Thursday, 22 September 2016

Wading in the Water

To the theatre to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Group. I have to confess that I have a bit of a mixed relationship with watching dance. Last time I went it was to see the critically acclaimed Swan Lake. 
When everyone ran on and did their dancy bit I was quite captivated at first. Then everyone ran off. Then everyone ran on and did what looked like the same dancy bit again. Then everyone ran off. Then they all ran on again. It seemed to go on for a very long time. Also the swan - who I assume was the one in the title, (it's never really made that obvious) seemed to take an awfully long time to die. I mean, he was looking a bit wan through most of it but when he kept swooning and then rallying I began to lose patience. I was on the verge of offering to go up and club it to death myself to put us all out of our misery but apparently that would have been unwelcome.
Alvin Ailey was much more like it as far as I was concerned. 
Point One 
Everyone in it was excessively beautiful. This is very surface of me but I like a lovely looking gang of jiggy people.
Point Two
It was very accessible, split into twenty minute segments. There were two intervals which might have invited excessive alcohol consumption at the bar if the price of a glass of wine were not the same as six bottles from Aldi.
Point Three
The music - atmospheric hip-hop through to old time gospel - was fantastic. The sight of twenty people dancing rather wonderfully to Wade in the Water makes all the tingles happen on the back of your neck. 
Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Samaritan Muscles

Whenever we go to London, if we choose things to do that only one of us want to go to, the pact is that the other person goes and goes in a good humour even if it is something we are not that fussed about. HOH came with me to Westminster Abbey and remained patient as I wandered captivated among tombs of the great and the good and I went with him to the National Gallery to see some paintings. We went to see an exhibition of the painting collections of famous painters. So we looked at the private collections of people like Joshua Reynolds, Matisse, Freud and a few people I had never heard of but what do I know?

I thought it was fascinating actually. I am no expert but some of these paintings were breathtaking and I am always struck by seeing famous paintings in the flesh - probably because I am a bit shallow. I particularly liked this one by Jacopo Bassano (no idea). It is a painting of the Good Samaritan. If you squint, you can probably see the religious people who ignored the man who fell amongst thieves, sneaking away in the background. What struck me about this was how much the Samaritan is putting in to helping the victim. He is really having to put his back into it. It is not just an inconvenience - it's a strain. He has bound wounds, brought the donkey over and is heaving the man onto it. Everything taking effort. It's impressive I think; the way it shows kindness. Kindness is a very muscular sort of phenomenon. No wishy-washy thinking of nice thoughts and not doing anything about it here. Sometimes I find the most pathetic kindnesses difficult - I'm a bit shy of the Big Issue seller or phoning someone who is unwell is a big effort for me. Not because I don't care - just because I wonder if they will think I am interfering. Sometimes I suppose you just need to roll your sleeves up and get on with it - like this chap here. If you want to make a kindness impact you have to get over yourself a bit.

Sunday, 18 September 2016


When I did A Level English (It was a long time ago - I think Moses was in my class) we read Corridors of Power by C P Snow.

In those days we would work our way through a book by taking turns to read a bit of it out loud in class. (I'm not sure how they work through books in class these days - probably by entering some kind of virtual reality portal together) Reading round the classroom was guaranteed to kill any interest a book may have had stone dead as bored, droney voices are not conducive to falling in love with a story. One particular girl, who wasn't paying attention, informed the room that the hero of the book "felt as though he had been missilled" (as in from a torpedo tube rather than misled - which was how the protagonist really felt.) This immediately entered the vocabulary of the whole class and even now sometimes something can "missile" me.

The other legacy was an immediate falling in love with the characters in the Strangers and Brothers series. I didn't just read the curriculum book, I went to the library and worked my way through the whole series. (It would probably have been more helpful to my A Level prospects to pay more attention to the book we had been assigned but there you are) Anyway, the last couple of times I was mooching in charity shops, I came across old copies of two of the books. They are a bit battered and the print is a lot smaller than I remember but reading them feels like meeting old friends and it is actually a very nice thing. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


"The Bible says that the Lion will lay down with the lamb but it doesn't necessarily say that the lamb will get much sleep." Woody Allen

This is a much quoted (and probably mis-quoted) Woody Allen quotation. I struggled to find the original quote and this may well not be right. In fact it is loosely based on Isaiah 11:6 This is it in the Message.

The wolf will romp with the lamb,
    the leopard sleep with the kid.
Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
    and a little child will tend them.
Cow and bear will graze the same pasture,
    their calves and cubs grow up together,
    and the lion eat straw like the ox.

This bit comes just after the promise of the coming of Jesus - a Green Shoot from Jesse's stump. It's a lovely bit of the Bible - full of hope and promise. The thing that the Woody Allen quote does to me (apart from making me snigger like a two year old behind my hand because I am not sure if I should be laughing at it) is it reminds me that sometimes - even in the mist of the miraculous - when I can see God working on my behalf or I know that he is more than able to sort things - I can still choose to chew things over. I still tend to continue to worry and to fret as if God can do nothing. I have known myself so fraught about something, that even if God does sort it, I am too exhausted by worry to enjoy it. It's my choice. I can do as I am told and leave worry behind for peace that comes with believing that God does miracles - or I can carry around my personal basket of woes and keep dipping into it. As a young person (and everyone is young these days I find) said at the front of church - "God is always up to something" And I think he is, it is up to me whether or not I join in.


Sunday, 11 September 2016


Plymouth Herald

*Walks in dragging soapbox behind.*

You may wish to go elsewhere but I am going to sound a bit miserable.

Aren't the Paralympics amazing? It is so good to see that, after all the dire warnings about the whole thing collapsing in a heap of indifference and lack of finances, everything is going very well indeed.
Looking at the athletes, I am so impressed by them and everything that they have achieved and it is heartening how far we have come in our acceptance of the disabled into our society. The thing is, however, that these athletes are very easy to admire. The setbacks they have overcome, the dreams that have come true for them, they are marvellous. They are also very unusual - a tiny, tiny proportion of the disabled in this country. So what if you are disabled but without the charms of Ellie Simmonds or the hotness rating of Jonnie Peacock?
Last week a lady who works for us had a genius idea to increase our profile in the city. She organised a Sponsored Scoot - arranging for a group of mobility scooter users to "conga" through the city. The newspaper covered the event and all went well, except when we read the comments section below the picture above, when it appeared on the paper's website. Many of the comments were unedifying, with reference to scooters getting in the way and the obesity of the riders. You don't have to be Doctor Bob to know that there are many causes of obesity - not everyone who is overweight is eating for England. For example, one of our clients has severe Spina Bifida. Her movements are laboured and exercise is impossible. Another has a drug regime which leads to weight gain. Everything is not always as it seems at first glance.
So before we all pat ourselves on the back because of how far we have come with our acceptance of the disabled, the truth is that we still have a long way to go. Not all disabled people qualify under our definition of "Special" where we look at these fantastic athletes and are amazed by what they achieve. When we make equal amounts of room in society for those who deal with pain every morning and those for whom a trip to town takes gargantuan amounts of planning and guts - then, I think, we can talking a bit more about having sorted out this equality stuff.. 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Points To Note

Ed Balls is on Strictly - Hurrah! Love Ed Balls. Am trying to ignore that one of the finest minds in politics (whatever your political persuasion - this is a true thing) is spending Saturday nights putting his considerable brain to use in remembering steps to the Argentine Tango. I mean, I love a bit of dumbing down as much as the next person but really.

FOW2 returns to Exeter University tomorrow. Bit early but as she has a weekend job selling expensive face cream to Chinese students who seem to have money to burn - she is going back to make that easier. (Last week, I spent an idle thirty seconds waiting for zebra crossing lights to change, counting the designer labels on a young, beautiful Chinese student standing next to me. I got to seven before the little green man flashed.) 

For those of you feeling sorry for me because we are sprog free (or jealous, depending on how you feel about these things) do not worry for FOW1 is returning to the fold in a couple of weeks. Doing a Masters has taken it out of him and he feels some time in the bosom of his family - having his meals cooked and forgetting how to close drawers after himself, is just what the doctor ordered. 

I am possibly the only person in the United Kingdom who isn't that keen on Sunday Night Telly. Although Poldark certainly has its charms and I am sure Victoria is ably filling Downton sized holes, they just don't do it for me. I apologise - I am sure it is my fault. I am not sure why. Anyway HOH has claimed telly to watch Beck on catch up. I saw the first charred body and retired to the kitchen.

Am loving Bake Off. There is just something so lovely about it. All that smiling through gritted teeth and laughing when you want to cry as your gingerbread London skyline falls over. It is truly a great programme. Can I ask - would anyone ever really want a gingerbread structure commemorating a great event in your life? Not me I don't think. I'd just rather have that raspberry cake thing that Selasi made last week. I reckon I could get all that in my mouth in one go. 

Went to Woody Allen film Cafe Society as promised. I always expect to get heckled as I go in to Woody Allen films for obvious and perfectly understandable reasons. However, I liked the film as usual - even though, these days, you often feel you have seen him make this film twenty times before, it still makes me laugh. 

Anyway, Monday tomorrow. The leaves are falling, it's dark in the morning, HOH has his Autumn cold and Cardworld has Christmas cards in. I don't get my cards from Cardworld because I feel a bit guilty about sending cards that are so cheap that you can see through them. Also, I don't send cards. Not really. 

I leave you with Aged Parent's damming conclusion about her friend who as just had an upsetting diagnosis. It is both anatomically uncertain and upsetting in its finality but that's old people for you.

"He has three cancers - one in his prostrate, one in his lung and one in a very dodgy place indeed. So that's it if you ask me."

Thursday, 1 September 2016


I am in the middle of a cinema fallow period. We go to the flicks a lot but there hasn't been a lot to see this summer - not the stuff I like anyway. HOH has been to see the Bourne movie and liked it very much. FOW1 has enjoyed seeing a bikini clad Blake Lively, on a rock in the sea being terrorised by a shark I have no idea if the main attraction was Blake Lively in a swimsuit or the actual film. Probably a bit of both. As FOW 2 is a film student she has not been too bothered about leaving alone for a while. I wanted to go to the pictures so I dragged various people to two children's films. There is a lot of creativity (and money) going in this direction.

First up was The BFG. Steven Spielberg's version of the beloved Roald Dahl book. And it really is beloved - in this house as well as loads of others, so the film-makers are up against that before they even start. We had a cassette tape that we used to play in the car that miraculously turned trips where children were in danger of being abandoned at motorway service stations to journeys where everyone was giggling hysterically. A real gift. Spielberg's version is very good, beautifully produced and written. Everyone is great in it and if you have no emotional attachment to the book - it is perfectly fine. For me - it wasn't my BFG so it wasn't quite the same. 

The next thing I went to see was Finding Dory - The Pixar cartoon. This was equally lovely. The tiny baby Dory is almost worth the ticket price alone. There is a very clever piece where Dory - who has short term memory loss - gets lost and her panic and bewilderment are supposedly based on the feelings of people with dementia. It was very moving. Also moving and I think a bit pinched from stories I have read about God's grace - is a bit where Dory fears her parents have forgotten her and finds out that they really REALLY haven't. It's lovely. 

There are certainly worse ways to spend a couple of hours. Me, I am on alert now for the new Woody Allen - due on Friday. I know, I know. I just love the films. What can I say?
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