Quote Of The Day

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

York: Minster, Castle, Ancient Walls, and Van Gogh...

Yesterday Stuart and I spent a full day exploring glitzy York city. 

York is a lovely city. Lots of old streets (“gates”), city gates (“bars”), rickety old buildings, churches, forts, cobbledy streets, a largely intact city wall you can walk along, riverside restaurants and bars, and of course the commanding York Minster too. 

Luckily for us there was an immersive Van Gogh exhibition in town too. We tried to see it in Paris earlier in the year but had just missed it. Here an old church has been converted into an art space. Projectors embedded in the walls and the ceiling projected animated versions of Vincent’s greatest works in a rather  trippy show of glowing, breathing masonry. It was great. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

York: Moors, Dales and Whitby...

Today we went up on t’moors. Down t’dales. And out t’Whitby. All part of our lovely tour of glitzy Yorkshire.

Broken down abbeys and priories, sprawling granges, windswept moors, coarse heather, wandering sheep, the odd sharp word, the expected blunt replies, the North sea, the Dracula castle, gorgeous fish and chips,  picturesque cottages, Harry Potter’s station, Heathbeat’s cottage, steam trains, beautiful vistas, lush green rolling countryside.  Nice here.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Up North...

Stuart said we were going to a hot spot 🌞 
Turns out it’s actually a hotspot 🦠

To York for a few days. 

We will stay safe though. We both have been practicing our Paddington stares.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush - Remastered & Expanded...

Back in 1998 71 musicians, 19 engineers working in 13 different studios produced a compilation album of cover versions of Kate Bush songs. The first official tribute album to Kate Bush. And it was fab.

Well, in 2020 that album has now been lovingly remastered and expanded to add a further seven songs. And, if possible, it's even fabber!

I WANNA BE KATE: The Songs of Kate Bush - Remastered & Expanded


01. The Aluminum Group - L'Amour Looks Something Like You (2020 Remaster) 04:46
02. Susan Voelz - The Sensual World (2020 Remaster) 04:16
03. The Moviegoers - Hounds Of Love (2020 Remaster) 04:51
04. Syd Straw - The Man With The Child In His Eyes (2020 Remaster) 03:12
05. The J. Davis Trio - There Goes A Tenner (2020 Remaster) 05:07
06. Nora O'Connor - The Saxophone Song (2020 Remaster) 05:15
07. Justin Roberts - You're The One (2020 Remaster) 04:50
08. Mouse - Coffee Homeground (2020 Remaster) 04:56
09. Catherine Smitko - Jig Of Life (2020 Remaster) 04:08
10. Victoria Storm - The Kick Inside (2020 Remaster) 04:12
11. The Baltimores - Running Up That Hill (2020 Remaster) 03:27
12. Diamond Jim Greene - Home For Christmas (2020 Remaster) 03:42
13. My Scarlet Life - Suspended In Gaffa (2020 Remaster) 03:36
14. The Plunging Necklines - Kashka From Baghdad/Babooshka (2020 Remaster) 05:08
15. Trinkets Of Joy - Love And Anger (2020 Remaster) 04:19
16. Thomas Negovan - And Dream Of Sheep (2020 Remaster) 06:32
17. Tom Dunning & Your Boyfriends - Not This Time (2020 Remaster) 05:01
18. Butterfly Child - Top Of The City 04:56
19. Zapruder Point - You Want Alchemy 03:33
20. Yules - Cloudbusting 04:37
21. Tristan an Arzhig - Joanni 06:03
22. Grimeland - Among Angels (Live in Denmark) 05:43
23. Michael Ross - A Coral Room 05:18
24. Tom Dunning & Your Boyfriends - Nocturn (feat. Carol Keogh) 08:22

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Talking Heads #2 : The Shrine and Bed Among the Lentils @ Bridge Theatre...

Last Saturday Stuart and I went to see the second brace of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues put on at the Bridge Theatre in London's glitzy London Bridge Quarter. It was the RAC followed by AA.

The Shrine sees Monica Dolan play Lorna, a woman coming to terms with the death of her husband Clifford. Or is it Cliff? As Lorna sets up a shrine near the place where Clifford's motorbike left the road and crashed into a tree various characters come forward who cast doubt on who Clifford really was. A bird watcher? A speeding wanker? Gay? A friend to many others certainly, and a distributor of Lorna's fancy sandwiches. And who do you call when your husband dies anyway? The RAC?

As Dolan summons for us the skid marks on the road, which her shrine making doesn't want transgressed, the circling kite, the field of sheep, we keenly feel her loss. It is a study in bereavement made all the more potent by its complexity: does Lorna feel grief or only loneliness? And the decision to bear witness has its own kind of quiet heroism, not exactly dented but transformed by meeting a surprising fellow mourner.

Compared to the recorded TV version earlier this year (also played by Dolan) here the piece felt so much more alive. Ironically for a piece about death.

The tone of the second piece, Bed Among the Lentils, is far more comic: Lesley Manville's deadpan vicar's wife Susan, looks back on her adventures and brief moments of happiness while under the influence of the sherry and the communion wine. The monologue maintains a tone of scathing sarcasm towards Susan's hypocritical husband and "fan club" flock that invites us to laugh along with her. After Susan eventually attends Alcoholics Anonymous, her husband even uses the fact to further his own career - exampling his own sufferance and forbearance. More eye-rolling laughter.

The tender notes of the play do come and are sounded towards the Indian grocer – 26, lovely legs – who creates for them both the Bed of the title.

Manville is as charismatic as ever.

The cathartic sense of loneliness shared in both these plays could not be more timely or welcome.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Lockdown v2.0...

We got an email from our local council this afternoon. All sensible but sobering advice.

Dear Resident,

The Government has today announced the following new restrictions to help control the spread of coronavirus in our community:

People should work from home wherever possible

From this Thursday (24 September) pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm – they will also be restricted to table service only

Face masks will be compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers, waiters and in taxis

The limit on guests at weddings will be reduced from 30 to 15 from Monday (28 September)

Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events have been paused

The "Rule of six" now applies to indoor team sports – this also takes effect from Monday

Fines for not wearing masks or following rules have increased to £200 for a first offence.

The evidence is clear that infection rates are rising rapidly in London, including in Islington. I know today’s announcement will be disappointing, but the restrictions are necessary to save lives and avoid a second full lockdown. We all need to act now to bring the virus back under control and prevent the devastating illness and deaths we saw earlier in the year.

The council is working hard to keep residents safe, but the only way we can do that is if every single person plays their part.

Keep yourself, your family and friends safe

We all want life to return to normal but that will only happen if we all follow the rules. We can all do our bit to keep this virus under control and protect ourselves, our friends and our family if we:

Stick with six – do not meet with more than six people at any time, indoors or outdoors and try to limit the number of people you see socially over a short period

Wash your hands regularly – and make the most of hand sanitiser stations at buildings and public spaces across the capital

Wear a face covering in public places, including shops and public transport

Create space – stay 2m apart from people outside your household, particularly in public places

Check your symptoms – if you start to develop any coronavirus symptoms make sure you self-isolate and book a test by calling 119.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Walking in London is endlessly fascinating...

This weekend just gone rather than a last mad dash to the pub before lockdown v2.0 Stuart and I decided to go for a walk or two. Or three. Basically we did a lot of walking. On our travels through Camden, Tower Hamlets, Archway, and Hoxton we saw some murals being created, stumbled across a new cat café, and walked over Tower Bridge (twice). Walking in London is endlessly fascinating.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Talking Heads #1 : The Outside Dog and The Hand of God @ Bridge Theatre...

Last week Stuart and I went to see the first brace of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues put on at the Bridge Theatre in London's glitzy London Bridge Quarter. It was terror followed by chintz.

The Outside Dog sees Rochenda Sandall play Marjory, a woman suspicious of her psychopathic slaughterman for a husband’s behaviour. And she is simply sensational.

Is Marjory a terrified victim or a silent accomplice, aware of her husband’s guilt but immobilised by fear? It is a piece that plays to these times of lockdown domestic abuse.

Nadia Fall’s direction is perfect, and Sandall is a tour de force of fearful vulnerability and hard-faced defensiveness.

The Hand of God is the polar opposite to Dog. Here Kristin Scott Thomas plays Celia, a genteel dowager from the Home Counties, sneering at modern-day bargain hunters who stare in her antique shop window looking for price tags.

It is a very gentle performance from Scott Thomas; one for Alan Bennett fans with a simple direction by Jonathan Kent's that does not frighten any horses.

A snob and somewhat wily Celia thinks she knows all the tricks of the antique trade. Well, she thinks she does. But a slight of hand and her own greed blinds her to a diamond in the rough. A sad woman who we laugh ‘at’ rather than ‘with’.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

"He didn't mention you..."

Ernest Borgnine had a fun married life. Wife Ethel Merman came back from an audition, 
"The director said I have the body of a 16 year old and the face of a 21 year old." 
Ernest replied: "And your 55 year old c**t?" 
Ethel retorted: "He didn't mention you."

Monday, September 14, 2020

Hair @ The Turbine On The Jetty...

Last week Stuart and I went to watch a concert version of our favourite musical Hair put on by The Turbine Theatre on a bobbing jetty next to London's glitzy Battersea Power Station.

Presented as part of a specially curated festival of live entertainment the show was directed by Arlene Phillips, with a cast including Matt Croke, Danielle Fiamanya, Jordan Luke Gage, Grace Mouat, Millie O’Connell, Jodie Steele and the excellent Layton Williams.

A chilly wind blew across the Thames as we huddled down into our deckchairs but the infectious songs soon had us dreaming of the warm sun and sixties counterculture in all its barefoot, long-haired, bell-bottomed, beaded and fringed glory. 

Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine, Hair, Black Boys/White Boys, I Got Life, and Let The Sunshine In were all sung so much better than the recent touring production last year.

Even sat on that jetty on the Thames we still connected with that wonderful tribal love rock music; music that celebrates and explores ideas of identity, community, global responsibility and peace. 50 years down the line and 15 metres down the river, Hair remains as relevant as ever as it examines what it means to be a young person in a changing world.

Maybe, just maybe, next time we'll pack a warmer kaftan.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Christopher's funeral... what a wonderful legacy to make people smile when they think of you.

Christopher's funeral was very moving. I'm only sorry we couldn't be there in person.

The eulogy touched on some very moving themes; how Christopher enriched the lives of others, it was no cliche to call him 'one of a kind', utterly unique, creative, sensitive and generous. He would light up any room. People were drawn to him, and he touched the hearts and lives of many.

He is now reunited with Stuart - the love of his life.

And what a wonderful legacy to make people smile when they think of you.

Rest in Peace, my doll XXX

PS: I'd never heard that Viola Wills story. What a star!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Blindness @ Donmar Warehouse...

A week or two ago Stuart and I went to see the immersive sound production of José Saramago’s Blindness at the Donmar Warehouse in London’s glitzy Covent Garden.

A single person becomes infected with a new disease. Their doctor is baffled. Then the others in the doctor’s waiting room come down with it too. So does the doctor. It’s infectious. Very. More and more people get it. A pandemic starts as it spreads from person to person. No symptoms are apparent at first - until the disease strikes. The Government’s reaction is shock, denial, and lack-lustre differing. And then when more people get it the Government goes into overdrive and rounds the infected up and puts them into camps - disused hospitals or compounds. Food is provided but little else. Soon lawlessness, factionism, and violent infighting break out. The infected are left to rot. The pandemic spreads despite the lockdown though. Society breaks down. A dystopian world with no end in sight. But then...

All told in darkness and with the audience wearing headphones Juliet Stevenson plays the doctor’s wife and narrates the tale. The lack of vision coupled with the headphones creates an amazing 3D soundscape around each person. Whispering in your ear just behind your shoulder one moment to crashing, smashing chaos the next.

A great idea, brilliant executed.

Oh, and the disease that causes the pandemic? Blindness.    

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

He’s a wise baby...

Myrtle made me laugh yesterday. We were talking about how much new baby Watts looks like his Dad.

Me: Doesn’t the baby look so like Jos?
Myrtle: He’s a wise baby
Me: Huh? Wise?
Myrtle: Always wise for a baby to come out looking like the man standing over you at the hospital bed!
Me: 🤣🤣🤣

Monday, September 07, 2020

Aubrey Beardsley @ Tate Britain...

Last Saturday afternoon Stuart and I walked down to the Tate Britain in London's glitzy Pimlico to see the fabulous Aubrey Beardsley exhibition.

Beardsley, who was born in Brighton in 1872 and died of tuberculosis at the tender age of 25, titillated late-Victorian London with decadent scenes depicted in his sinuous black-and-white ink lines, often showing the strong influence of Japanese graphic art. But this was only part of the story. The exhibition shows us the artist had a broader range than the simple black-and-white line drawings for which he is famous. He was more than a one trick pony as an illustrator / graphic artist.

Five of the artist’s original illustrations for Alexander Pope’s poem The Rape of the Lock are shown here together for the first time since they were created in 1897, as part of the largest display of Beardsley's work in Britain for more than 50 years. The Tate has in fact managed to reunite more than 200 works for the show. Which is no mean feat.

The artist was protective of his work and passed his drawings directly to publishers or close friends. From there, they often went to private and university collections in America and are now fragile. As a result they are rarely displayed.

"He had so many more styles and artistic influences than people recognise him for today," curator Caroline Corbeau-Parsons says. "When you see the detailed lace on these drawings it is clear he could work in different styles. We are all familiar with his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s play Salome, the elongated black-and-white figures, but this exhibition changes the way people think of Beardsley."

If you get a chance to go, do. But be warned, some of it is very rude!