June 1st What Have I Learned?
I met with some students yesterday – high school students I had worked with in Banff who were reporting on their amazing work demonstrating their sense of agency. One asked me “what had taken me time to realize I had learned”, which is a pretty deep question.
I would say:
- That as a writer worry less about the audience (what are they expecting) and more about the integrity of the writing. Writing is a way of finding out what you know / don’t know and finding your voice. How readers see and understand what you have written is someone else’s problem (i.e. your editor and the audience themselves).
- Action matters and inaction is an action in itself. One of the things that became clear to me in my student union activism days was that sitting on your hands on issues that matter doesn’t help. Action speaks louder than words and inaction when action is needed is a form of self-destruction (see also #7)..
- Reading helps and reading across boundaries helps a lot. While I am a psychologist and an educator, I read about science (especially physics), philosophy, ecosystems, systems thinking, history, politics, economics and other topics (as well as a lot of fiction) and these help me think about issues and opportunities in different ways.
- Music is at the heart of my life. I grew up with a mother who loved music, but was frustrated in her listening and gave up playing the violin. I started going to the Halle Subscription concerts at the age of 14 and have been to concerts ever since. I have been to concerts all over the world and have a huge CD collection of classical music (over 1,800 CD’s) as well as a very large iTunes account. I listen to music every day and can’t write without it.
- Family counts. I used to think that work-life balance was a catch phrase of those trying to get out of work (really I did, but soon learned how stupid this was), but I was 100% wrong. The most productive people are those who are happy at home and in their life. In terms of “life”, family is important as a friends. The best predictor of a great employee is how they answer the question “I have a best friend at work”. Work friends are family too.
- Some people will drive you nuts, and that’s OK. There is a Yorkshire saying that “there’s nowt as strange as folk!”. Dead right. Some people are just nuts – bonkers. It’s a good thing. We need interesting people to help us understand ourselves. As long as they are not engaged in doing physical harm or causing mental health challenges, these people enrich our lives and make us think about our own behaviour.
- Politics is a mugs game. In the 1970’s I was very involved in politics (Labour Party in the UK and then Plaid Cymru). Indeed, I was a full-time election agent in the 1994 election (Feb) in Cardiff North and worked for the party part-time afterwards until I became totally disillusioned by the behaviour of my MP (and also Prime Minister) Jim Callaghan. I left the Labour Party and joined Plaid and acted as a policy advisor. But soon became disillusioned with the nature of political processes, despite being encouraged to run as an MP. I realized that being a public intellectual and an activist (I am not a good enough artist to be an artivist!) was a more productive use of my time.
- Laughter is as important as ideas. I laugh all the time and at all sorts of things. In fact, I need to laugh every day at something. This is why I like watching Ellen de Generis or Mock the Week or Have I got News for You or Would I Lie to You? I love humour and find it invigorating. Sometimes it gets me into trouble (laughing at a question during a job interview for a University Presidency, for example). But laughter is healing and a sign of health for me at least for me.
No doubt this list could be longer. This is my start.
June 2nd What to Watch?
Films and television are a significant part of my life. Each day we watch something. So far this year we have seen some films / TV worth watching and some worth avoiding. Here’s an update:
Films Worth Watching
The Upside – very funny and well crafted film.
Greta – a psychological thriller very well done.
Aspern Papers – smart, interesting story.
All is Well – Shakespeare’s last days with Ken Branagh and Judi Dench.
The Professor and the Madman – excellent story and a good performance by Mel Gibson.
Waiting for the Miracle to Come – excellent film with Charlotte Rampling and Willie Nelson.
The Highwayman – catching Bonnie and Clyde – a good tense movie.
The Mule – Clint Eastwood’s film about a senior who mules drugs.
The Favourite – wonderful romp with Olivia Coleman.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – true story and inspiring.
The Green Book – Oscar winning movie.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – excellent drama.
The Wife – another stunning performance by Glenn Close.
The Sisters Brothers – true to the book and a great cowboy movie.
Colette – a great performance by Keira Knightley and Dominic West.
The Post – Hanks and Streep in a docudrama about the Washington Post.
Phantom Thread – wonderfully performed pieces of acting and a great story.
RBG – The biopic about Ruth Bader Ginsberg which I really enjoyed.
Death of Stalin – outstandingly funny (if you know the true story) if a little bizarre (which the death of Stalin and its consequences were).
Red Joan – a great film with Judi Dench, based on a true story.
Films to Avoid at All Costs
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – a shambling mess of a film.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and then Bigfoot – yawn.
Unsane – exactly.
The Con Is On – Uma Thurman in a slow moving dreadful crime romp.
Brexit – if it were not such a serious issue and this film such a mess…
Sometimes Always Never – Bill Nighy in a slow, pointless melodrama – dull as a bucket with a hole in it
Television Worth Watching
Apart from Mock the Week, Have I Got News for You, Fleabag, The Durrells (with Keeley Hawes, now finished), The Graham Norton Show (and its big red chair) and certain food shows (James Martin’s UK Tour, Jamie and Jimmy’s, Parveen’s Indian Kitchen), The Queen and Victoria – here are some of the TV series we hooked into:
Killing Eve – wonderful and cynical crime psychodrama.
Years and Years – futurist drama with Emma Thompson and Roy Kinnear – outstanding TV.
Line of Duty – procedural crime within the UK police force.
Game of Thrones – though series 8 was a little lame, it has been great TV (now finished).
Summer of Rockets – Poliakoff’s latest with Keeley Hawes.
Traitors – Keeley Hawes in a post WW2 spy story.
Fleabag (series 1 and 2) – outstanding TV written by the smart lady who wrote Killing Eve (series 1).
The Bodyguard – with Keeley Hawes.
Mrs Wilson – with Keeley Hawes (you may be detecting a theme).
Gentleman Jack – with the wonderful Suranne Jones. 8 fascinating episodes.
Baptiste – missing person thriller / drama.
Strike – J K Rowling’s detective drama.
Keeping Faith – a solid Welsh mystery drama.
Shetland – outstanding TV crime drama.
The Dementia Choir – moving documentary (2 episodes) about a choir where all have dementia. Solid heartwarming TV.
Inspector Montalbano – back after a time out…
The Year of the Rabbit – a slightly zany, but funny, Victorian detective drama – also with Keely Hawes.
Will keep adding to these lists and more movies and TV drama come along.
June 3rd The Joy of Cooking
I enjoy cooking. The preparation, process and outcomes – the whole shabang.
I grew up surrounded by chefs – grandad Leclerc owned a restaurant (Hardy’s in Bradford) and mum worked front of house for a time, so I was around the place and watched in the kitchen as the team prepared and made meals.
I married a librarian who also loves food and cooking and together we have cooked a meal from scratch almost every day of our married life – some 49 years this August and counting. Some meals are basic – like last nights pork roast with veg – but others we like to play with recipes and improvise. Tonight we will had a Pad Thai, no doubt a decent curry will appear this week and a stir fry. Last week I made an excellent Cioppino (San Francisco fish stew).
I like both simple approaches – Jamie Oliver 5 ingredient style – and things that are more elaborate, like Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes (full of flavour, interesting ingredients, middle-eastern influenced).
We watch food programs on TV – Parveen’s Indian Kitchen was a favourite recently on UK TV, as was James Martin’s tour of the UK (James is from Yorkshire, as are we, so we have a natural affinity with him and he cooks great food and makes it look easy). It’s a long way from where we started as a young couple learning to cook together (thank goodness for Delia Smith!). Some diversions on the way – Welsh cooking, for example (50 ways to make faggots and peas) – and some disasters (our first ever Chile Con Carne where we put 2 tablespoons of fresh chile powder in and served it to my boss at the Open University, who nearly fainted with the heat of the chile’s). Many of our meals have been very memorable.
There is a simple pleasure in seeing raw ingredients turn into a wonderful, flavoursome meal.
June 4th A Pandemic of Psychological Health
One of the most memorable recent conversations I have had was with Dr. Alex Jadad. Alex comes from Columbia and his family are amongst the richest families in the world. He chose to train as a doctor, much to the disquiet of his family, but persisted. He is now a leading authority and practitioner of palliative care and is one of the “go to” people in the world when people have exhausted all options and face death. He is currently on the faculty of medicine at the University of Toronto.
Some time ago, Alex asked the simple question “what is health?”. The technical definition at the time was “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” and Alex felt that this was a pretty poor view of humanity. The editors of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) asked Alex to facilitate a global conversation around this question and he published his analysis and suggestions here.
This work led Alex to champion the idea of a pandemic of health – asking his colleagues to do more than treat illness but instead to use their knowledge, skills and understanding to help people live their lives to the full.
I have known Alex for several years through my association with Don Simpson. Alex and I have had many conversations. The one that sticks with me took place in 2018 in a Chinese Restaurant at Harbourfront in Toronto. It focused on a big idea: that humanity is facing a final stage of its life and is in need of palliative care. He had written about this here with his colleagues and friends Roy Scranton and Murray Enkin. The idea is simple: humanity is outliving the planet and is growingly showing signs of stage four “cancer” in terms of democracy, self-government, mental and physical health and so on – time for end of life care.
It’s a powerful idea and linked to work I had been doing with colleagues in forestry, ecology, education and psychology on resilience and wellbeing. It’s also a sad idea – we’re nearing the end of society and our current ways of life, but we can promote a sense of joy and wellbeing while we have time. He draws attention to compassionate cities in this article, and I have spent time looking at them.
This conversation led Sarajane Aris, Amra Rao and myself to write a piece for our psychology colleagues in the UK. Published in Clinical Pyshcology Forum in November 2018 the paper was called Unleashing a Pandemic Of Psychological Health, which triggered all sorts of connections and correspondence.
Over dinner we pushed these kinds of ideas around and I am still thinking about the conversation over a year later.
Alex is now embarking on a new venture and, with Don Simpson, I am helping think through some new work and processes which he may chose to use in Beati (the name of the venture) and then again he may not. But he is one of those people who you don’t forget.
June 5th The Travel Thing
I have been very fortunate. When I was growing up in the 1950’s, the idea of someone like me getting on a flight and going to New Zealand, Chile or Dubai or Costa Rica would be out of the question. Holidays were in Filey, Bridlington or Morecambe (75 miles app. from home) and not some exotic location. But now…
I have been to many countries – US, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Morocco, Russia, China, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania – and some others. In a few days I will be in Dubai.
I have flown at the front of the plane in b-class and at the back in steerage. I have flown on some amazing airlines (Virgin, Emirates, Qatar) and some dreadful ones (Aeroflot). I have had great service in the front and the back and terrible service (mainly at the back). I have had meals which were memorable (lobster fettuccine) paired with wonderful wines (a crisp Riesling) and some meals that neither I, my seat mate or the cabin crew could identify (“we think it could be pizza!”) and wines that were close to drain-cleaner quality (usually French in tiny bottles).
One of the nicest places I have travelled to was Sri Lanka – wonderful people, a great hotel with outstanding service (The Galle Face Hotel) and lovely drivers who looked after me (I was working). Another place that was outstanding was Trinidad (The Hilton) – great food, fun people and amazing service in the hotel. I had a wonderful time in Kenya (The Fairview) in both Nairobi and Voi – driven by a driver who was a retired doctor.
The worst place I have been in – and my colleague Janet Tully was with me – was Abuja in Nigeria. Worst hotel on the planet, dangerous and full of incidents. A plane didn’t stop at the gate but drove into the airport, smashing through a wall. The petrol station next to the airport blew up because the guy loading the tanks with petrol was smoking (I nominated him for a Darwin award). Staff were surly and the food at breakfast was simply heated up from the day before (five day old porridge anyone?). The hotel was simply inept (Nicon Luxury Hotel) – which was a big problem, since I was attending a large conference being held at the hotel. Just don’t go to Nigeria. Flying out of Abuja was a highlight!
June 7th: Upskirting – Make it Illegal Everywhere
Looking up women’s skirts is a persistent hobby of two-year old boys. They are fascinated by the dark mysteries that lay beyond. Soon, usually very quickly, they realize that what lays beyond are thighs and acres of cotton supported by elastic. In days gone by, like in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, they could be surprised by Playtex girdles, stockings and garter belts, and occasionally a leg brace, but now few strange items remain “under there”.
For those males who persist after the age of two or three in being fascinated by the “up-skirt”, the basic facts remain the same – thighs, knickers and elastic. It is rare these days to experience or see the elastic rubber that was Playtex and even rarer to see the leg braces above the skirt line. Stockings with and without garter belts can, I am told, can occasionally seen but the real change is that knickers (defined as acres of cotton supported by strong elastic) have been replaced by “panties” of varying sizes, all with less cotton and slender elastic, sometimes silk.
For the adult male fascinated by the up-skirt – seduced by seeing what is not supposed to be seen – there are web sites dedicated to mysteries “beyond the hemline”, with photographs ranging from the Duchess of Cambridge to the Scottish guards proudly displaying what makes Scotland “the brave”. Some show famous people – well, infamous now – without the benefit of cotton of any size. But most images are simply titillation (or should it be thigh-illation?).
Television broadcasters are prominent characters on such web-site. The odd flash of underwear (“uncovered”, as it were, most often by the UK’s Daily Mail) occur frequently, especially from breakfast television presenters who have to present every week-day even if there is no news, nothing worth talking about and nothing really worth turning the TV on for. Others frequently “uncovered” are film and music stars and celebrities, some of whom are very minor, as can be seen from their choice of underwear.
We all know what is “up the skirt” – thighs and, ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time cotton or some organic substitute. Britain is now trying to criminalize the taking of up-skirt photographs without permission, which should be illegal all over the world – it is a form of assault. The Daily Mail, which clearly fears a decline in readership if they are no longer allowed to show thighs and cotton, asks whether the legislation will be gender neutral and apply equally to women wearing skirts and men wearing kilts. Of course it will. Why would kilt-wearers want their underwear (which I understand to be sometime made of wool, not cotton) to be exposed if their female counterparts are highly protected?
Women (and men who wear kilts) have a right to privacy. The taking on up-skirt photographs, even by the Daily Mail from television images or real-time photography, is totally unacceptable. Men (and younger boys) – we know what’s up there. Give it up already! Take up train-spotting, watching aircraft take-off or go to a horse race, count matches or collect all the cables not being used in your house and recycle them – do something useful. Go to a soccer game, watch the Raptors on TV do something that will surprise you!
June 9th Vacations
We had a wonderful vacation in Clevedon (near Bristol), Turkey, Llangollen and London in May. Earlier, we had a wonderful vacation in Australia (Sydney, Adelaide and the Clare Valley) – in part thanks to friends and in part thanks to the fact that it was warm, beautiful and fun.
But where next? We have been to lots of places – various places in Italy, Spain, France, UK, Australia, India, Jamaica, Costa Rica, US (New York, Oregon, Montana), New Zealand and Canada.
We have never been to Portugal, despite that fact that (through our daughter in law and her family), we have connections. There are some wonderful places there to visit and walk, eat, drink and connect.
Though I have been in Chile and it looks likely that I will be in Paraguay, we have only had a short vacation in Costa Rica. There are some wonderful safe places in Southern / Latin America. We have never, for example, been anywhere in Mexico (though we did look across the border when we were in San Diego).
I have spent time in Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda – but the good lady has only been to Jamaica (and “upper” Jamaica at that). So the Caribbean beckons.
I have also spent time in a number of African countries – loved Kenya and Tanzania, but not sure what the good lady would think. I could happy spend a few weeks just in Stellenbosch on wine tours!
Perhaps the trick is to ask the question when (May is a good time) and then explore where.
June 10th: Audio Books
When we travel to Banff, Jasper, Vancouver or any long car journey we have developed the habit of listening to an audio book. Donna Leon is a favourite as are interesting books like The French Girl (Lexie Elliot). On our most recent journey to Banff we started listening to Elizabeth George’s Inspector Linley crime novel – The Punishment She Deserves. I have read many of her books and we have seen the TV series.
Mistake. I hadn’t looked at how long the audio book was – 22 hours and 48 minutes. A drive to Banff and back is around 8.5 to 9 hours. We went to Banff on 26th April and I am still listening to the final hours. Its a good story – many layers and all sorts of nuances and twists and turns – but 22 hours and 48 minutes. Lesson learned.
(When we were in Warrington recently we popped into a bookshop and found the book to see how “big” it was. It weight 1 kilo!).
Coming up after this (if I ever finish) is Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny and a book of poems by Clive James – The Book of my Enemy. The novel is 12 hours and 20 mins and the poems (easier to listen to in bits) is just over an hour.
I subscribe to Audible – part of my Amazon Prime subscription. But there are a great many of very good audio books at the Edmonton Public Library – one of my favourite places to visit.
I wonder what the work of reading a novel for a recording must be like. For a book that ends up being 22 hours and 48 minutes long, just how much time did its reader – the excellent Simon Vance (he was in Nash Bridges on TV) – spend in the studio? So many different voices, so many different emotions, so many layers to capture. Indeed, one thing we look at is what else the reader has recorded if we like the way they do the work.
Anyway, I recommend audio books – but check how much of your life needs to be committed to ensure you enjoy the experience!
Back from a week in Dubai. There is not much to do there, especially when it is 44C or higher (and muggy) outside. So I watch TV / Movies (see above) and read. I also don’t drink booze and sleep a lot. I am there to work, so I do.
What I have been reading is a surprise to me. Philosophy. It was triggered by a presentation my friend and colleague (now Dr.) Jean Stiles did to a graduate class I was co-teaching with JC Couture at the University of Alberta. She talked about Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophical work, which is in part a branch of hermeneutics. So I decided to explore. I bought an excellent Pelican book by John Caputo – Hermeneutics: Facts and Interpretation in the Age of Information – and read it on the flight out. Which triggered me to read some of basic writings of Heidegger. Which led me to start looking at Object Oriented Ontology – A Theory of Everything, another excellent Pelican book by Graham Harman, which has brought me back to Deleuze and Guattari.
I took an intro to philosophy undergraduate class from a terrific teacher at University College Cardiff – Alfred Moritz. A classics scholar, with a gift for insightful and challenging teaching, he explored Socrates, Plato and Aristotle as applied to 1969-70’s key social issues. The important thing he did was to teach how to think like a philospher and ask questions.
In our class, we explored the OECD’s vision for education in 2030 – “the future we want”. We explored questions about “which future” is this, who are the “we” and how do we know what this particular “we” want? Classic Alfred Moritz.
I am still working on Deleuze and Guattari, but the fascinating self-reflection here is why I feel compelled to read these materials. It is delaying my reading of crime fiction (I usually manage a new crime novel a week and there is a new Donna Leon I have to get to) and slowing my progress on Summer of Rockets and Black Earth Rising TV series (the latter is simply outstanding). My answer is “I don’t know”, but it is fascinating.
I declared 2019 as my year to explore and get back to poetry. I suspect reading poetry – a collection a week, except for the complete poems of Peter Porter (who I published when I edited a literary magazine 1969-1971 called Katawakes), which took two weeks – is what has triggered this fascinating with understanding. I also think this is fun!
Also, as a psychologist I have a lifelong fascination with how we think. Given that I am also a writer working on a book about the future of education in a world of AI and neuroplasticity, then this is all helpful.
There seems to be wilful attempt to change our understanding of “facts”. Now I am aware that the construction of “reality” and “facts” are deeply problematic from a philosophical point of view – I have been re-reading Heidegger, Husserl, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari and many others. I have also recently read Caputo’s book on hermeneutics and another on object oriented ontology. So don’t tell me this is a very problematic space. I know.
But there are some evident truths that come from our understanding of science. One is that the earth is warming (just try sit in a bench in the south of France today where it is likely to be 45C) and that a part of the reason for this is the behaviour of humans.
Donald Trump says he doesn’t have to anything about climate change since the US has “very clean air” (it doesn’t) and “very clean rivers” (it doesn”t). Indeed, the Trump administration has replead laws and regulations intended to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, stop industry polluting rivers by dumping industrial waste and has also pulled the US out of the Paris climate change agreement.
For a long period of time, I too was a sceptic about climate. I took the view (and still hold it), that this is a “wicked problem” with many facets – one of which is human action, but another is the cycles of nature and the ways in which the planet deals with its own dynamics (e.g. pollution from volcanic eruptions). Judith Curry is a woman I admire as a scientist and I took her thinking very seriously – I still do. She writes Climate Etc blog which keeps me up to date on what is happening in this space. She takes the same wicked problem view and is a scientist with a view of science which I share – very Karl Popper or Thomas Kuhn. Others take a different view – very science as advocacy view. This latter view of science derives, in part from Habermas, but also from Feyerabend and what is known as “post-normal science”. Let me explain.
Feyerabend took the view that, given that the philosophic rationale for science is to achieve social good, scientists should do so with some regard for truth but not to be preoccupied with truth. He said “I believe that a reform of the sciences that makes them more anarchic and more subjective (in Kierkegaard’s sense) is urgently needed”. He also said “new theories came to be accepted not because of their accord with the scientific method but because their supporters made of any trick – rational, rhetorical or ribald – in order to advance their cause”. In this view of science (very much aligned with Deleuze and Guattari’s views of the world), scientists need to be champions and advocates on behalf of a purpose and use whatever evidence “comes to hand” to support their advocacy.
Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome Ravetz also use this thinking. They suggest that, when facts are uncertain (and climate change science is based on a variety of models and algorithms which involve a great deal of uncertainty) and the stakes are high requiring urgent decisions (climate change, pandemics of new diseases) then scientists are part of a “revolution” and should use whatever tools and evidence comes to hand to advance “the cause”. This view is known as “post-normal science”.
The challenge here is that shifting from the idea of science as the search for evidence based truths (e.g. the laws of thermodynamics) to the idea of scientists as advocates for a position based on some evidence leads us to the post-factual and “alternative facts” view of what the work of science is.
Which gives rise to our political problem. Climate change is happening and it may be possible for the human species to do something to slow the rate of change (we can’t halt it). For this to happen, concerted action by many players at the national, state and local level as well as at the international level is needed. If we could agree on the basis for this action – the science – then it may be possible to secure some direct action (e.g. reducing our use of fossil fuels and switching to so-called “green energy”). But because a great many scientists have taken a post-normal view of science and have become advocates and members of the revolutionary climate guard, then politicians like Trump can point to them and call them out as “lobbyists” not scientists. Which is what has happened.
Indeed, this very week Michael Mann (a leading climatologists) and Judith Curry provided testimony to congress on the current state of climate change science and its policy implications for the US. Judith took a Popper / Kuhn view of the task of “truth telling” while Michael took the post-normal science approach. Judith provides an account of what happened here, which is well worth a read.
So now we see the consequences of this – lots of talk, lots of angst and very little global, national or local action. Some are doing what they can, but the idea behind the Paris accord (and the whole UN IPCC process) is not really working.
Meanwhile, the planet gets warmer, ice is melting, species are dying at a faster rate than ever before and our planet is changing.
Contrary to the views of many, the planet will be fine. It will be different, but fine. What is at stake is the survival of the human species and many others too. Science could help, but right now post-normal science is getting in the way.
June 30th – The Last Day of July
Went to see The Audience – a National Theatre Live production of the original stage play with Dame Helen Mirren. She plays Queen Elizabeth II who meets with her Prime Minister each Tuesday at 6.30 for 25 minutes. The play focuses on her relationship with Harold Wilson, David Cameron, Sir John Major, Anthony Eden, Churchill (Edward Fox – not physically like him, but sounded like him), George Brown and Margaret Thatcher. Jim Callaghan (played by David Peart) makes a cameo. Wonderful theatre, which Mirren commands.
The Thatcher interaction is wonderful and Haydn Gwynne playing her is simply outstanding. She has the voice, the body language and the arrogance that the part commands. Some wonderful lines.
But for me the star was the sequences with Harold Wilson, who I met and spent time with several times (and wrote part of a speech for him once too). Played by Richard McCabe (Nyberg in Wallander, Stafford Armitage in Indian Summers), he played this part with sensisity, humour and depth. A very moving scene where he admits to the early stage of alzheimer’s (which he did have and which is why he suddenly resigned) and the touching tribute the Queen paid to him (she suggested that he invite her and the Duke of Edinburgh for dinner at 10 Downing Street, which he did and which she did attend – an honour only previously given to Churchill – she has attended several dinners there since) made this play for me.
This is not the first National Theatre Live production we have seen. The Young Marx (brilliantly played by Rory Kinnear), The Madness of King George (Mark Gatiss is outstanding as the King) and Alan Bennet’s 2019 play Allelujah! (about the health service, old people and murderous nurses trying to meet targets with a wonderful part for Deborah Findlay as the Ward Sister to fear).
There are some good plays coming up – Cumberbatch as Hamlet, the very funny play (well farce really) One Man, Two Guvnors with James Corden (who is simply outstanding in this role) and the Lehman Trilogy (about the Lehman brothers and the history of the company).
There were eight people at the cinema last night for this – the most we have ever seen was eighteen for Allelujah! Its money well spent.