Quote Of The Day

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Newcastle! Away!…

Great night out in Newcastle. Dreadful result for Arsenal though. Throwing away a top four spot. But fun to meet up with everyone. And St James Park is an experience! 145 steps up. Great atmosphere. 
Currently waiting for train home having demolished breakfast of champions.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Walter Sickert @ Tate Britain…

Last Saturday afternoon Stuart and I walked down to Tate Britain in London’s glitzy Pimlico to see the Walter Sickert exhibition. 

I like to think of Sickert as an Islington man but in fact it was just his former studio and school that was in the road next to ours, at 1 Highbury Place. 

Sickert was actually born in Germany although he lived all over the place - being influenced by the places he stayed and the people (artists like Whistler and Degas) he met. 

Sickert was chiefly a cosmopolitan and quite eccentric. He often favoured ordinary people and urban scenes as his subjects. Although in later life his work included portraits of well-known personalities - some images derived from press photographs. He is considered a prominent figure in the transition from Impressionism to Modernism. Decades after his death, several researchers and theorists suspected Sickert to have been the London-based serial killer Jack the Ripper, although the theory has largely been dismissed.

The exhibition was a real eye opener. Dark, honest, passionate, and fun. We especially liked his depictions of theatre audiences, unflattering portraits, and London street scenes. 

Deffo worth a visit. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Fab lunch out with Myrtle. We laughed and laughed….

Fab lunch out with Myrtle. We laughed and laughed. 

Topics: the Jubilee, why lunch guests never leave, female job opportunities and empowerment, Heartstopper, why gay bars open and close as regularly, Eurovision, how you know if you have good neighbours, the name of the horse her uncle (my grand uncle) rode to the first world war, the best Argentine wines, how to ask for help, fitting into beach wear after lockdown, how we both hate Liz Truss, how we both hate Johnson even more, Putin’s Czar complex, the illusiveness of self confidence, French vs Spanish gendered nouns, the calorific content of mushrooms, and what our tombstones would say (mine would be ‘Carpe Diem’, hers she didn’t mind). 

As Myrtle was reaching for her bag to pay (she insisted) the guy at the next table leaned over, “is that your mum? Lucky you.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Big Gay Bens…. You don’t have to be good looking, or gay, or be called Ben to be on @BBCNews. But then again…

You don’t have to be good looking, or gay, or be called Ben to be on @BBCNews. But it might help!

BBC News Gay Bens:-

Ben Thompson @BenThompsonTV
Ben Boulos @BenMBoulos
Ben Hunte @BenInLDN (ok, now moved to Vice but was the BBC News’s first LGBT+ correspondent)
Ben Rich @Ben_Rich (ok, weatherman but often on BBC News)

Is Ben Brown alone in flying the flag for straight BBC News Bens?

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Middle @ Dorfman Theatre "Regret hangs heavy on the stage - but never once in the auditorium. We were very happy we came. Another triumph." -> -> review ->->

A week of so back Stuart and I went to see Middle at the Dorfman Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Full disclosure. The author of this play is my mate David Eldridge. Dave knows me well enough that I will say what I think though. So, I couldn't be more proud, and honest, to say, I loved it.

Dave's first play in his trilogy of two-hander relationship plays was called Beginning and we went to see that three times we loved it so much. It was a marvel.

Here we find ourselves with a different couple though; Maggie (the fabulous Claire Rushbrook) and her husband Gary (the wonderful Daniel Ryan) are middle-aged, middle class, and middling along. It's the middle of the night in an average midsized home. Only Maggie isn't half upset. She's warming milk in the kitchen, alone, when Gary discovers her.

What follows is a real-time 100 min emotional rollercoaster. The performances are great - delivered with pathos and sincerity. Polly Findlay's direction is spot on. There are plenty of laughs, and much sadness too.

Ryan is a child of Thatcher. Self-made, slightly past it, working in the City. He tries to be sensitive; his idea of cheering his wife up is buying her two vibrators. Maggie has unfulfilled dreams though. She isn’t, and devastatingly has never been, happy. Gary tries to win her round; eventually conceding though, "Everyone’s disappointed." Their child has come between them. But the gulf between them has been widening for some time. They are on different sides of their relationship - and will they get lost in the middle?

Dave's writing is as assured as ever. He writes what he knows. And we, his friends, can see our mates and ourselves reflected in his work - as I suspect many couples do. There was noticeable seat shifting going on by couples around us!

Regret hangs heavy on the stage - but never once in the auditorium. We were very happy we came. Another triumph. Can't wait for the third play, Dave.


Monday, May 09, 2022

Arsenal 2 - 1 Leeds. Great day out at the Emirates Stadium yesterday in glitzy Ashburton Grove. A good win in the end made up of a good start (see the half time stats below) but an uneasy finish. @Arsenal

Arsenal 2 - 1 Leeds. Great day out at the Emirates Stadium yesterday in glitzy Ashburton Grove. A good win in the end made up of a good start (see the half time stats below) but an uneasy finish. 

So we celebrated afterwards in the sunshine (the way you do) ☀️🍺🩳

A win against Sp*rs on Thursday and we are guaranteed a top four slot and being in a ‘proper’ European competition next season! COYG!

Friday, May 06, 2022

Age of Rage @ Barbican Theatre...

Cannibalism, filicide, sacrifice, war, rape, murder, murder, pedicide, kidnap, mariticide, murder, matricide, parricide, and finally some much needed deity intervention. Yes, there's a lot of death in this show.

Last night I went to see visionary director Ivo van Hove's dark, bloody, epic and visceral Age of Rage at the Barbican Theatre in London's glitzy Barbican Centre.

Starting with the Trojan War, revenge haunts the stage as it wrecks successive generations.

Adapted from six ancient Greek tragedies (by Greek dramatist Euripides and Aeschylus) and combined into one long (4 hour long) revenge-death-fest Age of Rage is a real assault on the senses.

This large-scale production by the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam combines music (very loud music at that), performance and dance from a large ensemble cast to uncover the inevitability and hopelessness of a circle of violence.

There is a spectacular set design by Jan Versweyveld, frenetic choreography from Wim Vandekeybus and as I say the music from the contemporary music collective BL!NDMAN deserves an acting credit all to itself.

Oh, and it's in Dutch. I loved it.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Oklahoma! @ The Young Vic...

Warning: haze, smoke, flashing lights, gun imagery, loud gunshot effects, moments of darkness, large amounts of blood, violence, and total blackouts. Yes, it's a dark production in more ways than one.

Last night I went to see the edgy, acclaimed revival of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic Oklahoma! at the Young Vic in London's glitzy Waterloo.

Directed by Daniel Fish and Jordan Fein it's a semi-immersive (I sat on stage) production colloquially known as ‘Sexy Oklahoma’. It's stripped back, smoulderingly intense, radically inclusive that took Broadway by storm in 2019 and would probably have come over here earlier if it weren’t for you-know-what. This version certainly finds a visceral connection to the story’s deeper themes of death and desire, borne out in a sensual modern dance solo, in place of the traditional dream ballet, and a usually comic song filmed live and projected in unsettling darkness.

The plot is simple. It’s 1906, Oklahoma is about to join the Union and the rivalry between farmers and ranchers will soon be swamped by the modern world.

Cowpoke Curly (Arthur Darvill) fails to invite his beloved Laurey (Anoushka Lucas) to the local dance party so thuggish rival Jud (Patrick Vaill) thinks he’s got a chance.

In a parallel love triangle, biddable Ado Annie (Marisha Wallace) wavers between wholesome horseman Will (James Davis) and dodgy Persian peddler Ali (woke, this musical ain’t).

That’s the plot, right there.

The show starts with stirring renditions of Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ and The Surrey with the Fringe on Top both by Darvill - the boy can certainly sing. The 8-strong band, which is onstage, plays beautifully bring out the shine in later songs too - I Cain’t Say No (arguably the funniest song in the show) and People Will Say We’re in Love are both great.

The cast are all great too and there was plenty of surprises. But for me something was missing. And it's probably the fault of the source material. It's a show that fails the Bechtel Test at every turn. It persecutes the down at heel. And the songs are just not the showstoppers of other Rodgers & Hammerstein classics.

That said, it has much to admire. Not least the ending — arguably the worst in a major musical — gets a jarring revamp. I won’t give it away but it’s played out with a memorable visual gimmick that is quite shocking.

For me though, this is, as the title song puts it, just...Okay.

What an amazing man Louis Dunford is… Famous mum, sure, held the hand of a dying boy at 16, yup, suffers depression, ok, but his music is just brilliant.

What an amazing man Louis Dunford is. Famous mum, sure, held the hand of a dying boy at 16, yup, suffers depression, ok, but his music is just brilliant. He ‪brought this old man to tears (damn him). What a ‘voice’ he has.  A London voice. Speaks from the heart. And to the heart. ‬Billy Bragg, Mike Skinner, that vibe.


Wednesday, May 04, 2022

La Bohème @ King's Head Theatre...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Mark Ravenhill's Grindr-generation production of Puccini's La Bohème at the King's Head Theatre in London's glitzy Upper Street.

This "queer reinvention" was emotional, extremely intimate, beautifully sung, and a laugh-out loud riot.

With a new very modern and very English libretto, originally conceived by David Eaton and Adam Spreadbury-Maher and reworked by Philip Lee and David Eaton, with musical direction from David Eaton, this production relocates the story of a community of struggling artists to contemporary gay London. We find a group of friends who started partying in the 1990s. As they reach middle age, they are faced with the possibility that now may be the time to sell out and settle down. But romantic passion, sexual desire and the hedonistic pleasures of partying remain as strong as ever.

The full cast includes the fabulously handsome Matthew Kellett as Marcus, the fantastic Philip Lee as Mimi, the scene-stealing Grace Nyandoro as Marissa and the beautiful Daniel Koek as Robin.

Puccini could hardly have asked for more.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Birthday Boys Lunch (Andy's 60th) @ Fig & Olive...

Yesterday afternoon Andrew R, Michael, Andy R, Darren, Vince, Stuart and I went to help Andy C, Tim and Kev all celebrate their respective birthdays with lunch at the Fig & Olive in Islington's glitzy Upper Street.

It was a 'big birthday' for Andy C (but we won't mention which one!) so he treated us all to lunch which was kind of him. We then went for beers at the Library and then The Lamb on the Holloway Road. A great afternoon of fun and giggles.

Monday, May 02, 2022

West Ham 1 - 2 Arsenal @ London Stadium...

Yesterday afternoon I (and a bunch of other Gooners) went to watch the mighty Arsenal take on West Ham at the London Stadium in London's glitzy Stratford.

It was fun day out but a nervy game. Elliot, Jonathan and I ended up in Jacks Bar putting the world to rights.