Thursday, 29 April 2010

"The Rhythm of Life"

So I've finally got round to writing a post about my trip home on Tuesday. Thanks to the punctuality of East Midlands trains I got to Stockport just before 1. Dad and I took a wee trip to the Governor's House for a couple of delish burgers and a chat. Great to see Mum and Dad, albeit briefly! And then, of course, there was Dad's return to the stage. Call me biased if you want, but he stole the show for me. 'The Rhythm of Life' was a really nicely set up scene and Dad's flares and kaftan got an outing again. I am surprisingly well-rounded considering some of the outfits I have seen my father in over the years. I was very proud of him.

So, after an early-ish train back to Lincoln, it was on to our technical rehearsal. I was delighted with the students. It all went rather well considering it was the first time under lights and with explosions. There are still a couple of shaky moments but it is now 95% great. Halfway through I realised what a weird play Uranium 235 is. We'll see what the rest of the faculty think.

Spent the train journey listening to Asia's new album, Omega, as mentioned in my last post. It is really terrific. 'Holy War' is a nicely crafted song and I really like 'Through my Veins' and 'End of the World'. My favourite is probably the slightly folkie, acoustic 'There was a Time'. In fact there isn't a bad song on the album, although John's ballads seem to be even more cheesy/sweet than usual. Hopefully they'll tour in Britain soon as our friends across the pond are enjoying them currently.

Anyways, I'm off to make some omelets for tea. It is very warm in Lincoln and extraordinarily muggy. The rain started about two hours ago and, I must say, it was a bit of a relief. On to the next leaders' debate tonight, of course. After Gordon's faux pas of yesterday (poor old Gordon!) it could be an interesting watch.


Monday, 26 April 2010

The power of the headband

In the past two days I have seen two sides of D. Yesterday we spent a lovely Sunday with a family from church. Now they (like a number of families at LEC) have a wee doggy called Bobby. D is scared of dogs. Actually this isn't quite true - from afar D really likes dogs as proven this evening when we continued our enjoyment of Christopher Guest films with Best in Show. However he took quite a shine to Bobby and took him round the park on a lead in the bright Lincolnshire sunshine. D's theory on dogs? "If a human with massive teeth who couldn't talk came up to you, you'd run a mile". Fair enough.

And today saw us back on the squash court. Over the past few weeks we have improved considerably and can now play a mean game. Today, however, despite playing quite respectably, D won every game and even 'grannied' me three times. He was on fire! We put it down to his new Nike headband which makes him look a little like Mark Knopfler (especially as his hair is quite long and curly at the mo). It is a good look and certainly made a difference to his game. Didn't miss a shot all match! My evening was improved only by 1) salmon on offer in Morrison's and 2) the new Asia album, Omega, which was delivered in today's post. Have only listened to a couple of tracks so far but have a jolly train ride tomorrow. I have got a few journal articles to plough through so it will keep me going. So far it sounds terrific. John's voice is as good as ever, CP is still amazing, Geoff is masterful on the keys and Steve's guitar playing is second to none. Can't wait to listen to it in its entirety.

So running over to Stockport tomorrow for the night to see Dad treading the boards for the first time in 15 years. Can't wait to see him back on stage. It is a very quick visit but I'm looking forward to catching up with Mum and Dad, if only for a night. Then it's straight into rehearsals on Wednesday morning. Phew!

Have a mega week one and all.

Friday, 23 April 2010

The play: a week and a half to go!

So today was the final day of official teaching and I said goodbye to my lovely third years. I can now turn my full attention to the first years and our production of Uranium 235. Today we performed the whole play from start to finish without scripts! I'd say that we were 85% brilliant and I was incredibly proud of the students and all their hard work. I was talking with one of the leads this afternoon and we were sharing our happy surprise that there have been no major incidents or fall outs. Must be some sort of record! We are now gathering props and costumes. I think they are even painting sheep (painting pictures of sheep...not painting actual sheep, of course)!

A happy quiet weekend ahead I think. I have a pile of ironing, floors to brush, a kitchen to scrub and, if the weather is as jolly as it was today, a balcony to sit on. I have so much reading matter on the go at the moment - it must be time to go on holiday and have a happy week of Isles of Scilly sunshine with a pile of books. Fortunately that is coming up in June. I booked the helicopter last week while D checked out the safety record. I spent many childhood holidays in the Scillies and am delighted to be able to show D around this year. Mum, Dad, Sal and Stu are coming too so it will be a real family affair.

A cup of tea and a bag of Cadbury's chocolate eclairs beckon. And the next in the series of Ashes to Ashes which has become a bit of a fixture chez Warden. D even bought me the first series on DVD so I can catch up on what I've missed.

Have a magnificent weekend

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

And now you find yourself in '82...

...and if you get the reference in the title then we should definitely be friends. So I have just finished watching the first episode of Ashes to Ashes on iplayer. It is a BBC show based in the 1980s following a group of coppers. But the 'high concept' bit is that the lead lady has actually travelled back in time from the 21st century (after being shot - yes, I know...) and is trying to work out what on earth is going on. Sounds like a recipe for television disaster but actually it is rather enjoyable. The DCI is Gene Hunt (if you are currently following the elections you'll notice that David Cameron has been compared - unfavourably - to him) and he is a pretty complex soul. I have absolutely no idea what is going on but I'm enjoying the journey. Speaking of Journey, the soundtrack is just brilliant.

Having grown up in the 1980s, I feel a little nostalgic about it. Yes, it was the decade that brought us shell suits, crimped hair and the collapse of British industry but it also gave us the Commodore computer, the A-team and some of the most magnificent music ever heard in the ears of man. Ignore punk, (which was rubbish...that is it...there is no discussion necessary on this issue) the 1980s witnessed the rise of Asia and Yes with Trevor Rabin. Huzzah on both accounts! Oh, and Mark Knopfler was wearing his trademark headband. We are seeing Knopfler in concert in a few weeks. We booked it via t'internet on a sunny day in Portugal (so that'll be last September then) when we knew nothing of this move to Lincoln. So we are heading right back up to Weegie land for it. Showbiz, huh?

As expected the week is pretty busy. I didn't get back tonight until 7.30. Just a couple of weeks of slightly mad running about and then a good few months of research time. It does mean that I only have a couple of days of teaching left though. This block has been just great and I'll really miss the students. Still the show to come though...

Anyways, I'm going to get a cuppa before snoozing. Have a magnificent week. I'm off to dig out my leg warmers.


Saturday, 17 April 2010

Films, plays and farmers' markets

We've had a lovely restful Saturday with a long lie and then a walk into town to purchase a couple of things from the market. We love the Farmers' market and today bought some terrific cakes, a couple of local sausages and some strawberries - real English strawberries! The first local strawberries of the season are always amazing. I sat out on the balcony again for a while, writing a couple of letters and reading my new David Lodge novel, Changing Places. I've always meant to read a Lodge book and saw a cheap trilogy on Amazon so thought I'd give it a try. Enjoying it so far though I'm just getting used to his style. It is a satirical look at academia so it is right up my street. It is based in 1968 and its interesting to see the changes that have occurred over the years.

Tonight we enjoyed a great film. We haven't really watched any films recently. D and I have quite different movie tastes generally so it is a little difficult to decide what to watch. But tonight we finally watched a film given to us by our friends Rachel and Jake called A Mighty Wind. It is by the same folks who did Spinal Tap and this time, rather than rock music, they are looking at the folkie scene. It was great. My highlights were definitely the guy in the front row (who looked like D would look at a folk concert - uncomfortable, bored and underwhelmed) and the invention of the 'neuftet' e.g. a music group of nine. Great stuff.

So this is my final full week of teaching and, rather unbelievably, that'll be my first term over. How time flies! But, of course, there is lots to be done over the next few weeks including the play. Uranium 235 is going very well. I am really proud of the students. On Friday we ended up laughing until we cried. Hilarity and hard work is a great rehearsal combo. I'm not sure what I'll dream about when it's all over - it currently keeps me awake at night! Perhaps (hopefully) the book...

And so the election fever continues chez Warden, though, I must admit, I'm not bowled over by any of the parties so far. Thursday night's debate was inevitably won by Nick Clegg though my highlight of the night was the incredibly awkward end with Gordon running to the front row to shake hands while Cameron and Clegg took their bows before following The Valiant Leader. Gordon should definitely avoid jokes or pop culture references - (paraphrase) 'Well thanks for still being with us after ninety minutes. At least we weren't up against the X Factor or Britain's Got Talent'. Oh Gordon...cringe...cringe.

Hope you all have a fab week. I'm certainly looking forward to mine. Here's hoping we'll be off script (ooo, that's theatre speak btw) by Friday.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The sun still shines...

Just come in from reading my book on the balcony (I didn't have a lunch break if you are concerned by academic slackness) and, though there is a bit of a cold wind, the sun is lovely once again. D and I are convinced that the weather is, in general, better here than in Auld Reekie. Surely this is statistically accurate?

Anyways, so the final round of the Masters came and went. Tiger sadly did not win but the lovely Phil Mickelson pipped him to it. A couple of truly amazing shots. D is threatening to take me to the driving range over the next few days to 'hit a few balls' with the aim of attacking a 9 hole course some time in the near future. Hmmm...I think a bit of practice is in order. It is much more difficult than it looks.

We watched a really horrifying case on youtube last night about a wee girlie with Downs who had been abused by her father amongst others. There is little doubt about the validity of her story and yet no charges have been brought, despite her mother being paid £13,000 in compensation (compensation for what if there is no case to answer?). People who have shown any interest in the case have been threatened. It is one of those cover-ups that goes right to the heart of the establishment and implicates judges, ministers, nurses and social workers in abuse rings. No wonder the good ol' Scottish establishment doesn't want it coming out.

It led on to a fascinating conversation with D about justice and our role as Christians (or indeed as any other moral, caring sort of person). What should we do? How can we speak out about such injustice? I think the world is a pretty terrific sort of place but cases like this one remind us (well, reminded me) of all the perverse evil that really exists. We didn't come to any definitive conclusions, it must be said, but I was left with a feeling of utter hopelessness. How can human beings be so utterly vicious to one another? If you want to look up this girl's story her name is Hollie Greig.


Saturday, 10 April 2010

"Here comes the sun, do do do dooo"

Well, just when we'd all got used to the snow, we've had the most amazing couple of days in the East Midlands. The sun has shone almost continuously and, had you visited Chez Warden at lunchtime today, you would have found us sitting in t-shirts on our balcony. Now we live on the fourth floor so our balcony is really quite high. Not for the faint-hearted, but sitting with my back against the warm stone drinking Pepsi Max (slightly warmed in the sun) and reading a couple of excellent books I really could not have been happier. Here's to more sunshine to come over the summer.

Had a jolly evening with the folks from the department last night. D got to meet my work colleagues and we ended up tackling topics as varied as the election, university politics and the relevance (or otherwise) of the work of Zelda Fitzgerald. We got back just before one to find out that Tiger was still doing well. We'll see how he gets on tonight.

Am reading a very interesting book currently entitled How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton (Rach, if you read this, I will return this book to you when next in Auld Reekie...I promise!). Now, it is with shame that I admit to never having read a Proust novel. But this book looks at some of Proust's ideas and, in very vibrant prose, writes what is really a self help book of sorts. I really enjoyed the chapter on slowing down. Proust believed that it was important to spend time reflecting on the world and really seeing things. As I was reading it I was looking out over busy Lindum Road. We really are obsessed with speed in our culture. We want to get everywhere quickly, want to get everything done quickly. Proust slows everything down and I quite like that.

Anyways, we are looking forward to meeting our new friends again at LEC tomorrow morning and then having a nice peaceful Sunday of letter writing and reading. I love Sundays :-) Then we start with four very busy weeks. I'm just girding my loins...


Thursday, 8 April 2010

Back to life in Lincoln

So after a lovely weekend in Edinburgh we travelled back to Lincoln via Helmsley in North Yorkshire. It is one of D's favourite places and we enjoyed a couple of fantastic rolls from Hunters. I also found a pretty rare copy of a Dylan Thomas film script in the second hand bookstore. I like a literary bargain. The Skoda Superb did very well bombing up the A1.

So the past few days I've been trying to catch up with teaching prep for the coming two weeks. Today I did a solo walk through of Uranium 235 in Studio 1. Anyone who saw me wandering around talking to myself, script in hand would have imagined that the madness had finally descended. It helped to clear the mind, however. Also finished my Monday lecture on regionalism for the second years.

Tonight we went to prayer meeting for the first time. We had our new Pastor and fam over for a meal on Tuesday night. They were our first non-family guests. D and I like having folks over and did quite a bit of entertaining while living in Timberbush. Now we've had friends over our new flat feels more like a home. Well at tonight's prayer meeting who should we be remembering but the Moore family in Papua New Guinea. In a strange coincidence, Carrubbers (our Edinburgh church) is their sending church. Good stuff!

A bit sad to see the Reds go out of the European Champions League last night. I am a BIG Manchester United fan, though I must admit, in the modern money-obsessed era, I struggle to get too passionate about football any more. But it's nice to see Tiger back at the Masters. Ok, so he's made his mistakes (and I feel mighty sorry for his poor wife) but I am a little bored by the high-handed attitude of the media and the self-imposed custodians of morality. Sometimes it feels as if we are waiting for our heroes to fall just so we can pat ourselves on the back and stand as judge over them. Humans are so very strange. After following Tiger around at the Open a couple of years back and been truly awestruck, I for one am glad he is getting himself together. Here's hoping he can get back to his best quickly.

And, of course, the election countdown has begun in earnest with David Cameron looking unbelievably smug next to Sir Michael Caine (no less!) and Gordon standing outside Number 10 surrounded by the cabinet with Harriet Harman and Alistair Darling looking like wee goblins on his shoulders. Man, I love elections. I am such a geek that I am following the BBC election live feed. Fabulous.

Anyways, I am off to watch Tiger's last few holes. A quiet weekend ahead. Out tomorrow night with friends from uni but otherwise a fairly free few days of washing (clothes, not myself though I'm sure I'll have chance for a shower at some stage), letter writing and golf watching. Might even make my way through another couple of old skool Shawn Michaels matches on youtube. Brillig.


Sunday, 4 April 2010

Happy Easter!

Evening/Morning all,
Currently enjoying a lovely relaxing weekend chez Warden senior, Auld Reekie. Great to catch up with Mike, Em and the children this morning. I even got blinks from Rosie which made my day. It's been a nice quiet day reading and watching a bit of sport. Currently working my way through a fab book called They Were Pilgrims by Marcus L. Loane. It looks at four good missionary men - David Brainerd, Henry Martyn, Robert Murray M'Cheyne and Ian Keith Falconer. The lives of these gentlemen are really challenging. My current favourite quote is from Martyn who was a very intelligent scholar at Cambridge. After becoming Senior Wrangler Martyn said, 'I obtained my highest wishes but was surprised to find that I had grasped a shadow'. How true this is! When we achieve our greatest goals we tend to feel a little flat. Funny ol' humans!

Anyways, I'm off to bed in a mo. Lots of dreams about work (was wandering about at 3.30 am!) so I'm hoping for a dreamless, peaceful sleep. Happy Easter to one and all. He is risen...and that's exciting.