Good morning on a reasonably splendid-looking morning with the added bonus of a favourable weather forecast for the day. Quite a contrast to the beginning of the week when parts of the UK had two months’ worth of rain in two days which, not surprisingly, led to widespread flooding. As the Guardian put it:
Britain’s Indian summer has been turned into little more than a wistful memory after almost the entire average rainfall for September fell within 24 hours.
We’ll have to wait and see if Sunday/Monday’s deluge was but a brief interruption to some fine, Indian summer-type weather or whether we are due to settle back into our normal routine of rain, rain, and then, just for a change, more rain.
As mentioned in last week’s dispatches, we went to see the Sunday matinee production of The Comedy of Errors last week and it was excellent, as is almost everything we see at Stratford (with the notable exception of one of the Spanish plays we dragged Sallie and Rod along to one time many years ago).
I’m sure you’re all familiar with The Comedy – two sets of identical twins are separated in infancy. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus which turns out to be, unbeknownst to them, the home of their long-lost twin brothers Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant Dromio of Ephesus. (What are the chances of that? And, even more to the point: what are the chances that two sets of parents would give their identical twins identical names?). Not surprisingly, a series of farcical mishaps and mischief ensue arising out of the inevitable mistaken identities which lead to wrongful beatings, a near seduction, accusations of infidelity, theft, madness and demonic possession. The production was outstanding and the Dromios in this production were especially excellent – their timing and facial expressions when confronted with perplexing cases of mistaken identity, were very funny indeed.
This was our first visit to the newly refurbished Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford – it had been closed for about eighteen months prior to reopening last autumn. Those of you who have seen a production there in the past will be delighted to know that they have reduced significantly the seating capacity and there is no longer a nose-bleed section in the “Gods” where you need binoculars to see what is going on. Instead, the arrangement is much more like the Swan (for those of you who know); the stage extends out into the audience and the seating goes around three sides in a horseshoe-type arrangement. The result is a much more intimate atmosphere (much more evocative of what productions would have been like in Shakespeare’s day in, say, The Globe, except that those on the ground floor would have been standing whereas in today’s theatre they have seats). There are two “balcony” levels each, again, surrounding the stage in a horseshoe arrangement so that no matter where you’re sitting, you’re never very far away from the action.
There was one “disastrous” outcome of our visit to the theatre, however. At some point in the proceedings I lost my favourite baseball hat, the Red Sox hat kindly given to our pal Pete who handed it on to me following his baseball odyssey. The weather had been a bit unsettled and it was raining slightly as we walked from the car park in Stratford to the theatre. So, naturally, I wore my hat to keep my bald pate from getting completely soaked. Inside the theatre I took it off and carried it around with me until somewhere, somehow I must have dropped it. In spite of our best efforts, we were unable to locate it when, at the end of the performance, I realised it was missing (as we were about to make our way through the rain to the car park). A quick search and enquiries with lost and found were to no avail and I have to resign myself to its loss. Penelope is delighted as she was constantly cursing my insistence on wearing it. It was faded and increasingly threadbare but, like an old sweater, it was comfortable and relaxed, much like me. I have a selection of alternatives so there’s no danger of my bare dome getting either too wet or too much sun but it’s a bitter disappointment nevertheless.
No rants this week, just a parody. We have mentioned previously the lying nature of politicians and, in one example, the pledge of Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister, to oppose any increase in tuition fees in the campaign at the last election. Upon forming a coalition government with the Conservatives, one of the first actions Clegg agreed to was the tripling of tuition fees.
Now, just before he was due to get a hammering at his party’s annual autumn conference, Clegg took to the television to “apologise” for his actions. It turns out, however, that he was apologising not so much for breaking a public commitment but rather for making a commitment that he was not expecting he was going to have to honour. So his apology was not so much “Sorry, I broke my promise” but rather, “Sorry I made a promise that I didn’t think I would have to keep.”
Not surprisingly, his “apology” has been greeted with ridicule and derision. There were various mash-ups of his speech posted on You Tube almost before he had finished the broadcast, one of the best being:
I tell you – lying is in a politician’s DNA. They just can’t help themselves.
Finally, I noted in Pam’s Whiner this week that they are waiting for the autumn foliage to turn. From what we’ve seen so far this year, our colour could be quite sensational for a British autumn – our Boston Ivy is already showing its colour.
Love to you all,