Shop Till You Pop

I am not keen on shopping, and neither is my English Sister. A hatred of shopping is one of the three and only three traits we have in common – shopophobia, extreme tallness and a voice. I once worked in a terrible call centre and was given the opportunity to hear my recorded voice. I was not being Bright & Bubbly enough. I gather they thought I sounded like that donkey from Winnie The Pooh, although it did not seem to stop me from persuading members of the public (who were as nauseated by Bright & Bubbly as I am by shopping) to take part in a series of witless, dull market research surveys.

Listening to myself yattering away on tape was unsettling. To myself, you see, I sound a bit like my Dad, with a few of the cockney corners knocked off. On the tape I sound like exactly English Sister sounds on the phone. If I had answered the phone to me, I would have been convinced I was her.

There is a difference, of course, between shopping and spending. I am quite capable of spending. If I were to win a couple of million quid tomorrow I would have a great time. Even with no money I still manage to find considerable enjoyment in spending. Those two 30 litre sacks of cat litter I got at the farm shop this morning, for instance – the bags such a bright, sunshine yellow, the wood pellets inside making a heavy, swishing sound…

Some women may spend a whole day in Lakeside, Bluewater or whatever, searching for that designer handbag or the perfect pale blue Fascinator for a friend’s wedding. You would have to pay me to go to Bluewater – and quite a lot. I can, however, spend happy half hours zooming up and down the lists on Amazon and be delighted to discover a dog-eared one penny paperback version of a book that, last time I looked, was a fat, ruinously expensive hardback.

Who reads hardbacks anyway? They are so heavy they hurt your hands and you have to read them propped up on a sofa-cushion, and that thick, expensive paper sets your teeth on edge, like the disposable wooden knife-spoons or sporks they give you with fish and chips. If they want you to eat with bio-degradable implements why don’t they smooth or polish them somehow so that you don’t have to gingerly pick flakes of cod up with your teeth so your actual lips don’t have to make contact with a dry splintery wooden thing? But as usual, I digress.

I have a problem. It involves a friend, and shopping. My friend is disabled and likes to go shopping, a lot. She doesn’t like catching the bus into Town, which I can appreciate as who likes to wait an hour in the icy rain outside the one and only village store in the hope that an overcrowded bus might turn up. What she likes is for me to drive her into Town in my motor car, park for free with her disabled badge, have a lengthy cup of coffee in the disabled persons’ centre, a supermarket café or whatever, followed by a lifetime, an eternity, of shopping. She buys a whole lot of stuff that I could never bear to pick up – fifteen or twenty plastic poinsettias, for example – table decorations for next Christmas.

She picks things up and she puts them down. Then she goes back and picks them up again. She reads all ingredients on every single tin in the supermarket. She will not buy food online because it might not be fresh. How can you tell if it’s fresh if you’re not there in person to poke it and prod it and read and re-read the sell by date? I tell her nothing has ever turned up outside my house in the Tesco van that was not fresh. I would like to tell her that life is too short to read the labels on tins, or anything else. I yearn to bellow that Stuffing The Proverbial Mushroom would be less of a waste of time.

Tired of wandering round behind her, pushing her trolley, carrying her wire basket, reaching up for items beyond reach of her walking stick handle, I sometimes manage to persuade her to let me go off on my own for an hour or so. I tell her where we can meet up. We synchronise our watches. She never turns up. Eventually, after half an hour or so of sitting about trying not to check the time again I might catch a glimpse of her, laden with bags and shopping trolleys, disappearing into some distant shop doorway, and she might give me a half-hearted sort of wave, if she notices me at all.

mr homm

This is how I feel when shopping with my friend – like Mr Homm, Lwaxana’s silent, ever-present and amazingly tall manservant in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Simultaneously totally conspicuous and utterly insignificant.

I am going to have to Say Something, aren’t I? But Saying Something, in the sense of being honest about what I like and don’t like, want and don’t want, is a major trial for me. I dread upsetting people. Well, basically, I don’t dread upsetting them. What I dread is having to add to the burden of self-loathing I already carry their anger, their tears, even their slight chilliness, their bewildered silence, the hint of a huff.  I don’t much like other people, in the flesh, to be honest. I don’t like being forced to negotiate with them, reason with them or charm them. I particularly don’t like having to tell them the unadorned, un-fictionalised truth because then they can lash back at you rather than the elaborate cock-and-bull story you just fed them. Oddly I’m good at it over the phone – hence call centre success despite sounding like Eeyore. But with real people my instinct is always to flinch, and retreat.

Last week, though I approached Breaking Point. After a year of excuses I was finally prevailed upon to transport my friend to an Exciting New Shopping Conglomeration that has grown up around a Mega-Supermarket not far from where we live. Her disabled sticker is temporarily in abeyance meaning I now have to pay for all the parking as well as the petrol and the larger part of the coffees, occasional café lunches, more coffees and whatever. We spent hours in Sports Direct a large, gloomyish store full of po-faced, handsome young men picking up pairs of white trainers and putting them down again. There is nothing in Sports Direct that I want but we lingered for what felt like an eternity by the men’s stretchy shirt racks, hooking down (with the walking stick) one virtually identical shirt after another. For one of her sons.

Then we had to hobble round everything else and not buy it, very, very slowly, still with the armful shirts. Then we had to queue up for another several hours to pay, behind a slow-moving trail of po-faced young men holding pairs of white trainers, pairs of tracksuit-bottoms. Beside us in the queue, a display of white underpants on well-endowed plastic gentlemen. I tried not to look but you know how it is, one of your eyes might be averted but the other gets drawn

And then we went to some enormous underpopulated shop that sold huge, untidy piles of everything in plastic bottles – shampoo, shaving cream, carpet cleaner – plastic poinsettias, garden chairs – and spent almost as long in there. And then another shop – I had just shut down by then. I was existing only inside my head, awaiting for my release from this life-sentence, this torment. I needed to sit down. I was hungry. I desperately needed to pee. I tried hinting at all these things, but…

Oh God, I hate shopping.

Oh God, I am going to have to say so.

It’s raining…rubies?

There is always something new to learn. Life seems to be a kind of curve. Humans start off knowing they know nothing (but not caring as long as the milk keeps flowing and the nappies get changed). They progress through a period of being convinced they know everything to a much longer period of thinking they know quite a lot, but maybe not everything. Finally comes the bittersweet realisation – I know very little, and there is not enough time left for learning. But we can keep an open mind, can’t we? We can stoop to gather such tiny gems of information as may fall onto the pavement as we shuffle along.

A while back I watched a Horizon programme about weather on other planets. Until then I had thought of weather as something that happened all the time in Britain, on rare occasions elsewhere, but certainly not out in space.

But yes. For instance on Saturn the temperatures are so high and the pressure so great that it rains diamonds! On other planets it is thought to rain rubies – and sapphires. Apparently a green crystal rain falls on a star called HOPS-68. There is even a newly-discovered planet called 55 Cancri e which is twice the size of earth and made of diamond.

You’d need a pretty big finger to wear that baby.

Why don’t they call stars romantic names anymore – Sirius, Vega, Arcturus, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Bellatrix, Altair or Achermar? Can you imagine Captain Kirk: Beam me down, Scottie – I shall pay a visit the HOPS-68ians or Spock reminding everyone that the 55 Cancri e-ites were a matriarchal society known for their extreme ferocity?

Well, pretty dull here on Earth then. All it rains here is water. And animals. In Singapore in 1861, it rained fish that had probably been caught up in a waterspout at sea and then dropped over land. Here is an illustration of that event:


Toads and frogs are rumoured to tumble down during tornadoes. Sometimes they are reported to be “startled, but healthy” on landing. Other times the poor things arrive shredded, frozen to death or encased in ice. Flocks of migrating birds can be killed in flight if caught up in a tornado, or may fall to the ground stunned.

Then there are all the imaginary or metaphorical things it could be raining. According to The Weather Girls, of course, It’s Raining Men. René Magritte agreed although his men were less interesting:


The phrase it’s raining cats and dogs (archaic version: it’s raining cats, dogs and pitchforks) is apparently taught to all foreign students of English.


English people rarely say it nowadays: as The Independent points out they are more likely to remark that it’s bucketing down or – less politely – pissing down.

I thought I might leave you with a few translations of the textbook British expression to savour:

It’s raining old women with knobkerries (clubs) – Afrikaans

It’s raining barrels and casks – Catalan

Basin-bending rain is falling – Mandarin

Dog poo is falling – Cantonese

It’s raining wheelbarrows – Czech

It’s raining shoemakers’ apprentices – Danish

It’s a frog-strangling gully washer – Australian

It’s raining frogs/ropes/halberds/nails/buckets/like a pissing cow – French

It’s raining eyes and ears shut – Thai

It’s raining female trolls – Norwegian

It’s throwing cobblers knives – Irish

Tractors are falling – Slovak

It’s even raining husbands – Spanish

Earth and sand are falling – Japanese

Dogs are drinking in their noses (Haitian Creole)

Dogs are…?

Apparently, yes.

O brave new world, that has such people in’t!

Terraforming – I thought it had been invented by Captain Kirk. There was this film, wasn’t there? And someone transforming some planet into some kind of Garden of Eden on steroids – playing God, in other words – bound to end in tears/flows of molten rock/sky turning purple with yellow streaks/massive explosions.

Unbeknown to all, you see, Spock was on the planet. He was kind of a baby in a space-capsule, lurking the undergrowth and the new planet accidentally got synched to his accelerated growth/ageing process. I’m not sure why it was accelerated, or how he came to be a baby in a space-capsule in the first place, but anyway, it was. And he was.

But it appears the idea of terraforming was around long before Star Trek. According to Wikipedia:

The concept of terraforming developed from both science fiction and actual science. The term was coined by Jack Williamson in a science-fiction story (Collision Orbit) published during 1942 in Astounding Science Fiction,[1] but the concept may pre-date this work.

If I was allowed to rebuild this planet from scratch, to suit myself, what would it be like?

it fits

 It Fits!! : Matt Friedman

I would prefer there to be almost no people in my Brave New World, but not absolutely no people. You need to be able to speak and listen every so often: that’s what keeps your brain alive. I learned that lesson from Mum, though she didn’t realise she was teaching it: partially and then completely deaf, as she got older she wouldn’t wear her hearing aids, even to make things easier for visitors; she would hide behind the curtains if anyone came to the door and would physically drag us away if we bumped into anybody we knew, or she had once known, in the street.

It’s a person’s choice to hide themselves away, of course, but there can be a high price to pay; a kind of Robinson Crusoe Syndrome. The brain gets scrambled without at least the minimum of conversation. Even the least sociable of us are designed or have evolved, mentally, for the interchange of ideas – we are at our best when firing off other people. It’s a bit like the internet, only with squidgy stuff rather than circuits.

That said, I’d be happy to live like the Giant Panda, shambling around in the forest and only getting together with others once a year for mating purposes and a bit of a chat. Or in my case just a bit of a chat. The only downside with pandas is apparently they have to poop forty times a day. Something to do with their diet.

I’d like to live in a wooden hut, with a veranda, and an old wooden rocking chair with a bit of a creak to it. Then when it rained I could sit in my rocking chair and rock, and look down into the forest, observing the raindrops dropping off those great, glossy leaves and a cool breeze causing the lianas to sway a little…

My Brave New World would be fitted with some sort of controls, within limits. So, if it had been raining for three weeks non-stop in your solitary rainforest and you could really do with a couple of days of pleasant sunlight streaming down through the canopy – there should be some sort of control panel – no doubt hidden in the ruins of some ancient Inca civilisation – where you could twiddle a few knobs or press a few buttons to arrange that. But one wouldn’t be permitted perpetual sunshine since this might interfere with the natural environment for all the other animals you were lucky enough to share your rainforest with.

It might be nice if the storm-clouds made music as they passed overhead – or maybe the planets themselves as they circled – something like the music of the spheres. That too would be turn-off-and-on-able. Silence should always be an option. Or maybe just birdsong – some ambient twittering.

What would your Brave New World be like?




Does anyone have any ideas about dealing with it? Because I don’t.

The other night the local mental health place decided to break into our 86 year old mother’s house, in our absence and in spite of our emphatic, joint refusal over the telephone, and inform us they are going to Section her to a hospital miles and miles away, since a bed happens to have become available. She has dementia, with complications. They are going to take her from the house she has owned and lived in since 1955 and cart her off to a mental hospital despite the fact that we had just found a dementia care home where we hoped she might be happy, and had interviews fixed for tomorrow morning to move things forward. Having once been Sectioned it seems unlikely that she will be given a place in that home. We are not even sure if she will be let out of the hospital. Apparently neither we nor she have any legal rights.

Now we are waiting – just waiting – to find out what they have done with her. They just need another doctor to concur, and presumably that’s a given. I couldn’t cope with going over there today – Mother’s Day in the UK – in case the house was already empty – or in case the whole pack of them arrived while I was there and I set upon and killed one of them. Violence wells up in me every time the thought recycles itself in my mind. I really feel I might, actually, attack somebody. Maybe Mum and me will end up sharing the same ward.

My (English) sister is better at this sort of stuff. She has the knack, after a little while, of setting her anger aside. It’s out of our hands now, she says; we just have to wait – and of course she’s right. We have no power at all. It feels like rape.

So, what do you do? I know from past experience that this will wear off – even my anger fades, but it can take days or weeks. I wondered what to be doing today, when I should have been visiting her. I seem to have been visiting her every Sunday for the last forty years, with the odd little gap. I had to get up early to take four of the cats to the vet’s for their booster injections. It was an Italian locum-lady, not my friend Stan. She was friendly. I believe she was making jokes but I was kind of missing the point of them, what with the accent and the inevitable sense-of-humour mismatch. And the rage.

What do I do now? I wondered. So after a cup of coffee I loaded up the car with bags of rubbish and drove them to the tip. Had to be done sometime soon. I was so tired I could hardly lift them out of the car. Luckily a burly bin man came to my rescue.

What do I do now?

I watched a bit of a thing on TV about how Star Trek came to be made, but I found I no longer cared about Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, Mr Spock’s prosthetic ears or why the Starship Enterprise was designed in the particular the way it was. I fell asleep on the sofa, then woke up. Then I recalled a boyfriend I used to have (the same boyfriend who attended a job interview rather drunk on beer, and got the job – which he really didn’t want – anyway). We had both been divorced after long marriages, and compared notes. He told me he’d coped with his subsequent nervous breakdown by (a) completing the Coast to Coast Walk  (an epic 192 mile journey that goes from one side of the north of England to the other) and (b) making and freezing huge numbers of curries. I had wondered what that toppling mountain of empty margarine tubs in his kitchen was for.

I couldn’t just pack a rucksack and set off for the north of England, but I did have some vegetables and spare tins of this and that, so I made hot pot. Two hot pots. I had just bought a stack of freezer trays, so I divided the two hot pots between the trays, labelled them and freezer-ed them. I have never frozen anything before. It was just one of those housewifely skills I couldn’t be bothered to acquire. So now I have enough frozen hot pot for eight days, assuming they don’t explode or implode in the freezer.

So what do I do now?

Meanwhile my Canadian sister has been reading a book of healing visualisations while her husband has chemotherapy. She says they are helping her, but he just treats her to his ‘faintly amused’ look every time she tries to persuade him to try them with her. He’s an engineer, a scientist, and she doesn’t think he’ll be able to get his head round such New Age mumbo jumbo. I said maybe he could imagine his body as a motor car engine, and the chemotherapy drugs as… whatever goes round in motor car engines.. engine oil. Maybe he could visualise the nasty, rusty brake fluid being exchanged for nice, new, golden, viscous, wonderful brake fluid… She thinks not.

I’ve got the same book. Maybe I’ll have a go at a visualisation…




Spock -v- Spock

My new diary (see previous post) fell open at a quote from the other Spock, that evil twin, Dr Benjamin. ‘Happiness,’ he says ‘is mostly a by-product of doing what makes us feel fulfilled.’ So far, so asinine. Except that he didn’t make my mother happy and he made me miserable.

I can’t remember exactly when it was – teenage years, and I expect after I had thrown some tantrum or other – that my mother came out with this statement, by the end of which she was nearly in tears: ‘I think it may be my fault that you Turned Out The Way You Did. You were my first baby and I relied on Dr Spock’s book [Baby and Child Care, 1946] to tell me what to do. He said not to pick up a crying baby, so I stood outside your room, for hours sometimes, crying myself, listening to you cry. But I dared not go in and pick you up.’

Now, as hurtful information this works on multiple levels. The first to hit me – unintended by my mother – was the realisation that she did not regard me as a lovable or normal child – that I had ‘Turned Out’ in some way. Until that moment, although I sensed I might not have been their preferred option, child-wise, I had not understood that they regarded me as actually defective. I’d known since birth, of course, that I had been dumped here from some spaceship or other – all of us aliens know that. It’s like waking up in the middle of a football match. You don’t want to play but there seems to be no off-football-pitch alternative. Everybody’s bellowing and running for no obvious purpose and you wonder how come they have the rules and I don’t? That’s just not fair.

The second hit was – how could you have been so stupid as to follow the advice of some ghastly man on the other side of the world (practically) rather than following your  feminine instincts? Even with a first baby – why didn’t you just pick me up for God’s sake? Didn’t you know…? But of course, she didn’t know.

The third was, how dare this Man… with his well-meaning but totally defective advice place such a burden of guilt on my mother for all these years?

So, I didn’t like him. It may well be that my mother misinterpreted Baby and Child Care. I haven’t read it, and probably won’t. It may well have been a misunderstanding, a misreading – or self-justification.

Then Star Trek came on TV and I discovered Science Fiction. The first Star Treks, as anyone watching them nowadays can see, were pretty disastrous. Only slightly better than the first Dr Whos for wobbly scenery, weird costumes (aliens often seemed to be a sweaty greenish colour) and a shiny studio floor showing through underneath the plastic boulders. I couldn’t be bothered with Captain Kirk. Kirk –pfft! A fig for your Captain Kirk and his swashbuckling ways.

But I developed an instant affection for Leonard Nimoy which has never dimmed in spite of his death a while ago at the age of – I believe – 83. And for Spock, of course. It wasn’t just those ears – though they were fascinating and – let’s admit it, ever so slightly sexy. It was the fact that he was wise, and gentle and alien. When I imagined my Guardian Angel, it looked like him. He came from, in some sort of way, where I had come from – or where I would have felt at home.

So, if a Vulcan vessel happens to be passing, do feel free to Beam Me Up.

Guilty Pleasures

So, what was I going to write about television? Can’t remember… Oh yes. It always comes back in the end. I was going to confess as to my strange and exotic tastes televisual tastes.

It’s just that… I hesitate to say it… even though I’m not a seventeen year old boy and don’t spend the whole day in the back bedroom of my parents’ house playing computer games… even though I’m female and… not-in-the-first-flush-of-youth, shall we say… yes, I will say it… I like watching sci-fi serials. Whew!  My friends don’t understand. We’re on the same wavelength about almost everything else, so can’t complain, but somehow Star Trek… they’re not even sure which one Star Trek is. How could a person live without Leonard Nimoy? My hero! Those gorgeous green ears! Those eyebrows!

Most of the ladies I know like soaps whereas I can’t abide them. I really can’t stand all that shouting and stupidity. How many times can someone get murdered and buried under the patio, then dug up and everyone’s surprised to find them? How many times can people be secretly having other people’s babies, caught shoplifting, thrown into jail and hammily sobbing over their plight, only to be released in a few months’ time? Why, I believe Tony Blair, Prime Minister at the time, even lent his Prime Ministerial support to a national campaign to ‘free the Weatherfield One’ i.e the interminably bleating Deirdre Barlow who had been incarcerated on a trumped-up charge. (Not wishing to speak ill of the actress herself, Anne Kirkbride, who died in January of this year.)

I will watch any sci-fi/fantasy serial/film I can find. Unfortunately I can’t afford to subscribe any of those new-fangled ‘packages’ from people like Sky. All I have is Freeview, but even that has quite a few channels on it. Being Freeview-limited does mean you have to rummage around the channels searching, searching, searching… till up pops yet another set of random repeats of Star Trek, Andromeda, Stargate Atlantis, Farscape, Heroes or The X-Files. They are often shown out of sequence – so you get part II before part I of a two-parter, or you never do get part II, or you suddenly find characters who were drained of their vital energy, zapped, phasered or incorporated into some mechanical hive-mind with tubes coming out of their ears, by Wraith, Daleks, Klingons, Borg or whatever two episodes back re-entering the plot, large as life, tube-free, and with no explanation or you find new characters suddenly there and you find yourself yelling ‘Who are you, for God’s sake?’ Although on second thoughts, maybe that’s part of the fun.

Also part of the fun are the logic holes and plot malfunctions. These do tend to leap out at people who write but somehow… it doesn’t matter. And the make-up. They can sometimes go too far with this, particularly the green stuff. There’s this race of seductive green women: they always wreak havoc among the menfolk. Apparently they give off some kind of pheromone that only Vulcans can resist. Vulcans can resist most things. Those women are just too green, and too thickly-green. I mean, they look sweaty. Pheromones or no, who in their right mind would want to entwine with one of those?

Then there are the films. Another item I can’t afford nowadays. The nearest cinema is, like, hundreds of miles away? (The interjected ‘like’ plus upward inflection is so catching, like, isn’t it?) However, stuff pops up on TV. The only trouble is, because of having no Radio Times and my own habit of random sitting down, tuning in and tuning out depending on whether I’m in the middle of writing something, I tend to miss the beginnings of films. But no matter, I watch the ending, then wait for the beginning, the middle, or whichever bit I didn’t catch. I must be the only person on earth who loved Waterworld. I watched Avatar in three non-sequential instalments (wonderful film, all those lovely blue creatures with tails… and the flying) and that one with Jenny Agutter, much younger and in an inadequate sea-green tabard and… whatisname, the blonde, Germanic-looking chap with a single expression throughout… Logan’s Run… I collected that in four or five instalments. The record must go to The Fifth Element, though. I can’t remember how many times I’ve watched random bits of that and I still keep discovering new bits. I just love Bruce Willis in that orange vest. Bruce Willis seems to have been created especially for the vest. And those costumes! Jean Paul Gautier.

And then there are other guilty pleasures. Did I ever tell my friends that I watch every single episode of Ice Road Truckers I can get my hands on? Possibly not, but I have now. Did I confess to The Big Bang Theory (I am Sheldon Cooper’s biggest fan) or that animation The Snowman (every Christmas) and its twin animation The Bear (every other Christmas)? Did I ever confess to watching every single romantic, cheesy American Christmas movie ever made, sometimes several times over? If one of those appears of an afternoon, no writing is likely to be done.

And while we’re about it, Love Actually. I have got to the stage with Love Actually where I know most of the lines by heart. I am actually genuinely bored with Love Actually but somehow I can’t not watch it. And I still stifle sobs in the bedroom with Emma Thompson, when she discovers that her beloved Alan Rickman has bought her a Joni Mitchell CD for Christmas but an expensive necklace for the tarty PA. That must be one of the best bits of acting ever. And yes, I still laugh at a shot-away Bill Nighy’s multiple attempts to record a Christmas cover-version of Love Is All Around Us. Don’t you?

Even wobblier in all sorts of ways than I had imagined

I’m not a great play-goer. They tend to be ‘foreign territory’ to me, along with ballet and opera. Well, opera I just hate. So the few plays I’ve seen, apart from pantomimes, tend to have been with N.

N was my boss when I was a legal secretary. We shared a love of the labyrinthine coils of English Legalese and general bad luck with men. Her luck was to change, eventually; mine wasn’t. Intelligence-and-common-sense-wise she was several hundred points ahead of me but she was patient, considering my whimsical incompetence, tendency to throw a wobbly or quietly panic most days and to either file all her stuff in the wrong place or forget to file it at all. She even found it amusing that people tended to think I was the solicitor and she the secretary. An entirely logical conclusion: the big bony lummox must be the boss, the little birdlike one must be the secretary. It’s evolution, innit? Eventually she went to work for another legal firm. Eventually, also, she became my friend, for which I am grateful.

In my defence, I could type really fast. It was just… well, all the rest of it.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Extract from (long lost) first blog : Blue, with Stars : 2003 – 2006

Rosie the kitten is sitting on my knee. We had the ceremonial opening of the cat-flap yesterday and she shot out into the outside world. Of course I spent the whole day trying not to keep checking up on her and making sure I could still see her, hunting for her all over the place. This must be what it’s like for parents letting their children go off on a gap year to Africa or whatever. Luckily Rosie didn’t set off for East Anglia (where she came from) at a brisk trot, via the M25 so she must be content to stay with me. I’ve been doing some calculations. I had vaguely thought she would be about 6 months (when they have to be spayed) in February but according to my diary it’s more like December, just before Christmas. I’ll have to check with the vet in October, when I take the remaining three in for their cat-flu injections.

Went to the theatre with N on Friday night. Not the best of nights as I was exhausted, as always after work, but especially at the end of the week, and I think she was too. She hadn’t been home but had carried on working. It was an amateur performance, and I thought it might be interesting just because of the “wobbly scenery” possibilities but it was even “wobblier” in all sorts of ways than I had imagined.

The theatre was a very small section of a leisure centre and we had to wait in a rather dismal area on a motley selection of hard chairs, saggy sofas and chaise longues, while the (one) lady behind the bar struggled to serve the queue with orange juices etc. Then we found that the theatre seats weren’t numbered and all the locals had stampeded in first to bag seats for their friends. We couldn’t sit together because there simply weren’t two seats left.

The play was a murder mystery of staggering uninterest, the actors had costumes made of what looked like curtains dyed different colours and were totally miscast – eg the ‘honeymoon couple’ were a reasonably attractive young woman and a hideous old bloke (who later got ‘killed’ and staggered back in with – possibly strawberry jam – all over his white shirt). Thank goodness for that, I thought.

The second half was a kind of question and answer session where the audience and a panel asked questions of the cast and tried to work out who dunnit. Nobody had a pencil to write the answer down. The plot had so many logic-holes (normally a plus point, as far as I am concerned, and one of the most entertaining aspects of Star Trek) that I couldn’t work out why they dunnit even when I was told that they had dunnit, and furthermore I didn’t care. It turned out to have been written by a member of the cast (the fat one with the bow-tie).

I felt a bit embarrassed that I had let N in for this awfulness but she seemed to find it quite amusing, said it was better than sitting at home writing Wills for people all evening.

# posted @ 8:56 AM