Opera at Wetherspoons, jumble sales, Ottolenghi’s and computer traumas….

Phew, Hastings Battleaxe has had a busy week… Opera at Wetherspoons?  Oh yes. In a previous post, I’ve mentioned the Opera House Wetherspoons in Tunbridge Wells, a spectacular and sympathetic conversion from theatre to pub. Once a year they restore it to a theatre and stage an opera, we went last weekend.  The day before that, we had the hectic and very successful WI Jumble Sale, on Wednesday I spent the day in London with my old friend Diana, and I’ve had on-going computer traumas as well.
     Ever since we first visited the pub in Tunbridge Wells a few years ago I wanted to have the opera experience, and I am so glad we did it. We went with friends Jan and Tom. It was hard to get tickets – they convert the pub into dining/theatre, so seats are limited. The place was done out very well – crisp white table cloths, and even white covers on the pub chairs like you get at weddings. However, pub chairs are a bit bum-numbing for watching an opera.
     We had a fantastic place right in the front of the upper stalls, right by the brass rail shown in the photo below, and munched our way happily through a classic Wetherspoons roast chicken dinner before the gig started. It must be the most stylish Wetherspoons meal ever…..

To opera house
Eating a Wetherspoons roast dinner in style…

    We watched La Boheme, performed by the young and enthusiatic Merry Opera Company. The first thing that struck me was the astonishing acoustic in the little theatre – the musical director spoke to the audience before the performance, and he didn’t even have to raise his voice.  That meant that some of the singers were almost too loud for comfort, including Mimi, but particularly Rodolfo, who had a fine voice, but very powerful, more of a heroic than a lyric tenor.
     We wondered about the theatre’s previous life. Are modern singers trained to sing more loudly than old-style singers? (That can’t necessarily be the case, thinking of the likes of Dame Clara Butt, who was renowned for ‘Land of Hope and Glory”, zapping the furthest corners of the Royal Albert Hall without a microphone). Was it the relative inexperience of the young singers, leading them to over-project their voices? Or would it have been as loud as that in the past? Did old-style audiences talk during the performances? Was there more sound-muffling heavy drapery?
     As it happened, the music was provided by a piano – it was a pity they did not have a few more instruments – but imagine how loud an orchestra would have been.  However, the singing and acting was of a very high standard, and we enjoyed it unreservedly.

The cast take their bow

     Philosopher sat next to Zai Koder, the Chair of the Merry Opera Trustees – I could hear him suggesting to her that they came to perform at St Mary in the Castle in Hastings, which would be an excellent venue for them.
     Jan and I were still tired following our monumental efforts at the WI Jumble Sale the day before. Battleaxe was more than tired, totally exhausted.  We got back from Madrid about 10.45pm on Thursday night – Friday was setting up the sale, and Saturday was the sale itself. I’ve written about this before in previous posts, and I’ll say it again, I have never seen a team of people work so well as a crowd of WI women.  We start with an empty hall, and next thing it is full of tables groaning with fantastic stuff people have donated, together with a lovely little tea room with loads of of cakes. Then, as soon as the sale is over, we have an empty hall again in less than an hour. If I could write a management text book about what makes us such a brilliant team, I could make a fortune.
    I guess it helps that those of us who do the sales really enjoy it – I know I do. I don’t know what is more fun – finding treasures amongst the stuff people bring in, or selling things to people who are also delighted with the treasures they have found.
    Our sales are getting very popular – queue stretching out into the street, and a total free-for-all hurly burly for about the first half hour.  We raised about £600.

Jumble frenzy….

    On Wednesday I went to London to meet my old friend Diana. We went for lunch to Ottolenghi in Upper Street in Islington. My goodness, the food there is yummy. You can have four salads for £14, there were eight on the menu, so we had all eight between us with a bottle of wine. Felt a little full.
    Now that’s weird. When I try to put in a link to the Ottolenghi site my computer announces it has blocked the site because it is ‘malicious’.  How could it be? That takes me on to a very fraught topic. While I was in Spain I took my desktop down to the local computer health farm with instructions to speed it up and install Windows 10.  When we came back it wasn’t ready… for the next three days….and when I eventually went down to collect it the bloke told me he had ‘wiped’ it in order to clean it up. Fortunately I had backed up my data. The bloody thing was totally blank except for Windows 10 which I didn’t know how to use. It wouldn’t even connect to the internet, and then I had to reinstall everything and download endless backups. I have suffered hours of effing and blinding, boiling blood pressure.
     My mother died of a brain hemorrhage (is that right? Computer no longer seems to want to inspect my spelling…) because she was angry about a cafe opening near her house. I will surely die of computer rage. I get positively tearful with frustration.

 STOP PRESS – EVEN MORE TEARFUL WITH FRUSTRATION – I can’t see your comments when I am signed into Google – so can’t reply – sorry!

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