Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Past its Sell By: theatre review "Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games"

    Ever since Riverdance exploded on the scene in the Eurovision song contest a few years ago, I've been wanting to see the show.  Last night we finally saw it at the Dominion Theatre in London. Unfortunately, I waited too long. The show is well past its sell-by.
    The theatre was only half full and the audience seemed to be mostly Irish which surprised me, as I thought Riverdance had become pretty mainstream.
     The ubiquitous Michael Flatley apparently appeared in this version last year at the London Palladium but he's now retired. He was still present however in a starting video and three holograms at the end.
    Where to begin? Firstly, I found the video surround too busy and frantic. I hoped that for some of the dances we might have scenery, like a ballet, but no, the video persisted for the entire show. The challenge was padding out the traditional "Riverdance" elements, so there was a rough theme of a battle between good and evil with macho dancers in studded black outfits stomping around one minute and girls in white floaty frocks with bucolic backgrounds the next.
    The dancing, when it going, showed occasional flashes of brilliance: the way the lead dancers trip so lightly across the stage with their feet moving unbelievably fast.  The classic "Lord of the Dance" routines, synchronised Irish dancing with the whole troupe, was superb. But a lot of the rest was very so-so, and looked tired and tatty with both the ghastly videos and the over blinged costumes. Every now and then a woman came on and sang, or a couple of girls in sequinned dresses played the fiddle. There was one dance where the girls shook their skinny backsides at the audience with just bra tops and tights on, which seemed gratuitous rather than sensual.
    Endless encores yet we were out by 9.30. This surprised the waiting taxi drivers: one of them had gone to empty the rubbish out of his cab and hadn't expected the audience to exit so soon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In Praise of.....Madonna

Here's a strange one. I never thought I would be writing a post praising Madonna. She's always been in my peripheral vision: I was never a fan of her music but gave her kudos for making such a huge career out of a fairly small talent. I saw her when she was a lowly support act on David Bowie's Serious Moonlight Tour and wasn't that impressed.

But as the years go by, I admire Madonna for her kick ass attitude.

Society would prefer middle-aged women to disappear, like they used to. To lose their voice, their appeal, their vivacity. To take early retirement because surely they're past it.

Women in their 50s and 60s nowadays are unsung heroes. They're managing grown-up children who like to stay in the iPadded comfort of the family home and have their washing done plus elderly parents who need help. Sometimes they're expected to become babysitters for their grandchildren. They're usually doing all this plus a job. They are a powerhouse of small business invention when callous firms make them redundant.

And, shock horror, we look OK! Hell, a lot of us are fitter than we were in our 20s. And definitely fitter and healthier than most young people. As a demographic, the Baby Boomer is the single most powerful force in the UK today. We won't be patronised and ignored. We're starting to ignore the harpies in magazines who write those articles about "what not to wear in your 50s."

Nobody personifies all this better than Madonna. It takes sheer dedication and will-power to look the way she does at 56. She will never stop kicking ass and being seen and heard. Good on her!

Every time she makes her presence felt - yesterday grabbing some rapper and kissing him passionately - the papers make snide remarks implying she's over-the-hill and these are desperate attempts to get publicity. Well she succeeds, doesn't she? I don't see her grabbing "Drake" was any worse than John Travolta throwing a sleazy arm around Scarlett Johansson recently. Thanks to Madonna, I've now heard of him. Maybe Drake could have been a little more chivalrous with his response because Madonna is still hot. As are plenty of older women:  Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, Dawn French, Carol Vorderman, Julianne Moore, Jane Fonda, Raquel Welch.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Spring Garden

The garden is a riot of yellow. The laburnum hedge is exuberant and the daffodils are gradually unfurling. I went overboard on the daffodils and narcissus this time thinking that I wouldn't need to replace them every year as I do with tulips. So in the front and back garden I planted four varieties, all supposed to flower at roughly the same time: King Alfred, Delibes, Tahiti and Yellow Cheerfulness. I couldn't resist a few tulips in the back garden, purple Negrita and Purple Prince. I complemented the daffs at the front with lots of forget-me-nots and muscari.

My piƩce de resistance was a crocus bowl.

I searched endlessly for a large terracotta bowl and eventually found one online. I planted it full of crocus and iris Reticulata. Unfortunately some of the bulbs got pulled out by the critters and the crocuses chose to flower at different times. But the overall effect was pleasing.
Daffodil King Alfred, forget-me-nots
In the front rose bed I refreshed the annual hyacinth display and planted a few more, the purple varieties Kronos and Peter Stuyvesant. Hyacinths seem to love the gravelly soil and south facing aspect.

The daffodils have been less successful than I expected. The King Alfreds and Delibes are all out but quite a few of the others are still in tight bud. Delibes is stunning with the orange centre but it droops and hangs its head. Quite a few of the daffodils from previous years are "blind" - plenty of foliage but no flowers. They may yet surprise me, as the Pheasant Eye narcissus did last year, by suddenly flowering in May.

Meanwhile the forget-me-nots, bought from a garden centre rather than grown from seed as I normally do, struggled. They seemed to have some mildewy problem and I had to get rid of a few.

Elsewhere in the garden, I've planted five hollyhocks, double pink and salmon, and two purple foxgloves. I experimented with holly hocks last year and they were a stunning success. The main challenge is keeping the slugs and snails at bay. They haven't been noticeable yet but I took the advice of Pippa Greenwood and started my slug control on Valentine's Day. This year I'm unleashing the entire battery: organic pellets, copper rings, egg shells and nematodes. Be gone you ghastly molluscs!

I'll report back on how that goes.

My mystery hedge (I think it's Laburnum)


Daffodil Delibes 

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