Quote Of The Day

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

Monday, February 28, 2022

Elizabeth Line Evacuation Trial Operations...

We were dead excited last Saturday. Roger and I were taking part in some of the Elizabeth Line trial operations.

Trial Operations involves operational exercises being carried out to ensure the safety and reliability of the railway for public use, and to fully run the timetables. The particular thing we were testing was the evacuation operation; if a train breaks down.

So, we got on an Elizabeth Line train at Woolwich, it travelled a short distance, pretended to break down in a tunnel and we will all had to get off and walk along and get on a replacement train. That replacement train then moved off. It in turn will pretended to break down so we had to exit the second train, walk along to climb up a long 150 step staircase to ground level.

Great fun. We got a swag bag too.


Friday, February 25, 2022


We have a Ukrainian cleaner who of course we have given the day off today and will pay her. She has been spending the whole night on the phone calling family and friends to make sure they are safe. My heart really does out to her. 🇺🇦

Thursday, February 24, 2022

The British Museum...

On Tuesday afternoon Natalie and I continued our day of culture and headed to The British Museum in London's glitzy Bloomsbury.
The British Museum is fab. It's a public museum dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection of eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence. It documents the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. REgions it covers are Sudan, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Ancient Near and Far East and the Americas, New Guinea, Madagascar, Romania, Guatemala and Indonesia and... the UK.
The stuff they have there is fab and of course there is always a discussion to be had over the disputed items including The Parthenon Marbles (Elgin Marbles), the Rosetta Stone, and Hoa Hakananai'a.
We had a fab time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The Wellcome Collection…

Yesterday Natalie and I went to visit The Wellcome Collection in London's glitzy Euston Road.
Sir Henry Wellcome was a collector who, through his agents, amassed well over a million books, paintings and objects from around the world, aiming to tell a global story of health and medicine.  Hence The Wellcome Collection was born.
There are three main exhibitions currently running; Medicine Man, Joy, and Being Human.
Medicine Man shows a small part of the collection including extraordinary examples of the many ways in which people, through time and across cultures, have sought to understand the workings of the human body, to protect themselves, and care for one another. It includes a wide range of objects relating to sex, birth and death. Oh and Napoleon's toothbrush.
Being Human explores what it means to be human. Hopes and fears about new forms of medical knowledge, and our changing relationships with ourselves, each other and the world. Featuring 50 artworks and objects, the gallery is divided into four sections: Genetics, Minds & Bodies, Infection, and Environmental Breakdown. A refugee astronaut carrying their belongings to an unknown destination, you can sniff a perfumed bronze sculpture that smells of breast milk, listen to an epidemic jukebox, and watch a fast-food outlet slowly flood.
Joy was the best though. It was an uplifting glimpse into what it is to feel joy. It can be intense but brief, and leaves you wanting more. Some find joy while losing themselves on the dance floor, others while catching up with friends over a meal. The exhibition explores the diversity of euphoric experiences and the effect of positive emotion on the body. Joy can bring catharsis, build resilience and bring people together. And it can be pretty funny too.
A nice little collection. Three exhibitions. And a lovely library too.  Recommended.


Monday, February 21, 2022

“That rush, and the sights and the sounds and the smells… I want everyone to experience that.” - @Arsenal is for Everyone ✊ 🌈 @GayGooners My experience -->

I’m in this Arsenal video. I hope you like it. 😉

“That rush, and the sights and the sounds and the smells… I want everyone to experience that.”

Last Saturday Arsenal FC handed their platform over to GayGooners to share what belonging to Arsenal means to us 🏳️‍🌈. And I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute.
And the video they made had a powerful impact yesterday for me personally. Before kick off against Brentford people all around me in the stadium came up to me and shook my hand and thanked me. They had seen the video online already.
Then at half time in the bar area a cheer went up when the video was shown on all the screens. People looked, laughed, pointed, nodded, and gave the thumbs up. Six or seven people came up to me to talk about it and shake my hand.
Back in the stadium seats for the second half more people came over and shook my hand. It had been shown in the big screen too. Lovely comments, some jokes, “I’m not gay but proud of you mate”
Then in the pub afterwards three people asked for photos. Another guy came up and chatted to me about GayGooners.
It was all so overwhelmingly positive I became quite emotional.  

Arsenal is for everyone ✊ 🌈

Friday, February 18, 2022

Wuthering Heights @ Lyttelton Theatre...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Emma Rice's Brechtian take on Emily Brontë’s gothic novel Wuthering Heights at the Lyttelton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Good points: Self-assured. Self-conscious. Self-aware.

Bad points: Over-acted. Over-baked. Over-long.

While the narration, personified moor and singing chorus worked hard to add extra meaning to the harsh landscape and sheer unhappiness of the story's doomed characters, the overly self-aware nature of the production distanced us the audience too far from their heartache and tragedy. It was all a bit too broad for me.

"You don't think it's too gimmicky, the tandem?"

Piecrust Players https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qK80wVXZ9w

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Van Gogh Self Portraits @ The Courtauld Institute of Art...

Last Saturday afternoon Stuart and I went to The Courtauld Institute of Art at the glitzy Somerset House to see the Van Gogh Self Portraits exhibition.  And we agreed with the critics - who simply loved it - in that we simply loved it too. 
“An exhibition of electrifying intimacy.”
The Guardian
“A landmark exhibition.” “Sensational.”
The Telegraph
“An unprecedented and not-to-be-missed show.”
The Times
“Van Gogh’s art at its rawest and most intimate.”
The Independent
“That search “deep in the soul” for an original form of expression, is abundant in this extraordinary show.”
Evening Standard
Taking as its springboard Van Gogh’s iconic Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, one of the most celebrated works in The Courtauld’s collection, the exhibition brings together around half of the self-portraits Van Gogh created during his short years as a painter.
This is the first time that the full span of Van Gogh’s self-portraiture has been explored in an exhibition. Several works in the exhibition were last together in Van Gogh’s studio and have never been reunited, until now.
There is an outstanding selection of 16 self-portraits tracing the evolution of Van Gogh’s self representation, from his early Self-Portrait with a Dark Felt Hat, created in 1886 during his formative period in Paris, to Self-Portrait with a Palette, painted at the asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in September 1889, one of his last self-portraits before his death in 1890.
The myth of Van Gogh today is linked as much to his extraordinary life as it is to his stunning paintings. This exhibition allows both aspects to be explored.


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

London Transport Museum...

Last Saturday Stuart and I went to the London Transport Museum in London's glitzy Covent Garden.

Steam trains, omnibuses, taxis, posters, tickets, art work, and tube trains - there was lots to see and do. It was an entertainment and an education. Who knew the London Underground network used to go out as far as Southend-on-Sea?

If you're ever at a loose end in town and you like that sort of thing - go. And they have a shop!


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Francis Bacon: Man and Beast @ Royal Academy of Arts…

Last Saturday morning Stuart and I went to see the Francis Bacon: Man and Beast show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London's glitzy West End.

As you may know, artist Francis Bacon was one of the most important painters of the 20th century. What you may not know is, he was an Irish-born, horse-breeder’s son.

An openly gay man at a time when homosexuality was illegal, he was banished from his conservative family home by his father at 16. After that, he drifted through Berlin and Paris before establishing himself in London, with his formative years running parallel with some of the 20th century’s most profoundly disturbing events.

This powerful Man and Beast exhibition focuses on Bacon’s unerring fascination with animals: how it both shaped his approach to the human body and distorted it; how, caught at the most extreme moments of existence, his figures are barely recognisable as either human or beast.

It also explores how Bacon was mesmerised by animal movement, observing animals in the wild during trips to South Africa; filling his studio with wildlife books, and constantly referring to Eadweard Muybridge’s 19th-century photographs of humans and animals in motion. Whether chimpanzees, bulls, dogs, or birds of prey, Bacon felt he could get closer to understanding the true nature of humankind by watching the uninhibited behaviour of animals.

Spanning Bacon’s 50-year career, highlights of the show included some of Bacon’s earliest works and his last-ever painting, alongside a trio of bullfight paintings which will be exhibited together for the first time.

Seen together, these raw expressions of anxiety and instinct – both animal and human – feel poignantly relevant today.


Monday, February 14, 2022

The Chairs @ Almeida Theatre...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Eugène Ionesco's surreal, absurdist play The Chairs at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

Initially we hear the actors backstage deciding whether they want to put the play on that night or not. "It doesn't make much sense." "Do you think people will walk out?" "Too many words. They'll get bored. And I'll forget them." It's funny - but unsettling.

The curtain drops.

An old man (Marcello Magni). An old woman (Kathryn Hunter). An empty stage. And the water is rising.

Alone in a room, the couple set out the chairs ready for the arrival of a very special audience. They’ve invited everyone. The dancers, the chancers, the editors, the creditors, the picketers, the hecklers, the Leavers, the Remainers, the Remoaners. Even the bankers. All the movers and shakers are gathering to hear the old man’s final message to humanity. But will the message ever be delivered?

Invisible guests arrive. An emperor appears.

Part-meta, part post-modern, and part panto - translated and directed by Omar Elerian - it's all very silly and a lot of fun.

The audience are part of the performance. I was thrown a handkerchief. Then later I was called up on stage. A bit of chat (the old woman liked my shoes) and then asked to help with the chairs. All in character.

Eventually the Orator (Toby Sedgwick) arrives. The stage begins to attack him.

Meta, meta, meta, meta, meta....