Saturday, 30 August 2014

The other August home ed highlights

Traditionally, home educators stay at home in August, hiding. We hide from queues, more queues, and ridiculously long queues, the object of which seems to be for an over-priced commercial racket of any description to rip money out your bank account then spit in your face. (Because you are a family with children. I can find no other explanation.)

But in August, even we home educators go out sometimes. We cannot chain children to their home-school desks all day long. More's the pity.

So here are August's best bits.

Except for RIFT, which I told you about. And Shark's coracle making. That deserves a diary entry all of its own. Although you can forget any pictures. Finding the pictures for Shark's coracle making broke my soul, so I'm not going looking for any more.

1. RSC, Two Gentlemen of Verona. Understudy performance. Which means, cheap and excellent. So we don't get to see the bright names in an understudy performance? Tsk. We do get to see superb RSC actors doing what they're best at, so no loss.

2. A King Lear workshop. Run by me, apparently, although since the children are Shakespeare experts I don't know why they shouldn't run it. Tiger, Squirrel and Shark say I made a mistake about the Duke of Albany while I was demonstrating sword thrust technique. They are right. I think my punishment was too much of an over-reaction. They should forgive and forget.

3. Failing to go to the Milton Keynes Film Festival. I dunno, we just forgot. And it was free, dammit.

4. Sorting out bank accounts for the offspring. Second time we have done this, with a different bank from the first time. The first time, the bank spelled everyone's name wrong. When we tried to correct it, they made it all worse. So we withdrew the 7 pounds 45pence each child has slaved for, and we took it elsewhere. A triumph. I have been threatening to do it for years.

5.Dig is in and out of hospital scenarios. Life is a bastard, there is no getting away from it. Why do I get given a husband I love and then life has to creep about trying to steal him from me. Bastard, bastard, bastard.

6. Antony and Cleopatra at the Globe. The one with Clive Wood and Eve Best. It was delicious. The formula broke by casting Antony with a face like a beat up TV detective, rather than serve up the beefcake we're normally offered. Anyway, in homage to its deliciousness, I have decided to grow my hair long and go a bit Cleopatra.

7. The lake. (Not a play. Actual watery-water lakes) Both of them. The sub-aqua one and the windsurf one. All kids do something. Parents split water-watch duties. It's an achievement.

8. Holy Warriors by David Eldridge at the Globe. I enjoyed it, although a thousand years of history in a couple of hours is a bit ambitious. But it made a great talking point for the kids, and helped me explain Christianity-Islam-Judaism on the train home.

9. Running about woods. This is so normal, I forget it. The Wide Games, organised by San. She and her entire family are brilliant. Even the ones from America. And the dog. If home education never did anything else, it put me in touch with this most remarkable of families, and for that I am life grateful.

10. The Proms. Yes! A triumph of musical mayhem, with a weekend pass to Richard Strauss (not the waltz one); a weekend of Salome and Elektra. Brilliant. Totally loved them. Including the corpse stamping at the end of Electra before she's consumed by the fire of her own rage, distress, revenge, hurt, and chaos. You have my sympathies, sister.

11. Disobedient Objects at the V&A. Very good. A bit text heavy on the minus side, but on the plus side, they did teach us how to make a bucket bomb.

12. Some other stuff. Oh I don't know. Cooking, mooching about the house, kids reading, etc etc etc. Opening envelopes for the exam results. Yes, everyone got a grade, and no-one got a Grade E in their first ever exam. That's not very exciting, is it? But I didn't feel it was right to end at a number 11, that's all. Call it my OCD.

Friday, 15 August 2014

The overnighter with RIFT

I spend a Friday night with the possessed.

When the madman asked me to dance, you can bet I leapt off that sofa and took up his offer.

Tiger hissed WHAT ARE YOU DOING? but, daughter, consider this: the last time ANYONE asked me to dance was 1974. So I don't care who's asking, nor the fact that one side of him is drenched in blood and his hair is plastered to his face, I'm not missing the offer. It might be the last time I get this invite, EVER.

But this is not downtown in Smalltown at the Queen's Head. With witches emerging from total darkness in an underground car park to get us in the mood, it can only be RIFT's immersive overnight Macbeth, staged in the classic brutalist Goldfinger building, Balfron Tower.

(Yes, that architecture needs protecting. So we can all look at it, realise it is a horrible warning, and then we can all chant, We are never building anything like this ever again.)

Well, I thought one or two of the initial newspaper reviews were at times a little grudging, so don't read those. Listen to me instead. It was fantastic. Clever, thoughtful, well planned, carefully executed, a strong cast and a superb Lady Macbeth (who still spooked me a little when I saw her on the DLR next morning going off to get some kip, probably) but with enough layers of storytelling woven together it should keep any Eng Lit student happy for hours. And I still say all this, even after they locked me in the toilet.

Next time RIFT is staging one of their immersive theatre experiences, you must support them. Pluck up your courage for an experience you won't forget, and go. Take your sleeping bag if necessary.

I suspect the newspaper reviewers fled to their dorms and were asleep when the zombies came round. I was in the room where the weaklings were hiding, and we locked the door.

One great home ed outing! Thank you, RIFT.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Overcome by the urgent need for a boat?

Shark builds a coracle. She learns carpentry skills, uses dangerous power tools, avoids taking someone's eye out with a stanley knife, then she sets off up the Thames (with a paddle).

If you too are overcome with the urgent need for your very own water-based transport, contact Alistair.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

The Ephemeral Pin Up

Okay, I know this is a niche interest group, but there are people out there who make it their life's work, looking at signs. For them, I include this happy mix.

For everyone else, just wondering what goes on at a home educating festival in a field, this does.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Aldeburgh to Minsmere

Just warning everyone. There will be a point in my life when I stay a whole summer in these parts.

I will be wearing sparkly pointed shoes and carrying a battered co-op shopping bag while my children attempt to lead me by the arm while I am chatting up the charming young PCSO.

(At least that's how it happened this year.)