Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Outstanding Outlaws to In-Laws #OutlawsInlawsPlay @Outlaws_Inlaws @KingsHeadThtr ...

Last Saturday night Stuart and I went to see the marvellous Outlaws to In-Laws at the King's Head Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

Consisting of seven gay plays by seven gay playwrights the evening moved us through each of the last seven decades from the 1950s onwards telling stories of gay British history at pivotal moments of gay history. The evening was certainly not short on ambition.

Each play explored - albeit briefly - gay lives against a rapidly changing social history from intolerance, violence and hate to the legalisation of homosexuality and gay marriage. There are also some zinging one-liners - as a drag queen sniffs a line of coke off a framed picture of Princess Diana - "nice to see Charlie and Di back together at last!"

Happy and Glorious by Philip Meeks is set in 1953. On the day of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation, South London lad Dennis follows a young man away from the celebrating crowds to an apartment overlooking Westminster Abbey. He soon discovers a world far away from his own and within a matter of hours he falls in and out of love. As the new monarch is crowned, Dennis’ life will never be the same again. It's a funny play heralding he changes in the law that are all too necessary.

Mister Tuesday by Jonathan Harvey is set in the 1965. In their own little love nest, Peter loves Jimmy and Jimmy loves Peter - but only every Tuesday. Peter wants more from Jimmy but Jimmy has a sensitive job, a wife, and baby on the way. Frustrated, Peter makes Jimmy a bleak offer to make sure he won’t flee the nest. Blackmail, sex, and cucumber sandwiches - it was a funny but sad reflection of a life unlived/unloved.

Reward by Jonathan Kemp is set in the 1977. It’s the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Donald, a sweet 16 American meets Spike (Jack Bence), a white skinhead, at a bus stop in a dodgy part of town. The attraction is instant. Except Spike belongs to the National Front and bookish Donald (Michael Duke) is black. Will their love take them to a place of reward or punishment? This play had more time to breathe than the others so perhaps fared best. Boosted by strong performances, it’s a nicely observed, affecting character study in an economically bleak landscape shadowed by racism.

1984 by Patrick Wilde is set in the 1984 (Duh!). The Conservative Party Conference is about to start when Tommy and Allan find themselves under Brighton Pier, but the time for hiding in the shadows should be over. Allan, Margaret Thatcher’s aide, is preparing to help legislate against gay people. Suddenly the political and the personal become a matter of life and death.

Princess Die by Matt Harris is set in the 1997. Shane has had yet another disastrous night out with his boyfriend, and worse his fledgling drag career is struggling to get off the ground. All seems lost until he finds a gorgeous, naked stranger in the flat. Can Tyler help Shane find the personal reserves to carry on before things get any worse? This play was inventively surreal as it dives into drag queen Shane’s comedown after learning his boyfriend is HIV+ on the night his idol, Princess Diana, dies. Alex Marlow’s bewilderment as Elliot Balchin’s Calvin Klein mannequin comes to life on his sofa is well pitched for this astringent farce.

Brothas by Topher Campbell is set in 2003. It centres on Dwayne, a muscular, attractive Jamaican immigrant and his overweight, plain university friend, Remi. They are chilling, and chatting… and chatting to guys online but after Dwayne finds a hot date for the night - with benefits he discovers Remi is using a fake profile...

The Last Gay Play by Joshua Val Martin is set in the present day. Anyone can get cold feet before getting married but hiding in the chapel belfry isn’t the answer. Will the Father get the groom to the altar or does he care more about the church roof than he does about the couple’s happiness?

Mary Franklin’s staging shifts nicely between all the plays, although it’s hampered at times by issues with audibility. But even through this production’s clumsier moments, the joyful message in this last play as Robin and Zak pop open the poppers and decide to live married life their way is loud and clear.

A great night out.

Monday, September 18, 2017

@ChelseaFC 0 - 0 @Arsenal @ChelseaPride @GayGooners ...

Last Sunday afternoon was a fun day out with the Gay Gooners at Stamford Bridge watching the mighty Arsenal take on the some might say equally mighty Chelsea. I'd not been to Stamford Bridge to watch a game in a very long time and it was a really nice experience - the soon to be demolished 43,000 seat stadium had that old world feel to it c.f. Highbury, the game was lively and fun, we played quite well (for a change), and we away fans were in good spirits and even better voice.

We also got to meet up with the Chelsea Pride group afterwards too which was lovely. We went for a drink or three, had a good exchange of information on how our respective groups are run, and of course there was a bit of banter too.




Friday, September 15, 2017

Chaos Arsenal vs.FC Köln @Arsenal @fckoeln #AFCvCOL ...

Well, that was fun. Not. Last night's kick-off between Arsenal and FC Cologne was delayed as the German fans tried to storm the stadium, with fans branded a disgrace.

Fans were seen giving Nazi salutes, fighting and urinating in doorways, following disorder earlier on in central London. The Europa League group was due to start at 8.05pm but was pushed back by an hour because of crowd safety, with people arrested on suspicion of public disorder.

We and the other Gay Gooners took refuge in The Rocket until it was confirmed kick-off would definitely go ahead. The game eventually did go ahead amid heavy security, with riot police stationed around the Emirates Stadium.

Earlier on I had a bottle thrown at me. Nice.

As for the game itself, we played badly first half - lots of booing at half time - but upped our game in the second half and eventually won 3 - 1.

Shameful night.



Thursday, September 14, 2017

George Michael ‎– Listen Without Prejudice Vol.2... @GeorgeMichael #ListenWithoutPrejudiceVol2 ...

 As Sony gears up for the reissue of George Michael's Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1 some of you may not be aware of the follow up that George Michael had planned before he fell out with Sony appropriated entitled Listen Without Prejudice Vol.2

The album was never released although much of it found its way into other projects.

The Vol. 2 album was intended to be a dance-oriented follow-up to the more sober-toned Vol. 1. But as I say it never materialised due to Michael's contract disputes with Sony. But he'd been working on it before he abandoned the project, so there were a number of tracks either in progress or already completed. Three of the tracks ("Too Funky," "Do You Really Want to Know," and "Happy") were released on Red Hot + Dance. "Too Funky," was also released as a single, with "Crazyman Dance" as the b-side. On Bonus Disc was the unreleased single "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" in four versions.

Title: Listen Without Prejudice Vol.2
Artist: George Michael
Label: Not On Label (George Michael)
Format: 2 × CDr, Unofficial Release, Stereo
Released (planned): 1991
Genre: Pop

Tracklist
01 Too Funky 3:48
02 Disco 3:52
03 Happy 4:04
04 So Damn Hard 5:23
05 Do You Really Want To Know 4:47
06 CrazyManDance 5:55
07 Piece 6:31
08 Lonely Nights 2:25
09 Fantasy 5:01
10 Killer 5:01
11 You Spin Me Round 3:22
12 Thank You 4:21
13 Disco (Instrumental) 3:44
14 Piece (demo) 6:22
15 Waiting For A Heart (demo) 4:33
16 CrazyManDance (demo) 3:06
17 Disco (demo) 2:53
18 Lonely Nights (demo) 2:12
19 Too Funky Happy (demo) 3:07

Bonus Disc Ain't No Stopping Us Now
1 Single Mix 4:38
2 12" Remix 7:38
3 Unreleased Mix 5:50
4 Live 5:39


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wonderful The Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir #themagneticfields #50songmemoir @TheMagFields @BarbicanTheatre ...

Last Saturday and Sunday night Stuart and I went to see Stephin Merritt a.k.a. the man behind the ever-inventive musical vehicle The Magnetic Fields perform all fifty songs from his 2017 five-album collection 50 Song Memoir at the Barbican Hall in London's glitzy Barbican Centre.

Each of the fifty songs relates to each of the first fifty years lived by Merritt starting in 1965. And as we might expect from the pen of one of the world's greatest living songwriters and the man who wrote 69 Love Songs each are utter earworms. I've been dreaming them, humming them and singing them obsessively since I first heard them.

In-between each song Merritt told a little story about the song ("this was written for Kiki and Herb the year those religious fanatics tried to blow up our city", "this was written for a musical I tried to write in San Francisco which everyone thought was dreadful but I liked this one song", "my ex was a fucking liar. This is his song." etc.)

Current favourites are: '68 A Cat Called Dionysus, '72 Eye Contact, '76 Hustle 76, '84 Danceteria, '92 Weird Diseases, '01 Have You Seen It In The Snow?, '10 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, '11 Stupid Tears, and '12 You Can Never Go Back To New York.

Joyous.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

@Arsenal vs @AFCBournemouth and @GayGooners vs @SkySports @ArsenalLGBT ...

Last Saturday morning I was getting all set for the day's game - Arsenal vs AFC Bournemouth; Arsenal scarf, Arsenal cap, rainbow socks, new Gay Gooners banner, gay badges, rainbow laces, heart full of optimism, a 'must' win...

But first we Gay Gooners had a meet up with the Sky TV team who wanted to film us outside the Emirates Stadium for one of their new Sky Sports Football Channel Idents.

The Sky boys were very nice and we won three - nil so a good day all round. Oh and they gave us some beer vouchers to spend in The Rocket. Result!



Monday, September 11, 2017

Loved @MailRail @ThePostalMuseum ...

On Sunday afternoon Stuart and I took a trip on board a minature train on the recently one hundred year old reopened Post Office Railway in London's glitzy Mount Pleasant.  
 
The Post Office Railway, also known as Mail Rail, is a 2 ft narrow gauge, driverless underground railway in London that was built by the Post Office with assistance from the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, to move mail between sorting offices.

Our train departed from the former engineering depot of Mail Rail passing deep below Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant sorting office out beyond under bustling London high above. We saw the original and largely unchanged station platforms and were transported back in time. The train stopped at various points so a "theatrical experience" could peel back the layers of time to the railway’s lively 1930s heyday.

After the journey we visited the Postal Museum itself across the road which was great fun.  Dressing up included.

Highly recommended.




Friday, September 08, 2017

Oh My Giddy Aunt! Strictly Ballroom The Musical! West End! #strictlystage ...


Oh my giddy Aunt! A life lived in fear is a life half lived. One of my favourite films Strictly Ballroom now a musical and coming to the West End!

Liz: What do I want? I'll tell you what I want! I want Ken Railings to walk in here right now, and say 'Pam Shortt's broken both her legs, and I wanna dance with YOU!'
[the door flies open. It's Ken]
Ken: Pam Shortt's broken both her legs, and I wanna dance with you.
Kylie: That was unexpected.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Blo Norton Hall #BloNortonHall...

Last weekend we took my parents away for their 60th Wedding Anniversary weekend to Elizabethan pile Blo Norton Hall just outside Diss in Norfolk.

It was just the thirteen of us; Myrtle, Dad, Jo, Simon, Angus, Charlotte, Jos, Wills, Jaye, Simon T, Barbara, Stuart and me. We cooked, we ate, we went for walks, we went to the pub, we played games. All great fun.







Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Outrageously Funny #DavidSedaris #RFH @SouthBankLondon ...

Last Sunday night Stuart and I went to listen to David Sedaris, man of letters, read to us at the Royal Festival Hall on London's glitzy South Bank.

Ostensibly a Radio Four friendly speaker Mr Sedaris sure came out with our outrageous stuff. Stories about death and about diarrhea featured prominently.

Towards the end of the evening though we were treated to a few stories that he himslef had been told. Often at the end of reading there is a book signing and as peopel wait for his signature people will casually mention things that happened to them. So I thought I'd relay three of them to you now.

A woman told a story about meeting a man online and then agreeing to meet him for dinner.
At dinner the man started out by saying, "I have to confess, I'm frightened of the C word."
Without thinking the woman said, "Cunt?"
After what seemed like an eternity of stunned silence the man eventually said, "Commitment!"

A man told a story of him and a friend walking past a tramp on a street corner.
The tramp pleaded to the passing men, "I just need an extra 25p for a cheeseburger."
The man's friend replied, "Have it without the cheese!"

A man and his son came up to David Sedaris while signing his books and the boy said proudly, "I've got a joke."
"Go on then", says David.
"What is nice on a pizza but not on a pussy?"
Rather shocked at the young boy's language David said, "I don't know. Mushrooms? Melted cheese?"
"A crust", said the boy.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Sensational #Sondheim #Follies #ImeldaStaunton #DiBotcher #JanieDee #TracieBennett @NationalTheatre ...

Last Thursday night Stuart and I went to the first night of the National Theatre's sensational revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies at the Olivier Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Synopsis: The Follies girls are gathering to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves.

This 2hr 15min straight-through production was simply wonderful. Like a massive steam train, it was perhaps a little slow to start but once it had built up a full head of steam it thundered on with show stopping hit after show stopping hit. The cast were universally dazzling, the plot deliciously complicated, and the music as joyous and lyrics as bittersweet as you would expect from Sondheim.

Set in 1971, Follies concerns a reunion in a crumbling Broadway theatre, scheduled for demolition, of the past performers of the Weismann's Follies, a musical revue (based on the Ziegfeld Follies), that played in that theatre between the two World Wars. It focuses on two couples, Buddy and Sally Durant Plummer and Benjamin and Phyllis Rogers Stone, who are attending the reunion. Sally and Phyllis were showgirls in the Follies. Both couples are deeply unhappy with their marriages. Buddy, a traveling salesman, is having an affair with a girl on the road; Sally is still as much in love with Ben as she was years ago; and Ben is so self-absorbed that Phyllis feels emotionally abandoned. Several of the former showgirls perform their old numbers, sometimes accompanied by the ghosts of their former selves. The musical numbers in the show are pastiches of the styles of the leading Broadway composers of the 1920s and 1930s, sometimes being parodies of specific songs (for example, Losing My Mind parodies George Gershwin's The Man I Love).

Tracie Bennett, Di Botcher, Janie Dee and Imelda Staunton were all stunning.

Standout numbers of the night were I'm Still Here, Losing My Mind, Broadway Baby and the simply thrilling Who's That Woman (Mirror, Mirror) that all brought the audience to its feet.

Go see.

(We are going again in two weeks!)

Friday, September 01, 2017

Put Blo Norton Hall into Google and.. Oh! It's us! ...

We've taking my family away this weekend to Blo Norton Hall in Norfolk for my parent's 60th Wedding Anniversary so I thought I'd show them all what it looks like. So I put "Blo Norton Hall" into Google, selected "Images" and... Oh! It's us!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Outrageously funny #Loot @ParkTheatre ...

Last night Stuart, Jane, Sara and I went to see the gloriously uncut 50th anniversary production of Joe Orton's outrageous Loot at the Park Theatre in London's not so glitzy Finsbury Park.

Loot is a very dark farce that satirises the Roman Catholic Church, social attitudes to death, and the integrity of the police force. To put it mildly.

Starring Calvin Demba as bisexual Dennis and Sam Frenchum as his gay lover Hal our hapless anti-heroes have robbed a bank and are attempting to hide their ill-gotten gains in Hal's dead mother's coffin. Sinéad Matthews as the diabolical Nurse Fay is on to them and wants her cut of the cash. Only they hadn't figured on the arrival of a corrupt "Water Board" official...

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in this farcical delight, astutely orchestrated by director Michael Fentiman. It's a bawdy, laughter-filled revival of an Orton classic, every line milked for maximum comedic impact.

Outstanding though all the acting was though, for me the night belonged to Christopher Fulford's manic Inspector Truscott and Anah Ruddin's lifeless but scene stealing corpse.

As Joe Orton once remarked, "Laughter is a serious business, and comedy a weapon more dangerous than tragedy. Which is why tyrants treat it with caution."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

#Strasbourg #FarewellEUtour...

Stuart and I had a lovely long weekend away in Alsace. We started in Frankfurt, ended up in Heidelberg but spent most of our time in the beautiful city of Strasbourg. Strasbourg had never really been on my radar but we had some air miles to use up and Stuart fancied revisiting the place he lived for a while when studying his foreign language degree.

We stayed in a rather posh hotel near the main island that had a certain amount of historic gossip attached to it - a story about a German king and some French soldiers (ahem). The town itself was stunning with its Gothic cathedral, chocolate box pretty houses, and its long history of occupation, bombing and syphilis (!) On the Sunday afternoon we took a 5 hour bicycle tour of the city, the ancient walls, the EU buildings and then across the border into Germany for a beer. The weather was hot and we both had a great time.

So, the first part of our 27-country Farewell to the EU Tour was well under way.








Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Monday, August 28, 2017

Au reservoir #Strasbourg #CityBreak #farewellEUtour ...

Au reservoir Strasbourg. Beautiful place, great food, and friendly people. 
(Shame Stuart had to come though... 😆)


Thursday, August 24, 2017

"The Next Train..." #VictoriaLine now run every 100 seconds...

Victoria line trains now run 36 trains per hour making it the second most frequent line in the world. It means a train on the busy Victoria line, used by more than 700,000 passengers a day, every 100 seconds during morning and evening peak time.

Tube bosses says the line will carry an extra 3,000 passengers an hour at the busiest times.

The new timetable introduced earlier in the summer is the culmination of a £900 million upgrade of the line including new trains and much improved stations.

With 36 trains an hour the Victoria line – from Brixton to Walthamstow Central – now offers one of the most frequent services in the world and beaten only by the Moscow Metro which runs trains every 95 seconds.

The Victoria success is the result of a new automatic Siemens signalling system which allows trains to run closer together, which increases capacity, while still maintaining safe operation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

#BritainOnFilm #LGBTBritain @Barbican...

Last Saturday afternoon Stuart and I went to watch the compilation film Britain on Film: LGBT Britain at the Barbican Cinema in London's glitzy Barbican Centre.

Exploring the rich history of LGBT life in the UK in this special collection of archive films spanned shifting attitudes and the fight for rights from 1909 to 1994.

Mainly in black and white, this moving and fascinating collection included some of the earliest known representations of LGBT people on screen, such as a 1925 film on Cutie Cattaro, a boxer more interested in flirting than fighting and a drag queen, "Percy" competing for a beauty prize in 1909. The former looked like a modern skit of machismo in sport and the latter like a Edwardian Benny Hill sketch. Both genuinely laugh out loud funny.

The collection of shorts also explored the struggles and identity politics of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the films covered early AIDS victims recounting their painful experiences; the formation of the Gay Black Group, an early instance of intersectional thinking; and the 1980 fight for transgender rights in the European Court.

Looking into both the political and the personal, the programme of short films, documentaries and newsreels depicted the collective public fight for basic rights and equality and more intimate and psychological ones: the shedding of shame and the ability to be open about one’s most private self and claiming of the right to love.

The most moving part for me was the interview in mid-1960s of the mother. The interviewer was asking the old dear what was her reaction to her daughter coming out to her as lesbian. Expecting a standard respond of "it's disgusting/our daughter means nothing to us now" the lady said, "Well, we were shocked at first. But we felt sorry for her. Not sorry that she was a lesbian. No, no, we were sorry that she must have struggled with the secret before telling us. That must have been so hard for her to keep that secret. It was a very brave thing for her to do and must have taken a lot of courage on her part. It cannot have been easy for her to trust us with that information. She did not know how we were going to react. But we love our daughter and I just hope that as the months go by she feels that her trust in us has been well placed." Not the reaction the interviewer had expected!


If you get a chance to see it.. do. It's great.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Evita...

Last Thursday night Stuart and I went to see Bill Kenwright’s very successful national touring production of Evita at the Phoenix Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Andrew Lloyd-Weber and Tim Rice's musical masterpiece of Eva Perón's rise to fame has stood the test of time quite well although the constraints of a touring production obviously meant that the cast were perhaps not quite as thronging as I've seen in fuller productions and the set was somewhat more wobbly. That said, it was a very entertaining show that did not mess with the usual classic staging.

The plot follows the true story of Eva/Evita, the wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Perón. Documenting the journey that led her from humble beginnings to becoming the spiritual leader of the nation, the show includes a rousing score that contains some of the musical duo’s biggest numbers.

Emma Hatton's Eva was in top form as she thundered out such classics as "Buenos Aires", "I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You", and of course "Don’t Cry for Me Argentina". Gian Marco Schiaretti, meanwhile, was an effortlessly tuneful (if a little cheesy) narrator-like figure Che. However favourite of the night for us was Sarah O’Connor playing Juan Perón's mistress singing the beautiful "Another Suitcase in Another Hall".

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Happy Birthday Darren #oldfriend ...

Stuart, Vince, Rachael, Tim, Andy, Mark, Chilli and I all went out last night to help Darren celebrate his 52nd birthday. We went to Wahacca on Waldorf Street for Mexican food followed be a swifty at The Welly. 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Unnecessary" #QuotationMarks...

Always a "classic", check out the "unintended" and at times "disturbing" double-meanings of signs made by the "ignorant" with the "blog" site of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

William and Jaye Engagement #ProundUncle ...

I couldn't be more happy for my nephew William on his engagement last weekend to beautiful fiancee Jaye. The family got together for a meal out to help the happy couple celebrate.



Monday, August 14, 2017

We’re Back! @Arsenal 4 - 3 @Chelsea ...

It was fantastic to be back at the Emirates Stadium last Friday night. Slightly weird that it was on a Friday night though. A heart-racing game saw the mighty Arsenal come from behind to snatch a victory. Good stuff,




Friday, August 11, 2017

Enjoyable Apologia @TrafStudios @apologiaplay @LloydJamie ...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Stockard “West Wing” Channing in Alexi Kaye Campbell’s play about intergenerational conflict Apologia at the Trafalgar Studios in London's glitzy West End.

The return of Stockard Channing to the London stage after an eight-year absence is to be welcomed and was a pleasant way to spend a Thursday night in wet London. As Rizzo in Grease might say, there are worse thing you could do... OK, that's a bit unfair.

Apologia means a formal written defence of one's opinions or conduct. And that is the basis of the play starring Channing's perfectly cast Kristin, a former 1960s radical who sacrificed the wellbeing of her two sons for her political principles.

The debate about whether political idealism trumps domestic responsibility is well handled though there are some gaps in credibility and the reasons for Kristin’s behaviour are never quite unearthed. But director Jamie Lloyd delivers a satisfyingly bumpy ride and it is hard to take your eyes off Channing

In fact Lloyd’s production is strongly cast all round. Joseph Millson doubles very effectively as both of Kristin’s sons, the angry Peter and the sad Simon. Laura Carmichael is excellent as Trudi, catching both the character’s naive good nature and the rising inflexions of a native American. Freema Agyeman is admirably spirited as the unrepentant soap star and Desmond Barrit, as a gay dinner guest, movingly suggests that behind the protests and the demos of the 60s lay a concern for people.

Such a story of complicated, damaged people and relationships, steeped in futility and regret; Apologia must surely be a conscious tribute to Chekhov. As soon as it is stated that the phones of Claire and Kristin look alike, the audience knows that one will receive a call intended for the other; a digital update of Chekhov’s gun. That said, the story was rather heavier going than much Chekhov - especially as things dragged somewhat in the second half.

Still, it was great to see Stockard Channing back on the London stage and it was a very enjoyable evening. Peachy keen, jellybean.

As a footnote, I do have to mention her face though. She has had way too much work done. Way too much. But does call to mind some advice her character Rizzo gave Olivia Newton-John's Sandy in 1978's Grease film, "Think of it this way, if she screws you up she can always fix your hair so your ears don't show."