Friday, October 10, 2014

"Glad I went To GladFest...."

GLADFEST this September was another huge success at Gladstone's Library in Hawarden. 
Organisers  planned a super programme and you felt almost spoilt for choice. 
Writers/poets involved included: Michael Nobbs, Robert McCrum, Nadene Ghouri,  Katherine Angel, among others.
 I was lucky to hear Salley Vickers talking about her  fascinating writing life ( plus interesting insights about herself) 
ALSO Francesca Haig, a visiting English lecturer at Chester Uni, originally a poet and now a novelist too. We were enticed by her readings from her novel :" The Fire Sermon" ( published next Spring) and she also talked with her audience about the delight of writing both prose/poetry. She has a stunning book deal and it's clear we'll hear lots more about her..
.** The snap is in grounds of Gladstone's Library. In the distance, see  Matt Baker and Theatre In The Quarter performing pieces from their memorable Ist World War production :" Over By Christmas" which has toured lots of Cheshire Railway Stations this Autumn, bringing history alive to new generations..... 

" A Stunning Street Car Named Desire..."

One of the most breathtaking theatrical experiences I've ever had! 
This was another Live Broadcast from Young Vic, starring Gillian Anderson as fragile crazy unforgettable Blanche DuBois, with Vanessa Kirby as her sister Stella and Ben Foster as a  memorable Stanley Kowalski. I was besotted, bewildered, beguiled and totally bowled over.
IN FACT, at the close, I couldn't move for 10 minutes.....
MUST MENTION THE INNOVATIVE SET: It moves round..... so you see different angles and views constantly...the characters too are with you almost feel utterly involved...BUT powerless! .

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

"Maxine Peake's "HAMLET" At Manchester Royal Exchange...".

Last week to Manchester Royal Exchange, with Friends Of Chester Literature Festival, to see the wonderful Maxine Peake in "Hamlet", directed by Sarah Frankcom.A memorable production indeed, with a superb cast. Particularly: Peake ( obviously) plus Gillian Bevan as Polonia ( female Polonius) John Shrapnel as both King Claudius and Ghost.Also enjoyed seeing Barbara Marten in the flesh as Gertrude, who never seems to be off my TV! Visiting The Exchange too is a lovely treat in itself.

Snap: Maxine Peake ( although in actual production her head was shaved, showing her amazing cheekbones!  ALSO: enjoying  lunch in Exchange Restaurant: me, Liz and Margaret.


G , beneath the willow, playing backgammon with Grandpa, Grandpa ( again!) with H on slide at Icecream Farm, Tattenhall, and lastly, A. creating a  masterpiece in my kitchen....

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

" The Story Of Chester Zoo...... And Its Far-Seeing Creator"

As a student years ago, I waitress-ed at Chester Zoo.I worked in the Oakfield Restaurant  ( above)
 I wore the usual black dress, white apron and little cap. I felt like Barbara Windsor starring in a "Carry On" epic. Everyone wanted to " work at the zoo" and I was one of the lucky ones!

It was lots of fun. There was a crazy Canadian chef who cracked jokes as much as eggs, some flowery-apron-ed, big-busty middle aged women who laughed uproariously ( at anything!) nonstop all day there was an assortment of students/school goers who were there for the holidays.
In later years my own children worked there. One served in an ice cream kiosk when a monkey escaped. He was ordered to " Lock up! Stay in the kiosk!" until " all danger" passed.

BUT my best bit was the daily meetings I had with George Mottershead, 
One of my duties was to dust the conference table in the large meetings room at The Oakfield. This is the lovely old house the Mottersheads lived in.. It's now a restaurant, tea room and popular venue for local weddings. 
HOWEVER: Each morning, GM would appear ( bald headed, suited) and without fail, he addressed me by name:" Good Morning, J....., and how are YOU today?" 
He was polite and gentle and reminded me incredibly of my own grandfather ( Popop) who had died years before...

SO NOW it's been a delight to watch the superb TV series about Chester Zoo, despite it being very much a piece of CREATIVE ( or imaginative) writing. The scenes supposedly set in this " village" were actually shot several miles away.... and the glamorous aristocratic neighbour- lady, never actually existed! 
BUT it doesn't matter at all...because this series shows clearly and beautifully the wonderful spirit of George Mottershead...who created a brilliant  Zoo, which is acclaimed worldwide, creating it  against all the odds.

See my snaps: 1st: George Mottershead, 2nd: R and H outside The Oakfield. 3rd: H explaining some complex theory to her grandpa. This is in the excellent cafe, "June's Cafe". It serves good food and best oif all, accorcding to H, it's right by a great children's playground, where they can roar like  tigers, climb like chimps and waddle like the happiest of penguins!  

***See my post OCT 31st 2011 for a review about Upton Yarns, when I chaired a panel of elderly Upton residents as part of Chester LitFest. One of the panelists was  lovely June Williams, daughter of George Mottershead, now played in the series by the most beguiling of little girls.
See snap of Rand H in the cafe called " June's" in her honour.  

PS: ONE CRITICISM: This series was tailor made for early Sunday Evening Family Viewing.
NOT midweek ...TAKE NOTE, you TV moguls!