issue.  My friend opened her bag and purse in front of him and gave him £2.50.  He was obviously an addict and made a joke as a way of saying thank you which caused me to laugh out loud.

 

Quote

I can tell how intelligent a man is by how stupid he thinks I am.

Cormac McCarthy