Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Another Triumph for Father Richard!

On Friday, I went down to St Mary's for a showing of A Cottage on Dartmoor, part of the Film Festival, with Father Richard accompanying the film on the organ. The church was packed.
This was, in fact, the last silent film made in Britain, in 1929 - and part of the storyline was a trip to the "talkies". That scene was brilliantly done - Joe, the jealous barber's assistant, sits glowering at the back of the audience as Sally, a manicurist where he works, sits with Harry, the farmer who fancies her (probably the best groomed farmer on Dartmoor, the amount of time he spends in the barber's shop!). You never see the film they are watching - it's all about the audience reactions. At first, the film is silent, and the band are playing. Then the band put down their instruments and start playing cards. At first, the audience are puzzled, leaning forward to hear (with a few comedy moments from the old lady with the ear trumpet), and then they get swept up by the action on screen.
There's another brilliant scene in the barber's shop. Joe chats to a customer as he cuts his hair. This is shown by clips from news reels, of a cricket match, and then a speedway accident and even Lloyd George pushing a plough! Later, he is distracted as Sally cuts Harry's nails in another chair. This time the customer is chatting to Joe - with similar clips (I wonder if the cricket match was a well known one?) and then the cut is to a chicken squawking, in exactly the same position on the screen as the customer's face (with his rather prominent beaky nose), as Joe gets more and more frustrated.
The costumes fascinated me, too - Sally wears a quite short skirt which would not look out of place today, while the older women still look Edwardian, with lace collars and long skirts, and the barber's shop is prosperous enough to employ a boy in uniform (with a huge peaked cap) at the door. This would have been just before the Wall Street Crash, when everything was going well. I wonder how many of the staff would have kept their jobs during the Depression.
It really is a cleverly put together film, and the director, Anthony Asquith, went on to a distinguished career which included The Way to the Stars. He'd also been in a position to see films that hadn't been released in Britain, like Metropolis and Battleship Potemkin, and films like these, and Hollywood films starring actors like Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin, were an influence on his work. In fact, some of the main actors in this film were German.

Father Richard will be accompanying Nosferatu again in May, and there is a CD available from the last time he did it.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Small Business Saturday


Lucinda's hairdressers.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Fairtrade Evening

As part of Fairtrade Fortnight, there's an event at Tomatitos on Monday which looks interesting, and one of the speakers has come all the way from Malawi!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Stories about the Castle?

The Hay Castle Trust are trying to collect any stories local people might know about the Castle and things that have happened there. They're also interested in old photos and documents relating to the Castle, which can be dropped in at the Castle office, or emailed on info@haycastletrust.org
It's nice to see that part of the plan for the building includes a library, archive and study centre, along with the exhibition space and cafe.
They're also planning an auction of local art to raise more money for the restoration project, with details to be released soon.

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Missing Bench, and other Mysteries

I've been watching the workmen install the new green box on the road outside the Cinema Bookshop, which is supposed to give Hay better, faster broadband. To do this, they removed the bench and rubbish bin, which were useful for people walking up from the Gypsy Castle end of town into the centre. They were planning to re-install it underneath Fiona Howard's front window, which she wasn't too happy about - but it's just vanished. The workmen have departed - and no bench or rubbish bin has re-appeared.

Something else which hasn't appeared yet is the questionnaire that the Town Council were planning to deliver all around town, to find out what the people of Hay want for the future. It was supposed to be done last week, if they wanted the grant money for it.

A colleague at work told me that she'd been informed that the parking permit scheme won't be starting on 1st March as planned, either - though when I went to the County Council website I couldn't find any information about it at all. So I don't know what's happened to that. I don't have a car, so it's not something that I get to know about automatically.

And finally, Broad Street will be closed in the evenings from this Saturday. This is the re-surfacing work which was supposed to be done last year, but which was put off. The work is supposed to take a week, working up till 10 o'clock at night every night.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Renovating the Castle

I didn't book for either of the two talks in the castle, being given by the architects who have been given the job of renovating the Castle, but I did wander in while my washing was in the launderette to see the plans - which will be on display in Booth's bookshop this coming week.
It all seems very impressive.
They want to open up the original Castle gate, the one that's presently being held up with a wooden prop that's been there since 1992. I know this because I was involved in putting it there when I worked for Richard Booth and still thought of myself as a professional archaeologist - it was only supposed to be a temporary stop-gap until something more permanent was sorted out. They want to have steps down to the square, as there were before the Cenotaph got moved there, to link up the Castle grounds with the town better, so that it's more convenient to hold events in there. There will also be an accessible ramp going over the garden terraces somehow.
I met one of the ladies who had booked for the afternoon talk that morning, in the square, when she was squinting up at the gateway - in particular the crack in the gateway that needs urgent attention. She said she was going to bring that up at the talk.
The log fire was blazing away nicely in the back of the hall, and I met one of the architects there, warming up before he went to the other end of the room, which has a distinctly chilly draught. It was nice to see such enthusiasm for the project - after all, this is one of my favourite castles. He said that it was difficult to find a continuous history of the castle anywhere. There are highlights here and there where quite a lot is known about the occupants, but also periods where nothing much is recorded. I thought what a shame it was that we've lost Rob Soldat, the local storyteller and historian, who knew everything there was to know about the castle and the people who have lived there.