Friday, 10 October 2008

16. Mum Returns from the Lakes / Report on the past weeks activities

Mum has just returned from the lakes after a week of reasonable weather and good walking (welcome home Mum). In the meantime Dad and I have been lazy and contented, no rehearsals sie our return from Bristol. I have filling out job application forms and Dad has been rehearsing his singing a bit for the MVC and the mixed choir. So I have been doing the cooking a bit more than usual and, overall, enjoying it. If I remember rightly, Monday was salmon and veg, Tuesday was sausage and Mash, Wednesday was mushroom pasta with Lemon, parsley and parmesan, and Thursday was Cullen Skink. This is really the extent of the looking after Dad needs. Tonight it is Tuna steak. As you can see, we eat fairly posh at Bowes Towers. Mum has imbibed the healthy-eating shtick from television chefs and it is rubbing off. Dad and I tend to get on pretty well when mum's not around (I annoy her a lot more than him because she and I are equally stubborn. Dad, wanting a quiet life, is much more relaxed).

On Tueday after Dad's choir we met up in the Royal for a pint and a half of Fine Fettle and talked over "what next". Looking up Thoreau's "Where I Lived and What I lived for" (Chapter 2 from Walden), I edited a bit to adapt it into a new version of the show.
Here is a draft:
Adapted from Henry David Thoreau: "Walden", Chapter 2: "Where I Lived and What I Lived For".

Key: // indicates an edit, (…) indicates an abridgement.

// I walked and wherever I walked //, I thought: there I might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly (…) Well, there I might live, I said; and there I did live, for an hour, a summer and a winter life; saw how I could let the years run off // wait the winters through // and see the spring come in.
But I retain / the landscapes, each of them, and with respect to them, “I am monarch of all I survey,” // but I encourage you, my friends, when you walk, to say the same to yourselves.
(…) I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up (…)
Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep (…) To be awake is to be alive // and yet // I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?
We // learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake // by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep (…) (And yet) Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men // and when we fight // it is error upon error, clout upon clout.
(…) The winds which pass over my dwelling // bear // the broken strains, or celestial parts only, of terrestrial music, but few are the ears that hear it.
(My friends…) Be it life or death, we crave only // another, or others //. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business // and be astonished by one another //.
// There is a // stream I go // fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper. I cannot count // from nothing to // one. I // do not // know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. The intellect is a cleaver; it discerns and rifts its way into the secret of things. I do not wish to be any more busy with my these, hands than is necessary. My head is hands and feet. I feel all my best faculties concentrated //. My instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing, as some creatures use their snout and // paws, and with it I would mine and burrow my way through these hills.
I think that the richest vein is somewhere hereabouts; so by the divining rod and thin rising vapors I judge; and here I will begin to mine.
The complete, unabridged "Walden" can be found free of charge, on-line at: Happy reading.

K of E. x

Saturday, 4 October 2008

15. Kings of England Ace You and Your Work 5 / Beer Festival with Jaime, Vicky and Andy / Mum in the Lakes


Kings of England performed last night at Easton Community Centre, Kilburn St, Bristol, as part of You and Your Work 5. We developed "Recent Falls" into "Where We Live and What We Live For", a 20-minute text that structured a few short performances from Dad, most notably, a song and dance, which he pulled off with his customary panache.

"Where We Live..." cited or otherwise appropriated writings by Henry David Thoreau (the title is adapted from a Chapter from Walden), Charles Bukowski, John Berger, Yevgeny Vinokurov, Garrison Keillor, Larry McMurtry, and Tobias Wolff. This won't tell you much about the show but a copy of the text is available on request, just email me at the address in the 'about us' section.

For now, here is an excerpt from the introduction:
“Good Evening, and welcome to the (third) of tonight’s performances, which concerns, for the most part, the passing of time, we were kestrels and starlings, the passing of time, let’s drink to that, the passing of time, and furthermore, to dead dogs, dead children, dead lovers, dead heroes and how good it is to be alive.

“We dedicate this, our third show, to a memory of one morning hour spent with a lost friend (and to him) in the summer 2001. And shortly my father will present – in lieu of everything else – a song and dance, mothered by all sorts of hardy emotions and a curiosity see how he moves these days, to hear what he sounds like these days, to reconsider who he is, who he has been, and who, perhaps, he shall be" (...)
We got lots of positive feedback over drinks afterwards, and everyone asked what we're going to do next, encouraging us to develop the work. I think Dad was quite surprised how well it was received and I could see his confidence soar as all the young people took the time to thank him. He was, as ever, gracious and kind, pretty quick after two glasses of wine, great to see him enjoy our work, and the others shows too. I think in his old age he is becoming a live art enthusiast.

But I have to thank the organizers and the wonderful people we met, old friends or new: Birgit Binder; Sylvia Rimat; Katherina Radeva (who held up Dad's cue-cards); Jo Bannon; Chris Collier, Ella Good and the Tinned Fingers gang; Duncan Speakman; Jo Britcher; Zoe Collins; Katrina Horne; Hannah and Maritea from Pennyblack, and the excellent technician (who I think was called Michael). And most of all, big thanks to Dad, for his dilligence and care. After the gig we went back to our digs, a B&B on Fishponds Rd, noisy with the traffic, cracked a bottle of wine and talked for an hour or two like best mates, before 4 hours ragged sleep and then up.

"How Good It Is To Be Alive" Still
Dad arrives in the 'Jump' position.
Photos by Laura Montag.

Beer Festival

Last night: I went out with Jaime and Vicky and Andy to the 16th Annual Beer Festival at the Royal. It was rather a quiet night, things were obviously winding down, but we went through several, but not all, of the 17 pumps. My winning beer was definitely "Fine Fettle" by the Osset Brewery, described as "A strong yet refreshing pale ale with a crisp clean flavour and citrus fruity aroma". We talked our way through Catterick (the Vic&Bob tv-show) George Clooney, the Cohen Brothers, the new Batman, Jaime's cars (he has several), and the house he is doing up.

Dad was out with the village choir doing "Trial by Jury" by Gilbert and Sullivan. About 9.45 I saw a bloke at the bar dressed in a tux, he said to the barman he'd just finished singing . I said "D'you sing with my Dad? Peter Bowes?" He said "Yes". So I rang home, he's just got back. He came over and I treated him to a pint and a half of "Fine Fettle", while he talked enthusiastically about all sorts of things (he could not be stopped), but it felt really good, really normal, he was on form, and pretty funny. And he got to answer question about his third career as a performer, which he was modest about, but clearly made up after Bristol.

Mum in the Lakes

We got up too early, with hangovers, and had a breakfast of almost soft-boiled eggs and soldiers, which Dad described as "warming". I have had headaches all morning and hardly left bed all day (for which I congratulate myself). Mum is in the Lakes so I am in charm of dinners this week. Left to his own devices Dad would probably have beans on toast three meals a day until her return. We took two pieces of salmon out the freezer for tonight so hopefully I can make something else good to complement it. No word from Mum today but she is probably in her element with dry, crisp weather, and doubtless doing no less than twelve miles a day.

Go Team!. x

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

14. Kings of England Ace BAC Freshly Scratched Festival

A belated post, after a mad week rehearsing with Hauser in Leeds on the submarine show...but Good News!

Dad and I ACED the BAC Freshly Scratched festival with a 10-minute showing of recent work. We took to the stage our vintage swimwear (go here for a description), and I narrated through a jump, a fall and a recovery that dad made in 1958, 2001 and 2007 respectively. At the end, Dad sang 'The Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel, his first solo he gave up being a choirboy sixty-one years ago, while I picked the guitar part. I was struck by his bravery and dedication to getting it right, which he did. Despite some pre-performance nerves, he was fantastic, keeping his composure throughout and, he said, genuinely enjoying being up there.
We were joined on stage by Mum who helped out holding texts for Dad and doing other tasks, not a big part but really good to have her there in the background. Saw some other good work by an bunch of ex-Dartington volk called Tinned Fingers, who are based in Bristol.
So it looks like we want to continue with this Kings of England business. We are booked to do a showing in November for peer review as part of the New Work Network Activator programme, run by Peter Petralia of Proto-type theatre, and there is a Pilot Night coming up in Birmingham curate by Talking Birds, which we will also apply for.

So... onward. Next up is "Where We Live & What We Live For", which is just "Recent Falls" +, with added texts and some dancing, at You and Your Work 5, Easton Community Centre, Bristol, this coming Friday, at 6.30PM.

K of E. x x