Frome TV is not just a top-class media outfit, they know how to throw a party too... Jade, Ed and the crew took over the Garden Cafe on a fortuitously mild Sunday night, and crammed it with people having a good time while entertaining us with projected programmes about other good times. Here's the scene at dusk, just before all the twinkly lights came on, and Nigel with Matt Graham, creator of Life on Mars and thus inspiration for that louche and loudmouthed pin-up Gene Hunt... sigh...
(best quote of the series:
Sam Tyler: You're an overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding.
Gene: You make that sound like a bad thing.)
This week Bath, ever mindful of its Georgian heritage, has been wearing its pokes and bonnets (literally) with especial flamboyance: it's the annual Jane Austen Festival, with opportunities to dine and dance like a Regency belle, to Rummage through the Reticule, or even make your own (it's a small drawstring bag, in case you were wondering). Drawingroom Theatricals at the Mission Theatre featured the special Austen powers of of Pride and Prejudice, opening with Rosie Finnegan’s witty contemporary take on this famous tale with a thoroughly modern Lizzie at the ironing-board musing on her rocky road to romance. Arsey-Darcy, as she reminds herself she should no longer call him, made his first wooing overture by waylaying her tumbling tin of tomatoes outside Waitrose. Lizzie remained underwhelmed until her visit to Centreparcs with her aunt and uncle, where they coincide in the Subtropical Paradise. “Darcy and I went down the outdoor rapids a few times” she confides. Cleverly - even though social references are transposed to an era of predictive text - Lizzie’s personality, the sisterly relations and motherly vulgarity, all remain delightfully recognisable.
Aardvark Productions. followed with their own novel interpretation: two actors undertook to play all the key P&P characters aided only by gesture, expression, movement, and a slightly scary puppet. Oh, and the audience. We were required to play the weather (often exceptionally stormy), to flutter our programmes bashfully at the balls, and to urge Elizabeth into refusal or acceptance of her suitors. Naturally the opportunity to radically rewrite this seminal text inspired a certain amount of over-excitement, causing Lizzie to scold exasperatedly ‘Have you not read the book?’. The script was funny (Mr Darcy’s stilted proposal:”Thought I’d run it up the flagpole, see if anyone salutes”) and the adlibs funnier. Aardvark apparently specialise in children’s history shows, I wish we’d had that sort of teaching when I was at school.
Also in Bath this week: The Poetry Business celebrated its 25th anniversary upstairs at the BLSI with the Bath Poetry Cafe in an evening of readings from 15 local poets and two special guests: Poetry Business promoter Allison McVety and indefatigable event organiser & pamphlet competition winner Sue Boyle.
In a tightly organised first half we heard work of an impressively high standard, with Allison picking four 'winners', for their performance and poems: Rosie Jackson, Dawn Gorman, Rose Flint, and Jay Arr - all friends of mine so I'm especially delighted.
Sue read from her stunning new collection Wintering in Rome, a city she finds reminds her of mortality and the brevity of life. An inspirational evening.
Final footnote: Apologies are funny things. They can be a bit like trying to wipe up splashed ketchup, every attempt seems to spread the damage, and while it's easy to say sorry to someone who's stepped on your shoe it can be tricky when you have a real reason. Which is why I quite admire the personal apology from Johann Hari last week, to his bosses, his enemies, his friends, and a lot of total strangers. He's also returned his George Orwell Prize and signed up to learn how to be a proper responsible journalist who doesn't make up quotes and stories. No quips about facing a lonely future there, please. He gives some useful writing tips while tugging on his hair shirt too. It's not all forgive-and-forget yet, though, as you'll find if you google David Rose (his mendacious pen-name) - The Telegraph finds his dishonesty is 'magnificently strange' while their readers take the view he's 'a pompous, sanctimonious, self-serving, thieving, duplicitious, little prick', but 'all left wing people are stark staring mad. And most are crooks as well.' And so the debate rumbles on...