Michael and I cycled out to Girton College last night to hear Monteverdi’s Vespers in the college hall. We bumped into Stephen and Lorraine, and sat with them. Stephen is a cornett player and reported that the cornett playing from His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts was very good. The programme, from Martin Ennis, was also very good and great introduction to the vespers. The Magnificat was stunning, with one chorister providing a vocal echo from outside the room, which worked very well. I also enjoyed Lauda Jerusalem. I was impressed by Martin Ennis acting as both the conductor and also playing the harpsichord (but not, I think, at the same time). Overall I enjoyed the vespers, but I prefer a leaner plainchant—this was rich and ornamented.
From Girton College web site:
Girton College celebrates the 400th anniversary of the publication of Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine with two performances of this sumptuous work, arguably the crowning masterpiece of seventeenth-century music. The concerts feature the world-famous wind ensemble, His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, the Cambridge University Collegium Musicum (led by the internationally renowned Baroque violinist, Margaret Faultless , currently a visiting Fellow at Girton), and a vocal ensemble comprising choral scholars from the leading Cambridge choirs (including King’s, St John’s, Clare and Girton). Conducted by Girton’s Director of Music, Martin Ennis, this event is set to confirm Girton’s central role in early-music performance in Cambridge.
Went to see Breaking the Code produce by the Combined Actors at the ADC Theatre last night. TheCombined Actors is an amateur dramatics group based in Cambridge, and the quality of the production was good. The play, by Hugh Whitemore, was based on the book ‘Alan Turing, The Enigma‘ by Andrew Hodges, and it was only last year that I read a different good biography of Turing.
The lead, James Dowson, and Peter Simmon (playing Dilwyn Knox) were both very good—Dawson was on stage constantly, and his stuttering and hand shaking all combined to give a powerful, believable performance. The play brought a couple of new points to my understanding of Turing’s life: The significance of eating the poisoned apple has been discussed and debated. Early on in the play, Turing explains to Knox why the film Snow White was so good and says something along the lines of ‘it wasn’t so bad to eat a poisoned apple and then to wake up on the arms of a handsome prince’. I also got the impression form the book that I read that Turing’s death was soon after his prosecution—but the play makes it seem like some time has passed (enough time to have a bit of fun in Greece).
The play focussed on his personal life: relationship with his mother and colleagues, and passingly with his friend Christopher. Perhaps more could have been developed with Christopher—but time is limited on stage.
Good review from The TAB where it’s nice to read that Pat Hamilton’s views of homophobia were changed. I agree that the best scenes were between Knox and Turing, but I also liked the scenes with Ron Miller (Matthew Peacock was good fun as the ‘bit of rough from Oxford Street’)
From the Combined Actors Web site:
This compassionate and often amusing play shifting back and forth in time and place, revolves around the remarkable mind and tragic fate of Alan Turing, mathematician and computer pioneer who broke the code in two ways. One was by cracking the German Enigma code at Bletchley Park during World War II for which he was decorated by Churchill and lauded by the state. The second was by shattering the gentlemanly English code of sexual discretion and making little attempt to disguise his homosexuality. For this he was arrested on a charge of gross indecency. Combined Actors are delighted to bring Whitemore’s play, which is a wonderful homage to an extraordinary man and a fierce indictment of the hypocrisy of the society that he saved from occupation, to the ADC stage.
Two Caravans was a romp of a read. It follows the story of russian, polish and african migrant workers getting exploited in the UK. The themes are dark: sex trafficking, exploitation of migrant workers, sexual assault, murder. However, the treatment makes all this seem easy to cope with—the book is consistently upbeat. The success is in the fantastic dialogue and phrases used by the characters, which make the novel so entertaining. The Dog, gets a stream of consciousness which is highly amusing. This follows on A short history of tractors in Ukranian, both by Marina Lewycka.
Just added her third novel, We are all made of glue, to my Amazon wish list!
Took the train to Letchworth to meet Barry and Adam at The Fox Inn at Willian . Glorious weather continues and we were able to sit outside in the front garden. I had some massive Brancaster oysters which were a bit frightening and very tasty! The food was good and th service a little bit chaotic but in a nice way. There were quite a few gay guys there for lunch, which was nice, and sales technique in the little boutique food shop was suitably targeted.
I was amazed that it was about 4 when we were walking back to the station. We had some time to kill and had a short explore around Letchworth. Nothing to report—all quiet on a Sunday.
Early train this morning to visit Nuala and Joel in St Ninians. Joel drove us out to Kippen for lunch at the lovely Cross Keys. I haven’t really been to Kippen before and it’s lovely, as was the pub. It helped that the weather was glorious and we were able to sit outside in the sun, with views of Ben Ledi and back towards Callander (where I grew up). Nuala was three days short of her due date and was looking fabulous—
Good lunch—fish and chips—and nice beer (I think it was Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted). The time raced by and we had to head back to the station straight after lunch—MIchael to head back to Cambridge and me to spend a winey evening with mum and dad, which was good fun. Mum made her salmon with ginger, and they walked me to the bus stop to see me off. The bus is very handy—dropped me almost outside Marks Hotel.
Another exciting sleeper journey to Scotland on the Caledonian Express. Michael and I met up in London at a Nepalese Restaurant at Euston, called the Great Nepalese, and had a lovely meal there. The food was different in style from a standard UK indian restaurant so that was good. On the train, we traded in our £10 worth of vouchers (part of travelling first class) to get a couple of whiskeys, which was lovely. But mild disappointment awaited—First Class = single occupancy standard class + breakfast (I knew I shouldn’t have expected the Orient Express).
We did get to sit in the ‘First Class’ lounge car though. Amusingly the steward wouldn’t wait on tables and we had to go up to his door to get any service and he wasn’t keen on serving food!
Great to wake up in Glasgow at 7am, with a bacon butty and cup of tea, then to walk out into the centre of Glasgow which is empty at that time in the morning. We checked into the florid, ugly, but good value, Marks Hotel in Bath Street, a stroll from Central Station, then headed out to visit my parents in Croftfoot. After a winey lunch we went to visit Holmwood House close by in Cathcart designed by Alexander Thomson, a famous Glasgow architect. I first visited the house about 10 years ago on a conference excursions and I loved the way it was being restored back to the greek-style original with frescos and lovely wood-work. The place had been converted into a nunnery and all the fancy pagan, stencilling painted over—but also protected. The renovations haven’t come very far in the ten last ten years. We wandered around the house, which has a pretty feeble audio tour, and I think a few handwritten guides would have been better. Still, it was a good visit and very atmospheric. Lovely photographs on this web site (where the picture below is from):
In the evening we all met up with my brother and his new partner, Kelly, who is good fun. They beat us to the bar The Dhabba where we had a good North Indian meal and very good service. The place was buzzing. Walked around the corner to Babbity Bowsters for a drink afterwards and were chatting with people in the street—Glasgow really is much friendlier than down South.