Sunday, 30 September 2012

In Which there are Poems

This year's Bath Festival of Children's Literature started on Friday. Although there wasn't any one event this which which leapt out at me as being totally unmissable, but lots that struck me as interesting in one way or another, and I have tickets for 5 or 6 events.

The first was Michael Rosen (well, technically, the first was Ali Sparkes, but I booked that before I knew I had to work on Saturday morning, so I had to miss it, which was a shame)

Michael Rosen's event was in the Guildhall's banqueting hall, and was sold out, which means there were about 350 people there - at a guess, about half of them were small children, and everyone seemed to be enjoying Michael's stories about his school days (back in the Stone Age, when teachers didn't allow children to breathe during lessons, and there was a school dungeon where rats gnawed your toenails) and his poems, many of which involved audience participation.

The event was clearly aimed at young children, but despite neither being, nor having with me, a small child, I still found it lots of fun. An excellent start to (my) festival.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

More Fun Stuff

Jeremy Hardy, who is one of my favourite I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and The News Quiz regulars, is touring at present, and on Friday night he was in Melksham, which is about 5 miles from here, so of course I had to go and see him. I have seen him live before (in May and in November 2009) but not for a while.

It's a very chatty, self-deprecating show, with a lot of political content, but without ever becoming rant-y (be honest. When is the last time you heard a comedy routine which included discussion of (and definition of) 'Anarchic Syndicalism'?) and discussions around the many, many, failings of the Tories and the government, and whether or not Michael Gove is human..

The show also ranged over age, cats and dogs, the Olympics, the jubilee, Danes (well, Sandi Toksvig mostly) differences between men and women (relating to packing, mostly, according to Mr Hardy).

It was a very entertaining evening.

Monday, 24 September 2012

In Which There Is Music (and Half-Pony, Half-Monkey Monsters)

On Saturday night, Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm were performing at the Colston hall, in Bristol, and I went along to see them (and to help out with the Merch table)

As anticipated, it was a whole lot of fun. I arrived early and got my very first 'Access All Areas' pass, (sadly not an awesome laminate such as JoCo provided for the Fabulous Lorraine, but one must, I assume, start small and work one's way up, with these things...)

I met up with Kerrin, who is a long term fan, who acts as a roadie for Jonathan and Paul and Storm during UK tours, and with Angela, another hard-core fan, who had travelled from Switzerland for the UK gig, and who was responsible for the whole licorice penises thing, and Angela's friend Lena. We chatted, and ate swiss chocolate, and discussed licorice penises and panties (as one does).

And then we went up to the hall, to find seats and sell T-Shirts, before the gig started.

Paul and Storm opened for JoCo. Appropriately, they opened with 'We are the Opening Band', which was derailed when Angela orchestrated a certain amount of throwing of panties...

They also treated us to the wonderful new 'Write Like the Wind (George RR Martin')

and of course there was a song about pirates . .

After the interval, Jonathan Coulton took over - as always, he was fun and geeky. And soldiered on, despite a broken guitar string (which caused a capella 'Madness' songs by Storm) and Paul's nose-panty incident, and some slightly over-enthusiastic audience participation!

It turns out that the cake is a lie (who'd have guessed?) and I was a little disappointed that no-one seemed to have brought jaffa cakes, but one cannot have everything!

We sold a lot of t-shirts and CDs, and I had a lot of fun, enjoyed meeting some new people, (and some who are not so new) and finally got home, very tired, around 1 in the morning.

I would have preferred it if I had then been able to go straight to sleep, rather than then being kept awake by a very loud altercation between two of my neighbours. I may not have caught all the nuances, but it seems that Emily may have been gossiping about 'her', and apparently this needed to be addressed. At 2 a.m. At great length. *sigh* Still, who needs sleep?

More videos from the JoCo gig are up on my YouTube channel, if the ones here aren't enough for you!

Saturday, 15 September 2012


I've been feeling grumpy. I've not been well this week, and  I'm bored with it.

If it's been a cold, it's a really vicious bugger. If its flu, it's a really mild dose. Plus, as long as I do absolutely nothing (and keep a supply of lemsip and a bunch of tissues handy) I mostly feel OK, so I also feel like a bit of a malingerer for not being able to do anything more.

But it's meant I couldn't go to Rye last week to see the Dave McKean exhibition, I had to miss 3.5 days of work this week, and today I managed to get to the library but was then too exhausted to do anything else, so I didn't go to see Joe Abercrombie or Moira Young, both of whom were here signing today. Although the new library is nice. I'm not entirely sure why they were large numbers of people wearing khaki shorts and false moustaches wandering around the library but there were also a LOT of children (and I'm pretty sure that the Gruffulo was actually there, and not an hallucination caused by my low grade fever) which is all good. Kids having fun in libraries is a good thing.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A Night of Comedy

Last week, on twitter, I spotted a message from Bath Theatre Royal, mentioning that Russell Brand would be appearing for a one-off gig there on Sunday night. It sounded like fun, so I booked a ticket. (It's just as well I did. They seem to have sold out very quickly)

I mostly went out of curiosity - I think Brand can be very funny, and at other times.. not, so I went along hoping to be entertained.

I was.

The show opened with warm up from poet Mr G, who managed to move from comedy to poetry and back without missing a beat (literally or metaphorically)

Then Russell himself came on. The show was billed as being a warm-up / try out of new material ahead of a bigger tour, but a lot of it was (or seemed) spontaneous - riffing on his visit to Bath and the Abbey, and on the theatre and the set for The Tempest (which is half way through its run)
The set includes two raised balconies, and inevitably Russell ended up climbing up the ladder, playing with the drums, and nervously coming down with the assistance of James - a very good-looking volunteer from the audience!

I think Russell Brand is possibly one of the few people who could move seamlessly from a visit to Bath Abbey to a new story about bestiality. and then there was the whole part where Russell ended up swapping his socks with  another audience member. And stories about performing in the Olympic closing ceremony.

I was very favourably impressed - and glad I'd followed the impulse to buy a ticket!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Not Quite a Blue Moon

There was a blue moon on Friday night, being the second full moon of the month.

I didn't see it on Friday night, as it was too cloudy, but it was there, very clear and beautiful, last night.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

In Which There Are Swans, and Friends

Today turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day. I had to go around half way to Wells, in order to get a new headlight bulb put onto my car, so it seemed reasonable to go the rest of the way and to look at the Swans currently dotted around the city.

The swans are a temporary art project, and there are 60 of them in all - I think I found around 35, which considering that I only looked in the town centre, I felt was quite good.

It's hard to pick a favourite, but if I have to narrow it down, I think my top five would be:

5.Swan About Town

I loved the art on this one, which includes scenes of Wells, including a picture of the town hall inside it's wings.

4. Hot Fuzz.

As the name suggests, this Swan is based upon Edgar Wright's film, Hot Fuzz, (and sponsored by Edgar Wright and Working Title Films). It is currently living at the Police Station..

 and it carries pictures of the swan scene from the film, in a wonderfully recusrsive way..

3. The Swanster

A gorgeous dragon swan, a little let down by its name..

And I suppose, that as birds are really dinosaurs in disguise, it isn't surprising that a swan might turn out to be a dragon is disguise (or vice versa)

2. Up Before the Beak.

This is a legal Swan. How could I not love it?
I think it's the half-moon glasses which make it just perfect.

1. Guinevere - She Built a Nest of Silver Leaves

This swan is the only one which is actually in the moat of the Bishop's Palace, which is of course where swans in Wells belong.

It's not clear whether, like her real-life counterparts, she has learned to ring the gatehouse bell to demand food...
I'm glad I was in time to see so many of them (I have a Flickr set of all the ones I found) - I think that they are due to be gathered in over the next few days, after which they will be auctioned off.

After seeing the swans, I called my friend J, who lived across the road from us when we were at school, and who still lives very close to where we both grew up. We've not seen each other for almost a year, however, so it was great to sit in the sunshine and catch up.

Altogether, an excellent day, and it ended with the 1st episode of the new series of Doctor Who, which made me very happy. (I'll stay spoiler-free, for those who haven't seen it yet)

How was your Saturday?

The Tempest

As I mentioned in the last post, I had a ticket to see The Tempest at Bath on Friday night.

I found it to be a somewhat patchy production. Tim Piggott-Smith's Prospero was excellent, a controlling man, but one who was able to change, to listen to Ariel, and to keep his promises. Ariel (Mark Meadows) was also excellent, and alien, although I felt that the odd choice to suddenly put him on stilts part way through - it changed him from being a powerful, other-worldly character to one who appeared awkward, and there didn't seem any reason for it, so it seemed to me to be a distraction from, rather than enhancement of the scene.

(photo (c) The Guardian)
The production also featured 10 or 12 sprites - dressed a little like old fashioned theatre nurses. They watched from the sides of the stage, invisible to the players, for the most part, but contributing towards 'the isle being full of noises'.

Caliban was excellent - naive and vindictive, and Miranda was convincingly young and enthralled by her new experiences.

I was a little underwhelmed by the masque scenes, which involved the 'sprites' manipulating puppets and performing an homage to riverdance using clogs on their hands. 

Over all, I thought it was an interesting, if patchy, performance, which I am glad to have seen.