Our Jerusalem

– on Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom

*

And in the heat of summer time

Walking by England’s fountains seen

A man who thought he was a God

And King of England’s pastures green

We did not countenance his crime

Drew lines upon our crowded hills

And sang Jerusalem, Trump is here

Among us – dark Satanic chills

Bring me balloons of tan and gold

Bring me cartoons and bold satire

Bring tea and beer; Oh, clowns untold!

Bring me the jokes that will not tire!

I will bring cheese to fuel the fight

Or something silly in my hand

This isn’t Trump’s Jerusalem

And we don’t want him in our land

*

© Gail Foster 12th July 2018

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‘If Truth Be Told’; a book of poetry and autobiographical prose

For poetry fans and curious fellows; my book

Cover-1 - Copy

It’s available from Devizes Books (01380 725944), as well as through Amazon.  Herewith the blurb; there’s lots in here you won’t have read.

Everything in this book was written between November 2016 and November 2017.
It’s an odd mixture, really.

Serious sonnets and satirical silliness.
Randy pigeons and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Feisty stuff and flirtations with form.
Sainsburys and the Avebury Ring.
Grand themes and little ticklish things.
Sadness and spiritual joy.
….
This is my second anthology and yet again I have had to give thought to the diverse nature of my content.
I have decided to treat my readers like adults, and include all my material.  Everything.  Nearly.  Except for my haiku, senryu, and tanka, which belong in another book, and the private things I have written.  Everything including the sweet story about my god daughter, the mysterious case of the socks on the rocking chair, a poem in which I use the ‘c’ word for a fascist, songs of love for beautiful people, wild poems inspired by the muse, and the seedy tale of what happened to me back in the seventies and early eighties.

So here you go.
Take a deep breath.
Thank you so much for reading my work.
*
Gail Foster ~ Devizes, Wiltshire, November ‘17

 

Iolanthe; the White Horse Opera at Lavington School

a first night review…

*

I was delighted to be asked to review the White Horse Opera’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera, Iolanthe, at Lavington School this week.  Delighted, but slightly nervous.  Opera, or operetta, apart from a brief flirtation with The Yeoman of the Guard in my youth, isn’t my cup of tea.  But I’m up for a challenge, and it really was about time I popped my White Horse Opera cherry.

I looked it up online and what I read tickled me.  Fairies and the House of Lords.  Bit of magic and a bit of satire.  Interesting.

First performed in London in 1882, Iolanthe, also known as ‘The Peer And The Peri’, took a mischievous jab at the high society of the time in this bizarre tale of a Fairy who has been banished for wedding a mortal, Strephon her son, a half-man, half-fairy sort of bloke, Phyllis, the mortal object of his (and everyone else’s) affections, various vociferous Fairies; a conflicted Lord Chancellor;  and assorted beery leery Peers.

Phyllis reciprocates Strephon’s love, but the Lord Chancellor, even though he is her legal guardian, also has his eye on her, and forbids Strephon from marrying her.  When Phyllis catches Strephon talking to Iolanthe about the situation and mistakes the ever youthful Fairy for a lover, she rejects him and says that she will marry a Peer.  The Fairy Queen and her crew, unimpressed with the Lord Chancellor and the Peers, put Strephon into Parliament and give him the power to pass any bill he likes…

It’s all a bit tricky really, what with the law about Fairies marrying mortals being punishable by death, the Lord Chancellor’s paradoxical legal dilemma, the state of the political nation, forbidden desires, cosmic compromises, and everyone falling in love with everyone else.  One could get quite deep about it, even (it’s his bottom half that’s mortal, by the way, in case you were wondering), what with all those rampant Fairies and randy Lords, Pagans and the Establishment, intellectual conflicts, ancient energies in tension, and stuff…

Or one could just enjoy a jolly good romp.  So to speak.

Well directed by Graham Billing, with superb musical direction by Roland Melia, the show was visually and aurally gripping from the outset.  The orchestra was tight and melodious throughout.  The acoustics were great (how mellow was that cello!).  The scenery, consisting of a screen backdrop of a flowing stream and a static image of the Houses of Parliament, was simple but effective.  The fairy dresses and butterfly wings were pretty, the Peers looked authentic, and the choreography was energetic.  It was, with the exception of a couple of minor hesitations, pretty slick for a first night.

A few voices stuck out a mile; Phyllis’s (Lisa House) beautiful soaring soprano, Lord Mountarat’s (Matt Dauncey) confident baritone, Iolanthe’s (Paula Boyagis) sweet mezzo-soprano, and Private Willis’s (Charles Leeming) sonorous bass.  Phyllis and Strephon’s (Jon Paget) duet ‘None Shall Part Us From Each Other’, and the Peers’ robust entry with ‘Loudly Let The Trumpet Bray’, got the old goosebumps going good and proper, and I couldn’t fault the whole cast harmonies.

As far as the acting went, good performances all round, but special mention to Matt Dauncey and Jon Paget again, Chrissie Higgs as the feisty Leila and Jessica Phillips as Celia, and Sue Goodman as the scary and imposing Queen of the Fairies.  Oh, and all of the Peers, who were truly amusing, delivered some delicious little cameos, played every moment with gusto, and ripped the Michael out of the aristocracy beautifully.

I’d like to have seen little more evidence of eternal youth and a tad more spring in the step of the Fairy ranks at times.  And a couple of voices took a while to warm up, or sounded better in some songs than others.   Stephen Grimshaw as the Lord Chancellor and Dennis Carter as Lord Tolloller impressed more in the second act, with Grimshaw nailing the complicated patter song ‘Love, Unrequited, Robs Me Of My Rest’, and Carter seeming more comfortable as time went on.

Picky, really, but had to be said.  Small spots of imperfection in an otherwise impeccable show that will doubtless be ironed out by Saturday.

I loved this show.  I spent much of the evening tapping my foot and smiling.  It was lively and engaging from the moment the orchestra struck their first chord.  You know a show’s been good when you haven’t taken your eyes off the stage or thought about domestic trivia for the entire length of it.  The ensemble pieces were well executed and fun to watch, the comic timing was spot on all round, and the sound was full and satisfying.

I enjoyed the surprise of the current political references, and the relevance of the story to the present day.  The visual spectacle.  The rollicking ride.  The glorious flighty flirtiness of it all.  And the stuff about the law and the lore.  What’s in a word, eh?  The lives of men and fairies, according to Gilbert and Sullivan.

(Interesting Iolanthe fact; fairy lights first appeared in the form of the battery operated star shaped lights worn in the hair of Iolanthe’s fairies in the first year of its run).

Iolanthe is an odd, thought-provoking opera about sex and politics that comes heavily disguised as a sparkly frivolous thing.  I reckon the production team and experienced cast of the White Horse Opera did it more than justice.  It exceeded my expectations, and I enjoyed popping my opera cherry very much.  How lucky are we to have quality opera like this out in the wilds of Wiltshire?

Therefore, even though I did say once that I never wanted to see Ian Diddams in a onesie and the Muppets were a tad incongruous, I’m giving Iolanthe…

drum roll…

Eight out of ten.

© Gail Foster 13th October 2017

Cosmic Micturation

On the alleged predilictions of Donald Trump

*

I wonder if, at Trump’s inauguration

There will be rain, some cosmic micturation

Anointing him with seedy sacred powers

In shimmered falls of blesséd golden showers

I wonder if America will see

An asset or a liability

In Trump, a man who likes to pay a whore

To do a pretty penny on the floor

I wonder if the world will froth and frown

Or take it on the chin, and lying down

Be sure the satirists will shoot their stings

‘Urine the Whitehouse now’, and sharper things

Some folk may whisper ‘Nothing new in this’

A President who likes to take the piss

What matter if the man’s a tad perverse

It could be sheep, or shit, or something worse

Oh, Bling New World, that suddenly we see

Run by a man who likes to play with wee

Hand on the button, fingers in the pot

America, you’d better like it hot

*

© Gail Foster 11th January 2017

‘Smoke and Roses’ and ‘Takin’ the Pith’

This week I published two books, which are available on Amazon and through Devizes Books

*

The first, ‘Smoke and Roses’  is saucy, serious, and sweet, and the second, ‘Takin’ the Pith’, does exactly what it says on the tin.

I guess that ‘Smoke and Roses’ is my mythology.

Both contain poems and prose in different forms, and the language is edgy in both.

There will be some content that you have not read.

I hope you like them.

Thank you so much for your interest.

Gail

Guilty Tory Crush; Kenneth Clarke

for Jemma Brown

 *

Alas, alack, I am undone, upon my cheek a raging flush

For I’ve discovered, oh what fun, I have a guilty Tory crush

You’d think, you would, a girl like me, a wafty lefty sort of bint

Would fain bestow her fancy free on someone of a redder tint

 …

On Dennis Skinner, him, perhaps, or Livingstone, you might presume

Or younger, pinker, backbench chaps, some decades nearer to the womb

But I’m for Clarke, for Old Blue Ken, a Behemoth of an MP

That wonder amongst Tory men; Kenneth Harry Clarke QC

 …

Girl, you say, you’ve lost the plot, the bloke’s a cad, a Tory cove

But I say Ken is steaming hot, unlike yer Howard, or yer Gove

But Girl, you say, he’s of the Right!  It’s wrong, so wrong, in many ways

Come back, come back, in to the light!  This thing for Ken is just a phase

 …

Much like the Mosley years, I say (which episode was far from jolly)

Oh that, well, mmm, a tough one, hey, I’ll put it down to youthful folly

But Girl, our Kenneth’s not yer man, he’s not your type, your type at all

And come the day shits hits the fan he’d have you first against the wall

Er…

God help me!  Look how dextrously he fondles that big fat cigar

Kenneth, take a turn with me, in some cool posh flash racing car

Or take me, twitching, in your hide, or show me how to dance to jazz

What price street cred, left wing pride, who cares when you’re as randy as

 …

Oh, Ken, Your Corpulence, you’re cute, your chubby cheeks are so disarming

The way you burst out of your suit; so boyish, and so fatly charming

You’re bad!  You’re good! You speak your mind!  But really, here’s the nub of it

A forthright man is hard to find, and frankly

You don’t give a shit

 *

© Gail Foster 21st October 2016

 

(Oh come on, girls you must agree, he’s got it goin’ on, has Ken

Just Jemma Brown?  Just her and me? Much more of Ken for us two then

Bags me first dibs then, Jemma, hey, you can have him when I’m done

I’ll have him early in the day, and you can have a later one

He likes a pint or two, you know, well rather more than that methinks

Me, I’ll have his morning glow and you can take him out for drinks

But maybe, mate, one at a time, no threesomes, even though you’re lush

Ha ha Jemma, here’s yer rhyme, about my guilty Tory crush)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fall of Camelot

*

Down where the bins were overflowing

On concrete where the cracks were showing

As weary winds came slowly blowing

A manky crow began a-crowing

Songs of Camelot

Through window dim the lady saw it

Heard it, and could not ignore it

Acknowledged, there was nothing for it

She had lost the plot

 …

She blamed the mirror, false perceptions

Embarrassingly dire reflections

Figments of her own deceptions

Misread signals, misconceptions

And bloody Lancelot

And other knights, they’d all been arseholes

Shites wrapped up in pretty parcels

Crawling back to rule their castles

When the day grew hot

And Good Sir That, and Good Sir This

She’d let them all just take the piss

So grateful was she for a kiss

Or any scrap of earthly bliss

That scraps was all she got

The last one, oh, he’d been a giver

Until the day when, all-a-quiver

He caught a catfish in the river

And her love forgot

Enough, she said, enough projections

All of you, take your rejections

Yer fish and shit, and your erections

Faithless hearts, and imperfections

For I like you not

With that she fastened up the latches

Made a bonfire, found some matches

And, as was mentioned in dispatches

Blew up Camelot

*

© Gail Foster 11th October 2016