If Greta’s Right

If Greta’s right, then we might have to give
our cars up, and stop flying and perhaps
stop eating meat – why how’s a man to live
without a car as big as other chaps

If Greta’s right (how can she be, she’s just
a girl, and what is more she’s slightly odd)
We’ll have to live on lettuce, and a crust
And shiver, and in winter go unshod

That Greta’s wrong. That’s easier to say
Much easier than looking at ourselves
It’s not as if we’ll live long anyway
Sod Greta. Pile the plastic on the shelves

And light the sky up bright with fossil fuels
The children lie. The scientists are fools.

© Gail Foster 23rd September 2019

 

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Bus Stop Equinox

Bus Stop Equinox by Gail Foster

A sonnet on the subject of the Autumn Equinox,
and being at the bus stop at Avebury

Has Summer gone? Oh God, she was divine
Those crazy kisses, that incessant heat
Last seen by The Red Lion on the street
And off to Swindon on the 49 –
Another bus is coming, so it’s fine
That Autumn makes an old heart skip a beat
Her hazy colours, and her scents as sweet
As blackberries that tumble from the vine

We stand here by the bus stop, and the breeze
Blows chillier than yesterday – we wait
She won’t be long, although she’s sometimes late
(Devizes traffic, everyone agrees)
Less leaves than yesterday – we watch them fall
She has to come from Trowbridge, after all

© Gail Foster 21st September 2019

American Heresy

I am, said Trump, the Chosen One
There are no other Gods but me
Fall on your knees before the Son
I am, said Trump, the Chosen One
Come not with peace but with a gun
Not for me then against me be
I am, said Trump, the Chosen One
There are no other Gods but me

© Gail Foster 22nd August 2019

Billy and The Angel

The angel sat on the edge of the trench smoking a cigarette as a new dawn rose over the ruined landscape.
‘There’s always someone worse off than you’ it said.
Billy looked around with the eye that he still had left to see.
The trench was full of mud and blood, most of which, observed Billy, was his.
‘I don’t see anyone’ he said.
‘Look harder’ said the angel.
‘My legs hurt’ said Billy.
‘That’ll be the legs that you no longer have’ said the angel.
A tear fell from Billy’s eye.
‘No use crying over spilt milk.’
Billy wiped the tear from his one eye with the one arm he had left.
‘God help me’ he said.
‘Praying for yourself now?’ said the angel, smiling, ‘Tut, tut.’
Billy despaired.
‘Give me a break, for fuck’s sake.’
‘Look’ said the angel, pointing, ‘over there.’
Billy strained his one eye in the darkness and saw, ten foot down the trench under a pile of wooden planks and body parts and broken ammunition boxes, something stir.
‘There you go’ said the angel.
‘There you go what?’ said Billy.
‘Someone worse off than you.’
‘Help me’ said a feeble voice, ‘please help me.’
‘Well go on’ said the angel to Billy, ‘do something.’
Billy looked with his one eye at the arm he no longer had left and the legs he no longer had and the blood all around him that was mostly his and said:
‘I’m sorry.
I can’t.’
‘Help me’ said the voice, ‘please help me.’
‘How the fuck’ said Billy to the angel, ‘is he worse off than me right now?’
‘It’s simple’ said the angel, blowing a cloud of smoke across the last star.
‘Nobody loves him.’
A warm wave washed over Billy’s heart and he remembered the sweet peas in his grandmother’s garden and the warm smell of home.
‘Oh’ he said.
‘Help me’ said the voice.
‘I’m here for you, brother’ said Billy.
‘Goodbye, Billy’ said the angel.
‘I’m here.’

© Gail Foster 30th July 2019

Quis? Ego

~ on the anointing of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

So what if it was just a drunken dare
Quis? Ego! Made at Eton long ago
I dub thee Boris of the Golden Hair
Servus, servum, servi, servo, servo
So what if afterwards they went to town
and ordered tiny sparrows stuffed inside
six rare exotic birds and chased it down
with virgins’ tears in mouths so open wide
one could believe designed to fit the poor
in at such times there are no partridges
Amo! Amas! Deus! Deum! and more
Dom Perignon! To Boris! Boris is
The Chosen One! So long ago, the dare
At Eton, or more probably, elsewhere

© Gail Foster 24th July 2019

Boris Made A Little Bus 🚌

Boris made a little bus
That’s lovely, Boris, Nanny said
Another bus. That’s nice for us
And went and put it in the shed

Boris made another bus
And painted it in blue and red
That’s nice, said Nanny, made a fuss
And went and put it in the shed

He’s made another fucking bus!
The Nanny to the butler said
You know I like it when you cuss
He said, a quick one in the shed?

I would, said Nanny, but it’s chock
Ablock with buses. Little shit
‘I’ve made another bus!’ The cock
And straight in to the shed with it

Boris made another bus
I made it all myself, he said
Another bus. That’s nice for us
And went and put it in the shed

Boris made another bus
Enough! said Nanny turning red
I’ve had enough of buses, plus
There’s no room in the fucking shed!

Boris bought another shed
Look, Nanny, now there’s lots of space!
That’s lovely, Boris, Nanny said
A little smile on her face

© Gail Foster 26th June 2019

 

TITCO do Spamalot!

The Invitation Theatre Company at St.Mary’s, Devizes ~ a dress rehearsal review

England, 932 AD, and the country is ravaged by plague, purposeless, pestered by the French, and in need of a firm hand at the helm.  Enter Arthur, King by virtue of the fact that once he was given a sword by a watery tart, and his hapless servant Patsy, coconut clip clopping across the land in search of knights to save the day, the funniest fart joke, and the nebulous Grail.

Such is the plot of Jemma Brown and TITCO’s production of Monty Python’s musical comedy Spamalot, loosely based on the film ‘Monty Python and The Holy Grail’ and first performed on Broadway in 2005.

There’s been a real buzz in town about this show, and I’m sure I’m not the only person to eagerly anticipate sinking into a pew in St. Mary’s and sighing with relief at having escaped from Britain’s current woes and impossible quests for a couple of hours.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Apart from being unable to resist comparing the England of Spamalot with the country today and our own search for a nebulous Grail I was completely lost from the outset in the world of mirth, magic, and medieval silliness that TITCO had created with a little help from their friends (knights who scaled the walls to black the windows out, masters of the lights and smoke, knights with needles and an eye for fabric and design) in what has to surely be the perfect venue for such a show.

For all its silliness, Spamalot is a complicated and fast paced show involving a lot of physical comedy and choreography, and multiple costume changes for some of the characters (particularly Ian Diddams, who can’t quite remember exactly how many but was most memorable as Tim the horny Scottish enchanter).  The cast did a great job of keeping up the momentum throughout, which bodes well for the rest of the run.  Fish slapping and Finnish dancing, creepy monks and can can dancers, flying cows and Trojan rabbits, loose-bowelled knights and mystical misunderstandings – at no time did the action flag and if anyone fluffed a line there was far too much going on to notice.

Anthony Brown stepped out of his role as Musical Director to give a creditable performance as the idealistic but naive Arthur with Debby Wilkinson doing a fine bit of character acting as Patsy; Terésa Isaacson with her powerful voice was an imposing presence as The Lady of the Lake; all the knights were hilarious, although I have to say how much I enjoyed the performances of Chris Worthy as the not-so-brave-or-continent Sir Robin, and Matt Dauncey’s macho-but-underneath-it-all-totally-gay Sir Lancelot (steady with that lance, sir, you’ll have someone’s eye out – just saying); and Will Sexton as Prince Herbert was wonderfully wet.

Then there were the nicely played cameos – melodious mischievous minstrels, legless knights and dancing nuns, political peasants and obstreperous Frenchmen – the old songs (who doesn’t need to be reminded to ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’?) and familiar jokes, and – my favourite Python thing ever – the Knights of Ni (‘Ni.’ ‘Ni.’ Etc.).

The only negative in my view (aside from the obvious stereotyping of gay people and the French) related to the script, and that was the ‘We Won’t Succeed On Broadway If We Don’t Have Any Jews’ song.  I’m still thinking about that and about what is acceptable in this day and age in the context of performance and historical record.  It didn’t sit well for me at all, but I’m sure that TITCO thought hard about including it and decided to keep it in in the spirit of authenticity rather than racism.

There’s so much that is good about TITCO’s show but for me the best thing about it is that this motley group of people, many of who would not be out of place in professional productions, are one big talented dancing singing and joking happy family, and their wild enthusiasm at working together shows in both the energy they display and the quality of their performances.

And who doesn’t like a good fart joke?

The Invitation Theatre Company’s production of Spamalot, despite its archaic political incorrectness, is just the kind of silliness we need in these ridiculously serious times.

Now, back to looking for that Grail…

(‘Ni.’)

© Gail Foster 25th June 2019