Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, May 31, 2024

Thursday, May 30, 2024

“Can I have a quiet word with you?”…

A few weeks ago while waiting in a packed Emirates Stadium concourse for kickoff, a guy tapped me on the back of the shoulder. I looked round. He gestured for me to step away from the group of people I was with and said, "Can I have a quiet word with you?"  He was American. 
I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted, but he didn’t look like he was going to hit me!
"Sure", I replied
And indeed, he spoke in quiet, hushed tones and said this,
“I live in Boston. I just wanted to say 'thank you' for everything you’ve been doing. For your community. The gay community. I have a 14 year old trans daughter who is a big Arsenal fan. She has been slightly struggling at school. I struggle too. To talk with her. But one of the things she looks forward to is reading your gay-related posts on Twitter and Instagram about what you get up supporting Arsenal and stuff with the gaygooners. Where you go. Your trips. Your get togethers. It means she and I can have conversations together about Arsenal, the matches, and other queer people and about trans issues too. I can’t tell you what an amazing thing it is to have a topic, a conversation that we can talk about together. We can talk about the Arsenal and look at the photos of gay… queer people too.  So thank you very much it means a lot to me and to my daughter. I hope to bring her to a game when she’s old enough"
I was a bit overcome.
So I said, "That’s really very kind of you. The gaygooners is obviously a joint effort and we all work very hard to make everybody feel included in the Arsenal family. I do post a lot of photos myself - my own trips and ones with the gaygooners - so I’m glad your daughter has seen them"
Just before he walked away I asked, "Do you mind if I ask you one question though?"
"Sure", he said
"How did you know it was me to speak? How did you find me? This place is packed."
And he said, "Oh, we know who you are! I saw you on the big screen. And I recognised you from Instagram”

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Ruby Violet @ The Civil Service Club…

Last night Cerise, Shad, Darce, and I went  to watch award-winning drag queen Ruby Violet host a drag bingo night at The Civil Service Club in London’s glitzy Great Scotland Yard.
Turning the air blue within the first two minutes, I was genuinely shocked by the language! Ha ha. Luckily the stunned audience suddenly burst out laughing. She won us over.
The Civil Service Club is a lovely venue and does great food and serves reasonably priced booze. 
Needless to say, during the show Ruby Violet made a beeline for Darce, then me, and then Shad. 
Ceris won big time at the bingo. Us boys, not so much.
Great fun.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Pet Shops Boys @ KOKO…

Yesterday afternoon Stuart, me & 1500 other PetHeads packed to the KOKO Club in London’s glitzy Camden Town to watch the Pet Shop Boys perform an exclusive club show to celebrate the release of their brand new album Nonetheless and kick off the 2024 leg of their Dreamworld world tour. 

Great show. Nice chats from Neil too remembering when he worked for Smash Hits and his conversation with George Michael in the same venue (then The Camden Palais) about who would be producer on Careless Whisper. 

It was the test setlist for their upcoming festival date. And probably for the rest of the Dreamworld tour too. 
Three tracks from the new album (the three singles?) is probably not a bad showing. Although there was less recognition in the room of those tracks of course. 
The extended intros and outros of most of tracks had a delightful hi-energy mid-1980s feel. The crowd went wild. 
From a whisper to a scream… 

Can You Forgive Her?
Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)
Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You) (U2 & Frankie Valli cover)
I Don't Know What You Want but I Can't Give It Any More
So Hard
Left To My Own Devices
Domino Dancing
Dancing Star
A New Bohemia
Love Comes Quickly
Always On My Mind (Brenda Lee cover)
It's Alright (Sterling Void cover)
Go West (Village People cover)
It's a Sin

West End Girls
Being Boring (Dedicated to George Michael & Denton)

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Judith & Clodagh…

Lovely to have both Judith and Clodagh to stay last week. The girls were over for the Chelsea Flower Show. A fab catch up and great dinner out. @cavanclo @jude_l_dude 

Friday, May 24, 2024

Theatre Duds…

As regular readers may know Stuart and I like the odd trip to the theatre. A common question I get asked is, "Do you like everything you see?"
Not this week. No. Nothing glitzy in these two. 
The Cherry Orchard @ Donmar Theatre...
Uninspired. No set. Carpet everywhere. Random singing. An excellent cast are let down by self-obsessed direction. Chekhov badly served here.

Boys From The Blackstuff @ Olivier Theatre...
Dull, dull, dull. Painful. A rare dud from James Graham. We left at the interval.


Thursday, May 23, 2024

Baby Reindeer…

Baby Reindeer was great. But I have questions…

And I wanna see Martha’s version!

#babyreindeer @netflix #great #onesided #triggering 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Tory MPs are all raiding the stationery cupboard...

Election announced. 4th July. 

I’ve cracked open a bottle of champagne and dancing round the flat with got “Things Can Only Get Better” at full blast!!! πŸ’₯ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚


Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Comeuppance @ Almeida Theatre…

Short version: 

Romy and Michele meets millennial mumblecore. With Death as a character. It’s was great. A minor quibble at the ending, but 99% spot on. Stuart and I loved it. 

(Much) Longer version: 

Depending on how your life has gone, a high school reunion can either be a victory lap or a source of deep humiliation. Romy and Michele taught us that. But ace writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has more to say on the matter (a lot more) in his wordy, intermittently explosive drama The Comeuppance, that has just finished making its UK premiere at the Almeida Theatre in London’s glitzy Islington. 

Directed by Eric Ting and starring Yolanda Kettle, Ferdinand Kingsley, Tamara Lawrance, Katie Leung, and Anthony Welsh, it was a great night of theatre. 

The ‘action’ takes place in Maryland in 2022, just hours before a 20-year high school reunion. Members of the self-described M.E.R.G. (“multi-ethnic reject group”) gather to ‘pregame’ on the porch of the local home where Ursula has lived her entire life since college. 

Emilio is the first on the scene, all the way from Berlin where he lives and works as an internationally recognised sound installation artist. Caitlin shows up next, and Emilio soon after makes a quip about her much older husband, who was at the Capitol on 6th January. Yes, things turn prickly pretty quick. 

Kristina arrives in her army dress blues. An overworked doctor with five kids, she is determined to seize this opportunity for unbridled fun. But she has brought along her cousin (and Caitlin’s problematic ex-boyfriend) Francisco, who was not in their class, was not really a part of M.E.R.G., and is clearly not welcome in the eyes of Emilio. More prickles. 

Sparks soon fly as unsettled grudges grind against the whetstone of two decades of adult trauma.  

Death is ever-present. It regularly suspends the action to speak directly to us, possessing the bodies of each of the characters in turn over the course of this two-hour, 10-minute one-act. 

“There is so much to admire about the human body,” it opines. “Especially at this age, so noble, fighting its good fight against a certain… softening. You cell repair systems — my most ancient nemeses — are long broken down. You lose those at 27. Did you know that?” 

Those of us over that age (the vast majority in any given off-West End audience) are undoubtedly delighted to hear this public service announcement.   

Jacobs-Jenkins is a master of invective, and he reserves some of his best for Emilio. Pain radiating from his dejected gaze, he delivers it all with unflinching brutality, mercilessly stabbing and twisting. No one is spared his verbal knife.

Eric Ting directs The Comeuppance with a keen sense of dynamics too. Deftly navigating the peaks and valleys of conflict and the pregnant power of a wordless stare. 

The sound design is crucial in executing the dimension shift that allows Death to interject the sparring, a garbled rumble added under the voices of every actor as if Death is in the witness protection program. 

It’s creepy… well, until Death disappointingly demystifies itself by talking rather too much. 

As Ursula and Emilio sit on the porch together Death delivers a rather protracted monologue lauding the human solidarity exhibited during the 2020 pandemic, I was fairly sick of hearing from it. “I thought you were the best version of yourself,” Death beams. 


Oh well. It’s a bit of a weird conclusion to an otherwise well-written story of regret, nostalgia, and death. Maybe Death needs to take a holiday.

Oh, but there is a twist too.  Did we guess who Death was coming for? 


Monday, May 20, 2024

Arsenal 2 - 1 Everton…

Great meet-up with the @gaygooners before and after the game and great atmosphere in the stadium. 

The dream is over though. Despite our home win against Everton yesterday there were 115 reasons why Man City lifted the Premiership trophy. 

To be crowned champions, the Gunners needed to beat the Toffees and hope City failed to win against West Ham. 

Everyone seemed to be on their phones checking the City game when Arsenal suffered a setback; Idrissa Gueye's deflected free-kick put Everton in front, although Takehiro Tomiyasu equalised three minutes later. 

While Arsenal did eventually hold up their end of the bargain with Kai Havertz's late winner, ultimately City's victory over West Ham took matters out of our hands.

Oh well. Next season. 

Onward and upward my friends.


Friday, May 17, 2024

Spirited Away @ London Coliseum...

Last night Stuart and I went to the London Coliseum in London's glitzy West End to see John Caird's delightful epic Japanese-language production of the Oscar-winning Spirited Away.
It’s quite extraordinary that we have not one but two theatrical adaptations of Studio Ghibli films on offer in the West End, given the immense challenges of bringing Hayao Miyazaki’s unique and beguiling animation to the stage. But, following the RSC’s gorgeous My Neighbour Totoro, which returns next year, this production of Spirited Away is an absolute treat.
There is nothing minimalist here. It is a fantastically ambitious show with eye-popping spectacle.
Sachiko Nakahara’s towering costumes and Toby OliΓ©’s ingenious puppetry to a Noh-inspired grand bathhouse design by Jon Bausor on a stately revolve that commands the Coliseum stage. The sheer scope is thrilling.
It's funny. It's silly. It's moving. 
Initially we follow Chihiro (Mone Kamishiraishi) into the magical bathhouse of gods and spirits. There we get to meet the terrifying sorceress Yubaba, the mysterious creature No-Face, Yubaba’s apprentice Haku, fellow worker Lin, and the spider-like boiler-man Kamaji.
There’s always something vivid and fascinating to engage with. The three-hour running time flew by.
There are amazing coup-de-theatres such as when Yubaba erupts in fury, a giant version of her face is suddenly conjured by several puppeteers piecing together various parts of it.
A personal favourite were the adorable puppet soot sprites with their googly eyes and “meep” yelps.
And yet, beyond all the busy ideas and invention, the production also leaves breathing space for quieter scenes to play out. A sequence set in a train carriage, as the light falls, is utterly exquisite: a sort of living painting. It’s magical theatre.
Go see.



Akira @ TT Cinema…

Last Wednesday night Stuart and I went to the TT Cinema in glitzy Shoreditch to watch 1988 classic Akira.
The TT shows cult classics and independent films four nights a week in it's 52-seater vintage cinema, all tickets include a beverage - in our case a White Lady cocktail!
For those that maybe don't know, Akira is a Japanese animated cyberpunk action film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo based on Otomo's 1982 manga of the same name. It's widely regarded as one of the best films of all time.
Set in a dystopian 2019, it tells the story of Shōtarō, the leader of a biker gang whose childhood friend, Tetsuo, acquires incredible telekinetic abilities after a motorcycle accident, eventually threatening an entire military complex amid chaos and rebellion in the sprawling futuristic metropolis of Neo-Tokyo.
We loved it, of course. We'd both seen it before. But seeing it in an oldy-worldy cinema added to the fun.
The visit was thanks to Denise and Kristen - vouchers for Stuart's 50th last year.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Farewell Sweden…

Our last day in Sweden saw a trip to Lund, a lovely walk in the Malmo park, then a great Swedish breakfast today. It’s been such a special trip. 
Thank you Bryn XXX