Saturday, 20 April 2013

the day when I cried at the theatre

I'm not one of life's weepers and fact you will hardly see me cry. It's not that I'm cold hearted or unemotional...far from it. I just hate crying in public, preferring to hide behind closed doors and sob.
Crying in public makes me feel very vulnerable, and I'm not one of those women who can cry prettily. You know the type I mean....the ones whose eyes well up luminously and dab at their eyes gently with a freshly laundered handkerchief .
Because I cry so rarely, when I do....the floodgates open. I can't just shed a tear...oh no, they come streaming down my face eyes become blood red like a daughter of Dracula, my nose runs...and I end up snotty nosed , blotchy skinned and looking a complete fright.
That's why I avoid sad stories at the cinema or the theatre.
I thought I would be safe on Tuesday night at the current production of the Hired man at Curve in Leicester. I knew the storyline well, the musical based on Melvyn Bragg's novel set in the tumultous years of the early twentieth century. I knew that certain characters die against the backdrop of the First World War....I knew that the story line was inspired by Melvyn's grandfather. I'd interviewed Melvyn Bragg the week before, and had a lovely long chat with him about his novel and the musical.
Originally he said "No"when first approached by Howard Goodall the composer who wanted to transform the novel into a musical. Thank goodness Melvyn changed his mind.
I didn't think I would cry....but I was swept away by this production, by Howard Goodall's heartbreaking lyrics and stirring music. so beautifully performed by the whole cast. I was lost in the worlds of Cumbrian hiring fairs, love and loss in a mining town and the horrors of the First World War.
Julie Atherton was superb as Emily Tallentire , the wife of hired man John. Young and flirty at the beginning...she caught  every nuance of passion and conflict , and yet she aged convincingly on stage .  David Hunter as her husband John was so credible.. and Kit Orton as Jackon Pennington sizzled in the love scenes with Julie Atherton, as well playing the violin. Just not at the same time you understand....

Julie Atherton and Kit Orton

I loved the way the cast all multi tasked ....with brio, with zest, with pathos ,playing a variety of roles and instruments. They were wonderful...even if at one point I wondered whether  Mumford and Sons would joining the ensemble .

Because I was so engaged with the whole cast, the storyline and the sheer emotion emanating from the stage ,I started to cry. A few tears at first...luckily I had a few tissues in my bag. I should have taken  more the time the cast were taking their curtain call and the lights went up, I was
...yes you've guessed it, snotty nosed ,blotchy skinned with red rimmed eyes.

But I wouldn't have missed this production for the world, and as I drove home through the night singing the Song of the Hired Man loudly to myself in the car....I thought what a life affirming night it had been.

The Hired Man is showing at Curve in Leicester until April 27th.

Here's the trailer for the joint production with Colchester........

But for today's music had to be this ...


Monday, 15 April 2013

Another Richard III day...and a new book

The discovery of the remains of King Richard III really is the gift which keeps on giving....for the city of Leicester and for lovers of mediaeval history.

Attendances at the exhibition about his discovery at Leicester's Guildhall have now passed the 50,000 mark, and every week there seems to be fresh developments on the story.

On Tuesday a new biography of Richard was launched at the University of Leicester. But this isn't any old book brought out to cash in on the King on the car park phenomenon.

It's a biography by David Baldwin,who lives in leicester and taught at the University of Leicester for many years.He also happens to be an expert on mediaeval history , on Richard III and the house of York.

More importantly, it was David Baldwin who made a startling prediction back in 1986....saying not only that Richard would be found in the 21st century...but also that his remains would be found in the northern part of Greyfriars.

After hearing that I simply had to go the launch of the book on Tuesday night and meet him. What  a lovely, quiet unassuming man he is  and what a part he's played to help solve the mystery of what happenened to Richard III.
After interviewing David, there was time to have a glass of wine and catch up with familiar faces in the audience.Richard Buckley, the archaeologist who led the dig for Richard III was there as was Professor Lin Foxhall, Head of the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History...both were singing David's praises ...

Also there at the book lauch were Louise Carr and John Vorster. Louise studied and now works of the University....she's been a member of the Ricardian Society in Adelaide since she was seventeen. An old friend of hers from the society, John Vorster turned up too with his eleven thousand mile journey to Leicester. Now that's what I call having a passionate interest in something!

Click on the link below to listen to my interviews, both with David and the Antipodean members of the Ricardian Society....

I'm thoroughly enjoying  David's book about the King he called "an enigma". Brought out by  Amberley Publishing in paperback, it costs £9.99

Today's track is by the Beatles...what else could it be but this? "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles.........

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Showing the way ...a day of cooking up a curry

Politicans are performers. They all are ...and over the years I watched them hold forth on stage like Shakespearan orators, pretend to enjoy kissing the ugliest, snotty faced babies as part of their election campaigns...and generally strut their stuff in front of audiences of all sizes and types.

But I've never seen a politican, the Deputy City Mayor of Leicester no less, give a live cookery demonstration.That's definitely a first!

But Rory Palmer wasn't auditioning for Masterchef, or for a job on the telly.He was cooking a curry in the middle of Leicester Market last Friday....

 He worked up quite an audience..and really seemed to be enjoying himself. He was, because I know he's passionate about food, both cooking it and growing it.

But why was he doing this? Well, it was  part of the city council’s ‘Have One on Us’ campaign which aims to help people make healthy lifestyle choices and keep well.

Market goers were given samples of the curry, a recipe card

 and a free bag of fresh vegetables to have a go at making the dish at home.

It was all to highlight the fact that responsibilities for a wide range of public health services transferred from the NHS to Leicester City Council at the beginning of April, as part of a national reorganisation of health services.

So what does areas does public health cover? Well,  it's all about  helping people to stay healthy and avoid getting ill - so it includes immunisation, nutrition, fitness, sexual health, tobacco and alcohol use and children's health.

So while market goers were eating the curry and picking up a swag bag, there was the chance to speak to lots of public health officials  about the benefits of plenty of cheap vegetables in a healthy diet.

So what did I do with my free veg?

I have to confess didn't make the curry....instead the cauliflower was smothered in a cheese sauce with some leeks I had knocking around , but the carrots and onions were used to make a low fat , healthy home made soup. But yes, I will be making some low fat curries in the future....

Any initiative which gets people cooking healthy, cheap food from scratch is a welcome one...and  I'm sure the Assistant City Mayor much preferred getting his message across in this cooking up a curry,rather than having to kiss snotty faced babies.....

Today's track is an oldie...."Show me the Way" by Peter Frampton...