Showing posts from January, 2006

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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
Scenes from Earls Court Tube District Line Eastbound Sunday 20:44. Earls Court used to be the ghetto for Australians, until rising prices forced them to move further north and west. You still see the odd antipodean living around here, but not as many... Nowadays the 18 Aussies living in a bedsit scenario is more likely to be in Hammersmith...  
Scenes from Holland Park W8 Sunday 16:14 - On a fine sunny Sunday why do one park in a day when you can visit at least another, this time in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. A park so posh that there are sandpits at all the entrances discreetly signed "dog toilet" (no doubt so the small children found in the park don't get any ideas about making sand castles there)...  
Scenes from Clapham Common Sunday 13:51 - An afternoon in the winter sun...  
Scenes from Oxford St W1 Saturday 16:36 - Shopping is a popular pasttime on Oxford St when you get to the one or two shops on the street worth visiting... Of course everybody loves John Lewis...  

Music on the weekend...

In amongst the domesticated shopping for bits and pieces today I did manage to stop by and say hi to Barbara Cook in Dress Circle today (or at least get her autograph). Since Dress Circle is such a temple for devotees of musical theatre it was very nice to see her stop by. I didn't buy her latest album which is a tribute to her long-time accompanist and collaborator Wally Harper (I saw them both in concert in 2004 but he passed away last year) but an earlier album. but most importantly I did get her autograph. A asked whether my life was complete as a Barbara Cook groupie and I had to think about that for a minute, but she is one of the great cabaret performers of our time. Oh and to just mix it up a little I also went to Trax Records in Soho and picked up Wayne G's version of "I just wanna fucking dance". The song was originally from "Jerry Springer the Opera" and was the highlight of the show. It was recorded over a year and a half ago by Alison Jier w

Television: Big Brother V George

Celebrity Big Brother finished tonight with the winner being the only non-celebrity in the house. The choice of winner was easy really since she was the only slightly human person in the freakshow of has-beens desperately trying to kick-start their careers that were assembled in the house. Still the highlight of the series will be the participation from rabid loony left-wing politician George Galloway. While in the Big Brother house he impersonated a pussy, danced around in a red leotard and basically showed he was a bit of a slimeball. It was fantastic act of political suicide and at last evidence that reality television is a force for good in the world. George says he has no regrets about his involvement in the show, but already this week cat food has been delivered to his house and office twice. Unless he was setting himself up for a career in Puss in Boots in the Christmas Pantomimes it would have to be one of the great political miscalculations of the year.

Film: Brokeback Mountain

I caught Brokeback Mountain this evening. Like so many others I had been referring to the film as Bareback Mountain and I was quite surprised that within the first hour of the film it lived up to its name… By this point the film seemed to be more about that category of men that exists who identify as straight but just have sex with men – MSNs on the Wyoming mountains is probably not the best place to have safe sex outreach workers – particularly given all the bears that exist there. Anyway over the next two hours the story does get a little more involved, but it is more about what is not spoken that really starts making you wonder about the characters… The film has been doing well here in London, and it is probably more to do more with how well the story is told rather than its subject matter. But surely it should also serve as a cautionary tale to wives who let their husbands go to Wyoming to fish on long weekends?
Scenes from Clapham Common Tube Sunday 15:24. I have moved to SW4 and it is cold... Just another January really... 
Scenes from the London Art Fair, Islington Saturday 16:05. When moving, one should always break up the monotony of the move with something else. The Art Fair was on in London and apart from whale watching on the Thames, it seemed to be the thing to do... 
Scenes from the Royal Opera House Friday 19:23 - Just before curtain up on Smetana's "The Bartered Bride" one had to finish the champagne. A great production with an excellent English translation. Although the set was a bit plain looking there were dancing bears and fire juggling to brighten it up a bit... 

Theatre: The Late Henry Moss

On Thursday evening I had the opportunity to see the Sam Shepard play The Late Henry Moss at the Almeida Theatre. The first thing you notice about this production is what a fantastic set it is. It is probably the best stage I have seen since seeing Two Thousand Years at the National Theatre. There was so much detail in it that it was fascinating to look at even before the actors walked on stage. The story of the play is two sons who come back to New Mexico to find their alcoholic father dead. But it really isn't the plot that makes the play so interesting, but the dialogue and interplay between the brothers and the locals who last saw their father alive. The acting was naturally terrific and the play unfolded like a good family domestic. After the first half however those around me weren't sure the play was their cup of tea, but during the second half I took a glance at the rest of the audience, and it was clear people were sitting on the edge of their seats hanging on to ever
Scenes from a creepy London flat. One of the things that happens when you sign up to various websites offering flatshares is that people email you photos of hideous rooms like this one. It was in N4 and it looks like bathroom tiles covered in gold paint with Ikea blue lights and grandma's old bed (with perhaps her sheets too). Incidentally as I was in Australia for two months some people have noted that I had flattened my vowells considerably. So much so that when I was talking about gayshare they thought I was saying geisha. I said to them not to worry, I was working on my novel Memoirs of a Gayshare .

The move is on...

I think it may be all sorted now, but this weekend I have been auditioning for a place to live. It is such a beauty contest where you have to show that you have personality yet are considerate in about half an hour. By Sunday I was over it. For various reasons (and much to the horror of some northern friends) I have decided to go for "sarf London" rather than "noorf London". I don't get this divide based on the Thames. I have seen rubbish on either side of the Thames so I think it is all a bit silly. Anyway, I did have the opportunity to live in the north but decided against it. There were two reasons: price and the most hideous shocking bathroom I have ever seen. It was a tough decision I could have lived in zone one near Kings Cross Station (an area Time Out recently described as "up and coming" so that counts for something surely) overlooking Regent's Canal. It was very quiet and not bad looking for a semi-industrial-ripe-for-regeneration area.

Theatre: Pillars of the Community

I had the chance to catch three hours of Ibsen yesterday – Pillars of the Community – at the National Theatre . It was a fantastic new translation, but A thought I was only interested in it because Lesley Manville who plays Lona Hessel wears some fantastic costumes and at the end is wearing a red dress surrounded by heavy rainfall. And it wasn't me who started jumping up and down in his seat (as much as one can do this in fourth row centre) when the dishy hero walked in… Anyway it was engaging stuff. Later when we went to pick up our things at the cloakroom… Paul (handing the attendant the number): There are two coats and a bag… A (to the attendant): Actually there are just two coats. He is the bag.
Scenes from Tottenham Court Road Tube Saturday 19:23 - The long walk down the stair shaft... 99 steps... 
Scenes from Tooting Common Thursday 08:09 - a frosty reception going to work... 

Television: Celebrity Big Brother

I have started to pay a little more interest in Celebrity Big Brother as tonight I caught some highlights showing transsexual Pete – famous in the eighties for that song "You Spin Me Round (Like a record)" doing a repeat performance of his one hit wonder. It was an amazing act of desperation. Pity he has so much plastic surgery his face looks like a mask. The rest of the "celebrities" includes ex-basketball player Dennis Rodman and Michael Barrymore. Barrymore lives in New Zealand after some guy turned up dead in his swimming pool in the UK but he is fondly enough remembered in the UK for most of the papers to warn the other contestants to skip the swimming lessons with him…

Movies: Match Point

Today was one of those cold windy and wet days so it was a perfect opportunity to go to the movies. Match Point had just opened and being a new Woody Allen flick (and his first to be shot in London) it was well worth going to… Or so it seemed. It turned out that the story was a series of clichés held together by some pretty bad acting / pouting on the part of lead actor Jonathan Rhys-Myers. There was also a rather absurd plot development of two murders committed by a shotgun that took place in a central London apartment block with not a CCTV camera in sight. In real London six cameras would have caught the murderer's every move (unless the cameras had burnt out or malfunctioned)… Part way through the film A asked me if I was seeing a lesson in the film for me and I whispered back to him that the lesson from this film is to not screw around with your tennis coach as they can be such nasty bitches... The locations were bog-standard spots and included St Mary Axe ("the gherkin&q

Overheard in the gym Friday...

Man #1 : You’re looking great… You’ve got a great colour! Man #2 : Oh I’ve just been to the Canaries for a week… (I was in Australia for eight and all I got to show for it was a slight farmer’s tan…)
Scenes from Waterloo Tube Saturday 00:16 - Heading towards the Northern Line branch 
Scenes from Tate Britain Friday 18:54 - There was a long queue just to leave (or pick up as I was doing) your things at the cloakroom. The Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition is closing soon and so Friday night at the Tate was popular (it was also half price). It is a smart idea going to the late night showings, just get there at 17:30 as by 7pm you could barely move. It's a great exhibition, but not when you need lubricant to get through the crowds...

Theatre: Epitahph For George Dillon

I spent the week catching up on a few things about to finish. One of these being Epitaph for George Dillon , which is a revival of a John Osborne / Anthony Creighton play starring Joseph Feinnes. It was a fascinating play that has held up well since the 1950s when it was written. When Feinnes walked in you could hear a collective swoon from the female members of the audience. I wasn't quite sure why as sitting in second row I could see he doesn't have any lips. Of course the makeup he had on accentuated this feature, he walked with a hunch, and the character he played wasn't such a nice chap, but obviously none of that mattered to the rest of the audience. The central message of the play seemed to be that it is fine to be a bohemian in suburbia as at least it pays the bills. Oh and marry somebody you don't really like as well. It is not surprising the play was written by two closeted bitchy queens who certainly knew how to write great one-liners, but they also created

No photos, only confusion

No photos today. The high street retailer that sold me my phone (oh which has a camera) on Saturday took it back today. It is all a rather long and involved story involving me, a sales assistant who didn't know what he was doing, and my strange desire to keep my old number. Keeping your number if you change mobile providers apparently isn't a popular thing to do in London (or at least you are given this impression by the store I went to), and it probably makes sense as if you have given out your number to so many loonies, every now and then it is probably smart to just disappear. Of course there are only one or two loonies who have my number and I have set them up in my contacts as "DO NOT ANSWER - Mormon" in my phonebook. To keep my number, I needed to set up a new contract and return the old phone… So some rather smashing photos of London were lost. Actually they probably weren't that great, but I was perplexed by returning a phone and then getting another bran
Scenes from a Bloomsbury Art Gallery Wednesday 17:05 - Paper mach� animals anyone? 
Scenes from the bowels of the Barbican Tuesday 17:38 
Scenes from Tooting Common Tuesday 15:52 - A bit damp today... 

Movies: The Producers and the King

Tonight I caught the movie of The Producers as the weather is great for seeing a few films at the moment… As for the film, it isn't bad although I think Will Ferrell can neither act nor sing and Uma Thurman can neither sing nor dance (nor does she have the big tits required for the role). In a way it is amazing how little talent movie and television stars need nowadays. Unfortunately for Will and Uma the need to sing, dance, act and be funny in this movie does not make them look so good… Anyway the movie is pretty much the same as the show and the original 1968 film. Some scenes seem to be lifted straight from 1968, including the way they were shot which seemed either homage to the original movie or the movie musicals of the 1950s. Whatever the inspiration it looked great (not sure about Broderick's hair colour however). Pity about the cutting of "The King of Broadway" number however. Apart from being funny, if it were included it might have prepared the audience for
Scenes from a Soho cafe Monday 20:51 - After catching a movie this afternoon went into Soho for a spot of people watching through the large glass windows facing out on Old Compton Street. There were people out there, but none worth zooming in on...
Scenes from Tooting Bec Common Monday 14:17 - Another lovely overcast day. It had warmed up considerably today as it was at least eight degrees this afternoon. Actually it may have been warmer... It could have been nine or even ten... 
Scenes from Soho Sunday 12:02am - Just after midnight and the party gets in full swing. New Year was a bit long for me as A and I got into Soho around 8pm. Four hours later I couldn't wait for 2006 to (finally) roll by. After midnight as I started sobering up and the rest of the punters started going the opposite I noticed: My friends slurring their speech A rough looking Scotsman taking an American tourist down to the bathroom By taking two steps back after some big scary person wishes you "happynewyeeaaaah" you avoid all physical contact with them As my friends got their coats to leave, the same rough looking Scotsman walking up the stairs putting his clothes back on... Being sober did have its pros and cons...