Friday, 30 September 2016

Moment to relax

and think about lovely books to hold. For Knicker Drawer Note Books, go over here.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Thank you, Captain Fantastic

Yes, see this film. Captain Fantastic. Beautiful, funny, disarming, ambiguous, winning, truthful and, most unusual, it didn't make me feel, well, huh, here's the lonesome loony freak!

It's a film about the clash of cultures. Choose, alternative or conventional. And it focuses on themes of upbringing, parenting, what it is to create a society and a culture; what your knowledge is, and what it does to you and the world you create.

It's one of the first films I've seen which takes that most unfashionable of subjects - education - and treats it with respect.

While home education (British English!) and home schooling (US English!) take so many different forms, those who walk the walk as well as talk the talk, we all share one thing. We lead our kids a lesser-trod route round that wood.

Once you come away from 'normal' and create your own style of 'normal' - however you do that - then we can each feel judged by the group we just left, is that not right? We don't fear their judgement, that's for sure, because by the time we set out on our alternative paths we're usually so strong-armed in our own wisdom/ righteousness/ cussedness/ bloody-mindedness that, frankly, we don't care what anyone says. And that's a premise which this film takes for granted and means we can all breathe a big sigh of relief.

Wearing my critical hat, there are moments I want to take issue with, and we talked muchly about the ending, which can be read two ways. To conventional schoolers, it will say, in the end, you submit. But we see what submission means: the world that the kids grew and knew about - woods, fields, animals, outdoors - they now access only through books. It's a disconnected, abstracted connection. The family has lost a shared narrative. And there's so much more to say about that.

But that's the absolute beauty of this film. It doesn't judge, it doesn't provide answers, it doesn't condemn, it sees both sides, and gives you the space to think about both. It's a film which says, there are no answers, only more talk.

And for me, I'm just so very grateful that it said, 'Your alternative family? It's fantastic.'

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Removed! The Comments from Shakespeare's Globe Discussion Forum, Macbeth

Comments Removed by Moderators, presumably for the Weasel Arse and Buggeroff.

Yes ... I think you are right. In the early days I heard the argument that Shakespeare's Globe would become an 'Elizabethan theme park' admired by tourists alone. That was proved so very wrong as the Globe became a centre for scholarship into theatrical practice and culture at a time of massive transition in the 16th/17th and 20th/21st centuries. But it is ironic that now I really do feel this theatre is becoming the 'Elizabethan theme park' once dreaded - yes, we get the shell of the theatre only with an abandonment of cultural study.

And phew, I also feel sorry that, no matter what the range of questioning put to the Globe, the standard copy-and-paste response of 'experimentation' follows. Dear Globe, you were called *Shakespeare's* Globe for a reason - you're not called *The director's latest experiment which we're putting on at a reconstruction of the Globe*. Your argument of 'experimentation' does not address the questioning of what you are now there for.

I posted a similar comment ... with a critique similar to yours. My comment has been removed by Shakespeare's Globe. Maybe your comment will be allowed to stay?!

We have been Friends of Shakespeare's Globe for years. You were one of the most original theatres in London. In every play we saw - and we have seen many - we were rewarded with the knowledge that the cast had spent rehearsal time wrenching every physical expression from the scripts.

The actors, without props of hi-tech support, presented these characters to us stripped back and bare - so very little else on stage, the presentation of Shakespeare's plays like this was borderline folly. It was incredibly brave.

Shakespeare's Globe rightly travelled about the world as a beacon of originality. And Shakespeare's Globe pulled it off! The support of the beautiful crafted stage; natural light; reconstructed costuming; an exploration of Elizabethan culture; the supportive exhibition; the groundlings - it created a theatre of breathtaking bravery.

The very first time I visited the Globe, ALL my education and understanding about Shakespearean theatre was turned upside down. I am indebted to both Rylance and Dromgoole. It was thrilling. I slapped down my Friends money the same day, then set about recommending Shakespeare's Globe widely. We brought children to you as groundlings to see your startling new approach. Here was a theatre that no-one else was attempting. I was delighted to support how Shakespeare's Globe was helping to kick into being a new form of Shakespeare studies.

Now! I find I'm relabelled and discarded as a 'purist' and 'traditionalist' for mourning the loss of your original vision. But you need to tell people honestly that under Rice your previous approach is gone. The message you send around the World needs revision. In these performances, to me it looks now - without that central unifying focus, purpose and vision - as if you're searching for what you think must be popular - you're grabbing at lights, sound, put on a song because all shows must have a song, revise to the absurd, drown the words with sound, get to the next set piece because integrity and coherence no longer matter - Shakespeare's Globe is become just another London stage.

Yes, go if you want cheap and accessible theatre, then Shakespeare's Globe still great value. Yes, go if the RSC at Stratford is too far! Yes, go if you like set-piece songs (thanks to Webber). Go if you like a whizz-bang-pop that's there, well, just because. But if you need that astonishing vision of authenticity, then I don't know where to recommend. Sadly, it used to be Shakespeare's Globe. Now? I can no longer recommend it.

And the message I sent to the Moderators:
HEY, SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE STAFF! It's looking to me as if you don't want to hear my comments, especially if they're in any way critical! After many years of study of Shakespeare, starting with a degree covering the stuff, then I believe I have earned the right to an opinion. I have praised the Globe around this world, and brought people over from Hong Kong to be with us in this very special space, and now I'm not allowed to comment?! Okay, then I will use other channels for sure.

Weasel Arse and Buggeroff.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Think about that

One of the benefits of home education is that you can work from home, especially using your skills.

When we started work from home (before children, and not on my Knickerdrawers) we opened a company account, hired an accountant (we still use the same firm), and the bank kindly called us a 'lifestyle company'.

I'd like to say that, except for a brief attempt (in 1999? can't recall) to employ office help (it was a disaster), we have not grown our company at all. We work just the same, probably by some measure surfing a poverty line (we don't have a flat-screen TV, and the last time I bought a pair of shoes not from the charity shop was 2002), but we have spent the days doing the things we like to do, chugging through the years with some of this and some of that. It has all been the most happy time.

This year I have found that making books is become more of a delight, so I might do some more. It will be unprofitable, of course, but hopefully I can justify the leather to make some more. Who can tell? The kids (they always come first if you make them your lifestyle) might come up with another clever idea about how we can focus our days. Making adjustable wings for the Steampunk community perhaps?

But I know that September can bring about a major reflection in a life. People begin their commute, pack the kids away, settle down, I hear, to normal. Then some might think, I wonder if there's a different way to live?

Well, you could dream about that in a Knicker Drawer Note Book. I've probably made one, just for you.