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Messages - HtoHe

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The Coffee Bar / Re: The Minor Moan thread
« on: November 14, 2014, 12:18:14 pm »
Since this is a, er, family MB  ;) I will leave Members to imagine my darkest thoughts when, after completing his inspection he said "I am not displeased with the changes you have made", but then pointed out "That window is completely mucked up and must be cleaned".

What a, shall we say, prat!  Is there anything in your agreement that says you have to live up to his levels of fastidiousness?  I'd tell him if he wants everything kept exactly as he likes it he should live there himself rather than letting.  As Fallen Star hints, though, not all landlords are that bad.  I had a landlady once whose standards were extremely high but she was nothing like this guy.  She gave me the keys to an absolutely pristine flat, then never bothered me for the 12 months of my tenancy apart from asking me if everything was OK when I paid the rent (she never even knocked on my door but waited for me to call on her with the cash).  When I left she deducted £50 from my deposit as she had to spend half a day getting the place as immaculate for the next tenant as it had been when I moved in.  Exactly how it should be.  I'm sure I could have spent a lot of my own time scrubbing the nooks and crannies of the place and she'd have given me the full deposit back; but I didn't - and, frankly, thought I got off lightly with £50 for work that would have taken me much longer than it took her.  What a contrast with my last landlord.  Despite the fact I paid his own recommended cleaners to do the flat after I left he tried to withhold money for damage that was already done when I moved in.  I took him to court and he ended up paying over £500 instead the £150 he tried to withhold.  I also popped a copy of the court judgement into the letterboxes of all his other tenants in case he tried the same trick on them.   The best thing about getting a mortgage is that I'm free of people like that.  As long as you're not doing any damage or creating a health risk a landlord should let you live in a way that suits you.  That, after all, is what deposits are for.

News and Current Affairs / Warren Clarke RIP
« on: November 14, 2014, 12:02:34 am »
As nobody else has done so I thought I'd mark yet another sad passing.  I saw Warren Clarke, rather like Lynda Bellingham, as a fine character actor who seems to have been remembered mainly for something that meant very little to me.  Just as Lynda was so much more than the Oxo mum, Warren was many more characters than Andy Dalziel (a character from a programme I never really knew).  From taking the eye as Dim in A Clockwork Orange to his superb cameo in Blackadder III: Amy and Amiability and beyond he seemed to give a fine performance every time I spotted him on screen.  Like Lynda, too, he was relatively young and will surely be missed.


The Coffee Bar / Re: The Minor Moan thread
« on: November 13, 2014, 11:51:14 pm »
I've learnt today that my pen friend of ten years in Texas is due to be executed next month.  I'm drafting a letter to him.  A minor moan for me, but a rather big one for him.

Sorry to hear about this, Don B.  I'm sure it is a big deal for you, not a minor moan.  Is there no hope?

The Coffee Bar / Re: The Minor Moan thread
« on: November 13, 2014, 11:44:09 pm »
Sometimes you just have to click on something because you think it can't be as bad as it threatens to be......and it turns out to be worse:

Awful, awful, awful!

Sorry - I thought I was saving this in the You Tube thread.  Could someone move it when they have time?

The Concert Hall / Huddersfield 2014
« on: November 10, 2014, 09:55:19 am »
I was a bit slow off the mark this year but have finally got round to looking at HCMF 2014, eventually mastering their extremely temperamental online booking system, and deciding that the weekend of 22/23 Nov was the irresistible one.  The Henry Cow reunion is unmissable:

Will Dagmar turn up, though?  When I booked to see her doing Weill/Eisler in Manchester a while ago the event was cancelled on the day.  If my train gets in on time I might also be able to catch the Howard Skempton prem but I’m not confident enough of Trans Pennine Express to book that in advance.
(how come this is show 424 when the Henry Cow concert 8 hours later is show 420?)

The big draw on the Sunday is the Evan Parker prem

Unfortunately this, as it takes place in Wakefield, severely limits my other options for the Sunday but it will make for a pleasant ending to the weekend; and even at this late stage I’ve managed to do the whole thing – fares, tickets and hotel – and have change out of £100 in case I can get to the early concert on Saturday.

Anyone else going this year?

The Concert Hall / Re: Liverpool Concerts 2014-5
« on: November 09, 2014, 10:37:46 pm »
I don't know what's happened to HtoHe - he seems to spend all his time at the theatre in London these days!

Not at all - there's also the theatre in Liverpool, Manchester, Mold....

To be honest, the temporary venues haven't appealed to me so I'm waiting until later.  I will skip the season opening with its compulsory and irritating national anthem; and there are clashes with the next two.  I'm at the Playhouse on the 20th for She Stoops to Conquer and in Wakefield for the Evan Parker concert on the 23rd.  I wish I could be at the Phil for the Rachmaninov - less worried about the Prokofiev/Tchaikovsky (especially as I'm not a big fan of Michael Torke) - and couldn't help wondering where are the repeat concerts when you want them.   

News and Current Affairs / Hotel Booking sites
« on: November 09, 2014, 09:38:29 pm »
I think I’ve mentioned this before but only as a potential security risk and a practice that, in my opinion, is wrong in principle.  I noticed some years ago that when I made a hotel reservation through Late Rooms my full details – name, address card details etc – ended up on a fax printout at the hotel reception.  To be fair, at least Late Rooms now warn you beforehand that they will pass your details to the hotel but I’ve never booked through them or any other third party site since then.  Now R4’s Money Box reports that customers of a similar site – – have experienced problems:

My advice would be never to use these sites except for research.  I usually find out which hotels are selling through the intermediary and try to contact those hotels directly. 

Incidentally, Money Box reports that ‘every day customers (of book 700,000 rooms in over 200 countries’  Ahem, isn’t that more countries than there are in the world?

The Coffee Bar / Re: What did you dream last night?
« on: November 03, 2014, 11:32:19 am »
So there I was, squished into this tiny kitchen

Clearly your subconscious feels trapped by kitchens of one kind or another.  Could you be worrying about the board too much?

News and Current Affairs / Re: RIP Acker Bilk
« on: November 03, 2014, 09:39:54 am »
It's sad to mark the passing of another figure who has been around quite literally all my life.  Kenny Ball and 'Mr' Acker Bilk seem to have been, via the hugely popular TV variety shows, the interface between jazz and mainstream entertainment in the 1960s and it's a bit of a coincidence that they should have died within just over a year of each other.  My parents liked Bilk as well though I could never see the attraction and still can't (by contrast, my parents also liked Benny Goodman and I love his music).  I've never come across anything of Bilk's that wasn't squarely in the bland, anodyne category though, to be fair, I've never been inclined to investigate his output in any depth; but there's no doubt that he was one of the people who first brought to my attention the fact that there was such a thing as jazz.  Indeed, and with apologies for the back-handed compliment, when I first bought a cheap LP of Louis Armstrong recordings my first thought was 'why don't the jazz bands on the telly sound like this?'.


News and Current Affairs / Re: JACK BRUCE RIP
« on: October 31, 2014, 11:57:25 pm »
Bruce occupied the first and longest slot on this week's Last Word, which is worth a listen:

I also tripped over this clip when browsing through YouTube.  I'm not sure about the statement 'Bach was a pretty great bass player'!  But there's some interesting background followed by a decent live performance even if the voice is faltering a bit compared with earlier versions.

The Concert Hall / Re: Live Concert Thread
« on: October 30, 2014, 10:41:08 pm »
The version with piano accompaniment, apparently, came before the orchestral one.  I vaguely remembered hearing about this on a BBC documentary and, with the aid of Google & YouTube, voila!

It works well enough as a chamber piece, I think; but the atmosphere is somewhat different.  I'm not surprised MJ enjoyed the live performance with young Ms Pike.  I must say I agree with some of the YouTube comments about Diana Rigg.  I usually like her but I found it quite shocking that a presenter couldn't wind up her intro before the performance started.

Theatre / James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock - Olivier Theatre
« on: October 29, 2014, 10:37:12 pm »
I fear I have completed my reverse-order viewing of the ‘James’ plays too late for my overall report to be of any practical use as the run seems to end this evening.  James 1: The Key Will Keep the Lock was, like James II, entertaining enough but somewhat unbalanced.  The first half was, to my mind, far too light – almost a knockabout comedy with the captive king being delivered home by Henry V, seemingly to go straight from being a prisoner at Windsor to being a tool of powerful Scottish factions who, despite the fact that he was related to the strongest of them, clearly despised him even more than Harry did.  These rather nasty bits of work were portrayed almost as lovable scamps with a healthy disregard for authority – English, Scottish or paternal (Gordon Kennedy shining yet again, this time as Murdac; patriarch of one branch of the Stewarts but clearly unable, as his physical powers waned, to rein in his reckless sons or mollify his viciously selfish wife Isabella, played again by the fine Blythe Duff).   Of course, in reality, their disregard is the bully's contempt for any authority other than that which (s)he wields, often in a very arbitrary way.

I suspect Rona Munro deliberately built up the chaos and clowning to create a contrasting background for the second half wherein James attempted to impose his authority and the rule of law by ever more extreme means.  The audience is stripped of all sympathy for the lovable scamps of the first half when they and their mother attempt to justify one son’s theft of a poor woman’s cattle and torture of her for complaining.  The point is well made – as it always was made in GCE History lessons – that a benevolent despot was seen as preferable to a power vacuum and destructive factional strife; still, it was a bit uncomfortable to see a mother forced to watch her sons’ executions and get the feeling that few in the audience had any compassion left for her or her offspring. 

The ending was quite odd for those who, like me, had already seen James II.  James I was still alive and actively reigning and James II had not been conceived.  Queen Joan* is pregnant for much of the second half but the child is a daughter, not the future king.  This means, unless I missed something, that the killing of James I and the birth and early infancy of James II occur between plays.

My final feeling was that James III is worth more than the other two plays put together with James I rather better than James II.  The overall best performance has to be Sofie Grabol as Queen Margaret.  I’m told this would have been no surprise to me if I watched more TV as she is famous for something called The Killing.  However, I think there might be a simpler explanation in that Margaret is the best written part in the trilogy (perhaps the author’s mouthpiece?).  That’s no slight against Grabol, of course – she still had to create the part, however strongly it was written; but the performances of Gordon Kennedy in three different pivotal roles and Blythe Duff  in two deserve much praise, too.  Credit must go to the author and the two National theatres for bringing this off, and congratulations at being rewarded with full houses all round.  I don’t know whether the ‘James’ plays will end up as standard repertoire but there will surely be revivals and my recommendation is that those who missed  them first time round should look out for such revivals.

*Stephanie Hyam, not as impressive as in James II and, bizarrely, given lines which force her into present day yoof speak with AQI and constructions such as ‘what does that even mean’ and ‘I should worry about this because…’

Theatre / Re: Electra - Old Vic, London
« on: October 28, 2014, 05:08:47 pm »
Her performance was adequate, but it lacked a certain depth. 

Maybe she didn't improve as much as I expected since the preview I saw, then.   I suspect, as I said earlier, that the cool, controlled Pinter women are more her natural territory.  I'd love to see her as Ruth in The Homecoming.  I agree that Diana Quick's performance was very striking.

The Orestes was oddly unconvincing.  I take it that was a deliberate production decision

Jack Lowden was superb in Ghosts so, like you, I prefer to think he was playing Orestes as the director instructed him rather than that he has suffered a sudden loss of form.

I noticed that the characters were different from those in Strauss' opera: Electra is less hysterical and Clytemnestra not at all decadent.  She made a very good case for getting rid of her husband.

Nobody has yet explained to me why the Hofmannsthal/Strauss treatment completely misses out the Iphigenia angle and any suggestion that Clytemnestra might have been justified.

What did you think of the 'adaptation'?

News and Current Affairs / Re: JACK BRUCE RIP
« on: October 28, 2014, 02:57:10 pm »
I was saddened to read about Jack Bruce's death last weekend and almost started a thread myself using the PC at my holiday hotel; but access was pretty limited.  I'm no judge of the technical merits of different bass players but the effect on me of the music JB produced with the likes of John Mayall, Tony Williams and, most famously, Cream was profound; and, while I love the more jazzy stuff, I also get nostalgic for the days when songs like White Room could make serious assaults on the singles charts.  As Ubu says, sophisticated artists are rare in a world of naivety and personality cults; but Bruce and many of his collaborators looked at one point like they might be capable of changing that.  I did see him live but it was something of a disappointment as he was playing keyboards in a rather dull duo with iIrc, Bootsie Collins.  It's an abiding regret that, on the one occasion I saw him, he didn't pick up a bass of any kind all evening.  Nothing, though, can spoil the wonderful memories his recorded work leaves behind.


News and Current Affairs / Re: Lynda Bellingham, RIP
« on: October 20, 2014, 02:32:50 pm »
This is possibly the least unexpected death of recent months but no less sad for that.  It’s particularly cruel that her brave decision to reject intrusive treatment in the hope of enjoying one more good Christmas with her family was not rewarded.  I remember her as a fine character actor and cringe when she’s referred to as ‘best known as the Oxo mum’.  I only saw her once – in Peter Terson’s Strippers in the days before that play and, unaccountably, Terson himself were marginalised to the point of invisibility – but for me she’ll always be Faith in the radio series Second Thoughts*  as well as a hardworking, indispensable participant in dozens of dramas.


*I've just noticed that Second Thoughts is currently running on R4Extra with an episode scheduled for 1700 today.  I'll be tuning in for that;

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