|We took some bears to see 'Paddington'|
When my children were young, blogging was almost a form of stress relief; when endless winter afternoons stretched out with the boys napping or watching Cbeebies, or when I'd run in from a walk with the toddler Littleboys and bash out a blog post while I was waiting for the pasta to boil, just because it was such a blessed relief from thinking about chasing small children around the playground.
The older the boys get, the less demanding they are in some ways but the more time they seem to take up. Laundering sports kit. Supervising homework. And the birthday parties! I think I'm starting to lose it. For the first time ever, we arrived at a party on Sunday with no present or card, and what was worse, I hadn't left it behind. As we parked, Littleboy 1 piped up "Shouldn't we have a present?" and that was literally the first time it had occurred to me.......
Anyway -- London life remains busy and ripe with opportunity for experiences, from seeing the display of poppies at the Tower of London last month (brilliant) to taking the 176 bus all the way home to Crystal Palace after seeing a play in the West End (mistake). This weekend, either end of the two birthday parties, we packed in two contrasting cultural experiences: a play (King Charles III) and a film (Paddington).
The play is a "future history" written by Mark Bartlett; that is to say, it takes its cue from Shakespeare, is written in blank verse and has elements of both high comedy and high tragedy. It predicts what might happen when the Queen dies, and Prince Charles becomes King. Very quickly things go pear-shaped when Charles (the brilliant actor Tim Piggott-Smith) refuses to sign a bill concerning press freedom. Meanwhile, Prince Harry (whose scenes provide some hilarious comic relief) is romancing an anti-monarchist gal wearing Doc Martens, there's a groaning ghost around Windsor who sounds suspiciously like Diana, and Kate is busy supporting William's cause like a modern-day Lady Macbeth. Act One ends with Charles dissolving Parliament after a stand-off with the Prime Minister; I won't reveal the rest, but it's incredibly thought-provoking, whether you're a royalist or republican.
Paddington showcases another side of British life with a gentle humour that everyone, old and young, can enjoy. While few elements of the actual books remain (and there's a ridiculous, unnecessary sub-plot involving a taxidermist played by Nicole Kidman), the film captures the essence of Paddington -- an accident prone, but utterly well-meaning bear with excellent manners. Ben Whishaw voiced him perfectly, but it was Hugh Bonneville I was really impressed with. Forget Downton Abbey, what with this and the brilliant Twenty Twelve, he's shaping up to be one of the funniest actors we have. Paddington is also an illegal immigrant from "Darkest Peru", and with immigration a huge topic at the moment in the UK, the film had a lot to say about whether or not the British are welcoming to newcomers.
So there we are: British life in a nutshell, royals and bears included.
What have you been up to?