du Pré Marine launched

It’s been a little while since I was involved in the launch of a website, let alone the creation of one. The addition of a new company to our group, du Pré Marine, has provided the excuse to dust off skills and catch up with the current state of various content management platforms.

At first I was considering using WordPress for the site; it seems to be much greater than a mere blogging tool now and I really enjoy working with it on here when I have the time. But in the end I selected Joomla. It took a few hours and a couple of headache pills to get to grips with it. However the end result is good and it gives us a basis for getting going with the first of our product lines in the new company, FLIR thermal imaging cameras.

Squaring the circle

I’d always wanted an excuse to use square focusing of theatre lanterns in a lighting design and Chess The Musical gave me a very good reason. All of the downstage specials were focused in a grid of two rows of five squares using 10 SL 15/32s from front of house. My hat is off to Martin Pretty of the Hexagon staff who did all of the hard work on Bridge 2 getting the SLs in place first time.

This kind of focus meant the cast had to be well forward (pretty much on the front edge) of the box to be lit and there was a distinct but tiny shadow at the edge if they moved sideways between boxes. So accuracy in hitting marks (and explaining them) was needed. But the effort was worth it with a lot of encouraging comments.

Chess The Musical 27-31 October

And so to rehearsals for Sainsburys Singers‘ performance of Chess The Musical at The Hexagon, Reading on 27-31 October. Having just got home from the first run-through I must say I am impressed by the quality of the singing of what is a very difficult score. Soloists are strong and the cast at full bore nearly took the roof off the rehearsal venue. Exciting!

Chase me, chase me

posted in: Fun stuff 2

Is it me, or does the ‘Police follow this van’ sign seen on the back of Group 4 cash trucks these days conjure up images of a Keystone Kops scenario in which the security wagon drives past, the boys in blue read the sign and immediately obey by running after it up the road, truncheons drawn at the ready?

Sister Act – better than the film?

posted in: Theatre reviews 0

We went to see Sister Act at the London Palladium on a trip organised by Sainsbury Singers on 6 October. I had heard that it was quite different to the film and so it proved.

It was hard to fault the show. The first couple of numbers in the nightclub seemed a bit ordinary. But then things took off with the appearance of the nuns and the evening roared through.

Red line on the treadmill

posted in: Health 0

I’ve come to the conclusion that trying to stay healthy can be, well, unhealthy. My reasoning being somewhat recently influenced by the experience of getting a routine ECG during a recent check on my health.

Medical people (aka chief torturers) recently stuck me on a treadmill with various parts hooked up to ECG and blood pressure. Keeping the pads hooked up involved shaving certain parts of my chest, something that seemed fine at the time (but that which subsequently left me with a very itchy patch for days afterwards).

Lionel Bart’s Blitz 5-9 May

My next show is looming large and to maintain a 2009 theme it is one that I have not seen or worked on before.

Lionel Bart is, in the eyes of many, a bit of a one-hit wonder and Oliver! appears to have as much appeal today as it ever did. It is often forgotten that the original London production of Blitz ran for nearly 600 performances and set some new benchmarks for musicals including massive staging (Broadway baulked at it) and the much more obvious use of lighting than was currently in vogue. The score was subsequently lost for many years but the show is now enjoying something of a mini-renaissance, at least with amateur companies.

Grand Tour 10 years on

This day 10 years ago I set out on the journey of a lifetime, a 4100-mile 147-day trip around Britain and near continental harbours.

The bit I remember most about this day, which started at Port Solent and ended at Haslar just a short run away, was the disquieting feeling that I had called my own bluff. Was the plan, largely conceived on scraps of paper while rail commuting, really going to work out?

Marine customer service heroes and zeroes

What a difference a good customer experience can make.

I’ve often said you can eat an average meal at a restaurant accompanied by well-judged attention from the staff and it will far outweigh Michelin-standard fare accompanied by care-less or haughty delivery. It’s also a well-known fact that faulty goods put right by service above expectation will engender greater customer loyalty than a product that works right out of the box.

So what prompts this blog?

Well we’ve been buying rather too much kit for our boat over the past few months and the experiences have often been polarised between extremely good and disappointingly poor.

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