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Showing posts from May, 2005
Travel continued: Its not the destination, its the journey...

Getting to and from a destination is part of the fun of going by train. On the return leg yesterday from Lille to Waterloo it was a little more interesting than normal. It sort of went like this:
Two small bottles of Bordeaux had certainly made me comfortable and relaxed as we went into the Euro Tunnel. It also took its toll on the bladder.Making my way to the bathroom I noticed I was being watched. When one is getting checked out it is always worth checking back.After leaving the bathroom I got the surprise of my life to see that he was right outside.
At this point I explained to my colleagues at work (for the sake of brevity among other things) that I struck up a conversation, but that wasn't the case. Not expecting anyone outside the bathroom as I rolled back the door I was a tad startled and retreated back to my seat. Afterall, there is no mile-high club on a high speed train surely... But returning to my seat I did po…
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Scenes from Lyon - Outside Hotel De Ville Saturday morning. It was Non, non et non. Pretty much like the result on Sunday really. Later that day a Oui poster was put up over some of them. It was a simple poster of a botox babe with European Union stars in her eyes. A little disturbing actually. It was too little too late and too unappealing to sway anyone's opinion...
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Scenes from Lyon Sunday 21:10. Boats at the Parc De La Tete D'Or.
Travel: Things to do in Lyon

With the Lyon City Card you get free entry to many museums and galleries in Lyon. So over two days:
I saw Musée des Beaux Arts - great exhibition of art and antiquities and there wasn't the crowds so you could enjoy the Picassos and Reniors and Manets without fighting your way through the crowds. Of course this was Sunday morning the morning after the big football celebration that took place outside its doors so maybe people were a little tired.Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine, which is next to the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre. Lyon was the centre of Gallic Roman Empire so there was plenty of ruins, mosaics and artefacts on display. I later caught a rehearsal at the amphitheatre for a play that was opening this week...
Musée Des Tissues and Musée des Arts Decoratifs. This was a quick Sunday trip but was well worth it to see (among other things) Napoleon and Josephine's bed that they used when they were in Lyon. The woman at the door was very h…
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Things to do in Lyon on a Saturday. I would pick the weekend that Lyon wins the French Football Championships for the fourth time. It is 01:11 and the team had arrived back in Lyon for a small welcome by its citizens in the Place des Terreaux. The people were friendly and in a rather jovial mood. At the time the team song was catchy too...
Travel: Getting to Lyon

Spent the bank holiday weekend out of London - went to Lyon by Eurostar and TGV. That meant that half the fun was getting there. Well at 6-8 hours you would want it to be fun. I am typing this on the return leg from Paris Nord to Lille Flanders on the TGV to pass the time by. I have seen this part of the countryside before.

Friday's journey involved leaving London at 14:00 and making a connection at Lille and arriving at Lyon around 9pm - enough time for dinner at a sensible bouchon - or something like that.

It was a hot day, and so was the Eurostar as it left Waterloo. In the section I was travelling there was an American businessman, a woman from Manchester, a French businessman and myself. Shortly after leaving London the woman started complaining about the heat. It was over 30 degrees in London Friday so when that happens the city becomes a sauna anyway... She could speak French so the crew were sympathetic but explained there wasn't anything we could …
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Scenes from Oxford Circus Thursday 19:49 - shopping et cetera...
News: Crime's up and Prats are down

The yellow signs that pop up around London at the scenes of recent crimes are to be reviewed after they have been attributed to increasing fear of crime across the city. Perhaps they shouldn't always have in bold letters "MURDER" "STABBING" "GUN CRIME" emblazoned across them... And the text of the boards "A gruesome bloody murder took place at this location last night..." Perhaps should be reviewed. Ok it doesn't usually say that on the boards, but you can read between the lines (and use your immagination with these things...

And from crimes on the street to crimes against the city, it has almost been a week of posturing and hissy fits between the South Bank Centre and the endless number of supporters lining up for the London Eye which the Centre has threatened with closure (as the Eye sits on part of the South Bank Centre's land), Ken Livingstone has called South Bank Centre Chair a prat. Well …
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Scenes from the Piccadilly Theatre Tuesday 20:16... House full again...
News: Bargains

It's true, you can really get a shoebox in Central London for £135-a-week as a former cupboard goes back on the rental market... The previous occupant was small... And didn't spend too many nights at home...
Musical: Guys and Dolls and Ewan

Last night I caught a preview of the Donmar's production of Guys and Dolls The Musical staring Ewan McGregor, Jane Krakowski, Douglas Hodge and Jenna Russell. It wasn't until I got to the theatre and noticed the "house full" sign up that I realised what may lie in store...

While they had only been playing in front of an audience since last Thursday, to describe this show as sensational would have to be an understatement. What sets it apart from the other star vehicles that have come to the West End, is that this is a great piece of music theatre. People were actually enjoying the music as well. Afterall a show with songs such as "Luck be a Lady" "A Bushel and A Peck" "I've Never Been In Love Before" and "Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat" is a bit hard not to like. Especially with lyrics such as:

Marry the man today
Give him the girlish laughter
Give him your hand today
And save the fist fo…
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Scenes from the Jubilee Bridge Saturday 18:51. London Eye and Shell Building in the background
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Scenes from the South Bank Saturday 18:59 - woman in black dress on bike
Theatre: Blood and guts at Theatre of Blood

Caught Theatre of Blood last night at the National Theatre with Jim Broadbent as the lead. It is based on an old Vincent Price / Diana Rigg film where a ham actor Edward Lionheart seeks revenge on all the critics that have savaged him over the years by locking them in an old abandoned theatre and doing away with them one by one. The murders are committed in the style of murders that appear in Shakespeare's texts. The selected texts were also the plays Lionheart performed in his final season of Shakespeare before jumping to his death from a critics appartment after he was overlooked for a drama award... Or so it seemed...

It is gruesome and very black comedy including:

When the first critic is disposed of in the style of Julius Caesar, blood showers out all over the stage... Most of the audience laughed at this sight
Shylock this time takes his pound of flesh by removing the heart of another (it's just over a pound until he squeezes …
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Scenes from Bloomsbury 13:42. Clamping and PCNs
Overheard at a Soho Bar:

Man in tight white shirt: So what happened to your date?
Man in dark stripey shirt: Well it was going okay and then I said something about where he lived and he got all offended...
Man in tight white shirt: Oh that's a shame... Where does he live?
Man in dark stripey shirt: Chelsea...

Catching up

Caught up with a former work colleague from Australia today. Over lunch discussed various sundry issues and gossip including:
Had I stayed in my old job I would now be out of a job as the office is being shut down. Well there was no chance of that happening but it is nice to have it reaffirmed that every now and then one can make the right choice in life...
It was a cold day today. I needed to have this pointed out to me as I work on the 10 deg rule. If it is above 10 deg then I am not cold, even if it is windy or wet.
There is a difference between a café laté and a skinny flat white. The latter is not sold here but I had suggested that there was no real difference in London between the two, until ordering coffee after lunch proved me wrong.Swapping notes on the various artsy things we had seen. I pointed out that I was going to see On The Town again tonight as I had seen it previously in preview, and in the cheap seats. Had a much smarter seat in the stalls second time around…
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Scenes from Tottenham Court Road 22:36 - Billboard replacement works...
Random acts of kindness
On the tube on Sunday a woman took her shoes off and was moaning about the blisters they had given her to her partner. Suddenly from across the car a woman appeared with two band-aids and gave them to her. She then returned back to her seat...
On Monday a woman ran into the car of F while it was parked on the street. The woman left a note detailing her insurance, registration details and a contact number.Tonight a woman asked me while I was grabbing a bite to eat whether she minded if she smoked. I said "No of course not!" Asking if I minded really constitutes as an apology since so many light up without asking if anybody cared...
So life isn't always bad in the big bad city...
News: When the Hoff Drops in

David Hasselhoff, star at large drops in at a Brixton pub last Saturday when they have a night called the Hasselhoff Scandal. The pub was disappointed that he is now favouring dance music to his old tunes, but there was general concensus that "the Hoff" is cool...
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Scenes from Notting Hill Gate 22:07 - Eastbound Circle Line
News: Shocking news on the tube

A power surge this evening bought most of the Tube network down... London travelers can take heart however, as it was confirmed today that it is healthier to travel by tube than to travel aboveground. Sure there are particles, but they're made of iron not carbon... so that's all okay then...

Conversation on the tube as Central line train pulls into Tottenham Court Road

Driver (on speaker): The Northern Line has severe delays southbound due to a power surge. Customers are advised to seek alternate routes...
Confused man sitting next to Paul: Excuse me... What about the Northern line?
Paul:Well the southbound Northern line is out, but the northbound Northern line is still heading north

At this point I quickly make my way out of Tottenham Court Road thinking that there is something for just numbering your metro lines...
News: Piano Man

Big in the news tonight is the unfolding story of a man found on a beach in Kent who can't speak, but can play the piano. And he plays it very well. His clothing seemed to indicate that he was a concert pianist, but reports that he did not have any clothing tags have added to the mystery. Is he an illegal immigrant who removed the tags to confuse the authorities, or is he someone who shops for vintage clothing? Comparisons have been made to David Helfgott...
News: The Sith is the betht... Byo lightsaber

You know it is going to be one of those nights when you see people walking around Tottenham Court Road carrying light sabers. They obviously had been at Leicester Square for the Mega Star Wars premiere, complete with Darth Vader and a bevy of stormtroopers. Ooh ahh! As tempting as the thought was to be to take a look at the freaks er fans, I decided to go to the gym instead.

As for the movie, the Guardian panned it, but hinted that the movie may become a camp favourite liking Hayden Christensen's performance in going to the dark side to Princess Diana's performance on TV - head down, looking up through lowered brows and all... It would have to be worth the price of admission just to see that...

Bobbies and Stormtroopers clash at Leicester Square here...

Overheard at the gym tonight

Muscle Mary (on phone): Oh yes... Yes. Yes yes yes. Yeasss. Yes. Yes. Yes. Ah no.
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Scenes from Cnr Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street Sunday 20:25 - on break...
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Scenes from outside the British Museum Saturday 14:41 - No parking...
Musical: Mary Poppins - supercalisassystarturn

The opportunity came up to see Mary Poppins The Musical Friday night so I took it. Now that Billy Elliot has opened it will lose some of its "must see" status no doubt, but it is a very classy show (well, classy for something that is part music hall, part panto and part dance musical) using some of the best talent in the UK. Of note:
This was a dark and sassy Mary Poppins. Laura Michelle Kelly as the lead was quite sinister dispensing with a nasty nanny, and also siccing the children's toys on them when they annoyed her. The latter must have led to the warning against bringing very young children to the theatre, but for a show that clocks up three hours, there should be another warning that only children on Ritalin would last that long without getting bored.
Kelly's performance however is great and it is easy to see how people are finally seeing her as the next big thing. When she isn't on the stage however, it isn'…
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Scenes from Bloomsbury 14:32 - Outside UCL a parking warden works...
News: Not the glass

Camden Town is one of those areas of London where people confuse threats to personal safety, petty crime and crack users on the streets for gritty urban chic. It is a fine place if you want to get a bong or a t-shirt, but not for much else. So the people who sell the tat at the famous Camden Markets are none too impressed by a new glass tower, which threatens to introduce more high street chain stores into the area. Of course you can never have too many high street chain stores...
Movie: Palindromes

Saw Palindromes this week. As a Todd Solondz movie it was not surprising that it was a story about a 12 year old girl who falls pregnant and is forced to have an abortion by her parents. But then she goes on a journey involving abortion doctor killers, strange freaks and killers. Sort of a modern day Grimms fairy tale... Apparently... It did take a while to make sense of it all, particularly as the lead girl kept changing along with the lighting and quality of the camerawork. The best thing about the movie however was the poster, which first caught my eye after seeing the play at the Kings Head earlier this week...
News: Hitting home...

Mild hysteria erupted this week over reports that a craze that started in the dreadful bowels of all things evil - South London - now is spreading nation wide. It is called Happy Slapping and involves teenagers ganging up on an individual and hitting them, while taking photos of the victim with their mobile phones, before running off into the sunset, to post the pictures on the internet. It's supposed to be a new form of techno-bullying, but Does 'happy slapping' exist?. Well if it does, it is bound to spread to every mild-manered unsuspecting town in the near future...

Billy Elliotopened this week at the Victoria Palace to amazing reviews and some declaring it one of the best shows ever...

And finally, Kath and Kim premiered on BBC2 Thursday night. For those in the know (and with Sky), it has been broadcast for the past year here but now it is on free-to-air television it is getting a much broader audience. I suspect it will do well here, and it made …
Overheard at Goodge St Tube:

Man #1: I have to go to Peterborough tomorrow.
Man #2: Horrible place full of chavs. But it has a Cathedral...
Man #1: ...And a John Lewis...
Theatre: A patch of blue

Last week I decided to claim credit for F voting for the first time (it was all that incessant chatting about political processes that did it), so this week I taking credit for getting F and A to the Kings Head Theatre to see A Patch of Blue. I pointed out that apart from being a culturally enriching outing, we would be supporting one of the few surviving theatre pubs in London, before Wetherspoons or some other antiseptic chain moved in and took away its character and turned the theatre space into a restaurant… Well it may not get like that just yet, but the theatre's long-term future is hardly certain.

Anyway back to the play. It was originally a book, then a film with Sidney Poitier and Shelley Winters about a blind girl living in an abusive home meeting a black man and falling in love. Oh and it is the Deep South (America). The end result wasn't as predictable as all the situation might have alluded to however. The acting was also terrific which hel…
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Scenes from Tottenham Court Road Tube 22:00 - Late night sandwich-in-a-box. I think it was creamed meats... I don't know how people can eat that shit... but they do...
News: VE Day - Mit a bang, mit a boom

Sunday night was the BBC extravaganza in Trafalgar Square to commemorate VE Day 60th anniversary. As big extravaganzas go it was entertaining, although jumping in the fountains was not re-enacted - it was too cold. Meanwhile the German ambassador has suggested the country is obsessed with Nazis. Well at least West End producers and members of the Royal Family perhaps... Of course the impact of the war still looms large in the city. I walk past two bomb shelters on the way to the tube...
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Scenes from the DLR Sunday 19:04: the view from the front of the train...
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Scenes from Canary Wharf Sunday 18:20: After a spot of shopping it is time to go home...
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Scenes from WC1 Saturday 14:56: Cleaning up the street...
Cabaret: Janie Dee

Caught Janie Dee in concert tonight. She is an awfully talented singer, dancer, actor from the British stage and it seemed like various odd sorts of theatre types came out of the woodwork to see her perform at the Shaw Theatre. The Shaw Theatre is just around the corner from where I live so it was very handy to get to...

Her choice of music was varied and often was new music. Some of it was worth hearing as well. She also premiered a new Andrew Lloyd-Webber song "All the love I have". Well the music has been around for a while - I have the previous version on CD - it was just given new lyrics and a different orchestration (apparently this counts for a new song). But aside from an unfortunate foray into Ave Maria and a song called "No-one believes in a Mermaid" it was a great evening.


Overheard at the Theatre Friday night:

Old Luvvie (to female companion): Well there are three men who are very talented who are vying for the leadership so the Jewish on…
Politics in Britain... The little things that are different

Its a bit gay (except for the BNP)
Stayed up late on Thursday night watching the election results (as one does, although I wasn't wearing an anorak)... Fell asleep at one point in front of the television only to wake up to see lovable Schools Minister and Member for Enfield and Southgate Stephen Twigg concede defeat. He looked very glum. It was a bit of a shock. Mainly because I was so close to the television and I woke up and saw his glum face in widescreen. I certainly wasn't expecting to see that. I sort of met Twigg at the start of this year (I was in the same room he was and he was talking to a friend of mine briefly). My brush with a man with a red box. Smart man, in politics and openly gay. Being gay and in politics in Britain is expected as politics is pretty gay. And with all those Westminster traditions you can't get much gayer than the oldest democracy of them all.

People here can't believe it when I t…
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Scenes from Covent Garden 21:35. Polls close at 10pm and people work through to 3am to complete the count... so Friday is a quiet day for many! At 00:35 the swing is on and many Labour MPs will be out before the dawn... Exit polls are projecting a loss of 100 seats for Labour and a majority reduced to 66 seats... Swings against Labour are between 4-6%.but it is early in the evening (only 01:50)...
Concert: Barenboim plays Bach

Sunday Afternoon caught Daniel Barenboim playing Bach's Preludes and Fugues from Book 1 of 'Das wohltemperite Clavier'. Translated that is "the well-tempered keyboard". The first hour were numbers 1-12, then after intermission there were 13-24.

It was a sellout concert given Barenboim's mega-star status. There was a long queue waiting in vain for returns. Inside the hall, it was just him, the Steinway and the preludes and fugues.

On stage there was magic. There was also a bit of tapping and fancy footwork, which initially was a bit distracting. The hands may do the hard work, but the rest of his body seemed to be locked in a constant struggle with the counterpoint. I didn't have the best vantage point and wished I was sitting on the other side so I could see his hands (rather than the body of the piano) but I guess you can't have everything...

He has just released a CD of this as well, which he was signing at the end of the c…
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Scenes from the Barbican Sunday 14:43. There were plenty of punters out for the sun and the food in the concrete and brown tiled area overlooking the artificial ponds. The ponds act as a sound barrier as the circle line runs directly below it. Only a small portion of the Barbican residential area is seen here, but in the glorious sun it can be seen in its ghastly speldour...
Musical: Acorn Antiques!

Caught Victoria Wood's Musical based on her popular (and very much loved) sketch-show last night at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Acorn Antiques the soap was about two sisters who ran an antique store in Manchesterford. Mrs Overall (who is working class and from Birmingham) is the help and makes the tea and macaroons while dealing with her osteo-arthritis. It was a parody of soaps full of bad acting, missed cues, ludicrous intrigue and all things awfully British...

Julie Walters plays Mrs Overall, Celia Imre, Duncan Preston, Josie Lawrence, Neil Morrissey and Sally Anne Triplett also star. And it was directed by Trevor Nunn.

The Musical picks up after the unceremonious axing of the show, after it was unable to compete with the likes of Celebrity Breast Implants From Hell. The principals have been reunited to turn the soap into a musical at the Enoch Powell Arts Centre in Sutton Coldfield. Their careers are in a tailspin so they resort to turning Acorn Antiques …
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Scenes from Seven Dials Covent Garden Saturday 17:27. As it was over 20degrees this weekend, the punters were out en masse...
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Scenes from Millbank 20:49 - Tate Gallery and Millbank Tower
Overheard at the Tate Friday Night:

Man with a woman (to woman #2):Edith has been here once before, but she was sixteen and it was with the nuns...

Art: Turner, Whistler & Monet

Finally caught the blockbuster at the Tate on Friday night of Turner, Whistler and Monet. A room full of Monet's paintings of the Houses of Parliament and of Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross were worth the price of admission. I always have thought Monet's paintings of the Palace of Westminster capture it far better than any photograph. The purpose of the exhibition was to highlight how all three artists explored light and atmosphere in landscapes. A blockbuster exhibition that was well worth the visit...

And then later...

Caught up with M&M for Friday night drinks. A long day and nearly two hours at an exhibition took its toll. Left them both at G-A-Y around 2am. I got a text from M1 Saturday saying:
End a bit of a blur again. Not only did I end up with a Brazilian in my bed but a can of Strongbow o…