Last week, I went to see Neil Gaiman at the Southbank Centre, as part of the promotional activities for the new series of Good Omens. (It got released on Friday on Amazon Prime, and will apparently be on BBC2 later in the year)
Good Omens (the book) was written by Neil and the late Terry Pratchett thirty years ago, and it was one of Pratchett’s dying wishes for Neil to write it again as a TV series. At the time, they thought he’d got plenty of time, but he went downhill rapidly, and so after Pratchett’s funeral, Neil wrote the series, and then insisted on being the showrunner in order to make sure that it got to screen in a way that both of them would’ve found acceptible.
Anyway, I’d managed to get tickets even before they announced that he’d be accompanied on stage by David Tennant and Michael Sheen (who play the two main characters of the series, Aziraphale and Crowley) which made it even better.
The entire evening was fun – there was a choir of Satanic Nuns (if you’ve read the book, you’ll understand) in the foyer of the Southbank Centre, singing Queen songs (again, book, understand, blah blah) which boded well for the rest of it.
Compered by Kirsty Wark (who also appears in the series), they talked about how the series came about (see above), the story of Neil and Michael meeting for a dinner where both of them couldn’t work out how to tell the other that they didn’t want to play Crowley (Michael had originally been cast, but realised as he read the script that he was far more Aziraphael) , Neil discovering that Michael could do a pitch-perfect impression of David Tennant, and many other tales.
From the sound of it, while there were problems along the way, the fact that Good Omens is loved by so many people (and has been for a long, long time) worked as a great leveller of those problems – another story being that Nick Offernan was brought in very late in the day to replace someone else, and told Neil that a) he’d have paid his own flights in order to take the role, and b) that when the director apologised to him for coming such a long way for so (comparatively) few lines, he said “I’d have come twice as far for half as many”
It was a really good evening, and when the series came out on Friday, I saw the entire thing in the space of an evening (not something I usually do, but this time it was worth it) and I can honestly say that they’ve all done a bloody good job of the entire thing. Utterly worthwhile.
As I said last week, this year’s Shakespeare intake has somehow ended up being all about the history plays. It’s not been an intentional set of decisions, just the way things have worked out.
I’ve already seen two productions of Richard II, Richard III, Henry IV parts 1 and 2, and Henry V this year. (And of course I also saw “Queen Margaret” late last year, which takes all of Margaret’s lines from Henry VI – all three parts – and Richard III and builds a play/story around that)
And now I’ve also booked to see the RSC’s production of King John later in the year.
All told, that means that of the histories, by the end of the year I’ll have seen …
King John Richard II Henry IV, Part 1 Henry IV, Part 2 Henry V
- Henry VI, Part 1
- Henry VI, Part 2
- Henry VI, Part 3
- Henry VIII
- Edward III
So, I’m more than halfway through the histories. Not bad, in less than a year.
This year, for some reason, it appears that my Shakespeare input is primarily consisting of various history plays – not something that’s been planned, but that’s how it’s worked out. Prior to this year I hadn’t seen any of them
I’ve already seen two different productions of Richard II this year, and last week’s Henrilogy of Henry IV parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. And last night I went to see Headlong’s production of Richard III at Northampton’s Royal theatre.
I was really impressed with the whole production – the set is small, making interesting use of mirrors and lighting – and overall I really enjoyed it.
The cast were excellent, and I found the entire thing far easier to understand than some of the others I’ve seen. (That may also be down to the source material, I don’t know for sure)
Obviously it’s not a happy play, but all the same, it was well worth going and seeing.
On Friday, I went with a friend to Shakespeare’s Globe to see their Henry season on one of the Trilogy Days.
It’s three plays, all around the two-and-a-half-hour mark, with a decent break between them. But all the same, it makes for one long-ass day. Particularly because the Globe’s seats (no way was I going to do the whole thing standing) are solid wood, backless, and pretty bloody unforgiving. Yes, you can hire cushions or a seat back, but even so, it makes it hard-going.
I hadn’t seen any of these before, and (as usual) went in with very little knowledge of the stories involved. I’d seen Richard II earlier this year so knew the prior events, but that was about it – and my history knowledge (as I keep on being reminded by things like this) is fuckin’ abysmal. (I’m also seeing Richard III this week – I must be a glutton for punishment!)
I enjoyed the plays – IV Part 1 and V more than Part 2, as I don’t really do well with the “political intrigues” type of thing. I think that seeing all three in a day meant it all gelled together better in my head, although I’m still going to need to read the plays and some of the history around them in order to build up the knowledge a bit.
It was worth going, and I enjoyed the whole day. I don’t know that I’d necessarily want to see any of them again any time soon, but I’m glad I’ve seen them.
I really need to remind myself that long weekends are meant to be about relaxing and doing less.
Over the next four days, I’ll be…
- Socialising with friends at a barbecue thing (and probably doing a fair amount of the cooking)
- Going to three concerts
- Seeing the parents
It’s all a bit busy – and the following weekend isn’t much quieter. Thankfully there’s some time off in the meantime, but yeah, all a bit chaotic. Again.
Following on from the other post about people (or at least politicians) not thinking things through, the other one is/was about the EU’s new plan for all new cars to be fitted with speed limiters from 2022.
Speed limiters are – in some circumstances – a really good idea. If the limiting was in place for areas with lower speed limits – the areas with speed limits of 20,30, 40, and perhaps even 50mph – then that would be good. I see so many people speeding in those areas. I still think it’d have its problems, but this would at least help. (I’ve said before that I have my reservations on this in the 50mph average speed limit areas currently in place on a lot of motorway work areas)
If, however, it’s something that is brought in universally, for all roads at all limits, then it’s idiotic – and again, shows a lack of understanding when it comes to people, business, cars, driving, and umpteen other things.
The first thing that occurred to me when I heard this was that a goodly portion of police (or council) funding is generated or paid for via speeding fines and the like. If speeding is hugely reduced by automation and limiters, where will that money and funding be coming from?
For another thing, if everything is limited to the national speed limit, it’ll reduce people’s desire/drive to pay more for larger/faster vehicles. If you can get a basic [car model] that’ll do everything and can go up to the speed limit where it’s limited, why would you pay two or three times the price for a performance version of the same [car model] that can’t do anything extra, that can’t go faster or perform better? (Personally I don’t see much point in these super-performance models anyway, but that’s not the point here)
Again, I like the idea of auto-limiting speeds/cars in slower and busier areas. But making it a universal solution seems to have missed a fair number of knock-on issues, with no clues or hints about how to actually fix them.