Saturday, 20 July 2013


I've been away this week, up in London. I needed it. hadn't planned it being so staggeringly hot, there were times when crossing the road in the full glare of the sun could have burned the skin from my face and scalp - stepping outside was like being caught in a flash fire.

Stayed in Greenwich this time. The Ibis was OK, well placed, but very small towels and not much to offer in the line of toiletries - the TV was a bit crappy too - but the double glazing was excellent and I was able to sleep really well. Greenwich is lovely - the park is fantastic, found a Henry More I'd never seen before, and it's far easier to get to now than I ever remembered. In general, all transport in London is really fast and simple now. The DLR is really smooth and there is so much more to see. Was planning on going to see the Pompeii at the British Museum but there were too many people and it was too hot - and £15 a pop.

Among other things, I went to see 'Strange Interlude' with Anne Marie Duff at the National Theatre - after years of getting Sean O'Casey mixed up with Eugene O'Neill - I've finally managed to see something by both at the same theatre. It was very good, very long, and very cinematic. The original production was 6 hours long with supper served in between, it was then filmed with Norma Shearer and Clarke Gable - pretty ideal casting. Difficult to understand how it would have been received at the time, themes of infidelity, madness and abortion - but really did enjoy myself. Cast were great - I read one review that revealed there would be a scene were a large, luxury yacht would sail onto the stage out of a fog bank, with a full crew - they weren't kidding - it was fantastic. Music was also very good. Really did enjoy myself - never been disappointed at the national.

I also went to see 'Merrily We Roll Along'  at the Pinter - I'm sure you are sick of me saying how much I loathe musical theatre, and I'm not a fan of Sondheim - I just don't 'get' it - but this was really good, it's apparently been given more 5 star reviews than any other play on the west end, and I can see why - it's really interesting. Despite all the singing and dancing, it's a cruel, angry little piece about failure and lost potential. Right up my street. I'm probably just angry because I can't actually sing myself.

Talking angry little piece - on Thursday the highlight of my week was going to see 'The Hot House' at the Whitehall theatre - I LOVE Harold Pinter - I really do, and this was just brilliant. The cast could not have been more starry - including Simon Russell Beale ( short and rather stumpy ) and John Sim (just as short but less stumpy) and a bloke who was in every Harry Potter film, which would have impressed me, if I'd ever seen one. It also had a short and rather sinister appearance from Christopher Timothy - playing a role Pinter clearly devised for himself - I have to say, he has the look of a man who has clearly been nursing a glass for decades. The set was fantastic, better than that - as the audience were part of the play - they had added an extra couple of rows of random old chairs to the front and back of the stage - and just before the play started - an usher randomly selected people, including myself to sit on stage - so I literally, and I mean LITERALLY had the cast in my lap.  I really enjoyed it, very dark, very funny, very sinister - one cast member was left on stage during the interval, strapped to an electric chair - babbling and foaming at the mouth as usherettes sold ice creams and a stage manager wiped the snot off his face. It's finishing soon - but if anyone gets the chance - please - go see, it's brilliant. For the entire period we were in the Theatre watching the play - Trafalgar Square was filled with about 2000 people watching a live broadcast of an opera - I imagine quite a few succumbed to the heat - there were ambulances.

Spent a lot of time about in London, quite relaxed for a change. The dogs were in kennels and are now exhausted after a few days of over stimulation. The house is a bit of a mess and I really need to start worrying about work. I was planning on going to see Macbeth live streaming from Manchester tonight at the local Odeon, still not sure -If I but a ticket online - I'll have to.

Had an email to tell me a quote I gave for a big Taschen book about the history of Menswear made it through to the final proof, and I have some pictures in a book about Architecture coming out soon.

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