Quote Of The Day

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

David Hockney...

Last Friday night my brother Simon and I went to see the David Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain in London's well-heeled Pimlico.

Hockney is one of the most popular and influential British artists of the twentieth century and Tate Britain has brought together his most comprehensive exhibition yet covering 60 years of his work.

Hockney continues to change his style and ways of working into the twenty-first century, embracing new technologies as he goes.

From his portraits and images of Los Angeles swimming pools, through to his drawings and photography, Yorkshire landscapes and most recent paintings – some of which have never been seen before in public  –  this exhibition shows how the roots of each new direction lay in the work that came before.

It's all good but I especially loved his huge colourful landscapes, his immersive videos of the four seasons and his most recent iPad paintings. Fascinatingly the iPad paintings were created using a record feature on. The exhibition has screenings of the playback so you can actually see how Hockney painted them in sped-up 'real-time'. Amazing.

Recommended. If you like Hockney, it's a must. If you don't know him, it's a revelation.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Luca's 50th...

Last Saturday night we celebrated Luca's 50th at the Tommyfield in London's less than glitzy Kennington.

His soon to be husband Stuart put on a "Deal Or No Deal" game to award him the electric piano we had all clipped in for. Very funny.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?...

Last night Stuart and I went to see acerbic masterpiece Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a 1962 play by Edward Albee that examines the breakdown of the marriage of a middle-aged couple, history professor George (Conleth Hill) and his wife Martha (Imelda Staunton).

In the early hours of the morning on the campus of an American college, Martha, much to her husband George’s displeasure, has invited the new professor Nick (Luke Treadaway) and his wife Honey (Imogen Poots) to their home for some after-party drinks. As the alcohol flows and dawn approaches, the young couple are drawn into George and Martha’s toxic games until the evening reaches its climax in a moment of devastating truth telling.

Martha and George's tempestuous and volatile relationship is unsettling but fascinating to watch. Their truth is cruel and vicious. It's about as far away from the American happy nuclear family as you could imagine.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton famously bought the play to the big screen in 1966. And although Taylor's Oscar winning performance initially loomed large in our thoughts last night the evening belonged to Imelda Staunton. Her Martha was almost feline as she spat out her lines. Her Martha was a cat trapped. A cat with its fur up. A cat on a hot tin Woolf.

The ghost of Taylor after all.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Dog...

I taught my dog how to play the trumpet on the Underground last night.
He went from Barking to Tooting in under an hour.
Here all week. Try the fish.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Clockwork Orange...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see ultraviolent thriller A Clockwork Orange at the Park Theatre in London's down-at-heel Finsbury Park.

Synopsis: Very violent, homoerotic, visceral and balletic. What's not to like?

This stage adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s novel is set in a near future English society featuring a subculture of extreme youth violence, the teenage protagonist, anti-hero Alex, narrates his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him using an extreme form of aversion therapy.

Alex is played by Jonno Davies and he is a tall, ginger-haired, musclebound hunk. The other eight male members of the cast are similarly buff playing numerous parts from Alex's gang members to police to housewives. For this is an all-male production with everyone sporting skin-tight black jeans, tight white t-shirts, skimpy underwear, black eyeliner and malevolent grins. There is homoeroticism aplenty (they are frequently t-shirtless) and there is much homosexual violence to boot. 'Boot' being the operative word.

Female director Alexandra Spencer-Jones has created a wonderful non-stop 90-minutes of fighting, dancing, and thuggery to a soundtrack of Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and The Eurhythmics who like Alex (love to listen to) (Ludwig van) Beethoven.

Recommended - if you like aesthetic violence, hot men and are not easily shocked.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Moving In...

After almost 11 years together we have taken that first big step. Living together.  Crumbs. I hope he doesn't leave the top off the toothpaste.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Twelfth Night...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Simon Godwin's bat-shit crazy production of Twelfth Night at the Olivier Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Bat-shit crazy? Yup. Sports cars, motor-scooters, club music, swimming pools, fountains, neon lights, 1960s cool vibe, a drag queen rendition of Hamlet's To Be Or Not To Be speech, songs (lots and lots of songs) and 4th wall breaking that would put Les Dawson to shame. At one point, I swore I saw a kitchen sink exit pursued by a bear. "It's not too gimmicky is it? The tandem."

So was it any good? You betcha! We loved it. A laugh-a-minute riot. From the gender role switching inherent to the play itself to the gender reversal of Malvolio becoming Malvolia this was as confident and sure-footed as a drag queen in a 6-inch red stiletto.

As for the plot, it's the one with the shipwreck, near identical brother and sister get split up, she becomes a Duke's 'man' servant, falls in love with him, then gets asked to woe the Duke's true love but the true love then falls in love with the sister thinking she's a man. Then the Duke falls in love with his 'man' servant. And then the brother turns up. You get the picture... It's Shakespeare. It's mistaken identity, unrequited love and music being the food of love.

In addition, the cast was stellar. Tamara Lawrance's pivotal role as Viola was amazing. We had seen her in numerous all-female Shakespearean productions recently but in this she was a cut above what had gone before. Doon Mackichan's Feste/Fool was hysterical (She sings! She dances! She acts! She tells jokes!). Tamsin Greig's Malvolia was a revelation too. We knew the gal could sing and play it goofy but her Malvolia was a down right riot. She got a show-stopping standing ovation with her yellow cross garters and spinning wheel bra. Oliver Chris ignited even the usually dull character of Orsino with the stage being poorer whenever he was absent.

But for me the standout performance of the night went to Daniel Rigby's Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Pompous, fey, chicken-livered and proud this particular peacock in a pink-checked lounge suit was the perfect foil to Tim McMullan's Sir Toby Belch. From Aguecheek's sublime delivery, to his silly walks, and his ginger man-bun it was a portrayal of scene-stealing perfection.

Highly Recommended. Over the top, modern and very silly. The perfect antidote to these uncertain times

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Design Museum (the iconic and the ironic)...

Last Sunday Bryn, Andrew, Stuart and I went to the new Design Museum in London's well-healed Holland Park.

Nice things on display and the Love and Fear exhibition is good too but... what a badly laid out building! Cramped where is should be spacious and acres of wasted space. Long queues of people on staircases waiting to see some things and empty rooms where no one seemed to be interested in going. All rather ironic considering one of the exhibits people were queuing to see was about 'bad' design and managing crowds in popular venues.

Nice place though, some great iconic designs and well worth a visit if you have not been. Pick a less crowded day than a Sunday though!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gay Homophobe...

A little out of date but as its Valentine's Day here's a site that tells you the number of days since the last prominent homophobe was caught in a gay sex scandal. Self-hating hypocrites exposed!

Monday, February 13, 2017


Last Friday I went to the new Robots exhibition at the Science Museum in London's well-heeled South Kensington.

It was well laid out, informative but most of all great fun. The exhibit pricked lots of distant memories of robots from kids' TV shows from my youth, robots from films old and new and life-sized replicas of shiny, silvery androids. There were displays about artificial intelligence, visual processing and human-robot interaction. There were many real robots to interact with and some so creepy we were deep in the uncanny valley. The uncanny valley is the phenomenon whereby a computer-generated figure or humanoid robot bearing a near-identical resemblance to a human being arouses a sense of unease or revulsion in the person viewing it. And some of the robots on display would put Westworld or Stepford Wives to shame on the creepiness front.

If you get a chance to go. Do! It runs until Sept 2017.

Highlight #1: The rarely seen Silver Swan picking up silver fish.
Highlight #2: Everything else

After wandering around the Robots exhibition, I then spend another 4 hours seeing all the other exhibitions at the Science Museum. Blimey, they have a lot of good stuff there!

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Glass Menagerie...

Last night Stuart and I went to see The Glass Menagerie at The Duke of York's theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Synopsis: From the moment Kate O’Flynn appears from down the back of the sofa you know we are on for something special. Great production. Great play. And the gay undertones are there for all to see.

A domineering mother. A daughter lost in a world of her own. A son desperate to leave. Former Southern Belle Amanda Wingfield, played magnificently by Tony Award-winning Broadway star Cherry Jones, enlists the help of shoemaker but aspiring poet son Tom (Michael Esper) to find a husband for her fragile daughter Laura (Kate O’Flynn). But will the long-awaited ‘gentleman caller’ Jim O'Connor (Brian J. Smith) fulfil or shatter the family’s delicate dreams?

Olivier and Tony Award-winning director John Tiffany (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two, Let the Right One In, Black Watch) has a hit on his hands with this revival of his visionary staging of Tennessee Williams’ heart-rending masterpiece about a family struggling to survive on hopes and dreams.

The Glass Menagerie is a five-character memory play by Tennessee Williams that premiered in 1944 and catapulted Williams from obscurity to fame. The play has strong autobiographical elements, featuring characters based on Williams himself, his histrionic mother, and his mentally fragile sister Rose. In writing the play, Williams drew on an earlier short story, as well as a screenplay he had written under the title of The Gentleman Caller.

Little known fact #1:  One of Amand'a ex-suitors is known as "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Little known fact #2:  Poet Tom's nickname is Shakespeare so they call Laura "Shakespeare's Sister"

Recommended (although not quite as good as his later work Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.)

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Monday, February 06, 2017

Yorokonde Morau Yorokobi...

Lovely night on Saturday night with the boys. Thank you Toby and Miguel for the perfect hospitality, fantastic food, the great company and all the brilliant advice on Japan.

The Japanese wood-cut print reads: "Yorokonde morau yorokobi" - "If you spread happiness you'll find happiness yourself" (loosely translated).

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Daily Hate...

The Daily Mail - The Daily Hate - is a force for evil. It uses its power to spread bile and make the people of our nation hate each other. It prints crap from the Tax Payers Alliance that paves the way of awful government policy that will fuck the lot of us.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Going Underground...

The Royal Mail's little underground line is due a new lease of life. Once it's open to visitors it will do a loop from Mount Pleasant and back for a ride of around 15 to 20 minutes. Let's hope it comes off.

The Register wrote an article about it...

For the last 13 years, a tiny train tunnel running through the centre of London has remained empty and unused, maintained by just four engineers. But these engineers don’t work for Transport for London or Network Rail – they work for the Royal Mail.

The small gauge tunnel, running for 10.46km (6.5 miles) from Paddington to Whitechapel, 70 feet (21 meters) beneath the ground is the London Post Office Railway, more commonly known as the Mail Rail. From 1927 to 2003, 50 driverless, electric trains shifted 30,000 items each day, running up to every five minutes during peak times, serving eight stations and major sorting office beneath the snarl of urban traffic overhead.

Now, it’s set to become London’s latest tourist attraction, as The Postal Museum and Mail Rail in 2017 to reopen the section that runs underneath Mount Pleasant in Farringdon. Eventually, there’ll be a new museum, cafĂ©, gift shop and all the trappings, but on the day of El Reg’s visit, it’s all hard hats and high-vis vests.

Full story: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/12/06/geeks_guide_mail_rail/