25 April 2007

The Point

Two and a half years after fetching up here I still love Liverpool and am glad it was here I fetched up. I won't be here forever, hope to end up somewhere in the Yorkshire Dales, my favourite place in the whole universe, where I'll stride the moors daily with three or four collies skittering around my shins. For now though Liverpool will do.

For a city (and a vast city at that, irrespective of its modest population) there's an awful lot of nature reasonably close by. There are three parks - Sefton Park, Green Bank Park and Wavertree Mystery - within ten minutes walk of where I live and the jewel of them all, Calderstones Park, is maybe half an hour away on foot. But I've always lived near parks and woods and fields and the like. I've never before been so close to beaches, however.

queen sniffing

Depending on what you fancy there are a number of beaches to select from. I've still to check out Gormley's Another Place at Crosby but I try and get over to West Kirby several times a year. Stride across the Dee estuary at low tide, blasted by warm Atlantic winds, to Hilbre Island where the seals aren't. There's a vast muddy wasteland with a desolate pier stretched across it and cut-throat razor shells scattered about at Southport and no improvement on the Old at New Brighton.

queen n friend

These photographs aren't from any of those places, however. These were taken (by my brilliant partner, Ms Suomi-Suolmate) on several visits to Formby Point, the only beach that Queen has visited so far. It can get very busy (the crowds, sadly, bringing and leaving their litter) during school holidays but it stretches off into forever, especially at low tide, so there's always peace and solitude to be found if you keep walking north and west.

me n queen 2

Queen loves the beach. It's where we first saw her play. She loves to snuffle up starfish, bury her nose in the sand, charge off to the horizon and back again. And sometimes, she just loves to sniff and stroll.

me n queen distant

(You can see all the photos of Queen I've scanned in so far here)

What I've Been Up To...

I had intended to post something along these lines earlier but I've been otherwise engaged, as has the computer much of the time, and so I let it slip a day or two longer than I would have liked. Particularly as the play I was hoping to publicise here was performed for the first and (probably) last time last night.

So one of the things that has kept me away from here and all other blogs was the one act play Seagulls by Caryl Churchill which three of us performed last night as part of the Leverhulme Open Drama Festival at the Gladstone Theatre, Port Sunlight Village. The play is wonderful and, to our knowledge, one rarely if ever performed. The cast had bags of talent and two of us were very experienced but the dynamic wasn't always as focussed as it should have been and the process was often frustrating, probably setting us back a number of weeks. Nevertheless we made a strong and well received contribution to the competition and the adjudicator found little fault with our efforts and what criticisms he did make were levelled more at early production decisions (what he perceived as indecision about whether to produce it as a naturalist or a symbolic piece) than our execution. I had another peach of a part requiring me to relocate me voxbox somewhere in the southern united states (three of the last four plays I've done have involved throat migration, twice to the southern states and once to Ireland) and once I had mastered the speech sounds and rhythms and got a handle on my character (a slightly obsessive fan who might be something else) I thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in his twangy charm and disquieting recollections.

Just about the only little bits of art I've done in the past month or so have been various rough sketches for the publicity posters, flyers and programme which didn't in the end get used because my daughter did a much better job. I particularly love her seagulls, creatively copied from extensive flickr and google image searches one afternoon over the eostran holidays.

The only minor alteration I made to her artwork in the final poster was to copy, rescale and rotate various of her seagulls to increase the size of the flock. She was delighted to have beaten her old man although she rather self deprecatingly attributed her victory to my decision to not bother with a chinese hat on the man.

final seagulls poster

The other reason I haven't found much time for blogging and art is Queen, a seven month old border collie teenage girl who has come to live with me. She was living in a barn a few miles outside Harrogate but she lacked work ethic and preferred to make friends with rather than round up sheep so she said goodbye to the farm and the People's Republic of Yorkshire and wended her way to my Wavertree home. Now she is gradually being trained to lie down and be stroked on command and sleep between bouts of furious running. She is incredibly cute and affectionate. She's slowly coming to terms with all the people, noise and traffic of the suburbs and reckons she'll soon have us trained to walk at her pace and feel guilty whenever she looks at us. Please feel free to worship her image. Sorry my cronky old digital camera is so lousy, some old fashioned scanned analogue type photos should follow soon.

queen posing

3 April 2007

Mr Lumiukko riding pillion on a ski-doo (kind of finglish card?)

Oops - I hadn't realised so much time had passed since last I posted. Many of my usual apologies. I'm busy rehearsing my next bout of hi-diddle-di-dee, a short one act play for a one act play competition/festival at the Gladstone Theatre over in Port Sunlight later this month.


This is my latest daubing and should bring a smidgeon of cheer to all those distressed by the colourless, suicidal adventures of Mr Lumiukko last Christmas (I almost typed 'the Christmas just passed' then but suddenly realised that a quarter of a year has elapsed since then - eep!) Now Mr Lumiukko gets to have fun on the back of a ski-doo, a thank you card to the bloke who scoured my head with icy winds and flung up snow on the back of his ski-doo back in February. Ta mate!