Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Geek goes Poing!

Well, I was intending this week's post to either be about the NatCon of the beginning of the month, or Matariki, the Maori New Year, which has just happened.

However, last night, we went to see Sir Ian McKellan doing a one man show. He is doing a whole series of them around New Zealand to raise money for the Isaac Royal Theatre in Christchurch, which was badly damaged in the earthquakes and aftershocks, and needs a lot of restoration to return it to its former glory. Whilst the vital repairs are covered by the theatre's insurance, they are reliant on fundraising for the remainder. So, when we heard that Sir I. was doing a one man show in Wellington, and particularly for such a good cause, I didn't even have to stop to think before buying the tickets.

So, we rocked up to the Opera House on a very blustery night (the car door was whipped out of my hand when I got out - fortunately, there were no traffic for it to hit!), and took our seats about 20 minutes early. As the auditorium started to fill up, we were looking round for friends that we knew were going to be there, and I was keeping an eye out for anyone else I know - the joy of being so socially and work-active in Wellington means that I do have a tendency to bump into friend or colleagues in the most unlikely of places. A couple of gentlemen a few seats in front of us caught my eye - I was fairly certain that I knew them, but just couldn't put my finger on it. Until Martin Freeman walked up in a long brown coat and flat cap and greeted them. Then I realised that they were two other members of the Hobbit cast. The geek inside of me started to bounce a little bit - I'm not in Wellington enough to have been able to do much cast-spotting, so was a little excited that a few of them had decided to come and support their colleague in his show.

Then Sir Peter Jackson took his seat. And Billy Connolly. And James Nesbit. And Aiden Turner (who sat two rows in front of us). By this point, we realised that most of the Hobbit cast still remaining in Wellington were sitting only a few rows away, and my inner geek was trying very hard not to start going "squee" out loud!

The show started with Sir I. doing a (from memory) reading of the Balrog scene from Lord of the Rings, complete with Glamdring (Gandalf's sword). It was a fantastic opening, and the evening just got better. He invited questions from the audience, leading to reminiscences which ranged from how he felt about someone else playing Magneto, to appearing on Ricky Gervais' "Extras", taking in how and why he came out as being gay at the age of 49, and what happened when he went to Buckingham Palace for his knightood. The first half ended with him performing a pair of Gerard Manley Hopkins poems, The Leaden Echo and The Golden Echo.

GMH is a poet that I had to study at school, and absolutely hated him when I had to read his work, but have grown to admire more now that exam results do not depend upon me being able to rip the words apart! Sir I. was able to show the richness of the work with the multiple layers of meaning and the musicality of the rhythm and repeating words far better than I was ever able to appreciate at school.

The second half of the show was all about Shakespeare. Between the audience, we were able to name all of Shakespeare's plays, and Sir I. spoke on about half of them, including reminiscences of when he was in them, and also performing roles for us, including both Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, Hamlet and Sir Thomas More (not one of Shakespeare's official plays, but one which Shakespeare helped to write).

Finally, he invited the members of the Hobbit cast who were in the audience to come up on stage and collect buckets for more Theatre donations, and audience members to come up and join them all for a bit of staging of live Shakespeare (the "Dead French Soldiers" bit from Henry V)

We ended up the evening joining the queue/crowd to get Sir I's. autograph and a photo taken with him (for an additional donation, of course) - we didn't stay around to meet the Hobbit cast as a number of other friends who were in the audience did, as it was already late, and the crowd was getting a bit much for me. But most definitely a poingtastic evening - I love living in Wellington!

Friday, 1 June 2012

I know, I know...

It has pretty much been a month since I last posted. A month which has been full of incident, mainly work based (and therefore not bloggable about...); suffice it to say that I've been flat tack, and have also sat my first professional exam - the first module out of five which will get my Level 4 of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. Level 7 will get me my MCIPS which will allow me letters after my name (besides my BA, which I don't really use...) - it's going to be a long road, but will be well worth it in the end. At least, that's what I'm going to keep on telling myself as I trudge through the text books and practice papers! Two more exams in July and two in November will see me through (as long as I pass them all, that is...).

The garden is looking a little bit shabby as winter is setting in, and I have less time to potter during daylight hours (leaving for work and returning in the dark means far less weeding time...), though there are still a few blooms on the rosebush, and the birds are loving our berry filled bushes. We have a large collection of silver-eyes and thrushes who are eating their fill every time I look out of the window; I love having a garden which attracts so many birds! We've had our first significant frosts of the season (bye-bye dahlias...), as well as the first significant (an hour and a half) train delay because the tracks, overhead power lines and train were frozen. Must not grumble that winter happens every year, because by all accounts, even for where we are living now (which is in a cooler area than our rented place), this is pretty cold. The vege box now has a good growing of mustard, which I'll dig in when it gets tall enough (the books all say 50cm, so it has a way to go as yet); I've already started planning what I'm going to put in there (it slightly changes every time I see another cookery show!), and am really looking forward to getting going in the Spring.

The orchestra is nearly at its next concert, On Wings of Song, whilst we are still listening to the recordings of the last! We're performing with a choir called Cantala, who are also led by our conductor - they are a school choir who have won awards in the national school choir competition (The Big Sing), and who are also competing in a competition in Vienna; as part of their European Tour, they are also performing at St Pauls Cathedral and Notre Dame, so anyone in the vicinity, please do go and support them - they are really very good. I am still enjoying playing the bassoon - the pieces we are playing this concert (main ones for the orchestra are Finlandia and Rossini's Boutique Fantasque) really let me get at the bottom notes, which weren't really used in the last one, and there is something really satisfying about hitting a really deep bass note - it really seems to connect the body to the instrument in a way that you don't get with the high ones...

I've been a bit quiet on blogging about hockey this season - we haven't been doing very well! We've gone down a grade, and also lost our first match of the lower grade (though I feel I played a lot better than I did in the higher one, and we only lost by one goal, rather than by 7...). We have to fight our way back up into the higher grade, but I think that we can do it as we all get together better as a team; we have been hindered slightly by the fact that so many of us have come up from the seconds to play in the firsts - the different team dynamics have made more of a difference than I think people had realised.

We're off up to Auckland this weekend for Unconventional, the national science fiction convention. I'm very excited, because the guest of honour is Trudy Canavan, a writer I very much admire, and she is running a writer's workshop. I might have happened to be first in the queue when that one got announced! Full report will (possibly!) be posted after the weekend.