Compare and contrast

As September drew to its inevitable conclusion, so too did my first Open University course. AA100 ended not with an examination, but with a 2000 word End of Module Assignment in lieu thereof  – to be selected from a choice of three on the general topic of leisure.  As I’d never written one before, I went with one of the classics of the genre and decided to hazard a “compare and contrast” style essay.

It may be a classic, but it is a hopelessly dull way to write – or at least it was in my hands. Previous essays had been arguing for or against something which provides some narrative drive, but C&C has nothing just a whole load of “on the one hand” and “on the other”.  Still, it was surprising how little has changed leisure-wise between ancient Rome and the 19th century seaside in many ways.  Also, somewhat of a shock to learn that for much of the Victorian period white cliffs were deeply unfashionable and were covered up (much like table legs) where possible.

Not sure what to do next with my studies, it would seem that I need to move to a higher level – but that requires narrowing the scope of my study and I’m finding it hard to choose one subject area.  Still, it won’t start until February at the earliest, so I should have a little more time for the blog: truly, every silver lining has a cloud.

To celebrate the end of “term” as it were, I went into London for a day of arts-based fun, which did have hints of the apocryphal busman’s holiday about it.  This is especially true as the first item on my personal agenda was to see Bronze at the Royal Academy: a return to TMA05.  This is a really stunning exhibition with some quite extraordinary works of art in bronze: some particularly fine examples from Benin but also some absolute corkers from civilisations I’d never even heard of before.  There was even a very fine dog from the Renaissance (as part of a larger group), a period which is otherwise somewhat of a cultural desert for me. I know this is my failing rather than that of the period, but so much of their art looks like what it is – which I find rather dull, if undeniably very competent.

Regular readers will be unsurprised to learn that I managed to fit in a trip to 10 Greek Street for some vital sustenance.  I’d been away for several weeks – and so was presumably suffering the vegetarian equivalent of cold turkey, cold nut roast anyone? – but they remembered me and the food and wine was as excellent as ever.

I round off proceedings with a trip to the theatre: a new venue for me, the Duchess Theatre just off Aldwych.  Yes, I know I’m not a duchess (yet) but they seemed pretty relaxed with the entry requirements and I gained egress without issue (as I also lack offspring).  The theatre lacks the heavy ornamentation and gilding which marks much of the West End, but made up for this with excellent sight lines and extremely good leg room.  However, it did let itself down a little with the very hard seats.  I’m thinking of establishing an equivalent of the Mohs scale (used for rocks) to be applied to seating.  I’m thinking 10 would be bare concrete and 1 would be so soft and cushioning that even a junior female royal would be unable to detect a legume concealed at its base: which would place the Duchess around 7.5.  I think that perhaps  I should add this rating to all future reviews of seated events: the use of stats seemed to work for Wisden and Bridget Jones’ diary and so must be worth a try.

I went to see Our Boys which was extremely good – though you do get to see an awful lot more of Lewis’s Sgt Hathaway than I had ever either expected or desired.  The play provides laughs but was also genuinely moving and thought provoking.  Oh no, I’m still stuck in C&C mode!  Looks like I may need longer to detox than I thought…


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