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St Paul’s Cathedral: From Richmond Park.
December 10, 2016, 6:19 pm
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There is a good story behind this photo I took through a telescope this afternoon..

By Royal decree (George the Third possibly) this view of St Paul’s Cathedral from 10 miles away in Richmond Park, is protected.

Viewed through a telescope you peer through an avenue of trees that are pruned annually by a helicopter carrying some sort of fuck off tree pruning saw.

On top of this, London’s planning law says nothing,  NOTHING, can obstruct this view.

So all of London’s vanity buildings can only be built behind, not in front, of it.

Mental.

But glorious.



Ragtime at the Charing Cross Theatre

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Ragtime is the greatest musical ever written.

Of that there is no question.

But how well it is performed is another question.

My fondness for the original cast recording on Broadway is muted.  My own youth theatre’s performance in the 2009 Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a lifetime high.  The Regents Park open air show was good, but odd.

Take four then.

Thom Southerland’s, off West End, production at The Charing Cross Theatre.

First off.  This is a brilliant theatre.  Great box office and bar staff.  Nice loos.  Reasonably priced drinks (and tickets).  All good.

Now for the bad news.

I travelled to London at short notice and paid £120 for my train ticket, such was my enthusiasm to see its penultimate performance, but having arrived at the theatre the show was delayed by 30 minutes because Nolan Frederick (Booker T. Washington) has been taken ill.  Rather than cancelling the show the cast, crew and production team had rapidly pulled together a compromise.  A semi staged concert performance.

That did not bode well.

But, and it’s a huge but, what followed was a performance that I feel sure had more, not less, gusto than its normal 5 star delivery as each actor sought to make the most of an unfortunate situation.

What transpired was a masterpiece.

The performances were, universally, outrageously brilliant and the stand in for Nolan Frederick, an ensemble tuba playing cast member, Lemuel Knights, was spot on from start to finish.

This is a great production.

A really great production.

With cast doubling up as orchestra playing everything from to Cello to Recorder (and that’s just Joanna Hickman as Evelyn Nesbitt).  Accordion, Tuba, Banjo, Guitar, Drums, Piano (of course), Flute, Piccolo all feature prominantly.

The political nous of the piece can never have been higher as Britain wallows in something approaching mass hysteria about immigration.  The rise of the immigrant Tateh (amazingly performed by Gary Tushaw) is like a two fingered salute to the evil that is Nigel Farage.

And the dignity and stoicism of Ako Mitchell’s Coalhouse (and metaphorically his and Sarah’s baby) sets the scene for the contribution of the ‘negroes’ that have risen to the ultimate prominence as Barack Obama vacates the White House for an ungracious white supremacist.

I cannot praise this highly enough.  E.L. Doctorow’s source novel is a classic,  and McNally, Flaherty and Ahren’s take on it cannot actually be performed any better than this.

A special mention to Samuel Peterson and Riya Vyas (adorable) as the little boy and girl.

A very, very special moment in my life that I will never forget.



Time: Person of the year 2012
December 8, 2016, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

No need to comment.

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Donald Trump: Person of the Year 2016
December 8, 2016, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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How can one argue with this?

This was the year of the Donald.

Time is at pains to point out that Person of the year is about impact, not good.

Trump had the impact of the meteor that may have killed the dinosaurs.

And he would argue that that’s a good analogy.

I see him as an arrogant, misogynistic, racist bastard.

Time will tell.

But, yes, Time, he was unquestionably the person of the year.

It was interesting to see that Nigel Farage featured on the list.

I will resist commenting on that.

 

 



My 8 years of Royal Lyceum Theatre bliss…
December 7, 2016, 10:47 am
Filed under: Arts, creativity, life, music, theatre, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

 

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Amy Manson in Caucasian Chalk Circle

Bliss?  Blessed more like.

I have had the extreme privilege of spending 8 years on the board of The Royal Lyceum Theatre Company in Edinburgh and last night it came to a close.  Good governance rules said two terms of four years was my limit and so I’ve had to move on.

I have plenty of alternative pursuits to engage me but I wanted to publicly thank the staff and fellow board members of this venerable institution for making it eight years of sublime mental stimulation, a huge schoolroom, both artistically and professionally and the scene of more parties than anywhere else in my life.

It has been monumental.

Now, it would’t be me if I wasn’t to choose a few favourites and so my top ten from my period on the board are as follows…

Caucasian Chalk Circle: Mark Thomson (my all time favourite)

Waiting for Godot: Mark Thomson 

Educating Agnes: Tony Cownie

The Venetian Twins: Tony Cownie

Bondagers: Lu Kemp

Pressure: John Dove

The Crucible: John Dove

The Suppliant Women: Ramin Gray

Dunsinane: Roxana Silbert

Hidden (various directors for Lyceum Youth Theatre)



Best Music of 2016. It’s out now.

Free to a good home.

This is my 10th instalment, having begun the tradition in 2007.  (It’s the best year for donkeys.)

There is a strong electronic (4songs) and hip hop/dance (also 4 songs) element this year.

With fewer female solo artists than I’ve become known for (only 2 in fact).

It opens with Bowie’s closer and closes with Kosmicher Laufer’s opener. (For those not in the know they are a Leith based 1972 East German Olympic Athletics team training regime music spoof, redolent of early Kraftwerk – so what’s not to love.)

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A fresh new addition to Christmas music by the wonderful Kacey Musgraves.
December 2, 2016, 6:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I hate Christmas songs but I like this.