Saturday 30 November 2013

A Garden Post

I have duplicated some pieces of this post on two other gardening related blogs I maintain, so humour me and trust me when I say it’s not a senior moment!

We can’t really complain about November this year as the weather has been quite kind.

Thomas Hood’s poem comes to mind; here is the last verse ....
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

I’ve tidied my garden in a wildlife friendly way and planted up a few more tulips.  Being able to see the bare bones of the plot gets me thinking creatively about my projects for next season.   I should carry a notebook and pencil in my pocket as these are usually forgotten by the time the session is finished!
The leaves seem to have remained until later in the month compared to last year and I enjoyed a visit RHS Harlow Carr.

The AGM of Yorkshire in Bloom was held in Temple Newsam, which gave me  the opportunity for a  stroll in the grounds.

 Temple Newsam House

On the way back, as the sun was still shining,  I couldn’t pass the Canal Gardens at Roundhay Park without a peak in.

The allotment where I am a volunteer has also slowed down, so I will be spending more time in the parks.  The afternoons are very short at the moment but we are only three weeks away from the shortest day.

Broad Beans Aquadulce Claudia  
The upside is that, theoretically, there should be more time for writing.


Saturday 16 November 2013

A Fortnight of Films

I rarely visit the cinema (or go to the pictures as I call it), but just recently I have seen a plethora of films, all of which I enjoyed, experienced in a different venue and had their own merits.

As part of the UK Jewish Film Festival I saw the droll Blumenthal:
Celebrated playwright, Harold Blumenthal, has passed away after succumbing to cardiac arrest while laughing at his own joke. Now, Harold’s estranged and jealous brother, Saul, must confront his personal hang-ups  to deliver himself from an epic bout of constipation. Meanwhile, Saul’s wife Cheryl and son Ethan must grapple with their own personal obstacles through a set of circumstances so improbably ironic they might as well have been lifted from one of Harold’s plays.

I have also booked for Hava Nagila this week which finishes the festival in true celebratory style with obligatory dancing.
Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimoy, Regina Spektor and more, Hava Nagila (The Movie) follows the song from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the kibbutzim of Palestine to the cul-de-sacs of America. It excavates the layers of cultural complexity with humor, depth and heart – traveling the distance between the Holocaust to Dick Dale and his surf guitar, sometimes in the same sentence. It stops at key places – Ukraine, Israel, the Catskills and Greenwich Village, where Belafonte performed a hopeful version in the late 1950s, only to be countered by Bob Dylan, who butchers the song in his version Talkin’ Hava Negiliah Blues. The film covers Allan Sherman’s parody Harvey and Sheila, and Lena Horne’s civil rights anthem Now – both set to the tune of Hava Nagila. The film spotlights Italian-American crooner Connie Francis, who made the song the first track on her famous album of Jewish favorites; and Glen Campbell, who released an instrumental version of Hava on the B-side of his theme song from True Grit. It also dissects the proliferation of pop culture references to Hava Nagila in film and TV and brings the song up to the present, where it’s a rallying tune at sports games, a hot dance number in nightclubs and a global hit online.

On a more cultural note, I saw the superb Encore Screening of the National Theatre Live production of Habit of Art with the late Richard Griffiths, Alex Jennings and Frances De La Tour   
Benjamin Britten seeks advice from his former collaborator and friend, W H Auden. During this imagined meeting, their first for twenty-five years, they are observed and interrupted by, amongst others, their future biographer.  Alan Bennett’s play looks at the unsettling desires of two difficult men, and at the ethics of biography.  It reflects on growing old, on creativity and inspiration, and on persisting when all passion’s spent: ultimately, on the habit of art.

If you have not yet sampled these NT screenings, I would recommend them highly at a lot less cost than a theatre ticket.  Go on their website for details.  There is an intermission just as in the theatre, when we eat our sandwiches and cake with our drinks, and an interview with the director or producer.

Last but not least, we saw the wonderful Philomena with marvelous actors Judi Dench and Steve Cougan.  I didn’t know the story beforehand, so I won’t tell it here, unlike some reviews which have revealed all.

Next on my list is not a film but a dramatic production which is being performed in railway stations all over UK.  It’s called Suitcase and commemorates the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Kindertransport from Nazi Germany, which is how my aunt arrived aged 11 (see my post for her story).  We also attended the local 75th Kristallnacht Commemoration where her granddaughter lit a candle and we heard the personal experiences from others who came over in the Kindertransport.

“The sea is their grave but this Memorial sculpture is, in many ways, a headstone for the lost trawlermen”

I have always been impressed by the architecture in the centre of the maritime city of Hull, especially the old buildings with their carving...