Quote Of The Day

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Science Weekly Live at the Royal Institution...

Last night I attended a recording of the Guardian Science Weekly Live at the beautiful Royal Institution of Great Britain building in London's glitzy Mayfair.

Presented by regular Alok Jha it was a series of talks/demos about science in the famous Faraday theatre. We had the transmission of heat demonstrated with a bang, optical illusions, inflating pig's lungs, a new hominini species with an opposable toe to rival Lucy and the proceedings ended with an explosion. Great fun and strong reminiscent of the Christmas Lectures held there every year.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Latest News...

Last minute I know but if anyone fancies joining me tonight (Wedneday) @ 7pm the Royal Institution I've got a spare *free* ticket for the recording of the Guardian Science Weekly Podcast. They are promising explosions!

I've got the builders in. Starting yesterday it's going to be 12-15 weeks of mess and disruption - eased somewhat by the devilishly handsome builder's mate ;-) ‎

Just A Minute is now on telly. BBC2 at 6pm. And last night it was fab. Julian Clary, Stephen Fry, Paul Merton and the radiant Russell Tovey earning his spurs.

First-class stamp going up to 60p. Blimey!

The first rule of S Club: You never reform S Club.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kylie Anti Tour...

Kylie is doing a small, short tour of B-sides, rarities and demos next week. Weak voice? Poor dancer? I don't care! I'm going! It'll be a great gig... " from the Stock Aitken & Waterman production-line pop of Made in Heaven, the B-side to her 1988 hit Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi, to Cherry Bomb, the electro flip side to 2008 single Wow, to the celebratory disco of Too Much, from 2010's Aphrodite." And for those who don't want to know the setlist look away now.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Arsenal 3 - 0 Aston Villa...

Tim and I spent a lovely day at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It was a classic 3pm kick-off. The Arsenal were in good form and we beat Aston Villa 3-0 following on from Spurs/Chelsea drawing 0-0 and so securing a fairly good 3rd place in the Premiership. Good times.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kate Bush Covers and Samples...

Tracks sampled by Kate Bush 

The Dreaming (1982) sampled ORCH5 by David Vorhaus (1982)
Hello Earth (1985) sampled Tsintskaro by Traditional Folk (1700) and STS-1 Landing by John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen (1981)

Tracks that have sampled Kate Bush

Wuthering Heights (1977) was sampled in...
Wuthering Heights by The Good 2 Bad and Hugly (1993)
Bad Dreams by DJ Isaac (1995)
Cockney Medley by Bill Bailey (2003)
Mainstream Killah by Beatstream and Radiate feat. Mike Redman (2010)
Ca Fait Un Bail by Dabaaz and DJ Pone (2010)
Free by Natalia Kills (2011)

Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbreak (1978) was sampled in...
Tonight by Fonky Family (2001)

Wow (1978) was sampled in...
Big Up Your Chest by Ellis Dee (1995)

L'Amour Looks Something Like You (1978) was sampled in...
El Meu Paradís by At Versaris (2009)

The Man With the Child in His Eyes (1978) was sampled in...
I Hear Him by Todd Edwards (2003)

December Will Be Magic Again (1980) was sampled in...
The Opener by Skyzoo (2009)

Army Dreamers (1980) was sampled in...
Jeg Har en Ven by Pede B (2005)
On the Grind by Supersci feat. Chords (2006)
Lovacke Price by Bolesna Braca (2006)

Babooshka (1980) was sampled in...
Pushin' by Dumbfoundead and Wax (2010)

Blow Away (1980) was sampled in...
Love and Music by Kyza (2009)

Breathing (1980) was sampled in...
Una Volta Sola by Club Dogo (2006)

Night Scented Stock (1980) was sampled in...
Les Enfants Du Paradis by Loopzone (1990)

And Dream of Sheep (1985) was sampled in...
Deeper by Rabbit in the Moon (1997)

Cloudbusting (1985) was sampled in...
Something Good by Utah Saints (1992)
Bastard / A****** by Hard Creation (2001)

Hello Earth (1985) was sampled in...
Hyperspeed (G-Force Part 2) by The Prodigy (1992)

Running Up That Hill (1985) was sampled in...
00:20 - Need You This Way by The Kleptones (2006)
Tipa by Emily Karpel (2008)
Det Bedste Til Sidst by Linda Andrews (2009)

Covers By Kate Bush 

Rocket Man (1991) is a cover of Rocket Man by Elton John (1972)
Mná Na HÉireann (Women of Ireland) (1996) is a cover of Women of Ireland by The Chieftains (1973)
Running Up That Hill (2003) is a cover of  Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush (1985)
Sexual Healing (2005) is a cover of Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye (1982)

Covers of Kate Bush Songs

Wuthering Heights (1977) was covered by:-
Wuthering Heights by Pat Benatar (1980)
Wuthering Heights by White Flag (1992)
Wuthering Heights by Mr Floppy (1993)
Wuthering Heights by Angra (1993) Wuthering Heights by China Drum (1996)
Wuthering Heights by Hayley Westenra (2003)
Wuthering Heights by The Puppini Sisters (2006)
Wuthering Heights by The Sweptaways (2006)

The Man With the Child in His Eyes (1978) was covered by:-
The Man With the Child in His Eyes by Hue & Cry (1995)
The Man with the Child in His Eyes by Maria Friedman (2006)
The Man With the Child in his Eyes by Natalie Cole (2006)
The Man With the Child in His Eyes by Tina Arena (2007)

Army Dreamers (1980) was covered by:
Shem Baheven by Mazi Cohen (1987)
Army Dreamers by Mary Dillon (2010)

Cloudbusting (1985) was covered by:
Cloudbusting by Novembre (2001)
Cloudbusting by Wild Nothing (2011)

Hounds of Love (1985) was covered by:
Hounds of Love by The Futureheads (2004)
Hounds of Love by The Church (2009)

Running Up That Hill (1985) was covered by:
Running Up That Hill by Blue Pearl (1990)
Running Up That Hill by Elastic Band (1994)
Running Up That Hill by Levy 9 (1995)
Running Up That Hill by Badlees album (1999)
Running Up That Hill by Kiki and Herb (2000)
Running Up That Hill by Faith and the Muse (2001)
Running Up That Hill by The Baltimores (2001)
Running Up That Hill by Within Temptation (2003)
Running Up That Hill by Infusion feat. Kate Bush (2003)
Running Up That Hill by Placebo (2003)
Running Up That Hill by Danielle French (2003)
Running Up That Hill by Icon & the Black Roses (2004)
Running Up That Hill by Claudia Brucken (2005)
Running Up That Hill by Chromatics (2007)
Running Up That Hill by Club for Five (2009)
Running Up That Hill by Gregorian (2009)
Running Up That Hill by The Very Best (2011)

Don't Give Up (1985) was covered by:
Don't Give Up by Willie Nelson and Sinéad O'Connor (1993)
Don't Give Up by Gregorian feat. Sarah Brightman (1999)
Don't Give Up by Dave Warrin feat. Jody Watley (2001)
Don't Give Up (Africa) by Alicia Keys and Bono (2005)
Don't Give Up by Herbie Hancock feat. John Legend and Pink (2010)

This Woman's Work (1988) was covered by:
This Woman's Work by Maxwell (1997)
This Woman's Work by ACO (2001)
This Woman's Work by Greg Laswell (2009)
This Woman's Work by Gwyneth Paltrow (2011)

The Kick Inside (1978) was covered by:
The Kick Inside by Julie Covington (1978)

Love and Anger (1990) was covered by:
Love and Anger by Nada Surf (2010)

Mother Stands for Comfort (1985) was covered by:
Mother Stands for Comfort by Jane Birkin (2006)

Suspended in Gaffa (1982) was covered by:
Suspended in Gaffa by Ra Ra Riot (2007)

There Goes a Tenner (1982) was covered by:
There Goes a Tenner by J. Davis Trio (2001)

Why Should I Love You? (feat. Prince) (1993) was covered by:
Why Should I Love You? (feat. Prince) by Mike Scott (1997)

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hit Factory Live...

It's coming. The legendary Stock Aitken Waterman songwriting and production team, the phenomenal success of Pete Waterman’s PWL label and, above all, the irresistible pop that came to define an era in British music history. LIVE!

In London's Hyde Park on 11th July there will be: Steps, Jason Donovan, Sinitta, Sonia, Ricky Astley, Bananarama, Pepsi and Shirlie, Brother Beyond, Dead or Alive, Princess, Hazell Dean, Sybil, Lonnie Gordon, 2 Unlimited.

Squeeeeal! I'll be there!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Can We Talk About This?...

Last night Stu, Darren and I went to see DV8's latest show Can We Talk About This? at the Lyttleton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

The show is a challenging - and some might say (rightly in my opinion) polemic - piece about freedom of speech, multiculturalism and Islamophobia. It's a dance piece that includes a selection of verbatim interview recitals, some audio and video clips and graffiti to tell the story of a dozen or so 'incidents' that have happened between 1985 and 2012. These include the 1989 book burnings of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, the murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh and the controversy of the ‘Muhammad cartoons’ in 2005.

 It occasionally crosses the line from being an earnest advocate of free speech to being a little bit preachy on the negative aspects of Islam in general. And as it dances across that line the dance itself gets a little bit lost on the way.

The crux of this argument is perhaps best reflected in a quote by Kenan Malik, the author of From Fatwa to Jihad: "The liberal fear of giving offence has simply made it easier to take offence."

It's good to be challenged at the theatre sometimes - be made to feel a little uncomfortable. And in that, if nothing else it surely succeeded.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Abigail's Party...

Last night Stu treated me to a night out at the theatre - we went to see a revival of Mike Leigh's fabulous Abigail's Party at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London's glitzy London Bridge Quarter.

This production starred Jill Halfpenny as Beverly, Joe Absolom as Tony, Natalie Casey as Angela, Susannah Harker as Susan and Andy Nyman as Laurence. And they were all excellent. We laughed and laughed.

Many of the scenes are iconic of course after the 1977 BBC production - itself based on the original Hampstead Theatre one. Wisely they don't mess too much with what worked so we had a great night laughing along to our favourite lines.

Beverly: Now I can see what you've done, Ange - you've just sat down and put on your lipstick. Next time, will you try this for me? Just sit down, relax, and say to yourself "I have very beautiful lips" and I tell you, Ange, you're gonna see the difference! All right?!

Angela: Is it real silver?
Beverly: Silver plate, yes.

Angela: Oh it's funny. We were all getting married about the same time as you were... getting divorced!

Angela: I got very drunk on champagne at our wedding, do you remember?
[Tony remembers it all too clearly]
Tony: [with feeling] Yeah.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gay Marriage...

From today's Times:-

“Should two people who care deeply for each other, who love each other and who want to spend the rest of their lives together be allowed to marry?

“My answer is that marriage should be for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. Society is stronger when people enter into a stable relationship; when they commit to each other; when they make binding vows to love, honour and cherish one another.

“Many people already refer to a civil partnership as a “gay marriage” and to civil partners as “married”. But the problem is that they’re not. Gay people can work where they want, go where they want, live where they want. They have equal rights — but they still can’t get married. I don’t believe the State should perpetuate discrimination and prejudice. I believe that in modern Britain we should seek to eliminate discrimination wherever we find it.

“Our proposals are motivated by the desire to strengthen our society by extending the right to marry. Marriage is one of the most important institutions we have. It binds us together, brings stability and makes us stronger. So I don’t believe that the State should stop people getting married unless there are very good reasons — and being gay isn’t one of them. If we believe that commitment, fidelity and marriage are good things then we should not restrict them, we should let them flourish.”

- Theresa May, Home Secretary.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spot The Fake Smile...

This experiment is designed to test whether you can spot the difference between a fake smile and a real one. It has 20 questions and should take you 10 minutes. It is based on research by Professor Paul Ekman, a psychologist at the University of California. Each video clip will take approximately 15 seconds.


I got 18 out of 20 correct.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Robin van Persie: He's Lovin' It...

After Newcastle's keeper Tim Krul had wasted so much time during the game the last minute winner was oh so sweet. Especially to Robin van Persie. Cheesy one, RVP!

Arsenal 2 - 1 Newcastle...

Mark and I were at the Emirates Stadium last night watching the mighty Arsenal FC take on Newcastle FC.

Their keeper Tim Krul was wasting time all the way through the game so it was very pleasing to see 5 minutes added on which gave us a few more chances to nick it.

It was thrilling end with Thomas Vermaelen scoring a 95th-minute winner to seal the game. That now takes us within a point of third-placed Tottenham.

It's been an exciting few weeks in the world of Arsenal with a series of wins seeing us rise up the table while Spurs has had a corresponding series of loses. Let's hope we can maintain our run of good play!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jet Lag...

Awake at 2:30am this morning. D'oh! Came into work early though so catching up with stuff. Might feel it towards the end of the day though.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Notes on Tokyo...

There are hardly any tourists here. Earthquake fears maybe? They are missing out.

Much of the food we have eaten confirms that those Wagamama-style noodles are pretty close to being authentic. Ditto with those Satsuma-style Bento boxes.

Lots of white mouth masks worn here. In the streets, transport, shops and by people serving you. We were told that generally they are worn by people with colds to stop them spreading their germs rather than by paranoid disease-fearing idiots. If true what a good idea.

No litter. Seriously, no litter. Or dirt. Or dust. Anywhere. We caught a shop keeper on her hands and knees cleaning the pavement outside her shop with what looked like a toothbrush. Oh and no graffiti.

Unbelievably we found ourselves in an oldie-stylee Tempura restaurant last week. Having rashly stated to Stuey only the other day that I'd never been to a fish restaurant anywhere in the world that didn't have something non-fishy on the menu that night I was proven wrong. We had course after course of fish. What fresh circle of ichthyoid hell is this? Tiger prawns, cuttlefish, conger eel, oh yes and more prawns. (shudder). I was throwing it up later that night.

Bullet trains are fucking fast. Like an aircraft bombing down a runway you almost feel you are about to take flight. It's disorienting to try and look out of the window as the world is flying by so fast.

It is a country of the very old and the very young. Both groups seems to be worshipped.

When it's raining in Tokyo it's Blade Runner. When it's sunny it's a Nintendo video game.

On the trains and overground there are frequent announcements, "Please switch off your mobile when near Priority Seats and in other areas switch to silent mode and refrain from talking on it"

Cycling - which takes place on the pavement - is haphazard. Amazing how there aren't more crashes.

The people on the underground are utterly silent. Packed in but silent. And no eye contact.

Bowing is the norm.

Giving somebody something - anything - is done with both hands palms up.

At pelican crossings no one 'jay walks' and the little red man has little red lights that count you down letting you know how long you have to wait before he turns green. Nice.

Japanese women are on the whole stunningly beautiful.

When it rains most people sport transparent umbrellas so they can see other people and not bump into them. How considerate.

There is just so much infrastructure here. Train lines, flyovers, roads, pavements, bridges, ramps, viaducts, subways, overpasses, steps, promenades, tunnels, platforms, gateways, doorways, entrances, exits, streets, crossings, corners, street lights, power lines, telegraph poles, signs, flags, neon, gutters, drains, gullies... It's bewildering.

No sign of Mothra. Godzilla also conspicuous by his absence.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Blade Runner vs. Nintendo...

Tokyo: When it's raining it's Blade Runner. When it's sunny it's a Nintendo video game.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


Faster than a speeding... er... Bullet Train we were off for some hot spring action in Hakone.

While soaking our feet in one hot spring we discovered citrus fruit floating by. The Japanese whilst not averse to gilding a lily do it so well.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


We've been here 24 hours already. Still no sign of Mothra. Godzilla also conspicuous by his absence. Weeeird!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Sydney Mardi Gras...

Last Saturday was Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. Having arrived in Sydney with no intention of either watching the parade or going to the main party we ended up doing both. Easily persuaded us.

It had been raining all week and on the day itself it positively chucked it down. Being sensible Brits both Stu and I had bought umbrellas but even they were no match for the Sydney weather. Happy Muddy Gras indeed.

Along with David and Andrew we'd signed up to march on the Aids Coalition of New South Wales walking float. Or Acon as it's known. Yeah, I know, makes us Acon Antiques.

Having been required to sign in early we then had to wait for two and half hours in the rain for our slot to come around on the march which was a bit of a drag. Waiting for such a long time to spontaneously shout, dance and generally behave like a idiot itself seemed rather idiotic. Still, when our turn came we turned on our provided flashy disco swords and gave it all we could for the waiting crowds and cameras.

We'd heard that there as a Kylie float somewhere about too but we must have missed it. Apparently is was small and largely wooden... rather like the good lady herself then. ('Arf, 'arf. )

The parade was great fun but over all too quickly. Within 30 minutes we walked the route, got drenched in the process, smiled at thousands of cameras and reached the rather anticlimactic end. By that point the gay pride march had turned into the gay shame shuffle. In a dark damp field.

So with loads of time on our hands we turned on our muddy heels and walked back to the boys' apartment to eat, drink coffee and general get ourselves in a party mood.

Stu and I had pretty much decided that we'd not bother with any of the main dance halls or headliner Kylie but would stick to the TGI Retro Hi-Fi Ballroom. The bill looked pretty good:-

12:10am Le Gateau Chocolat
12:30am RuPaul
01:00am D.E.Experience
01:40am Horse Meat Disco
03:45am Lady Miss Kier
(yeah I know, did we need to leave London?)

Le Gateau Chocolate was fab but came across rather under-rehearsed at one of two points. RuPaul was fun, slick and seemingly running through every track from some new album. Edna died on her arse (Dead-Na?) initially with some people walking out, booing and trying to wave her off stage. He wasn't helped by the dreadful sound system which rendered much of his act inaudible. Once the wig came off though and he did what he did best i.e. sing the mood changed somewhat and he won people over. By the end he got a good cheer from the crowd. Horse Meat Disco were fab packing the dance floor. We danced out not so little bums off. When Lady Miss Kier eventually came on it was so dire we left.

All in all we had a great time and have to say that Sydney Mardi Gras was a lot of fun. Now if only they can get round to reinserting the words "Gay & Lesbian" back into it's name...

Friday, March 02, 2012


We both feel very honoured to have been made to feel so welcome into Fritz's place here in Darlinghurst. We have been nuzzled awake of a morning, had our toes tickled while we eat and gained admiring glances whilst out being walked by Fritz. He plays a dog-gone jolly tune on his squeaky toys too.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


It was raining in Sydney yesterday - Ok, apparently it's been raining in Sydney all summer so no change there then - so Stuart and I decided to do something a little bit cultural. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Sydney? Culture? But there's a hell of a lot of things to do round here. You'd be surprised. So, a museum maybe? A gallery? Hmmm. I know, let's go on the Sydney Opera House Tour. Have a smooze round the old bit of weirdness and see what's inside. Only ever seen it from the outside before. We can see the place right out of the window of where we are staying.

David and Andrew have very kindly been hosting us in their lovely Darlinghurst apartment. We are late risers and having house-guests lying around all over your home is at least an inconvenience so we thank them muchly for their hospitality. Their view of the Opera House had planted the seed though.

Just before setting out we checked with Trip Advisor though to see if there were any gotchas we should be aware of. Always the wary one me. Although most of the reviews were great a couple of people suggested that rather than peering in through the windows as it were we actually saved on the tour cost and put it towards actually seeing a production in the fresh. We looked at each other. Great idea! What with the magic of the Internet at our fingertips within a few minutes we'd secured tickets to that evening's show - a well regard production of Puccini's Turandot. Yay!

Later that afternoon we smartened up as best we could (not smart enough judging by some of our co-patrons disapproving looks later mind you) and headed out into the rain in good time before the performance started in order to soak up a bit of the atmos and have a nosey around the old gal herself. Er, The Opera House that is not Turandot.

Sydney Opera House looks great from the outside. I have to say that first and foremost. It's an amazing building. It is slightly, but only slightly, less impressive inside however. Great views of Sydney Harbour and Sydney Harbour Bride of course and lovely red staircases but there are large areas such as downstairs at the back that don't seem to get used despite the similar area upstairs being fair crowded at the intervals. Less impressive still was the auditorium itself. Smaller than I'd imagined it to be and the stage and orchestra pit were tiny. Cast and band alike must trip over themselves in the big performances. I felt really sorry for any director who had lofty ambitions for a storming, expansive production to discover the limited space available here. It looked like the wings were very narrow too and I wasn't surprised to see actors queueing to get off stage later in the show. But I'm quibbling really. If a larger opera house were to get built somewhere else in Sydney with a bigger stage to accommodate bigger productions it would never match THE Sydney Opera House's iconic status.

So to the production itself. Graeme Murphy has directed and choreographed a truly magnificent show. His Turandot is witty, colourful and uses all the space to hand with much aplomb. Oh, if he'd had more space on stage it would have been a joy (ok, enough about the space!) Argo Volmer's conducting was first class and leads Carlo Barricelli and Anke Hoppner were fantastic. Special mention though needs to go to Hyeseoung Kwon whose performance of the slave girl Liu was a show-stopper. The characters Ping, Pong and Pang played by Andrew Moran, David Corcoran and Graeme Macfarlane respectively were also wonderfully portrayed and very funny.

The costumes deserve a very special mention. Kristian Fredrikson's design was simply astonishing. We were wowed in equal measure by the complexity, the panache and the spectacle. Full marks all round.

Stand out tune was of course the opera's third act biggy Nessan Dorma "No one sleeps." And we found it hard to do so ourselves last night after such a great show. If you get a chance, go.
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