Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory...

Last night Stu and I (and indeed Mark and Sarah) went to see Charlie and The Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London's glitzy Covent Garden.

Directed by Sam Mendes but still in previews we had high (but not stratospheric) hopes of it being a great show. This readjustment of expectations turned out to be a good thing in the end. Great it was not.

Following the book perhaps slightly more closely than either of the film versions Charlie and The Chocolate Factory tells the story of the poor Bucket family of mother, father, four grandparents and only child called Charlie. Charlie collects rubbish from around the dump where they live to give to his family as presents. Cabbage soup with no cabbage is their nightly fare.

Nearby the mysterious Willy Wonka runs a chocolate factory and after many years of secrecy is planning on opening up his factory for five lucky children to explore. Five golden tickets are hidden in Wonka chocolate bars the holders of which will get a tour and a lifetime's supply of sweets. A rag bag of largely horrible kids eventually win themselves a ticket each along with our hero Charlie. Then the doors to chocolate factory are flung open wide and the fun really starts. Or it should do. We were less than impressed to be honest.

 The first act takes place in the Bucket's dump. It's slow, has unmemorable songs and static staging. The only flicker of fun is the appearance of the other four children. Sadly even this was marred by the substandard sound. It was so poor you could barely hear what they were singing which was a shame as there were comedic lyrics that deserved to be heard.

Things picked up in the second half a bit with the appearance of Willy Wonka himself and the parade of multi-coloured scenes from within the factory. The Oompa Loompas were fun, the set pieces were inventive enough but the thing never really took flight. The pace wasn’t so much rattling as staggering. You didn’t really care about Charlie much and the fun usually which is usually to be had from the horrible kids and their various sticky ends was all but wasted. The staging was fine but back-projection has come on a lot recently (Ghost, Curious Incident etc.) and this wasn’t exactly cutting edge.

Forgettable songs, uninspiring staging and poor sound all did this show in.

Maybe it will improve after previews. Maybe it'll find an audience with kids. The coach parties will come from the provinces I expect but it's the weekday attendances that help a show sink or swim. It's not awful, it's just not brilliant. And at £80 a ticket it should be brilliant.

Matilda does Roald Dahl so much better - great songs and strong story telling. Sadly Charlie and The Chocolate Factory had neither.
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Thursday, May 30, 2013


Looks like 2013 is going to be another heartbreakingly poor year for Yazz in the pop charts. The only way isn't up, is it Yazz? Where's your Plastic Population now, Yazz? Melted, Yazz, like your chart dreams.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

£100,000 Watch...

Amazon are selling a £100,000 watch. Loving the user reviews...
"I actually first saw this watch at a neat little store in Luxembourg, as I was refilling my ruby-encrusted helicopter with gasoline made out of unicorn tears."

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Cuban Brothers...

On Saturday night Dave, Kerry, John, Mon, Kristen, Denise, Vicki, Joe, Fiona, Stu and I went to see The Cuban Brothers perform at The Garage.

The Cuban Brothers perform a fusion of comedy, salsa and breakdancing where creator Mike Keat plays ex-porn baron-turned-entertainer Miguel Montavani. Born of the loins of seventies Havana, nurtured on a diet of soulful, sexy tunes and inspired by Cuban historical fact and mythology their fresh approach to live entertainment whips up a frenzy at every gig. Their legendary performance combines music, riotous comedy, and sensational dancing. We loved it. If nothing else for their sensational rendition of Motörhead's Ace Of Spades in a salsa stylee.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Boo! Yay!...

Today is a Boo/Yay day.

  • 5 Polish builders (and 1 Ukraine cleaner) in my flat! Boo! 
  • 4 day weekend ahead! Yay! 
  • 3 inches of dust everywhere screwing up all my computers! Boo! 
  • 2 hours before the pubs open! Yay! 
  • 1 thing I'm not going to think about this w/e is work! Double-yay!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Got The Builders In

Some days I just wish all this building work was over. Fresh layers of dust and grim everyday (sigh).

It's been over a year so far but I suppose I've started so I'll finish. It's all self-inflicted pain of course so I should deserve little sympathy. Besides, I've got the grit between my teeth now. Literally!

Mind you, what you see here is just one room. You should see the others! Ha ha.

I asked the builder yesterday as a joke, "will it be finished by Christmas?" He said "Oh, yes." But thinking about it now - he didn't say which year!
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The London Apprentice...

On Sunday Andy, Kev, Andy, Tim, Andrew, Michael, Stu and I went out for Sunday lunch to The Dragon Bar on Shoreditch High Street for Sunday lunch. Afterwards we took a look around Andy refurbished loft apartment before head for a beer at our old haunt The London Apprentice.

Darren had joined us by that point and all of us were reliving our dodgy pasts. Oh the fun we had there! It's still dark, still dank and smelling of danger and sexual possibilities. It hasn't been resurrected really, just open as a pub. Still dingy but full of memories.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Arsenal Qualify for Champions League Again!...

It was a nail-biter of a game. Arsenal needed to win against Newcastle United to guarantee Champions League football next year. A draw coupled with a win at arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur home game against Sunderland would have sunk us.

Luckily, and the use the word advisedly, we won. Phew!

Needless the boys celebrated like they'd actually won the European title itself. Steady on boys. Some way to go yet!
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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Nightmare in Silver...

Last Saturday's Doctor Who Nightmare in Silver was an utter mess. Neil Gaiman lost it methinks. Underwritten yet over-complicated. Hated the children. Hated the plot holes. Some truly awful dialogue. Filmed in the props department. A complete waste of a cybermen story. Next!

Friday, May 17, 2013

La Bohème...

Last night Stu and I went to the ENO to see Jonathan Miller's brilliant revived staging of Puccini's powerfully popular opera La Bohème.

Atmospherically updated to 1930s Paris, this uber-romantic story of young love blighted by sudden tragedy unfolds on cinematically realistic sets inspired by the iconic photographs of Cartier-Bresson and Brassaï.

The story started with the lovers Mimì and Rodolfo meeting. Then falling in love. The ups and downs of their lives together and apart. And then Mimì was feeling a bit peeky. And then Rodolfo, who was a poet, went from being lost in her eyes to being lost for words. And when Mimì died, Rodolfo was just simply... lost.

He should have perhaps known that when a leading lady coughs in Act 3 she'll be dead by the end of Act 4. This is opera after all.

The cast were great. The orchestra sublime. And the staging simply wonderful. Five stars for Mr Miller. A great revival.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Philip Glass...

Last Tuesday I traveled down to Bristol to stay the night with the lovely Paul and Simon. The reason for the trip was that Paul and I were going to see Philip Glass perform some solo piano works - Etudes and Other Work for Solo Piano - in the wonderful St George's.

Consisting of two 45 minute sections Glass wowed us with his mesmerizing compositions and beautiful fingering. Mainly from the 1990s the pieces sounded magnificent in acoustics of the old hall.

The programme included:
Six Etudes (Nos. 1, 2, 4, 6, 9,10) (1994-1999)
Mad Rush (1980)
Metamorphoses (Nos. 2, 3, 4) (1989)
Wichita Vortex Sutra (1990)

A still-evolving series begun in the mid-90s, recorded in 2003, the ‘Etudes’ have, says Glass, a two-fold purpose: “First, to provide new music for my solo piano concerts. And second, for me to expand my piano technique with music that would enhance and challenge my playing. Hence the name Etudes, or “studies”. The result is a body of work that has a broad range of dynamic, tempo and emotion.”

Monday, May 13, 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

Power cut in Highbury...

Woke up to power cut in Highbury. No heating, no hot water, no lighting, no Homes Under the Hammer. We start eating our own young by lunchtime.

07:02: Called National Grid to report.

07:12 "UK Power Networks Update: Our engineers are aware of the power cut and will get to site as quickly as possible; your power is affected by a blown fuse at your local substation. We're currently working towards an estimated time of 09:30. Although this is subject to change following updates from site, we'll keep you updated."

I like their chatty updating. Appeals to the compulsive communicator in me .

07:22 "Update - Our engineers are on their way to your area. We'll let you know when they arrive. We'll know the full picture when they're on site. Once we do, we'll give you an idea of when your power will be back on."

07:35 We need an International Humanitarian Aid Air Drop. Highbury is running dangerously low on pimento. I fear a repeat of the pimento riots of '94.

07:58 Oh shit, sun-blushed tomatoes! We are out of sun-blushed tomatoes. Guns! We need guns!

08:20 Thank fuck for that. Power back on. As you were.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Top Hat...

Last night Stu and I went to see Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Now seventy-eight years after Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers lit up Hollywood’s silver screen with one of the greatest dance musicals of all time, RKO PicturesTop Hat is packed full of Irving Berlin’s greatest hits such as Let’s Face the Music and Dance, Cheek to Cheek and Top Hat, White Tie and Tails,

The show is a giddy, glorious celebration of 1930s song and dance - with lots of tap dancing!

Sadly the chemistry wasn't quite there between the two leads last night and it fell rather flat compared to the previous occasion when Roger and I went to see the same show last summer with Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen.
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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Happy 7th Anniversary...

In 2005 Stuart and I went on eight dates before we finally went to the cinema together to see Batman Begins. It was dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, Batman. Happy Anniversary Stuart x

Monday, May 06, 2013

Cheeky One...

Cheeky one on a Sunday afternoon with Andy Cook and Tim Kennedy at The Bull.

Thursday, May 02, 2013


Це був дивний день. Я зробив переклад моєї інструкції з очищення для українського. Моя прибиральниця сміялися наді мною. Можливо, мої слова змусили мене в ідіота! (or words to that affect)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


On Monday night Stu and I went to see Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear in Nicholas Hytner's Othello at the Olivier Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

It was a wonderful production beautifully played. Lester's Othello was outstanding - in turn passionate, then raging and finally remorseful. Kinnear's Iago was equally sublime if not better - visceral in his hate, blokey in his demeanour and caustic in his concealment.

Strongly recommended. If you get the chance, go!

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