Thursday, 14 June 2007

Halford, Psychologists and Rigoletto

News came through yesterday that Reading's young player, Greg Halford, is moving to our part of the world for £3m to play for newly-promoted Sunderland. Good luck to him, and thanks for the money, Roy. The greatly anticipated publication of the Premiership fixture list is due today, of course. For me, the big question is when we'll be playing Newcastle, Sunderland and the Boro up here, since I don't think I'll have so much spare time next season to get to many games in Reading (14 hour round trip on the train) as I did last season.

Yesterday afternoon we had a superb training session with a psychologist, showing new and experienced councillors how to get the most out of the Scrutiny process. It was all fascinating stuff and certainly warranted a full day, or two half days, rather than a three hour session. There was good and helpful interaction between the councillors present.

Then in the evening it was off to see Rigoletto at Newcastle Theatre Royal. A great night out. While we are lucky in Darlington to have the Civic and the Arts Centre, the Civic in recent years has gone the way of much of the West End, with a staple diet of musicals and second-rate drama featuring second-rate tv and soap actors.
When I first moved to Darlington almost 25 years ago, the quality of production at the Civic was much higher (or do I have rose-tinted spectacles?). It seemed to me that there was never any problem filling the theatre for top notch productions, including ballet and opera. Nowadays, these offerings are few and far between. Nevertheless, the Civic seems to have found its niche, and the Theatre Royal and Sunderland Empire (for Birmingham Royal Ballet) are not far away. The Arts Centre, just across the road from me, is a great asset which hopefully will be even better after its recent refurbishment.

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