Monday, 18 November 2013
Since I last spoke to you, I've been to a conference in Oxford ( an overnighter..since my time is precious), an exhibition, choir practice, the theatre, a Board meeting and a residents' association get together. Oh, almost forgot, on Saturday I met with residents of another road to discuss street naming and bedecking an alley.
The treat of the week was "Richard II" from the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford on Avon. I wasn't at the bard's home, but saw the whole thing live and close up at King's College, where we have a large screen and an old anatomy lecture theatre (I've mentioned this before haven't I?).
Apparently it is the only Shakespeare play done entirely in verse, yet so well matched was the meaning and verse that it came over as ordinary speech, except quite lovely.
I've been to a number of live transmissions at King's and to be honest they weren't always well attended. Not so last Wednesday. I've have never seen so many young, nubile undergraduates exuding anticipation and expectation. The source of the young gals' fancy was David Tennant. He was magnificent. He has that ability to convince you of the character he's portraying but be himself. Occasionally Doctor Who hoved into view but only when I was distracted. It's a long play, quite difficult to follow if you aren't acquainted with the history, but this production took you on an voyage of discovery - Richard's own. Brilliant.
I'm a pillock of the community. It's a rod I've created for my own back. Need to do something when you're retired - join this and that. There's the local Residents' Association and the various events we organise. Except, I tend to be the one to suggest and the one who does the organising.
At times, I do get rather hacked off. Organising the Halloween Street Party frankly killed me. It was a great success, I'm told. I was too out of it to appreciate the enjoyment of the kids and parents. Now it's the Carols. I have such ideas - except you need others to bring them alive. Anyway here's a link to the stuff we've done over the past year or so.
Last Tuesday we went to the Historic Homes and Houses Association exhibition at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre opposite Westminster Abbey. Only a Government building would have got away with being built there. It's ghastly in its concreteness and total blandness. Ironic therefore that the great stately homes of England should be show cased there.
In fact, for plebs like us it was an up market trade fair. Lots of finials, slate roofs and lead guttering and financial advisers with that reptilian smoothness that betokens danger. From there we sauntered over to the National Gallery, walking down what must be the most locked down street in the world - Whitehall.
Do you remember TV footage of normal people standing outside No 10? Now the great departments of state are ring-fenced with defenses that would quail Pacific Rim's Kaijus.
We did the Monet, Manet, the Gainsborough, Constable and Turner, the Magritte, the Van Gogh and the Van Damme and then we left exhausted. Even the proximity of Oxford Street and John Lewis couldn't entice us. (By the way I'm not the only person who thinks the JL Christmas ad is fabulous, am I?)
The Oxford conference was really a rally. Trusted Trustees of the Citizen's Advice Bureaux were brought together to recharge our batteries. They needed recharging.
Many of us are going through pretty tough times. Loss of income, making staff redundant, having to work like the commercial sector. We trustees are volunteers, we do it because we want to give something back to society (sic). Except good intentions are no longer enough. We need to be focused, professional and prepared to spend much more effort to keep the show on the road. It's comes as one hell of a shock to us and, I believe, the full time HQ.
Friday and Saturday was a way of getting that message drummed into us, a way of showing us that there was a different way and that we needed to be that much more driven. It might sound rather dry and heavy, but as usual, we surprised ourselves in our ability to have fun and laugh at catastrophe.
This Sunday, I dug a few feet on the allotment, moved the Bergamot to prevent it from colonising the whole of the allotment (it's a mint for Christ's sake), and sowed rows of winter peas. Two hours on the allotment and I'm human again.
I think everyone should be forced to work an allotment.