612

Once I taught improv to French Engineers, now it’s “Transmedia”.  Setting out (tongue-in-cheek) to prove that everything’s connected, I charted a path of references to Hamlet in popular culture, through Stars Trek & Wars, Sesame Street, Dr Who, the Simpsons, Bollywood, cigar ads, a postage stamp, Calvin and Hobbs and Disney.

611

As my younger son leaves school with a report and grades worth framing, I take solace in the face that Einstein’s teachers thought him mentally retarded and Thomas Edison’s thought him too stupid to learn anything.  Carey Mulligan was rejected from every drama school she applied to. There is hope ..!

610

Ireland’s Leo Vandakar said, We voted for the 200,000 Irish women who have travelled to Britain since 1983 to end their pregnancies. We have voted to look reality in the eye and we did not blink.  We have voted to provide compassion where there was once a cold shoulder, and to offer medical care where once we turned a blind eye.

609

Toulouse, midnight. A homeless guy in the rain, barefoot, barelegged, a naive bearded innocent with John Lennon glasses who looks confused.  He’s a long way from home and so, so lost. Spaced out.  I go to an ATM and withdraw cash.  Touched, he gives me a freebie magazine.

608

The neighbour on one side  says my raised beds look like the local tip: “That’s not how you garden. It shows a lack of respect for the neighbours.”  She can only see them if she stands on her drive and peers over the fence.  Could she not chose to feast her eyes on the poppies, peonies, tulips, roses, purple-flowering sage & fruit trees in bloom??

607

I found these notes: What leads to success? Driven by passion; do it for love, not for money; be good at what you do (i.e. practise); focus on one thing; push yourself physically mentally. Don’t give up.  Be a dreamer. Listen, observe, be curious, ask questions, solve problems, make connections. S – are you listening??

606

Cambridge Analytica claims it played a major role in Brexit and Trump’s electoral campaign.  Dyslexic, ADHD, Christopher Wylie left school at 16 without a single qualification. He calls himself the gay Canadian vegan who somehow ended up creating “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindfuck tool”.

605

The veggie restaurant Food for Thought is another victim of London rent hikes. It was full of character – the chef had been there for 40 years & a potwasher married the Littlewood’s heiress he’d met at yoga. Old Covent Garden!  Full of oddballs, specialist craftsmen and Greasy Spoons were theatre hands ate between shows.  To stay in Neal Street, FfT would have had to raise the price of a meal from £5.50 to £9.50.

604

Hiraeth: nostalgia for a place you cannot return to, a place that no longer exists, that perhaps never did exist; a longing, a yearning, a wistfulness; a grief, or sadness for someone, something lost, departed; a Welsh word with no English equivalent, the soul’s longing….

603

Crossing America in the C19th, Robert Louis Stevenson observed that his fellow passengers – emigrants – were hardly brave seekers of the golden land of democracy and equality, but largely life’s failures, despicably racist. Some were fugitives. “The more I saw of my fellow passengers,” he wrote, “the less I was tempted to the lyric note”.

602

RLS on Edinburgh: “the delicate die early, and I, as a survivor, among bleak winds and plumping rain, have been sometimes tempted to envy them their fate. For all who love shelter and the blessings of the sun, who hate dark weather and perpetual tilting against squalls, there could scarcely be found a more unhomely and harassing place of residence “

601

“War shaped my childhood, don’t let Brexit risk our peace,”  writes Patrick Stewart  in The Guardian.  “Brexit campaigners deceived the British people with their false and deliberately misleading slogans and speeches.  Where is the £350m now, with our emergency rooms, hospitals and surgeries in the grip of a crisis unlike anything the NHS has ever experienced?”

600

Thousands of Rohingya women and children raped by military in Myanmawr are now giving birth in refugee camps … In January, so many women were showing up, bleeding, at MSF hospitals that midwives speculated many were probably trying to abort their pregnancies at home.

599

Without migrants, the British economy would collapse. In the UK, the overall GDP fall is estimated at between £26bn and £55bn. The cost of Brexit could be as high as £6,400 for each household. The real cost of Brexit ought to be openly revealed to both Houses of Parliament and to all UK citizens.

598

I’m drawing, listening to Persuasion on Radio 4, thinking about what a difference texting would have made to the Classics. Hardy’s Tess: “Did U get  letter slipped under door?”  (ditto Romeo and Juliet).  Elizabeth Bennett to Bingham “My sister fancies you!!!”; Old Hamlet to son “Uncle Claudius acting strangely in orchard…”

597

In the States, wilderness trails for teens in difficulty cost in the region of $45-50,000 for two and a half/three months. I gasp. The average salary in my town is c.14K€ p.a. How do people afford them?  “They reach out to friends and family, cash in college funds…”

596

Neelam Stocker (45) is often told she’s ‘lucky’ to have married a man much more attractive than she is , and isn’t bothered by other women fancying her husband. Mark (43) said people do a double-take when they see them hand in hand.  See what you miss by not reading the tabloids?!

595

I don’t know  why it took me so long to discover Patrick Geddes (1854-1932).  “By leaves we live,” he said, and “a city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time.”  Polymath, town planner, revolutionary thinker, environmentalist – we need his like again.

594

20 years ago Amazon was a company struggling to convince people that selling books online could prove profitable, Facebook didn’t exist, nor did iPhones.  The Russian intelligence service was run by Vladimir Putin (OK, some things haven’t changed!) and Tony Blair was – hand on heart – popular. In 1998 the Iraq War had yet to happen…

593

Syria.  Besieged with massacres. Dozens killed, countless injured. Doctors treat civilians injured by Napalm, barrel bombs, missile strikes and chemical attacks involving chlorine gas.  White Helmets struggle to reach people trapped in rubble. A criminal regime that kills its own people with the approval and support and sponsorship of other countries.