‘All the fun of the fair…’

Dan Seeger was a Vietnam era conscientious objector. At that time, 50 years ago, COs had to answer numerous questions before exemption would be granted – one of which was:

‘Do you believe in a supreme being?’

In British law, even as far back as WW1, exemption was not reserved exclusively for religious objectors. But in US law it was.

Continue reading

‘No business like show business…’

IMG-20180331-WA0000

A gleaming drum kit in front of a large wooden cross – right where I would usually set up my wooden crates…  ‘Bert Brocklesby and the COs’ might sound like an early rock ‘n’ roll band – but they weren’t.  What they were was a band of determined pacifists.

Then I notice that the drums are sitting on a square of carpet.

Continue reading

Heavenly Eggs and rock ‘n’ roll

29th March 2019

‘Porridge before you set off?’ Joseph asks us on Monday morning. I look out at the snowy landscape, sensing the chill morning air.

‘Yes please.’

‘I studied at St Andrews University, Scotland, ‘ he says, ‘and was taught how to make it this way by my landlady.’
I would like to meet that landlady. It was delicious.

Continue reading

‘Would it be alright for me to go to New York, please?’

25th March 2018

Sunday morning.  A snow covered landscape bathed in glittering March sunshine.  Old Chatham, upstate New York.

IMG-20180326-WA0002

The venue for Sunday afternoon’s performance.

After eggs and hash browns, my host Joseph takes me to the Meeting House, a few minutes drive away – where we have an hour or so to get the sound checked and set-up before we make way for the 11am Quaker Meeting for Worship. Only we don’t get it set up. Connectivity and compatibility issues again. Absence of an important cable.  Absence of anyone who can help us out.

Continue reading

It can’t have been the Amish cashew nuts, surely?

March 14th/15th

1040 is the number of the form on which citizens file their US tax return.

It’s also the name of the organisation Harold Penner belongs to – and it’s ‘1040 for Peace’ that has sponsored us to come to Akron for my first US performance.  They each withhold a symbolic 10 dollars 40 cents from their tax bill, in protest against government defence spending, and redirect it to peaceful causes.  A small gesture, but accompanied with letters to government officials explaining their reasoning.

Continue reading

Shoofly Pie and an early retirement

So much is happening here, if I wrote it all up it would be the length of a travel book or memoir (maybe one day…) rather than a humble blog.

Let me try a short hand account for now instead …

Tues.  March 13th, 11am – leave Bill’s to drive north to Akron, Pennsylvania for the first US performance of This Evil Thing.

Continue reading

Letters from America: Crates and a Washington Post

Mar 11th: Four New Crates (and a Suitcase) 

Bill has gone to his grandson’s birthday party in New Jersey, so I have Sunday to myself – to go for a good stiff walk in Patapsco Park and check out the cascades and waterfalls on another crisp, chilly but sunny day – and then after lunch to get to work accustoming myself to my crates – four new crates knocked up by Bill and his brother the other weekend.

I was so chuffed that they did this for me – because along with the wooden box I brought in my luggage and the small period suitcase that RADA in London loaned me, I can do the play pretty much as I have been doing it in the UK. I’m one crate and two pallets short, but the staging needs to be changed only a little.

Continue reading

Day 1: Prince Harry does me a favour

The US customs officials that dealt with me so swiftly on my arrival at Baltimore yesterday – were they pacifists on the quiet?
They were pleasant, smiling and really sincere, so it seemed to me, in their wish for me to ‘have a good time in our country’.
I intend to.

Continue reading