Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Henry IV...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Shakespeare's Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse.

Condensing parts one and two into a single play this all-female production directed by Phyllida Lloyd was set in a women's prison. The running time was approximately 2 hours without an interval - but the time simply flew by. It was fun, revealing, and superbly acted.

The questions of what makes a a king? What makes a man? And what makes a father? are turned on the head when spoken by a woman. And ironically it is this female voice that helps us as the audience understand the motivations of these great male historical figures so much more clearly. The sense of gender detachment actually works in our favour.

Helping the production along were jokey sound effects, singing, and modern turns of phrase. None of this modernism actually detracted in any way from the action though. If anything it drove it forward. The two main plot lines are countrywide rebellion against the crown and journey of the Prince Hal leaving his drinking days and petty criminal friends behind him to take up the throne.


Thursday, October 30, 2014


When he was 7 years old Christopher Nolan went to see 2001: A Space Odyssey with his father at the Odeon West End cinema. And 46 years later here he is back in that same cinema standing in front of us. This time on stage introducing us to his own sci-fi film - Interstellar.  And courtesy of the lovely Marcus Tustin I'm here too at the European premier for Bafta in London's glitzy West End.

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine the film is a cross between Armageddon, Gravity and 2001: A Space Odyssey. And when I say 'cross' I mean it's actually all three of those films bolted together - not the best bits of each distilled down into one film. This film is long. And at just shy of three hours it's over-long to be honest by a good hour or more.

But it's obviously been a labour of love for writer/director/producer Christopher Nolan and his co-writing brother Jonathan Nolan and there is much to admire here. The acting is great, the special visual effects are super and the plot twists suitably twisty (if a little too well sign-posted).

And sure the techno-babble gets a bit clunky at times and some of the plot holes are more massive than the final third's deus ex machina Black Hole but all in all it's great film.

Ambitious, exciting and a good watch.

Dinner party review: Good, but not as good as 2001.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"You're fat-ist!"...

Stuart and I were watching something on TV on Sunday morning. Of one male presenter I remarked, "Ooh, he's put on a bit of weight!"
Stu scornfully said,"you're fat-ist!"
To which I replied,"no, you're fattest!"
If looks could kill! I thought I was going to be wearing his cup of tea!
Note to self: be nicer or expect tea in face when quoting Jimmy Carr jokes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Made In Dagenham...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see the new musical Made In Dagenham at the Adelphi Theatre in London's glitzy Strand.

Starring Gemma Arterton it retells the story (as did the film of the same name) of the women at the Ford Dagenham factory who went on strike for equal pay back in the 1960s.

To be honest we had pretty low expectations going into the auditorium but these proved to be completely unfounded. We loved it. It was funny, tuneful and well-sung. The production values were high, the show was slick and we were completely swept along with all the joie de vivre.

The struggle of the women to fight for what was only fair saw us visit a show-stopping comedic Barbara Castle, a pipe-smoking dancing Harold Wilson and best of all an all-American Ford general manager with an anti-British production number that had us weeping tears of mirth.

For downright cheerful enjoyment and exultation of the spirit this show was hard to fault. Now stick THAT on the poster!

Two thumbs up. Highly recommended.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Songs from Liquid Days...

Last Saturday night I went to the Milton Court Concert Hall in London glitzy Barbican area to see the Hertfordshire Chorus with David Temple conducting the London Orchestra da Camera. The lovely Gavin Davies was playing the fiddle in the band - which was a lovely surprise.

The first piece performed was Handel's Dixit Dominus and that was followed by Philip Glass's Songs from Liquid Days arr. Jeremy Marchant.

Songs from Liquid Days brought tears to my eyes - especially during Open The Kingdom and Forgetting.

The soloists were:- Zoë Brown soprano, Esther Brazil soprano, Clara Sanabras mezzo-soprano and Robin Green tenor.

I was slightly disappointed we had neither Margo Leadbetter nor Miss Mountshaft fighting to play the soprano lead though.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Here Lies Love...

What's that you say? A musical about Imelda Marcos? A DISCO musical about Imelda Marcos? A disco musical about Imelda Marcos written by David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim at The National Theatre's new Dorfman Theatre? Set in a Studio 54 style night club? With flashing lights, a giant disco-ball, non-stop dancing, podia that twirl and slide and glide across the auditorium and banging tunes that stick in your head like earworms? We were so there.

Who cares if there is no reference to her shoes? Who cares if politics takes a bit of a back seat? The audience were clapping, singing, and dancing along. Well, we simply loved it. 

Sadly it's sold out for the rest of it's three month run so let's hope for a West End transfer.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Anderlecht 1-2 Arsenal...

Last night Arsenal FC laboured for a long period and seemed set for a deserved defeat to Anderlecht until nabbing all three points with an incredible turn-around at the death when Kieran Gibbs and Lukas Podolski fired home a leveler and then a winner just each side of the 90 minutes.

 It was a suitable win for Arsene Wenger's 65th birthday celebration. Phew!

 I guess my #WengerOut posts will have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Northern Soul...

Last Friday night Stu and I went to see Northern Soul at the Prince Charles Cinema just off Leicester Square in London's glitzy West End.

It was a film full of Northern Soul music, dancing, drugs and violence. We loved it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Angie and Kev's Wedding...

Last Saturday night Stu and I went to a fab Essex wedding in Shenfield to help celebrate the nuptials of the lovely Angie Harrop and Kevin East. Congratulations guys!

Monday, October 20, 2014

To Do Lists...

Dear Jane,

Do you sometimes wonder how people get things done? How other secretaries who seem to be organised are on top of their lives rather than constantly playing catch-up? The answer is they use To Do lists - it's that simple: note down the things you need to do, then check them off when you do them. It's like having an extra brain, an assistant who can say, "Oh yes, you need to do X."

Today's life lesson was brought to you by The Bleedin' Obvious.

Kind regards,

Your Boss.

PS: If you think this email is (a) passive-aggressive, (b) insulting, and/or (c) patronising. And you are thinking of (d) coming round to give me a piece of your mind, (e) calling HR to complain, and/or (f) bitching about me to the others in the office...  congratulations! Not only are you correct but you are well on the way to writing your first To Do list!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Our Town...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Our Town performed at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

In 1946, the Soviet Union prevented a production of Our Town in the Russian sector of occupied Berlin "on the grounds that the drama is too depressing and could inspire a German suicide wave."

Well, I guess people were easier to depress back then. **Spoiler alert** Not everyone makes to through Act III.

Thornton Wilder's play often gets described as "stark, pure and unforgettable theatre" what with it's post-modern fourth wall-breaking Stage Manager character addressing the audience directly and sign-posting the hum-drum plot with the subtly of a peacock on the pull.

We beg to differ.

For us the play certainly was "stark" - as per the stage directions there was little by way of props or scenery. As for "pure" - it was certainly purely an actor's play in as much as we could see why actors would like to be in it. They have to pretend to wash up, delivery milk, eat food, etc. A sort of miming workshop. Very drama school. But as for "unforgettable" we do have to disagree. The plainly told story of a small out of the way American town is utterly unremarkable. People go about their lives, go to school, people get married, bring up kids. We get it. And then when people die they didn't realise what they had until it was gone. We really do get it.

Now this Almeida production was good. But only "good". Any ensemble piece like Our Town requires top notch actors in every role and here one or two just weren't up to scratch.

Sad, really as maybe the short-comings of the play could have been made up by better acting by some of the cast.

Another rather disappointing piece from the Almeida . Luckily not as awful as Mr Burns though.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lord Freud...

Lord Freud says something out loud that probably should have stayed in his head. If only there were a name for this kind of slip.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Iggy's 1st Birthday Party...

Last Sunday Stuart and I we went to Ignacio's 1st birthday party. Mothers Emma and Carolina put on a great spread - barbecue sausages, birthday cake and Prosecco.

And balloon lady make us some special balloons too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Matthew Bourne's The Lord Of The Flies...

Last Friday Stuart and I went to see Matthew Bourne's The Lord Of The Flies at The Sadler's Wells in London's glitzy Islington.

Using twenty-two locally auditioned young dancers, Matthew Bourne’s touring production vividly displays the children’s descent from innocence to their baser instincts.

William Golding’s novel has been tweaked a little so that the boys have become stranded not on an island but in an abandoned theatre - the clothes rails taking the role of the bushes and trees and a drum stick for the conch shell.

It was by turns exciting, entertaining and visceral as the regimented school boys gradually descend into savagery.

Maybe not up there with Bourne's great works but as an outreach project it's a triumph.

Highly recommended.

Monday, October 13, 2014

NHS Strike...

My Dad is going in for an operation on his eye today. But do you know what? He says he can wait. Or go in tomorrow. This strike is important. Running down the NHS starts with running down their staff pay and morale.

Friday, October 10, 2014

East is East...

Last night Stuart and I went to see East is East at the Trafalgar Studios in London's glitzy Westminster.

Based on Ayub Khan-Din's original play at the Royal Court Theatre in 1997 and then on the film in 1999 East is East is a comedy-drama set in Salford, Greater Manchester in 1971.

The action takes place in a mixed-ethnicity household that is headed by Pakistani father George (Ayub Khan-Din) aided by an English mother, Ella (Jane Horricks).

George expects his family to follow Pakistani ways, but his seven children, who were born and grew up in Britain, increasingly see themselves as British and reject Pakistani customs of dress, food, religion, and living in general, leading to a rise in tensions and conflicts in the whole family.

It's a very funny play and while exploring multiculturalism in the early 1970s still resonates today.


Thursday, October 09, 2014

God Only Knows...

Great video and for a great cause - BBC Children In Need. I'm guessing that's a Retro Bar Pop Quiz question in there somewhere too.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Andrew Sterry 40th...

Last Saturday Stu, Bron, Jimmy, Debbie, Jim, Jamie, Pip, Fay, me and a hundred other people descended upon Ocean Beach in Southend-on-Sea to help Andy celebrate his 40th birthday by throwing a party. Open bar, great food (fish head included), dancing and family flash mob all made it a night to remember. Jagerbombs and dips in the sea added to the fun.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Emma and Paul...

Emma and Paul were over in the UK from Perth Australia last week so we joined them for some dinner on the Friday, a catch up and coffee on the Saturday in Bar Italia.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Birthday Sunday Lunch...

The other Sunday the boys (Hudd, Chris, Mark, Dean, Andy,Michael, Andrew, Tim, Darren and Stuart and I) went out for a birthday lunch at the Horatia pub in London's unglitzy Holloway. We had  a rare old time.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Birthday / The Cuban Brothers...

Last Friday it was my birthday and Simon treated Hayley, Jo, Charlotte, Stuart and I to a night out at The Old Queen's Head in glitzy Islington to see The Cuban Brothers.

We went out to Brown's first for a meal.

The Bros were great and we had a rare old time.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Kate Bush - Before The Dawn (Take 4)...

Last night Toby, Michael, Stuart and I went to see Kate Bush's Before The Dawn at the Eventim Apollo in London's unglitzy Hammersmith.

It was my fourth and final viewing and Kate's last night.

The crowd were really up for it and it was probably my favourite night.
I knew exactly what to expect and when - which meant I could enjoy it more.
We had great seats too - further back in the middle so we could take in all the action at once.
Kate sounded great and really pulled out all thr stops - she did get quite emotional at some points and somewhat overwhelmed by all the love pouring onto the stage from the auditorium.

Gawd bless you Kate - you have out on an amazing set of shows and I've loved every minute of it. Here's to the next time.

Or as Kate put it just before the final encore of Cloubusting, "this is the last song I'm going to sing... for a while."

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Kate Bush - Before The Dawn (Take 3)...

Last night Darren, Chris, Hudd and I went to see Kate Bush's Before The Dawn at the Eventim Apollo in London's unglitzy Hammersmith.

On third viewing I think I enjoyed it even more. Nothing went wrong, Kate sang like a nightingale (or is that blackbird) and I cried all over again.

I'm back again tonight for the last show and am taking Stuart, Mike and Toby.

And I got this from Toby this morning:-

"Around 36 years ago, a sensitive young boy in Kent was twirling around his parents' living room (doubtless emulating Wonder Woman) when he tripped on the shag-pile carpet, fell and split open his upper lip on the corner of a clunky 1970s glass coffee table. With blood pouring down his chin - and no hospital emergency department in town - the boy was taken to the on-call doctor and had his lip painfully stitched back together. The boy was, of course, me, but the doctor was none other than DOCTOR BUSH, father of Kate Bush, my first musical inspiration. I bore that scar on my lip for many years, proudly pointing to the bump and telling anyone who'd listen of my unique claim to fame: "Kate Bush's father sewed up my lip!". I always though that would be the closest I'd ever come to my heroine and, as the years passed and both Kate and my scar faded from public view, I gave up on ever being able to see her perform in real life. Well, tonight all that changes, as I attend the concert I feel like I've been waiting my whole life to see. And it's all thanks to the thoughtfulness of one very kind friend. Sincerely, thank you, Jonathan. What dreams await....!"