Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, August 16, 2019

RIP Keith Archer

Stu’s Dad passed away earlier today. At just 77 years old he was taken too soon. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Gingerline: Chambers_

Last Saturday night Stuart and I went to a secret glitzy location to take part in a secret event called Chambers_ - one of Gingerline's latest events.

For nearly two hours we were whisked to different culinary worlds.

I can't tell you too much about it or what happened within the event- we are sworn to secrecy - but I can tell you it was lot of fun, the food was great, and the 'social' at the end was fab.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Eurythmics Songbook @ Royal Festival Hall...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to watch Dave Steward perform the Eurythmics Songbook at the Royal Festival Hall on London's glitzy South Bank.

Asked by Nile Rogers to perform the Eurythmics hits - and with Annie Lennox not being involved (see others for comments on this) - we weren't sure what to expect.

Would it simply be a karaoke night? We needn't have worried - it was great.

Thumbing through his extensive little black book, Stewart knows a few people in the business to step into Annie's big shoes. And step they did.

Ryan Molloy, Emeli Sande, Beverley Knight, Folami and Kimberley Davis all sang beautifully.

We were treated to all the hits (well, most of them), a dazzling light show, a gospel choir, and the obligatory confetti canon.

By the end we were all up on our feet dancing and singing away.

It was a great night out.


Take Me To Your Heart
Never Gonna Cry Again
The Walk
The City Never Sleeps

Love is a Stranger (with Ryan Molloy)
I Love You Like a Ball and Chain (with Iris Gold)
I Need a Man (with Django Stewart)
You Have Placed A Chill in My Heart (with RAHH)
I Saved the World Today (with RAHH & Roo Savill)
Who's That Girl (with Roo Savill)
There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart) (with Emeli Sandé)
Miracle of Love (with Emeli Sandé)
When Tomorrow Comes
(My My) Baby's Gonna Cry
Thorn in My Side (with Ryan Molloy)
Here Comes the Rain Again (with RAHH)
When the Day Goes Down (with Kaya Stewart)
I've Got a Life (with Kaya Stewart)
It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back) (with Chic feat. Nile Rodgers)
Missionary Man (with Chic feat. Nile Rodgers)
Would I Lie to You? (with Beverley Knight)
Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves (with Beverley Knight)
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (with Beverley Knight)

Particularly lovely to bump into the lovely David, Nathan, Stuart, Luca, Stuart and Paul too!

Friday, August 09, 2019

A Midsummer Night's Dream @ Bridge Theatre...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Nicolas Hytner’s latest interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Bridge Theatre in London's glitzy London Bridge Quarter.

The Bridge has billed this latest production as immersive, but in fact it's really just old-fashioned promenade for the groundlings in the pit, who mill around or are shunted about a bit. The actors appear on various platforms that rise and descend around them, mostly containing variations of beds. And, we got shunted about. A lot.

The star attraction this time around is Gwendoline Christie (playing both Hippolyta and Titania), who was catapulted to fame thanks to her role as Brienne of Tarth in HBO’s blockbuster fantasy series Game of Thrones. Here she is joined not by White Walkers but by David Moorst, Hammed Animashaun, and Oliver Chris.

And they serve her very well; Oliver Chris’s Oberon is very funny, while Hammed Animashaun plays Bottom to perfection, and Moorst is agile as Puck.

Few plays offer themselves to as much gender-fluidity as easily as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, full, as it is, of transient passions and illicit affairs. Hytner’s staging dives right in, even swapping the roles of Oberon and Titania (so that Oberon falls in love with the ass-headed Bottom).

Hytner’s handling of the text is equally fluid. Hey, Shakespeare can withstand all manner of cuts, changes, and swaps. But some of the changes seemed a little haphazard here. What was undoubtedly on the money, though, was the staging, that was both exuberant and energetic.

In fact, this irreverent interpretation had the atmosphere of a party - by the end the whole thing sort of collapses into a massive cast-audience dance party – complete with giant moon balls!

A fun night out.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

A Walk through Islington's Green Spaces...

A couple of weeks ago Stuart and I took a walk around glitzy Islington - exploring many of the green spaces our lovely borough has to offer.

People often say that Islington has the fewest green spaces of any borough - but judging by what we saw it seems an unusual claim.Why, there's even a wild wood - Barnsbury Wood.

Our walk was inspired by London Parks & Gardens Trust's London Inventory of Historic Green Spaces.

This walk explores some of Islington's many and varied squares and other garden spaces. The 18th-century village of Islington was once a hub of dairy farming, supplying much of London's milk. It was a place of healthy recreation for city-dwellers, with its clean air and the fresh water spas which developed around the New River, built in 1609 to 1613 to bring fresh water from Hertfordshire to London. In the early 19th century, as more houses were needed, country estates were broken up and the second wave of London's great network of residential garden squares took shape.

Compton Terrace Gardens
Compton Terrace was designed by Henry Leroux in 1805 as a row of villas either side of a Union Chapel, and completed in 1830. In 1823, a management committee was set up, and the 'paddock or grass plot' in front of the villas dressed as a 'pleasure ground'. The Union Chapel Congregational Church was built in 1876-77 by James Cubitt, replacing the earlier chapel of 1806. The terrace and gardens were part of the Marquess of Northampton's estate until the 1920s, when ownership passed to Islington Borough Council.

Canonbury Square
Laid out in 1800, Canonbury Square was the earliest of the Islington squares, and was also developed by Henry Leroux, together with Richard Laycock, on land owned by the Marquess of Northampton. The 4th Marquess of Northampton opened the square gardens to the public in 1884, and in 1888 it was conveyed to Islington Borough Council. The layout of the gardens changed in the 1950s, when it was described as 'London's most beautiful square' by the Evening Standard. The square is surrounded by reproduction railings, the originals having been lost during World War II. The planting was improved by Loire Valley Wines in 2006, with roses, lavender and a small vineyard at its centre. Famous former residents include writers Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell, and artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.

Battishill Street Gardens
The gardens were opened by poet laureate Sir John Betjeman in 1975. In the far corner is a paved area with seating, which features a stone frieze by Musgrove Watson, who also designed the bronze reliefs at the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square. The frieze was originally made for the Hall of Commerce in Threadneedle Street in 1842. To the north of the gardens is Waterloo Terrace, built on land which was once part of the botanic garden of Dr William Pitcairn, President of the Royal College of Physicians from 1775 to 1785.

Milner Square
Milner Square and Gibson Square (to the south) were part of the estate laid out from 1823 for Thomas Milner Gibson, who leased the land from the Lord of Barnsbury Manor, William Tufnell. Gibson was heir to a fortune made from plantations in Trinidad, and later became President of the Board of Trade. The original plan for

Milner Square by architect Francis Edwards was never carried out, but was replaced in 1839 with a neo-classical design by architects Roumieu and Gough. Some elements of the buildings were lost in the 1930s, with the removal of projecting porches and decorative ironwork, which blocked light into the basements of the houses, many of which had become flats. The square became run down and was restored as council housing by Islington Council in 1973.

Gibson Square
Gibson Square, the first of two squares built as part of the Milner Gibson Estate, was laid out from 1832 to 1839 by architect Francis Edwards, a pupil of Sir John Soane. The garden was originally open to residents only, but in the 1930s it had become rundown and was surrendered to Islington Council for upkeep. During WW2 the garden was dug up for air raid shelters and later replanted. In 1963, a proposed ventilation shaft for the new Victoria Line, in the form of a 50-foot concrete structure, was staunchly opposed by residents. This resulted in the simulated classical temple with domed roof which stands in the garden today, designed to be in harmony with its surroundings. The work was carried out in the early 1970s, when London Transport also restored the garden and replaced its railings.

Cloudesley Square
Cloudesley Square was begun in 1825 by carpenter John Emmett, who leased land from the Cloudesley Estate and built along the Liverpool Road from 1824 to 1826. A hexagonal railed garden at the centre of the square surrounds Holy Trinity Church by Sir Charles Barry, built 1826-29, the third of his Islington churches. The square is named after 16th-century landowner Richard Cloudesley, who gave land to the church. The church's stained glass east window of 1828 shows Cloudesley kneeling. Holy Trinity was the district church until the 1850s, when it was replaced by St Andrew's at Thornhill Crescent. In 1980 it was leased by the Pentecostal Sect as the Celestial Church of Christ, at which time the railings were also restored.

Lonsdale Square
Lonsdale Square was built 1838–45 by Richard Cromwell Carpenter, surveyor to the Drapers' Company Estate. In 1690 the Drapers' Company had inherited the land, known as 'Gosseyfield' and once used to pen cattle on the way to Smithfield Market. Unlike most of Islington's squares, the garden remained private until the 1960s, when they were offered to Islington Borough Council for the nominal sum of £50. The railings, removed in WW2, were replaced in the early 1970s, when the garden was restored.

Thornhill Crescent
The Thornhill Estate was laid out by estate surveyor Joseph Kay and a number of speculative builders from 1846 to 1852 on land which had been mostly used for dairy farming. Thornhill Square, the largest square in Islington, dates from 1847. Early residents of the square were well-off professionals and the garden was originally private. The railings, which date from 1852, survived WW2, but the area had declined and in 1946 Captain Noel Thornhill gave the gardens to the council for public use. They were newly laid out in 1953 as part of Coronation Year improvements.

Thornhill Crescent was begun in 1849. St Andrew's Church (1852-54) was built at a cost of £6,500 by Francis B Newman and John Johnson, whose design won a competition to build it.

Barnsbury Wood
Barnsbury Wood is the smallest local nature reserve in London. The triangular area covered by the wood was originally the garden of St Andrew's Vicarage, at 7 Huntingdon Street, where George Thornhill lived. The vicarage became a private school, then flats, but from the early 20th century the garden was abandoned and became woodland. In 1977 a group of local residents campaigned to save the area from housing development. In 1981, the Barnsbury Wood Co-operative again fought to save the wood from development, and had it designated for educational purposes. In 1996, the wood was granted Local Nature Reserve status, and is the largest area of woodland in the borough.

Barnsbury Square
Barnsbury was a medieval manor, and a moated farm once stood on the site of the current square. The name is derived from that of Ralph de Berners, whose family owned the manor until the early 16th century. In the early 19th century, the lord of the manor, William Tufnell began to lease land for development to various speculative builders. The square was central to the Bishop Estate, developed from 1834 mainly by Thomas Whowell, who built and lived in Mountfort Crescent from 1841. The square gardens were laid out as 'ornamental pleasure grounds' for the private use of residents. In 1889 the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association (MPGA) purchased the lease and opened the gardens to the public, but ownership disputes after the lease expired in 1909 led to decline and damage over the next decade. The gardens were finally conveyed to Islington Council by deed poll in 1933, restored with funds from the MPGA and reopened to the public in 1934. It was redesigned in the 1960s and 70s with raised beds, a small pavilion and new railings.

Mountfort Crescent
Mountfort Crescent was built in 1834-47 as part of the Bishop Estate and comprises pairs of bow-fronted villas set around a central garden. It occupies the ground of what used to be Reed Moatfield, in which was a moated site, so described in 1756. It is named after Mountfort House. The architect John Carr McLellan lived at No. 3 from 1883 to 1888. In 1928 the garden was described as a 'small area enclosed by light railings owned by freeholders of surrounding houses, who maintain the garden.' The garden is no longer railed and has several notable trees.

Culpeper Community Garden
Named after the 17th-century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, this secluded garden contains 46 different plots tended by local people and groups, growing a wealth of flowers, fruit and vegetables. There are also a communal lawn, ponds, rose pergola and wildlife areas. Open daily to the public, the project encourages the involvement of many disadvantaged groups, as well as children and young people.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Amsterdam Pride...

We had a lovely weekend in Amsterdam with Darren, Vince, Michael, Andrew, Andy, Kev, Tim, Andy, Stu and me celebrating Pride. 

We had a great hotel (very central) and spent the days eating, drinking, and laughing. Hey, Stu and I even got a chance to play Elvira pinball! 

Friday, August 02, 2019

Closer to Heaven @ Above the Stag...

Last night Stuart and I went to see musical Closer to Heaven at the 100-seat Above the Stag theatre in London's glitzy Vauxhall.

Premiered in May 2001 at the Arts Theatre in the West End, Closer to Heaven was written by Jonathan Harvey and Pet Shop Boys. We love the music, so knew we'd enjoy the show.

And we did. The acting was fine, the singing spirited, the dancing energetic, the script funny, and the night entertaining.

Billie Trix was played by the wonderful Adèle Anderson (taking a break from Fascinating Aida), Straight Dave by Blake Patrick Anderson, Shell Christian by Maddy Banks, Mile End Lee by Mikulas Urbanek, Vic Christian by Christopher Howell, Bob Saunders by Ian Hallard, Flynn by Aidan Harkins, and Billie's Babes by Rhys Harding, Billie Hardy, Matthew Ives, and Hollie Smith-Nelson.

Directed by Steven Dexter, the show included Vocal as the closing song, and instead featured Positive Role Model as an instrumental for Straight Dave's dance routine. Another slight change was a new version of Something Special with altered lyrics written by Neil Tennant, sung by Mile End Lee's character.

The revised set-list was:-
My Night - Billie Trix & Cast
Closer to Heaven - Shell & Vic
Something Special - Mile End Lee
Positive Role Model (instrumental)
Closer to Heaven - Shell & Dave
In Denial - Vic & Shell
Call Me Old Fashioned - Bob Saunders
Nine Out of Ten - Shell & Straight Dave
It's Just My Little Tribute to Caligula, Darling! - Billie Trix (featured in rehearsal scene)
Hedonism (instrumental)
Friendly Fire - Billie Trix
In Denial - Straight Dave & Shell
Something' Special (reprise) - Straight Dave
Shameless - Vile Celebrities
Vampires - Vic
Closer to Heaven - Straight Dave & Mile End Lee
Out of my System - Shell with Billie Trix, Flynn & ensemble
K-Hole (instrumental - featuring an excerpt of Run, girl, run! - Billie Trix)
For All of Us - Straight Dave
Closer to Heaven - Straight Dave
Vocal - Straight Dave
My Night - The Cast

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Betty Wright @ Barbican Hall...

A few Sundays ago Darren, Stuart and I went to see the legendary Betty Wright at the Barbican Hall in London's glitzy Barbican Centre.

 From the moment she took to the stage, she looked and sounded the part. Sporting Chaka Khan-style glittery threads, extravagant thigh-length boots and a cascading mass of hair that probably needed its own hotel suite. A grandmother many times over, she chatted amiably about her career and, hailing from steamy Florida, cheerfully mocked British ideas of what constitutes a heatwave (“This is hot weather for y’all?” she asked incredulously).

 Betty's voice was pure gold too. That lady can sure bang out a tune. Perhaps most famous for her hits "Clean Up Woman", "Tonight is the Night", "Girls Can't Do What The Guys Do" and "Pain", Ms Wright first emerged on the music scene at the tender age of 14 with her 1968 album "My First Time Around". Since then, with an extraordinary voice honed singing in her family gospel choir, she had hits in the 70s, has been sampled by the likes of Mary J Blige, Afrika Bambaataa, Beyonce and Snoop Dogg, before her re-emergence in the 80s as an independent singer and label boss.

 Wright continued recording through the 90s and is today an icon to a new generation of soul and RnB singers ranging from Angie Stone to Mary J. Blige to Joss Stone.

 We sang along, we danced, we marvelled in her reflected glory. She is one of soul music's true greats... Miss Betty Wright.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Easy Star All‐Stars : Dub Side of the Moon @ Islington Assembly Hall...

Last Friday night Stuart, Paul, Simon and I went to see the reggae outfit Easy Star All‐Stars perform their dubtastic album Dub Side of the Moon at the Islington Assembly Hall in London's glitzy Upper Street.

In fact, the band performed various hits from their repertoire, but drew mainly from their seminal work Dub Side Of The Moon (a complete reggae reworking of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon). We were also treated to tracks from their newer piece, Radiodread (the reggae treatment given to Radiohead's OK Computer). They even threw in the odd track from Thrillah too (their dub version of Michael Jackson’s classic album.)

The masterminds behind Easy Star All-Stars are Michael Goldwasser (a.k.a. Michael G), his production partner Victor Axelrod (a.k.a. Ticklah), and his two Easy Star label partners Eric Smith and Lem Oppenheimer. This New York reggae band are in fact a loose collective with a rotating line-up. Last night there were eight of them on a stage and they did a pretty good job of keeping us entertained.
Recommended, if you like dub. Which I do, diddly-do, diddly-do, diddly-do, do, do.

The setlist was:
True To Jah Love
Lovely Rita (The Beatles cover)
High and Dry (Radiohead cover)
Speak to Me (Pink Floyd cover)
Breathe (Pink Floyd cover)
On the Run (Pink Floyd cover)
Time (Pink Floyd cover)
The Great Gig in the Sky (Pink Floyd cover)
Money (Pink Floyd cover)
Us and Them (Pink Floyd cover)
Any Colour You Like (Pink Floyd cover)
Brain Damage (Pink Floyd cover)
Eclipse (Pink Floyd cover)
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) (Michael Jackson cover)
Climbing Up the Walls (Radiohead cover)
Electioneering (Radiohead cover)
Tell Dem Fi Gwaan

One Likkle Draw
Karma Police (Radiohead cover)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Jean Paul Gaultier: Freak Fashion Show @ Queen Elizabeth Hall...

Last Saturday night Darren, Vince, Mark, Stuart and I went to see (watch? experience?) Jean Paul Gaultier: Freak Fashion Show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's glitzy South Bank.

There was joke doing the rounds in the late 1980s:-
A: "Have you had sex with Jean Paul Gaultier?"
B: "Yes, I have met him."
A: "No, not have you 'met him', have you had 'sex with him'?"
B: "Same thing, love."

Back to the Freak show, it was an all-singing, all-sinning (sic.), all-dancing, camp, funny, occasionally moving, loose story of JGP's life. From dressing up his teddy bear in a conical bra, playing with his grand-mother's corsets, outlandish drawings at school, his brush with the Folies Bergère, his first disaster of a fashion show, the detractors, the admirers, Madonna, the bondage, moving to London, the fetish wear, the sex clubs, AIDS, men's fashion, women's fashion, the highs, the lows, the adoration...

The show had lucha libre masks, lots of feathers, the conical bras (human size this time), banana skirts, and lots and lots of flesh. It had vogue battles, comic skits, catwalk strutting, and wacky dancing. In fact, it was as much a celebration of bodies and sensuality and sexual freedom as it was a fabulously fun romp through the French designer’s life and career.

Everywhere the clothes were brilliantly theatrical, full of humour, beautiful constructed with sensuous textures. Gaultier’s genius rests on his mad juxtapositions: 18th-century pannier hoops and punk bondage, Mexican lucha libre masks with showgirl feathers, a dinner jacket turned into a toga or a half-leather-half-tutu number. It is hard versus soft, sexy versus silly; Gaultier sends up the ridiculousness of it all and yet takes his clothes deadly seriously. The more outrageously imaginative it gets (mocking the plastic surgery craze with extra limbs prêt-a porter) the better.

He laughed with it (and at it). We gasped. We oohed. We aahed. We laughed some more. We loved it.

Was it gloriously self-indulgent or was it utterly, utterly fabulous?

Same thing, love.

PS: I was at a bar once. Late 1980s. Well, I say bar, it was a fetish sex club called Fist. I was wearing army boots, large-hooped chain mail shorts and a smile. I was ordering a beer and as I reached over to pay for it, I felt a hand reach down the back of my shorts. There were large ornate metal rings on the hand's fingers that became entangled in the chain mail. I grabbed my beer and walked away. As I crossed the dance floor, a friend hissed in my ear, "Darling, you're dragging a French designer behind you!" It took three people to untangle JPG from my shorts. He apologised and bought me another beer.