Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Merry Christmas, Chester...And May Your New Year Be A Fine One! "

Here's The Cross at Chester early yesterday, when I staggered in at 8:30am.... to buy the last of my presents...and also to make the usual Christmassy raid on M&S.

I live in a beautiful city, a place of which I'm inordinately proud .
After being born and bred, schooled and married here, I'm STILL thrilled by its uniqueness: its clutter of streets, its wide elegant ones...its Rows, the river, the Cathedral with its echoey cloisters, the sandstone Walls... where I toddled as a child, giggled as a teenager, strolled with my husband, ran with my children, laughed with my grandchildren......
Chester is a changing city these days....some say not for the best...but I've got faith in this lovely place...inordinate faith (!) and my hopes are high.
We all blossom sometimes in our lives, and we fail sometimes in our lives....we stumble a bit, we stumble a lot, but hopefully ( by luck or design) we recover, we move on to new things. We retain the best of the old, we welcome the best of the new...
Chester is no different.
AND Cestrians care about Chester...and Chester cares about its Cestrians.
Let us take care of this very precious place.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

" Wintery Weekend Pleasures...."

A bright icy weekend.
And second son's birthday, so a Saturday morning walk was had in the delicious, crisp and even, wintertime forest.... followed by drinks and presents and nibbley stuff in the afternoon.
Then a treat on Sunday: an evening trip to the Village Hall for Theatre in The Quarter's fabulously highly-spirited production of " Home for Christmas", with words by Helen Newell ( talented Northern playwright) and music by Matt Baker (the Quarter's equally fine Artistic Director)
Certainly this was the ultimate in "Homegrown" theatre ...brimming with stories of Cestrians in World War 2. The writing of the piece was commissioned by Chester Lit Fest, who then gathered stories throughout Chester/Cheshire....resulting ( thanks to Newell and Baker) in a superb play...with lots of great music, a choir drawn from various local communities ( I spotted novelist David Whitley, see my post Nov 25th!) as well as some highly talented professionals.
A historical period was evoked brilliantly....from its songs to its clothes..Sheer nylons AND sheer delight!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Mikes And Oscars...."

The usual Christmas Bashes hammer away:

1. Gill McEvoy's major success story in the NW poetry world : " ZEST!" ( open floor easy mike poetry sessions) held its party at Alexanders Jazz Theatre, its usual home ( see

"ZEST!"goes from strength to strength. Much of its triumph is due to Gill and her two friends, Leah and Caroline.
"Zest!" has encouraged new poets to share their stuff with a very lively/very mixed well as providing a new floor for the seasoned performers. Lots of local folk ( and also not-so-local folk)...appreciate it hugely.

2. AND then there's Chester Theatre Club Party ( )
BEST BIT ( and worth becoming a Club Member just for this!).... is the Annual Awards Ceremony ...when "Oscars" are presented to "worthy" recipients ( sometimes with tongues hugely glued/stuck in cheeks!) by Anthony Wheatcroft ( suave in dinner suit) and Lisa Miller ( glam in "cocktail" dress) If you've seen all the recent plays ( and there's six a season) there's much to draw applaud and remember all over again. ..

Next production at CTC ( January 18th-23rd) is Diane Samuels' award winning play " Kindertransport", the story of Jewish children brought to UK in 2nd World War. Samuels is Liverpudlian, born and bred. Her newest play is " 3 Sisters on Hope street", her take on Chekhov's " 3 sisters". This is set in late 40's LIverpool, as opposed to provincial Russia at the turn of the century.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

" 5 Gold Stories ..."

Forget those 5 Gold Rings, despite the fact it's Christmas and any minute now you'll be singing about Partridges and Milking Maids and those crazy ever-leaping Lords..........Think instead of 5 Gold Stories.....Because we heard 5 Gold Stories on Wednesday at the Awards Evening for Cheshire Prize for Literature, at the University of Chester.
The Judges chose 5 worthy stories, reading parts of some, and the whole of the winner...and it was a delight. The audience listened intently... and I'm sure I'm right in saying we enjoyed them all.

The winner of the £2000 1st prize was Tessa Sheridan, an ex Cestrian, now a scriptwriter in London. Tessa's " That Going To The Zoo Thing" had everyone grinning, delighting in her words, her character. Great title, great story. We loved the feelings expressed, the gentle zany humour.

2nd was Simon Gotts ( an esteemed and popular member of Chester Writers) AND a previous Cheshire winner!
And 3 writers were Highly Commended: Diane Booth, Kirsty Logan and Heather Freckleton. Heather is a talented Hoole-igan that was Very Good News...and Heather ( the Lady In Red, see snap) has already promised to read her story in full when we're Hoole-igans again in January....
5 Gold stories indeed!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

" Listen Very Carefully...I Will Say This Only Once..."

"'All! Allo!" .....
Classic comedy on BBC TV: This one was always a favourite.
SO...when the stage version (Jeremy Lloyd, David Croft) was produced by Upton Dramatic Soc ( http://www.uptondrama.soc/) we wanted to go......AND it was also a great excuse to dress up! ( see snap)

The Village Hall stage was set as Rene's Cafe ( true to original TV set) as was Hall itself...with audience seated around check-clothed tables...but other smaller stages appeared in corners of the Hall: Herr Flick's Quarters, Colonel von Strohm's Office... this meant almost everyone was up-close to at least some of the action.... a fun idea, which both enhanced atmosphere/ involved audience ...
Some great cameos: Michael Fair as Rene Artois ( superb!!) Sylvia Jenkins as his "passionate" wife ( in bed, plastered in face cream/cucumbers) Ana Coelho-Neves, a strapping blonde Helga, who stripped off with aplomb ...but Listen Very Carefully: I could go was GREAT!

And thinking of Comedy: this week, Maggie Jones died ( Blanche Hunt of " Corrie") a brilliant actress/natural Comedienne, who had been ill since October. Maggie made Blanche a Street Star: her withering haughty looks, her brittle one-liners will be long remembered......

WHO, for example, can forget Blanche's acid aside to daughter Deirdre : "Good looks are a curse, Deirdre. You and Kenneth should count yourself lucky" and to the hapless but pompous Kenneth, returning from his Uni Reunion (50 yrs on) : "DID you tell them you washed cups up in a caff...for a woman who used to be called Harold??"
And of course, there was Maggie's description of Liz ( glam 50-odd Landlady of The Rovers Return) : "She's skirt no bigger than a belt, too much eyeliner...and her roots as dark as her soul" ...

Maggie created a strong Northern battleaxe: in the style of Corrie predessors, women like Ena Sharples, Annie Walker....and in the same mould as some of Alan Bennett's marvellous Yorkshire women.
I, for one, will miss Maggie's superb portrayal of Blanche Hunt....Maggie, creating Blanche's unique take on life..

P.S: AND I wonder: WHEN will Blanche's jailbird granddaughter, Tracy, be released from her cell??? ( See my post Sept 20th 2007, re Kate Ford , alias Tracy Barlow, attending my son's the sheer delight of my lovely nephew Tom!)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

" Adele Geras At Bishop Lloyds Palace"

" When a writer talks about his work, he's talking about a Love Affair"
So said American Literature critic Alfred Kazin.... and Adele Geras mirrored this yesterday, as she talked in a Palace (with its leaded lights, oak-panelled walls, ornate fireplaces) about her work and life as a highly successful writer...
Adele writes wonderful stories. Clearly, her work both absorbs and delights her. And Adele understands her readers.....exactly what they want, and also ( very essentially) she respects them, be they 5 years old OR even older than I am...
Adele joined Friends of Chester LitFest at Bishop Lloyds Palace yesterday. And yesterday, we saw both Adele the writer.... and Adele the woman.... and as with David Whitley in Hoole last week, her audience felt hear Adele's very OWN eloquent and vivacious story.
* see