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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The editor has an evening out

On Thursday, I was graciously permitted to have a night out with friends. I have very little idea what her ladyship got up to in my absence, but I'm sure that, whatever it was, it was entirely proper.

It's hard for me to credit now, but there was a time, only about three years ago, when I used to go the theatre virtually every week. Almost every Saturday, I would get onto a train and head off for destinations as far afield as Manchester, Leeds, or even Stoke-on-Trent. (Oh, the glamour...!)

For two years, I was a panellist for the Barclays' Theatre Management Awards and then, for the next two years, my friend Ann was. Which meant that I got four years' worth of free theatre tickets, and saw dozens and dozens of performances. Ee, them were t'days.....

These days, it's a major undertaking for me to get to a performance in Liverpool, let alone anywhere which would involve any travelling. But I was determined to see Thalidomide: A Musical, even though doing so would necessitate me taking the following day off work. Dude the chauffeur can generally be persuaded to come with me to see anything disability-related, as long as I give him sufficient notice and the date doesn't clash with anything Mrs Dude has planned for him. (He jokingly tends to talk about "the present Mrs Dude" but, of course, he's really absolutely devoted to her and to the Dude offspring. And he will no doubt inflict serious damage on me with his stick next week for publicly outing him as the epitome of a happily-married man.)

We were chuffed to bits that Becca and Turtle agreed to come with us. Turtle came all the way from Reading by train, and Becca drove over from Manchester. To the best of our knowledge, this constituted the largest gathering to date of Ouch! regulars, and Vaughan insisted that we record this "Ouch Meet" on camera so that he could enjoy the "nice ,warm feeling" which would come from seeing proof that Ouch is so much more than just a website. So, here we are mucking about in front of the set. Self and Dude at the back, obviously, and Turtle and Becca in the foreground. Becca had had badges produced in honour of Ouchvember and, if you look very carefully, you can see that we have even pinned one to the set. (Oh, I'm supposed to be pointing out at this juncture that that was categorically not suggested to us by the nice usher who agreed to take the picture. No. The fault for making pinholes in Mat's set lies entirely with us. Really.)

By the way, I am only too aware that red and purple shouldn't be worn together. In my defence, it was a bitterly cold night, and velvet seemed like a good idea, what with it being such a snuggly, warm fabric.

The Unity theatre really is the most crip-tastically accessible venue you could possibly imagine. No matter how complex your access requirements, no-one turns a hair. I can think of no other venue in the North West which would take at least a dozen wheelies, any number of wobblies and stickies, and three assistance dogs. That they do this at all is laudable. That they do it in such a tiny venue, and in an entirely pragmatic and wholly non-patronising manner, is fantastic. Not for nothing are they the Liverpool performance space of choice of the Graeae theatre company. (Incidentally, one of my moles tells me that the Graeae will be touring again next year. Should they perform anywhere near where you live, I can wholeheartedly recommend that you go to see them. They've never let me down yet.)

So, how was the show? Well, I thought it was hilarious. Might not have held quite the same appeal for non-disabled audience members but, frankly, as with Channel 4's "I'm Spasticus", I find myself struggling to care what non-disabled people might have thought of it. (Although I doubt Mat Fraser completely shares my insouciance about this.)

Mat is a versatile and talented performer - who has written a quite exceptional show - and Anna Winslet was a joy. Particularly, I can't help but suspect, to many of the male audience members...

(As an aside, I'm reminded at this point of the problems faced by friends and family of the cast who come along to offer support, only to find that a show is really awful. It's not always easy to gush with compliments, but you'd feel duty bound to find something good to say in that situation, what with turns having such fragile egos in the first place, and everything. The best example of this I've heard is one which was reported back to me by a friend who works as a wardrobe mistress. After being bored to tears through a particularly dire production, the best one poor desperate soul could manage to say with any degree of sincerity was, "Lovely floor cloth!")

My sincere thanks and big hugs go to my partners in set-vandalism crime on the night. Yes, even the Dude...

(Oh, and if Mat's reading this, we're really sorry about pinning the badge on your curtain. The nice usher made us do it.)


Blogger The Goldfish said...

I was looking forward to hearing how you all got on and I am very glad to read you had a such a good time. :-)

2:09 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Haha! "Lovely floor cloth!" is second only to "Lovely pram!" in the damning-with-faint-praise stakes.

4:11 pm  
Blogger Chris McMillan said...

Excellent my Lady. Of course I cannot condone wanton vandalism. Good to see you looking so relaxed and out and about mind.

4:13 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Thanks, all. Nice avatar, Mr Mac!

Look out for a further copy of that photo, together with one of a mystery celeb also adorned with a Becca-badge, appearing on Ouch in the next day or so...

8:34 pm  
Blogger stella said...

Oooohhhhh, I'm so jealous of your outing! When I get to the UK next year, I'm going to run around the country madly trying to meet you all! Becca and I have talked about the prospect of a cripbloggers shin dig. Sounds exciting!

10:20 pm  
Blogger marmiteboy said...

Good to see you all together. And good to hear there were so many crips at the show. There seemed to be only four of us at Colchester. Mind you we did make up about 10% of the audience!

8:25 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


I know what is good for me. Therefore, if Becca tells me I'm attending a shindig, I am attending a shindig.

Look forward to it.

Lady B

5:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just come over from gimpy-mumpy. Great blog. I *love* Dude's T shirt slogan!!

9:05 pm  
Blogger melbamae said...

Sounds like a great gig with good friends. Life generally doesn't get much better than that. I only wish I could have jumped on a train and gone with you!

Great photo. I don't think your red and purple combination looks at all bad Lady B.

11:21 am  
Blogger Katie said...

Ah! That outing looked fabulous, your ladyship and you all look pleased to have gone together. I reckon having an "Ouch meet" is a splendid idea and I reckon there should be a gathering of all Ouch followers like Becca, Turtle, You, and Marmiteboy,Chris Mac, and others who wish to come, somewhere in the future! What do you think?

I reckon it's a cool idea!

12:27 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


I know that Damon has considered organising a larger "Ouch Meet".

Where this plan falls down, however, is the fact that there are quite a few regular Ouch contributors who are not able to travel any distance. There are some, in fact, who can't even leave their homes.

4:54 pm  
Blogger Katie said...

Cool! I would be up for an Ouch Meet!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would definately markk it in my diary! It was an idea of mine to have to an Ouch meet but Damon was a bit not getting into the idea of having one, when I met him that time.

He's reeating his words now,and turned over a leaf! It would be nice to meet you lot and Mr Mac! and not forgetting Marmiteboy!

5:13 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


I think you've missed the point of my previous comment.

A big Ouch Meet just isn't feasible for the reasons I outlined above.

My understanding is that Damon has decided against it because so many people would be excluded because they can't travel.

6:16 pm  
Blogger R said...

The tiny matter that a full half of Ouch messageboarders would be liable to descend to fisticuffs within 10 minutes of meeting might also be worthy of consideration when deciding if an official Ouch! meet is really a good idea...

12:14 pm  
Blogger marmiteboy said...


Surely not. Everybody is SO friendly on Ouch these days ;-)


1:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem I see with an Ouch meet is that we (i.e. your friendly neighbourhood hosts) might have to run the thing. Forced out from behind the relative safety of our computers, we might find it a bit scary without the power of being able to put people into pre-moderation at the flick of a switch (because apparently pre-moderation doesn't exist in real life, as one of my non-geeky friends was telling me only the other day).


10:34 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Ah, but a swift jab in a sensitive anatomical area with a sturdy walking stick, or the sudden and accidental loss of control of a heavy wheelchair, can do wonders to assist in getting one's point across.... ;-)

10:52 pm  

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