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(* Who knew all those moons ago when I was listening to Steve Martin’s Wild and Crazy Guy album over and over again that some day I’d borrow that line from it for a blog post?  Just goes to show you never know when some relic of your misspent yoot might not come in handy.)

Romeo and Juliet as retirement home inmates?

But it’s the play that [Tom] Morris is directing, his first at the theatre [the Bristol Old Vic], which my taxi driver’s excited about. It’s a version of Romeo and Juliet set in an old people’s home, where the lovers are octogenarians (played by Sian Phillips and Michael Byrne). The taxi driver loves the idea because “the main thing is it’s about love – it doesn’t matter what age you are.” Morris, when we meet at the theatre, explains that, indeed, he hasn’t had to change too much of Romeo and Juliet to make it fit his plan. He’s added a prologue “which helps us into the world”.

He says he’s done this quirky take on Shakespeare because he’s interested in how “some kind of taboo has developed about what older people are allowed to feel and behave. It seems quite poignant and transgressive in an odd way to dare to allow people who are older to fall in love.”

That balcony scene is going to be some kind of trouble to pull off.

Are “people who are older” not allowed to fall in love?  I don’t remember getting the memo on that one.  Indeed, my experience of such matters is that the family are generally relieved, as it gives the old pests something to do.

I suppose, in the end, that what Mr. Morris is really gunning for is a little gratuitous shock by having his star-cross’d octogenarians get physical on stage.  It used to be that the dampening of such passions was seen as one of the benefits of reaching maturity, insofar as without such distractions one could presumably get on with calmer, more meaningful friendships based on experience, wisdom and mutual interests.   What perverse times we live in when seniors are now expected to act like randy, stupid teenagers (which, of course, is what the original Romeo and Juliet are – randy, stupid teenagers).

By the bye, who knew Sian Phillips (who you may remember as Livia from I, Claudius back in the day), was still treading the boards?  (A quick peek shows she’s actually only 76, so I suppose it isn’t that surprising.  What I didn’t know was that she was married to Peter O’Toole at one point.)

Blame it on “climate change”, perhaps?  The baboons are pillaging South Africa’s vinyards!

Baboons with a taste for Chardonnay grapes are terrorising farmers in South Africa’s Western Cape wine region, munching tonnes of grapes ready for harvesting, local media reported on Monday.

Farms in the Franschhoek Valley had been emptied by rampaging Chachma baboons, who sneak into secured plots and help themselves with top grade grapes, The Times newspaper said.

“They can easily wipe out up to two tonnes of grapes a week when you are not watching, and that makes about 1,500 to 2,000 bottles of wine,” said Mark Dendy-Young, farm manager of La Petite Ferme.

Dendy-Young said he had lost up to 40 percent of his harvest last month to the baboons.

He said the thieving was unwittingly taking farmers back to the traditional ways of French wine making, where few grapes are harvested.

“In some parts of France, they would let you yield only a small amount… the baboons are doing it naturally for us,” said Dendy-Young.

Well, I suppose if there’s a bright side it’s that the baboons are sticking with the Chardonnay.  They’re welcome to it, as personally I can’t stand the stuff.

I can’t recall that I’ve ever had a South African wine.  If I remember Waugh’s Sword of Honor correctly, when Guy Crouchback and his commando touch at Cape Town on their way to the Middle East, they discover that the stuff the locals keep for themselves is surprisingly good.

*I know a baboon is a monkey, not an ape.  But do you think I’m going to let such a post title go over a technicality like that?

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