Monday, 28 February 2011

The New Bus For London Arrives @ The London Transport Museum

A life-size 3D mock-up up the Mayor's 'New Bus For London' is on show from today at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. It will remain at the museum for three months so the public get plenty of opportunity to get a good look at its sleek new design (although it incorporates an open rear platform, the much-loved feature of the old Routemaster).

March Mad Hatter's Ball @ Bussey Building, Peckham This Coming Saturday

Broken Records, Liquid Records, Tribal Vision and Fluorotrash will be hosting the March Mad Hatters Ball, this Saturday, 5 March, at the Bussey Building on Rye Lane in Peckham. The venue has three rooms where the music on offer will range from Liquid Drum & Bass and Dubstep to Progressive House, Filthy Electro, mind-bending techno and much more in between.

Miles Dyson, one of the biggest names in electro-house, and the man behind some of the biggest club hits over the last four years, will be heading up the tunes in the main 'Broken Room'. In support will be a host of festival favourites including Eat Static – Merv Pepler DJ Set, Tom Real - one half of techno duo Disco Of Doom, Brighton’s incredible Atomic Drop Live and many others. In the 'Liquid Lounge, Freestyle Groove Electronica will feature, and there will be lush exotic beats in The Rocking Bedouin Chillout room. To add to the excitement of the night the whole venue will be dressed with visuals by Magiclantern, a light show from Fossil Optics and decor by Pieman, Natzan and Kinky Pixie, and there'll even be fire-eaters!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Animal Kingdom - Movie Review

Last night we went to see 'Animal Kingdom', the new Australian film from director and writer David Michôd.

Set in the seedy criminal underworld of urban Melbourne the film opens with the central character 'J' sitting passively on a sofa next to his mother who has just died from an overdose. From here he is propelled into the bosom of his extended family who vie for control of his life with a well-meaning detective, played by Guy Pierce.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Sunset Over The Wharf

Nipping over to Canary Wharf to visit the cinema earlier this evening (more on that later) I captured this particular scene, of a DLR train passing over the bridge between Heron Quays and Canary Wharf stations... breathtaking!

Pie, Mash And Art In... Deptford

It's always exciting to visit a new part of town and come across surprises - London is a mine of hidden treasures, believe me.

Today I was south of the river in Deptford to have a look around, and I came across equally mundane and unusual things. Starting with the mundane then, you might be surprised to hear that with all the years in London that I have under my belt I've never visited a 'pie and mash shop' before. Well all that changed today when we walked through the door of one of the two on the high street, Manze's, which has its proud slogan, "Meal in a moment", painted on the window outside. Given the very old green and white tile decor and plain wooden benches my guess would be that this establishment has been on this spot for many, many years - the one across the road boasts that it has been in business for over 140 years, and I doubt Manze's is any younger! If you don't know what to order when you go to a restaurant, a pie and mash shop makes a refreshing change - the menu in this one goes as follows; one pie and one mash, two pies and one mash, two mash and one pie, and finally two mash and two pies (if you're feeling very hungry). The pie in question is filled with mince beef and made on the premises in an open kitchen in the back of the shop. Where there is a little variety its in what you put on top of your meal - gravy, liquour and something else that looked like a butter and herb sauce. So, if you've ever been a bit scared at what you might find inside one of these establishments I hope I've allayed your fears - I'm sure one of the few shops that remain across London would welcome your business. They're very cheap places to eat too, by the way...

Friday, 25 February 2011

Earlier in the week Annie Mole and I were invited along to a get-together organised in central London by to allow their hosts to mingle for the evening.

Described as the grown-up version of 'couch-surfing', allows people to let out their spare rooms to visitors on a schedule that is convenient for them, and without the hassle that comes with running a regular business (under the current tax rules, hosts can earn just over £4000 per year without having to declare as taxable income). In addition to the crashpadder site itself, hosts can also have their room listed on Craigslist, Gumtree and elsewhere too. One of the ladies that we spoke to at the event told us that she lets out her spare room at odd times throughout the year when she isn't looking after international language students and that hosts can remove their listing whenever it suits them, if they've got family staying or are going on holiday for example.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Laura Veirs @ The Union Chapel - A Review

Earlier in the week we were over at the Union Chapel, to see Laura Veirs on the last date of her European tour, dubbed 'The Hall of Flames'.

The gig started with Alex Guy, a long-term collaborator of Laura's, who mixes layers of viola tones, bounces and scrapes to accompany her gentle voice in a series of folk-related tunes. She's the perfect foil for Laura's more complex arrangements which were to come later. Sam Amidon was up next, who I've not heard before - a tall, rangy singer (a Texan would be my guess) with that peculiar reedy voice that seems to be confined to male folk singers from the south, his set consisted of traditional songs clearly selected for their contrasting humour and pathos. I note he has a new album out, 'I See The Sign', which I think I might pick up soon - it will make a nice contrast to the heavily produced stuff that forms most of my music collection!

Fantastic Factology in the Olympic Park

As you will know, new parklands are being created in the Lower Lea Valley which will be part of the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games. As part of that process, the Olympic Delivery Authority has commissioned local artists and designers, The Klassnik Corporation, Riitta Ikonen and We Made That to create features for the new Queen Elizabeth Park.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Win £10,000 Worth of Prizes - The Yell Golden Ticket Competition

To coincide with the launch of their new smartphone apps on iPhone and Android, are running the 'Yell Golden Ticket' competition, which has a massive £10,000 worth of prizes up for grabs!

The competition is easy to enter - using either the Yell App (which you'll find in the app store on your iPhone, or in the market for Android owners) ,or all you have to do is track down a vinyl copy of 'Pulse & Thunder' (a 90s dance classic from Dave V Lately) in one of your local independent music stores, photograph yourself holding the record sleeve and then upload it to the Facebook page. Ten copies have been hidden around the country - I don't have any inside information but my experience tells me that if you're in London you should probably start off with the stores in and around Berwick St, which are well known for stocking obscure titles - I've found the most weird and wonderful stuff in the Sister Ray stores before now, from small circulation early Elbow singles to Japanese remixes of Dead or Alive albums! If you're not lucky enough to grab that £10,000 first prize all is not lost, because there is also a 55" 3D Sony TV up for grabs, as well as a surround sound system, decks, mixing lessons and more.

In addition to talking about the competition, I've also been asked to try out the Yell app itself and, having downloaded it to my Android phone, I have to say that I am impressed. I already use a few location-based apps on my phone - Qype and Google Places, so I wasn't expecting to get a better experience using yet another one. However, it turns out that the Yell app actually has some distinct advantages. Qype just deals with restaurants, bars and clubs, and Places' only has a few more categories than that. In contrast, Yell has absolutely masses and masses of choices - you can search from local florists to pet shops, or even solicitors to driving schools. Once you've found the place that you want, you can then click through for their address and phone number and then look at a very useable map that will even give you directions to find your way there.

If you decide to enter the competition I wish you the very best of luck and, even if you don't, give the new Yell app a try - I think you'll like it!


Golden Ticket

Pulse & Thunder

Day V Lately

Sponsored Post

"Shoulder of Mutton Field" - A History of Butchery In Camden...

From time to time I get rather strange requests to review things for the blog, and this one just about takes the biscuit, or perhaps that should be 'takes the beef'.

Nottingham University Press have been kind enough to send me a copy of "Shoulder of Mutton Field - The retail butcher's trade in Camden", by Des Whyman. Now I'm a big fan of the rise and fall of retail institutions - I'm on, which records the demise of American malls, all the time - so I opened up the book with a very open mind.

The Westminster Dragon

When I was out with the camera earlier this week I spotted this creature hovering over Westminster Abbey - looking at Google Maps it appears to be on top of a building that extends south next to the Abbey's cloister. I've struggled to find out any details about this beautiful stylised mythical beast online - does anyone know what it signifies, or who the artist might be?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The New York Bakery Breakfast Club Presents Grease... at 8am!

On Thursday 24 March, at 8am, the New York Bakery Co will be presenting a 20 minute excerpt of the award-winning Grease musical at its home in the Piccadilly Theatre, and accompanying it with a bagel breakfast.

If you're a fan of musicals (and an early riser) you'll be able to see the cast perform Grease Is The Word, Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin' and You're the One That I Want, plus a special finale. Not only is this early morning performance a first for the West End, but the show goes on tour very soon so it will be one of your last chances to catch the musical in London.

All you have to do to get hold of two tickets for this special show are email [email protected] to secure your seats. Despite being very bleary-eyed at that time in the morning I will be there, so if any blog readers are also coming along let me know - I might pay for a few strong coffees around the corner beforehand!

Congestion Charge Avoiding Fiat 500 Twin Air

I've just come across the video on YouTube of the new Fiat 500 Twin Air, which has the lowest-emission petrol engine in the world, and thus gets a 100% rebate on the London congestion charge. It shares this distinction with a few other vehicles (the full list is here) but it does have the advantage of being a tiny little car, which is ideal if you insist on driving around in central London (not that I advocate that idea you understand - personally I prefer the tube or shank's pony when I'm in the West End, and cars are the main reason that we don't have a thriving cafe culture in the centre of town if you ask me).

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Big Chill Presents 'History of Hip Hop' This Saturday

This Saturday, the 'Big Chill Presents' returns for its first outing of 2011 and launches a brand new residency with the on-demand radio platform Mixcloud who will be kicking things of with an event titled 'History of Hip Hop' Led by a very special guest DJ from Ninja Tune, there'll be a a host of DJs on the decks with sets from the past, present and future of Hip Hop.

Holy Radioactive Simpson Superhero!

There are some odd things going on in London at the moment!

Out and about on a stroll this lunchtime I came across this guy, a nuclear protester outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). He wasn't able to engage anyone in conversation due to his mask so he was just waving at passersby. I got a superhero pose and a thumbs up from him. How odd! If you're curious about what his particular issue is, the slogan painted on the banner at his feet said "Nuclear Power Is Not The Solution!" with a website address of (not the catchiest of web addresses!) that looks to be the home of some quite active protesters.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

What's In A Dane?

With the Olympics coming up, the main roads leading up to Stratford have been sprouting new high-rise housing developments for a few years now. However, for whatever reason some plots have failed to attract the attention of developers.

So it is with the factory complex belong to the Dane Group of Companies which sits at the far end of Stratford High St from the town proper. As far as I can tell it doesn't appear to be functioning as a business any longer given its state of repair and nothing's going on at the site in terms of demolition or construction - which in this particular case might be a good thing because of a particularly odd cultural treasure that it contains. Witness the mural that sits out in front of the main building - from the design I'd say this is a 1960s piece but I'm happy to be contradicted. It's a Great Dane - get it?

Friday, 18 February 2011

Martina Cole's 'The Graft' @ Theatre Royal Stratford East - A Review

Last night we went to see the new stage adaptation of Martina Cole's novel, 'The Graft', at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Cole has become notorious for her swathe of popular novels that deal with criminality and the seedier side of life so even though I've not read the novel in question I had some idea of what to expect, but I don't think I was fully prepared for the performance that unfolded on stage...

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Hilton Winter Sale Competition Winner Announcement

I'm very pleased to be able to announce the winner of the competition to win a £200 Hilton Worldwide hotel voucher to coincide with their ‘Any Weekend, Anywhere’ Winter sale, which offered up to 50% off rooms booked up until 31 January.

The winner, whose encyclopaedic knowledge was evidenced by the fact that she included a ‘fun fact’ against every correct answer, is @Bev_Metallica. Well done Bev! I should also mention some of the other notable competition entries which provided some fascinating facts about London:

The £7m Fitzroy Square Squat

As I was in the area at lunchtime today, I thought I'd share some pictures that I took of 34 and 35 Fitzroy Square, a house recently bought by Guy Ritchie for a cool £7m, but which since Tuesday has been occupied by a group of squatters. They've set up a blog, at, where you can read about this group of people who have been occupying several of the buildings in the area for some months now... it looks like they're currently in the process of setting up a series of workshops, film screenings and lectures to take place in the building over the next few days. Their Twitter feed here has more...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Take A Flying Start With British Airways and Comic Relief

British Airways have teamed up with Comic Relief to run a great competition that will see 75 lucky winners travelling on a flight which aims to claim a Guiness World Record for the "Highest Stand-Up Comedy Gig in the World". They will be wined, dined and entertained by comic legends Dara O'Briain, Jack Whitehall and Jon Richardson at 35,000 feet!
The flight kicks off a new campaign that British Airways are running in conjunction with Comic Relief from this year, 'Flying Start', which aims to improve the lives of children at home and abroad who are living in difficult situations. You'll be able to donate to the campaign through onboard collections by BA cabin staff, through Travelex foreign currency booths at UK airports, as well as online. There'll also be opportunities to give on Red Nose Day, which this year falls on 18 March.

No 10's Latest Appointment - Larry The Tabby Cat

After a rat was seen scurrying along in the background of a BBC report being filmed from outside No 10 Downing St recently, a new member of staff has just joined the Prime Minister's team in the form of Larry, a four-year old tabby cat from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Larry follows a great tradition of cats living in the Prime Minister's home, including 'Rufus of England' in the 1920s during Ramsay MacDonald's term, and the famous Humphrey who occupied No 10 from 1989 to 1997. Apparently he's not the friendliest of cats, having scratched some news reporters earlier today who were attempting to hold him during their reports, but I'm sure that nasty streak will prove to be an asset when he's chasing down rodents! I can't imagine what the journalists were doing to him, because he certainly looks rather soft and cuddly to me...

New Doctor Who Experience Materialises at Olympia Two!

Sci-fi fans will be excited to hear that the new Doctor Who Experience will be opening its doors at the Olympia Two venue in Kensington from today!

Walking through the exhibition space you'll be taking part in a self-contained Doctor Who adventure featuring the current Doctor Matt Smith, which will have fantastic special effects, sets from the TV series (including the TARDIS console room itself!) and an amazing 3-D finale.

The exhibiton will also include lots of paraphenalia from the Doctor's earliest incarnation in 1963 right up to the present day, so expect to see TARDIS sets from the David Tennant and Peter Davidson eras, the recent Pandorica Box, several versions of the Doctor's arch enemy, the Daleks, as well as Cyberman, Silurians and many more! Steven Moffat, the show's current Executive Producer, has this to say about the new exhibition;

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Strindberg's Apartment @ The New Diorama Theatre

A couple of months ago I visited London's newest theatre, the New Diorama in Euston, to see David Benson in his award winning portrayal of Kenneth Williams, 'Think No Evil Of Us - My Life With Kenneth Williams'. This post is an update to tell you about their new season of performances, 'Getting Connected' (this season being named in a tribute to the fact that it took months after their opening to get a telephone and internet connection to the premises!)

There are 12 productions coming up this season from now until May, with the first being the World Premiere of Simon Reade's adaptation of 'Strindberg's Apartment', presented by the faction theatre co. Following on from their last performance at the venue, Schiller's 'The Robbers', this time they are presenting five of Strindberg's short stories, taking place simultaneously in an ingenious 360 degree set based on the blueprint of an apartment block.

The KETTLE® Ridge Dodgem Derby with Ben Collins

This one's a bit commercial I suppose, but I thought that you might find it a fun read and it provides a very interesting opportunity for car fans...

Ben Collins (one of the ex-Stigs from Top Gear) is currently in training to take part in the first KETTLE® Ridge Dodgem Derby. He's been touring London landmarks in a customised vintage dodgem as part of a challenge to crisp and car fans to bring a convoy of dodgems to London.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Gnomeo & Juliet - Movie Review

As part of our early Valentine's Day celebrations we went to see Gnomeo and Juliet on Saturday evening, the new animated family film directed and penned by Kelly Asbury (also responsible for directing 'Shrek 2' and  an artist on other animated classics such as 'The Nightmare Before Christmas', The Little Mermaid' and others)

Now you could be fooled right at the beginning that what you're about to get is a straight-to-animation version of the Shakespeare classic. A gnome in front of a stage curtain solemnly starts to intone the monologue from the beginning of 'Romeo and Juliet', but soon enough he is unceremoniously removed from the stage and the fun begins!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Battersea Park

On Friday I went for a walk around Battersea Park, the large 200+ acre park on the south side of the Thames between the Albert and Chelsea Bridges.

It's a beautiful place,  and very quiet and peaceful - at least on weekdays it seems. It has a lot of unique features which sets it apart from many of London's other municipal parks. For one thing, it hosted several pavilions during the Festival of Britain in 1951 when it was renamed as the "Pleasure Gardens", which even included a large funfair. While most of the buildings that were constructed for the Festival have long since been removed, the ornamental fountains from that period remain (although they're not operating at the moment - I guess they'll start them up again in the Spring).

Framing The View

Just as a little Sunday treat, I thought you might enjoy this photograph that I took yesterday when we visited the Thames Barrier Information Centre, of the barrier framing a view of the O2 and Canary Wharf...

Dinosaurs Unleashed @ O2 Arena

Opening on 18 February, 'Dinosaurs Unleashed' brings a whole host of prehistoric animals to the O2 arena.
At this new exhibition you'll find 22 life-size animatronic dinosaurs, a computer-generated aquarium full of strange species, fossils and more than 40 information panels to help children and adults learn more about our prehistoric predecessors

Saturday, 12 February 2011 - Lost London

I'm sure this has happened to you online before - every once in a while you stumble across an absolute treasure-trove completely by accident.

That's what happened to me a few nights ago when I discovered the forum. It's a place where literally thousands and thousands of people gather to discuss architecture (heavily featuring the aforementioned skyscrapers), urban development, infrastructure and other issues. You could drill down into the London forum if you wanted to, where you'll find the Olympic 2012 section (with over 14,000 comments across 61 subjects) or look at news and debate about our city's new high-rise developments - places such as the Shard and the Heron Tower feature heavily, for example.

Illumini Presents Electro-Late @ Museum of London

I'm a big fan of Jane Webb and her Illumini events (the Crypt-Mas grotto was one of the oddest art installations I have ever seen!) and on Friday 11 March she will be teaming up with the Museum of London to bring "Electro-Late" to life. Expect an evening of to create a night of electrifying performances, visuals and hands on activities that will bring the museum's Galleries of Modern London to life. There'll be magic from Deryck Flowers, juggling, a strange live stone statue (played by Pawel Fesyk), glowing dance and hula hoop performances, robots, projections, interactive graffiti and more.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Valentines For Lonely Hearts

A friend reminded me yesterday that as there are lots of single people in London I should do a Valentine's post for them. I know I mentioned an event in my Valentine's roundup last week aimed at unattached people, but there are a few things going on next Monday that might interest you if you're looking for a way to meet someone special in a nice atmosphere without too much pressure!

First off, the new Zizzi in Central St Giles is imposing a couples ban on Monday 14 February, and hosting a night dedicated to all of the singles in the city. Teaming up with the new online dating and social networking site,, which aims to match people based on their musical tastes they will be inviting down some of their members to enjoy the evening festivities, which include live music, unlimited free canapés, prosecco between 7-8, wine tasting and the chance to meet new people. Any other single Londoners who don’t want to spend the night surrounded by loved-up couples can also attend. If you think that might be the evening for you, can I recommend booking in advance so that you don't turn up on the door to find yourself dissapointed! Just call the restaurant on 0207 240 8447 to get yourself a seat on the night.

Last Chance To See A' Exhibition with Remi/Rough and Steve More

A few weeks ago I mentioned the new exhibition highlighting the collaboration between graffiti artists Remi/Rough and Steve More at the Blackall Studios in Leonard St, A'. They've now extended the show until today so if edgy art is your thing then you need to get your skates on! You can check out the exhibition's Facebook page, and they've also uploaded an introduction to the exhibition for you to take a look at if you aren't able to make it:

'A' An Exhibition from Agents Of Change on Vimeo.

New Music - Rev78 debut album "Boy In The Blitz"

February is turning into a bit of a musical month - I've had several friends showcase some new bands to me in the last few days (which I should be talking about on the blog in the next few weeks if I can get to their gigs), but first let me introduce you to another band that I think are something rather special - Rev78, a Camden-based indie band

I've been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the album, and let me tell you that I haven't heard a group with as big and expansive a sound as this for a while - they're really, really polished and have suitably catchy songs to match. Lead singer Teddy Quick's vocal skills are also something else - he has a vast vocal range, with some people having compared him with the likes of Ian Curtis (Echo & The Bunnymen) and Morrissey. I'm not going to disagree - I think that description is spot on!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Google Art Project Comes To London

I thought I should tell you about the new service from Google which was launched last week, the 'Google Art Project'.

Google have digitised 17 of the world's leading art galleries, allowing you to view images of the pieces that are on display at the respective museums or, and this is the exciting bit, using their streetview technology you can even take a virtual walk through each museum. As you pass through the galleries you can zoom in on paintings and artifacts that interest you, and click on the biographical note that appears next to each one to learn more.

The London galleries that are currently featured are the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square and the Tate Britain on Millbank. Let's get clicking!

Once Upon A Wartime @ Imperial War Museum

This Friday, 11 February, the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth will be putting on a new exhibition, entitled "Once Upon A Wartime - Classic War Stories for Children".

Five children's stories about war will be brought to life with scale models and interactive exhibits that span the period of the First World War up to the present day. Featuring in the exhibition will be 'War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, which will be brought to life with a recreation of a battlefield 'no mans land', and the display dedicated to Bernard Ashley's 'Little Soldier' will show what life is like for someone growing up in a culture where they are forced to fight.  Other books which will be featured include 'Carrie's War' by Nina Bawden, a tale about a group of evacuees, and 'The Silver Sword' by Ian Serraillier, a book from 1956 exploring the plight of the Poles during World War II.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Old Sweet Factory

I do come across some odd sites in London from time to time... On Katherine Road, between Forest Gate and Upton Park in the East End, you'll find the old Trebor sweet factory. A dramatic Art Deco edifice, it was built in 1937 and was a major employer in the area until Robertson & Woodcock closed several of their factories in the 1980s.

After its closure as a sweet factory, it was subdivided and turned into mixed use industrial units but clearly property developers saw the potential in this remarkable building, and its now home to trendy live/work apartments. Here's are two photos which show the contrast between what it was like when it was churning out sweets by the ton and how it looks now... as you can see, apart from some changes to the ground floor it has remained remarkably intact.

Engaging With Prince William

Here's an interesting piece of news for fans of the Royals...

If the sight of Prince William and Kate Middleton with an engagement ring on her finger made you swoon a few weeks ago, you can now pretend that you're the one that will be going down the aisle in April. Artist Jennifer Rubell is currently exhibiting a waxwork of Prince William at the Stephen Friedman Gallery in town. The effigy has an engagement ring strategically positioned on the sleeve of his jacket - sidle up to him and slip your arm through his and you too can pretend to be a princess for a day...

The exhibition runs until 5 March - each to their own I suppose!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Ping Pong Dim Sum Celebrates Chinese New Year

Last night I was invited down to Ping Pong's flagship dim sum restaurant on Great Marlborough St in Soho to sample the dishes that they've devised for Chinese New Year, and to try out the rest of their range. What an interesting evening it turned out to be...

Although the restaurant on Marlborough Street was their first outlet, Ping Pong now operate 11 other dim sum restaurants across London, and they even have three further afield (in Washington DC, Sao Paulo and Dubai). The first thing that strikes you when walking through the door is how understated it is in comparison to the rest of the Chinese restaurants in town - its elegant as opposed to incredibly gaudy! The restaurant is laid out in an interesting way too - on the first floor you can gather around an open-plan food preparation area or sit at a horshoe-shaped balcony with a view of the dining room downstairs and a huge video projection wall outside which has a big reflecting pool beneath it.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Black Swan - Movie Review

Yesterday afternoon we were over at the independent Curzon cinema in Soho to see Natalie Portman's latest outing in 'Black Swan'. Nominated for 5 Academy Awards, its a harrowing story about the enormous pressures placed on a prima ballerina before her ballet company's production of 'Swan Lake'.

Now I'm not a ballet fan by any means but this film must have been good, because it had my complete attention throughout, despite the frequent ballet sequences - in fact in that respect it was much like 'Invictus', a movie about rugby (which again I don't care much for) that I also found profoundly moving. It's directed by Darren Aronofsky, who was responsible for the strange, dreamlike Hugh Jackman vehicle 'The Fountain' in 2006, and the brutal award-winner from 2008, 'The Wrestler', which starred Mickey Rourke.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Comedy of Errors @ The Greenwich Playhouse - A Review

Last night we went over to the diminutive Greenwich Playhouse (up in the eaves above Belushi's Bar next to Greenwich station) to see a new Sell-A-Door production of Shakespeare's 'The Comedy of Errors'.

In brief, The Comedy of Error tells the tale of two sets of identical twins who were separated at birth during a shipwreck, and who are finally reunited in the city of Ephesus - queue a series of hilarious cases of mistaken identity, where each is repeatedly confused with their twin.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

On The River At Woolwich

I like to the think that when I talk about the more unusual places that I visit in London I might be giving readers pointers to help them explore London for themselves. Sometimes though, I end up in places that I can't recommend at all, the first of the two locations that I found myself in today being a case in point - North Woolwich.

Once upon a time I could have recommended the North Woolwich Old Station Museum, which was dedicated to all sorts of railway memorabilia, but unfortunately that closed in late 2008. Alternatively, I could have suggested that you investigate the Woolwich Foot Tunnel which runs under the Thames east of its close cousin, the popular Greenwich Foot Tunnel, however that was closed in April of last year. According to the Greenwich council website it's due to open again next month but I wonder whether, with impending cuts and the quick and convenient crossing now offered by the DLR, it might take a little bit longer than that. I'd be interested to hear from local people what rumours they've heard about the closure - I'm no civil engineer but from the looks of the entrance buildings they certainly don't look like they're about to reopen for business. On this side of the river then, there's not a lot to see - even the riverside paths around here have seen decidedly better days...

Friday, 4 February 2011

Future Cinema presents Jean Jacques Beineix's 'Diva' @ London Coliseum

On Monday 28 February, Future Cinema will be screening director Jean Jacques Beneix's 1981 cult classic 'Diva' at the London Coliseum, in association with the English National Opera. With Future Cinema's trademark of fusing film and live performance expect things to happen off-screen as well as on during the event at this fantastic London venue.

Set in Paris, Diva explores the obsession of a young opera fan with an American singer who refuses to let her work be recorded. An illicit recording he makes of one of her performances plunges him into a world of corruption and organised crime. This is definitely one for the Francophiles, but even if your command of the French language is only passable at best, you won't feel left out as I'm sure it will be subtitled, given ENO's commitment to performing classic works of opera in the English language...

Chinese New Year in London - The Year of the Rabbit

Image by sohl
Although the date for Chinese New Year, the 'Year of the Rabbit' fell yesterday on Thursday 3 February, the official celebrations in London will be taking place on Sunday 6 February this year.

Organised by the London Chinatown Chinese Association, celebrations will start at 11am noon, with the main stage in Trafalgar Square featuring world-class dance, music and acrobatics and, of course, firecrackers! In Shaftesbury Avenue, a smaller stage will showcase more contemporary Chinese acts and artists, with Chinatown itself being transformed into a vibrant Chinese market with cultural stalls, traditional food and spectacular 'lion dance' displays throughout the day. 250,000 people attended the events last year so I suggest pitching up as early as possible to secure your place!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

New Crime Maps from

Unless you've been incommunicado over the last few days, you can't fail to have heard about the new clickable crime maps that have been released on the website.

You can select a place to view by entering the place name or postcode on the website, and what comes back is fascinating, if not a bit scary, to look at, as it splits up local crime into various categories such as theft, burglary and anti-social behaviour and plots it across the local area. There are also two catch-all titles, 'violent crime', which includes things like assaults, murder, and so on, and also one called 'other crime'; indicating shoplifting, drug dealing and the like. Before you click through to the large map itself, the site also helpfully provides you with information on who your local police officers and PCSOs are, and even provides their contact details.

Jameson Cult Film Club Returns With 'Monsters' @ The Royal College of Surgeons

I had a great time at the last London outing of the Jameson Irish Whiskey's Cult Film Club, the  'Chills in the Chapel' event at the Union Chapel in Islington in October, and you'll be interested to hear that they are back this Spring, with a showing of Gareth Edward's 'Monsters' on 3 March at the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincolns Inn Fields.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

TalkTalk 'Communication' Competition Winners Announced!

I'm really pleased to be able announce the winners of the photographic competition which I have been running, sponsored by TalkTalk the broadband and home phone company, to provide one lucky winner with £150 of Amazon vouchers, and two amounts of £50 going to the runners up. There were a fantastic 34 submissions of photographs to the 'Communication' competition group on Flickr in all, and there were lots of really good efforts.

So, without further ado then, the two runners up prizes go to:

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

8th Wonder of the World Lecture @ London Transport Museum

Tonight I was down in the basement of the London Transport Museum over in Covent Garden for a lecture by Robert Hulse, the erudite and witty Director of the Brunel Museum over in Rotherhithe, on the Thames Tunnel. This lecture is part of a series of events looking at the new London Overground service, 'Overground Uncovered - Life along the line'.

What now serves as the route of the London Overground between the north and south of the Thames started its life as the most ambitious project of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his father, Marc (who was a Frenchman - bet you didn't know that!), to relieve the congestion of boat traffic on the river by allowing carts of goods to be transported under the river itself. Using engineering techniques that were invented specifically for this project (but which are now, in a rather more mechanised form, used to bore large tunnels around the world - the Channel Tunnel for example) work on the tunnel started in 1825. 36 men, working in two hour shifts due to the horrendous working conditions, inched forward (in fact, two inches at a time) through the soft London clay towards their destination on the north bank of the Thames.
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