Quote Of The Day

"If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me - Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980)"

Friday, November 21, 2014

Social Mobility...

"I believe that people make their own luck in life. Anyone can achieve anything if they truly want it enough…" - said someone with rich parents.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Putting the Van back into Arsenal...

On Sunday morning I found myself driving a Zipcar van over the concourse round the Emirates Stadium. We were picking up some stuff to take the Islington recycling centre for a mate. Exciting!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Scottsboro Boys...

Last night Stuart and I went to see The Scottsboro Boys at the Garrick Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

This Young Vic production had been such a hit that it had transferred up West. And deservedly so. It was powerful, disturbing, entertaining and dazzling. Everything, in fact, you might expect from the writers of the edgy musicals Cabaret and Chicago - the wonderful John Kander and Fred Ebb.

As with those other two shows the humour here is brutal. And it needs to be as the dreadful story unfoldes of nine black teenagers falsely accused of rape in Alabama in 1931. Told through the medium of minstrels this civil rights musical exposes and lampoons racist bigotry. But for all it's humour it rarely makes you smile. It's savage and sad. The humour is black in many senses of the word.

We witness the frame-up, the all-white jury, the rushed trials, the attempted lynching, and hear the angry mob.

Powerful stuff, challenging. And a great night out.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

John Waters...

Last night Stu and I went to see John Waters - film-maker, author, wit, raconteur and trash king - at the Royal Festival Hall.

We were treated to ninety minutes of stories in his own inimitable style. It was always fun, occasionally saucy and never far from outrageous. Blossoms, blouses, and dolphins will never have the same meaning again.

He told about his favourite newspaper headline (after Ike Turner died): "Ike Beats Tina - To Death"

If you get a change to go see him. Go!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance...

Today I am remembering my paternal great uncle who died at The Battle of Morval. (Fourth Army / cavalry).

Monday, November 10, 2014

Here Lies Love...

So taken was I with seeing Here Lies Love at the Dorfman Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank the other week I went back again on Friday. And Saturday.

This time I was in the pit so dancing (and occasionally singing) along with the show. I loved it even more second time around and by the third time even some of the technical staff had begun to recognise me!

David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim have written a genius disco musical and I hope after it's sold out run transfers to the West End.


Friday, November 07, 2014

Tara Hugo...

Last Thursday night Paul and I went to see Tara Hugo perform Philip Glass songs at St George's Bristol.

Beautiful venue, beautiful voice, beautiful music.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

JOHN...

Last night Darren, Stuart and I went to see JOHN at the Lyttelton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

A co-production with DV8 Physical Theatre the fascinating story was of a man John - a verbatim piece telling us of his abusive father, his chaotic and frankly shocking family life, his descent into a life of shagging, unplanned kids, drug abuse, crime, the courts, and eventually prison. And then his release on probation and discovery of his awakening sexuality.

The wooden set constantly rotated, as doors were opened and closed to John.

Where the piece perhaps lost it's focus a bit was when it broadened out to let us hear from the customers and owners of a gay male sauna that John frequented. This was in itself a fascinating topic of how the hunt for sex is more exciting than the actual encounter and deserved a show all of its own - but we wanted to hear more from John and his story by this point.

That said, the show was a superb exploration of first a life of abuse, then institutionalisation and then eventually the search for some kind of intimacy. It was in turns funny, moving, preachy, tragic and beautifully performed.

Recommended.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Tim Cook...

Apple's CEO Tim Cook has announced he is gay. Samsung's CEO is expected to announce tomorrow he is waaay gayer.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Fear of Flying / It's Not About You!...

I'm going on an airplane soon. A few times within a short period in fact. But I'm afraid of flying.

</RANT ON>
So why is it when you tell people that you are afraid of flying they immediately proceed to tell you THEIR worse near-death experience on a plane. What is wrong with people? It seems it's humanly impossible to do anything else. "My worse flight was when we hit turbulence and almost crashed.." "One time we almost hit another plane mid-air" "When we were flying back from holiday the plane dropped a thousand feet and we were lifted out of our seats"
Well, guess what? It's not about you, you FUCKTARD! SHUT THE FUCK UP! It's not a competition! You are making things worse.
If little Johnny was going in for an operation would you tell him how unsafe operations are and what percentage of people die on the operating table?
"Oh no, your mum is feeling unwell? So sorry to hear that... My friend's mum was felling unwell last year and within a week she was dead"
"Oh so sorry to hear your leg is playing up. Does it hurt?... I had that too a few days ago and the doctors said I nearly lost it"
"Going to the moon you say? Tomorrow?... My sister went to the moon, twice - and almost died - both times"
(OK, see if YOU can stop yourself. Hard, isn't it?)
</RANT OFF>

Monday, November 03, 2014

Arsenal 3 - 0 Burnley...

On Saturday Paul and I went to the Emirates Stadium to see the in-form Arsenal FC take on the out-of-form Burnley FC.

The boys made hard work of it in the first half but came good after the break recording our second successive league win for the first time this season as Burnley's woes continued.

Alexis Sánchez was the man of the match scoring at 70′ and 90′. Callum Chambers got his first Arsenal goal after 72′. And Theo Walcott made a well return as a sub after ten months out injured. So all in all int was a great afternoon's footie.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Henry IV...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Shakespeare's Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse.

Condensing parts one and two into a single play this all-female production directed by Phyllida Lloyd was set in a women's prison. The running time was approximately 2 hours without an interval - but the time simply flew by. It was fun, revealing, and superbly acted.

The questions of what makes a a king? What makes a man? And what makes a father? are turned on the head when spoken by a woman. And ironically it is this female voice that helps us as the audience understand the motivations of these great male historical figures so much more clearly. The sense of gender detachment actually works in our favour.

Helping the production along were jokey sound effects, singing, and modern turns of phrase. None of this modernism actually detracted in any way from the action though. If anything it drove it forward. The two main plot lines are countrywide rebellion against the crown and journey of the Prince Hal leaving his drinking days and petty criminal friends behind him to take up the throne.

Recommended.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Interstellar...

When he was 7 years old Christopher Nolan went to see 2001: A Space Odyssey with his father at the Odeon West End cinema. And 46 years later here he is back in that same cinema standing in front of us. This time on stage introducing us to his own sci-fi film - Interstellar.  And courtesy of the lovely Marcus Tustin I'm here too at the European premier for Bafta in London's glitzy West End.

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine the film is a cross between Armageddon, Gravity and 2001: A Space Odyssey. And when I say 'cross' I mean it's actually all three of those films bolted together - not the best bits of each distilled down into one film. This film is long. And at just shy of three hours it's over-long to be honest by a good hour or more.

But it's obviously been a labour of love for writer/director/producer Christopher Nolan and his co-writing brother Jonathan Nolan and there is much to admire here. The acting is great, the special visual effects are super and the plot twists suitably twisty (if a little too well sign-posted).

And sure the techno-babble gets a bit clunky at times and some of the plot holes are more massive than the final third's deus ex machina Black Hole but all in all it's great film.

Ambitious, exciting and a good watch.

Dinner party review: Good, but not as good as 2001.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"You're fat-ist!"...

Stuart and I were watching something on TV on Sunday morning. Of one male presenter I remarked, "Ooh, he's put on a bit of weight!"
Stu scornfully said,"you're fat-ist!"
To which I replied,"no, you're fattest!"
If looks could kill! I thought I was going to be wearing his cup of tea!
Note to self: be nicer or expect tea in face when quoting Jimmy Carr jokes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Made In Dagenham...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see the new musical Made In Dagenham at the Adelphi Theatre in London's glitzy Strand.

Starring Gemma Arterton it retells the story (as did the film of the same name) of the women at the Ford Dagenham factory who went on strike for equal pay back in the 1960s.

To be honest we had pretty low expectations going into the auditorium but these proved to be completely unfounded. We loved it. It was funny, tuneful and well-sung. The production values were high, the show was slick and we were completely swept along with all the joie de vivre.

The struggle of the women to fight for what was only fair saw us visit a show-stopping comedic Barbara Castle, a pipe-smoking dancing Harold Wilson and best of all an all-American Ford general manager with an anti-British production number that had us weeping tears of mirth.

For downright cheerful enjoyment and exultation of the spirit this show was hard to fault. Now stick THAT on the poster!

Two thumbs up. Highly recommended.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Songs from Liquid Days...

Last Saturday night I went to the Milton Court Concert Hall in London glitzy Barbican area to see the Hertfordshire Chorus with David Temple conducting the London Orchestra da Camera. The lovely Gavin Davies was playing the fiddle in the band - which was a lovely surprise.

The first piece performed was Handel's Dixit Dominus and that was followed by Philip Glass's Songs from Liquid Days arr. Jeremy Marchant.

Songs from Liquid Days brought tears to my eyes - especially during Open The Kingdom and Forgetting.

The soloists were:- Zoë Brown soprano, Esther Brazil soprano, Clara Sanabras mezzo-soprano and Robin Green tenor.

I was slightly disappointed we had neither Margo Leadbetter nor Miss Mountshaft fighting to play the soprano lead though.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Here Lies Love...

What's that you say? A musical about Imelda Marcos? A DISCO musical about Imelda Marcos? A disco musical about Imelda Marcos written by David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim at The National Theatre's new Dorfman Theatre? Set in a Studio 54 style night club? With flashing lights, a giant disco-ball, non-stop dancing, podia that twirl and slide and glide across the auditorium and banging tunes that stick in your head like earworms? We were so there.

Who cares if there is no reference to her shoes? Who cares if politics takes a bit of a back seat? The audience were clapping, singing, and dancing along. Well, we simply loved it. 

Sadly it's sold out for the rest of it's three month run so let's hope for a West End transfer.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Anderlecht 1-2 Arsenal...

Last night Arsenal FC laboured for a long period and seemed set for a deserved defeat to Anderlecht until nabbing all three points with an incredible turn-around at the death when Kieran Gibbs and Lukas Podolski fired home a leveler and then a winner just each side of the 90 minutes.

 It was a suitable win for Arsene Wenger's 65th birthday celebration. Phew!

 I guess my #WengerOut posts will have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Northern Soul...


Last Friday night Stu and I went to see Northern Soul at the Prince Charles Cinema just off Leicester Square in London's glitzy West End.

It was a film full of Northern Soul music, dancing, drugs and violence. We loved it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Angie and Kev's Wedding...

Last Saturday night Stu and I went to a fab Essex wedding in Shenfield to help celebrate the nuptials of the lovely Angie Harrop and Kevin East. Congratulations guys!






Monday, October 20, 2014

To Do Lists...

Dear Jane,

Do you sometimes wonder how people get things done? How other secretaries who seem to be organised are on top of their lives rather than constantly playing catch-up? The answer is they use To Do lists - it's that simple: note down the things you need to do, then check them off when you do them. It's like having an extra brain, an assistant who can say, "Oh yes, you need to do X."

Today's life lesson was brought to you by The Bleedin' Obvious.

Kind regards,

Your Boss.

PS: If you think this email is (a) passive-aggressive, (b) insulting, and/or (c) patronising. And you are thinking of (d) coming round to give me a piece of your mind, (e) calling HR to complain, and/or (f) bitching about me to the others in the office...  congratulations! Not only are you correct but you are well on the way to writing your first To Do list!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Our Town...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Our Town performed at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

In 1946, the Soviet Union prevented a production of Our Town in the Russian sector of occupied Berlin "on the grounds that the drama is too depressing and could inspire a German suicide wave."

Well, I guess people were easier to depress back then. **Spoiler alert** Not everyone makes to through Act III.

Thornton Wilder's play often gets described as "stark, pure and unforgettable theatre" what with it's post-modern fourth wall-breaking Stage Manager character addressing the audience directly and sign-posting the hum-drum plot with the subtly of a peacock on the pull.

We beg to differ.

For us the play certainly was "stark" - as per the stage directions there was little by way of props or scenery. As for "pure" - it was certainly purely an actor's play in as much as we could see why actors would like to be in it. They have to pretend to wash up, delivery milk, eat food, etc. A sort of miming workshop. Very drama school. But as for "unforgettable" we do have to disagree. The plainly told story of a small out of the way American town is utterly unremarkable. People go about their lives, go to school, people get married, bring up kids. We get it. And then when people die they didn't realise what they had until it was gone. We really do get it.

Now this Almeida production was good. But only "good". Any ensemble piece like Our Town requires top notch actors in every role and here one or two just weren't up to scratch.

Sad, really as maybe the short-comings of the play could have been made up by better acting by some of the cast.

Another rather disappointing piece from the Almeida . Luckily not as awful as Mr Burns though.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lord Freud...

Lord Freud says something out loud that probably should have stayed in his head. If only there were a name for this kind of slip.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Iggy's 1st Birthday Party...

Last Sunday Stuart and I we went to Ignacio's 1st birthday party. Mothers Emma and Carolina put on a great spread - barbecue sausages, birthday cake and Prosecco.

And balloon lady make us some special balloons too.