Quote Of The Day

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

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."

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Beautiful Tour of #Highgate by @ltmuseum part of #HiddenLondon ...

Last Sunday evening after hotfooting it back from Brighton Pride I joined Stuart to take a tour of the secret abandoned Highgate ground level station as part of the London Transport Museum's Hidden London: Highgate Wilderness Walkabout in London's glitzy Archway borders.

First opened in 1867 the high level Highgate station was a key part of the steam line running between Finsbury Park via Crouch End and up to London's 'Northern Heights' (the villages of Edgware, Mill Hill and Finchley). It also served as a gateway interchange for a new overground line up to Alexandra Palace before it in turn burnt to the ground 16 days after opening in 1873.

Initially popular, the plan was to extend the network further north. However this planned extension of the line under the New Works Programme in 1935 was delayed by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. And the introduction of the Green Belt in 1947 prevented the spread of urbanisation further north so plans to extend the line faltered. And the declining passenger numbers with the popularity of the Northern Line underground meant the days of the old line and its stations were numbered. Highgate finally closed in 1954.

Today it is left as an urban sanctuary. A sanctuary for the bats to hang in the once smoke-filled waiting rooms where the posters promising a new life in Northern Heights used to hang. A sanctuary for the foxes to run where the rusty old tracks once ran. A sanctuary where the trees stand silently on the platforms waiting patiently for the trains that will never come.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

60s Drag Double-bill and The Glory Takeover Afterparty @BFI...

Last Friday night Darren, Stuart and I went to see a drag double bill at the BFI on London's glitzy South Bank. The two films were followed by The Glory Takeover Afterparty in the Blue Room.

Each film was unique. The first called Black Cap Drag was a rare surviving record of a 1960s drag performance at Camden's must missed Black Cap pub. Drag queens Shane and Laurie Lee performed and discussed their craft in this homemade documentary by Richard Benner (who went on to make Canadian drag film Outrageous! in 1977). It was great show and some of their jokes still survive today ("thank you for that warm hand on my entrance" etc.)

The second film was made in 1969, called What's a Girl Like You...,and shot partly in the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and partly in a Northern club. And boy did these boys take their craft seriously! The frocks might have been smart but the wisecracks smarter. These guys sure knew how to entertain. But many of these transvestite showmen wanted us to be very aware that they were not all gay and they were just in it for the money. Gay, dear? Me, dear? No, dear! That said, some even took to female hormones to produce breasts to complete the illusion. It was a mixed up world. Beautifully made film though that made no judgments but just showed life the way it was.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Glorious #Brighton #Pride #LondonByTheSea...

Another fabulous Brighton Pride. Colourful floats, fantastic atmosphere, great friends, packed park and to top it all off the Pet Shop Boys. Sadly Stuart didn't come this year though.

Friday, August 04, 2017

#Committee @DonmarWarehouse ...

Last night Stuart and I went to see new musical Committee (or to give it its full title "The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Takes Oral Evidence on Whitehall's Relationship with Kids Company") at the Donmar Warehouse in London's glitzy West End.

“The objective of this session/Is not to conduct a show trial,” sings the committee of MPs, “We want to learn/We want to learn/We want to learn”. Not a show trial maybe but now a theatrical show.

Hadley Fraser and Josie Rourke, the Donmar’s artistic director, have fashioned a book and lyrics that are based on transcripts of the evidence session in October 2015 when Camila Batmanghelidjh, the CEO and founder of Kids Company and Alan Yentob, chair of the trustees (and BBC grandee) were grilled about the financial (mis)management of the company that had received some £42 million from successive governments, including a final £3 million bailout just before its collapse in the previous August. The questioning is interspersed with testimony from others involved (employees, a deputy children’s commissioner, Oliver Letwin et al) – some of it favourable, much of it not.

The idea is an interesting one - a verbatim musical - but these sorts of pieces rather live or die upon whether you find the source material gripping enough and whether you believe that the characters might feel passionate enough to actually burst into song about it. Sure, Kids Company saw a vital need to protect vulnerable children and young people in inner cities and they were passionate about doing just that. And the select committee maybe felt some passionate that they shouldn't have allowed self-referrals or simply given large amounts of cash in brown envelopes. But I can't help but wonder if a straightforward drama might have put these issues across more forcefully than a musical format. The writing was brave (we like brave), adventurous (we like adventurous) but ultimately not quite the winning formula it could have been. It need just a little more oomph.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Lovely walk through #FriezeSculpture in #RegentsPark care of @FriezeArtFair...

Stuart and I went to see Frieze Art Fair's Sculpture Park in Regent's Park the other Sunday. Some fab works of art including Miquel Barcel√≥'s Gran Elefandret, John Chamberlain's Fiddler’s Fortune, Takuro Kuwata's Untitled, Ugo Rondinone​'s Summer Moon, and Magdalena Abakanowicz's Standing Figure with Wheel.

Monday, July 31, 2017

#GarethThomas vs #Homophobia @BBCWales http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08z2jpc ...


Fantastic BBC documentary by Gareth Thomas on homophobia in football. OK, it's the idiot minority on the football terraces and social media online that cause the vile offence but it's pretty obvious the problem is perpetuated at the top of the game too. If it's not made illegal (I though it was!) to make homophobic comments at a football ground then how can stewards do their job and get these "fans" arrested and banned?
And what about supporting a professional player coming out? The Professional Footballers' Association have had a diversity person in place for 17 years but no actual policies in place. The Premier League say "we support Stonewall" as if that's an answer. The FA chairman didn't even want to know. Morons. Time for Government action! Drag them into the 21st century!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fabulous Adrian Mole The Musical #AdrianMoleMusical @MenChocFactory...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Adrian Mole The Musical (or to give it its full title Sue Townsend's The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 The Musical) at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London's glitzy London Bridge Quarter.

We have a Tory Government, a woman Prime Minister, and austerity is biting - yes, we are in 1981. And everyone's favourite teenager Adrian is growing up.

STTSDOAMA1334TM (as nobody is calling it) was a lot of fun. It tells the rather episodic story of the eponymous Master Mole, his adolescent life, his newfound loves and his struggle to fit in. Everything is a challenge for Adrian - being an 'intellectual', the wretched school bully, a new girl Pandora who he falls for, his poetry, trying to dance, his spots, and his mother leaving his Dad for the next-door neighbour... And it's all very funny indeed.

The songs are good - with many parodies of various styles from tango to Les Mis. It's a bit Blood Brothers, a bit Inbetweeners, a bit Our House, a bit Harry Potter, and a bit Made in Dagenham.

It is a British musical through and through that is not afraid to wear its 1981 sensibilities on its sleeve. It stays fairly close to the original novel along with mentions of Thatcher, Lady Di, Charles, and the casual sexism of the day. Some of casual sexism was perhaps a little near the knuckle for even my post-modernist taste even taking into account the ear it was set. "Women are like horses - they should be beaten, whipped and ridden," says one old man. Hmmm. OK, played for a laugh but substitute the word 'women' with 'black people' or 'gay people'... OK, you get my point.

But that aside, it was a very funny show which we thoroughly enjoyed.

- Stuart Aged 44 1/4 and Jonathan Aged 55 3/4

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.