A free drawing session at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. A large gallery, empty but for a giant spotlit low-hung, slowly revolving disco ball. which creates illusion of softly falling winter evening snow. We sit and draw. From the next gallery excerpts drift of Schumann’s Kinderszenen. I look, see a grand piano, but no pianist.
As Storm Ciara batters the UK, one man exhibits quintessentially British eccentricity – naked except for a pair of Speedos, bobble hat and scarf, he continues his fundraising hike from John O’Groats to Land’s End undeterred by the lashing rain and winds of 80mph which have felled trees, blocked roads and left hundreds homeless or stranded.
A lecturer on my MA course in Falmouth showed us Chris Jordan’s photo of a decomposing albatross, guts stuffed with ocean plastic pollution. The image upset me profoundly. I use it though now in my own practice, hoping to bring home the far-reaching consequences of the way we live.
During a visit to Hitler in 1937, the Queen’s uncle, the former Edward VIII, gave full Nazi salutes, and moved, briefly, to Franco’s Spain. Three of Prince Philip’s sisters were married to high-ranking Nazis (one was a guest at Goering’s wedding). I wonder if Netflix’s hugely popular series The Crown is making the Royal family more, or less popular?
The Queen’s mother-in-law sheltered Jews during WW2, was a nurse during the Balkan wars, worked for the Red Cross, with refugees, in a charity shop near Paris, organised soup kitchens for starving Greeks and shelters for orphaned children. Yet has gone down in history as the crazy member of the royal family.
Reading an obituary of Terry Hands, joint Artistic Director with Trevor Nunn when I first went to work for the RSC, I find myself remembering productions like his Cyrano (with Derek Jacobi), Othello (Ben Kingsley, David Suchet, Niamh Cusack), A Winter’s Tale (Jeremy Irons) and Peter Nicols’ musical Poppy, which had the wonderfully memorable Stage Management call: “Stand by please for the Emperor and the Dragon”…
At 17, I got a job with the RSC and remember, during Hamlet, playing noughts and crosses in the Prompt Side quick change box with Tom Wilkinson (Horatio), waiting for Gertrude to exit stage left. When the RSC moved to the Barbican I worked on Trevor Nunn’s magical Peter Pan with Mark Rylance, the original Les Misérables, and Branagh’s Henry V. Magical times.
Drawing on this rich classical theatre background in corporate training and coaching work, I use techniques from the rehearsal room to enable senior management and their workforce to become more confident, creative thinkers, compelling communicators and effective team players. Providing assessment, feedback and support, I enable individuals and groups to develop their leadership, communication & presentation skills.
He wasn’t the Messiah. He was a very naughty boy. Terry Jones, scholar, children’s author, political essayist and annoyed mother of an accidental messiah, has died. He and the Monty Python team took the surreal to gleeful new levels with a fish-slapping dance, dead parrot salesman, naked organist, cross-dressing lumberjack, government grants for silly walks and other joyously absurd sketches.
From high in a house by the sea, strange noises. A middle-aged woman dashes up to find her 93-year old father on the roof, looking for his teeth. Meanwhile downstairs in the kitchen her mother (who has dementia and a collapsing spine) is drinking, not sauvignon blanc, but Flash cleaning fluid.
We’re in the heather garden at the Botanics. Suddenly she says “I miss my mother” which surprises me because I’ve never heard her say anything positive about her mother. Sometimes with dementia anger subsides, allowing kind words to be spoken. Heartbreakingly though, it can also turn loving parents into raging demons.
A tiny independent bookshop in Scotland paid more in tax last year than Facebook. In January 2020 Facebook’s net worth was $621.51 billion.
Apparently, within hours of the UK leaving Europe, a “Happy Brexit Day” notice appeared on all15 floors of a block of flats in Norwich: “Queens (sic) English is the spoken tongue here” it read. It went viral, people commenting “We finally have our great country back.”
Surprised, given recent political events, to hear a committee exists to advise the Prime Minister on Ethics and promote the Seven Principles of Public Life: Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership. I’d urge committee members to book an appointment with the current incumbent.
Wearing flimsy shoes, I take the scenic route over Arthur’s Seat, slip and fall, slip and fall and arrive at my mother’s flat soaked through and covered in mud. Waiting for my clothes, bag and shoes to dry, I spend the day in a pair of my mother’s flesh coloured knickers (which came up to my armpits) and a pair of 1970s beige corduroy flares.
It’s hard to admit, but for years my childhood has been on display in the Museum of London. Telephones in Scotland’s National Museum give me flashbacks. My mother’s wardrobes are filled with Margot Leadbetter outfits. Sadly, moths have been having a field day so we won’t, when the time comes, be donating her clothes to the V&A.
A legacy perhaps of growing up during the war, she throws nothing away. The flat is cluttered, chaotic. Neatly I fold hundreds of plastic bags, find cheese on the floor by the front door, chocolate I gave her years ago. Dementia adds to the muddle. Shopping, she buys more of what she already has in abundance.
In France we try to eat local, in-season organic produce bought at local markets. Year-round in the UK, supermarkets uniformly sell plastic-wrapped produce with a large carbon footprint. It appears to have been cloned, uniform in shape, size and colour. Broccoli comes from Spain, where they use a lot of pesticides. Why is there no British broccoli?
I’m at a table with people, who, heads bowed, are thanking their “Father” for the food they’re about to eat. The food they are about to eat has large carbon footprints, is contributing to climate change and, because of modern farming practices, helping bring about the extinction of species, eco-systems and local economies.
Which leads me to wonder what the world’s 2.5 + billion Christians feel about the current state of the heavens, earth and all God’s living things. Republican Tim Walberg says: “As a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us, and I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.”