All entries for February 2006

February 14, 2006

A Valentine's Ode to Kenilworth Castle: my significant other

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I imagine that a normal person would find it difficult to imagine just how over the moon I was to discover that the Warwick Boar online has dragged out from its archives and reproduced a piece about my steady teddy: Kenilworth, this week, even though it was preposterously short and dangling on like a loose thread at the tail end of the Opinion section. I did discover two tantalizing facts about the settlement, however. Firstly, that the land now that lies alongside the number 12 bus route was the site of the first English parliament formed by Simon De Montfort in 1266. Secondly, that Sir Walter Raleigh planted the first English potato crop in the Little Virginia area, nearby to the castle.

There's something mystical and numinous about Kenilworth Castle, particularly when approaching it from the west along Purlieu Lane from High House Farm. The lane undulates and when you reach the crest of the knoll after the farm suddenly the haunting castle ruins come into sight. Its particularly eerie on a drizzly or misty morning. I regularly go X country running along this route, which is why it is so intimately familiar to me. I always circumnavigate the castle along the muddy path that winds round the castle's perimeter, starting at the kissing gate across the road from the Queen and Castle pub and then embracing the red sandstone edifice as I run around it. Its a highly romantic experience! But also solitary. I might as well be Wordsworth wondering lonely as a cloud, surveying the daffodils. Old Kenilworth itself is equally sublime – the perfect biscuit tin English village of ancient thatched cottages and even more ancient buildings of red sandstone that, nevertheless seems to nestle symbiotically and serendipidously with a functioning modern town. Unlike Warwick Kenilworth is also relatively undiscovered and unspoilt by hoards of tourists.

February 10, 2006

Thatcher the Musical

Whether you love or loathe Thatcher it has to be admitted that the Foursight all women's theatre working in conjunction with Warwick Arts Centre has put on a tremedous premier. Not since Argentina cried for Evita Peron has a political leading lady trodden the boards like this. One has to admire the effort: representing Maggie's whole life and career in a two hour long production relying on a rather Spartan set consisting of the door to number 10 Downing street, a organ which, when turned around turns into a Falklands wartank and a giant handbag, which when opened up reveals the Iron Lady's living room in no.10.
But, omg, the hair. Those helmet like wax hairdos perfectly matched with the 'lady's not for turning' voices were something to be gawped at. Indeed several times, for there were several Thatchers. There was the omnipresent elderly Thatcher in her black coat and a slightly bent back, the young 'grocer's daughter penetrates the gentlemen's club of politics' Thatcher, the well-established Thatcher in her blue coat and the sad old maudlin Thatcher slightly doolally lamenting the death of Ronald Reagen and her husband Dennis.
In all there were 9 Thatchers and with them plenty of quotation – "helping society with Marxism is like curing leukaemia with leeches," and catchy tunes 'she was just a grocer's daughter' to the rather petrifying final "I am the iron in your bloodstream, I'm in your DNA."
From Denis Thatcher – a big grin and glasses – to stetson-wearing Ronnie Reagan and a quivering, ape-like Edward Heath, the men passing though Thatcher's life come across excellently, even though they are all played by women.

February 2006

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