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Shopping Store-Wars Are Part of Our Social and Economic Fabric

As Christmas retailing and footfall figures show high streets losing ground to cyberspace and technology in the battle for shoppers, a stock-take is timely. This article first published on Suite 101 on 14 December 2011. It is even more pertinent today. Two hundred years ago, Napoleon derided the English as ‘a nation of shopkeepers’. He borrowed the phrase from Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776), but it struck a chord, becoming a badge of honour. More recently, focus has shifted: we are now more a nation of shoppers, with shopping promoted as ‘therapy’ at one level, and almost a ‘religion’ at another. The clamour to allow all-Sunday shopping is evidence of that. However, we’re not shopping traditionally. The recession and the internet continue to change our shopping habits. Many fear that these … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Called into Question: the School Examination System

First published on 8 December 2011 on Suite 101, this article opened with: ‘Another day, another scandal. Journalists open the amazed eyes of British voters, taxpayers and students to exams abuse and now ‘something must be done!” In the past year several things have started to /be done’ and more will follow. It is timely to republish it here. After years of controversy about exam grade inflation and ‘dumbing down’, where results in both GCSE and A level exams improve year on year, in December 2011 the Daily Telegraph exposed what it calls: ‘Cheating the system, how examiners tip off teachers’. The main thrust of the expose was that courses and seminars run by chief and senior examiners for teachers during the year at a cost of £120 to £230 a day, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

The Party May Soon Be Over for the Political Broadcast

  The BBC could call time on the well-established tradition of political parties broadcasting their views – free – on radio and TV. This article first published on Suite 101, 7 December 2011. After the poor interest in the badly timed elections in November for Police and Crime Commissioners, this article could be even more relevant. The phrase, ‘there now follows a party political broadcast on behalf of the …. Party’ was often sufficient to send millions of viewers scurrying to make tea or search for the remote. When there was only BBC and ITV on screens, both showed the broadcast simultaneously. Now, next Budget Day, around March, is when listeners and viewers will no longer get a 5 minute statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer explaining the fiscal and tax plans … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Norwich Playhouse Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 4 December 2012 This story was a bedtime favourite in our house when the children were young. To see it brought to life on stage I took along my three-year old grand-daughter, Bethany, to join other children and adults in being totally captivated by a novel tale done with songs and music, lots of humour and some clever visual tricks. The actors appeared at the outset to allay children’s fears. The daddy finally got off to work. The milkman and postman called before the tiger arrived at teatime and ate all the food and drank all the water from the taps. Written and directed by children’s musical theatre master David Wood, this was a faithful representation of the book, but with the added skills and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reviews

From Russia

From Russia Open Space Theatre, Fisher Theatre, Bungay Review published in the Eastern Daily Press and East Anglian Daily Times, 1 December 2012 Ever-inventive Open Space are touring comic Chekhov gems and a poignant ‘what if’ study from two tragedies. High-energy romp, The Proposal, sees man (Grant Filshill) call on father (Alan Bolton) to ask for daughter’s hand (Emma Martin). A land dispute quickly degenerates into a delicious, insult-throwing barney. The Bear is a bad-tempered stranger (Stephen Picton) calling on a widow (Cathy Gill) to collect her late husband’s debt. His raging turns to instant infatuation. The old retainer (Patrick Quorn) and the attempted pistol duel are hilarious. The Evils of Tobacco is a monologue in the form of a lecture from a hen-pecked man (Alan Bolton) which is really about his wife and his … Read entire article »

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Martyn Joseph

Martyn Joseph at St George’s, Great Yarmouth Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 30 November 2012 The revamped St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth is not only a shiny new additional performance venue for our region, it’s a brilliant space. Recently opened with a wide variety of events, this one brightened a bleakly wet and windy night with contemporary folk at its best, perfectly suited acoustically to the soaring space. Talented eighteen year old Luke Jackson opened with his own take on traditional folk narrative in his unique and exciting voice. He’s one to watch for the future. Headline act was Martyn Joseph, who brought his eclectic mix of mournful tales, self-deprecating humour, clever rhymes and powerful lyrics together with some finger-pointing political commentaries. Having worked with Billy Bragg to celebrate Woody Guthrie’s life, he … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reviews