Category Archives: London

Reviews of places, events, and things of interest in London

65,000 people sing Bohemian Rhapsody before Green Day gig

This has been around for a week or so but thought I would share as it makes me smile and if I want to see it again, I can just come here. With all the shite going on in the world this is just uplifting.

This was in Hyde Park in a city I have spent half my life in – London. A city that knows how to have fun. The clip was filmed as the crowd waited to see Green Day at a sell out gig of 65,000+. Mrs Word of Ward and I would have been there if we had been in London and in previous summers have seen the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and so on. The vibe is superb as you can probably tell in the clip.

In this case the drummer’s camera was on and the speakers played Bohemian Rhapsody. Londoners love a sing a long and everyone loves Queen. It’s not often you hear 65,000 people sing. Enjoy:

Augmented reality bus stop

This has been doing the rounds on the internet, but in case you missed it I thought I would share because it is bloody genius. I keep meaning to pop down to New Oxford street (it’s in London) and see if it is still there. Personally, I think they could go a lot further and have zombies, Triffids, psychopathic clowns, Daleks, Stormtroopers, Cthulu, Godzilla, the Borg, giant mechanoids, the Blob… well, I could actually go on all day. If I was trying to promote a film or a game I would be all over this augmented reality technology thingy but sadly I am not, so will just gawk at it instead.

Fuerza Bruta

Fuertza Bruta

Fuertza Bruta

I saw this last night at the Roundhouse in Camden (London) and if you want the short version of the review:

It was awesome, go and see it.

Now for a more lengthy version. I had no idea what to expect from Fuerza Bruta as every review I had read struggled to accurately describe what happens. I’m not going to lie – this will probably be the same. But it might at least give you a taster.

Here is a basic rundown of how things happened and what goes on:

At the start of the show we, the milling crowd, were led to the central section of the Roundhouse into what could be described as a circular circus tent that was missing a roof. The audience was immediately herded toward the centre of the room where we waited and sipped drinks and were treated to techno that sounded a bit like a heartbeat. A heartbeat from an increasingly excited person. Then the lights dimmed and Fuerza Bruta began.

_DSC6097.JPGAt first no one knew where to look. Then, people gradually turned in one direction where there was a guy silhouetted in an orange light welcoming us and shouting a bit. Then the lights came on and there was a row of Argentinian drummers. As their drumbeats filled the air a group of shouting people suddenly swung from out of nowhere and skimmed over our heads while at the same time lights started to strobe and the air was filled with confetti. This was what Fuertza Bruta was all about – spectacle, sensation, and an incredibly fun interactive experience.

The show was essentially three acts that were linked by drums, dancing, music and sensory assault. As things changed, the audience was expertly moved and parted to allow sets and machines to be brought among us.

FuerzaBrutaFor the first act, we were split into two groups as a huge treadmill was wheeled in amongst us. Then an unstoppable man began an inexplicable journey. He walks, then runs, with wind and confetti blasting in his face. Suddenly there is a shot, blood appears on his shirt and he stops for second seemingly about to collapse. Then he takes the shirt off, revealing an identical one underneath, and gets going once more. I won’t go into too much detail but there are obstacles such as people, chairs, walls that explode into glitter, staircases and more, as this plucky fellow miraculously pounds ahead with music blaring and strobe lights strobing. Fuertza Bruta means ‘brute force’ and it clearly stemmed from this amazing set piece.

fuerza-bruta-2-816x1024After another few moments of ‘where the hell should I look now’ and a dash of ‘what’s going to happen next’ eyes strayed to the ceiling. Two large rectangular pools made from see though plastic where suspended above us. A light shining through revealed the body of a lithe young lady lying in a shallow pool of water. As the pools were lowered toward us she was joined by other lithe women and a strangely beautiful (and beautifully strange) dance occurs as the ladies writhe and leap and occasionally slam down in an explosion of purple-lit water. At times this occurs inches from the audience’s head and if you are tall enough you can push the plastic bottom of the pool as the performers slide over. It was such an amazing atmosphere and unique spectacle that it felt only a tiniest bit pervy.

1240-3-fuerza-brutaFor Fuerza Bruta’s final act a plastic sheet is pulled across the top of the audience – by the audience themselves – which is then filled with air to create a big plastic dome. Performers then appear on top of this dome and peep through via three holes. At one point they dropped into the audience and grabbed a couple of people, which was a tad disconcerting. Other madness occurs such as tubes with flying people and fans billowing and music and general shenanigans. By this point our senses had been pretty heavily assaulted by wonder and we calmly took it in our stride.It is then all nicely rounded off with the drummers and the whole cast dancing.

The above description is just a taste of what Fuerza Bruta is all about. There is a lot more I haven’t even mentioned. It is a spectacle where art meets performance and if that sounds pretentious then I should also add that it is messy, loud and bloody good fun.

If you are in London, it is on at the Roundhouse (which is an awesome venue anyway and well worth a visit) until the 2nd of March. More info here. It also appears all over the world, but I suspect only in major cities as it needs venues actually capable of holding the show.

In case my feeble description of Fuerza Bruta isn’t enough to wet your insatiable appetite, here are a couple of videos. Enjoy and then book tickets – it’s worth it.

Fuerza Bruta at the Roundhouse ad:

And a generic ad (from the New York show I think):

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LLSB – Long Live Southbank

Even without everything going on Southbank is a nice spot

Even without everything going on Southbank is a nice spot

This is primarily about the LLSB, Long Live Southbank campaign but it also rambles charmingly on about London in general. So if you aren’t a Londoner but one day hope to visit, consider this an incentive. Alternatively, if you are into skateboarding, check out the video at the end.

southbank human statueOne of the joys of being a Londoner is just the sheer amount of stuff that is going on all the time. Truly if you are bored of London, you are a boring bastard indeed. There is not just so much going on that you feel guilty every time you browse an issue of Time Out, there is also a ridiculous variety of things all around. I love all the book readings by famous authors, comedy nights, world famous bands playing live, the greatest selection of theatres on the planet, the markets, the pubs, parks, and random events like boat races/fireworks/pageants/random art happenings/street performances, etc. There are also things I don’t really give a shit about – opera, human statues, invigorating swims outside in the winter, performance art, vegetarian restaurants, chessboxing, religion, skateboarding, and so on.

But just because I don’t give a shit about these latter examples doesn’t mean I don’t want them around. They add something to the city.

Southbank-bookstallFor example, a place I love is the Southbank. This stretch on the south side of the Thames holds pretty much everything I have mentioned in both lists (not sure about chessboxing but I wouldn’t be surprised). It has Shakespeare’s Globe theatre (which must be experienced), the British Film Institute, the London Eye, Tate Modern, second hand books stalls, bars, restaurants, theatres and art galleries. It even has a beach!

It has also a place for skateboarders which has been there since I was a kid. As I said, I don’t really care much about skateboarding but the Southbank skateboard park is something I would be very sad to see disappear. It adds to London’s diversity. It seems a fun place for all the young youth-types to hang around. It’s always a laugh watching someone trying to show off and falling flat on their face. Besides, the area has been dedicated to the skateboarders for 40 years. Everyone likes it, including tourists.

LFA-south-bank-skateboarding_jpg_573x380_crop_q85The problem, no matter what the council’s argument claims to be, is that the skateboarders don’t make any money for Lambeth whereas a Starbucks/Wagamamas/Nandos/whatever will.

If the Southbank skateboard park is shut and replaced with chain shops/restaurants, it can only be a bad thing for a city trying to stay one of the top places for art,creativity, and diversity. I think it will be a massive shame to lose this. So do lots of others. Consequently, the LLSB or Long Live Southbank was set up.

I wrote most of this because they have now made a short video that they want to try and go viral. It’s actually really interesting, even if you aren’t into skateboarding. (Their website is here and is worth a look: http://www.llsb.com/)

At least watch the video and make your mind up. I learned some new things.

 

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Rising seas interactive map

A friend just posted this on Facebook. It’s basically a map that shows what will happen if the sea levels rise due to all the ice melting. I have a house in Essex, live in London and will probably end up living in Bangkok at some point. According to this map, I should practice swimming. I found it interesting and thought I would share. There is a link below this picture of a damper than usual Europe.

RS_Web_EU_8M_v3

Rising Seas Interactive Map link

Thanks National Geographic.

 

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London in the 20s. Colour video!

I saw this on Facebook and felt the need to share. It’s pretty amazing to see colour video from the 20s and this is even more amazing if you happen to be a Londoner. It’s mad to think that my teenage grandad might be in one of these shots, taken almost 100 years ago. It was certainly a glorious time if you like to wear hats. Enjoy.

Live London Tube Map

Ok this isn’t Thailand OR beach related. Happy? If you are a trainspotter or a Londoner, you will probably find this pretty cool. It shows the position of every tube train in London. Live. Something even the guys who work in the little booths claim they can’t do when you ask them ‘Where the bollocks is my train?’ It must be magic. Anyway, I thought it was pretty interesting. For a bit. Here’s the link:

traintimes.org.uk/map/tube/

Coming to you live from Bangkok!

Dear readers, I apologise most profusely for my lack writing. But I do have a pretty awesome excuse.

I hate moving

I left my flat of 4 years and had to pack everything in storage. As anyone who has ever moved apartment will know, this was a massive stressful ball-ache. Not just the lifting but calling half of Britain to cancel direct debits. Just try calling Camden council and you will see that the stress induced is reason enough for my not having time to write.

Not enough?

I am in the final stage of my degree and am now entering the ‘Massive Bastard Essays’ stage. I have two huge fiction essays to write and accompanying essays of several 1000s of words. This is all while moving. I probably shouldn’t be writing this in fact.

More?

As well as being technically homeless, I am now technically unemployed as well. I probably shouldn’t say this but both of those facts are brilliant and I love being in this state of limbo. Consequently though, I am now constantly scouring the job pages to persuade someone, anyone, to hire me. To do anything. I work in TV, write fiction, am a journalist, and can teach, so please send me an offer at thewordofward@gmail.com. This leads on to the next time consuming point.

Final excuse:

This photo could well be in colour.

I also left Britain. Quite frankly, it was cold and the natives were grumpy. Maybe these points are connected. I flew to my old home and place of birth – Hong Kong. I bloody love it there and in the 5 days we stayed we drank, met people, and generally revelled in the futuristic awesomeness that is Hong Kong. Superb place. I also applied for some jobs while there in addition to looking at property and writing the aforementioned essays. Busy but brilliant times.

Hong Kong is from the future

The next stop was the current one. Bangkok! Again, a place where I have lived and loved and lagered. I spent a couple of years as a journalist here and that is another option on the cards. I have spent the last week looking up old contacts and going out with friends. A lot. Oh yeah, and the essays.

Bangkok!

So there you go. I’ve been a busy boy so cut me some slack. If you are rich and live in Hong Kong/ Bangkok/ Singapore and want to hire someone to write some stuff or work in a TV studio you own, give me shout. Then I can write more here as well and everyone’s happy.

In case you feel a twinge of pity, there really is no need. I am headed to this beach in a couple of days. Bye for now.

Railay Beach

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Death at the Wellcome Collection

No this isn’t Agatha Christie novel, it’s an art exhibition. About Death. Which was brilliant.

A painting about death

The exhibition comprises over 300 pieces of art, sculpture, anthropological pieces, and more. I’m no expert but I thought it was brilliantly curated. Great lighting, well presented, and er, other curatorial goodness. The first room is full of art relating to death with lots of ‘Memento Mori’ – which is Latin for ‘Remember your mortality’ or ‘Remember your going to die’ (I did 5 years of Latin at school and it just paid off). Then things diverse into skulls, masks, models, pictures, and even cool things like a bone candelabra. It’s downright fascinating.

I would have liked a bit more anthropology however. There were some really cool masks and statues but they were so interesting I wanted a few more. It is a minor quibble though.

Here are some photos to give you an idea of just quite how much Death is on display:

This was particularly gruesome

Death: A self-portrait is on at the Wellcome collection until the 24th of February. It is well worth a visit and like all exhibitions at the superb Wellcome collection, it is free. So if you’re in London, check it out.

Here is a video about it:
http://youtu.be/ZDybI1vRSbE
The Wellcome collection is at 183 Euston Road, London (opposite the main entrance to Euston).

For more info, click this link. Death: A self portrait.

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Ansel Adams – Photography from the mountains to the sea

I saw this exhibition yesterday at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (London). It was downright awe inspiring. Alongside Cartier Bresson, Adams is probably my favorite photographer in equal first place. I guess I’m a sucker for black and white photos.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is best known for his stunningly detailed photographs of American landscapes. In particular Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, and the Californian coast. He does do smaller more intimate pictures but my favorites are his huge and epic pieces. You can see a few at the the bottom of this post but quite frankly, the only way to do justice to his work is to see it on a larger scale. Which means you should go and see this exhibition if you happen to be in London. I have been a fan of Ansel Adams since I was a kid and this is a worthwhile exhibition with a variety of examples of his work – from the small and intimate to the large and epic. There are also a couple of interesting documentaries.

ANSEL ADAMS Photography from the Mountains to the Sea is on at the National Maritime Museum (which is fascinating anyway) from 9th November 2012 to 28th April 2013.

As promised here are some bigger pictures. Imagine them even bigger.

Ansel Adams

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Happy Christmas from the Word of Ward

There is no justification for this picture but here it is anyway.

Happy Christmas wonderful readers! If you aren’t a Christian, then happy Tuesday! No need to worry really Christmas is hardly a religious thing. Like Easter it is a made up date supposedly celebrating something to do with Jesus but in actuality is a mashup of wacky traditions. You don’t have to be religious to like Santa, Christmas trees, presents, the Easter Bunny, chocolate, and so on. So feel free to go mad.

I was going to write this tomorrow on Christmas day but I have been a good boy this year so I will probably be playing Assassin’s Creed 3 and watching Doctor Who as God intended. I doubt you will read this till at least Boxing Day anyway.

In case you aren’t lucky enough to be a Londoner I found this great time-lapse thing for you to enjoy. Lots of lovely Christmas lights to get you in the mood.

So happy Xmas! Enjoy!

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Thai Modern Art arrives in London

London is one of the world’s great art centres. Lots of art fans are currently descending on the city from all over the globe to take part in or see the colossal Frieze art fair. This is a great event but visitors should know that there is a lot more to see. Most of London’s established art scene is in the West, North or middle of the city but huge amounts of exciting new stuff is coming out of the East. An area of hip and trendy struggling artists, writers, musicians and unemployed.

In the depths of East London there is a mini hub for all this emerging art called Vyner street. The first Thursday of every month there is a bit of a party with the collection of galleries that line the street opening late to admit lots of excited and slightly inebriated art fans. It’s good fun and cultural to boot.

Of particular interest is an exhibition of Thai modern art called Origin-Originality at Forty7 Gallery, 47 Mowlem Street (Off Vyner St). You don’t get much Thai modern art in the West, so this is an ideal opportunity to see some and buy some. It will be worth millions soon. One of the artists has already featured in a Christie’s Auction, so you’d better get in quick as Southeastern Asian art is very ‘in’ right now. This exhibition looks great, the art is intriguing and the whole thing is on from the 4th-14th October. It is curated by the superb Nim Niyomsin. If you are here for the Frieze art fair or just like art generally, you should check the area out. It’s where it’s at.

Here is a link that will tell you all you need to know about the background to the exhibition, the artists involved, and where all the excitement will be happening. http://www.origin-originality.blogspot.co.uk/ There is also info at the bottom of this page.

Here is some of the art:

Maitree Siriboon

Peerawayt Krasaesom

Tatiya Udomsawat

Here are some details:

Public Opening: Thursday 4th October 2012 (First Thursday), 6-10pm
Exhibition Runs: 4th -14th October 2012
Opening Hours: Mon-Tue: By appointment, Wed-Sun: 11am-6pm
More information please contact:
Nim Niyomsin
[+44] 07999 064254

Forty7 Gallery
47 Mowlem Street (Off Vyner St) London E2 9HE,http://www.forty7gallery.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

About First Thursdays and the area including Gallery Forty7:

http://www.firstthursdays.co.uk/galleries/forty7-gallery-7coco

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The Olympics are here

The Olympics are currently in full swing here in London town. Lots of Londoners, myself included, were originally against them. We weren’t asked if we wanted the games but we were expected to pay for them. It felt a bit like being mugged but without getting the chance to run for it or telling the culprit to piss off. Not only that, but getting around our own city to do (admittedly pointless stupid) things like work, was predicted to be a nightmare. Then there were the security problems, the missiles on roofs, anger over Olympic lanes, and sponsors behaving mean and spiteful to pretty much everyone.

Fickle bastard that I am, I’m alright with it all now. If you didn’t enjoy Danny Boyle’s superb opening ceremony you must be a pretty joyless individual. Sure some bits were better than others (the weird music text story for example wasn’t my thing), but generally speaking it was all fun, rousing stuff. Quirky is probably the word. It had Bond, Bean, and the Queen. Surely you must like one of them.

I’m not normally into sport, but the brief glimpses I’ve had of the games (between pointless work and epic train trips) have been great. The joy of the Olympics is that alongside main sports like tennis and football, you might find yourself inexplicably absorbed by something random – women’s archery or  women’s pole vaulting or women’s beach volleyball or something. (They were just random examples you understand.) I’m sure these sports are on at other times but because it is the Olympics, it now has some kind of meaning or purpose to it all. If you live in London you are frequently bumping into events and can have a quick cheer. It makes life here about 10% more exciting.

It would be nice if the sponsors chilled out a bit though. Stop patrolling the streets looking for anyone heinously supporting the games with five round objects suspiciously overlapping, and just let people have fun. I’m a bit nervous just talking about them, they might burn down my website.

Transport has been a bit worse but it is so awful usually, most Londoners are coping quite well. The trains have all worked at the weekends which actually makes for an improvement.

I guess we shall see if the Olympics actually does make a profit. The organisers (or possibly the government, I wasn’t paying attention) reckon we might make a profit of £2 billion. Hopefully this will mean the mascots knocking on doors and giving everyone in London a couple of hundred quid each. Or at least a 6 pack. Most of us are easily bribed.

So go Olympics! We’ve paid and sufferend already, so we might as well enjoy it. To celebrate this, here is a funny sketch about the Olympics. It’s funny, quirky, a bit weird, and British. Go Monty Python!
http://youtu.be/dmyz_f8Sx14

 

John Martin: Apocalypse at Tate Britain

Apocalypse by John Martin

 

Everyone loves a good Apocalypse and everyone seems to love John Martin’s work. I certainly did.

John Martin was hugely popular in the 19th Century and toured the world with his spectacular paintings of the end of the world and scenes from the bible of God smiting the shit out of everything. Obviously most of the paintings come from the Old Testament when God was going through his ‘angry phase’ and regularly destroyed cities and drowned the whole planet. Fortunately he chilled out a bit after that and started banging on about being meek and merciful as if all the mass destruction had never even happened.

Martin’s work focuses on these more exciting bits of the bible along with other scenes such as debauched feasts and epic battles. Man, the bible went downhill in the second half (apart from the epic destructive end scenes, but it was too little too late to save the book in my opinion).

At the time, plebeian Victorians flocked in their thousands to see the huge and exciting pieces of work. They were the blockbuster cinema equivalent of the time (it was boring back then, hence all the warfare and Empire building). Of course the intelligensia of the day slagged off Martin’s work as being distasteful and dubbed him the ‘people’s painter’. Intellectuals hate stuff that gets too popular and John Martin was the Michael Bay of his time. The main difference is that Martin is now seen as being ahead of his time, whereas I suspect Bay won’t be.

Sodom and Gomorrah after God gets pissed off

John Martin: Apocalypse
is well worth seeing. I loved it. There’s an added bonus near the end where a load of arty actors have done a voice over for a sort of mock up of the sensationalism that surrounded his tours. This consists of a triptych of pictures (three paintings in case you’re an oik) with lights and cool effects.  The left picture is of heaven and has cherubs lolling around fatly and pointlessly. The centre has Jesus being judgemental and condemning half the population to eternal torture. The painting on the right is of hell and collapse and general coolness. This is accompanied by the actors recreating the sort of cinematic voice-over sensationalism that was used to publicise his work. ‘SEE THE DAMNED CONDEMNED TO THE FIERY PITS OF HELL’ sort of thing. It was brilliant.

As I said, I loved it and so did everyone I was with. It’s on at Tate Britain until mid-January, so you have plenty of time.

Bizarrely, here’s a trailer:


 

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Occupy London – What would Jesus do?

Capitalism... Excellent...

I guess I felt like writing about this after being bored with all the news about the Occupy London crowd in front of St Pauls. First there was the Occupy Wall street lot in America and quite frankly they have a massive point. The USA has huge wealth inequality. Apparently the top 400 richest Americans have the same amount of dosh as the bottom 150 million. Real lords and peasants material. According to CIA rankings that is a worse situation than that suffered by say, Egypt. Who seemed pretty pissed off recently.

The majority of the protesters come across quite well. There’s the odd twat, there always is, who advocates bringing down capitalism or killing the rich, but on the whole the message is that wealth distribution needs to be more equal. There are even some quite decent suggestions on how to do this.

This campaign has spread across the world. Here in London the protest has made its point but feels like it is losing credibility. The message, which is a good one, is largely the same. Perhaps I’m just being a victim of biased selective press but our campaign seems to have a lot more pillocks being even more vague. I’ve seen a lot more interviews with protesters who are against capitalism itself. Others who just hate rich people – a common sentiment on this envy-ridden isle. I haven’t seen many coming up with any decent solutions, just pointless comments about how capitalism doesn’t work. What shall we replace it with then you idiots? We need solutions not vague whinging – we aren’t all students.

I’m not going to come up with a solution as I’m not a trained economist or someone who has even vaguely studied how the system works. So I won’t be so arrogant as to denounce the “system” because you know, people shouldn’t be so rich yeah? The decent and logical idea of supporting a capitalist system but one with more regulation and checks is thankfully present and supported by the intelligent organisers. I suspect they are the older and/or more educated. But I think they should stop now.

No they aren't, you dolt.

One reason is that the twats seem to be becoming more prevalent. People with signs like ‘What would Jesus Do?’ and ‘Rich beware your days are numbered.’ Their days aren’t numbered you moron. There will always be people better off than others and this has been the case since the dawn of time and in all societies. Getting rid of the rich will just mean that they move countries and we end up even poorer. London is one of the major financial capitals of the world and brings in billions into this country. It would be dumb to scare this money off as Britain will be poorer for it. What is needed is not redistribution of the wealth Robin Hood style, but tighter regulations and controls. I’ve fuck all idea how to do this myself but there are plenty of independant experts (some are among the Occupy London crew) who could certainly make an informed start.

Alas the morons are ruining it. Apart from mentals dressed as Jesus completely missing the point, and the anti capitalists and rich haters doing the same, there are other elements. Last night a 1000 protesters marched on Trafalgar square (a capitalist hotbed), presumably to complain about the nasty Lord Nelson stopping the lovable dictator Napoleon from invading and covering our streets in gold and socialist joy like he did to so many other parts of Europe.  Another group split off and headed for Parliament where they starting fighting with police and smashing things. Amusingly they were wearing those Guy Fawkes masks the dude from V for Vendetta wore seemingly unaware that each mask bought creates more profit for the huge conglomerate Time Warner (who owns the image). Way to stick it to the man!

What would Jesus do?

The final nail in the coffin for me is that the church are now chipping in. The Archbishop of York has started banging on about it. What the hell does it have to do with him? Does he not feel the slightest bit hypocritical that archbishops were the CEO equivalents across Europe for a millennium? The wealth gap was massively worse then. The upper echelons of the church in England during the middle ages, of which the Archbishop of York ranked second, lived in incredible unbelievable luxury when the vast majority of people literally lived in shit and starved. They made it worse by telling the superstitious peons to hand over cash or they would burn forever in hell. With that money they built things like hugely lavish cathedrals. Cathedrals that while admittedly spectacular seemed more to wow a medieval audience into parting with cash than anything Jesus probably wanted.

I remember a bit in the bible (I’ve read it and am an atheist – make of that what you will) a story where Jesus and his mates watched a rich man and a poor man give to charity. Jesus didn’t say, ‘Rich bastard’, he simply commented that percentage-wise the poor guy gave more to the pot.

To answer the question, what would Jesus do?

I suspect he would agree with lessening the wage inequality. I suspect he would be mildly exasperated that people still miss the point of nearly every point ever made. I also suspect he would marvel at the beauty and majesty of the building of St Pauls but would then be horrified when he found out what the building was for and how the church has been behaving in his name.

 

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England set to freeze

An entire week ago, I wrote how warm and pleasant England was. It’s now back to its standard grey drizzle. Ahh, normality. In fact, two days after the warmest October day ever, it snowed in Scotland.  Again, normality.

London for the next six months...

Apparently, though, this winter is going to be one of the coldest winters ever. From November onwards, for months and months, brass monkey will shedding extremities with abandon. Which sucks. I’m taking solace in the fact that the same people predicted that the summer was going to be a ‘scorcher’, when it was in fact ‘shite’.

In fact, I read somewhere (probably on the infallible internet), that if you predict that the weather tomorrow will be pretty much like the weather today, you will be correct about 70% of the time. Professional weather people get it right about 80% of the time. Which isn’t that much of an improvement. If you are thinking of going into meteorology it’s something to keep in mind. If you’re looking for a cushy number, it seems a winner. Plus you might get to be on the TV. Just saying “Yeah, more of the same…” for loads of cash.

I’m partly writing this as a warning in case you are planning a holiday to this soon to be blighted isle – or are lucky enough to live here. But mostly because I’m British and we are curiously obsessed with the weather. If you are a meteorologist and have been offended then I apologise. Feel free to point out my hypocrisy – my last blog entry could easily have ended: next entry, “more of the same…”

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BBC Proms in the Park

Proms in the Park

Yesterday, Mrs Wordofward and myself were all cultural and went to the BBC Proms in the Park. It’s the world’s largest classical music festival and is now in its 117th year (although I’m pretty certain it wasn’t called ‘BBC’ proms a century ago). To my shame I had missd the previous 116 Proms so it was time to rectify the situation.

The idea is to basically have a mass picnic while listening to live classical music. The whole shebang is hosted by Ken Bruce and Terry Wogan and is broadcast live on BBC2. As you may have guessed the crowd was older than at most festivals – the average age was about 40. It’s the first festival I have ever been to where medical emergency crews outnumbered security. 

We arrived just before 6pm in time to catch Deacon Blue sing. Which was a surprise as I had assumed they had all died years ago. We wandered around and eventually found a gap and spread our blanket. We then unpacked our picnic which consisted of a half eaten crepe, some Haribo sweets and lots of cans of beer. Damn we’re classy. Deacon Blue had finished by this point and we lay back on the grass to enjoy the Overtones (an acapella band), followed by the cast of Rock of Ages doing some classic 80s rock tunes. Which was actually pretty fun although I still don’t want to see the play.

These acts were just warm ups while everyone got settled and inebriated. Then an orchestra belted out the theme tune to Indiana Jones. I’m not too highbrow or ashamed to admit that John Williams is one of my favourite composers. The legendary Sir Terry Wogan then arrived on stage to compere the evening and generally take the piss out of everyone. The highlights were many and I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed everything. Lang Lang was awesome and tinkled the ivories with gusto. Katherine Jenkins was superb and smokingly hot. Rolf Harris was fun and legendary and had a wobble-board. Some fellow I had never heard of called Russell Watson sung some opera tunes and was incredible. (Now there are some words I never thought I would write as I don’t really like opera.)

In short the whole eveing was a massive drunken delight in a park. I wasn’t so keen on the next bits though. As a finale, Westlife played. I’m sorry but I don’t like Westlife. I would have preferred Deacon Blue to come back for Christ’s sake. There then followed a live link up to other proms in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as the Royal Albert Hall. Suddenly the evening turned into Nationalist Karaoke Night. Everyone was waving Union Jacks and sang ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘God save the Queen’. This is all very well, everyone was wasted and loved it, but it just struck me as odd. Maybe it was because most people were older and they expect that kind of thing but I just didn’t get the link between BBC/classical and a Britain-is-awesome love-in.

Don’t let this final bit put you off if you are thinking of going though. Lying on a blanket in Hyde Park listening to classical music while drinking Pimm’s, beer, and wine is a magical way to spend an evening. There were even fireworks at the end. You can’t dislike anything that ends with fireworks. Give it a go.

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Chain gangs in Britain

Awesome outfits

Apparently there is going to be a scheme where people convicted of certain crimes, say looting or graffiti, are forced to work five days a week if they are unemployed. It will consist of four days of community service, cleaning stuff for example, and one day looking for work. I assume this means chain gangs of hoodies being forced to scrub walls down, hopefully in humiliating outfits. No one seems quite sure yet how this will work as it will have to be enforced somehow. I get the impression that the government wants to pander to people demanding that criminals pay back something to their communities – but without it actually costing anything.

I have to admit I am all for this. Like most people, I find myself getting more right wing as I get older. I think it is due to the fact that when you are young you want to go to illegal raves, take drugs, get drunk in parks, and generally embrace things you might think are cool. Like graffiti or skateboarding or just general loafing about pissing of the police and authority. When you are younger there seem to be more people telling you what to do all the time and you naturally want to rebel. As you get older to tend to have your own property, you possess more nice things, you want your neighborhood to be safer and look nicer.

When you are younger you might think that people living on the edge of the law are cool and sticking it to the system and exposing the flaws of our decadent consumer society that embraces greed and possessions. When you get older, you just want the prick who stole your phone to be beaten with sticks. I remember when I was 25 and worked my ass off to save up for a playstation. Then some wanker broke into my bedsit and stole it. I would still like his feet broken.

People sometimes bleat on that education is the key. Even given the fact that you can lead an illiterate twat to a desk but can’t make him learn, the education aspect doesn’t seem to be working. A level results have been improving every year for 29 years implying that we are ever more a nation of geniuses. Or that the exams are getting easier. Either way people seem to be learning things.

Forehead tattoos

Nope, call me a fascist but I think amusing punishment is the key for low level criminals. Not prison where the more violent actually have a better time than the less violent, but more unusual and funny punishments. I think embarrassing chain gangs would be a good start. Make them dress up like morons while they do it. If a criminal smashes a window, make them wash the neighborhood’s shop windows. While dressed as a ballerina. If they are caught doing graffiti get one of those temporary tattoos that last a month and write ‘Twat’ or ‘Loser’ on their forehead. If someone loots JD Sports (one of the hardest hit by the rioters), make them do sport – 8 hours of hopscotch or something.

 

I do worry that my increasing hatred of crime and scummery will lead me to inevitably read the Daily Mail but thankfully I am all for immigrants or anyone that contributes to society. My wife is an immigrant for a start and she’s out working a 12 hour shift while I write this on the couch.

If you are a liberal type who thinks that Britain can be fixed with counselling and hugs then fine. You are probably a nicer person than me generally. Kudos to you. You’re going to hate it when I’m in charge though.

 

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England – it’s a riot!

A load of twats in hats tried to burn London down. And because London leads the way, there were then riots all over England. It was like the film Rise of the Planet of the Apes out there – except that the apes in the movie are literate and you can understand their motives and empathize.

It seems to have calmed down now and people are analysing the aftermath. Londoners are a fairly resilient group and it’s business as normal.

I’m a bit annoyed with all this rioting shenanigans. They trashed a sushi place and a Dominos about 10 minutes from my flat. Some are saying that it is because they are poor and feeling frustrated and boo and hoo. In case you haven’t been to England, please don’t think that our poor are all under 25 and in hoods. Our poor actually come from all walks of life. Some are even old and quite a few are now homeless as their houses have been burnt down. The poor desperado looters are apparently angry at a consumer society where others get things that they don’t. Curiously though, these tracksuit wearing thugs used mobile phones to organise this attack which has largely specialised in looting sports clothing shops and mobile phone stores. Some even arrived in cars to maximise their looting efficiency and correct this imbalance.

Kids in tracksuits stealing tracksuits in protest against not being able to have as many tracksuits as others

This is just opportunism and fun for an underclass in society that doesn’t have much future, knows there will be no real comeback, and doesn’t really care about others. The people I feel sorry for most are those who are equally broke but have just lost their shops and homes. Because the looters don’t travel. They just trash their own underprivileged neighborhoods. It could be argued that the looters are so distanced from society and a sense of belonging that they no longer care. The fact that a lot of the crime was caused by local gangs somewhat negates that separation from their neighborhoods.

There have also been some tragic deaths because of this. A guy called Richard Bowes from Ealing died last night after he remonstrated with looters near his house on Monday. He was beaten so badly that it killed him. Also, in Birmingham three guys were protecting their business when a group of the poor disaffected types, who had a car, drove into them and killed them. Quite frankly, I’m surprised there wasn’t more loss of life but these tales are tragic enough.

Someone sent me a link to a Telegraph article which pointed out that this lack of ethics and morality are prevalent on high and well as down low. MPs are lamenting the poor morals of the young and broke and some are getting positively indignant about the lowlifes. Their hypocrisy is pointed out as several of these MPs were found guilty of claiming thousands in expenses. This is ethically on par if you are just talking about theft and barefaced greed. The difference is that after the expenses scandal, a lot of MPs paid the money back. An even bigger difference is that genuinely poor working people didn’t have their houses burnt down or were killed because of the greed.

People are worried that this sort of thing might affect the Olympics. It won’t. There are shopping malls in that part of town and these ‘disaffected’ dicks aren’t protesting or making a statement in order to get heard. They only attack shops.

What has been touching about all this are people getting together to clean things up. Groups formed on twitter which led to armies of people armed with brooms sweeping up all the smashed glass and discarded playstation boxes. That Malaysian student who got mugged by hoodies pretending to help has had a mini charity set up so that his parents can fly over from Malaysia to visit him in hospital. My local Budgens has pledged to feed the 100 or so people from Tottenham who were made homeless. These acts of kindness show that the English aren’t all bad, no matter what the rest of the world may be thinking given the images they have been receiving.

It’s all pretty ugly and unpleasant no matter what you think of the motives behind it. Are they mindless, looting, murdering pricks or has society let these morally void cherubs down? At least the press and bloggers and news sites can slag them off. The chances of anyone involved sitting down and reading anything are nil. I saw a funny tweet from Sky News welcoming all their ‘new viewers in Tottenham watching themselves loot on their new Hi-def TVs’.

Looting is pretty unpleasant anywhere as it tends to punish local communities of equally poor people who are just trying to get ahead in life. The only people who have benefited from this are the looters who got away with it and those involved in the phone hacking scandal and are no longer in the media’s spotlight. A sad consequence of this switch of focus is that other news is being pushed back a few pages. Syria is getting increasingly violent and in Somalia a human tragedy on a colossal scale continues to unfold. Kind of puts things in perspective a bit.

 

 

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Ghost Stories review

Ghost Stories at the Duke of York

We decided to see this the other day as we had an evening free and happened to walk past the Duke of York theatre where it was playing. If you are a Londoner this can be a recommended way of going to see a play as you can get massive discounts at the box office a few hours before the play starts. We got premium seats and instead of of paying £70, we both got in for £45. Bargain. I just mention this to gloat and be helpful.

Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman

So, the play. ‘Ghost Stories’ was written by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson. Nyman is best known as Derren Brown’s co-conspirator and he helps write a lot of his tricks and stage acts. He was also superb as a sweary TV producer in Charlie Brooker’s genius zombie series Dead Set. Dyson is best known for writing The League of Gentlemen, a genuinely creepy and darkly funny show. So both are good writers and no strangers to a decent foreboding atmosphere.

The tension starts the moment you walk into the theatre. The walls are covered with cobwebs, police tape, and ominous chalk numbers. The whole place, inside and out, is lit by flickering lightbulbs. Even the voice telling you to make sure your mobile is off is pretty damn creepy.

The play begins with the superb Andy Nyman giving us the audience a lecture on Parapsychology. Specifically ghosts. He then introduces us to three chilling ghost tales – ones that he thinks deserve further investigation. He links these stories as part of his lecture. I can’t say much more without giving things away.

I have to say, I loved this. It was great fun and once you have seen the whole thing and think about it, you appreciate how brilliantly crafted the experience is. Everything is linked and builds to the ‘shock’ ending. I watch a lot of horror films, often on my own at 3am to maximize the scare factor, and am pretty immune to genuine fear induced by entertainment. God bless desensitisation! I do feel tension, suspense, shock and enjoyment, however, and these are present in abundance.

If you are easily scared, and want to be again, go and see it. If you are a hardened horror fanatic and enjoy the genre, go and see it. It’s damn good fun.

Below is the trailer and you can see audience reaction. I can guarantee that these aren’t faked reactions. There are some real jump out of your seat moments and they could get footage like this any night. I almost spilled my gin and tonic at one point.

http://youtu.be/ZQ0Yhq_v4b0

 

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