• Upcoming Trips

    Feb-March None booked as yet
  • theatre and Concerts

    February 26. Saw concert versions of two my favourite Puccini operas at the MSM: La Rondine (Act I) and Gianni Schicchi. Both made the very most of the small stage and were cleverly directed by Kenneth Merrill from the side of the auditorium. The young cast had an hilarious time putting on the show – and so did  we!

    March 2. Saw “Twelve Angry Women”, a play on the well-travelled jury deliberations theme, at the Producers Club. It is fast moving, ding-dong exchange of ideas with “whodunnit” detective analyses interspersed. Sadly, only one of the twelves actresses really could project; the others could not, for the most part, be heard clearly enough for our old ears to pick up the nuances of the dialogue, even in the  Club’ s intimate auditorium.

    March 3.  Carnegie Hall hosted Edith Monaco in a solo piano recital on Sunday evening. She played a nice, but not too exciting,  programme  ending with Moussorgsky’s “Pictures at an exhibition”. She seemed  totally concentrated on the accuracy of her playing and did not glance at, or turn the page of, the music in front of her.

    March 20. The MSM celebrated Pincus Zukerman’s 70th birthday and the 25th anniversary of his ‘Performance Program’. It was an extraordinary musical event: an awesome display of the incredible young talent that the Master and the MSM have nurtured.

    Of the solo violinists performing, the most exciting, for me, was  Jesus Reina who chose pieces by Paganini and played them in a manner reminiscent of Sarasate. But the highlight was Bach’s ‘Concerto for Two violins’; for the first movement, Mr. Zukerman led in his 12 year-old protégé, Nathan Gendler who played opposite the Master with the absolute confidence of an old hand who had begun his concerting at the age of six!

    For the second movement, Pincus Zukerman led in SoHyun Ko, a young lady of sixteen. She played her part with equal talent and confidence.

    The two youngsters played the third movement  by themselves (The Master staying off-stage while they wowed the sold-out audience!).

    The programme ended with Mr. Zukerman conducting the MSM Symphony Orchestra in Dvorak’s ‘Slavonic Dances’ and everybody (Orchestra and audience alike) singing him “Happy Birthday”!

     

     

     

     

     

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The Ghost of July Garland

Last Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, Christine and I went to The Producers Club on West 44th to experience the incomparable Peter Mac as Judy Garland! He introduces himself as Liza Minelli’s mother and he sings, and dresses, in the style of Judy in her vulnerable years. His monologue is sprinkled with funny (if somewhat Rabelaisian) one-liners, but the pathos is ever-present below the surface. It is most touching when he sings “Somewhere over The rainbow”.

Peter Mac as Judy Garland. (Picture taken by Christine on her mobile phone)

I was anxious to tell Peter how much we appreciated his talent and, to let him know that Judy Garland, at the age of sixteen and dressed in young girls’ frilly clothes, was the heart-throb of the whole British Army, (including me), some seventy-five years earlier! And, that his performance brought back powerfully nostalgic memories of a wonderful child actress. He keeps, on stage, a pair of the red shoes used by Judy to skip down ‘The Yellow  Brick Road’. I was surprised to hear from him that Judy Garland died fifty years ago!

 

Peter invited us to  have a picture taken with him. Dr. John (His spouse of ten years) kindly took this one with Christine’s phone. A must-see performance!

END OF POST

 

 

 

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Caribbean Cruise with S and C, (End)

George Town, Cayman Islands

At this port stop we all took a trip to a local beach.

In New York it was snowing!

 

from the first row of chairs one could dip one’s feet into the sparkling sea water . . . .

 

. . . . or jump right in! . . .

 

. . . . .

 

. . . .

 

. . . .

 

. . . . . while all this splashing around was going on, I relaxed in the shade of the beach umbrella, protecting my delicate skin . . . . and . . . .

 

. . . watching the competition go by . . .

During the rest of the vacation:

This is a selfie taken by Christine when she arrived back after a luminous deck party one night!

 

. . .this was a scene from her Party Bus . . . .

 

. . . as was this view . . .

 

And , finally. This is a picture of me looking for a local beer.

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean Cruise with S and C (Part 2)

Harvest Caye, Belize

Harvest Caye is a small island just off the coast of Belize. I visited it some 45 years ago with my friend and colleague, Eddie Staine, who had arranged with a relative of his to take us there in his fishing boat and drop us off for the day. The island, then, was little more than a sand bar and was uninhabited–an idyllic spot for a picnic. An unmanned lighthouse stood at one end and two palm trees had rooted nearby. Here is a picture I took of Eddie sitting on a pile of conch shells discarded by local conch fishermen:

. . . . . the lighthouse and palm trees were behind me.

It is now a thriving tourist resort maintained by the local authority and has a deep water dock which can accommodate the largest tourist ships! 10,000 mangrove trees have bee planted around its perimeter and  a small wetland has been established  to entice migrating birds:

Covered walkway from dock to island .

 

. . . the lighthouse has been recycled . . . . .

 

. . . . . it is now a zip-line tower . . . . .

 

. . . Whee-ee! . . . .

 

. . . . landing.

 

Suntan lotion is a must . .

 

Travelers’ Palm

 

The resort is amply supplied with sun-worshippers’ lounge-chairs . . . .

 

. . . . and a floating bar!

 

Tourist shop, of course . . .

 

. . . which offered cocoa drinks . . .

 

. . . .

Ohco Rios, Jamaica

Christine and I took a mini-van tour of the town while Susan and Craig went snorkeling. We by-passed Duns River Falls which was an open sight-seeing spot when Dorothy and I  were there in the Seventies but is now fenced off and has a $23 dollar entrance fee! :

Columbus looking out to sea . . . he landed in Jamaica before sailing on to America

 

typical Jamaican dress

 

. . .wayside café  (tourists stocked up with “Blue Mountain coffee whenever they could!) . . .

 

local art carvings

 

Beach bar – Christine dropped off the tour here for a swim and sunbathe while I continued on with the rest of the tour . . .

 

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

 

. . . .

 

Beech Lodge reception . . .

 

Earings to fit the clime!

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

 

 

Caribbean Cruise with Susan and Craig (Part 1)

STAY CALM!

YOU ARE ON THE OTHER  SIDE OF TRUMP’S WALL! 

. . . . so proclaimed the poster which greeted us as we landed in the Mexican tourist resort of Cosumel. The great many tourists off the three cruise ships which were docked there, found the notice extremely humourous; for the Americans among us, however, the humour was tempered with a certain dolefulness.

The NCL cruise ship we boarded at Pier 91 in Manhattan was one of their largest, the “Escape”; displacing more than 175,000 tons and accommodating some 3,000 passengers:

Click on the pictures for best detail:

THE “Escape”

The hulls of NCl”s ships are all decorated with paintings in the signature styles of different artists, this one by Guy Harvey. Guy Harvey is not only a great portrayer of marine life, but he has founded, and leads, a foundation for the preservation of the oceans. He is a vastly experienced deep-sea diver and his team has produced incredible under-sea movies of sharks, whales and sailfish and the like! The forward hull of the ship is painted with his logo: a breeching sail-fish with its beak wide open–I have a smaller one woven into the back of a tropical shirt I bought long before the ship was built!

The “Escape’s” distinctive chandelier . . . .

 

. . . . and intriguing Bar

 

Dining in the “Bistro”  . . . . .

 

Craig, Susan, Christine and me. . . . .

 

Christine . . . . .

 

. . . the ladies make their choice  in the Manhattan restaurant. . .

 

. . . . . .

 

Craig deliberates . . . .

 

Susan’s dessert

We manged, by dint of lining up very early in the stand-by line, to get a table in the Supper Club one night. The entertainment for the evening was provided by the Vox Futura; four classically-trained male singers from the UK who, among many other successes, won the European Song Contest. Their style of singing is a combination of operatic and soul — and an impressively refreshing sound it is–very exciting!

Here we are at our booth table: (Susan took the pictures)

Craig and Christine

 

Christine and me

Costa Maya, Mexico

At this port stop, we decided to do our own thing; Susan and I went to visit a Mayan ruin, Craig went on a snorkeling outing and Christine was happy to take a trip on the “Party Bus”! Here  she is boarding it:

A joyful Christine boards the party bus

 

Our guide to the Chacchoben Mayan temple has everybody mesmerised . . .

 

Chacchoben temple. I have seen much larger structures and, better restored than this – but this one has taken 30 years to rescue from an irresistibly encroaching forest — and this is only a tiny part of a once great city uncovered so far!

 

Susan climbed up as far as was permitted while I watched from a bench below

Susan and I completed our side trip in a bar/restaurant in sight of the docked “Escape”. We dined on a local spiny lobster cooked to perfection on an open grill, served with chips, salad, guacamole and a local beer. At our feet, the sparkling Caribbean splashed the rocks with enthusiastic glee. Unfortunately, the glee was a little too much around coast and Craig’s snorkeling trip had to be abandoned!

TO BE CONTINUED 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Apple Circus

Last Saturday we became kids again and went to the circus (See sidebar on the Title page). The excitement was intense. Christine took these few pictures with her phone:

Click on them for better detail:

The tent . . .

 

. . . . the aerialists prepare to start their extraordinary feats . . .

 

. . . now forbidden cotton candy . . . .

 

We enjoyed the experience no end!

THE END

Christmas with the Crawford/Charters

Susan and Craig came to my place for, what has now become, a traditional Xmas meal for us. My signature dish, served early, at the hour which British kids are usually clamouring to open their Christmas stockings, was: full English breakfast accompanied by Pol Roger Champagne (Dorothy’s favourite), Grand Marnier and Christmas Crackers! Since this building has no chimney to climb down, I took the liberty of hanging and filling Christmas stockings for my daughter and son-in-law the night before they arrived:

Stockings for Craig and Susan

 

Craig’s plate is already on the table . . . .

 

Craig . . . . .

 

Craig openss his Christmas stocking . . . .

 

Me . . . .

 

Selfie of all three Christmas revelers (it seems that I’m about to sneeze?) . . .

On Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) we took the Hudson Line train from 125th  Street to Tarrytown where Kiowa picked us up and took us to his house. He had arranged a group lunch for Susan’s family together with Craig’s family at a restaurant in Purchase a few miles away:

Here we all are, posing for the family picture . . . Left to right; Charley (Craig’s grandson); Kiowa, Kelsey and Christie, David (Craig’s son-in-law and Kristin’s husband), Ryan and Kristin (Craig’s grandson and daughter), Jeremy and Zoe (My great-grandson and great-granddaughter, Zoe. Chloe (Craig’s granddaughter, Craig, Susan and me. This picture was taken by the head chef and owner of the restaurant

 

Kiowa, Jeremy, Zoe, Christie and Kelsey . . .

 

Craig and me . . .

 

Chloe, Ryan with Craig . . ,

 

Me and Kiowa . . .

 

Jeremy, Zoe, Christie and Kelsey with her back to the photographer . . .

 

My friend Ruben and me in the Waterford lobby . . .

 

Lastly, Christine took this picture of the Helmsley building decorated for Christmas.

END OF POST

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Messiah Reimagined” at St. Jean Baptiste Church on Park Lane, New York

For a pre-Christmas treat, we went to hear the NYC Master Chorale and MSM Chamber Sinfonia in an unusual rendering of Handel’s “Messiah”:

The beautifully appointed St. John Baptiste church made a most impressionable backdrop for the music . . . .  Christine took this picture on her mobile phone! . . . . 

 

The reimagined version made this Messiah a little difficult to follow but, at the end, the three chorus groups plus the whole  church audience  stood up and sang a truly rousing Hallelujah Chorus!

This panoramic picture was taken, at Christine’s request, by a neighbouring audience member  . . . . . it shows off more of the  extraordinary craftsmanship on the ceiling.

Christine and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all: HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND A PROSPEROUS NEW  YEAR!  Love to everyone, Ben.