Wednesday, September 21, 2016

This 'n' That

Well, for a start-off I can't think of a title for this post. I usually attempt to find something alliterative. Well, if you don't know what it means (and shame on you.) it's words with the same initial letter that sound similar. 

The Police have packed up and left the 'crime scene' in Osprey Close. Although they left the peculiar blue box, shades of Doctor Who's 'Tardis' time machine. It's obvious what it is. A portable toilet. They had to make sure the Boys In Blue had somewhere to go, didn't they? Every possible 'convenience' at hand. We'll know sooner or later the outcome of this incident, although someone has been charged and was before the Magistrate's Court last week. I forget the person's name but it's bound to be in the local media.

The grass at the rear of the house has been growing steadily over the past couple of weeks. It's had plenty of sun and more recently rain, which might explain why it's got so long. I have been putting off mowing it, and this morning I got the mower out and attempted around half. The rest can be done tomorrow. It's mild weather-wise and I was hot when I finished. 

We have a good crop of blackberries on the brambles that overhang the fence at the end of the garden and there are quite a few along the Redway. I will get out tomorrow and pick some. 

I have been watching the film of "The Lady In The Van." This is a film based on Alan Bennet's stage play of the same name and starring the brilliant actress Maggie Smith. She who was the Dowager Duchess in "Downton Abbey." A very different character to the character she portrays in "The Lady In The Van." I have been an admirer of hers since I was around 16. I think I must have first seen her in the film "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie." I studied "Othello" by William Shakespeare as part of my 'A' Level English course and saw her opposite Laurence Olivier in the film of "Othello" when she played Desdemona. And then in a very amusing film with another actor, I always liked, Peter Ustinov, called "Hot Millions." He plays her boss in an office and she is the cleaning lady who comes in to clean his office and they set up a scam to trick money out of the company when she bangs down her mop bucket near the company computer. She couldn't have been much more than in her late twenties or early thirties when she made that. As for Peter Ustinov. What a talented man he was. Not only a great actor but also a playwright of some renown. He wrote "Romanov and Juliet" and I saw him in  a wonderful play called "Beethoven's Tenth" where he plays Ludwig Van Beethoven, who is made to appear as (possibly) a ghost by a music critic played by Robin  Bailey. (best known probably for playing Uncle Mort in the Peter Tinniswood sit-com called "I Didn't Know You Cared.") I might be right in thinking that Beethoven is given a hearing aid and is able to hear recordings of his symphonies for the first time. Ustinov stole the show, and it was extremely clever and funny.

I saw Maggie Smith in the Noel Coward play "Private Lives" when she played Amanda to her then-husband Robert Stephens, who played Eliot (originally played by Noel Coward himself and Gertrude Lawrence in the 1930's original production.)  This production was at the Phoenix Theatre in London, and, I believe, was directed by Sir John Gielgud. When I was an A.S.M. in Colchester in the early 1970's we did our own production of this play and I have been a Coward fan ever since. His plays never seem to be out of fashion, unlike a lot of other playwrights of that period. Just as amusing as when they were written and in some cases more relevant today than when  they were first produced. Such plays of his, as "Hay Fever" and "Blithe Spirit" are constantly being revived.

As for Alan Bennet, I have also enjoyed his work. He did a lot of plays for the BBC and a number with Dame Thora Hurd. He wrote a series of monologues for the likes of Thora Hird, Maggie Smith, and Patricia Routledge and called "Talking Heads." The first play of his I remember was a black-and-white television film about a gang of Edwardian cyclists. Very little plot and, being set in that idyllic realm immediately before the First World War, had a very poignant ending. A definite 'must see' if you get a chance. He's since done most of his writing work for the National Theatre, such as 'The History Boys' which was made into a film in the early 2000's.



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