Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, February 05, 2016

Earth, Wind & Fire - September - Maurice White RIP

My favourite Earth, Wind and Fire song. I danced to this when I was 17 years old in a crumby discotheque in Stevenage new town centre, wearing a tight brown tank-top, large collared long sleeved shirt, impossibly tight cream trousers, sporting a centre parting, sipping half a pint of luke warm shandy and thinking it was IT!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Gay Gooners...

Me, Adam and Pierre - just before a rather mediocre performance by Arsenal against Southampton at the Emirates Stadium last night.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Badly Packed Parachute...

What do a badly packed parachute and Madonna's face have in common?

They both look like a badly packed parachute.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Bloc Bar...

Last Saturday night Tim and Andy invited Richard, Andre, Stu and I round for dinner and then we went to the Bloc Bar in Camden. As you can see, we were rather in the pink (#nofilter)

Friday, January 29, 2016

It's All About YOU...

Guys, if you're actually listening to the other person you're not properly readying the story about a thing that happened to YOU one time.
"Yeah, that's almost exactly like my situation except mine is way more complex and interesting."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Soup for One...

34 years after I first heard (and loved) this song http://youtu.be/f5-9N0DEfmM and sitting in a restaurant all by myself on a business trip I have finally got to utter these words to my waiter.. "Soup for one". 
He reply knowingly, "Chic, right?" I said "why, thank you!" 
I smiled radiantly, he did not. 
Wait until he hears my order for milk, milk, lemonade...!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Credit Card...

Had a bad mixup at the shop today. When I tried to pay the cashier said "strip down, facing me." Apparently he meant my credit card.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Bye...

British people: "Right then, I suppose we really should start thinking about possibly making a move"

Translation for the non-British: "Bye".

Friday, January 22, 2016

4000 Days...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Peter Quilter's new play 4000 Days at the Park Theatre in London's distinctly unglitzy Finsbury Park.

Tucked away behind the train station in Clifton Terrace the Park Theatre was a bit of a revelation to be honest. It was neo-rustic, friendly and had a good vibe about it. Rather like the rather delicious Italian meal we had next door before the show it was warm, welcoming and just a little bit sexy.

The play itself however was not as interesting. Alistair McGowan plays a man, Michael, who having awoken from a three week coma realises he has lost the last eleven years (4000 days) of his memories. This causes joy to Michael's acerbic and possessive mother, Carol, who believes she has now 'got her son back' but despair to his handsome but rather boring partner, Paul.

The first half of the play is a bit of a bitch-fest between Carol and Paul as they fight over Michael lying in his hospital bed. Carol attempts to (s)mother Michael whereas Paul tries to spark forgotten memories by showing him old newspapers and old photos. Michael's reaction seems to be to ignore them both and daub paint on the walls.

The second half picks up a bit as Michael starts to be more involved in the three-way drama but if anyone can't see the ending coming over the hill waving rainbow flags they need their rose-tinted glasses changing.

Examining memory loss is an interesting idea - although not a particularly original theatrical one - if done well. Here though it all seemed a bit underwritten. The jokes should have been a bit funnier and the desperation of the characters a bit more acute. It needed more passion. Ultimately we didn't really care who ended up with Michael as he seemed a bit of a drip.

Not really recommended. Nice venue though.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Internet...

One weird trick that absolutely NO ONE on the internet seems to know: you are not legally required to have an opinion on everything.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Microwave...

Microwave ovens. For when you want a delicious scolding hot bowl of cold food.
Reheats. I'm the kind of guy who stops the microwave at 1 second just to feel like a bomb defuser.

Monday, January 18, 2016

University Challenge...

Paxman: Who or what were created in Bristol in 1994?
Student: Wind turbines?
Paxman: Only in a manner of speaking, they were the first female clergy.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Waste...

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

Oh dear.

Waste was a highly controversial play banned by the censors when it was first written by Harley Granville Barker well over a 100 years ago. Not least because it deals with the thorny issues of smug politicians, sex scandals, sleaze, abortion, suicide and (wait for it...) antidisestablishmentarianism (gosh, I've been wanting to write review with that word in it.)

The plot centres around ambitious independent politician Henry Trebell (Charles Edwards), his plans for a bill to disestablish the Church of England and his fall from grace after his affair with married woman Amy O'Connell (Olivia Williams).

The title may refer to the waste of Trebell's potential talents due to the scandal, the loss of his disestablishment bill or the termination of Amy's pregnancy. Or indeed it may simply refer to the amount of time we spent watching this rubbish.

Because it was rubbish; stilted, wooden, trite, boring and frankly a waste of the obvious acting talent on stage or indeed the important issues it attempted, and failed, to raise. Women's rights, abortion, the conduct of politicians in their private lives are all interesting subjects - but just treated so poorly and glibly here.

The original play was a landmark in British theatrical history and the fight and time it took to bring it to a public production 30 years after it was first written is a fascinating story in of itself. Now that would have been a story that I would have been much more interested in watching.

Not recommended.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Easter Egg...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens gets a subtle George and Mildred Easter Egg! Big ups to the sly George and Mildred fan who managed to sneak in a discreet G&M reference in the latest Star Wars film. I wonder if even JJ noticed? Respect!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Les Liaisons Dangereuses...

On Monday night Stuart and I went to see magnificent thirty year revival of Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Donmar Warehouse in London glitzy West End.

In 1782, Choderlos de Laclos’ novel of sex, intrigue and betrayal in pre-revolutionary France scandalised the world. Two hundred years later the book was triumphantly adapted as a play and now here revived for our utter delight.

Josie Rourke has drawn together a stellar cast. Elaine Cassidy as the at first pure but soon coquettish Madame de Tourvel, Janet McTeer as the Machiavellian Marquise de Merteuil and Dominic West as the cad Vicomte de Valmont.

We were soon star spotting too with surpise appearances by the wonderful Adjoa Andoh as oft duped Madame de Volanges and Shelock's own housekeeper Una Stubbs as aging but wise Madame de Rosemonde.

The plot is complex but beautifully realised. Former lovers, the Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont now compete in games of seduction and revenge. Merteuil incites Valmont to corrupt the innocent Cecile de Volanges before her wedding night but Valmont has targeted the peerlessly virtuous and beautiful Madame de Tourvel. While these merciless aristocrats toy with others’ hearts and reputations, their own may prove more fragile than they supposed.

Top draw actors, top drawer play, top drawer night at the theatre.

Highly recommended - if you like your seduction piping hot and your revenge icy cold.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bull...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Mike Bartlett's play Bull at the Young Vic in London's not so glitzy Waterloo.

His recent King Charles III and Game at The Almeida were great as was his Doctor Foster on telly last year so we had high hopes and had heard good things.

But wow, it was brutal; tense, provocative, painful, and powerful.

The action takes place in a sort of boxing ring with the audience able to stand ringside. We then got a very up close and personal view of 55 minutes of naked, raw, toe-curling bullying.

The play consisted of three candidates up for two jobs due to a company downsizing. As the three suited suitors all wait for their boss by the water-cooler we soon find out that one of them is for the chop. But which one?

Two of the candidates have obviously got a plan and execute is perfectly. They turn upon the third - firstly rather gently but then increasingly perniciously. Think the vilest scenes from BBC's The Apprentice and you're on the right track.

Thomas (Marc Wootton) is lumbering, less agile then his two bullying colleagues, who know just how to stir him up to the point of a bellowing rage. Tony (Max Bennett) is a ruthless alpha male desperate for his co-workers to caress his well-honed torso. Isobel (Susannah Fielding) is a women who uses her sexuality to make Thomas so uncomfortable he’s drenched in sweat, as she switches from flirtation to taunts to revelations of child abuse.

The two 'matadors' goad, tease and taunt their 'bull' until he becomes crazed and finally lashes out. Even when the boss arrives our 'bull' has been so wounded we can't think he can survive. Or will he?

It's a well written piece and brilliantly acted but boy is it a tough watch.

Recommended - if you have a strong stomach for a bully.

Monday, January 11, 2016

RIP David Bowie...

RIP David Bowie. What a shock. What a legend. Reinventing himself at every turn and just getting it right. Such wonderful songs. He will be sorely missed. He'd inspired so many other of my musical heroes too. A sort of reflected genius.

David Bowie - Life On Mars?





It's a God-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling no
And her daddy has told her to go
But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she's hooked to the silver screen
But the film is a saddening bore
For she's lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on
Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?
It's on America's tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame
'Cause Lennon's on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns
But the film is a saddening bore
'Cause I wrote it ten times or more
It's about to be writ again
As I ask you to focus on
Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

Friday, January 08, 2016

Guys and Dolls...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Following on from the success of last year's Gypsy at the same venue we had very high hopes. Perhaps too high.

First the bad stuff - the show is terribly sexist with its gambling guys trying to avoid marriage and it's 'dolls' only after one thing - marriage. The first half flags a bit with few hits and the two main romantic leads seem to have little chemistry between them...

But that said... it's a fabulous witty show! Energetic, vibrant, funny and a second half that simply glows and has hits galore. It's almost as if it's two different shows!

Jamie Parker plays serial gambler Sky Masterson who accepts a bet to take New York Salvation Army mission-girl Sarah Brown (played by Siubhan Harrison) away on a trip. The two end up in love (after he gets her drunk mind you) and after many shenanigans he forces all the neighbour-hoods to attend a midnight prayer meeting to save Ms Brown's mission from closure.

David Haig (yes, him off of The Thin Blue Line) decently plays Nathan Detroit a small-time hustler who for fourteen years has been engaged to Miss Adelaide played superbly by Sophie Thompson (yes, Emma Thompson's sister).

In fact Sophie Thompson simply steals the show with rousing rounds of applause at her every entrance and exit. She has perfect comedic timing, can sing up a storm, when in a dancing line of tiller girls all eyes are on her. Take Back My Mink is a brilliant comedic masterpiece of musical theatre and Ms Thompson nails it. Why she can make a song about catching a cold (Adelaide’s Lament) silly, sad and funny all at the same time. Give the 'doll' a BAFTA!

Elsewhere in the second/better half Luck Be A Lady is a stonking gambling hit set in a drain with wonderful dancing that you think will be the show-stopper of the night. But oh no, along comes the barn storming hot hit Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat with its three encores. What a production number!

Recommended.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Mr Foote's Other Leg...

Last week Stuart and I ventured out to see Ian Kelly's riotously funny and critically-acclaimed Mr Foote's Other Leg at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London's glitzy West End.

This is the precise theatre Samuel Foote managed from 1746, pushing the boundaries of performance in order to avoid the Licensing Act and securing the Royal Charter from Prince George, set at a time of great upheaval as the country battled to keep America.

The bawdy comedic tone is quickly established starting with the theft of a dead man's artificial leg which sets up an energetic performance that keeps the laughs coming at every turn. Most of the action takes place in the dressing room of the Haymarket though for this is a play chiefly about actors, darling.

This "ode to theatre" stars Simon Russell Beale as Foote and is joyously supported by Micah Balfour, Dervla Kirwan and Joseph Millson.

The Georgian setting has much historical truth and the combination of real-life dramatis personae, which ranges from David Garrick to Benjamin Franklin and King George III, lends weight to this outrageously funny historical drama that entertains and educates in equal measure.

But beneath the quick fire dialogue and perfectly judged physical humour lies a truly moving story about an actor with a secret. Underneath the superficiality of the makeup and wigs lies a physically and mentally broken soul, forced to hide his sexuality and suppress his true feelings. Like many people, the comedic mask is used as a barrier for these complex emotions, and Simon Russell Beale provides sufficient layers to the eccentric character for us to see where the true heart of the production lies.

I found myself rushing home to read up more about this most fascinating 'foote' note in history.

Highly recommended.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Back In The Saddle...

Having been ill in bed over most of Xmas and New Year's I'm finally up and about and back at work.
Stuart had been looking after me and Paul bought me some lovely flowers.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Good Deed...

Good deed of the day done. We had an Amazon box delivered to us the other day - it had our address but wrong name. So today Stuart and I went door to door in the pouring rain in our local area until be found the little kid who would have gone without his present on Xmas Day. Happy Xmas Max. We felt like Santa Claus!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cum(in) Cheese...

A number of years ago I found myself in Schipol Airport looking for a present to bring home. I thought that a pack large wax encased cheeses might be a nice idea. Until I read the label.
Now aren't you just asking yourself how they managed to fill a whole blue one? My picture made it on to Graham Norton a month or so later.