Friday 11 July 2014

Verona-on-Sea a.k.a Romeo and Juliet

For me, in my work-place of Barnard Castle, one of the secular highlights of the year is the annual presentation by the Castle Players of a Shakespearean play. Usually the Players perform one of William's comedies, but this year they have chosen to perform Romeo and Juliet, which, although it has comedy in certain parts of the story, is in the end a tragedy.

The action takes place on a large open grassed space behind the Bowes Museum, and as you can see there are 'groundlings' (Bring your own rug), just as in Shakespear's day. The rest of the audience is seated in two large mobile grandstands, named, of course, as the John Bowes Stand and the Josephine Bowes Stand.
There is always a warm-up performance by some of the actors while the public is finding their seats. The actor in the centre of the above photo struggled manfully with his dog - actually a toy dog on the end of a stick, which he controlled very well!

The play itself was performed in two unbroken parts, lasting an hour and a half each, with a break of half an hour for refreshments.  The action of the play was performed seamlessly; changes of Acts and Scenes was brought about by a dimming of lights and a bit of various pop songs from the 'Sixties, with departing actors removing their own props and incoming actors bringing theirs. This performance of Romeo and Juliet was dated as 1964, when as older readers will remember the Mods and Rockers were causing trouble in Brighton and other Channel resorts. Sometimes the 'stage' was full of Mods/Capulets and Rockers/Montagues, and sometimes a single actor filled the stage with his or her soliloquy. All the actors/actresses gave wonderful performances.
Juliet was well chosen, as was Romeo; Juliet is pictured here with her mother (Lady Capulet) and her nurse (Nurse).
Here we have the Rockerss chasing the Mods, while Benvolio and Mercutio have a chat on the right. Mercutio gave a splendid and athletic performance, doing falls and flips, before coming to a sticky end. After being stabbed, he 'fell' into the tethered boat and staggering to his feet with his hand and chest covered in blood (tomato sauce). The audience groaned with shock.

Friar John, who failed to pass on a letter containing details of the stratagem by which Romeo and Juliet could run away, was a dab hand at riding a 'sit-up-and-beg' bike around the stage and gave a Chaplinesque performance of trying to mount his bike. The 'death-sccene' was watched by a tense and silent audience - if only Romeo had received that letter and realised that Juliet was not really dead, then he would not have taken the poison, nor would Juliet have drunk the poison too!

But the Chief of Police was able to get Lords Capulet and Montague to shake hands and bring their enmity to an end.


The Curtain call ---

Friday 27 June 2014

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Once again, a lovely feast to celebrate today, both in the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Forms.
Those who have studied at Ushaw College or visited the St Cuthbert's Chapel will recall that, as you leave the Chapel and enter the Antechapel, there is a beautiful statue of Our Lady to the left of the entrance and a statue of the Sacred Heart to the right. During my time there, after morning Mass almost everybody, on going out of chapel, turned to the left and genuflecting offered a quick prayer to Our Lady and then proceeded out, bypassing the Sacred Heart. I remember some spiritual director saying that if we wanted to ensure our eventual ordination we should always stop for a moment before the Sacred Heart and pray for that intention. I did that, day after day, and fifty odd years ago I was ordained. Perhaps more people should pray to the Sacred Heart for vocations to the priesthood.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

A Fishy Story

Some weeks ago I promised a story about my fish. This is not that story, because I am in something of a quandary.
As you can see, the surrounds of the tank, especially the structure holding the filter tank, are beginning to fall apart. And if the filter tank falls to the ground, I will need to take emergency action. However, I was able, in the last week or so, to get a glimpse of the inhabitants of the fish tank (they are not easy to see, because the water is rather green), and I managed to see six 'silvery' types of fish, maybe sterlets, and three gold fish. I should transfer them a soon as possible to the main pond. But herein lies the quandary.
This is feeding time in the pond. I try to cover the surface of the water with food nuggets as quickly as possible, but within seconds forty or fifty fish, large and small, are trying to grab something to eat. Chaos reigns - it is a wonder that there are so very few collisions and no fights at all.
But this is my quandary - shall I put another nine fish into this existing melee, or shall I just wait until something bad happens with the other tank?

Corpus Christi Barnard Castle

Once again this year I have been able to celebrate Corpus Christi twice, once on its proper day  with a Traditional Latin Mass and again on Sunday with both a Traditional Latin Mass and with Novus Ordo Masses.
I have also been able to celebrate with a group of our children, nine in all, as they have made their First Holy Communions. Preparations began for them on the first Saturday in Lent when they were asked to come to church for instructions each Saturday morning.  And I am glad to say that they, and their parents, came each week to receive a half hour's instruction from Carol and me.
Saturday was their great day to receive for the first time, and they did so with enthusiasm and reverence.
(I can only count eight children here - one seems to have got lost!)
After Mass, we all retired into the garden where the children had an al-fresco breakfast on the lawn - and actually so did everybody since the amount of food available was immense. Indeed there was so much food that it was the basis for a great feast on Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday afternoon there were further celebrations of Corpus Christi.  We had our Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, beginning in church and then processing around the outside of the church to halt near the Tomb of John and Josephine Bowes where we celebrated Benediction, and then continued back into church for a further Benediction.  Then came another opportunity to try to consume all the food which had been brought. And we failed.  Father was given the job of trying to eat everything which was still left, and even he failed, leaving quite a bit for the jackdaws who this morning were delighted to get the sandwiches which had been left over.
Many were the expressions of delight from the children and their parents at the outcome of all their hard work and their enjoyment of our celebrations.

Monday 19 May 2014

Yesterday,Sunday May 18th, was a special day: it was the day of our parish Procession in honour of Our Lady.  There was the usual small crowd of more traditional parishioners who were willing to come to church a second time, but the sun was shining warmly and we were able to process around the outside of the church, past the tombs of John and Josephine Bowes, past the Presbytery and into the front garden to stand in front of the statue of Our Lady of Barnard Castle,all the while singing Marian hymns.
As we stood (and sat) in front of the statue, we recited the Five Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, and after we finished the Hail Holy Queen, I gave a short talk. I reminded everyone that when Jesus from the Cross gave His Mother to St John and St John to His Mother, that He was making Her the Mother not only of all of his followers but  most especially of John the priest and of all priests; I asked the group to pray for moree priests for His church. After these prayers we returned to the church for Bendiction. However, before Benediction began, we had to crown the statue of Our Lady in the sanctuary. Jane was our May Queen and managed perfectly.
Our service ended with the traditional Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
Tea, coffee and cakes were then served in the presbytery and most people sat on the lawn in the warm sunshine and enjoyed the peace and the conversation for quite a long time.  As someone said, it was a very enjoyable occasion!

PS. I hope to be able to publish another chapter in the story of the fish quite soon. Watch this space.

Friday 10 January 2014

Update Number 2 for Paul and anyone else

Now you see it....

Now you don't....

Or rather it should be the other way around. Denis and his marra have uprooted the pampas grasses which obliterated the view of the garden and pond and made it look so much more open. The pond is also more securely netted against any further predations by Mr Heron.
And while I was taking this photo, I was under surveillance from an anxious dog in the window!

I feel that I should burst into song - "Whose is that doggy in the window, the one with the waggerly tail?

Happy New Year!