Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Launch of Lucozade Sport 'Yes' Video With Tinie Tempah @ Old Vic Tunnels

Last night we ventured down into Leake Street to investigate the launch of the new Lucozade Sport 'Yes' video campaign.

Monday, 28 March 2011

John Grant @ 02 Shepherds Bush Empire - Gig Review

Last night we were over at the Shepherds Bush Empire to see John Grant as part of his latest tour following the release of his first solo album, 'Queen of Denmark', in the summer of last year.

Being first at the doors, we got in with plenty of time to settle down at the front of the upper circle to see Julie Ann Bee perform some pieces from her musical project 'Sea of Bees'. An androgynous figure, Julie Ann, or Jules as she is better known, regaled us with some of her folk rock tunes, including 'Marmalade' and 'Gnomes'. The titles of her songs are not the only quirky aspect of her performance - she sings with a strangely affected 'little girl' voice - quite disconcerting and rather odd! The friend I went with frankly hated it but I think I might walm to her style with time. You'll find some sample tracks on her myspace page here - judge for yourself I guess!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Adjustment Bureau - Movie Review

Another adaptation of a Philip K Dick short story, The Adjustment Bureau is a bit of an odd creature. Watching the trailer of this new film from George Nolfi (who has the Bourne Ultimatum and Oceans Twelve amongst his output) you could be forgiven for thinking that this is some vast sci-fi epic when, in actual fact, its rather more ordinary than that...

Sure, it has all the trappings - apparently sinister powers go to incredible lengths to keep two lovers, David and Elise (Matt Damon and Emily Blunt), apart accompanied by the sweeping cinematography and fantastic special effects that you expect in films of this genre, but ultimately these are just trappings. The film is actually a rather simple but very touching romance which focuses on the concept of fate versus free will. At one point, one of the bit-part characters says that "you look good together" and they genuinely do - in their various scenes together, Damon and Blunt create the impression of a deeply-felt love for each other - I was almost in tears at times, it was so touching. 

While I'm such the sci-fi and fantasty fans will genuinely enjoy it, its really rather more suited to cuddling up with your better half and having a good cry - I shall look forward to its release on Bluray with anticipation! 

Experiencing The Rural In Richmond

After the sci-fi extravaganza yesterday, we decided to calm things down a little in the afternoon with a long walk around Richmond Park, the largest of the royal parks at nearly 2500 acres. It's always a bit odd to find yourself in the depths of woodland even though you're only half an hour away from central London - it's a strange feeling I don't think I'll ever get over...

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Discovering The Doctor @ The Doctor Who Experience

This morning we went down to see the exhibition that has recently landed in Kensington Olympia, the 'Doctor Who Experience'.

The 'experience' consists of a long series of static displays of props and costumes which are dedicated to the entire history of the Doctor Who franchise, so you'll find a complete set of the Doctor's costumes (including the briefly seen eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, from the 1990s American TVmovie) as well as those of his companions. There are also monsters old and new, featuring a complete display of the different Dalek designs right up to the most recent, brightly coloured models and also recent additions such as the Ood and the cat people. Amongst the smaller props are several TARDIS exteriors and the complete sets of the main console rooms from both the Tom Baker/Peter Davidson era and the Christopher Eccleston/David Tennant version.

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Eagle - Movie Review

Last night we went down to West India Quay to check out the new film from director Kevin Macdonald (who you may have come across as the name behind 'The Last King of Scotland' and future-noir TV series 'State Of Play'), 'The Eagle'.

The film recounts the fictional tale of the loss of the Roman Ninth Legion in Scotland in the Second Century AD, and the subsequent efforts by the general's son, Marcus Aquila (played by Channing Tatum in arguably his first big blockbuster since an early appearance in 'Public Enemies') and his slave, Esca (Jamie Bell, star of 'Billy Elliot') as they head out across the country and past Hadrian's Wall in order to retrieve the eagle standard of his father's legion, in an effort to redeem the family's honour.

Grease Is The Word With The New York Bakery Co

I was up at an unearthly hour yesterday morning in order to queue up outside the Piccadilly Theatre in London's West End for an 'early morning musical', a performance of Grease sponsored by the New York Bakery Co.

KETTLE® Ridge Crisps Dodgem Derby Arriving in London Tomorrow

I've mentioned it previously on the blog, but just to remind you that tomorrow sees ex-Stig Ben Collins leading the first KETTLE® Ridge Crisps Dodgem Derby to put some extra wallop into Britain! Ben will be leading four road-worthy dodgems from the starting line in Over Wallop, Hampshire at 8:30am and, after a series of events, they will arrive in Battersea Park at 6pm tomorrow evening.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

T.G.I. Friday's 'Synchronised Flairing' Record Attempt @ Covent Garden Tomorrow

Photo by Kenny Hindgren 
Get yourself down to Covent Garden tomorrow morning and you will be able to witness a Guiness World Record attempt for 'Synchronised Flairing' (i.e. the flashy moves performed when they're preparing your cocktail) by 120 expert bartenders, which is being put on as part of T.G.I. Friday’s celebrations of 25 years in the UK.

Last.Fm's Big Chill Bar All-Nighter Coming This Saturday

This Saturday the Last.Fm crew will be bringing Brick Lane revellers the very first Big Chill Bar All Nighter.

The night will feature the best music from the weekly hype charts with a little help from from DJ talents Boogaloo Crew, Isa GT, ANXST AKA P45, and's own DJ team, plus an as-yet-to-be-announced very special guest.

Of special interest to the geeky crowd will be the DJ Team, who are made up from their growing ranks of designers, developers, translators, moderators and, of course, the music team. Picking the best of the best from the Hype Chart you'll be hearing a whole range of sounds, including post-punk, disco, electro and avant-rock from these guys.

Doors open at 7pm - and if you don't know it well, the Big Chill Bar can be found on Dray Walk just off Brick Lane.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Polish Discovery Around The Corner - Londek

Living in London I think it's always important to keep your eyes wide open when you are wandering around, just in case you miss something. I learned my lesson earlier this evening when I discovered, next to the Polish delicatessen in Stratford which I have actually visited previously, a little Polish restaurant which I had no inkling was there, called 'Londek' (Londek is the cutesy way of referring to London in Polish as I understand it).

Naming the Olympic Zones - 'Your Park, Your Place'

Today the Olympic Park Legacy Company has launched a competition asking members of the public to suggest names for the five zones of the Olympic Park after the 2012 Games have departed.

The competition page hints that you might want to echo the rich history of the respective areas in your suggestions - Area 4, for example, which currently contains the Olympic Stadium, the Aquatics Centre and the Water Polo arena, was once the site of the Yardley perfume factory, a railway yard and still contains a section of Joseph Bazalgette's Northern Outfall Sewer, which helped to improve the sanitation of London in the Victorian era. My personal preference would be to name the areas after famous British Olympic medal winners, or indeed athletes who manage to secure golds during this year's competition, but that's just my view!

You can read all of the terms of conditions regarding the competition here, and submit your entries by clicking on the respective zone on the website, and pressing the 'Enter Competition' button.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

What's Behind The Marble Arch?

I'm sure that most tourists who have visited London have taken the opportunity to go and see the Marble Arch, which sits at the end of Oxford St in London's West End, next to Hyde Park. I imagine that most of them assume that it is just another of London's war memorials (similar to the Arc De Triomphe in Paris), but its history is actually a lot more complex than it at first appears.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On @ Mosaic Rooms

There are two concurrent shows of young Palestinian artists taking place at the Mosaic Rooms on Cromwell Road in Kensington right now, 'Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On'. All are winners or finalists in the A.M. Qattan Foundation's biennial awards for young artists, and all are of Palestinian descent. As you might imagine the theme of conflict looms large in their work... I'm sure that a visit the show will prove to be a very powerful experience indeed.

Up until 31 March you can see pieces by Ahmad and Mohammad Abu Nasser (Tarzan & Arab), Majd Abdel Hamid and Salman Nawati, with a second display of works by Abdallah Al Ruzzi, Ayed Arafah, Jumana Manna and Dina Matar starting on 21 April. Perhaps I might see you there?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Exploring the British Library @ Euston

Earlier on today I went on a little mission to have a look around at the British Library on the Euston Road in London.

It's a remarkable building, completed in the late 1990s with the intention of bringing together the various Government collections of books and manuscripts under one roof. Designed to look like an ocean liner at sea, it holds the record of being the largest public building erected in the United Kingdom during the entire 20th century. The Library has a legal obligation to hold a copy of each book printed in the UK, and also has many books and manuscripts of historical significance on display in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, including Captain Cook's journal, works by significant literary figures from British history and the Magna Carta itself. There are also extensive reading rooms in the main part of the building which rather strikes me as a having something of a  1970s look about it with its sweeping staircases. Right at the centre of the structure there's a building within a building, the King's Library, which contains four storeys of works collected by King George III. The Museum also hosts a changing series of exhibitions - at the moment its in the closing weeks of its 'Evolving English' exhibition which explores the changing nature of the English language, and which closes on 3 April.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Ig Nobel Awards Tour Show @ Imperial College

This evening, Annie Mole and I went over to the Sherfield Building on the Imperial College campus for the Ig Nobel Awards Tour Show, hosted by Marc Abrahams, organiser of the Ig Nobel prizes and author of the bi-montly 'Annals of Improbable Research'.

The Ig Nobel awards are given to scientists who publish research which, in the words of Abrahams, make people 'laugh, and then think'. Winners from 2010 included the recipients of the Engineering Prize, scientists from London and Mexico who jointly developed a new method of collecting 'whale snot' using a remote-controlled helicopter to retrieve samples, a group of scientists from New Zealand who won the Physics Prize for demonstrating that wearing socks over your footwear improves your traction on icy footpaths, and the winners of the Peace Prize, a group of researchers from Keele University that identified that swearing relieves the pain response (when hitting your thumb with a hammer for example).

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A Little Bit Of Lithuania In London

I had a strange experience tonight, when I went over to Beckton... read on.

Leaving the DLR station, a Lithuanian friend of mine led me down to the unassuming retail park that sits just down the main road and, right next to the defunct Woolworths superstore (with its signage still intact) you're in for a real surprise, when you discover the largest branch of Lituanica in London, a fully fledged Lithuanian supermarket that sells everything from baby food to chocolate, via that unique malted bread soft drink from the baltic, Gira, as it's known in Lithuania (and which you'll find called kvass in Russia and Latvia).

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Visiting the London Transport Museum Depot @ Acton

Yesterday I was invited along to one of the infrequent open days at the London Transport Museum's depot in Acton, where you'll find various 'works in progress' - historic carriages at various stages of restoration, signalling equipment, switchgear and the like that span the entire history of the London Underground and London's other modes of public transport.

Consisting of a vast warehouse-like structure, the majority of the space is given to the previously mentioned carriages, some of which are clearly at a stage where are ready to go on display at the main museum in Covent Garden - one early twentieth century example in particular has been very lovingly restored indeed, as you can see from the photograph below. You'll also find a large collection of buses and trams on show, including of course the famous Routemaster, one of which was being used to take visitors on a short tour of the local area (having seen the newly commissioned London bus up close at the museum earlier in the week, its clear where the design ideas of come from, as it shares many features of its predecessor).

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Illumini Electro-Late @ The Museum of London

Last night I was very fortunate to be invited down to the Museum of London by the creator of the Illumini events, the artist Jane Webb, for a behind-the-scenes look at the build up and execution of another of her amazing performance art events, 'Electro-Late'.

As it occupied one of the main galleries of the Museum unfortunately this was a one night only affair, but what a night! Visitors were treated to amazing lightshows from two artists, Guy Smith and Tiina Tuomisto (who can do things with a hula-hoop you wouldn't believe!), while other odd characters lurched and crept around the space - Pawel Fesyk played the part of a rather creepy animated statue, while the glittering Primo stomped around in all of his cybernetic glory, looking far too much like a Cylon for my liking I can tell you! We were also treated to the breathtaking body art of Simon Rogers and an amazing balancing act with crystal balls, while Nik Vaughn aka Mr Frisbee doled out some kicking choons. One of Jane's latest creations, 'Humanoid Visitor' was also on show.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Brighton - London By The Sea?

After the event at the Thistle Hotel last night I had to the chance to have a good look around Brighton today. It's an interesting place, full of contradictions. While the seafront is home to a string of raucous bars, nightclubs and the usual seaside staple of shops full of kiss-me-quick hats and sticks of rock, step just a street or two away and you'll find yourself in the relative calm of 'The Lanes'. In this tight network of small streets you'll discover what makes Brighton a popular destination for Londoners - a dizzying selection of restaurants, high-class boutiques that jostle with hippy-inspired 'head shops', little independent record stores, comic book shops and the like (a shout out to the wonderful Dave's Comics where I spent half an hour browsing earlier today). Take a detour onto the backstreets around here and you'll find something else too - a graffiti gallery that rivals anything that you'll find in Shoreditch - amazing!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Being Entertained at the Thistle Hotel, Brighton

This evening I was lucky enough to be invited to a bloggers' reception at the Thistle Hotel in Brighton , which sits out on the seafront next to the 'Lanes' and a few hundred yards from the pier.

Having stayed at the Hilton in Brighton before I was expecting a similar experience at the Thistle, but this hotel had some surprises in store! It's a very interesting building - frankly a bit unattractive on the outside, when you enter that impression changes completely. Ascending some steps you arrive at the reception desk which sits at one end of an absolutely huge atrium which occupies the entire centre of the building, with rooms overlooking it on three sides. At the rear of the atrium is the hotel's rather chic and trendy Water Bar and the Pecksniff's beauty salon (they also have a boutique in the town which offers bespoke fragrances) with the restaurant overlooking the promenade at the front of the building, and a raised 'Library Terrace' on one side that acts as a breakout area for the well-appointed conference suites beyond.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Remembering The Bethnal Green Disaster With Jessica Francis Kane

Last night, Annie Mole from the London Underground blog and I went to a talk at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden on the circumstances surrounding the disaster in 1943 at the underground shelter which was soon afterwards to become Bethnal Green tube station - part of their current series of lectures and exhibitions entitled 'Under Attack'.
Reproduced from the Stairway To Heaven Memorial Trust Website

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Wanted - Bradford, Dead or Alive

We went over to Bradford today, in order to visit the National Media Museum,

The museum is a marvel. Containing a cinema (including an IMAX screen), this modern building has galleries dedicated to computer games, the development of photography and television, and spaces allocated to more short-term exhibitions and education. When we visited today, the special exhibition spaces were taken up by an intimate look at the people of the Varmland in the west of Sweden by photographers Anders Petersen & JH Engstrom, 'From Back Home', and the powerful images of British landscapes by Fay Godwin, 'Land Revisited'. In the other spaces, the gaming gallery is notable for having several pristine examples of early arcade games, including Defender, Space Invaders, Galaxians and Gauntlet, as well as some of the early gaming consoles and home computers - there is a working Nintendo Super NES system and a ZX Spectrum for you to get your hands on, for example. I also rather enjoyed looking around the gallery dedicated to TV production, as it has many examples of the hardware used in studios over the years and also contains props from popular TV shows - where else can you find George, Zippy and a Dalek in the same space? If you're visiting Bradford this is definitely worth a few hours of your time.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Aftermath - Jameson Cult Film Club @ The Royal College of Surgeons

Last night we were over at our second Jameson Cult Film Club event (after last autumn's 'Chills in the Chapel') to see Gareth Edwards incredible low-budget masterpiece, 'Monsters', set in the rather creepy surroundings of the Royal College of Surgeons on Lincolns Inn Fields in central London.

As with the Club's last outing, they'd gone to great efforts to set the scene -  as we entered we were manhandled by people wearing biological protection suits and gaskmasks, and menaced by a swarthy rebel toting an AK47. Going further inside, the bar areas were festooned with thick foliage, and there was even a little Mexican street cart selling nachos (you could tell it was Mexican because of the sombrero perched on top of it...). After a decent interval for us to imbibe some courage-giving Jameson cocktails we followed some signs to find a door barred before us, where we were told to turn around and head over into the 'Infected Zone' to view the film!

The Olympic Rings @ St Pancras

I thought you might be interested in seeing the huge set of Olympic rings that have just been set above the Eurostar platforms at St Pancras station to greet international visitors arriving in London for the 2012 Olympic Games...

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Jameson Cult Film Club @ The Royal College of Surgeons Tonight

I mentioned this event on the blog a few weeks ago, but just to remind you that tonight sees a screening of 'Monsters' at the Royal College of Surgeons as part of the series of Jameson Cult Film Club events. If the last happening is anything to go by there will be dramatisations of various parts of the film, and there will also be an opportunity to chat with director Gareth Edwards about his low-budget masterpiece. I'm not sure whether tickets are still available (you can check here) but if you're at a loose end its probably going to be one of the most exciting places to be in London tonight.

For any readers who are going along, can I ask you a favour? If you have a smartphone, when you arrive can you check in using Foursquare to the location which will be marked as 'Jameson Cult Film Club - Monsters' and then retweet it, using the hashtag #JCFC and including my twitter handle, @thelondoneer? The blogger who gets the most mentions on the night will receive a fantastic secret prize, and if I win I'm going to be giving it away (whatever it is!) to one of my readers in an upcoming competition. Thanks!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Tequila Tasting @ Wahaca Soho

Last night I was a guest of Qype at the Wahaca restaurant on Wardour St in Soho for an evening of tequila tasting and mexican street food.

On arriving we were ushered downstairs from the main restaurant floor down into their more intimate bar space for a tutored tasting in that classic Mexican spirit, tequila. Before going on to describe how the evening developed I will just mention the decor - there's a long coloured chainlink curtain that runs almost the whole length of the bar which is picked out with a Mexican 'day of the dead' theme that is very odd indeed, as are the strange arrangement of wall lights. That and the bank of table football contraptions overlooking the outlandish WC area makes for rather a jarring experience - the atmosphere is certainly not that of your typical soho bar... Before we got down to business we were invited to try out their unusual cocktails - I had a spiced chocolate cocktail that I can only describe as a punch in the throat from a velvet glove. I can imagine that if chocolate isn't your thing you'd absolutely hate it, but the next time I'm back there its going at the top of my 'wants' for the evening.

The New Must Have App - A Public Toilet Finder!

My blogging associate, the brilliant 'Ian Visits', has just put together a new website and series of apps for Apple and Android, which you can download from today, that allow you to seek out the nearest public convenience if you get caught short!

Using the data available from local authorities, pubs, coffee shops and restaurants that are signed up to the current 'Community Toilet Scheme', the zoom-able maps should give a pretty good indication of where you need to go to avoid any embarrassing incidents. I hazard a guess that this new smartphone app will have far more practical use than most of the rubbish I have on my phone at present... queue the toilet humour in the comments!

You Me Bum Bum Train Promo Posters @ Drawers Gallery

From tomorrow, Thursday 3 March, one of my favourite little art venues, the Drawers Gallery under the Haggerston pub on Kingsland Road in Dalston will be featuring an exhibition of promotional posters that have been created for the highly acclaimed and original You Me Bum Bum Train experience.

Running until 24 March, tomorrow's opening night will feature entertainment from Hot Breath Karaoke, and the posters' artists and You Me Bum Bum Train founders, Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd, will be on hand to discuss this unique concept in 'walk-through' theatre, where individual guests pass by a myriad of intimate live performances where they become part of the action before moving on to the next scene.

I do try to attend opening nights at the Drawers Gallery but unfortunately I'll be involved in something rather gruesome tomorrow night (watch the blog for more details). Do go along if you can - entry is free and exhibitions at the gallery are always something to write home about...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Crunch @ Music Bar, Brixton Next Saturday

Next Saturday, 12 March, my good friend Bea and associates will be putting on a free night at the Music Bar on Brixton Hill, from 9m to 4am on Sunday, dubbed 'Crunch'. You might be interested to learn that the concept of 'Crunch' started as a shed at the end of Ben & Siri's garden, where friends would pitch up with laptops, projectors, lights and booze and dance until the earlier hours. It graduated to packed out nights at the Dogstar in Brixton and the Scream Bar in Shoreditch, and now it's the turn of the Music Bar to host this unique happening.

David Mitchell's Japanese Teahouse/Reading Room @ Spitalfields Market

From Tuesday 15 to Friday 18 March, London’s Old Spitalfields Market will be hosting what the organisers are calling the world's first immersive reading venue to mark the paperback release of Booker prize-shortlisted novelist David Mitchell’s, 'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet"

For these four days a Japanese teahouse-inspired ‘Reading Room’ will be recreated in the market, allowing readers to be transported to the world of 18th Century Japan where the novel is set. Visitors will be invited to leave a video, picture or written review of several extracts of the book via an installed Samsung Galaxy Tab (I think I might go along just for the opportunity to play with one of them!) which will form part of the wider online campaign (that you can read about here) which is looking for 1,000 people to review the book with YouTube-style videos, text or pictures.A thousand signed limited-edition paperbacks of the book will be available to people who provide reviews.
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