June 13, 2006

The puppets, the porn, the bard and his lovers

Avenue QHad a theatrical rather than an alcoholic weekend for a change, which kicked off on Friday night with a preview of Avenue Q the musical, fresh off Broadway and due to officially open in London at the end of June.

Whereas Sesame Street – the educational series which Avenue Q parodies – teaches children basic life skills such as how to cross the road safely and healthy eating habits, Avenue Q uses a combination of puppets, animation, and live actors to teach somewhat more grown–up children about the fundamentals of life for a 20–something year old living in a less–than–salubrious New York neighbourhood.

Princeton, the main protagonist, is a bright–eyed college graduate who rolls up on Avenue Q eager to make new friends and find his “purpose” in life. Yet as he stands out on the sidewalk, desperately trying to find a vacant apartment that suits his meagre budget, he can’t help but ponder:

What do you do with a BA in English?
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge
Have earned me this useless degree!

The songs themselves are a clue to the somewhat more dubious educational focus of Avenue Q, with titles such as Everyone's A Little Bit Racist, You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Like When You're Making Love, What Do You Do With A BA In English?, The Internet Is For Porn, If You Were Gay and my personal favourite – The More You Love Someone The More You Want To Kill Them (sung by Japanese expat Christmas Eve)

The teachers for this illuminating journey through the world of unemployment, drunkenness, internet porn, one night stands, anti–political correctness and friendship are a whole host of puppet characters such as Lucy the Slut, Kate Monster, the Bad Idea Bears, Trekkie Monster and Mrs Thistletwat. There are also three characters portrayed by actors, including Gary Coleman, whose apparent celebrity status in the US went largely unrecognised by the British audience.

All in all, this was a fun production – catchy songs, captivating characters and funny situations. I found the “full puppet nudity” and “graphic simulated sex between puppets” of which we had been prewarned ever–so–slightly shocking (seems a little wrong to see what are essentially children's puppets really going for it like that!). Neverthless a hilarious scene – who would have thought that those naughty muppets had it in them?

As a contrast to puppets and porn, on Saturday I went to Stratford–upon–Avon where I saw two RSC productions: Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

More to follow shortly on these 2 plays when not so tired…

June 06, 2006


Let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred and sixty–six.

Satan appears to be alive and kicking here in London on this the 6th day of the 6th month of the year 2006. It is my belief that he manifests himself in the form of particular phenomena which are oh–so–not–hilarious when occurring in rapid succession. These include:

  • Posh school children in straw boater hats (puh–lease) on scooters endeavouring to execute a perfect hit–and–run by riding at high speeds down the middle of the pavement
  • Ladies who lunch (mothers of said posh school children)
  • ALL cars in London, especially SUVs
  • Pollution and black snot resulting from excessive tube usage
  • Commuters (excepting myself, who is of course PERFECTLY considerate)
  • London Underground
  • Northern line
  • Dirty 14 year old freak boys who grope your arse on the tube
  • Did I mention the tube?
  • Briefing packs that will never ever ever be complete no matter how hard you try
  • Headaches caused from lack of sleep
  • Lack of sleep
  • Work
  • The fact the sun goes in whenever I go outside
  • EnGRRland flags everywhere
  • Nobs like the rich freaks featured on "Britain's Biggest Spenders" (ITV 9pm, don't ask me why I watched this), all of whom have too much money and time on their hands and not enough taste / compassion / imagination to actually do something meaningful / interesting with it.
  • Reality TV more generally, esp BB
  • Rapidly congealing reheated stir fry and mouldy jacket potatoes
  • Tube tube tube


May 31, 2006


Went on my first (last, and only?) ever hen night on Saturday – the blushing bride–to–be was Katie Hall, my friend from Huddersfield. Much henly dancing and drinking and karaoking was conducted over the course of the evening in and around various bars and clubs in central London, but bar the willy straws, I think on the whole we were quite well behaved and didn't conform to too many hen night stereotypes!

Kate at henMe and willy strawhensBride and chief bridesmaid (?), Sohohens singingwillies and cocktailsBlushing bride (Kate) and Rhiannonkaraoke hens

Speaking of hens and weddings, my Canadian friend Yvonne, who I met while living out in Taiwan, is getting married to her Taiwanese bloke Jimmy next month. And I am dead dead DEAD cross because I really wanted to go to the wedding, not to mention Hong Kong for a girly weekend with all my other friends from Taiwan, who I haven't seen for 2 years.

Unfortunately I just can't afford the flights or accommodation right now. Not to mention the fact that it's a bloody long way and I'd probably be totally knackered by the time I got there. But still, it would have been so nice to see everyone. And to be in HK / Taiwan again. The danger was always that I might never come back!

In other news, had a busy bank holiday weekend following a busy couple of weeks at work, with the result that I now have yet another cold / sore throat and have had to take another day off work to recover. I have never been so susceptible to Disease in my life as I have since moving to London.

Still, this month I am not renewing my monthly oyster card and am going to walk/run to and from work every day instead (it's only 5 miles each way!!). I would cycle but I'm too much of a wimp, and I am fed up of paying TfL £85 a month for the privilege of being shoehorned into a metal box with a load of miserable, coughing people, especially when half the time it doesn't even do the whole getting from A to B thing properly.

Can't wait for last week of June – Lake District!

May 10, 2006

Must go faster must go fast must go faster

Stratford half marathon 2006Stratford half marathon 2006Woohoo! – 51 seconds off my PB(personal best) time in my second "Shakespeare" half marathon in Stratford… 1:54:54… not sure the saving of those precious few seconds were worth the energy expended to achieve this! Still, after 8 miles I got into a good pace, lengthening my strides and feeling in control of my breathing, so I really enjoyed the last 5 miles (except the last 400 yards which I accidentally sprinted) and was most grateful for the lovely support from my lovely support team!!

Anyway, taking a break from half marathons until September, but need some other events to keep my interest levels high. And also need to get FASTER! How is this to be achieved? (without becoming boringly obsessed with split times, km:mile ratios and "PB"s). And why do I look like a hopping, cross version of Jade Goody in these pics?

April 30, 2006

Keep on running…

Towards the end of the Reading half marathonI have now well and truly caught the running bug, and after a surprisingly fast time (at least for me) of 1:55:45 in the Reading half marathon on the 9th April, I have started to enter half marathons left right and centre. Next one is Stratford next weekend, where I hope to continue with another sub–2–hour time, hopefully even speeding up a bit (though the split times for getting 1:45 or even 1:50 sound fiendishly quick to a tortoise like myself). Also entered the Windsor half marathon for the end of September so it's all go on the running front.

Here is a really manky picture of me towards the end of the Reading half marathon (around the point where I accidentally ripped off my race number by too much flamboyant arm thrashing – how do normal people manage not to do this?). I appear to be doing step aerobics in the middle of a dual carriage way, but I can assure you that I was in fact moving forward and may even have been running!

My dad in St JamesFar more impressively, my dad completed his third London marathon last weekend with a fantastic time of 3:45:19, two days after his 59th birthday. Very proud of him!

He also raised an absolute bloody fortune for Sue Ryder. I was there supporting in Deptford, outside the old family shop- my nana and grandpa's pharmacy. London marathon - last mileAs well as my dad, I also saw the bride and groom run past, the crazy 20–person millipede, and lots of other excellent costumes, and hurt my calf muscles in sympathy by dancing around like a loon to the band in the pub opposite.

My dad has now decided that three marathons is quite enough thank you very much, and has passed the baton on to his daughter, which means I have just under a year to get my act together and turn into the next Paula Radcliffe, or at least some minor form of Super Athlete.

Which is a little daunting, to say the least.

April 08, 2006

Reading half marathon

Writing about web page http://racepayment.mirrorservers.co.uk/readinghalfmarathon/

I feel so unprepared for my half marathon tomorrow – I thought I was bad last year with the Stratford one, but this is ridiculous! Doesn’t help that I recently had 2 weeks away from the gym recovering from flu.

And the only training I’ve done this week is a 5 mile run on Wednesday night, though I did go for dinner at Zizzis last night and consume quite a lot of pasta! Surely that counts as part of official training (?!)

Going to stay at Leonie’s tonight for pre-race pasta party. Actually feeling quite nervous. Jamie and Leonie are going to get round the course in about 10 minutes, whereas for me it’s going to be more like 10 hours.

I’ll just follow the giant bear…

Reading half marathon

April 03, 2006


I had a worrying thought today.

It involved the words "I quite fancy doing a postgraduate certificate in policy management and if I wrote a dissertation as well as the other 15 million words worth of tedious complicated essays it entails I could even turn it into an MA now wouldn't that be nice"... in no particular order.

Good grief – was the first not bad enough?

April 02, 2006

London Eye pics

Photos taken on 21st March on the London Eye, to celebrate my colleague Jan’s retirement:

Hungerford Bridge / the AdelphiJan on the London EyeLooking towards the CityWestminsterPod at highest pointWestminster 2Pod at highest pointWestminster bridge

Aldeburgh book group

Besides eating fish and chips on the beach, threatening people with pineapple fritters, burying Jamie alive, chatting up the local "bookmonger", laughing at the literary lesbian cookbook, running by the sea, playing tennis, cooking curry and drinking wine, we did actually discuss The Blind Assassin for all of 30 minutes. Get us.

Click on a picture to make it bigger:

Beach at AldeburghWalking on the beach at AldeburghLeonie and Phil on beachSculpture on beachAnna and PhilJamie and LeonieLeonie and sculptureLeonie and sculpture 2I hear those voices...Boats on beachLeonie, me, Phil, Anna and Andrew with fish and chipsJamie buried on beachJamie buried on beach 2Me, Phil, Ellie, Emily, and buried JamieLeonie threatening Jamie with pineapple fritterFish 4 SaleChucking rocks at LeonieStoning Leonie some moreMe, Phil, Ellie, Emily and buried JamieJamie jugglingI hear those voice that will not be drowned

March 25, 2006

Disgruntled and plague–ridden

plagueHad high hopes of a weekend filled with cunning plans and clever tricks. Was going to walk half the london marathon course with my dad today, coffee / drinks with friends in evening, run along the river to Putney and try not to get lost too much and maybe fit a gym session in too in anticipation of the half marathon in a fortnight.

But I appear to be Diseased. My lungs feel like they’re imploding, my throat feels like it’s exploding, and one minute I’m hot then I’m cold and tired and headachy and miserable. And I’ve made A cross with me because I wanted to be left alone. I thought it was my body’s over-reaction to a very smoky pub on Thursday night, but if it is that, it’s a bloody big over-reaction. So my second (completely logical) thought is that I accidentally walked over a plague burial site and am now infected with the Black Death.

Hmm nothing like being a bit overly-dramatic, is there?

Anyway, I anticipate that my version of the plague will last approximately 48 hours, after which I will recover miraculously just in time for work on Monday morning. Buggerbuggerbuggerit.

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