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I was intrigued when I saw that theatre company 'Antic Disposition' were performing Richard III, in a variety of Cathedrals across England, one of which was Bristol. (Another was Leicester, which created some minor controversy as of course Richard III was reburied there, and some of his supporters felt it was disrespectful to perform the play there. Personally I feel that after being dead for more than 530 years, Richard is probably over it all!)

So, I booked a ticket.


The performance took place in the Nave,  with the performance taking place in the centre, and we the audience down both sides, so it was a very intimate setting, and of course being in the Cathedral there was nothing in the way of sets, very little in the way of props, and minimal extra lighting.


It was very well done. Its a modern dress production. When we first met  the dastardly Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Toby Manleyhe was in black tie, respectable, but of course already scheming, and as the setting was so intimate, his soliloquies and asides were made to the audience, bringing us into collusion with him.




The production makes the most of the black humour in the play. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Richard is 'entreated' to take the crown. The line  "See where his Grace stands, ’tween two clergymen" contained a long and significant pause before the word 'clergymen', due to the rather threatening appearance of the two stone-faced, sunglasses wearing henchmen clergymen.

Toby Manley as Richard III, from Antic Disposition's site

Robert Nairne is excellent as Richard's right hand man, Catesby (doubly unnerving for me, as he reminded me in appearance of my brother, who is not (at least as far as I know) in the habit of carrying out assassinations to order.)


Richard, as he does, got darker through the play - chillingly giving his order to "Rumour it abroad. That Anne my wife is very grievous sick" to Catesby in Anne's presence..

It was all very well done. Richard's victims, following their various deaths, moved to the end of the Nave to watch him (except when the actors needed to cover other roles), showing the gradually rising body count, and the Princes in the Tower were such stroppy pre-teens one could almost forgive Richard for their fate.

The production is currently in France, and then at Temple Church in London 22nd August to 9th September. Worth seeing if you can make it.

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A couple of weeks ago, I saw Nick Harkaway (@Harkaway) tweet about a project which both he, and Neil Gaiman have contributed to, together with Tom Abba and Artists' Collective, 'Circumstance'.

(Picture (c) the project)
The project, 'These Pages Fall Like Ash' is an interactive story, part book, part city exploration with downloaded content, part personal imagination.

I booked a ticket (or bought a book, depending how you chose to look at it) and on Saturday travelled to Bristol to take part.  I picked up my book (beatifully packaged) from the Watershed, and got started.

The book is a beautiful little thing, made from wood and paper, and it tells two stories, or two halves of one story, one set in the Bristol we know, the other half set in a parallel city, with characters who may, or may not, know and remember one another.

The book also contains clues to locations within Bristol, at which you can download further parts of the story, using a smartphone or tablet. You have to find the right place; the content is stored on hidden hard drives, so you have to be in the right part of the city.

I wasn't able to complete the whole story (?stories) - the project hasn't been finished yet, there is still some digital content which hasn't yet been uploaded, and I had trouble with a couple of the sites, but it is a very interesting concept, and it caused me to look at the city in a way I hadn't done before.

I must have passed the hairdressers in St Nicholas Street numerous times, but had not noticed the veiled bust, for instance.

I hope I shall have time to go back and revisit while the project is up and complete, to finish the stories, but if I don't , I think some of the digital content will be available as a pdf once the project is over.

And I believe that there are plans for other, similar projects in other cities.

It's definitely an interesting and innovative piece of art, and I'm glad I joined in.
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So, after my mini-blog this morning  on Saturday morning, I thought, as one does, that I had plenty of time to run an errand or two, and so of course I almost missed the train I'd planned to catch.
However, I did catch it, and managed to do a couple of other errands in Bristol before heading to the Ramada to register and then to look around..

The Con is spread over two hotels - the Comics Expo in the Ramada, and the Small Press Expo at the Mercure, which is just around the corner; they have a symbiotic relationship but are not, I believe run by the same people. The first things I saw in Reception at the Ramada were a pair of Imperial Stormtroopers, and guy dressed as Batman, and three slightly bewildered hotel guests checking out.
always a reassuring sight!
After looking around, and managing to not buy any comics, I headed over to the Mercure. They keep all their conference rooms on the 5th floor, but there was a familiar looking blue box in the reception area, which gave me confidence that I was in the right place!
There were lots of comics (unsurprising, at a ComicCon, really, I suppose), lots of writers and artists, and a small number of panels.

I only went to one panel - 'Women, Politics and cartooning' - this was moderated by Jasper Bark, and featured Blue Lou, Kate Evans and a third artist (unfortunately I didn't make a note of her name, and it's not written in the programme). It was very interesting, with discussions about activism, motherhood, guilt, politics and politicians, viciousness, and breastfeeding. Later in the day, in the bar, I had the opportunity to chat further with Lou and Jasper, and to look at more of her artwork. I recommend it. Go look at her site.

I then met up with Cheryl and we went out for lunch in a dodgy pub, where we had some not-very-good beer, and some decent fish & chips, and where we were accosted by a random drunk enquiring as to whether we were east German Stasi. (No, we couldn't quite work that one out either...)
I had thought I might go to one of the 2 o'clock panels but Cheryl led me astray we wandered into the bar, first, where Cheryl introduced me to Paul Cornell and later we wandered around the Expo, and I bought a copy of Alice In Sunderland, in which Bryan Talbot drew me a beautiful Mad Hatter.

Later again I found myself back in the bar, (perfectly sober, but in need of a comfy chair and a cup of coffee) and had lots of interesting conversations - this was when I had the opportunity to chat with BlueLou and Jaspre, and with a writer/reviewer named Mark, and Paul Cornell again, and various others whose names I failed to note.

Conversations wandered from subject to subject - some SciFi / Comics related - Which Doctor Who Episodes deserve to win Hugos, whether Superman and Clark Kent were either or both ever American Cctizens in the first place, how quickly trade paperbacks of comics should become available, and what the chances are of fielding a cricket team entirely made of Doctor Who writers are; Some not - babycare and breastfeeding, government cuts, the tendencies of large organisations to become reactionary, and the excessive cost of coffee in the hotel bar.

I enjoyed the afternoon.

I stayed on to watch Neil GAiman's Doctor Who episode, 'The doctor's Wife' in the bar -   wasn't the optimum viewing experience - the TV was in ne corner of the hotel bar, but there were a lot of people in the bar who were not watching Doctor Who, and so there was a lot of noise - it took a while before we were able to get subtitles up, and of course subtitles are not as good as being able actually to hear the dialogue, but even with those disadvantages it was a great episode (and good company!)

Phot stolen from Mr Tony Lee (@MrTonyLee)

Once Who was over, I headed back home (where I watched the episode again, with sound, this time, and also watched the 'Confidential' - both very good. A nice end, to an interesting day.

I had bought a ticket for the full weekend but having a lie-in on Sunday morning meant I left it too late to get to Bristol in time to see the 'Just a Minute' game, which was the main attraction, to my mind, so I didn't go back. Maybe next year.

EDITED TO ADD: The 3rd Cartoonist was Vicky Stonebridge, she has a site at


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