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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s

Last night on the tube home. A large man sits down next to another man opposite me on the Circle Line. Not all these seats have arm rests so I think it was an issue of personal space that made the man who was sitting down get up. It was a wise move. Next the large man lets fly some really wet sneezes. He sort of covers his nose but he sort of doesn't. I register my discomfort in my scrawled up face. Other passengers concur. He lets another one rip. Achooooooooooooo. I am just imagining the fine particles of mucus now flying around as we pass between Blackfriars and Temple tube stops. So THIS is how you catch a cold in London.

So much for the bang...

It turns out Londoners aren't so easy going about these late night fireworks. The Guardian reports that the Government is set to introduce 11pm curfews on fireworks and stop children from carrying them in the street. There are too many louts about afterall.

Wildcat postal strikes

It started over some dead rotting maggot-ridden rats in a men's toilet in one of the Royal Mail sorting rooms, but over the course of the past week it became a bit of a problem as wildcat strikes spread throughout Britain. Now we are told there is a three-week backlog of mail.

The Guardian has been useful in showing what people in essential services earn:
Starting wages in London and average hours
* Nurse (40 hour week) £15,455
* Teacher (32.5 hour week) £21,522
* Policeman (Met: 40 hour week) £25,953
* Binman (Westminster: 36 hour week) £23,265
* Fireman (average 48 hours on call) £21,193
* Postman (basic based on a 42 hour week) £13,572

These figures show you will earn more in a bar than you would being a postman... or you will earn more sitting in an office answering phone calls than you will teaching. Despite the use your head - teach campaign, it doesn't pay the pounds to make it worth the while...

At least with Royal Mail it can hardly be seen as an essential service. Its monopoly on written communication has been eroded by technology and business needs. There are private couriers to ensure delivery of essential items and email is replacing snail mail here anyway. In my current job I have never mailed a letter but emailed plenty. What is left for Royal Mail is basically for it to be a social service - a company providing the unemployable with employment. It is just those letters back home that will take a little longer to arrive!

A chill at the Heath...

The avid (and possibly mad) winter swimmers at the ponds of Hampstead Heath have a new threat to their lifestyle. Fearing litigation the Corporation of London is thinking of putting a stop to early morning dips and mid-winter swimming. It is part of the charm of visiting the Heath to see these mad bathers so it would be a pity!

And speaking of chills the weather has become a little warmer over the past few days. It was a quite pleasant 12-15 degrees today. The change in the weather still didn't stop my flatmates from having the central heating at 25 degrees. It is a very London thing to overheat everything so I should take it as part of the experience... But I secretly turned down the thermostat to 20deg as well...

Conversation with Skye on flatsharing
Paul: I wouldn't mind flatsharing if it was with a sensible older person and his pet poodles Chamanthy and Latisha
Skye: Isn't that what you had back in Brisbane but with a different breed of dog?

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