Friend or Foe?: the performance

It was a windy night, the summer had been taken over by autumn when we all arrived at Landguard Fort for a performance by the Woven Theatre Company of Philip Thicknesse: Friend or Foe?

Landguard is a perfect location. Thicknesse was Lieutenant-Governor at the fort from 1753 until 1766, a controversial character brought to life by this play set in the central courtyard at Landguard.

His third wife, Anna, well portrayed by Clare Hawes, added her lovely voice to the show, as did Eloise Kay, who was a puppeteer, the Clerk of the Court, the Innkeeper’s wife and a Barge Woman. Her cheekily expressive face was a delight, and her voice was clear and bright as she sang, especially when playing the scenes in France.

Steve Gallant was impressive as the sergeant who opened the play, and the goaler, and even featured after death as Thicknesse carried his skull everywhere. Richard Blaine, as Philip Thicknesse, held the play together well, with his strutting figure using the space at Landguard. It’s a perfect stage although the audience would have welcomed a warmer summer evening.

Adrian Cave has a strong voice, showing no emotion as he told of the Sergeant’s execution, which was a true story. The Sergeant’s Portuguese wife was accused of stealing a handkerchief, and ran  away. The Sergeant went to find her, only to be accused of desertion and shot when he returned.

The principal parts were supported by dancers from the On y Va, a French/Breton dance club from Saxmundham who meet at the Riverside Centre, Stratford St Andrew. Lord Orwell, cast as the villain, played by Jamie Symons, was also the defence lawyer at Thicknesses’ trial. Pauline Dent came across well as the Judge, seated up high on the walkway looking down into the well of the court, much like the the number one court at the Old Bailey. She was also responsible for costumes.

A fine play written by Peppy Barlow and Sally Wilden, directed by Anna Birch, I can see this staged during any summer weekend, with the public playing their part as the public.

 

Car Travel to London

I drove from my home town to Enflield, in North London, yesterday. It was an unpleasant journey. Huge lorries roaring along, often sitting inches away from the rear of my small Smart car. All very uncomfortable. Everyone wants to g faster, all are desperate to get wherever they are going. Are we making cars that accelerate too fast and not adding the cheap safety devices: cameras, mini-computers, automatic braking, that will save lives?

We are not improving the quality of our lives.

It is also apparent that we are saving money. As a result everything looks tatty. White lines are worn, the road surface is patched, looking like an old jumper on a tramp. We have quality and pride from our lives.

Failure to understand the value of quality in our lives will be our downfall.

Walk proud. Be English.

Colchester & Ipswich NHS trusts merger

The two NHS Board of Governors controlling Colchester Hospital University Trust and Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust decided at a joint Board Meeting held in Langham Community Centre on 24 August to work on amalgamation of the two trusts.

Choosing Langham was a good choice, it’s hard to find. Despite that a good number of people turned up. I had been led to believe that it was to be a consultation. That was not the case. However the Chairman did allow a reasonable time for people to ask questions – very few of which were answered, at least not to my satisfaction.

The proposal is to merge both hospitals. It will save money the CEO suggests, but admits they will only save by becoming more efficient, yet provides no evidence to support the idea that amalgamation will help. He also says they will spend £70 million. This is another dream. They have asked the NHS for that money, without having any guarantee that their dreams will be realised.

As for the rest of the arguments for the merger, they amounted to very little. People were living longer – so costing more. We should all die? Big organisations attract better people – so why were we persuaded that local control of trusts was a good idea?

I am not convinced they know what they are doing. I’m further convinced that Nick Hulme is not the person to manage two trusts. He has a bad track record, all within the NHS. He is no more than than a reliable sop whom NHS managers can rely upon.

These are multi-million pound organisations yet they are being managed in a very amateurish way.

Creative Arts Centre

Founders Creative Arts TrustI’m excited. Three, if not five, lovely ladies from our peninsular have just launched the Creative Arts Trust. It will be based at the redundant St Mary’s Church at Trimley, Suffolk – that;s one of the two churches that stand side by side opposite the Welcome Hall in Trimley.

This area has long needed a community arts centre. There have been plans, always thwarted, but these wonderful people have pushed on to make a project that I know will be worthwhile.

Trimley Council own a field close by, that is used for allotrments. Perhaps part will be released for parking as this centre becomes well-known and popular.

Go there this weekend, there’s a bevy of events, and I’m sure the new founders will welcome your ideas and support.

Three hearty cheers!

A Good Weekend

It was a good weekend. I was quiet, saw the Carnival, heard the fireworks,   watched TV in the evening when I should have been mixing in with the local festivities. Never mind – the BBC had two programmes supporting anarchy. Very well done.

Fun ahead next week at the Peace News Summer Camp at Diss, Suffolk. See you there. Good food, interesting discussions, be part of a growing movement.

Felixstowe Recorded Music Society: Member’s Choice

3rd May 2017
YOUR CHOICE

Norman Sennington (Chairman) had kindly volunteered to present this programme of our choices. As he said, he enjoyed seeing other people’s choices. There was something of a shortfall, which he made up with some selections of his own. He started with an organ work that Heather had had to omit from her programme for reasons of time. As she would have said then:
“Early last year we visited both of Liverpool’s Cathedrals. Both really interesting buildings, great contrast. Didn’t hear either organ playing but when I got back I looked out a CD I had of organ music. The point of a cathedral organ (for me) is loud music, and the tracks from the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral were all a bit….muted: so I put the CD away again. However in October we went to Canterbury Cathedral for the first time (where it really went against the grain that there was an entry charge of £12.00 plus per person!) and I remembered the CD had some grand music played on that organ.
“Here is Scherzo in G minor by Mario Enrico Bossi (1861-1925). His father and his son were also composers and organists.”
It was played on the organ at Canterbury Cathedral by Alan Wicks.
It was followed by Ivan’s choice, and as so often he had come up with something unfamiliar. An opera by Francois-Joseph Gossec, 1734 to 1829: The Triumph of the Republic, first performed in 1793. We heard three short extracts, which Norman had chosen being given a free hand by Ivan, from Scene 2. (Ivan himself was at a special celebration with his wife.) The role of Thomas was sung by Makato Sakurada, tenor, (and Norman noted it is unusual to hear a Japanese opera singer), with Salome Haller, soprano, and Coro della Radio Svizzera Lugano, Coro Calicantus, I Barochisti and Diego Fasolis.
Norma’s choice came next, the much loved Trout Quintet by Schubert, the first movement. The Trout Quintet is the popular nickname for the Piano Quintet in A, D667, as the fourth movement is a theme and variations on Schubert’s song Die Forelle. It was composed in 1819, when he was 22 years old, but it was not published until 1829, a year after his death.
Rather than the usual line up of piano and string quartet, it is written for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass. The composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel had arranged his own septet for the same instrumentation and the Trout was actually written for a group of musicians coming together to play Hummel’s work.
It was played here by members of the Kodaly Quartet, with Istvan Toth on double bass and Jeno Jando on piano.
Like Ivan, Rosalie often finds something new for us to hear, as she often does at Christmas. Unfortunately, she was unable to be present this evening, but she had nominated an interesting piece: the Canzone by Bruch. Literally “song” it was written for cello and orchestra but was played here to lovely effect by Sergei Nakariakov on the trumpet. As Rosalie had written “It’s a beautiful melody, even more plaintive when played by brass”. The Philharmonia was conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Mike had elected Gottschalk his Misere du Trovatore, a operatic paraphrase for piano of Verdi’s opera. It was played by the Gottschalk specialist Philip Martin. Gottschalk uses a device perfected by his contemporary, Sigismond Thalberg, of playing the melody with the thumbs freeing up the fingers for ornate decoration.
On 30th March, our local cinema had shown by direct relay from the Royal Opera House, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, in a memorable performance directed by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, with Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho as Butterfly and Argentinian tenor Marcelo Puente as Pinkerton, conductor Antonio Pappano. Norman had seen it and said it had been a treat. He had chosen a recording of the Act I Love Duet, with Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufman. The Orchestra and Coro Dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia also conducted by Antonio Pappano. (A recording from 2009.)
Interval
Ann had nominated Gerald Finzi’s Clarinet Concerto, Op 31. We heard the First Movement, played by Robert Plane, with the Northern Sinfonia conducted by Howard Griffiths.
Alan Lott, who is due to give us a presentation next year, was unable to be present but he had also made a selection. Unfortunately, his preferred choice – the famous minuet by Boccherini – was not available that evening but we heard a movement from the same composer’s Cello Concerto, No. 2 in D, G479, played by Tim Hugh, cello, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Anthony Halstead. [A cynic might have noted that all four concerti on this disc have movements of almost identical length!]
Having run out of suggestions received, Norman chose the next few pieces. From Rosalie’s CD, No Limit, Nakariakov playing the Meditation from Thais by Massenet, also arranged for trumpet.
He also reverted to Mike’s CD of Gottschalk with a rather more energetic piece, Souvenir d’Andalousie. It is a piece that uses traditional dance patterns, including that used by Ernesto Lecuona in his Malaguena.
Norman recalled that earlier in the year there had been some discussion about Florence Foster Jenkins, about whom a film had appeared last year. She was, it may be recalled, the wealthy socialite who thought she was an opera singer. Stephen Frears, who directed the film, researched by watching films of her performing and had said: “You’re laughing and she touches you. It’s inherently ridiculous and courageous at the same time.” This was a recording originally made for Melotone Studios, (and financed by Jenkins) between 1941 and 1944, of Adele’s Laughing Song from Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. It was not easy to listen to!
Another Strauss closed our evening – Richard Strauss and At Gloaming, from his Four Last Songs, sung by Gundula Janowitz, with the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Herbert von Karajan.

A Week of Contrasts

I probably need to get rid of the black dog first. It’s right that you should do what you wish, not just respond to the demands of others. I’m a sensitive soul and two events this week were enough to through me off balance. When I was  sadly let down. Nuff said, time to move on. The rest of the week was good if I ignored the rest of the world. My government is now threatening Russia – what’s the matter with them? Not in my name!

Went to Leiston (location of nuclear power stations – ugh!) to see a group of shanty singers from Sheringham. Forgot where Leiston was so went sailing past the turn, nearly reaching Lowestoft! Turned round and got there eventually!

Went to an Indian restaurant Cinnamon My beautiful companion enthused so much promising to include a visit on her birthday. It was good. Not sure I’ll make the birthday guest list, from what she was saying she has a lucky victim already selected. It’s one advantage of being an old man, as I no longer pose a threat, or even a prospect!

Then to St Margaret’s Church, Leiston, a beautiful place, well worth a visit even without the singers. Magnificence in a small church – please visit.

That was Friday – excellent group of lads from Sheringham, so good that no-one bothered to smash in the head of the guy with a Nowich City  Football Club scarf (that typo is deliberate).

Saturday saw a different church, St John’s Felixstowe, different women and a change of atmosphere. My lovely friend Maggie played the violin as part of the orchestra for an oratorio about Hercules. Not my favourite work, and it lasted just two performances when originally performed. However the soloists, orchestra and the choir did a sterling job. We are so lucky that so many folk practise for hours just to receive a few claps from the audience, and a mound of personal satisfaction. Why do we waste so much money on foreign footballers and nothing on locally-created arts?

Shared lunch with Maggie at Bencotto’s before she left to rehearse. Surprised at the lack of vegetarian options, yet it remains my favourite place in town.

Fragile Life

Sidney George Forsdike, aged 90It’s been a week! (working from Friday)

My old friend George fell over dislocating his pelvis. George is 90, so was sent off to hospital where he received the best NHS treatment. Our health service is such a blessing, even though our present government is trying to destroy it so that private companies can make profits.

He soon lost consciousness and various bodily functions started to break down. Despite the best efforts of the medical team his body decided to leave this earth yesterday. A welcome relief. He’d had a good life. For all of us there’s a time to go.

George ran a flower nursery for over 50 years, with his wife Clare. Retiring they moved to Felixstowe, to a lovely apartment overlooking the sea. Only months later Clare died, leaving George on his own for the better part of twenty years.

He was a quiet, self-contained ole Suffolk boyo. Yet he took a lively interest in current affairs (was one of the few who read my blog) and was ‘computer literate’.

We created his biography ‘Cats and Chrysanthemums’  and later Ann Kearney recorded an audiobook version ISBN 978-1898030850 both available.

Good luck George. Nice knowing you.

 

 

Our Country: UK

Ken Loach was given a BAFTA this week for his latest film, I, Daniel Blake He has been making films since 1962, all of which have contained valuable social comments, starting with Cathy Come Home in 1966.

At the award ceremony Ken Loach said that the film highlighted the way in which the present government treated the poor. ‘

I was disappointed to see a Facebook comment from a man called John Smith (sic) stating that celebrities should not use a public platform to air controversial views. He was supported by a number of people.

They, in turn, had all used a public platform toput across their arguments. We must presume that their real complaint was that Ken Loach had a wider audience. No mention was made of the cause of his complaint, and the subject matter of his film, or that he’d been a social campaigner for many years.

This defence of an awful government policy is now part of the changing public scene. Don’t defend but instead attack the character of the person making a complaint.

This is but a small step away from dictatorship. Disagree with the status quo and be damned.

I started a community radio station, and wanted to question local politicians. Very quickly I was attacked, my character maligned and most politicians would not agree to being interviewed by me.

Living in an area that had returned a solid Conservative majority for many years they were not used to having their decisions questioned. It was surprising how quickly members of my team turned against me.

Today the radio station has a director who has a very dubious reputation, who has tried to run a commercial station in the past and left behind a mountain of debt. He has removed most of the voluntary presenters, refuses to allow any community diiscussion and believes he will make money from advertisers.

He will fail – again.

The shame is that the town will also lose a valuable platform. Discussion is vital if we are to live and work together. The station did that. It also encouraged emerging talent, allowing school children to have teir own programmes, to run talent shows, and be involved in local events.

The station now breaks OfCom rules every day. The people are no longer able to coplain.