Monday, 27 March 2017

They were rich and full years

"I live for coincidences. They briefly give to me the illusion or the hope that there's a pattern to my life, and if there's a pattern, then maybe I'm moving toward some kind of destiny where it's all explained." - Jonathan Ames


And so to the theatre. Despite all the evidence to the contrary I do have a degree in maths and am well aware that coincidences are entirely in the eye of the beholder. And so I shall not read anything much in to the fact that the latest production that I have seen - Kiss Me, Kate - contained allusions to more than one of the other shows that I have seen recently. Fred Graham for example, only gives us his Petruchio, because his Cyrano closed after four nights. And there is a whole scene dedicated to practicing curtain calls, something that the cast of Hedda Gabler would have benefited from.

The purpose of the scene is of course to establish the positions of the two female leads, both in the company and in the personal life of the leading man, and it was these two women who rather stole the whole show. This being almost Shakespeare you will no doubt be wondering whether they were playing characters intended to be female by Cole Porter and the Spewacks (a), and I can confirm that they were indeed; the only cross gender casting on this occasion was the part of First Gangster, revealed as being the wife of Second Gangster and therefore his boss in more ways than one. I suspect that this was done not just for comic effect, although it worked in that way rather well, but also as a counterpoint to the terrible sexism that seems to have been every bit as bad in the nineteen forties as it was in the late sixteenth century.

Still, despite that I enjoyed it all very much. Let's have some Ella Fitzgerald:



(a) Should I ever come out of rock and roll retirement that is what I shall call my band: Cole Porter and the Spewacks.






Sunday, 26 March 2017

A Love Song


What have I to say to you
When we shall meet?
Yet—
I lie here thinking of you.

The stain of love
Is upon the world.
Yellow, yellow, yellow,
It eats into the leaves,
Smears with saffron
The horned branches that lean
Heavily
Against a smooth purple sky.

There is no light—
Only a honey-thick stain
That drips from leaf to leaf
And limb to limb
Spoiling the colours
Of the whole world.

I am alone.
The weight of love
Has buoyed me up
Till my head
Knocks against the sky.

See me!
My hair is dripping with nectar—
Starlings carry it
On their black wings.
See, at last
My arms and my hands
Are lying idle.

How can I tell
If I shall ever love you again
As I do now?

        - William Carlos Williams

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Vernally yours

"If people did not love one another, I really don't see what use there would be in having any spring." 
- Victor Hugo

As someone once said, there is a world of difference between the first day of spring and the first spring day. I gleaned from somewhere (quite possibly by watching QI) that in these latitudes spring advances north at walking pace; whatever form of transport it used, it has now arrived in the Wharfe Valley. I have also been advancing at walking pace, though in my case it was  over Blubberhouses Moor along the Roman road that ran between Ilkley and Boroughbridge and then across Denton Moor and back down into the Washburn Valley. Anyway, be that as it may, the sun has been shining, buds are on the trees, they are playing bowls in Wharfemeadows Park and lawn mowers are on special offer in Argos. I would have included the appearance of lycra clad cyclists on the roads in that list of the harbingers of spring, but round here they never go away. Indeed the first item for discussion when Peter and I arrive at James' for a game is often just how difficult it has been to see them in the road while driving there, given their inexplicable preference for dark clothing on dark winter nights.

So it was again this week, but I suspect that in the absence of an accident you're not actually that bothered so let's take a look at the game instead. It was fun, as pushing toy soldiers round a table always is. I would normally start with the result, but it's slightly unclear what that was. I conceded defeat after a couple of hours - you will recall from the previous post that I was rather pessimistic going in to the second evening - but was persuaded to play out the next couple of turns by James. Naturally, I then had an exceptional run of dice rolling and my reinforcements from 21st Panzer swept right up on to the escarpment in a manner guaranteed to irritate not just the opposing commander, but also anyone who might have based an earlier decision to give up based on mathematical probabilities. I calculate that the chances of me making those particular command rolls was about 5 in 10,000 which means I think we can all agree that capitulating was the right thing to do even though it was subsequently proved to be the wrong thing to do.

As for the rules, it's too early to pronounce judgement. Apart from anything else we're all playing to different understandings of what's printed in them let alone what they actually mean, although obviously debate does lead to a consensus; that consensus being whatever James says. On top of which even my scanty knowledge of military hardware capabilities in North Africa during the Second World War has necessarily improved after a couple of games. It is therefore time to put it all to one side and do something else.







Wednesday, 22 March 2017

There is method in 't

"Madness in great ones must not unwatched go." - Claudius

And so to the theatre. I have been to see Hamlet, a rather bashed about and - thankfully - very much shortened version of Hamlet, but Hamlet nonetheless. The questions you are immediately going to ask are which male characters were played by women - Horatio and Rosencrantz - and whether it was in modern dress - no. Several characters and many scenes disappeared; the absence of Fortinbras meant that Horatio was literally the only person standing at the end, and she seemed to be looking longingly at the cup with poison in it.

Icarus Theatre Collective, for it was they, claim to "relish what others shy away from, show what others daren't", but in terms of staging it was pretty much like every other version of the play that I've seen: ghosts, madness, death and famous quotes by the bucketful. In this version the lines you recognise weren't always in the mouths of the characters that you expect (i.e. the ones that Shakespeare wrote them for) or indeed of any characters at all; the versatile cast, when not playing a particular role, often stood around acting as a sort of chorus, chiming in either instead of or as well as the actors whose scene it was. I must admit that I didn't really get the point of the speaking in unison. It just seemed to make it harder to make out the words. On the other hand in case one didn't fully appreciate the most famous bit - "To be, or not to be" obviously - they stuck it in three times in different places. 

None of the above should be taken as indication that I didn't like it; I found it very entertaining with plenty of energy. The sword fights were excellent. I realise that this is fast becoming one of the standards by which I judge plays; forget the poetry, what about the fencing?

Going back to me not getting the point of things on the stage, at the weekend I bumped into my friend the theatre critic of the Morning Star for the first time in ages. I asked her about Pygmalion, which she had reviewed more favourably than I thought it warranted. It seems that where I saw much of the action taking place in fish tanks for no discernible reason beyond the director's wish for a gimmick, she saw a symbolic representation of the social constraints under which women of a certain class had to live their lives. 

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - Hamlet

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Johnny Cool

It's the first day of spring and it's alternating here between snow and hail. Let's have another Chuck Berry cover to take our mind off things; I really don't know how I forgot this one last time:


Back in the seventies, as much as I loved the Steve Gibbons Band I always saw them as a pub band who got lucky. Forty years on I think I was right. They did Dylan as well:


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Brown eyed handsome man

There's only one subject worth writing about today. He might not have been a nice man - indeed I heard Bill Wyman use pretty much those exact words once - but...





















That's Albert Lee in the Emmylou Harris video, proving once again that everything is connected to everything else; and yes, that is Elkie Brooks singing backing vocals behind Marc Bolan, Dave Edmunds and, er, Alvin Stardust.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

How far?

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot

It's been a while since this blog interested itself in the higher mathematics. Those who recall the offset square line-of-sight debacle will know why. However, having done some, with hindsight, bogus calculations the other day regarding likely movement distances in Blitzkrieg Commander I have developed a bit of a taste for it and have had a short (actually very short) play with the numbers again, this time on a spreadsheet rather than in my head. This is a bit of a 'spherical chicken in a vacuum' exercise because what I calculated has nothing to do with reality, but then again we're wargamers so we should be used to that. And before I start let me apologise for sloppily referring in the previous post to averages when I really meant expected values.

So, if we assume that the Germans are trying to move an armoured formation as far as they can in a straight line across open terrain without firing or being fired at, without encountering anything in their way, without the units changing their relative position to each other, and making the assumption that only the first command roll each turn doesn't suffer a distance penalty, then the expected value of the distance they would move before failing their command roll is 21", or at least it would be if the commanders were not restricted to moving 24". Rather counter intuitively, the fact that they are so restricted means that the expected value averaged across several turns would be reduced somewhat further even though they can actually move more than the expected movement of the units under their command. However, to calculate the effect of that with greater precision is more complicated than even I can be bothered to do. On the same basis the British can expect to move 16", which would be similarly reduced by the command unit move restriction. The difference is entirely due to the Germans having a CV of 9 and the British 8. Possibly the most interesting point of all of this is just how much of a difference that lower CV makes.

Clearly we use inches rather than the centimetres of the original rules - embarrassing but true - and (mostly) convert them by multiplying by 60%, meaning tank units move at 12" per segment. The fact that neither expected value is a multiple of 12" gives a good indication of the abstract nature of all this. Anyway, apart from providing a tangible example of the importance of not unnecessarily reducing the target one is making a command roll against if one can avoid it, there were actually some concrete results from my self-indulgence. On re-reading the rules I think I've found two that we are playing wrongly:
  • Distance from commanders does not affect command rolls in respect of infantry guns (page 12, note 2)
  • The German flexible tactical doctrine means that HQ command units can issue orders without any penalty on their command roll (page 43)
So, not a complete waste of time then.

 "In mathematics the art of proposing a question must be held of higher value than solving it." 
- Georg Cantor

Friday, 17 March 2017

'tis enough, 'twill serve

And so to the theatre. In the film "What's New Pussycat", mostly remembered now for its theme song, Peter Sellers plays a psychoanalyst (inevitably Austrian thereby allowing him to do it in an 'amusing' accent) and Peter O'Toole a patient seeking a cure for compulsive womanising (a). Arriving at a strip club O'Toole is surprised to meet Sellers already in the place and asks him why he is there, resulting in the following exchange:

Dr. Fritz Fassbender: I, uh, decided to follow you here.
Michael James: If you followed me here, how did you contrive to be here before me?
Dr. Fritz Fassbender: I followed you... very fast.


Firstly, don't blame me, it was Woody Allen who wrote the jokes. And secondly, I acknowledge that this isn't all that relevant, even the bit about compulsive womanising. I was reminded of it however because a few days ago I wrote that I had seen a second production of Romeo and Juliet since visiting Verona, and now I can report that I have seen the first.

The West Yorkshire Playhouse (another connection: O'Toole - who was born and raised in Leeds despite claiming to be Irish - addressed the first meeting of the body which campaigned for the WYP's predecessor theatre) have put on a production of the play strangely similar in outlook to the one I saw last weekend, though on a much grander scale and taking a bigger axe to the text and characters. It was set in the present in a Northern city that could be Leeds, full of feral young people behaving badly, albeit wearing more clothes than the average Leeds city centre reveller. I thought it worked well, with once again the Capulet party being a highlight. This time it was sci-fi themed fancy dress with Capulet himself appearing as Darth Vader, and the music being the extended remix version of "I Feel Love".


The musical interludes probably account for it being rather long, despite having fewer characters and less dialogue than usual. Gender swapping is the big Shakespearean trope of the moment and here they went for the Friar and Mercutio. Having been pleasantly surprised by seeing the latter very successfully played last year by near octogenarian Derek Jacobi, I had a similar reaction to now see the character played by a young, black woman. Indeed Elexi Walker's outgoing performance - you wouldn't believe where she put the torch while telling Romeo that he must dance - was the highlight of the play for me and things fell off quite noticeably after her death. Mention must also be made of Lawrence Walker as Benvolio (lots of actors sharing surnames here, including, rather disturbingly, the two leads) who gained more prominence than he otherwise might, partly by taking over Balthasar's lines as well as his own, partly by going to the ball dressed as Buzz Lightyear, but also by being relentlessly jolly in a Brummy accent; I put it down to him having twigged that he's the only one who is going to come out of it alive.

"To infinity, and beyond"

Despite the fact that I didn't like the cuts they had made, nor the rather strange attempt at a feelgood ending - which funnily enough didn't work - overall this was a return to some sort of form at the Playhouse following recent disappointments.


(a) The film was apparently originally intended to star Warren Beatty and Groucho Marx; I think I'd have paid to see that.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

An escarpment too far

Last night I dreamed I went to Sidi Rezegh again (a). I believe the details of the scenario are over at James' blog, but I haven't read it because it includes the British secret briefing. It was, as ever, an enjoyable evening although the Germans are in for the usual defeat; usual when being commanded by me that is. There are several reasons for this:
  • I don't know anything about the period. It was a time of rapid technological change and unless you know the difference between a III and a IV and an E and a G then you're on a hiding to nothing. I don't and, let's be frank, I'm never going to. It just doesn't speak to me. At one level this strikes me as odd because in my life I have known and spoken to several people who fought in the Libyan desert - indeed I was related to one - but then again perhaps it's not so odd after all.
  • I very much underestimated the firepower of the British infantry along the escarpment at the start of the battle or how impervious they were to artillery fire. (For the record I still don't understand that last bit). This is obviously related to my lack of feel for the period mentioned above.
  • I based my opening moves on the average distance that a tank command should move per turn before failing their command roll if moving is all they are doing (28" for Germans, 21" for British) under the Blitzkrieg Commander rules and as calculated by me making certain broad brush assumptions (mainly related to the placement of the commander) (b). In the event I didn't move as far, Peter moved further. Averages don't really mean anything over a couple of turns, but you've got to start somewhere when making a plan.
  • The scenario doesn't, in my opinion anyway, work. I quite like not knowing what is going to happen regarding possible reinforcements for the other side, but the ones that have already turned up mean that the Germans can't win. Given the move distances above there is no realistic way that the Germans could ever cross the escarpment via the wadi in the centre in the time allowed (averages do mean something over a greater number of turns); their only option was always to cross the gentler slopes to the east. The British now have that lined with hull down tanks. Given the way the rules work - in particular the need to concentrate fire in order to eliminate units - there are simply not enough moves left to dislodge them. In short, the game is too short to give the German commander a choice of options.
The rules themselves give an entertaining enough game. I am very much at ease with the uncertainty caused by the command roll mechanism. I don't really like the 'ganging up' element of the way that fire works, but it's not a big deal. The aircraft rules seem to involve rolling a lot of dice the importance of which is only understood by the umpire, but other than that are fairly simple. I thought that my use of the smoke and close assault from behind it went reasonably well and would have been a lot better if my tanks had dealt with the armoured cars like they were supposed to and if every man in the British army wasn't apparently equipped with a heavy machine gun of his own. I also don't understand why bren carriers are as invulnerable as a nuclear bunker despite - as far as I am aware - not having a roof, but like I keep saying, it's not my period.

(a ) Hat tip to Mr and Mrs Du Maurier
(b) For the record these are the numbers as I now calculate them. Originally I had misinterpreted the way that commanders themselves move and my plan was based on 8th Panzer moving more quickly.





Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Ready, willing and able

I can assure readers that they are not the only ones who wish that there was more wargaming on here (I exclude the big, bouncy woman from that; I don't think she bothers to read those posts). However, recently the only hobby activity undertaken has been a bit of desultory painting and the scheduling of a smoke barrage for Sidi Rezegh: the Prequel. I think I've put it in the right place, but all I've got to work with is an upside down map and a photo in which my own forces are in focus, but the opposition are not. I appreciate that Rommel - I rolled high and am the Germans - also operated with less than perfect information, but then again he knew what he was doing.

"Vy eez zis map ubside down?"
So instead let me write about Albert Lee, whom I have been to see. The last time I saw him he was in Bill Wyman's backing band and the time before that he was with Hogan's Heroes. Now he is fronting his own small but excellent group, which unexpectedly includes Genghis Khan's more affable twin brother on honky tonk piano and occasional accordion. Lee of course has been influenced more by the country music end of the rock and roll spectrum (he had a decades long musical association with the Everly Brothers) rather than the blues end (although he also played with Clapton). The songs played reflected that, being associated with performers such as Carl Perkins, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. It's not news that he is a sensational guitarist, but what amazes me - admittedly as a non-musician myself - is that he does it all unaided. At a time when every wannabe playing in pub bands uses a variety of effects pedals, several guitars, capos, funny tunings etc., Lee makes it all happen on one instrument with only a plectrum and a tremolo arm; most impressive.


My evening was further enhanced by a member of the audience wearing brushed cotton loon pants such as used to be advertised in the back of the NME when I was an undergraduate. And some people call the seventies the decade that fashion forgot; how wrong were they?


Monday, 13 March 2017

Gleams of sunshine

And so to the theatre. I have been to see Dyad Production's one woman play 'Jane Eyre: An Autobiography', which is, incidentally, the original name under which the novel was published. Rebecca Vaughan's performance is mesmerising. Dressed as the adult Jane she plays all the parts in the whole story with no props except a couch and a glass of brandy. Her Rochester is if anything better than her representation of his governess and the voices of all the other characters are distinctive and appropriate.





The story is, as it always has been, decidedly odd, which is a euphemism for unbelievable. It's not Miss Eyre's behaviour which is at issue (assuming that she is a reliable narrator;  a question which is outside my pay grade), but that of the master of Thornfield Hall. He behaves extremely badly to the woman he eventually claims to be in love with, including parading another, more beautiful and more suitable, woman in front of her, and dressing up as an old gypsy woman himself in order to trick her.



None of which comes close to the biggest of his problems which is (spoiler alert, but surely you already know this) that he's already wed to the madwoman that he keeps in the attic.

And yet, reader, she married him.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Verona brags of him

And so to the theatre. After one play that ends badly the best thing is to quickly move on to another. I have been to the second production of Romeo and Juliet that I have seen since making a visit to Verona last year. It was, as seems to be the case with everything at the moment, set in the present day, with the actors engaging with social media on stage while their various tweets and status updates were projected behind them. I came prepared to be annoyed, but actually it worked very well. Also not particularly unusual at the moment there was some switching of genders; I saw a male Helena in the Dream at the Globe last year and am looking forwards to Tamsin Greig's Malvolio. Here we were treated to a female Friar, Gregory, Benvolio and Balthasar, the last two spending much of their time snogging for no discernible reason. Less effective was the idea of the clash between the two houses  - both alike in dignity you will recall - being something to do with a 'venture capital takeover battle', a fairly meaning phrase I think.

The mostly young cast gave a good account of themselves with the dancing in the Capulet feast scene and the physicality of the fight scenes both being noteworthy. Romeo was outacted by both Mercutio and Tybalt as often seems to happen and while Juliet was very easy on the eye her blank verse was nothing to write home about.  One surprise for me was a man last seen in this blog asking me a pub quiz question about Dangermouse - which my inability to answer resulted in me not winning a couple of hundred quid - turning up as the prince.

So, overall I enjoyed it and thought the director did a good job, although there is one area where I must dissent. In her programme notes she asserts that "this is a tragedy about the dangers of being a working parent...". It isn't.

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire


"No human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another's happiness." 
- Graham Greene



Friday, 10 March 2017

What horse?

And so to the theatre. I have been to see the National Theatre broadcast of Hedda Gabler, Ibsen's play about mind games, ennui and overreaction. The title character is horrible, terrifying and unhinged in equal measure, but you can see why female actors like playing her; there is plenty to get your teeth into. In the always interesting filmed interview in the interval the director explained that he updated it to the present day because he wanted to bring out the relevance to the 21st century. As usual I'm not sure that I agree; the issues that the play deals with are surely rooted in the attitude towards and legal position of women at the end of the twentieth century. Or perhaps one should say the changing attitudes, because part of Hedda's problem (along with being bonkers) is that she clearly doesn't want to embrace the opportunities opening up for women as emancipation develops. She wants to be kept in luxury by her husband - whom she despises - in the same way that she was by her father - whom she adored.

The set deliberately has no doors (a design feature that caused logistical problems at the end when the actors left the stage after taking a bow before returning to take a second. I was very surprised by this; given the ego of theatre folk I always assumed that the curtain call was the very first thing that was rehearsed.) and is meant to make one think of a prison, albeit a rather bourgeois one. The Tesman's money worries are of the sort that still allow them to keep and mistreat a maid. Like all great plays it makes one think. In my case my main thought was the same as one previous occasions that I have seen it: why on earth did they let someone so deranged keep two pistols? It was bound to end in tears.


Unexplained mystery of the evening: why was Rafe Spall wearing trousers two sizes too small for him?

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Dust my trench broom

The lower Wharfe valley's well-oiled wargaming machine has sprung back into action after a short outbreak of real life. We rendezvoused in the wargaming annexe for a run through the second scenario from the Two Fat Lardies' Stout Hearts and Rude Acronyms. It is a bit of a point of principle that we should leave sufficient time between games of the same rules for the details of said rules to be forgotten; and so it proved. We had to have a bit of a do over following the first exchange of fire because we got it completely wrong. Still, I at least am the sort of sad person that gets enjoyment from puzzling my way through the ambiguities and omissions of the average ruleset, which is helpful because in this case the early scenarios are designed precisely with that in mind and lack a certain something as games; balance for example.


I forgot to take any photos so the one above is the position at the end. The British have gained the first trench and despite taking heavy casualties from the heavy machine gun have defeated the defenders in melee. By that point sheer weight of numbers meant that the Germans had no chance and so we called it a night. We did, I think, increase our understanding of both rules and tactics and a couple of elements came into play that hadn't when we had tried the first scenario, specifically hand grenades and close combat. I think we almost got the latter one right. We are also edging towards our first house rule; none of us care for the everything can fire on the Snifter card. I'm leaning towards two such cards and when the second is drawn that's it, turn over.

It will of course be a while before we can try that out. Firstly of course we have to let all understanding of the rules fade from our memories. But in addition the third scenario in the book requires a village of eight houses, of which I currently have, in round numbers, none. Peter and James are very keen to spend my time and money on acquiring some, but I have my reservations. Anyway, no imminent decision is required: there's a rumoured revisit to Sidi Rezegh (supposedly a different day of the battle to last time) using Blitzkrieg Commander two and a half, and I myself shall be turning my attention to the latest C&C Napoleonic expansion.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Happiness bang, bang, shoot, shoot

"Elevate those guns a little lower." - Andrew Jackson

The tofu lady has been reading the blog and so in her honour let's talk wargaming. I have been painting some Great War field guns with the long term aim of using them for Square Bashing and the short term aim of keeping myself amused while it was raining outside.

German 7.7cm



British 18pdr

The strange angle of that gunshield is (mainly) an optical illusion.



Sunday, 5 March 2017

Many ears to please

It is once again the time of year when I report that I have been to see Fairport Convention, this time on their fiftieth anniversary tour; that's a quite remarkable feat when you think about it, even if there is only one of the original members left. I've written about seeing them several times now and have rather run out of different things to say. The set list was the usual mix of the completely new, stuff they haven't played for a while and one or two that they could never leave out. It was good to see this one, with Sally Barker making a good fist of the thankless task of taking Sandy Denny's part:



And I enjoyed their version of Steve Tilston's 'Naked Highwayman', and also the story of the rather calculating way that it came to be written:



And then there was 'Matty Groves'. I've always loved this song about sleeping with other men's wives with which the band traditionally finish the show - make of that what you will - but I think we can all get special amusement at the moment from the fact that the elderly rich man who is cuckolded by his trophy wife is called Lord Donald. Of course in the song he then lashes out violently to compensate for his diminishing virility, so perhaps we shouldn't laugh too hard.

Here's to the next fifty years.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Wille and the Bandits

It has been a while since I posted links to videos by a blues rock power trio, but I have been to see the wonderful Wille and the Bandits so that must change:



The band had been sleeping in their tour bus for a week - which judging by the state of the guitarist's hands in the video above is probably not uncommon - but were being put up after this particular concert by a friend of mine. That's the closest I've come to the rock and roll lifestyle for many years. Also some way from being down with the kids was the middle aged chap in front of me who clearly hadn't tightened his belt sufficiently, and I don't mean that metaphorically. As he leaped up and down to encourage an encore his trousers fell down around his ankles. Not cool, bro, not cool.


They did an idiosyncratic version of Robert Johnson's 'Crossroads', surely the ur-blues song. I had earmarked this year for a trip down the Mississippi including a visit to Clarksdale. However the election of the tangerine toddler has put an end to that; I shall be staying in Europe now I think.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

You know what they say

"A large nose is the mark of a witty, courteous, affable, generous and liberal man."
 And so to the theatre. I have been to see Northern Broadsides take on Rostand's 'Cyrano de Bergerac'. You possibly know the plot from the rather good film starring Gérard Depardieu or from Steve Martin's modern day update. If you are from the UK and of a certain age however your first exposure to it may have been the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special in 1977; it was the one where Angela Ripon danced in the chorus line. Anyway, the play what Ernie wrote was 'Cyrano de Bergerac' and featured Penelope Keith and Francis Matthews (a) although the title role was naturally taken by Eric.

"What would it take for you to kiss me?" "Chloroform."

 Anyway, none of that has any relevance to the current version, which I liked very much. I am pleased to report that it was played straight and set in the seventeenth century as intended. It mixed both humour and deep sadness with the music and dancing for which thecompany are known and threw in some swordfighting for good measure. The prosthetic nose was most impressive. In an amusing twist Cyrano makes his first appearance at the back of the auditorium and his first few speeches are made from behind the audience. I'm pretty sure that everyone else also wanted to turn round to see the nose, but, like me, didn't want to be the first to do so.

(a) Surely best known as the voice of Captain Scarlet.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Sonnet 75

So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet seasoned show'rs are to the ground;
And for the peace of you I hold such strife,
As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found;
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone,
Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure;
Sometime all full with feasting on your sight,
And by and by clean starvèd for a look;
Possessing or pursuing no delight
Save what is had or must from you be took.
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.

                   - William Shakespeare