Quote Of The Day

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

David, Andrew, Stuart and Jonathan #OldFriends....

Last night Stuart and I had a great evening out at La Petite Auberge with David and Andrew over from Sydney. I think we all agreed it had been way, way too long.



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

#Mosquitoes @NationalTheatre ...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see new play Mosquitoes at the Dorfman Theatre in London's glitzy National Theatre.

Wow! What a play! Written by Lucy Kirkwood and starring Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams as dysfunctional sisters the play is simply a masterpiece. Ambitious but... no "and"... a masterpiece.

Taking on such weighty issues as the Big Bang, sexism in science, assisted suicide, fake news, sibling rivalry, vaccination denial, dementia, child mortality, CERN-funding, cyber-bullying, sexting, the Higgs Boson (who actually manifests), how the universe will end, parallel universes, and teenage drinking.

Presented in the round with an acrobatic floating circular set the sound and light was as top notch as you might expect from designer Katrina Lindsay, lighting designer Paule Constable, sound designer Paul Arditti and of course masterful director Rufus Norris.

The play is funny, heart-breaking, and a wonder.

My only quibble would be that in the last 15 minutes there is a slightly over-long scene about the multiverse with an rather too obvious punchline and the sisters' resolution scene is a little rushed.  But that said, it's a wonder.

It is a sold out show but I'm sure it will transfer to the West End and beyond.


Monday, July 24, 2017

#BigGayPicnic #RegentsPark...

We all had a gay old time at Tim's annual gay picnic in Regent's Park. Nice to see some new faces and catch up with some old ones(!)

Friday, July 21, 2017

@JoannaLumley, @Twiggy, and @Lulushouts @CadoganHall...

Last night Darren, Stuart and I went to see Joanna Lumley, Twiggy, and Lulu be interviewed by Jo Whiley as part of The Telegraph Legends Series Presents 60s icons at the
Cadogan Hall in London's glitzy Sloane Square.

The first half consisted of a broad interview - how did you get into the business, what's your favourite record, who's the most famous person you've ever met - all very soft questions, so far, so Smash Hits!

Then after the break Lulu "treated us" to a three songs followed by everyone back on stage for a Q&A from the audience.

So what did we learn from the evening?

Well, Lulu really is not very likeable. Great voice but self-centred, self-absorbed, and self-important. She implied she shagged David Bowie but could not remember the details. She hated Elvis - "he tried to copy black singers" apparently - which is a bit rich coming from her. She started every sentence with the word "I". You know the type.

Twiggy is a lovely. Modest ("but then she has much to be modest about." Ha ha), engaging, and slightly in awe of her own success. She told us stories of her humble beginnings, her discovery and her time in New York. They are trying to get a musical of her early live off the ground but it is stranded in development hell apparently.

Joanna Lumley is simply wonderful. But then we knew that, right? She is funny, self-deprecating, self-aware, well-read, well-traveled, and unlike Lulu and Twiggy whose gifts were bestowed upon them Ms Lumley has earned her good fortune the hard way. She told us lovely stories of going to see Dirk Bogarde in the cinema and being petrified with admiration. She found it hard to break into acting as models were never taken seriously, told a very funny story of meeting grandmothers in the jungle, and promised a return to Coronation Street as Elaine Perkins so resume her liaison with Ken Barlow should her schedule allow.

So a great night out. Three old queens seeing three more famous and even older queens.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#TwilightSong @ParkTheatre...

Last night Stuart, Jane, Sara and I went to see Twilight Song at the Park Theatre in London's unglitzy Finsbury Park

Starring Adam Garcia, Bryony Hannah and Paul Higgins it is the rather disappointing premiere of the final play by Kevin Elyot, writer of the classic comedy My Night with Reg.

Barry (Paul Higgins) lives with his mother Isabella (Bryony Hannah) in a London Victorian villa and they both feel trapped. Slippery bisexual estate agent Skinner (Adam Garcia) provides some relief for Barry but no one seems particularly happy with their lot.

Rewind 50 years and we meet Isabella in an unhappy marriage and two gay uncles. Enter stage left bisexual handyman Adam Garcia again (playing a cross between Joe Orton’s Mr Sloane and DH Lawrence’s Mellors) who seduces Isabella and viciously blackmails one of the uncles. It does not end well.

This is by no means a major play and not a patch on the outstanding My Night with Reg. Maybe it would have improved with some rewrites. Something we shall never know as sadly Kevin Elyot died before the play was ever produced.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

#IntoTheUnknown @BarbicanCentre...

Last week Stuart and I went to see the Into The Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction exhibition at the Curve in London's brutalist Barbican Centre.

Telling the story of science fiction from its humble beginnings in antiquity through to adventure novels of the 19th century and on to the optimistic futurism of the 20th century and beyond the show consisting largely of photographs, video clips, books, film props, and artefacts. John Hurt's suit from Alien

The exhibition was split up into four main sections Extraordinary Voyages (exploring uncharted lands, monsters from under the sea, and dinosaurs on lost islands), Space Odysseys (the conquest of the skies, living in space and the battling the cosmos), Brave New Worlds (supercities, dystopia, and Big Brother) and Final Frontiers (cyberspaces, the uncanny valley, and parallel worlds).

If you like sci-fi this is a two hours worth your time. This used to be the future...





Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof #SiennaMiller #JackOConnell #ColmMeaney @hayleySsquires @youngvictheatre #YoungVicCat...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Benedict Andrews's production of Tennessee Williams's Southern-style potboiler Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Apollo Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Warning: There was nudity from the outset. It was sustained. It was frequent. And it was full-frontal. (And we loved it.)

In fact this was an extremely explicit production both on the stage and from the page. For this was no watered-down Hollywood version - instead it uses, quite rightly, the original stage manuscript. The gay storyline was not told using undertones or implied behaviour - this production called it out - it was in your face queer writing as its best. And it was heart-breaking. The eventual showdown between tortured Brick and Big Daddy had me weeping.

The acting was good - actually, I'm doing it a bit of a disservice - the acting was great. Sure, the accents sometime wandered transatlantically from Mississippi to Derby but Sienna Miller's Maggie was gloriously feline, Jack O'Connell's alcoholic Brick was honest and raw, Colm Meaney's Big Daddy was a triumph, and Lisa Palfrey's Big Momma a masterclass.

However, special mention must go to Hayley Squires's Mae who managed to be funny, spiteful and more than match for Maggie the cat.

If you like nudity, great acting and a heart-wrenching story. This is the production for you.

Monday, July 17, 2017

3rd Upminster Beerfest...

It was lads’ day out at the 3rd Upminster Beerfest. 180 gallons of beer, 30 tons of pork scratchings, double helpings of pie and mash. Quality. And although it all started calmly enough... Boys will be boys! Top night Dave. Cheers!

Stuart and I had turned up way too early due to a cock up on the calendar front so got to spend some quality time with Denise, Kristen, Natalie and Kev at the Station Pantry.




Friday, July 14, 2017

The Tempest @BarbicanTheatre

Last night Stuart and I went to see The Tempest at the Barbican Theatre in London's glitzy Barbican.

Starring Simon Russell Beale’s as a quietly powerful, at times hoarse-voiced Prospero the production was sadly rather hum-drum and too under-played.

Mumbling aside and failing to engage, the only big noise - quite literally - about Gregory Doran’s sometimes rocky production was the thunder-cracking sound and dazzling special effects and motion-capture Ariel created by Andy Serkis’s Imaginarium Studios.

Sadly, whizz-bang visuals do not a good Tempest make.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

@IanMcKellen with Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others and Me! @ParkTheatre...

Last Friday night Stuart and I ventured out to see game old bird Ian McKellen's two-hour long, one-man-fundraising show Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You at the unsubsidised Park Theatre in North London's quite unglitzy Finsbury Park.

And I was on stage with him too! (More of that later.)

The show starts in darkness. Then a great blast of the soundtrack from The Lord of The Rings - and in the pitch black, the instantly recognisable voice of Sir Ian McKellen, warm, craggy, emphatically dramatic, quietly roaring out words from Tolkien’s novel.

Lights up, and there he is - Gandalf in the flesh, Gandalf unplugged; dangling off an uncomfortable stool, dandyish in tight black trousers, dark jacket, low-trailing knotted scarf - giving us page after page and a line to conjure with: "You cannot pass!". Yes, let it be known, the celluloid catchphrase for which he is renowned the world over ("You shall not pass!") is nowhere in the original.

He has been reading from the paperback copy he carried with him on set in New Zealand, no less, and the incorrectly quoted catchphrase is just one of the minor insights and friendly asides that made this fancily priced fundraiser for the valiant - publicly unfunded - Park theatre in north London worth every bank-breaking penny. You might argue that there were even better causes for McKellen, 78, to harness his renown to, but there’s no quibbling about the underlying wisdom of this soirée - not an ego fest, more a wry, wistful love letter to the medium that made him and a walk down memory lane with us not as gawping admirers but confided-in pals - the secret, really, of McKellen’s success: not lofty knightliness but spry mateyness.

The first half teemed with childhood memories of Wigan and Bolton – his transformative theatre-going, watching from the wings, then early days in rep.

Literary passions rather than personal confessions dominated, although a glorious tranche of Wordsworth’s The Prelude acted as a droll detour to his coy coming-out to his family at the age of 49. There’s a memorable rendition of the first chapter from Bleak House but it’s not all serious – he draped his scarf over his head, puckered his lips and camped it up as Widow Twanky to roars of approval.

Gerard Manley Hopkins’ "The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo" – that echoing, wheeling lament for lost beauty and youth – brought us to the poignant close of the first half. He’d already sung for his supper – but then there was a full hour of Shakespeare: a serving up of golden hits, in which the ghosts of performances past were summoned, among them Justice Shallow, Romeo, Macbeth and, bringing us to the present, lines from Sir Thomas More in defence of immigrants.

If it’s a crime to abuse the dispossessed, you were left feeling it would a crime too for this not to have been filmed and so reach a wider audience. A palpable hit.

Oh and towards the end anyone was invited up on stage to act out a scene with Sir Ian (from Henry V but with a wine menu as the script - you had to have been there). Guess who volunteered?

Oh and we bought two bottles of Sir Ian McKellen wine to take home with us too - all profits to the fundraiser so all in a good cause! Honest!











Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fantastic @Goldfrapp @SomersetHouse...

Last Sunday night to cap off an amazing Pride weekend Stuart, Joanna, Simon, me and the world and his husband went to see the fantastic Goldfrapp perform at Somerset House in London's glitzy Aldwych.

Ostensibly, to promote new album Silver Eye - from which they played six tracks - the gig started with two of their classics: Utopia and Lovely Head.

Dressed in black Alison strutted on to the stage. She was not as shy, enigmatic or awkward as we have seen her in the past and actually engaging a little with the audience which was nice. Her amazing performance did all the talking necessary though. Once the gig got going Alison stalked the stage like.. a giant stalking thing. At its height she was jumping, marching, whirling, lunching and flapping her arms like... a giant flapping thing. A Goldflapping thing. It was performance that we rarely see. And it was fantastic.

The staging was set to full on festival mode - bright lights, blaring sound and fabulous back projection.

Goldfrapp seem to have three main types of songs. The first being dreamy, floaty music that wafts across the listener as the remarkable instrument that is Alison's voice weaves in and out of the lush musical textures. The second is crashing, thrashing, smashing discord that more often than not sends Alison's voice from a base distorted screech soaring up to the high-pitched wail of a siren beckoning you to a fate few could resist and few could survive. The third is their disco stompers that get everyone on their feet dancing. It's music that demands to be listened to not just heard. And we were treated to ample amounts of all three types.

A quieter song like Ocean would start with Alison's haunting voice - chilling, soaring, mesmerising - and the audience would start to sway and yet few of them seemed to realise they were doing it. Heads would bob and shoulders would shake like puppets on strings under Goldfrapp's control. The overpowering force of what we were hearing had captured them and it had left them utterly spellbound. This entrapment was a joyous thing though judging by the smiles that had spread across every face. The silence of the crowd until the last note of their magnificent quieter songs was in stark counterpoint to the rapturous applause that was to follow.

And then the thrash of Ooh La La or Strict Machine would kick in or the powerful disco rhythm of a song like Number 1 and everyone would go bat-shit crazy dancing in a frenzy like lunatics under a full moon.

A was a fantastic gig.

As we left I heard one guy remark, "Boy, can she sing! Not songs, mind you!" and that is indeed the delightful oxymoron that is Goldfrapp. Music but not as we know it.

For ninety glorious minutes we were in Goldfrapp's world.

Bitchy side note "The Goldfrapp Scale": It's hard being a woman in the music business. Keep quiet and you get walked on, speak your mind and you're a bitch. Still, sound and lighting technicians in the Bristol area use one woman as a reference point for all others. When faced with a new artist they ask: “How difficult to work with is she on a scale from 0 to Goldfrapp?” Ouch!

The full set list was:

Utopia
Lovely Head
Anymore
Train
Ocean
Moon in Your Mouth
You Never Know
Slide In
Everything Is Never Enough
Become the One
Systemagic
Number 1
Ride a White Horse
Ooh La La

Encore:
Shiny and Warm
Strict Machine

Monday, July 10, 2017

Gay Pride 2017 Fantastic day @LondonLGBTPride @prideinfootball...

Great day out at London Pride. One of the best ever. I had a blast. I think we all did. Met so many lovely people. Let's make next year even better.












Saturday, July 08, 2017

#Proud of #Pride...

I'm not proud of many things. Pride comes before a fall, right? But one thing I am proud of is Pride. Gay Pride. Lesbian & Gay Pride. And I think you should be too.

Many people will ask, quite rightly in their eyes, why do we even need a Lesbian & Gay Pride, or even gay bars - we treat everyone the same here - it's the law, right? And to you I say, if only that were true. Some straight people (the minority) and some (sadly) self-loathing closet cases still feel the need to bully, troll, belittle, insult, kick, abuse, and yes even kill us for who we love. A safe space is sometimes the best we can hope for.

If you're not gay or lesbian you may not know how rare it is to actually feel welcome and safe in a space. And a Pride March offers that space.

And for the people - both gay or straight - that ask sarcastically why can't we have a Heterosexual Pride Day? I say that there is a Heterosexual Pride Day, my friends, there is... the other 364 days of the year.

So join me in celebrating this weekend something that deserves celebrating; Pride. Because we can all take pride in a country that not only allows its citizens to celebrate being lesbian or gay but also supports them in doing so. So many other countries don't allow even a Pride March to happen.

This weekend listen to some Kylie, engage with some politics or just have a brightly coloured cocktail on me. You've much to be proud of.

Happy Pride everyone.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Marvelous @MavisStaples at @UnionChapelUK...

Last night Stuart and I went to see the wonderful Mavis Staples perform at the Union Chapel in London's glitzy Islington.

The opening act was The James Hunter Six who stormed the place. Funny, engaging and with an amazing voice James and his gang got the place rocking for a full hour.

Then after a brief interlude the main event, the main woman, Miss Mavis Staples.

Backed with a small band and two backing singers - who in of themselves could have held the place - Mavis was simply a marvel.

A bundle of energy Mavis did not so much sing the songs as own them. Her voice rose and soared filling the Union Chapel as she powered her way through such gems as Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth, The Fisk Jubilee Singers' Wade in the Water, Touch A Hand Make A Friend, If You're Ready (Come Go With Me), and of course The Staples Singers' classic hit I'll Take You There.

Mavis was lovely and chatty too telling us stories of people she had met and worked with over her 66-year music career.

She even did a joyous mashup of The Staples Singers' classic hit Respect Yourself with Otis Redding's classic Respect managing to include a story about Aretha Franklin thwacking her husband.

Her diminutive statue belied her powerful and tuneful voice. Yes, at the age of 77, she's still got it.

The stand-out song of the night for me was her cover of Talking Heads’ Slippery People. Wonderful.

Love from the bottom to the top.






Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Alexandre Lacazette signs for @Arsenal #lacanewsigning...

‪Great news on new signing Alexandre Lacazette at Arsenal #lacanewsigning‬  Just had to go get new shirt for Pride 🌈
So I popped up to Finsbury Park Arsenal Shop after work and asked them if they would knock me one up. I teased the guy while he did it saying, "Too many Es!... No, too many Ts!" 😆




Tuesday, July 04, 2017

#TomOfFinlandMovie @ToFmovie...

Last Friday night Darren and I went to see the UK premiere of the Tom of Finland film at the Hackney Picturehouse in London's vibrant Hackney.

The film is a biopic of Touko Valio Laaksonen starting with his time during World War II when Finland fought the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1939–1940 after the Soviet Union had attacked Finland. We then see his return to civilian life, his time living with his homophobic sister and then eventually forming a relationship with a dancer and their life together.

Throughout the film, Touko develops as an artist drawing his distinctive stylized highly masculinized homoerotic fetish art. Initially met with violence and queer bashing in his native Finland Touko eventually gains acceptance through his art and moves to America where he is warmly embraced and becomes known as Tom of Finland.

The film is well done and has a pleasant enough tone throughout although I have sneaking suspicion most people in the auditorium wanted to see something a bit fruitier.










Monday, July 03, 2017

#AlexandreLacazette @Arsenal...

So if Alexandre Lacazette is indeed coming to Arsenal I think it will probably help secure our prize next year for Hottest Premiership Team.


Friday, June 30, 2017

#Ink @Almeida...

Last night Jane, Sara, Stuart and I went to see new play Ink at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.
 
Written by James Graham, directed from Rupert Goold, and starring Bertie Carvel as Rupert Murdoch we had high hopes for this production. And we weren't disappointed. It was fab.
 
Synopsis: Fleet Street. 1969. The Sun rises. It's a business. And it's revenge.
 
James Graham’s play starts with the birth of arguably the UK's most influential newspaper – The Sun - when a young and rebellious Rupert Murdoch asked the impossible and launched its first editor’s quest, against all odds, to "give the people what they want."
 
Shamelessly never asking 'why?", punching up (never down), pages and pages of telly, celebrity gossip, loads of free stuff, sport stories (not just sports results) and sex (lots of sex). It was a winning mix.
 
The play is actually an impressively unpreachy look at The Sun, its launch and the red tops’ circulation war that followed. The killer blow in the circulation war was the inclusion of topless women which for 43 years (dis)graced "Page 3".
 
The acting is top-notch from the "let's put on show" beginning that almost breaks into a musical to the crisis of confidence as The Sun itself becomes the story. You might not like Murdoch but you have to admire his tenacity.
 
James Graham has written a fantastic sell-out play in Ink that is bound to transfer to the West End.
 
Go see.


 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mary and Mike #2...

Great to spend the evening again with Mary and Mike last night. We showed them around our neighbourhood of glitzy (but very rainy) Islington. 
 
We took in such high-brow establishments as The Hope & Anchor, The Marquess Tavern, and The Hen & Chickens. Why, Mike even got to pose in front of The Famous Cock <insert joke here>.
 
Great fun and enjoy the rest of your UK trip guys X