30 May 2013


Matthew Kelly (right) as Hector - being brought to book in the headmaster's study
Man cannot live on bread alone so last evening Lady Pudding and your esteemed correspondent duly attended The Crucible Theatre for a dose of culture. This was not in the shape of Ronnie O'Sullivan and  John Higgins knocking snooker balls over green baize but in the form of a rather engaging play - "The History Boys" by Alan Bennett which is co-incidentally set in a Sheffield school.

A group of talented grammar school boys are being coached to get through the tough Oxford and Cambridge entrance exams. Their education has been enhanced by an eccentric English teacher nicknamed Hector and in this production played by the well-known British TV presenter - Matthew Kelly. He locks his classroom door to keep out intruders and teaches not from some dry syllabus but from the heart. The boys appreciate his eccentricity and run with his uplifting ideas but occasionally they have to pay a price by riding pillion on Hector's motorbike - fully expecting that he will grope their loins whilst in transit.

The play is a mixture of wisdom, dry humour, angry protest and bawdiness. It's hard to convey a sense of such a dramatic pot-pourri but here's Hector on reading:-
The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.
And here's one of the students, in an art-appreciation session, discussing the nudes of Michaelangelo:-
These aren't women. They're just men with tits. And the tits look as if they've been put on with an ice-cream scoop!
And here's Posner in conversation  with the new history teacher - Tom Irwin:-
Posner  Do you ever look at your life?
Tom Irwin I thought everybody did.
Posner I'm a Jew... I'm small... I'm homosexual... and I live in Sheffield... I'm fucked.

Matthew Kelly did surprisingly well and the young men who played the scholars supported him very ably showing a range of talents including singing and dancing as each actor defined a distinct personality. There were many funny moments and after sustained applause at the end of the show, Kelly stepped forward to urge theatregoers to actively support a nationwide campaign to save local theatres. It was an impassioned plea in harsh economic times.

We left the theatre at 10.45 and walked down to Sheffield Hallam University students' union building. We gave friends Cathy and Ann a lift back to our city's sprawling southern suburbs and all was well with the world. Sometimes you don't have to squirm and shake your head at the bitterness when receiving your healing dose of culture.


  1. Love that quote by Hector on reading ~ think I might recycle that one in my classroom. Thank you.

  2. Don't talk to me about Alan Bennett... he, Mr. Y.P. is my all-time, LIKE FRIGGING FOREVER, squeeze. I love him with a deep and abiding passion. I've even written him a fan letter; only the second one I've ever written in my life. He's Yorkshire you see, and I get his humour BIG TIME. I love his grumpyness as well.


    P.S. Best go back and read your post now... I fired this off from deep, deep down in my quarter Yorkshire bit.

  3. P.P.S. Pud... that's not culture, that's life man: seen through the eyes of a wise and wonderful Yorkshireman. Alan Bennett for P.M. Why he's never been knighted beats me, although I suspect he's turned all the Establishment accolades down.


  4. You are posh. The last live performance I saw was Dirty Dancing. The dancers were brilliant but eclipsed by the Scottish audience. Bouncers were called to one lady. A fantastic evening that I doubt the Crucible could top.
    Last time I visited the Crucible I was invited to become part of the show...I thought that a bit cheeky as I'd paid to go in and be entertained.

  5. CAROL CUNNINGHAM If you send me an air ticket I will be happy to come over to Cairns as a guest teacher for a couple of weeks.
    LETTICE LEAF Calm down dear! You're getting all excited. Alan Bennett doesn't do groupies. He's not Mitch Jogger you know! Try ADRIAN instead.
    ADRIAN Were you called on stage to have knives thrown at your head by Eric the Blindfolded Knifeman from Greasborough? I remember the puddle!

  6. No...It was some advent gaud production. Bloody rubbish it was.
    Gawd was it crap.

  7. I bet it was Hair... that's probably why poor lad hasn't got any. It's probably still there under the seat in the stalls. Poor Adrian knew you had to take something off!


  8. 2 x First Class tickets on their way for you and Lady YP ~ QANTAS of course.

    As I say to my other UK friends, Cairns and FNQ is great place to live, work and play (but then I am biased)~ lots of pics, vids, music and stories on my January blog http://carolincairns.tumblr.com

  9. Too many probablys... don't want to get the gramattical hit squad on me case, now do I?

    Got a horrible feeling Carol's a school teacher (I'm quick like that), added to which Adrian looks a bit Headmasterly.


  10. ADRIAN Philistine!
    CAROL CUNNINGHAM All these different technologies you use! Are you one of those computer whizzkids or something?
    LETTICE Careful or Mr Adrian Philistine will have you in his office... for flouting the rules.

  11. Sir YP ~ I would not use either whiz or kid to describe myself. I did have another life for 20 years before going into witness protection (I mean teaching :)


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