Thursday, August 1, 2013

London Properties & Redrow. Watch this Space - For Ever.

It's a real shame that those visiting Stratford upon Avon by train will experience as their first sight of the town a rather large lump of ugly disused land. It's not the sort of welcome that a town that's celebrating 800,000 visitors to the Shakespeare Properties should be part of is it? (See The Herald today). Still being referred to as The Stratford Cattle Market site even though that eyesore moved some years ago, the site was purchased by the 'Developers' Redrow and as seems to be par for the course around here (see London Properties - Bell Court/Town Square), nothing has happened for years and as usual nobody in town seems to be able to do anything about it.
Why do these so-called developers always appear to me to be waiting for something to happen before they start laying bricks? Far be it from me to suggest that market forces seem to be a work here but could it be that they're waiting for prices to rise so that, and perish the thought, they can sell it on? Let's face it you don't have to be a genius to come to the conclusion that land in Shakespeare's birthplace must be worth a tidy sum and therefore worth taking a gamble on. Like sitting on the Golden egg. It won't ever hatch but hang on long enough and something will come of it.
The other thing I'm puzzled about is why it's not possible for those responsible for Stratford's upkeep and therefore its well-being to put something in every contract that insists that work on the sites must commence within a certain period of time?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Oh no its the RSC'S Ricky II (humpless)

It was my brother's 60th a week or two ago and I foolishly declared that knowing how much he liked the Bard I'd 'treat' him and get him a ticket for a production of his choosing (though personally I can't understand his enthusiasm). So, as was his wont he decided that he'd like to see Ricky the 2nd AND I would have to go with him  (bastard). Actually I wasn't too bothered as I knew it was a long shot that tickets would be available the production staring as it does, an ex-Dr Who (David Doo-dah you know, whatshisname).

Anyway, in an effort to show my bro that I'd made an effort I went to the box-office fully expecting to be turned away. In fact so sure was I that I would return empty-handed and ticket less I'd been practising my sad telephone voice and raking my brains to offer him an alternative prezzy.

You know what comes next don't you?

That's right, two returns in the middle of the Gods. And all for the reasonable price of 45 quid each (*cough). Ah well, who knows, I might enjoy it (*another cough & hysterical laughter).

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ode to the Global Gathering

Car after car
of spotted youth.
Off to dance and find the truth.
Hats on backwards
tattoos exposed
something to drink
and shove up nose.
Tomorrow morning
brings tomorrows head.
'Turn those lights down

I wish I was dead'.


Have a good time.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

(2) Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to Be Cheerful (1)

If you want a good and interesting night out at the theatre then you really must go and see Second Thoughts Production of Arthur Miller's 'All Our Sons' at the Bear Pit theatre at the United Reform Church Rother Street. (Tickets from the RSC Box Office). I cannot recommend it enough, with some great performances and not a dodgy American accent anywhere in the range of the hearing of this curmudgeonly theatregoer, and on top of all that, joy of joys, it's not Shakespeare. 

Reasons to be Cheerful (2)

I've just read in 'The Thinnest Newspaper in the World' (The Stratford Herald) that my favourite Shakespeare Property of all, New Place Gardens is open (at last) FREE, yes that's FREE to residents of S-on-A. Just prove you live here (show them the brand on your forehead) and the staff will let you in for nowt. Mind you I hope it's not long before they re-open the side gate (opp King Edward's school for wayward boys and girls) and we can stroll in like we used to.

Happy Days.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Stratford upon Avon's Fertility Stone.

Found on Waterside (just past the Dirty Duck) the Fertility Stone has long been seen as an aid for those wishing to be blessed with Child. An ancient inscription reads...

'Sweet faire maiden touch stone so rough
and she shall find herself
up the Duff'

Copy of my Tweet (2) to @RSCpress

'I know, what about a season entitled 'In Shakespeare's Name'? Where the RSC showcases modern drama, u know, like it used to. That way we could all have a rest from this constant regurgitation and STILL celebrate the great man'.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stratford makes it into the Top One Hundred Crap Town List.

So here we go again. Dear old Stratford upon Avon makes it once again into the top one hundred crap towns list. This in itself does not surprise me but folks, I have to admit that it saddens me. You see, I love my Town. In the 70's S-on-A welcomed me. OK not so much with open arms but you have to understand that from where I was coming from Stratford upon Avon was Shangrila. So the people were a bit weirder than I was used to but it didn't take me long to begin to call it home. This was where I got married and this was where my kids were born and educated. Ich bein Stratfordian (is that right Ingrid?)

Which brings me to the infamous Crap Towns List . Stratford deserves its place in this list because over the years Stratford has been neglected. It has been squeezed to the bone to get as much from the Shakespeare connection as possible. In the meantime it chokes to death on the hundreds/thousands of visitors that it can no longer cope with. Those that we have voted in to watch over the Stratford legacy have for whatever reasons taken their beady eyes off the ball and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Of course what I am saying is not new. I remember much of the same arguments existing in the early 70's just as the rot was setting in.  So here we go again. Yet another 'experiment' in pedestrianising the streets (remember the last time?) More talk about a much-needed bypass (Yawn). The ever-present Mr Bird. Railways, rates and rhubarb. More of the same. When will it ever end...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Message from on High

Today I had one of those messages from Head Office. By 'one of those' I mean a message written in a style that gives away the fact that the writer thinks he/she owns you. I would imagine if mill owners every wrote to their staff if would be written in a manner not unlike the missive I received. It was written in a way that suggested that I was a pleb. That I was nothing more than an underling. Something to be crushed underfoot. It was written as though we were in 1813 rather than 2013.
Obviously written by some nerd in an office somewhere in the depths of The Cooperative Society, it must have made the sad individual's day. I can imagine the tit perched on a high stool scraping away with a quill, the silence only broken by the 'tap tap' of the quill's end as it reaches for ink out of a white enamel inkwell. I can imagine Mr or Mrs or Ms Tit breaking off from this major piece of Company Crap because the dinner bell has sounded. I can see them now, unwrapping their neatly cut sandwiches and chewing on them a set number of times in a pathetic effort to aid their indigestion. I can see them n - sorry, I'm getting carried away.

Anyway the content of this pathetic piece of drivel?

I was informed that because of the unexpected rises in temperature, I would be allowed to wear shorts.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


This was going to be a piece about how this weather has begun to take its toll on the general populace or perhaps more distinctly, drivers. I was going to relate how, in the process of my part time work (I drive around Town every day) I keep coming across drivers of most every type of vehicle who have grown horns and have steam coming out of their ears. This spell of hot weather has boiled their blood and tempers are short.
I was going to relate how this very morning a mild looking elderly gentleman driving a mild looking elderly gentleman's car honked his horn at me in what can only be called a ferocious manner and then, bellowed out of his window right across his visibly shocked wife (lover? No wife), that...'You can't park there'. All done in the tone of voice that insinuated I was some kind of idiot and obviously not a resident of Stratford upon Avon like him and his good lady wife were (Banbury Road I should imagine). Anyway, so pissed off was I that I was going to write something on the lines of...What is the matter with people? A few degrees rise in the temperature and everybody goes crazy. What right have we to call ourselves Europeans when we have only just learnt to eat from tables placed (horror of horrors), outside.
I say I was going to write something like that but sitting down here in front of my computer and in a mood to reflect, I suddenly remembered what my answer/my reaction to this elderly gentleman was. And frankly it wasn't very nice. In fact it was far too horrible to print here. In short, I'm as bad as 'they' are. I've grown horns, am blowing steam out of my inflamed nostrils and oh yes, I haven't had a good look yet but I think I've grown a tail.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another failed attempt?

It will be interesting to see if the new traffic restrictions outside Debenhams' High St will work. Apparently the plan is to paint double yellow lines which means, the Blue Badgers will have only a few minutes to do their shopping before our ever intrepid wardens turn up to dish out penalties. Basically it will become a loading area and I have to say, about time too. Whether or not anyone will take any notice we will have to see.
The High Street has been a major site of congestion for far too long and to be honest a lot of the problem has been the Blue Badgers parking their cars at all sorts of angles and generally being unaware of just how big (or small) their car actually is. Whether these new rules will change things, who knows, just be sure that there will be a huge protest from those who have a Blue Badge when tickets start to get written.
Whatever happens we're still going to have giant coaches barrelling up and down the High Street stopping and starting when they and their passengers feel like it, polluting the air with their disgusting diesel and generally not giving a hoot about the health of the people who live and work here, which is something I am really concerned about. Without going into too much detail here, the heavy particles in diesel are extremely dangerous yet no-one in Stratford seems to be concerned about the fact that when these monstrous coaches stop to admire Stratford's architecture they do so with their engines running.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Back Again

I've been having a little bit of trouble internet wise but am back now ready to raise hackles and make myself unpopular.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Too much Swash in your Buckle

Just an aside re Actors especially RSC actors. There's only one performer of Shakespeare that I've been able to get past the acting with and that's Sir Ton, (Anthony Sher) . All the others, in my humble opinion, Act Too Much and are more concerned with shouting, filling their leather pants, swashbuckling, pacing the stage with a manly stride and/or behaving in a clich├ęd manner that would suggest a recent release from a mental institution which in turn is supposed to enable us an insight into our own tortured characters.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

7 reasons to hate Shakespeare By JOEL BEERS Thursday, Jul 3 2003

Just found this. OK it's from 2003 and the writer is American but hey, he writes a lot of sense. Especially...

  'Shakespeare should grab you by the throat'

Welcome to the summer of my discontent: Shakespeare time. Time for Shakespeare by the sea, Shakespeare beneath the stars, Shakespeare in the park, Shakespeare outdoors, Shakespeare indoors. Shakespeare everywhere.
A cursory perusal of upcoming theater indicates that a lot of Shakespeare is either on the boards or will be soon. How much? Don't know. Don't want to depress myself further.
There are few things as glorious as a great production of a Shakespeare play, and few things worse than a bad one. Sadly, the bad outnumber the good. Long, boring and incomprehensible, they add nothing to the Shakespearean dialogue. They neither illuminate, nor comment upon, his limitless play with language or his brilliant insight. They feel like they're being produced by people who know they ought to love Shakespeare for people who feel the same.
Long story short? Too much Shakespeare–too much boring, mediocre Shakespeare–is produced on local stages. If you're not committed to saying something new, different or provocative with your staging, if you're not committed to cutting the windee phuck, and if you're not committed to the idea that, at his core, Shakespeare was a showman who wrote plays to entertain, I present these 10 reasons to stay away from Shakespeare:
1) He's been done to death.
There is so much other great theater out there. Sure, it's not free to produce. Sure, it's not as familiar. But we're going on 500 years of ubiquitous Shakespeare. I don't think papal indulgences, Aztec virgin sacrifices or burning witches at the stake lasted as long. Remember, every time you produce Shakespeare it means you're preventing your audience from appreciating a different writer. Recall the master's own words, "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."
2) Someone else has already thought of it–and probably did it better. Richard III in Nazi Germany. Hamlet (or Macbeth) in the Nixon White House. Othello as an Uncle Tom yes-man killing other dark-skinned people for the white man and constantly berated by a black-power Iago who spouts Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver. Conceptualizing, updating and generally fucking with Shakespeare is fine. But whether your idea takes place in outer space, the old West or a rectory, it's probably already been done. So why bother? Commit the oldest sins the newest kind of ways.
3) He's wordy.
Shakespeare never heard–or at least never heeded–the adage that less is more. His plays are filled with unnecessary characters, scenes, jokes and rambling speeches. Case in point: the ridiculously convoluted monologue in Henry V,in which a doddering archbishop rambles about the ancient history and geography of France, is some 60 lines long–nearly twice as long as Hamlet's "to be or not to be" monologue. Shakespeare makes David Foster Wallace read like Confucius; if he'd written the begats the Bible would be a 10-volume set. It takes a long time to read him, but even longer to sit through.
4) You don't have the meat.
The greatest Shakespeare plays I've seen locally have either featured fantastic ensemble performances (Mark Rucker's Taming of the Shrew at SCR) or towering individual performances (Ron Campbell in Shakespeare Orange County's Richard III, and the Laguna Playhouse's Othello). For the most part, however, inept actors who neither understand nor are able to deliver the words plague most local productions. Unless you have a cast, from top to bottom, that is skilled enough to speak the speech, don't waste my fucking time. "It is not enough to speak," Shakespeare wrote, "but to speak true."
5) He really isn't that good.
It's not just that everyone knows how his plays will end (Romeo kills himself, Hamlet gets stabbed, Othello chokes the white broad). It's also that he stole most of his plots, created so many unnecessary characters, and, if you take away the dick jokes and not-so-veiled homoerotica, really wasn't that funny. And even those who proclaim him an architect of the English language don't realize that a lot of the phrases he's credited with creating–all that glitters is not gold, it's Greek to me–were hackneyed in his day. "Oh, what fools these mortals be."
6) Period sucks. Period.
The worst Shakespeare is the faithful, the traditional, the kind that tries, desperately, to produce it just as Shakespeare wrote it. This is deadly Shakespeare, the worst kind of bardolatry. It is, invariably, the product of people who love him too much. As Charles Marowitz once wrote, "The people who revere him always do the worst work. Shakespeare should grab you by the throat."
7) Defining versions are readily available.
Yep, there's a lot of unwatchable crap on VHS or DVD. Roman Polanski's Macbeth, Mel Gibson as Hamlet, and the execrable Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo De Crappio certainly can be missed. But Olivier's filmed version of Richard III, his triumphant King Lear in a 1984 made-for-TV filming, and Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 Romeo and Juliet, which is about the horniest teenage fuck film ever made, kick ass. Some will argue that Shakespeare needs to be experienced live. That may be true, but so does the electric chair. "We have seen the best of our time: machinations, hollowness, treachery and all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves."

The French abroad...

French school children have descended on Stratford in their hordes for their yearly Shakespeare & Shoplifting (now combined) sessions. So Stratford's pavements (sidewalks) are awash with well dressed Parisian teens who insist on pushing the elderly into the road to be hit and possibly killed by the increasing number of illegal Polish/Latvian drivers who plague Stratford upon Avon's streets.

NOTE: (The above is a (albeit) bad Joke).

Friday, March 22, 2013

Alas poor-atishoo...

Just saw Hamlet going into Stratford upon Avon Doctor's surgery. He didn't look too good.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Slinger's Hamlet

As one might expect Slinger's Hamlet (as it shall, now and forever be known) went down a treat which, what with all the pre-publicity and this new luvie fad of releasing cinema-like trailers, doesn't leave me that surprised. Hopefully that will be it, no more Slinger wielding a sword. No more Slinger dressed in God-knows-what, looking earnest and thoughtful (see below) and moody etc and please no more Slinger telling anyone who will listen that he knows he's ugly and therefore not Hollywood material.
Anyway, it goes without saying, everybody loved it darling and of course I shall, now that there are £10 tickets coming up go and see what all the fuss was about. Although I, unlike the hordes of  misguided Slingerwrights remain convinced that Slinger's Hamlet will not make the world a better place.

'Slinger has been hitting on previous Hamlets – he doesn't say who – for tips. "They all say the same thing: whatever you do, it's one of the few parts where you don't play it, it plays you." He looks thoughtful. "Which of course begs the question, 'Who am I?' 

                                                               You are...Man with Pizza on Head.