Thursday, 14 December 2017

Nürnberg Christmas Market - Day II

We were sorry for our organiser being sick, but happy to have a late start, after all the doings of the last couple of days. Our beds were comfy - albeit a bit unstable, covered with mattress toppers that weren't properly attached, and kept sliding to the side! Well, but it was quiet, and we had a decent breakfast - with some quite good hot chocolate. Afterwards, Helen and I struck out on our own, starting with the Lorenzkirche:



(Lots) more photos here. Afterwards, staggering up the steep hill for lunch, most places were full - and then we happened on a little cafe called Flamingo Blau. Where they had cakes in a glass case - and, crucially, seats! We took a small table in the basement, I had a Sacher torte, Helen had a croissant, and we had glühwein. And because it was such a nice find, we were peckish, and our feet were tired, we had another round. And were quite merry for our climb up to our ultimate goal, which was the castle:

 

Now, I'm fascinated by such things, but it was close to closing by the time we wended our way up there. We watched some of a historical film about the place - and when we came out.. whu'..? We were entering a blizzard!


At least we were headed down - the place was blanketed with white within minutes. Helen had some places she wanted to stop off to buy things - including a huge, blingy bauble - and  we stopped in the local Aldi on the way back to the hotel, because they have a hot chocolate machine there. Which offers flavours. Much needed.

Once we'd dried out - with the help of the bathroom's strong hairdryer: had our hot chocolates, and Helen had figured out where all her purchases were to go (!) - we headed out for dinner. Near was good, and we'd passed an Indian restaurant on the way in, called Sangam. There was a short queue, but the maitre d' didn't look phased, and after about 10 minutes had us sat at the bar while we waited, and admired the lovely decor, all dark wood and Indian artworks:

 

Quick and friendly service led to one of the best Indian meals I've had! The Peshwari naan was just perfect, and we were stuffed. We did notice it get a little less busy after 9, so I recommend heading there a bit later if possible - being aware that even ethnic restaurants close here at 11. But this was a real find! And so we went to bed a bit early, ready for our trip to Bamberg next day. More to follow.

That trip to Germany took up the weekend.  And wouldn't you know it, our flight back on Sunday night was cancelled - there'd been a snowstorm in Stansted. Fully two days later was the first flight we could get back there - so I missed a couple of things I'd booked; on Monday - having taken the day off work - I was booked for the Barbershop Chronicles. At the National. And on Tuesday, I booked a Funzing talk - Interviews With a Serial Killer, courtesy of London Speaks Sessions and LDN Talks @ Night. For which, with their new loyalty scheme, I earned £10 credit! Not so shabby.. But it wasn't very Christmassy, all the same, and I subsequently booked an evening at Keats House, with London Social Detours. Where they explored Christmas in the Romantic era - ahh! Sadly, neither was now possible.

Back at last, and last night, my last visit of the year to Sands Films - finally advertised on Meetup, through the World Music MeetupTunedIn London had a concert by Plastikes Karekles, a Greek group. The friend I've been persuading to go to the Crick Crack events had suggested that night for a nostalgic trip, by some of us, to Top Secret - I would rather do that, but unfortunately he couldn't get anyone else to agree, so we postponed the idea.

Tonight, my friends who came to Soho a while ago are headed to Wilton's Music Hall, for something called The Box of Delights. And for once, I'm letting them decide for me, and am going myself too.

Tomorrow, my final trip of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Jan Blake is performing Masters of Hex at the British Library. Along with Ben Haggerty and TUUP. Same friend going with me as did on the 29th, and Helen too - and the same lunatic. Who will probably avoid us, and good enough for her. Next day, I'm back to Ireland for Christmas.

Flying back to London on the 2nd of January, and on the 3rd I've booked to see Stewart Lee at Leicester Square Theatre. Determinedly not in the front two rows - not for a comedy show!

On the 4th of January, I'm back with Up in the Cheap Seats (Happy New Year to them!), who are off to see Hanna, at the Arcola.

On the 5th of January, I thought Time Out threw me a curiously interesting event - so I'm going on this Space Descent VR experience, at the Science Museum. I'll have to leave work early for it - there are timed slots, and it consists of wearing goggles, and living the experience of a descent to earth, with the astronaut Tim Peake narrating in your ears.

On the 6th of January, Crick Crack is back! Happy New Year to them too. The story of When Time Began is being told at King's Place. Creation myths. And wouldn't you know it, we're being treated to a host of performers - the husband and wife team, Emily and Nick Hennessy, and co-founder of the club, the amazing Ben Haggerty. Accompaniment provided by the wonderful musician, Sheema Mukherjee.

On the 7th of January, another Happy new Year - this time to Let's Do This, who are off to an art exhibition. Gilbert & George: the Beard Pictures and their Fuckosophy. Sorry, but that is the title. Showing at the White Cube Gallery. Honestly, but for the group that's hosting, I wouldn't bother..

And finally, more art on the 8th of January, which I'll probably enjoy more. I'm taking the day off to go see Reflections at the National Gallery - an exhibition of Pre-Raphaelites, which, with a free day, I can peruse at my leisure. As inspired by a walk by the excellent London Literary Walks - roll on the summer, and a return of those!

Nürnberg Christmas Market - Day I

Off to Nürnberg - and had to be in Stansted at 6am! I'd have to get the train at 5.10, which meant - even as close as I was - that I needed to get up at 3.30 to make sure I got there in time. It wasn't a problem waking - with the blocked-up, but noisy, chimney behind my head, and a hard mattress, I was having more trouble sleeping than waking. Never mind, out I crawled at 3.30 and was on the road around 4.

Google Maps, of course, was great until I actually got to Liverpool Street, where it was sending me in by the cargo bay. "No access to station" was a fairly clear sign. So, guessing from the map, I walked around - just as well I was early. I did make my train, and was just sat in my seat when Helen, who was coming too, started sending messages that she was having breakfast at the airport hotel. Huh. Well for some.

We duly met at the airport, just after 6. No sign of the group until we made our way through to the gate - at which point, the organiser's tall head stood high above the rest of the queue. And so onto the plane, and mercifully, breakfast - a ham and cheese croissant and a hot chocolate. I was fed at last! Just about an 80-minute flight, and we were there.

And there we stayed, in quite the longest passport queue I've ever had to endure. Over an hour, we were on the stairs - progress was to pass through the electronic door, where a queue snaked in a curve, filling every available space in front of passport control. Only two people on - and a lot of people whose visas needed checking, it seemed. Blast it, what a start.. never mind, by the time we made it outside, our organiser had bought us Underground tickets to town (cost included in the trip). And gee, we were on the U2 line..! :-) FYI, it seems this is the newest underground system in the country - and another with full internet access! Kudos.

Outside again, it was a bit nippy as he led us past some posh hotels, to the Ibis around the corner - very central it is, near the main station and on the edge of the old town. We checked into twin rooms, and had half an hour or so to refresh ourselves before he met us in the lobby for a briefing. Nothing if not organised, this organiser, he had handouts for us all, with itineraries and snippets of information. Mind you, as he said, all activities were completely optional.

But we did - apart from some who hadn't arrived yet - take him up on his offer of a tour of the old town, then and there. Like kids, we were, as we scurried along, ooh-ing and aah-ing.. I'm an absolute sucker for things mediaeval, and I don't mind telling you that I fell completely in love with the place. New favoured retirement destination. We started with the artisan's market, a short walk from the hotel:



(Lots) more photos here. No time for shopping on this occasion - but we vowed we'd be back. Oh my goodness, all the little shops, with dinky, handmade goods out front - in one, our organiser pointed out the metalworker, just inside a window, no protective gear, just working away as his forefathers had done: and producing the most beautiful and intricate work. Every single shop was a treasure trove, and we were reluctant to leave.

Leave we did, heading down the hill in the direction of Christkindlesmarkt, apparently the most famous Christmas market in Europe. And while we scattered in different directions, thrilled at all the fairy-tale-like stands on the way, we did stay pretty much together as a group. By the time our organiser led us to a group of stalls by the river, where we had a much-needed, warming lunch, standing in the cold, we had concluded that Nürnberg is actually the home of Christmas.

When we got on the move again, he detoured from the market - as he confided, he was doing this deliberately, so we wouldn't get there until dark, and we'd have the lights. But my, what we found in the backstreets..



He had us climbing most of the way up to the castle when we rebelled, and decided to head for a cafe - the Zum Albrecht Dürer Haus was close, and had a table that was reserved for later, but would be ok for us. I wasn't really hungry at this point, but had a glass of wine - others had quite substantial titbits, soup, or desserts.

On the way back down to the market, we detoured into St. Sebaldus' Church:


 

And so finally, we were let loose on the market, where our organiser wished us well and left us to it, suggesting we all meet later in the evening. And if you ever doubted that this was the centre of Christmas, this place might confirm it for you.




Shopped out, we returned to the hotel, then gathered in the lobby at the agreed time. Sadly, our organiser sent word that he wasn't feeling well, and was going to skip dinner - the rest of us, seeking a place that would have a table for so many at short notice, asked help of reception, who sent us up the road to Barfüßer Hausbrauerei Nürnberg, where we were, indeed, sat. Quite a cavernous place, it was also quite noisy - and busy. And we had a very flustered waiter, who instructed us sternly that we had to be out by 9. And then left me waiting for ages for my steak - which was edible, if a bit bland - I didn't finish it. Nor did any of us tip him, hence his rather miffed face as we left.

During the meal, we got word that the organiser wasn't going to be well enough the following day to accompany us to Bamberg, so he suggested that we leave that scheduled trip till Saturday, and spend Friday around Nürnberg. Well, at least we'd get some shopping in..! More to come.

That trip took up the weekend.  And wouldn't you know it, our flight back on Sunday night was cancelled - there'd been a snowstorm in Stansted. Fully two days later was the first flight we could get back there - so I missed a couple of things I'd booked; on Monday - having taken the day off work - I was booked for the Barbershop Chronicles. At the National. And on Tuesday, I booked a Funzing talk - Interviews With a Serial Killer, courtesy of London Speaks Sessions and LDN Talks @ Night. For which, with their new loyalty scheme, I earned £10 credit! Not so shabby.. But it wasn't very Christmassy, all the same, and I subsequently booked an evening at Keats House, with London Social Detours. Where they explored Christmas in the Romantic era - ahh! Sadly, neither was now possible.

Back at last, and last night, my last visit of the year to Sands Films - finally advertised on Meetup, through the World Music MeetupTunedIn London had a concert by Plastikes Karekles, a Greek group. The friend I've been persuading to go to the Crick Crack events had suggested that night for a nostalgic trip, by some of us, to Top Secret - I would rather do that, but unfortunately he couldn't get anyone else to agree, so we postponed the idea.

Tonight, my friends who came to Soho a while ago are headed to Wilton's Music Hall, for something called The Box of Delights. And for once, I'm letting them decide for me, and am going myself too.

Tomorrow, my final trip of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Jan Blake is performing Masters of Hex at the British Library. Along with Ben Haggerty and TUUP. Same friend going with me as did on the 29th, and Helen too - and the same lunatic. Who will probably avoid us, and good enough for her. Next day, I'm back to Ireland for Christmas.

Flying back to London on the 2nd of January, and on the 3rd I've booked to see Stewart Lee at Leicester Square Theatre. Determinedly not in the front two rows - not for a comedy show!

On the 4th of January, I'm back with Up in the Cheap Seats (Happy New Year to them!), who are off to see Hanna, at the Arcola.

On the 5th of January, I thought Time Out threw me a curiously interesting event - so I'm going on this Space Descent VR experience, at the Science Museum. I'll have to leave work early for it - there are timed slots, and it consists of wearing goggles, and living the experience of a descent to earth, with the astronaut Tim Peake narrating in your ears.

On the 6th of January, Crick Crack is back! Happy New Year to them too. The story of When Time Began is being told at King's Place. Creation myths. And wouldn't you know it, we're being treated to a host of performers - the husband and wife team, Emily and Nick Hennessy, and co-founder of the club, the amazing Ben Haggerty. Accompaniment provided by the wonderful musician, Sheema Mukherjee.

On the 7th of January, another Happy new Year - this time to Let's Do This, who are off to an art exhibition. Gilbert & George: the Beard Pictures and their Fuckosophy. Sorry, but that is the title. Showing at the White Cube Gallery. Honestly, but for the group that's hosting, I wouldn't bother..

And finally, more art on the 8th of January, which I'll probably enjoy more. I'm taking the day off to go see Reflections at the National Gallery - an exhibition of Pre-Raphaelites, which, with a free day, I can peruse at my leisure. As inspired by a walk by the excellent London Literary Walks - roll on the summer, and a return of those!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Christmas Party

Last Wednesday was our office Christmas party! Mercifully, I found out it wasn't black tie this year - didn't have to buy a new outfit, then! It was at Bounce - a pub with ping pong tables, wouldya believe?! We had a private room, with three such tables and a karaoke machine. I foresaw a noisy night..!

The day was spent flinging all the possessions on - and in - my desk into a crate, supplied by the company, which would magically be transported to the new office. Excluding whatever we needed to work from home this week, while the move is in progress. Amazingly, it all got done, and I was ready in time to head down the road with the others - only a 20-minute walk, and only one of the group decided it was too far from him and he'd take the Tube.

Bounce has an unprepossessing entrance - once inside, it's left for the public bar and restaurant, right for the private room that we had reserved. It's a large room, antler-type handles on the doors, three ping pong tables, seating around the edges, a bar at one end (which was free) and hooks and shelves for coats and bags at the other. Drinks were strategically dotted about the place so we didn't have to go to the bar, necessarily, and I quickly availed myself of one.


Gotta say, we have some competitive types - ping pong balls were slamming from tables on all sides. Happily, they actually employ ball collectors to gather them up, in a clever gadget resembling a tennis racquet with elastic strings, and a net on top; so they just wander about with these, pressing the balls into them, and when the net is full, they tip it up over one of the ice buckets they use to store them - they fall through a hole at the other end of the net.


After a while, attention shifted from straightforward matches to the interactive table in the middle, and in particular to a game where people chose characters, then took turns to compete at a game of aiming at the right character on the other side of the net. Good fun, it attracted quite a crowd:


I couldn't stay long though - had to be at Stansted at 6 on Thursday morning, for a trip to Nuremberg Christmas market with London European Club! Not only that, but I had secured a new flat, where I intended to stay on Wednesday night - a lot closer to Liverpool Street, to catch the train to Stansted. So I was waiting for the food, which started with some rounds of canapés - the best was the fried chicken, which unfortunately only came out once. The food seemed to finish with a round of pizzas, after which I called it a night, at only 8pm, and hurried back to the office, where I'd left most of the stuff I needed to move.

Bloody 'ell, I had a rough night of it though, back and forth with the stuff I'd need to stay in the new place, plus the stuff I'd need to work from there! I was exhausted by the time I turned in, after midnight, following two legs of moving and carrying. Oh, and I had to be up again by 3.30 to catch the train early enough to be at the airport in time. Pity, then, that my sleep was disturbed by the howling of the wind down the blocked-up chimney behind the head of the bed - I've since shoved that bed over to the other wall.

And so that trip took up the weekend. We also did some travelling in the area. Helen liked the sound of it, and came too: sadly, not my Crick Crack friend, who couldn't swing the holiday time. I bought Lonely Planet's chapter on Bavaria, downloaded it, and shared it with her - isn't it handy how you can buy individual chapters? Mercifully, although the crazy woman was supposed to go on this, she pulled out. And we had a ball - but a very packed time. More to follow.

Wouldn't you know it, our flight back on Sunday night was cancelled - there'd been a snowstorm in Stansted. Fully two days later was the first flight we could get back there - so I missed a couple of things I'd booked; on Monday - having taken the day off work - I was booked for the Barbershop Chronicles. At the National. And on Tuesday, I booked a Funzing talk - Interviews With a Serial Killer, courtesy of London Speaks Sessions and LDN Talks @ Night. For which, with their new loyalty scheme, I earned £10 credit! Not so shabby.. But it wasn't very Christmassy, all the same, and I subsequently booked an evening at Keats House, with London Social Detours. Where they explored Christmas in the Romantic era - ahh! Sadly, neither was now possible.

Back at last, and tonight, my last visit of the year to Sands Films - finally advertised on Meetup, through the World Music MeetupTunedIn London has a concert by Plastikes Karekles, a Greek group. The friend I've been persuading to go to the Crick Crack events had suggested that night for a nostalgic trip, by some of us, to Top Secret - I would rather do that, but unfortunately he couldn't get anyone else to agree, so we postponed the idea.

Tomorrow, my friends who came to Soho a while ago are headed to Wilton's Music Hall, for something called The Box of Delights. And for once, I'm letting them decide for me, and am going myself too.

On Friday, my final trip of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Jan Blake is performing Masters of Hex at the British Library. Along with Ben Haggerty and TUUP. Same friend going with me as did on the 29th, and Helen too - and the same lunatic. Who will probably avoid us, and good enough for her. Next day, I'm back to Ireland for Christmas.

Flying back to London on the 2nd of January, and on the 3rd I've booked to see Stewart Lee at Leicester Square Theatre. Determinedly not in the front two rows - not for a comedy show!

On the 4th of January, I'm back with Up in the Cheap Seats (Happy New Year to them!), who are off to see Hanna, at the Arcola.

On the 5th of January, I thought Time Out threw me a curiously interesting event - so I'm going on this Space Descent VR experience, at the Science Museum. I'll have to leave work early for it - there are timed slots, and it consists of wearing goggles, and living the experience of a descent to earth, with the astronaut Tim Peake narrating in your ears.

On the 6th of January, Crick Crack is back! Happy New Year to them too. The story of When Time Began is being told at King's Place. Creation myths. And wouldn't you know it, we're being treated to a host of performers - the husband and wife team, Emily and Nick Hennessy, and co-founder of the club, the amazing Ben Haggerty. Accompaniment provided by the wonderful musician, Sheema Mukherjee.

On the 7th of January, another Happy new Year - this time to Let's Do This, who are off to an art exhibition. Gilbert & George: the Beard Pictures and their Fuckosophy. Sorry, but that is the title. Showing at the White Cube Gallery. Honestly, but for the group that's hosting, I wouldn't bother..

And finally, more art on the 8th of January, which I'll probably enjoy more. I'm taking the day off to go see Reflections at the National Gallery - an exhibition of Pre-Raphaelites, which, with a free day, I can peruse at my leisure. As inspired by a walk by the excellent London Literary Walks - roll on the summer, and a return of those!

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Circus: La Soirée

Tonight, my annual trip to La Soirée! "Posh new venue", as they say - they're now in the Aldwych Theatre. Cheapest tickets at Amazon tickets - you save on the booking fee. I see they now have a family-friendly version - La Petite Soirée! Anyway, I was thrilled to be seeing this again - and wouldn't you know it, Up in the Cheap Seats today advertised a trip to see it next month! I passed - I'm doing something that night anyway. But it turns out that the organiser of that outing goes every year, just like me. Well, great minds..

So, down I schlepped - another 8pm start, so plenty of time. Boy, Drury Lane takes forever to walk down though - you forget how long it is. Finally, there was the theatre, at the end, on the right. Circus music playing in the lobby when we went in - and how Christmassy it is!


I went to collect my ticket - and wouldn't you know, I'd been upgraded again! Yet another good reason to buy the cheap tickets - if it's not especially busy, they close the upper levels. I found myself - tan-ta-ra! in the stalls! And they gave me a wristband - an usher helped me to put it on. Mine was green - I also noticed red ones, which turned out to be for the folding seats that had replaced the theatre-style seats in the front stalls - green was for the remaining theatre seats at the back.


In my book, I got the better of it - the view was perfect, apart from the bits that happen close to the stage, for which you'd need to be ringside anyway. And you have less chance of being hit by flying bits of banana - if you don't know, don't ask! Besides, I've done the close-to-the-stage thing. Anyway, I have to say, they managed to retain that big-top atmosphere, even in this most ornate theatre. Now, the posher the seat you get, the more you get interacted with - so you'd better be prepared for it. Where I was sitting, we got flashed. Multiple times, at close quarters. People closer to the stage are liable to be pulled onstage - and interfered with. Or play a small part in the show. The most expensive seats are onstage, at cafe-style tables. Where the audience is looking your way all the time - even when you're not playing an integral part in the show! That happens a lot - they do want you to get your money's worth. A young couple beside me actually got pulled to ringside - obviously there was space, and he figured they looked like they'd play along!

Some old favourites. Apart from the pair with the bananas, we had Amy G, who does have a spectacular voice, quite apart from all the clowning around. But oh, such spectacular new arrivals! Highlights include Cabaret Décadanse, with an incredible puppet act; they hail from Montréal, practically the home of circus these days. And were followed by a truly jaw-dropping (I'm running out of adjectives..) duo from Mumbai, who wriggled up and down a wooden pole in ways that looked positively painful. (Apparently, mallakhamb is actually a sport!} There was one aerialist, contorting on a hoop, whose costume made her look as though she was naked, with liquid gold running down her body..

Spectacular, and frequently hilarious stuff - and throughout, the most fantastic, rock soundtrack. I want to scream from the rooftops how good this show is! Go see, go see. Runs until the 3rd of February - apparently, at the moment, tickets are available from £10 in the Get Into London Theatre New Year Sale. They gave out free programmes as we were leaving - and in them is a flier, with a discount code giving £5 off weekday shows (not Grand Circle or Posh tickets), not from next week till the end of the month. TELLURFRIEND. Worth a try.

Tomorrow sees our office Christmas party! Mercifully, I found out it's not black tie this year - didn't have to buy a new outfit, then! It's at Bounce - a pub with ping pong tables, wouldya believe?! We have a private room, with three such tables and a karaoke machine. I foresee a noisy night..!

I can't stay long though - have to be at Stansted at 6 on Thursday morning, for a trip to Nuremberg Christmas market with London European Club! We'll also be doing some travelling in the area. Helen liked the sound of it, and is coming too: sadly, not my Crick Crack friend, who can't swing the holiday time. We'll have a ball though! I just bought Lonely Planet's chapter on Bavaria, downloaded it, and have shared it with her - isn't it handy how you can buy individual chapters? Mercifully, although the crazy woman was supposed to go on this, she's pulled out. So, the plan is to stay in the new place, tomorrow night..

Back late on Sunday, and on Monday - having taken the day off work (I'll be exhausted) - I'm off to the Barbershop Chronicles. At the National. Mind you, I've suggested this as an alternative for Mary - we'll see.

Next Tuesday, I booked a Funzing talk - Interviews With a Serial Killer, courtesy of London Speaks Sessions and LDN Talks @ Night. For which, with their new loyalty scheme, I earned £10 credit! Not so shabby.. But it's not very Christmassy, all the same, and I subsequently booked an evening at Keats House, with London Social Detours. Where we'll be exploring Christmas in the Romantic era - ahh!

On the 13th, my last visit of the year to Sands Films - finally advertised on Meetup, through the World Music MeetupTunedIn London has a concert by Plastikes Karekles, a Greek group. However, the friend I've been persuading to go to the Crick Crack events has suggested that night for a nostalgic trip, by some of us, to Top Secret - I would rather do that, so we'll see whether we can get it together!

On the 14th, my friends who came to Soho a while ago are headed to Wilton's Music Hall, for something called The Box of Delights. And for once, I'm letting them decide for me, and am going myself too.

On the 15th, my final trip of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Jan Blake is performing Masters of Hex at the British Library. Along with Ben Haggerty and TUUP. Same friend going with me as on the 29th, and Helen too - and the same lunatic. Who will probably avoid us, and good enough for her. Next day, I'm back to Ireland for Christmas.

Flying back to London on the 2nd of January, and on the 3rd I've booked to see Stewart Lee at Leicester Square Theatre. Determinedly not in the front two rows - not for a comedy show!

On the 4th of January, I'm back with Up in the Cheap Seats (Happy New Year to them!), who are off to see Hanna, at the Arcola.

On the 5th of January, I thought Time Out threw me a curiously interesting event - so I'm going on this Space Descent VR experience, at the Science Museum. I'll have to leave work early for it - there are timed slots, and it consists of wearing goggles, and living the experience of a descent to earth, with the astronaut Tim Peake narrating in your ears.

On the 6th of January, Crick Crack is back! Happy New Year to them too. The story of When Time Began is being told at King's Place. Creation myths. And wouldn't you know it, we're being treated to a host of performers - the husband and wife team, Emily and Nick Hennessy, and co-founder of the club, the amazing Ben Haggerty. Accompaniment provided by the wonderful musician, Sheema Mukherjee.

On the 7th of January, another Happy new Year - this time to Let's Do This, who are off to an art exhibition. Gilbert & George: the Beard Pictures and their Fuckosophy. Sorry, but that is the title. Showing at the White Cube Gallery. Honestly, but for the group that's hosting, I wouldn't bother..

And finally, more art on the 8th of January, which I'll probably enjoy more. I'm taking the day off to go see Reflections at the National Gallery - an exhibition of Pre-Raphaelites, which, with a free day, I can peruse at my leisure. As inspired by a walk by the excellent London Literary Walks - roll on the summer, and a return of those!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Play - Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle

Today, I was finally booked to see Heisenberg: the Uncertainty Principle, at Wyndham's Theatre. Another that London Dramatic Arts saw before I could, and another I rescheduled - this from the 16th October, when I was with Up in the Cheap Seats. Another nominal fee to change. And they posted me physical tickets - how retro! However, when I met Mary on Tuesday (first time in weeks), she said, quite rightly, that we should make arrangements for a night out - and with iffy reviews for this, I suggested today. Well, but we hadn't agreed on anything, and when it came to this morning, she wasn't feeling the best - so off I schlepped, as booked.

A late start, so predictably, there was to be no interval. Being early, I sat in the lobby beforehand - gosh, the only time I've ever sat in a theatre lobby before this was when I was too late for the start, and they refused to let me in until a suitable moment! Well, tonight I sat in the lobby - I'd have had to go downstairs for the bar, which seemed like too much effort considering that I was sitting upstairs, and upstairs wasn't open yet. So I read the paper, and admired the ornate decor. And about half an hour before start time, they opened the upstairs and up I went. Where they tore my ticket, before realising that it was for the Upper Circle, which wasn't open. Back down I had to go to the box office, to be given a similar ticket - front row, centre - for the Royal Circle, one level down (with an accompanying "tsk" for the others having torn it.).


As close as I've been to the stage of any theatre in a while - perfect, view, decent legroom. I was well pleased with myself. Practically the entire row behind me was filled with a school group, who all had to shuffle up when a couple arrived who'd booked the aisle seats at the end near the door. I must say, the school group were well behaved - apart, perhaps, from the person right behind me, who sporadically found it satisfying to kick my seat, and at one point had a thing for fiddling with a plastic bottle. Can't say I blame them, it is quite satisfying  - and I found it somehow comforting. Of course, I was already in a good mood from the seating arrangement. Had my mother been there, now, there'd have been blue bloody murder..

So. This play bears very little relationship to the scientific principle after which it's named, although that does get a nod. Just a nod. Because this is a romantic comedy with two non-scientists in it, and the writer just threw it in, I suspect, because "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle" is a well-known phrase. So, forget that. Instead, what we get is a very sparse stage, all in white, with white furniture - a very clever one, with the walls contracting and expanding to fit the characters' moods, and furniture disappearing into the floor for scene changes.

The story starts with an elderly man, sat in what is meant to be a train station, who is approached by a much younger woman, who engages him in intense conversation. He is, of course, amazed - this is London, after all! Of course, she's American. Anyway, an unlikely love story develops.

Dunno why the reviews were so iffy - I loved it, thought it was really sweet! The script is witty, the characters engaging - and there's obviously a great rapport between the actors. Very glad I saw it - and as usual, very glad of the lack of an interval - if someone hadn't been in the office when I got back, and keen for chat, I'd have been home unusually early! Booking until 6th January - recommended.

Tomorrow, my annual trip to La Soirée! "Posh new venue", as they say - they're now in the Aldwych Theatre. Cheapest tickets at Amazon tickets - you save on the booking fee. I see they're another one to have a family-friendly version - La Petite Soirée!

Wednesday sees our office Christmas party! Mercifully, I've just found out it's not black tie this year - don't have to buy a new outfit, then! It's at Bounce - a pub with ping pong tables, wouldya believe?! We have a private room, with three such tables and a karaoke machine. I foresee a noisy night..!

I can't stay long though - have to be at Stansted at 6 in the morning of the 7th, for a trip to Nuremberg Christmas market with London European Club! We'll also be doing some travelling in the area. Helen liked the sound of it, and is coming too: sadly, not my Crick Crack friend, who can't swing the holiday time. We'll have a ball though! I just bought Lonely Planet's chapter on Bavaria, downloaded it, and have shared it with her - isn't it handy how you can buy individual chapters? Mercifully, although the crazy woman was supposed to go on this, she's pulled out. So, the plan is to stay in the new place, the night before..

Back late on Sunday, and next Monday - having taken the day off work (I'll be exhausted) - I'm off to the Barbershop Chronicles. At the National. Mind you, I've suggested this as an alternative for Mary - we'll see.

On the 12th, I've just booked a Funzing talk - Interviews With a Serial Killer, courtesy of London Speaks Sessions and LDN Talks @ Night. For which, with their new loyalty scheme, I earned £10 credit! Not so shabby..

On the 13th, my last visit of the year to Sands Films - finally advertised on Meetup, through the World Music MeetupTunedIn London has a concert by Plastikes Karekles, a Greek group. However, the friend I've been persuading to go to the Crick Crack events has suggested that night for a nostalgic trip, by some of us, to Top Secret - I would rather do that, so we'll see whether we can get it together!

On the 14th, my friends who came to Soho a while ago are headed to Wilton's Music Hall, for something called The Box of Delights. And for once, I'm letting them decide for me, and am going myself too.

On the 15th, my final trip of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Jan Blake is performing Masters of Hex at the British Library. Along with Ben Haggerty and TUUP. Same friend going with me as on the 29th, and Helen too - and the same lunatic. Who will probably avoid us, and good enough for her. Next day, I'm back to Ireland for Christmas.

Flying back to London on the 2nd of January, and on the 3rd I've booked to see Stewart Lee at Leicester Square Theatre. Determinedly not in the front two rows - not for a comedy show!

On the 4th of January, I'm back with Up in the Cheap Seats (Happy New Year to them!), who are off to see Hanna, at the Arcola.

On the 5th of January, I thought Time Out threw me a curiously interesting event - so I'm going on this Space Descent VR experience, at the Science Museum. I'll have to leave work early for it - there are timed slots, and it consists of wearing goggles, and living the experience of a descent to earth, with the astronaut Tim Peake narrating in your ears.

On the 6th of January, Crick Crack is back! Happy New Year to them too. The story of When Time Began is being told at King's Place. Creation myths. And wouldn't you know it, we're being treated to a host of performers - the husband and wife team, Emily and Nick Hennessy, and co-founder of the club, the amazing Ben Haggerty. Accompaniment provided by the wonderful musician, Sheema Mukherjee.

On the 7th of January, another Happy new Year - this time to LDT, who are off to an art exhibition. Gilbert & George: the Beard Pictures and their Fuckosophy. Sorry, but that is the title. Showing at the White Cube Gallery. Honestly, but for the group that's hosting, I wouldn't bother..

And finally, more art on the 8th of January, which I'll probably enjoy more. I'm taking the day off to go see Reflections at the National Gallery - an exhibition of Pre-Raphaelites, which, with a free day, I can peruse at my leisure. As inspired by a walk by the excellent London Literary Walks - roll on the summer, and a return of those!

Friday, 1 December 2017

Blues Club & Jam, Crick Crack's 30th Birthday Party, and Play: St. George and the Dragon

Tuesday, I was back with Let's Do This! (LDT) at a place called The Fiddler's Elbow, for a Blues Club & Jam. Be good to see them again! I hadn't been there before, but figured, being in Camden, it wouldn't be hard for me to get to. Sure enough, a direct bus from just up the road, and I was there just a little after the scheduled time - work beckoned, as it often does.

No problem whatsoever in finding the place - the bus runs right past it! I happened to run into one of our group on the way in - and inside, there was our organiser, perched on a sofa in the dark. Outside of the circle just in front of the stage, that pretty much describes the whole pub. I started by getting a reasonably priced wine (one variety, one size) from the friendly, Irish barman, and was glad of having cash - there's an £8 minimum on cards, here. Took my drink down to the sofa, and we waited for the others to arrive. There were just about enough of us to make it snug on the sofa, but we all fitted - well, with one on a chair.



Retro, we agreed! Terrific atmosphere - there was a chap with a clipboard, and pretty much the entire front-of-stage area was occupied by musicians, whose names he took. For the rest of the night, he put them together, in varying combinations, and they jammed. Apparently, Tuesdays are the only night they do this, and not every Tuesday either. But it made for some very mellow sounds. Terrific venue, I'd love to come back!

The toilets made for an interesting excursion:



Just a pity about the unmentionable stuff on the floor - watch your step in there! But it was a good night. Bitterly cold wait for the bus home, mind. Sadly, I've gone over my data allowance for the month on my phone, and it wasn't convenient to come into the office from that side - so I went to bed, and skipped the blog. I was tired anyway! Plus I had to allow for the possibility of an early meeting next morning - didn't happen, in the end.

On Wednesday, the Crick Crack Club had their long-awaited 30th birthday party at Rich Mix. Advertised by their Meetup group, I see, months after tickets went on sale. A friend was going to this. Oh, and the crazy lady had a ticket - honestly, I was rather apprehensive about that. But this was too good to have her prevent me from going!

I had an eye out for her as soon as I arrived, but there was no sign. Got my hand stamped, and as soon as I went in, I saw my friend - he'd messaged me while I was on my way anyway, to say he'd got the front row. He sure had - front and centre! Excellent. I dropped my stuff and made my way to the bar - he wanted hot chocolate, but you had to go to the adjacent restaurant for that, they don't serve hot drinks in the main space, although you can bring them in.

We had to crane our necks slightly, being so close to the stage, but never mind. Storytellers abounded in the corners, those who weren't performing on stage managing things down the back. I saw Nell Phoenix - who's cut her hair, I think - and some guy in a hat, whom I recognised but whose name I never did get. I spent my time before the start explaining to my companion who various people were - and why no, I didn't want him to keep a seat for the other person I knew whom I'd asked him whether he'd seen..

Ben Haggerty mc-ed, as usual. And started us off, with a diverting tale of a traveller who tricked a couple into giving him their house for the night.. terrific tale, which is one I'll repeat to anyone who gives me an excuse. As was the next, told by the inimitable Clare Murphy. As my friend remarked afterwards, he could see why she is my favourite! As I replied, only she could get away with the Oirishness of this tale, as she had us rolling in the aisles with the story of Gorteen, the bachelor farmer, and the beautiful woman that finally entranced him! Hilarious, and beautifully recounted - you could visualise perfectly the scenes she described, in word and gesture. And yes, the customs and traditions are - historically - accurate!

She was followed by Tim Ralphs, with a ditty he'd composed about, er, some members of the porn industry who were rendered unemployed by certain scientific developments! This first section was finished by Jan Blake, who - apparently at the request of Ben, who'd asked them all to tell those stories of theirs that he liked best - reprised her baudy story of Herbie and Mrs. Johnson! Has to be heard.. I couldn't possibly reproduce it in print: not and do it justice!

And so into the first break - and we were told there was cake, down the back! Several different kinds too, all homemade by someone in the club, and a big chocolate "30"! which they were waiting on a knife for. (Wouldn't you know it, as I made my way for cake, I discovered myself right behind the crazy woman! Bypassed her, made for the back, and came round the other side when I was done. I can do without that weirdness.) My companion, of course, had no idea whom I was talking about, and was all for catching the attention of the "Man with the Hat's group member", sitting over there! Took me a minute to bring him up to speed on why we shouldn't do that.

The second part was started by Hugh Lupton. Tim Ralphs gave us another tune, and we had Sally Pomme-Clayton, who told us a story of Old Crow, with Jan Blake finishing with a story of enchantment. And so into a second break.

We'd spied a harp, over to the side, which had been waiting all night - sure enough, at the start of the third and final part, Nick Hennessy brought it onstage and set it up. (I see he has a mailing list, to which I just subscribed - blast it, I missed something he was doing in London last month!) We had Tuup - who'd been pattering on his drum all the time he was onstage, and finally got his chance to shine with a cheeky tale of a woman that outsmarted her husband! This most excellent night finished with Daniel Morden - and what a showcase the night was of great storytelling! Well done to all.

No sign of Crazy Lady on the way out - she probably left early, and good riddance. Honestly though, imagine ending a friendship because a - free - ticket she'd been given turned out to be restricted view! There are some very strange people in the world, and I'm better off without them. Anyway, another freezing journey home, and another non-blogging night. 
Yesterday, LDT was off to.. Saint George and the Dragon, at the National! Now, when this was advertised, I remembered having booked it already. Checked, and discovered that was during my week in Stockholm - so I was happy to book it again. Completely forgot, of course, that I was already booked for another date, with Up in the Cheap Seats. But then, of course, I couldn't go to that either.. third time lucky! Reviews, however, were mixed.

I wandered down in decent time, on another bitterly cold evening - it had even snowed in the morning! We met in the lobby, and climbed the long, long way to the Olivier Circle (unusual for me to have time to do that). All seats here are decent, and ours were in Row D - in a practically deserted theatre! Although the stalls filled up a bit before the start, the circle never did, and I think we were as far back as anyone. Until the second half, anyway, when the people beside me decided they wanted more space, and moved to the row behind.


Interesting stage design - as one remarked, they always have, here. A vertiginous 3D effect, with houses perched high on the wall - projections suggest additional design features that weren't actually built. The stage also revolves, revealing a hidden compartment under the lip that is initially at the back, which allows more intimate, and indoor, scenes to be played.

I didn't really know what to expect from this play, whose promotional photo shows St. George, in mediaeval armour, looking a bit glum as he has a fry-up at a greasy spoon. In a way, it does exactly what it says on the tin - they have poor St. George travel through the ages, fighting a succession of different dragons as he goes.

So, in the first part, you're lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that this is a conventional, mediaeval drama, as he appears, fights a - reasonably - conventional dragon, saves the damsel, then has to speed off again - more dragons to be slain, don'tcha know? Funny script, and seriously good surround sound effects for the dragon in this part - and the dragon is visually dramatic, if not quite up to CGI standard.

Well, after vanquishing the dragon (spoiler), he leaves on his quest, urging the villagers to strive for more, and for better. By 'eck, they manage a lot in the year he's away - 700-odd years of progress, and they have factories, locomotives - and dragons of a different nature. That brought us up to the break, where I slipped out to the loo, and to get some chocolate (which was dinner - they're out of bread in the office, except seeded, which I don't like).

After the break, not as much progress - they only managed to progress to the present day. But how can George make himself relevant in modern society? Indeed, do we even want him to? and if not, why not? Maybe his view is too black and white? Maybe we don't want to give up our achievements, even if they are damaging us as a society? Very interesting, thought-provoking play - I liked it very much, and it's a shame all those seats were left empty. Finishes tomorrow - do go see!

With the cold, and the lateness of the hour, we didn't drink, after. More sparkly lights on the way home:


And with a triple blog to write, it ran too late to finish it last night. But lookee, I managed it eventually!
Tonight, I'm back to Ireland again. In time for the Toy Show, yay!

On Monday, I'm finally booked to see Heisenberg: the Uncertainty Principle, at Wyndham's Theatre. Another that London Dramatic Arts saw before I could, and another I rescheduled - this from the 16th October, when I was with Up in the Cheap Seats. Another nominal fee to change. And they posted me physical tickets - how retro! However, when I met Mary on Tuesday (first time in weeks), she said, quite rightly, that we should make arrangements for a night out - and with iffy reviews for this, I suggested Monday as a day. Now, if we could only agree on something to do..

On Tuesday, my annual trip to La Soirée! "Posh new venue", as they say - they're now in the Aldwych Theatre. Cheapest tickets at Amazon tickets - you save on the booking fee. I see they're another one to have a family-friendly version - La Petite Soirée!

Wednesday sees our office Christmas party! Mercifully, I've just found out it's not black tie this year - don't have to buy a new outfit, then! It's at Bounce - a pub with ping pong tables, wouldya believe?! We have a private room, with three such tables and a karaoke machine. I foresee a noisy night..!

I can't stay long though - have to be at Stansted at 6 in the morning of the 7th, for a trip to Nuremberg Christmas market with London European Club! We'll also be doing some travelling in the area. Helen liked the sound of it, and is coming too: sadly, not my Crick Crack friend, who can't swing the holiday time. We'll have a ball though! I just bought Lonely Planet's chapter on Bavaria, downloaded it, and have shared it with her - isn't it handy how you can buy individual chapters? Mercifully, although the crazy woman was supposed to go on this, she's pulled out. So, the plan is to stay in the new place, the night before..

Back late on the 10th, and on the 11th - having taken the day off work (I'll be exhausted) - I'm off to the Barbershop Chronicles. At the National.

On the 12th, I've just booked a Funzing talk - Interviews With a Serial Killer, courtesy of London Speaks Sessions and LDN Talks @ Night. For which, with their new loyalty scheme, I earned £10 credit! Not so shabby..

On the 13th, my last visit of the year to Sands Films - finally advertised on Meetup, through the World Music MeetupTunedIn London has a concert by Plastikes Karekles, a Greek group. However, the friend I've been persuading to go to the Crick Crack events has suggested that night for a nostalgic trip, by some of us, to Top Secret - I would rather do that, so we'll see whether we can get it together!

On the 14th, my friends who came to Soho a while ago are headed to Wilton's Music Hall, for something called The Box of Delights. And for once, I'm letting them decide for me, and am going myself too.

On the 15th, my final trip of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Jan Blake is performing Masters of Hex at the British Library. Along with Ben Haggerty and TUUP. Same friend going with me as on the 29th, and Helen too - and the same lunatic. Who will probably avoid us, and good enough for her. Next day, I'm back to Ireland for Christmas.

Flying back to London on the 2nd of January, and on the 3rd I've booked to see Stewart Lee at Leicester Square Theatre. Determinedly not in the front two rows - not for a comedy show!

On the 4th of January, I'm back with Up in the Cheap Seats (Happy New Year to them!), who are off to see Hanna, at the Arcola.

On the 5th of January, I thought Time Out threw me a curiously interesting event - so I'm going on this Space Descent VR experience, at the Science Museum. I'll have to leave work early for it - there are timed slots, and it consists of wearing goggles, and living the experience of a descent to earth, with the astronaut Tim Peake narrating in your ears.

On the 6th of January, Crick Crack is back! Happy New Year to them too. The story of When Time Began is being told at King's Place. Creation myths. And wouldn't you know it, we're being treated to a host of performers - the husband and wife team, Emily and Nick Hennessy, and co-founder of the club, the amazing Ben Haggerty. Accompaniment provided by the wonderful musician, Sheema Mukherjee.

On the 7th of January, another Happy new Year - this time to LDT, who are off to an art exhibition. Gilbert & George: the Beard Pictures and their Fuckosophy. Sorry, but that is the title. Showing at the White Cube Gallery. Honestly, but for the group that's hosting, I wouldn't bother..

And finally, more art on the 8th of January, which I'll probably enjoy more. I'm taking the day off to go see Reflections at the National Gallery - an exhibition of Pre-Raphaelites, which, with a free day, I can peruse at my leisure. As inspired by a walk by the excellent London Literary Walks - roll on the summer, and a return of those!