27 October 2013

Good morning. I hope you’ve all had a lovely week. Ours was fairly miserable for the first part of the week although Wednesday and Thursday were outstanding – clear, bright blue skies and very acceptably moderate temperatures. Still, the sun is lower in the sky every morning, the leaves continue to turn and then fling themselves to the ground and the clocks went back to “proper” time this morning – yep, Autumn marches onwards and the grimy, grinding winter won’t be far behind.

By the wonders of technology, this is coming to you even though we’re not at home – we are enjoying a couple of days respite on the south coast with our friends Sue & Stuart.

We had some guests for lunch last Sunday. As I am considerably more of a hindrance than anything else in the kitchen, my designated tasks on such days are to clean the downstairs toilet and to hoover the house, tasks at which I am pretty good and generally quite thorough. So, on Saturday afternoon Penelope went to the market to acquire the various provisions required for the feast leaving me to hoover the house which I started as she was leaving. Upon her return, about two hours later, I was just finishing up. “My goodness, you must have done a very thorough job today,” Pen commented. And, indeed, I had – this was one of those occasional bordering on rare hoovering exercises where furniture was actually moved and cobwebs and spiders extracted from the most remote corners of every room.

Truth be told, though, what really had taken so long was the surprisingly large number of cobwebs which had developed in seemingly every corner of every room. I couldn’t believe that I had done such a poor job of spotting all these spiders and cobwebs in the corners of the rooms the last time I hovered (which was only a week ago for the last group of Sunday lunch visitors we entertained).

I was about half way through the task lamenting how long it was taking when I realised that the extraordinarily large number of “cobwebs” I was seeing were, in fact, the additional “floaters” as a result of my recent episode of Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) in my left eye. No wonder!

With an appropriately antiseptic toilet and a spider and cobweb-free house, we had a delightful lunch with our friends John and Indrani Gleave. Indrani was the head of the English department in the school where Penny had her first teaching job all those years ago and she and her husband John have been very good friends ever since. It was they who told us about the NT Live performances, one of which we were able to enjoy on Tuesday evening.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the National Theatre and, to celebrate the milestone, they have organised some “live streaming” of a number of productions. These are broadcast in cinemas around the country and on Tuesday evening the production was Hamlet starring Rory Kinear. So, off we traipsed to the Banbury Flea Pit and settled down to four hours of one of the most outstanding theatrical performances we’ve ever seen. It was outstanding.

Rory Kinear as Hamlet

John and Indrani usually attend the live streaming events at a theatre in Milton Keynes. The closest cinema screening the event in our area was the Banbury Odeon and John & Indrani advised us to get there very early as the Milton Keynes theatre, at least, was always full for these events. If we wanted a good seat, they suggested, we would need to turn up about  half an hour early. We doubted, somehow, given our acute familiarity with the citizenry of Banburyshire, that the local cinema would be anywhere near full. Still, we took their advice and arrived about 6.30 for the 7.00pm kick off. Before we went in, Penelope and I had a small wager on the number of Banburyians who would turn up to such a high-browed cultural event. I thought about seven would turn up; Pen suggested that there would be as many as twenty-five (the cinema holds about 250). Thankfully, the good folk of Banbury did not let us down – not counting us, there were thirty-four other sophisticated and cultured souls attending. Still, as I say, it was a stunningly good performance and the four hours simply flew past.

A couple of things caught my eye in recent days. Firstly, an outstanding time-lapse video of the space shuttle Endeavour’s final journey through the streets of Los Angeles. I know this was a year or so ago and I saw a couple of videos at the time but this one, I thought, was very well done and very interesting. (Sorry I wasn’t able to embed the code for some reason – you’ll have to click the link to visit the source yourself).

Space Shuttle Endeavour

Secondly, I ran across an article in the Guardian describing a man from Kansas having broken the world record for, wait for it, knitting a scarf while running a marathon.

WTF? What do they not have world records for these days? How many previous marathon competitors have decided to enhance their chances of victory by simultaneously knitting a scarf? And how does one determine that this particular chap had broken the world record? Is there some sort of complicated formula which takes account of the time in which the competitor completes the marathon, the length of scarf knitted and the number of dropped stitches? Now that I know they keep records of such endeavours, I think sister Susie should start training – we know she can run and we also know that she can knit. Go for it, Susie!

Finally, I was completing an online survey the other day about something or other (I can’t remember). It was all very straight-forward and, at the end, it asked me to select from the following to provide an indication of my age and household circumstances:

  • Living with parents
  • Young, single, living alone
  • Group flatting/sharing
  • Young couple, no children
  • Single parent
  • Couple with mainly pre-school aged children
  • Couple with mainly school aged children
  • Couple with mainly older children (15+)
  • Older couple, no children / all children left home
  • Older, single, living alone.

You can easily deduce which answer I ticked but seriously – Older!!??! What was wrong with just, plain “Couple with no children/all children left home?”

And finally, finally, a series of photos taken over a couple of weeks of the Boston Ivy patch along the back wall as the leaves change from deep green to bright red and then fall off.

Love to you all,

Greg