Other people keep going on diets and I'm feeling left out. So started last Thursday on the Ewan McGregor diet* -- and for went to a gig at the Wheatsheaf (the pub with a hanging basket full of pigeons). Got there in good time to see suitable case for treatment, whose babyfaced singer kept his death-rock-country-blues growl in good pants-terrifying form by regularly gargling guinness throughout the show. Big noise, and good lyrics worth hearing more clearly, from what I caught (or possibly just a lot of howling about Jesus and shoes). Something very neat going on with the rhythms; from time to time it sounded like intersecting complex shapes made from meccano (except made from lego-style plastic instead of metal). The overtones had the whiff of school chemistry experiments, the sort where the teacher would lean over you and say, "don't you think that should be in a fume cupboard?" and the drummer had shiny gold bows on his drums, which, along with all the balloons (gig was a benefit for Shelter) gave everything a nice festive feel. Then eeebleee, looking very popstar, with the player of the amazing skeletal electric double bass in polka-dot spike-heel shoes and a perfect-judgement skirt, and guitarist Ben swopping guitars with merry abandon. The next band I'd like to draw, after Vic Twenty. When the music turned into heavily-layered shapes (late in the song when the singing was over) the colours picked up speed, turqoise splashes in violet gloom, white sparks, odd flamy bits. Nice. Last on, The Evenings, who had fairy lights and the most glamorous drum-kit I'd ever seen -- gleaming, tiny, shiny and translucent so you could see the drummer's (concourse) legs! ... and also two guys sat on the stage tearing up yesterday's Telegraph. Hmm fine, I thought, and sat down to drink vodka #4 (diet already doing well!) on a chair perfectly placed so that my entire skull vibrated in time to the music. More paper. I grabbed a falling shred ("title? Don't be STUPID") and in the process realised that the music that sounded good anyway sounded much better when moving ... and fantastic when dancing. So jinty and I were spinning around in the shredded paper, kicking it back at the paper-tearing boys. I grabbed another shred out of the air ("EVERYTHING FREE") and downed the last of my vodka. After that it all went a bit monkeyhouse, with paper flying everywhere, camera flashes going off, and little scraps of wisdom fluttering down from the sky ("ASTHMA BOY 'WAS SENT HOME TO DIE'", "A man with small parts won't break girls' hearts", "PUPILS TEAR", "REAR views"). Music was good for moving (slidey gold, silver, white -- ball-bearing quiver in inverted pyramids of light sparkling yellow bright as happily-ever-after in fairy tales) but, but though in front of me it was all light and grins and flying paper, when I glanced behind it was still the same stock-still, grim-faced, head-nodding crowd as usual. Afeared I eased forward a bit, pretended to be part of the cabaret. Some pretty girls (in addition to jinty!) and skinny boys started dancing too, then, so it was fine, maybe a bit crazy but well ... we left before they had to clear up ...
Saturday Damian took me to Wadham for the last night of The Oxford Shakespeare Co.'s As you like it. That's the one where Rosalind and Celia ("whose love is dearer than the natural bond of sisters") are banished by Celia's crazy Dad to the Forest of Arden where a bunch of exiled lords are trying to make a decent fist of living the simple life, except that their mate Jaques (sleazy older guy) keeps whining about everything and Amiens (a singer) has worn his voice ragged trying to keep them all entertained. Thank heaven for dishy love-struck wrestler Orlando ("who tripped up the wrestler's heels and (Rosalind's) heart in one throw") and crazy fool Touchstone (a roynish clown) who bring a few laughs to the forest. The usual cross-dressing and confusions ensue (though there are no twins in this one), there's some rude stuff with shepherds (and, in this case, three goats and an enormous marrow) and at the end, Hymen turns up to make sure everyone gets married before they start shagging in the bushes. We missed front-row seats, unfortunately; where people got kissed, sat on, asked questions, held up as examples and had wine and other items (temporarily) swiped to eke out the company's minimal props. Yay! We ended up in the second row, behind a thespy lady with a ramrod straight back and a hairdo that looked like she'd gone to the hairdresser and said, "give me something that'll really annoy whoever's sitting behind me".
On an almost-related topic, those people who live in Oxford might want to check out the window of the print shop on the High for (among several other gender-bending and titillating pieces) the print which illustrates this rhyme:
The Scene delightful Beauty here, what then! Ah Benedicite! Men are but Men, We live recluse and are believed religious, We but dissemble for our Lusts prodigious.
*Don't drink beer, just white wine and gin (lots of gin) and don't go overboard on the chips and stuff.