Thursday, February 06, 2020

I dreamt last night I listened to 'Today'

Top Royal Shakespeare luvvie Greg Doran claims young actors need to learn about the iambic pentameter, the basis of most Shakespeare plays, because it is now so alien to them.
I dare say he’s right to claim young people have ‘less experience with classic texts’ but this prompted BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme to ask if that meant the iambic pentameter in particular was in decline.
In reality, we all use it every day. It is the natural rhythm of our speech. To demonstrate it, here is a list of lines from popular music all in iambic pentameter (you could argue these are all old songs, and they are, but I bet more recent examples would not be hard to find).
 
I saw her today at the reception – The Rolling Stones
 
Please allow me to introduce myself – The Rolling Stones
 
Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields – The Rolling Stones
 
I met a gin-soaked barroom queen in Jackson – The Rolling Stones
 
I was born in a cross-fire hurricane – The Rolling Stones
 
If you start me up, if you start me up – The Rolling Stones
 
Everywhere I hear the sound of marching – The Rolling Stones
 
Childhood living is easy to do – The Rolling Stones
 
It’s only rock and roll but I like it – The Rolling Stones
 
Sup up your beer and collect your fags – The Jam
 
I’m down in the tube station at midnight – The Jam
 
A police car and a screaming siren – The Jam
 
A freezing cold flat and damp on the walls – The Jam
 
Struggle after struggle, year after year. – The Jam
 
And the public gets what the public wants – The Jam
But I want nothing that society wants. 
 
If I never ever see you again. – The Jam

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out – Jethro Tull

It's been a long time since I rock and rolled – Led Zeppelin

There must be some kind of way out of here – Bob Dylan

One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock rock – Bill Hailey

I bet that you look good on the dance floor – Arctic Monkeys

We’re Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble – Simon and Garfunkel

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song – Beatles

Dirty old river got to keep rolling – Kinks

When you’re weary, feeling small, when tears… – Simon and Garfunkel

Hey Mr Dream-Seller where have you been – Lindisfarne

We come from the land of the ice and snow – Led Zeppelin

It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled – Led Zeppelin

Well I dreamed I saw the knights in armour – Neil Young

Of all the love I have won or have lost – Beatles

I can see clearly now the rain has gone – Johnny Nash

Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night – Fleetwood Mac

What crumbs of joy can I steal from this day? – Squeeze

Love is a stranger in an open car – Eurythmics

In the day we sweat it out on the streets – Bruce Sptingsteen

Of the runaway American dream

 Let me take you down ‘cos I’m going to – Beatles

I’m not in love, it’s just a silly phase – 10CC

Well good morning judge, how are you today? – 10CC

I was sick and tired of everything – Abba

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of – Adam Ant

I’m your top prime cut of meat, I’m your choice – Alice Cooper

We’ve come a long way since we last shook hands – Loudon Wainwright III

Set the controls for the heart of the sun – Pink Floyd

Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash – Pink Floyd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Brum's barmy Bolsheviks plan a no-go zone

Image result for car banBonkers Birmingham’s barmy Bolsheviks plan to ban cars from the city centre. They think we’ll all commute by tram or cycle down the Bristol Road on their toytown cycle lanes which at the moment are largely unused.
Admittedly they have been deliberately turning the entire centre of Britain’s second city into a giant car park already, with roadworks more or less everywhere.
That’s why it takes twice as long to get into the city centre as it used to only a decade ago.
It’s nothing to do with the volume of traffic or a growth in prosperity; it’s all about the measures taken to make life as awkward, time-consuming, inconvenient and even dangerous for the average motorist as possible.
This is because the city’s burgers, aided and abetted by the supposedly-Conservative elected Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, want to reduce air pollution, greenhouse gases and all the noxious fumes which they presumably blame for their own delusions.
The best way to reduce emissions from cars is to keep them moving. The worst source of air pollution from vehicles is when they are waiting with their engines idling in long queues.
Birmingham has made pollution far worse than necessary by deliberately setting out to make driving in and out as tedious and slow as possible.
There are queues caused by traffic lights, fatuous 20 mph speed limits and bus lanes everywhere. They are closing down some of the main routes in and out of town. Broad Street is to become a tram-road. They are demolishing the Perry Barr flyover. Now they want through traffic to stick to the ring-road which is clogged and dogged with traffic lights.
They say there will be a public consultation. This is nothing but a sham. Whatever the public thinks, the council’s ‘experts’ have already decided what will happen and no amount of public opinion will change their minds.
After all, they are squandering millions on their cross-city metro system which, far from making Birmingham the ‘modern European city’ of their hype, is calculated to thwart and deny motorists any access to the centre.
Fine if you happen to live there. Fine if you usually take the bus, train, bicycle or even walk into the centre of Birmingham.
But public transport is overcrowded, unreliable and slow. The vast majority of Birmingham commuters - 62 per cent or 222,000 people - travel by car every day.
The anti-car enthusiasts want to force people out of their cars and onto trams, buses or trains. They claim these will be so dramatically improved and it will be such a wonderful new experience we won’t want to go back to our cars even if we could.
Does anybody really believe that? It is far more likely motorists will simply go elsewhere if they possibly can, especially with ‘clean-air charges’ and workplace parking taxes on the way.
It may seem desirable to force motorists to by-pass Brum. If drivers avoid it altogether it would reduce pollution and reduce traffic jams.
But it would be economically disastrous. If motorists avoid the centre if Birmingham it will mean less money is spent in shops, restaurants and theatres.
Worse still, it will force some of the city’s big employers to move out. After all, if their employees can’t, or won’t, travel into the centre any more, they will struggle to recruit and retain staff.
They will move to cities where they are welcome.
We are told everything will be fine thanks to HS2, the high-speed railway line. But a car-ban will make it almost impossible for many people from the Black Country and elsewhere to the West of Birmingham to get any benefit at all from this grossly expensive white elephant.
And, in any case, there is still a chance Boris Johnson’s Government will finally see sense and scrap the whole thing because it will never pay for itself, it will be a railway for the rich only and the place which would benefit most from its development is London.
This is the opposite of what the new Government says it wants to achieve, which is the revival of the ‘left-behind’ Midlands and the North of England.
You could argue that banning traffic from Birmingham will benefit the rest of the region. But closing down the West Midlands’ capital city is a short-sighted, panic-stricken, badly thought-out policy being imposed as an experiment by politically-correct planners.
They clearly dislike cars and the people in them. They think we should all conform to their vision of a car-free city. In their la-la land, loads of smiling people skip in and out of quiet trams onto their bicycles and the sun is always shining.
Reality is not like that. This car-crash policy will destroy Birmingham and take the rest of the West Midlands down with it.
It’s particularly disastrous given that, in 20 years’ time, we’ll all be driving in non-polluting electric cars anyway.
How many serious cities deliberately, methodically, and with malice aforethought go out of their way to destroy their own economies? Only in bankrupt Birmingham could they dream up such nonsense.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Regendering engenders panic at the disco


The RSC having refused to give me my money back when I asked for it on the grounds that the play ‘King John’ should feature a man in the title role, I forced myself to go and see it for myself.
It stars Rosie Sheehy in the title role but, having sat through the whole thing unlike five people around me, I could find no answer to the overwhelming question: What was the point
casting a woman as the king?
Short, fat little Rosie has a good voice and played the part well. But it was frequently confusing. Was this a woman pretending to be a man? Or a woman pretending to be a man who wanted to be a woman? Or a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman in order to pretend to be a man?
Was s/he flirting with the King of France or was that just pretend? Was none of it ambiguous and should the audience simply take it at face value that King John was simply a man played by a woman as if it made no difference?
The confusion was not confined to the King. The Cardinal is played by a woman as well. A woman with a handbag.
To make matters worse, it is all set in the 1960s and involves a certain amount of bizarre dancing which must be hideously embarrassing to perform. I felt very sorry for the poor cast.
We must conclude the director, Eleanor Rhode, has so little faith in William Shakespeare the only way she could bring herself to stage the play at all was by ripping it up and starting again.
In fairness, most Shakespeare plays are so well-known it is the director’s interpretation, or the actors’ skill, which reveal something new. But a play as obscure and rarely-performed as ‘King John’ has no need of gimmicks and trickery. There is, or should be, pleasure and interest merely in seeing it reasonably faithfully performed.
That hope was dashed the moment Rhode decided to give the lead role to a woman.
If we pretend this has nothing at all to do with Shakespeare then the production is reasonably entertaining aside from the cringe-making dance-moves which would have been embarrassing in any setting.
Without the £15 million of taxpayers’ money the RSC gets every year, they wouldn’t be able to deliver productions like this.
And the reaction of audiences can be seen by the fact that even on a Friday night close to Christmas, there were still plenty of empty seats (the three people beside us left at the interval, two more stumbled out mid-way through the second half).
The poet John Dryden adopted the Thatcherite view of the theatre: ‘The drama’s laws the drama’s patrons give, for we that live to please must please to live.’
In the RSC’s politically-correct socialist utopia, it’s more a question of: ‘The drama’s laws the drama’s luvvies give, for we do what we please thanks to fat subsidies.’

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Regendering in luvvie-land


If you read my previous blog on the topic, you will know I complained to the Royal Shakespeare Company that their production of ‘King John’ featured a woman in the title role and I asked for my money back.
As far as I’m concerned, I was mis-sold my tickets because I expected, when I booked, that a man would play the King.
I reckoned without the widespread theatre policy of politically-correct casting (called, among other things, ‘regendering’). The RSC’s ‘Director for Audiences and Marketing’, Chris Hill, refused a refund though he did offer to swap the tickets for some other (doubtless equally-PC production) as ‘a gesture of good will’. An offer I ignored.

He told me: ‘I’m afraid we will have to agree to disagree on your opinions about Eleanor Rhode’s approach to King John who, in her view, cast the right person for the role irrelevant of gender and the production recently opened to some great reviews following its Press Night.’
He then regaled me with what the RSC’s luvvie-in-chief Greg Doran had to say at their last AGM: The first thing to say about Regendering is that it is nothing new. Exactly 120 years ago, this year here in Stratford, on a matinee performance in June 1899, the famous French actress, the divine Sarah Bernhardt played Hamlet.  It’s nearly 25 years since Fiona Shaw played Richard II; Glenda Jackson has just played King Lear on Broadway. And it’s a process of discovery we have been on at Stratford for quite some time, including Neil Bartlett’s Twelfth Night in 2007, in which Toby Belch, Andrew Aguecheek, Fabian and even Viola were all gender flipped. For me, regendering is also an opportunity: opening parts to exceptional actresses, for whom the traditional assignment of roles in the canon leaves little left for them to play.  Sometimes it’s a provocation, sometimes a revelation, but most of the time, you simply don’t notice, or quickly forget, as gender is not necessarily the primary motor of these characters. But it’s an exploration not a policy.’

This is all very well but I would contend most theatregoers don’t want to see our heavily subsidised national theatre companies distorting the world so flagrantly.
I wanted to pursue my complaint through the small claims court but the domestic goddess vetoed the idea. It seems, from a cursory look at theatre reviews, that ‘regendering’ is de rigueur in luvvieland so I am biting the bullet and going to see the damned thing. A review will follow after we have endured it to the bitter end.

Incidentally the production got 4 stars from the ‘Grauniad’ (no surprise there), the ‘Stratford Herald’ liked it but found it confusing, ‘The Times’ awarded 3 stars as did ‘The Telegraph’ which called it ‘jaunty but lightweight’. ‘The Morning Star’, Jezza Corbyn’s top read, might have been expected to be supportive but it concludes: This is essentially directors’ theatre, full of disparate ideas and images which never fully cohere into significant meaning. Poor old Shakespeare.’

Oh and check this out...

 

Monday, December 02, 2019

Christmas in Kabul, 1841

Well the good news is that I have bought into some new promotional thing which is supposed to make sure my book, 'The Trials of Eldred Pottinger', is widely promoted on tinernet.

The bad news is I'm not sure it's any good. Have a look and see for yourself. You're supposed to be able to read some of the pages, listen to a bit of audio (me, reading about Christmas in Kabul) and watch the promotional video.

Oh and feel free to pass it on to friends, relatives and anyone else who might be interested: https://www.book2look.com/book/hJnQ8wYZwK

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Impeachment of Horace Thompson


I've just written a new short story about Brexit: Appalled by the way our politicians have handled Brexit, Walsall plumber Dave Britten is literally dumbstruck. He is so angry he can no longer speak.

The last straw was the arrest and impeachment of the Prime Minister, Horace Thompson, on a charge of treason.

As the liberal remainer establishment goes to any lengths to thwart the will of the people, setting up a Government of National Unity under new Prime Minister Joe Berk, Dave Britten is completely lost for words.

This short story is one of those extremely rare works of fiction written from the point of view of the people who actually want the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Download a PDF for free here.

Alternatively, you can buy it on Amazon for a mere 99p.

It’s amusing, which is more than can be said for the Brexit process.

I thought this story would only be viable for about three days and would be taken down last Saturday but the shenanigans in Parliament mean it is still valid as of October 21.