The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

Monday

threewheelsonmywaggon

Another dreich looking day, but seems to be lifting. Returned from Aldi with pannier bag laden with food, you think they would have come up with a pill that had all the nutrients required and you simply popped one a day – then again it would put an awful lot of people out of work.

Washing out of the machine and into the dryer, a girls work is never done, must be breakfast time by now. So many goodies, decisions, decisions.

Yesterday the morning, like this morning was unbelievably dreich, and as the day progress into the afternoon it turned to heavy rain, so poor was the light that by one o’clock in the afternoon I was putting lights on. Still, it was a good day, pottering in the workshop, cleaning and making the adjusting required on my bike, and generally just chilling out. Does anyone know how to get oil stains out of a carpet? Went right through the dust cover. I know don’t get it on the carpet In the first place.

The big highlight and joy of the day came with the opera Turandot, shown on Sky Arts and being performed at Sidney Harbour. I have seen other opera performances from the harbour and like the Met, not only are the artists outstanding but the scenery is over the top.

In the Sidney Opera House production of Traviata, performed in the harbour, a stage 32 metres by 24 metres was built and secured in place by 16 pylons into the seabed, (no sea creatures, we are assured, were harmed in the production of this opera).

The glittering chandelier that hung over the stage (and performers) weighed in a 3.5 tonnes, and at one point Violetta was inside the chandelier whilst it was swung around like a chair-o-plane at the shows.

It is the only production of Traviata that I know of where the guests arrived by water taxi.    

Of course, we only see those performing on stage, but backstage it is a hive of industry. In this production, there was a chorus of 70 along with 40 musicians in the pit below. Backstage it all happens on cue from four of the coolest stage managers in the business. There are 176 sets of costumes which have taken five cutters and twenty stitchers over eight thousand hours to make. The matador’s outfit was custom-beaded in India; while four people spent six months hand-knotting wigs. Suddenly the cost of my DVD or my ticket to Opera Met at the Byre Theatre, feels like a steal.

When you see some of the stage sets, that are larger than life, from the Met you have to wonder at how fearless the artists must be to perform at such heights and in such precarious positions, and not forgetting they could be in shadow or poor light. When casting around for artists, they will no only be artists at the top of their game, but have a head for heights and not of a nervous indisposition. I believe the health and safety man would have all the artists in harness and the set surrounded by scaffolding if they were ever to use such stage sets here in the UK.

The stage set in today performance was just as fearsome, the tower (reaching up into the heaven and home of the gods), must have been 17 M up to the platform where the leading lady was performing. Not only was she performing from on high but on a platform that moved out into nothingness, brave girl. Most enjoyable and so different from the normal Sunday afternoon television. The big snore.

The not so good news

I was listening to a professor from Bristol University the other day, he was telling us about coronavirus, he said something that makes me sit up, “pay attention at the back there”. He said that at Halls of Residence they could take a sample of wastewater (I presume he meant sewerage) and test it to see if anyone inside had coronavirus.

Now a few months ago I heard another eminently qualifiedly person say that we had polluted the very oceans with antibiotics and that they were now in the food chain, they were finding them in fish. Now I don’t know about you but this all sounds very scary to me. We are peeing in the pan and although the sewerage is treated, in that it is separated and filtered before being passed on back into the streams, rivers and water-table, it is not being treated for virus or antibiotics and possibly all sorts of harmful chemicals now used by man. Once it is in the sea it is there for life, you can’t get it back, we see that with plastic in the few short years we have been producing plastics we have managed to pollute the world’s seas and lands. Plastic that has broken down over decades is now found in the food change, bad enough but is viruses not much more harmful to every living creature on the planet? How stupid are we to ignore such warnings? I ask myself.

My washing will be dry by now so time to stop my blethering and get on with my day, washing out, bike out and hit the road, not literally I hope. Keep well and keep the pedals turning.

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