Waitress

Take Steel Magnolias, add a dash of Thelma and Louise, a big dollop of Burl Ives in a white linen suit, sprinkle with slapstick, mix with some catchy toons, then serve. This is Waitress, an uplifting and witty musical that tells the story of Jenna, who waits tables, bakes pies and dreams of a getting out of small town USA and away from her good for nothing husband. If Jenna were from small town UK, she’d win The Great British Bake Off and get her own Saturday morning show on TV. Made from the finest ingredients, Waitress is simply delicious.

GoGo Mammoths

GoGo Mammoths

Over the past decade Norwich has seen an invasion of psychedelic mountain gorillas, a parade of glittery elephants, the flight of the camp dragons, a husk of vivid hares, a swarm of big bugs and a hungry group of dazzling dinosaurs. This year, the T-Rexes are back with a vengeance to sink their claws and jaws into a herd of steppe mammoths – all in aid of Break, a charity supporting children in care. A round of applause, please. Let’s not worry too much that the hunters and the hunted roamed the Earth at entirely different times, separated by millions of years. It’s just a bit of fun for the bored kiddies during the summer holidays.

Most of the proto-jumbos with their oversized tusks are more county than town, dotted about various corners of Norfolk, so I thought I’d never spot one grazing in Norwich. I made do with snapping a small selection of the dapper dinos in their flashy finery instead.

But then I spotted this handsome beast clad in metal nuts at the entrance to St Mary’s Works. The old shoe factory is now the venue for Norwich’s uber-trendy Junkyard Market serving up street grub and fruity cocktails to a youthful crowd of beards and tattoos. We were there to celebrate a village boy’s 40th.

The sun was setting on a scorching day, and Metal Mammoth was glowing in the twilight, hot and sticky to the touch.

Way to Go, Tom Daley

Our rainbow day came hot on the heels of the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham earlier that week. Eccentric, multicultural and with a distinctly steampunk feel, it was a gloriously quirky start to the games. Check out the amazing pictures from the Guardian.

For me, a spectacular high point of the show was Tom Daley, Olympic champion diver and growing national treasure, carrying the Queen’s baton flanked by gay rights activists each holding the LGBT progress flag high and proud.

Seen by over one billion viewers worldwide, they were there to spotlight the barbaric situation where in over half of Commonwealth countries homosexuality is illegal and also where, in three of them, the maximum penalty is execution. Just think about that for a moment. That’s another good reason why we need pride events.

But now the ‘Friendly Games’ – and they were terrific – are over for another four years, will Tom’s rainbow flag-waving make a lasting difference? We can but hope.

Click the image below to see the footage on the BBC.

Welcome Back, Norwich Pride

Last Saturday Norwich Pride was back painting the town pink after a three-year absence because of you know what. And it was back with a bang – bigger, brasher and better than ever. Our bus into the city was transformed into a pride express, stuffed with jolly rainbow people from town and county. After arriving in the city, we joined the crowd of many colours heading to the centre and pitched our tent along Gentlemen’s Walk to watch the parade. It ran late. Turns out that a cast of thousands wanted to get in on the act, so it took a while to gather them all up.

When it did set off, the exuberant mega-march just went on and on and on. It was truly heartening to see a long chorus line of so many young people putting it out there, happy and unafraid.

Norwich Pride is fully inclusive, everyone welcome, no one turned away. Why? Because it’s free. Some other pride events are now ticket-only. I get it, really I do. Many are run on a wing and a prayer and a bad weather day can result in a wash-out, leaving a trail of unpaid bills. But not everyone can afford the price to be proud, especially right now. Just like the NHS, let’s hope Norwich Pride remains free at point of access for many, many years to come.

Ant Wars

We returned from our glorious Greek idyll to a heatwave and an invasion of tiny black ants. The little buggers were climbing up and down our narrow cottage stairs, marching across our dining room floor and, horror of horrors, crawling all over the Pinot Grigio.

I know ants have their uses – helping to maintain a healthy topsoil and all that, and generally we live in harmonious co-existence. But that’s outside in the garden where they belong, not under our floorboards. They had to go.

Not in the house. Not on my watch!

Liam said.

He fought back with chemicals – sprays, powder and traps – a toxic assault of shock and awe. If he’d had napalm or mustard gas in his arsenal, he’d have used them too.

Then emerged the fatter, horny variety with wings, lusting after their mid-air shag-fest, triggered, no doubt, by the steamy weather. But instead of taking flight for their annual orgy, they staggered out of various cracks and crevices like drunks at closing time. We’d won the battle but have we won the war? Only time will tell. Odds are the colony has been living beneath our feet for ages. I’ve read that the queen can survive for 25 years. She might see me out.

Tomorrow belongs to the creatures that creep and crawl.