Friday, March 24, 2017

happy days.. with some sleet, sauvignon & Sh!t.

Monday was International Day of Happiness, apparently, and I'll resist comment about all the places where people may have responded with an ironically-raised eyebrow as it was also Spring Equinox ~ despite ferocious hail ~ so here's a happy picture of Frome in bloom. Tuesday was National Poetry Day, for which you get a verse from a poem WH Auden wrote just before the last world war:
      All I have is a voice
      To undo the folded lie, 
      The romantic lie in the brain 
      Of the sensual man-in-the-street,
      And the lie of Authority
      Whose buildings grope the sky:
      There is no such thing as the State
      And no one exists alone;
      Hunger allows no choice
      To the citizen or the police;
      We must love another or die.     .
And now to local news: The Merlin's 'Chair of the Board', Andrew Carpenter, has big plans which he expounded to the theatre's loyal battalion of volunteers at Orchardleigh Golf Club over wine. Quite a lot of wine actually: a wine-tasting session from Amathus with expert guidance on vineyards and terminology from southwest account manager and host Russ Prior (pictured here.) Andrew's vision is to maximise the business and realise the potential of the asset: he spoke passionately of partnerships & risk reviews, of the Chamber of Commerce & Survey Monkey, and audience analysis & how audience experience in the foyer was 'as important if not more important than what they see on the stage', and of course with zero Arts Funding it is vital to continue to keep solvent though it did feel a bit like being transported into a Martin Amis novel.
And finally, with a nod to the director (our lovely & superbly competent Claudia Pepler, whose imagination gave Frome the Spoken Word Platter nights among other innovative events) we were on to the main event: six sumptuous wines from around the world.  My personal favourites, since you ask, were the Viura, Finca Cerrada 2015 from La Mancha, a delicious dry white wine from the rioja grape though not from that region, and the Cabernet Sauvignon, Croix des Vents 2015, from Pays d'Oc.

Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol which always has a lively programme of its own is also part of the Tobacco Factories Beyond season, and under that banner is currently featuring an award-winning Sh!t Theatre show: Letters to Windsor House.  This is Windsor House N4, representing the worst aspects of housing in London: badly-maintained and illegally-sublet Council flats in an unsalubrious area about to be ruthlessly re-packaged for its proximity to the centre of the city. Sh!t duo Louise & Becca have a mission to 'explore the political, the personal, and the down-right perverted'; this show, presented mostly in direct-to-audience story-telling, has lots of the first two but the letters are sad rather than perverted, as the girls start opening previous tenants' mail and discovering more debts than peccadillos. It's billed as a 'heartbreaking howl of protest from a generation left behind by the property market' ~ I wouldn't go that far, but it makes the point & it's great theatre: funny, feisty and fast-moving, with clever use of projection and a smattering of live music.

There was trad jazz at the Three Swans on Thursday with Norman Leater's New Academic Footwarmers, and there's good stuff coming up this weekend too, with Purple Fish at the Cornerhouse on Saturday and Emma Harris at Frome Jazz Club in the Griffin on Sunday, but I'll miss both as I'm off with Hazel Stewart on one of our 'writers' date' weekends. It was going to be in Berlin but for logistical reasons we've ended up booking a room in Port Sunlight. Easier to focus on writing here, too, I imagine...

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