Sunday, October 17, 2021

Émile in suburbia, moral barbarism, & a woodland walk

The Good Life, that popular TV sitcom from 1975 which caught this nation's desire to sympathise with, though not actually address, the stress of competitive materialism, inevitably seems - after nearly fifty years of deepening concerns - to be more about suburban pretensions than environmental awareness. 
So in that sense this new onstage version at Theatre Royal Bath is successful. Tom and Barbara (Rufus Hound and Sally Tatum) are preoccupied with their pooing goat and sick piglet, Jerry and Margot (Dominic Rowan and Preeya Kalidas) are preoccupied with entertaining Sir and Mrs Sir (Nigel Betts and Tessa Churchard), lots of pea-pod wine is drunk and the wider issue of planetary destruction never clouds the dinner party conversation.
The set (designed by Michael Taylor), however, is terrific, morphing shudderingly from one bourgeois living-room into the other while action is still in progress.  But this is a farce not a retrospective of the warnings of early eco-warriors, and Jeremy Sams' production will probably appeal to many who remember the TV series with affection.  Directed by the writer, the show will tour until the end of November when it features in the Chichester festival. Images Dan Tsantilis

This week should have featured two of Frome's top bands on Saturday night but sadly both cancelled so instead the music spot this week goes to the excellent Mark Abis, busking in the sunshine of the morning market.  
The other compensation for the loss of a great evening of music was that I didn't have to forgo tuning in to Wells Festival of Literature, having already booked online access to a talk by political journalist Peter Oborne on The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism.   I've already bought the book, but the talk was an excellent summary and Peter's passion is plangent. His methodical research on the stream of lies emanating from Downing Street, unchecked by any of the mainstream media, is as impressive as it is shocking, and Peter seemed near to tears as he admitted "I really felt ashamed to be a political journalist."  Boris, he confirms, has no interest in the truth - he brought in 'a bunch of thugs' and the Johnson lie machine dominates totally, since any journalist who deviates is simply banned from contact. "It stinks. The BBC supports Boris' palpable nonsense... We inherited a system of truth. We've smashed it."  No editor will take Peter's articles now, but his books are going well. (my screenshot)

Art now: Frome Art Society has a prizewinners exhibition in Black Swan Arts lower gallery, on till 14th November, which demonstrates the extraordinary talent of many of this group's members - this is Alan Overton’s painting ‘Looking towards Willow Vale and the old telephone exchange, - evening light' and there's a truly splendid gallery of members' work  here.     Creativity-with-purpose was the theme of Tuesday's craft workshop at the Silk Mill, as participants at 'Wine and Parachutes' created wall-art to support the MayDay submission for a more sympathetic development of the Saxonvale site. Kate and Damon Moore have campaigned fervantly for this, so fingers crossed that the futures of Maddox (in the pic) - and all the others - land safely.  
And Portrait Artist of the Year is back on Sky Arts in a new series with wonderful Stephen Mangan and the arty team, the best hour of the TV week. Here's actor Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as painted by teen artist Kat Hughes who won the first heat. If you're a fan, there's an excellent blog about the show here. (If not, try watching it: Wednesdays, 8pm.)                                     
Ending the week with a long walk in dazzling sunshine through the trees of Roddenbury Hill fort, an amazing hill-top forest just outside Longleat. It's not a 'mast' year so there were few chestnuts, but masses of furtive fungi, pale against the red-gold carpet of the beech leaves. 

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