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Messages - HtoHe

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The Coffee Bar / Re: The Minor Moan thread
« on: March 13, 2014, 01:06:49 pm »
This is More Michael Billington’s moan than mine but I must say I agree with him.  By a circuitous route (I don’t use Twitter myself) I came across this comment by the venerable Grauniad man:

Depressing to read that David Cameron was checking his texts and emails while
watching the RSC Wolf Hall. Why not just focus on the play?

See post of 6:12 am Mar 7 here.

It also seems that nobody has come to our PM’s defence – though, as I said, I don’t use Twitter so might be looking in the wrong place for dissenting comments.

Theatre / Re: Twelfth Night - Liverpool Everyman
« on: March 13, 2014, 10:17:34 am »
I was rather surprised to see that Viola (Jodie McNee) and Sebastian (Luke Jerdy) had different colour hair and were still mistaken for each other by people who knew them intimately;

It would appear that I wasn't the only one to notice this (or that my eyes deceived me!) because matching hair seemed to be in place by the time this critic saw the play:

Other reviews - all positive as far as I can see - are online now.  Anyone planning to see the play might want to avoid the Liverpool Echo where Catherine Jones, to  my mind, gives rather too much away right at the start of her piece.

Radio / Re: Stan Tracey (1926-2013) tribute
« on: March 12, 2014, 09:18:21 pm »
Thanks for the tip, Stanley - from me and several of my friends, none of whom would have dreamed of checking the R2 listings.  I thoroughly enjoyed the performance.  R2 seems to be on a bit of a roll with a broadcast of Oh! What a Lovely War from Stratford East coming up on Friday.  I know about this because, unlike Under Milk Wood, it's been trailed on R4 for a couple of weeks.

Theatre / Re: King Lear - Olivier Theatre
« on: March 12, 2014, 08:53:16 pm »
A quick heads up for those willing to take a chance.  A slew of cheap seats - some of which would, in ordinary circumstances be the best in the house - are now on sale for May 1.  This is the date of the Live relay and the 'restricted view' shown against the £15 seats refers to obstruction from cameras and other necessities of outside broadcast.   Another reason for the cheap prices in the theatre is, I'm told, the fact that the actors will be playing to the camera rather than the auditorium.  But for those who can't queue for day seats or returns and are free on May 1 it could be an option.

News and Current Affairs / Re: Bob Crow Dies
« on: March 11, 2014, 11:40:43 am »
That's rather sad and, as you say Mort, a big shock.  Although he gave the impression of being a man who sought confrontation for its own sake, he was one of the few modern figures who would stand up to the big institutions and their 'we're doing what suits us and to hell with the staff and the customers' attitude. 

The Coffee Bar / Re: Grumpy Old Rant Room
« on: March 11, 2014, 09:17:29 am »
Sorry to hear this, Jonathan.  It's happened to me and to almost everyone I know: and it's galling to know that one reason why it continues is that banks find it more cost-effective to take the hit than to implement proper security measures.

I’ve thought for some time that the banks are almost criminally complacent about security on personal accounts.  In one of my final conversations with the Co-op Bank before I switched they made it clear that they weren’t going to change their policy of putting contactless features on all new debit cards and tried to reassure me in several very unconvincing ways:

They suggested the technology was completely sound though they couldn’t tell me how this claim squared with the stories on all the consumer programmes about Marks & Spencer, TfL and other very prominent bodies and their problems with contactless cards – not to mention very strong rumours that the cards could be read and hacked by thieves who got close enough to you.  In other words it seems your pocket can now be picked by someone who never gets closer than a few feet away from you.

They said the potential losses (on this particular feature) were very small – I think £20 per transaction up to £100 per day.  My response was that this might be small compared with their CEO’s bonus but could be very significant to ordinary people.

Finally, perhaps most offensive of all, they said if anything did go wrong I would be reimbursed.  This made me absolutely furious as they were essentially saying I should have no objection to being forced to have a contactless card because my money was already being used to reimburse other people with such cards if the bank’s security wasn’t robust enough.

Underlying all this, of course, is an arrogant disregard for the worry and inconvenience caused to Jonathan and others when they become victims of fraud.  The banks push the idea that there’s no need to worry about security because you will, eventually, be reimbursed when things go wrong. 

The Coffee Bar / Re: Grumpy Old Rant Room
« on: March 09, 2014, 01:19:41 pm »
I don't get the recent trend for people to sit on the outside seat...

I generally do it when I'm only going a few stops and don't want someone to sit on my outside and have to get up to let me off.  I confess I also prefer to have the extra leg room afforded by the aisle rather than the dubious view from the window!

... then sigh and roll their eyes if someone asks to sit on the inside one

That's just rude.  My normal response to such a request is to reply 'of course'.  If someone asks me to 'shove up' I explain why I want the outer seat, but if they're getting off before me I move to the window seat.

In the example you give I'm afraid I'd probably have made a point of making the young man's journey as miserable as possible by interrogating him as to how he got to be so selfish - did he think he was genetically programmed to act that way or was it his upbringing. Telling me to F off is a big mistake as it generally makes me press my point far further than I originally intended. 

PS Sorry to read that you're having a tough time Jonathan.  I hope things improve very soon.

Theatre / Twelfth Night - Liverpool Everyman
« on: March 09, 2014, 12:58:58 am »
The wait for the new Everyman is over as the inaugural season of the rebuilt theatre opened last night with Twelfth Night.  I must confess I was rather worried when the play opened with Orsino (Adam Levy) repeating the first word many times.  It was obvious from his demeanour that this was deliberate but it struck me as a little bit pretentious; then the action skipped to the next scene with Viola and the Captain making a spectacular entrance (I won’t give it away) which led to a round of applause.  I had an awful feeling that the flow of the play was going to be spoiled by people clapping every entrance and exit; but, to my relief, it settled down a bit after the opening. 

The set was very simple with an almost bare stage backed alternately with interior (hearth etc) and garden (trellises draped with greenery or flowers) scenes.  There was a bit of nonsense with plant pots descending from the ceiling in early scenes – which didn’t do much for the sight lines – but otherwise simplicity was the watchword.  Costumes appeared to be mid 20th century with the siblings wearing bright blue suits and crepe shoes putting me in mind of teddy boys.  I was rather surprised to see that Viola (Jodie McNee) and Sebastian (Luke Jerdy) had different colour hair and were still mistaken for each other by people who knew them intimately; but then I don’t know much about theatrical conventions.  Matthew Kelly was a rather exaggerated Toby Belch, though I must say he made a very convincing drunk.  Paul Duckworth as Feste will have pleased a lot of people but for me his mannerisms – a sort of cross between Boy George and Lily Savage  - rather buried the Fool’s lines.  The two standout performances in my view were: Natalie Dew as a very fetching Olivia -  her ‘Most wonderful’  when presented with two copies of her love object was the most memorable single moment; and Adam Keast as a foppish Andrew Aguecheek -  looking very Oscar Wildeish and getting the humour out of the plot without resorting to the high camp of Kelly and, especially, Duckworth.

Perhaps the highest praise comes in the observation that the time – very little short of three and a half hours – flew by.  One can’t read anything into the fact that the end was greeted with loud applause.  Anything else on the first night at the new theatre would have been unthinkable.  For some reason the cast decided to do a Globe-style dance afterwards – which might have been quite appropriate for this production but I don’t think I’d like to see them make it a feature of all performances as at Bankside. 

To conclude – well worth seeing in the bright new Everyman whose sightlines from all parts of the auditorium seem very good.  Even the second row of the circle might be good because it seems – in a similar way to the upper level seats at the Royal Exchange – to be raised high above the front row thus reducing ones vulnerability to people leaning forward and blocking ones view.

Theatre / Re: Coming up....
« on: March 07, 2014, 11:56:32 am »
Bottled suspension of disbelief will be on sale in the local chemist I should think, Jim.  I don’t know how old Lady Bracknell is supposed to be (after all, one didn’t ask a Lady’s age when this play was written) but I’ve always thought of her as younger than the youngest member of this cast.  On the other hand, raw sexual chemistry is not a major feature of the play, is it?  It doesn’t have any characters like Mrs Erlynne in Lady Windermere’s Fan so once we get it into our heads that Algernon, Gwendolen, Jack & co are twenty-somethings it should be plain sailing .  The name that scares me more than the idea of people my age playing gilded youth is that of Simon Brett, who I associate with gentle radio comedy like After Henryor The Charles Paris Mysteries – all very pleasant on the wireless but not what I want from the theatre. The sad thing is that I’ll probably end up seeing this as the Harold Pinter usually has a good day seat scheme and matinees on Wednesdays when I’m most likely to be in town.

The Concert Hall / Re: Liverpool Concerts 2013-4
« on: March 06, 2014, 11:15:20 pm »
Tonight’s concert was introduced with a little talk on how wonderful the sponsors were and how this was one of an exciting series using RLPO section leaders as soloists.  Of course this was nothing to do with saving money but turned out to be an inspired idea as the customary audience loyalty produced the wildest applause I’ve heard for a soloist in ages.  You’d think we’d heard something akin to Denis Brain at his best  - and I don’t think we really had; though Timothy Jackson was good enough (after a rather shaky start) in R Strauss’s 2nd Horn Concerto.  This was preceded by Mahler’s Blumine – also decent enough – but the tickets didn’t say Petrenko’s Elgar for nothing.  Elgar’s 2nd Symphony came after the interval and I thought Petrenko’s reading of it was very exciting – certainly the best thing on the programme for my money.  I suppose it should be no surprise that a conductor praised for his Shostakovich should handle Elgar’s sprawling melodies and booming percussion well.  I remember one of my earliest Petrenko concerts in which I was surprised by how much I liked Cockaigne – which I’d previously thought a rather bread-and-butter opening piece.  This evening I was struck, at the end of the 2nd Symphony’s third movement, by the thought that Petrenko made this scherzo (or Rondo – Presto as the programme describes it) sound so sparkling that it could be a rousing overture in its own right.  Whether that’s technically a good thing or not I don’t know; but it worked for me.  Apart from a very odd horn note a couple of minutes before the end the performance was very good, in my opinion.  The clapping-between-movements people seemed to be back but gave up after failing to get the rest of the audience to join in after the first movement; but they still couldn’t wait for Petrenko’s hands to be fully lowered after the fourth.  The attendance was probably slightly lower than for last week’s Panufnik & Strauss but still respectable enough for a repeat of last night’s programme.  I expect most people chose last night’s performance to give themselves an excuse not to watch England in the football.

We are planning to go.  I'm always a bit doubtful about Jacobean comedies, in that the jokes aren't just funny any more...

Have you booked yet, Don B?  If not, you might want to try and get seats with a direct view of the whole playing area.  It struck me that this is more of an issue for this play than for The Duchess of Malfi. The Pit looks like it might be best, though I have no direct knowledge and don't really know whether you'd be looking up at the stage or how restricting that might be.  The side seats at ground level might be OK as long as you don't get the ones too flush with the backdrop.  Bear in mind, though, that quite a lot happens below the stage rather than on it.  The upper gallery side seats seem to be the worst of all worlds.  The standing places are bad but the seats in front can't offer a much better view - and at least standing only costs a tenner. 

I look forward to reading what you make of it.  I'm also hoping to read your comments on King Lear if you have time.

The Coffee Bar / Re: The Minor Moan thread
« on: March 04, 2014, 08:25:58 pm »
I'm an occasional sufferer and sodium bicarbonate is a new one on me. Must give it a go next time -

I don't want to come across as a fusspot as I'm sure it works if done properly; but it must be worth mentioning that it's probably wise to get expert advice before doing this.  Oil is one thing, but surely pouring an alkali into your ear canal is quite another.

The Coffee Bar / Re: The Minor Moan thread
« on: March 04, 2014, 08:21:55 pm »
It's possible. I suppose I should send another polite one ...

Seems very possible to me.  Liverpool Everyman/Playhouse recently 'upgraded' their system with the result that all the emails I sent to their 'feedback@' address - including ones sent via the link on their website - failed.  I did get 'undeliverable' notifications; but they didn't even know it was happening until I phoned and told them.  And one of our latest upgrades resulted in all except internal company emails going to my junk folder until they tweaked the upgrade.  I never assume email is any more reliable than the post.

News and Current Affairs / Re: Prunella Scales, 'Alzheimer's'
« on: March 04, 2014, 03:36:12 pm »
Very sad, Stanley.  Like you I very much admire Prunella Scales's work and it makes me sad just to read this so what Timothy West is going through must be awful.  And on reading further it appears that she herself knows what's happening to her - which must be even more awful.  My stepmother has fairly advanced dementia but as far as I know she never had the prospect of losing her faculties set out before her in advance. 

The Coffee Bar / Re: What has made you smile today?
« on: March 04, 2014, 03:33:13 pm »
I won't post a link because it probably only happens if your browser settings are the same as mine; but when I hover over the listing for R4's Costing the Earth on the Radio Times site the curtailed preview reads "Rob Broomby explores methods of disposing of nuclear waste on a visit to France,..."

Made me smile anyway.

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