Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thierry Henry...

Talks to bring Thierry Henry back to Arsenal "progressing". Henry, the Gunners' all-time leading goalscorer, who recently had a statue built outside the Emirates Stadium in his honour, does not have to return to the New York Red Bulls until March. So we might get him for a month or two. Yippie!

Here's Henry's stats for Arsenal:


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Penis Size (Average Results by Country)...

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you... Penis Size (Average Results by Country)  There are graphs, charts and stats aplenty on length and girth. Everything you might want to ever know about worldwide penis measurements in fact. Holiday in Dem Rep of Congo anyone?


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Duckie Copyright Christmas Party Dec 2011...

Just before Christmas we went to Duckie's Copyright Christmas Show which was followed by the Duckie Christmas Party at the Barbican. The show was good - a sort of interactive experience with groups of us being shepherded through a warehouse set from small performance to small performance all with the theme of consumerism. The party was more typical Duckie with an outrageous cabaret show and the Readers Wifes spinning the discs. All great fun.

 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bah Humbug...

It's been a nice Xmas thus far but I've been ill for most of it (cough, cough). Some mild, but annoying, viral infection. Bah!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The 1980s Internet...

This is how I used to 'get online' 25 years ago. I splashed out on a audio coupler to call the newly formed bulletin boards. It was all very text based. State of the art phone too - with buttons! I was the envy of the Computing Club!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jeanette Krankie...

Mate of mine once accidentally slept with Jeanette Krankie. Schoolboy error. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

'Out Of Office'...

It's was my last day in the office day before Christmas on Friday so I have left this 'Out Of Office' message taped to my office door. I also sent round an email to all my work colleagues saying, 'I am now on holiday. In my absence if you have any problems the piece of paper taped to my door will be covering my job for me and will be able to fix 99% of any problems you may have. The other 1% can wait. Obey it's instructions to the letter. Happy Christmas."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Barbican Lates: Duckie Christmas Party...

Barbican Lates: Duckie Christmas Party 6pm – 1am, Free
A pre-party before your Christmas party! Join us for a seasonal social and showbiz shindig starring Amy Lamé, Readers Wifes, Ursula Martinez, Jess Love, Ryan Styles … and quite a few Santas. Bring your friends and come along for a night of dancing, drinking, chrimbo cabaret, shopping, mince pies, mollies and mistletoe. 

The Readers Wifes 10pm–1am, ClubStage
Duckie DJs The Readers Wifes get party started with their popular blend of dancefloor and 80s pop classics.

Cabaret Performance 10.30pm, Clubstage
Amy Lamé steps in as master of ceremonies and hosts our (alternative) chrimbo cabaret. Featuring weird and wonderful acts from Ryan Styles miming into a giant balloon to Jess Love wowing us with her hula hooping skills and Office Party’s Ursula Martinez’s serenading songs and dance acts.
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December Fatigue ©...

We may be only half-way through it but I'm already suffering from December Fatigue ©. I'm just so tired... too many parties, too work dos, meeting up with people I only see once a year, Christmas shopping, Christmas card writing,  meal planning, plays, opera, theatre events... Roll on January! #decemberfatigue

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Office Party (again)...

I went back to Office Party again last week courtesy of Matt. This time I went in the Marketing department rather than Accounts. Great fun. Slide show here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

RIP Diana Gould...

Candidly Diana asked Mrs Thatcher why, when she knew the Argentine battleship was outside the military exclusion zone and was sailing away from the Falklands Islands, did she order it to be sunk. The Prime minister was left flumoxed and red-faced. You go girl!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Nutcracker!...

Last night Stu and I went to the Sadler's Wells theatre to see Matthew Bourne's New Adventures’ much loved production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker! 


It was the first time I'd seen the show - despite it having been revived many times since it started in 2002.


The dancing was great. The music was sublime. The production was amazing. And pink. Er, sorry.. very PINK! Loved it.


Here are some of the other Matthew Bourne shows I've seen before:-

1995: Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake
2000: Matthew Bourne's The Car Man
2004: Mary Poppins
2005: Edward Scissorhands
2008: Dorian Gray
2010: Cinderella



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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Manchester United Out...


Don't worry Manchester United fans, you can still watch your team in the Champions league this season... On the History channel.

It was clear to see tonight that Alex Ferguson made a huge mistake in resting Howard Webb.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Office Party Show...

I was lucky enough to go to Office Party again last night (thank you Matt). This time I was in Marketing not Accounts. Just as much fun as last time. Got some better pictures though.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Windows Server 2008 Group Policy Management...

On a course for the rest of this week at Learning Tree in Euston: Windows Server 2008 Group Policy Management. I think my brain hurts already.

Extensive hands-on exercises provide practical experience managing a Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 environment through Group Policies. Exercises include:
  • Establishing a central store and utilising starter GPOs
  • Applying computer and user configuration settings
  • Generating reports for diagnostic purposes
  • Writing WQL queries
  • Implementing robust software delivery mechanisms
  • Configuring core security settings
  • Converting role-based XML data into policy settings
  • Identifying and resolving failures
  • Utilising preferences to manipulate objects
  • Deploying printers through GPOs
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Monday, December 05, 2011

Friday, December 02, 2011

Castor & Pollux...

Last night Stu treated me to a very posh night out. We went to the London Coliseum in London's glitzy West End to see Jean-Philippe Rameau's classic baroque opera Castor and Pollux.

The ENO production tells the epic legend of the eponymous twin brothers - one mortal, one immortal. Two sisters, Télaïre and Phébé, are both in love with Castor. Castor loves Télaïre so Phébé gets to play the jealous card to the max. When Castor gets killed in a fight with enemy king Lynceus Pollux in turn kills Lynceus. Castor then promptly pops off to Hades. Pollux frets but is given the choice by Zeus of spending all his time on Mount Olympus or giving half his immortality to his mortal brother. He opts for the latter (so giving half his immortality to Castor), enabling the twins to alternate between Olympus and Hades. The twin brothers are then received into the Zodiac as the constellation of Gemini. It doesn't end quite so well for the girls though.

As Pollux, Roderick Williams projected a real royal nobility, a rich goodness. As Castor, Allan Clayton was excellent conveying a warmth and effortless. Sophie Bevan was exceptional as the beautiful sister Télaïre whilst supposedly ugly sister Phébé, Laura Tatulescu projected the forces of darkness vividly and with power. She also sported a wicked green dress, had a massive heaving bosom and got fingered by a devil's hand - so was naturally our favourite of the night.

Perhaps the funniest part for us was the vision of Olympian paradise as a place in which girls in pastel dresses and white pop socks continuously drop endless pairs of knickers but never "go all the way", contrasting with Elysium as a place in which girls in similar pastel dresses and white pop socks drop endless pairs of knickers and proceed to parade around the stage stark naked, mostly turning out to be men.

All in all Barrie Kosky's staging was great. Slightly avant-garde, enthusiastic, vibrant and thrilling.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Office Party...

A few weeks ago Stu, Tim, Andy, Kev and I went to the show Office Party at the Pleasance Theatre in London's glitzy Islington. Featuring the legend that is cabaret artist Ursula Martinez (La Clique, La Soiree) and the super-talent that is super-funny Christopher Green (Tina C, Ida Barr) we were treated to an office party with a twist. It was a faux/real party with comedy, cabaret and scandalous behaviour at Product Solutions annual bash. With 14 actors spread across seven rooms it was cerayinly a fun night out. We threw outselves into the show with gusto - which is really what you have to do as a 'guest'. Set in a purpose-built "office" and featuring a variety of comedians and avant-garde performers, Office Party is an interactive theatrical extravaganza that celebrates and subverts the traditional work night out. More photos here

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Comedy of Errors...


Last Friday night Stu and I went to see Dominic Cooke's take on the Bard's The Comedy of Errors at the Olivier Theatre on London glitzy South Bank.

'Starring' Lenny Henry we weren't quite sure what to expect, but trusting the National to put on a good show we weren't too worried. And what worries we had had proved unfounded. It was a great show.

The setting was modern day (ish) which worked surprisingly well. The action took place in a slightly jarred reality - at times were we in Florida? A European port? Maybe a posh London street? Anyway, the set design was great for all that - towering, twisting, sliding and thrusting - it transported us from a storm on-board ship to a town square effortlessly.

The basic plot idea of two pairs of long lost twins starts with the maelstrom at sea but goes on to create one of increasing confusion amongst their nearest and dearest. The chaos as perfectly executed. Within the same scene the director took the action effortlessly from an intimate tête-a-tête of wordplay between two players to a full blown knockabout farce involving the wider cast. And what a great cast they were. Played with such gusto it was hard to fault a single player.

Genius idea was having the the wife Adriana and her sister Luciana played as WAGS. This choice fitted the bill perfectly - their lines came alive when seen from that perspective.

Another nice touch was the four-piece band playing latino versions of recent hits during scenery changes.

And now let's come to Lenny Henry. What to say about him? Can he act? Was he any good? Well, that's an easy one to answer. He was great. Brilliant in fact. Just the right amount of verbal dexterity. just the right amount of physicality, just the right amount of mugging at the audience. Pitch perfect in fact. The boy can act!

So my conclusion? The production is a riot. Funny, well-acted and a must-see.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Queen of Spades...


The Queen of Spades (opera)
Image via Wikipedia
Yesterday Paul treated me to a night at the opera. We went to the Barbican to see Neil Bartlett's new production of The Queen of Spades for Opera North.

Tchaikovsky's opera tells a tale of a Russian officer falling for the wrong girl in the late 1700s St. Petersburg was never going to end well. Princes, soldiers, countesses, nursemaids, governesses, wet-nurses, strollers, children and gamblers all take us on this journey of love, loss, obsession and a fatal belief in Fate.

It's an unfussy staging that Bartlett has gone for: a simple set, costumes that are delightfully period and the lighting, whilst being low-angled, is never too harsh.

The orchestra was tip top - suitably dramatic without being over-bearing. The chorus too shone with a crispness and clarity that was refreshing.

The solo performances were fine although - as Paul pointed out - it's often hard to be convinced that such ample star-crossed lovers Herman and Lisa find the time to eat so well.

Stand-out performance was by Josephine Barstow playing the her grandmother / Countess: a vamp, a harridan, and a scene-chewing performance.

Stand-out song for me was the innuendo ladened "If pretty girls could fly like birds".
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Register and Intel Live 2011...

Yesterday I went to an all-dayer of The Register and Intel Live 2011 at Millbank Tower. Fascinating stuff. The great and good were all presenting to us: Intel, McAfee, Cancer Reseach UK, CERN and BT. Guest star was the the rather lovely Professor Brian Cox. Slide show of pix here.
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Satyagraha...

On Saturday night Stuart, Ian and I went to the Barbican in London to watch a live broadcast of Satyagraha performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It was as fanatastic and moving as it was when Paul and I saw it eighteen months ago. So I can add nothing more than repost my review of the show back then:-

Last night Paul treated me to Satyagraha at the ENO. It was brilliantly hypnotic. Jaw-droppingly wonderful. In has to be in the top ten best things I've seen on stage. Ever.

The opera is in three acts for orchestra, chorus and soloists. It was composed by Philip Glass, with a libretto by Glass and Constance de Jong. It's loosely based on the life of Mohandas Gandhi. The term satyagraha is the philosophy and practice of nonviolent resistance developed by Gandhi himself.

Act I. Tolstoy
On the Kuru Field of Justice
Tolstoy Farm (1910)
The Vow (1906)

Act II. Tagore
Confrontation and Rescue (1896)
Indian Opinion (1906)
Protest (1908)

Act III. King
New Castle March (1913)

Philip Glass's music is simply glorious: those repetitive patternings shifting and shining with ingenious rhythmic and melodic ideas, interlocking, overlapping, yet ever calm. But it was the staging that made the night so wonderful. So enchanting.

The director of the piece was Phelim McDermott (Shockheaded Peter) and Julian Crouch is the assistant director and set designer. Boy, they did an amazing job.

All three acts take place within an arc-like wall of curving corrugated iron. Within the slow waves of music and human movement, an ensemble of acrobats and puppeteers conjure miracle after miracle. Newsprint looms large: there is a ubiquitous whispering of newspaper as sheets are shifted, read (the founding of Indian Opinion was central to Gandhi’s work) — and then, almost imperceptibly, formed into gigantic papier-mâché puppet-figures of gods, beasts and politicians.

High in the iron wall, windows disclose the three iconic figures who watch over the three acts: Tolstoy, Tagore and Martin Luther King.

The beauty of the sung Sanskrit is bewitching: sober sepia projections of key passages replace supertitles; but verbal comprehension isn’t really the point. Although it would be inappropriate to single out individual performances in a work that has so little to do with conventional operatic glory, Alan Oke’s central performance as Gandhi is a masterpiece of compelling clarity and absorption.

As the last act unfolds, the great wall buckles and disintegrates, leaving a miming silhouette of the preaching King high on his plinth, and the diminutive figure of Gandhi below, singing a simple rising scale — no fewer than thirty times.

Stand out moments of the night for me were:
- the amazing floating coat hangers and the equally amazing floating lights lifted up high
- the weaving and crumpling up of a huge web of sellotape to produce at first a barrier, then a giant puppet man then an image of Gandhi himself
- the long newspaper streams across the stage that became first a barrier, then wings for Gandhi and then again sky high banners for projecting words all in one fluid motion.

Image after image is etched indelibly on the memory, in its masterly fusion of the aural and the visual. If you ever get a chance - go see.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yes, Prime Minister...


Last night I treated Dad and Myrtle to a night at the theatre for Dad's birthday. We went to see Yes, Prime Minister at the Gielgud Theatre in London glitzy West End.

OK, so it's not actually Dad's birthday until Boxing Day, another six weeks away, but the show is closing at the end of this week so we had to get in fast.

We had three front row dress circle seats which gave us a good view. The show itself was nice enough - perhaps not quite the laugh a minute we'd come to expect from the television version though.

The plot revolved around a night at Chequers and the farce of supplying an under-age girl to a foreign dignatory in order to such through a financial deal.

The show starred Simon Williams as Sir Humphrey Appleby and Richard McCabe as James "Jim" Hacker. Good though both were they weren't a patch on Nigel Hawthorne or Paul Eddington.

We enjoyed ourselves though and Dad was kind enough to say he loved it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hounded...

Last Friday night Stu, Oliver, Steve and I (plus new friends Ian and Nicole) were chased around Soho by huntsmen and a pack of dogs.

Slingshot's latest urban game was called Hounded and it started from Soho Square. There were about one hundred of us in teams of six dressed as foxes - OK we just had large orange tails on - but we were to be chased by real, live dogs though.

Before the start we had peppermint sprayed on the bottoms of our shoes so the hounds could track us and from there on in we were pretty much on our own. As foxes we had two minutes head start and our task was a) to not get caught by the hounds otherwise we would lose our tails (and twenty points), and b) to try and discover and follow various scent trails that lead all over Soho.

To follow these scent trails there were 5" square pads attached to dozens of lampposts, street signs and bollards and we had to get up close and personal, sniff them and detect a particular smell and follow it. Following say the 'mint' smell would lead us to a secret word at the end of the trail which we then had to text back to base. Collecting these end of trail words gained us points. The longer (and often smellier) the trail the higher the points. 'Swamp' was particularly horrid. Needelss to say many of the trails over-lapped so we had ur foxy work cut out for us.

On the plus side if we did lose our fox tails to the hounds we could then become hounds ourselves and chase other teams' foxes to grab their tails and get bonus points for each one we caught.

In the end the team with the most correct 'smell words', had the fewest fox tails missing and had managed to snatch the most competitor's tails won the game.

It was great fun. The adrenalene was certainly pumping as we dashed down various streets, back alleys and passageways criss-crossing through Soho. The area was full of Friday night drinkers and we sure got some weird looks as we sniffed the street furniture - but we didn't care. We were being chased and had the scent in our nostrils.

In the end we came second. Which wasn't too bad out of sixteen teams. Our team name was Megan and The Basils (geddit?!)

Great fun. Tally-ho!

(There are bigger version of the photos below here)