Went to see Othello last night at the Crucible here in Sheffield with my family; we particularly wanted to go because Othello and Iago are played by Clarke Peters and Dominic West respectively, two of the main characters from The Wire. I have never studied the play at school that I recall, but my sister did it for AS. Personally I enjoy books and plays more once I’ve done them at school, not the opposite as many say. The performance was very good, especially their use of lighting and simple props. It’s great to have the traditional theatrical symbolism of things like a simple sash marking someone as being a soldier of one side or the other or whatever. I really love the theatre and should go more often, especially living somewhere like Oxford.

I found it really hard to get into last night’s performance, though, thanks to the behaviour of the audience. Firstly I thought that the theatre was sacred in terms of behaviour: no sweets that have even the slightest chance of making a noise, no coughing, and absolutely no talking. Wherever this perception of mine came from—perhaps I’d got lucky with audiences in the past—it proved to be completely wrong. There was some talking, plenty of rustling and several nose-blows. There was also someone behind us breathing with the aid of a tank of oxygen; mildly annoying but obviously not in any way blameable. But the other annoyance is of a different nature: many members of the audience were tittering at every other line. Obviously there were jokes in both Shakespeare’s lines and the director’s interpretation for this production, but there were definitely not as many jokes as the audience would have you believe. To me, a play like this is a serious matter, trying to use art to get at the root of some important questions about the human condition, and without ever having the studied the play, which might have helped, I was totally unable to appreciate very much of what was going on for the entire first half and most of the second because of these constant reactions reminding me that I was in a theatre. Not just laughing at things that aren’t funny to me, but this constant mild tittering at things that definitely weren’t. Things improved for the final scene (a long one) at least.

Today my father moved house from the house he’s had for most of the time he’s been divorced from my mother to one half an hour’s walk away on a road right next to my old secondary school. This is because he is moving in with his new fiancé, who is still in the process of selling her house; things are looking good right now, but it had all fallen through. The house used to be occupied by an old man living alone and while he’s kept it clean and tidy it’s decor is pretty awful. Also the loft needs converting so that Elaine’s (his fiancé) son has a bedroom. But the point is that almost all of the money from selling Elaine’s house isn’t needed to buy this one so it’s all available to do it up. We had some fun today when we had most of the road commandeered with two removal lorries and my dad’s car and trailer. Already we were forcing every single driver in either direction to alter their route, but then the end of the school day happened, and the buses started pouring in and it was pretty funny to have caused so much disruption to so many people.

My father wants to use my room as a study while I’m away at university and also for an extra wardrobe. This has caused some consternation because it’s a very tight fit (if it’s even going to be possible) and his use of my old room for masses and masses of storage was one of the many reasons I’ve barely ever spent any time at his house since becoming a student. So I said look, all I want is a desk that isn’t under my bed—I have a cabin bed, which means a desk underneath gets really dusty—a bed, and for you not to switch to ADSL from your cable Internet connection. The cable Internet in fact comes right into my upstairs room which is great because I can then have wired access, and can plug my NSLU2 in. I’m going to make an effort to actually spend time at my father’s because his presence is going to be powerfully diluted by Elaine. Previously the main reason aside from him is that I never want to move my books and papers back and forth to a dusty, dark little room that never had any air because the window was painted shut etc. and it’s nice that that won’t be an issue anymore.

As for computing, I’ve given up on getting my father and sister to use his old desktop computer and adopted it into my room. My sister’s got her modern laptop and my Dad has his ancient one with a PCMCIA wireless card that can do 802.11b but not g or n, but the desktop was intolerably slow under Windows and neither could be bothered to use it under the Linux Mint installation I put on. It’s got a Celeron D and 256MB of RAM and not much else, and under Mint I can get Emacs and a web browser running simultaneously but woe betide I try to sync my e-mail or also play music while these are happening. I’m hoping that installing CRUX on it will make it possible to do all these three things at once, but I’m not super-hopeful because I’m using 744MB to do that now here on my desktop at my mother’s. I’m surprised my desktop is as bloated as it is; maybe I can slim it down.

One consequence of wanting to get some use out of old hardware rather than parking my laptop at my father’s for the vac is that I can’t play StarCraft a lot of the time, since I plan to spend more at my father’s. I may eventually crack and take my laptop there, rather than packing it away in the loft where it usually spends the vac, but otherwise, I think this is probably good for getting other things done. This is not to say that StarCraft interferes with academic work or anything like that, but what it does do is stop me from emptying my inbox or reading. Interestingly I don’t have to spend long away before this effect lessens. With being out all day today moving and with not playing yesterday due to Othello, I’m already not so bothered about laddering, which is interesting.

I never normally write about my father’s house positively so hopefully things will be better with Elaine around and a non-dusty desk.