Friday, 28 November 2014

Getting My Retaliation In First

It is almost the time you have been waiting for - the Overgraduate Advent Calendar will be with you next Monday, heralding twenty-four days of intellectual stimulation, unbearable tension and fervent speculation amid the thinking classes. Well, that might be over-egging it a little but you know where I'm coming from.

But I need to get my excuses in nice and early. In fact I have to apologise for the misogynist cesspit that has clearly been my personal experience.

Where last year I gave vent to my cinematic prejudices and the year before that to my bibliophilic peccadilloes, this year we venture onto a loftier plain and try to isolate cultural influencers. Not influencers of the human race but merely of this member of it. So there will be sportsmen, politicians, actors, writers and engineers. And why does this cause me embarrassment? Because I have the list scrawled in readiness and there is but one woman on it. I wondered about excising that name and promoting a list of great men, perhaps to save great women for next year, but that would be dishonest. No, given the parameters I had set myself this is how the list came out and I will confess to being a little shocked, even ashamed at the outcome. So this year you can again call me middle-brow but add to it the taint of sexism. Which is pretty upsetting for a feminist. Mind you it would be a different matter if I had to concoct a list of the twenty-four nicest people I have known.

See you on Monday.  

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

From The Director's Chair

It's over, my first experience of theatrical directing. Our production of Coward's Hay Fever ran for four performances last week and it all went pretty much swimmingly. I hadn't dared to blog about it along the way for fear of somehow jinxing it.

Conclusions? For the duration of ordinary rehearsals one feels a degree of control; when technical and dress rehearsals are reached one feels woeful; during the run one feels utterly impotent; at all times one feels rather more than mild terror.

What of Hay Fever? It may be Coward juvenilia but that doesn't stop it being good. Coward always made out that he eschewed depth but no man is the best judge of his own plays. This is a play about apres la guerre insincerity, but written with a caustic sincerity. 'We none of us ever mean anything' says Sorel Bliss in a rare shaft of self-awareness.

To all the players and helpers thank you for the opportunity. Would I do it again? Yes of course - but not just yet - learning lines is much more manageable.

Surely Some Mistake

Am I getting soft in my old age? Not once but twice I have heard Keith Vaz being interviewed in the last couple of days and on both occasions I have found him sane and reasonable. This can't be happening.

Exhibit A: Vaz giving a balanced and generous assessment of Theresa May in Week at Westminster. Exhibit B: Vaz criticising the same Ms May when she chose on Monday to unveil new anti-terrorist policy in a speech outside parliament.

Now I have no doubt that Vaz will soon be back at his self-aggrandising best but for now credit where credit's due.

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Dream

I took in another edition of Sky's My Shakespeare earlier this week. It was Hugh Bonneville on A Midsummer Night's Dream and this was a good little programme about a more than good little play. Circumstance has plonked me closer to this play than most other Shakespeare and I am one with Bonneville in admiring its multiple layers. As with all of the Bard it needs to be played fast and not too reverentially. Seek out a production and enjoy.

Ched Evans And The Nature Of Rape

Ched Evans was a professional footballer. Ched Evans was convicted of rape. Ched Evans served the sentence of imprisonment imposed upon him. On his release Ched Evans was invited to train once again with his former employer, Sheffield United FC, with a view, one presumes to his re-employment. Cue howls of outrage and an eventual withdrawal of the offer.

Consider these questions:

  • Is rape a singularly heinous crime? 
  • Should the punishment for the crime extend beyond the adjudged imprisonment?
  • What is the difference from the multiple instances of professional football rehabilitating dangerous drink drivers or other species of criminals?   
The answers to these questions are uneasy but it would be nice to think that all of the outraged howlers had engaged with them before howling.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Rogues Gallery

British politics has been at its shameful worst of late.

George Osborne spinning (argot for lying) a settlement of our liabilities to the damned Grand Projet. I question whether I can vote for these shysters even in the face of the abject Ed Miliband.

The government pulling a stunt in the parliamentary debate about matters European. Wankers.

John Bercow poncing about indignantly in the face of said stunt. Wanker.

Yvette Cooper spouting ersatz indignation at the outcome on the radio this morning. Clown.

I've said it before I know, but really, what a shower of grade one unadulterated shite.

Autumn Internationals - Week 1 Round-Up

For England and Wales, predictable defats in the accustomed style. Good news for Ireland however who were impressively bloody, bold and resolute against South Africa.

Wales - they have severe psychological problems. The players are good enough but something is wrong in the head. And the bad news is this - Australia aren't that good and you keep losing to them.

England - kicked atrociously and too many players are off-form just now. You do have to say though that New Zealand are dauntingly professional in what they do. The irony is that the model for such modern-day proficiency is the 2003 England team. English rugby has taken too many steps backward since that high water mark. Self-inflicted wounds.

Ireland were terrific, only word for it. South Africa are no slouches but they were blasted off the field. Made me proud to be almost Irish.

A positive word also for Scotland who beat Argentina. Bear in mind that Argentina were last seen beating Australia.

Most enjoyable rugby I saw last weekend: King Edward VI Aston School - 31; King Edward VI Camp Hill School - 0. In triumph ever modest.  

Sunday, 2 November 2014

A Good Honest Steak

The Roberts Clan were out in force yesterday, celebrating BDR's imminent eightieth birthday. The venue was Miller and Carter at Boldmere. They do steaks, good honest steaks. I had a T-bone after a starter of belly pork and I was stuffed. The service wasn't the swiftest but it was busy. All swilled down with a couple of pints of Peroni and followed by Australian fizz and a bonfire at the old Roberts homestead.