Category Archives: Noir

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


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.


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.


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.


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

The gothic and the sublime

Maybe as a result of being having been a moody teenager; I’ve always enjoyed a bit of gothica,  a bit of noir.

I adored the BFI 53rd London Film Festival, short-film special last autumn, The Gothic and the Grotesque. Here’s the blurb about it from their site:

Grotesque is disturbing. Gothic is magnificent. But both can be beautiful.

This selection of films draws on aspects of both, as filmmakers look to surreal scenarios and challenging subjects to give us thought-provoking gems. Whether it’s religious beliefs, the body politic, shocking images that challenge our perceptions, or quite simply what is perceived as bad taste, these films veer from the downright bizarre to those that play with and subvert more traditional horror genres.

I came across this site recently. Love-a-thon!

Loved To Death – takes taxidermy animals and animal parts, and builds them into beautiful, works of art and jewellery, in the essence of Memento Mori (which translated from Latin means: ‘remember you must die’):

(rights – Loved to Death)

Last night I watched High Street Dreams on the Beeb: aside from a new girl crush on Jo Malone (seriously cool lady, sensible, astute, supportive, successful, ace) – I was taken by the neo-gothica of Claire English (I was also taken by her natty little carrying cases, and thought she must love the Merci mini Liberty cases).

I’m not sure what they meant when various advisers and buyers referred to the collection as ‘very English’ but that’s because I’m missing the patriotism gene… here’s some of her *stuff*…

(Rights: Claire English)

I love the use of feathers and bones in metal – if anything it feels more voodoo than English to me. But I loves it.

Dans le Noir

After a decade of loving Ellis, Süskind, Mills ..and *very* nearly falling in love with Danielewski

I should have guessed how much I’d adore Louise Welsh… and good God I do.

Just before Christmas I found The Cutting Room on a bookshelf.  48 hours, I sat, sofa-bound and still, and devoured each richly, darkly, absorbing page, each twist and turn, watched the mystery ravel, then unravel, all to it’s one line conclusion, that explained everything – subtle, as if in a whisper after a storm of ‘who dunnits’ in the Glasgow underground. the single line explanation is a trick best taught by Mills; he follows the gothica, the foreboding, six words,  a line you could easily miss if you were skimming, a warning, never to skim noir.

I had high hope for The Bullet Trick.

It jaunts between the seedy underworld of London, Berlin and Glasgow… being a Berlino-Glasgaphile, this I adore (I’m also a Francophile and a Japanophile and a Finnophile).

It’s dirty Cabaret, and piss soaked glamour, smoke and mirrors. What’s not to love?

Aside from the fact that I didn’t buy the version with the deliciously Sally Bowles cover above, I bought the one with the decidedly chick-litty cover, below…my error