The next village to ours is Bleadon, situated on Bleadon Hill – hardly surprising! I’ve only recently discovered that the name comes from ‘dun’ meaning a hill and a word which meant coloured. I don’t know what colour.. white from limestone maybe? Green from the grasses? Gold in the autumn when the setting sun shines on the fading meadows? I discovered this:
On the… high plateau at Bleadon Hill and at the edges of the main area of the Mendip Hills are open exposed grasslands used for grazing sheep and occasionally horses. Here the large rectangular fields of post-medieval enclosure are bordered by drystone walls, some now in poor condition. Long human occupation of the ridge tops is signified by ancient earthworks. Settlement forms a distinctive pattern, with practically none on the steep slopes, scattered stone farmsteads on the plateau and most of the settlement in villages along the spring line at the base of the slopes.
So Bleadon is an ancient place of habitation for long forgotten people. The village now is a pretty little settlement, on the River Axe which comes runs out to the sea in our village of Uphill. It has an old and interesting church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, built about six hundred years ago. It’s a lively village with lots going on and is home to a brilliant amateur dramatic group, The Bleadon Players. We began to go their shows when we met one of the players at quiz night… the person who became the inspiration for Mike Scott, my 1950’s newspaper reporter.
This year is their thirtieth anniversary and for their summer show, instead of doing a single play, they decided to do three one act plays. We were very excited when we discovered that a friend of ours, the very talented writer and play-write, Louise Pople, had written one of the plays, entitled What Would Caesar Do? What was more, Mike Scott was starring in it.
Full of high hopes we went along on the first night; the first play was very well acted, and amusing in parts, but seemed a little dated. Then it was time for Caesar! The set showed an ordinary living room, and into it came a young man in a hurry. This was Tim, and he had rushed home from work because tonight he was going to try to find a date and maybe love, on an on-line site. Tim is a mild museum curator, obsessed with the Romans. He even has a bust of Julius Caesar on display, who he talks to – as lonely people often do to inanimate objects. He “meets” three different prospective dates on-line, and they were shown by the actors coming on one by one to sit in a chair to one side so the audience could see both Tim at his computer, and the date.
The three possible dates are hilarious, a seedy farmer who is really only interested in sheep, a video-game nerd and a pretentious and rather horrid old actor. Disappointed, Tim hurls a cushion and manages to break his router. He calls his provider, and an engineer just happens to be in the district. There’s a knock at the door and a man dressed as a Roman soldier, with tunic, boots, breastplate, and leather bag marches in… the name of the company was something like ‘Centurion Computers’ and this is the uniform of the technicians. Our friend Mike Scott (actually Scott Morris) was the Roman engineer which made us laugh even more than we already were laughing.
It was a perfect play, and even though it was a comedy, the characters were believable (though exaggerated of course) especially the actor who played Tim, making this eccentric lonely person so sympathetic, charming, kindly and actually lovable. For a short play it covered so much of Tim’s personality and history, and the way he and the technician related was very believable – and funny. I was almost crying with laughter, it was just so good! For various reasons I went again on the second night, and it was just as funny, just as hilarious, and just as sweet and touching.
Credit to the actors, but huge credit to Louise… gosh, I wish I could write like her!
Here is a link to the Bleadon Players site, the page about the play:
And here is a link to the document about Bleadon and other parts of North Somerset
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