Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, May 30, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past...

Last Tuesday night we had 20 mins of some storage company trying to sell us a NAS... before they then treated us to free popcorn, free sweets and a free showing of X-Men: Days of Future Past at Odeon Covent Garden.

The film was ok. But only ok. I wanted to be wowed though. And what was with that pyramid woman at the end? I guess we'll have to wait for X-Men: Apocalypse is 2016.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Meow Meow...

Last Sunday night Darren, Stuart and I went to see cabaret mistress Meow Meow at the Spiegeltent on London's glitzy South Bank.
It's a cabaret act for sure, but maybe not what you might be used to. Channeling the likes of the wonderful Justin Bond Meow Meow enters and immediately throws a strop as there are no flowers being thrown at her. Feigning indignance she flounces off and returns to distribute her own blossoms for fans to throw back.
This is the first of many self-deprecating jokes from the wonderful Australian singer and comedian. Her dress is taken away, her spectacular effects turn out to be duds. Among this 'chaos' (something we are all aware is well choreographed) this glorious chanteuse emerges triumphant.
Lady Gaga meets Jacques Brel meets Laurel and Hardy meets Edith Piaf. Slapslick humour amongst brilliantly idiosyncratic covers of Amanda Palmer, Fiona Apple and Radiohead.
Complementing these contemporary tunes are torch songs where Meow Meow squeezes every ounce of tragedy. There is nothing squeezed about her performance, though. We are all airily lifted high into the atmosphere of the tent - much as various men are lifted by her up onto the stage. Me included. Holding her leg, her waist, and then her microphone she had me acting as a foot soldier and then a footstool. Later she had the crowd waving Barbie dolls, did a quick dress change routine amongst the audience and then performed a crowd-surf both forward sand backwards whilst singing. Wow. Just wow.

This star is at the top of her game. Go see. Go see.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings...

Last Friday night Darren, Stuart and I sent to see Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings perform at the Roundhouse in London's glitzy Chalk Farm.

Harking back to the good old days when soul and funk was at it's height in the late 1960s to mid-1970s Ms Jones was in fine fettle. Her voice was beautiful and we were treated to a mix of material old and new.

Her infectious blend of soul and funk music had us all singing, dancing and jigging about. Who else could get a sold-out crowd of Camden hipsters to do the funky chicken, spin around on their heels and scream like James Brown?

The Dap-Kings were as polished as ever and everyone was smiling like Cheshire cats at the feel-good sound.

The lady had soul. The band had heart. The crowd went wild.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pam Ayres...

Last night Stuart and I went to see the poetic goddess that is Pam Ayres at The Gordon Craig Theatre in Hertfordshire's unglitzy Stevenage.

Telling us stories, reading from her books and reciting poetry she had us in stitches. We haven't laughed so much in ages.

National treasure.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Arsenal FC - FA Cup Winners 2014...

We only went and blooming well won it! What an amazing day!Arsenal FC are now the FA Cup Winners 2014.

Paul and I started the day at Piebury Corner with Sam and his mate James. We then moved on to The Horatia, The Wetherspoons at Baker Street station and then Wembley itself. We were nervous as hell (as Hull?)

Sharon had swung us Club Wembley tickets (strictly no club colours allowed - but we snuck them in anyway). Great seats and we were as excited as two excited things with particular reasons to be excited.

Disaster struck just after kick-off though and we we're  two nil down within 9 minutes. Luckily things improved and we  fought back through extra time to get a 3-2 victory. Goals went to Santi, Kos and Rambo.

Paul and I went mental.

Afterwards we headed into town and then on to the Hen and Chickens to finish the night off with Sam.

The following day I watched the victory parade with Mark from St Paul's Road. Such fun.

Here's to the same time next year!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Let The Right One In...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Let The Right One In at the Apollo Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

It's a stage version of John Ajvide Lindqvist's Swedish romantic horror novel about the mutual love between two marginalised teenagers. Well, I say teenagers. I think she is waaay older than him.

The part of the bullied 12-year-old boy is played by Martin Quinn and he is excellent. The vampire child Eli as played by Rebecca Benson is good too but boy did her voice grate with us.

The production was mystical, frosty, menacing, Narnian, wondrous and had perhaps the best use of on-stage silver birches I've had the pleasure of seeing.

If you've read the book, seen the original film or the Hollywood remake then there are perhaps few surprises here but the story remains a good one. It poses many questions about growing up, growing old and the relationships between children and adults. Oh and the big question:- How on earth did they get all that blood off those clothes afterwards?

At it's heart it's a sort of 'boy meets ghoul' tale. Enjoyable rather then outstanding.

(And good to see the Apollo Theatre back on its feet again after that ceiling collapse.)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Von Trapp Singers...

Last Saturday night Stuart I watched the gayest event of the year. No, not Eurovision. It was The Von Trapp Singers as presented by Pink Martini at the Barbican Hall in London's glitzy Barbican Centre.

We were intrigued to see what Pink Martini had done with the singing quartet - the great grand children of those mountain climbing Austrians.

We didn't wonder long. The every youthful Von Trapp Singers were great. Beautiful close harmony pop songs sung in French, Japanese, Rwandan, Hebrew, Portuguese, Spanish, oh and English. Fab.

Naturally we were treated to a sprinkling of songs from The Sound Of Music too but these were only some of the highlights among many others. In wasn't just a night of cover versions either. The only boy in the troupe August had written some new songs. And these were all pretty damned good.

During the performance we kept catching their eyes. Maybe because we were front row middle, three feet away and applauding rather too wildly for rather too long.

Icing on the cake was a guest appearance by Meow Meow. She all but stole the show.

They even did a nod to Eurovision at the end and sang Abba's Fernando. In Swedish.

Great grand mother Maria would have been proud.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Olivier Dubois Company’s Tragédie...

Last Friday night Stuart, Darren and I went to see Olivier Dubois Company’s Tragédie at the Sadler’s Wells in London’s glitzy Islington.

Consisting of three parts; it was in turns repetitive, desensitising, hypnotic, visceral, a little bit rude. Nine men, nine women and not a stitch on.

Initially all the naked dancers did was walk from the back of the stage directly to the front of the stage and turned on the heels to repeat the process once again. This was performed to a dull thumping bass line. After half an hour we kind of got it. We were desensitising to the nudity.

As the piece progressed to the later stages however things got more interesting. The dancers started to twitch. And jump. And move in diagonals. The music got more chaotic and the movement reflected this. Soon the piece became more tribal with a wild pumping beat and the dancers started to synchronise their pulsating actions.

By the final section the dancers were performing to a thumping techno beat and hectic, vibrant dancing ended up as writhing around on stage in an ecstatic orgy of humping flesh.

We loved it.

Teaser Tragedie from Tommy Pascal on Vimeo.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ignacio, Emma and Carolina...

Yesterday Ignacio, Emma and Carolina came over for Sunday lunch. We had a rare old time.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Miss Saigon...

Last Thursday night Stuart and I went to go and see Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward's Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

It's was a marvelous show - well acted, well sung and the helicopter duly turned up on cue.

Written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil as a follow up to Les Miserables the original production was put on in 1989 my Cameron Macintosh and ran for 10 years.

I was lucky enough to see that original production with my parents and we came out I asked my dad what he thought of it. "Ruddy loud" he said. Can't argue with that.

The only slight issue I have with Miss Saigon actually isn't the volume. It isn't even the (IMHO false) accusations of casual sexism and racism that sometimes get leveled at it. No, the minor quibble I have is that there are no real show-stoppers. There's no "I Dreamed A Dream", "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables" or “One Day More".

Best songs are "The Heat Is On In Saigon", "The Movie In My Mind" and "The American Dream" - but when have you heard them sung on X Factor?

If you like Les Mis (which I've seen a dozen times) then this show is for you.

(Possible) Arsenal Victory Parade – 18th May 2014...

Hey Norwich FC! Don't rain on our (possible) parade!


Author: Communications
Arsenal FC will be playing in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday 17 May. If they win, a celebratory parade will take place in Islington the following day, Sunday 18 May 2014. 

This will be an exciting day for the borough and if the parade goes ahead we are expecting large crowds to want to celebrate with the team. The council will be working closely with Arsenal FC and police to ensure that if the parade goes ahead it is a safe and enjoyable event.

To help us to coordinate this there will be a number of road closures, parking restrictions and changes to public transport, in and around the parade route. Whether you are hoping to come to watch the parade or whether you live, or run a business locally, read on for more information to help you plan for the day.

You may also want to check Arsenal FC's website, www.arsenal.com for updates too.

Timetable and route

The players will travel from the Emirates Stadium to Islington Town Hall, Upper Street and back in two open top buses. The approximate timings are listed below:

11am: the parade starts next to the stadium at Drayton Park, by Martineau Road. From here the players will travel in open top buses along Drayton Park, Aubert Park, Highbury Park, Highbury Grove, St Paul’s Road and into Upper Street.
12noon: the parade will arrive at the Town Hall, where there will be a short appearance by the players outside.  This will be followed by a closed reception in Islington Assembly Hall, before the parade returns back to the stadium.
2pm: there will be a team appearance on the Emirates Stadium podium.  Viewing will be from the area in front of the Armoury store and the adjacent street.
3pm: the celebration ends.
Road closures and parking

If the parade happens, there will be road closures and parking restrictions on the route of the parade from 9am. 

We expect all restrictions to be lifted by 3pm. This is apart from those in the area around the Emirates Stadium which should be lifted by 5pm. 

A map of the route and road closures will be available here shortly.

If the road you live or work on is closed, access will not be possible after 9am until the parade is over, so please make extra allowances for this. Residents parking restrictions will apply as normal.

Public transport

A large number of people will want to travel to the area, so it is likely that there will be delays and changes to public transport. 

Many buses will be diverted and London Underground will be making special arrangements to accommodate the crowds, but you should expect disruption to all forms of public transport for much of the day.

It is also expected that Holloway Road station will be closed for access from 2pm to 4pm. 

If you are planning to travel through the area we would advise that you leave extra time for your journey and avoid using transport around the main parade areas.

You can find up to date information about any changes to public transport on the day at www.tfl.gov.uk

Safety at the parade

If the parade takes place, the priority will be making sure residents, visitors and property are safe. Special arrangements have been made for the day and there will be stewards and police on hand to assist us in managing the event.

We will be putting up barriers and cordons to help manage crowds and protect property. Please be vigilant and consider your own safety and the safety of others around you:

Don’t bring any glass or alcohol with you. Islington is a Controlled Drinking Zone, meaning drinking on the street is not allowed and if the police or stewards see you you may be asked to pour it away.
Check the weather. If it is hot make sure you take precautions, wear sunscreen and bring water to keep well hydrated.
Don't climb on walls, fences and roofs to get it a better view. It is dangerous and you will be able to see the parade easily from the ground.
Avoid bringing very small children, or buggies and prams with you. It will be very crowded, difficult to manoeuvre and may be scary for young children. 
If you live along or near the route please take reasonable steps to protect your own property. If anyone tries to use your property to see the parade, or if you witness something you feel is dangerous notify the nearest police officer or stewards, or call us on 020 7527 2000.

Clean up 

We will have extra resources available to clean the streets of litter and debris and remove the barriers once the parade is over. Our aim is to get the streets clean and back to normal as quickly as possible after the event.


This webpage will be kept up-to-date with useful information about the parade. You can also check our frequently asked questions if you can't find what you need here.

Alternatively, if you have a specific query about these arrangements, please call Contact Islington on 020 7527 2000 or email contact@islington.gov.uk.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Diplomatic Corpse...

On Sunday night Steve, Stuart and I took part in street game / treasure hunt / murder mystery The Diplomatic Corpse.

There had been a murder at the Paudaguay Embassy and we were brought in to find out whodunit.

Run by A Door In A Wall the game consisted of seven missions where we had to go to addresses in and around Kings Cross, follow leads, solve clues, and interact with actors on the street to try and piece together the evidence. There were loads of inventive hiding places: posters in shop windows, messages on the street, mazes to navigate, graffiti to decode and puzzles to figure out.

Our team name - Pauda-guys - won the best team name prize and we did indeed work out who the murderer was. Sadly another team won the big prize though as they figured out more of the motives than we did.

Great fun if you like that sort of thing. Which we do!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Happy 8th 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 Twigs.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Last Game Of The Season...

Last Sunday it was our last home game of the season. Paul came to the game and as ever it was super, duper to see him.

The match itself was a casual affair - a bit of a runabout in the sunshine as Arsenal FC had already guaranteed 4th place (for the 17th year on the trot.) We beat West Bromwich Albion FC 1 - 0.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Highbury East Ward...

So far today I've had knocks on the door from the Greens and the Torys canvassing for votes for the upcoming local elections for Highbury East Ward. Both with clipboards. Which I hate.

Greens: Cheap green pully, big green rosette, bad hair, glasses, massive grin and yellow teeth. She made me laugh though.
Torys: A blue suit, no tie, unpolished brown Brogues and two middle names. I wanted to punch him after 60 seconds. Kept talking about "Dave" and calling me "John" and saying what a disaster Labour had been for Islington residents. I shut the dooor in his face.
Labour: No sign of them yet - probably think they'll walk it. Champagne Socialists need a hug too, you know.
UKIP: No sign of them knocking either. I have a kettle of boiling water ready in case they do. (And no, not to make them tea!)

I'm old school Champagne Socialist, me. I remember when the LibDems seized power. Upper Street became a war zone. I was there manning the barricades during the Pimento Riots in the spring of '96. And later that summer little Islington urchins were seen scavenging the streets looking for sun-blushed tomatoes. Dark days indeed. Let's hope they never return. Vote early! Vote often! Vote Labour!

Friday, May 02, 2014

The Testament Of Mary...

Last night Stuart and I went to see The Testament Of Mary at the Barbican Theatre in London's glitzy Barbican Centre.

Starring Fiona Shaw (loved her in True Blood) it's a one woman show telling the story of The Crucifixion from Jesus mother's perspective some years after the event.

It's was a powerful, thought provoking piece. And a master class in acting. Shaw commanded the stage, filling the space with Mary's rage, Mary's sadness, Mary’s memories.

It's a clever piece too which while being respectful to the classic story it also gives a more realistic interpretation of the events from a mother's point of view. It treads a careful but thoughtful line between respect and disbelief.

She is a loving mother cut out of her son's life. He has taken his own path and she struggles to understand it.

Starting out Mary could almost have quoted Monty Python's Life Of Brian and come out with, "he's a very naughty boy!" She goes on to describe The Disciples as, "my son's misfit friends." His miracles are recounted along the lines of, "well, I didn't see it happen myself but so-and-so swore it did." Indeed in many parts Mary categorically says that many of the myths surrounding Jesus were completely made up by the hysterical crowd or by those who wrote it down so many years later. As an example she recounts a dream that she shared with someone else and which then got retold as a fact and written down as such. She hints at sleight of hand too. At the wedding where the water is turned into wine she says, "six vases were indeed brought out from the back and there was certainly water in one of them. But as for the others..."

At the end, Mary had told her tale. And set a few things straight. Miracles or not, he was a naughty boy. But also her son. Blackout.

The audience rose to their feet. Shaw was a triumph.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Why did the chicken cross the road?...

Why did the chicken cross the road? 
("To be salaciously goosed" probably wasn't one of the answers on his Nando job description sheet)