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It’s playback time for one old codger: PATRICK MARMION reviews Krapp’s Last Tape

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its playback time for one old codger patrick marmion reviews krapps last tape

Krapp’s Last Tape 

(Leeds Playhouse)

Verdict: Buggy has Beckett taped

Rating: rating showbiz 3

Dr Blood’s Travelling Show 

 (touring; imitatingthedog.co.uk)

Verdict: Schlock horror in the car park

Rating: rating showbiz 3

Say a prayer for Leeds Playhouse. After opening last year following a £16 million makeover, they ran straight into lockdown.

And just when they thought it was safe to come out of hibernation, they may yet run into Boris’s traffic lights.

With a little bit of luck, however, their autumn season will keep running, starting with the wonderful Irish actor Niall Buggy.

He’s gently warming the theatre’s gaskets in Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape — a short sketch about a 69-year-old codger listening to audio tapes made by his 39-year-old self. My wife refuses to go near the half-hour play, which she judges to be 30 minutes too long.

I, however, am more forgiving of its slender pleasures and its pursuit of what the characteristically sardonic Beckett calls ‘unattainable happiness’. The play chimes with the mood of our times almost too well. 

Staged in a below-stairs bunker, Dominic Hill’s production has the atmosphere of a secret police interrogation room. Some amusement is created by the Minion-like squeal of tape spools, rage is directed at biscuit tins housing Krapp’s old recordings, and there is small entertainment with a discarded banana skin.

Beckett with a banana: Niall Buggy in Krapp’s Last Tape - a short sketch about a 69-year-old codger listening to audio tapes made by his 39-year-old self

Beckett with a banana: Niall Buggy in Krapp’s Last Tape – a short sketch about a 69-year-old codger listening to audio tapes made by his 39-year-old self

It may not sound like a bundle of fun, but Buggy finds flecks of affection in a play that’s as autobiographical as Beckett gets — scoffing at his literary ambition, ruing lost love and trying to master a weakness for bananas.

Buggy — defiant in his misbuttoned cardie, stained trousers and carpet slippers — is a jaundiced old bugger, taking solace in his misery. ‘The best years are gone,’ he snarls, ‘and I wouldn’t want them back.’ Between temperature checks, masks and carefully monitored social distancing, at least the show feels safe, if not joyful.

If you want something warmer this winter, keep your fingers crossed for Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads (Imelda Staunton and Maxine Peake, taking their Bridge Theatre monologues on tour) next month; and A Christmas Carol in December.

More boisterously, the Playhouse have also co-produced Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show: a macabre and gleefully bizarre car park production being staged at Salford’s Lowry before heading to Lancaster Arts and Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre.

Also clocking in at 30 minutes, it’s a fairground-style show about small-time crooks planning to abduct the mayor from the town hall for nefarious purposes. 

Audience positions are marked out with football training cones — which feels like we are all being lined up for an identity parade. 

Imitating The Dog, the company producing the show, are the academic punks who lovingly recreated the schlock horror film Night Of The Living Dead at Leeds Playhouse last year.

Dr Blood is more subversive, with our chief villain (Matt Prendergast), got up in a leather jacket, latex head mask and a Boris wig, relishing the prospect of bloodshed and the fleshy delights of his female accomplice.

It’s cleverly done, with edgy music (including from legendary Leeds punk band Gang Of Four) and video projections, plus live action puppetry using Ken and Barbie dolls.

I was amused by our revolting crims having a dinky-sized Evoque Land Rover as their getaway vehicle. And it has all the sophistication of a car boot sale but, hey, at least it’s happening.

Peer through the Perspex and enjoy the show

The Last Five Years

(Southwark Playhouse, London)

Verdict: Musical peep show

Rating: rating showbiz 3

Andrew Lloyd Webber may want to take a look at the resourceful Southwark Playhouse after all the concern this week about his social-distancing arrangements at the London Palladium.

Last Sunday’s one-off show, Songs For A New World, ran at 50 per cent capacity with some people worried they weren’t a metre apart.

Southwark Playhouse’s solution has been to fix Perspex panels between seats of those who haven’t booked as part of a bubble. Squashed into your plastic nook — and with the obligatory masks and one-way system — it’s the most radical social-distancing gimmick I’ve been part of so far. I guess it’s a bit like being at a peep show.

Molly Lynch in 'The Last Five Years', a two-person musical about a young couple’s five-year relationship, told from start to finish in 90 minutes

Molly Lynch in ‘The Last Five Years’, a two-person musical about a young couple’s five-year relationship, told from start to finish in 90 minutes

As for the actual performance, it’s a two-person musical about a young couple’s five-year relationship, told from start to finish in 90 minutes.

It was one of the last things I saw before lockdown, and I remain impressed by performers Molly Lynch (above) and Oli Higginson, who belt headlong through Jason Robert Brown’s score (which fans claim is a creative fusion of Billy Joel and Stephen Sondheim).

My problem remains the story, in which neither character risks much for the other.

But it’s bringing young audiences to their feet night after night, making me wonder if those Perspex panels need to be a little higher.

And if that sounds too risky, you can now stream it to watch at home (via stream.theatre). 

Glyndebourne sets out its stall…

In The Market For Love

(Glyndebourne Festival Opera)

Verdict: Billingsgate and Covent Garden were never like this

Rating: rating showbiz 4

The Glyndebourne Opera House reopens with its first venture into Jacques Offenbach’s frothy sphere of operette bouffe, an English version of his 1858 one-acter Mesdames De La Halle with plenty of cross-dressing.

Premiered outdoors in August before a very select clientele, it makes a virtue of the social distancing the audience has to observe: Stephen Langridge stages it in the wake of an epidemic, with topical gags — my favourite is the purveyor of second-hand masks. 

The fountain of the original market becomes a public hand sanitiser.

The Glyndebourne Opera House reopens with its first venture into Jacques Offenbach’s frothy sphere of operette bouffe

The Glyndebourne Opera House reopens with its first venture into Jacques Offenbach’s frothy sphere of operette bouffe

Some names given to characters by Offenbach and Armand Lapointe have been cleverly adapted. 

The kitchen boy Croute-au-pot is now Harry Coe (get it?) and the fish seller Madame Poiretapee morphs into Mademoiselle Bouillabaisse. 

That the adaptation was made by Stephen Plaice is too good to be true. Rupert Charlesworth (right) is Madame Beurrefondu.

Fruit seller Ciboulette, whose parentage is in doubt until the last moment, is charmingly sung by Nardus Williams, and Kate Lindsey is a sparky Harry — they have the best melodies but all the music is vintage Offenbach and the lyrics are tolerably Englished by Marcia Bellamy.

TULLY POTTER   

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Woman seeks ‘hero’ Ryanair passenger who paid her £50 luggage charge 

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A mother says she is desperate to track down the Good Samaritan who stepped in to pay her oversized luggage charge after staff ruled her bag was too big for the cabin.

The ‘hero’ was filmed footing the £50 bill for the ‘distressed’ passenger by a fellow flyer as travellers were attempting to board a flight from Ibiza to Stansted. 

Stephanie, who only wanted to use her first name, told MailOnline how she has tried to get in touch with the man who helped but was told he wanted to remain anonymous.

The mother-of-three, who lives on the Spanish island but had made a short trip back to see family in the UK earlier this week, said she was initially told by airport staff there was no need to check in the bag, only to later be told it was too big and that she had to pay a charge.

‘The plane was half-full so I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t take my bag or put it in the hold,’ she said.

‘I was told I had to pay on card but I only had cash with me, so paying it was impossible. I don’t travel a lot and it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the plane, plus with everything that’s going on, you can see on the video that I’m quite anxious.

‘This kind man turned around and said he would pay for me – it was an amazing act of kindness that he really didn’t need to do. He literally came out of nowhere, it was a crazy experience.

‘If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been able to take my kids away for the weekend. Once we got on the plane he was a few rows back from me and I wanted to go over and give him a hug, but because of Covid I couldn’t.’

Stephanie, who has twins aged nine and another one-year-old, revealed she has been in touch with the passenger who filmed the incident to try and track down her Good Samaritan, but to no avail thus far.

She said: ‘Apparently he wants to remain anonymous. I just want to have a chat with him because I don’t think he realises how nice a gesture it was and how much it meant to me.’  

In the video, the young man who paid the bill can be seen checking his phone near the boarding gate.

A Ryanair passenger stepped in to pay the 'ridiculous' baggage fee for a stressed out mother at Ibiza Airport

The 'hero' was filmed footing the £50 bill for the 'distressed' mother-of-three, after staff deemed her bag too big to be carried on board

A Ryanair passenger stepped in to pay the ‘ridiculous’ baggage fee for a stressed out mother at Ibiza Airport. The ‘hero’ was filmed footing the £50 bill for the ‘distressed’ mother-of-three, after staff deemed her bag too big to be carried on board

The camera pans to reveal the stressed mother, whose two children are chasing each other.

The clearly overwhelmed mother puts her hands to her head and begins anxiously raking them through her hair.

Seeing her distress, the kind-hearted stranger turns around and reassures her, saying: ‘It’s alright, it’s alright.’

The exasperated mother looks at him gratefully, burying her face in her hands again as he tries to soothe her.

As she starts to cry, the man says to her: ‘Don’t worry I’ll pay for you.’

The good Samaritan then approaches the desk and willingly hands over his card for payment.

As it processes, a man asks if Ryanair has recently changed their baggage allowance sizing.

The older of the mum’s two children tries to calm his brother, saying: ‘No no mama is upset’ as the mum tries to compose herself. 

The touching moment was posted on Twitter by a fellow passenger

The touching moment was posted on Twitter by a fellow passenger

In the video, the young man who paid the bill can be seen checking his phone near the boarding gate. The camera pans to reveal the stressed mother, whose two children are chasing each other

In the video, the young man who paid the bill can be seen checking his phone near the boarding gate. The camera pans to reveal the stressed mother, whose two children are chasing each other

The clip ends with the generous stranger waiting for his payment to complete.

The touching moment was posted on Twitter by a fellow passenger, who shared the video and said: ‘Well done to this young hero for paying the ridiculous Ryanair baggage charges for a distressed mother travelling with three kids (who wasn’t getting any leniency from ground staff).

‘The flight from Ibiza to Stansted was half empty, not sure what difference a few cm would make.’

Ryanair’s cabin baggage rules stipulate that luggage must fit under the seat in front and can be no bigger than 40x20x25cm. 

Oversized baggage is placed in the hold of the plane for a fee of £50.  

The video, which has since been viewed hundred of thousands of times, has earned the gentleman heaps of praise.

One wrote: ‘What a legend! Karma will see him good.’

Another added: ‘There’s hope for humanity.’

A third wrote: ‘Well done young man.’

Seeing her distress, the kind-hearted stranger turns around and reassures her, saying: 'It's alright, it's alright' before paying the charge for her

Seeing her distress, the kind-hearted stranger turns around and reassures her, saying: ‘It’s alright, it’s alright’ before paying the charge for her

The passenger later added: ‘Great kid isn’t he? No idea who he is though, kept himself to himself and acted honourably and discreetly without a fuss.’

Speaking today, the 46-year-old traveller who filmed the moment said: ‘As far as I could tell, the mother with her children had got caught out with a bag that exceeded the allowance on her ticket.

‘She was upset and rather tearful while also trying to keep an eye on her kids.

‘By the time I figured out what was going on, a young man stepped up to the ground handling staff and was heard to say ‘it’s okay, I’ll pay’.

‘The man preferred to remain anonymous.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Olympian Allyson Felix Breaks Usain Bolt’s Record—10 Months After Emergency C-Section

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Olympian Allyson Felix Breaks Usain Bolt’s Record—10 Months After Emergency C-Section | Health.com

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Brexit: Photos show 27-acre Kent field being turned into lorry park

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brexit photos show 27 acre kent field being turned into lorry park

Drone photos show a vast 27-acre Kent field dubbed ‘Farage’s Garage’ being turned into a lorry park for up to 2,000 trucks in case of mass hold-ups at Dover before the Brexit transition period ends this year.  

The development, next to Junction 10a in Ashford, Kent, is being constructed by the Government as it prepares for the negotiation period with the European Union to conclude in December.

Upon completion, the vast site will be used for HMRC customs checks, with an area available as a holding space for up to 2,000 trucks should delays arise for vehicles crossing the Channel. 

However, it is hoped vehicles will not need to be stored on the land and will be a ‘customs checking site’ by July. 

Some 29 lorry parks are expected to be built across England in order to cope with potential post-Brexit border trading chaos as hopes of a UK-EU free trade deal are repeatedly dashed. 

Locals will not have a say in the construction of the sites which are being built in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull, Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.  

The sites have been planned because of fears that truck drivers will face long delays to enter the EU.  

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

Drone photos show a vast 27-acre Kent field dubbed 'Farage's Garage' being turned into a lorry park for up to 2,000 trucks

Drone photos show a vast 27-acre Kent field dubbed ‘Farage’s Garage’ being turned into a lorry park for up to 2,000 trucks

Upon completion, the site will be used for HMRC customs checks, with an area available as a holding space for 1,700 lorries

Upon completion, the site will be used for HMRC customs checks, with an area available as a holding space for 1,700 lorries

Locals will not have a say in the construction of the sites which are being built in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull, Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (pictured, aerial view of the site near Sevington in Ashford, Kent)

Locals will not have a say in the construction of the sites which are being built in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull, Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (pictured, aerial view of the site near Sevington in Ashford, Kent)

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

A petition and online campaign are currently calling for the facility in Kent to be named after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, with some suggesting it be named 'Nigel's Folly' while others recommend 'Farage's Garage'

A petition and online campaign are currently calling for the facility in Kent to be named after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, with some suggesting it be named ‘Nigel’s Folly’ while others recommend ‘Farage’s Garage’

A petition and online campaign are currently calling for the facility in Kent to be named after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, with some suggesting it be named ‘Nigel’s Folly’ while others recommend ‘Farage’s Garage’. 

French minister threatens to veto Brexit trade deal if it does not protect ‘our interests’ and claims Britain is BLUFFING about being ready to walk away without an agreement as talks resume in London 

A senior French minister warned that the EU would not accept a trade deal if it did  not protect ‘our interests’ – and claimed the UK was bluffing about walking away from talks. 

French Europe Minister Clement Beaune said that all bets were off if Britain had ‘not shown sufficient movement’ amid a continuing stand-off over fishing rights in British waters.

The issue has emerged as the last remaining real stumbling block to a deal being complete before the end of the transition period on December 31. 

Post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and European Union will continue in London on Friday as Michel Barnier said both sides have a ‘common responsibility’ to strike a deal.

The European Union’s chief negotiator continued discussions with his UK counterpart Lord Frost as the deadline for an agreement looms.

Speaking to French Television, Mr Beaune said: ‘We thought the end of October was the final deadline. We are giving ourselves a few more days to give the negotiations a chance, but we need to know quickly.

‘Michel Barnier has several days ahead of him where he is going to negotiate and then he will talk to us.

He is going to tell the head of state and government of the EU27: ‘Here is a deal, and I think it is a good one’ – and then we have to evaluate it. Or: ‘I think the British have not shown sufficient movement to reach an agreement that protects our interests and then it’s no deal.’ 

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The Change.org petition, which has received thousands of signatures, says that ‘everyone should genuinely be able to refer to this diesel soaked Valhalla as Nigel’s Folly’, adding: ‘It may be that Mr Farage will be unable or unwilling to attend the unveiling of this great honour that we do him, but that shouldn’t get in the way of seeing his name gurn plastered all over the boundary fence at regular intervals.’ 

While it is not clear if construction of any other sites has begun, an existing carpark in Gravesend, which has been used as a coronavirus testing facility, is set to be turned into a customs check point.  

There are fears the UK could leave the EU without a free trade deal following the Brexit transition period, which could cause significant delays in vehicles crossing the border.  

It was previously claimed that a failure to strike a Brexit deal by Boris Johnson’s October deadline could mean up to 7,000 lorries would be forced to queue up ahead of crossing the Channel.   

It emerged in July that the Department for Transport was looking to purchase the land in preparation for any potential trade disruptions as a result of Brexit.  

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean later confirmed the move, adding there were ‘two primary uses’ for the land. 

She said: ‘First, government departments envisage using it as a permanent site for facilities related to future border processes, notably HMRC (as an office of departure/arrival for goods moved under ‘transit’ arrangements) and Defra (as a border control post for goods needing sanitary and phytosanitary checks).

‘Second, the site may also be used as a contingency lorry holding area for the particular, foreseeable risk of significant disruption at the end of the transition period.’ 

Ms Maclean added Downing Street had ‘no intention’ the site would become a permanent lorry holding facility for use in the event of ‘cross-Channel disruption’. 

The photos have appeared amid news that toilets and food and drink facilities for haulage drivers will line the M20 in Kent in preparation for the 7,000 lorries predicted to be stuck in static traffic on January 1.  

With two-day-long queues expected to halt the industry when the EU implement full import controls on the UK at the start of next year, industry executives have demanded that provisions be made for the welfare of drivers.

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, who will be meeting with Michael Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, on Friday said: ‘The devil is in the detail, we need to understand, will there be Portaloos down the M20? Will we be able to get water and food to drivers?  

‘We want that clarity out of Friday’s meeting to make sure that level of detail is being considered.’ 

The development, next to Junction 10a in Ashford, Kent, is being constructed by the Government as it prepares for the negotiation period with the European Union to conclude in December

The development, next to Junction 10a in Ashford, Kent, is being constructed by the Government as it prepares for the negotiation period with the European Union to conclude in December

Locals will not have a say in the construction of the sites which are being built in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull, Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (pictured, aerial view of the site near Sevington in Ashford, Kent)

Locals will not have a say in the construction of the sites which are being built in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull, Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (pictured, aerial view of the site near Sevington in Ashford, Kent)

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

Discussing the number of trucks expected to be held on their way to UK ports Mr Burnett said: ‘There’s going to be 2,000 trucks on the M20, 2,000 trucks on Mojo in Ashford, another site, and potentially 4,000 in Manston.’ 

Richard Ballantyne, CEO of British Ports Association, said that the ‘risk’ of queues at ports following January 1 ‘doesn’t have to be realised if the government takes a pragmatic approach’.

He added: ‘We are waiting for clarity of what support [facilities] drivers will have who are in these queues. This is not just about Kent, it’s facilities across the country.

‘What are those facilities and infrastructure going to be for drivers who are stuck in queues across the country – something we will touch on Friday.’

Speaking in a committee on Brexit preparedness in the transport sector Rachel Maclean MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport said: ‘It is absolutely vital we consider the welfare of drivers and hauliers as these are hardworking people, we rely on the haulage industry for a supply of critical goods and we must consider their welfare. 

‘We have detailed plans for provision of not only portaloos but other facilities for drivers, not only in Kent if there is stationary traffic, but other places in the country.’

Maclean said: ‘We are working in a lot of detail with the Kent Resilience Forum. We will be drawing on a combination of temporary lorry holding at A20 Dover TAP [Traffic Assessment Project] site, M20 between junction 8 and 9 and off-road sites and also we are procuring some temporary lorry holding capacity at Ashford, Sevington, the wider plan will feed all of that into using those sites if it becomes necessary if Operation Brock is active.’

The committee also raised the issue of the severe limits expected to face UK hauliers if bilateral agreements with EU member states are not made, or delayed, in the case of a no deal. 

Toilets will line the M20 as part of 'Operation Brock'

Toilets will line the M20 as part of ‘Operation Brock’

Industry leaders warned that up to 39,000 UK haulage trucks could be rendered unusable after January 1 due to the limited number of ECMT permits allowed. 

Only 1 in 4 UK haulage companies (or 2,000 of the 8,000 UK haulage companies) will qualify for an ECMT permit.  

Elizabeth de Jong, Director of Policy at Logistics UK said: ‘There is a planned glide path to reciprocal arrangements – some reassurance that there won’t be a sudden market failure in this area.’

‘The ECMT permit system gives very little reassurance so it’s really important bilateral agreements are made. As only [2,000 of 8,000 UK hauliers] 1 in 4 UK hauliers could get a permit and they could only do one journey at a time with this permit.’

If bilateral agreements are not put in place the limits on ECMT permits could see UK facing a risk to it’s supply chain, said Mr Burnett.  

He added: ‘From my perspective ECMT is not a solution if we don’t get the right deal. It’s also fair to say bilateral arrangements are going to take some time to negotiate with each member states.

‘This equates to around 39,000 trucks, a significant gap for EU hauliers to access Europe in the event of ECMT.’

During the committee all three industry representatives suggested they had not been provided with enough ‘clarity’ to properly prepare for January 1. 

Mr Burnett of the Road Haulage Association said: ‘At this stage there is evidence that business are not prepared. 

‘The haulage industry works with its customers to make sure they are prepared and in a poll last week 91 per cent felt they didn’t have the clarity needed to be able to prepare.

‘It is happening too slowly at this moment in time.’

What is a ECMT permit? 

The permit, European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), allows travel through the European Union (minus Cyprus) and to the countries of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine. 

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‘At the moment we are seeing more and more EU hauliers holding back, suggesting they may not even trade or come to the UK from January 1 depending on the potential chaos, in terms of business processes, backload availability and queues, but that’s going to be a growing challenge for the market.

‘If we don’t strike the right deal with the right access it may be a risk to our own supply chain. Through the Covid pandemic for instance, when we had a shortage of drivers in Italy and Spain we had to send UK vehicles to pick up more volume and bring it back, if we don’t have the right deal this could be a risk to our supply chain if EU hauliers do stand and decide not to come.’ 

Mr Burner called a meeting held with Mr Gove a ‘wash out’ after it ‘broke down’ with 40 people on the round table raising ‘personal issues’ 

While it is hoped new ‘offices of departure’ across the country which will be used to process and stamp paper work will stop traffic from ‘funnelling into Kent’, Mr Ballantyne added ‘there may be queues there too.’ 

He said that he expects traffic to peak at Dover and the Euro Tunnel, in Folkestone. 

Mr Ballantyne said that he supported the Government’s new boarder crossing IT system, GVMS, ‘in principle’ but said that the 54 days left to implement it was a ‘very short time scales to get the industry used to it’. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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