Thursday, 19 July 2018

The Belgravia Walk

Last night, back with London Literary Walks (but of course!) for The Belgravia Walk. Slightly earlier starts to the walks, these days - and being all the way across town, I had quite the journey! It took two buses - I could take either from the stop near the office, then had to change in the West End. In the event, what came was a 55.. and wouldn't you know it, my 38 was leaving the changeover stop as I got off the 55. Never mind, another was right along.

We crawled down Shaftesbury Avenue, as ever.. I'd have been 20 minutes earlier, otherwise! Passed the old office, still being renovated - I see the Nisbet's down the road has expanded to take over the premises of the Italian restaurant that used to be next door! Not a surprise - the loss of all those offices must have hit them hard. Pity though - they had good food, at an excellent price.

In Belgravia, it was a short walk - once I figured out which way I was going - to The Plumber's Ams. Did you know that this was the pub that Lady Lucan staggered into, after being hit on the head..? Anyway, these days it has free WiFi and dinky toilets. The house white is a bit watery, though. The guide came and grabbed me, since he hadn't managed to secure the upstairs room as he'd said he would - it was full on this occasion. We stayed for the usual half hour, to allow people time to get there - and most who had responded did make it in the time.

Belgravia is really interesting.. interesting shops, interesting history.


More photos here. Did you know it was a hotbed of espionage? We passed Topham's Hotel, where spies used to hang out, and sometimes interview other spies. I idly wondered whether the lady sweating over a huge suitcase - which she now had to lug up the last few steps to the door - knew about that. Ian Fleming used to live just up the road. In a change of pace, we came across Philip Treacy's shop:


We passed Noel Coward's house:


We saw chocolate aplenty:


And we heard lots about Mozart, who used to live around here:


Finally, we repaired - once again- to the Fox & Hounds, and after a bit scored the comfy sofas at the back. Where we passed a convivial time till we went home - I was glad to have our guide to lead me to Sloane Square, from where I could find my way - my phone gave out as we were leaving! Again, too late to blog last night.

Tonight, I RSVPed with North London Friends, for the first time in ages, for End of Term Moors Bar Blues Jam and Drinks. And then, wouldn't you know it, Ryanair announced another pilots' strike - for tomorrow, when I was to go back to Ireland for the weekend! Nothing about it on their website, of course - and you know, if it affected me, I'd just find out at the last possible minute. Like all of those delayed flights that they only email you about - with the option to cancel or reschedule - when they're already in the air! (when it's actually legally too late to cancel, even if you don't go). I know from personal experience how hard it is to get last-minute flights - and how expensive. So, for safety's sake, I'm now flying today.. damnit, I'll never get to that Blues bar! And this group will think I'm avoiding them.. And, of course, now it turns out my flight tomorrow isn't cancelled at all. But you can't take the risk.

On Monday, with nothing on Meetup, my £3.60 club finally came up with something I fancied doing - so I'm headed to a play called Reading Gaol, at Theatre N16. There's a lot of interest in Oscar Wilde at the moment, for some reason. Speaking of the club that can't be named.. I had my account suspended by them (again!) yesterday - got one of those useless emails asking me to email to discuss, while not bothering to tell me what the problem was. Turned out they were miffed that I didn't have a UK phone number! When I suggested that they could just discuss this stuff with me, rather than resorting to suspending my account all the time, I got the rather snippy response that they found they got a quicker response this way! I see their customer service is still bottom of the barrel.. anyway, account now reactivated, with a note to say they won't be getting in touch in the event of last-minute availability or cancellations! As for Meetup - Anthony's Cultural Events and Walking Activities has just announced a trip to Romeo and Juliet, free, outdoors at Westferry Circus.. too late, sorry man!

On Tuesday, back with Up in the Cheap Seats (UITCS), for Exit the King, at the National.

On Wednesday, London Literary Walks again - this time it's Little Italy. Now, I've done this area before - but I bet he'll come up with something new.

Next Thursday, back with London Science Events at the Royal Institution - this time, it's Synthetic Intelligence. Last Tuesday's organiser can't make it now - so I guess none of us will be meeting.

On the 27th, back with UITCS again, for Pity, at the Royal Court - which I missed on Saturday, when the same group was doing it with another organiser. Delighted to make this - also delighted to avail of a terrific Time Out offer of £12 tickets for Band B seats - the official price for Band D is £14, so this was great value! Sadly, now sold out.

On the 28th, back with them again, for the very last performance of Spun, at the Arcola. Second in a row with a theme of terrorism - this one is about the London bombings. Beforehand, we're headed for dinner at the Stone Cave, a Turkish place - and afterwards, to the Aqua 7 wine bar.

On the 29th, back with Walking in London, and Katie of Look Up London! Delighted she has a new walk - Smithfield & Clerkenwell: Guts & Glory. It's actually cheaper on her own site than on Funzing - unless you're getting one of those common 10% discounts!

On the 30th, I'm taking myself to the Proms, at the Albert Hall, for the first time in ages. This one is An Alpine Symphony.

And finishing off the month, I'm finally back with North London Friends, for Give My Regards to Broadway, Upstairs at the Gatehouse.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Talk: Moon, Mars and Beyond

Last night, I was with London Science Events for a talk on Moon, Mars and Beyond at The Royal Institution. Tickets from Eventbrite. And there was to be an astronaut there, and - something I hadn't heard of before - if you wanted his autograph, it'd cost you £20! (discount prices for members of the Institution). I figured I could live without.

I left as early as I could - doors were to open at 6.30, and although I got a bus earlier than recommended by Google Maps, traffic on Oxford Street was like treacle.. so, in the end, it was slightly after 6.30 when I got there. Where I joined the Very Long Queue. Doors not open yet. And then, because the queue was so very, very long, we were moved to queue in the library - cue a scrum, in which I ended up being shoved further back in the queue than I had been. Never mind, we were soon moving - and people eventually came around handing out 3D glasses! which I returned unopened - they give me a headache.



Inside, the theatre just absorbed us all easily. I got a seat pretty close to where I was last time.. there wasn't really a chance to sync up with the rest of the group, sadly. This turned out to be a panel discussion with two scientists and the aforementioned astronaut, each stating the case for humanity, if it has to leave the Earth, moving to one of the stated destinations. So, the first, armed with a little light-up moon, argued for the Moon; the second was for Mars, the astronaut wanted us to aim further.

The mc could have worked on her diction - she wasn't the easiest to understand. However, as an ex-academic myself, I can say that it was a joy to listen to such entertaining talks! Each of the speakers was not only passionate about his subject, but knew how to engage and hold the audience's attention, and all the talks were peppered with humour. (Of course, they were helped by having such a fascinating subject.) Essentially, the Moon was proposed as the nearest and "easiest" to get to, Mars as simply being more interesting, and also feasible to reach - although they did point out that that would be a one-way mission, as it'd be too difficult to bring people back. The astronaut was gung-ho for exploring farther afield, to find somewhere more Earth-like. He did concede, however, that this was a (very) longterm ambition.

Obviously, the argument for the Moon was the most sensible. The Mars talk was the one that the 3D glasses were planned for - we were shown images that would display in 3D. And the astronaut's talk was absolutely riveting - he explained how the Moon flights were cancelled after his trip, so he only got to do it once.. but it was obvious how much he regretted that. And wow, to hear him talk about how day and night were defined by whether the shades were up or down.. and how many stars you could see from the dark side of the Moon.. jeez, we were up there with him.

At the end, they had a live audience vote as to which of the three options we should go with - after an early lead from Mars, the natural order of Earth, then Mars, then beyond emerged. But it was great to be able to see the votes developing in real time! A terrific night was had. And although I missed the rest of the group, it was nice of the organiser to come over in the lobby afterwards (while they were queueing for autographs upstairs), and we chatted briefly. And so home, on a horrendously packed bus! I was keeping my film list up to date though, so didn't have time to blog last night - ironically, I'm not going to a film now!



Tonight, back with London Literary Walks (but of course!) for The Belgravia Walk.

Tomorrow, I RSVPed with North London Friends, for the first time in ages, for End of Term Moors Bar Blues Jam and Drinks. And then, wouldn't you know it, Ryanair announced another pilots' strike - for Friday, when I was to go back to Ireland for the weekend! Nothing about it on their website, of course - and you know, if it affected me, I'd just find out at the last possible minute. Like all of those delayed flights that they only email you about - with the option to cancel or reschedule - when they're already in the air! (when it's actually legally too late to cancel, even if you don't go). I know from personal experience how hard it is to get last-minute flights - and how expensive. So, for safety's sake, I'm now flying tomorrow.. damnit, I'll never get to that Blues bar! And this group will think I'm avoiding them.. And, of course, now it turns out my Friday flight isn't cancelled at all. But you can't take the risk.

On Monday, with nothing on Meetup, my £3.60 club finally came up with something I fancied doing - so I'm headed to a play called Reading Gaol, at Theatre N16. There's a lot of interest in Oscar Wilde at the moment, for some reason. Speaking of the club that can't be named.. I had my account suspended by them (again!) yesterday - got one of those useless emails asking me to email to discuss, while not bothering to tell me what the problem was. Turned out they were miffed that I didn't have a UK phone number! When I suggested that they could just discuss this stuff with me, rather than resorting to suspending my account all the time, I got the rather snippy response that they found they got a quicker response this way! I see their customer service is still bottom of the barrel.. anyway, account now reactivated, with a note to say they won't be getting in touch in the event of last-minute availability or cancellations!

On Tuesday, back with Up in the Cheap Seats (UITCS), for Exit the King, at the National.

Next Wednesday, London Literary Walks again - this time it's Little Italy. Now, I've done this area before - but I bet he'll come up with something new.

On the 26th, back with London Science Events at the Royal Institution - this time, it's Synthetic Intelligence. Last night's organiser can't make it now - so I guess none of us will be meeting.

On the 27th, back with UITCS again, for Pity, at the Royal Court - which I missed on Saturday, when the same group was doing it with another organiser. Delighted to make this - also delighted to avail of a terrific Time Out offer of £12 tickets for Band B seats - the official price for Band D is £14, so this was great value! Sadly, now sold out.

On the 28th, back with them again, for the very last performance of Spun, at the Arcola. Second in a row with a theme of terrorism - this one is about the London bombings.

On the 29th, back with Walking in London, and Katie of Look Up London! Delighted she has a new walk - Smithfield & Clerkenwell: Guts & Glory. It's actually cheaper on her own site than on Funzing - unless you're getting one of those common 10% discounts!

On the 30th, I'm taking myself to the Proms, at the Albert Hall, for the first time in ages. This one is An Alpine Symphony.

And finishing off the month, I'm finally back with North London Friends, for Give My Regards to Broadway, Upstairs at the Gatehouse.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Play: The Tempest

Tonight, I was with Anthony's Cultural Events & Walking Activities group, to see The Tempest at the free Outdoor Theatre in Westferry Circus. Seating on the grass, in the middle of a roundabout. Well, that promised to be interesting! Just as well my evening meetings were cancelled - this was an early start. Set in outer space, this one.

The usual last-minute shenanigans at work meant I couldn't leave quite as early as I wanted to - so to get there for the group's suggested meeting time of 6 (an hour before the start), I had to take the (sweltering) Tube. Two of them, in fact. Got off at Canary Wharf, and it was only a short walk to Westferry Circus - got a message, as I was in the final minutes of my journey, that they were in the middle of the grass. Sure enough, when I got there, there was a pedestrian crossing to the centre of the roundabout, which is ringed with trees. And there I found them, in a decent spot in front of the stage.

The organiser didn't remember me - but hey, he hasn't met me that often, and I only attend this group sporadically. No sign of any mats going, so I plonked myself on the grass - probably artificial; it's oddly green, in this heat, and frankly very scratchy - I wasn't the only one who found it uncomfortable. As usual, I introduced myself by the method of adding my name at the end of his round of introductions, and to be fair, he included me thereafter! I do recommend arriving that early - it got very full. The mats were handed out about half an hour before the start - most welcome, simple plastic sheets in a little plastic bag.


My only problem with this was my lack of practice at prolonged sitting on the ground - it's been a while, and I was stiff as a board! Hope I didn't irritate anyone with my constant wriggling. And, for a brief while, I wished I'd brought a hat. Otherwise, it was a spectacular hybrid of Shakespeare, Star Trek, Star Wars.. and Alien!


(Note the costumes - and the backdrop!) Great rock soundtrack, performed by the artists themselves:


And Ariel played a blinder, with some clever magic tricks:


They finished on American Idiot - an homage to a recent visitor. ;-) What's not to like..?

We didn't go for a drink afterwards, although someone asked - our organiser didn't think Monday was a good day for it. So I caught a bus back - very conveniently, right across the roundabout! And now if you'll excuse me, I have to run to Tesco before they close..!

Speaking of Outer Space, tomorrow I'm with London Science Events for a talk on Moon, Mars and Beyond at The Royal Institution. Tickets from Eventbrite. And there'll be an astronaut there, and - something I haven't heard of before - if you want his autograph, it'll cost you £20! (discount prices for members of the Institution). I think I can live without.

On Wednesday, back with London Literary Walks (but of course!) for The Belgravia Walk.

And on Thursday, I RSVPed with North London Friends, for the first time in ages, for End of Term Moors Bar Blues Jam and Drinks. And then, wouldn't you know it, Ryanair announced another pilots' strike - for the next day, when I was to go back to Ireland for the weekend! Nothing about it on their website, of course - and you know, if it affects me, I'll just find out at the last possible minute. Like all of those delayed flights that they only email you about - with the option to cancel or reschedule - when they're already in the air! (when it's actually legally too late to cancel, even if you don't go). I know from personal experience how hard it is to get last-minute flights - and how expensive. So, for safety's sake, I'm now flying on Thursday.. damnit, I'll never get to that Blues bar! And this group will think I'm avoiding them..

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Circus: Circa's Peepshow

Today, well, my £3.60 club finally got tickets to Circa's Peepshow, the new cabaret circus act at Udderbelly! Awesome, another one I had my eye on - had seen cheap tickets for this already. This was much better than the other things advertised for today - and with a regular price of £21.50 (or £26.50, at this short notice), a bargain, it has to be said. And it was in the evening, so I got a lie-in..

Spent most of the day in my room - which is reasonably cool, as I'm keeping the blinds permanently closed. Makes sense, if the alternative is for the sun to superheat the place.. not to mention that I can't easily get to the window for boxes! I also greatly impressed myself by digging out of boxes all the clothes I wanted for today.. see, it can be done. During the day, I got an advertising email for this show - seems you can get £15 tickets (much cheaper than normal) by quoting the code ROCKSTAR15, valid for all shows from Tuesday to the end of the month. By the time I ventured out.. it was still like an oven. This time, I was glad of the bus - sweltering as it was. Walking would have been torture.

By the time we got south of the river, I was dizzy with the heat - having a backwards-facing seat didn't help. But I survived, and made it to the box office at about a quarter to seven (show at 7). Joined the queue - it's in the Spiegeltent, with unreserved seating, and it pays to grab a seat as soon as you can. As I waited, my ticket was torn - and they were handing out free programmes! (marked price £10). Gee, I suspect they're having trouble getting people to spend money on this..

Barely five minutes before doors opened - at about 10 minutes before showtime. Some folks had got in early - I think they had VIP tickets. Inside - with glorious aircon - with no-one to tell us where to sit, I got myself a second-row seat to the side. It wasn't full, anyway. Sadly, no photography during the show.


Seven performers - you can find out all about them in the programme, which I wouldn't bother buying, it's the usual fare of glossy photos and ads. Now, I read a review of this that was quite dismissive, saying that the performers dropped things, fell over.. I do have to admit, the juggler could use some practice. However, that's just a tiny element of the show - and the rest is beautifully done, and occasionally spectacular! Truly artistic quirks on hula-hoop spinning and acrobatics, and some poses that will stay with me forever, accompanied by a well-thought out soundtrack.

An excellent show, thoughtfully staged - great to be so close, too. Highly recommended - even if I don't think their take on "peepshow" really came across. Still, there is some mild stripping. Nothing you can't really take the family to. Now running to the 18th of next month - do get a discount if you can, but of course, they really do work for their money, and to be fair, given what they present, the official price isn't excessive.

Mercifully, it was cool by the time I finally got off the bus home! At last.. Tomorrow, I'm with Anthony's Cultural Events & Walking Activities group, to see The Tempest at the free Outdoor Theatre in Westferry Circus. Seating on the grass, in the middle of a roundabout, it seems. Apparently they provide mats. Well, that should be interesting! Just as well my evening meeting has been cancelled - this is an early start. Set in outer space, this one, it seems.

Speaking of which, on Tuesday I'm with London Science Events for a talk on Moon, Mars and Beyond at The Royal Institution. Tickets from Eventbrite. And there'll be an astronaut there, and - something I haven't heard of before - if you want his autograph, it'll cost you £20! (discount prices for members of the Institution). I think I can live without.

On Wednesday, back with London Literary Walks (but of course!) for The Belgravia Walk.

And on Thursday, I RSVPed with North London Friends, for the first time in ages, for End of Term Moors Bar Blues Jam and Drinks. And then, wouldn't you know it, Ryanair announced another pilots' strike - for the next day, when I was to go back to Ireland for the weekend! Nothing about it on their website, of course - and you know, if it affects me, I'll just find out at the last possible minute. Like all of those delayed flights that they only email you about - with the option to cancel or reschedule - when they're already in the air! (when it's actually legally too late to cancel, even if you don't go). I know from personal experience how hard it is to get last-minute flights - and how expensive. So, for safety's sake, I'm now flying on Thursday.. damnit, I'll never get to that Blues bar! And this group will think I'm avoiding them..

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Play: Machinal

Today, why, I was spoiled for choice! Up in the Cheap Seats alone has three events - I finally plumped for the first, chronologically: so booked to see Machinal, at the Almeida. Always dependably good drama there - and again, close to me. And, it being Bastille Day, we headed off to La Petite Auberge beforehand for lunch / brunch!

I had a late night last night, but just squeezed in enough sleep. Handily, none of what I wanted to wear was still packed, so getting ready didn't take long - neither, surprisingly, did the walk to the restaurant! despite it being uphill, and hot. I ended up being the first there - apart from the organiser, I think. They'd arranged a long table for us, tucked away upstairs at the back. Ours was the only window not open - we soon remedied that, and the occasional breeze wafting across the table was most welcome.

I have to say, I loved what I had - I was the only one to choose a starter, but then the waiter suggested I have it with the main, and that worked out perfectly. I hadn't been able to resist - garlic mushrooms with cheese would have been far too heavy for a main course, but for a starter it was perfect, and went very well with the grilled chicken I had as a main. There was plenty more to tempt me, but not in this heat. A lovely lemon sorbet finished it off - and it's a while since I had the option of a carafe of wine - so I did, thank you! Mind you, although there was a lunch offer of a special price for two, or three, courses, I don't think it was applied when the bill came.. Never mind, it's a place I'd happily return to. And so convenient for the theatre!

We hung around in the lobby for a while - others who had decided to skip the meal were to join us there. I was glad when we went in - despite them having opened all the doors and windows, it was a bit stuffy in the lobby; the aircon in the theatre was great though. I had a side view - after a bit, an usher moved some people near us to more central seats and I improved my position slightly. A most sensible idea, to shift people around to minimise the effect of the empty seats - pity more places don't do that. Some are actively hostile to it!



This was taken from my original seat. No, that's not a lightsaber - a very brightly lit double bar crosses the protective screen over the stage, the screen parting for each scene. Before it does so, a projection tells you what "episode" you're going to see next, and gives a keyword that hints at its content.

It's a stunner. 80 minutes straight through, and I certainly didn't feel the length. Emily Berrington is compelling as the fragile young woman, weighted down by the mechanism of the society in which she lives, unable to live as she wants, and unable to have her voice heard, or explain to anyone how she feels. She lives with her overbearing mother, works in a pressurised environment that she seems to hate - unwisely, as it turns out, she sees marriage as her only get-out clause. The play is set in the 20s - and to be fair, in those days, a woman's choices were generally limited.

It's a beautifully balanced play - you can argue that her job isn't really that bad, that her marriage is a step up financially, and her husband is decent to her - but that isn't at all the point. The point is that she can't handle it. And she has no outlet for her frustration - as she screams near the end, she's always had to submit, and she'll submit no more! The theme is depressing, but we are constantly hoping for a breakthrough for her, it's supremely intense, and the mirrored, sloping ceiling adds to a claustrophobic feeling throughout. I loved it! Runs till next Saturday, and - as always with this theatre - highly recommended.

Afterwards, we chatted for a while before heading off - and I nearly melted on the way home, despite it being downhill! Still, it'd have been worse on a bus. The ice cream I bought at the end of my walk was truly welcome.

Tomorrow, well, my £3.60 club finally got tickets to Circa's Peepshow, the new cabaret circus act at Udderbelly! Awesome, another one I had my eye on - have seen cheap tickets for this already. This was much better than the other things advertised for that day - and with a regular price of £21.50 (or £26.50, at this short notice), a bargain, it has to be said - the regular price is quite high for a show that only lasts an hour. And it's in the evening, so I get a lie-in.. and it should be a bit cooler by the time I leave.

On Monday, I'm with Anthony's Cultural Events & Walking Activities group, to see The Tempest at the free Outdoor Theatre in Westferry Circus. Seating on the grass, in the middle of a roundabout, it seems. Apparently they provide mats. Well, that should be interesting! Just as well my evening meeting has been cancelled - this is an early start. Set in outer space, this one, it seems.

Speaking of which, on Tuesday I'm with London Science Events for a talk on Moon, Mars and Beyond at The Royal Institution. Tickets from Eventbrite. And there'll be an astronaut there, and - something I haven't heard of before - if you want his autograph, it'll cost you £20! (discount prices for members of the Institution). I think I can live without.

On Wednesday, back with London Literary Walks (but of course!) for The Belgravia Walk.

And on Thursday, I RSVPed with North London Friends, for the first time in ages, for End of Term Moors Bar Blues Jam and Drinks. And then, wouldn't you know it, Ryanair announced another pilots' strike - for the next day, when I was to go back to Ireland for the weekend! Nothing about it on their website, of course - and you know, if it affects me, I'll just find out at the last possible minute. Like all of those delayed flights that they only email you about - with the option to cancel or reschedule - when they're already in the air! (when it's actually legally too late to cancel, even if you don't go). I know from personal experience how hard it is to get last-minute flights - and how expensive. So, for safety's sake, I'm now flying on Thursday.. damnit, I'll never get to that Blues bar! And this group will think I'm avoiding them..

Friday, 13 July 2018

Walk: The Secret History of Magic, Witchcraft & the Occult

Tonight (Friday 13th, woo!), Walking in London took me on a walking tour of The Secret History of Magic, Witchcraft & the Occult. Starting outside St. Paul's, of all places. Mmm yes, had my eye on this for a while. And being Funzing, the code crazy_fun will score you a 10% discount.

So, off I meandered - had to take the bus, whereas I could've walked from the last place. Never mind. I arrived about five minutes early.. and as promised, he was on the steps, and already had a crowd around him. Oh hell though, he was nearly at the top of the steps! And me with a step phobia, and no handrails through the middle. Well, I managed to get up to them.. and not to fall back down the steps.. and I spent the whole time that he was telling us how this used to be a temple of Diana worrying about how I was to get down again! Well, I managed as far as the middle - and mercifully he descended the lower level at the side, so I had the handrail and was ok.

We made our way around that big hole they've dug in the road - the one that causes all the bus diversions. About six of us, he had - there were another couple of people that hadn't shown by the time we left. And as expected, we covered the same ground as some other walks, and heard some of the same tales. But yay, we heard some things that were new to me - such as how black Madonnas originate from Isis-worship, which was gaining a foothold in overtly masculine Christian Europe before they started to feminise it! Or the origin of the "shaggy dog" story..

Now, it hadn't been forecast to rain at all. But an ominous, black cloud lowered over St. Paul's as I arrived, and a flipping thunderstorm had started by the time we set off! I've seen worse rain showers associated with thunderstorms, but still.. Our guide was good enough to extend his umbrella over me, and stop under cover where possible - still, we were glad of a stop-off in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. And it was here that our guide really came into his own! It isn't the best walk I've been on - he hasn't actually been doing it that long. However, he is an absolute fount of knowledge, and the most can be gleaned from this trip by scratching the surface and getting him to talk around his subject! Before we left, we paid a trip to the haunted, 13th Century cellars.


Around to Wardrobe Place, St. Bride's Church, and Dr. Johnson's House - places I've been before. Apart from some who needed to get home, we repaired after to The Edgar Wallace - where he told us lots about the current state of witchcraft and magic(k). Truly, a knowledgeable chap in these fields - and I do recommend the walk, if you're into such stuff.


And true to form, it'd stopped raining by the time we went home! Tomorrow, why, I was spoiled for choice! Up in the Cheap Seats alone has three events - I finally plumped for the first, chronologically: so we're off to see Machinal, at the Almeida. Always dependably good drama there - and again, close to me. And, it being Bastille Day, we're off to La Petite Auberge beforehand for lunch / brunch! Better get to bed.

On Sunday, well, my £3.60 club finally got tickets to Circa's Peepshow, the new cabaret circus act at Udderbelly! Awesome, another one I had my eye on - have seen cheap tickets for this already. This was much better than the other things advertised for that day - and with a regular price of £21.50 (or £26.50, at this short notice), a bargain, it has to be said - the regular price is quite high for a show that only lasts an hour.

On Monday, I'm with Anthony's Cultural Events & Walking Activities group, to see The Tempest at the free Outdoor Theatre in Westferry Circus. Seating on the grass, in the middle of a roundabout, it seems. Apparently they provide mats. Well, that should be interesting! Just as well my evening meeting has been cancelled - this is an early start. Set in outer space, this one, it seems.

Speaking of which, on Tuesday I'm with London Science Events for a talk on Moon, Mars and Beyond at The Royal Institution. Tickets from Eventbrite. And there'll be an astronaut there, and - something I haven't heard of before - if you want his autograph, it'll cost you £20! (discount prices for members of the Institution). I think I can live without.

On Wednesday, back with London Literary Walks (but of course!) for The Belgravia Walk.

And on Thursday, I RSVPed with North London Friends, for the first time in ages, for End of Term Moors Bar Blues Jam and Drinks. And then, wouldn't you know it, Ryanair announced another pilots' strike - for the next day, when I was to go back to Ireland for the weekend! Nothing about it on their website, of course - and you know, if it affects me, I'll just find out at the last possible minute. Like all of those delayed flights that they only email you about - with the option to cancel or reschedule - when they're already in the air! (when it's actually legally too late to cancel, even if you don't go). I know from personal experience how hard it is to get last-minute flights - and how expensive. So, for safety's sake, I'm now flying on Thursday.. damnit, I'll never get to that Blues bar! And this group will think I'm avoiding them..

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Play: Immaculate Correction

Tonight, after a late, lazy start, back with Up in the Cheap Seats (UITCS) for Immaculate Correction, at the King's Head. Ages since I'd been there - and it sounded like fun. My God, it's been a muggy day though - predicted rain never materialised, but clouds hung heavily over the city, and it was hot..

I could walk to this, and did - good exercise, with a slight uphill slope most of the way. I did leave a bit late though, as I finally got around to booking stuff for next week and was on a roll! I made it in time for the show, but not really in time to have a drink. Quickly spotted the group, at a table over the side, and after I'd picked up my ticket at the box office, I joined them. Tickets are laminated, which is a sure sign that you're to give them back.. and we just had time for a brief chat, before they yelled at the bar that the house was now open! so we meandered back over there, and give them back we did.

Unassigned seating - we took the second row, and happily no-one sat in front of us (well, except in front of Colin). Indeed, as Clive, the organiser, remarked, the three Cs were sitting in a row! We were even in alphabetical order! except Colin.. unfortunately, this is straight through, and the bench seating isn't the most comfortable. Couple that with the heat, and you have something of an unpleasant experience - at least there were fans working at the side, and it wasn't the sauna that we endured last week, at Southwark Playhouse!

This is part of the theatre's Playmill schedule for new British writers, which runs until the 21st. And this play is the story of a young girl in Glasgow, navigating the treacherous waters of her teenage years, dealing with Catholic school, boys, dreams of stardom, and her single mum - who claims that she was the product of an immaculate conception!

A statue of the Madonna overlooks proceedings, and props are largely restricted to three chairs - well, there are only three cast members - and a few small things dragged out of bags that are hidden under the table at the back. But the acting is absolutely spot-on! The central character and narrator, onstage in every scene, is terrific as the naive youngster, whose information about life is mostly gleaned from tv and her best friend, cossetted as she is by the highly religious education she's getting. The others are just there as foils to her story, but play a blinder, one acting, in turns, as her mother (an overgrown teenager herself), a prissy teacher at the school, and a fellow student in her imaginary school girl-group!

It had the ring of truth, for me - something of a rant about the perils of growing up. Mind you, I can't say my school experience was like that - and Clive thought the same. Still, apparently not everyone's had such a sheltered upbringing! Finishes tomorrow - you could do worse. It deals with plenty of issues, but in such an entertaining way that you'll be absolutely charmed. Recommended. Oh, and bring change - they have a collection on the way out.

When we exited (thankfully), the bar was full - outside, the nearest we could see was Slim Jim's Liquor Store, so we ended up there for one. Where the decor was a mixture of Irish memorabilia and, eh, something opposite to a Catholic school?


Nice cool breeze on the way home, thank goodness - which was downhill! Tomorrow (Friday 13th, woo!), Walking in London is taking me on a walking tour of The Secret History of Magic, Witchcraft & the Occult. Starting outside St. Paul's, of all places. Mmm yes, had my eye on this for a while. And being Funzing, the code crazy_fun will score you a 10% discount.

On Saturday, why, I was spoiled for choice! UITCS alone has three events - I finally plumped for the first, chronologically: so we're off to see Machinal, at the Almeida. Always dependably good drama there - and again, close to me. And, it being Bastille Day, we're off to La Petite Auberge beforehand for lunch / brunch!

On Sunday, well, my £3.60 club finally got tickets to Circa's Peepshow, the new cabaret circus act at Udderbelly! Awesome, another one I had my eye on - have seen cheap tickets for this already. This was much better than the other things advertised for that day - and with a regular price of £21.50 (or £26.50, at this short notice), a bargain, it has to be said - the regular price is quite high for a show that only lasts an hour.

On Monday, I'm with Anthony's Cultural Events & Walking Activities group, to see The Tempest at the free Outdoor Theatre in Westferry Circus. Seating on the grass, in the middle of a roundabout, it seems. Apparently they provide mats. Well, that should be interesting! Set in outer space, this one, it seems.

Speaking of which, on Tuesday I'm with London Science Events for a talk on Moon, Mars and Beyond at The Royal Institution. Tickets from Eventbrite. And there'll be an astronaut there, and - something I haven't heard of before - if you want his autograph, it'll cost you £20! (discount prices for members of the Institution). I think I can live without.

On Wednesday, back with London Literary Walks (but of course!) for The Belgravia Walk.

And next Thursday, I RSVPed with North London Friends, for the first time in ages, for End of Term Moors Bar Blues Jam and Drinks. And then, wouldn't you know it, Ryanair announced another pilots' strike - for the next day, when I was to go back to Ireland for the weekend! Nothing about it on their website, of course - and you know, if it affects me, I'll just find out at the last possible minute. Like all of those delayed flights that they only email you about - with the option to cancel or reschedule - when they're already in the air! (when it's actually legally too late to cancel, even if you don't go). I know from personal experience how hard it is to get last-minute flights - and how expensive. So, for safety's sake, I'm now flying the night before.. damnit, I'll never get to that Blues bar! And this group will think I'm avoiding them..