Sunday, August 15, 2021

A cornucopia of a week: drama, bands, ramblings, art - & my new book now on sale!

This week's bulletin once again begins with a performance in Frome's Merlin amphitheatre: HMS Pinafore, Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera of class pretensions, as interpreted and presented by another of the illustrious casts of Illyria Outdoor Theatre (There's also a childrens' show or two from this stable going round this summer, so hopefully this wonderful company will survive the dramatic hiatus caused by plague.)

There's a certain poignant irony in some of the parodic songs - in spite of all temptations, to belong to other nations, he remains an Englishman, for example - but a great set, tight direction, and the talented cast all combine to create an entertaining evening: "Pantomime for grownups!" as one delighted audience member summed up.
This week has been particularly rich in musical entertainment.  Nesta Yurt Camping, unknown to me until quite recently although it's only a 20 minute walk down the lanes from my house, for various reasons last week became almost a second home. The food here is amazing - vegan menu with delicacies like banana-blossom 'fish' and chips - there's a friendly, casual but well-equipped, tent site and visitors from town are welcomed at the undercover evening entertainment. On Wednesday the band stage featured Rosco Shakes, a fantastic funky local trio comprising Dom on guitar, Ned on drums & vocals, and Tim on crazy honky-tonking piano.
Music too in Frome's Victoria Park, where a sunny Saturday saw families & friends sprawled on rugs or - for the more organised - settled on garden chairs to listen to live music from the bandstand all afternoon.  Frome's fabulously funky quintet The Valley, joined by Colin on cajon, led off and other excellent local musicians followed, including brilliant bluesy duo Roger & Annie Davenport. Great sounds, brilliant atmosphere, reminding us all what summers can be like here...

This August hasn't been the kind of summer we longed for during the winter months, but there has been some sunshine and abatement in the downpours and blustering winds. Tuesday's respite gave me a chance to visit Rodden 
Nature Reserve - one of Frome's best kept secrets, largely because it's closed during the long breeding season for the many rare birds who find this a safe haven. Paths of desire are kept clear between wetland areas, and the entire wildlife park is brimming with autumnal flowers, bushes, reeds and trees - and dense with insect life plus tiny mammals & frogs. 

Art & Lit corner now: Frome Art Society opened its annual exhibition in the Round Tower of Black Swan Arts on Friday: an eclectic display with much to enjoy - though it isn't always easy to avoid window reflections on the glass of the paintings - and a chance for all visitors to vote for their favourite piece. This evocative view of the  river is by Kristen Vincent. 

And my personal big news is the arrival of copies for sale of my new book: Déjà  Lu is a collection of 37 short stories, most of which have been previously published in journals & anthologies or broadcast on BBC4, and now for the first time readable together in all their strange diversity. Suzy Howlett, author, thespian, and reviewer, has summed up delightfully: "This collection, stylishly presented with cover artwork by David Moss, is a delight in the same way that a selection box of hand-made chocolates is: you can select and taste the soft-centres, the nutty, the rich and dark, the hard-boiled, the sweet, the fruity and the plain gorgeous. They are all delicious!"  My first delivery is already all sold or committed, but please contact me if you'd like a copy from the second box, due next week! Thanks Patrick Dunn for the - genuinely spontaneous - picture! 

 Ending this week's bulletin with an image from the fields around Frome, where autumn is already arriving...

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