Friday, 23 October 2009

One More Time / A Celebration / You Know We're Gonna Do It Right

Okay, fine, so I'm alive an everything but haven't written anything here for months. There are a few reasons for this. Primarily, I've been absurdly busy doing the things that I'm supposed to be journalising here (like getting a degree) and this has taken up too much of my time for me to devote any time to a side-project. On top of the degree, I've started learning Japanese properly in a class and everything, which is another time-eater albeit a worthwhile one. The little spare time I do get I tend to try and spend relaxing with friends and keeping on top of the world's current events and that kind of thing.

Since last we spake: I've realised there's no way I can juggle a part-time job as well as the degree with the huge amount of extra-curricular stuff I've taken on board (plus Japanese), so I've had to think about economics a lot lately. Abi and I went off for a short holiday staying with my friend Tino in Alicante over the summer which was amazingly lovely and not the kind of holiday I'd usually take, as we lounged about on the beach, in the Mediterranean and by a pool. Some uni pals and I put on a series of short plays by Harold Pinter at the start of the uni year which went down very well, with some good feedback and lots of ideas to work on. As a sort of follow-up, I'm now directing The Dumb Waiter which goes up next week. It's been a hectic time and I look forward to reading week when I can catch up on some of the more academical stuff that we've been looking at.

A quick word on last night's Question Time- a potential exercise in giving Griffin enough rope to hang himself ended up a depressing example of issue-avoidance and very little actual engagement and debate. Watching it rather put a downer on my night after having attended a very fine party at Percy Manor for Danny's 20th.

Still, work goes on and I'm repledging to start using this again as a way of keeping track of what I'm doing as all I ever do is wander around thinking about what it is I have to do. I miss travel.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Make it happen

I am, of course, still alive. More soon!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Brentford FC- Coca Cola League 2 Champions 2008/09

Because it's nice when faith gets rewarded.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Somewhere I can't be found / My little underground

Been relaxing a bit too much lately, and I've got to cram quite a lot of work into a short space of time. This is the kind of insanely stupid thing I'm really good at doing.

Had plenty of good times over the Easter break and beyond- sophisticated cocktail parties which left my flat full of limes, unsophisticated vomit-soaked parties, a trip to the tremendous London Zoo, hanging a pinata from a tree on Twickenham Green and alarming passers-by by smacking sweets out of it for Mark's 27th, Adil running the London Marathon, catching up with Annie after her six month self-imposed exile to the snowy mountains of France, watching Twin Peaks with Abi, eating plenty, moving bookcases, listening to chilled summer tunes, making an almighty mix CD of said tunes one day before the temperature drops massively and the rain sets in and finishing off the Harry Potter series which I started back in October or so, and have been reading between set books for uni.

Went to the V&A today for London Theatre as the Theatre Museum of Covent Garden has just moved it's exhibits there. After a brief talk from the exhibition's curator, we had a look around. It was weird how the most disparate things under the umbrella of 'performance' all seemed to come together and make sense- a smashed guitar of Pete Townsend's with the account books for a Victorian production of Midsummer Night's Dream next to one of Dame Edna Everidge's hats. It was good stuff, and I liked the museum tunnel that linked the building to South Ken station. Afterwards I nipped into the Japan section to have a look at Samurai armour, a couple of swords and bits and pieces (which served to remind me of museums in Kyoto and Tokyo, particularly the awesome Sword Museum in Shinjuku) before getting horribly lost on the way out and ending up at Harrod's where I decided to forgoe shopping, and jumped on the Piccadilly at Knightsbridge to get back to South Ken and Richmond, where my car was accumulating heavy costs in a rubbish car park.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Yoiya / Ni mugen / Yoiya / Bihai

Oo, oo, just quickly. Had a great Easter break and first week back, been really busy with work and catching up with friends. Wouldn't have it any other way. More detail when I've the time.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

It's a cheeky holiday

I notice that the Japanese restaurant of choice, Makiyaki, has changed it's name and sign. This requires investigation.

A tiring but euphoric couple of days, finishing off The Visit on Thursday with great aplomb before a wobbly night out with the cast and associates in rubbish Twickenham. This meant I had four hours sleep before the warmup and lecture on Friday. Then went over for a BBQ with the YAT folks which was a nice pre-Easter celebration and now I can relax properly for the first time in a while.

The hideous Grand National seems to have made a few people happy, and I've finally caught up on Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe which, while it's smart and definately worth watching, just makes me think that he's having to spell out for a less-astute generation exactly what Chris Morris was saying with far more subtlety, wit and laughs back in 1994.

So, should be a good couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

And days like this / Keep me warm

An excellent, fool-filled day today which started with the smallest warmup turnout yet at around twenty (which of course meant it was an excellent warmup) then an examination of the 'Geography of the Passions' with Mitch before a pleasant sunny lunchtime spent eating delicious butcher-bought baguettes out on the plaza, engaging in all manner of April tomfoolery with Mitch in tow, and loudly singing a song to encourage people to come and see The Visit. The afternoon was spent touching up the problems that had arisen from last night's lengthy dress, before a few of us headed off in the sunshine to Sainsburys to stock up on delicious food before the first night.

I was really really happy with how it went. Awesome day.

Friday, 27 March 2009


The visit to Thorpe Park a few weeks ago (in honour of Asha's birthday) was a crushing disappointment because it's utterly empty. When I went as young child, there was crazy golf, a petting zoo and simple, kindly rides for children and people like me who are cripplingly vertiginous and couldn't even entertain the idea of strapping themselves into some kind of roller coaster. Now, Thorpe Park is a dead zone of twelve or so intense rides, overpriced food and tacky carnival-esque games of skill and whatnot. Wandering around alone after all my chums thought it prudent to wait two hours for a two minute ride, I spent seven pounds on a bucket of pic 'n mix which I don't regret. I reflected on the passing of time then played pinball for ages.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The system has failed you / Don't fail yourself

I'm joyously back online after the laptop has returned healthy and happy from the computer hospital. My laptop only ever breaks at important times when I really need it- the last time was the week I started university and had lots to sort out. This time of course, many things happened, one of which was the appearance of the headline 'PM leads tributes to Jade Goody' which more or less conclusively proves that not a single thing makes sense any more.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Grumble mutter

My laptop's broken which means my Internet checking is being done on the TV via the Wii which is slow and limited in what it can actually do, so I'm cross.

It's been a busy time, recovering from illness and soforth, with a weekend of birthday activities for Asha at a magic show in the amazing Jermyn Street Theatre and a trip to Thorpe Park. I was left very sad by the drunk hecklers in the former and even more sad by the realisation of my old age at the latter, which has changed unrecognisably since I was last there. I'll go into more detail later.

Friday, 27 February 2009


I've been bedridden since yesterday morning after inexplicably contracting some manner of fatal disease (and it really is inexplicable; I was feeling fine on Wednesday night and looking forward to a four-day weekend on account of lecture cancellation only to wake up on Thursday feeling like death).

Nonetheless, I wrapped up warm and, hacking and wheezing all the way, dragged myself out to The Criterion last night to see The 39 Steps, which I'd failed to see when it was at Richmond. The Criterion's a favourite venue of mine- mostly underground with headache-inducing twisty corridors that lead nowhere, I hadn't been there since seeing the Reduced Shakespeare Company years ago. I love the prestigious positioning of a theatre (you step out faced with the neon of Picadilly Circus) juxtaposed with the fact that you sometimes have to strain to hear the dialogue over the rumbling of a passing Tube (reminding me of the good old days at The Camden People's Theatre), a grungy, intimate little venue right in the heart of London that's ornately Victorian and almost a fringe comedy venue.

The show was similarly confused, although not as pleasingly. It was very funny, but seemed preoccupied by the style, so most of the time the joke is that there are only four people, which you've accepted after the first ten minutes. Much like Spamalot I had a nagging feeling throughout that something was wrong, and I'm left wondering *why* I wasn't that keen. Which I can hardly put in an essay. Ah well.

Thursday, 26 February 2009


Every single pancake day, WITHOUT fail, I declare to family, friends and the people around me that "It's pancake day, yes it's pancake day, yes it's p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-pancake day."

The reason I do this is because of Maid Marian and her Merry Men, one of the greatest children's TV series of all time.

The sad thing is, it dawned on me yesterday that Maid Marian was first shown (and watched by me) in 1989, which means that I've now been singing that song once a year for twenty years. I'm incredibly old.

It's also monstrously sad that whenever I enthusiastically show under-privileged chums who never watched Maid Marian the DVDs of the series, they screw up their faces and refuse to get it.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Where do we go from here?

Ages ago, some bloke posted a video of his two sons on Youtube. A baby bites his older brother's finger. For some reason, something like a hundred million people watch this video worldwide. The bemused family are here interviewed by Richard and Judy.

This isn't so much 'car crash' television as it is a car smashing into the side of a moving train which careens over a runway in the path of a plane full of dying children on holiday which crashes into a bank containing an entire country's gold reserves and which was, on that day, the site of a major peace talk between two nuclear superpower governments on the brink of war. And a kitten sanctuary.

Watch the mother's obviously very impressed face after watching videos of morons on the Internet recreating the 'famous' scene, before Richard shoves his finger in Judy's mouth and rolls about on a sofa.

"Where do we go from here?" he asks, afterwards. To ponder that question is enough to send me strolling into the garage with a length of rubber hose.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I've had a tremendous weekend, much of it spent with Joe and Mark, which is why it seems somehow appropriate that today feels like a post-apocalyptic world of survival horror. Everywhere is silent and everyone has disappeared. Very exciting and cold.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

"Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to discover that he had been transformed into a giant cockroach." Nah, it's too good.

The Bees' nine match unbeaten run comes to an end. Grr. A repeat viewing last night has confirmed that Wall E was my film of 2008, a year in which I saw more new films at the cinema than any other. And Okami is ace.

It's been a mental week, and a funny time in general over at uni. After the assessments we had a week of films. After Closer was Glengarry Glen Ross, which was bloody brilliant, but I'll have to see it again as the whole audience was jabbering away and I could hardly hear a thing.

Next up was Oh! What a Lovely War. Fortunately the people who had turned up for no reason buggered off and people who actually wanted to watch the film could enjoy it. It's an interesting adaptation; while the musical can't visually realise the grit and mud and blood, the film is able to, making it seem more poignant somehow. The genius use of Brighton pier and the image of the golden age of the grand British day out was cinematically pleasing- I think Attenborough used something similar recently in a film of Joseph, setting it in a school. In a funny way it reminded me of the film of Pink Floyd The Wall and I can't now remember why. It did definately serve to poke the national blind spot I think we have concerning the Great War.

After that was the utterly superb Licking Hitler- again mostly unheard thanks to the audience participation, but thought-provoking (the morality of propaganda is always fascinating) and brilliantly acted. It did, however, make me want to watch Where Eagles Dare again. Then we had the Shakespeare Retold adaptation of Much Ado, which was far superior to the hateful play. I've borrowed the DVD off a chum to watch the rest of them.

Last week was manic. One week to devise a performance, our stimulus being Amerika by Kafka. Intense physical work with the group every day, constantly finding ways to stage set pieces, places, journeys, chases, it was quite exhausting. All the groups performances were successful and very impressive. The Legendary Mitch guided us well and I'm really looking forward to working with him over the next semester. And now it's all over, and I've got two weeks to read and relax in my BIG CHAIR, after finishing off the YAT Drama Festival on Friday.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

End of an error

I was going to do a live blogging update regarding the progress of Obama's inauguration, but I was too busy eating a bowl of absolutely delicious pumpkin ravioli and watching the ceremony on the laptop. I can't emphasise enough how good the ravioli was, and in years to come, when small wide-eyed children tug on my sleeve and ask me what I was doing when Obama became the US president, I will wistfully look back on that ravioli and shed a tear in memory of how delicious it was. I'd go so far as to say that just looking at a picture or video of Obama, hearing about his progress on the news, or even just hearing his name will make me yearn for some more ravioli.

I'll be sure to offer him some if I ever get the chance to meet him.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

And now a look at some of your work in... The Gallery

Like any sane child of the eighties, I *did* once write in, with my best handwriting, to Hartbeat asking for a fact sheet on how to make something or other.


I'll do a non-death post sometime soon (providing of course that no more of my childhood heroes kick the bucket this week).

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Be seeing you.

I'm mortified.

You were never just a number to me, Number Six.

Monday, 12 January 2009


How heartening. You'll have to excuse me while I double-lock my front door.

In a bit of an odd limbo-time at the moment between semesters. Next week we're working towards making a piece with the legendary Mitch, while this week we've got a schedule of films based on plays to watch in the mornings. Today's was Closer, which was okay.

I've not seen it performed (although I may read it later on as I've still got Bill's copy, apologies there), and like a lot of films based on plays the writing's really the star. That said, when translated to film the writing doesn't sit well in the all-too natural setting. I also felt it so removed from any kind of reality that it was difficult to get engaged with any of the characters. I smirked at a scene where Jude Law steps out of a glamourous art exhibition and raises his arm to catch a gleaming black cab. It's like Nichols is trying to reinvent London as Sex and The City's New York. It doesn't work when you know the place; London will never be that, and shouldn't be portrayed as so. Funnily enough, Sex and The City's New York is similarly devoid of truth, with the writing being the key thing there too.

I remember when I started working as an extra and a boom-op in early 2005 seeing posters for Closer from a train rolling out of Victoria to get to Chatham for 7am and pondering about how disasterously distant the finished product in film is from the reality of the making. In the theatre you're there in the space where the work is. A film can go anywhere (I remember feeling something similar watching a video of a Las Vegas Britney Spears concert when I was sitting in a restaurant in Mongolia). The world of Closer is just so distant (fnark) that it's difficult to care about.

Marber's a good writer though, and I'd love to see the play. I still think his better work was Peter O'Hanraha-Hanrahan.

Friday, 9 January 2009

The Sun! The Sun! The Sun!

Gah, these crazy ideas, sometimes they just plain *work*.

Very happy with our Making Theatre assessment; much love for the group and thanks to the audience who went along with what we were doing and made it work. A big weight lifted.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The only solution to this intense cold.

I'm listening to The Chinese Democracy, and it's probably no coincidence that Hell is freezing over outside (taking my car with it). I'm sort of enjoying it so far, but was this really worth the ten year wait and endless blithering? I remember being excited about seeing them at the Docklands in 2001 or so, but monumental weirdo Buckethead got an aneurysm and the gig was cancelled. We'd constructed a really elaborate plan to get press passes as well, involving a fraudulent Guns N' Roses fanzine from Uzbekistan which we claimed to write for.

It's 2009, and things are approaching returning to normal. I've an exciting new kitchen filled with state-of-the-art appliances I don't know how to use, my Christmas visitors have returned home (BACKGROUND NOTE: while Annie is away teaching rich people how to slide down snowy hills with sticks, I was looking after her pet geckos when nobody else would be around to), it's REALLY cold, I've written my first essay in six-and-a-bit years and work ploughs ahead with our assessment. We're doing something very odd and rather interesting.

Christmas was *lovely*.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Ohaiyo gozaimasu


Just the best year ever.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Bring us some figgy pudding

Christmas checklist:

[X] Have early mini-Christmas at a chum's place with gift exchanges and cheer and listen to Haddaway endlessly (watch Night at the Roxbury)

[X] Tidy and clean flat to unhealthy degree

[ ] Look forward to grandmother's arrival

Of all the many Christmas songs that could be sung at this time of feasting and celebration at the birth of the tiny baby Jesus, once, Pink Floyd's Merry Xmas Song (a one-off radio recording in the sixties on John Peel's show) is the one that I'll be lustily belting from my car as I drive past Oceana with the windows down howling like a banshee at the drunk, vomiting idiots in Santa hats.

#Cheerful faces wreathed in smiles
Can see him coming for miles and miles
As he passes by he'll catch your ear
With, "Merry Christmas, guys. And a happy new year"

Turkey and sausages and Christmas pud
"Have another helping, John"
"Oh, I don't think I could"#

Saturday, 20 December 2008

I was later apprehended on Space Mountain

Saw Spamalot on Wednesday night. Not entirely sure why I didn't like it.

Just had a thoroughly bizarre morning which culminated in my failing to see The Tempest at Ham House when I thought it was on at one-thirty instead of one. Dolt. I wandered into the room afterwards to have a look around and was ushered out by one of the staff, and confusedly walked home along the river.

I also underwent a barrage of suspicion when I attempted to buy some heavy-duty drain cleaner at the hardware shop.

On the plus side, thanks to the sterling efforts of Abi and some bandanas, my bathroom is very very clean. Now the living room will follow as the Kitchen Of Destiny nears completion.

Going out tonight to celebrate the return of Mark from the bleak northern wastes.

P.S. Abi is cool.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

T'would be too tedious to repeat

A superb final lecture at uni today before the Christmas break dragged me seven-and-a-half years back to my sole visit to the National Student Drama Festival in Scarborough. We were looking at difficult-to-stage scenes from various plays (including the famous 'pursued by a bear' direction) and one of them was the beheading scene from Judith, which I'd seen at the NSDF back in Easter 2001. It was probably that week in Scarborough which put me off ever wanting to become a drama student (although, in fairness, alongside some dreadful plays and amidst the sweaty throngs of horrible, horrible drama students *ptooie*, I was properly introduced to live physical theatre which ultimately led me to where I am now, so swings and roundabouts I suppose).

Just spent the evening back at uni seeing part of the Shakespeare Festival, with three Shakespeare snippets in the theatre. I was terribly disappointed, largely due to the quality of the performances. The first piece, a well-crafted clowning ensemble of Midsummer Night's Dream's rude mechanicals was the best, even if some of the characters lapsed into dull stereotypes (the primadonna Bottom, or the lion with stagefright, both overdone and mishandled). The next was an snippet of King Lear, which was fascinating visually and initially had me very interested as I don't know the play at all. Quickly, though, the performers started to irritate me and my attention wandered. The same with the final piece, a maritime-themed telling of Pericles, without enough of a maritime theme or confident performances (bar Pericles himself).

I thought back to Destination GB which I saw there last week, a devised piece performed mainly by friends and directed by my tutor. The reason I felt it hard to judge was because I feel like I know the performers too well. Seeing the shows this evening with a completely fresh eye (I didn't know anyone in it or anyone involved, except for, I assume, Al and Paul in the theatre) had me wondering whether it's almost impossible to properly judge work within the confines of the university drama community and whether frequent invitations for external audiences (outside of the cast's friends and families) are the only way to get a subjective view of the work. I felt every foot-shuffle and lifeless face and (what I felt to be) misunderstanding of the text by the actors and I wondered if I would have felt as strongly had it been my friends and peers (and indeed colleagues) that I was supporting.

Another thing came up which rather interested me. The evening was sold to me (I felt) as one event, but it very much seemed to be three seperate plays and companies to the extent that the companies who had already performed would join us in the audience afterwards. When I was about twelve, on holiday in Guernsey, we went to see an outdoor production of A Comedy of Errors in the awesome castle in St Peter's Port. It had the convention of the actors actually playing Shakespearian performers putting on a show, so beforehand we had knife juggling, firebreathing and so on. It was extremely well done, and immediately afterwards, as the audience was wandering off, one of the actors had come out into the crowd to see his friends. "That was great!" his friends were telling him, before he replied, in front of all the people who'd just seen him, "Nah, it was crap."

I kind of feel that you have a bit of a responsibility in the theatre to make sure that the theatrical experience (which a vast majority of people don't get very often) extends beyond what happens on the stage between when the lights go down and when they come up. I loathe hanging around in the bar after shows, and always find it disconcerting to see a performer immediately after their show's over. Not least because this evening a friend of one of the actors was having a heated argument with the girl running front-of-house regarding a refund over some tickets for friends who hadn't shown up. It was very odd and ultimately it's all been a bit unsatisfying.

STILL, getting some semester feedback tomorrow and hopefully going to see The Tempest with puppets at Ham House at the weekend (it'll be the second time I've seen it done with puppets) as well as seeing Spamalot tomorrow night and then hopefully a night out with the drama lot from uni.

Kill all hippies!

Monday, 15 December 2008

A Spaceman Came Travelling

My mini-absence is hereby explained by the fact that I've been working hard on my final assessment of the semester which went off without a hitch today. Then we had drinks and disgusting chocolates (bought from Woolworths). It's been a very tiring time and I'm relieved that it's all done and that Christmas is on it's way.

Had to bid a sad tata-for-now to Annabel whose commitments have piled up to the point where she's had to duck out. Gah.

Meanwhile, people are hurling shoes at George Bush. I can't condemn this, but I worry that this may just be the tip of the iceberg in a spate of clothing attacks on public figures. Next thing you know it'll be jumpers pushed into the beaming face of Rolf Harris, and that, sirs, I will not tolerate.


Would you force a knitted jumper down Rolf Harris' gullet?

[] Yes, I would

[] No, I would not

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

I recognise / Myself in every stranger's eyes

I'm starting to feel like it's the end of term, which is weird because I haven't had an 'end of term' for six and a half years. I've got lots of stuff on and lots of things to do, and in many ways I won't feel like the holiday has arrived until the end of January when the YAT project I'm in is done and performed. Then, and only then, will I be responsibilityless. And then the next semester starts.

Work continues apace on our assessment, as a strong idea with plenty of scope for interesting work develops, while I've got loads of things to put in my essays. The problem, as ever, is actually getting around to *doing* it, so that can be my pre-new year's resolution.

Went to see a show at uni this evening performed mostly by the post-graduate teaching assistants. I'm sort of reserving judgement on it for the moment for a reason that I'm reserving talking about.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Well I didn't read the last page / You thought of me at that final stage

I saw two absolutely astonishing things this weekend.

The first was on Friday night when I went to see a showcase of work by students at Rambert's St Margaret's school. The show was a packed ninety minutes of very short dance pieces (some of them works-in-progress, I suspect) ranging from classical costumed ballet to things more akin to physical theatre and maybe even standup comedy. I love dance and was frequently speechless by some of the performers. This spurred me to think about returning to my contemporary evening classes at Rambert in Chiswick and gave me a lot to think about regarding what I really honestly think physical theatre is.

The other was the Korean film Oldboy. You should probably see it too.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Catch you later, Bill and Ted

I think I hurt my foot a little with some vigourous hopping during today's warmup. Ian's warmups are sure to become the stuff of legend.

I'm ever-so busy, don'tcha know? This evening I watched Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure for the first time in ages and found that it's still the indisputable classic it always was. Lots of good work getting done at university, with assessments and essays coming up, and more orchestra work today with more exciting and varied instruments. Good stuff.

I've also been perusing a data DVD filled with photos from all the productions I've worked on with YAT this year, which has been an absolute treat. I really must wibble on at length here some time about how Royal Hunt of the Sun was the best thing I've ever done. I'm sure you can't wait.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Kitchen Sink Drama

Thunderously tired after a batshit week and a physically demanding day (but isn't that the point?)

I'm finally getting a new kitchen put in, replacing my tired old dead kitchen which has been untouched since around 1969. I'm not making this up.

Thing is, this means that most of my home and posessions are currently under a thin layer of red dust, which is most tiresome. I've also got no kitchen, so I'm eating out of boxes or in other people's houses, or taking out which is expensive. So it's a hectic time.

On the plus side, I had a delicious sandwich from a brilliant local butcher, and an interesting chat with some of the guys on another 'pathway' of the drama course, which was nice. Plus we had lots of fun with makeshift musical instruments in the afternoon.