Quote Of The Day

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Band’s Visit @ Donmar Warehouse “The songs are witty, tuneful, and catchy. The story is light, funny, and heartfelt”…

Sometimes something comes along, that’s totally unexpected and equally a total delight. So it was with what Stuart and I saw last Friday night at the Donmar Warehouse in London’s glitzy West End.

The play, no not a play, a musical, that is small, modest, moving, and quite perfect.  

The premise is simple one. An Egyptian Military Police Orchestra are booking a flight to play at an new Arabic Cultural Centre in Israel. Only they get the name of the city wrong at the airport and turn up in a desolate place with a similar name in the middle of nowhere. Where they do end up has but a single restaurant and is in a quiet, dusty backwater of a quite desert.  

What then unfolds is a beautiful love story. I love story between two people (the excellent Moni Aboutboul and the fabulous  Miri Mesika), and between two peoples. The songs are witty, tuneful, and catchy.  The story is light, funny, and heartfelt. Think of it as a Middle Eastern Come From Away.   

The original US production of ‘The Band’s Visit’ stormed the 2018 Tony Awards and spent 18 months on Broadway. Which is pretty wild when you consider it’s a barely 90-minute musical with no interval, no dance routines, no power ballads and performed in Arabic, Hebrew and heavily accented English.  

If you get a chance, go see.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Othello @ Lyttelton Theatre “from a whisper to a scream missing fewer beats than a Bobby O remix.”

Last week Stuart and I went to see much-loved "Hamilton" star Giles Terera play Othello at the Lyttelton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.
This particular production is historic in that it marks the first time a black director (Clint Dyer) has staged the play at the National Theatre. So, our hopes were high.
Indeed, the whole production is purposefully and consciously exposing the normal white-gaze, with Terera the only person of colour in the cast, serving to emphasise the racism and jealousy that fuels the tragedy and Othello's isolation. An isolation felt by the character, and by the actor on stage.
Another good choice is the set - steps and terraces around the performance space, creating a look that is a cross between an ancient Greek theatre and a fighting pit.

The steps are peopled by an aggressive, all-white Greek chorus - or 'system' as they are described in the programme - which further helps drive the combative narrative of the racism rarely explored in some other productions of the play.
That said, Terara's Othello is a bit of a let-down. His fast-track to mental instability and anguish is just a little too fast. It doesn't take many whispered suggestions from Iago to get him to doubt Desdemona and for his behaviour to become utterly erratic and to descend into shouting and screeching. It is all a bit too quick - he goes from a whisper to a scream missing fewer beats than a Bobby O remix.
Sadly Paul Hilton's Iago is just a little too broad too. It would have been but a small step to have him mischiefly twiddling his moustache, rubbing his hands in glee, and giving us a 4th wall-breaking evil cackle to make him a full-on pantomime villain. Subtle it, ain't.
That said, we enjoyed the show. And it will no doubt pick up the pace as the run continues.
It is however not a patch on the sublime Adrian Lester / Rory Kinear masterpiece production in 2013 which for me is the award-winning gold standard.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Highbury Barn Lights…

Great fun seeing Corinne Drewery of Swing Out Sister turning in the Highbury Barn Xmas lights. Thanks to organiser Terry Stacy. 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Tammy Faye @AlmeidaTheatre - Think Book of Mormon. Think Jerry Springer: The Opera. Yes, that good. 5 glorious stars to @mrJamesGraham @eltonofficial @Jakeshears

Last night Stuart, Jane, Jo, and I went to see the ridiculously entertaining musical Tammy Faye at Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.
With powerhouse central performances by Katie Brayben and Andrew Rannells, music by Elton John, lyrics by Jake Shears, and a book by James Graham, how could it fail? Think Book of Mormon. Think Jerry Springer: The Opera. Yes, that good.
We laughed, we clapped, we stamped our feet. 
Telling the story of gay-friendly tele-evangelist Tammy Faye and her good-for-nothing husband Jim Bakker, the musical is a joy from start to finish. A divinely delirious glitz-bomb of a joy. The songs are catchy, the lyrics funny, and the story simply outrageous. 
The first half is great, but the second half simply explodes in creativity - as the couple’s greed and profligacy – and the sexual misconduct of Bakker and his fellow preachers – is contrasted with Tammy Faye’s genuine empathy, particularly when she embraces a young pastor with AIDS live on air, the songs simply soar. And the laughs come thick and fast.
And Rubert Goold's direction is spot on throughout.
Surely a West End (and Broadway) transfer are a must.
Praise be to Tammy Faye!


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Lime Bike Hazard…

No more excuses for the blocked pavements @Uber !  All the @limebike should all be removed by @IslingtonBC Surely a hazard for all, especially those who are blind or partially sighted. I am neither but need to walk in the road to avoid. Death-trap.

The council should just impound them. Charge Uber/Lime £150 to get each one back.

Not blaming the council per se. Although it is they who are responsible for the streets. Just suggesting Uber do something about the inconsiderate people (they know who have hired every bike) or that the council remove the bikes entirely. That would soon make Uber pay attention and find and fine their inconsiderate users. 
So far Uber have done nothing. They could easily geofence the area.

They have an agreement with the council that states,  “A Residential Impact Assessment has been carried out (06/09/19) and is attached at Appendix 4. It found that all users of dockless hire vehicles, pedestrians and other road users will positively benefit from the minimum safety standards. Operators would be made more accountable in respect of responsible parking. Additionally, GPS chips will assist in reducing bike theft crime. Both would benefit all pedestrians using the public highway in the borough. Furthermore, ensuring an unobstructed footway is paramount to meeting the needs of disabled and/or persons with restricted mobility.”

The operator (Uber) have a responsibility to make sure their users keep the pavements unobstructed. The council could threaten to not renew their licence. But that could take years. Easily, quicker solution? Remove the badly parked ones! Just like they do to badly parked cars.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Home Conserves….

This year’s foraging haul turned into infused gins, jams, and jellies. Stuart was chief conservoir. 
Home-made marmalade*, sloe gin (gathered in 2021 but bottled 2022), sloe jam, and quince jelly.  Yum, yum. 
(*some foraging for oranges might have taken place in Waitrose!)

Monday, November 21, 2022

Come on FA, come on boys, at least make it mean something. Take a stand. 🏳️‍🌈

It’s not unusual for a footballer to get a yellow card for taking their shirt off after celebrating a goal. They do it all the time. On purpose. 

How powerful would it be for Kane and Bale to accept one by wearing the One Love armband? 

Come on FA, come on boys, at least make it mean something. Take a stand. 🏳️‍🌈 

Friday, November 18, 2022

A Single Man @ Park Theatre...

Last week Roger and I went to see A Single Man at the Park Theatre in London’s glitzy Finsbury Park.

Avid fans of Tom Ford's film adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's novella are quite likely to do a double-take; as Theo Fraser Steele gets dressed - suited, booted and bespectacled - as George in this stage version, so closely does he resemble Colin Firth. 
That resemblance continues when he starts to speak, capturing the exact same clipped, wry Englishness that contrasts so tellingly with the Californian drawl of most of the other characters.
Sadly the rest of the show is a bit of a let down though. 
Following the book rather too closely, the dialogue sounds like the excellent cast are simply reading from it.
We don't really connect with the characters. Which is a bit of a shame. 
That said, both Freddie Gaminara and Miles Molan are very, very watchable.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Shepherdess Walk Mosaics...

If you walk along Shepherdess Walk in Hackney you might see a hidden entranceway.
Descend down some steps and you will see this intriguing sign pointing to a mysterious passageway.
The passageway mimics the route of a path that once crossed the fields from the City of London to the pastoral hills of Islington. It would have been well trodden by shepherds and their sheep on the way to Smithfield meat market.
Fast forward to the mid-19th century and the Regent’s canal winds it way through the landscape, industry has arrived and terraces of houses have been laid out. The passageway existed at this point and linked through to another terrace called Turner’s Place, where the park is now located.
Two huge bathhouses opened here in 1842; the largest covered baths in London for 90 years. They were converted into factories in the 1950’s and then, after a period of dilapidation, were torn down, along with Turner’s Place, to create the park.
Tucked into the northernmost corner of this park, by the passageway, you will find a series of beautifully intricate mosaics.
The mosaics were created in 2012 by Tessa Hunkin. She worked with around 150 volunteers from the local community, including from Lifeline Works, involving those struggling with substance abuse.
The first panels were called ‘History in the Making’ and created in time for the London Olympic Games.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

My Neighbour Totoro @ Lyttleton Theatre...

Last week Roger and I went to see the Royal Sharespeare Company's dazzling staging of Studio Ghibli's celebrated 1988 animated feature film My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican Theatre in London's glitzy Barbican Centre.
Based upon Hayao Miyazaki’s simple original story; two sisters move with their father to the countryside, in postwar Japan, and see other worlds emerging out of it. But OMG, what a show! It richly deserves it's five-star reviews. For 2 hours 50 minutes (that seemed to flash by in an instant) we were transported to a long-forgotten realm of spirits using puppetry, great acting and magical music. The piece punches a huge emotional impact too. I was in tears. Disney, it ain't.
The sisters Satsuki (Ami Okumura Jones) and Mei (Mei Mac) are played by adults and appear cartoonishly excitable at the start but they win us over. As the magical realism floods the stage Mac, who plays the younger sister, almost seems to transform into an infant before our eyes. Her fall into the camphor tree in which she meets Totoro is a magnificent set-piece. It combines a multilayered set with swirling movement and mime. The relationships between the two girls and with their father (Dai Tabuchi) is always funny yet often touching.
Phelim McDermott's direction is as sublime as ever; clever, witty, and full of joy. Tom Morton-Smith's writing is funny and inciteful. Joe Hisaishi music (who composed the original film score) is heartfelt and effortlessly propels the action forward.
And the catbus...  the catbus is brilliant... a giant inflatable with laser eyes.
If you can find a ticket (it runs until late January).. go!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Wolves 0 - 2 Arsenal…

It was an amazing day out in Wolverhampton on Saturday. (No, I didn’t think I’d ever write that sentence either.) With our Premiership rivals Man City losing miserably earlier in the day thanks to the mighty(?) Brentford it was up to Arsenal to see if we can extend our lead at the top of the league. And boy, did we do it! A magnificent 0-2 win with our Norwegian blonde bombshell Ødegaard scoring both meant we are now 5 points clear of the pack. And what with the World Cup starting soon it means we will be top of the league at Christmas. Fingers crossed our key players don’t pick up any injuries while in Qatar or in training. Either way, Arsenal have had an outstanding start to the season. Long may it continue! #COYG #DareToDream

Monday, November 14, 2022

Milli-Micro Short-of-cake...

 My gripe with Waitrose continues. Mini Millionaire Shortcake is more Milli-Micro Short-of-cake. An almost empty container. Pah! @waitrose

Friday, November 11, 2022

Pizza, Hot…

We've receiving reports about unprofessional behaviour from plumbers, pizza delivery men and pool boys. If you can send any relevant video links to me I'd be grateful because this is definitely not union approved behaviour.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Exploding Oven Door…

Exploding oven door. Just out of warranty. Glass everywhere.  Extra crunch to those fish fingers. @aeg_gb have hung up on me twice.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Free Delivery…

While ordering a packet of biscuits from Waitrose online recently, I noticed that I needed to spend £75 to get their free delivery.

So I ordered a second pack.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

End of life care. That double helix of labour and love. Such utter joy.

Watching Stu and Richard care for their mother in her final days and nights has been painful and slow but her moments of lucidity have been wonderful. 5 nights so far with no food or water. But when she does come round - however briefly - it’s like her dementia has gone and the boys tell her they love her. 
That double helix of labour and love. The fatigue, boredom, and repetition followed by such utter joy. 

Monday, November 07, 2022

Chelsea 0-1 Arsenal…

An amazing day at Stamford Bridge yesterday. The thrilling Arsenal play. The theatre and drama and idiocy of he-who-shall-not-be named. The commitment of the team. The possession.  Our bloody sexy players. The passion on the pitch. And passion off the pitch. The goal! (I took a photo AS it went in!) The bloody noise of it all. What a way to start a Sunday! Top of the league my friends.  Top of the league. ❤️