D4D

The choice of a sweary generation ®

Archive for the category “London”

Coming To A Close

This weekend, I saw my final performance of the year – I know there’s only three weeks to go, but still, I’m pretty sure I was seeing stuff ’til later in the year last time round.

This weekend I was at the BBC Radio Theatre (as a plus-one for the friend who’d managed to get the tickets) to see Neil Gaiman recording a programme that will go out on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day.  As it turned out, he’d also brought along some friends, including Mitch Benn, Peter Capaldi, and some refugees (his words, not mine) from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.  It was a good evening and lot of fun to see.  It’ll also be interesting to see what makes the actual broadcast.

The previous weekend, I’d been to see Tamburlaine at the RSC in Stratford for the matinee performance on its final day. I did enjoy it, although some casting choices were a bit odd to me, particularly in the second half, where the same actress is doing two roles – one as the wife of Tamburlaine, and one as the heir of the dead king, aiming to overthrow Tamburlaine.  It’s a credit to her that it was impossible to confuse the two roles as she played them, but it still made things rather more complex and odd than they needed to be.

I’ve already got several theatre visits lined up for next year, but just for now it’s on pause. Which is fine by me.

Daft as a Brush

In an ongoing thread, there are times where I realise I really am a silly sod. This is another of those things.

A fair while back, the Cowboy Junkies (one of my all-time favourite bands) announced they were coming to the UK. It had been a fair while since they’d been here last, and even better, it was happening the weekend after my birthday.  However, that was also the end of the week I was already booked up to spend in Northumberland, which was a Friday to Friday booking.  And they were playing Manchester on the Saturday, and London on the Sunday.

So I figured what the hell, it’ll be a weekend, and booked tickets for both Manchester and London. Well I was up in the area anyway, and the London one was billed as being different to the Manchester one (although that has since changed). So why not? (Other than mileage, of course)  I’d drive over from Northumberland to Manchester on the Friday, stay in a hotel overnight, do the gig on the Saturday night, and then drive home afterwards. Easy.

And then the plan changed a bit. When I saw the play Queen Margaret in Manchester, I realised how painless the journey was by train. So instead I figured I could drive home from Northumberland on the Friday – allowing me to get laundry and so on done in the evening and so on. Then on the Saturday I could get the train up, have lunch somewhere new and fancy that had grabbed my attention, then walk down to the hotel, check-in, drop off bag etc., go to the gig, stay overnight on Saturday, train home on Sunday morning, then down to London for Sunday night.

Yes, I’m an idiot, and an absolute loon. But I cut my mileage by taking the train, and improved my own safety by not driving home from Manchester late on a Saturday night. So that, at least, was sensible…

A Very Very Very Dark Matter, Bridge Theatre

I’ve liked all the films by Martin McDonagh – “In Bruges“, “Seven Psychopaths” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” – but didn’t know until this year that he’s also been a prolific playwright.

(This, it turns out, isn’t unusual – the knowledge of McDonagh’s works seems to be pretty polarising. I haven’t yet met anyone who could blather about both sides of his work – people know either the films or the plays, but rarely both, and are surprised to learn of the other side)

Back in January, it was announced that there would be a new McDonagh play premiering at the Bridge Theatre in London, and on spec I thought I’d book tickets and give it a go. (Still knowing nothing about his plays) The play was called “A Very Very Very Dark Matter” (always a good omen) and the description for it was…

In a townhouse in Copenhagen works Hans Christian Andersen, a teller of exquisite and fantastic children’s tales beloved by millions. But the true source of his stories dwells in his attic upstairs, her existence a dark secret kept from the outside world.

As it turned out, I managed to get tickets for the second performance – previews rather than “proper” performances, but still, second ever one.  Which is pretty good, by anyone’s standards.

On Saturday, that’s where I was.  And it’s a strange old production for sure.  I’m fully aware that I have other friends going to see it still, and I’m not tosspotty enough to spoiler it at all (which makes this a bit harder to write) but it’s a weird, dark, sweary and scabrous affair.

Jim Broadbent plays Hans Christian Andersen as a fairly unpleasant human being – utterly self-centred, but also a quite spectacular idiot – who is taking advantage of the source of his stories. He also goes to visit Charles Darwin Dickens (a regularly repeated joke through the play) who is played by Phil Daniels as an exceptionally sweary (and very funny) Cockney – and who may also be housing a similar source for his stories.

Along the way there’s violence, creepy attics and puppets (and arachnophobes should be aware that one of them is a big spider), time travel, writers, lots of swearies, and general weirdness.  In short, it’s a Martin McDonagh script.

All told, I did enjoy the play – although I did feel that it could’ve been better, and made more of the subject matter it had – but I don’t honestly know that I’d want to see it again…

More (and Less) Walking

The weekend just past is the one where I was supposed to be doing that walked Night Marathon in London.  I failed to complete it last year (as I’ve written about elsewhere) and this year didn’t start it – primarily because I just hadn’t been able to get in the practice and preparation that would’ve made it easily doable, so I’d made the decision to not take it on at the last minute.

So it should’ve been this weekend that I did it, and as it turns out, I’m actually quite glad I made that decision.  First and foremost, the weather was vile, and doing it while being cold and wet really doesn’t appeal.

Additionally, I’ve picked up a vicious cold (I really should stop having quiet days – they totally kill me) and been feeling rougher than a badger’s backside. To top it off, this week also involved a couple of foodie events (although I’d have rethought at least one of those if I’d still been doing the walk)

All told, I’m still (mostly) happy with the choice to not do the walk this year. I’m annoyed with myself for having let the time slip past, and for not doing the training and preparation I could have done.  But there we go, I didn’t do them, and while I probably could have just rocked up and completed it, I wanted to be better prepared this time.

I’m signed up to do next year’s one though, so we’ll see how we go from here to there.  And if I don’t do that one either, then I’ll most likely sack off trying again.

Bo Bech at Bibendum

Last week, Claude Bosi (one of the chefs I follow on Twitter) announced that one of his good friends, Bo Bech of Copenhagen’s Geist would be cooking at Bosi’s restaurant at Bibendum in Michelin House in London for one night only, in support of Bech’s new book, published that day. And I was lucky/early enough to get myself a table.

The event was last night, and it was epic.

Me being me, I turned up a bit early – I’m always happy to sit at the bar or whatever – which meant I also got to go into the kitchen, meet Chef Bech and his crew, and have a quick chat. Pretty impressive in and of itself!

As part of the price of the meal, all diners also got a signed copy of the new book “In My Blood” (which is beautiful, and brilliant) which added to the event as well.

And the food itself was spectacular.  Things that just shouldn’t go together (Duck, Pumpkin and Coffee? Shouldn’t work. Does.)

All told, it was one of the best meals I’ve had – and that potato mash with caviar is definitely the most decadent course! – and it was just spectacular.

So now I need to organise a city break to Copenhagen and go to the place itself.  And there’s a couple of other restaurants there I want to try as well. That could be a very expensive weekend…

Meaty Excesses

Last week was a very bad one food-wise. Not bad food per se, but more just that I was being bad by eating a lot of meat.

On Thursday it was the National Burger Day event down at Hawker House in London, which is something that’s been in my diary for the last three or four years. As usual, it was a good event, I got to see some people I’ve known from previous ones, and also meet some new ones who I hope to stay in touch with.

Then on Saturday and Sunday it was Meatopia down at Tobacco Dock in London – for my fifth consecutive year. Both days of that were great – personally I think I preferred the Sunday, which seemed to have a greater variety of meats and techniques than the Saturday.

All told, I ate a lot. But in some form of compensation, I also covered just over 110,000 steps over the week, amounting to just under 60 miles. In a week.

In short, I’m just an irredeemable idiot, with no real idea of what’s sensible…

Othello and Aristocrats

On Tuesday, as I mentioned before, I went down to London to see Othello at Shakespeare’s Globe. I’d not seen any previous productions of it, and it seemed like a good plan – particularly as it was only £5 for a standing ticket.

All told, it was OK. Standing at the Globe is OK, although the concrete floor is a lot less forgiving than the original’s mud, straw and whatever. I get that that’s less sustainable in modern London, but yeah, a bit tough when standing for near-as-dammit three hours, once you include arriving before it starts, interval, and leaving.

The play itself was good, and I had a decent view of the stage, albeit from the side. Going in with a pretty blank and basic idea of the play, it fulfilled most of that, and was easy enough to follow. I had always had the idea that Iago was a lot more panto-villain with hand-twisting moustachioed evil – although I suspect that’s just how it’s been built up over the years, as a lot of the irony of calling him “honest Iago” wouldn’t work if he were being blatantly manipulative and machiavellian – so it was interesting (and a bit jarring for me) to see the way it’s played by Mark Rylance as a much quieter role, more of a jealous little man, overlooked by those in power, assumed to be a nobody who couldn’t possibly come up with such intrigues. 

But I enjoyed it (although I feel the ending is another of Shakespeare’s more melodramatic dollops) and came out feeling I’d got what I came for.

Then, because I’m an idiot, I’d also booked to see Brian Friel’s “The Aristocrats” in the evening, at the Donmar Warehouse.  Which also conveniently meant I could go and have a quick dinner at one of my favourite places in that area, Chick’n’Sours (Fried chicken and sour cocktails – my kind of place)

So that’s what happened – a walk back from the Globe to Seven Dials, food, and then with plenty of time to kill I sat outside an empty building on Earlham Street, right by Donmar Warehouse, and just relaxed for an hour – which was lovely. It’s a really quiet street – surprising for being in the Covent Garden area – with enough people going past to be interesting, but not chaotic.

And then Aristocrats. Which, in my opinion, was sadly an absolute bag of bollocks. Apparently it’s Chekhov-esque, which apparently means “sod-all happens”. I’d seen generally positive reviews of it, but couldn’t find much to be impressed by in it, myself.  It was good to have seen it, and understand a bit more about the kind of plays I don’t like – which is always a useful reference point, so long as you haven’t spent an absolute shed-load of money to find out you hate it – but it’s definitely not one I’d bother with again.

Mind you, I was in a seat in the second row of the stalls, right by the stage, and it cost me £30.  So it could’ve been an awful lot worse than it was.

All told it was a good day, and not massively expensive. What more could one ask for, really?

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