Quote Of The Day

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

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Water Tour of Envy...

Yesterday was a day of short sentences. Late up. Hotel buffet breakfast. Walked in the baking heat to the local pier. Had beer while waited for water taxi. Up and down the river and intercostal waters. "On your left is the house where <insert name of someone we'd never heard of who invented the gas suppressor used in Ford cars> bought this $28m property." "This yacht used to be owned by Wendy of Wendy's" "That bell tower on your right has a jacuzzi on the second level and cost $9m to install". The boat tour of envy.
Then we popped over to Rosie's in Wilton Drive again, marvelled at the handsome bearded beer-busters, had some over-generous plates of food, got bought free drinks by the manageress and came home for an early night.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fort Lauderdale...

Fort Lauderdale...

Jet lag has it's advantages when flying east. You're up at the crack of dawn. Which suits me just dandy. Morning person, me.

Breakfasting at The Lord Balfour was lovely. Great pastries and a funky dining area. It cleared the cobwebs and gave us a chance to plan our day. The staff there are pretty spot on. Great service while not being too pushy. One suspects that they are all too keenly aware, as all hotel staff are these days, that they are one bad Trip Advisor review away from the walking the street. Keeps them on their toes.

We decided to walk rather than cab it to the car hire place. Only 40 mins and it was a nice, but humid, day. It also gave a chance to take in South Beach in all it's splendour and see if that dad guy was still there.

The Art Deco buildings on Ocean Drive even looked lovelier than the night before unadorned as they now were of their gaudy neon lights. We popped into the Art Deco center/centre (don't get me started on these American spellings) and almost bought a dress for Twiggy. Sadly she was not as keen as Tim and me.

We walked on the beach for a while with it's perfect white sand. Maybe too white. Maybe too perfect. Dazzled by the sun and and then by the bodies we gazed at the boys showing off on Muscle Beach. Oh to have that body. And that much time to self-obsess over it...

As we neared Hertz we got caught in a downpour. Apparently this neck of the woods gets showers almost daily. They seem to stop almost as quickly as they start and in thus heat everyone dries out and just carries on.

The car we hired was more of a truck - a people carrier with the turning circle of a super tanker - but with Timmy firmly established behind the wheel we soon had pedestrians leaping out of our way with nothing more than a short, sharp blast on the windscreen wipers.  The boys were mobile.

Firstly we retraced our tracks back to The Lord Balfour to pick up our luggage and then headed up the coast to Fort Lauderdale. 

Our home for the next two nights was actually to be a beach resort hotel - Lago Mar Resort & Beach. And the place was actually quite nice with it's own beach - that perfect white sand again - a number of bars and pools all surrounded by palm trees. As we attempted to check in it the German guy on the front desk took a bit of a shine to us and upgraded us to a couple of suites. And boy were they big suites. Bigger than each of my first, second and third flats when I moved to London. We almost got lost in them.

Not wanting to miss out on any of what was on offer we headed straight to the bar for a beer and a burger. The way you do. Suitably refreshed we then headed down on to the beach proper for a romp in the sea. Fluffy white towels were provided by the hotel staff and the gentle off shore breeze and 84F water temperature made the whole experience one if a tropical paradise. The water was lovely and we had silver fish swimming around our feet. We did see a jellyfish at one point so took that as our cue to head back up the beach to the pool. And bar.  A nice cocktail in hand and we were soon planning our night out in the gay area Wilton Manors. 

Later after a short disco nap we took a cab from the hotel foyer and landed at Rosie's - gay restaurant right in the middle of the gay district. The gay district isn't particularly near the coast but to be honest I think we made the right choice staying where we did. Beach day, beeatch night.

The manager and staff at Rosie's were very friendly, the food great and the portions huge. Even the tropical rain storm that hit just as we're were eating added to the fun.

On their advice we sampled a few of the nearby bars. Bill's was empty but the Manor was much livelier. We had a drink or three, busted a couple of my grandad moves on one of the two dance floors and watched the go-go boys die a little on the inside. 

We fell into conversation with a couple of Americans towards the end of the night - topless, prospective nurse Ray from Kentucky and shot-buying David from Biddley-Bong Idaho (or some such place). I'm sure we left them wanting more but all promised to remain firm friends and see them again the following day. Yeah, whatever. 

The taxi ride hope was interesting.  Stu, Andy and Tim promptly fell asleep but as I'd stopped drinking 2 hours before was sober enough to engage our driver in a bit of 3am chatter. "Where are you from?" he asked. "London", I replied. "England."  He paused for a moment "Never been. Probably never will." And on that sad note hanging in the air I fell silent again just watching the city lights flash by the raindrop-sprinkled car window.

Up at the crack of noon now.  Let's see what today has in store.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

South Beach...

So off to Florida Tim, Andy, Stu and I go.

The flight to Miami actually wasn't too bad. Heathrow Terminal 3 is greatly improved from how I remember it and the Virgin Atlantic flight was perfectly efficient. We took off more or less on time and we experienced few bumps while in the air. Luckily there we're spare seats around us so I got to stretch out and even lie down for a kip across three seats at one point. The food was OK but not up to British Airways' standard and I didn't bother much with the inflight entertainment system apart from Pedro Almodóvar's I'm So Excited and Will Smith's After Earth which were both mildly distracting but no more than that. The Virgin Atalantic flight attendants were good - but as Stu pointed out they were not like those you see in their adverts!

After 9 hours in the air we touched down to Florida's 30C and high humidity. The air con in the terminal was very welcome I can tell you. Miami Airport is as large and sprawling as any large and sprawling modern city airport has become these days. You seem to walk for miles from your arrival gate only for your heart to sink as you come across a massive passport control hall with an equally massive queue in it. All in all we went through the place in 90 mins which I suppose isn't too bad considering the numbers who arrive in Florida every hour. 

We queued for a yellow taxi just outside the terminal and chatted to our driver as he whisked us the short 15 minute $40 trip through Downtown Miami and on out to Miami Beach (the city within a city on the Eastern see board). Connected by just four bridges to the mainland Miami Beach is an island that has the whiff of a seaside resort about it but with the pleasing Art Deco architecture to give it some sort of class.

Our hotel was South Beach's Lord Balfour Hotel at one end of the world famous Ocean Drive which was both welcoming and perfectly serviceable - matching it's high Trip Advisor status. We dropped our bags in our rooms, pulled on some shorts and headed along the strip to see what it hand to offer these weary travellers.

What we discovered is that Miami Beach is party central - shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs - and no place within it is more 'party' than South Beach. It's a 24 hour sort of place.

And to be honest I was mildly disappointed. Not that there wasn't much going on - but there was perhaps too much going on. The beach is on one side of the strip, Ocean Drive is down the middle and on the other side sits row upon row of bars, restaurants and hotels all crammed in together and each straddling the pavement with table and chairs set for drinks and (more profitably) meals. Canvas awnings, gaudy neon lights wound around trees, dazzling flashing lights, booming speakers and live bands assault the senses. We ran the gauntlet of waiters and waitresses thrusting menus in our faces, "Half price coctails! Come sit lovely gentlemen! Cheap beer! Cheap food!" But as we dodged around the empty tables they spoke volumes to us. Why we're these places all so empty? Was it a case of once bitten, twice shy? Ibiza Town... Brighton Lanes... Sites... Christopher Place... Brick Lane... Every busy place has somewhere like this. A place for tourists. A place for tourists to get trapped.

But hey we were tourists. We knew when we were beaten. Inevitably we were worned down and alighted upon what we thought looked like an OK sort of place. The music wasn't too loud. The owner's spiel not too insistent. The waiter was attentive and barely noticing that the coctail menu had no prices on it - an omission we were later to regret - we ordered something suitably exotic. What actually turned up were massive margarita glasses about 25cm across filled with ice, Margarita mix and two upended bottles of Corona in each. We laughed. And drank. And took pictures. And laughed some more. Once we're downed these we ordered some pizzas and laughed again. People watching is definitively the thing to do in South Beach but after an hour or so even we had had our fill of it. Stated we thought about moving on. But it was at that point we got stung by the bill. A stinging so servere that we might have only expected to have received it from one of the jellyfish rumoured to be occasionally found on the beach across the road. $277 for four drinks and four pizzas. Ouch!

We stopped off for one last beer on the way back to the hotel in some deafeningly loud gay bar called The Palace. Even outside on the pavement the music made our teeth rattle. Oh and we saw a dead, half naked man with a bloodied stab wound in his back lying in the park on the way back home too. Somehow that seemed to top the night off.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Dream...

Last night Stu and I went to see A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Noel Coward Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Starring Sheridan Smith and David Walliams as Titania and Bottom, Michael Grandage's production both entertains and delights.

Walliams brings his best Frankie Howerd impersonation to the proceedings which actually works quite well in the context of playing a 'bad' but crowd-pleasing actor. Tit(ania) ye not. Smith is suitably luscious as the beguiled Faerie Queen and in many ways carries the piece.

Having the faeries all be hippies who smoke spliffs and take acid is actually quite a good production ploy as it leads well into the central conceit of the star-crossed lovers getting loved up on Oberon's flower juice.

Katherine Kingsley's Helena and Susannah Fielding's Hermia squabble entertainingly enough but the action really takes flight as their male lovers, Lysander (Sam Swainsbury) and Demetrius (Stefano Braschi), get down to their underwear. With all those rippling muscles and washboard abs on show it occasionally took on the appearance of an Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement. Dancing around the action is Gavin Fowler's Puck. A mischievous imp played to perfection.

All in all a great show: a super Puck, a funny Tit and a ripping Bottom. Go see!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This Is My Body...

This is my body
And I live in it
It's 51 years, 11 months and 364 days old
It's changed a lot since it was new
It's done stuff it wasn't built to do
I often try to fill it up with wine
And the weirdest thing about it is
I spend so much time hating it
But it never says a bad word about me

This is my body
And it's fine
It's where I spend the vast majority of my time
It's not perfect
But it's mine

[Thank you Tim Minchin]

Monday, September 23, 2013

Peppa Pig...

I thought my nephew had a stutter until I realised Peppa Pig was a cartoon character.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Apple's new IOS7 does look a bit Micky Mouse. Reminds me of the Windows XP and Windows Vista makeovers. Oh well, I suppose I got used to those pretty quickly...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Anger Issues?...

I was talking to one of my exes last night. He said, "I keep having this dream where I'm stabbing you repeatedly. And the blood is spurting out of your chest and then I start cutting you up and eating you and I eat you all up and everyone I know is there and they turn to look at me and then I scream at them and I shit you out. And you are in pieces on the floor covered in blood and shit and I am panting and crying and screaming and tearing at my eyes and crumpled on the floor among your shitty bloody body pieces and I'm sobbing and raging and feel like I want to kill everyone I know."
He paused for a moment and smiled as if enjoying a moment of revelation.
"Do you think I might still be holding on to some anger?"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Color Purple...

Last week Darren organised a trip for Rachel, Chris, Hudd, David, Mark, Tim, Stu and I to go and see The Color Purple musical at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London's not so glitzy London Bridge Quarter (LBQ).

It was an outstanding show with great songs - magnificently sung by a superb cast. Head and shoulders above these faultless singers was Cynthia Erivo who played protagonist and narrator Celie. She sang her heart out and us into hers.

Celie is a poor, uneducated black woman with a sad personal history who not only survives a stepfather who rapes her (something we don't see) and steals her babies (something we do) but also survives an abusive husband (the focus of the piece.) As an adult, Celie befriends and finds intimacy with a blues singer, Shug Avery, who gradually helps Celie find her voice - quite literally. By the end of the musical, Celie is a happy, independent, and self-confident woman. And boy are we in for a rough ride. Well, it perhaps should have been a little rougher in my opinion. Not that I wish ill of her as a character. It's just that the book pulls no punches with its depiction of abuse, betrayal and revenge. We got zipped through the main plot points touching rather too lightly upon each rather than getting gripped by the dramatic turns of events. This meant that the musical came across as a little too family-friendly for my liking perhaps demonstrated best by the happy ending which was a tad too sweet for my taste. There is a room here for an edgier adaptation I think.

That said, there is much here to marvel at. The vivid depiction of generations of black men still treating their womenfolk with the same odious strictures as slavery sends a powerful and salient message. It seems only the menfolk have truly broken from their yolk of oppression. This message translates from the book beautifully.

The run has ended now at the Menier Chocolate Factory but since it was largely sold out here's hoping it gets a much deserved West End transfer.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bees In The Bathroom...

If anyone was wondering where the world's bee population has been hiding....  'In my bathroom roof' seems to be the answer. 

And perhaps we've made matters worse by ripping the ceiling down.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Day of the Doctor...

So the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode will be called The Day of the Doctor and be 75 minutes long and screen on Saturday 23rd November.

Other shows around that time will be:-


Monday, September 09, 2013

Hint Hunt...

The other Sunday Steve, Ollie, Stu and I were locked in a small room near Euston station trying to escape. We had 60 minutes to do so with only our wits as tools.

Hint Hunt is an escape game with clues, puzzles and hidden compartments. We had to solve the clues, find the keys, combinations and secrets before we could start to decode the room and unlock the door to escape.

We'd done one of the other easier rooms about 4 months ago and on this occasion we were trying the harder Japanese themed Zen Room.

(Needless to say we made it out with 4 minutes to spare!)

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Old Lady...

I was at a cash machine when an old lady came up to me and asked to check her balance.
So I pushed her over.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013