Hundreds of mobile phones flashed in the market place as Frome's favourite son stepped up to accept the freedom of the town on Tuesday. Cheers and flag-waving greeted Jenson Button as he told us he felt privileged, though no-one seems sure what the honour entails ("Driving his goats down the main street?" Rosie wondered). The PA system didn't work and the stage wasn't high enough, but we all know he's total eye-candy and what can you say in a speech except, Thankyou it's just what I wanted.
Meanwhile down in Dorset, local celebrations were more vigorous: pitched battle between Viking and Saxon armies at Corfe Castle, with a helpful historical commentary from the sidelines. "Alfred is getting pelted with rocks now - oops, that one's a loaf of bread." Warriors came in waves and bodies fell, remaining rather alarmingly on the field to be stumbled over by survivors with realistic looking weaponry. As neither side seemed to be flagging we asked a saxon child how long battle would rage. "A..a..ages" he replied, with a seen-it-all roll of his eyes, so we left history to look after itself and went off for a cream tea.
Rosie and I went to see Love Song by John Kolvenbach, one of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School productions at the Alma Tavern. As you'd expect from young professionals, the acting was immaculate: Nick Blakeley - who gave an unforgettable performance Upstairs at the Lansdown last summer - was outstanding in the role of Beane, socially inept and withdrawn but ultimately transformed by love. There was much that was enjoyable too in the slick bickering of his sister and brother-in-law, and their own journey, but ultimately the contrast of crisp banter and poignant rapport, both unrealistic in deeply different ways, wasn't really in balance and failed to seduce us.
Wild in the Country was the theme for Frome's May Poetry Cafe, with Rose Flint our guest of the night. Rose's exquisitely sensuous poems are a hard act to follow but sixteen poets maintained an extraordinarily high standard. My personal peaks were Dianne Penny's delicate, luminous, performance and the plangent words of William Blake set to music by Niall McDevitt, but everyone deserved commendation in a really enjoyable night.
And here's Alex, Arthur (Scafell), and Alicia, who led off the evening with a 'farewell tribute to Paula' who has quit as director of the Merlin Theatre - and thanks to Paula for joining in the joke with goodhumoured grace. Indeed, Paula tells us she will return at pantomime times to judge for us again!