La Cage aux Folles – Playhouse Theatre, London – review

I wouldn’t have picked it myself, as I thought it would just be another silly musical. But I went along with a friend and yes it was a musical but it was far from silly. La Cage Aux Folles (which first was a play then a film, then a US film with Robin Williams (The Bird Cage) and now a musical on the London West End) was uplifting and touching.

The idyllic existence of Georges and the dazzling drag artiste Albin, star of the La Cage aux Folles club, is threatened when Georges’ son announces his engagement to the daughter of a right-wing politician, who wants to close down the local colourful nightlife! With a visit from the prospective in-laws imminent, they all decide to take drastic action to hide their lifestyle… but can they keep it up?

Worth seeing alone for Graham Norton who gave a surprisingly steady performance as Albin, drag queen extraordinaire. (But be quick as his last performance is next week. The show will extend its run though, just with another cast).

If you like a feel good musical with a good story then this is your thing. It’s also very watchable for the incredible dance performances of the rest of the male dragqueens. I think I might have to see the Priscilla Queen of the Desert musical now too.

Official website for La Cage aux Folles
[Rating: 5/5]

London: Afternoon tea in The Berkeley

The Berkeley (Knightsbridge – London) does not look grand from the outside, but you know it is expensive when you spot the fully hotel-uniformed men (beautiful long coat, bowler hat, gloves) standing outside the door.

And I was waiting for one of them to tap me on the shoulder saying “where do you think you are going – you wear sneakers and jeans – how dare you step into our hotel!”. But they did not, in stead they smiled and were friendly and said “Good afternoon madam” and pushed the push door for me. See, that I like.

Here are some notes:

When you step into the lobby you sink until your neck in the carpet. OK, not exactly but it felt that way, it is very soft and beautiful and you just hope you don’t happen to have a piece of sticky chewing gum underneath your shoe when you walk there.

We had afternoon tea (high tea) and the people pouring us the tea wore white gloves. Also – whenever you had managed to drink your cup, they were already standing behind you asking if you wanted more. I drank a lot of cups.

The first time the girl serving me tea asked me if I wanted “English Breakfast”. Which I thought was an odd question, I was there at 3.30pm, and on my watch that is way passed breakfast time, I was here for the cakes, not for bacon and eggs and beans on toast! So I looked puzzled at her. And she suddenly realised what I was thinking and so did I and we both had to laugh about it. English Breakfast Tea she meant!

And then there were the things we could eat:

  • A mouth-watering selection of miniature savoury skewers, taster spoons and elegant canapés.
  • A collection of cakes and fancies in in the colours of the fashion season and in the style of the world’s finest designers.

I have no idea what fancies are, but I did fancy the cakes we got, they tasted like heaven.

I always thought that it wouldn’t be me, hanging around in a posh hotel like this. But I could get used to handsome man in nice uniforms and a bowler hat holding the door open for me. And I had never had a high tea before, but I can surely recommend it. If you want to experience a tea like this yourself, it’s £35,=.

This was an event organised by London Girl Geek Dinners. I normally hate networking events like these, but I have visited two of their events now and I must say that the girls attending these meetings are the exact right group for me. The meetings are about gadgets, web and geekery stuff in stead of makeup, high heels and the latest fashion news which suits me quite well.

This particular event was sponsored by Eurostar, who made a short presentation about a web application they had developed. Eurostar had invited Brussel and Paris geek girls to London, and the tea was a good opportunity to mingle with them. There were some very nice people at this event and I will certainly attend more of these meetings. (and no they are not always in places like these!)

Confessions of a stressoholic

  • Confessions of a shopaholic wasn’t the best rom-com ever (it’s Sex in the City meet Devil wears Prada), but I laughed quite a lot at Isla Fisher. She has great comic talent, and she is worth watching the film for. She and Hugh Dancy.
  • I saw A View from the Bridge last week, and wow, Ken Stott blew me away. A must see if you happen to be in London before the 16th of May. Great acting work, also from Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (she was Lady Marianne in Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood!). Don’t miss it!
  • And then my flatmate is leaving. And I have two seperate lines of thoughts about this.

    Line 1:

    I need to find a new flatmate. I know our rent is not the highest, definitely not for the area in London where the flat is based, but loads of people are leaving London because it is so expensive. My worries:
    Will I find a new friendly, funny and reliable flatmate?

    Line 2:
    In American movies like the above Shopaholic they always show flatshares where people are the best of friends and where things just seem to work. I want that too. Which is why I probably need to find another place to live. My current flat does not have a shared living room, so it’s natural to retreat in your own room.
    And if my current flatmate and me have spoken more than 100 words to each other the last 2.5 years I will be surprised.

    So my current dream scenario is finding some really nice people I click with and rent and nice house somewhere in London where there is space for privacy (I still want to be able to sit in my room and read or write or watch a Bill film on my own) but also space for socialness. But where to find the people, and where to find the place to live! It is probably pathetically ignorant to think that that is possible. I must think about this.

  • I am going to tick the lighthouse in Plymouth off my list on Saturday. And will stay with the lovely dogs and my good friend in Devon for the weekend. Here is to good weather for everyone, to sea views, beach walks and Devon creamcakes with tea.
  • It’s Pancake day today.

And then the winter came

When I came home from Devon last night, London looked white. This morning I woke up to even more snow, which caused all buses to be cancelled, the tube came to a halt, lots of trains cancelled, airports struggling (Heathrow is closed), schools are closed, and children are having the time of their lifes playing in the snow. It is a beautiful day in London. I am forced to work at home today, but I will have to go for a walk around lunch, as this much snow in London is a seldom event.

Davy 'Snow' Jones

Davy 'Snow' Jones

Snow in London

View from my window

Snow in London (Pimlico)

Is there any snow where you are?

(More snow is to expected in London)

Four things that are better in London than in New York

Chubby Checker Hot Chocolate

Four things that are better in London than in New York:

  • The queue culture. There is no queue culture in NY and I so miss it when I am there, I love the built-in politeness of the British people.
  • The language. I am a sucker for the UK English language and prefer it over American anytime.
  • The London underground stations compared to the subway stations in NY. I feel more safe in London, and I also think there are more CCTV cameras over here.

    NY does have a better service (24 hours a day) and the subway trains are quite nice in NY but the seats are hard to sit on (anti vandalism I guess). I do love the newer NY trains which show you exactly where you are on a small map with blinking lights indicating the next station.

    Oh, the Oyster card does beat the MTA card on ease of use though.

  • In London what the pricetag says is what you pay in shops. In NY they always add tax to the price when you pay for your item and I still haven’t figured out how to calculate it, you never know what you end up paying.

Four things that are better in New York than in London:

  • The skyline. I never get tired of the Chrysler building by night nor of the view of any of the other impressive skyscrapers.
  • There is more water around. I love the Battery Park area with all the piers and the view on the Hudson river and the Brooklyn bridge. It feels like you are more away from the city than you do when looking at the Thames from central London.
  • They have Taco Bell. Yes, and yes before you start – you are probably going to tell me that Taco Bell food has nothing to do with Mexican food. Maybe you are right, but I love Taco Bell food. I wonder why there isn’t one in London!
  • I love the diners. I know there are some NY diner wannabees in London too but the ones in New York are best. And hey they have the New York cheesecake and the above Chubby Checkers Hot Chocolate. I mean, who can say no to that! (And I love that formica table)

So which city do you prefer?

To ContemPlate

Dear readers!

I just want to give you an update on the plate as I am even starting to get emails from very friendly people around the globe about this.
People I don’t even know! The wonder of the internet.

The thing is that I have been thinking. Yes I was very attached to this plate.
Because I bought it in London.
Because I came to London with two bags of clothes and nothing else and this was one of the first things I bought starting a new life here.
Because I’ve always had a weak spot for Peanuts and Snoopy.

And then it slipped through my fingers while doing the dishes and it shattered.

I have been thinking if buying the exact same plate on eBay (overpriced and shipped from the US) would somehow work as a replacement.
And I think the answer to that question is no.
No because it just would not be the same.
The plate I dropped can not be replaced, as it was much more than just a plate. It was my plate.

So thank you for all you concern and tips on how to get the same Snoopy plate back but I will leave it.
In stead I will look for a replacement plate in London.
In one of the many charity shops.
Who knows, they might have another Snoopy one.
Or a red plate.
Or a white one with red hearts on it!

A new plate is out there somewhere waiting for me and I am sure I’ll find it.

verb (contemplated, contemplating) 1 to think about; to go over something mentally; to meditate. 2 to look thoughtfully at something. 3 to consider something as a possibility

(PS1 I am still on a write break but felt this needed clearing up! I will return after my holiday, where I hopefully also finally know the results of my operation. The waiting is exhausting me. No bonus points for speed for the NHS in this case.)

(PS2: Did I simply forget the most important thing? The new QOS trailer is online. As in yummy.)

Shallowness on Portobello Road

Two “look at me I am cool” wannabees:

Man (American, older, sunglasses, hair that does not suit his age) to woman (American, younger, blond, but quite unlike Paris Hilton):
Well, hello are you here!

(yes of course she is here moron, you can see here can’t you!)

Woman: Yes! Are you here too?

(Duh!! Well if he is not here – who are you talking to!)

Man : Yes I am here.

Fake smiles the both of them

Man: Well I will see you next time.

Woman with a “huh – what next time” look: Yes – by-ee

Man : By-ee

And all I thought was: yep. Let’s have a cup of tea.

Bring on the night

The Police and full supporting Bill

In September 2007 I saw the Police in Twickenham, with a delay of about 25 years. It was a fantastic concert.

My good friend made me aware of the fact that The Police is playing their final ever gig in Hyde Park on the 29th of June. The very last the Police concert? I did manage to both convince her to come along, and to buy tickets for it so on the 29th of June it will be “Every little thing he does is magic” for the very last time live.

Another reason why we wanted to go is because KT Tunstall plays that day too. As does Starsailor, The Bangles and The Stranglers – seems like we get transferred back to the 80’s all day!

But most of all we want to go because there will be a full supporting Bill. We love Bill, we really do!

(More on Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, London)

A very short break

I am very knackered after this long day. I had to work until 2pm and after that I did my first shift until 11pm.

I met some really nice people, both colleague volunteers and guests. I have spoken to some of the guests and there are a lot of stories. It is a very good way to get some perspective on your own life and to appreciate your life and the people around you.

Tomorrow I hope to be picked up by Metropolitan Chief Inspector Dan (sorry it sounds too funky not to write down one more time) at 2.30pm, for my second shift. My last shift will be on Wednesday.

I know I will be too tired to write decent posts until, probably, Thursday afternoon. So take a few days off too. Before I go, just a few short notes:

Tomorrow evening, 9.30pm ITV1 – LOVE ACTUALLY
Do I need to say more?
Even though I have the DVD at home, I feel I am missing out on something. Which is kind of ridiculous, but I sometimes am.

When I came home late tonight, with one of the last Victoria tube trains (before they take the day off tomorrow), I opened my door and found another two FANTASTIC postcards. Really, they are so cool, and I so love them, actually. One of them is from someone who hasn’t even signed up for this project! I promise to post them on Thursday, first thing. Have I told you how cool they both are? Oh. I did.
I am so happy to receive those cards, really they make my day, all of them.

Shadowlands, Wyndham’s Theatre London – review

Charles Dance in Shadowlands[rating: 5/5]
I have 7 plays lined up the coming months, but I doubt any of them will come even close to Shadowlands, which I saw yesterday.

Shadowlands tells the story of C.S. Lewis (writer of Narnia), a confirmed bachelor into his fifties, until he meets Joy, a witty, intelligent American woman who has been writing to him because she is a fan of his books. It is an incredibly tender and touching story, which shows that love is unpredictable and powerful.

Charles Dance (Bleak House, Gosford Park and longer ago he played the villain in The Golden Child with Eddy Murphy) plays C.S. “Jack” Lewis and he swept me off my feet. What a fantastic actor and what a performance, he got me hooked from the second he stepped into the light.
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10 things that make my Friday

  1. DP loves SR
  2. The fact that I saw Kahlil Ashanti yesterday. See him here on youtube and then buy tickets to his show where he portraits more characters than you think is possible in this hilariously funny, but also dead serious one man show. Tickets only £10-12 for a show in the beautifully located (beside the Thames, near Hammersmith tube station) Riverside Studios. Go see it! It’s the best I have seen in a long time.
  3. The sun is shining. I wouldn’t call it an Indian summer, but the light is beautiful in London.
  4. My script page counter says 42. 42! The best number ever invented. The problem is that I have the first 30, then there are gaps and here and there some scenes, but I do have the end scene. I can do 90. I have to. The first 30 will be delivered this weekend. It is so hard to expose yourself with a new story. I hope they are gentle.
  5. 42 -1 nights until New York.
  6. The aftershave of the man who sat beside me in the bus this morning.
  7. Filmshoot is planned (for the short short) on the 21st of October. This will be a 60 second movie clip which will be uploaded for an online competition. Yes, I’ll let you know when it is up.
  8. The fact that I could order a desk from Ikea without having to drag myself to their horrible shop. Ordered online, and will be delivered next week. Finally a decent spot to write at home.
  9. Bill Nighy reads Eric Clapton’s autobiography on BBC Radio 2 tonight (9.15pm) and the 5 following Fridays. Sigh.
    And Bill Nighy returning as Charles Paris (As ever, seedy, middle-aged actor Charles is his own worst enemy: a lush who can resist anything except temptation – especially in the form of women and alcohol. His intentions may be good but, somehow, the results always go wrong.). If you like him just a tiny bit you have to hear that, he is brilliantly voiciliciously irresistable as Charles Paris. Even more sigh.
  10. The fact that I can put on my coat, step into the sun and wander around on Portobello Market for lunch in 10 minutes from now.

Questions for you:
1. What makes your day?
2. Any interesting blogs I should read? I often visit my Google reader (and yes you are all in it!), but often, when I most need it, there seems to be a collective lack of updates. I need more good blogs to read. And I also hereby promise that I will be a more regular commenter on other blogs.

the girl on the (new piccadilly) cafe

New Piccadilly Cafe
New Piccadilly Cafe, London

I like this picture so much, I just use it again.

So I did the interview today. I can’t even remember what I said, it might have been utter rubbish. I do recall mentioning Bill Nighy and the movie. I think I also said that it was the first place I felt at home in London. That I always order soup and a coke there, or that I don’t actually have to order it because they just know. That I have enjoyed time there waiting for a film or a theatre play to start. And that it is horrible that it closes and that it makes me absolutely sad. I also recall that I wanted to say a million other things but somehow couldn’t find the words – it’s the camera in my face syndrome, I get nervous.

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The Girl and The (New Piccadilly) Cafe

New Piccadilly Cafe
The Cafe In quieter times …

I was visiting my Cafe today – because I still can. Because I like to be there. Because I needed a place to unstress and think. Because I felt like having a bite to eat and a cup of tea. But things are changing. The Cafe has had a lot of attention lately and newspapers writing about its closure have made people go there. New visitors, but also people who have been regulars for years are visiting while they still can. For me it felt a bit like a tourist attraction today. It was crazy busy and people were queueing for a table, which is something I have never seen before. I tried to read in peace and quiet but it was not really possible. When I walked in The Table was free which was great. But after 10 minutes, a man asked if he could sit opposite me.

Of course he could, I moved my soup plate and Parmesan cheese to the side and was about to think that I felt like being in the scene of a film I knew too well. But 5 minutes later his wife stepped in and sat down beside him, I woke up and saw that he didn’t really look like Lawrence either. It was annoying, they were loud and I didn’t really want to have them at my table. So I left quicker than I had planned, had a short chat with The Owner of THE Cafe and left with mixed feelings.

Yesterday I got another email from someone who is making a Documentary about the Cafe. I decided not to participate the last time I got asked because it was being made by people who didn’t even live in London, and I was in doubt about why they wanted to do it. I didn’t feel that the Cafe was more to them than a subject for a documentary.

Apart from that, I hate being filmed.

This time however it seems like a project with a heart for The Cafe. It is made as a thank you to The Cafe and the people working there, a collection of memories from people who came there regularly and who are passionate about the place. That sounded right in my ears so I said yes. It’s not for TV, it’s a documentary that at some point maybe will be used in an exhibition.
If all goes as planned, I will go there tomorrow for a talk. About my The Cafe.

I have no words

New Piccadilly Cafe, London

BBC London picked up on the closure of the beautiful New Piccadilly Cafe, you can watch the video clip here.

Meet Lorenzo, watch the waiters in their white uniforms, hear the bells of the cash register, enjoy the gargling pink coffee machine, check out the funky 50’s menu card and recognize scenes of The Girl in the Cafe.

And feel sad, angry, frustrated and heart broken about the fact that this is happening. That’s what I do.