Requiem for a Dolphin

By John Pownall

David BowieDown on East Beach, along near Freshwater, just the other day, I came across a group of people and dogs gathered around a long, pinkish fish, lying prone and lifeless on the shingle.

“Dolphin,” said one. “Poor thing,” said another. Two glossy, black Labradors silently circled the corpse. “Skin has come off, that’s why it’s that colour,” said one person. “Who knows how far it swam, the Gulf perhaps?” said another. Our talk was like the skeleton of a conversation, it had no shape, no body. There was nothing to say and yet quite an event to contemplate, to understand. I walked away a little, it was time to go.

They say that Dolphins have bigger brains than humans. What consciousness expired, I wondered, in those final moments on our beautiful beach? I realised that the world I walked in was the negative of the dolphin’s own. The dolphin had drowned, exposed to an element it could not survive. Even now she should be swimming in her own liquid world, far from the noise and clamour of the dry one. I wished I had brought my trunks, so that I might plunge into the golden water, cleanse myself of the burden of this one – to swim, like dolphins can swim.

By |December 31st, 2014|Beachcomber, John Pownall|0 Comments

Peter Pan (Panned)

peter-pan-bridport-photoshootElectric Palace
31 December 2014
BR rating: *
By Nick Pitt

Unfortunately a review of the whole performance is not possible since the reviewer’s five-year-old companion insisted on leaving soon after the interval. He did well to last that long. It may seem unprofessional not to last the distance, but then lack of professionalism was rife from the moment that Captain Hook appeared and kept glancing down at something near the ship’s wheel during his opening number – a crib-sheet no doubt. With no discernible plot, character and acting became all-important.

Alas, Peter Pan himself, despite a decent voice, was disagreeable and betrayed his irritation at the boys’ and girls’ lack of enthusiasm. Tinkerbelle’s accent and manner suggested she had just been turned down by EastEnders. Hook improved from his worrying start and the pirate crewman, unlike several of the cast, had little need for the prompter. Out of the wreckage, Wendy shone bright and pure. Good for her.

In case you think this mean-spirited, Peter Pan was a production brought to the Electric by Reamba Professional Pantomimes, with tickets at £10 and £12. Further performances are scheduled for 2pm and 6pm on Thursday 1 January, Friday 2 January and Saturday 3 January.

By |December 31st, 2014|Theatre|2 Comments

It’s Gatsby night at the Bull. But leave me out, Darling

BR OpinionBy Sam Barker

It’s New Year’s Eve and it’s Great Gatsby night at The Bull Hotel. Of the two destructive, dipsomaniac, American male writers from the 1920s, one – Fitzgerald (and his Gatsby) – has been enjoying a thematic revival. Forget Ernest Hemingway with his penniless Paris years, his Cuban cocktails and his shotgun to the head. Elitism and its calling cards of beauty and wealth are all the rage. It’s F. Scott Fitzgerald we want to party with now.

Or do we? Gatsby is terribly 2013. It’s also a little crass and missing-the-point. When Bridport’s food bank is said to be struggling to cope, it’s worth remembering that the beautiful young things of the twenties gave way to the Depression of the thirties. That F. Scott himself died of an alcohol-related heart attack aged 44. And that The Great Gatsby is in fact a parable about a man with money but without love who throws parties for empty-headed hedonists for the sake of snaring a woman already committed to the sort of loveless old-money which will never be impressed by his trinkets no matter how hard he tries. The Great Gatsby is a tragedy, Gatsby’s party-goers the vacuous chorus.

Not that this seems to have dissuaded celebrants at the Bull Hotel. We understand that the Great Gatsby New Year’s Eve is sold out. The Bull’s event-organisers may be feeling pleased with their efforts. Next year, however, for a hotel that prides itself on being eclectic and original – despite now being part of the Fuller’s Brewery chain, we’d like to suggest a Hemingway fiesta. Or failing that, a Dorothy Parker salon, with dancing.

By |December 29th, 2014|Opinion, The Sam Barker Column|0 Comments

James Breaks Record

It was a close-run thing and he had to do it the hard way, but James Campbell broke the world record for the longest distance covered in 24 hours by a lightweight rower on a Concept II rowing machine.

Campbell, who trained for the record attempt at Bridport Leisure Centre (see previous post), beat the previous record by six kilometres, setting a new mark at 272 kilometres. But he suffered in the process. Starting at 7pm on Boxing Day at Joe’s gym in Swanage, Campbell felt sick after just two hours. For the following 12 hours he was hardly able to eat and could only take sips of water. Unable to ‘refuel’, he fell behind schedule and even considered giving up the attempt.

Helped through the night by his mother and a friend, Skip Graham, Campbell kept going and felt better as the sun rose on Saturday 27 December. At last he was able to eat and with a few hours to go was back on schedule. Rowing faster and faster, he passed the record with half an hour to go and carried on to set the new mark. During the 24-hour ordeal, Campbell slept twice, for 10 and five minutes.

Campbell’s extreme method of spoiling Christmas was in aid of the Heroes Haven charity, which provides affordable holidays for injured and disabled servicemen and ex-servicemen.

Bridport Leisure Centre has supported Campbell by giving him free temporary membership. We can support him by donating through:

By |December 28th, 2014|People, World Record|0 Comments

Parking Scandal

BR OpinionNew parking machines have been installed in the South Street Car Park. Instead of putting in the right money and getting a ticket, you now have to enter your car’s registration number, followed by the coins and then you get a ticket dedicated to your vehicle.

No doubt this new system, which was trialled in the West Street Car Park and will doubtless be rolled out all over town, is intended to prevent the practice of handing a ticket with unexpired time to a fellow parker. And no doubt West Dorset District Council regards such acts of generosity as fraud. But hang on: if I have paid for two hours parking, say, and find that my business has been concluded early, why shouldn’t I pass on what I have bought? If I bought a bar of chocolate, would it be fraudulent to give a chunk to a friend?

The new system is not just mean-spirited and legally questionable but also stupid. Since some of us have trouble working out the new ticketing process, or remembering our registration number (the car may be hired and out of sight from the machine), queues build up. So now you have to wait to buy a ticket as well. It’s called progress.

By |December 22nd, 2014|Opinion|0 Comments