21 September 2014

What a busy and exciting social whirl we’ve enjoyed this week! Two outings to two theatres in one week. I am definitely feeling extraordinarily cultured although, of course, the truth is that I am still anything but.

Last Saturday Ms Playchute and I took ourselves off to the Royal & Derngate in Northampton to see a matinee performance of Regeneration, a play based on the book by Pat Barker. Although Pen had read the book before, I had not and knew little or nothing about it. For those of you who are as ignorant as I am, it is the first in a trilogy of novels on the First World War and explores the experience of British army officers being treated for shell shock during World War I at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh. As you might guess, it’s a very powerful novel and the play was terrific. As the review in the Guardian put it:

the predominant note of the play and the production is of infinite sadness at the idea of men being “cured” in preparation for near-certain death.

The lunacies and idiocy of those allegedly directing the war effort are laid bare and one can’t help being moved by the pointlessness and tragedy of the doctors’ efforts to cure those traumatised by the war.

A highly moving and sombre performance.

four-star

– Befouled Weakly News

And then, on Tuesday, we trotted along to the cinema in Banbury for another live streaming laid on by the National Theatre, this time A Street Car Named Desire from the Young Vic. Gillian Anderson (of X-Files fame) played the part of Blanche DuBois and she was excellent displaying a real depth of character. I have to confess that I’d not been a great fan of hers in the past. The X-Files was fine, I suppose, and I think the only other thing I’d seen her in was when she played Lady Havisham in the BBC production of Great Expectations. Her performance in Street Car was, I thought, outstanding. Again from the Guardian review:

the real test of any production of Williams’s play is whether it allows you to see each character’s point of view. If Blanche is simply played as a cracked Southern belle and Stanley as a coarse brute, the play descends into melodrama. But here Gillian Anderson captures both Blanche’s airy pretensions to grandeur and her desolate loneliness.

A Street Car Named Desire

A deep, intricate and powerful production – Gillian Anderson is outstanding.

four-star

– Befouled Weakly News

We woke up on Friday to the news that Scotland had voted to remain part of the UK rather than pursue its own path as an independent nation. Although we didn’t have a vote, both Penelope and I were pleased with the result – not only does it make economic sense for the Scots and the UK to remain united, an independent Scotland would have made much more likely the prospect of continuing Tory rule in the rest of the UK. Since the Tories are so despised in Scotland and have, I think, 1 MP, the removal of Scottish MPs from the Westminster Parliament would be a considerable advantage to the Conservatives. Whew!

I stumbled across a couple of “fun” snippets this week, both relating to running! (I know – what was I doing reading articles about running/jogging?) The first has information about the wackiest “fun runs” in the UK.

Fed up of pounding the pavement with a grim scowl? Why not try dressing up as a sumo wrestler or streaking through London zoo?

Some of these are moderately lengthy jogs which would certainly be beyond my capabilities. However, I think I might just about manage the 350 metre “streak” around the central court at London Zoo. This “race” takes place annually and raises money in support of the conservation of tigers and while it might not qualify as an endurance test, it certainly is not for the faint-hearted (either as participants or spectators). The “streaking” takes place completely naked apart from, perhaps, some appropriate face or body paint. Mother, do not watch the following video.

So, after deciding that perhaps I wouldn’t be entering next year’s Streak for Tigers, I ran across a marathon that I think might be just the ticket; the Marathon du Médoc. The clue to why this race might appeal is obvious from the name – just about anything to do with the Médoc (source of much very fine wine) must surely be good. This is a race with a difference, though. It’s a full marathon but there are 23 wine stops along the way as well as a number of opportunities to partake in a range of other local specialities such as oysters, steak, and ice-cream – what could possibly go wrong? There is one slight condition which might present a problem – apparently one is obliged to finish within a time limit of six and a half hours! Not too sure that I could finish in six and a half days!

Marathon du Medoc

Love to you all,

Greg