Monthly Archives: July 2006

Sunday: A Busy Second Day

Today started well, with a relax on the balcony, a cup of tea and my camera, watching the fishing and tourist boats leave the harbour. Then a bacon and black pudding roll, and we headed off to Alnwick Castle.

This is a lovely medieval castle, with the classic keep structure, where the Northumberland family live. I had a quick look round the state rooms, which appeared to be currently inhabited. For example, the library, with its mezzanine floor to reach the upper shelves, and sumptuous sofas and chairs, also had current-looking photos of the family on tropical holidays, and strangest of all, a red velvet cushion, with a row of remote controls for the TV and DVD, etc.

According to some of the displays, the castle was the host for a schoolful of evacuated high school girls from 1940 to 1943. It looks like they had a high old time, organising country dances and discovering other worlds through bedroom furniture.

As we first entered the castle keep, we were greeted by what appeared to be a troupe of morris dancers, doing a jolly jig, slapping their boots complete with jangling spurs. Then the girls had their turn, and while they danced they sang in a language clearly not from these shores, but from somewhere in eastern Europe.

Then we went on a tour of the castle, led by two local students in robes held together with safety pins, and carrying wands, for the castle was the location for many of the scenes in the Harry Potter films. Also filmed at the castle were the snow-covered horse-ride in the opening sequence of Blackadder, and various other films and series.

The Alnwick gardens were beautiful, with a stepped series of fountain pools, with shady arched arbours leading off. At certain times, the fountains would shower cetain unsuspecting members of the crowd, which was most amusing. The rose garden was a mixture of different scents and colours, depite the blooms being largely finished, and the bamboo maze was an opprtunity for me to tell Mairi again what a versatile and sustainable crop bamboo is.

Then, THEN! when we got back to the house, we were just watching the housemartins and gulls, when there was a commotion down at the slipway. A Landrover came round the corner, lights flashing, towing a semi-rigid inflatable lifeboat. It reversed down the slipway, and the boat was released and headed off out of the harbour, where it went at full pelt north towards Holy Island. After the Landrover was clear, a large caterpillar-tracked water tractor arrived, towing a full size lifeboat (surprise surprise, it was the RNLB Grace Darling). The tractor went down the slipway, immersing sitself up to the drivers cab, and the lifeboat went after the first one. After about 1/2 hour, they both came back. We don’t know if they saved anyone, but Leo said he saw a girl on board. Must be her.

Dinner was a Chinese takeaway, which was fine by me. Cheap Chinese is like McDonalds, greasy, unhealhy, delicious, totally unlike real Chinese food, and exactly the same anywhere in the country.

Saturday: First Evening In Seahouses

Journey was OK, but we underestimated the time it would take, so we arrived at about 1630. Lovely house, right on the harbour front (harbour view, in fact) – 6 Chapel Row.

The house is all backwards, because it’s all on the sea front. So the front door is at the back, at the top, and you go downstairs to bed, and down agin to the garage, which has room for a boat, with a slipway just opposite. There’s a little sandy beach just opposite too, big enough for Shug to have a run around in soft sand, and go mental with bits of seaweed. The garage reminds me of the ‘ski rooms’ you get in Alpine resorts, where you can get in and take your snowy boots off wihout trekking it all over the carpet. Linda and John, and Max and Leo arrived almost at the same time as us, which means that John can’t have taken his own advice against speeding on the A1. We had fish’n’chips from the Neptune for tea, and very nice it was too. I’ll be popping out or a pint before bed as well. All looks great so far, apart from the slighly rainy and chilly weather. This will pass, according to the house owner…

time passes

Just got back from the pub with John. We went to a couple of pubs, first the Black Swan, which was rammed, but didn’t sell any interesting beers. I’m not a big real ale drinker, but I like to try the local stuff when I’m around. So after a pint of Newcastle Exhibition we went along to the Olde Ship, which was also rammed, but sold several ales, and had every inch of celing covered in brass nautical knick-knacks – lamps, compasses, and the like. I supped on Everards Sunchaser, and John fell back on Black Sheep. We bumped into the owner of the house we’re staying in, who was very nice and keen to tell us all about the area and the sights.

After a couple of Sunchasers, I was tempted by the idea of a nip of the local Alnwick rum, which made sure I slept very well.

Seahouses 2006

On Saturday Mairi, Shuggie and I are going up to Seahouses, where we are renting a place with Mairi’s folks and her two nephews, Max and Leo.

I’m going to try and write a bit each day, but I won’t be able to upload it until we get back, so watch this space. I’m also going to try and take tons of photos, and put them on Flickr for you alllllll to see.

No-one Gives A Fuck What Benedict Nightingale Says

…to the extent that NOT ONE PERSON who came to see the show came as a result of his recommendation. How does that feel, Ben? Or can I call you Bendy?

Let’s Off Road!

My father, Brian Cox Petty, did a fair bit of rallying with the CSMA. Here he is at a couple of meetings in 1972 (the year of my birth) in the legendary Hillman Hunter FKX 406G.

Brian Petty rallying, Chequers 1972

Brian Petty rallying, Chequers 1972

Brian Petty rallying

Brian Petty rallying, Wilderness 1972

Brian Petty rallying

Brian Petty rallying

Brian Petty rallying

Brian Petty rallying

Brian Petty rallying, Starlight 1972

Shuggie On The Radio(ish)

On 29 June, the Today programme had a feature on the names people give their pet dogs. They asked for people to email them a photo of the dog, and an explanation of why that name was chosen.

They finally put Shuggie up.

The Editor of the programme was a bit perturbed by the number of pictures received – but it shows that people will email them when they want to. For example, I (nearly) emailed them this morning after James Naughtie commented, “we all remember Fahrenheit anyway”. I don’t. I 34 and I was taught Celsius at school. I don’t know what the headline, “Phew, it’s 102!” means, and neither do I know how many pounds there are in an ounce, or how many bushels in a cubit.

This does not mean I am an unpatriotic froggie kraut.

That’s That

And that is also that as well. Over and done with, completely over. Finished. Done with. Over and finished. Done over and finished with. Over. Finished over with. Done.

Scriptless Wonder, Benedict Nightingale’s #1 show for the week of 11-16 July 2006, has finished. In its place is a void, a shadow, a silence. I will mainly be filling this void by catching up with Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica and sitting on my arse.

After a rest on Friday, the last two shows were slightly different in that we didn’t have a judge. This meant I had to double up the tasks of compering with judging the games. The solution we came up with was to get the audience to yell a word for each team, based on what the preceding scenes had been about. Based on the volume of the yells, I would then award the teams their points, in the form of images of strange or extraordinary objects. Actually, the points were predetermined, and no winner was actually announced until the finale. And that winner was only chosen because Richard hadn’t been in a winning team yet.

Utterly corrupt of course, and as a result I have been relegated to the 2nd Division. The only difference being, the Italian foopballers were corrupt for money – I did it for a quiet life.

As a result of this predestination, the shows ran a lot smoother, although that might just have been my Soave-fuelled imagination. The audience loved it as well, although that was definitely Soave-and-lager-fuelled. They called for – and got – an encore, something the performers were only too pleased to give them. And then they wended their merry way into the Merton night, after telling us it was the, “biggest laugh they’d had in years”.

It was certainly a laugh, and a cry and a yell and a curse. But mostly a laugh.

Two Down…

…three to go. And it’s going very well so far. The theatre was more full last night than on Tuesday, so maybe that’s a trend that will continue. We’re not sure how much influence Mr Nightingales recommendation has had – no queues round the block yet.

The teams have been very good, although the idea that changing the team members around every night and not having proper scores would reduce the amount of bitter competitiveness was clearly a false one. Arguments have been heard about, “How come the team with you in it always wins”, despite us only having done two shows.

These thesps, I don’t know.

A crew from the Carlton were in attendance last night, and as raucous as ever, except when it came to shouting out suggestions. The audiences have been quite quiet about that, like they think they paid to be entertained, rather than have to lift a finger (or a tonsil) themselves.

These punters, I don’t know.

Here We Go

Get-in and Technical/Dress rehearsal tonight! Actually, there’s not much in the way of ‘getting-in’ to be done. We’ll use the lights just as they are, there’s no set, just a box of props, and the 100-piece orchestra are arriving at about 5 from Rio. What could possibly go wrong?

As far as rehearsal is concerned, even improvised shows need them, because it does need a certain amount of organisation. Otherwise it would be a shambolic, rambling, unfunny mess, and we don’t want that, now do we?

I should clarify something about this entry. I don’t read The Times. Someone else told me about it. OK?

I have my costume ready, such as it is. I’m not making the mistake I made in 2003, and wearing a full tux in the July heat. It’s short sleeves all the way now.

All that’s needed now is to finish writing some banter and twaddle for in between the games. I’m using my wiki to do that – handy for when inspiration strikes at work – and fatal for paid productivity…

Oooohhhhh Shhhiiiiiiiitttt

Scriptless Wonder is on next week, and what appeared in the Times on Saturday, in the theatre pages of the culture magazine?

Scriptless Wonder!
I’m compering the #1 show in town!

We’d better make it good…