Thursday, 25 November 2010


Mr Gnome - to absolutely nobody's surprise - cheers lustily for the transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which opened yesterday.

Wonderful as the public areas are, the success of the transformed set-up will depend upon the new auditorium.

It couldn't be more different from what was there before.

For me, the combination joins epic and intimate.

We'll know for sure when we see King Lear and those three difficult girls having a very bad time here in February.

The vibe is good.

Meanwhile, thanks to the entire Stratford team for their welcome yesterday. Special mention to Lucy, Fiona, the video crew - and to Michael Boyd and Gregory Doran who graciously allowed a punter to interrupt their dinner to give them the benefit of his (very positive) opinions.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Tip-top Rooftop

Brick-donor, Bard boy and all-round long-term RSC booster, Mr Gnome was unable to suppress a variety of emotions yesterday on entering the transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre as its four-year closure-for-metamorphisis comes to an end.

Accompanied by two human acolytes, Mr G was privileged to enjoy a 'preview' evening at the spanking new Rooftop Restaurant, 'helping' staff to rehearse seating and service before the opening night and the arrival of the full-on pre-show dinner rush.

His verdict? Delicious food, friendly and efficient service - and surroundings with an appropriately theatrical mixture of modern glitz set against a background of distressed brickwork and cleverly recycled elements of the 'old' theatre. For example, many will instantly recognise the old auditorium's glorious art deco marquetry doors put to stylish use in the restaurant's bars.


No chance to snoop farther - the new auditorium remains out of bounds until the official opening later this month.

The vibe is good. Mr Gnome and his associates are a-tremble with anticipation of all that lies ahead. He predicts that the renewed theatre will prove to be the theatrical/architectural triumph of the year, possibly the decade.

Mr Gnome will return.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Gnome goal

A paragon of discretion, Mr Gnome keeps his football-related preferences under wraps - he hates to disappoint.

That said, he's delighted to boost local team Coventry City, despite the fact that sky blue isn't in his (highly restricted) colour palette of choice - he goes for earthy tones.

No surprise, therefore, that he's more than chuffed to toot his metaphorical trumpet in favour of Coventry City's splendid garden gnomes, available in both home (above) and away kits.

And, should anyone be remotely interested, Mr Gnome may be about to participate in a football-gnome related discussion on his favourite radio station BBC Coventry and Warwickshire. (Saturday 27 November - shortly after 9.00am)

One feels the news room is anticipating a 'slow' day...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Homecoming? Gnomecoming..

After three-and-a-half years of intense labour, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre's transformation project is almost complete.

The hoardings that have surrounded the site are gone, enabling Mr G to pose shamelessly against a background of shimmering glass and many new bricks, one of which he is proud to have sponsored.

Later this week he's privileged to have been invited to 'test' (with others) the new Rooftop Restaurant, as staff check that systems are in order before the official opening later this month.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Ian McMillan on Desert Island Discs

Robust cheers for the wise, witty and wonderful bard of Barnsley, Ian McMillan, subject of today's BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs.

McMillan is, in my opinion, the real deal. A fine writer of prose and poetry, who cheerfully debunks rarefied notions of the literary arts being the province of the fortunate few. And he manages to be effortlessly funny along the way.

Ian's final disc was John Cage's '4 minutes 33 seconds' - the celebrated silent 'composition'. Which, naturally, I'd always dismissed as the pinnacle of pretentiousness. Ian has persuaded me otherwise. Helped by the sound of his stomach gently rumbling during the short extract...