The Empire strikes back

Empire Arts - a new rival to the Rex?Have you seen an Empire Arts film yet? You should! With the Rex at Berkhamsted the local cinema of choice for many film fans my own visits to Hemel’s Jarman Park have been limited only to a few must-see-now movies. But the recently introduced Empire Arts programme is changing all that, not just for me but for everyone who enjoys live performance. Every month the Empire is screening live or recorded performances of opera, plays and ballet from the West End & New York. This week a party from Piccotts End went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon. It was a National Theatre production, brillianty acted and filmed in such a way that you saw all the action close-up. Not even live theatre can do that. It was a sell-out and you could hear the buzz of appreciation afterwards. The other great advantage of such screenings are that they cost a tenth of the price of a ticket to a live performance – just £10 for a play and £15 for opera. How long will it be before James Hannaway follows suit? Not long I’ll bet!

Piccotts End roundaboutCan you see what it is yet? That’s a phrase that will stay with us despite its now unfortunate connotations. Nevertheless it’s very apt for the emergent flowers on the Link Road roundabout. For the last 6 months it has looked a rather sorry mess of weeds, bringing complaints from some residents that Dacorum council was guilty of neglect. But as spring steps up a gear a pretty picture of cornflowers, poppies and daisies is starting to take shape. Wildflower plantings were popularised by their success in the Olympic Park in 2012 and many are being laid down by councils as a cheaper alternative to formal plantings. Although I’d prefer to see the roundabout sponsored by someone like Hilliers than a firm of funeral directors, there’s nothing sombre or sad about this gently swaying circle of red, white and blue.