21 November 2021

It’s been a tolerably tolerable week, the highlight being a trip out to the big city to see a production of the Mirror and the Light by the RSC. We’re also out on another cultural outing later today – a trip to the Birmingham Hippodrome for a production of the Nutcracker with Adam, Ava and Jessie. What sophisticates we must be!

Last Saturday we took the train up to London to see the Mirror and the Light, an RSC production at the Gielgud Theatre. This is the third instalment of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy on the life and times of Thomas Cromwell, Chief Minister to Henry VIII. Cromwell was instrumental in securing the annulment of Henry’s first marriage to Catharine of Aragon by breaking with Rome and establishing Henry as the head of the Church of England. This enabled Henry’s subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn. When she failed to produce a son, however, Cromwell was charged with finding a way of getting rid of her too. This is all covered in the first two books, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. The Mirror and the Light continues from there and takes us through Henry’s marriage to Jane Seymour and the birth of their son Edward. Following Jane’s death (in childbirth) Cromwell was instrumental in arranging Henry’s fourth marriage to Anne of Cleeves. Unfortunately, Henry found Anne unappealing and, for his misguided matchmaking Cromwell was eventually imprisoned and ultimately beheaded. Good old Henry!

If you’ve not read the books, I would heartily recommend them but do start with the first. They are marvellously researched and tell a gripping story of a difficult and turbulent period in English history in a very readable and accessible fashion.

The play was excellent although I have to say that knowing the characters and what was going on was quite useful – I’m not sure how easily someone who was not familiar with the history would have followed all the machinations of the period.

A lovely day out.

And, as if that weren’t enough, we’re off out later today for another cultural experience – we’re taking Jessie (and Adam and Ava) to The Nutcracker at the Birmingham Hippodrome. A traditional Christmas adventure which we hope she will enjoy.

And, speaking of Jessie we were delighted to receive a signed copy of this Family Portrait she did the other day – complete with new addition Julietta who, of course, will be making her entrance in February.

Amongst the highlights for me – Julietta in nappies, Adam’s platform shoes, Jessie’s blue lips or teeth (don’t know what is going on there) and Ava’s shapely legs. It’s a masterpiece.

I was able to get out on the bike on Thursday. The weather was certainly mild for the time of year although not as sunny as the weather people had promised. They also didn’t tell me about the wind! Thank goodness their predictions the previous week of an Arctic freeze with fifty-seven feet of snow did not materialise.

And, I passed a milestone on my virtual bike ride along Route 66. I raced past the 1,000 mile point somewhere just near the Flying J Travel Center in Sayre, Oklahoma on the section between Canute, OK and Erick, OK. Not quite half way – a mere 1,200 or so miles to go.

I remember in either my first or second year of teaching I had a group of 11 and 12 year olds for history and we were learning about the legendary King Canute (Cnut) who failed to stop the tide coming in. I wish I could remember the name of the boy who, in writing his own account of the story, swapped the middle two letters of Cnut which caused much hilarity in the departmental office. And before you ask, “No,” he wasn’t sufficiently clever to have been taking the piss.

The stench of the government’s corruption car crash continues in spite of all their efforts to put it behind them. They tried to get it buried last Monday with a bill to rescind their vote of two weeks ago which absolved Owen Patterson of any misdeeds and intended it to go through without a debate or vote, merely an acclamation or “on the nod” as it were. In such cases all it takes to force a debate and vote is for one MP to object. Sadly, for the government, one idiot Conservative MP did exactly that and shouted “Object!” at the appropriate time. Therefore, the motion had to be debated and voted upon. Thus, ensuring it was all over the news for another two days! And before you start thinking that the MP who objected had some moral objection to the corruption and felt it should be debated that is sadly far from the truth. He was still hoping to absolve his friend and colleague from any censure. He also happens to be the same MP who similarly objected to bills on making up-skirting and female genital mutilation a crime. Nope, you cannot make this stuff up.

In an effort to draw a line under the matter, the government came up with the wheeze of proposing a limit on the number of additional hours/jobs MPs could work. Sadly, the proposals would affect only about 10 MPs whose additional work is so egregious. And even then they would only have to cut back a bit. In other words, no real overhaul of the system and no reigning in the rampart corruption – if an MP is acting as a consultant for some business which is paying him/her the equivalent of hundreds and thousands of pounds an hour one has to wonder where his/her loyalties lie. And, it’s probably not with their constituents.

And a friend sent me the following:

I am sure you would all like to dig deeply in your pockets and help out as much as you can.

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you living in those areas where it is celebrated.

And, meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep isolating as much as you can, wear a f**king facemask when you go out and keep your distance. And keep safe.

Lots of love to you all,

Greg

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