Reading plays aloud was torture

THIS week, for the first time in many years, I sat down and read a play. Gem Of The Ocean is the first (chronologically) in August Wilson’s ten-play Pittsburgh Cycle. My interest was sparked when The Current Mrs Feeney and I recently watched Denzel Washington’s cinema version (above) of the fifth play, Fences.

Studying for an English Literature degree meant that I had to read a lot of plays in university. Before that, there were school lessons that involved each boy in the class in turn reading aloud – and generally without any comprehension of what he was saying –  while the English teacher sat at his desk and quietly shuddered as Shakespeare was murdered.

Apart from lots of Shakespeare, I remember the class stumbling through The Playboy of the Western World, and (earlier) a play called The Iron Butterfly.

I wonder if playwrights are still being tortured in schoolrooms today.

It’s easy for me to stay calm

GLORY DAYS: Swans fans celebrate the club’s promotion to the Premier League in 2011

ALL the shower talk among the Retired Gentlemen’s Swimming Club regulars this week has been about Swansea City Football Club’s ever-growing relegation peril.

It seems increasingly likely that the Swans will fall out of the Premier League, after a six-year stay at the elite level. There is the predictable mixture of disappointment and fatalism at the prospect, but I detect also a degree of anticipation of more enjoyable afternoons at the Liberty Stadium should the club fall back into the Championship next season.

I understand why; it would be nice to once again go to a game with a sense of excitement and anticipation, in place of the trepidation and foreboding that has been our constant companions this season.

I am not convinced, however, that the two Americans who paid £100million to buy a major shareholding in the club last summer would view relegation with my degree of equanimity.

Thanks for the memories; now get lost

On our way to the most recent Swans game at the Liberty – a savage 3-1 defeat after we were leading 1-0 with only two minutes left of normal time – I bump into the editor of a fanzine, who asks me to write something for the next edition.

I have done a defence of the club chairman and his former board colleagues, who have all been branded “greedy bastards” for selling their shares to the new owners.

The criticism has grown harsher as the team’s struggles have intensified, but the board delivered a decade of extraordinary success before it was all undermined by poor decisions in recruiting new players and managers.

The harsh truth is that sports fans have short memories. Players, managers and directors are only as good as their last game.

Sticking to dry land

TO the preview of a new exhibition of paintings by three landscape artists at the Attic Gallery on Friday night. I bought this piece by Michael Howard; not the former Conservative leader who was in the news this week for apparently comparing Spain’s interest in Gibraltarian tax arrangements with Argentina’s military invasion of the Falkland Islands; this one is a retired head of art at Rugby School.

I asked him if he had any plans to paint on Gower; “too watery,” he said.

Overpowered

THE sight of the sun has prompted furious activity in our back garden – including powerwashing the decking and patio. A wet and dirty job. “We really need to do this every month,” said TCMrsF. Really? Couldn’t we just move house instead?

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