Quote Of The Day

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017

Philip Glass at 80: Total Immersion Weekend...

Paul Woodward, Stuart and I spent a glorious weekend at the Barbican where a series of events were staged to celebrate Philip Glass's 80th birthday.  It was a Total Immersion weekend of concerts, premieres, talks and films. We were totally blown away.

Highlights for me were a selection of his Piano Etudes and his Glassworks both performed at the Milton Court Concert Hall, his Knee Play 3 from Einstein on the Beach with the BBC Singers and Concerto for Two Pianos performed by the barking mad Katia and Marielle Labèque sisters. Glorious.

After Saturday's night amazing rendition of Itaipu - Glass's four-movement symphonic cantata written in 1989 - we were shaking with glee and delight as tears streamed down our cheeks.

Yeah. You could say we liked it.

Later that night Paul wrote this (and I couldn't have put it better myself)...

I have to share this with you...
Don't know if you are into, or even like, the music of Philip Glass
But just been to a 'total immersion' day of his music to celebrate his 80th birthday - thanks to a beautiful old mate Jonathan and his partner Stuart... (bless you for thinking of me last minute!)
from 12:30 to 22:20
And the last piece just ripped me to shreds with its power.
Some things are just TOO BIG
I guess that's the theory of the 'sublime' isn't it? A state of AWE in the face of something so monumental and totemic that it confounds us, shakes us to the core, and reminds us of our place in the grand scheme of things...
The mountains of north Scotland
The death of my father
The theatre of Robert Wilson
The music of Philip Glass
The enormity of the craft of teaching
The broken heart
The birth of a child in all its muck and glory
Falling in love and having sex with that person
Snowstorm (anywhere)
And, inevitably, death
and it struck me watching a massive orchestra - how the enterprise and artistry is THE solution to all the SHIT THINGS happening in the world right now
If you say the violins aren't welcome.. how the whole would suffer...
If you said the percussion section were criminals and drug dealers and they should not have a place.. how barren it would be
If you said the harpists were perverts and deviants... then the heavenly and delicate sounds would deprive the WHOLE ORGASMIC SOUND of so much magic
An orchestra playing music that is SO BIG it's like a physical workout
There is my perfect metaphor for a society I want and need and would lay my life down for ..
Thank you Philip Glass... and happy 80th birthday 😀

Friday, January 27, 2017


Last night Simon and I ventured out into the cold night air to sit and listen to the gentle, melodic fingerings of Lambchop as they performed in the round at The Roundhouse in London's glitzy Camden.

The current season at The Roundhouse is an all-seated affair, which is actually much better than their usual standing-behind-the-tall-bloke-with-the-chatty-mate we usually are treated to.

I didn’t really know much about Lambchop before going to see them and to be honest I'm not sure if I'm any the wiser afterwards. They didn't talk much.

They seem to come from Nashville, Tennessee. They don't like Trump ("What's 15 inches long and hangs in front of an arsehole" "Donald Trump's tie"). And their music is decidedly - how can I put this? - understated. Which makes for a very relaxing evening. Perhaps too relaxing for some people judging by the man two down from me who was snoring for the last half hour of the hour and three-quarter hour set.

I liked it though. Apparently, they were doing stuff from their more recent albums. Pleasant enough. Perhaps a little too reliant on the Vocoder though c.f. George Michael's cover of True Faith so it was hard to hear the lyrics. Especially as they didn't play particularly loudly either. At one point a bloke near us shouted out, "Turn it up!"

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Football Has Adopted a Gay Anthem...

Football has adopted a gay anthem. But you knew that, right?

The famous "One Nil to The Arsenal" chant has had a giddy life starting from German organist Pachelbel, on to gay disco outfit Village People, then to the sublime Pet Shop Boys, and finally settling upon the mighty Arsenal terraces.

What gives?

The first leg of the 1994 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc Des Princes was rife with the tensions of early ‘90s provincial fandom. “The Boulogne Boys [PSG’s right-wing hooligan supporters] were looking for Arsenal fans to attack in the build-up to the game,” recalls London-based Arsenal supporter Kevin Whitcher, who was in attendance that night. “It was chaos.”

At halftime, Arsenal led 1-0 on an Ian Wright header. The stadium DJ played the Pet Shop Boys’ version of “Go West,” which had risen to No. 2 on the charts the previous year, and the PSG fans, led by the Boulogne Boys, started chanting “Allez, Paris Saint-Germain” along with the chorus. The Arsenal fans cheekily improvised their own version of the chant, one that reflected the scoreline—“One-nillll, to the Arsenal.”

PSG leveled the game in the second half and it ended in a draw, but the song stuck. “It was an easy chant to catch onto and spread like wildfire among the traveling support,” says Whitcher. “It caught on at the return leg at Highbury [1-0 to Arsenal] and the final in Copenhagen [also 1-0 to Arsenal], so it was helped by the results in those matches.” Today it is still one of Arsenal supporters’ best known cheers, while supporters groups across the world sing their own chants to the tune of “Go West,” and variations on the melody even played official roles at two World Cups. It’s safe to say that earworm of a melody is one of the most iconic anthems in all of sport. But to understand how all this came to pass, we have to go back 300 years.

And Deadspin have written a rather nice article about it here called: The 300-Year Journey From Classical Standard To Gay Disco Anthem To The Most Iconic Anthem In Soccer

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Saatchi Gallery...

On Saturday afternoon Joanna, Charlotte and I went to the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road in London's glitzy Chelsea to have a nose around.

The gallery is huge, free and definitely worth a look.

Here are some of the pieces we saw...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Arsenal 2 - 1 Burnley...

Dylan and I had a fantastic day at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday watching Arsenal take on Burnley. It was a fractious game and we were lucky be 1-0 up after 90 minutes having gone down to 10 men. When the ref gave a ridiculous seven minutes of extra time the place went wild. Then Burnley were awarded a penalty! It looked like it was going to be a draw and then miraculously we got awarded a penalty in the 97th minute! The place went wilder!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Raising Martha...

Last night Stuart and went to see jet-black comedy Raising Martha at the Park Theatre in London's distinctly unglitzy Finsbury Park.

Synopsis: If Joe Orton was still alive and writing plays, this would be one of his less notable ones. Lots of gross-out jokes but a little dated all the same.

Despite numerous plot twists, anthropomorphic amphibians, and one bloody scene of human vivisection, Raising Martha is a surprisingly tame and predictable new farce from radio comedy writer David Spicer.

The titular Martha here is the long dead matriarch of a family of frog farmers, whose bones are stolen by militant animal rights activists for the purposes of blackmail. Though the plot touches on themes of extremism, civil liberty, and the human talent for cruelty, Spicer rarely digs deeper than the first available punchline. For all that, his dialogue has a pleasing verbosity, regularly punctured with asides, and peppered with slow burning jokes, which pay off in the play’s closing moments.

Director Michael Fentiman gives the show a busy, physical edge, ramping up the slapstick sight gags but also adding occasional, awkward movements that feel arbitrary. As bickering, bumbling activists Marc and Jago, Tom Bennett and Joel Fry show an admirable willingness to throw themselves around in their underpants to get a laugh. By contrast, Jeff Rawle’s stolid country copper Clout oozes opportunistic unpleasantness, circling the crime scene like a vulture as he delivers his unreliable narration.

Rebecca Brower’s multi-level set features transparent screens that provide a glimpse into a greenhouse packed with marijuana plants. Meanwhile, a section of the Park Theatre’s mezzanine has been converted into an open grave, which characters fall into or pop out of with great regularity. Beneath moody violet strip lights, the space gains a tense, expectant atmosphere that the production never quite capitalises on.

Recommended? If you like your comedy to be both broad and black this might be this how for you.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Galileo! (Galileo!) Galileo! (Galileo!) Galileo fit to go. Fit to go, go, go, go, go, go, gooooo!

After a long and much-delayed 17-year gestation, Europe's answer to America's GPS system has been switched on. And it gives 10 times the accuracy.

The Galileo network will offer a free service with an accuracy of one metre, and can pinpoint locations down to a few centimetres for paying customers. The service has 18 satellites in orbit, with 30 projected by 2020 at the latest.

"Geo-localisation is at the heart of the ongoing digital revolution with new services that transform our daily lives," said Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the European Commission.

"Galileo will increase geo-location precision ten-fold and enable the next generation of location-based technologies; such as autonomous cars, connected devices, or smart city services. Today I call on European entrepreneurs and say: imagine what you can do with Galileo – don't wait, innovate."

Galileo's high level of accuracy comes from the four precise atomic clocks each satellite holds, which will only lose one second in three million years. When a device hears from four of the satellites, it can work out its location down to a few centimetres.

We've traced the call... he's 3 centimetres behind you!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Grave of Thrones...

I finished catching up on the first six series of Game Grave of Thrones last night. Gosh there was a lot of death, a lot of weddings (of various colours), and sword fights i.e. sex and stabbings. My favourites are the White Walkers, that evil queen and that gal with dragons. Can't really bring myself to care about all those idiots in the North though. Roll on series seven!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's Turtles All The Way Down....

35 years ago, I was lucky enough to be taught theoretical physics (for a while at least) by Professor Stephen Hawking. He had recently been elected Lucasian Professor of Mathematics when I went up to Cambridge and had started with tutoring both under-graduates as well as post-graduates. My own interests were cosmology, quantum gravity and general relativity and he was, and still is, the go-to guy in these fields. He soon gave up with us under-grads though as his health was deteriorating and he wanted to write a book. Therefore, I was one of the lucky ones in that brief window of time between him having enough energy to teach and him needing full-time nursing care in 1982. Six years later he had finished his book and A Brief History of Time was to go on to sell 12 million copies.

Therefore, it was with some excitement I ventured out last night to see him. It was his 75th birthday last week was due to give a lecture. Also his book has now become an app called Stephen Hawking's Pocket Universe so he was keen to flog that too.

Sadly he was not there in person though as he is ill at the moment so this place was taken by Martin Rees my old Master at Trinity College. Such a shame but Stephen had pre-recorded his talk for us and some answers to pre-submitted questions.

Short answer: robots *will* take over the world, information is never lost, everyone on earth will die eventually, there is no God and the Universe will expand into virtual nothingness.

And, what's this about turtles?

Bertrand Russell once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.
At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise."
The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?"
"You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady.
"But it's turtles all the way down!"

Monday, January 16, 2017


Stu and I met up with Kerry and Fay for lunch on Sunday in Chalkwell. We had a lovely time but the weather was shit.

Friday, January 13, 2017

La La Land...

Stop whatever you are doing right now and go and see La La Land. Right now! It's brilliant. I wept full-on man tears five times. Tears of utter joy. It is fantastic.
You will be dancing out of the cinema and singing the astonishing songs. I have just downloaded the soundtrack and listening to it on repeat. I particularly love Another Day in the Sun and Someone in the Crowd. It has gotta be made into a West End musical!

La La Land is a love letter to LA and people wanting to make it big - but rather than roasting you in a wannabe's naked ambition it lets you swim in cool blue waters of people with potential and passion.

It's not perfect but if Singin' in the Rain is a 10 this is a 9.

The film aside, I had planned to go and see it at The Screen on the Green but it was closed. Shutters down. So missed their early showing. Shame on them. So went to see it at the Vue instead.

After seeing the film I popped into SotG just to say that I had been standing outside in the cold and the guy apologised profusely, offered me a full refund and two free tickets valid for a year at any Everyman cinema. Nice guy.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tube Strike vs. Fitbit...

Tube strike walking to and from work on Monday sure burned up the calories. The driving rain was less than fun though.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hedda Gabler...


Last night Stuart, Jane, Sara and I went to see Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the Lyttelton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Synopsis: Great production of a narrowing play. Ruth Wilson is excellent as mad, bad and dangerous to know Hedda.

Ibsen can be a bit downbeat at times and even depressing as we wait for the inevitable in the Norwegian's plays - a major character's suicide. Not quite so here however. It was a night of fraught nerves and violin string-tight emotions.

Ruth Wilson's Hedda was coquettish, playful, and skittish but ultimately a nasty piece of work. For Hedda Gabler is a study of a woman driving for power and control. Recently married to a brilliant but boring academic she feels helplessly trapped and seeks to reject her new life spreading before her. She taunts ex-lovers, bullies her husband, manipulates old school friends, and seems to hate the fact that she is now pregnant.

She soon comes a cropper though as giving alcohol to a recovering alcoholic, a loaded gun to a depressive and blackmail material to a unscrupulous family friend was never going to end well.

An excellent production helped in no small way by Chukwudi Iwuji's Eilert Lövborg and Rafe Spall's Judge Brack who were both particularly compelling.

Recommended: If you like a bit of depressing Norwegian self-destruction.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Saint Joan...


Joan of Arc: daughter, farm girl, visionary, patriot, king-whisperer, soldier, leader, victor, icon, radical, witch, heretic, saint, martyr.
Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Shaw's Saint Joan at the Donmar Warehouse in London's glitzy Covent Garden.

Synopsis: There had been a run on eggs and milk and farm girl Joan is hearing voices. Arterton is stylish and engaging as the doomed Joan of Arc.

Bernard Shaw's electrifying classic Saint Joan has been reborn by Josie Rourke here at the Donmar as a modern-day news event. We have large screens bursting into life with breaking news stories about tumbling egg and milk production alongside political scoops and financial machinations.

The core of the story remains the same however. The English are at war with the French and have occupied much of northern France. From the villages comes a girl who appears to hear the voices of St Catherine and St Michael telling her God's word to rid the country of these annoying foreign invaders. People flock to her side and she has many military successes even restoring the Dauphin to the French crown.

Soon she overreaches herself and her iconic status as communicating with the Almighty threatens the Catholic Church who aren't so keen on someone bypassing their own monopoly with God. There will be sparks; this town ain't big enough for the both of us.

Starring the luminescent Gemma Arterton in the titular role the production is a compelling though perhaps not a triumphant one. There is a great supporting cast with many familiar faces however for a play about a woman being burned at the stake the production never really catches fire. It is all very arch and wordy as you might expect from Shaw but with little passion.

Only Arterton's final speech before she goes to the flames has much spunk.

Recommended (if you like Gemma Arterton - which I do - and you like modernist twists - which I only kinda do)

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Stud and The Bitch...

Stu and I spent Sunday afternoon watching a doubleheader of The Stud and The Bitch. Disco-thrusting, It was Oliver Tobias-lusting, Legs & Co-floor-busting fan-flipping-tastic. We were dancing round the room in fits of giggles.


Friday, January 06, 2017

My Brother and I...

My brother and I laugh now about how competitive we used to be with each other as kids. But I laugh more.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Mary Stuart...

Last night Stuart, Jane, Sara and I went to see Schiller's political tragedy Mary Stuart at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

Synopsis: Two queens. One in power. One in prison. It's all in the execution. Fantastic show.

Set over one day and taking almost as long to perform(!) the play tells the story of two queens - Elizabeth and Mary. One English and one Scottish. One Protestant and one Catholic. One a bastard and one a true blood. One cursed with doubt and one blessed with a heart.

The Catholics are plotting to overthrow the Protestants (as the Protestants did them) so  Mary as their figurehead is imprisoned - nominally for the murder of her husband Darnley, but actually due to her claim to the throne of England held by Elizabeth. Elizabeth doesn't know what to do with her; she wants to get hid of her but doesn't want to make her a martyr so hesitates over signing Mary's death warrant. It is a hestitaion that may cost her dear.

Elizabeth eventually agrees to meet Mary but things don't go well and after Elizabeth is stabbed suddenly everything moves very, very fast... Mary has to die. Or does she?

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of history will know how it plays out but in the end we are left with one Queen. Alone. Heavy weighs the crown.

Playing both Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart, Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams trade the play's central roles, decided at each performance by the toss of a coin. We saw Stevenson play Mary and Williams play Elizabeth and fantastic they both were in their roles.

Stevenson's Mary used her earthy charms, she pleaded, she scorned, she fort against the bars of the prison that held her. She was the heart of the play.

Williams's Elizabeth was full of doubt about doing the right thing. She hated the duty that had enslaved her. She understood much but over-thought everything. She was a mass of contradictions. She was the head of the play.

Great supporting cast especially from Vincent Franklin as Lord Burleigh.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


I asked Stuart, "Please can you get me a newspaper?"
"Don't be silly," he replied, "you can borrow my iPad."
That spider never knew what fucking hit it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Big Gay Brunch...

We all went out for our annual Big Gay Brunch yesterday. The first picture was how we started off. The second how we ended up!


Sunday, January 01, 2017


We had a fab New Year's Eve at the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club. All the gang were there - Stu, me, Tim, Andy, Andy, Kev, Michael and Andrew. Gavin and Gareth came too as did Ollie and Marcin. We danced the night away together.


Get down and dirty on the dancefloor to sweet sounds of...
DJ SAFARI PHIL (Party Like Its Your B'day)
It's like your dream wedding reception... turned up to 100! You will do the macarena! don't fight it!

IGOR OUTKINE (Eurodisco)
One Man Band accordion explosion! Gotta hear it to believe it!

FABULOUS RUSSELLA (Coney Island Party)
Her BIG glittery lips are here to cook up a storm! She's tooooo fabulous

She brings the heat to Disco 54 and Double R Club... our twisted firestarter...
will set our stage alight this NYE!! YOWZA!!

ANNNDDDD.....It's not NYE without....
Mike Myers (Workers Playtime)
Hear this legendary OLD TIME crooner to sing in the new year!