Sunday Sevens #15

Phew! These past seven days have felt like a long week! I was thankful for the weekend!

TroyDavid and I have been worrying about our owl finch, Troy. He became ill on Sunday last, sitting on the floor twisting his head. The phenomena is called twirling. It is very upsetting to witness. All week I have felt helpless. We have put him on a course of anti-fungal medication in the hope that it is an ear canal infection. Troy seems to rally of a morning but come nighttime he relapses again. We have isolated him, in the hospital cage and will try anti-mite treatment next week. His mate, Tux has joined him in his cage for company. The picture featured is of Troy in good health.

I think I’ll get all the sad news out of the way first! One of the main events on the world stage this week, has been the attack on Bastille Day revellers in Nice. In Liverpool, in a recurrent display, the iconic St Georges Hall was sadly lit up with the colours of the tricolour in solidarity.

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41dd4ZhCx5L._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_I finished the latest book I’ve been reading, Rachel Kelly’s Black Rainbow. I read it for an online book group. It was only 99p, which was a positive. The prose is about the author’s two bouts of depression and how ‘words healed’ her, though I think it was prescription drugs and support by health professionals and her family who contributed to her recovery. I was not enamored with the book. I drew nothing from the narration, indeed halfway through the book the author’s attitude really alienated me and I grew quite hostile! The many interjections of ‘supportive’ poems really didn’t call to me, highlighting that depression is an individual illness. My own mental state may have caused my severe reaction to the book, but on completion, I felt empty, devoid of any feelings, not even relief in finishing the book. Have you read the book? Perhaps you gained more insight than I did.

And now for the good stuff!

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On Friday, David and I attended the Liverpool Playhouseto see the Globe Theatre’s touring production of The Merchant of Venice, starring Jonathan Pryce. I was amazed to have acquired tickets as the play was a sell out! It’s not a play that sits easy with me. I find the antisemitism hard to watch. The Globe’s production relies heavily on the play being classed as one of William Shakespeare’s comedies, as the comic scenes starkly juxtapose the heavy drama. From the outset the play is performed with gusto by the cast. The musicians and ensemble came onto the stage singing and dancing 10 minutes before the billed start. David and I had just found our seats when the music struck up! The actors encouraged audience participation, to the extent that Launcelot (Stefan Adegbola) even dragged up two willing members of the audience to grace the action on stage. It made me think of how very different Shakespeare’s audience was to that of our own modern audience who silently watch voyeuristically from the darkness.

At times I felt I had travelled back in time as the stage design, lighting and costumes all gave the stage a kind of authenticity. There was much gravitas to Jonathan Pryce’s Shylock. I liked the interchanges in Hebrew between his onstage (and off) daughter Jessica, (Phoebe Pryce.) Rachel Pickup’s Portia was another highlight for me, she graced the stage elegantly yet her diction commanded you take note of her character! She had many a wise word to say.

Overall it was an enjoyable two and a half hours. David even treated me to Cheshire Farm ice-cream during the interval, scrumptious!

Saturday, we arose early. I dragged a reluctant David to Sheffield, to tour the streets in search of their herd of colourful elephants. We visited the Crucible where I recited tales of when I visited in 2013 to see my favourite actor, Jonathan FirthWe took in sights such as the Winter Gardens, Cathedral and railway station. We saw 31 of the 58 elephants in the two hours we walked. Below we pose with our favourites!

Have you been to the theatre recently? Seen any interesting art installations?

I hope you have a joyous week ahead. See you next Sunday.

Christine x

Sunday Sevens was devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins.

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Looking Back, and Ahead.

Among the highlights of the year for me, was seeing Cunard’s Three Queens wow Liverpool, visiting the Tower of London Poppies at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and of course seeing Jonathan Firth in a starring role in Gaslight, in Northampton. GoGoDragons in Norwich was the only night away from home, yet we enjoyed many days out and even renewed our membership at Chester Zoo whose Islands were outstanding!

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The musical highlight of 2015 has been a new appreciation of Dvorak’s 9th symphony, ‘The New World.’

Looking ahead, there are many art installations to see in 2016, and days out structured around them. Among them are:

  • The Herd of Sheffield, where more than 40 sculptures of elephants will grace the city’s streets the summer of 2016
  • The Big Read: Birmingham. Like the book benches seen in London in 2014, these new creations will be seen during the summer of 2016.
  • #PoppiesTour is coming to Caernarfon Castle in the autumn of 2016

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For many more street art installations follow the link to Wild in Art. Perhaps you will go to see one of the other exhibitions listed?

Chiefly, the event I am most eager to see is Hans Zimmer’s concert at the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham this coming April. The tickets are booked (though cost a small fortune) and the car parking is paid for. I simply can’t wait! It should be a fantastic night of music! My expectations are already sky high!!

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Though the run up to Christmas this year was not plain sailing, and there will be more worrying times ahead, I don’t want to dwell on the sadness but keep a hold of the positives. Christmas was spent with friends and loved ones and the New Year will be spent in a similar vein.

All that is left is for me to wish you good health and happiness for 2016!

© 2015 Christine Lucas.

Gaslight by Patrick Hamilton

I discovered in the course of doing some light research into this play, that its title gave rise to the description of a psychological phenomena, gaslighting. Gaslighting is outlined as the systematic manipulation of one person by another. This form of mental assault distorts the victims perception of reality. It is a form of abuse that over time can lead to mental health issues and even suicide.

This short review is based on a viewing of the penultimate performance, the matinee on Saturday 7th November 2015.

Royal and Derngate Theatre entrance

Royal and Derngate Theatre entrance

The Royal and Derngate theatre is a strange mixture, the old juxtaposed with the new. The complex not only features two theatres but also a cinema and spaces for more family orientated workshops.

The Royal is a 130 year old Victorian theatre that can accommodate up to 400+ guests. When you walk into the auditorium you notice the close intimacy of this theatre. The stalls open out in a fan before the stage while the upper galleries circle overhead. The first thing that catches your eye is the elaborately painted safety curtain, Sipario Dipinto as it’s also called. Painted by local artist Henry Bird, it depicts cherubim alongside people connected with the theatre, most notably Errol Flynn. Currently the Royal are running a restoration appeal to raise £30,000 to complete the preservation of this beautiful part of the theatre.

Safety Curtain at the Royal Derngate Theatre

Safety Curtain at the Royal Derngate Theatre

This Made in Northampton production of the 1938 play Gaslight by British writer Patrick Hamilton, was directed by Lucy Bailey with a homely set designed by William Dudley. The performance occurs entirely in a Victorian living room, which in this production made use of a transparent backdrop that was used to good effect. The only thing that didn’t seem to work as good as intended was the use of projections. They did little to enhance the plot and seemed to be a little O.T.T. in their execution. The lighting by Chris Davey however added to the atmosphere of the play. There was a warm glow from the fire and the gaslights as part of the set became almost another character. The light was used effectively to show the shifting of Bella’s psychological state. This medium, used in conjunction with Nell Catchpole’s minimalist soundtrack only added to the tension on stage.

gaslight cast

There was no fault to be found in the casting. Most notable were familiar names, Jonathan Firth and Tara Fitzgerald, both who have had successful television careers as well as on stage. Fitzgerald played the persecuted wife who questioned her own sanity. She looked tortured and tiptoed around the aggressive husband (Firth) who flew into uncontrollable rages. He played the part like Janus, one face was jovial and all toothy smiles and the second showed a more sinister, domineering side. Firth’s body language on stage was that of arms continuously folded as he struggled to contain his anger. Somehow it made the viewer question who the ‘real’ mad character was?

Photo by Donald Cooper

Photo by Donald Cooper

A welcome relief from the angst portrayed by the Victorian couple, Firth and Fitzgerald was Paul Hunter’s Rough. He portrayed a retried detective who had a penchant for the odd dram of whisky or three. His comedy was much needed in a play with such a dark plot. Without his presence the audience would have been lost in Fitzgerald’s madness.

Though the play was billed as a thriller it had all the hallmarks of a detective drama too. It was a thoroughly entertaining way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

© Christine Lucas 2015

In Remembrance

A while back I combined audio readings of letters and poems from Vera Brittain and her friends and family with the music of Karl Jenkins and Edward Elgar.

As it is Armistice day. I thought I would share it with you all!

To the fallen…

Thank you Public Sector Workers.

While some people were picketing and marching to Downing Street. I was enjoying one of the best days I have had in such a long time! 😀

David went to work as usual, meaning I had the whole day to myself! I did the obligatory laundry before 10 am and then entertained my mum for two hours with coffee and shortbread biscuits as she shortened two dresses for me! One I hope to wear at the weekend! 😀

The sun came out mid morning. According to the BBC weather forecast the North West of England was a sun sandwich! I’d rather be in the centre than be in the cloud and rain! The sun boosted my spirits even more!

After lunch, I with secateurs in hand took to attacking the Cat Mint that had overrun the garden! I chopped and hacked at the Apple Mint and tidied up the Coriander and Wallflower. The poor bees were confused as they came flying into the yard to find no Cat Mint flowers! They had to settle for the blooming Salvia! 🙂 While pruning I managed to capture a strange looking spider. A Comb Footed Spider from the same family as the Widows!

Comb Footed Spider!

Comb Footed Spider!

After 2 pm, warm with the sun glowing overhead I poured myself a small measure of wine and settled down to listen to my favourite actor, Jonathan Firth in a radio play, Farran at Bay set in Jerusalem before the British lost their control of the region. I really enjoyed the production, though it was about a rather sombre event and Jonathan had the most air time, which is always nice to hear! 🙂

Afterwards I continued with the wine while listening to Classic FM, and in bikini sunned myself in the yard before David came home.

The garden

The garden

It’s back to work tomorrow, but it’s only for one day! I raise a glass to the coming weekend and hope it’s an enjoyable one! 😀

‘Amongst the Bluebells.’

You courted me all day long,

And my heart believed your song.

You said I was ‘pretty,’

And I thought you were mightily witty.

 

By the hand you whisked me to a dell,

Where you said ‘I love you’ until I fell.

Around us shimmered a pale hue,

A mass of heads swayed blue.

 

By John William Inchbold,

 

There we lay, just you and I,

As a stream trickled nearby.

Dappled light glistened through the trees,

As we listened to the sound of bees.

 

Sharing a kiss here and there,

Your hands wandered everywhere.

Breast to breast we did embrace,

As I let you untie my lace.

 

Cold air on skin,

Surely this must be a sin?

‘Palm to palm’ do lovers touch,

Oh this really is too much!

 

A lone doe skittered past,

As you held me fast.

I looked into your eyes, wide,

How your love filled me with pride.

 

In ecstasy I cried out your name,

I really should blush with shame.

You made me feel all warm inside,

And your gaze left me nowhere to hide.

 

Afterwards we shared our dreams,

We talked until we saw moonbeams.

Stars shone bright up above,

As we revelled in our love.

 

‘Will you come here again?’ you asked,

In answer, I simply gasped.

‘Will you lie with me amongst the bluebells?’

Yes, as long as nobody tells.

 

Christine Lucas © 2014

Picture by John William Inchbold, British, 1830–1888, Mid-Spring, c. 1856, oil on panel

Trying to Keep the Black Dog at Bay!

I have been rather depressed this week with one thing and another. It has left me feeling rather headachey and stressed out about money. Work at the University finished on Friday, nice for a three week break but I don’t know whether I have any hours after that. I really need to find another job to cover me for over the summer, otherwise the trip to Scotland, Aberdeen’s Wild Dolphins and The Kelipes, with a quick visit to Edinburgh will not go ahead and I will be bereft. 😦

This weekend has all been about keeping the Black Dog at bay. If you feel down, ‘do something that you are good at’ I say, ‘something you enjoy.’ So on Saturday after shopping, cleaning the house, and exercising for 30 minutes I cooked David and I a meal of honey glazed mustard trout, (called Jack) with salad, vegetables and new potatoes.

For the glaze I mixed two tablespoons of lemon juice with two teaspoons of mustard and a tablespoon of honey. Then I smeared it over two fillets of Trout. Cooked it in a 180 degrees oven for 15 minutes. Boiled the potatoes and made the salad.

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I ordained the table with napkins in the shape of peacocks, (well what I tried to look like peacocks anyway), had a nice glass of wine and poured David a cool glass of Pepsi.

I even dressed up! I bought the dress from Jane Norman years ago and had it taken up, (as I am short) but thought it was taken up too much. I found that it fitted me well. I felt very glamorous and sexy!

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Sunday and it was the birthday of my favourite actor 🙂 David went to help his brother with his house and I relaxed home alone. I had a nice soak in the bath, with Classic FM playing and a glass of wine in hand. Afterwards I made a loaf of bread. My finest yet! Then chopped up many vegetables and made Blind Scouse! It was very filling!

 

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Re: Gardening. I was distressed to see a black ‘plague’ on my newly bought poppy. All the heads were eaten from it! Flowers are very expensive, especially if they die within weeks of purchase! But I am happy to see the Magnolia tree I bought has started to bloom. I just hope the weather changes for the better and we get some nice warm weather, and a bit of sun. So the flowers and myself can feel more ‘alive’ again!

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Christine xx

Inspiration or Insanity? You Decide!

Recently I was listening to an audio recording of Jonathan Firth in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. In it he plays Orsino the duke of Illyria. The play opens with his most famous soliloquy ‘if music be the food of love, play on.’ This got me thinking! The first composer that came to my mind was Gustav Mahler. Then a ‘flash’ hit me! An idea was born! Why not try and blend Jonathan’s wonderful readings with Mahler’s 10th Symphony?

I had not long since been given a download of the audio mixer ‘Audacity’, so I attempted to weave some magic into Mahler’s 10th. Where I think it really worked was when I used a clip from Daphne du Maurier’s I’ll Never be Young Again. I think the recording is one of Jonathan’s finest audio work and the clip I intersected with Mahler seems (or so it seems to me) to be a wonderful pairing, very emotional!

Where I didn’t feel so confident is near the end, where I used a clip from William Woodruff’s Shadows of Glory. Though not a bad narrative, I don’t think it portrays the emotion that Du Maurier’s work does. I shall let you all decide.

A word on the cover photo. I was listening to a recording of  Mahler’s 6th Symphony on YouTube, it was by the Vienna Philharmonic/Bernstein. I loved the cover artwork so I print screened and pasted it into Paint Shop. I changed the picture of Mahler and added a recent one of Jonathan. I am really proud of myself as I think it looks lush! I am not renowned for my artistic prowess. 🙂

I hope you enjoy the music! 🙂

Paralysis!

I’m sorry that I’ve not written my blog for nearly a month. I’ve been rather preoccupied with my own insane thoughts of late. 😦 I don’t know why but Mr. Jonathan Firth (an old crush from years ago!), popped into my head over the summer and I have not been able to shift him!

Then amongst all this mania I have gone and booked a one nights stay in ‘my beautiful’ Edinburgh to see the said actor in a play called ‘Good Grief‘. Then for the next day we hope to see the Giant Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo! I do hope all this money has not been wasted? Maybe it would have been best spent on the house?

Regarding the house, work has been rather intermittent on the main bedroom front but since Sunday, A LAST we finished the decorating! It has taken about two months from moving the stud wall to its completion. The painting of the ceiling was a real soul breaker as we painted it at least six times to get rid of water stains 😦 However, now you would not know by looking at it that we went through so much toil! The paper is up, thanks to the help of my Mum, the walls painted Antique Cream and the window is dressed by voiles and curtains from Dunelm Mill. The carpet was the last to be laid and sets the room off perfectly. What do you think?

We are also still awaiting a date for when the new £900 front door will be installed, hopefully it will be soon, so David can crack on with the demolishing of the shed and the moving of the back door. I am so impatient to move in, it is untrue, though my patience has been tried so much over these past 5 months! The winter is fast approaching and I am unsure whether we will be installed in the new house by Christmas. Fingers crossed we will be. 🙂

For those wanting an update on Riley. He is fine, the  Buster collar is off and when he went for his checkup the vet said all was healing well! He is back to his mad self again! 😀 I am glad he got microchipped as he does have a tendency to ignore us! Naughty Riley!

On the wild bird front, I have just purchased £50 worth of Nyjer Seed and Sunflower Hearts! I can’t keep this amount of feeding up once we are in the new home. We have over 20 Goldfinches, the faithful Blue Tit couple, a hoard of noisy Starlings and very fat Pigeons visiting daily! Mr. Dunnock has been spied in our new yard next door, and I believe Mum’s yard has become too popular for the little guy! I am glad that he has continued to visit though. 😀