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Showing posts from 2006

Movie: Miss Potter

Saturday night I caught a preview of the new Renée Zelweger flick Miss Potter. It is about the life of Beatrix Potter which for the first half of the film was as jolly and upbeat as one of her books. The second half things get a little grim but then they sort things out and the film ends as briskly as one of her books.

After the film I was discussing how disappointingly short the film is. At ninety minutes it seemed like it could have gone into more about the creative process behind her stories or the influence of the Lakes District on her. Particularly since in the case of the latter its preservation is part of her legacy. They could ave even read one of her stories in full to pad it out, although that might have felt like a sketch from Little Britain...

Still the acting was great and it was a very watchable film. Even if Renée and Ewan weren't photographed nicely, the story was too short and there were a lot of things they could have expanded upon. Although it was a preview it di…

Theatre: Love Song

Making the most of the holiday break I caught Love Song Friday night at the New Ambassadors Theatre. Love Song is a new comedy about a man who falls in love and goes a little crazy (or was he already crazy?), his sister and her husband. It is a simple premise but with Cillian Murphy, Michael McKean and Neve Campbell in the leading roles it is quite funny. Leaving the theatre you wonder whether you actually saw anything or whether it was all in your mind.

Alas it wasn't totally hilarious and I think part of the problem was that Kristen Johnston was still not performing in the role of the sister / wife. Johnston took ill early December and reportedly has returned before Christmas but she wasn't on last night. Romy Tennant as understudy filled the role. While she was serviceable in the part, looked right (if a little young) and said the right lines, it was clear watching the play that you really needed a strong female lead to make the play soar. But alas that's live theatre f…

Film: Flags of our Fathers

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Wednesday night I caught Flags of our Fathers which is Clint Eastwood's film about the story behind the taking of the famous photograph of American soldiers placing a flag on Iwo Jima, and how it became a crucial photo in helping the war effort back home. The battle of Iwo Jima is less important here than the story three of the soldiers in the photo who survived the battle and went back to the US to help the war bond effort.

It has the basis for an interesting movie on the power of perception and a single image. Unfortunately like the film Saving Private Ryan it had some pretty awful narrative, including throwing in the son of one of the men two thirds through the movie as someone trying to "piece together the story" for a book. Cue interviews with old and limbless men with grave faces and Paul wondering who the hell these people were. Still at over two hours it moves pretty quickly and is still an interesting enough film. Given the small audience I suspect it won't …

Christmas Television

Christmas television is a major event in this country. This is because of the following. ..

Tonight there was the death of Pauline Fowler in Eastenders. Bless her. I think Wendy Richards best work was on "Are You Being Served", and her death wasn't the most glamorous of exits, face down in the snow. Eastenders is a fascinating show where everyone bitches about everyone else but an argument never gets heated enough for anyone to say dickhead, letalone motherfucker... And this show is supposed to be set in London??

The Dr Who episode Runaway Bride lived up to the hype and featured Catherine Tate in the lead role. The sets may still creak and the leading villain had a serious case of overacting but still it was fun...

The Vicar of Dibley is also concluding after twelve years, and it is going off with a wedding...

Little Britain Abroad suggests that the show has "jumped the shark". There is a storyline for the characters rather than repetition of the same punchline…

Scenes from Albert Embankment Monday 16:18

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DSC04222, originally uploaded by Pauly_. A post lunch walk was popular with the punters today... Afterall, the Dr Who special wasn't coming on until 19:00 so there was plenty of time...

Christmas Message

A special Christmas message from the London Gay Mens Chorus (taken from the Barbican on Wednesday night). Other extracts are available on YouTube or can be purchased as a DVD... Oh and you can see everyone from the choir in it... If you look hard enough...

Music: Make the Yuletide Gay

Normally I am in the audience at the Barbican watching some concert or piece of theatre, but tonight I was actually performing in the chorus for LGMC's Make the Yuletide Gay. This is the third time they have presented at the Barbican and it was a sellout.

What can you say about a show that allows the audience to do a drag impersonation of Shirley Bassey, sing a few Christmas carols and listen to some (choral versions of) ABBA? I don't know but judging by the reaction of the punters it sounded like it was their kind of show.

Some work colleagues attended and they all thought that when compere Sandy Toksvig asked the members of the chorus to identify who was in a relationship (and not a shag from last night) that had special resonance for me. I have no idea what they were inferring. I was outraged. I spent most of the day in Selfridges singing Christmas carols in the lead up to tonight's concert anyway... Anyway it was great fun. We do it all again (albeit on a scaled down fa…

Scenes from Clapham Common South Monday 23:19

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DSC04156, originally uploaded by Pauly_. A foggy night...

Scenes from Oxford Street Saturday 21:24

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DSC04091, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
The Christmas lights, the people, and the Scientologists on the pavement peddling their little cult...

It's Christmas time in London...

Music: Sir Thomas Allen

Saturday night I caught Sir Thomas Allen in a recital of music by Fauré, Duparc and Ravel at the Wigmore Hall.

The first half was Fauré's La bonne chanson and L'Horizon chimérique and I thought they were great. I still had a bit of a hangover from all the merriment of Friday night so when it came to interval and everyone was bitching about how the old man was struggling through the music people started knocking back the drinks in the bar when they found out I was enjoying it.

Well there are a couple of points to make here. The first is that Allen is only 62. The second is that as I had never heard some of this music performed before I was more interested in the music than the quality of the performance. But the audience was very appreciative of Allen...

All told I preferred the Fauré works to the others. But I didn't hang around afterwards to get any of his CDs... I needed coffee...

Scenes from a Christmas party dinner Friday 21:31

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DSC04047, originally uploaded by Pauly_. 'Tis the season for silly hats... These ones were pretty camp ones at that as well... Still the dinner that came with them was very nice...

Idle Thursday evening locker room gym chatter

Man with no shirt on: Um hey uh do you have any wax?
Distracted Paul: Uh wax?
Man with no shirt on: Yeah you know... for hair...
Paul: I don't have wax... I have clay... Wanna try?
Man with no shirt on: Oh I guess I could give that a shot...
Paul (producing tin): Here, help yourself...
Man with no shirt on: Oh so I just put a bit on my finger...
Paul: And rub it...
Man with no shirt on: Oh... Okay..

Scenes from Bloomsbury Tuesday 20:02

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DSC00062, originally uploaded by Pauly_. Christmas lights in need of an ASBO...

Idle Chatter at Tescos

Checkout lady (scanning Paul's shopping): They found another body...
Paul: Did they? You mean a fourth?
Checkout lady: No a third*... She had been sssstrrrangled.
Paul: Oh
Checkout lady: You got club card?

* The conversation took place before the news that two more bodies had been found in Suffolk today...

DVD: Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

I have spent the last couple of days watching Superman II: The Richard Donner cut. For reasons that are too involved to explain (but rely a lot on the power of internet nerds) an almost complete (there is one screen test to substitute the film) second version of a sequel to a movie made thirty years ago has been released on DVD. This clip includes previously lost footage of Marlon Brando, Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder and has some significantly different scenes. The YouTube clip above explains some of the differences. In all almost half this film did not appear in the original theatrical version that was credited to another director...

Alas having seen what is now a rare extended cut on Australian television (which supplemented the original version with footage shot by Donner) neither this version nor the deleted scenes includes the great campy lines such as Ursa played by Sarah Douglas, screaming "MEN! TO KILL!" Perhaps one day all the lost footage can be found... Unt…

Theatre: Christmas in New York

Sunday night I caught a concert showcasing new music from composers in New York and London called Christmas in New York.

It's great to see new music in the West End since most shows nowadays are juke box collections of classic hits or revivals. The only trouble is that new music doesn't always mean that it is great music. Even though it wasn't necessarily the case, by interval it felt like every song seemed either dour or trite or a bit of both. It would have been fine in an elevator but in a large theatre that was a bit of a problem. And surely only composer Frank Wildhorn could use a lyric call St Paul's Cathedral "ancient"? The British composers who had their new songs showcased tonight were good, but I still couldn't get over the rest. If it wasn't earnest, it was a song that would be good to slash up by.

I guess music theatre was once at the cutting edge, but I wasn't thinking along these lines. I guess nowadays if you want cutting edge you d…

Scenes from Oxford Street Sunday 18:12

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Scenes from Oxford Street Sunday 18:12, originally uploaded by Pauly_.

No trip this Christmas is complete without a visit to the Christmas Ghetto, a "squat art concept store" by underground artists on Oxford Street.

It is the site of an old Clarks shoe store and this window displays an evil looking Santa with a belt buckle that says "Satan" endorsing anything and everything.

And there I have been thinking that Oxford Street between the circus and Tottenham Court Road is full of shit shops and one of the worst shopping experiences in the world... Suddenly it's got good... Then again one shop does not make an experience...

Idle Friday chatter...

Paul: How many French Martini's have you had?
M: I don't know...
Paul: How many mojitos have I had?
M: I don't know but you were knocking 'em back
Paul: I needed the vitamin C I have a cold...

Overheard at the gym Thursday...

Man #1: His mother is Moroccan and his Father is Brazilian...
Man #2: Ah so that's why he's got such great skin...
Man #1: Yeah its all natural...

Scenes from an office water cooler Thursday 17:35

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Scenes from an office water cooler Thursday 17:35, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
The water-cooler conversation today was strangely enough... About water coolers. Over the past few weeks somebody had been putting the plastic cups in the dispenser the wrong way and it was starting to really bug people.

Apart from looking aesthetically dreadful, the cups would get stuck in the dispenser...

Today it was crunch time for the rouge-cup-dispenser-placer. After a colleague had spent earlier this week fishing out the cups which had been put in "end in" only to find by the afternoon they were around the wrong way a notice was placed to alert this rogue cup person that there was a right way and a wrong way to stick in plastic cups...

I assisted in the drafting of the notice by suggesting the phrase "the lip goes in the hole first". I thought that was not as suspect as the drawing... But anyway...

Scenes from an office window Thursday 11:01

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Scenes from an office window Thursday 11:01, originally uploaded by Pauly_. Heavy rain, high winds and hail was all that was happening. There were reports of people flying (or rather knocked off their feet) in the high winds as it knocked them off their feet. All of this is a bit better than Kensal Green in north-west London which had a small tornado. By 11:05 it was all over.

Theatre: Caroline or Change (again)

Tuesday night was the opportunity to take An to see Caroline Or Change, which just won the Evening Standard Award for best new musical. Well comparing it to the other new productions that were in the running (Evita, Spamalot, Sunday in the Park with George) it is like comparing apples to oranges.

An missed the first 15 minutes after leaving his credit card behind at a shop so I had to fill him in at intermission on the story. He was surprised that so much happened in the first fifteen minutes, and actually thinking about it, composer Jeanine Tesori and writer Tony Kushner are very economical with the story. It moves at a brisk pace with both halves of the show running at an hour.

Again the show was fantastic. It wasn't a full house by any means which isn't surprising. Caroline lasted less than a year in New York. It doesn't have brand recognition being a new show, and maybe a show with a simple premise about Jews living in Louisiana with a black maid doesn't grab the p…

Scenes from the Southbank Saturday 20:58

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Scenes from the Southbank Saturday 20:58, originally uploaded by Pauly_. A bit of colour for Christmas on the construction site of Royal Festival Hall...

Theatre: Little Shop of Horrors

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Paul Keating plays Seymour... Hello! Suddenly Seymour he purified everyone...

Tonight I caught Little Shop of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory near London Bridge. Again it is another fantastic production that doesn't put a foot wrong. I have never seen a stage production of this show but this musical has been a long-time favourite of mine... There's a talking plant, a sadomasochistic dentist, a sweet girl and a nerdy boy. Throw in the late Howard Ashman's witty book and lyrics and Alan Menken's music and you have a very entertaining show. I knew almost every lyric in this show and found myself still laughing at the jokes... They still seem fresh and funny even though the show is approaching 25 years of age...

My excitement over Little Shop of Horrors surprised Mk who I went with. He likes the show too and normally we have rather different tastes in musical theatre. For instance he has seen Mamma Mia ten times and I just can't bring myself to seeing it yet... H…

News: Cabbies have it tough

In news that doesn't feature polonium 210, we learned this week that London cabbies have the most stressful job in the UK. Poor things they have a hell of a time earning all that money and having to refuse fares if they take them to places they don't want to go (like South London)...

Everytime I have caught one it has been a rather enjoyable and efficient experience so I could be missing out on the stress and everything...

Then again in September I did see at Cambridge Circus one driver get out and shout to a pedestrian who punched his window (after the driver went through a red light no less), "Come back and do that again you little cunt!" so I guess there could be some anger management issues for drivers...

Music: Dreamgirls (revisited)

As a sometime fan of Dreamgirls since discovering it after the concert recording that was made in 2001 featuring Audra McDonald, I was chuffed to find out that the original Broadway cast recording has been remastered with a few additional tracks included ahead of the movie release (in February in the UK). It arrived today and I have been giving my colleagues a drip-feed on the musical brilliance of this show. This special edition also includes orchestral versions that could become... Karaoke versions... I can just see after a few work drinks me trying to lead everyone in a version of "And I'm telling you, I'm not going".

As for the movie soundtrack... That's out December 11, but thanks to the wonders of YouTube you can see just what Beyonce is like in the movie with the song "Listen" (below). Beyonce performed this last week on Oprah and the copyright lawyers haven't spotted this infringement yet... This movie is going to be huge... It's release …

Scenes from Piccadilly Sunday

All the talk this week has been about polonium-210 so A and I went to Piccadilly to find out what all the fuss was about... The sushi was definitely off the menu so we went elsewhere for a bite...

Meanwhile the police have reportedly updated their investigation from an "unexplained death" to a "suspicious death". Polonium-210 poisoning does sound a bit suspicious as I don't think its a normal filling in a California Roll... It would bring a new meaning to "Asian fusion" cooking if it did...

The Economist this week offers helpful advice for dissident Russians living abroad: for longevity don't investigate the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the mysterious Russian apartment bombings in 1999, or the embezzlement of funds for Chechnya reconstruction. These subjects could soon find you loosing your hair too...

News: Russians and Polonium-210

The death of a Russian ex-spy this week in London from radiation poisoning is causing a bit of a stir given that three London locations have found traces of the radioactive substance...

Tonight the Met reports that "Traces of Polonium-210 have been found at the Itsu sushi restaurant in Piccadilly, the Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square, and at Mr Litvinenko's home in Muswell Hill, London (not prepared to discuss further [whatever that means - Paul]). The sushi restaurant is currently closed, and parts of the Millennium Hotel have been closed while examinations continue."

Itsu Restaurant has been at pains to point out that the poisoning didn't occur from dodgy fish, but dodgy Russians... And to date there are no special deals at the Millennium Hotel for anti-static rooms...

Oh for the days when people were just stabbed with umbrellas or found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge...

Scenes from the Tate Modern Friday 13:59

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Scenes from the Tate Modern Friday 13:59, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
As part of a team building half-day away day I suggested that we try out the slides by Carsten Höller at the Tate Modern. Well actually, the away day was fashioned around the desire to go on these monster slides but never mind that...

I tried both slides in the foreground. Starting with the one on the top level I found it to be a bumpy ride that was only improved after yelling a four-letter expletive for the entire journey down. The lower one was more fun and I managed to even enjoy it a little... There was a shorter slide that I even managed to make "wheee" noises for... By that point I had become a slide pro...

The slides will be around until April next year. By then I may try the slide from level four that has you going at speeds of up to 30mph... But not today... Höller may be onto something when he suggests that slides should be incorporated into new buildings as an interesting way of getting about...…

Film: Borat - Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

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I luv Borat, originally uploaded by Crystal Pistol.
Finally caught the Borat movie tonight which has been playing for the last month here. The above scene was mild compared to the nude wrestling with a large fat hairy man that happens halfway through the film. Watching it with M she didn't appreciate the finer comic points of a large fat man's hairy ass... Not all the set pieces seemed to work (especially the one making fun of the US national anthem - at a Rodeo in Texas). But a film with frat boys talking about dominating women, hookers at social gatherings and a bear in an ice cream van is my kind of movie...

Overheard at the cafe Wednesday...

Man #1: I'm just bored with it all...
Man #2: Well I know a guy who can get you cheap Viagra...
Man #1: I don't need Viagra, I just need better looking talent...

Film: Physique er Casino Royale

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Casino Royale, originally uploaded by peter-noster.
Tuesday night I managed to catch Casino Royale at the Odeon at Leicester Square. It is a big cinema with a big screen and every inch of screen counts with this Bond outing. There are explosions, there are chases, there is a fantastic free-running stunt and there are those swimming trunks. You need a big screen to take all of that in...

I have to say I was very impressed with this Bond flick. Sure the script had some pretty bad dialogue at times and the direction wasn't always slick, but as a package it all hung together very well. It helps with Daniel Craig in the lead as someone who can act and fight too. This film has set him up very nicely to set Bond in a new direction (if that's what the punters end up wanting).

I have never read any of the Ian Flemming novels and I understand that the film version is fairly faithful to the book as it explains how Bond gets his double-o status. It is what is referred to as a "reboot&qu…

Scenes from Clapham High Street Sunday 02:25

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DSC04004, originally uploaded by Pauly_. The messy end of the evening... No vomit, but plenty of fat...

This is the second drunk girl that I have encountered this weekend. The first required two ambulances Friday night after too much white wine. Before they whisked her away she managed to throw up in a jug of cosmopolitan... Well that cocktail was so five years ago anyway...

This one I just tripped over on the way out of an establishment... She wasn't moving for anybody...

Overheard on my footpath Saturday evening...

Girl #1: Aye think aye need a belt for thees dreess...
Girl #2: Aww aye think aye need a belt for meyne too...

Scenes from Carnaby Street Saturday 14:57

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DSC03997, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
Christmas shopping in full swing... And rather annoying when you are trying to get into Soho quickly...

Scenes from North London Wednesday 22:57

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Scenes from North London Wednesday 22:57, originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Quiet night in N4... Only the noise of the traffic and the whir of the CCTV camera could be heard...

News: Bond premiere

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Daniel Craig as Bond!, originally uploaded by yahoo_movies_uk.

The new James Bond movie Casino Royale had its premiere tonight in Leicester Square. The early reviews are saying this "reboot" of the series is a good one... But really all the talk is about this particular scene of Daniel Craig emerging from the water... Hmm bit of an upper body workout happenin' there...

(And ok it was a cheap excuse for a bit of flesh on the blog site...)

Cults and wardrobe malfunctions 101

My Monday's have been a lot busier since I joined the London Gay Men's Chorus. Actually I should correct that. My Monday's, Wednesday's, occasional Thursday's and Weekends have been a lot busier. We are preparing for a Christmas concert, but joining a choir is like joining a cult as it takes up all your life...

But it has been fun singing in a community choir. With the exception of tonight. Tonight after some tricky choreography there was a wardrobe malfunction: my trousers split. Not the best of looks in this particular choir. The trousers look like jeans and have been a little controversial in the office as denim is forbidden. Every time I wear them to work I usually end up having to argue that they are not jeans but a "leisure pant". Well anyway, not anymore... They are also a little on the "form fitting" side which probably didn't help things tonight.

There was a fortunate end to the story (and no it wasn't that I was wearing the Aus…

Scenes from Regent Street Sunday 19:29

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DSC03968, originally uploaded by Pauly_. The Christmas (not to be confused for winter) lights for the year...

Scenes from the South Circular Saturday 13:36

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DSC03953
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.
Best if you leaf it...

Movie: The History Boys

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The History Boys
Originally uploaded by Jo Salmon.

I finally caught the film version of The History Boys. When I saw it staged at the National in April 2005 (with the original cast now in the film version) I thought it was one of the best plays I had ever seen. The best thing about this film is the amazing performances by Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour and the boys including Samuel Barnett and Dominic Cooper are on film.

Set in 1983, it tells the story of eight boys in Sheffield who are preparing to take the entrance exam that could see them get into Oxford or Cambridge. From this premise themes of the purpose of education, sexual and emotional freedom are explored. Above all a series of characters emerge so real and genuine. Their virtues and their fears and limitations are all on display.

For instance, Richard Griffith's character Hector inspires the boys with "general studies". But he also likes to grope the boys if he gets the chance when giving them rides home on…

Theatre: Bent

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Today I was mentioning to colleagues how I was going to the theatre tonight to see Bent and they were a little surprised with my excitement in seeing a revival of a play set in Dachau about two gay men. Well Martin Sherman's play is still well regarded, and the reviews from this new revival with Alan Cumming at the Trafalgar Studios have been good. I was also seeing it with A who insisted that we sit up close to appreciate the show, and its full-frontal nudity, without having to rely on opera glasses.

It was not a light night out at the theatre however... Not that it wasn't watchable, but the full-frontal nudity gave soon gave way to blood-spattered walls and trashed apartments. The play opens in Berlin on the "Night of the Long Knives" when Hitler executed Ernst Röhm and his gay stormtroopers. Suddenly it wasn't good to be gay in Nazi Germany. The play then follows, step by squeamish step, the fate of the three main characters.

The first half was a bit distracti…

Scenes from the Southbank Saturday 18:47

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News: Climate protest goes mainstream

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P1010231
Originally uploaded by pink_ego_b0x.
Trafalgar Square today was packed with people all waving placards and flags urging for a global treaty to cap global warming. It wasn't just the usual suspects of young impressionable revolutionaries but hoards of what the media are calling a 'mainstream protest'. One wonders if these are the same mainstream people who are enjoying the bonfires and fireworks all this weekend to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day...

Best placard was the one lampooning George Bush (does anybody in London respect that man?). Although it was a little startling to be walking around a find George Bush's head bobbing along right beside you (as above)... Like YIKES!

Overheard at the gym Friday

Brazilian: Do you take Viagra?
Man: No...
Brazilian: How do you expect to keep a boyfriend if you don't take Viagra?
Man: Oh...

Film: Marie Antoinette

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Sunday night I caught Marie Antoinette. I would warn people not to watch this film on an empty stomach as there are an astonishing array of desserts in this film. After ninety minutes I kept looking at my watch as I really fancied a tart or something with cream and berries. Unfortunately the film had another half hour or so to go so it was a bit of a long wait. And all I could get at the end of the film was a Magnum. Kirsten Dunst is great in any film she is in, although here she just had to play herself. Style triumphs over substance here but everything is so gorgeous (including the tarts) and was similar in tone to director Sofia Coppola's other films that it was watchable enough...

Quiet Saturday Lunch in SW2

Scenes from a SW2 Bar Friday 21:12

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Scenes from a SW2 Bar Friday 21:12
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

After a jug of cosmopolitans, I started photographing anything around me... Last time I was at this bar (just a few days earlier) there was this fifty-something woman making out with a twenty-something man on the very same seat that these ladies were sitting on. It was so bizarre. Anyway, the ladies didn't mind the attention. Oh and that is a projection screen behind them...

Scenes from Jubilee Bridge Thursday 22:18

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Scenes from Jubilee Bridge Thursday 22:18
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Conversation taking this photo went something like this:
Paul: I'm not sure about using the flash on this camera as I will look really white...
F: But you ARE white...
Paul: Oh yeah...

Theatre: Caroline Or Change

I received a bit of flack this week from an anonymous poster connected somehow to the West End production of Cabaret saying I was such a bitch for what I wrote about Cabaret and that I should stick to watching Daddy Cool or some other jukebox musical as that would be all my intelligence could cope with. Those creative types can get so touchy...

Anyway, I had already bought tickets to see Caroline Or Change for Thursday evening so I couldn't take them up on their suggestion. I had been looking forward to this for some time. Listening to the Broadway Cast Recording over the past couple of years it has grown on me to be one of my favourite musicals of recent years. With a book and lyrics by Tony Kushner (who also wrote Angels in America) and music by Jeanine Tesori (who wrote the musicals "Violet" and "Twelfth Night" and the new music for "Thoroughly Modern Millie" when it was adapted for stage) it received raves when it opened and the UK production has …

Scenes from the Northern Line Southbound Monday 22:45

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Scenes from the Northern Line Southbound Monday 22:45
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.
Freebasing on the Northern Line...

Scenes from Tooting Sunday 21:33

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Scenes from Tooting Sunday 21:33
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Heading home from a curry in Tooting, one couldn't help but notice the window displays. I suggested to An that I could wear that hat at his impending birthday party... Well, the invite said dress "celebratory"...

Sunday phone conversation

Paul: Just what do you say to someone with a Prince Albert?
Ad: How about, "Would you take that out for me please?"
Paul: Yes it's good to remove the earrings before dinner...

Scenes from Clapham Common Fish pond Saturday 13:37

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Scenes from Clapham Common Fish pond Saturday 13:37
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Afternoon light...

Scenes from Elephant & Castle Saturday 00:15

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Scenes from Elephant & Castle Saturday 00:15
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.
Waiting for doors to open...

The Week by location

Monday: In Sydney having bad cocktails
Monday night: In Brisbane hospital getting saline
Tuesday: In Brisbane having lunch
Tuesday night: On a plane to Singapore
Wednesday morning: Arrive in Singapore 5am have shower at airport and change of clothes having managed to get noodle sauce over my polo shirt.
Wednesday morning: Fly out of Singapore. The best thing about Singapore is the plane out of it.
Wednesday afternoon: Arrive Heathrow.
Wednesday evening: Arrive Clapham. Go to the high street for dinner. Weather curiously the same as I left it in Brisbane.
Thursday: Back at work in body. Have cocktails in Brixton after work which gets the taste of the Sydney one's out of my mouth.
Friday: Back at work in mind.
Saturday: All is zen... Eating tuna sandwich while updating blog...

Taking time out...

No more updates on this blog until October 20... I am in Australia until then (Brisbane to be precise)...

Until then check out my travel blog paulincognito.blogspot.com

Celebrity Watching at Covent Garden Saturday 18:15

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Celebrity Watching at Covent Garden Saturday 18:15
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

You can't say that I don't get the celebs. Here is Frank Langella's shoes in centre shot. He was sitting down talking on his mobile phone outside the Donmar...

Theatre: Frost / Nixon

A perfect antidote to Wednesday's debacle was the excellent play Frost Nixon at the Donmar by Peter Morgan (who also wrote The Queen). It stars Frank Langella as Richard Nixon and Michael Sheen as David Frost, recreating the interview in 1977 that led to Nixon making some astonishing statements about Watergate and obstruction of justice (including the one above). This was a sensational and gripping two hours in the theatre about a disgraced leader and a fading entertainer both trying to use each other to revive their careers.

The drama behind the scenes and in the actual taped interviews is recreated to stunning effect. A bank of television screens suspended above also brings home the impact of the close up on Nixon. The entire cast is perfect but it is Langella and Sheen had you sitting on the edge of your seat. The closing lines of the play are as follows describing a party scene years later hosted by Frost:

Walking through the crowds of air-kissing politicians, actors and high…

Scenes from Shaftsbury Avenue Wednesday 22:20

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Scenes from Shaftsbury Avenue Wednesday 22:20
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Actually it would be better if you didn't... Never trust a show with crap artwork too...

Theatre: Cabaret

It is a rare theatrical experience when somebody sitting next to you, who you have just met, gets up at the intermission and declares to you and all around "This is SHIT!" But that's what happened Wednesday night when I saw a preview of Cabaret. He left at that point but later on I heard another audience member mutter about who the lead actress must have slept with to get the role… Everyone knew they were in the presence of a megabomb. What can you say about a production where when the Emcee asks, "Where are your troubles now?" somebody in the audience calls out "In Islington!" I'm not quite sure what that meant but it was one of the few laughs of the evening.

It is odd really, as a few years ago I saw an excellent Australian production of the Sam Mendes version that was exciting, well acted, well sung, fast paced and interesting. Tonight had none of this. Rufus Norris as director managed to
Take a number of talented actors and squeeze incredibly m…

Birthday Cards

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Last Thursday was my birthday and my colleagues got me this card... Just what were they trying to tell me?

Scenes from Soho Burger Bar Sunday 18:52

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Scenes from Soho Burger Bar Sunday 18:52
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Warm shabby customer... What's with the beanie when it is 20 plus...?

Scenes from the Royal Academy Sunday 15:38

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Scenes from the Royal Academy Sunday 15:38
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

A large bronze gateway called "The Gates of Hell" is part of the Rodin exhibition at the Royal Academy and something rather impressive to see upon entering the forecourt at the Academy. It runs through to January. The work was cast after his death but includes earlier versions of "The Kiss" and "The Thinker" within it.

Film: The Queen

Today I caught the movie The Queen which is about that rather unusual period in 1997 when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash and the attempts of the new PM Mr Blair to get the monarch to understand the mood of the public. It was quite an extraordinary film and very well written. While it may not have happened in the way it is presented, the cleverness of the film is that it makes you think the dialogue is believable. Apparently it has used a mix of corroboration from close sources in both camps with a healthy bit of speculation. But at its heart is a great play between two figures of power dealing with change (intercut with real footage of the huge outpouring of grief at the time).

Michael Sheen, who has already played Blair (and Kenneth Williams) in TV dramas, again shows his versatility recreating those heady days of the New Labour era when there wasn't any Iraq, Lebanon or backbenchers passing notes... But Helen Mirren in the title role doesn't quite so much act as cha…

Weekly Cheap Thrills: Adam Garcia in tight trousers from Wicked

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Adam Garcia & Helen Dallimore
Originally uploaded by Fray101.
Hmm an official photo from the West End production uploaded by a Flickr user. This is the "Daaaaahncing through life" number... Maybe sitting in the circle the trousers looked tighter than they were... Oh and the woman is Helen Dallimore. She plays the other lead. She is also Australian and she was great but that's not the point of this photo here...

Theatre: A Wicked preview...

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Idina Menzel about to defy gravity... Well at least she didn't fly over the audience like that irritating Mary Poppins... (Photo: Joan Marcus)

I finally saw a preview of Wicked Tuesday night. It turned out the evening was also a charity fundraiser for Elton John’s AIDS foundation... All the stalls were booked out for it and Sharon Osbourne was there and before the show began said something warm and mumsy, which seems to be what she does best nowadays since she has her chat show on ITV... Elton was in LA so couldn’t come.

But anyway having seen the show - which is a postmodern take on the Wizard of Oz and tells the story of the two witches before Dorothy drops in - some things of note:
The performance ran through uninterrupted. Apparently, that makes it the fifth performance that has not had technical problems since previews began earlier this month. The audience roared when Idina Menzel (reprising her Tony winning role) rose up in the Defying Gravity number... Even as a slightly…

Film: Volver

Sunday morning I managed to catch Pedro Almodóvar's latest film
Volver. It is such a sweet story of murder, revenge and family relationships. All the cast were great, and particularly Penélope Cruz in particular in the lead role. Although having her star in a movie as a woman poor and scrubbing floors seemed out of place. She is too glamorousus for that. It reminded me of seeing Marlene Dietrich wearing an apron cookin' up a meal for Edward G Robinson in the movie Manpower - it was just plain wrong. Perhaps things are different in provincial Spain...

Casting of Cruz aside, it was a great film. And her rather perky cleavage feature thoughout the film at key points. My favourite line was said by a supporting character to her about their plan to take over a bar and restaurant: "Between my mojitos and your cleavage we'll make a killing"... I'll drink to that.

Theatre: A Moon For The Misbegotten

In keeping with an intensive week of theatre (since Si was in town), we caught a preview of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon For the Misbegotten at the Old Vic. It is the opening play for Kevin Spacey's 2006/07 season. Spacey has received a lot of flak in the press for his artistic direction over the last two years at the Old Vic, but this play is going to knock everyone's socks off. Everything about the production was fantastic.

Of course O'Neill has written a great story. You are drawn into their story around the relationship between the father and daughter still living on a run down farm, and their landlord and friend(?) who may sell the farm to them, or he may sell to a neighbour who is offering more… From there the story unfolds…

Eve Best in the central role gave an incredibly engaging performance. Spacey and Colm Meaney were also fabulous. The play was so full of life and the performances were so enjoyable that the audience members who hadn't passed out from the h…

Conversation at the Festival Hall site visit Saturday...

Lady: So will the new building have more toilets?
Guide: Absolutely. There'll be 50% more toilets for the ladies...
Man: What about the mens toilets? They were always locked?
Guide: Well we had to lock the mens toilets because um... There were certain types of people who er... Gay men liked to go there often...
Lady (to man): Ah see Errol, you missed out...

Scenes from Royal Festival Hall Saturday 14:55

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Scenes from Royal Festival Hall Saturday 14:55
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

No I wasn't auditioning for the Village People. It was London Open House weekend this weekend and that meant the opportunity to visit various places of architectural merit (however dubious some might think).

Royal Festival Hall - an iconic post-war building or eyesore (depending on your point of view) - has been undergoing a major refurbishment since last summer and was open to guided tours. Hard hat, vest and construction shoes were necessary to take the tour.

The tour went from the basement to the new replastered ceiling. It is a Grade I listed building and while the majority of it will look exactly as it was when it opened in 1954, it will have improved acoustics, a deeper stage and (at last) air conditioning.

It is such a great building that going on a tour of it you could forget all about the problems and budget overruns from this project...

Opera: Faust

Friday night I caught the opening night of Faust, featuring Angela Gheorghiu and Piotr Beczala. It is a fantastic production, although at three and a half hours it did test not only one's concentration but one's glutes. Gheorghiu reprising her performance from 2004 was probably better suited to this role than the one she attempted earlier in the summer with Tosca, but the jury has to be out on the blonde wig she wears in the role. It was however Beczala's night and the audience saved the most applause for him…

I did get the feeling that the best parts of the opera are all in the first half. Particularly in this production the ballet dancing through hell in the fifth act felt way too literal. All told however the production was lavish and there was plenty to take in…

Scenes from a Victorian Mansion in SW2... Anyday...

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Reimagined conversation at the V&A Thursday...

Si: After seeing the Da Vinci show I bought "the last supper after dinner mints"... They're the campest thing...
An: No Paul's the campest thing... They would have to be the second campest...

Theatre: Donkeys' Years

Tuesday night I caught Donkeys' Years. It is a revival of Michael Frayn's 1976 comedy and has been doing well enough to have its West End run extended.

The cast has been changed this month which is probably necessary given all the door slamming, sweating and running about that takes place.

I did find the first act to drag a little. So much so that I felt myself nodding off at times. Lucky S was next to me to prod me as we were sitting second row centre. It was a lot of exposition to get through and I figured I could do without it. Still for a mild farce it did hold up well.

Idle Sunday evening chatter...

Ad: I went to the new gym tonight. It is so much better than the one in Soho...
Paul: Why's that?
Ad: The one in Soho is too cliquey...
Paul: But you could say that we're a clique when we go there...
Ad: Yeah but that's a clique I don't wanna be in...

Theatre: A Slice O Minnelli

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Caught Rick Skye in his final performance of A Slice O Minnelli in London tonight. It was a faithful recreation and parody of you know who... Glamour and glitz, legs and tits in the basement of the Theatre Museum at Covent Garden.

Plenty of references to the film New York, New York abounded too as the above picture can attest. The above picture was also an excuse to put a female impersonator on my web page as I don't think I have done that before either...

Of course if you knew Liza's music (and hey who doesn't?) there were plenty of in-jokes but even without knowing that "With One Look" from Sunset Boulevard was sung in the style of "Some People" from Gypsy there was plenty to enjoy from this loving yet slightly barbed tribute. Skye is actually a pretty good singer too and it was a full house (well as full as the bowels of the Theatre Museum can be) too...

Idle Chatter on Clapham High Street

Sun and weddings...



New look for blog

I decided that I needed a new look for the blog and one that would make use of larger computer screens that seem to be the standard nowadays... What do you people think?

Scenes from a Soho Bar Saturday 21:41

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The ceiling on this bar was covered in mirror balls... They looked like they were ready to hatch and unleash mirror ball peril onto the unsuspecting punters on the dancefloor... Or I was still hungover from last nights drinks and they were just doing my head in...

Scenes from a Covent Garden Bar Friday 19:44

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Shoes and old cigarettes...

Overheard near Carnaby Street Thursday Evening...

Woman on mobile: Well I just wanted to say "Fancy a shag?" to the first guy I met, but then this guy comes up to me and I ask him what does he do and he says "I'm Naomi Campbell's agent" so I then say, "How aaaaare you?"

Theatre: The Life of Galileo

Tuesday night I caught The Life of Galileo at the National Theatre. This is a new translation by David Hare of the Bertolt Brecht play. It is an epic story (at three hours and two intervals) but still an engaging tale of how Galileo as a genius in the scientific world was unable to deal with the consequences of his genius. He was a scientist not a politician, but to state that the earth moved around the sun challenged the entire notions of Heaven and Earth so was tantamount to heresy.

Simon Russell Beale as Galileo leads a terrific ensemble as the story unfolds from his scientific discoveries to his condemnation and eventual redemption as his work is smuggled out of Italy. David Hare's translation and the production kept things at a brisk enough pace, although a three hour play after a day at work is a challenge both for the actors and the audience.  It was a packed performance too which just goes to show that Brecht too can be accessible…

By the end of the play the real victory wa…

News: Bicycling

Rabid cyclists are an everyday hazzard on London roads and footpaths. If they aren't trying to run you down while you're crossing the road, they are attempting to steal your mobile while you're talking on it and walking down Clapham High Street.

Now there is a plan to teach cyclists and drivers not to jump red lights... Next year there will be a plan to teach drivers that the green light thingy means it is safe to proceed... In the longer term there is a plan to teach drivers how to drive down a street without clipping the external mirrors on parked cars...

Of course silly cycle stories pale in comparison to the news of Steve Irwin's death, which promoted a flurry of tributes on websites including one on a BBC newsgroup which said, "He will be truly mist and never forgotten for his dangerous moves on camera with animals..." Crikey indeed...

Scenes from the Barbican Gate 9 Sunday 17:20

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It is all very straight forward getting out of the Barbican... Sort of... Finding one's way home after catching the last day of the Satirical London exhibition at the Museum of London.

Overheard on the N155 Bus Saturday...

Man on phone: Well when I say I'm with people I mean all the other people on the 155 bus to Tooting. I mean they're like strangers you know…

Scenes from outside Mary Poppins Saturday 17:04

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Rickshaws waiting for the matinee to end...

Scenes from Clapham Common Saturday 15:06

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Pissing on trees in Clapham Common is a popular pasttime since there are more toilets on the common closed and boarded up than open.

An AFL event on the common today however had a solution by providing two portaloos... But despite theses valiant attempts by the organisers, man's desire to wee in the open continued...

Customer service at a Clapham shoe repair store...

Man: Your shoes will be ready next week.
Paul: Ok that's fine.
Man: When would you like to pick them up?
Paul: I'll pick them up next Saturday…
Man: They will be ready by Wednesday…
Paul: Ok then I'll pick 'em up on Wednesday then!
Man: And that's £10 deposit too…

Theatre: Sunday in the Park with George (again)

S was in town on Friday so I took him to the third-last performance of Sunday in the Park with George, which also made it the third time I had seen the production.

This time with front-row day seats it was a very up close experience. The cast is amazing in this production and there was an incredible chemistry between leads Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell. Russell was in tears at the end of the performance which isn't surprising given the emotional demands of the role, but also perhaps the result that this amazing production closes tonight. It is closing too soon but the full house last night made their appreciation known to the whole cast and production team with cheers and a standing ovation... Oh well, it is time to move on... But at least there is a cast recording available of this production...

Idle Chatter at the Tate Modern Friday...

After a little bit of wine and a bit of jetlag on the part of those around me, a conversation about family, Lutherans and lamingtons ensued...


Scenes from the National Theatre Friday 13:40

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The punters love a free concert, and today was the Puppini Sisters. They have an Andrews Sisters schtick that they take to songs like 'Libertango' and 'I will survive' which was sort of funny and entertaining for a free concert, but they are getting a bit of a following around London and their album is available on iTunes...

Scenes from Southbank Friday 13:32

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Southbank
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.


The tourist and the traveller with jetlag...

Idle Tuesday Chatter...

Paul: I think I’m being stalked by a man from the Gujarat province…
An: Really? What’s his name?
Paul: It’s Parool but I don't know his last name...
An: His last name must be Shah as everyone’s name from the Gujarat province ends in Shah...
Paul: Really?
An: Absolutely. And they call homosexuals Gay Shahs…

Scenes from Leicester Square Tube Monday 22:28

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A religious service was operating on the Piccadilly Line this evening... In the name of the father, the SPAD and TfL, one got home safely...

Scenes from Clapham "The Pavement" Monday 13:04

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After dancing all night by lunchtime Monday one really fancied a tart...