I’m just back from a trip to Grassington to see Retrospective by Slung Low, a promenade headphoney thing about a boxer-cum-photographer. Grassington is one of those beautiful stone villages that Yorkshire does, on a hill and crammed full of little pubs and galleries. The sort of place that’s absolutely beautiful on a still summer’s evening, but you know that for 350 days a year it’s basically a more affluent Deliverance. Tonight was one of the former though, and the festival volunteers were hosing us all down in Jungle Formula to avoid the midge bites. (I thought it was so toxic that it’d started to dissolve my cheap jewellery, but turns out the grey marks on my neck were the liquidised corpses of a THOUSAND DEAD FLIES…)
I am a city person; everything I’ve learnt about farming has come from The Archers or John Craven, but wandering about the Yorkshire Dales listening to the story of a boxer who (spoiler!) killed a man in a bar fight only to be abandoned by his wife and child, really brought out the romantic in me. Like I always do at promenade theatre, I walked about six inches behind the actor at all times, occasionally kicking him in the ankles, and (as usual) I missed bits of the story because I was so bloody busy craning my head to see what was going to happen next. There was a bit at the top of a small hill near a gorgeous tree than was covered in photographs, and when we turned around you could see a long dining table, with tablecloths and candles and everything, being towed through the village. Straight away I was all like SWEEEEET I BET WE GET TO SIT AT THAT TABLE and instantly I was marching off again like a twat, while this poor guy poured his heart out. When we did sit at the table all the food was under those fancy silver cloche things and there was this incredible vocal group doing a song that sounded like Danny Elfman had written it. It was BRILLIANT. And we got to have whisky twice.
Some bits I missed completely because of all the nature everywhere. Birds and stuff, and ACTUAL FROLICKING LAMBS. Right at the end when we were on top of this massive hill, timed perfectly for the sunset (beautiful), it got to a really heartbreaking bit and these two horses came trotting across the field to see what was going on. For a moment I lost it completely and in my head I was like HORSES EVERYONE!!! LOOK AT THE HORSES!!!! It was just perfect. You don’t get fucking horses checking out regular pros-arch crap, do you? “No, I’m sorry sir, you can’t stand in the aisle because it’s a fire hazard.”
I should really have asked for tickets for two dates for Retrospective (audiences were pulled out of a hat, but it was free), so that I could watch it the first time and go mental over all the wildlife and stuff, and then go a second time and be a well-behaved audience member who walks at an appropriate pace and doesn’t keep getting distracted by the exclamation marks rolling behind her eyes.
Basically, it was ace. Full of beautiful little touches. Recommended by fucking HORSES.