Sunday, 26 June 2016

East Meets West - A Richard III Extravaganza

We have created a Richard III extravaganza. Last week we gave our first performance as part of Leicester's ArtBeat Festival and I'm delighted to say that it was very well received.

Nimisha Parmer showed us the story of the Battle of Bosworth using the ancient Indian dance style of Bharat Natyan. Her son, Aayush, accompanied her on the drums.

I took to the floor next, performing a rather tongue-in-cheek interview between a modern day reporter and the Witch of Daneshill. It's all in my book if you'd like to buy one - The Children's Book of Richard III. I went on to explain how a King's body came to be under a car park in Leicester.

Me playing the part of the Witch of Daneshill
Our grand finale was Richard Buckley, head of Archaeology at Leicester University, the man who led the dig that discovered Richard III's body. He gave us a fascinating insight into what the dig was like and then produced a 'King' in full period armour with sword, dagger, halberd, the lot. It was not only the kids who were excited. We were all fascinated by this King-cum-knight in almost shiny armour.

Richard Buckley on the left with a halberd

Richard Buckley demonstrating how a dagger was thrust through Richard III's skull
(as you can see he didn't really do it!)
There are plans for repeat performances so if you missed this one then watch this space for the announcement of our next Richard III extravaganza.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Three Free Things...

…or free free fings if said very quickly.

A few weeks ago I was meeting Daughter at St Pancras (our usual meeting point these days) and I stopped for a minute to watch people using the free pianos. There are three of them spaced out along the concourse and they all seem to be permanently in use.

That day a man was playing a lovely piece of music when a mother with a small child stopped to watch. The child’s mouth was open in amazement. The piano player invited the child to have a go. She touched the keys tentatively. Then he played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The expression on that child’s face was priceless. He may have created the start of a lifelong passion and all from a free piano.

It made me think about what other free facilities we have available to us these days. Yes, there are the parks, flower beds and occasional fountains but you can’t do anything other than look at those. I mean things to interact with. A few days later a walk on the local park with the Grandkids reminded me of two more free things.

Many local parks now have fitness equipment for use by anyone at any time. What a brilliant idea.

You may have noticed from the picture above that, although it was a lovely warm afternoon, the equipment was not actually being used. Never mind. It's there for when people fancy it. Maybe first thing in the morning there are queues for each item.

The third free thing was being so well used at the park that I couldn't take a photo for fear of upsetting people. That is the table tennis table. Yet another brilliant idea and one of these days I shall go down there with a table tennis ball and have a go. Anyone fancy a game?

Sunday, 5 June 2016

My cats can plan and plot

I bet you think that cats can’t plan or plot together. That’s what I thought until last week when the grandkids came to visit.

My cats, Charlie and Mabel, are terrified of visitors, especially children. They disappear down the end of the garden as soon as they hear children's voices so I thought it would be fine when the grandkids asked if they could bring their new dog for a visit.

Just before they were due to arrive I made sure the cats had eaten and were in the garden. They had extra food and water in the greenhouse and would be able to spend the day out there. But things did not go as planned.

As soon as we sat in the conservatory, Charlie arrived at the window. She spent a good half an hour motionless, staring at the dog. It drove the dog crazy. She barked and threw herself at the window, kamikaze style. All the time Charlie sat without even moving a whisker.

When Charlie got tired of the dog-taunting game she strolled away down the garden.
“I bet she’s going to tell Mabel,” I said and the grandkids laughed politely, in a kind of 'grandmas are silly' way. However, less than a minute later Mabel was at the window doing exactly the same as Charlie had done, taunting the poor dog. Mabel is never normally seen by visitors, ever! When she tired of the dog-taunting game, Charlie took over once more.

Now tell me that cats can’t plan and plot together.