I hadn’t been to the Cabinet War Room for a number of years so today’s visit was a great chance to remind myself how wonderful they are. The Rooms are really well done and the audio guide brings some of the exhibits to life. The new Churchill Museum is also open now and that’s got some really interesting interactive exhibits to follow Churchill’s life (concentrating, of course, on his years as War Prime Minister). I’d recommend the place to anybody looking for an interesting day out in London.
Of all the myths that are perpetuated by Queer Eye For The Straight Guy (and there are many, mainly to do with gay men liking musicals and having miracle cures for bad haircuts) the worst was on an episode I watched this week. Truthfully, it’s a couple of weeks old in the UK (and possibly sooo last season in the US) but still it’s aggravated me for a few days and I feel compelled to set the record straight (if you’ll forgive the pun). Oh, and it has nothing to do with gay men.
And while I am on the subject, pity the poor people of Colchester who – in the episode in question – were called a suburb of London. That’s like saying Dallas is a suburb of New York. Which it isn’t. Clearly. I know jet lag can be a problem for some people flying East but really, Fab Five, buy an A-to-Z (and that’s Zed not Zee).
Anyway, here we go.
Nobody in Britain eats cucumber sandwiches.
There, I’ve said it. Nobody in Britain eats cucumber sandwiches. And those that may be tempted have long since given up cutting the crusts of the them. And if you’re going to use cress don’t use the broad-leaf stuff; the cress of a cucumber sandwich must stick between the gaps in your teeth (which, I must remember, Americans do not have being so found of expensive dental care). But still, if you see cucumber sandwiches on the menu in Britain they are aimed at one market only: visitors with too much money to spend. So, don’t be fooled that you are following in the thousand-year-old habits of a once great Empire. No, you are being hoodwinked. Don’t fall for it.
If you really must have a traditional British sandwich, try Coronation Chicken on brown. It was invented for the Queen’s Coronation and has been popular with the British people ever since.
Honest (actually, ignore my sarcasm because it was invented for the Coronation) but I couldn’t think of another sandwich with which to mock you. If you know of a Sandwich that can be used to mock people let me know.
On this day…
2003: To Be A Politician
Stephen, it’s your birthday and all of us – by which I mean me – at Listen to Musak (the blog for Britain – I’m thinking it might be a good slogan) would like to wish you all the best for the coming year. I’m sure it’s been a fun year – that Child catcher costume alone must have made you laugh each day and, perhaps, put memories of that Technicolor dreamcoat behind you. But when, dear boy (and I say that as a term of endearment rather than as some comment on your person) will you be back in the studio recording some pop tunes for us? I was most disheartened that there was no further material after the last album. Truthfully, I was one of those who thought it was great. So, I don’t think you need any brother-of-some-bygone-popstar to be your new front man. No, stick with the solo material. Oh, and don’t drink too much tonight. Happy Birthday. [Stephen Gately was Man of the Moment at some point in the past when we did that stuff]
On this day…
Jase has changed his site (and seems to have moved his RSS feed). It’s a great new look but I hope this change of focus doesn’t stop him posting!
There’s so much I would like to do on this site right now: so much to write and a few design changes I would like to make. When am I going to find the time to keep up?
On this day…
The Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue is currently home to a production of Festen, David Eldridges adaptation of the cult film by Thomas Vinterberg The play, directed by Rufus Norris, no longer had the original cast but I don’t think that matters: it’s a stunning piece of theatre.
thisistheatre.com sums it up well: Patriarch Helge Klingenfelt is celebrating his 60th birthday with his family at a magnificent old hotel in the Danish countryside. Gathered together are his loyal wife Elsa, his daughter Helene, and sons Christian and Michael. As the evening progresses Christian feels compelled to break the silence surrounding a dark family secret. The effect is explosive and sets the tone for a celebration no-one will forget! [Source]
I don’t really want to give the plot away any more but you can read a little more at The Independent’s review (and some non plot-spoiling reviewer’s comments at the Festen site). Regardless, it’s a powerful piece of work with some excellent acting. It’s hard to pick anybody out but Stephen Moore (Helge), Paul Nicholls (Christian) and Lisa Palfrey (Helene) are just three of the wonderful performances.
Credit must also be given to designer Ian MacNeil and all the others involved in the staging of this work. It’s simple, yet stunningly effective, set is a wonder. The stark, dark stage that opens the play hides some very clever set work.
As it appears only to be running until the start of May I would advise you to go now! thisistheatre.com has tickets.
On this day…
2003: Fries and Fredom
What to say about Kinsey? It’s a fascinating and absorbing biopic insight into the man who many feel started the sexual revolution of the modern age. Liam Neeson’s superb, intense depiction of the biologist who studied human sexual behaviour the way he’d studied gall wasps, that’s to say he collected thousands of samples, is brilliant. Laura Linney is brilliant as his wife and it’s the pair’s wedding-night bedroom difficulties that start the research that was to change the way a world thought about sex. Neeson is supported by a great cast including Timothy Hutton, Chris O’Donnell, and Peter Sarsgaard as the researchers who bring extra sexual ambiguity to the piece. It is of course, very much a piece of it’s time. In an age where we now see every variety of sexual shenanigans paraded on our televisions, in magazines and across the web it’s harder to appreciate what impact the work had on the world.
The depiction of Kinsey’s motivations may be challenged and history condensed but it is a great work and some are saying it’s Neeson’s best work to date. Nonetheless, whereas biopics can be fawning and dull Kinsey is watchable and entertaining.
- The Guardian: Condon takes a sympathetic line, though, in his absorbing cine-biography which promotes the view that however muddled he was, Kinsey was brave to try using scientific methods to explain sex in an age of unreason.
- The Observer: What is most remarkable perhaps is the film’s mature view of sexual matters, balancing the serious side with its frequently tragic consequences, and the often comical, even absurd aspects.
- Empire Online: A deftly directed, superbly acted and occasionally witty biopic which is not afraid to engage with the complexities of its central character.
On this day…
2004: Happy 10th Birthday Spam
I’ve seen Erasure a couple of times in concert. The last time was the Other People’s Songs tour. While I enjoyed the album I wasn’t so sure about the concert: they seemed to be going through the motions a little more than previous times. So, it was with some interest that I got by tickets to The Nightbird Tour at Hammersmith Odeon (erasuregig.com).
From the moment Andy Bell appears on stage with angel wings you know they are back on form. The Nightbird material fits very well into the overall set; the feeling of a ‘show’ is back and the audience was – most definitely – behind Vince and Andy. The first number ‘No Doubt’ leads into ‘Hideaway’ which I don’t recall seeing performed for a very long time and is one of my favourites. But we also got ‘A Little Respect’, ‘Who Needs Love Like That’ and ‘Blue Savannah’ plus a Vince performing ‘Rapture’.
The concerts are recorded so that you can get a copy of the show you went to see. I shall be having one of those for I had a superb time.
On this day…
Many years ago I spent a small amount of time working for BBC local radio. We had minor celebrities pass through the studios but they never phased me. When I first came to London I worked for a company that had studio facilities. A few bigger celebrities came through in the years I worked there and, again, I was not too bothered. Tom, however, got to see Rufus Wainwright play at 6 Music and that makes me very jealous. Everybody loves his new album (which is out here on Monday) and you can find him all over the press this weekend including, and I find it odd, The Times’ Health and Fitness section. Right now, however, I am listening to They Might Be Giants from 1990. Unconnected, I know but brilliant nonetheless.
On this day…
I thought Closer was a mixed bag of a film. The performances of the four protagonists are not too bad: Jude Law as Dan is convincing as a bit of a self-obsessed wimp; Natalie Portman as Alice isn’t too bad with some interesting character quirks; Clive Owen is the most real as Dr Larry but Julia Roberts is cool (nay, cold) as Anna in a role I was least convinced with.
I haven’t seen the stage play but the sexual intrigue and adulteries of the film lose believability as the film progresses. While it’s both a simple love story told through a complex series of inter-woven relationships and coincidences I still wanted to shout out at the characters for their self-centred stupidity.
I did, however, like the film technically. You have to stay engaged to keep up with the way the story is told. The edits jump (but don’t jar) and you can’t dose. The four players are, more-or-less, the only performers on the screen and, despite what I say above, the intensity of the performances does help keep you engaged and they should all be credited for that.
A mixed film with most cringe-worthy chat room flirtation that I’ve ever seen. Sadly, not recommended.
- The Guardian: The fizzingly talented Marber may well write a great film soon. But this isn’t it.
- Empire: frank enough to push back the boundaries of how explicit non-porno film can be about sex but manages to be brutally funny with it
- BBC: Nichols’ clinical approach fails to elicit deep empathy for any of these characters whose foibles are intended to reflect us all
On this day…
I wish I had a record of the early web sites I used to visit. You know one of those pages we had in 1995 that was a list of ‘recommended sites’. Of course if I was David Filo or Jerry Yang I would have been out celebrating ten years of my list of favourite sites list or Yahoo as they know it. Yahoo was ten years old yesterday. Yahoo! has always been my favourite search engine and with the advent of the new Yahoo! Firefox toolbar I have a renewed interest in using the site. There’s a rather cool Netrospective (10 years, 100 moments of the Web) but it doesn’t bring my own site list back to life. And to think that I could have maintained that list and been very, very rich right now.
Happy Birthday Yahoo – your childish years are behind you and your teenage years are ahead – that’s when things get difficult. You’ll get moody and spotty and you won’t want anything to do with us oldies but don’t forget you need us!!
There wasn’t too much spam ten years ago, although it was certainly around it wasn’t something that Yahoo would have worried too much about. Two years ago, however, there was considerably more spam. What amuses me looking back at this post from this day 2003 is just how much spam has changed. I get few mails about debt solutions now but I do get a good few offering me all kinds of new drugs to cure all the ills I don’t have.
Ten years or two – the on-line world is moving on so quickly.
On this day…
2003: Eggs and Spam (No Eggs)