Friday, 29 May 2015

almost there

Yo Sushis. This fortnight I have mostly been enjoying the stunt borzoi section of the tech (borzois are marvellous and were bred to hunt wolves, but they are like canine daleks and can't deal with stairs and so only one of three stunt borzois made the grade) and the hats, which are magnifique.

Also, many other things. If you come to a massive musical tech with no experience of techs beyond the single afternoons you get for your cute little annual shows, then it's a great game of spot the similarity and spot the difference. Since our cute little annual shows are put together by people who know what they're doing, the experience is surprisingly familiar, but the moments of sheer joy at first seeing a new iteration of the castle revolve, or a particular fabulous prop, or a suddenly gorgeous combination of lights, is obviously something a million miles beyond anything that's ever possible for us, and it's properly exciting. (Although, Charles and Tom will be thinking, let's just see if any Damsel in Distress special effect gets two rounds of applause within three minutes.)

In down moments, I have been teaching cast-members some of the great Ellis stories, and there have been discussions of what the tech and last rehearsal week would have been like for the initial production of King Lear.

On a personal level, I am not very experienced at hotels, but I've been here for a week and I have finally got to the point where I am not eating every single possible item that is available for breakfast. Also I broke the shower and still don't understand why there are so many cushions or why the duvet is the kind you would expect to find in the Ice Hotel.

This is a magnificent piece of writing about Rafa Nadal, who I adore.

Monday, 18 May 2015

change is good

Hey. I'm on the train back from the first day of Chichester rehearsals for Damsel in Distress. It has been intense for the last month, very intense for the last fortnight, and at the end of the last week reached an unsustainable intensity. I hope it is back to being very intense now. It's good intense though, in the way really excellent teamwork can be - a combination of understanding and generosity, along with all the talent.

There really is a lot of talent. I've taught a few songs to hockey teams in my time, but this is literally different from that.

Anyway, the first victim victim of the process is the truth. No, not the truth. The first victim of the process is Tall Tales. We are taking May off, with the extremely kind permission of The Good Ship. Really, it is one of the best-humoured, best-run venues imaginable. TT wouldn't exist without it.

This is quite a dull post, I know. I've had some fun things sitting on tabs for a month. I don't know how, for instance, I first heard of Tiffany Jones, but it sounds from Wikipedia like a spectacularly awful movie:

Tiffany Jones is a 1973 British comedy film directed by Pete Walker and starring Anouska Hempel, Ray Brooks and Eric Pohlmann.It was based on a comic strip that had featured in the Daily Mail. The main character, Tiffany Jones, a leading model, also works as a secret agent. She encounters in this film both good and bad men alike.

That alone does not earn it blog space. The thing I love is that the star, Anouska Hempel, hated it so much that she bought all the rights and blocks all versions from being distributed. Unlike me, Hempel comes from Russian and Swiss German heritage and says she was born on a boat from Papua New Guinea to New Zealand. Also unlike me, she has married a property developer who died in a mysterious car crash, Bill Kenwright and a major financier.

The differences don't end there, but these will do for now.

Ok, apart from I have never blocked movies of myself, viz. Tiffany Jones and also Black Snake. Also I don't have a showcase hotel in the Brazilian rainforest and I haven't designed two yachts.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

u or non-u

We got an election leaflet from the U Party yesterday. We'd never heard of it even though I think that ours is the only seat it's fighting this time round. It's centralist and libertarian, and you're already a member - everyone is automatically enrolled but you can opt out if you want to.


Being an MP is a national job, not a local job. There will be no constituency surgeries; solving local problems is the job of local councillors who can if they wish approach an MP to help resolve a problem. In any event, U Party MPs will be unpaid, so they will be too busy earning a living like the rest of us, and too busy to make legislative mischief.


If we have time, the U Party might seek peaceful recovery of our former French possessions under Henry II (if they vote to return, but excluding Calais). And we will form a coalition with anyone and everyone if we can. The U Party will break any and all of its manifesto promises of it sensible to do so.

It's not really nuts. Really, it's an issues based leaflet from a guy who knows he isn't going to be elected but can say things a lot of people in politics think but can't possibly say. That's why he can make jokes that he trusts people to get. The main issue is pensions, which need sorting out. It's also sensible about the law (too many laws hastily promulgated lead to confusion), drugs (evidence-based reports across the world favour decriminalisation), prison reform, training for MPs and especially regulators and various others.

Monday, 4 May 2015

i bet this won't change your mind about anything

I don't know how to change people's minds about politics. It almost never happens which means, in social circumstances, what's the point in trying? I think: I shouldn't get into this, basically.

Then I see something like the Times scandal, which is properly scandalous, where the newspaper basically lied on Page 1 that average working families would pay £1000 more in tax under Labour. The next day they retracted this on Page 24 and explained they had reached this figure by adding up the extra tax paid by the highest earners, by owners of very expensive houses and by various companies, and dividing that by the total number of working families, almost all of whom wouldn't be paying it. The naked bias of these self-interested, knowingly deceitful [rude word] makes me want to thcweam.

Yes, the BBC is, more or less, left of the current political centre. But it tries, more or less, to be impartial. And frankly if almost all the commercial enterprises owned by really rich people are right of centre and literally electioneering in their owners'; direct material interests, thank goodness the media giant paid for by poorer people is in a small and almost entirely unelectioneering way a counterbalance.

And while I am writing something that won't persuade anyone: mansion tax.

A comprehensive Land Value Tax would be better; the mansion tax is politically more viable and better than nothing; of course there will be victims, there are victims of any policy change, I wish there weren't; but at least this time the victims are those who have been overwhelmingly lucky with when they have been born and can therefore better afford the hit; some of the victims will be at the more victim end of the scale and they will make the papers and I do feel sorry if anyone has to move out of their house, I really do, but on the upside, if they are having to move they are moving from a £2m house whose value has been hugely inflated by things other than their own hard work (this is not to say they haven't worked hard to pay what they did pay) which gives them a step up on an entire generation which can't possibly buy.

Two other comments:
1. Please don't call this the politics of envy. I hate this 'I'm the victim of jealousy' stuff from people who have loads of stuff. Maybe you are, but it's not really an argument. I am very lucky. I totally expect a kid who didn't have my massive advantages to be jealous of me.
2. Yes, yes, I'm a member of the liberal urban intellectual elite. It's one of the two big groups (with working class Tories) who vote against their narrow economic self-interest. Doesn't make us either right or wrong, but I mention it because it irritates me when people call me smug for wanting to share a good fortune I know I haven't entirely earned.