Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tom Burke Online Magazine, Issue 3

Wow! Three issues, who would have thought it? I do think it is a great shame more people don't get involved with writing things for the fanzine, although after this quarter's issue I can see why they don't bother putting their head on the chopping block. It's not like anyone has your back when criticism is thrown your way.

Anyway, I have been off on my travels and I visited Pinon to see if Athos was at home and I visited some of the various locations where Dracula was filmed. As I've been to see the play Reasons to be Happy a few times, and no other articles were forthcoming on Tom's play, I've allowed my blog posts to be used. Finally a very contentious issue about fashion, so contentious that it has been pulled from the magazine because someone demanded that the editor remove it. My thoughts on that later...

Page layout and design by Christine  @christine_ghh   @TBO_magazine (click on the pics to view)



And now for the contentious piece which had to be pulled. Now someone who hates Burketeers saw the article and decided I had written a "venomous fanzine article" and it was all about her and that I was calling her a silly bitch. One comment I saw was "One word to the #Burketeers I give a flying f*%$ about your sycophantic opinions but bullying and mobbing only will show the worst of u".

Well as this is my blog, I believe I have the right to reply, especially as this person blocked me from Twitter ages ago, and therefore I have no idea what she writes about me unless someone tells me.

Now as to the title of the piece, a "puss" is another word for a cat, whilst "bitch" is another word for a female canine (dog being the male version of a canine). Those with an acute sense of style are often referred to as "a glamour puss", whilst those who try too hard in terms of vanity often end up looking stupid, or like a "silly bitch."

Seriously, I cannot believe I have just had to explain that.

As for it being a sycophantic piece, maybe it is, or maybe it is a piece saying to think of other peoples feelings before you make hurtful derogatory comments to them about what they are wearing. In the grand scheme of things does it really hurt to keep your opinions toned down. If you don't like something there are ways and means of saying so. If someone has asked me my opinion I will tell the truth, but kindly. The difference about social media is that people haven't asked you for your opinion, so if someone wears something I don't like, I keep my mouth shut.

With regard to the piece being pulled, this person complained to the creator of the term Burketeer, and she asked for the piece to be removed. She didn't complain to me or the magazine. Now at the beginning of the magazine is a disclaimer stating "The opinions expressed are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of tomburkeonline.com."

So I guess I am not allowed to write for the magazine under my name, I have to be labeled under this collective noun instead. Well I am not a label, I am a free thinking individual. I was a fan of Tom's long before this terminology was applied to those who enjoyed his work. If anyone can demand a piece of writing (that is done for free, and in that person's spare time) to be removed because it might offend the name Burketeer it begs the question...is it time for me to hand in my Burketeer badge as Tom handed in his pauldron? It wouldn't make any difference whether I did or didn't. I'd still be labelled as a Burketeer, and I would need to ensure everything I wrote was so insipid it could not cause any offence.

Obviously the term, and the haters of the term, are more important than the true fans, the ones who were following Tom's career for over a decade, before the word Burketeer was even thought of. So maybe, just to be on the safe side, I should just stick to writing on here in future.

For those who want to read such a scurrilous article, here it is:

Shakespeare's Complete Walk (Celebrating 400 years of his death)

William Shakespeare, 1564-1616. No-one really knows when Shakespeare was born, but the accepted date is St George's day, 23rd April 1564, which if true, then it is somewhat remarkable that he also died on the 23rd April, 52 years later.

37 plays, 37 films, 37 screens

We know 16 of Shakespeare's plays were printed and published during his lifetime, even though many of them were published without the consent of the author. It is understood many were obtained surreptitiously from the playhouse! The remaining 21 plays remained as manuscripts until 1622 when Othello was published. In 1623, two actors who were friends of Shakespeare, collated all of the dramas, both published and unpublished, which they knew to have been written by Shakespeare. 36 plays were comprised in this collected works...the final play Pericles was added to the collection in 1664. It is these 37 plays that The Globe celebrated on the weekend of 23rd and 24th April 2016.

37 ten minute films were commissioned, and 37 screens erected along a 2.5 mile stretch alongside the river Thames, from Westminster to Tower Bridge. Liverpool was the only other UK city to show these 37 films.  Various reports from London advised that many screens were not working, or various other glitches, but it seemed most people enjoyed themselves as they were immersed in this unique experience. 

37 plays at 10 mins a play is 6 hours and ten minutes of your life, and that is not taking into account walking from screen to screen, waiting for the start of the play, or experiencing glitches! It would need either very good stamina, or a break and be done over two days to watch every film. In Liverpool, the screens were spread throughout the city...there was no way every film would be watched, so choices needed to be made!

I HAVE to watch Henry VI part III.

I went to Liverpool with my friend, a huge Shakespeare fan. I admitted there was one play I wanted to watch...and if she didn't mind, I'd like to see it more than once! I don't know what it is about my non Tom Burke fan friends...they really don't seem to mind me dragging them around to see him.

In the order of fairness, I suggested that we watched the films around The Albert Dock, then saunter up to the Anglican cathedral for a bit of Hamlet, and then wend our way to the Everyman Theatre where Tom Burke and his father, David, were playing a father and son in Henry VI pt III. 

Map in hand, we headed to The Beatles Experience. There were no signs advertising The Complete Walk, so we asked and were redirected to their cafe to watch The Merry Wives of Windsor. The cafe was empty so we could sit right in front of the screen. I laughed when the line "let the sky rain potatoes" was said. I still can't get that interview out of my head where Tom remarked regarding The Musketeers diet, no-one had ever said to him "do you really need that potato?"

Timon of Athens, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth and Henry III followed. I had mixed emotions about it. Some venues were fine to watch the films, especially as it was quiet when we went to view them, but others... one was in a bar on an Ipad, and at the Tate Gallery we had to ask for the volume to be turned up because it was set up in the entrance foyer where there was a heavy and noisy footfall.

The walk to the cathedral was a long affair, as many pathways had been blocked off for building work, but eventually we arrived and we were escorted up to a viewing room to watch Hamlet. It was perfect, I just wished all of the venues had been this good, and so well organised. 

A couple more plays and suddenly we are at The Everyman Theatre. They were playing all three films on a loop together, so we would only be able to see Tom's part every half hour. We walked into the theatre, and as we walked through the door, so did Tom onto the screen. I did my very best not to squeal and just stood there mouth wide open. All three actors in the piece were brilliant, David Burke especially so. When the film finished we went and took a seat and watched all three parts from start to finish. 

Afterwards, as much as I wanted to stay, I suggested we went to the Philharmonic Dining Room for lunch. We ordered our food and calculated when Tom would be on again. As we were finishing our food I looked at the clock and said "oh, Tom'll be on in 4 mins". My wonderful friend just looked at me and said, "well I've finished so you'd better hurry up then". I stuffed the remains of a burger into my mouth, grabbed my coat and bag and the pair of us ran up the road, through the front door of the theatre and nearly broke our necks as we ran up the stairs to where the film was being played. Almost choking on undigested food, we quietly walked in...and a second later Tom appeared on screen! The things his fans do. He'd shake his head in disbelief I'm sure! We then noted that Henry IV Pts I and II were being shown at a small theatre around the corner, so we went to watch them.

As we came out afterwards I got a message from a friend who had come down from Scotland to watch Tom. I said I would meet her at the Everyman. I walked in and spoke to a member of staff who said that the final run of the film had started about 20 mins earlier. Hmmm does that mean part III is about to start? Yes she said...I ran back upstairs and managed to watch the play again for the 4th time! As I entered the theatre, I noticed not only was my friend from Scotland there, but also another friend who I had met through being a Tom Burke fan! We hugged and went downstairs for a cuppa, and we reflected on Tom and David's performances. We were all impressed, and my friend said she could see why we thought they were both such great actors. They both brought depth and emotion to the roles they were playing, and we wondered just how much strain it was for a real father and son to play those particular parts.

After saying our goodbyes we headed off to watch Henry V before getting the train home. Sadly when we arrived the film was being unplugged. I had to show the venue that the film was being shown on both days, until 9pm, and that it was currently only 6pm. The film was put back on for me, but it underlined just how disorganised this event had been, and how badly it had been thought out in Liverpool. It was an enjoyable day out for me, I only live across the river Mersey, but those people who travelled long distances to watch the films had my sympathy. If I had made a long journey to watch a film in the corner of a cafe on an I-pad, I'd have been rather disgruntled! As it was, there was just enough time to grab a tea and cake "take-out" to eat on the train home. (I'm just so rock n' roll!) 

Monday, 18 April 2016

# Reasons To Be Happy! Part 5 (And a bit of Tolstoy and Bronte thrown in for good measure)

On a bright sunny Saturday morning my non Burketeer friend and I headed down to London to watch Tom's play (for the last time.)

We had a few hours before the play so I suggested we head to the National Portrait Gallery to view the "Russia and the Arts" exhibition that I'd failed to see on my previous two visits to London due to excessive Prosecco drinking the night before!!!

Marvelous in Miniature

Walking through the gallery we noticed an exhibition celebrating Charlotte Bronte and her sisters. I've been to Haworth walking, but never taken the opportunity to go to the parsonage (too covered in mud from my hiking!) so I thought it would be interesting to pop in and see what they had on show. I knew that Charlotte and her sisters would sit around the table together and write their books, and that they had also written tiny "toy" books for their brother's toy soldiers to read. They would sew small pages together and cover their books in wallpaper, and I couldn't imagine what they would look like, especially as they would be writing in quill and ink! This exhibition showed paintings of the sisters by their brother and various artists, their links to other literary figures such as Elizabeth Gaskill and the siblings paintings and sketches. Also on show was one of these miniature books that they had produced. It was so exciting and interesting to see, although trying to make out the words without the aid of a magnifying glass was rather hard! It was such a pleasant surprise to see and well worth the little detour.

The Russia and the Arts exhibit was also interesting, and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see some masterpieces from the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The exhibition showcases a collection of paintings of distinguished Russian writers, poets, actors, composers etc who opened up a huge cultural scene in Russia during the period 1867 and 1914, and it showed how art developed during that period into a more abstract art form. It was interesting for me especially to see portraits of such great writers including Tolstoy, Chekov and Dosteoevsky and to learn a little about each writer through the eyes of the artist and the moods that they captured to canvas. Obviously a little trip was required to the bookshop, but I managed to behave and only came out with a copy of The Brothers Karamazov and a host of Chekhov plays. I think I deserve a medal for being so well behaved!

On autopilot...back to Hampstead!

Once we had partaken in some lunch it was time to head to the Hampstead Theatre for one last time. I was both excited and sad that it would be my last visit, but I'm looking forward to seeing Tom in The Deep Blue See at the National, so at least I still have something to look forward to...a different reason to be happy!

Let's play a little game of 5 "Reasons..."

So seeing as this is the last post about the play Reasons to be Happy, I'm not going to do another "review" of the play, I want to mix things up a little. If you've seen or read the play there is a scene between Steph and Greg outside a Turkish Restaurant and Steph asks Greg to give her "five good reasons that you want to be here. Tonight. With me."

Now I'm throwing the gauntlet to you dear reader! I want you to have a think, and share with me 5 good things (reasons) that make you happy! 

In the spirit of the play "Shhh! My turn first. You wanted me to go, so here I am, I'm going, now be quiet and listen..."

One: A good book and a cup of tea. If we're going to be really picky here, I'm going to say visiting the second hand book shop on Valentinská in Prague, finding an old book (in English) and taking it along to Ĉajovna U zlatého kohouta, sitting in the big squishy chair in the middle of that tea room and drinking Pu Erh Golden Tippi for a couple of undisturbed hours! Pure heaven!

Two: My friends! (Old and new!) Whether I'm exploring the great outdoors with them, going to the theatre, or I'm going on some mindless adventures with them it's all good fun!!! Why go off in search of film locations? Because I can...and it's a bit of fun! Why you going to watch the same play a hundred times with those people? Because I can...and it's a bit of fun!!!!

Three: Horse-Riding. The exhilaration of galloping on a beach is indescribable (or in my case anywhere where there are no trees to ride into...it might be funny and I laugh about it now, but it does really hurt like hell!)

Four: ummmm, four would beeeeee.....a date with my sketch pad! Drawing at times can be therapeutic, or really frustrating when what you see won't go down on paper, but getting my pencils out makes me happy.

"and - ta-da-da-dah! Five: "

Five:... five, hmmm, my toppest fifth reason at the moment iiiisssssss ummmmm, you know what... I'm keeping number five to myself! In the grand scheme of things it's really nothing, but it was a few minutes that happened after I had watched the play for the final time. I left the theatre with a HUGE smile on my face that still hasn't gone away. It's very strange that a couple of minutes can leave you on cloud nine for days, but it happens. So live life in every moment people, expect the unexpected, and be...happy!

Friday, 15 April 2016

1Q84 - Haruki Murakami (Box Clever Theatre Challenge - April)

I am a HUGE fan of Haruki Murakami, and this lumbering great tome has been sat on my bookshelf for a while waiting for the right moment for me to give it the justice its 1318 pages deserve.

Murakami is well known for his strange cultish type stories, and this book, originally published in three volumes takes two cults head on in a disturbingly maddening story. The book focuses on two main characters, Tengo, a thirty year old former mathematical genius and Aomame (Green Peas) a thirty year old sports instructor and physical therapist.

Tengo shunned his child prodigy abilities and became a part time maths teacher. He embarked on a career in literature, and became the ghost writer of a teenagers story, "Air Chrysalis." The publisher of a literary company thought the story had the potential to win a prestigious literary competition, but the writing was flawed, if Tengo re-wrote the tale it could be entered into the competition. The teenager Fuka-Eri who wrote the story is a strange character, almost ethereal. She has no grasp of social convention, but her story is one which will create strange undercurrents to surface in the world of 1984.

The character Aomame is complex, she is more than just a sports instructor. She is a hired assassin to the strange Dowager, an elderly lady who has set up  a commune for victims of domestic abuse and who seeks her own type of justice in the world. And what kind of world is it? It is one where two cults show the darker side of the world. The Society of Witnesses, a Christian type sect, where its members refuse life saving surgery and knock door to door handing out pamphlets. A close knit community where if you do not follow the rules you are no longer welcome, you no longer exist in their society. Then there is Sakigake, a cult group with a mysterious "leader", of whom we hear disturbingly nasty stories about. Sakigake was innovative, they switched to organic farming which they could sell to affluent urbanites who would be happy to pay high prices for vegetables free from contamination, a highly cohesive group who are obsessed with secrecy. This secrecy is set to be undermined once Air Chrysalis is published and the darker side of the commune is about to be exposed.

"A man who finds joy in raping prepubescent girls, a powerfully built gay bodyguard, people who choose death over transfusion, a woman who kills herself with sleeping pills while six months pregnant, a woman who kills problematic men with a needle thrust to the back of the neck, men who hate women, women who hate men: how could it possibly profit the genes to have such people existing in this world?"

But what world are we living in? Aomame is living in 1984, and takes a seemingly normal taxi ride to a job. The taxi gets stuck in traffic, and whilst she sits listening to Janacek's Sinfonietta, her taxi driver warns her "Things are not what they seem." About to miss her appointment, Aomame is told to leave the taxi and take the emergency exit from the highway. Aomame climbs down a ladder and without realising it, suddenly finds herself in a world that looks just like 1984, but there are subtle differences, there are now two moons in the sky, and Aomame begins to realise that she has entered an alternate world. Those of us familiar with Murakami know that he writes about parallel dimensions which his characters subtlety slip through. Everyday occurrences suddenly transport them into another realm. Normally a man is searching for a woman he has lost (Wind Up Bird Chronicle), but in 1Q84, a mutual search is underway...a boy needs to find a girl, and a girl needs to find a boy.

Q is for "question mark"

"1Q84 - that's what I'll call this new world...Q is for "question mark". A world that bears a question." It is no surprise that there are elements of George Orwell's 1984 in this book. The dictator Big Brother is similar to Leader, but Big Brother has become too obvious, so now the Little People are who we need to look out for. It is not just George Orwell that Murakami steers us towards, Chekov, Dstoevsky, Lewis Carroll, Kubrick, Proust, Kafka, Macbeth, even Frazer's The Golden Bough is cited for us to read and learn from. There is also a reminiscence of Lovecraft's writing. "Some numbness remained, but the hand was certainly his. So, too, was the smell of sweat emanating from him, an oddly harsh odour like a zoo animal's." Murakami is a writer to elicit the best from all of your senses, you don't just read him, you can smell him, not literally, but the way he describes food cooking in such detail you can smell it cooking, and then taste it and savour all of its complex flavours. And it is this complexity that drives you onto reading the book, because essentially the story is very simple. It is a love story. A boy and girl were at school together and had a short mutual attraction, which despite spending years apart has played on their minds, and now they need one another, and events will lead them to start looking for each other, events that can happen in 1Q84, but not in 1984. The characters, as always, find themselves in a complicated maze that they need to figure out. Is this some kind of metaphor for the reader who struggles through the maze of day to day realities of life?

"The thing I'm most afraid of is me. Of not knowing what I'm going to do. Of not knowing what I am doing right now."

Whilst the novel is set in a fictitious world, the characters are very real. I like this about Murakami novels. The characters stay true, whilst the world around them becomes fake, but how like our real world is this? We sit everyday watching a fake world go by, never questioning, just accepting what we see in the news, what we hear politicians tell us, believing that a government would never lie to its people. We then find out that wars and atrocities have been committed under the cover of lies, that the politician have been deceiving us. Is our world really any more abstract than the world of Murakami's? And if this is true where does the problem lie? The only people that can change these things are us, but how many of us are too scared to do or say something? This is where we watch the bravery of the characters who have a goal, and will do anything to achieve that goal, and somehow we wish we could be just a little bit like them. This is where fiction and reality trade places again.

Good and bad are also tradeable entities, they continually switch places, there is never absolute good and absolute evil in the world, and we see this through the eyes of Murakami. A gentle and loving husband can seem like that to all of society, but to his wife he can be seen as a monster. She is the one that takes a beating and has to cover up the bruises, and this can be taken to any level. We let people see what we want them to see, we don't tell everyone the truth of what lies behind that closed door. "Our man did this," the dowager said. We've taken care of her three fractures, but one ear is exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss and may never be the same again." ... "We can't let anyone get away with doing this. We simply can't." But should we take the law into our own hands? Can we trust the world to help us out if we don't help ourselves out instead? In this strange world filled with maza's, dohta's and air chrysalis's the man may have raped a shadow, not a real entity, does this make his crime any better or any worse?

"The problem is not with me but with the world around me. It's not that my consciousness or mind has given rise to some abnormality, but rather that some kind of incomprehensible power has caused the world around me to change."

Once you have entered the world of Murakami it is difficult to leave. Once you find yourself transfixed by his writing you want more and more of the madness, you don't realise until it's too late that you've been sucked into the rabbit hole and there is no escape. Throughout the book we meet interesting people, we do not read the whole book through the eyes of Tengo and Aomame. The side character of Ushikawa is interesting and at times sad. The strange story of the NHK collector knocking on doors is an interesting side story, and it wouldn't be Murakami if cats did not feature somewhere! In this book we hear of the fable about the "Town of Cats". It is a story Edgar Allen Poe would be proud of and a place I certainly would not want to visit. Murakami's cats are not the soft cuddly variety! But all of the stories that seem incomprehensible on their own, when added together they start to make some sort of sense, but only if you try to look into the deeper meaning of things. I think many people disregard Murakami's writing because on the surface it seems trite and nonsensical, but take the time to try and understand him and his work will start to pay dividends. The world as you see it starts to change as you read, things you see as implausible suddenly seem to start making sense. That is what is clever about these types of novels, Murakami takes a plausible event, and twists it into something that could never happen, but it is not as far removed from reality as a science fiction story would be.

"It's very difficult to logically explain the illogical."

The book is a challenging read, it is after all 1318 pages long, and if I am honest, it could be shorter. We can't forget that this was written as three volumes, so perhaps in publishing it as one volume, cuts could have been made. Murakami has a repetitive streak, and there are lots of times that he has repeated concepts and the retelling of the story that the reader does not need. This slows the pace of the novel down, but I don't mind that. I like the Japanese sedate way of life that seems to slowly flow through the book. Nothing is rushed, and that is why I like reading, it is a chance to sit and relax and not rush.

I think for many readers, the fact that Murakami goes off on detailed tangents can be annoying, and maybe they are best sticking to his shorter quirkier novels. The narrative has been stretched out over the three books, but I like that. I want to feel that Tengo and Aomame's journey has taken the nine months of the book to progress through, I don't want to feel like the journey has been an easy one for either of them, it would detract from the point of the story, that they needed to search for each other.

I do however get a bit frustrated with some parts of the book that seem to be forgotten about. Whilst Murakami repeats large parts of the story, there are some things which don't get explained at all and in some instances they are disregarded. This is not the first time that I have read a Murakami novel and got a bit confused, but I think with a novel of this size, if you can find the time to reiterate parts of the story over and over, you could find the time to fill in a few blanks!

I therefore recommend this book to Murakami fans, and those who want to take on the challenge of an alternate reality. It is a long book, and I prefer some of his other shorter novels, but I do think that this epic novel will remain a firm classic with readers of this genre.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Time in Tywyn

Back from another top Burketeering Burkeathon weekend, and now I'm packing my chest infection off to Tywyn for a week. I'm a bit grumpy because it is the third and final part of The Magus. My other half hasn't been listening to it, he is fed up of the name Tom Burke, and there is no wi-fi where we are going. Oh sod it, "please can we listen to Radio 4 at 3pm?" "Yes of course, what's on?" "Oh just the final part of a play I've been listening to."

Yes! We set off at just the right time so that I get to hear the entire episode during the car journey, and I cough majestically over the bit where the announcer says "and the part of Nicholas Urfe was played by Tom Burke."

I really enjoyed the production, and wish that Radio 4 were bringing it out on CD. I think if I am honest, and discount the fact that Tom was in it, I did prefer the book, however, don't discount the play, it was still very good.  I don't know what it was about the play, but the book was very in the moment. Whilst the book was recounting an event that had happened in someone's past, it still seemed very real, as though the events that were being recounted were actually happening. The book relived the moments, you could visualise them, you felt that you were on the island watching the events unfold as Nicholas told you his story. I felt the play however was more detached, more remote, a bit cold and aloof. I don't know if it was the way it had been rewritten for the radio or what, but I felt it was a little safe, a little bit flat, I didn't find it as disturbing to listen to as I did when reading the book. And the book is disturbing. I've already blogged my thoughts on the book, so I won't rehash them here, but suffice to say as a psychological experiment it was extreme. I didn't know who to trust when reading the book, everything became so distorted that you would find it hard to ever trust anyone ever again...but I found that element slightly lost in the radio version. I think some of the parts of the book that were cut from the radio edition were so dark, so disturbing, that their omission really left the play a bit empty, and the ending was a bit disappointing. In the book the ending is deliberately ambiguous, and it works, but I didn't feel that the play left me feeling the same mix of emotions that I did when I read it. Nicholas Urfe is a cold character, the way he recounts the story is almost dismissive of it, but the actual explanations of the events is vivid, and this just didn't translate as well into the radio edition. It certainly was very interesting though, and hopefully I can catch up with it all once more, before it disappears into the black hole of Radio 4 and off the I-player. I really think they're missing a trick not putting it on CD, (especially as I would listen to it time and time again for Mr B's lovely honeyed voice!!!!)

The cottage I am staying in is gorgeous, in a place in Wales called Tywyn, and whilst it is a long drive from the main road it is worth it. The views are fabulous and you are surrounded by sheep. Sadly by the gate some poor chap had obviously not fared too well over the harsh winter months. Oh well, an unusual welcome to be sure! I shall call him Yorick and he shall be my friend for the week!

So, no walking in the lovely Snowdonian range this holibobs because of my constant coughing, but I have relaxed on a couple of beaches, one of which was a lovely National Trust beach...with a pub on the beach! Awesome! Beer is a well known medicinal cure for chest infections don't you know!!!!

Porthdinllaen is an old fashioned fishing village, you need to park your car in the National Trust Carpark, risk your life walking through the golf range, and then climb down a path to a beautiful sheltered sandy beach. It is a gorgeous beach, and made even better in that you can have a relaxing drink at the the Ty Coch Inn which sits directly by the beach (or you can take your drink away with you in a plastic "glass".

There is no point going to the seaside if you're not going to have fish and chips, and just because I'm suffering, and it's only April and we're facing the Irish Sea at 6pm, there is no excuse not to sit on the beach at Criccieth and watch the world go by, whilst shooing gulls away from your dinner! Nom nom nom!!!!!

As I've been able to do very little this week, I have managed to read most of my Box Clever Challenge book for April, Murikami's 1Q84. If you liked Wind Up Bird Chronicle, you will love this epic volume, although I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy trying to work out what to say about the book. "It's very good" doesn't quite seem to cut it! Still, I must say, sitting in the cottage, watching the very peaceful world go by and reading a book with a cuppa is my idea of a good holiday. I think this sums my week up rather nicely!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

# Reasons To Be Happy! Part 4

Nooooooooooo!  I hear you shout. You can't be serious?  Yes I am. I am addicted. I don't know what it is, but the more you see Tom, the more you have to see him again!

So, this morning, we managed to pack, talk about Tom, go to breakfast, talk about Tom, get our phone map app working and head towards Hampstead Heath, whilst talking about Tom, get to a cafe and order tea, and talk about Tom, waddle towards the entrance of the park, get a taxi and head back to the theatre!

In the theatre we meet up with a load of other Burketeers, and as I'm sitting and chatting I notice an older couple try the doors to the theatre to get in. Now the Hampstead has those electric doors where you need to press a button for the doors to open, and this couple hadn't noticed, so I jumped up as I was near the door and hit the button for them. OH MY GOD! I'VE JUST LET TOM'S PARENTS INTO THE THEATRE!

Now when I was young, I remember watching Sherlock Holmes with my mum (it wasn't so long after that, that she died, so they are quiet poignant memories) and Daddy Burke played Dr Watson at the time I was watching the series. It was therefore epic for me, watching them walk into the building, not only as Tom's parents, but as people I'd admired in my childhood in their own right. I did behave myself though, fortunately I had really lost my voice by now and I didn't want to kill them with my germs, so I just watched as they said hello to other Burketeers and carried on about their business. I was sat a few seats behind them as they watched Tom take to the stage and I honestly can't say who I more interested in, Tom or his parents! After the play Tom came out to take them to dinner, and it was a joy and a privilege to see just how proud of their son his parents were, and just how much he obviously loves and cherishes his parents. Call me a soppy ole sod, but I do love it when you see such a connection between parents and children. Maybe it's because both of my parents had died by the time I'd hit 33 and I never really got that much of an opportunity to get to know them that I found it so nice to watch. I know I get so exasperated by people who constantly complain about their parents, yes I know that not all parents are perfect, but who is? One day they won't be there, and then it will be too late for you to decide you want and need them, or wished that you'd been that little bit more understanding of them.

So it was another trip to the play, another amazing experience, and another drunken trip home...yes, we had Prosecco, we even tried asking Anna Calder-Marshall if she wanted a drink with us...well if you're going to be a good Burketeer, you need to be able to drink Prosecco!!!!

# Reasons To Be Happy! Part 3

Yes! You guessed it, I'm back off to London, and this isn't an April Fool joke!

I'm meeting Cheryl and Anne for a spot of lunch whilst we wait for Solenne to arrive from France. I am full of cold and can hardly speak (hooray everyone says) so I have a medicinal Processco with my lunch! After a catch up, we all head towards Hampstead and get ready for another night at the theatre.

All Good Evenings Must Start With Prosecco!

The evening started as all good evenings do with a bottle of Prosecco. This time I have a really good seat, three rows from the stage and a perfect view of Tom. The play has changed slightly. It is more polished, not too polished, but the conversations between the characters flow better and are therefore more believable than they were at the earlier showings. I know some people have complained about the profanities, but think about it, this generation does swear. There is a generation that gets both excited and so emotionally involved with a topic that they can't articulate their feelings. They can't think of the right words to use, and therefore they use swear words to convey their emotions. Now I'm not condoning this, but like it or not, that is an element of society which exists, and therefore it is refreshing to see this on stage. It is an honest reflection of a part of society that I don't know very well, but watching the play, you can't help but get into the characters. Like them or loath them, agree with them or not, they are very personable, they are very honest, and they convey parts of us that we might not want to admit to.

There are vast amounts of Greg that relate to me, and it is terrifying seeing parts of yourself pulled apart on stage. I don't like to upset people, I try to keep everyone happy...more often that not it is has backfired. These days I do try to be more honest, even if people don't like to hear the truth, the result more often than not still backfires! I have no idea what career I want to pursue. I never have. I fell into a job I began to hate, and to be honest I'd still be there now if I hadn't been made redundant. So what am I doing about it? Well not living in the real world for sure. I'm sticking my head in a book and living through various fantasies, surfacing to complete drawings people have commissioned, and then heading back behind a PC to blog about the books I've read...hmm any of that sounding familiar?!  Unlike Greg though I could not become an English teacher. When I was at school I was steered towards the art/English/textiles teacher thing...I know if I followed that career advice I would be arrested for thumping insolent children, it is not a career I would ever be cut out for, so in someways Greg is a far better person than me, at least he has a view to what he wants and is striving to achieve it.

So is it just a play where people shout a lot?

Steph and Carly are not just two screaming banshees, although first impressions could be that all they do is moan and shout. Carly is rather complex. She is already a single mother, so for her to get pregnant so soon after getting together with Greg is questionable, especially as she seems so quick to say that if Greg walks out she'll just get an abortion. I don't find this believable, it is a part of the play that grates with me, it just seems a quick easy plot line to tie ends up, rather than an integral part of the story. I find this interesting. When Greg first hears the news he is shocked and obviously not overjoyed, although he tries to make out that this it is good news to him! However, he appears to want the child as the play progresses, saying he will help to look after it even if him and Carly split, but then he doesn't seem overly distraught when he hears the news that the child is not a problem anymore...in other worlds, Carly has had an abortion. His feelings don't seem to be a part of the play, and the more I think about this, the more disgruntled I get about this part of the play, it just doesn't sit right with me.

Steph is a tormented soul. She knows her life is a mess, but she doesn't know what to do about it, so she screams and shouts and vents her anger at her inability to come to any decisions. She hopes other people can sort her life out for her...and ultimately it is dependable Greg who offers her a lifeline to happiness. But would it be if she took it? Or would it just be another disaster if she took up his offer to follow him, because Greg knows how to inadvertently say the wrong thing, and her volatile temper would blow things again with the relationship.

All in all, I really love this play, it has so many layers to think about, and I've been very disappointed reading the press reviews. I don't think the theatre critics have really thought about the deeper issues hidden within the depths of the play. I think they have just taken a quick overview that this is a play where four people shout at each other and there is lots of bad language, either that or they've been viewing a different play to me. I feel sorry for those who have read the reviews and shied away from the play...they have really missed a trick.

Will he/Won't he??

Following the play we grabbed another bottle of Prosecco, headed towards an empty table and started chatting. Some actor chappie headed our way and pulled up a chair and sat opposite me. "Hi Tom, you want a drink?" He didn't want a drink, but he did oblige us by sitting and chatting for half an hour or so! It's amazing how chatting aimlessly with someone that you really admire can completely make your night. I know I'll be buzzing off the memories of that night for ages. What did we talk about? Well this and that! Nothing overly serious, nothing secretive, but just general chit chat, a laugh and a joke. It was so relaxed and seemed so normal, you really had to pinch yourself that you were sitting chatting with a person that a few minutes earlier you had been watching on stage; someone you watch on TV, someone you have watched in awe for years because they have created such memorable characters for your entertainment, and he's just sitting there...next to you...chatting! (And in THAT waistcoat...it's very nice in real life!)

Well after getting thrown out of the theatre because they were so desperate to close, we made our way back to our hotel and ordered takeaway pizza, as you do! Then we stayed up in our dorm style hotel room chatting until 4am! 4am!!! The people downstairs were not happy with Cheryl, Anne and I. We thought there was a ghost next door knocking on the walls, nope, it was downstairs hammering on the ceiling for us to shut up as we recounted everything Tom had said when we were sat around the table! Even worse, we were all up again at 7am, excited that we would be going to see the play in the afternoon. I'm sure I've regressed back to my student days! Oh those poor people in the room below us!