Greg's Occasional News & Views

30 September 2018

What a lovely, lovely week. We’ve had some gorgeous sunny days with bright blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures – up to 20C in the middle of the week. I think that’s what is sometimes known as an Indian Summer! Penelope has been taking advantage of the fine weather and has been gardening as if any day now normal weather conditions will prevail. I also was involved but fortunately my tool of choice was a chainsaw (used under relatively close supervision, of course) as I removed an overgrown and misplaced bay tree and the most vicious rose bush known to mankind. Adam and I have also continued our progress on the never-ending garden project which moves slowly closer toward completion. We’ll have a description and photos soon, I promise!

Thursday evening Ms Playchute and I had a lovely night on the town – dinner followed by the theatre. The National Theatre had another of their Live Streams and Thursday’s offering was King Lear starring Sir Ian McKellan. We had dinner at the sumptuous Pizza Express on the High Street in Banbury, a few minutes stroll from the Banbury Flea Pit where the streaming was being shown.

Naturally, I had vouchers for the meal – 25% off! This did cause me to wonder whether anyone actually pays full price for a meal at Pizza Express – their vouchers are omnipresent. We also noticed that their prices are about 25% higher than the last time we were there. Penny blamed the vouchers – if they are going to give everyone a discount they might as well increase their prices by the same amount – people will still think they are getting a bargain even though they’re not. I blame Brexit but then again I blame Brexit for just about everything.

King Lear was sensational. It’s a play that neither Penelope nor I had ever read nor seen before. Still, when I asked at dinner Ms Playchute was able to give me a reasonable synopsis.

The elderly King Lear decides to give up power and divide his lands into three parts, one for each of his daughters. He asks each to tell him how much they love him. His youngest daughter (and his favourite) Cordelia, however, refuses to play his game of flattery and says that she loves him as a daughter should and that no words can describe her love. This enrages Lear and she is disowned and banished. Kent, Lear’s closest friend and adviser is also banished for speaking out in favour of Cordelia.

Now that Lear has given his lands and power to his other two daughters their true nature emerges and they plot to murder him. Lear is warned of the conspiracy by his loyal nobleman Gloucester who has his eyes gouged out by the conspirators for his troubles. Lear makes his way to Dover where Cordelia has returned, now married to the King of France, with an army to challenge her two sisters. Battle ensues and everyone ends up dead.

The End.

Sir Ian McKellen plays Lear and is stunningly magnificent, as one would expect. Sinead Cusack plays his loyal courtier the Count(ess) of Kent (usually played by a man, of course) and she too is sensational. You certainly feel that you’ve been through the wringer after three and a half hours of emotionally draining performances. The storm scene where Lear and entourage stumble across the moors is unbelievable – 2000 litres of water fall from the rafters all over the stage and actors. Within minutes they are soaked through. A great evening out.

We had an amusing encounter with a young hare on the drive back from the theatre. This chap made his way out on to the road ahead of us so naturally I slowed down. I proceeded carefully waiting for the hare to make its way to the side of the road and off to safety in the fields. However, this hare had different ideas and proceeded to trot along the road ahead of us. A couple of times it approached the verge as if to shoot off but each time it came back to the middle of the road and trotted on ahead. At one point Penny suggested that I stop and let it hop along until it got out of the light. So, we stopped. So too did the hare. If we proceeded slowly for a few metres, it would hop along. When we stopped again, it too stopped. At this rate it was going to take us four hours to get home to Moreton Pinkney! Fortunately, we eventually came to a junction and the hare decided that the Sulgrave Road would be a better bet. I hope it found its way home again after that exhausting road trip.

A couple of things caught my eye this week. Firstly, the following in the Guardian:

As we are locally currently suffering from an apparently endless number of road diversions it provoked a wry chuckle.

The roads in our locality are in a shocking state and the diversions seem to be all-pervasive. One in particular has been in place for almost a year – in an horrendous rain storm with flooding a car drove into a bridge rendering it unsafe. That road has been closed since then making it a very long journey from Culworth to Eydon. Fortunately, we don’t go that way!

Secondly, an article in the Guardian this week reported that the average Briton spends 26 days a year watching on demand television. My reaction – is that all? I am clearly doing my best to bring that average up!

Thirdly, this Shoe cartoon is just as accurate in the UK as in the States:

And finally, a couple relating to Brexit. First, from the Scientists for EU on Facebook:

Brexit Paradox:

Any government with the competence to deliver Brexit, wouldn’t.

And finally a Tweet from a German politician which impeccably sums up the Looney Brexiteers’ approach to the Brexit negotiations.

Love to you all,




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