September 4, 2016
Our elder daughter got married this year. What a great day that was. I’d do it all again if we could. Both of them seemed so relaxed and happy that it infected the day with joy and love and laughter right from the start. Yes there were things we would have done differently -it’s not the norm to have the bride directing the driver using her phone for example, but it seemed to go really well and if the celebrations indicate the likely happiness of the marriage they are off to a bloody good start. They surely know they have a solid back up of friends and family wishing them well.
For most people the thought of public speaking is a near-death experience. But not for the Clarke family. We all spoke at the wedding. Invited or not. By protocol or not. Her brother did a reading during the ceremony, her father the traditional FOTB opener and Georgina herself paid tribute to those not with us in person, and to her new husband who she described as her ‘voice of reason’ and ‘in-house comedian’. What a fabulous balance to have at her side forever.
And he of course had to do the traditional groom’s speech which he delivered from the heart with aplomb – a far cry from the little boy so shy he hid under the table at his own birthday party. Quite a few lines from it appear as the soundtrack to their wedding video , which is five minutes of feelgood footage. The best men performed a lovely double act which rounded off the afternoon proceedings perfectly.
Georgie and Danny wanted something to acknowledge the evening guests’ arrival – to make them feel they were not simply an ‘add on’, but a real part of proceedings. So after the cutting of the most incredible cake made like a pile of their favourite books:
I delivered the inevitable Ode which I reproduce below. But after that came Natalie with a crowd pleasing sing along to a Spice Girls classic which she had rewritten just enough to suit the occasion but not so much we couldn’t instantly learn it and belt it out. Marvellous. How much both my parents would have loved it all.
Ode on the Occasion of Georgie and Danny’s Wedding
We’d like to welcome all new guests,
Reinforcements have arrived!
The ceremony’s over,
And the knot is duly tied.
The speeches were delivered –
And I won’t take up too much time
But I thought a little line or two
Should be spoken out in rhyme.
These lovebirds met when first at school
In Drayton, aged eleven
But despite the evidence here today
It was no match made in heaven.
Georgie didn’t really notice him
He was in to sports and stuff
On the other hand he noticed her
And thought her a bit of rough.
They met again in Birmingham –
Gatecrasher the clubs name,
The first kiss was on that dance floor.
Things would never be the same.
So now Georgie’s on a mission
She tracks Danny’s every move
Be it Fab or any other club
Georgie’s there to get the groove.
He’s hard to compartmentalise
Sporty but IT geek
Loves board games and the Arsenal
Organised with a creative streak.
He is loyal, he is thoughtful
And of course a technocrat.
No more “the youngest person starts” as
He’s got an app for that!
And Georgie, our Georgina,
A beauty we can see
But even greater than her stunning looks
Are her brains and empathy.
She’s always thought of others,
Works hard, and gets stuff done
She always likes to be informed and
Takes no shit from anyone.
She likes knowing what is happening
Exactly where she’s at,
And with Danny’s Excel genius
She’s got just the chap for that.
Together they are quite a team
They are tight, they’re strong, they’re true
They liberate each other
To do what they really want to do.
They’re fun, they like to socialise
To eat, to play, to goss
So raise your glasses one more time
For Ms Clarke and Mr Kloss
July 23, 2016
I know every professional review gives it four or five stars. And I think it would probably have been better in the more intimate Menier where it started off, but the Savoy is hardly huge. The main trouble is the story is crap. Sheridan Smith (now back in role) is great at what she has to work with, but it is trite, predictable, old fashioned and underdeveloped. Her character (Fanny Brice) is not really likeable. I didn’t give a shit about what happened to her. There were hardly any hard times for us to see her struggle against adversity; one good number where she is a crap chorus girl and one song about “If you ain’t pretty like Miss Atlantic City, then give up”. And her then telling everyone how fantastic she is which to be honest isn’t very endearing. But she seemingly got a break straight away and then came on to do a number which I honestly thought was meant to show her bombing. How is flashing bloomers funny? But apparently everybody loved it so she became the star of the show. Her mother and two friends do various numbers well enough, as does her suave lover, but it is tired.It’s not a musical with anything new to offer, or to excite. It felt like we were watching a school production, albeit a good one. Smith is good – and her comedic song as a bride really well delivered, but it wasn’t enough for us to come back for the second half. She’s wasted in this role and deserves better.
September 30, 2015
Yes, the entire Clarke clan (including a new favourite child) trooped to the Barbican last night to see the much-trumpeted, much hyped, much anticipated Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Hubby and I had seen him on stage before in the fantastic Frankenstein at the National, and of course I’d also adored him as Sherlock.
And he was good. Yes, he really was. You have to watch him when he’s on – your eyes are drawn to him. And he is amazingly physically adept – climbing up and down the huge ‘last supper’ dining table in the midst of a huge country house that is Elsinore and he delivers text in an easily digestible way. But no one gives a shit about him. Or any of the characters. We can’t – somehow all the real emotion has been sucked out of the play.
I don’t know Hamlet well enough to be able to tell you what was missing or moved around. Was it meant to be seen that he was really pissed off he didn’t get to be King rather than sent mad with grief so threw his toys out of the pram and broke the whole dynasty like a spoilt only child? “I’m the King of the castle” perhaps should have been the opening song rather than Nature Boy….
So I loved him, loved the vast set. hated the pointless costumes which were non-descript. Couldn’t get Ophelia at all – pathetically child like and too quirky to ever have been believably loved by Hamlet or seen as a future daughter in law by Gertrude – she came across as about nine years old. Polonius and Gertrude each had their moments but were essentially dull and leaden, and don’t get me started on Rosencrantz and Guldenstern who were like intense sixth formers playing their parts. The grave digger was great (as was the person catching the skulls he threw!) but really this wasn’t one of those Shakespeare productions where you come away thinking how amazing it is that we are still watching this 400 years later. It was one of those where you think “I can see why people don’t like Shakespeare”. But I still love the Cumberbatch and would go see him in anything he’s ever in on stage. I just wish he’d had the benefit of a better cast and director.
September 28, 2015
The John Lewis ‘Click and Collect’ service sounds ideal. Shop online and pick it up the next day at your local Waitrose. And it would be ideal if it was that simple. But it isn’t. Far from it. I have ranted before about the atrocious car parking in West Ealing Waitrose – both the design and the customers’ inability to walk more than ten metres – and it means one arrives in the shop already ready to punch someone.
Immediately on your left is the Customer Service counter where ‘Click and Collect’ customers are directed to. Unless they suddenly decide to put it in the frozen food aisle without telling anyone. WTF??
So, you tell them the number of your order and you hope they will turn round to one of their cupboards behind them and get it out. But no. Because it isn’t stored there. The parcels aren’t stored anywhere near where the desk is. They are stored literally as far away as possible. In the warehouse past all the food aisles, past the homewares, past the toilet rolls, past the booze and past the pop. And the person you have given your order details to can’t leave the desk until a colleague comes along as they can’t leave it unattended. That would be poor customer service. So we wait. There isn’t an intercom system to ask someone in the warehouse to bring the order. A person has to walk from the desk, all the way to the warehouse, find the order and come back. I have never managed to collect anything in under 15 minutes. I can drive to John Lewis in twenty and there are times when I think that may have been more sensible.
Surely West Ealing Waitrose could set up a counter near to where the goods are stored. At Christmas they have a gazebo outside and despite the shedloads of orders it is quicker for customers as the staff simply have to turn round and rummage in the tent behind them. Why they don’t make it a permanent feature or set up the service close to the warehouse I don’t know. Is it in fact a sly way to make you do some shopping there even if you don’t want to? I turned up today and was told it would be at least ten minutes. No I didn’t have any shopping to do. And I waited. And thought I’ll go get milk and bread as the time ticked on. I ended up buying a few other things and spending ages at the self-service checkout (“Remove last item from bag. Remove last item from bag. Wait for assistant. Wait for assistant”. AAAAGGGHHH!!). I go back to the Click and Collect point and still no parcel for me. Twenty minutes later it feels like Click and Neglect. But eventually it arrives. In the thirty minutes it took I could have driven to Brent Cross myself.
September 21, 2015
Here’s one I didn’t actually perform. We went to a surprise birthday party and all had to wear tartan to celebrate his Scottish roots. I brought the Ode with me but there were plenty of videos and speeches from others that marked the occasion perfectly. But anyway, here it is, never to be heard!
Ode on the Occasion of Hugh’s Birthday
And so we are all gathered here,
To raise a glass or two,
To celebrate the birthday of
Our friend, the lovely Hugh
He’s from a land of great cuisine
White pudding porridge oats,
Stovies, cloutie dumpling
A wee dram to clear your throats
The dress sense is impeccable
Real men wear kilts with pride
And if we girls are lucky we
Get a flash of bare backside
But Hugh has been in London now
For more than half his life
He’s got three brilliant children
And the most fantastic wife
He is charming, he is witty,
He is loyal, he is kind,
He’s hardworking, he is generous
A Scottish diamond –what a find!
We can’t believe he’s sixty
It surely can’t be true
He looks no more more than twenty five
Our friend, the lovely Hugh
So charge your glasses, raise them high,
We give thanks to both of you
And wish the birthday boy the best
Our friend, the lovely Hugh.
September 4, 2015
Searching for a work document on an old memory stick, I came across this Ode that I wrote for Dad’s 80th birthday back in 2003. My sister and I performed it together at a party she organised and hosted for him at her home. We took alternate verses and I think he loved it. Not quite up to his inimitable standard and style, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and he loved a bit of adulation.
The evening went on with a cracking poem from our son – playing on his Grandfather’s embracing of computers despite his advancing years, and then a fabulous, well rehearsed song and dance from the granddaughters to an Abba classic -Mamma Mia I think. His genes coming out in all of us in one way or another. Still miss him.
As ever – the standard caveats apply to my Odes – there are in jokes that make no sense to anyone else and you sometimes have to work hard to get the rhyme and rhythm correct. But they’re usually alright on the night!
ODE ON THE OCCASION OF RICHARD’S EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY
So here we are in Crackley Lane,
On a night we’ll all remember,
To celebrate our Father’s birth,
A few years ago in November.
He didn’t sparkle much at school,
Outshone by little sis,
But he could make a damn good bow,
By soaking sticks in p***
Then College for a little while,
More union work than courses
But then they knew what lay ahead –
They signed up for the forces
The Navy served our Father well –
And he rose beyond a rating,
He loved the Naval life it seems –
To have an audience-in–waiting
For here it was the seed was sown,
The obsession with oration,
He’d raise a toast or make a speech
And get well deserved ovation
And so through Aber second time,
Then Chester when he’s thirty
And didn’t he think his ship was in
When he met the Flatmates Flirty.
As actors both they played their parts
I’d say there were none greater
Our mother in the leading role
And him, behind, a waiter
But all that was rehearsal,
For his biggest greatest part
As husband, father and now Taid,
Who we love with all our heart.
He is certainly a one-off
For which they broke the mould,
But we wouldn’t want it otherwise-
He’s worth his weight in gold.
The awful jokes, bad manners,
Never listens when you speak,
Asks questions with no answers
Drives us mad and makes us weak.
But he gives us entertainment,
A rich and varied life,
So here’s to Dad at eighty,
And who got him here – his wife
August 27, 2015
Am loving the fact that the NHS information on body piercing uses ‘shot glass’ as an alternative to the traditional ‘egg cup’ in an effort to ensure its readers understand what kind of volume they are talking about.
“You can do this by submerging the area in a clean jug or bowl containing a saline solution (1/4 teaspoon of sea salt per egg cup or shot glass of warm water) for a few minutes at a time.”
Is this a sign that the nation no longer knows what an egg cup is or don’t have access to one, whereas shot glasses are universally available in every home ?