Last night Stuart, Roger, Kevin and I went to the Lyric Theatre, Shaftsbury Avenue to see Cabaret. And what a show! It's laugh out loud funny, sexy and chic.
"Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome, im Kabaret, au cabaret, to cabaret!"
Kander and Ebb's remarkable musical turns the pre-war Berlin of 1931 into a dark and sexually charged haven of decadence, its extraordinary and morally ambiguous inhabitants determined to keep up appearances as the real world - the world outside the comfortable sanctuary of the cabaret - prepares for the nightmarish chaos of war. It says here.
Anna Maxwell Martin plays Sally Bowles - you may remember her from His Dark Materials at the National or from Dr Who last year. James Dreyfus (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme) plays the Emcee and Sheila Hancock plays Fraulein Schneider. And despite not being brilliant singers they manage admirably and act their little socks off. The dancing troupe are Bob Fosse standard and convey the throbbing sexuality of the Kit Kat Club to a tee.
And I mustn't ignore a certain stand out facet of the production. Something that would have people reaching for their opera glasses (should we have them). The nudity. Full-frontal men and women - and oh boy are those boys well hung! Don't get me wrong. It wasn't gratuitous in any way. All in the best possible taste. And in fact used rather poignantly at the end.
**No spoilers** When I got back from the footie last night I watched the Lost season two finale double-header. I've been watching the entire series two and was rather more impressed than season one. It was a bit of a slow start for the first half a dozen episodes but soon picked up with some fabby back stories.
It was a fine way to celebrate my birthday at the Emirates Stadium last night. A 50th European goal by Henry and a good win for the Gunners put us in command of Champions League Group G.
On a more sartorial note I was sporting some rather dapper reversible millinery that Paul had bought me which attracted some admiring, not to say envious, glances and whistles from Block 125. Either that or they were taking the piss.
Closer to my heart though are two particular people who I greatly admire and who I am proud to say I was born on the same day as them both. And they are Bryan Ferry (I have always been a big Roxy Music fan) and the ever youthful Olivia Newton-John. Hopelessly devoted to them both.
It was a great production, brilliantly acted and very moving. Set in Nazi Germany in the 1930s it tells the story of how a gay Berliner party animal gets arrested for simply being gay and is sent to a concentration camp. It's a harrowing tale of what people will do to survive under appalling circumstances although it's not a story without it's humour. Well worth enduring the heat in the theatre.
Thank God for that. A home win in our new stadium at last and still a game in hand. Paul and I had a great time on Saturday finding a pub we're happy with before and after the game and a few new friends to chat to.
I've been lusting after something for months. Something that will give me hours of fun in the privacy of my own home. And today I've finally given in to temptation. It's my day off so I'm going up to the seedier part of Holloway Road to make my purchase. I'm looking forward to a day of heavy duty hammering and screwing.
We'd been meaning to do to the show, now in it's "2nd sensational year", for a while and it lived up to all our expectations. It was slick, energetic and thoroughly modest in it's aspirations. It simply had a cast of a dozen singers taking it in turns to dress up and sing Motown classics (Marvelettes, Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Four Tops, Temptations etc.) A sort of Stars In Your Motown Eyes. We clapped. We sang. We were dancing in the seats. Great fun.
Loving the new Scissor Sisters album Ta-dah. I might even go as far as to say it's better than their first album. Oh and by the way, there is a limited edition of Ta-Dah with an extra second CD called Ta-Dah! [Limited Edition] (love that extra "!") that's worth getting. (And just to be confusing the import version of the album also has that extra "!" too so make sure you get the limited edition with the extra CD)
This weekend Stuart took me away to Cork as a surprise. Friday night check-in at Stansted is horrendous at the best of times. But the massive queues at check-in, Ryanair wanting to charge us for our hand luggage and the massive queues at security conspired to make it a fresh Hell. Luckily we meet up with the delightful Judith and Gavin who were also coming away with us so we had a shoulder to cry on. Life being such that it is our flight was delayed anyway so we had a crafty pint to steady our nerves.
The flight was a manual one to the inevitable 'crash landing' at Cork put me in a foul mood. Luckily by the time Helen had picked us up I was as right as rain. Helen was as charming as Stuart had said she would be and she chatted away as she drove us to Clodagh and Colin where they made us feel very welcome. Clodagh was quite the Irish beauty and had prepared eats and we all ate pizza and stayed up to the early morning drinking, laughing and listening to stories.
Saturday came and Clodagh had planned surfing lessons for us. We donned wet suits, grabbed our boards and headed for the surprisingly un-icy Atlantic ocean. And what fun it was? We laughed and surfed and tried to stand up. Stu was quite the star getting vertical three or four times. Even I managed a wobbly erection or two. Exhausted but happy we headed home to shower and then off to The Ivory Tower for a five course four hour banquet. Yummy food but boy was I knackered by the end of it.
Sunday was bright and sunny and we seven set off for Blarney. Stone kissing being the order of the day we actually had a lot of fun climbing Blarney castle and seeing the Oirish theme pack that was Blarney Castle grounds. Druids Cave anyone? Witches Kitchen perhaps?
A few beers and sandwiches later we were ready for the airport. We said our fond farewells, got my key chain confiscated by security bitch from Hell and got on our flight happy, sated and smiling.
It had been a fantastic weekend. Full of generosity, laughter and kindness. A big thank you to Clodagh, Colin, Helen, Judith and Gavin for making it so special and me feel so welcome. And thank you Stu for asking me.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Tickling But Were Afraid to Ask...
[This entry is dedicated to Stuart]
Have you ever been tickled? Most probably the answer is 'yes'. As every child knows, tickling is the act of touching a part of the body so as to cause involuntary laughter. Belive it or not the subject of tickling has intrigued philosophers since antiquity. Even those old blokes Plato and Aristotle speculated about tickling and its purpose. "Tickle" incidentally is derived from the Old English word tinclian meaning "to touch lightly". Missus.
None other than Charles Darwin was the first scientist to seriously analyse this most peculiar human behaviour. In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872) Darwin described in detail the involuntary spasms tickling triggers in babies, children, adults, and non-human primates. He concluded that tickling was an ingredient in forming and keeping social bonds. Such bonding occurs through stimulating each other to laugh and feel merry. This is particularly true for parents and children. And me and the boyfriend.
Darwin noted that the key to success in tickling is that "the precise point to be tickled must not be known" to the person being tickled. Thus, it is surprise rather than tactile pressure that is a key ingredient in tickling. Oh, how very true, Charles.
Subsequent laboratory experiments have found that in people who are extremely suggestible, the threat of being tickled without laying a finger on them is enough to induce hysterics. This is as effective with adults as with children and provides a clue to the fact that tickling is not merely a physical sensation as Darwin theorised.
Apart from Darwin's social bond theory for the importance of tickling, there is a simpler theory. The sensation felt when being tickled is similar to the one felt when insects crawl on the body. The tickle response may be a protective warning device against the stings and bites of harmful insects.
* It is unknown why certain areas of the body are more ticklish than others. * Men and women are just as "ticklish". But a few studies suggest that, if either, men may be slightly more ticklish than women. * You cannot tickle yourself. If you try, you will not succeed since there is no surprise or lack of control in the stimulation. But a few studies dispute this as well. * 85 per cent of adults in some way or another enjoy being tickled, tickling others, or watching others being tickled. * Tickling was used as a torture by the ancient Romans. * Tickling is used in sexual fetishism where it is known as "tickle torture". * Research by Dr Sarah-Jayne Blakemore of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in London found that robotic arms used to tickle people are just as effective as human arms. * Research by Dr D S Bennett of the Integrative Treatment Centres in Denver established that the tickling response is well established by four months of age. * Research headed by Dr M Blagrove from the University of Wales in Swansea shows that the normal tickling response may be absent in those with schizophrenia.
Last night Stuart and I went to see The Woman In Black at the Fortune Theatre. The show has been running for 18 years and is billed at 'nerve-shedding'. Well, I wouldn't quite go that far but it is good fun. In an Edgar Alan Poe kind of a way.
The play is a two-hander (mostly) that tells the story of a certain Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, who is ordered by his firm's senior partner to travel up from London to attend a funeral and then sort out all the papers of the recently deceased Alice Drablow. We have an isolated location, tragic secrets, ghostly figures, uneasy locals and a big deserted house. All the elements of Gothic horror really.
We weren't really scared by any of it but the production was fun and the effects... well.. effective. Now if only those two girls sitting behind us hadn't kept screaming so loudly at every plot twist or vocalising their internal voices quite so loudly, "Don't go in there!" "Oh My God! Oh My God!" and then laughing nervously we might have enjoyed it more.
So was the play 'nerve-shedding'? No. But as Bart Simpson would say, maybe people were easier to scare back then.
I have no idea if this story is actually true - but I so hope it is...
"A mate of mine worked for a stage rigging, company - one of his main jobs was looking after aerial safety on Gladiators. In between series he was sent to work at a holiday camp for Keith Harris. The act was supposed to start with him on stage talking to an unseen Orville. The green duck would be whingeing about not being able to fly and would launch into the madly annoying 'I wish I could fly' song which plagued the charts in the 80s. At the climax Orville would be released from the back of the auditorium on a wire to 'fly' over the kids' heads. The job was easy money but Harris turned out to be a complete and utter twat who pissed everyone off. My mate decided to take revenge and one night packed Orville full of stage explosives and a detonator. Half way down the wire cue a loud bang, a shower of green feathers, a room full of traumatised kids and an apoplectic Harris. My mate got fired on the spot, but it was so worth it."
I'm a bit of a late comer to Pedro Almodóvar films having only seen a couple of his earlier ones - before a few days ago that is. On Friday afternoon Guy and I went to see Volver at the Curzon. Fab film. Go see. And on Saturday night Stu and I stayed in and watched Bad Education on DVD - great film too. I just wonder why I've been such a slow coach to get into his films. I've recently bought myself a Pedro Almodóvar box set and so still have Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, Live Flesh, All About My Mother and Talk To Her to look forward to.
They had just one shot on goal and made it count. We had 25 shots on goal and only made one count. Arg! I went with my brother, Simon, to the game and it was a nice brotherly bonding session all the same. But what a lame start to the season. 17th!
Last night Ian treated me to a trip to the Bloomsbury Theatre to see the last night of Throat.
It was sort of circus, physical theatre, cabaret and dance combined in a witty way. Actor John Paul Zaccarini, suspended above the stage, preens, poses, uses light, flour and water, and moves from vulnerable to cocksure. Great fun.
And we had a good old catch up afterwards which was equally fun.
Below are the upgrade options for current Windows users wanting to install Windows Vista when it becomes readily available next year. And frankly they're crap. Far too many yellow dots and not enough green. So most people will be expected to backup all their data and applications, do a fresh install on Vista and then reinstall/restore everything? People just won't bother. Don't fumble the ball you idiots! Comes across like a Labour Party leadership contest.