Quote Of The Day

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fiesta Major Fireworks

Fiesta Major has been fab this year. The fireworks get more and more impressive. And the images get worldwide exposure. The Guardian covered it this year.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Salvador Dalí...

Stuart and I popped up the coast today to visit one of the three Salvador Dalí museums in or near Figueres. I'd visited before with Paul 10 years ago but the collection has been expanded since. Great weird fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fiesta Major...

Sitges is only a small place but boy they like their fireworks! Fiesta Major goes off with a bang!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Stuart and I popped into Barcelona for the day to have some fun up a funicular, swing on a cable car and peer at some gaudy Gaudi. Great fun.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Stuart and I arrived in Sitges safe and sound. We're staying in Parrots Hotel - yes, I know! - but actually it's pleasant enough. We're on the roof in the 'penthouse' and it is high above all the noise from the street. In fact the room is clean, bright and perfectly comfortable. We got a bottle of cava on arrival, a large bottle of water each day, beach towels, two Parrots VIP cards (whatever the hell they are), free sun umbrellas and breakfast too. So not bad.

Andy and Kev are in the same hotel. Tim and Mindy, Richard and Andre are staying in an apartment just round the corner. 

Yesterday we had a few hours on the beach - the sea was lovely and warm, the beers lovely and cold.

Evenings have been spent in Parrots Bar followed by dinner and a trip to El Horno.  Not much changes here.

The Train to Spain...

On Friday night Stuart and I took the train to Spain. Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Barcelona and then shorty hop to Sitges. We actually decided to stop overnight in Paris, staying at a hotel near Gare de Lyon. 

It made a really pleasant change to take the train rather than fly and it was cheaper too. Well, it would have been if we hadn't upgraded to first glad on the TGV!

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Threepenny Opera...

Last night Jane, Sara, Stuart and I went to see Rufus Norris's raucous, rollicking reimagining of The Threepenny Opera at the Olivier Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Based on Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's work this fresh adaptation by Simon Stephens is rather rude, fairly crude and deliciously lewd. We were warned at the door, "contains filthy language and immoral behaviour" and they weren't wrong!

Rory Kinnear plays Mack the Knife - maybe not quite as menacingly as he could do for my taste - as a bounder, a cad, and a pan-sexual murdering thief. You get the drift. A wrong'en.

The musical is set as London scrubs up for the coronation. The thieves are on the make, the whores on the pull, the police cutting deals to keep it all out of sight. Mr and Mrs Peachum are looking forward to a bumper day in their beggary business, but their daughter didn’t come home last night and Mack has a tale to tell.

It's a sleazy, good fun revival but lots of bawdy songs, social comment and fine performances.

My only minor carp might be that there is perhaps a little too much scenery for my taste. But it all whirled around, spun about, swung down and slotted in very nicely.

Oh and Le Gateau Chocolat is in it. And he's very good.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host...

"Half of you probably know who I am, the other half, you were dragged along by your partners, well, you first half, you'd better be giving your partners' sex tonight as a thank you, because it’s a Tuesday night for God's sake..."

Last night Stuart and I went to see This American Life radio host Ira Glass and dancers Monica Bill and Anna Bass perform a weird and wonderful show called Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host at the Royal Festival Hall on London's glitzy South Bank, and it was disjointed, but conjoined, and weird, and wonderful, and did exactly what it said on the tin, on a fairly bare stage, but for a couple of mobile theatrical curtains, in front of which Ira played us some of his radio interviews whilst talking about such diverse topics as Riverdance, focus groups in marriages, aging dancers and poetic death, and Monica and Anna danced, and the anecdotes were very funny, and the dancing beautiful, oh and there was some audience participation too, and bubble machines, and confetti guns, and balloons, lots and lots of balloons, and it was great, and weird, and wonderful. With lots of commas.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Groundhog Day...

Last Friday night Stuart and I along with Roger and Kevin went to see a preview of new musical Groundhog Day at the Old Vic in London's glitzy Waterloo.

Yes Tim Minchin, the guy behind the rip-roaring success that is Matilda, has turned his attention to making a musical out of the much-loved time-loop film from 1993 Groundhog Day - and he has mostly succeeded. Mostly.

Groundhog Day is the story of Phil Connors, a cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman who is sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in the isolated small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, when he finds himself caught in a time loop, forced to repeat the same day again and again… and again. As each day plays out exactly the same as before Phil becomes increasingly despondent.

So is it any good? Meh.

Basically it's too long, too 'theatre'. I really wanted to love it - but I ended up sort of just liking it.

Naturally Tim Minchin proves to be a genius on the lyric front. I've always been a big fan of his and three or four of his songs do deliver in spades. His song on alternative therapies is a delight, his drinking song very funny and the fourth wall-busting heart-felt Being Nancy especially shines.

But overall the production disappoints. There is a fantastic cast and crew but after the wow that is Matilda this just doesn't hit the sweet spot. One act would have been enough, but it just carries on and on. That's not to criticise the inherent repeating within the plot-line of the book - it's just there is no development within the production - just repetition. And it becomes boring quite quickly, despite the effort of the hard working cast.

So, good try, it will no doubt run for a while, and it is quite good, but it could have been great.

Now if Mr Minchin came up with an original story lampooning alternative therapies... I'm in!

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Deep Blue Sea...

Last Thursday night Stuart and I went to see Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea at the Lyttelton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

The play is a devastating masterpiece which contains one of the greatest female parts in contemporary drama. Helen McCrory takes on this role and her Hester Collyer simply blazes. From start to finish she exudes through every pore what Shakespeare called “the very wrath of love.”

I was in floods of tears as Hester is dumped by Freddie the man she loves. It is just too painful to see her pleading for one last look at him. For Freddie is no cad. He loves her too. But just not as much as she loves him. And it is this imbalance that causes their love boat to sink beneath the waves of despair.

It is Terence Rattigan’s best play by a long chalk - basing the story and characters in part on his own secret relationship with Kenny Morgan, and the aftermath following the end of their relationship. The first draft of the play was between two men but he transposed it to a straight couple with great effect.

Throughout the play Rattigan builds up a portrait of a society; the young married couple upstairs embody middle-class orthodoxy, the struck-off doctor who comes to the suicidal Hester’s aid is a sexual outlaw, and the gossipy landlady represents working-class tolerance. When you add in Hester’s high court judge husband, you have a composite picture of England.

This production is masterfully done and contains the powerful sense of ruin that both the play and the role of Hester warrant.

Highly recommended.

Friday, August 12, 2016


My downstairs neighbour has listened to "Barbie Girl" by Aqua for almost seven hours now... because that's what I've been playing.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Girl at Work...

Girl at work:  I hate my arse of a boyfriend.
Me: Why don't you break up with him?
Girl at work:  Fuck you. I love him.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

EuroPride: The Review...

We had a great Pride weekend away in Amsterdam for EuroPride. Lots of rainbow flags, men in tight trunks and copious plastic cups of beer. What's not to like? (Well, one thing not to like is the 1 euro charge to use the bathrooms!)

The Drag Olympics was a sellout and almost every area of the town held its own street party with music, street food, drinking and smiling faces.

The Canal Parade was great fun and very impressively staged although it seemed a little devoid of the silliness, politics-lite, social comment and downright fun that Brighton Pride parade enjoys.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Friday, August 05, 2016

EuroPride: It Starts...

Off to Amsterdam for EuroPride for the weekend with Stu, Darren, Vince, Liam, Jason, Nicky, Claude, Hash and Craig. Should be fun!

Thursday, August 04, 2016


My driving instructor told me to pull over somewhere safe.
Two minutes later he said, "Why haven't you pulled over yet?"
I said, "Because we're still south of the river."

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Family Gathering...

Back at the end of June my sister Joanna and I organised a large family get-together in Chipperfield Parish Hall. There were about 56 of us - all sharing the food and cooking duties.

Mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, first cousins once removed...

It was so fantastic to see everyone. My cousin Peter gave a wonderfully moving speech, we had a bottle raffle for Macmillan Cancer Support raising £228 and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We left promising to do it all again in a few years time.

To be brutally frank the reason I wanted to organise the do was because I was fed up with meeting the extended family only at funerals. I used to see them at weddings all the time but as you get older...

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Young Chevhov Plays...

Last Saturday Stuart and I went to see three early Anton Chekhov plays in one day at the Olivier Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

So that's eight hours of Russian navel-gazing where not much happens, right? Wrong! It was a riot.

Starting with the hysterically funny play Platonov, then moving on to the moodiness that is Ivanov and finally ending with the tragedy that is The Seagull the disposition of the day started with high farce before descending into deep depression. And we simply loved it. Masterfully adapted by David Hare and skilfully directed by Jonathan Kent the ensemble cast took on each play deftly mixing and matching the roles with aplomb. A gardener in one play might be a lord in the next. The juxtaposition of the casting was as clever as it was rewarding.

The set evolved too. Throughout the day the tempo of the plays mutated gradually - almost Darwinianly. Subtle changes to the positions of the stage trees as if by chance lead to a tightening in the focus of the drama ever inwards. The lighting slithered and constricted as it encircled the players into one claustrophobic space. Even the way water was used heightened the feeling of closeness - at first it was passive as the lake taking up half the stage until it was raised up and used as rain in the later play actively attacking our heroine as she sought redemption. In fact water acted as a beautiful metaphor for the three plays. As first playful and still and then vengeful, destructive and drenchingly deadly.

Platonov @ 11:45am
Schoolteacher Mikhail Platonov has a problem – he’s irresistible to women. Set in the blazing heat of a rural Russian summer, this freewheeling comedy is a cry of youthful defiance against the compromises of middle age. Scots actor James McArdle is superb as the Don Juan-type schoolmaster at whose feet women throw themselves like lemmings. Platonov as a play perhaps deserves better recognition that it currently enjoys. It's a scream. And Hare's adaptation is high farce - even Jonathan Harvey would have been proud of it. Gimme Gimme Chekhov, anyone?

Ivanov @ 4pm
Nikolai Ivanov is only 35, a radical and a romantic, but already he’s feeling that he’s thrown his life away. He's miserable, moody and full of self-loathing. Determined not to become a small-town Hamlet, he hopes one last desperate romance may save him from a society rotten with anti-Semitism and drink. This electric play is powered both by hilarious satire and passionate self-disgust.

The Seagull @ 8pm
The most famous of the trilogy The Seagull takes place on a warm summer’s day in a makeshift theatre by a lake. Konstantin is a playwright and son of an over-bearing fading actress Irina who he is desperate to impress. His cutting-edge new play is being performed by the love of his life ingénue Nina. What could go wrong? Quite a lot as it as it turns out. Chekhov’s masterly meditation on how the old take wicked revenge on the young is both comic and tragic, and marks the birth of the modern stage. A treat to watch. Anna Chancellor as Irina is simply scene-stealing.

If you get the chance to go to see any or all of these plays, do.

Monday, August 01, 2016


Last week Stuart and I went to see Anthony Neilson's Unreachable at the Royal Court in London's glitzy Sloane Square.

Some have called Unreachable "Unwatchable" which I think is a bit unfair. A bit. Most critics have given it 5 star reviews. Most critics are idiots.

Starring your own, your very own, Matt Smith as the director looking for the perfect light to shoot his next film the piece has much to admire about it and much that is frankly frustrating.

Firstly the good stuff. All the female leads are excellent. Amanda Drew as Anastasia the fictitious film’s producer is outstanding and almost holds the show together as a character and an actor. Tamara Lawrance as Natastia the fictitious film's female lead creates a character who is proud of having no empathy and who 'just acts' sad or happy or whatever - which is a genius swipe at method acting.

But now the not so good stuff. The play is a bit of a mess. The idea behind the structure is sure-footed enough - each scene in the play is acted out as if it were a scene in a film ( "Act One, Scene One" etc. is announced loudly before each scene) - but it's all just too sloppily realised. The action (and the actors) constantly trip over themselves exiting and entering stage left / right / front / back or wherever they are meant to be - but rarely pick themselves up again.

Matt Smith as the lead is rather weak too. We don't really believe in his character - or indeed care much whether his film gets made or not. And then towards the end of the first half a ridiculous character played by Jojo O'Neill arrives who all but capsizes the whole fictitious film production (and indeed the play). He shouts and protests and breaks the fourth wall and tries (out of character) to get the other actors to laugh. It all comes across like an overbearing actors' improv class - and a rather self-indulgent one at that.

And as if to confirm that the production has lost its self-confidence in its own conceit the last five minutes make you mouth three times in close succession… What?... What?!... WHAT?!

As I say, not without its merits but a frustrating waste of some good ideas.