Just like the crappy local rag in Brighton, "The Argus", I am having a slow news week as I'm on holiday so this is going to be a short post. It has to be said, the 'headline' above is a new low in their generally laughable headlines - one would be disappointed if the deacon didn't urge people to go to church.
Monday saw the ever-creative Birmingham Opera Company performance of one of my favourite pieces of music ever, Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas". I went to see their performance of "The Waiter's Revenge" last Autumn and Stockhausen's "Mittwoch Aus Licht" several years ago, before I had even thought about moving to Birmingham. Given that "Dido" is so well-known and well-loved, any contemporary production runs the risk of upsetting and offending 'traditionalists'.
Setting it in a sleazy ballroom in an underpass off The Bullring was the first surprise.
For me, the excitement began when I heard that the piece was being performed on the original instruments. Purcell has become one of my favourite composers and although I wouldn't object to hearing performances on modern instruments, the original instruments give a life and vivacity to the music which cannot be conveyed otherwise.
The performances were blistering but the biggest surprise was the enormous chorus - perhaps equal in size to the audience - who were mixed in with the audience for a good part of the performance. If I hadn't been there, it would have been hard to imagine how this could work, but it was very effective.
The highlight for me was the role of the Sorceress being sung by a counter-tenor - Tai Oney - instead of the more usual mezzo-soprano.
The performances were all superb and very physical with Chrystal E Williams' Dido climbing about the place:
Or being thrown about by Eric Greene's robust Aeneas. I regretted not having bought a ticket for later in the week but it sold out some time ago.
Looking forward to what comes next!
Also this week, I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Parry of Bad Dog Designs. I commissioned a Nixie tube clock from Paul a month or so ago and went to collect it, having a look around his wonderful workshop and getting a preview of the clocks he's building. The clock he made for me was built around a electrical testing bridge.
I've wanted a Nixie clock for years - there is something immensely appealing about the colour of the light, the mystery of the mechanism and even the sound. When I was a kid, my dad had a calculator with Nixie tubes - no idea what happened to that - and there was something magical about the way it lit up, the "pinging" of the tubes if you bumped it (which I probably did a bit too often)...
Paul's clocks are remarkable constructions, made from found objects and electronic components.
Even a helium-neon laser-tube!
Here is a video of one of the clocks in operation: