War horse

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I don’t have any photos but I did a quick sketch from my memory of the horse in Warhorse that I went to see tonight.

The play starts with a puppet foal which is quite small. The story shows him being bought and then brought up on a farm in England in 1914. Suddenly the foal becomes a fully grown horse. He is sent along with thousands or possibly millions of horses across to be part of the cavalry in the First World War.

The story charts what happened to him and also his owner who enlists so he can find him.

The horses in the play are depicted by puppets which contain two puppeteers inside them and one moving the head and neck. In scenes where he is galloping extra puppeteers move the four feet. The horses move in realistic ways, flicking it’s ears, moving it’s tail. Rearing and bucking.

There are sections of horrific violence but through it all there is a strong streak of humanity. There are good and bad on both sides. I found myself enthralled  The play seemed to fly by.

I need to mention the other puppets, the goose, swallows flying on the wing, and a first World War tank that were  so well used to depict reality. You forgot there were puppeteers, you just saw the things they were meant to represent. If you get a chance to see it, its worth it.

Timothy Trow

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Sorry for the blurry photo. This is the memorial to a man called Timothy Trow.

I’d known about this for a few years but got a leaflet today and it explained he was a local hero 125 years ago.

Timothy Trow was from neighbouring area of Shelton. He was a conductor on a tram that ran along London Road in Stoke. When the tram reached the West End area of Stoke, at a spot near James Street, he saw a young girl who had fallen in the canal. She was later identified as Jane Ridgeway. He jumped into the Newcastle Canal and rescued her but he then got cramp and despite people trying to rescue him he drowned. All of this happened on 13 April 1894.

There is a memorial stone in recognition of his courage. In recent years our local Councillor has encouraged an annual commemoration. The local West End Methodist Church and local people have turned it into an annual event. One of my friends actually wrote a song to commemorate his bravery and a couple of years ago we walked along the course of the canal (which has since been filled in) and my friend sang the song next to the memorial stone.

Classy lighting

Having taken a photo of an old gas lamp in Rhyl last year, I came across these today.

The lamps seem to have almost the same design as the lamp in Rhyl. But these are in much better condition because they were protected inside the Guildhall in Newcastle-under-Lyme and seem to have recently been restored.

Each lamp sits at the bottom of a sweeping curved staircase that splits at the top and comes down on either side of an almost circular lobby. Above the upright lamps hangs a formidable, eight branched chandelier with curving arms. Both the lamps and chandelier are lit with electric light bulbs. But looking at them they appear to have had gas mantles in the past.

Presently the guildhall at the ironmarket in Newcastle-under-Lyme is being run by volunteers. They are holding a cake making competition on Saturday 9 March 2019 for the finish of the fair trade fortnight. They are always looking for new volunteers.

As a bit of extra information apparently the hall was once used for grand ballroom dances. With stairs and lamps like this I’m sure it’s true.

Photowalking

 

In 2015 I went on a photo walk organised by a friend round a local town called Burslem. The town is quite run down in places, but thats what made it interesting. Neglect sharpens architecture. Photos taken on an old vodaphone.

Green wood

Red sign,

Green door ,

Blue door,

Bricks by glass,

Breeze blocks behind window,

Rust and wood,

Blackberries colonise

With ease.

Document these,

Please.

Phantasms

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Phantasmagoria….

I looked up the definition, it says it is a “shifting medley of real or imagined figures, as in a dream”….. noun.

I had not really thought about the word Phantasm until I saw it on a programme earlier today. It makes me think of ghostly figures and ectoplasm.

I don’t know if I believe in them, but there are people that do. A local pub which used to be a hotel is supposed to be one of the most haunted pubs in the country. The Leopard in Burslem, Stoke on Trent, is know for its spooky atmosphere. Several TV shows have been filmed there to explore the ghostly emanations. There is a story that there are phantoms in the cellar, and ghost hunts regularly take place there.

I can imagine figures walking through the public bar, or in the back room. Floating above the ground, disappearing behind curtains or into walls. Spirits caught between the past and the present. The stairs that lead downstairs feel particularly eerie. There us a geological fault in Burslem and the building has a strong lean to one side. If  you drop a ball on the floor it will roll to the other side of the room. The Leopard has a long history and is very interesting to visit.

I have not seen anything myself, but some of the staff and customers say they have. Whether there is such a thing a Phantasms is not something I can prove or disprove. I think I will keep an open mind.

Choir

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I sing in a couple of choirs, one which is all female and the other which is a mixed choir. Both of them are acappella, which means unaccompanied by a musical instrument, except perhaps to give us our starting notes.

Summer time is when we do most of our gigs. Both choirs have things coming up. The mixed choir is singing locally this weekend, we will be singing for about 50 minutes, so we need to know a variety of songs. The gig on Saturday will be mostly Summer songs, for instance, “Summer is a coming in”. Some of us know the songs off by heart, and others will be using song sheets.

Both choirs repetoirs are very varied, the female choir knows more international songs like “Meliswe” which is Hoza I think? We also do Maori, French, Creole, Croatian, among many other songs.

I have to say singing in a choir can be wonderful when we get it right, and sometimes a real struggle while we are learning a peice. Recently we sang with another choir (a lung health choir) at a production of a play for four nights. We were singing to add atmosphere to the play, and we sang an arrangement of “cloudbusting” by Kate Bush, over and over again. 12 times on one night! This was while the audience were being led round the auditorium and getting the spooky, cold feeling of the place (we were at an old chapel that is being restored and it was probably the coldest May for years).

The female choir is doing a walkabout in a few weeks round the town centre, singing and then moving on. Our normal choir leader is away on that day so some of us are taking responsibility to lead the choir. It’s not something most of us have ever done. So if you see some confused women singing out of key….it might be us!

Mona who?

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I tried to copy the Mona Lisa on a digital platform once, unfortunatley the image is a bit blurred. The landscape behind her is perhaps too fuzzy.

Leonardo da Vinci was a brilliant renaissance artist. His paintings and drawings have always enthralled me. There is so much skill there. So much beauty and knowledge. Leonardo has a wonderful technique which I could not hope to copy. My drawing is blotchy, and thin in places, but I think it probably took me about half an hour to an hour to draw. Using a drawing app on Sketchfu.

This was another on that popped up on my Facebook account which I was glad to retrieve. I thought I had lost it.

So anyway I will just leave this here..