Archive for February, 2019

Sport & Leisure History Seminar 2019 #5

February 27, 2019

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Monday 11th March 2019

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

After an excellent exploration of the deveopment of the fashion for replica kits in football with Chris Stride we take a radical change of direction for our next paper. On Monday March 11th Luise Elsaesser of the European University Institute in Florence will give a paper on the role of polo in the development of the British Empire in the late-ninteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

Not only are we promised some ground-breaking research on cultural transfer at the height of empire, there’s going to be some serious moustache action in the presentation.

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You can find her abstract below …

‘Dashing About with the Greatest Gallantry’: Polo in India and the British Metropole, 1862-1914

The period from 1870 to the Great War was defined by a new and more intensive phase of imperialism. This presentation analyses the impact of Empire on the metropole. In suggesting that the imperial space was not a one-way street the example of the Indian game of polo is used. Unlike most imperial sports, polo was adapted by the British from their colonial subjects, creating the opportunity of a common cultural space. How did polo influence socio-cultural and political power constellations in India and the metropole? More nuance on regional contexts and the effects of sport on specific groups will be provided. Unpacking the resulting interdependencies, ambivalences, and the mutability of polo in a British imperial self-image, the paper does not neglect Indian agency. Polo showcases an interrelation of ideas and beliefs which are used to understand the respective environment as well as the internationalisation of sport.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series. For the details of seminars forthcoming in 2019 go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the John S Cohen on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

 

Marivaux and Berlioz

February 19, 2019

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Rehearsals are in full swing for A Soldier’s Song and now, thanks to the wonderful Nick Kobyluch, we also have our artwork!

After a weekend of Berlioz on Radio 3 it’s also now time to reveal that ASoSo (as it’s become to cast and crew) is itself inspired in part by Hector Berlioz. On reading the original Marivaux it rapidly became apparent to me that the male lead’s romantic obsession with Araminte had a powerful resonance with the real life obsession that Berlioz had with the actress Harriet Smithson.

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Harriet Smithson – Shakespearean actress and Berlozian muse

It’s the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s death this year and so there’s a lot of French romanticism in the air. I only hope that I’ve done the crazy old romantic justice and mashed up his life with Marivaux’s plot and my own sprinkling of English Romanticism to make something rather special.

Do come along to the Moravian Hall at the end of the month to find out! Tickets will be on sale from 25th February 2019.

#Berlioz150 #theatre #London

A Soldier’s Song, an original play by Geoff Levett adapted from Marivaux’s Les Fausses Confidences will run at the Moravian Hall from Wednesday 27th to Saturday 30th March 2019.

 

Sport & Leisure History Seminar 2019 #4

February 19, 2019

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Monday 25th February 2019

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

Our next paper will be given by Dr Chris Stride of the University of Sheffield who will be talking to us about the fascinating history of replica football kits. Come on, we’ve all got our favourites, although I do hope Vinnie Jones in a Leeds strip isn’t one of them.

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The abstract for Chris’s paper is below … come along for polyester pomp and an analysis of the rise of the replica.

For anthropologist Desmond Morris, writing in his seminal 1981 study of football culture The Soccer Tribe, ‘the adornments of the followers’ were of much interest. However, despite the continuing presence of the scarves, hats and flags Morris described, it is likely that a similar study carried out in the 21st century soccer landscape would relegate them to a mere footnote beneath a single, overwhelmingly favoured item of match day clothing – the replica football shirt.

Child-size football kits had been packaged and promoted as replicas since the late 1950s, and after shirt designs were first copyrighted in 1974, became an increasingly lucrative industry. However, at this point in time shirts were not marketed towards, nor worn by adults. Using both quantitative analyses of data gleaned from 1000+ crowd photos, a similar number of programme adverts, and a survey of fans to model the growth in purchasing and promotion of replica shirts from 1975 to 2000, it is possible to identify the phases of adoption, from the trailblazers, through wider adoption, to today’s ubiquity.

Three key stages of adoption are identified. First,  the wearing of shirts by a small hardcore of fans in the 1980s, inspired by their popularity as cup final fancy dress in the 1970s, wardrobe inertia in those who had worn them in their early teenage years, and social changes in leisurewear, most notably the growing acceptability of sportswear as street fashion prompted by the 70s jogging boom. Wider adoption was, however, suppressed by the threat of violence at matches, a residual sense amongst older fans that football shirts were for children and players only, and the lack of any meaningful distribution network or marketing strategy to adults. Second, a late 80s boom, as the infrastructure for football’s future hypercommodification begins to fall into place, the threat of matchday hooliganism recedes, and the football shirt becomes a fashion item in a brief period of cross-polination between football and music subcultures and the euphoria of Italia 90. Finally the birth of the Premier League and a rapid gentrification and commercialisation of the game sees a new, older market for football shirts rapidly developed and exploited by focused marketing and design.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series. For the details of seminars forthcoming in 2019 go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the John S Cohen on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

 

Resto 6 Tomo, Hornsey

February 17, 2019

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Back in Hornsey for a play (someone else’s) at the Great Northern it was thought wise to lay in some bait before in prep for the after-show party. Not having had the greatest experience at La Giaconda across the road we decided to give their rivals a go.

Tomo was busy but not too busy to squeeze us into a corner table. The menu is full Italian – pizza, pasta and fish/meat – but we kept it simple. A Tartufo pizza with sausage and truffle (an altogether superior production to that we saw at the National the night before) accompanied by a rocket salad with artichokes. The pizza was delicately turned and sausaged enough to satisfy. House white by the carafe did the job on the side.

The service was outstanding – three members of staff keeping the whole room happy. If I hadn’t had an appointment with fringe theatre I would have stayed for home made sorbet and grappa. I’ll happily go back soon to amend that.

8/10

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap …

Resto 5 Franco Manca, Kings Cross

February 11, 2019

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Once upon a time the only place to get a decent drink or a bite to eat if you were on the way to Kings Place was either the Lincoln Lounge or the venue itself. Now all sorts of shit is springing up around York Way to service the ever gentrifying residents and workers of the area.

The Lincoln Lounge is still keeping it real but alas they don’t do bait (well, they’ve got crisps) so we took a punt on a quick dinner in Franco Manca before the excellent Steven Osbourne did Prokofiev as it should be done.

This FM is proper restaurant-sized so it was a mystery to me why, in a half empty restaurant, the waiter should squeeze us into a corner between two other couples. I couldn’t be arsed to argue, I was too hungry.

The menu is pleasantly brief – snacks, salads, pizzas and pasta. We went for an alfalfa (or as they called it when I was growing up, ‘cress’) salad, a meat board and a mushroom pizza to share.

Then the craziness began. The salad arrived in record time. Now I like a salad but I don’t really see a small bowl of it (and no plates to eat it off) as worthy of putting down in front of two people and retreating as if you’ve just delivered a feast in Cana’. So we stared at it and wondered if anything else was going to show up. After about ten minutes we got the pizza. Counterintuitive – where was our thin, raw meat?

Oh, you wanted that? Yes, we did.

Someone taking your order without writing anything down is only impressive if said food is actually delivered.

So now we had pizza, two plates, meat board, salad, wine and water on a table the size of a postage stamp. But we managed. The pizza base was excellent but was scant of mushroom. The meat too was top quality, while the salad was a salad.

If you want to survive in the Italian market you’ve got to do better than that.

5/10

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap …

Resto 4 Saigon, Northampton

February 6, 2019

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I’ve been working in Northampton for about six months now but thus far without the opportunity to eat anything but canteen fare and humble pie. A visit from the Old Boy was an opportunity to break out of the campus routine and see what the town has in the way of gastronomy.

I’d been recommended Mandarin by one of the students – James had other ideas. He’d spotted Saigon on his way from the station and I was happy to do that. After a pint in the excellent Wig & Pen we strolled up to Saigon with phô in mind.

We were early (I was booked on an 8 o’clock train) so the room was empty of customers but that was okay – there were plenty of staff to make up the numbers. We took a table in the window; who would want to deprive themselves of the Northampton street scene? With its broad vista of pound shops, chicken shacks and Polski skleps it was like being at home in Harringay.

But looking at the menu I knew I wasn’t in Harringay any more – everything was about 30% cheaper. We went for a summer-spring roll mash up to start and a beef phô for main. The summer rolls were fat tubes of fresh veg with a sticky sweet sauce. Hard to get wrong and the bees knees when done to perfection (as these were).

Spring rolls were wrapped in a crunchy green shell and came with a haystack sized pile of fresh leaves alongside. We spurned the veg and got stuck into the rolls straight away. This prompted a rapid intervention by the owner who stormed over and enquired, ‘You ok?!’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘You wrap the roll in mint and lettuce – MORE FLAVOUR!!’ This seemed less a piece of advice than a command. We complied rapidly. ‘The girl not tell you?’ We couldn’t help but admit that she hadn’t. ‘I tell her.’ Oh dear.

The girl (who looked like her daughter) didn’t seem overly fussed about getting a bollocking when she brought us the phô so all was good. The phô was a big bowl of good stuff – a rich broth and about half a cow in it, the fat melting into liquid, sitting amongst a good helping of noodles.

The owner brought us the usual fish and soy sauces but these were unnecessary. We’d already tested what looked like a home-made chilli sauce in a little china bowl on the table, dipping the complimentary prawn crackers in it when we got our first beer. This sauce was straight from Vulcan’s kitchen, chilli seeds visible in a bright red paste that promised sweet burning fury in the gob and utter devastation of one’s middle-aged digestive system. I piled it into the phô and ordered another beer as an antidote. I was in chilli heaven.

Meanwhile the owner started gearing up for Chinese New Year by sticking a kitsch pig in the window. ‘Year of pig! VERY LUCKY!!’

Indeed we were.

#food #Northampton

9/10

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap …


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