THE CLAYKICKERS CHORUS by Kevin McMahon

THE CLAYKICKERS CHORUS by Kevin McMahon

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

When I was invited by Joan Lane of The King’s Speech fame (she was at the helm of its development) to attend a showcase performance of the award winning play THE CLAYKICKERS CHORUS, at The Pleasance Theatre in Islington, I felt hugely privileged.

On several counts because I have great faith in Joan’s judgement, and because Amanda Noar, the Director and the play itself had won both the Kenneth Branagh and the Sylvia Anderson awards respectively in 2018 alongside other emerging talent.

The Claykickers’ Chorus.
L-R. Reece Richardson (Actor), Jordan Turk (Actor), Kevin McMahon (Writer), Simon Pontin (Actor), Amanda Noar (Director)

Visiting the Pleasance Theatre after several years also brought back memories of their triumphant history of more than 20 years of championing innovation, and providing a showcase for new writers and comedians.

As I waited in the foyer for the show to commence, I chatted to the writer Kevin McMahon, an earnest gentleman, who had felt passionately about the subject matter.  He outlined the play for me letting me know that he hoped it would eventually end up in Manchester, its birthplace.  He had travelled from there that day to see his work performed.

THE CLAYKICKERS’ CHORUS tells the story of men unexpectedly assigned during World War 2 and who had some experience in tunnelling, but who were given the hellish job of creating an underworld to help deviate the path of the enemy.  Ironically, two of these men were shot by a passing British officer when they failed to salute him.  The soldier’s only punishment was to have one of his stripes taken from him, which seemed to reflect the value of two men’s lives against the rather ineffectual demotion of the shooter by the British forces.

The performance from the three male cast, Alex Phelps, Reece Richardson and Jordan Turk was outstanding, as they demonstrated their odious tasks and recounted the dire conditions of their assignment.    They heaved and hauled and soldiered on, but the irony was, in spite of their former tunnelling knowledge, their lack of training of the task in hand as well as their ignorance of protocol, lead them to blindly make the wrong decision when confronted with authority.  As if the requirement to stand to attention, but in innocently ignoring the senseless salute, lost their lives with a single bullet through their heads.

Amanda Noar’s Direction was exemplary and reminded me why she had been commended for her work.  She understood the core message and had climbed in with the men as they tunnelled their way through the dialogue of the abyss, submerging their fears without redemption as they paid the price for a futile assignment.

Joan Lane had collaborated with Anthony Alderson, the Artistic Director of the Pleasance Theatre to put on the abridged version of the play, as they both felt it needed a showcase for interested parties to become involved in its development.  Perhaps a National tour or the Edinburgh Festival were both on the table, and the buzz after the show was promising.

https://www.pleasance.co.uk/

I for one came away with more knowledge of a desolate society of war torn years, uncaring of its people, desperate to win a futile battle with a horrific lack of consideration for human dignity or human life.

We could have been speaking about politicians and the World today, tunnelling our way into to an impossible future, and digging ourselves deeper through sheer desperation and with a shameless lack of humanity or anything that counts.

 

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ROMANCE BLOOMS AT THE OSCARS

ROMANCE BLOOMS AT THE OSCARS

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

We all know that relationships are a huge part of Hollywood dream, and how the paparazzi feed like hungry predators on the love lives of its icons.   But what makes Hollywood and the Oscars the ultimate aphrodisiac?  Is it the shared intimacy of performance between the creative forces that govern the silver screen, or just another attempt to evoke attention to its global stage.

We bore witness last night to some of the most amazing demonstrations of love at the Oscars in Hollywood.

The super passionate kiss from Rami Malek, as he was collecting his Oscar for Best Actor portraying Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, as a public display of his love for fellow Actor Lucy Boynton.

Then as Lady Gaga performed on stage beside her co-star from Star is Born, Bradley Cooper the entire Universe looked on as they exchanged the look of love between them at the end of their song.

As so many strive for fame and fortune, do they still believe that Hollywood spells happiness, in spite of the inevitable break up of relationships, with the rocky foundations of love affairs and the slippery slope to heartache.

Or do we just embrace the roller coaster of the rich and famous, as then we don’t have to share the pain, just revel in its glory as voyeurs for healthy escapism, and so that we don’t actually have to be personally entangled.

But we don’t want to rain on your parade, there is nothing wrong with the ultimate fantasy, Disney was built on it and has made it a universal phenomenon.    So for all its faults, we are all compelled to tune into the Oscars, and enjoy the ultimate sprinkling of fairy dust from our City of Dreams, so aptly named Tinseltown.

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ONE GIRL’S GARBAGE IS ANOTHER ONE’S GOLD

ONE GIRL’S GARBAGE IS ANOTHER ONE’S GOLD

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

A second hand clothes shop in the mid-nineties, location – Primrose Hill, London.  A female, late twenties enthusiastically sorting through racks of pre-owned clothes, which have been immaculately cleaned and well ironed.  Her mother, a prim woman in her late fifties looking on with scornfully, silent and disapproving.  She suddenly bursts into dialogue with an accent resembling Hyacinth Bucket from the nineties TV show Keeping up Appearances, ‘can we please leave’ she spouts ‘this shop is making me feel quite sick’.

I am sure many of us have encountered the occasional Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet) in our own lives, including the snobbish character within ourselves.  But as the majority of us are trying to do our bit to save the planet, the recycling of clothes is now becoming the norm, and in fact a respected way forward.

The past few years have seen the approval from celebrities and the wealthy who not only donate their garments to Charity Shops but also buy from them as well, just to keep the recycling circle going.  Also, as one famously said ‘one girl’s garbage is another one’s gold’.  This is often the case, and has happened time and time again with acquaintances who have boasted huge savings and acquisitions from their Charity Shop rummages.

My own mother Sylvia Anderson, a pioneer for women in television, who was one of the first women to make it to University from a working class family, because of her high level of intellect (but with very low funds), couldn’t afford to buy any new clothes.  But through her own ingenuity purchased a very high quality second hand tweed coat in London in the fifties – a garment she hung onto for years.  She adored the classic line and high quality of the material, even though she paid a fraction of its value.  So I was well rehearsed into recycling my clothes from an early age, as I remember her still wearing it when I was a child.

In fact moving on from this legacy, I was one of the pioneers of the home ‘clothes swap’ way back in the eighties when friends were encouraged to gather at each other’s houses, eat, drink and try on each of our pre-loved outfits.  Such fun, and often very fortuitous.

The environmental charity WRAP states that £30bn of unworn clothing lies hanging in UK wardrobes, and 11m goes to landfill.   So now the World has caught up, and rather than hiding our second hand acquisitions under a bushel, we are now encouraged to recycle our wardrobes as often as possible and restock from the ever giving pile of clothes donated from enthusiastic givers like ourselves.  After all there is nothing more satisfying than a bargain, especially when you are also contributing to the planet we inhabit whilst making a killing – metaphorically of course!

 

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Hygge on Holiday – Make Yourself at Home

Hygge on Holiday – Make Yourself at Home

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

The Scandinavian countries annually jostle at the top of the World’s Happiest Nation rankings to win the prized title each year. So what are they doing so right? And how can you experience a bit of that Scandi satisfaction they call ‘Hygge’? We think it’s about time we learned a thing or two about making ourselves at home on holiday.

 

Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway have a lot to offer, and not just for permanent residents, but for lucky visitors, too. These Nordic neighbours are blessed with wonderful landscapes and a sense of environmental responsibility that means nature is well-guarded and appreciated. Those that choose Scandinavia as a holiday destination are putting themselves in a fantastic position to experience flora, fauna and the great outdoors right on their doorstep.


Whilst winter leaves much of Scandinavia blanketed in picturesque snow, this also means the Nordic nations know how to do a hearty log fire really, really well. Rent a holiday home with all the trimmings to keep out the cold whilst you’re not exploring frozen lakes, taking in the Northern Lights, or visiting authentic Christmas markets. Many of Novasol’s Holiday Homes are well-equipped to deliver the full Hygge experience with plush fire-lit living rooms, saunas and even Jacuzzis.

To channel Scandi satisfaction on your next holiday, call 0333 012 4926 or visit www.novasol.co.uk, where your perfect holiday home awaits.

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THE UNIVERSAL HEALING OF REIKI

THE UNIVERSAL HEALING OF REIKI

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

With all of the wonderful alternative and holistic therapies I have tried, Reiki had alluded me until last week when at a Retreat in Somerset www.hubatno3.com  just opened by Lynne Franks, I decided to try it.

I had booked a massage with the lovely Helen, a resident practitioner, who is also an expert in Reiki and a clairvoyant, and as she described the Universal energy of healing called Reiki, felt compelled to book a session.

Helen had already told me that whilst rendering the treatment, she had flashes of insight into the person, in the form of images or names of people or even glimpses of their future.  She asked me if it was something I would be interesting in hearing throughout the session.  I was fascinated, and a little sceptical, even though I firmly believe in holistic healing and even clairvoyance, I had arrived with a severe lower back pain which I was sure would not be shifted in one session.

How wrong could I be?  Helen was obviously an expert in the field of Reiki, and came up with names she could have not possibly known before.

The practise of Reiki in Japanese is translated as ‘miraculous or divine spirit or intention’ and I could not describe it better.  After the session I felt elated if not a little light headed, and Helen told me to drink lots of water, which I did.

The following day my back pain had disappeared.

I couldn’t believe it either – it was miraculous, and Helen had not touched my body at all throughout the Reiki session, just held her hands across the areas she felt needed help, which were the painful areas and my left knee which had also been giving me a bit of discomfort.

Descriptions of Reiki seem to be Universal healing energy administered through healing hands, and even though I had questioned the validity, it had worked.

I have to confess, Helen seemed extremely tuned into me and a great practitioner in the art of healing and Reiki, which was an awesome combination, and so if you can’t get down the The Hub, at least contact an expert in your area and try it.

But for those of you who are believers in Universal energy, it is a good start, and perhaps you can begin by following these simple principles

Just for today do not worry
Just for today do not anger
Honour your parents, teachers and elders
Earn your living honestly
Show gratitude to every living thing

You can find a Reiki practitioner by logging onto www.reikiassociation.net

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