Quote Of The Day

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

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Yes 50th Anniversary #YES50 : Thank you so much for letting us hear your wonderous stories @yesofficial @asiageoff @QEDGManagement @PRConnect @BillySherwood @SteveHoweOne Alan and Jay.

Last Saturday night Paul treated me to dinner and a night out to see musical legends Yes were performing one of the final two dates on their 50th Anniversary tour at the London Palladium in London's glitzy West End.

The place was packed with men and women 'of a certain age' to watch and hear the prog-rock torchbearers perform seminal tracks from the band’s legendary back catalogue. The current incarnation of Yes is Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison and Billy Sherwood.

Making the show extra special, Yes played sides 1 and 4 and an excerpt from Side 3 of their 1973 album Tales from Topographic Oceans; their first record to top the UK album chart.

As an added bonus for Buggles fans (like Paul and I) Trevor Horn made a guest appearance to sing Tempus Fugit from Drama.

The gig also coincided with a 50th Anniversary fan convention so there were lots of ticket stubs, programmes and Roger Dean artwork on display too.

Thank you so much for letting us hear your wonderous stories. Prog-tastic!

The set list was: -

Set 1:
The Firebird Suite (Stravinsky)
Yours Is No Disgrace
I've Seen All Good People
Sweet Dreams
South Side of the Sky
Mood for a Day
Wondrous Stories
And You and I

Set 2:
The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)
Leaves of Green (excerpt from The Ancient)
Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)

Tempus Fugit (with Trevor Horn)
Starship Trooper

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Arty Days: Andreas Gursky @gurskyandreas @haywardgallery @SouthbankCentre ...

On Monday night Stuart and I took a private members tour of the first major UK retrospective of the work of acclaimed German photographer Andreas Gursky at the newly reopened Hayward Gallery on London's glitzy South Bank.

Known for his large-scale, often spectacular pictures that portray emblematic sites and scenes of the global economy and contemporary life, Gursky is widely regarded as one of the most significant photographers of our time. He has a keen sense of humour too and the photographs are not only impressive but expressive too. You can’t help but smile when you seem them.

Driven by an interest and insight into the way that the world is constituted, as well as what he describes as "the pure joy of seeing", Gursky makes photographs that are not just depictions of places or situations, but reflections on the nature of image-making and the limits of human perception. Often taken from a high vantage point, these images make use of a democratic perspective that gives equal importance to all elements of his highly detailed scenes.

But are his images too good to be true? Well, yes, but then that's often the point. With digital manipulations these monumental pictures are magnificently orchestrated, gorgeous in their super-saturated colours – and improbably detailed. Gursky takes dozens - or even hundreds of photographs - of a scene, compiles, reconstitutes and then edits them to reveal an inner truth.

When Gursky’s picture of the Rhine as a band of silver light between parallel grass-green stripes became the most expensive photograph ever sold, in 2011, many people didn’t realise it had been digitally altered. Gursky straightened the river, removed dog walkers, trees and an entire power plant for the sake of abstract beauty, updating German Romanticism with his geometric sublime. But the photograph still partook of the reality it depicts; it is the Rhine, and yet it is not.

Other images at the exhibition - of jammed trading floors, hurtling highways, satellite images of Antarctica, corporate atriums, the Atlantic Ocean and industrial farms, mass tourism and skyscraper cities – have the same wow factor.

Three particularly caught our eye though. The expansive digitally enhanced departures board at Frankfurt airport, the epic Paris Montparnasse showing all 750 flats in the city’s largest apartment block, and the Amazon warehouse in Phoenix Arizona.

For Gursky people are ant-like against nature, the concrete city, globalisation. At a rave, they are just units of energy, turning this way and that in repetitive collage (an image that pretends to show a single moment, but self-evidently doesn’t). "I am never interested in the individual," he said, "but in the human species and its environment."

It you like photographic art - go see. It's great.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Arty Days: Experience of being human: Bacon, Hamilton, Cross–Dressers, and Grayson Perry #AllTooHuman #TheSquash #AntheaHamilton @Tate @TPGallery @Alan_Measles ...

It has been an arty few days. And an experience or two.

On Friday afternoon Mark, Chris and I went to see the wonderful All Too Human exhibition at Tate Britain in London's glitzy Pimlico.

Tate Britain is celebrating the painters in Britain who strove to represent the experience of being human in the most intimate of ways. All Too Human features Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Paula Rego, Jenny Saville and many more. The exhibition explores the sensuous, immediate and intense experience of life captured in paint. We loved it. There were some very passionate and physical pieces on display. The wildness and abandon of Bacon's mind writ large on the canvass was a true wonder to behold.

We were also lucky enough to catch the Anthea Hamilton performance art The Squash at the Tate too. Man in my gourd mask, anyone? Fab!

After lunch we three headed to the Under Cover: A Secret History Of Cross–Dressers exhibition at The Photographers' Galley near Oxford Circus.

Displaying another part of the experience of being human and drawn from the extensive personal archives of filmmaker and photography collector Sébastien Lifshitz, this exhibition of amateur found photographs from Europe and the US explores gender non-conformity and cross-dressing. Dating from 1880 onwards, the photos are mostly of unnamed and unknown figures – having been mainly collected from flea markets, garage sales, junk shops and eBay - and as such offer an unauthorised view into the worlds of individuals and groups choosing to defy gender conventions.

There were some very moving - and some very funny - photos. Especially revealing was those of Bambi - France’s most celebrated transsexual woman.

Also at The Photographers' Galley was Grayson Perry's Photo Album exhibition. An intimate small-scale display that shows a series of photographs and spreads from a private photo album owned by artist, Grayson Perry. Taken with a 35mm Zenith SLR camera, printed at a high street chemist and preserved in a classic ring-bound stick-down album, these personal photos offer a rare glimpse into the development of Perry’s alter ego, Claire. Fun, funny and heart-felt it was a little gem of an exhibition.

Grayson Perry had a great quote about why these photographs exist at all. "We used to say transvestite gatherings should be sponsored by Kodak."

Monday, March 26, 2018

xPropaganda "bit underwhelming" @TheGarageHQ ...

Last Friday night Paul, Simon and I went to see xPropaganda (i.e. ex-Propaganda, geddit?) perform their album A Secret Wish at The Garage in London's glitzy Islington.

xPropaganda are original band members Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag and it was sure nice to see the ladies on stage again. They were also joined by album producer Stephen Lipson which was the cherry on the cake.

So why the gig? Maybe there’s yet another ‘new’ version of A Secret Wish being released. Ha, ha! Oh, wait… there is!

Sadly, the gig was a bit underwhelming though. I've seen Claudia Brücken perform these songs many times over the years and often much better. Maybe it was the venue, maybe it was the heat, or maybe that the songs only seemed to be performed as their album versions (with few nods to the live setting.) We just weren’t blown away like we knew we could be.

Maybe the 40th Anniversary release will be better (!)

Great to see them though.

Set List
Dream Within A Dream
The Murder Of Love
Frozen Faces
Sorry For Laughing (Josef K cover)
Dr. Mabuse
The Chase
The Last Word/Strength to Dream

Discipline (Throbbing Gristle cover)

Encore 2:
Femme Fatale (The Velvet Underground cover)

(The support act Ekkoes where fabulous though. Especially their cover of Laura Branigan's Self Control)

Friday, March 23, 2018

La Traviata...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Daniel Kramer's entertaining production of Verdi's La Traviata performed by the English National Opera at the London Coliseum in London's glitzy West End.

 The production has had some pretty dire reviews with critics calling it, "so comprehensive a flop that it is painful to go into detail" and "Verdi would have walked out at the first nipple tassel twirl." But what do critics know, right?

This is Kramer’s first production at the Coliseum since taking over as the company’s artistic director, and it certainly makes a big impression - as does Lizzie Clachan's set design and Esther Bialas's costumes.


First staged in Basel last November, it opens with the kind of eyeful of wit and panache that UK opera-house budgets aren’t meant to stretch to any more: a big, glitzy party scene, with mirror walls stretching floor to ceiling. We might be in a black-and-white ball in a very fetish nightclub. Lots of Edwardian men, having left their top hats in nifty lockers at the back, are in their Edwardian underwear, energetically engaging in variously camp forms of debauchery with a stageful of tarts on a stageful of playground equipment: a trampoline, a bucking bronco, a roundabout with chic white lights. That’s our first sight of the ever-reliable ENO chorus, and well done them.


For the next three hours the chorus puts on (and pulls off) various pairs of other pairs of Edwardian pants and sing their hearts out.

Indeed the performances and the orchestra are excellent - it is just the action that is a little uneven.

The final act has our heroine standing in a half-dug grave throughout. 

Good tunes though.

Oh, and those critics were wrong. The nipple tassels stole the show. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Facebook vs Privacy... How To Limit App Access in Facebook... @Facebook #Privacy

If you are worried about what Facebook apps can see about you then you can limit it.

How to limit/revoke access:-

Step 1 – In Facebook on desktop, click the drop-down menu, then Settings. On mobile, hit the three horizontal line icon at the bottom then Account Settings.

Step 2 – Click Apps and then ‘Logged in with Facebook’ to view all the apps that have access to your data via Facebook.

Step 3 – Select the pencil on desktop, or the arrow on mobile, to view the exact data you’re sharing with each app.

Step 4 – Click the blue ticks to deselect your personal information.

Step 5 – To revoke access completely, click the cross next to the app.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

#TheInheritance. Laughed our God-damned arses off. Made us cry. An important work, a funny work, a must-see work. @KyleSollerNews magnifcient, @McDrewBur suberb, Samuel H. Levine a star. @youngvictheatre #MatthewLopez #StephenDaldry #VanessaRedgrave

Last Saturday Stuart and I went to see new plays The Inheritance Part 1 and 2 at the Young Vic in London's glitzy Waterloo.

Wow! What a show! What a pair of plays! It is up there in the top ten of plays I have seen on the London stage. It spoke to me. It made me laugh. It made me cry.

Being compared to Angels in America and with both plays together running at nearly 7 hours the task of watching gay playwright Matthew Lopez's epic might seem a daunting one. But it was really worth it. They are simply wonderful. Hilarious, profoundly heart-breaking, and a joy.

Inspired by the novel Howards End by E. M. Forster and directed by Stephen Daldry this really is a must-see event from the Young Vic.

Ten gay men live in New York a generation after the height of the AIDS crisis. They are aspiring playwrights and all want to write something but are lacking inspiration. They conjure up the spectre of E. M. Forster and in a fantasy tell a joint story. A story of how to tell a story. The story of themselves, a story of their imagined characters, and a story of the generation that preceded them. A story of inheritance.

Have you ever wondered why there isn't a word in the English language for the fireworks that go off in your brain when you finally kiss someone you've wanted for years? Or for the intimacy and tenderness you feel as you hold the hand of a suffering friend? Then this is the play for you.

What is it like to be a young gay man in New York? How many words are there now for the different kinds of pain, the different kinds of love?

If that sounds heavy, don't be put off. We laughed our God-damned arses off.

Stand out performances were Andrew Burnap as the superb scoundrel Toby Darling, Samuel H. Levine as "All About Eve" star actor Adam and damaged rent-boy Leo, Kyle Soller as magnificent, super-nice Eric Glass, Paul Hilton as sage Walter and E. M(organ) Foster, and Vanessa Redgrave as Margaret.

This is an important work. A funny work. And a must-see work for any gay man. But bring tissues. It's heart-breaking too. People around me were holding their sides from laughing and later sobbing loudly.

Go see.

Just so you know...
Part 1: 3 hours 20 mins (with 2, 10 min intervals)
Part 2: 3 hours 35 mins (with 1, 10 min interval and a 5 min pause)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Kiss of The Spider Woman - an engrossing piece, brilliantly realised - dramatic, powerful, heart-felt and very funny. Go see. Samuel Barnett is wonderful. Declan Bennett is remarkable. #KissOfTheSpiderwoman @MenChocFactory @mrSamuelBarnett @thisainttherapy

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to a new play adaptation of Manuel Puig's seminal novel Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London's glitzy London Bridge Quarter.

Writers José Rivera and Allan Baker along with director Laurie Sansom have done a great job of bringing this electrifying work to life.

Under an authoritarian regime, Molina (played by the wonderful Samuel Barnett) and Valentin (played by the remarkable Declan Bennett) are imprisoned in a small Argentinian jail cell in the mid-1970s. Despite their great differences, they start to depend on one another and a friendship develops.

Valentin is straight and Molina is gay and to pass the time the latter tells stories of dramatic Hollywood films to help them both 'escape' their confined space. The films are projected in silhouette on the walls of the auditorium as the twists and turns of the action mirror what is going on inside the cell.

Powerful, lyrical and compelling, Kiss of the Spider Woman examines friendship on many levels as both characters struggle with the uncertainties of truth and falsehood, friendship and betrayal, against a background of cruelty, torture and disappearances.

Samuel Barnett's Molina is on the surface funny and camp, but hides a sadness and a dark secret. Ultimately his plight becomes both moving and redemptive.

Declan Bennett's Valentin is brutish, political and passionate. He learns to suffer - both physical torture and the battle his own emotions.

It's an engrossing piece brilliantly realised - dramatic, powerful, heart-felt and at times very funny. Go see.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Fabulous LGBT History Tour of the Houses of Parliament. Full of fascinating info and insight and very funny to boot @UKParliament @visitparliament #LGBT @PrideInLondon ...

Last Saturday afternoon Stuart and I took an LGBT History Tour of the Houses of Parliament in London's glitzy Palace of Westminster.

It was an engrossing look into the history of the Kings and Queens of England - the homophobic legislation they introduced (sometimes to repeal only to reintroduce it again) - and the various Governments that sought to change such legislation - often to strengthen it and thankfully more recently to repeal it.

The tour was told as a story that explored the struggle for civil rights from universal condemnation and victimisation to the freedoms and rights enjoyed today.

The journey began in Westminster Hall with tales of medieval kings before passing through St Stephen’s Hall and into Central Lobby. The tour then moved into the Lords and Commons Chambers, and narratives from sovereigns and members of both Houses were brought to life through the art and architecture of the Palace of Westminster.

Our guide was great, full of fascinating info and insight and very funny to boot.

We were lucking enough to bump into Michael Cashman (the real Gay Lord!) who happened to be passing through and he stopped and shared with us some of his own experiences of working in the House of Lords. I asked him about Barry. He said, "we still stay in touch". Bless.

After the tour Stu and I enjoyed a posh champagne tea over-looking the river. Lovely.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Midsummer Night's Dream @E_N_O #ENODream

Last night Paul, Stuart and I went to see a striking revival of a rather naughty production of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream performed by the English National Opera at the London Coliseum in London's glitzy West End.

Based on Shakespeare’s popular comedy, Britten’s opera follows the consequences of a falling-out between the green-haired fairy-king Oberon and his blue-haired fairy-queen, Tytania. It leads to mistaken identities, confused lovers and a donkey having sex with a fairy.

Actually there is a quite a lot of sex in the show. As there should be. Shakespeare's play is essentially a sex-comedy.

Robert Carsen’s production explores the blurred relationships between reality and dreams, the natural and supernatural, and - yes - said sexual desire.

From the sliding string chords of the magic wood to the rustics’ well-intentioned entertainment at the end, Britten’s ear for beguiling orchestration and melodic invention enchant and entice.

Leading the cast as Oberon and Tytania are counter-tenor Christopher Ainslie and soprano Soraya Mafi. The roles of the lovers are taken by a quartet of rising stars – Eleanor Dennis as Helena, Clare Presland as Hermia, David Webb as Lysander, and Matthew Durkan as Demetrius. Young British conductor Alexander Soddy makes his ENO debut.

We loved the show - it was beautiful to watch, with its lush green and white set - very funny, Bottom and Puck both playing it for laughs - and the time just flew by, although the joke about "filling the 3 hours between supper and bedtime" wasn't lost on the crowd.

Maybe it's not up there with the sublime Peter Grimes but it is a great introduction to Britten and to the world of opera in general if you fancied taking the plunge.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Goodbye Professor @Steven_Hawking It was great to be a small part of your Universe. "It's Turtles All The Way Down"

Just over 36 years ago, I was lucky enough to have been taught theoretical physics (for a short 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 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 history 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 as we all know A Brief History of Time was to go on to sell big - 12 million copies.

His lectures weren't the rock concert events they were to become years later but they were well attended all the same. He obviously prepared what he was going to say and in his tutorials it was slow to get responses to questions. He was incisive, sharp-witted and blunt though.

A year ago, it was with some excitement I ventured out to see him again. Or so I thought. It was his 75th birthday and he was due to give a lecture. His book had become an app called Stephen Hawking's Pocket Universe so he was keen to flog that too.

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

His mind was still on top form. 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?

Well, Stephen used to tell a story about the mighty Bertrand Russell.

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!"

Stephen found this anecdote very, very funny. He had a keen sense of humour. Something that must have stood him in good stead for the challenges life threw his way.

Goodbye Professor. It was great to be a small part of your Universe.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Wuthering (hits the) Heights...

40 years ago today. La Bush was number one. But what great memories further down the Hit Parade too!

 I can sing almost all of these (in my head obviously!) Interesting how many are still played today.

Good to see No. 26 hanging in there too.

 It was an interesting time: rock, disco, novelty, punk, middle of the road, and (let’s not forget) songs released for football matches!

 Back Home in 1970. Now there’s a memory. Blue Is The Colour, I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, Three Lions, oh and Arsenal’s cringeworthy Hot Stuff! And Let’s not talk about the Anfield Rap!

Monday, March 12, 2018

New Fans, New Friends - @GayGooners...

One of the many great things about being a member of a football fan group - any football fan group - is the opportunity to meet new people.

So it is with Gay Gooners - I regularly get to meet new people - all Arsenal fans - some bi, some lesbian, some trans, some straight, and, yes, some gay.

We meet at meet-ups, we meet online, we meet at matches, or just randomly meet through other fans.

So it was this last week just gone I got to do just that. Meet some new fans. Some new friends. In this case in Milan. We got to hang out, chat, laugh and argue about the club be love. Because we do love it. Which is why our passions sometimes run as high as our expectations!

Anyway - I thought I’d just put this out there that through our joint love of this our club I have met some new friends. It is was great fun.

And what do friends do? Why they muck about on tour buses, they go for dinner together, they try to escape Escape rooms, they drink the odd beer (or three!) together, and basically enjoy each other’s company.

So my advice - meet some new friends through a fan group, go to a meet-up, chat to some fellow fans online, or just sit back and watch it from afar and click on a ‘like’ here or there.

In the Gay Gooners case you soon realise that you are all part of an extended family of Arsenal supporting LBGTQ+ fans (with many straight allies) and from where I’m standing... it’s been good to meet you all.

Friday, March 09, 2018

AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal...

It was very exciting to get the chance to go the San Siro stadium in Milan last night to watch Arsenal take on AC Milan in the Europa Leagure last 16.

As we arrived at the space-aged looking concrete stadium we were watched closely (and filmed) by machine-gun armed soldiers. At the stadium itself we went through numerous body searches - some extremely thorough. I think Body Checker 653 and I might be going steady now - I’m not sure though - he’s not returned my calls.

The away fans get to sit way up in the Gods so we had first a strange climb up a steep ramp - a never-ending spiralling column of corkscrew concrete. Eventually we were not far below the roof - which is 60m up! Ruddy high!

The away seating area wasn’t that busy so we had free seating.

The game itself was great. We played well and got an unexpected win. A performance we have not seen of late. 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's first goal for the club put the us ahead, cutting in from the left to fire in with the aid of a deflection off Milan skipper Leonardo Bonucci.

Wenger spoke before the game about his team showing fight without compromising their attacking principles - and they delivered in a dominant first-half performance.

Aaron Ramsey deservedly doubled their lead before half-time, collecting Mesut Ozil's piercing pass through the centre of Milan's defence to round keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and tap in.

The score stayed the same for the second half for a much deserved win. We sang our hearts out. 

We were held back in the stadium for almost an hour after the game to let the local fans disperse and then boarded lots coaches laid on by Arsenal to take up back into the town centre and away from any potential trouble. 

A great night out. Really pleased I made the trip.

Thursday, March 08, 2018


Yesterday I took a half-day guided city tour of Milan. It was part bus, part walking and wasn’t particularly cheap but we sure packed a lot in.

Highlights for me were the massive Duomo Cathedral, the iconic La Scala opera house, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s pièce de résistance The Last Supper.

And I learnt a few things on the way too. So here we go...

The Last Supper is housed in a dust free building with pneumatic air locks - as we entred one glass-walled room the doors would close behind us and we had to wait for the doors to the next sealed room to open. Very sci-fi. You only get 15 mins in there though. 

They fucking hate Dan Brown. 

At La Scala all the boxes were private until 1918. Each had it’s own little kitchen, allowed gambling, and patrons were known to have sex in them. Patrons would arrive at 7-30pm, eat dinner, play cards, muck about a bit and then the opera started at midnight and ended at 4 or 5am. The people were part of the performance really. The music was largely incidental. Only after the Great War were rules of behaviour introduced. 

As our guide put it, “Italian rich people enjoy three things - having kids, making wars and eating meat -  fucking, fighting and hunting. Music and Art are for everyone else.”

The Duomo Cathedral is massive. Built in 1776 of largely pink marble it is one of the biggest in the world. Capacity 40,000 believers.

Milan is situated between two rivers - hence the name Mi(d) Lan(d). 

Da Vinci stayed in Milan for 20 years. 

Inter Milan used to play in a football stadium built by Napoleon before they moved to the San Siro - a place they share with AC Milan.  And where we are going tonight to watch Arsenal play - the reason for my visit.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

In airport lounge waiting to fly to Milan. The waitress just said. "Another beer? You look like a nervous flyer" 🍻 ✈ 👀 😂

Yesterday I was in airport lounge waiting to fly to Milan. The waitress said. "Another beer? You look like a nervous flyer" 🍻 ✈ 👀 😂

Actually the flight wasn’t too bad and my first impressions on Milan are good ones. They have trams! (see below), The Best Western Plus hotel is quite posh (also see below) and it seems quite easy to get around. The main station is epic and gothic (see below too!)

Off to see The Last Supper and to do a little city tour this afternoon.