Monday, August 08, 2016

sunny celebrations & crop circles - must be August

We've reached that high point of late summer: still hot but blackberries are out now on the hedgerows and there's a crop circle in the field just below Cley Hill. This has been a busy week.
I'll begin with the Frome Creative Collective acoustic night at Sun Street Chapel: a delightful event redolent of the kind of relaxed happening we used to have in the 70s, with live music and face-painted children but more organised (credit here to Daniel Dobbie) and with superb supper thalis from Lungi Baba. Great performances from musicians James Watts, Bob HillaryJames Hollingsworth and more, with powerfully-felt poetry from Liam Parker and a stonkingly good set from Jake Hight who really should be competing in national slams.

Nunney enjoyed its annual Village Fayre on Saturday, on an afternoon so glitteringly sunny I actually bought a hat from one of the stalls along the lanes (Liz Oliver's, in fact) before enjoying jazz from Norman Leater's New Academic Feetwarmers beside the castle moat... cue 2 pictures (thanks David Goodman for the one of me)

Sunday was Independent Market day in Frome, and as August is traditionally the holiday month this one has a seaside theme with a beach in the market yard complete with donkey rides and a cocktail bar. Car-free roads as always at these events were lined with stalls selling everything you could want to eat, drink, wear, or impulse-buy and the busking stage featured Al O'Kane & Andy Hall - all with added sunshine too.

South West Poetry Tour arrived in Bruton on Sunday, hosted by Hauser & Wirth in the big pod in their gorgeous garden.
Rosie Eliot & I arrived early enough to enjoy a cheeky sauvignon in the quirky bar (thanks Rosie for the picture)
I hadn't realised the poets were different each night so I wouldn't catch up with favourite local poets like Carrie Etter and Claire Crowther, but it's always interesting to be introduced to the work of new poets. The brief was to work in pairs, a natural form for conversation but less so for poetry and duets' responses varied from chanting in unison to filmed stone-eating.  I enjoyed David Caddy's curator ignoring inappropriate back-projections & interruptions like ‘I need a pee and there’s a Waitrose delivery van in the drive’ from Andrew Henon (more on this in Andrew's blog). The variety of work was impressive and though some pieces were abstruse it was a thrill to hear the odd intriguing line surface like an otter swimming through chlorophyta: 'real ambition demands bloodshed...' 'this week I enclose a thread of zeds.'

Tic Tac Toe brought The Scandalous Love of Oscar Wilde to the Merlin on Saturday, exploring the life of a literary genius born when homosexuality was not only illegal but unnamable, even in law. The term used was Peccatum illud horribile, inter Christianos non nominandum - 'that horrible crime not to be named among Christians'.  Public prurience, and probably envy of Wilde's fame & his cavalier attitude to convention, ensured his downfall from the moment he rashly decided to sue his lover's father Lord Queensberry for libel after receiving a note addressing him as 'posing sodomite'.  In the ensuing trial, Oscar chose to use his charismatic wit to play to the gallery which entertained the public but unfortunately alienated the jury, who found against him without even retiring. Calum Grant's play picks up at this point, with Wilde's downfall set in motion as inevitably as a Greek tragedy. Strong direction from Geoff Hunt and a tour-de-force performance from Luke Stuart who despite the age difference (Oscar at 40 was 10 years older) completely inhabited this part, in a monologue containing much reminiscence and rumination and even some remorse though sadly no redemption. Hopefully this ambitious piece will tour: it's a fascinating story, reflecting a very different era from our own. image: Merlin website

Final footnote: what a pleasure to meet up again with Derek Fowlds, whose autobiography A Part Worth Playing will have its Frome launch at Hunting Raven in October. Derek was superb in that iconic '80s TV satire Yes Minister, and I'm excited there may now be a (very different) stage project in the offing... 

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