Sunday, 5 September 2010

It's A Hard Life

But someone's got to do it.

How else do you keep cinemas, theatres, restaurants
and music theatres going, if it weren't for selfless
creatures like me forcing themselves to frequent them?

I've hardly had a minute for blogging.

It all started with a visit to the Art Cinema to see the 1951
Ealing Comedy "Lavender Hill Mob" with such greats as
Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway and Sid James.
There was even a cameo role for a very youthful
Audrey Hepburn.

Beloved giggled, snorted and belly-laughed throughout,
as did most of the audience. The general consensus was
"they don't make 'em like that anymore".

I sat there wondering what all the fuss was about.
Being the only person in the whole of the cinema who
saw this film for the first time I thought it mildly funny,
but wholly predictable.

How tastes change! Or perhaps the Brits have a point when they say that nobody else in the world has their wonderful sense of humour. Or maybe they don't. Yes, well  . . . .


A day out in wonderful ancient Shrewsbury for some retail therapy and lunch. Shrewsbury is the Shropshire county town. The centre is well restored and preserved, with some
excellent and smart shops.

This is a postcard of Fish Street, formerly called
'Chepynstrete' (a market street) until the late
14th century, when the name was changed and
fishmongers and butchers traded here.

Neither fish, flesh nor fowl are to be had here now.


More culture to follow, a theatre play this time,
a comedy with serious undercurrents.

Four names famous in the UK: Michael Jayston, GwenTaylor, Timothy West and Susannah Yorke played retired opera singers living out their lives in a retirement home for ex-musicians.

All four actors are 'off the telly' which made the elderly audience titter even before the characters spoke their first lines.  Coach party audiences are so determined to enjoy themselves, they laugh and
cheer their favourites for no reason that I can see.

Luckily the audience calmed down after a bit.
I do so hate sitting in the midst of what could well be a canned laughter soundtrack for some brainless
TV half-hour sitcom.

Yes, I do know that I am a cranky old spoilsport and a mean cow. And yes, in spite of the titters and
thoughtless laughter I enjoyed the show.


Not done yet, not by a long chalk.

The annual visit to Mid-Wales Opera was also due
this week.

Verdi's Falstaff may not be everybody's singalonga
favourite, but there is some great music and the
company consisted of several excellent singers, some quite outstanding, who deserved a full house rather than
the half empty house they had.
The recession bites deeply.

I am always amazed that such a small company, working
without massive subsidies and certainly without the
patronage the famous opera houses receive, can keep going at such a high standard.

At least the audience was very appreciative.

If you like opera (and if not, I'd like to know why not)
and the National Tour comes anywhere near where
you live in England, GO SEE THEM.


As if all that in less than two weeks hadn't been enough excitement for my fragile state of mental
stability, I invited a few friends to what was billed as a supper party, but turned into a full-blown dinner which lasted well into the small hours of this morning. I kid you not.

We had much fun talking about all the subjects not meant for a polite dinner table, like religion and the churches' hierarchy,  politics and politicians, feminism and its decline, social workers' struggle to keep their sanity in a world horribly disposed to blame society's ills on them, books and music; when we had finally had our fill of such intellectual topics and permitted ourselves to get down to local gossip, the people round the table got their second wind; the party finally broke up around 2am, when I loaded the dishwasher and collapsed into bed. A stimulating evening like this keeps my brain in overdrive for hours, which means I have had little sleep.

I promise to get back to blog reading from tomorrow, in the meantime I need to recover.

It's been a hard slog, but it is all over now.


  1. you naughty girl: knowing what you like!

    Your tastes make me think you'd be a jolly companion in the "real world" as you are here in blogville.

    fond, knowing Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

  2. Oh poor you..I feel so sorry for you! (Or is it sorry that it wasn't me doing all that hard work going to the theatre, eating, dining)You'd better rest this week. Don't worry about blog reading.

  3. I admire your artistic and social pursuits. Sounds very enjoyable.

  4. Oh what a wonderful life. I have a wonderful retired life these days. I enjoyed your post so much. I love the pics of the streets of Shrewsbury. Mo and I were there in 2002. We loved the half timbered houses and the little streets.. Gope ST, Fish ST, Butcher's ST... we stayed so long we got a parking ticket.

  5. It is, indeed, a hard life you have. I wouldn't be able to sleep for days. I'm pretty happy with my boring routine, not very stimulating but falling into a coma-like state at the end of each day is its reward.

  6. The dinner party sounds like the most fun of all. I love good conversation!

  7. Yes, you poor dear. I would gladly have taken some of the responsibility off your shoulders if only I had been there.

    I like the way each floor up is a little bigger than the one below. sneaky.

  8. Quite a time you've been having! I chuckled at your comment on The Lavender Hill Mob, having had a similar reaction to it. And your comment that you are "amazed that such a small company, working without massive subsidies and certainly without the patronage the famous opera houses receive, can keep going at such a high standard," is well taken. I had the same thought about the Vale of Glamorgan Festival, and, like you, want everyone to go see it, particularly as I'm not able to attend this year. (I have since learned that the Festival is exceedingly popular this year, and many events are sold out. Let us hope this good luck extends to the Mid-Wales Opera, which clearly, from what you say, deserves better support!)

  9. I'm glad to hear that some people are holding up their end in these hard times!...I have to admit that I've seen more movies in the last month than in the past six. No opera here until winter, and the theatre season begins at the end of September, when I'll do my best to follow your excellent example.
    .....and you sound just crotchety enough to be a lot of fun at a supper party turned dinner party until 2 am.

  10. I'm afraid I would have giggled and snorted throughout the film, too. It's horses for courses, isn't it? For some people, English comedy is no laughing matter.

    I have a deep affection for Shrewsbury, for entirely personal reasons.

    As for a night at the opera, I haven't got the staying power. Some of the arias are adorable and very 'moreish' but, I couldn't eat an entire Rigoletto. We thought we'd have a stab at the performance, screened this weekend on the BBC. Unfortunately we fell asleep before the first act really got going.

    I don't think we'd have any difficulty, talking into the wee hours, though.

  11. If you hadn't already said it in your title, I would have.
    Three things: I want to go to Shrewsbury!!

    I don't like opera because dammit I can't understand what's being sung, and it's all so overblown. Give me ballet - classical or contemporary - or a symphony concert any day. Actually I suspect that I don't like science fiction for the same reason - it's just all too fanciful.

    And I want to be invited to dinner at your house.

  12. Ah Friko we have another thing in common. Just over half a century ago I was actually born in Oswestry - Ok tenious link but its near Shrewsbury.
    I write about it in my Blog "Musings". Lovely part of the world but fully understand why the green stuff drives you mad!

  13. Wasn't Bess Hardwick from Shrewsbury? Would love the history of the town if that is so.
    Sorry, but I do like British humor. Mostly, I enjoy the understated humor. Slapstick or Bennie Hill type of humor doesn't appeal.
    Your party sounded delightful. One can always sleep later.

  14. You have had a very entertaining and diverse time but I think the supper party sounded the most enjoyable, apart from the fact that it takes three days to clear up afterwards - or is that just me?

  15. Never a dull moment chez vous you lucky blighter!!

  16. Well, you isn't that I don't like opera; I just don't ever know what the hell's going on. If I have to read the synopsis, I might as well just read the book and not have to get out of my robe.
    That said, over at Majority of Two, Jo's got an amazing video linked in of young men with knock-your-socks-off, chills-down-to-your-toes tenor voices. That led me to many youtube videos of those young men, which I enjoyed until I got tired of having no idea why they were emoting so.

    And all THAT said, I'm glad you're supporting the Arts. Someone has to take up the slack for us philistines.

  17. Sounds like such exhausting work forced upon your days! Thank you for putting forth such diligent efforts.

    The dinner party sounds like some very enjoyable visiting.

  18. Ich hatte einmal entschieden, dass die Zeit viel zu wertvoll sei, um irgendetwas zu unternehmen, was mir total widerstrebte. So bin ich in dieser Hinsicht kompromisslos geworden und habe es nie bereut und geniesse diese Freiheit, diese Selbstbestimmung!
    Ich wette, wir beide würde dieselben Dinge geniessen!
    Ich hoffe, Du hast eine gute, ruhige Nacht, liebe Friko!

  19. Next time you're going to have a couple of weeks like that, can I come and stay? I'll pay my way, honest. Well, okay then, I'll let you buy me ONE icecream.

  20. Yes, ja-ja, and se, for you are the social
    butterfly the mad mistress of the arts
    for your entire region. And I agree that
    expensive as it might be, it is good that
    we can all count on you to step up and
    support, and try to enjoy, the great flurry
    of artistic activity. Even though I once was
    a professional actor, I get cranky at many
    plays and live productions--for if they are
    good I wish I were in them, and if they
    stink to high heaven I squirm like a toad
    mired in molasses. And then there is the
    cost of live shows. Mostly I go to the cinema,
    and reinforce a lifetime joy of buffdom.

  21. Cloudia - It's good to know what one likes and leave the rest to fall by the wayside. life is short.

    Jackie - that's very kind of you, it really is tiring having so much fun.

    Paul C - it is.

    Joan - sorry you got a ticket in pretty Shrewsbury, They shouldn't make it quite as attractive as it is, then people will leave sooner.

    marciamayo - I don't sleep all that well whatever I do during the day, so I might as well enjoy the high life when I get the chance.

    Vicki Lane - I choose my guests very carefully and parties at my house tend to be lively and argumentative. Bores only get invited in groups where they disappear in the throng.

    ellen abbott - clever of you to spot that, but it did actually happen in that order. I like to leave the highlight for last.

  22. Raining Acorns - you really must tell me where you are, you can't possibly be coming over from the States for such delectable entertainments? RA's profile page says that's where you are.

    Pondside - crotchety? me? never! I am glad to hear that you too support the arts; where would we be without them.

    Martin H - I love the English sense of humour, I've even tried it myself! Anyway, Beloved is a great example to me, an Englishman to his toenails; he keeps me on the straight and narrow should I be tempted to stray.

    Deborah - I am really disappointed. You can only come to dinner if you promise to mend your ways, listen to an opera (OK, I'll settle for 'My 100 Favourite Opera Tunes'); I'll even take you to Shrewsbury if you do that.
    P.S. Are you argumentative enough to come to dinner at my house?

    madamebutterfly - if you understand that you are one in a million. Everybody round here tells me how lucky I am. True, it is very beautiful.

  23. Oh, a medieval town, how lovely that it has managed to keep its character after all these years, lucky you.

    And my goodness, all of these plays and events that you have gone to: I'm worn out just thinking about it, but what fun. Reading this post reminds me of how I felt in a crowd of movie buffs, when I said I thought Citizen Kane wasn't that great. My mistake.

    I must thank you for helping me put a name to Herne, (Aha!) the mythical figure that was likely portrayed in a piece of graffiti in my town.

  24. Arkansas Patti - Elizabeth Talbot was Countess of Shrewsbury by virtue of her fourth marriage to the Earl of Shrewsbury. A lady who got around.
    Hardwick was her maiden name.
    Shrewsbury has lots of interesting history, perhaps I should write the odd post about it.

    jabblog - I managed the clear up pretty smartish, Beloved helped with the washing up and the rest wasn't too bad. My guests are all house trained.

    her at home - I don't have that sort of week every week, you know. Besides, this IS the back of beyond, if I didn't get out occasionally, I'd get stir crazy.

    June - I adore all that emoting. Over the top, that's my motto. It must be my Catholic training as a child. I love exaggeration, colour, tenors, large ladies, and big orchestras. The full works for me, please.

    Reflections - exhausting work, that's what it is.

    Renee - Alles was ich hier beschreibe, tue ich aus reiner Begeisterung fuer die Kunstform. Gezwungermassen wuerde ich wohl nie mehr irgendwo hingehen. Auch die dinner party war ein reiner Genuss. Jetzt bin ich muede, also werde ich erst mal kurztreten.

    Fran - all you have to do is come and do a course at the Arvon Centre. I am just five minutes down the road from there. I wouldn't only treat you to an ice cream, you could also have a big bar of chocolate!

    Glenn Buttkus - a toad mired in molasses? that's priceless.
    I said it in an earlier reply, this is such a rural environment that I'd go mad if I didn't chase the theatrical and musical arts. There's nothing else to spend money on here. I'd rather go to the theatre than on holiday. We are fortunate indeed that this is a bit of an artists' and writers' and musicians' colony,(the living is relatively cheap), hence the riotous parties.

  25. You sure are keeping busy and having fun. Good for you! Take your time and enjoy. We'll all be here when you are. :)

  26. Have found myself very busy over the last few days but unfortunately it has mainly been meetings connected with officials and the results of other people's trauma. But how lovely to read of your interesting exploits. Hopefully my tiredness will turn to energy soon, and I trust you are energised with your entertainments. Every Blessing

  27. I have always enjoyed the opera, but the Italian ones – I like the music and I can understand it pretty well. As for your party – it sounds so exciting. I have not been to one like this since I left San Francisco and that was ages ago. Living here, I don’t think I would be invited to one, and if I gave one myself – I would not know who to invite apart from my husband.

  28. Friko: I am indeed in New York State, though, as you've seen, recently came back from Wales. Had I the means, I would be back again in Wales and at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival (and perhaps take in a Mid-Wales Opera as well). Ah, well, perhaps next year! Isn't it marvelous all the riches there are in smaller places, and not just the big cities? We can only hope that they will make it through these difficult times!


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