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Saturday, 21 December 2019

The Globe Theatre

James Burbage’s The Theatre was built in 1576 in Shoreditch but was forced to close when Giles Allen who owned the land came to the conclusion that theatre was little better than prostitution. Under growing Puritan pressure The Theatre was dismantled plank by plank, ferried across the Thames and reconstructed in Bankside or Southwark, the original ‘Sin City.' Being outside the ordinances of London, taverns, brothels, gambling dens and theatre flourished.

The Theatre - now The Globe, was completed in 1599 but was burnt to the ground in 1613 during an over ambitious production of Henry VIII. To announce the appearance of the king on stage, a cannon was fired and its sparks set the thatched roof ablaze. Rebuilt in 1614 – but without using thatch—the Globe lasted until 1642 when it was closed by the Puritans and razed to the ground in 1644.

It was over zealous Puritans that did for it, and a visionary American – Sam Wanamaker who saw its resurgence in the 1970s. Overcoming all opposition and using the plans of contemporary theatres, old engravings and the original foundations, Wanamaker built an almost exact replica using unseasoned green English oak and the technology of the time.
Why am I rabbiting on about this? My daughter currently works there as a highly effective tour guide – one of a portfolio of jobs she has keeping body and soul together.


As we waited outside, I couldn't resist taking a photo of modern London, in the interests of comparison. And if the link works, you can only imagine what Southwark was like if this was the more respectable London.

Records show they could squeeze in a thousand 'groundlings' in the open space in front of the stage. Entry cost a penny (in old money) and there were no toilets. Your choice was to vacate the playhouse and wee outside before  spending another penny to re-enter - hence the term 'spending a penny'. A more popular alternative was to wee where you stood, (Rather like old Liverpool matches before they had seating)  adding to the rich mulch of pastries, nut kernels and occasionally something more substantial.

Above the stage is where the 'A listers' sat. In the foreground is the standing area where the 'groundlings' were crammed together. In this instance they would have been seeing a group of actors trudging around the stage making strange whooshing noises. A workshop that had hired the stage for the night.

This tiered seating allowed for a good view of the stage, if you could afford it. It also allowed a good view of the aristocracy who could afford to sit above and behind the stage. 
Above and behind the stage, on the face of it, seems slightly ridiculous. Why would aristocrats, gentry and men of means pay more to see less - ie the heads and backs of the actors?
The point of course was less to see the play and more to be seen - Tudor and Stuart Selfies if you will, the instagram experience of old England.

And this is my last post before the New Year. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Food for thought

The Jacobeans had a sweet tooth. At one Jacobean banquet the food was dominated by sugar to the extent that even the crockery was made from it. This madness continued, reaching perhaps its zenith with iced cakes depicting ornate plaster ceilings and even a miniature Rococo palace, formal gardens included.

James II being a good Catholic was more of a trencherman. At his coronation banquet in 1685, the new king and his wife Maria di Modena dined alone in Westminster Hall, to a meal of 170 dishes.

If he’d reigned a little longer, he may have sampled the exotic pineapple. The first pineapple grown in England was ripened in Sir Matthew Decker’s Surrey garden. The process cost the equivalent of £9,000 in today’s money, but the craze took off. It became the ‘must have’ fruit – for those who could afford it, and then, as with most things, the price came down until it became a Christmas treat for the young Keytons of Liverpool, usually from a tin and served with evaporated milk.

I was thinking of all this when I read about the new luxury ‘must have’ – the truffle that tastes of beans on toast and sold by Fortnum and Mason. The chocolate is made with baked beans and sourdough toast. In it is a smooth tomato ganache enclosed by a white chocolate shell, which, in turn, is coated in toasted breadcrumbs for that ‘must have’ beans on toast taste. It’s yours for £26.95 for ten.
And weep.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Your Christmas present sorted

Demons feed on it.
Set against the backdrop of appeasement, dark forces seek a never ending war and a world drenched in blood.
Two sisters fight, one corrupted and hating what she’s become, the other struggling against the inevitable.
The story of Elsie and Elizabeth McBride continues. Only one will survive.

All cheaper than a pint on kindle,  or, since it's Christmas, two pints in paperback

How long can a soul escape Satan?

Bloodline is the second book in The Gift Trilogy, which traces the occult rivalry between two sisters, Elizabeth and Elsie McBride. In the first book, Elizabeth escapes the forces that seek to corrupt her. In Bloodline, Elsie faces the same struggle—one even more intense with both her soul and the world at stake.

The struggle is played out against a backdrop of approaching war as magic manipulates key figures and real life events in the unseen shadow of Hell.

And what started it off.

The Gift

An occult ‘Downton Abbey’ involving Satanists, aristocrats, and Nazis.

Born in a Liverpool slum, Lizzie McBride is the daughter of an Irish seer who dies when Lizzie is barely twelve, leaving her in charge of two younger sisters and a grieving father. When her father commits suicide, Lizzie is caught between two worlds.
An aunt and uncle decide the three orphans would be better off with them in America, but Lizzie has other ideas and her life changes forever.

Pursued by her aunt, Lizzie cannonades into the young and charismatic magician, Aleister Crowley who, for his own reasons, takes her under his wing.
He introduces her to Lady Gwyneth Morgan, daughter of the richest family in Wales and sister to the flamboyant occultist, Evan Morgan.
At this point Lizzie doesn’t realise her gift— the power to unlock Hell.
When the occult world discovers this, governments and powerful individuals seek her out.
Only one man can protect her: the magician John Grey.

The Gift is the first book of a trilogy, beginning in 1912 and ending in 1941. The three books trace the magical rivalry between two sisters, Elizabeth and Elsie McBride, interweaving between historical events.