Thursday, 1 March 2018


Did you know that in Ethiopia the quadrennial intercalation is immediately following August 29th by the Julian Calendar (currently, and for the next eighty years or so, September 11th by the Gregorian Calendar)? I mention it because, it not being a leap year, February seems to have finished.

February wargaming was rudely curtailed by the weather. The weekly game had to be postponed due to a frozen pitch and I can't get out to the annexe because a snowdrift has blocked the back door. I could force my way through it, but I'd get rather wet and cold in the process. What I really need is a snow shovel, but the one that I own is stranded on the far side of the garden, surrounded by tracks in the snow made by, I would guess, a large rodent.

I can get out of the front door however and cultural activities have continued apace. Opera North's Don Giovanni was odd in places, but rolled along nicely and I warmed to it s the evening progressed. It was a revival, but I think the original production occurred at the height of my nomadic lifestyle and so I missed it. It has some fairly odd elements in it such as, for example, time travel. The programme says that this is to represent the fact that the figure of 'the great seducer' appears throughout history in all parts of society. Perhaps he does, I wouldn't know about such things. The orchestra were marvellous as always and, for me, Zerlina was the pick of the singers. I also saw Leeds Youth Opera's inventive take on la Bohème, which was set in the refugee camp outside Calais. Rodolfo was also sung by, and played as, a woman, both of which worked rather well. The kept woman aspects were avoided in the action and the surtitles, presumably because of the young age of some of the performers. The fact that it was not felt necessary to hide a same sex relationship was, I hope you will agree, a sign that not all social progress has yet been lost.

On the theatre front I saw a couple of live broadcasts. Yet another Twelfth Night was entertaining, with Ade Edmondson as Malvolio not as one dimensional as I usually find him. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof seemed to involve a lot more nudity than last time I saw it, but none of the characters were any more sympathetic. I know it’s great art and so that shouldn’t be relevant, but I just kept wanting to slap them all. And don’t get me started on their stupid names. I also saw Birdsong, which of course ought to be the most relevant to wargamers. It’s very difficult to think of a new angle to approach the first day of the Somme, and - unless this is very different to the original book - Sebastian Faulkes doesn’t even seem to have tried. Apparently it was a huge cock-up and the wire hadn’t been cut. Who knew?

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