Archive for May, 2018

The Crouch End Festival

May 29, 2018

Another post very quickly (as no-one likes a whinger) to talk of much more positive things associated with the Crouch End Festival. Last year’s Festival was my first experience of putting on a theatrical show and it was such a tremendously fun thing to do that I’ve decided to do it again.

But I’ll talk of that another time. The purpose of this post is to flag up other shows which are being put on by the Crouch End Players, who are a fine company of individuals who have just come off the back of a very successful production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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As part of a double bill with my play, A Door, Jen Richardson (the director of AMND) will star in an original piece of work of her own called The Road Not TakenBoth works are romantic comedies that discuss the nature of love and relationships. And both use the upstairs bar of the Great Northern Railway Tavern as their setting.

Another show that I’ve had a small part in producing (as co-writer with the highly talented Victoria Welsh) is The Trial 3: The Dinner Party. Regular Festival goers may have already seen a previous edition of this show which stages a courtroom thriller as an interactive piece of theatre which lets the audience question the suspects.

While not an official CEP production Storm in a Teacup, created by Sue Irwin-Hunt and Denize Levett, is from the same stable and again is a revival of an established format. It’s an improvisational comedy set in the homely surroundings of the Haberdashery.

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And last but by no means least CEP present What’s the Point?, another original work created by Virginia Vassura and her co-star Caroline Allouf which combines song, comedy, drama and a unicorn to talk about mental health and relationships.

Both The Trial and What’s the Point are to be staged in Hornsey Town Hall so this may be a final chance to get a shufty at the place before it is subjected to the developers. I hope to see you there!

Go to the Crouch End Festival website for details of all timings and venues, and of course to book your tickets! And look around for other great free stuff going on at the Festival. June isn’t only about the World Cup!!

#theatre #comedy #London

 

Resto 14 N4 coffee fruit, Stroud Green

May 29, 2018
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A perfect coffee served in the German Gymnasium.

Hmm, a coffee shop rather than a resto really and strictly speaking not within the rules since I paid up front. But sometimes the quality of service in an establishment is such that one is forced to comment on it even if only to encourage the management to put things right. With this in mind the description will come first and the notes on how to improve things afterwards.

N4 coffee fruit (Yes, lower case. It used to be known as the altogether less irritating Vagabond.) is a pleasant enough room to sip coffee and do the crossword. If you have coffee. Being mid-morning the room wasn’t busy and I was the only person in the queue. I waited for the guy by the till to look at me so I could make my order.

But he was busy. Busy making coffee? No. Busy out back? No. Busy tidying up tables? No. Just busy not serving customers. He was looking down at something. What could it be? I turned it over in my mind. A generous man would say he was looking through a stack of orders and making sure that he’d memorised which one belonged to which customer. Subsequent events would suggest otherwise.

He eventually looked up and I ordered a double espresso and sat down. And waited. I perused the paper and observed a few people come in and order after me. Including a man with a cute fluffy dog, who was obviously a hit. After about ten minutes I was starting to wonder where my coffee was so found it less easy to focus on Janan Ganesh’s skewering of the Brexit crisis and its catastrophic effect on strategic policy thinking among our political leadership. I observed that everyone in the coffee shop had arrived after me and also that they all had coffee.

The till guy was chatting to a friend on a table at the window and occasionally looking at his phone. I fixed him with a basilisk stare. He looked up absently then went back to his phone. The woman on the coffee machine was similarly gripped by social media. It must have been 15 minutes or so since I’d gone in.

So I got up on my hind legs, walked to the counter and asked for my coffee. ‘Coffee?’ ‘Yes, a double espresso.’ ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ Till guy was still absorbed in his phone. The coffee arrived without comment from either party and I drank it and left.

This was the worst service I’d had since a legendary dinner in Margate. But in a spirit of generosity I offer a few pieces of advice from one customer service worker to another.

  1. When a customer comes into your business look at them. It will help you to realise that they are a human being and not just a disembodied voice. You might also consider taking the experience one step further by smiling at them.
  2. While you have customers in the room observe them – do they need anything? Make eye contact to give them the opportunity to speak to you. Not only will this make them feel looked after it might also encourage them to buy more things.
  3. If you do make a mistake apologise.
  4. If you do make a mistake apologise.
  5. If you DO make a mistake apologise.
  6. In person. Don’t let a colleague do it on your behalf.
  7. Do not under any circumstance play jazz lite over your sound system. Combined with the combined nervating effect of high amounts of caffeine and bad service this could result in a Falling Down style situation. You don’t want that. And more to the point nor do your customers.

0/10

#Coffee #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016-18 check out my GoogleMap

 

Crouch End Festival 2018

May 14, 2018

New Writing Image for Programme

Now that A Midsummer Night’s Dream has finished it’s time to flag up my own next production with the Crouch End Players as part of the Crouch End Festival. As part of an evening of new writing I’m directing a new translation of the French classic, A Door (Should Be Either Open Or Shut).

The original is a short play by the Romantic writer Alfred de Musset, perhaps most famous in this country for being the lover of Georges Sand which inspired both of them to write classic memoirs of their time together.

The original concerns the romantic tribulations of a pair of aristocrats in mid-ninteenth century Paris but I’ve updated it to post-War London with saltier dialogue and a real period feel.

The venue once more is the Great Northern Railway Tavern, who were such excellent hosts for Corbyn Island in 2017 and there will be three shows at 7pm on the 15th, 16th and 17th June. Tickets are free and available from crouchendplayers@hotmail.com. It would be great to see you there!

#theatre #London #Musset

Sport and Leisure History Seminar

May 8, 2018

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One of the perks of being a part-time academic is having to do lots of unpaid work aimed at raising one’s profile within your discipline. However, sometimes this work is more a pleasure than a chore. Such is the case with being a co-convenor on the IHR’s (Institute of Historical Research) Sport and Leisure History seminar series.

Our next seminar is by Professor Matt Taylor of De Montfort University on sport and the BBC during World War Two. The paper is drawn from research from Matt’s book on Sport and World War Two which should be appearing towards the end of 2018 so there’ll be plenty of scope in questions for discussing the role of sport both in the home front and the armed forces. The abstract appears below.

 

Prof. Matt Taylor will be speaking in the Past and Present room at the IHR at 5.30pm on Monday 14th May 2018. 

Abstract

Existing studies of the wartime BBC have explored the role of the corporation in promoting a unitary sense of British identity (Nicholas, 1996; Hajkowski, 2010; Baade, 2012). Perhaps because it is often erroneously dismissed as having had little wartime significance, sport has been almost completely ignored in this literature. This paper sets out to put this right by examining how sport was treated by the BBC during the Second World War and the extent to which the conflict altered existing relationships between the broadcaster and sporting bodies.

Drawing mainly on material contained in the BBC Written Archive at Caversham Park, this paper will consider three main aspects of the relationship between the corporation and wartime sport. First of all, it will assess the role of the BBC as a facilitator, as well as a straightforward broadcaster, of sporting events, connecting this to wider debates over popular recreation and public morale. Secondly, it will gauge the success of the BBC in accommodating the national-regional tensions endemic in wartime Britain. Finally, it will examine how sport was ‘represented’ in BBC programming; in live and delayed transmission but also in the ‘retrospective’ features which became a characteristic of wartime sports broadcasting. The main argument of the paper is that sport in general (and certain sports in particular) became key elements of the BBC’s wartime policy to maintain civilian and military morale; and that in the process, the connections between sport and notions of class, war and Britishness were redefined.

 

#History #BBC

Resto 13 The Life Goddess Store Street

May 7, 2018

This was a very pleasant surprise. I’d walked past the Life Goddess Store many times on my way to Buckbuck or the IHR but never been in. To be honest I’d been put off by the name, which evokes in a man of my class and generation an god-awful 70s Fontana paperback with some hippy in the lotus position on the cover.

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The Life Goddess – not a 70s earth mother fantasy novel

Which isn’t fair. I was meeting a friend with a Greek husband who said that it was his go to place for genuine Greek cooking and recommendations don’t get much better than that. The room is bigger than it looks from the exterior, with a more restauranty section to the rear and a convivial café style area at the front. A gaggle of friendly fellers behind the counter kept service bubbling along contentedly.

In the afternoon there were a selection of meze and salads plus a few hot dishes. Having a seminar to go to I decided to keep it light and went for an okra salad. Good choice, well cooked okra is one of those pleasures that as a child of Ferryhill I never knew existed till I was about 23. The sauce was rich and tomato based with generous lumps of cheese to give it a bit of texture. The house white alongside was a perfect accompaniment, even if it did slightly impact my attention span during Amelia’s talk!

In a  pretty hectic week an hour’s natter with a good friend was just about the perfect way to spend a Monday afternoon. I’ll be back.

9/10

#food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016-18 check out my GoogleMap

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

May 2, 2018

 

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I’d meant to write a post about seeing Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream back in April but never quite got round to it. So now I can use it as an intro to a forthcoming production of Shakespeare’s classic with which I’m involved on the production side of things.

I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to see the opera. I love Britten’s music (especially his rarely performed St. Nicholas) but three hours of sung Shakespeare? Mebbe not. As it turned out it was one of the best nights at the theatre for a long, long time. The singing was excellent but what stood out for me was the clarity of the production. This was aided by the way in which Britten had adapted the text – the plot and characters came across with perfect lucidity.

It was also a triumph of stagecraft. The use of bold colour to delineate the different groups in the play (aristos, mechanicals, fairies) had both utility and beauty. When ENO revive it (and I’m certain they will) I’ll be getting another ticket so I can enjoy it again.

But if you need a fix of Shakespeare sooner than that then don’t miss out on the Crouch End Players’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which runs from Wednesday 9th to Saturday 12th May. While not having quite the same budget as a West End opera house the same boldness of approach to design and text has been taken, making this a quick-moving, contemporary production.

Details of how to get tickets are on the poster below …

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#Theatre #London


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