Monday, July 31, 2006

Scenes from Soho Sunday 20:13

Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

After the party and the punters have moved on... From the streets to the bars mostly...

Scenes from Soho Pride Sunday 19:37

Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

More gratuitous shots of the punters in Soho...

Scenes from Soho Pride Sunday 19:00

Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Two things you don't see at London events normally:
1) recycling bins
2) AFL football shorts
I was impressed by the efforts to promote more responsible partying by providing bins labelled for cans, bottles, plastics and landfill. The landfill labels were popular with the punters taking them and sticking them on their behinds...

Scenes from Clapham Common Saturday 17:01

Scenes from Clapham Common Saturday 17:01
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Walking on past those sprawled about on the grass...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Things to do in London this week...

  1. Look in vain for signs of biodiversity in SW4. Only in central London could it be possible to have no sounds of insects or birds in summer.  Mind you I saw a man attacked on the tube tonight by Mothra (it must have been an attack given he leapt out his seat when the moth fluttered near him)… But I don't think that counts…

  2. Take part in a water pistol assassination… It would be small relief from the temperatures and smog…

  3. Check out Hampstead Heath for unemployed men from Brighton. I hear it’s a popular pastime in NW3…

  4. Drop by at Soho Pride on Sunday. The one day of the year when Westminster Council allows the streets of Soho to be what they should be all year round – pedestrianised… Then again this is the same council that earlier this year finally decided flying a flag from a building did not need planning permission.

Scenes from Leicester Square Tube Tuesday 22:00

Waiting for the next tube. Oh and orange shorts are popular in London this summer. Especially if you are working in dark spaces or resurfacing roads that have melted in this heatwave...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Scenes from near London Bridge Monday 21:44

Scenes from near London Bridge Monday 21:44
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Night scenes...

Theatre: The Last 5 Years

Monday night I caught The Last Five Years at the Menier Chocolate Factory. More a song-cycle, the work charts the different perspectives of a relationship between Cathy and Jamie. It travels backwards from the Cathy's point of view and chronologically from the Jamie's over the past five years, with one song – their wedding song – sung by them together.

Jason Robert Brown – one of the "new school" of theatrical composers – wrote the piece. It quite engaging with some terrific and amusing songs with lyrics like:
"I could have a mansion on the hill
I could lease a villa in Seville
But it wouldn't be as nice as a summer in Ohio
With a gay midget named Karl, playing Tevia and Porgy…"

Once again the Chocolate Factory comes up with a great production. The leads Lara Pulver and (Australian) Damian Humbley were terrific. But a combination of things did work against the show for me tonight.

The first is that the characters are not that appealing. The show starts on a downer (Cathy singing about her break up) and ends on a downer (Jamie leaving). After sitting through 80 minutes it is tempting to shrug and think "what a pair of assholes". The songs are great but as a show it does get to be a drag when you just don't care about the characters. There were also a few technical problems with the show with things clanking and rumbling backstage a bit. This no doubt will be fixed when the previews finish this week.

But the most critical failure was that the Chocolate Factory is not air conditioned. During a heatwave in a theatre with a full house (as it was tonight) and no air ventilation it does get rather warm. As temperatures hovered towards the high forties, one elderly lady sitting two seats over from me, dealt with the heat by taking out a personal battery-operated fan. These devices are quite useful in some places where there is no air flow, but in a quiet theatre the sound of BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR does get a little distracting. Hearing it during the first few numbers I thought it was a sound problem until I heard the click of a switch. So by the sixth number I leaned over her husband and hissed in the most polite way possible "Would-you-turn-that-off-as-it-is-very-distracting!"

The fan quickly disappeared and husband then proceeded to fan wife with a programme for the remainder of the performance. It was a bit of moral dilemma for me. Does one put up with the sound of BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR and have the show completely ruined, or tell the lady to switch off her fan and run the risk she might have a heat stroke? I took a gamble that she could always just get up and leave. Besides, I have never been to a theatre where it has been considered acceptable to use a device that disturbs other audience members. After my quietly aggressive outburst judging by the non-verbal reactions of people around me they were happy somebody spoke up…

At the end of the performance husband seemed to imply to me that wife was given the fan by the box office. I said that was all very well but if we all had little battery operated fans then nobody would be able to hear a thing on stage. Besides, at least the programmes at the Chocolate Factory are a good size to fan one with. But I am adding the Chocolate Factory to my list of theatres to avoid in the summer. If they can't install some sort of ventilation, it just isn't worth going if you ask me…

Monday, July 24, 2006

Scenes from SW4 Backyards Saturday 14:22

Scenes from SW4 Backyards Saturday 14:22
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Gardens are popular in London. Nowhere else in the world will you find such a concentration of low maintenance spaces of mixed paving surfaces and dead plants...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

News: George takes it outside (again)...

George Michael has been at it again. This time he has been caught at Hampstead Heath's having sex with a fat man from Brighton. The News of The World has the photos of the exact location and Michael's reaction to the photographer taking the pictures… Even more bizarrely they tracked down the fat man and he posed for pictures and bragged about how he has a special secret that Michael responded to… All rather titillating but perhaps not the best thing to read over cornflakes on a Sunday morning…

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Scenes from Soho Friday 23:20

Scenes from Soho Friday 23:20
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Hot in the city...

Opera: Turandot

Friday night I caught Turandot at the Royal Opera which was a good classic production of the opera. I gather from A that the ENO did a truly dreadful version a few years ago that prominently used old television sets for some unexplained reason so it was nice to see it performed in a largely standard way. This production now at least 20 years old is showing a few signs of age with clunky costumes and a stale take on Commedia dell'arte for the characters of Ping Pang and Pong, but overall it still looks good.

Ben Heppner and Georgina Lukács were great in the lead roles but the biggest applause was reserved for Elena Kelessidi in the role of Liú. She had an incredible voice that would not be drowned out by the occasionally overpowering orchestra…

This is a very accessible opera full of melodrama and soaring music… And also the aria "Nessun Dorma"… Discussing the plot of the opera later with A he suggested that the riddles were too easy for Calaf to get and that he should have been asked why a raven is like a writing desk or something silly like that…

Scenes from the Strand Thursday 19:26

American businessmen lost in central London. They didn't ask for directions so I couldn't tell them where to go...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Scenes from Leicester Square Tube Wednesday 22:00

Scenes from Leicester Square Tube Wednesday 22:00
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Descent into hell in this weather...

World Cup head butts

For those that are suffering withdrawals now that the World Cup is over, and you have already thrown away those polyester flags attached to your car, there is now an internet game for those fans who just can't get enough of Zidane head-butting Italians

It's too darn hot, we're having a heatwave...

With the temperature reaching 36.6 degrees near Gatwick on Wednesday, it was not a day for bragging when one was in one of the few offices in the building with air conditioning (and sitting right under it). I stayed back late at work just to enjoy the cool. In this heat other anti-social acts include:
  • Going out for ice creams and not coming back with enough for everybody

  • Closing the ventilation windows on the tube trains claiming it is too breezy standing next to it

  • Perspiring over fellow audience-members at a Proms Concerts (it was the Queen's 80th Birthday tribute tonight and the television cameras have picked up the audience battering programmes desperate for some movement of air)

  • Forgetting deodorant and using the grab rails on a peak hour Clapham omnibus

It is weather strictly for the Abercrombie and Fitch cargo shorts, a light t-shirt and flip flops… Incidentally thanks to global warming summer temperatures are expected to become more Mediterranean in London over the next 10-15 years so today's record is one that is unlikely to last for long…

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Scenes from Albert Hall Tuesday 18:18

The mad dash to the hall to make the 18:30 start of the semi-staged version of the new Glyndebourne production of Cosi Fan Tutte - Prom 6. The concert was great and showed to me that with a decent director this opera actually can have some life to it... The only problem is that Albert Hall is a bit warm when there is a heatwave... It was opera with your neighbour sweating over you... And your neighbour at a proms concert is more likely to be a shocker than a looker...

Best avoid the concerts and listen to them on Radio 3 instead... All concerts are streamed live from the BBC website for a week from their performance.

Scenes from Piccadilly Sunday 01:15

Scenes from Piccadilly Sunday 01:15
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

On the night bus to Trafalgar Square...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Movie: Superman Returns

Ok it isn't a photo of mine, but there has been a bit of chatter on cyberspace about the rather phallic looking Florida peninsula that is prominently on display. I'm not so sure about that, but the religious overtones of the poster as well give you an idea about the film as well (which has also been dubbed as "the Passion of the Clark").

But anyway is Superman Returns a good film? Well after seeing an IMAX presentation of it, I thought it was great fun and had an interesting story to kickstart a new series of films. Of course seeing it in IMAX means that you feel like you are in the film at points, and it is loud, very loud at times. The latter is a good thing as it drowned out my exclamations of "Jezusfuckingchrist!" when it was all getting a bit too much (so the family audiences around me were none the wiser).

Being a bit of a devotee to the first two Superman films I could appreciate many of the in-jokes to the film, such as when Lex Luthor steals Kryptonite it was labelled as being found in Addis Ababa in 1978 (the year of the first film and a direct reference within it). The first two films were such great fun in the post-Watergate era. This movie with its relentless religious overtones must suggest something about the era we are living in now. Of course with Brandon Routh in a rather spiffy new costume, some pretty impressive effects and that familiar rousing score, there were plenty of distractions to avoid the religious analogies, even for a Sunday… Comic book stories seem to take themselves a bit too seriously for pop culture anyway so I guess you have to put up with this with your summer escapism...

There was an additional feature of the IMAX presentation that I was unaware of and that was four sequences were in 3D. 3D IMAX is a really dumb thing and you have to put glasses on which suck outs the colour and gives a false depth of field to everything. I don't quite understand the point of this but it no doubt contributed to the reason why the punters were flocking to see it in IMAX, given the screenings today were all sold out. As there were only four scenes you had to rummage for your specs when the icon of Clark's glasses flashed green at the bottom of the screen and then take them off when they flashed red. Oh well, I guess even blockbuster summer films have gotta have a gimmick…

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Cabaret: Topping and Butch

I caught Topping and Butch Friday night at Central Station which is in N1 and a long way from SW4 (as I found out catching the night bus home). Still, it is good to get out and see the city, even if it is at 2am...

But back to Topping and Butch. They have been getting better (and ruder) since I last saw them at the Soho Theatre and Comedy Camp two years ago. They were also trying out bits of their new show they are taking to Edinburgh Fringe next month. Their show is basically a mix of jokes about current affairs, other topical issues and smut. Naturally at a gay bar this goes down like a treat.

As I was sitting in a comfortable leather lounge suite watching the show I was also a target for their banter, but fortunately for me they were gentle (my name was only referred to a few times during the show).  This was far less confronting than when I arrived at the venue and was greeted at the door by a lady who asked me if I was there for Club Fukk. That caused me to pause for a moment. "I might be," I told her. As she went through a list of email addresses that she had on a sheet of paper I then realised I had been instructed to walk through to the main bar and not go to some basement. This was rather fortunate my memory came back to me at this point as I was later informed the club was for ladies who like to wear strap on devices for fun. Apparently men go down there as well, but I had a sneaking suspicion it wasn't going to be my cup of tea…

Idle bar chatter... Friday

Paul: Do you think those two are together?
J: Who?
Paul: That old guy and that young boy over there…
J: Yes they are.
Paul: Because…?
J: Because they are wearing the same sort of shirts and the older one is being protective of the younger one…
Paul: Like by giving you those death stares he is doing right now because he knows that you are talking about them…
J: Exactly!
Paul: I don't know what he is worried about… They both look shocking who would want 'em??

Scenes from Brompton Cemetery Saturday 14:42

Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

There's nothing more refreshing than soaking up the sun lying on a couple of gravestones. Londoner's can't get enough of it...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Scenes from Leicester Square Thursday 20:05

Scenes from Leicester Square Thursday 20:05
Originally uploaded by

The square post premiere of the new Superman movie... Not as popular as a Tom Cruise flick...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Scenes from Kennington Tube Tuesday 23:57

Scenes from Kennington Tube Tuesday 23:57
Originally uploaded by

After having a few sensible vodkas catching up with J fromAustralia, snapping photos of nice looking people was one way to pass the time waiting for the next southbound tube...

Oh and the gentlemen centre was inspecting his abdominals. He must work out. The 6-pack is popular in London for those who don't eat chocolate, drink beer, eat pizza and spend most of their free time in the gym perched atop a swiss ball. I don't have one. I still eat a little bit of chocolate...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Overheard in Covent Garden Monday 21:48

American woman: Yeah it was like… It was like… It was like… It was like… It was like… Ffffuck!
Man: Yeah?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Scenes from outside Costa...

Scenes from outside Costa...
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Some people chose to listen to the match rather than watch it (that way they could photograph everyone from their rather good seats outside Costa coffee...)

Oh and hopefully this answers the request for more photos of Paul in London locations... Well... It's a start...

Scenes from Old Compton St Soho Sunday 19:56

Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Old Compton Street becomes and extended viewing area outside Pulcinella where there is a tv facing out on the street...

Scenes from Soho Sunday 18:25

Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

The World Cup final still had over half an hour before it started but it was ground zero for fans who were shouting EEE-TAL-YA, EEE-TAL-YA, EEE-TAL-YA... Having a three syllable name for a country makes it all the more exciting really...

Scenes from Bedford Square Sunday 18:09

Scenes from Bedford Square Sunday 18:09
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

WC1 is home to many beautiful squares. This one - Bedford Square - is famous for its historic homes and crack dealers. The square has just been tarted up a little as well...

Scenes from Piccadilly Circus Saturday 23:56

Scenes from Piccadilly Circus Saturday 23:56
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Piccadilly Circus is popular around midnight if you are lost, drunk, trying to get a mouldy hamburger from Burger King or all of the above.

Speaking of mouldy food (or perhaps food with a bit of tarmac on it), I nearly got knocked down at Cambridge Circus by a flying hotdog stand. Two men obviously desperate to avoid Westminster Health Inspectors, raced across the road with cart of sizzling sausages and nearly crashed into me. In their haste they also let a tray of hot dog buns fly across the road. Somehow before the lights changed they managed run back and pick the buns off the road before the traffic could mow them down... They were last seen heading east on Shaftsbury Avenue with buns back on cart ready for unsuspecting diners towards Holborn...

Friday, July 07, 2006

7/7 One year on

7/7 One year on
Originally uploaded by

Kings Cross at noon today. Taken by a Flickr user (click the link above to see more images) or see the BBC coverage...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Opera: Tosca

Monday night I caught the new production of Tosca at Covent Garden. There are two casts so I did not see the now infamous (non)star turn by Angela Gheorghiu but a fantastic performance by Catherine Naglestad who could act and had the voice for such a dramatic role. I got the ticket as A decided to swap his tickets for tonight with Saturday's final performance with Gheorghiu (and thankfully ignoring the advice from the opera house staff that he already had tickets to the better performance).

The opera sinks or swims on the strength of the soloist in playing the title role. Thankfully Naglestad was a tiger and not a Romanian kitten. Perhaps she turned up to rehearsals so she knew what to do with the heavy dress she was burdened with for the second and third act. She also was never drowned out by the orchestra. These were things you would think you would take for granted when going to see something at Covent Garden, but apparently they were missing at Saturday evening's performance …

As for the opera itself, Tosca has everything I look for when I want opera – high drama and great music – and this new production looked great and sounded great.

The biggest applause was saved for Fabio Armiliato in the role of Cavaradossi – who stepped in to replace for the remaining season Nicola Rossi Giordiano, who has had to withdraw due to illness. The production finishes this week.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Scenes from Soho Saturday 19:50

More images by clicking on the photo. So another year another pride, although this year was bigger given it was Europride swelling the numbers to somewhere around half a million people...

Marching down Oxford Street was fun. Mind you the group I was walking with (not under any banner just the assortment at the end) were tempted to ditch the parade as we passed John Lewis thinking of all the bargains we were missing out on in the half-yearly sale. I went back on Sunday however...

Scenes from Soho Saturday 16:47

Old Compton Street. England may have crashed out of the world cup, but at least there still was a party going on...

Scenes from Selfridges Saturday 14:06

Outside Selfridges young gentlemen wearing Aussiebum cosis were giving out sweets on sticks... Who could resist such an offer? And yes that is "What a gay day" written on the Selfridges window...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Scenes from outside Selfridges Saturday 13:56

Just another day on Oxford Street really... Sales have started... Oh and there was Europride... Not all the bargain hunters were expecting that (judging by the startled looks on their faces - particularly when horns and whistles started going off all over the place)...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Scenes from Soho Friday 23:42

Scenes from Soho Friday 23:42
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

A man in a bear suit on a bike (with a bear). It is going to be one of those weekends...