Scott Cawelti

About Scott Cawelti -

Scott Cawelti was born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He taught writing, film, and literature at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) from 1968-2008, and has written regular opinion columns and reviews for the Waterloo / Cedar Falls Courier since the late 1970s.  He played for years in a folk duo with Robert James Waller and still regularly performs as a singer/guitarist/songwriter. Scott continues to teach as an adjunct instructor at UNI.

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  • Day 21: THE TARDIS, BEWITCHING FOR COFFEE, AND BILLY ELLIOTT

    • Posted on Oct 24, 2013 by Scott Cawelti

    I.O.W.A 25 Days in London
    Thursday, Oct. 23

     

    No interviews and a sunny-ish day in London, so we ventured out and about.  Never a dull day in London as long as you hit the streets.

     

    Any of fans of the BBC TV series “Dr Who”?  If so, you must know about the “Time and Relative Dimensions in Space” machine?  I mean the TARDIS?  It’s a time machine with a broken “chameleon” mechanism, so it “landed” by mistake in the early sixties in London disguised as a police call box.  So those old and very real police call boxes became Dr. Who’s iconic time machine. 

     

    Here’s Angeleita beside the TARDIS at the BBC TV studio headquarters yesterday.   One of her students requested that we seek one out (she’s a Dr. Who fan) and we did.


     

    Just down Regents street sits a “Bottega,” an Italian coffeehouse chain shop, and we wandered in in lieu of Starbucks.   Angeleita was looking for some ground coffee, and asked the barista if she could grind a half-pound. “No,” she was told curtly.

    Then the young woman thought about it and turned to a well dressed man beside us.

     

    He took up the conversation and asked again what we wanted, where we were from and clearly took an instant interest in Angeleita.  My lovely wife, in her warmest, friendliest, most bewitching way, asked if the owner could grind and sell her some coffee.   He said he was there to discuss opening several more stores in America, and yes, we could have some coffee.  He pulled out a TWO POUND bag of beans and said, “Here—take them.” And smiled.  We were both struck dumb for an instant, thinking he was joking.  But he wasn’t, and he was clearly the owner of a chain of London Bottegas. 

     

    We will now bring home two pounds of fresh Bottega Italian Arabica espresso coffee beans, since we have no grinder here.


     

    Once more I’m in awe of Angeleita’s charms.  She has always bewitched me.  

     

    Then we tubed over to Victoria station, which sits directly across from the “Victorian Palace” theater.  The current theater, built in 1911, has been playing “Billy Elliott” since 2005, and it will probably close in two months, in December.  Here’s the exterior: 


     

    And the lovely ornate interior:  



    “Billy Elliott” deserves its many awards and rave reviews.  It’s about a 12-year boy from a rough North England mining family who’s a gifted dancer.   His father sends Billy for boxing lessons, but the boy secretly takes up ballet lessons.  The rest is rather predictable—the father forbids him to continue ballet, fearing the boy will be taken as effeminate, or worse, gay.  Billy perseveres, thanks to his teacher and grandmother, and eventually his father becomes his biggest fan and supporter. Little Billy eventually joins the Royal Ballet.

    The most touching scene involves young Billy literally dancing with the mature dancer he will become in “Swan Lake.”  It gave me shivers—the young Billy and the mature professional dancer Billy in sync—the all-but-perfect embodiment of a world-class ballet dancer with the beginner.   It was memorable.  The 12-year old actor/dancer, Harrison Dowzell—was extraordinary.  In fact, he really is 12, and he really dances like a demon for 21/2 hours, all but effortlessly.  One of four Billys, he joined the cast in May, and is the 65th boy to play Billy Elliott.  Just watching him transform into a fledging dancer was worth the price. 

     

    One serious complaint:  the seats in the Victoria Palace.  Either people were much smaller in 1911, or the builders were told to squeeze in as many seats as possible, but neither of us could sit straight without crunching our knees, hard, on the seats in front.  So we had to sit sideways, which wasn’t too bad as long as we had seats between us.  But in a crowded theater, it wouldn’t have worked. 

     

    See how close the seats are—photo taken after the performance last night. 

      

     

    I would avoid this old theater, historic and beautiful as it was, because it was just too damned uncomfortable. 

     

    But we did love Billy Elliott.  

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  • Day 20: Interviews and a Backyard Fox

    • Posted on Oct 23, 2013 by Scott Cawelti

    I.O.W.A. in London 
    Day 20 Tuesday, October 22

    Big day for interviews.  We made our way mid-morning to William Bennett’s (Wibb’s) house, two tube stops and a short walk away, and prepared for a day of interviews.  We arrived around 10:00, followed by John Samuels, a freelance videographer, whom Monya Gilbert (Geoffry Gilbert’s daughter) had hired to shoot all of today's interviews. 

    Sidenote: Monya lives in Deland, Florida, (where Geoffrey and his wife Marjorie lived for the last decade of his life) and wishes to produce a documentary on her father for the BBC.  2014 will mark the 100th anniversary of Geoffrey’s birth, and Monya would like to honor him with a visual record of his influence on the flute world.   So she hired professionals to video some of Angeleita’s interviews, and this overlaps nicely with Angeleita’s biography of Geoffrey.

    Wibb’s interview began about 11:00 and ran to 12:30, then Trevor Wye showed, and we lunched together.  Trevor and Wibb are old friends and both students of Geoffrey’s, and long-time supporters and fans of Geoffrey.  Both are providing invaluable information for the Gilbert biography. 

     

    Then two more former Gilbert students arrived and spoke on camera until well past 7:00 last night: Averil Williams and Judith Fitton.  Here's a shot of Michie Bennett, me, Angeleita, Wibb, and Judith Fitton at the end of a long day.  

    Since I wasn’t part of the videoing or the interviewing, I settled into the TV room, rehearsed some music for an upcoming gig and read.  Sometime mid-afternoon, Wibb interrupted me, told me to grab my camera, and we trekked out to his wild and woolly back yard. 

    “Here, foxie, foxie, foxie,” Wibb hollered, and there, for real, was his backyard fox. 




     Wibb and Michie leave cat food out for two foxes, and they stop by every day to eat. They’re tame, but still wild animals, and never come to get petted.  But they sure do come to eat.   Wibb thinks they’re sisters, and I was struck by how downright beautiful they are. 


    Of course it’s a tad unusual to see foxes roaming about a yard in London, but there they were, and have been for years.  

    Foxes were likely roaming these parts long before the Romans arrived, so they're actually more a part of the landscape than the various Europeans who crossed the channel some two thousand years ago.  
     

     

     

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    • Cedar Valley Chronicles
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