Monthly Archives: July 2009

On plinths and mentalists

On Saturday afternoon Chris and I went to London. First stop: Trafalgar Square. The famous tourist trap and pigeon restaurant is currently playing host to a bonkers piece of art called One and Other. As art goes it’s not entirely my manbag, since I like my art to be in some sense permanent and very definitely lacking a pulse. The idea is that, every hour, 24 hours a day, for 100 days, someone gets to stand on top of the reserved-for-future-wars empty plinth and do whatever takes their (legal) fancy. It’s broadcast constantly on one of Sky’s zero-viewer Arts channels; I like to think it has a Come Dine With Me sarcy voiceover.

Quite what makes this art I’m not sure. By the same token Big Brother is art.

The plinth occupier upon our visit was a woman who occasionally threw paper aeroplanes but did little else. She did have a wendy house adorned with a charity logo, though; similarly branded chuggers were shaking their buckets illegally at bemused Spaniards in a small radius. This exciting yet deeply dull sight I immediately tweeted to an eager world.

We lasted about ten minutes before looking for a pub. You will hear a different story about this from Chris. Mine is true.

“Let’s find a pub off the beaten track!” he said.

“We’re in the middle of London. There’s no such thing,” I replied.

“OK, then let’s get lost. You have an iPhone, we can always find out where we are.”

We headed roughly in the direction of Leicester Square. Chris navigated. Left here, right here. A tell-tale pagoda indicated Chinatown. Cross this road.

At this point I started giggling. “You have no idea where we are, do you?” I said.

“Since you’re laughing, I imagine you do.”

“Yeah.” I pointed at the sign saying Old Compton Street.

We found a bar and sat by the window, watching the gays promenade. I tested Chris on his straightdar: you can always tell the heterosexual couples in a gay environment since they hold hands, paw each other or are otherwise blatantly affectionate. Bless their insecure little ways.

After a drink or two we went to Mildred’s and met up with my friend Damon for a splendid meal. Then the main event: Derren Brown’s new show Enigma at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand.

I will say very little about the show to avoid spoiling it (Derren also asked nicely). But I can confirm that it’s pretty damn good – jaw-dropping in places. The ending is very clever indeed and you leave the theatre with mind suitably blown. Chris was desperate to be one of the few Chosen Ones selected by frisbee to go on stage, but failed by one row (the person directly in front of us got to go). Oh, we did work out one trick; but others, no luck.

At one point in the show Derren Walked Amongst Us and was briefly beside Chris, who whispered “we love you” at him (yes, he had been drinking). Derren didn’t hear, thankfully.

Amazing show. See it if you can.

Avaragado’s rating: is written on the back of a playing card inside a sealed envelope



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Harry Potter and the Onset of Puberty

Well, OK, maybe a bit more than that happens. You know, Dementors and stuff. The obligatory broomstick hockey (as well as the tonsil hockey). Some comedy pratfalling with the world’s oldest teenager, Ron Weasley (“he looks about 40” – C. Walsh). Dodgy acting. A great deal of nudge-winkery.

It’s a looong film for such a slender plot. Did Things Of Great Import happen that would only make sense to a trufan? If so, that seems a leetle faily to me. If not, they should have chopped half an hour off it.

Everyone’s in it, as usual. Gambon expositing Dumbledore, Rickman indistinguishable from sliced pig, Robbie Coltrane in platforms, Maggie Smith being professionally Scottish, etc. Jim Broadbent is good value. The young Tom Riddle (shown in flashback) is played by the humorously named Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, and yes, he is the nephew of Ralph Fiennes. He makes a good job of the role, I think, so maybe it wasn’t entirely nepotism. Poor lad has the middle name Beauregard apparently (and a sister Mercy, brother Titan, and clearly idiot parents).

Is there anything more to say? It’s film six, after all, and mostly magic-by-numbers. Not the best of the six, very much setting things up for the final two films (book seven being considered the last chance to make money too complex a story for one film).

Avaragado’s rating: butter

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One Wedding and a Barbecue

Forgive me readers for I have sinned. It is one month since my last blog. However, I shall make amends with three in quick succession.

A couple of weekends ago a number of us travelled to Winchester to see the family Shire. Several of our happy band stayed in a 1960s hotel apparently designed before the invention of the curve. To call it ‘boxy’ would be like calling the Pacific Ocean ‘slightly damp’. However, the rooms were pleasant enough and there was free entertainment in the form of a wedding reception taking place around us. The ratio of tattoos to bridesmaids was sufficiently high to make the playing of Una Paloma Blanca in the adjoining disco a desperate inevitability.

I briefly enjoyed myself watching slightly squiffy guests fail to deal with an automatic door that didn’t. Each of them entered the magic zone, hesitated in pathetic expectation, and wafted at the HAL 9000 sensor watching darkly over them. I explained repeatedly to ever-deaf ears how the vaguely foreign receptionist was busy rebooting Windows for Doors or whatever to make it work again. The rufty-tufty blokes of course tried to manhandle the puny door open, to no avail. I ventured to a middle-aged couple how I was glad there was no fire, but I don’t think they got my point. They were probably wondering who the hell I was, standing in the middle of a hotel/wedding reception and certainly not dressed for the occasion.

The hotel in all its Tetris ugliness squats right next to Winchester Cathedral. A fine view for some from their hotel window; the glory of the council offices for others, including me. Still, that wasn’t why we were there.

It being the height of summer, we walked in increasingly threatening clouds to Andy and Lisa’s. There we spent an enjoyable afternoon and evening indoors watching Andy and Bob trying to keep dry while tending the barbecue. We all ate far too much, as per. Alcohol was consumed (but not by me: still waiting for the all-clear from the doc). Children ran around and latched onto Chef and Chris for entertainment purposes.

Next morning we breakfasted early at the hotel to avoid the wedding guests, who were scheduled to descend en masse at 9am. We were also just ahead of them when checking out a couple of hours later. The usual wandering with cameras followed, punctuated by the standard pub visit (“the best pub in town” – A. Shire) and a refuelling stop at Pizza Express (where “express” was not the word of the day thanks to the crowds of families).

Photos: me, Lynda, Andy Heckford, Chris, Melanie.


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