17 November 2013

Another good week – pretty reasonable weather all told, some bright sunny days with some frosty mornings – we’re clearly on that slippery slope down into the depths of winter, though – it’s getting a bit brisk on those afternoon dog walks and the sun sets earlier every day.

We had a lovely evening out on Wednesday – we attended another live streaming of a play at the Banbury cinema. This time it was a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Richard II with David Tennant. This was the RSC’s first live streaming event from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon and, apparently, it was available in cinemas all over the world!

Another good week – pretty reasonable weather all told, some bright sunny days with some frosty mornings – we’re clearly on that slippery slope down into the depths of winter.  We had a lovely evening out on Wednesday – we attended another live streaming of a play at the Banbury cinema. This time it was a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Richard II starring David Tennant. This was the RSC’s first live streaming event from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon and, apparently, it was available in cinemas all over the world!  Clearly there is a certain atmosphere at a live theatre event which the cinema screening doesn’t quite capture (even though you are getting a live audio feed from the theatre including the murmuring and chattering of the audience before the play commences along with their coughs and wheezes – fortunately, no mobile phones). On the other hand, the visual experience at the cinema is perhaps even better than one gets at the theatre – the different camera angles and close-ups give one an excellent visual experience.  The performance itself was excellent, as we’ve come to expect from the RSC. Richard II is not a play with which I was familiar; I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen it and I don’t think I’ve read it either. Still, I was vaguely familiar with the history so knew more or less what was going on most of the time. The language on this occasion was a bit more challenging than the Hamlet we saw a few weeks ago and many other Shakespearean plays – apparently, this is one of only two plays Shakespeare wrote entirely in verse.  It was a great performance which we thoroughly enjoyed and you can’t beat the ticket prices – about a fifth of what one would have to pay to attend the theatre in Stratford even if you could get hold of a ticket. Every performance is sold out, not only at Stratford but also when it transfers to the Barbican in December and the New Year. We’re looking forward to the next one.  I solved my Christmas shopping in a heartbeat last week when I realised what I need to purchase for Penelope – a high visibility vest for when we go grocery shopping in Tesco. When we shop I am sometimes trusted to wander off and collect a handful of items (never more than three or four or I will have forgotten what I was sent to acquire) and then return to Penelope to deposit my items in the cart and be sent out on another mission. So, there I was the other day having collected a bag of bread flour, yeast, a bag of oatmeal and two bags of ground coffee, wandering up and down the main, central aisle looking left and right, up and down every other aisle looking for my sweetheart. The trouble is, everyone seems to wear essentially the same colour outfit – dark trousers and a dark jacket – and there are a lot of very attractive women, just like Penelope, shopping in Tesco that day. I did indeed approach several very nice women and almost deposited my items in someone else’s trolley before realising my mistake just in time!  Penny would certainly stand out if she were wearing a high visibility vest  and I would be able to spot her easily. This would have the bonus of speeding up our shopping expeditions as I could be despatched more frequently to the far-flung regions of the super market to collect an ever-widening range of products.  Pen suggests that instead of a high viz jacket, I could acquire some sort of hat or helmet or headband which could accommodate a flashing blue light similar to those employed by unmarked police cars when they need to chase a dangerous criminal. That would probably work just as well but I think I can source a jacket more easily. (Only £2.20 at Amazon).  Me? I am easy to find. I’m the sad old geezer wandering up and down the store searching for my sweetheart. I’m also the only one wearing a Boston Red Sox cap.  The other day I had an amusing experience, one which I haven’t enjoyed since we were in Tuscany a couple of years ago and before that not since the last public performance by the Toupée Brothers in 2001.   When we were in Tuscany two summers ago, Adam, Penny, Judi and I visited the charming mountain-top village of Montefegatesi. We dropped into the local bar for a drink and/or ice cream and encountered the bar keeper who was wearing the most obvious “rug” or wig to conceal his lack of hair. It was rather like a dusty ferret balanced precariously but, at the same time, resting comfortably on the top of his head. It was all we could do to stop ourselves laughing while we discussed how he (an American from Brooklyn) had come to be resident in the village. Many of you will remember that this was a similar look employed by the Toupée Brothers during their 2001: A Stragoddity tour. (And, if you don’t remember, you can remind yourself here. Women and children should be warned – this is a very graphic photograph which could be quite disturbing to those with a sensitive disposition).  On Monday morning last week as I was walking Molly down to the recreation ground for our morning constitutional, I met a man coming the other way. As we passed one another on the footpath I did a double-take. Here was a chap wearing a “rug” with a magnificent, thick dark-chocolate coloured fleece. I am guessing that he started losing his hair in his 30s or 40s when his hair was, indeed, a deep dark-chocolate colour. So, he naturally purchased a “rug” with which to hide his hair loss. Now, he’s probably in his late 40s or 50s and his hair, what remains, is mainly grey with a handful of dark speckles. So, you can imagine how amusingly ridiculous he looked with a chocolate-coloured rug perched precariously on the top of his head in stark contrast to the rest of his greying hair. Somewhat like a dead hedgehog draped over a grey stone. Naturally, it reminded me of our Tuscan bartender and the Toupée Brothers – perhaps he purchased his rug from the same comedy emporium.  From time to time I’ve launched off on a rant about the continual (and continuing) government assertions that “hordes of foreigners” are stampeding into the UK to take advantage of the “generous” benefits allegedly available here. The evidence, as we’ve noted in the past, suggests that this is not true and that migrants actually contribute more to the UK economy than they extract through benefits. I was delighted, therefore, to spot the following cartoon in the latest issue of Private Eye. (For those of you who don’t know, UKIP, the UK Independence Party, is even loonier than the more rabidly loony elements of the Conservative party. Rather like the Tea Party to the Republicans).  I ran across a lovely photo collection in the Guardian the other day - The World’s Oddest Jobs – In Pictures. Nancy Rica Schiff is a professional photographer who hunts down people working in the world's more unusual occupations. Some of the examples here are pretty tame – i.e., a potato chip inspector or the chap who dusts the dinosaur bones at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. Some of the others are, however, quite bizarre no matter how you look at it. But heck, I guess someone has to do it! Perhaps your ideal job is waiting for you here.  Much love to you all,  GregClearly there is a certain atmosphere at a live theatre event which the cinema screening doesn’t quite capture (even though you are getting a live audio feed from the theatre including the murmuring and chattering of the audience before the play commences along with their coughs and wheezes – fortunately, no mobile phones). On the other hand, the visual experience at the cinema is perhaps even better in some ways than one gets at the theatre – the different camera angles and close-ups give one an excellent visual experience.

The performance itself was very good, as one would expect from the RSC. Richard II is not a play with which I was familiar; I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen it and I don’t think I’ve read it either. Still, I was vaguely familiar with the history so knew more or less what was going on most of the time. The language on this occasion was a bit more challenging than the Hamlet we saw a few weeks ago – apparently, this is one of only two plays Shakespeare wrote entirely in verse.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and you can’t beat the ticket prices – about a fifth of what one would have to pay to attend the theatre in Stratford even if you could get hold of a ticket. Every performance is sold out, not only at Stratford but also when it transfers to the Barbican in December and the New Year. We’re looking forward to the next one.

I solved my Christmas shopping in a heartbeat last week when I realised what I need to purchase for Penelope – a high visibility vest for when we go grocery shopping in Tesco. When we shop I am sometimes trusted to wander off and collect a handful of items (never more than three or four or I will have forgotten what I was sent to acquire) and then return to deposit my items in the cart and be sent out on another mission. So, there I was the other day having collected a bag of bread flour, yeast, a bag of oatmeal and two bags of ground coffee, wandering up and down the main, central aisle looking left and right, up and down every other aisle searching for my sweetheart. The trouble is, everyone seems to wear essentially the same colour outfit – dark trousers and a dark jacket – and there were a lot of very attractive women, just like Penelope, shopping in Tesco that day. I did indeed approach several and almost deposited my items in someone else’s trolley before realising my mistake just in time!

high_visibility_vestPenny would certainly stand out if she were wearing a high visibility vest  and I would be able to spot her easily. This would have the bonus of speeding up our shopping expeditions as I could be despatched more frequently to the far-flung regions of the super market to collect an ever-widening range of products.

Pen suggests that instead of a high viz jacket, I could acquire some sort of hat or helmet or headband which could accommodate a flashing blue light similar to those employed by unmarked police cars when they need to chase a dangerous criminal. That would probably work just as well but I think I can source a jacket more easily. (Only £2.20 at Amazon).

Me? I am easy to find. I’m the sad old geezer wandering up and down the store searching for my sweetheart. I’m also the only one wearing a Boston Red Sox cap.

ForeignersFrom time to time I’ve launched off on a rant about the continual (and continuing) government assertions that “hordes of foreigners” are stampeding into the UK to take advantage of the “generous” benefits allegedly available here. The evidence, as we’ve noted in the past, suggests that this is not true and that migrants actually contribute more to the UK economy than they extract through benefits. I was delighted, therefore, to spot this cartoon in the latest issue of Private Eye. (For those of you who don’t know, UKIP, the UK Independence Party, is even loonier than the more rabidly loony elements of the Conservative party. Rather like the Tea Party to the Republicans).

The other day I had an amusing experience, one which I haven’t enjoyed since we were in Tuscany a couple of years ago and before that not since the last public performance by the Toupée Brothers in 2001.

When we were in Tuscany two summers ago, Adam, Penny, Judi and I visited the charming mountain-top village of Montefegatesi. We dropped into the local bar for a drink and/or ice cream and encountered the owner who was wearing the most obvious “rug” or wig to conceal his lack of hair. It was rather like a dusty ferret balanced precariously but, at the same time, resting comfortably on the top of his head. It was all we could do to stop ourselves laughing while we discussed how he (an American from Brooklyn) had come to be resident in the village. Many of you will remember that this was a similar look employed by the Toupée Brothers during their 2001: A Stragoddity tour. (And, if you don’t remember, you can remind yourself here. Women and children should be warned – this is a very graphic photograph which could be quite disturbing to those with a sensitive disposition).

On Monday morning last week as I was walking Molly down to the recreation ground for our morning constitutional, I met a man coming the other way. As we passed one another on the footpath I did a double-take. Here was a chap wearing a “rug” with a magnificent, thick dark-chocolate coloured fleece. I am guessing that he started losing his hair in his 30s or 40s when his hair was, indeed, a deep dark-chocolate colour. So, he naturally purchased a “rug” with which to hide his bald patch. Now, he’s probably in his late 40s or 50s and his hair, what remains, is mainly grey with a handful of dark speckles. So, you can imagine how amusingly ridiculous he looked with a chocolate-coloured fleece perched precariously on the top of his head in stark contrast to the rest of his greying hair. Somewhat like a dead hedgehog draped over a granite stone. Naturally, it reminded me of our Tuscan bartender and the Toupée Brothers – perhaps he purchased his rug from the same comedy emporium.

Dog Food TasterI ran across a lovely photo collection in the Guardian the other day – The World’s Oddest Jobs – In Pictures. Nancy Rica Schiff is a professional photographer who hunts down people working in the world’s more unusual occupations. Some of the examples here are pretty tame – i.e., a potato chip inspector or the chap who dusts the dinosaur bones at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. Some of the others are, however, quite bizarre no matter how you look at it. But heck, I guess someone has to do it! Perhaps your ideal job is waiting for you here.

Greedy Energy Companies Update

You will remember that a couple of weeks ago I had a little rant about the Big 6 energy companies raising their prices well beyond the rate of inflation and/or the wholesale price of gas and/or electricity at the same time as their profits have gone through the roof.

Now, an article in yesterday’s Guardian reveals that the Big 6 have charged customers as much as £1bn while completing as little as 3% of the “green and social measures” they are required to carry out in return for the money. For the past couple of years customers’ bills have carried a surcharge which is intended to fund these green measures (solid and cavity wall insulation, particularly for people on low incomes or with hard-to-insulate properties, as well as measures that reduce the overall cost of home heating for low-income and vulnerable households, including new boilers).

So, basically, they have taken the money from customers and have done virtually nothing in return. No wonder they need to raise their prices so much.

Much love to you all,

Greg