Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...
What a wonderful afternoon I had at Leeds Playhouse ‘in conversation with Alan Bennett’. Not on my own, of course. The session was sold out and Alan certainly didn’t disappoint. Frail physically now, his mind and sense of humour seemed as sharp as ever as he read extracts from his diaries and fielded questions from the audience. Apart from a woman on our row who insisted on whooping every time applause was called for (and sometimes when it wasn’t) and couldn’t wait to get hold of one of the roving microphones, it all went very well. There’s always one, isn’t there!
6 May, 2023
Today’s show at York Theatre Royal featured a tour de force from Robert Daws as P.G.Wodehouse, better known to his friends as Plum. (Apparently that came about due to his inability as a small child to pronounce his given name of Pelham.)
I’d seen Robert on television many times as Bertie Wooster’s friend and fellow Drone Tuppy Glossop as well as in person when we both worked on ‘The Royal’, but this was the first time I’d heard him sing, which he did very well. As the show progressed, I realized how little I’d actually known about Wodehouse either, including the fact that he’d written musical comedies for Broadway in collaboration with Jerome Kern.
The second half of the show was darker, as it dealt with the aftermath of Wodehouse’s WW2 internment by the Germans and subsequent accusations of treachery when broadcasts intended only for the United States were played on British radio. There was also the tragic death of his much loved stepdaughter Leonora and his long exile from his homeland.
The thunderous applause at the end included considerable whooping from some members of the audience, including the lady who’d been seated next to me throughout the performance. We hadn’t exchanged a word, so I shall never know whether she was just an ardent fan of Robert’s or always carried on like that. Not as odd, perhaps, as the couple on the other side who’d arrived wearing face masks but removed them to enjoy the show.
22 April, 2023
This was my first visit to Boroughbridge Library, which is wholly run by the community nowadays.
The main part of the evening was taken up by York Radio’s poet laureate Olivia Mulligan (below), but Nicky, Sudip and I from the Write-On! Ripon group were also invited to read some of our work to a small but appreciative audience.
22 April, 2023
Always a supporter of local AmDram, especially when one of my friends has a leading role, I went along to the opening night of the Masham Players’ latest production. It’s a very wordy play and, as one would expect from anything written by Noel Coward, full of quick fire witticisms. To appreciate them all, I should have to see the play again, maybe several times, but the set was very effective and I particularly liked the way the ghostly apparitions were portrayed.
22 April, 2023
When our local croquet club advertised taster sessions, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Common sense told me that we were unlikely to be playing with live flamingoes and hedgehogs, but further than that my knowledge didn’t stretch. However, always up for trying something new, off I went.
The game was more complicated than I’d imagined, but knocking a ball through a hoop wasn’t too difficult. Until, that was, I discovered that the practice hoops were considerably wider than those used in actual matches.
Shall I go again? Maybe, but not until my back, shoulders, arms and hands stop aching from the rigid stance. Perhaps I’ll be better off just turning the experience into a piece of writing. Watch this space!
18 April, 2023
Write-On! Ripon certainly knows how to relax with good food and good company.
It’s just a shame that Beverley, Kevin and Dan missed being captured on camera during our evening at Ripon’s Claro Lounge.
15 April, 2023
It’s over a year now since I joined Write-On! Ripon, a group of lively individuals who meet every Tuesday afternoon to share work and swap ideas. We’re eternally grateful to the management of our local Curzon cinema, which allows us the use of their Lounge every week and their basement aka our Cavern of Creativity every couple of months or so for an open mic session.
Last night’s was particularly successful. Not only did we have poetry and prose of various kinds but also the first public performance of Caroline’s play for voices, which was inspired by the Salem witch trials. Several of us volunteered to read parts and it went down very well with the audience. The injustice of such trials, with no one wanting to be out of step with their neighbours, has been repeated many times during the course of history and it still takes a very brave person to stick their head above the parapet.
7 April, 2023
Newly retired couple Caroline and Dave have everything they have ever wanted; a nice house, a hot tub, a small mortgage, a few savings and a new smart meter. But with Covid and the cost of living crisis things are changing. Their son has moved back home, their money is disappearing, the hot tub’s gone, the lights are going out and the smart meter is stressful. No wonder they feel like starting again, and with their new found hobby of walking it feels like they have. From the Wolds, to the Dales, from the Lakes to Scafell Pike, they’re determined to get out and keep positive, but with rising bills, rising temperatures and the family home full, there’s only so far you can go when you’re living on fresh air.
Seen at Harrogate Theatre today, John Godber’s latest production had the bonus of John himself on stage with his real life wife Jane Thornton. Supported by Pete McMillan as their son, they presented a state of the nation comedy that expressed fears and frustrations that many of us have been feeling since the first Covid lockdown. Will things get better or worse in the future and what on earth can we do about it anyway?
1 April, 2023
Jeffrey Holland’s one-man show ‘and this is my friend Mr Laurel’ at Ripon Arts Hub last night was very entertaining. Inspired by a love (ever since boyhood visits to the cinema) of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, his monologue was an excellent blend of humour and pathos.
I also enjoyed the second half, when he came down amongst the audience out of costume for a Q & A session. (Can it really be 40 years since ‘Hi-de-Hi’?) As a curtain raiser for this year’s Ripon Theatre Festival, it was an ideal choice.
31 March, 2023
Here dead we lie because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.
Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;
But young men think it is, and we were young.
In the style of Ian Macmillan
So we’ve kicked t’ bucket
And does tha want ter know why?
Cos we wasn’t conchies
And nooan were gonna ‘and us white feathers
Or call Yorksher lads shirkers
We got usselves organised
Joined t’Pals and off we set for France
Us mothers wept o’ course
But they was proud. Us fathers too.
We’d come back ‘eroes, or so we thought,
Afore we turned nineteen.
It weren’t to be.
10 March, 2023