Monthly Archives: September 2008


In the programme at the Royal Exchange Daughter noticed that the Studio was about to have a play with just one actor. She found this slightly weird, and asked if I’d ever seen anything with only one person in it. I’m glad she asked, because it reminded me of something I’d almost forgotten; Gogol, by Richard Crane.

A quick trip on Google, and I see it’s been thirty years since it was first on at the Marlborough Theatre in Brighton. I never saw it there, though. The first time was in Gothenburg, when Richard Crane was on tour. That is if you can be on tour all by yourself? My English tutor at University had arranged for us to go and see him perform his one man drama, as part of the drama course I was doing. That’s drama as in Shakespeare, not as in acting myself.

I can’t remember were we saw Gogol, but I recall Richard standing on a chair. He came and talked to us about it as well, which I suspect was because one of his friends was (and still is, I believe) running the Gothenburg English department at Sussex. At the time Richard had just been appointed dramatist in residence at the Royal Court, which impressed me.

This being the period when the young witch made so many trips to England that immigration smelled lots of rats (unnecessarily, I may add), the next time I saw Gogol performed was at the Royal Court Upstairs. The wife of the English department friend, was involved with some of the backstage stuff, so I guessed that by going to the first night I might run into my old tutor. An early witchy feeling I’d say, or how else could I time it so well that the poor man had to suffer my company?

And that’s how I ended up in the pub afterwards, with Gogol and tutor and wives and one brand new baby and a bewildered stage hand who wondered who on earth I was.

So, one man plays are not all that strange, although I think Gogol was a bit touched. Somehow.

Newman or Redford?

When the witch was young(er) it felt very much like you had to ask people “Paul Newman or Robert Redford ?” A bit like when you ask if someone prefers cats or dogs. The witch was a Paul Newman person.

Paul Newman

I have never been an active fan. I suppose I had other interests, but don’t ask me what or who. It’s a long time ago. But I always liked him, and since Son asked when he saw the news on Saturday that Paul Newman had died, whether he really was that important, the answer has to be yes. He was. And this coming from a teenager that I have brought up to like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid so much that he used his hard earned money on buying the DVD.

A couple of weeks ago I decided I had to watch the film again, but that wasn’t so easy, as the DVD went away to University, and is no longer accessible. Though quite possibly I like The Sting better. Perhaps ought to watch that again, too.

There are other actors who are good at acting, are good looking, and also manage to be good people. Not many, but there are some. There was very little not to like about Paul Newman.

Promises, promises

We have just watched Freaky Friday, the 2003 version, for the umpteenth time. Less umpteenth for me than for Daughter, who can quote every line. I give in more easily over Freaky Friday than with many other films, because I have a guilty conscience. It’s like the fish & chips in Penzance.

I said we’d go and see FF during the Christmas holidays. Plenty of time. The day before term started we had yet to go, and I felt so tired and unwell that Daughter generously let me off the hook. That’s why I bought the film as soon as the DVD was in the shops, which is very unlike me. Guilt.

The fish in Penzance proved even harder. I promised her fish & chips for dinner one night. The restaurant, which as far as I can remember was covered in fishing nets and the like, didn’t serve fish & chips. “OK, we’ll have it tomorrow, then”. You’d think it wouldn’t be hard to find fish in an English harbour town. It was. We walked round the town centre twice, in the freezing cold. The only place we found was of the eat-it-on-the-pavement type, which when it feels like Siberia and you have four hours before the train leaves, is not a good option. I was let off the hook again, and we froze like mad in the pizza restaurant in the cinema instead. But at least we had somewhere to sit.

The Egyptian House, Penzance

I have a horrible suspicion that I still owe Daughter the fish & chips. And that’s why we sometimes sit down with Freaky Friday again.

(It is actually an enjoyable film with the back-to-front mother and daughter roles. I have difficulty keeping up with the role reversal at times, but it’s still fun. And I never eat fortune cookies.)

NCIS is back!

Well, didn’t expect that. The CBS promo did have Mark Harmon saying we couldn’t possibly guess what, why and so on, but why should I believe him?

Episode 1 of the new series was just as good as I could have hoped for, except I didn’t know how. The death of a team member came true and I’m not heartbroken, so let that be a clue. Some very humourous scenes prove that the scriptwriters have not lost their touch. There’s at least one aspect that doesn’t quite make sense, but I don’t mind.

Some things are explained, and some things are made better, but then you’re left with more questions, so it’s not safe yet.

1 Lift

I was all set to add spoilers, but think I will refrain. Watch it when you can!

(Photos © CBS)

NCIS series 6


19 The Team

The witch and Daughter are getting excited about the start of NCIS series 6 tonight. It may be in North America only, which is unfair to avid fans, but still something to look forward to. Plenty of rumours as to what will happen, but after the cliff hanger shock of the end of series 5, a death in the team sounds less dramatic than it might have done. And it may not be true. Who knows?


19 Gibbs

Poirot v Barnaby

Is there any contest at all between these two gents?

I rarely watch Midsomer Murders these days. It’s not even like cake, because I can have too much cake and not enjoy the last piece, but it will taste good again after a long enough break. Not so with Midsomer, which now strikes me as silly all the time. Sometimes I may feel I can put up with that, so will watch it to keep someone else company. But was it always this ridiculous? Have I matured, or has dear Barnaby passed his sell by date?

Poirot, on the other hand, is always lovely. Not sure how authentic these newly made “authentic” episodes are, but they are fun to watch. And as much as I loved Peter Ustinov, the only real Poirot is David Suchet. Someone recently said how they couldn’t stand his Poirot, but I think it would be more true to say that Poirot isn’t necessarily all that nice. I don’t think he should be. But Suchet’s interpretation is so close to the Poirot of the books.

I suspect what brought this on, was watching the two latest Poirots with a recording of Midsomer in the middle. The thing is, both are equally popular in other countries. This is because they firmly believe this is how we live in England. Not necessarily going round murdering people at every opportunity, but the charming houses and the tea drinking and all that. Cluedo, really.

Three Sisters

Don’t say I’m not an obedient old witch when it suits me. In the summer I just happened to read Happy Endings by Adèle Geras, which is about a group of teenagers acting in Chekhov’s Three Sisters. The only drawback for me was not knowing the Chekhov play, as Adèle had woven a story around the teenagers as well as the parts they play in Three Sisters. Doing her “bossy older sister” routine, Adèle pointed out that the very same translation by Michael Frayn that she had seen, would be on at the Royal Exchange in Manchester this September, and she expected me to go and see it and report back here.

This afternoon the reduced witch family went along, and what a good play it turned out to be. Whether to blame that on Chekhov or Frayn, I don’t know. Could possibly even have something to do with the production, directed by Sarah Frankcom. Sometimes I think the Russians can beat the Swedes at being depressed, but this was bearable from that point of view. Adèle’s plot now makes much more sense, after I’ve been introduced to Irina and Olga and Vershinin and all the rest.

We ended up sitting with our feet virtually on the family’s dining table, so were quite close enough. And you know those annoying people who always arrive a little late, and are a little too noisy? In this case they were the actors, so I’ll forgive them. Theatre in the round is much more fun than your traditional stage.

And Daughter liked it, so that has to count as a success. Sometimes I despair that the young have no interest in older classics, but my experience with drama says that classics in the theatre works. Had also wondered if Chekhov was just that little bit too, well, Russian, but no problems there.

We really should get out more. Thanks, “Sis”!

Roger Whittaker in Denmark

Less than two years after his last farewell tour, Roger Whittaker hits Denmark tonight for four concerts, starting in Copenhagen, and going on to Ringsted, Esbjerg and finishing in Aalborg on Monday night. Many fans travel far to see him, and the Danish tour is popular because Roger will perform in English. Personally I find the German concerts better, apart from the small detail that Roger isn’t a fluent German speaker, whereas he has no problems chatting in his native English. Last time I saw him in Denmark Roger sang a children’s song in Danish. Wonder what he’ll come up with this time? With a Danish daughter-in-law there’s plenty of possibilities.

Seeing Agnetha

April 1979, Terminal 2, Heathrow. “Do you see who that is?”, I whispered to my friend, wanting to be as discreet as possible. She glanced in the same direction, and said “Yes, and by the way, she heard you. She made a face.” So much for discretion.

This being during my years as a cool, young person, I had no interest in ABBA, and neither did my friend. So we left Agnetha alone, but most of the other travellers in the departure lounge didn’t. They traipsed over to the shop and bought an ABBA LP, and then they trotted across to Agnetha for an autograph. I had heard she was scared of flying, so I rather suspect it wasn’t a good time for her to meet fans, but she signed and smiled gamely anyway.

I remembered this, as I started browsing through a new book which has just arrived. Carl Magnus Palm is the ABBA expert, and he has a new book out (ABBA The Story, and that’s in Swedish, believe it or not) about the group. The part I happened to read first was about the premiere of Mamma Mia! in Stockholm a few years ago, with the audience speculating like mad about Agnetha. Will she come, or won’t she? She has become a real recluse over the years, but, yes, she did come.


It seems unbelievable, but once upon a time Offspring were really small. I used to sit on the sofa, balancing children and lunch and we’d all enjoy Sesame Street on a daily basis.

I have several favourites, but I think Cookie Monster is my favouritest of them all. C is for Cookie…..


Our worst nightmare. Poor Cookie. And thank you to Daughter who found this for me.