Sunday, 31 March 2019

Kaleidoscope Exhibition

Today, Let's Do This was off to a kaleidoscope exhibition at the Saatchi gallery. And so I booked. It was only the two of us! At least I could have something of a lie-in, as it was later than yesterday's start.

I'm a bit fluey today, so that lie-in was really needed. I woke in good time, and was just checking my messages - still in bed - when the phone pinged my one-hour warning! For my event..?! Uh-oh- I'd forgotten the change to summer time! The bedside clock, of course, isn't smart enough to update automatically - my phone is, luckily. So, cue another scramble like yesterday's - handily, there are a few buses that take me down to the Tube, which I'd have to take, to get all the way out west.

Bus came quickly, I made a Tube straight away - which was packed with weekend wanderers - and actually made it early to Sloane Square. Where I met my companion, and we headed to the gallery. He's been here a lot, I believe - I never have. It's an airy and pleasant space, over four floors, divided into several different galleries. The kaleidoscope exhibition is on the ground floor, to the left as you enter.



Gallery 1 houses an interactive, walk-through tunnel, with changing lights - not for sufferers of photosensitive epilepsy, obviously! However, sneakily - they require you to pay if you want to walk into it: and you have to remove your shoes. Photography allowed, but not flash. Our conclusion was that it was very 60s, very psychedelic. It was also the best thing in the exhibition, by a country mile.

Gallery 2 is also interesting - concentrating on maritime themes, it includes a fascinating series of water paintings..



..and you know what? Just skip the rest of the exhibition - unless you're a big fan of modern art, it's a bit useless. Instead, head upstairs to the truly awesome exhibit of Arctic photography, which shows the effect of climate change.




A couple of videos play on loop at stages around the exhibit, showing aspects of local life.

Our final visit was to the basement, where you can buy prints - and it's well worth a look:



Afterwards, we repaired to La Bottega, where I - being hungry (I'd had nothing to eat yet) ordered chicken Milanese and roast potatoes. Note: the guy behind the food counter doesn't take orders - order at the till and it'll be brought to your table. Nice little place for a quick bite, on a sunny afternoon. Unfortunately, I shouldn't have gone for the chicken, which was dry and tough. The hot chocolate was better, and I'd be happy to try a pastry - the selection was tempting. Anyway, despite the conversation consisting of Brexit and redundancy, it was a very pleasant outing, and I'm delighted I went. It was then Tube all the way back.

Tomorrow - with nothing on Meetup (are Meetup people getting tired?), I booked with my "cheap ticket club", first time in ages, to a concert by Ekaterina Semenchuk & Semyon Skigin, at Wigmore Hall. However, I've been in contact with an ex-colleague about the doings here, and he wants to meet us - I picked Monday, as he wants to meet my boss as well, who'll be on holiday from Wednesday and for the rest of the week. So I cancelled the concert - and now he's decided Tuesday would be better! Ugh. That concert is still the best thing on - we shall see. Things are so up in the air, I'm reluctant to book anything.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I'm at plays with Up in the Cheap Seats (UITCS). Wednesday, we're off to Ghost Stories, at the Lyric in Hammersmith! Now, I saw this before, years ago.. but absolutely loved it and am delighted to see it back. And this time I'm very near the front.

On Thursday, we're at Intra Muros in Park Theatre. Then I'm back to Ireland for the weekend.

And on the 8th, I'm back with UITCS for She Persisted, by the English National Ballet, at Sadler's Wells.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Pub: The Draft House & Walk: Rebellious London

Ooh boy. Hold on to your hats, it's been something of a week.

On Thursday, our team was called to a surprise meeting with the London boss, who had booked it late the night before, clashing with another meeting. He showed up in the company of the local HR person. And when she sat down, she told us it was bad news. Turns out the company is implementing a sheaf of redundancies, and all teams are affected. Ours is losing at least one person - the grapevine, however, says we're all going.

Afterwards, my boss said he'd leave regardless. I completely agree - the company seems to be driving our team in precisely the opposite direction to where he was leading us, and he's been making those noises for a while. And there's a bad culture of bullying in the office, which means that I'm not prepared to stay here without him as a (very effective) buffer. As I told him - haven't made it official yet, I'd prefer to see whether I get redundancy. 1-1 consultations take place next week, when we might  get some definite news, from this most secretive of companies.

Well, we've become close to the two-person design team - who are losing the more senior designer. They had their meeting right after ours. So we met with them afterwards, booked one of the meeting rooms, had drinks and snacks - until we were unceremoniously chucked out by the office Stalin, who was working with some people on presentations for the upcoming expo. Nobody felt like going to the meal we'd booked in Tas, which I cancelled.

Yesterday, The London Art Song and Opera group advertised the opera, Andrea Chénier, at St. John's Waterloo. Also the London European Club. Hell, they didn't make it easy though - if you wanted the special offer, you had to ring. And, as I discovered, when you rang, you did not get an answer. No, you had to leave your name and number and they'd get back to you. When I discovered that there was no way to do this "live", I rang them very late last Saturday night - would you believe, they got back to me on Sunday morning! which was when I discovered that the offer included a free drink and programme, and that they - ahem - would post the ticket to me (!). Well, I got the ticket on Thursday.

However, with everything that's happening, my boss came in - on his day off - for drinks with us. After Thursday night's shenanigans, we decided to take ourselves to the pub to give everyone else a chance to leave the office. Nearest was The Draft House - chock-a-block, of course, on a Friday night, but the evening was lovely, sunny and mild, and when a table came free outside, we took ourselves out there. And had a lovely evening, shooting the breeze.

When people started to feel hungry, we made our way back towards the office - passing the Enoteca da Luca pizza van on the way. That seems to have a permanent spot outside our office, and has been here as long as I have - and it's never occurred to me to try it! Well, we all did last night - pizzas are cooked in a real wood fire oven by a quick and friendly guy, and are great value. We brought them back upstairs to the office, and were well fed indeed.

Today, back at last with Chronicles, for the last of his walks - this one sounded interesting, being about Rebellious London. And that was the last new walk on my list.. so many good walks advertised around London, but I've pretty much done them all by now! This was originally advertised on Meetup, but all the Funzing groups on Meetup seem to have closed down now. Thing is, we did stay very late in the office last night - I thought about cancelling the walk, but as this is the last of his walks, and he usually runs it midweek, when I can't make it, I thought I'd better not.

Woke quite a bit later than intended, and had to scramble to get ready! Happily, a very convenient bus leaves from just outside my house, and runs straight to St. Paul's, where the walk begins. Beautiful day for it - has spring finally sprung? So, I just made the bus, and arrived slightly early. Which I think was a noble feat!

I have to say, the sheer number of incidents of unrest is notable. We started, handily enough, at St. Paul's, at the site of a 16th-century revolt against the Flemish:



The interesting story of the Gordon Riots is set outside Newgate Prison, which is no longer there. They were trying to break out their fellow rioters, y'see!



I have to say, this is one of the more picturesque walks, hitting several beautiful locations. For instance, turns out Richard II stood outside the evocative church of St. Bartholomew the Great when dealing with the rebels in the Peasants' Revolt!



And they marched through St. John's Gate on their way there, and were marched back through it later in the day, as prisoners:



Around the corner - I didn't take a picture - was where Oliver Cromwell lived. And nearby, Clerkenwell Prison, which was the scene of a failed attempt by the Fenians to rescue one of their brethren!

Clerkenwell Green was the meeting place for Russian revolutionaries:


Tomorrow, Let's Do This is off to a kaleidoscope exhibition at the Saatchi gallery. And so am I.

On Monday - with nothing on Meetup (are Meetup people getting tired?), I booked with my "cheap ticket club", first time in ages, to a concert by Ekaterina Semenchuk & Semyon Skigin, at Wigmore Hall. However, I've been in contact with an ex-colleague about the doings here, and he wants to meet us - I picked Monday, as he wants to meet my boss as well, who'll be on holiday from Wednesday and for the rest of the week.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Storytelling: The Son of the Buffalo Woman

Tonight, back with the Crick Crack Club! This was a performance by Jan Blake, at King's Place - and da boss having liked a clip of hers that he saw previously, he took the spare ticket I accidentally booked. Promised to be a good night. And a much-needed break from reality.

A couple of buses would get us to King's Cross - a short walk. We headed off in good time, got a drink from the downstairs bar, where the concert was - the house white is quite floral, as I found. And when doors opened, I insisted on front row central. As usual. :-) Well, we were literally first in. The stage housed drums, and other instruments of more dubious provenance. And when they finally took the stage, it was a bit late - which is just fine, of course. No MC-ing, for once, no Crick Crack slogans - just Jan Blake, straight into it.

She had a drummer on stage with her, who accompanied her to a prepared checklist of cues. This time was an African tale, set in Mali.. and as the drums set a river of sound for us to drift on, she spun a yarn of a prophecy about a Malian king who had to marry an ugly woman, and how that woman was found, her mother's buffalo wrath killed, and she was brought to marry the king. And then.. we were into a break.

I'm used to Jan Blake - she's guaranteed terrific, music or no. But music is always a plus, making it easier to immerse yourself in the story. And hey, she was on form tonight - happily, the crowd were in fine voice, keen to sing along (or ululate). Da boss? "Blown away" - that's a direct quote. Seriously, it's quite hard to describe what these events can be like until you experience them. Delighted to have another fan!

The second half was even better, if possible, as we learned the son's story, and he started out on what she told us was an epic quest! ..which she didn't have time to tell us about. Watch this space, I guess, with tantalising hints of further instalments at some unspecified time and place. Oh man - and we were lucky enough to run right into her on the way out, and do the fan thing. Another hit for Crick Crack..

Tomorrow, our team has our monthly social. This time, we're off to Tas.

On Friday, The London Art Song and Opera group advertised the opera, Andrea Chénier, at St. John's Waterloo. Hell, they don't make it easy though - if you want the special offer (quoting "MEETUP"), you have to ring. And, as I discovered, when you ring, you will not get an answer. No, you have to leave your name and number and they'll get back to you. When I discovered that there was no way to do this "live", I rang them very late on Saturday night - would you believe, they got back to me on Sunday morning! which was when I discovered that the offer includes a free drink and programme, and that they - ahem - post the tickets to you (!). I'm still waiting for mine to arrive. If it does, that's what I'm doing on Friday.

On Saturday, back at last with Chronicles, for the last of his walks - this one sounds interesting, being about Rebellious London. And that'll be the last new walk on my list.. so many good walks advertised around London, but I've pretty much done them all by now!

On Sunday, Let's Do This is off to a kaleidoscope exhibition at the Saatchi gallery. And so am I.

And on Monday - with nothing on Meetup (are people getting tired?), I'm off with my "cheap ticket club", first time in ages, to a concert by Ekaterina Semenchuk & Semyon Skigin, at Wigmore Hall.

Play: The Crown Dual

For last night, Let's Do This advertised discount tickets for The Crown Dual, in the King's Head! Well yes please, sign me up! And so I went to that. Left a little later than intended -  I could have walked, but decided to take the bus instead, to have as much time as possible there. It does go right past.

In the pub, which is always busy, the group had efficiently managed to snare a table! I was the last to arrive - our organiser kindly surrendered his seat for me. I got a drink, which I didn't have to rush - you can take them in to the show. Indeed, we didn't have long before we went in and took our seats - second row. Of which we were glad, having heard rumours of audience participation. In fact, the front benches were covered in Union Jacks..

It's a two-person, multi-character show. Story goes, this lady was trying out for the role of the Queen in The Crown, but lost out, and has now taken her alternative version to the stage. She is assisted in this valiant endeavour by her trusty agent, who actually spends considerably more time than she does dashing offstage to change costume.

As we were to remark afterwards, so much happens in this that it's quite impossible to capture it all. Now, I haven't watched the series, but was informed by someone who has that they managed to cover the first two seasons. In something over an hour. Golly. At last count, we met the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Peter Townsend, Antony Armstrong-Jones, Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden! Oh, and a couple of corgis. And that's not counting the audience participation - mainly for the coronation that forms the climax of the show!

Manic, performed with gusto, this production is absolutely brilliant! The comic timing - both of the actors and of the accompanying musical score - is perfect. The writing sparkles. It's so fast-paced that you miss how good it is - but there's no missing the fact that it's utterly hilarious. Hell, I just put on the National Anthem and started to chuckle.. it's had that effect. Does help if you know some royal history - or have watched the tv series. Caveat: I really do have to warn you - if you're in the front row, you might be subject to some audience participation of a nature that some might find embarrassing. Which is not to say that you're completely safe in the rows further back. You have been warned.

But by all means, rush to this royal audience! Runs till the 6th. Kind of unmissable.

Afterwards, with the pub still busy, we repaired - appropriately - to The Crown, where we had a drink and a convivial chat - even if it did involve collectively shaking our heads at the lunacy that is Brexit! And then I walked back.


Tonight, back with the Crick Crack Club! This is a performance by Jan Blake, at King's Place - and da boss having liked a clip of hers that he saw previously, he's taking the spare ticket I accidentally booked. Should be a good night. And a much-needed break from reality.

Tomorrow, our team has our monthly social. This time, we're off to Tas.

On Friday, The London Art Song and Opera group advertised the opera, Andrea Chénier, at St. John's Waterloo. Hell, they don't make it easy though - if you want the special offer (quoting "MEETUP"), you have to ring. And, as I discovered, when you ring, you will not get an answer. No, you have to leave your name and number and they'll get back to you. When I discovered that there was no way to do this "live", I rang them very late on Saturday night - would you believe, they got back to me on Sunday morning! which was when I discovered that the offer includes a free drink and programme, and that they - ahem - post the tickets to you (!). I'm still waiting for mine to arrive. If it does, that's what I'm doing on Friday.

And on Saturday, back at last with Chronicles, for the last of his walks - this one sounds interesting, being about Rebellious London. And that'll be the last new walk on my list.. so many good walks advertised around London, but I've pretty much done them all by now!

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Concert: Touts & Inhaler

I'm currently back in Ireland for a long weekend - had holiday days left over from last year that I had to use by the end of this month. Well, that's what the system said..! and who am I to argue? Anyway, when I got back, I heard that Inhaler was playing in Limerick last night. Inhaler, the band fronted by Bono's son, Elijah! Hmm.. ah well now, I could hardly miss the chance to see them live, at last! So I booked a ticket. Seems they're touring the British Isles as support to Touts, a NI punk band.

I decided to eat in Limerick beforehand, so headed in a bit early and made for the Texas Steakout again. I've eaten well there before - last time was over a year ago, though! I parked in Arthur's Quay car park - I see they close at 10 now! but I'd be moving the car after dinner, as I was headed down the Dock Road for the concert. Not much problem getting a space - I suspect the earlier closing time has damaged the car park's popularity.

I had no trouble getting a table in the restaurant, either. Service was quick and friendly, as ever, and I was done and dusted with three courses in about an hour. Mind you, given what I was served, I doubt I'll be back. I recognise that some dishes are probably better than others - but what I was served last night, I wouldn't consider fit to be served to a paying public.

The garlic bread - served, oddly, in a little bucket - was hard as a rock, and about as tasteless. It came with a pot of (non-garlic) mayonnaise, a funny thing to serve with garlic bread - given the toughness of what I was eating though, it was the only thing that made it edible, and I lathered it on. I didn't finish the garlic bread. For my main course, I chose mushroom chicken mushroom - edible, but almost completely bland, and the chicken was quite chewy. Had onion rings - I'd found them tasteless last time, but they were now (along with the button mushrooms) the tastiest part of the meal! 

I didn't finish that either - by the time I'd worked my way through most of the chicken, the rest was cold. At least the chocolate mousse cake was a tasty dessert - and the Chardonnay was all right. But I won't be darkening their doors again. I was glad to leave.

Driving down the Dock Road, I kept my eyes peeled for The Kasbah, and completely missed it. Had to turn around and try again - I caught sight of it on the second pass, and got parking on the side road beside it. It was completely dark, though. I knew doors opened at 8pm, and I made my way down there slightly after that. Entry turned out to be through the adjacent Dolan's pub, and after some great confusion, I found my way through to The Kasbah - they have three music venues on site, but no signposting whatsoever. While I was looking, though, I passed through the dining area at the back of the pub - damnit, I should just have eaten here!

I meandered through to the beer garden, where I followed the sound of live music - that wasn't the Kasbah, but the girl on the door directed me to the black door under the stairs. :-/ Honestly. Could it be more discreet? The girl on the door to that scanned my barcode and gave me an invisible stamp (checkable by UV) and I was in.


More photos (and videos) here. I got a drink, and with all the small tables by the wall occupied, I took a seat at the bar. Unfortunately, all seats were backless stools - which was no good for my bad back! Never mind..

It was perhaps 9.10 when Inhaler finally took the stage - five of them, entering through the crowd. And there was a fair crowd by this time, most standing in the space in front of the stage.


I wasn't the only one taking photos - and I suspect I wasn't the only U2 fan there; I heard Bono's name murmured. They played for about half an hour.. and the verdict? Well, Bono Jr. (centre of this photo) can sing. And they have a good sound. I enjoyed their set - but I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy their music. Not yet, anyway - I'm not hearing anything unique coming from them. And Elijah doesn't have anything like the bravura his dad displayed in the early days. Plenty of well wishers congratulated them as they wended their way out again through the crowd - Elijah passed quite near me, seeming quite blase about it all. I wish them all the best.
I left after that, having no real interest in Touts, and since my back was killing me. Passed a trad music group in the bar on the way out! I fly back to London on Monday night, and on Tuesday, Let's Do This just advertised discount tickets for The Crown Dual, in the King's Head! Well yes please, sign me up! And so now I'm going to that.

On Wednesday, back with the Crick Crack Club! This is a performance by Jan Blake, at King's Place - and da boss having liked a clip of hers that he saw previously, he's taking the spare ticket I accidentally booked. Should be a good night.

And on Thursday, our team has our monthly social. This time, we're off to Tas.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Restaurant: Le Sacré Coeur

Tonight, I was back with Let's Do This (LDT), for another restaurant trial. This time it was French - Le Sacré Coeur - and we were again meeting in The Crown beforehand. These Meetups are proving very handy for my knowledge of London restaurants!

So, as usual, when the time came to leave, I was caught up in doing something. So I left a bit later than ideal - took the Tube, to compensate. So crowded that I had to let two pass, before one came that I could reasonably get onto. Now, the last time I was headed for The Crown, I remember doing the same - and having Google Maps forget my route when I got off, and not being able to find an internet connection..! Fortunately, I had no such problems this time, and it seemed to take so much less time to schlep up the road.





So, we stayed there for one, and chatted convivially. In due course, it was time to head for the restaurant - a charming bistro, where we were shown to a table at the back. And perused a detailed menu:



Lots of starters, lots of mains, lots of changing of minds. For starters, I finally went for the mushrooms stuffed with garlic and topped with cheese. Yum. You could tell straight away that they know their sauces. Others had camembert, escargots, frogs' legs (for the sake of it!).



Main course for a couple of us was beef Bourguignon. Others had steak, or coq au vin, or one of a decent variety of vegetarian dishes. And..? Plates were finished, compliments were uttered, we stuffed ourselves and cleared our plates. Dessert was kind of obligatory, after such a good meal.. I was torn, but went for the lemon sorbet with vodka (Coupe Colonel). Which was excellent. My alternative would have been the chocolate mousse, which a couple of our group had, and which was good enough that they ran their fingers around the bowl so as not to miss any. Such desserts are worth piling on top of an already stuffed stomach. For sheer visual appeal, I'd have to recommend the Café Gourmand that one had, which is a selection of desserts, including an espresso.

Most had a Côte de Rhône to accompany the meal - I was on white. There are two choices for which you can get a carafe, which I did, being the only one - I had the Chardonnay, and perhaps it's all the Virgin wines I've had lately, but I wasn't hugely impressed. However, the complementary digestifs afterwards were most welcome - I had limoncello, for the first time in years. Gorgeous!

Afterwards, in the interest of not walking too far, most of us repaired to The Bull, where our organiser was kind enough to buy a round. And we repaired to the pleasant upstairs level, which we were chucked out of at 11 - we had time to finish drinking downstairs, though.





Back by bus. Tomorrow, I'm back to Ireland for a long weekend - had holiday days left over from last year that I had to use by the end of this month. Well, that's what the system said..! and who am I to argue? I fly back on Monday night, and on Tuesday, LDT just advertised discount tickets for The Crown Dual, in the King's Head! Well yes please, sign me up! And so now I'm going to that.

Next Wednesday, back with the Crick Crack Club! This is a performance by Jan Blake, at King's Place - and da boss having liked a clip of hers that he saw previously, he's taking the spare ticket I accidentally booked. Should be a good night.

And on the 28th, our team has our monthly social. This time, we're off to Tas.

Monday, 18 March 2019

John Wesley's House & Methodist Museum + Film: Maiden

Well, our inventive office - the creative part of it - has come up with another initiative: Monday lunchtime field trips! So today, off we schlepped - just after a hastily gobbled lunch - to the John Wesley House and Museum of Methodism, just down the road.


More photos here. Free to enter - we followed the signs to reception, where we met a lady who directed us to the basement museum. When we asked about a tour, she advised us to "see whether there was anyone there". Well, there was someone behind the desk.. a lady was browsing the exhibits, and he wanted to wait for her to finish, I think. But when we explained that our time was limited - he asked her whether it was ok to start now, and then hopped out from behind the desk to give us the tour himself! Eh, ok..

I can't fault his enthusiasm. He led us first into John Wesley's house, which adjoins the chapel. Starting in the basement, there's another small exhibition that, it turns out, your'e not supposed to photograph! Honestly, I didn't notice that till after I'd taken my first photo. But hey, he didn't say anything - so I kept going. I wasn't using flash, at least.


Narrow steps lead to each successive level - we went through four floors in all, including the basement. Just the thing to work off lunch! An utterly charming building, filled with quirky artefacts such as a writing desk with a hidden drawer (for letters from female fans), a bench with a reversible back, so it could point either way, a bedpan..


The whole way through, we got more of the history of Methodism than, I think, any of our group was interested in - I'm sure nothing would have been too much for the other lady though, who was a Methodist minister. But as I say, the guide's enthusiasm was undeniable, and we got all of this for free! You can only see the house on a tour - so, do as we did and head to the museum to see whether he's available. We were lucky!

We finished in the chapel, a riot of beautiful stained glass, with a gallery of flags to represent the various countries that have adopted Methodism.


And there we left him to answer the more in-depth queries of the minister who had accompanied us on the tour. Very interesting, although I won't be converting any time soon. But isn't it fascinating what hides behind London facades..?

Tonight, I would have loved to go to Betrayal, with Up in the Cheap Seats - but by the time I started looking, cheapest tickets I could find were £84. Not that keen. So, I thought about a film. And as before, soaring ahead at the top of the list was Maiden, a documentary about the British sailor, Tracy Edwards. It's about the time she skippered the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race - their boat was called Maiden. Anyway, not only does the trailer have dramatic shots of high seas, but also an interesting side story about the British press and the things they called them. Because, you know, any group of girls gathered together does excite such schoolboyish "humour" in the press' minds. Closest showing to me was still in the Curzon Bloomsbury, and being in the DocHouse programme, it's nice and cheap. I kept an eye on it all day, but it only showed signs of heavy booking as I was preparing to leave, at which point I booked it.

Arrived 15 minutes early, took my comfortable seat - as it happened, I was the first one there. As advertised, only five minutes of trailers, and we were into it. My, it didn't disappoint!  Dramatic scenes of high seas abound. But more interesting is the human story - Tracy would have been forgiven for not being too fond of men, what with her father dying when she was 10, and her mother remarrying a couple of years later. Her stepfather - as she describes him - was an abusive, violent drunk. She started to play up at school, was suspended 26 times before she was expelled - her mother pleaded for her to be allowed to take her O-levels, which she promptly didn't show up to!

She describes how she fell in love with sailing: but when crews wouldn't take a woman on board - except grudgingly, perhaps, as a cook - she realised that to fulfil her dream of sailing the Whitbread, she'd have to skipper an all-female crew! As she tells it, she wouldn't have had a hope of securing sponsorship, but for the fact that she just happened to know King Hussein of Jordan, who'd always taken an interest in sailing..!

We get to meet the other members of her crew - including the Irish woman. (See, we're everywhere!) Apparently, she met them in a pub in Cork. And we're with them for the whole gruelling journey - it is also funny to see a couple of male journalists of the time reminisce about the reaction to them, and how, as soon as they left Southampton, a book was opened on how long they'd last. Nobody, but nobody, thought they'd even finish the first leg.

Well, they did, of course - third of four boats in their class. It's telling that, while the world's press was just amazed they'd done it, and glad they were safe, they were gutted they'd come third! They did rather better for the rest of it.. With cameras accompanying them all the way, it's a journey as emotional for the audience as it was for them, at the time. And we had to laugh at her mother's reaction, when they become the first British boat in 12 years to win a leg, and she remarks that she cannot believe that the horror that her daughter was has pulled this off! Yep, can't really argue there.

Highly recommended. The single quibble I had with the film was the abrupt ending - they finish the race - to a tumultuous welcome.. and that's that! I had to look at the Wikipedia article about her to find out that the boat was recovered, and is planned to be used again.. the Maiden Factor Foundation has been established in aid of girls' education. You might think that would've been a good PS for the film, eh?

I am keeping tomorrow free, when there's talk about a discussion (with wine) with the design team. And that's the only night I can make.. wasn't going to do anything exciting anyway. Hey, I can always come up with a Plan B though.

On Wednesday, I'm back with Let's Do This (LDT), for another restaurant trial. This time it's French - Le Sacré Coeur - and we're again meeting in The Crown beforehand. These Meetups are proving very handy for my knowledge of London restaurants! Then I'm back to Ireland for a long weekend - had holiday days left over from last year that I had to use by the end of this month. Well, that's what the system said..! and who am I to argue?

I fly back next Monday night, and on the 26th, LDT just advertised discount tickets for The Crown Dual, in the King's Head! Well yes please, sign me up! And so now I'm going to that.

On the 27th, back with the Crick Crack Club! This is a performance by Jan Blake, at King's Place - and da boss having liked a clip of hers that he saw previously, he's taking the spare ticket I accidentally booked. Should be a good night.

And on the 28th, our team has our monthly social. This time, we're off to Tas.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

St. Patrick's Day Big Gig

Today - which is Paddy's Day - for the first time since I came to London, I hit the London Irish Centre! Their Big Gig was headlined by Kíla, who are excellent.

Made it into the office in time to catch up with the Dublin parade, online. Yes, there was one in London as well - goodness knows, I was wise not to head out to that! Apparently, they finished in Trafalgar Square, where there was to be a free party. Now, as I snuggled in the comfort of the office, I marvelled at the downpour outside! Yep, definitely better indoors - ironically, sunny in Dublin too. Well, live long enough, you see it all..

So, I mustered myself out in time for this concert. Start time was advertised as 7. As I made my way towards it, you could hardly miss it - a green glow was visible for some distance.



More photos (and a lot of short videos) here. Inside.. funnily dressed people in the bar, just inside the door. Think sparkly green bow ties. Tricolour flag bunting everywhere. I followed my nose, past the bar and toilet (where the ladies reads "cailíní", rather than the more typical "mná"), to where a gent was standing at the end of the hall. "Kíla?" he asked, helpfully indicating the function room.



Oh my goodness, it's like a GAA function room! And like any GAA function room worth its salt, the bar was open to the side - pity they were understaffed, though! and I had to laugh when I asked for white wine, she started to pour red before I corrected her, then accidentally poured me a glass of rosé. Which she called "rose". Hey-ho, third time lucky..

Funny that it said IN CAPITALS on the ticket that this was standing. 'Coz it wasn't. Well, I was as happy to sit, thanks. First up was Gráinne Hunt, whom I'd never heard of, who entertained us mightily with her solo act of voice and guitar.

After her, we had the small army of kids with instruments that you couldn't fail to notice on the way in. Seems this is an initiative that started some years ago, and brings young practitioners of Irish music together from across the city! Mhuise, it was lovely to listen to. Took me right back. And most of them in GAA jerseys, yet! with a preponderance of green ones. (One of them obviously couldn't lay hands on one, and had wrapped herself in an Irish flag, instead.) They performed some trad pieces, and once they had, we had a break while their chairs were removed from in front of the stage.



They were duly followed by a folk group called The Phoenix Collective (not "Collection" as on the schedule). Hmm. Accomplished musicians, with no sense of passion. I mean, when you've heard The Dubliners' version of songs like The Auld Triangle, or The Irish Rover.. this just sounds very - vanilla. The vegan version of Irish music, I call it. They were encouraging people to dance, but honestly..

The evening was redeemed by the most excellent Kíla, with their wild, psychedelic take on trad rock. Oh yeah. And for them, we danced. You couldn't not.. and the house rocked. Lá 'le Pádraig shona daoibh go léir! Roll on the next one.. as I left, a young trad group was still rocking the bar. Would love to come back here next year. Watch this space..


Tomorrow, I would have loved to go to Betrayal, with Up in the Cheap Seats - but by the time I started looking, cheapest tickets available were £84. Not that keen. So, thinking of a film. And as before, soaring ahead at the top of the list is Maiden, a documentary about the British sailor, Tracy Edwards. It's about the time she skippered the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race - their boat was called Maiden. Anyway, not only does the trailer have dramatic shots of high seas, but also an interesting side story about the British gutter press and the things they called them. Because, you know, any group of girls gathered together does excite such schoolboyish "humour" in the gutter press' minds. Closest showing to me is still in the Curzon Bloomsbury, and being in the DocHouse programme, it's nice and cheap. So, after missing two opportunities to go to it last week - third time lucky? Da boss is still on holiday, so not here to lead me astray..

However, I am keeping Tuesday free, when he's back! See, he was talking about having a discussion (with wine) with the design team. And that's the only night I can make.. wasn't going to do anything exciting anyway.

On Wednesday, I'm back with Let's Do This, for another restaurant trial. This time it's French - Le Sacré Coeur - and we're again meeting in The Crown beforehand. These Meetups are proving very handy for my knowledge of London restaurants! Then I'm back to Ireland for a long weekend - had holiday days left over from last year that I had to use by the end of this month. Well, that's what the system said..! and who am I to argue?

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Play: Home, I'm Darling

Yesterday, I was booked with The London Jazz Meetup, for Janet's Jazz Night with Richie Garrison & Grazina Pukaite, at Jazz Cafe Posk. But you know what? By the time I needed to leave, I was on a roll with work, and really didn't feel like traipsing all the way out past Hammersmith. For something that, to be honest, odds are I'd only be indifferent about anyway. So I cancelled. In fact, realising that I tend to feel that way about this group's Meetups in general, I've now left the group entirely. I don't like going to stuff I'm indifferent about, you know? especially when I have to travel so far for it. Anyway, I got a ton of work done, so am feeling very smug.

Today, I booked - for the first time in ages - with London Social Detours, who had a Plagues, Pestilence, & Pathology Trail. And afterwards, to The George, which is always good. However, this morning, she cancelled, owing to the adverse weather! (To be fair, it is very windy, although the rain has pretty much held off.) Now, she had a plan B, where she was gonna take us to museums and charge us £3 for the privilege. Sorry love, I can go to the museums myself - I cancelled that as well. Payment was supposed to be on the day, so I didn't lose out.

Having a look around for what else was on, I came across Up in the Cheap Seats, who were   headed to Home, I'm Darling, in the Duke of York's Theatre. Well, I had some fun trying to find a decently priced ticket - the venue didn't have any, so I trawled through the resellers. I finally came good with Encore Tickets, with a seat in the very back row! Well, cool - I booked. (By the look of it when I got there, it was completely sold out.) And as it was on a bit later than I'd have had to meet London Social Detours, I went back to bed for a little.

Stopping by the office first - as usual - I microwaved brunch. Which was very nice, except they were testing the blasted fire alarms! So I had that to listen to while I was eating. Never mind, I was on my way out - and that helped me to hurry on my way. Nearly got blown sideways crossing the road, but I made it safely to the theatre, where most of us met in the bar. And I was so glad I'd come - it was great to see people!

My seat was a bit of a clamber, once I got into the Upper Circle:


Mmm yes, fantastic view it was not! although the tall lady sitting in front of me swapped seats with someone shorter at the interval, so it improved. And I have to say, legroom is ok. Now, this is a show about a couple who decide to live by 50s ideals - she quits her job and becomes a stay-at-home housewife, keeping the silverware and taps shining, having his slippers and paper ready for him when he comes home, before his dinner is presented to him. And the stage reflects this idealistic lifestyle, looking like a life-size doll's house, all bright colours and 50s mod-cons. The excellent Katherine Parkinson even opens the front at the beginning, so we can see into the interior! What a shame that people in the back two rows can hardly see anything of the upper floor.. and I heard at the interval that people in the group who were sitting to the left had trouble seeing into the kitchen, where most of the action takes place - especially in the first half. Motto - be careful with sightlines for this play.

Well now, this is a good play! You might predict pretty easily that the 50s ideal isn't going to last - and you'd be right. Sure, she learns to cook, and takes positive pleasure in "cleaning behind things". There's a terrific 50s soundtrack throughout, BTW, and you can see the attraction. (Well, I can't really, because I hate housework.) But the world outside the front door is living quite happily in the present day - and they can't keep it out forever. There's her friend, who doesn't want to do the same, although her husband is keen for her to do so. There's her mother, who is a die-hard feminist herself, and positively ashamed of her daughter! and who has plenty of first-hand horror stories of the 50s to tell her. And there's the question of the mortgage - as we know, you really can't finance a mortgage on just one income, these days.

I can't honestly think of an issue that isn't mentioned in the course of the play, although some are dealt with more thoroughly than others. The contrasts between the 50s and the modern world are constantly explored - hey, in this house, they don't even eat pizza! Feminist themes abound, of course, and it's really interesting to see a young character choose what most feminists would see as a retrograde step. In fact, the first scene of the second half shows how they came to this point - but it is in the second half, of course, that the 50s facade really starts to crumble. Never too serious though, this is excellently played, and I really enjoyed it. Recommended. Running till the 13th.

Afterwards, a small group of us repaired to the Cafe in the Crypt of St. Martin in the Fields! where a few of us had desserts - my chocolate mousse was very nice. And the wine is cheaper - and less insipid - than what I'd had in the theatre. And we chatted while we ate and drank. A lovely time was had by all, in fact!

And tomorrow - which is Paddy's Day - for the first time since I came to London, I'm hitting the London Irish Centre! Their Big Gig is headlined by Kila, who are excellent.