Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Society of Antiquaries, London

King Edward IV and King Richard III Matching "Arch" Portraits

Here's where I went today, to attend a free public lecture by John Ashdown Hill.  What an immense privilege.

I already have two of his books on my Kindle.

 Eleanor the Secret Queen,


The Last Days of Richard lll and the fate of his DNA.

This lecture gave the kernel of his new work, "The Dublin King" and was a fascinating and concise indication of all the relevant points about who the "Dublin King" really was.  Very persuasive.

I don't know how the man's able to sleep at night, with all that research and delving into hitherto undisturbed archives, swimming about in his head.  He is already at work on two further books, one for next year called "The Wars of the Roses" and one for the year after, about Edward IV.

Curiously, he doesn't seem interested in Perkin Warbeck.

Still, it was a great British day out.  Free education, history, the conservation of the past.  All wonderful.

And the two pictures above were hanging on the wall right above my head.  You can see all the Society's picture collection online, but nothing beats the real thing.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


This year, my first full year in retirement, I have decided to do some things differently.  I posted yesterday about pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone regarding sleep.

I felt that I should move out of my comfort zone in other respects.  My normal spheres of activity consist of sitting, preferably at a desk, and using my brain.

I love sitting.  Yesterday I even sat to do some deadheading, carting a kitchen stool around the garden with me.

I've never been a great one for using my hands, athough I have the greatest respect for people who do.  And I've certainly had plenty of chances to see them in action recently.  We've had a constant stream of
workmen processing through the house for the last three months.  Builders, fitters, electricians, floor-layers, plasterers. They have taken out walls, doors, floors and ceilings.  Then re-bricking, re-plastering, and breaking things inadvertently, thus causing more workmen to come. I admire their energy and zeal for getting their hands dirty and lifting heavy weights, but could never, even in my younger days, have hoped to do any such thing.

In my career, I sat at a desk and pondered over intellectual problems.  I was required to read a lot (albeit company law and tax regulations, largely), and write reports, memos and minutes.

I have also been doing a lot of reading since retirement, so when thinking about the U3A, I felt the need to join a different group.  Steer clear of my comfort zones, which are sitting, reading and writing.  Such opportunities exist, in that there are several reading groups and four creative writing groups in my locality.

In the interests of pushing myself and striking a balance, I decided on Yoga.

Thirty-five years ago, I joined a yoga evening class, and all I can remember of it is that I couldn't do any of the poses.  I also remember being so relaxed in the lying on the floor part that I fell asleep.

I explained to the leader of the U3A Yoga class, when discussing my proposed visit for a trial session, that I had been spectacularly useless at my previous attempt.  "I just lay on the floor doing the breathing," I said. I didn't mention the falling asleep.

She was completely non-judgemental, and yesterday I went along for the first session of the new term.

We spent nearly the whole session just lying on the floor doing the breathing (great! I can do that!) And I didn't fall asleep!  Maybe that was because it was morning, not eight-o'clock at night after a full day's work.  We then moved on to The Warrior Pose.

It looks simple, but try it.   I wobbled, and thought I would fall over, despite having both feet on the ground.  "Good," I thought.  If I think I'm going to fall over, this means I need to do this, and I need to improve.  So, good for pushing boundaries, and good for balance, all round.

I didn't ache this morning, or feel stiff.  I recognized two people I knew slightly at the class, so had  a nice chat.  Sociable, then, as well as stretching. 

Hope I can keep it up!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Royal Shakespeare Company, Cycle of 4 Kings

Gulp!  I have just booked the RSC Cycle of Kings for January 2016. 

This is way out of my comfort zone.  I need to go to bed at 9.30 every night just to function normally.  I haven't been out at night for years, and I even missed seeing the RSC's "Bring Up the Bodies" as an adjunct to "Wolf Hall" because I resisted booking an evening performance.

Two evening performances one after the other, with a matinee in between, is really going to challenge me.

I must challenge myself, however.  And since I am now retired, I needn't worry about falling asleep at my desk the following week.  (Which used to happen, even when I hadn't been to the theatre the night before).

I could not resist the idea of seeing, in the correct historical order,

Richard II
Henry IV Part One
Henry IV Part Two
Henry V.

David Tennant will be playing Richard II.  Alex Hassell, whom I saw as Biff in "Death of a Salesman" at Stratford earlier this year, will be Henry V.  And Antony Sher, who played the title role, Willy Loman, in "Death of a Salesman", will be Falstaff.  If I can keep awake, it will be awesome.

Antony Sher has even written a book about playing Falstaff.

I'm excited!