Sunday, March 20, 2016

Some of those March days...

Dickens might have had Dublin in mind when he wrote of one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold, when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  
I was visiting a friend from college days at Trinity, which ~ I realised as I travelled through the city without recognising an inch of it ~ is now nearly half a century ago. Jenny and I were among the group living in a scruffy den subdivided for students in Sandymount Green, now a trendy suburb where house prices top €1million: It was in that backyard that Mo, my boyfriend since the first year, and I had our wedding party as soon as the finals were over.
We were considered a 'mixed marriage' which was quite rebellious in those days, as was our other decision to then set off to wander the world by public transport. This was 'the summer of love' and though life brings changes I don't think either of us regrets those days of freedom. Here's Trinity as it looked then, and as we looked then. Jenny went on to teach foreign students about Irish culture and now lives in Howth Head, overlooking Dublin Bay and with great walks along the beach.

Back in Frome, Merlin Theatre was featuring The Producers by Mel Brooks, a satire about the jew-centred nature of Broadway which has been around a long time and is chiefly famous for the outrageous and very funny number Springtime for Hitler.
There's sacks of energy, enthusiasm and talent in the song & dance sequences and some excellent acting: Leo & Ulla, the confederates of sleazy producer Max, and director Roger & Carmen his 'common-law assistant' all have great charm and stage presence. The costumes are splendid and as a fund-raiser this appears to have been a big success. As well as providing a showcase for local talent, the production provides an uncanny streak of contemporary relevance too as the crazed dictator cavorts before his minions crowing Give a great big smile - Sieg Heil, everyone to me! soon we'll be going - you bet we'll be going - you know we'll be going to war!

 On Friday the Good Gallery hosted a Mad March Teaparty, with teabags instead of a dormouse stuffed inside the extraordinary teapot made by Steven Jenkins ~ guess how many for a hamper ~ and real hot cross buns and tea. Interesting affordable art and good conversations: sadly this pop-up gallery only has two more weeks of lease.

A very affable group too at Frome Society for Local Study on Saturday when I arrived to talk about 'the writing scene in Frome' to a disconcertingly large audience, though as the society has over 500 members and has published ninety books on local history, I shouldn't really have been surprised. Over the time I've lived in this town I've seen massive escalation of interest in every genre of writing, with support groups & stand-out names in poetry, drama, fiction for both adults & children, memoir, and nonfiction... we have courses & workshops, talks & readings, socials & trips, and performance opportunities too.  It all makes for an egalitarian, non-cliquey, supportive environment in which writers can thrive, and so many people have contributed to this that my appreciations nearly rivalled Kate Winslet at the Oscars but, as Kate would've said too, they all deserved it: Make the world you want to live in, I say, and I'm incredibly lucky to live among creative people who believe that too. (Thanks Gill Harry for the sketch of me in full flow...)

Frome-free footnote: Congratulations to 'A Clearer Head', the team of eggheads who beat the Eggheads on Thursday, scooping £29000 prize money ~ accrued after 28 unbeaten sessions ~ for Alopecia UK. Well quizzed, ladies, and great to see you giggling at the question about the bald eagle.

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