Quote Of The Day

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Canal and River by Boris Bikes...

On Saturday Bobby and I hired a couple of Boris Bikes and took a cycle ride along the canal tow-path  We stopped after a short while for a cheeky pint at a pub in Broadway Market - the fact the first leg took less than 30 mins meant it was free usage.

Refreshed we headed off again to Limehouse Basin and then joined the north bank of the River Thames cycling all the way down past Canary Wharf to a bike stop just across the river from Greenwich. There we dismounted - it took us 45 mins for this second run so we only had £1 to pay. Then we walked the sub-river footpath into Greenwich proper for a final well deserved pint at the Gypsy Moth pub.

Nice day out.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Untold Stories...

Last Thursday Stu and I went to see Alan Bennett's Untold Stories at The Duchess Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

The show consisted of a double bill - Hymn and Cocktail Sticks.

Performed by Alan Bennett looky-likey Alex Jennings is was a gentle evening of self-aware exploration.

Hymn was a memoir of music in childhood and was an autobiographical piece that focuses on a particular part of Bennett’s past - hymns and his father's attempt to make him learn the violin.

Cocktail Sticks delved deeper into Bennett's family life revealing his mother's keenness to fit in socially and the pinnacle of which for her would have been to host a cocktail party.

All good fun and although retreading some familiar ground it rather like being in the company of an amusing friend for the evening i.e. time very well spent.
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Friday, April 26, 2013

The Happiest Day Of My Life...

I'm looking forward to walking down the aisle with Stu later on what will be the happiest day of my life.
3 cases of beer for £18 in Tesco.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Bloody aggressive secularists, going around aiming their rational arguments at people. Honestly, one day they'll hurt somebody's bullshit.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Homes Under The Hammer...

Best job in the world must be the people who write pun-heavy newspaper headlines for a living. They sit round writing awful puns, say "we can't write that can we?" to each other and then off down the pub.

The second best job in the world however must be the people who choose the songs to accompany Homes Under The Hammer. The sun comes out (fades up Sunny by Boney M), the presenter takes a deep breath (here comes Breathe by Pink Floyd), the reseller not sure what do with his house (in comes Confusion by ELO). Old rope was never so cheap.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Beautiful Thing…

Last Friday night Stu, I, Andy, Kev, Andy and Tim all went to see the twentieth anniversary revival of Beautiful Thing at the Arts Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Suranne Jones was great as overbearing mother Sandra. The two male leads, Jake Davies and Danny-Boy Hatchard, were super as the star-crossed lovers Jamie and Ste. Zaraah Abrahams was also good as Mama Cass obsessed  Leah. And Oliver Farnworth played impossibly handsome Tony to the distraction of also everything else on stage!

At it's heart a gay fairytale, 20 years on it's still funny, poignant and has the power to shock and delight.

Brilliantly Beautiful Thing.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - The Musical Box…

Much as I love the 3 minute pop song and the 8 minute disco 12" on Saturday night Paul and I was indulging another musical love - the concept album. And not just any old concept album mind you - the 2nd best concept album of all time - the prog rock classic The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Genesis's 1974 classic was getting recreated by tribute band The Musical Box as the live (and truly bonkers) stage show.

The show had been painstaking researched to be a note for note duplicate of the original 100 date world tour that Peter Gabriel fronted before he left the band (and Phil Collin's went on to ruin it.). The music, vocal work, choreography, OTT staging, wild lighting, and Doctor Who-like monstrous costumes were all perfect and loving duplicates. We last saw this show in 2005 and this, their final performance of it, matched that performance for sheer exuberance alone.

The show has actually been endorsed by Gabriel himself, Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford. Which says something for it's authenticity.

We came out singing Carpet Crawlers and The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging.

Let's Prog!

Oh, and the best concept album of all time? Kate Bush's Hounds of Love of course.

Oh and the 3rd best? Pink Floyd's The Wall of course.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lady Thatcher's Funeral..

Lady Thatcher's funeral passed off without much hassle. I did notice that the 4000 police presence did make one arrest though - for someone speaking too loudly on their mobile phone. That's £10m of our money well spent then!

Three comment that did make me chuckle were these:-

Who'd have thought the Spitting Image reunion would be so expensive?

"Her capacity to reach out to the young" and take their milk.

Thatcher's funeral only cost a million pound. The rest is Tony Blair's appearance fee.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Arsenal 3 - 1 Norwich...

My brother Simon and I went to watch the mighty Arsenal take on Norwich at the Emirates last Saturday afternoon. When they were 0-1 up Norwich cheated with fouls and time-wasting. The Norwich keeper Mark Bunn kindly let anyone in the ground visit the toilet and pick up a cup of tea before he took each goal kick.

It was a delight to see their time-wasting come undone as we scored 3 in the last few minutes and they had no time left to respond. Ha ha.

Update: We also both went to watch last night's 0 - 0 draw against Everton at the Emirates - which was a bit scrappy. The teams were pretty evenly matched. Olivier Giroud missed a couple of sitters though. Darron Gibson deserved a second yellow though and to be sent off after his nasty tackle against Theo Walcott. Still a point is a point.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Third Finger, Left Hand...

Last night Darren, Stu and I went to Third Finger, Left Hand the Trafalgar Studios in London's glitzy West End.

Starring Imogen Stubbs and Amanda Daniels, Dermot Canavan's play is both uplifting and poignant.

Sisters Niamh and Grace haven't spoken in years, but now Niamh is dying and seeking forgiveness. In a final attempt of reconciliation the sisters meet, reliving the turbulence of their upbringing amid the exhilarating sounds of the 1970s Northern Soul scene, but can old wounds be healed before time runs out? This is a compelling and touching story of feuding siblings and the ultimate powers of dance and redemption.

We laughed, we shed a tear. Great fun.
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Monday, April 15, 2013

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time...

On Friday Stuart and I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the Apollo Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

If it was to be half as good as Mark Haddon's book we were in for a treat. It was, we were. The show was magnificent - clever, moving and fun. The set sparkled with as much light as the script did with wit. Luke Treadaway as lead protagonist Christopher has excellent.

The apparently simple black cubic set hid a pretty sophisticated secret. A grid spanned each wall and the floor which when lit up, shimmered and told stories in it's own right. Finn Ross's videos were projected on it and the Paule Constable's marvellous lighting within it all helped propelled the plot forward.

The story is a murder mystery. The victim is a dog Wellington and the sleuth a boy Christopher who against his father's wishes wants to find out who killed him. Christopher has a mathematical gift and "behavioural problems" so when confronted with the illogical actions can't work out what to do next. "You told me to be quiet but not for how long" complains Christopher to his father. He lives in a world of the literal. Expressions like 'apple of your eye', 'fed up to the back teeth' and 'end of my tether' just serve to confuse and frustrate. It really shows just how much of common sense relies upon logic. He cannot lie - but when others seem to he is lost.

The plot contains many twists and turns but eventually all is revealed and justice done. 

In a nod to meta-theatre there are puzzles in the theatre programme - why do some of the seats have white covers on them? And for the patient a post-show explanation is on hand for one of the pivotal mathematical problems. It was a great night out and strongly recommended.

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Friday, April 12, 2013


Last night Stu and I went to see James McAvoy play Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studios in the London's glitzy West End.

This particular version of 'the Scottish play' was resolutely Scottish with accents as thick as Nessie's rump. Not that that was in any way a bad thing but when coupled along with the rather dated post-apocalyptic grunge look of the set it came across more low-life Glasgow estate than Highland Royal Estate. Jamie Lloyd’s production has Scotland as a place of broken windows, filthy people and foul toilets. Feel free to add your own joke at this point but I think I can perhaps rise above such cheap insults here.

James McAvoy's Macbeth is buffed, handsome, and charismatic. A Hollywood actor with twinkly eyes to match. But sadly all the slickly choreographed sword fighting, bearlike roaring, excessive spitting and needless vomiting in the world couldn't convince me he was the brave Scottish warrior of old. Braveheart he was not.

Macbeth's slow descent into madness following his bloody regicide is often a gripping part of the play to witness. Sadly in the hands of Mr McAvoy it was handled with the care of flicking on a light switch. One moment he was nervous, shy and loyal. The next he was screaming down the house, chewing up the scenery and spitting out anything he could put in his mouth.

Lady Macbeth was not much better. Why, she barely seemed to be sorry for what she has done. Her suicide almost came as a surprise.

Other cast members faired better (the Porter, Malcom's son and Macduff's wife being particularly good examples) but the excessive use of Kensington Gore and the flashing overhead lights to signal menace gave the whole production the feel of a well funded college production.

Cast, crew, audience, Bard - we all deserved better.

Post review Update: OK, it wasn't terrible - it's just been done so much better recently. Older incarnation of Charles Xavier Patrick Stewart's recent version being an outstanding example. Well, on the up side there are a few cute supporting cast members to keep an eye on. Sadly lots of X Men fans were in the house - some taking photos and videos during the performance! Shameful.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Back in the UK...

Back home after a week in the Middle East. Nothing happened while I was away, right?

We had a sandstorm and an earthquake.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Margaret Thatcher...

Thatcher has only been in hell for less than 24 hours and has already closed 4 furnaces down!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Goodbye "Bah! Rain!" Hello Bahrain!...

"Excuse me, I'm a bit of a nervous flyer. May I have a small drink before we take off?" "Champagne alright for you, sir?" I love BA.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Vicious - The Christmas Special...

Last night Stu, Timmy, Stephen and I went to see a recording of Vicious at the ITV The London Studios on London's glitzy South Bank.

It was a bit Ab Fab, a bit Will & Grace and riotously funny.

He's the blurb:-

ITV is delighted to welcome VICIOUS, a brand new studio sitcom for 2013. Respected luminaries of British stage and screen, Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi head a formidable cast, joined by Frances De La Tour as well as some surprise star cameos in this unashamedly wicked new comedy.
Written by Gary Janetti, the Emmy nominated writer/producer behind hit shows Family Guy and Will & Grace, Vicious tells the story of ageing partners, Freddie (Ian McKellen) and Stuart (Derek Jacobi) who have lived together in a Covent Garden flat for nearly 50 years. In their prime, budding actor Freddie met bartender Stuart, but now as the golden years have crept up upon them they do little else besides reading, walking their dog and bickering. Feisty best friend Violet (Frances De La Tour) is always on hand to help calm their quarrels, entertaining the pair with her outlandish love affairs. She’s young at heart with a delicious sense of humour.
Resigned to the familiar comforts of their life together, the arrival of a new neighbour, young, handsome and endearingly green – their world is turned upside down.
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Wednesday, April 03, 2013


I sat on my hand for fifteen minutes earlier, before hoovering the living room. Just so it felt like Stu was doing it.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Doctor Who: The Bells of Saint John...

Doctor Who was back on Saturday with a brilliant episode - The Bells of Saint John. Funny, scary, stylish, clever and most of all entertaining. It has a new look, a new tone to the drama and the new assistant, Jenna-Louise Coleman, is going to work out just dandy.

Great to see Celia Imrie on top form too.

Oh and it took a second viewing to realise why the meaning behind the title...

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