Quote Of The Day

"If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me - Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980)"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Holy Warriors...

The cliché goes that those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it. And this is the central message of David Eldridge’s play Holy Warriors at Shakespeare's Globe.

The play relates 800 years of the struggle for Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Middle Ages to the present day. The scope is ambitious and given the current troubles the subject matter perfectly timed.

In the left corner we have Saladin, mighty leader of the Muslims. In the right corner we have Richard the Lionheart, saviour of all Christendom.

The action starts in the late 12th century, and Richard is trying to win back Jerusalem, the holy city for both Christians and Muslims. This particular Crusade fails and we are left wondering why.

When Richard finally dies and goes to purgatory where his now dead mother treats him to a fast-forward through history as we see failure after failure to reach any sort of settlement in the Holy lands. It's a sort of Christmas Carol setup with Eleanor of Aquitane as the ghost of Christmas Future. We meet Napoleon, Lawrence of Arabia, King Fiesal, some Zionists, some Palestinians and some Egyptians. Oh and Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W Bush. And last but no means least Tony Blair.

Richard is then asked the big question: if you had the chance to do it all again, would you change a thing?

The story then re-runs with all the medieval characters in modern combat fatigues. Sadly, despite their fresh look and wise-cracking, we are lead in the end to the same sorry conclusion. We are failed by our leaders.

Eldridge writing is enjoyable, ambitious, and compelling. A very nice touch is using many places names from the historic Middle East that are still in use today as this naturally resonates with a modern audience.

James Dacre’s production is colourful and lively, has songs, dances and many impressive visual elements.

Alexander Siddig is excellent as Saladin. John Hopkins cuts a powerful (and rather sexy dash) as Richard; Geraldine Alexander is super as Eleanor of Aquitane and Sirine Saba impressive as Berengaria of Navarre.

The power of Holy Warriors is in telling us that Jerusalem is not only a symbol of Middle Eastern politics but that the battle for it's possession perpetuates a cycle of hatred and violence. A cycle that will continue for as long as our leaders are unable to compromise and reach peace.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Richard III...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Richard III at the Trafalgar Studios in London's glitzy Westminster.

As part of the Trafalgar Transformed season it stars our own, our very own Martin Freeman as Shakespeare's most terrifying of psychopaths. Only this Richard we see in the manner of a persistent insurance salesman trying to sell you a policy you don’t want or need.

In fact Freeman's Richard all but blends into the background in many scenes - save for the grunts while strangling a victim with a telephone cord. We have to take it as read that this man is feared throughout the realm as Freeman gives no fearful performance here. Rather he plays it as a bureaucrat - and in a comparison he would surely hate - a slightly more demonic version of Tim from The Office.

Faring better was Jamie Lloyd’s production referencing as it does the UK's 1979 own so-called 'winter of discontent'. That was a time when the country seemed to be falling apart and rumours of an aristocratic plot to overthrow the Labour Party by military coup were rife. Lloyd imagines how Britain might have looked had such a coup taken place, and it is a dreary, desperate world that he sees.

We visit it here in this dilapidated, linoleum-floored office, suggesting a Whitehall run to seed. Clever use is made of lifts (and lift music), old fashioned rotary telephones, cassette players, the sound of flushing toilets and an illuminated aquarium for the drowning of Richard’s brother Clarence (Mark Meadows). There are also rows of microphones, for official pronouncements and debates.

With his humpback scarcely visible beneath bespoke suits and uniforms, Freeman’s Richard speaks in the measured manner of an accountant toting up numbers and looking for discrepancies in expense reports. He’s a precise, fussy little man, who when decreeing that the princes in the Tower should be despatched seems to be just tying up loose ends rather than committing such a gross act of infanticide and regicide.

Freeman does find some adroitly timed and funny line readings within this repressive persona. However he lacks that hypnotic force of will that allows Richard to seduce a country, not to mention women like the doomed Lady Anne (Lauren O’Neil). It seems fitting that a later potential conquest, Elizabeth (Gina McKee), will listen to Richard’s suit only after she’s been trussed up in a chair by his henchman.

That Richard requires such coercion to get an audience with a lady makes you feel rather sorry for him. His rival, Richmond (Philip Cumbus), displays more oomph. By the time he’s slain Richard and ascended to the throne, Richmond registers as twice the demented nutter that his predecessor was.

So I'd say is is a good production, but not a great one.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Medea...

Last night Stuart and I went to see the National Theatre's new production of Medea at the Olivier Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Starring the wonderful Helen McCrory it's a new version of the child-murdering story by Ben Power. Carrie Cracknell's direction is top notch featuring as it does powerful performances from all the cast, hypnotic dancing by the Muses/Goddesses and haunting music composed by Will Gregory and Alison Goldfapp.

We just couldn't take our eyes off Helen McCrory for the entire 90 minutes. She was simply mesmerising as Medea, the woman scorned. If ultimately this dish of revenge is served not just cold but positively icy then it's journey from kitchen sink drama to high table is by no means a steady one. McCrory doesn't portray Medea as an out and out monster - rather a woman who is simply out of control. She is trying to take back her life. She is full of doubt and hates herself for what she means to do. But it is her only way of getting back at her husband Jason who has rejected her. And it is McCory's triumph that we sympathise with her at all.

Powerful stuff and well worth seeing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Proud Uncle...

Many congratulations to my niece Charlotte and my nephew William. Both struggled with many obstacles that life threw their way in life (dyslexia, language barriers, money) but with wonderful support from many teachers, assistance grants etc. went on to both get 2.1 degrees in fine art and marine biology respectively. Now they will (hopefully) get jobs, pay tax and repay that support. Proof our education system works and works well IMHO. (Proud Uncle)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Great Britain...

Last Saturday night Stuart and I went to see Great Britain at the National's Lyttelton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank. It's a zeitgeist comedy written by Richard Bean about tabloid phone-hacking. Not convinced? Well, it's very funny.

Starring Billie Piper, amongst many other luminaries, it is rude, crude and right on the money. Like a especially good episode of Drop The Dead Donkey it tears into the tabloid newspaper industry, the police and the political establishment. No one comes off well. Not least us as newspaper's readers.

Directed by Nicholas Hytner and designed by Tim Hatley it is a delight of a show - only held back from a launch earlier in the year by a certain court case. Ahem.

If you want to laugh for 2h 45 mins pretty much non-stop this is the play for you! Almost every gag is a winner.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shakespeare in Love...

Last night Roger, Stuart and I went to see Shakespeare In Love at the Noel Coward Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Q: What’s Shakespeare in Love about then?
A: Well, it’s about 3 hours. (ha ha.)

Being the transfer of the multi Oscar-winning film to the stage we begin our story as promising young playwright Will Shakespeare is tormented by writer’s block. Soon he finds his muse in the form of passionate noblewoman, Viola De Lesseps. Their forbidden love draws many others, including Queen Elizabeth, into the drama and inspires Will to write the greatest love story of all time, Romeo and Juliet. Oh, and there's a bit with a dog.

Shakespeare in Love is still in previews so perhaps we should give it some benefit of the doubt but I found it dragged somewhat. Yes, there were some funny moments (the boat taxi for instance) but largely the laughs were to be had at the expense of jolting us out our suspended disbelief. Using modern-day expressions and sayings to give us a laugh are all well and good but Shakespearean X-Factor just reeks of pantomime.

Shortening the running time, rewriting with a few more gags and reducing the thirty odd players down to a more manageable twenty or so would do much to tighten up this production.

Overall I'd say it's an overlong but enjoyable romp.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mr Burns...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Mr Burns - a new post-electric play by Anne Washburn - at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

We had high hopes having recently seen American Psycho, 1984 and Charles III there. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. What a load of crap.

The play was in three acts.
Act I - boring
Act II - underwritten
Act II - waste of talent

Act I
Set in a post-apocalyptic world a group of survivors sit around a camp fire trying to remember the details of The Simpsons episode Cape Feare. A rather good episode that we were personally very familiar with having recently watched it and being big Simpsons fans ourselves. Occasionally they are joined by another survivor who they welcome by reading aloud names of ten missing people who they are looking for. They then return to trying to remember The Simpsons episode. Forty minutes later they are still doing the same thing. And? We get it!

A few people left at the first interval shaking their heads.

Act II
Seven years later the same survivors are performing various Simpsons episodes for money as a travelling troup. They buy lines from episodes to use in their show. They also perform the adverts between the shows. Good idea. Woefully underwritten though. It should have been funny, clever and insightful. It was none of these. It was frustrating, over-long and repetitive. Audience members near us were sighing, tutting and yawning. Which is a mean trick if you can do all three at once.

Most people on our row left at the second interval. We were tempted.

Act III
Seventy-five years later The Simpsons has become a cult / an opera / a performance. It has taken over the lives of the performers. And it is crushingly embarrassing. The squandering of the obvious talents of the actors, technicians, wardrobe, make-up and other professional people involved at the theatre was shameful. I was embarrassed for everyone involved. How this show ever got made is astonishing. I have seen some awful productions on the stage - very few of which I've wanted to walk out of - but this was the worst. By far. We couldn't even bring ourselves to laugh at it - as many people around us were. We were just sad.

Putting on such awful rubbish hurts the Almeida Theatre brand (we'll think twice about booking there again), The Simpsons brand (how did they every agree to it?) and the night's out at the theatre in general. Stay in and watch TV folks - when it's good TV is better written and presents ideas in a more cohesive way than this tosh.

Avoid.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Central London...

Disturbing fact: they say that in Central London you’re never more that 10 feet from a Pret.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Brazil vs Germany....

Bra-nil Ger-many. Well, it was funny up until the final few minutes. 7-1! What a match. World Cup semi-finals are rarely this exciting/one way. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Skylight...

Last night Stuart and I went to see my mate Stephen Daldry revival of David Hare's fantastic play Skylight at the Wyndham's Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in her West End debut the play tells the story of two ex-lovers, an underheated flat and a spaghetti bolognese.

The chemistry between the leads is spot on, the acting superb and the juxtaposition between the private pain and public rage of the characters hits you right in the heart.

Everything about this production is perfectly judged and perfectly placed, even down to the way the passage of time is denoted through the lights going on and off in the windows of Bob Crowley's magnificent tower-block set.

If you want to see an excellent play and excellent acting you'd be hard pushed to find anything better on the London stage at the moment.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Digital Revolution

On Friday Stuart and I went to the Digital Revolution exhibition at the Barbican Curve. It's a really cool show in 14 locations in and around the Barbican Centre - and in one case at a venue half a mile down the road.
The main exhibition covers the birth of digital video from early video games and computers such as Manic Miner, Commodore PET, Apple II, Tetris and Pong through to the latest electronics, video processing and sci-fi special effects. There are motion sensitive lasers that dance around you in a blacked out room, robot birds you can telephpne to chirp, lamps that react to your presence (I shadow boxed with one), cool video effects that modify your image in real-time - smoldering eyes, Maleficent wings etc. Loved it.








Friday, July 04, 2014

Rolf Harris...

My brother and I were two little boys when 'Two Little Boys' came out. Coincidence? I think not. #letsalljumpontherolfharrisbandwagon

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Happy Birthday, Twiggs...

We know we're getting old when the only thing we want for our birthday is not to be reminded of it. HAPPY 41ST BIRTHDAY, TWIGGS! xxx

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Upmister Beerfest...

Last Saturday afternoon/night after the Pride March Stu and I spent a quiet night in at Dave Marshall's first Upminster BeerFest sipping ales and eating pie with 24 Essex lads. No high jinx. No silliness. No mucking about. (Ha, ha)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Benvenuto Cellini...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Terry Gilliam's production of Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini at the London Coliseum.

The English National Opera had invited Gilliam back (after the success of The Damnation of Faust) to their stage bring his unique bonkers style of production.  And he did. It was bonkers. And brilliant.

All the classic touches were there. Surreal, funny and dazzling.

Friday, June 27, 2014

China...

For the past two weeks Stuart and I have been on a tour of China. Organised by Voyages Jules Verne is was a Discover China package which ticked all the boxes of that great country.

Brief synopsis of our trip:- Great Wall (tick), warriors (tick), pandas (tick), pointy buildings (tick), Three Gorges (tick)

(Pictures are posted below)

And here is a less brief synopsis of our trip:-

Our fellow travelers were: Roger and Nikki, Jeff and Beth, Lesley and John, Brian and Sue, Sally and Dennis.

Day 1

We took the Heathrow Express to terminal 3. Our Voyages Jules Verne check-in guide helped us with negotiating the Air China terminal - not an easy task. It gave Stu and I seats in separate parts of the plane which we easily corrected at the bag drop desk. The flight was OK but pretty basic by modern airline standards - pretty awful food, random non-consistent enforcement of fasten safety belts and unsmiling cabin staff.  The sleeping pill helped and nine and half hours (and seven hour time zone shift) later we were in humid Beijing. The holiday had started!

Day 2

After clearing Customs and Immigration (a surprisingly quick and easy process) we were met by our tour guide Richard / Rich / Fu was young, good looking and convivial. The rest of the tour group were like us - all couples, mainly retired and seasoned travelers so that was good. It turned out we all liked a drink too so we all had no problems fitting in.

The minibus ride to our hotel - a rather swanky Raisson Blu - was predictably slow as the legendary Beijing traffic ensnared us in it's dragon like claws. However it gave us a chance to people watch, car watch and city watch.  Surprisingly the city looked like any European city - wide dual carriage ways, trees, scruffy apartment blocks, typical modern street furniture. I'm not sure what we were expecting but it all seemed very Western.

Fu offered us a bonus excursion that night if we wanted it (which we all did) - a rickshaw ride around Hutong (the 'slum' area that had been largely cleared away by Mao and also for the Olympics) and a visit to a typical Hutong house. It was an eye opener and perhaps more what we expected from Beijing. Basic ramshackled housing, shared facilities, plastic double glazing, but with wifi!

After the tour we returned to our hotel for a basic Chinese meal - something that we were to be subjected too for every lunchtime and evening meal pretty much. You soon get bored of the same food twice a day I can tell you!

Day 3

Out first full day in Beijing. On the minibus we visited:- 

Temple of Heaven - a masterpiece of Ming architecture it was built by the third emperor. Made entirely of wood with no nails it symbolises heaven and earth being rounded at the north but square at the south. The place was a bit touristy, and typified lots of classic pointy Chinese buildings that we were to see throughout our trip.

Tian An Men Square - a big, Soviet-style, modern creation until the 1970s it was used to hold mass rallies and parades. Covering an area of 98 acres it now hosts the Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao, with his embalmed body on display. The square has very tight security, and we got questioned by the police (our Tank Man impersonation didn't go down too well with the local constabulary) 

The Forbidden City - (see Temple of Heaven (only bigger)). The yellow roofs of the FC aka Imperial Museum or Palace Museum dominate the centre of Beijing. Home to the Emperor and the Imperial Family it was the focal point of the empire and the middle of the Middle Kingdom. Entry was strictly forbidden to all but those on imperial business until 1911 when the last emperor was unseated. It occupies 720,000 sq m and there are 9,999 rooms. It surrounded by a ten metre wall and a moat.

After the 'culture' we went for a swim at the hotel which was (unsurprisingly) clean and efficiently run.

Fu offered us another one of his bonus tours. This time to the Olympic Park. It was fab.  The birds nest arena was lit up orange and yellow, the aquatic cube purple and blue and the Olympic tower changed colours every few seconds.

Another drab Chinese meal ended the day sadly.

Day 4

Back on the minibus.

Summer Palace - 7 miles north west of the city is is a rather wonderful albeit expensive dream of notorious Empress Dowager Cixi aka Dragon Lady. With the money that was intended for the building of a naval fleet (a misappropriation that was to prove costly) she constructed the Garden of Cultivated Harmony (Summer Palace). While we were there everyone seemed to want to take our picture! We also got to see the longest painted corridor in the world. Golly! The visit was finished off by a trip on the 12 sq mile lake courtesy of a dragon boat.

Great Wall of China - after an hour or two drive north of the city and a spot of lunch we took the cable car up the hillside to the Great Wall itself. It was amazing. Built 2,500 years ago to keep out the barbaric north nomads we almost empty we had the run of the place. Stu and I decided to hike along eastward and then up the 500 steps to flag station (watch tower) number two. We were almost crawling on our hands and knees for the last part because our legs were giving way and it was a 45 degree incline.  We made it though. And waved a big red flag at the top. Up there Mrs Lady flogged us a 50 wan (£5) beer which we gladly paid.

Back in Beijing we had a dip in the hotel pool before heading out for a Peking Duck meal which was delicious. Maybe we were getting used to the food... Or maybe it was because the beer flowed much more freely. 

Day 5

We checked out and headed for the airport. Next stop Xian. Albeit with a three and a half hour flight delay at the airport.

Once in Xian we were met by Susan / Qin, a very pretty Chinese tour guide, whose English was excellent albeit a little stilted.

On the way to the hotel we stopped off for a City Wall Ceremony (locals doing am-dram dressing up and flag waving to a prerecorded backing track.) All rather embarrassing - still, we got a plastic gold key out of it.

The Days Inn hotel was lovely. Definitely five star. The evening 'Western-style' buffet meal less so however so we had an early night.

Day 6

After breakfast we all bundled into our minibus again and headed off to see the Terracotta Warriors. En route (as was become customary) we stopped off at a factory and outlet. This one made replica Terracotta Warriors by the traditional method along with other traditional crafts.

Then we went on to the warrior site proper. And it was very impressive - especially in Pit 1. Hundreds of statues of soldiers, chariots and horses that had stood there undisturbed for 2,174 years in all their finery. Pits 2 & 3 were less interesting as they were still being excavated. We even got to see Mr Yang who discovered the original warrior. Now 80 years old and signing books, bless him.

We took lunch near the museum before heading back into town to the Shaanxi Provincial Museum. It was fairly predictable to be frank but it did give us the chance to grab a couple of beers to make the afternoon pass.

In the evening we took in a dumpling 'feast' (18 dumplings a la Ping Pong) before watching a fairly tacky Tang Dynasty Song & Dance Show. Bless 'em they tried and the frocks looked great but it missed a bit of pixie dust to make it come alive.

Back to the hotel for a night-cap in the Bacchus Bar (they make pretty hard to pay at these bars I might add) and we were ready for bed. Long day tomorrow...

Day 7

We had a very welcome late check-out prior to a visit the Wild Goose Pagoda. It was so-so interesting although I did get the chance to ring the giant bell with a log on a rope. After lunch we headed to the airport for the first of two flights in two days. Oh joy.

We flew due south to Guilin for an overnight stay at the 4-star Park Hotel. We were met at the airport by seasoned tour guide Simon. The hotel was OK but as we arrived so late we only had time to take a stone-cold spaghetti bog in our room. Guilin was nice enough - tacky LED lighting on all the buildings - but we were there all too briefly and that was a pain.

Day 8

Up at the crack (breakfast was like hand-to-hand combat) we mini-bussed it to our half-day cruise on the Li River. The boat was quite good with front-row upper deck seats. Guilin is famous for, and we saw lots of, the massive limestone hills.

After the voyage we plumped for an extra trip to the countryside where we saw a paddy field, a traditional farmers's house (allegedly still using only old methods but we spotted a wi-fi setup) and were shown some traditional farming techniques by the old crow. Bless 'em they were sweet.

We then took a very (very) bumpy road to the airport where we flew to Chengdu for two nights at the 4-star Hotel Tianfu Sunshine. Again arriving ridiculously late we had to make do with a midnight club sandwich in the bar. Too many flights in too few days in my opinion.

Day 9

Our tour guide in Chengdu was Oliver. He seemed to know his onions and convinced us another early start was necessary to catch the notoriously lazy giant pandas still awake.

So setting off at 8am we visited the Panda Breeding Research Centre. The pandas were great. Brilliant in fact. Playing with their young, hanging out of tress and munching bamboo. Awwww!

After a spicy bamboo lunch ourselves we drove back unto town for a mercifully brief walk along 'ancient' (i.e. recently rebuilt) Jinli Street.

After a nap we headed out for a spicy Sichuan dinner and decidedly unspicy Sichuan Opera (read: variety show). Actually it wasn't that bad. The finger shadows in particular and instrument playing was pretty top form. By the time we were back at the hotel we were dead on our feet.

Day 10

Having checked out early we bussed it to the cavernous Chengdu railway station before taking a bullet train to Chongqingbei. We were hoping for a 'bullet' but sadly we only got a pop-gun - the train only reached 194km/hr as it was a stopping train. Booooo!

Chongqingbei (biggest city in the world) was pretty drab. All concrete and high rises.

After an uninspiring lunch we took in yet another city tour (the usual Peoples' Square followed by a posh shopping area, then the slums and then a rather lovely Guild Hall) before boarding the MV Century Legend for three nights' Yangtse River tour.

It was a bit like our cruise in Miami last autumn with over-enthusiastic servers, an over-enthusiastic crew show, and an over-enthusiastic entertainment's officer (called Gary.) However our cabin was spacious, the shower powerful and towels fluffy. It was bliss.

We set sail at about 9:30pm followed by a silver service Chinese dinner. The usual.

Day 11

Breakfast on board was a buffet - which we skipped for a lie-in.

In the afternoon was an excursion to Shibaozhai to climb the pagoda mounted on the 720-foot high hillside to the temple on the top. Shibaozhai was one of those villages that had been relocated by the dam project.

That evening we enjoyed/endured the crew cabaret show. "And now I bring you.....Your chefs!" It was what it was.

The only one's left in the bar by the end were the Brits. Hurrah for us!

Day 12

We sailed through the first of the gorges that make up 125-mile long Three Gorges of the Yangtse River. The Qutang was short (about 5 miles) but certainly quite beautiful. The second was the 25 mile Wu gorge - less spectacular but impressive nonetheless. 

"On your left you can see a hill that we call 'The Bird' because Chinese legend says 'it looks like a bird'" You get the idea.

In the afternoon we took an excursion up the Shenong Stream - a narrow tributary of the Yangtse which boasted magnificent smaller gorges. At the far end of the trip we were treated to yet another show (albeit a mercifully brief one.) Fu, bless him, bought me a beer. I think he could see I needed one. And then a surprise - some monkeys running along the shore on the way back. 

In the evening we passed through the first part of the final Xiling Gorge. It was to be in marked contrast to the second section of this gorge beneath the dam which we were to see the next day.

About midnight we reach the dam itself and passed through the five Three Gorges shiplocks. Oh my word they were impressive. Massive locks that simply dwarfed our boat. It took two hours to get through them all.

Day 13

Up early on our final day on the boat we disembarked for a visit to the Three Gorges Dam site. The dam consisted of the afore mentioned locks, silt-prevention dikes, silt-clearing sluices, spillways, 32 turbines, a power plant and a feck of a lot of concrete. It was certainly an impressive site. Shame that 1.4 million people needed to be moved to accommodate the reservoir though.

After the dam we continued on down river a bit before transferring by minibus to Yichang airport and flying on to Shanghai. Where we were to spend two nights at the 4-star Riverview Hotel.

After checking in we took a walk along the Bund (a bit like London's South Bank) in the evening. Shanghai was a glittering spectacle of lit up neon by night - and a sea of skyscrapers by day. 15,000 new over-25 story buildings had be erected in the last 10 years. A veritable concrete jungle.

Day 14

A full day of sightseeing started at the Silk Museum, then the Jade Buddha Temple, the beautiful Yu Yuan Gardens, and Nanjing Road for a spot of shopping. After lunch (and a show of course) we visited the Shanghai Museum.

In the evening we went to an acrobatic show. It was 90 mins long and pretty impressive - especially the unicyling girls.

Then we were back home for an early night and to pack.

Day 15

Up at 4:30am we checked out and got the minibus to the airport for our 7:55am flight to Beijing.  We then had a 4 hour stopover which was sadly extended by a further 90 mins as we sat on the runway waiting for someone's bags to be unloaded. Pah!

The flight was rather bumpy - Air China's seats are primal and probably the most uncomfortable long-haul I have had the misfortune to experience. The cabin was roasting hot and the announcements came all too frequently to allow us to get any sleep. Still, we eventually made it home having been up for 24 hours.


Phew! What a trip!