Saturday, 30 January 2010

A Sunny Morning in Edinburgh

Good morning one and all,
I am currently sitting in my inlaws' front room in perfect peace. D has gone for breakfast with a friend and, though I woke up when he did, I must admit I went back to 'snoozeland' and dreamt about the dramaturgy projects my students are currently embarking upon - what a geek!

Had a good, straight forward journey yesterday and arrived in Auld Reekie just before 2. I must admit I then sneaked off for a quick run round the Turners at the Royal Academy before finding a Starbucks for a vanilla steamed milk (yes, I am five years old) and a read through the intro to the new book. The gallery only exhibits the Turners during the month of January to keep them in perfect nick (too much sunshine the rest of the time apparently, though I must admit that is not the Edinburgh I know!) and they are truly amazing. D always says that I respond to visual art in quite an emotional (I'd say almost visceral) way and never is this more true then when I look at these beautiful wee paintings. This is one of my favourites.

After a long (but good, I hasten to add) day of teaching on Thursday, I decided to watch a film. Wading my way through the Warden collection (indeed in is akin to the Vaughan bequest, to carry on the Turner theme) I came across the Roman Polanski version of Tess of the D'Urbervilles and decided to give it a go. It is, as with all the Polanski films I've seen (check out his version of Oliver) beautifully shot. Incredibly atmospheric. It is also (in line with Hardy's original) completely depressing. I won't spoil it by telling you the ending but the final scene of the sun rising above Stonehenge (oh man, I had a Spinal Tap moment there - I bet that is the first time Thomas Hardy and Spinal Tap have been mentioned in the same sentence) was imbued with misery rather than hope. Smelly (affectionate name for sistery person) rang just as it was finishing which took the edge off it - in a good way.

Anyways, hope everyone is well and happy. Didn't crack open the new Twilight book on the train btw - I was too busy reading Dramaturgy set texts! Oh, and as an aside, the new Rugby Super League season started last night. For those unacquainted with the differences between the rugby codes (this is particularly for my American friends or anyone who was born south of Crewe) there are two different types of rugby - Union and League. Union is the 'boring, lots of kicking, fighting in the scrums' code and League is the 'beautiful, running, exciting, bring the fam and enjoy the banter' one. So League it is then... My team is the Wigan Warriors and has been ever since I saw the great Va'aiga 'Inga the Winger' Tuigamala racing down the pitch. So come on the Cherry and Whites!

Enjoy the weekend folks

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Have we reached Wednesday night already?

This is my first week of teaching and life is dashing by around me at rapid pace. Classes are going well so far. Lots of fun!

In the evenings, I am keeping myself occupied with a bit of TV, lots of reading and a couple of films. As you can see from the side bar, my current favourite soundtrack (when I'm in the middle of writing something soundtracks become an absolute essential - currently trying to come up with three new option modules!) is from the very interesting (at least more interesting than I thought it would be) film, 'Kingdom of Heaven'. D and I were also discussing the merits of the new 'Sherlock Holmes' soundtrack which is really very unusual indeed. Already anticipating the latter coming out on DVD and adding a copy to the Warden's ever-increasing selection of films...which is now, thanks to D, in an ordered system. Films are grouped generically and then, within the genres, alphabetically. It's a guy thing (for confirmation see Nick Hornby's brillig 'High Fidelity')!

In keeping with 'High Fidelity' here comes my current favourite list of study soundtracks for those times when a song with words is just way too distracting:
1) 'Gladiator' by Hans Zimmer - it remains a classic.
2) 'Lord of the Rings' by Howard Shore - just because there is SO MUCH of it so you don't get distracted having to choose a new CD to put on.
3) 'Con Air' by Trevor Rabin - daft yet entertaining film, but for all that Trev (of Yes fame) does an amazing job with the soundtrack.
4) 'A Beautiful Mind' by James Horner - again a classic...that makes you want to do maths!
5) 'The Dark Knight' by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard - this still scares me to death but it is quite exciting to work to.

Anyways I'm back up to Edinburgh this weekend (can you collect rail miles?) and exploiting the excellent hospitality of the in-laws. Looking forward to seeing Carrubbers folks on Sunday. Might take the next Twilight on the train...then again I might stick to Dramaturgy and Maeterlinck's 'The Intruder' - the options are endless!

Will try and write a wee something over the weekend.

Monday, 25 January 2010

A wee goodnight moment

While skyping with D tonight he put on a bit of Yes. Now I didn't like Yes until fairly recently and even now I must say I only like bits but here is a beautiful wee song (which I am learning to play on the guitar, though, of course, not as well as the simply magnificent Steve Howe - genius, maverick and all round legend) called 'Onward'. We saw Yes in Edinburgh during this tour and they were brillig! Benoit does a great job with the vocals. Enjoy and sleep well friends.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Football, Sherlock and a joyous weekend

When D and I started this separation business (enforced not voluntary you understand) a number of folks said that we would find the whole thing refreshing. A lot of nonsense I said, and it was wholly confirmed by a very jolly weekend in our wee flat in Lincoln.

We began with a lovely breakfast at our current favourite haunt Cafe Zoot and then off to Sincil Bank to watch the mighty Lincoln City play former Premiership glory boys, Bradford City. I exceeded our expectations with an exciting 2-1 win. D was particularly chuffed to catch the ball. Lots of good crowd banter as well and two things struck me: 1) there are a lot of football songs about benefits and unemployment at present. Timely (and often quite funny) joshing! 2) I've never seen so few women at a game. No queues in the loos and being the only woman meant that Poacher gave me a thumbs up. Brillig!

Then it was off to the cinema to watch 'Sherlock Holmes'. Actually it was my choice of film (which is unusual, not because D is dictatorial in our film watching but because I can never make decisions) and we weren't quite sure what to expect. But it was really brilliant and Robert Downey Jnr is not only completely captivating but also quite lovely. I have noticed that in each of the former posts I have included pictures of my favourite gentlemen. Let's carry on the trend...

We had a great dinner at Nandos afterwards. We visited a new church this morning and then D left at 5.35 this evening. I must admit to shedding a quick tear and then I watched the rest of 'North and South'.

And so it is on to a new week. This is my first week of teaching and I'm really looking forward to meeting the students and getting stuck in. Hope you are all doing very well folks.

Friday, 22 January 2010

A Friday evening with D

So, end of the week and D is down for the weekend which is very exciting. No further news on the job front but we live in much hope and little expectation!

It has been a week of meetings and I've had some good chances to chat with my new colleagues. My little office corner is looking a little more lived in and the books are starting to stack up. Teaching starts on Tuesday and I'm looking forward to finally meeting the students. One of the great things about working in a drama dept is that there is always someone to borrow a tool kit from, so I headed home with a hammer in my bag after promising Graham that I wouldn't commit any crime with it as his prints are all over it. I was putting pictures up rather than doing anyone in, by the way.

While doing a bit of ironing last night I decided to rewatch one of my favourite BBC adaptations, 'North and South'. This version of Gaskell's brilliant book is fab, and everyone who has borrowed it has loved it. It is partly filmed in Edinburgh (actually you can see my old workplace in one shot) and Gaskell based many of her books in a Mancunian-esque (oh, honestly, that isn't even a word! Pretentious academic speak is catching) city space so it combines two of my old stomping grounds together. It is the perfect ironing DVD...

...and has the lovely Richard Armitage as Mr Thornton.

Enjoy the weekend

Monday, 18 January 2010

Back down south

Afternoon! Well, I'm back in Lincoln after a great weekend in Edinburgh seeing the boy. As you can see I now have t'internet at home, although I can't quite get the wireless system to work properly yet. Generally D does all that sort of thing so I'm quite proud of myself.

A very pleasant time in first class this morning - lots of free tea (a big plus in my books) and biscuits and a very quiet, peaceful carriage. Even managed to get some work done though I must admit I finished Sharpe's Siege just before Doncaster. Even an hour wait in the chilly waiting room at Doncaster station couldn't dampen my spirits.

Two highlights of the weekend (other than just seeing D of course but that goes without saying). For Saturday lunch we took the inlaws to The Plumed Horse, Edinburgh's newest addition to the Michelin list. What a fab meal we had! Everything was completely delicious. D and I reminisced about some of the truly spectacular meals we have eaten since we've been married - not from kitchen chez Warden I hasten to add. D got his foie gras (yes, I know the RSPCA would be after him if they knew) and I got my fish fix. They even served blackcurrent jelly as a petite four - sweet!

Second highlight was Peter Jackson's visit to Carrubbers. He was a very cool guy. Blind from the age of 1 1/2 he spoke about overcoming adversity and the importance of his faith. He is a brilliant pianist and really very entertaining. Joke of the day was:

I was walking down the street the other day and it was raining cats and dogs. Unfortunately I stepped in a poodle.

Comic brilliance! Also finished Twilight. If I had been a 14 year old teenage girl I think I would have loved it. As it happens I got a little bit sick of the descriptions of Edward's gorgeousness - is it only me who thinks he is a little creepy? A gripping storyline of course but it felt like it was either a) written by an adolescent or b) written by someone who knows exactly what adolescents want...and exactly how lucrative that is. I have the next one on my coffee table and I might give it a go - we'll see.

So this is a week of meetings and greetings, and I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone better and settling into University life. Thanks to all who have sent cards and hugs - we are very glad to have your friendship.

Enjoy the week. I'll post later with more news/ramblings.

Friday, 15 January 2010

On my travels

Well, so much for East Coast Mainline t'internet connection which decided not only to relay all useful information in Norwegian last night but also wouldn't allow me to put up a carefully written post. So now the whole post feels a little 'yesterday'. Ah well, newspaper editors must feel like this every day. And so to the post...

Yesterday (with a delicious bacon sandwich made chez Warden) I found myself in Retford station. I must admit I am not really sure where Retford is but it feels like the end of the world. Have you ever seen that film with Will Smith, the one where the world has ended and its seems like it's only him and his dog left (actually I only watched half of it - you are looking (in a cyber way) at the girlie who spent the last two visits to the cinema staring at D's arm and saying 'I don't like it, I'm scared)? Well, it feels a lot like that. It is desolate and lacking in people and freezing! Apologies to the Retford posse! Managed to get away from Retford eventually and up to Edinburgh. The return journey should be fun as I am travelling first class. You know, now that one is a bona fide lecturer one should be able to have a complementary cup of tea and a slice of carrot cake, shouldn't one? Actually it was only five quid more expensive than an ordinary ticket so I decided to treat myself.

So what to do on a train journey? Well, muchos reading of course. Currently I have (as always) too many books on the go but here is a selection: 1) Sharpe's Siege by Bernard Cornwall. There is nothing better for a train journey than a bit of Sharpie.

This is a good one and our hero is currently stuck in France being pursued by the evil Major Ducos. As usual I read in a Yorkshire accent although, as all Sharpe fans will know, he is actually supposed to come from London. It is rather difficult to get away from a certain Sean Bean though, is it not? 2) Dramaturgy and Performance by Cathy Turner and Synne K. Behrndt. Obviously this one is work related and I'm only two chapter sin, but actually it is a very good read. Very interesting analysis of Brecht's theatrical conventions. O.K. I'll stop now. 3) Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell. On of my favourite authors ever writing about her friend. It is a very beautiful book and I've been really struck by Charlotte's deep faith and sense of duty. These are two personality traits that seem to have disappeared largely from our society, sadly. Here ends my 'old woman' moan. 4) Changing my Mind by Zadie Smith. My dear friend Daisy bought me some book tokens to specifically buy this book which she had heard on Radio 4. The author writes really well and like EM Forster which makes her an all round good egg in my book. 5) Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian by James Sire. This was given to me by the sweet folks of the Christian Postgraduate Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh. I love books which point out that you can be a Christian and have more than five working brain cells, so this was a perfect gift for me.

Phew, I think that's about it currently except that in my new North Face rucksack (Christmas pressie from Ma and Pa) there is a copy of the first in the Twilight saga. I haven't read any of these books and had to get my first years to explain the whole phenomenon to me last term. One of my new colleagues has lent this to me and, though teenage vampire love stories are not really my thing, never let it be said that I am not up for a challenge.

So those are my reading recommendations for the weekend. I'll post again over the weekend or from my first class carriage on Monday morning hopefully while eating a free and gratis bacon roll.


p.s. I texted my story about the snow and the MacDonald's coffee stirrer into Radio 5 last night (not randomly, it did fit into their topic of discussion) and they read it out and it got a laugh...on live, cross-the-nation radio! The last time I was on the airwaves (again Radio 5) I was talking about the greatness of the Mighty Boosh and the time before that I had a long discussion with dear ol' Scottie on the sadly missed Talk 107 (we have a cup that always makes me feel a little nostalgic when I drink my tea out of it) about the state of Scottish theatre. Not to mention, of course, my starring role with Maestro Boy on Leith fm before Christmas (that's still on Relative Pitch if you want to check it out). Video didn't kill this radio star!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Settling in and slipping about

Morning folks!

Welcome to a 'dreach' day in Lincoln. The black ice is a bit dangerous today as I proved by sliding down a slight slope in a less than graceful manner this morning.

So news of the day - I have now personalised my desk space with a few well chosen theatre posters and a nice big picture of the Asia boys to keep me company. I climbed Steep Hill for the first time yesterday evening and, as the name would suggest, it is very...steep. There is a little bookshop halfway up called Reader's Rest which arguably wins the prize for the most well placed bookshop in the world, as I'm sure it is constantly full of people claiming to peruse the Classics section as a facade for taking a bit of a breather. Also bought a rather fabulous Lincoln City Calendar for the Boy which is sponsored by local Lincolnshire businesses. Man, that is dull, but it cheered me, especially as it was cheap.

So, I'm off back up to Edinburgh tomorrow (don't try and rob my house - I've left Boris the Bear in charge and he is fiercesome) and am looking forward to seeing D and the inlaws. Hopefully I'll have a little more time to do a proper post with pictures and things. Huzzah!

In the meantime, enjoy the day and stay safe on the roads (man, I sound like Jerry Springer)


Monday, 11 January 2010

New ruler and blazer

Today is my first day at my new job. Thanks for thinking of me, friends. It is going well and I am slowly getting to know people and finding my way round the building. My little desk corner overlooks the cathedral which is rather lovely.

We spent the weekend with D's family in Newcastle for his Dad's surprise birthday shindig. Muchos fun had by all and we even made it through the snow in one piece! Classic highlight of our trip up - we stopped at McDonald's (just too late for breakfast - boo!) and on the way out D borrowed a wooden coffee stirrer to clear the snow from in front of the windscreen as it was blocking the washer. Very funny image of D scrapping the snow with such a pathetic implement. The whole scene was made all the more humorous by another gentleman doing exactly the same thing. Would you not have thought that in these modern days we would have found a better tool than that!?

Currently D is living in Edinburgh dreaming about cars (see his blog post from last night) and I am rattling around the flat in Lincoln. Separation is a bit sad but we are taking courage (as my great granny would have said).

Oh and just to fill you in on the darts (just in case you haven't been keeping up) the Silverback went out in the semi-finals which was very disappointing.

More posts when I have t'internet at home.

Hugs to all and sundry


Monday, 4 January 2010

Ways to avoid packing: part two

So D and I are sitting surrounded by boxes in preparation for our move tomorrow.

Two marvellous ways of avoiding any more brown tap and bubble rap: 1) spend a good wee while watching old Peter Gabriel concerts. The guy is genius. 2) watch the recordings of today's opening of the Burj Dubai. Credit crunch? Reliant on Abu Dhabi? Friends, admire this bit of pyrotechnic wonderment.

D and I visited Dubai in June and had a great holiday. It was about as hot as the world gets but from our bedroom window we could see the Burj. It makes all the other skyscrapers look like Lego towers.

So next update will probably be next week from the new office as my Virgin man isn't coming until a week on Thursday. Thanks for all the messages of love and support as we wend our way down the A1. We appreciate you guys very much indeed.


p.s. following yesterday's comments on the BDO watch this horror show from Wolfie and the nervous Aussie new boy Anthony Fleet. Hilarious! The Power should watch and learn - and shake over his pint!

Ways to avoid packing: part one

So what does one do when one has an entire kitchen to pack up and clean by Tuesday morning? Well, you watch darts of course! And until this evening you had two tournaments to choose from. Either the PDC on SKY with the professionals hitting the 180s with ease and precision, or the BDO (what D refers to as Council darts) on the Beeb where one Scottish fellow today managed a 9 dart average of 61. Goodness, even I could get that, friend! Tonight, Phil 'The Power' Taylor beat off the valiant challenge of Simon 'The Wizard' Whitlock to win a 15th title. A pretty impressive record you may say and...well, you'd be right. The Ally Pally rocked to 'I've got the power'.

Of course such sporting prowess is to be admired, but for me it has to be the BDO which continues where the PDC left off (well, style if not in substance) with only the first rounds so far completed. I'm rooting for Tony 'The Silverback' O'Shea - Number One seed, the Pride of Stockport and all round good bloke.

So, my advice? See how much procrastinating can be done in front of the darts this week. Darts - the only sport (except for perhaps sumo wrestling) where the guy with the biggest tummy generally wins. The perfect antidote if you have already given up on that 'I vow to consume less' new year resolution and eaten all the pink wafers in the tin.

Kitchen packing starts tomorrow!