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)"

Thursday, October 30, 2014


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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Matthew Bourne's The Lord Of The Flies...

Last Friday Stuart and I went to see Matthew Bourne's The Lord Of The Flies at The Sadler's Wells in London's glitzy Islington.

Using twenty-two locally auditioned young dancers, Matthew Bourne’s touring production vividly displays the children’s descent from innocence to their baser instincts.

William Golding’s novel has been tweaked a little so that the boys have become stranded not on an island but in an abandoned theatre - the clothes rails taking the role of the bushes and trees and a drum stick for the conch shell.

It was by turns exciting, entertaining and visceral as the regimented school boys gradually descend into savagery.

Maybe not up there with Bourne's great works but as an outreach project it's a triumph.

Highly recommended.

Monday, October 13, 2014

NHS Strike...

My Dad is going in for an operation on his eye today. But do you know what? He says he can wait. Or go in tomorrow. This strike is important. Running down the NHS starts with running down their staff pay and morale.

Friday, October 10, 2014

East is East...

Last night Stuart and I went to see East is East at the Trafalgar Studios in London's glitzy Westminster.

Based on Ayub Khan-Din's original play at the Royal Court Theatre in 1997 and then on the film in 1999 East is East is a comedy-drama set in Salford, Greater Manchester in 1971.

The action takes place in a mixed-ethnicity household that is headed by Pakistani father George (Ayub Khan-Din) aided by an English mother, Ella (Jane Horricks).

George expects his family to follow Pakistani ways, but his seven children, who were born and grew up in Britain, increasingly see themselves as British and reject Pakistani customs of dress, food, religion, and living in general, leading to a rise in tensions and conflicts in the whole family.

It's a very funny play and while exploring multiculturalism in the early 1970s still resonates today.


Thursday, October 09, 2014

God Only Knows...

Great video and for a great cause - BBC Children In Need. I'm guessing that's a Retro Bar Pop Quiz question in there somewhere too.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Andrew Sterry 40th...

Last Saturday Stu, Bron, Jimmy, Debbie, Jim, Jamie, Pip, Fay, me and a hundred other people descended upon Ocean Beach in Southend-on-Sea to help Andy celebrate his 40th birthday by throwing a party. Open bar, great food (fish head included), dancing and family flash mob all made it a night to remember. Jagerbombs and dips in the sea added to the fun.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Emma and Paul...

Emma and Paul were over in the UK from Perth Australia last week so we joined them for some dinner on the Friday, a catch up and coffee on the Saturday in Bar Italia.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Birthday Sunday Lunch...

The other Sunday the boys (Hudd, Chris, Mark, Dean, Andy,Michael, Andrew, Tim, Darren and Stuart and I) went out for a birthday lunch at the Horatia pub in London's unglitzy Holloway. We had  a rare old time.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Birthday / The Cuban Brothers...

Last Friday it was my birthday and Simon treated Hayley, Jo, Charlotte, Stuart and I to a night out at The Old Queen's Head in glitzy Islington to see The Cuban Brothers.

We went out to Brown's first for a meal.

The Bros were great and we had a rare old time.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Kate Bush - Before The Dawn (Take 4)...

Last night Toby, Michael, Stuart and I went to see Kate Bush's Before The Dawn at the Eventim Apollo in London's unglitzy Hammersmith.

It was my fourth and final viewing and Kate's last night.

The crowd were really up for it and it was probably my favourite night.
I knew exactly what to expect and when - which meant I could enjoy it more.
We had great seats too - further back in the middle so we could take in all the action at once.
Kate sounded great and really pulled out all thr stops - she did get quite emotional at some points and somewhat overwhelmed by all the love pouring onto the stage from the auditorium.

Gawd bless you Kate - you have out on an amazing set of shows and I've loved every minute of it. Here's to the next time.

Or as Kate put it just before the final encore of Cloubusting, "this is the last song I'm going to sing... for a while."

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Kate Bush - Before The Dawn (Take 3)...

Last night Darren, Chris, Hudd and I went to see Kate Bush's Before The Dawn at the Eventim Apollo in London's unglitzy Hammersmith.

On third viewing I think I enjoyed it even more. Nothing went wrong, Kate sang like a nightingale (or is that blackbird) and I cried all over again.

I'm back again tonight for the last show and am taking Stuart, Mike and Toby.

And I got this from Toby this morning:-

"Around 36 years ago, a sensitive young boy in Kent was twirling around his parents' living room (doubtless emulating Wonder Woman) when he tripped on the shag-pile carpet, fell and split open his upper lip on the corner of a clunky 1970s glass coffee table. With blood pouring down his chin - and no hospital emergency department in town - the boy was taken to the on-call doctor and had his lip painfully stitched back together. The boy was, of course, me, but the doctor was none other than DOCTOR BUSH, father of Kate Bush, my first musical inspiration. I bore that scar on my lip for many years, proudly pointing to the bump and telling anyone who'd listen of my unique claim to fame: "Kate Bush's father sewed up my lip!". I always though that would be the closest I'd ever come to my heroine and, as the years passed and both Kate and my scar faded from public view, I gave up on ever being able to see her perform in real life. Well, tonight all that changes, as I attend the concert I feel like I've been waiting my whole life to see. And it's all thanks to the thoughtfulness of one very kind friend. Sincerely, thank you, Jonathan. What dreams await....!"

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Golden Age of Hustlers...

Oh my word this is good. Brings back memories of sneaking in to see Justin Bond with David and Dan back in 2001 in New York.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Speed The Plow...

Last night Stuart and I went to see David Mamet's Speed The Plow at the Playhouse Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Starring Lindsay Lohan, Richard Schiff and Nigel Lindsay the play tells the story of two film studio executives whose plans for pitching a sure-fire winner of a low-brow prison movie get derailed by a seemingly dim-witted temporary secretary. But are things all they appear to be?

The play is rather old hat in its critique of the movie business to be honest and frankly mercifully short - three acts and two intervals only just scrape us through 90 minutes running time. The two male leads are very good as the fast-talking low-life producers and will no doubt hit their stride as the run progresses. Ms Lohan however is sadly not much cop. To be fair to her the odd moment where she seemed to forget her lines were probably just dramatic pauses. But with acting so wooden a wardrobe could have understudied her - how were we to tell? There was precious little drama in her mumbled lines.

She will no doubt also improve somewhat as she gains confidence in the coming weeks but at just under £90 a ticket we were frankly expecting more - even in previews.

There may indeed be a vehicle out there for LiLo to make her comeback into the acting game - but this wasn't it.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Open House: Victoria Station Roof...

Last Saturday afternoon David and I went up on the roof of Victoria Station as part of the Open House 2014.

The tour was organsied by Network Rail and was fun, interesting but all too brief. Hopefully next year they will open up other mainline stations and maybe some of the basements and underground passageways hitherto hidden to the public.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kate Bush Merchandising...

Seeing Kate Bush's Before The Dawn show the other night I was a little disappointed about one thing. They had run out a particular item of merchandising that I wanted - did I say "wanted", I mean "needed". It's the Rescue Kit Metal Box (yes, I know it'll be ABBA's soap-on-a-rope all over again).

So I called the venue, and then the merchandising brand agent and finally the actual manufacturer. And guess what? They are making me up one specially and going to send it to me directly! And after I pointed out that the venue had run out they are going to make another batch to be sold at the Eventim Apollo too.

And you guys thought my craziness was confined to crawling around on the floor picking up Kate Bush confetti!

Update: I just heard from the Kate Bush merchandise manufacturer and branding agent. "we will have everything available after the shows have finished, and I’ll drop you a line to confirm when it’s live. The store won’t be via the Eventim, it will be through Kate’s online portal." So you'll all be able to buy your stuff from the Kate / Fish People web site after the run of shows has finished.

Update 2: I went down to the venue on Friday night and picked up my Kate Bush Rescue Kit by hand. They were very sweet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Anna Nicole...

Last Saturday Stuart and I went to see Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House in London's glitzy Covent Garden.

We absolutely loved it. Outrageous, funny, tragic, bright, busty, off colour, in bad taste and over-the-top. And that was just the audience!

Like it's subject matter the show was a riot. Starting from her humble beginnings we follow Anna Nicole oft-times surreal life from strip club to plastic surgery, from bumpkin to billionaire, and from court-room to mortuary. The husbands, the children, the partying, the drugs - it was all up on stage.

The orchestra played with gusto. The every-present chorus threw themselves into it. But the night belonged to Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna. She was an utter, utter star. You just couldn't take your eyes off her. Or those tits.

And we were spared little by way of the libretto. Initially the swear words were spelled out "F.U.C.K." sings Anna followed by "F.U.C.K.I.N.G" But soon she doesn't spare our blushes and starts "fucking this" and "fucking that." Her mother then pushes things even further by dropping in the odd "cunt". And then to top it off things get rather poetic with a rounded "cuntalicious."

If you don't like opera, or if you do or if you just want to marvel, gasp and laugh for 2 hours you could do a hell of a lot worse than shell out £38 for Anna Nicole.

If nothing else for the people watching.