Conference gimicks

Katie went to help lead a workshop at a teachers conference in Manchester yesterday. She managed to get a delegates pack which didn’t contain hand knitted mittens (unlike the Helsinki conference she went to, and also, the recent NATO summit in Riga). No, she got colouring pencils. Well, it was an arty conference. Not only that, but she even got a 128Mb USB memory stick engraved with the conference sponsor’s name. They missed a publicity trick, though, by leaving it completely empty of advertising. Leave a comment if you’ve got any funky stuff from delegate packs.

On an unrelated note, I’ve discovered a great new hot drink – gravy.

When sparks fly: The curse of The Masque of the Red Death

picToday did not go to plan. I was excited to be given the opportunity to do the sound queueing (yes, I get excited about that sort of thing) for our friend Phil’s production of an Edgar Allen Poe story, The Masque of the Red Death. What was meant to happen was a day of rehearsals (today, in fact), followed by two showings tonight and tomorrow night.

The story is about a man who to escape the plague invites a thousand of his friends (popular guy) to his castle then welds shut the gates. In the story, things don’t go to plan and everyone dies. Today no-one died, though Phil could have got a nasty shock when water leaking into the control room caused a short circuit and the light rained sparks down next to him. After the second light fused the entire room the duty manager was called, and shortly after the show was called off. The show will be rescheduled and performed again – providing the curse doesn’t strike again.

Katie’s back!

The girl got back after checking out the perimeter of the Baltic sea. She visited went through France, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany, stopping off at plenty of cities during the two weeks. I’ve very jealous. She’s just finished documenting it in her blog.

We just got back from Casino Royale. Great film, but what an outrageous amount of product placement, particularly of mobile phones. It was as if they’d pitched it to the guys from the Orange film board adverts, and they’d said something like, “Great film concept, but why can’t the characters communicate by Text?”, and the producers had replied, “Yeah, why not! And let’s give them 3G phones, but you know what, Microsoft don’t want to pay us, so let’s edit out the Windows logo from the bottom of the computers.” And then the American hand gun arms lobby had stepped in and said… and said… I’d better stop there.

Joseph in prison

First scene: Pharoh’s palace.

P: Cupbearer! Bring my fortified grape squash at once!

C: (rushes in with drink, bows to floor nearly spilling juice) Your juice, most excellent Pharoh.

P: (impatient) Come on, stop that ridiculous bowing and taste my drink.

C: (drinks juice, pauses, feels forehead), I’m still alive. Your drink is poison free, your majesty.

P: (drinks juice and spits it out) How many sugars did you use?

C: (worried) Only five…

P: I wanted six! Guards, lock him up.

Next scene: also in the palace

P: I’m hungry, bring the breadmaker

B: Here’s your finest Egyptian bread, freshly made 1000 years ago.

P: (spits bread out) You imbecile, this is horrible. Your know I like my bread matured for at least 1500 years.

B Are you goin to lock me up too?

P: Hmmm… maybe… Of course I am! Guards!

Next scene: at the prison

B: Hey, Cupbearer, it’s that Joseph, the Hebrew guy who was locked up and now runs this prison.

J: You two have been here for ages. You should be happy. What’s wrong?

C: We both had dreams last night. They must mean something, but Breadmaker here can’t figure mine out, and I can’t figure out his.

J: That’s because it’s God who interprets dreams. Tell me your dreams.

(voice over for stop-frame animation done by taking pictures as they draw the scenery of the vine growing grapes)

C: I saw a vine. It had three branches. They budded, blossomed and grapes grew. I picked them, squeezed them into Pharoh’s cup and gave it to him.

J: It means you will get your job back. Please tell him about me when you’re free. I just hate working being stuck in prison.

B: (big smile) Don’t worry about that, I’ll pass on the info when he lets me go. Go on, tell me what good news my dream foretells. In my dream, I was carrying these three baskets full of croissants on my head, but birds kept eating out of them.

J: Pharoh’s going to cut off your head in three days. I’m afraid those birds aren’t going to be eating croissants, they’ll be eating your flesh.

B: (runs from the room, screaming).

Last scene: back in the palace, four days later

Random person: Well done, cupbearer, Pharoh obviously like the wine you gave him for his birthday.

C: Yes, thanks, I got the number of sugars just right.

R: What about Joseph?

C: Who’s Joseph?

Home at last

We finally made it back to London at lunchtime on Saturday 18th November. The twelve hour train journey from Warsaw to Cologne had passed easily for me (I dozed a lot of the way on my bed in the sleeper carriage), but more difficultly for Jane, who was still ill and couldn’t get to sleep.
We endured a three hour wait at Cologne train station in the early hours of Saturday morning, then onto a smooth, fast train to Bruxelles. We had enough time to get an early lunch in, before boarding our last train – the Eurostar – to London.

Well it certainly was a long way round, took a lot longer than flying, and was pretty exhausting at times. But we saw so many new countries and beautiful cities, had an adventure, and started to get a grasp of just how big Europe really is. Bring on the next trip!

Click here to see a gallery of all the pictures from the trip.