Sunday, 15 July 2018

Great Yorkshire Show

Great Yorkshire Show and Sally at Kirkham Priory
160th Great Yorkshire Show
I blogged about last year’s show (here) and admitted I’m not a fan of mud, but there are characters in my book, Raydan Wakes, who work with animals so I like to see what they see and smell what they smell as inspiration. It’s also a chance to marvel at the number of people who turn out for a big event. And it’s a chance to wander around with family, gawp at the Best In Show animals, enjoy a tipple in the (hot sun and blue sky) afternoon and eat a Yorkshire steak pie. Highlight? I thought last year’s Atkinson’s Action horses were astonishing but Lorenzo the Flying Frenchman will be hard to forget – thundering lines of big beasts, inconceivable horseback flag-waving and – did those horses really do that? – and that? – and that? – in synchronisation? (Look out for his appearances or check his website here – highly recommended.) 


Sunday, 8 July 2018

Cursed Child

The Palace Theatre and the walk to Top Withins
All is well
“The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” Thus ended the seven books of J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, a set of books I cannot praise too highly, as a retired teacher, for their readability and cultural impact during the time of the rise of mobile devices. My daughters “grew up” with the series paralleling the school years and troubles of Harry, Hermione and Ron (and Luna and Neville and Ginny and Draco and Dobby and Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks and Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape….) and the cavalcade of characters, good and bad, complex and straightforward that continue to exercise the loyalties of readers the world over. It was inevitable that one day we would end up seeing “book 8” in its stage form and patience paid off as Harriet secured tickets for the two parts of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Armed with Alex from Badby, a Younger Muggle for protection against interference from the Dark Arts of the railway system, we spent the last Saturday of June at the Palace Theatre.
Badby Barbecue

Who is the Cursed Child?
Since we faithfully promised at the theatre that we would Keep The Secrets, there will be no answer here to the question of Who is the Cursed Child but in typical J K Rowling fashion, the answer’s debatable. I managed to steer clear of the script, all reviews and any spoilers, so when the lights went down, I confess I was expecting something tourist-friendly and a bit theme-parky but within minutes I was hooked. By the twists of the narrative, the depth of characterisation, the connections to the Wizarding World’s canon, the bravura theatricality, the commitment of the cast (Jamie Ballard as the grown-up Harry Potter! – working every bit as intensely as when I’ve seen him before on stage as Antonio, Angelo, Hamlet, Mercutio, Flute and in Ibsen’s Emperor and Galilean.) Given the huge fan base, the production was way better than it need have been and the themes perfectly in keeping with the Harry Potter universe. How do parents shape the characters and destinies of their children? It was a profound climax to Harriet’s “birthday season” in 2018, the other highlight of which was tramping up to the cobweb-blowing meaning-of-life moorlands at Top Withins.