Category Archives: London

Umbrellas of Cherbourg

A Film I love. A play which is beautiful, awe-inspiringly, decadent, jawdroppingly, stylishly, colourfully, beautiful…

I didn’t care a jot about the plot, aside from one scene: our protagonists have gone their separate ways, she with his child, he with the child of another woman, the moment they decide not to allow him to meet his child, because they both know, that, though they were lovers ripped apart by circumstance in their prime, that it’s not worth breaking the life they have each built alone.

I didn’t take any photos, as it seemed rude, but please look at these, I promise they are a treat: http://www.umbrellasofcherbourg.com/sights-and-sounds/

It was genuinely, one of the most visually outstanding pieces of theatre I have ever seen.

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All the fun of the Circus (Covent Garden)

I am a bit over these themed bars that seem to pop-up all over the shop.

I quite like the Cellar Door, on The Strand, it’s right next to work, and there is a certain je ne sais quoi about drinking a cocktail from a tea-cup, that I never  tire of (props to Bourne and Hollingsworth, for spawning my life long love of teacup cocktails), I enjoyed a Champagne cocktail or two at the China Club in Paris (ooo la la), incidentally home of the best lavatories I have ever visited.

But when it came to my good friend’s third (yes, third) hen night (for only one marriage), and the ‘pleasure of my company’ was requested at Circus, I was suspicious, I mean, Covent Garden is not known for it’s authentic bar experiences, at least not without swathes of tourists.

Trepidation and petulance, did not stop me from donning a blue silk 1940’s dress, and minnie mouse style wedges, neither did it stop me twiddling my stupid, thin hair into 1940’s victory rolls.

There are a LOT of rules at Circus, here are some:

1) groups are not allowed to split the bill over various cards, it’s one card, or cash.

2) single sex groups are banned, banned, banned (which is where the smooth talking Miss Lockwood came in ultra handy).

3) no cameras

STAFF:

On the basis of the rules, and the location I was expecting the staff to be the offish sort, I was wrong, they were lovely, welcoming, accommodating – they were chatty without being intrusive, when we had to wait for five minutes for our 10pm (yes, TEN PM) table, they kept us informed. Someone, from another table had misordered their cocktails, so they gave them to us. Lovely job.

FOOD:

One of the rules is that at the weekend, everyone has to order two courses. This was problematic, as due to the late table, I’d stuffed my face with quiche before I’d even left Clapham. For main course I ordered Scallop and King Prawn salad, the prawns were huge and impressive (three of them, which sounds stingy, but they really were glorious looking crustacea) – however they were overcooked, and so not particularly flavourful, much less moist. The citrus mayonnaise was nothingy, the scallops dull.

For pudding I had the pineapple tart with fresh ginger ice cream. I spent the course wondering who decided that matching pineapple with ginger was a good idea, and concluding that, actually, it wasn’t (NB: one of my favourite books the Flavour Thesaurus doesn’t even list pineapple and ginger as a valid combination…and that book reckons pineapple and anchovy would be fine). Either part on its own was good though.

ENTERTAINMENT:

Now… this is where it got good.

Every-so-often, throughout dinner, the metal blinds over the open plan kitchen would close, like eyelids, leaving the room dark, the music would rise to a crescendo, and an act would perform.

Act 1 was fire girls, I’ve seen girls dancing with, and eating fire too many times to mention, probably most impressively in the snow at the Hospital Club Christmas iceskating party (where I later broke my knee, in one of those ‘showing off’ moments, never to be repeated).

Act 2 – was AWESOME, tall and lanky (and somehow v sexy) dude, in high wasted 1940’s trousers, with a suitcase and a crystal ball, which he conjured to look as if it was floating in the air, rolling it over his arms, twiddling it in his fingers, dexterity unsurpassed, I could watch that for hours.

Act 3 – sexy girl stretching cat-like, whilst hanging from a cane ring over the main table, effortlessly hanging from the ring by a foot, balanced beautifully, somewhere between Olympic gymnast and Burlesque moon act.

Act 4 – dancing and singing, short story told in dance, three gyrating girls to the Beyonce’s, Single Ladies.

When the acts are over, but you still want more. The place changes into a club-type-affair, the DJ mixes classic songs that make the diners chatter about how they “haven’t heard this for AGES!”, the staff, slowly followed by the diners dance on tables, and a party is had.

Taxi’s at this stage for me, after all, it was the third hen night, and I was pooped.

I had a wonderful time, with some of my favourite people, I was left hankering for more. Oh, and the Tom Ford designed minimalis sci-fi interior, was pretty okes too.

(all pictures courtesy of Circus, Covent Garden).

Big Love to the bride.

Circus,

27-29 Endell Street,
Covent Garden,
London, WC2H 9BA.

  • Mon,17:30 to Midnight
  • Tue,17:30 to Midnight
  • Wed,17:30 to Midnight
  • Thu,17:30 to 01:00
  • Fri,17:30 to 02:00
  • Sat,17:30-02:00
  • Sun,Closed
  • Bank Holidays, Closed

His name is, Fela!

I knew very little about Fela Anikulapo Kuti, until Wednesday. All I knew, was that he was a pioneer of Afro-beat music. End of.

It was with literally no trepidation that I agreed to see Fela! Part of the National Theatre’s NT Live program, live streamed into Covent Garden Odeon, I love a good show. The show was streamed to 100 cinema’s in the UK, plus further venues across Europe, North America and Australasia.

I went to the first NT live stream event in 2009, and saw Phèdre from The Ritzyin Brixton.

Phèdre felt like much more of an event, there was a build-up before the show, with stage staff and the director describing what was about to happen, and how new and revolutionary it was, there was a real sense of excitement. Two years and several productions later, that build-up and sense of occasion is gone, Fela! felt very much like walking in to watch a regular film.

Fela! lulled you in… as we entered the auditorium, the lights were down, and on screen was a jazz band, trumpets and trombones glowing gold on ‘stage’. It started gently, the audience unsure if the play ‘proper’ was afoot, until our Main Man addressed the audience.  One of my favourite lines, with reference to the British occupation of Nigeria, was that all the British left them with was: ‘Jesus, and Gonorrhea’.

It was sweet and touching as ‘Fela’ set the scene, and gave the background to his musical influences, and how he strove not to be influenced by any of them. The vision of his mother, now passed, would sing from a picture on the wall, which highlighted just how beautifully The National had been decorated, hanging reams of lights, pointers and reminders to the importance of; family, heritage and ancestors. Fela, played by Sahr Ngaujah was captivating, having never seen footage of the real-deal, he was convincing.

There was a slightly nauseating ‘enforced jollity’ point, when ‘Fela’ insisted the crowd at The National stand-up and dance ‘the clock’, hip-thrusting in a circular, gyratory fashion, luckily (or unluckily) we in the cinema didn’t feel obliged to join in, but it was like looking-in on (slightly mortifying) dad-dancing, watching the audience at The National, swivel their hips, embarrassed.

The first half was strewn with singing and (amazing) dancing, the singing might have gone on a bit too long, the dancing was out of the world. It was light-hearted, but touching, as it described Fela’s education in the UK, his return to Nigeria and migration to the USA, where he met his love Sandra Izsadore (played by, the beautifully voiced, Paulette Ivory) who involved him in the Black Power movement in the US. The Black Power element was handled gently, somehow didn’t really touch the surface.

Fela, brimming with new ideals and ambitions, learned in the US, he took us into the second half.

…which was a far darker affair.

He introduces us to his nine wives, or ‘Queens’ (though I understand he had 27), and we trace the raid of his commune. And the mistreatment of his women-folk and death of his mother, thrown from a window – by the authorities, during the raid.

In an impeccable voodooesque sequence, he contacts his dead mother, which is appropriately disconcerting and dreamlike. But by that time, my brain had ever-so-slightly disengaged.

This play is  like a great big, multicoloured, punch in the face, it’s loud, it’s brash, it’s riddled with references to recreational drug-use (which to be fair is a bit dull), polygamy, and arrests, it’s a bit gimmicky, it has the essence of watered-down African culture, in a (some would say patronising) effort to broaden its audience base. All this aside: it is moving, joyous, desperately sad, thought-provoking, carnival of a play, and Ngaujah’s, Fela is a lithe, likeable hero.

It’s not perfect,  but it’s one of those plays I’ll remember, and I had a bluddy good time.

The walls have all sorts of things…

I was walking the backstreets of Chiswick the other day, and came across the wall below.

It seemed to be the wall of a regular private house, if I was *any type* of bloggererer I would have written-down which road it was on. I liked it, I think you might need to click on the links to get in close…

Outside London Livin’

Today we saw a very lovely 15th Century cottage in Eynsford (apparently pronounced ‘ayns-ford’, which is important, if I don’t want to be unilaterally and instantaneously hated by the locals) – it’s the middle one.

With a fully electricked and plumbed-up summer-house:

And a rather gawgus (and rather overlooked by the neighbours) jardin:

Maybe a bit dated, internally, but nothing a Ligne Roset suite wouldn’t fix:

And set in the tumbling Kent countryside, where the skies are huge and swans and signets, swan-about on the Ford, which you can either travel over, on the bridge, or through, in your rudimentary 4×4:

Serious gorgeousness. Though this is a not-entirely-reassuring photo of the village flooding…

The nearest supermarket is 5 miles away, the only shop is a butcher, there are three pubs, a church and a station. I tell myself none of this matters, because if I lived in Eynsford, I would mainly be doing the following:

  • Baking cakes for Bofo and his cricket-club buddies (I’m not sure he even wants to join said club, but who else will eat my scones?)
  • Making jam, and chutney (for village fete prize winning)
  • Arranging wild flora, and growing camelia’s, wisteria, violets, roses, peonies and love-in-the-mist
  • Setting tables with crisp, starched, linen, and multiple, purpose-specific jugs
  • Attending neighbourhood residents meetings
  • Tending to the festival of pets I would acquire
  • Painting pictures in the summer-house
  • Drinking Earl Grey on the patio
  • Paying nearly three grand in season tickets

S’all gone a bit Good Life round here…

Sufferagetting

SO, tomorrow is do-or-die day. The day that The Nation makes it’s big choice which of the Big Three to vote for.

It’s a joy to me that this year, for the first time in my living memory, we seem to be in a tri-partisan election. Excellent.

I will, of course, be wearing my Mother in Laws, grandmothers, suffragette necklace.

Suffragette necklaces are made up of a mix of purple, green and white stones, and were worn as a code between fellow suffragettes to show their support for the suffrage movement. I can imagine ladies of wealth and standing, slyly convincing their unknowing and conservative husbands that what they ‘really wanted’ was a necklace, of Peridot, Amethyst and Pearl.

A night in Hospital

Slow on the uptake? Maybe, but last night I went, with a dear friend to The Hospital Club in Covent Garden, for the first time.

I am by no means a private members club officianado, though I have darkened the doors of Soho and Shoreditch House, and have danced the night away, whilst dressed as Minnie Mouse at Century.

Once I ended-up in a Masonic Lodge, but that’s a different story.

But I’ve always found these *exclusive* places a bit…*meh*…that cliquey, snobby, darkened-room stuff…likewhaddevah…give me an oversized tequila in a sticky-floored pub, or a cup of tea at the seaside anytime.

And now that membership is reputedly closing for Soho and Shoreditch House, it makes me wonder – where will the new-blood come from, surely they’ll just stagnate?

So I didn’t have MASSIVE expectations of The Hospital Club.

Luckily I was wrong.

We arrived at 7.15 and to the five storey ex hospital building, there was a man at the door, but he was an unassuming and polite man, not a burly look-you-up-and-down bouncer. The reception looks like the reception of a trendy ad agency (I spend a lot of time in trendy ad agencies) they take your photo on one of those webcam thingies, though here they lift it off the desk, so as not to take one of those awful under-chin-security-photos (I swear there are about 100 of those massively unflattering photos of me around the capital). The receptionists were on the arty side of trendy, and the ditzy side of helpful, both of which I thoroughly approve of.

The concept behind The Hospital Club is that it is a private club for creative people to get together, collaborate, relax and share their time and ideas. This surely is a recipe for complete twattery? Not so, everyone, literally everyone was friendly, and smiley, people gave-way to each other through doors. People sat alone on banquettes, and easy chairs in one of the three lounges (I like a place where people feel comfortable enough just to ‘be’) all notably tapping away on their Mac-tops, not a PC in sight… of course.

The food was good, we both started with scallops, pea puree and pancetta and those little mini pea shoot things, with their twirly whirly fronds, it was good (not as good as the scallop starter I had some time in 2008 in Zetter, or indeed my favourite scallops of 2009 (unpredictably) at The Gallery in Selfridges.

For our mains, my dear friend had the chicken with sausages, mash and gravy, I (predictably) had the skate, with mussels. All very good, very filling, cooked with skill, a bit over salty, but  I quite like salt. Service was a teeny bit slow, but friendly.

They also had some just-this-side-of-kitsch flamingo wallpaper…

After our mains we tabbed-it-up and had a wander, then returned, and shared a chocolate fudge cake in a lounge.

There’s a cinema, that previews all the usual *stuff* and a studio for gigs and exhibitions, and several meeting rooms for small business members to impress their clients, there’s a games room and two bars, and a restaurant. And everywhere there are little installations, projections, films and soundtracks, benches made of a log and chair-backs, and the sound of children laughing (schpoooky) played in the restaurant.

I like.

The Stats:

Year one membership £700 or £300 for people under 30 years old.