“Marley was dead, dead as a door-nail. Let that fact be understood for certain” (or something like that) starts the only Dickens I have ever read.
I am sure that more academically qualified people than myself would dismiss “A Christmas Carol” as an unworthy short story, but although I love a good TV or film adapation of a Charles Dickens work I find the books too wordy and the language just plain tricky.
Anyway, one of the items in the Gibson Cub Scout Pack programme was rehearsing for and putting on a playlette for the Mums and Dads as part of the Cubs Entertainer badge work this coming Monday.
This has involved two weeks of reading through and rehearsal and then a dress rehearsal and performance due on 30 November.
The planning was vague to say the least, and after the meeting three weeks ago Baloo - who was in charge – was asked whether there was a script or something to start work with the following week.
His reply did not inspire – “Well not yet, but we are working on it and it should be ready by next Monday. I think it will be a take on A Christmas Carol.”
I received a phone text message the following Sunday, “Are you up for a bit of acting on Monday?”
I answered “Acting the fool?, maybe.”
At the Monday meeting, the scripts were passed around. I was given one with the comment, “I hope we haven’t type cast you too much, you will be Scrooge”.
Now, Dear Reader this did not spook me too much. I thought there would be a couple of scenes, but it would be easy enough.
The first read through confirmed that there were not too many words to say.
At a second read through with some stage directions being given, my “not much” theory was blasted completely out of the water.
Scrooge enters the stage on the first line of the script from The Narrators: “There was a man called Scrooge”.
I then walk London’s streets and utter two lines before going to my work place.
There I have dialogue with Bob Cratchit about having Christmas Day off, then with my Nephew Fred and then have a few crossed words with some Charity Workers.
Then a sudden change of scene to Scrooge is bedroom to be accosted by first Marley’s Ghost and then the Ghost of Christmas Past.
He takes me to Scrooge’s school and Fezziwig’s shop party, before I am passed on to the Ghost of Christmas Present who takes me on to Nephew Fred’s and Bob Cratchit’s.
The game of Pass-the-Scrooge is carried on by the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come with the trip to the graveyard before I wake up mid-nightmare and it is still Christmas Day.
Of course, Scrooge has had his transformation and gets the Boy to buy the massive turkey for Bob Cratchit’s Christmas feast and then goes to dinner and we all end up singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas”
So the “bit of acting” actually equates with my being on stage from the first line to the last.
Monday’s meeting is the Dress Rehearsal and actual performance.
It should be “interesting”.
In other Scouting News, I managed to complete a First Response course yesterday.
Next weekend I am part of the cooking crew at a two day County Scout "Management" Course. It should not be too onerous as I have heard that numbers may be between 8 and 10.
There may also be a Gibson Cub Scout Pack Christmas Party on Saturday, but this needs to be confirmed.
I have been privileged to see three excellent but very different gigs this week.
On Tuesday, I was at the lovely Union Chapel in Islington to see Billy Bragg. This was a very stripped back affair, with The Bard's only accompaniment being CJ Hillman on Pedal Guitar and guitars.
The following evening, I saw Courtney Barnett's rocking set at The Forum, Kentish Town.
On Saturday, it was up to the Royal Albert Hall to see Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. That really was a fun night.
The pre-Christmas house cleaning continues when I get the time or can actually be bothered (not often enough). Guests are arriving on or about 22 or 23 December.
I am not sure when the Christmas house decorations will go up this year. In the past, I have had them in place on 1st December or as late as a week before the big day.
As with the housework, it will get done when I get the time. At this point, however I am not sure when this window will open.
That has got to be enough for now.
Until next time. Let's be careful out there.
Last evening's atrocities in Paris have caused many outpourings on social media during the day.
Mine were typical of tweets:
"Sympathy and thoughts towards the people of Paris. No good will come of these dreadful events."
Perhaps the best words I saw today came from Billy Bragg, song-writer and political activist. He posted to Facebook:
"The events in Paris last night are made all the more shocking by the fact that these murderers deliberately targeted people who were socialising on a Friday night. The language of the communique issued by ISIS, seeking to portray those at the Bataclan concert as "idolaters" attending "a party of perversity" gives us a chilling insight into the mind of these killers. This was an abhorrent attack on anyone who goes to a bar, or to a restaurant, to a gig or to a game. The fundamentalists would kill us all for enjoying ourselves. ISIS is a death cult and we who believe in life must go on enjoying ourselves in defiance of their provocations."
He went on:
"This cartoon was posted last night by Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Joann Sfar in response to the attacks."
The full series of cartoons can be seen here in an <article in the Independent>
A Facebook Status update from an old schoolmate now in Hong Kong reminded me of an old rhyme which I had not thought about for an age.
The Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot"
History has traditionally never been my strongest suite, so credit for the details here need to be given to The British Library, specifically this <Timeline page for 1605>
The major points are that in 1605, a group of Catholic conspirators, including the now infamous Guy Fawkes, devised a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Their aim was to overthrow the government, kill King James I, and make James’s daughter a Catholic head of state.
The Catholics had, in truth, had a pretty rough time during the reign of Elizabeth I, and things had not improved during James' time.
Guido (Guy) Fawkes had a background in munitions and was chosen to light the fuse to 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars beneath the Parliament building. Weirdly, by today's security standards, the conspirators were able to rent these cellars.
The date for the Big Bang was set as November 5th, but a search was done and the group caught, tried, tortured and executed as was the way back then
The English still celebrate every year and the damned bangs from fireworks can be heard regularly between Halloween in October and the following New Year's Day.
Lewes in Sussex is the home to one of the more over the top annual Guy Fawkes Night celebrations. Villages around the town all make effigies of out-of-favour politicians (Putin, George Bush, David Cameron and ex-Scottish Nationalist Leader Alex Salmond have all featured), the Pope and the man himself Guy Fawkes. All of these end up on the fires.
Some folks are offended by the burning of an effigy of the Catholic Guy Fawkes. The inclusion of the Pope is, I guess, a logical extension indicative of the Catholic conspiracy.
To be blunt, they shouldn't. After all, to paraphrase Basil in Fawlty Towers, "they started it."
I had never seen the full rhyme and my curiosity was raised. I think it is a marvellous thing:
The Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England's overthrow.
But, by God's providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
I'll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!