Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Another delightful day.

I met a new friend at Abbotstone this evening. A young chap, who has recently moved into the woods. He is a buzzard, and is ABSOLUTELY huge - about the size of an overweight cat. I've seen him flying around a couple of times before, but never actually chatted to him.

My trusty snout had led me to the discarded remains of a picnic, and I was gobbling up the treasures when I became aware of a pair of beady eyes staring down at me from a branch. I offered a greeting through a mouthful of sausage."Hello." said the newcomer. "You look like a nice healthy young man." I could tell that we were going to become friends. I nodded, and moved onto a ketchup-stained bread roll. "How old are you?" asked the buzzard. I replied that I was eight, and in excellent health. "And how much do you weigh?" He frowned when I replied that I weighed 20kg and he began to claw at his branch, as if he was testing the grip of his mighty talons. "You look like you have plenty of healthy meat on you." he said, after a short silence. "Oh no." I replied. "It's called 'flesh'. You only call it 'meat' when you have killed the flesh to eat it." "Ye-es." replied my new feathered chum, with a strange benign smile. "Tell me, would you like me to teach you how to fly?" At this point my partner approached, having grown tired of waiting for me. On seeing her, my new friend lifted himself into the air and soared majestically away. "See you around, son." he said as he rose higher and glided off.

"Careful with that one, Jazz." said my partner. What can she mean? I think she is jealous of my new friendship.

But what an opportunity!! All these years, I have longed to learn the art of flight. Imagine the looks of shock on my prey when, seemingly thwarted by a squirrel or pheasant seeking safety in height, I rise straight into the air on gossamer-like wings and hover among the tree-tops. I could put my paw into a nest or drey and choose something tasty, just as if it were a Cadbury's Selection Box. I have long wanted my partner to enrol me in evening classes to learn to fly, but the only courses with spaces left were 'Computing for Pensioners' or 'Tai Chi'.

Ah well. Here is the first of the reviews for my partner's play, in case anyone is interested:

from The Alresford Advertiser/Alton Herald, by Mo Farrell

Young local playwright has spirit of Jane

Affectionately Yours, Jane Austen
Ropley Dramatic Society


IT is an irony that if Ropley Dramatic Society was better supported, Alresford resident, Ruth --- might never have written her play, Affectionately Yours, Jane Austen', and the flagging group would not have enjoyed the rare distinction of performing a world premiere.

And what a shame that would have been.

For this creation, about the close relationship between Jane Austen and her older sister, Cassandra, is a revelation, not only in terms of what it tells us about the sisters, but also because it parades the considerable talents of Ruth --- and Tracy Wickham. Ruth, a society member for the past 12 years, has written before. Not frightened to attempt different styles, she was short-listed in a radio play competition, has won a blog award, and is in the throes of writing a book about her WW2 front-line medic grandfather. This latest play merely confirms her versatility.

Performed on three evenings last week, Affectionately Yours, Jane Austen, tracks the relationship between the Austen sisters through their letters penned between 1796 and 1817, the year of Jane's death.

Having six brothers, it was perhaps natural that Jane and Cassandra would forge a strong bond, but the warmth and humour with which they nurture their love for each other, is both remarkable and touching - remarkable for their willingness to bear their souls so honestly and completely to each other, and touching for their unconditional acceptance of shortcomings revealed.

Ruth used Jane's surviving letters to set the tone for the play, and wrote those of Cassandra, whose correspondence with her sister has mostly disappeared, to provide a fascinating insight into the personalities and world of the writers.

Cassandra's letters have been well crafted by Ruth ---, the style and sentiments spot-on and with such a depth and conviction that it is hard to believe they are newly contrived. She is shown to be as witty and mischievous as her sister, and as intelligent, and she expresses her pride and joy in Jane's success - "nothing is perfect without its imperfections", she writes when Jane complains about mistakes in Pride and Prejudice.

As Jane's illness worsens, the sisters become closer still and in the final scenes, Ruth --- who plays Cassandra and Tracy Wickham as a convincing and sympathetic Jane, pull out all the stops to perform a moving account of Jane's last hours.

Ruth ---'s delivery of poignant letters she wrote to her niece, Fanny, after her beloved sister's death extracted every ounce of emotion to affect the audience and show Ruth to be a talented actress.

Overall, this was an endearing production with simple sets, costumes andlighting. Atmospheric period images projected as a backdrop, were perfectly adequate, but the narration by Graham Smith was disappointingly lacklustre and the overall direction by Ruth ---, also the producer, cried out for more movement on stage.

Good night.

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