Monday, August 30, 2010

Film Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire 29 August 2010

Bless the Broadway in Nottingham; even when a film like The Girl Who Played with Fire has advertising everywhere I still wouldn't want to see a Swedish movie any where else in Nottingham.

For a Sunday 2pm screening, there was a fair number and I think I can safely say that all had avidly read the book and I doubt many are looking forward to the English language remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with Daniel Craig (who is utterly wrong for the role in my mind).

ANYWAY: to the second of the films in the book trilogy.

We've the main actors back - Nyqvist, Rapace - and therefore a degree of continuity from the first film. Its a shame that cinema production values couldn't be provided, but I've grown to love YellowBird productions being an addict of the Wallander dramas (interestingly Nyqvist turned up as a villain in the Wallander episode that turned up on BBC4 on the Saturday night -- it wasn't one we'd seen and it was a cracker [Mastermind was the episode]).

As the middle of a trilogy, the narrative inevitably suffers from a degree of incompletion largely avoided by the first (more self-contained storyline) and the finale (to round things off, at least at that point). But it is a cracking narrative: yes, there are omissions, sidelines and sub-plots that get excluded, but the thrust remains the same. Only one element disappointed both Cloud and I -- and that was failing to include in the dialogue any of Salander's infuriated references to Kalle Bastard Blomkvist or Kalle Bastard Practical Pig Blomkvist. Ah, those made us laugh so much when we read the novel.

The UK trailer only part captures the movie, and distractingly it uses the music used for Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Weird. I almost prefer watching the Swedish trailer.

But the point is that I'm really waiting for the finale to come out in the cinema later this year.

I came home yesterday afternoon and promptly re-read 'The Girl Who Played with Fire'. I'm waiting till I see the finale - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest' - to re-read that volume.

Theatre Review: final performance of Morte D'Arthur - RSC, Courtyard Theatre, Stratford Saturday 28 August 2010


The Greg Doran and Mike Poulton production of Morte D'Arthur was certainly something I had wanted to see. But we were far too tardy for our own good in booking for the current season at Stratford and it seemed likely we'd therefore miss out.

Whilst reviews were best described as 'mixed', I felt in this case I could trust Billington's enthusiastic Guardian review. And I felt even more loss at missing the chance to see the RSC production.

Thankfully, help came from an unexpected source - the combination of 'erring on the side of caution' from a friend (who felt the production was unlikely to be suitable for a young girl) and a lovely family of grandma, daughter and granddaughter that Helen and I had met back in October 2008.* And so it was, that at the last minute Neil and I got the chance to go and see Morte D'Arthur.

Neil and I travelled down and arrived in a storm of drumming from a troupe of Chinese drummers: a welcome for us only just about topped by the delightful sight of two of the family that H and I had befriended. I felt rotten that we were depriving grandma and granddaughter of their tickets (since it would be the mum who was accompanying us) but with such an enthusiastic welcome it was hard to feel bad for long. The excitement of the drumming performance set our hearts racing - and our youngest member even more so when she realised how many of the actors had come out to enjoy the lively performance. There was an especially giddy delight in spotting JonJo O'Neill (no NOT the 1980s jockey, despite Neil's poor jokes!) as he was a firm favourite and one that the family had already delighted in running into the previous evening out shopping.

JonJo is utterly charming - how could he not be with such a delightful Belfast accent - and the pleasure our youngest companion got from standing next to him was positively radiant. Of course, this had to be the day where we had NO CAMERA with us (doh!) so at last we frantically pulled out my phone and I passed it on to grandma who scuttled over to take a picture of the two of them. I watched on, only to be determinedly waved over to join the shot!

(I'll let my friends keep the full image as private as I'm very aware of how photographs can be misused - but the smile our youngest friend had was infectious).

We knew it would be a long production, the show was not much under 4 hours even with a break and pause, and I did fear that years of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' / 'Spamalot' would have tainted the narrative too much. But we needn't have feared; the production came with plenty of intentional laughter, but it was also incredibly beautiful - the costumes were fantastic - and the music was incredible. (The RSC musicians must be some of the most talented working in theatre anywhere - their range and skills are breathtaking to listen to). Forbes Masson again proved that he has the most incredible voice - the heights his vocal range can hold are the sounds of angels (and it was especially nice to tell him so after the performance).

Sam Troughton (Arthur) and Forbes Masson (Merlin)

Split into three sections, the play covers revenge, magic, adultery and religion in almost equal measures. There is a devil (quite terrifying), there are family feuds that make soaps look straightforward, and there is love in all forms -- unrequited, cuckolded, transgressive, and pure. No character is truly without flaw - though the charming Gareth, who arrives as a bear before winning over the court to become a knight, comes pretty close. At the other end of the spectrum is the nigh irredeemable Mordred, played with great relish by Peter Peverley as an oily, tell-tale, conniving weed. And the actor seems such a nice bloke! But he does a great job with a wicked part since for all his evil, the audience can't help but laugh at his nastiness (for example when he's trying to arrange it so he can marry 'widowed' Guenever, his efforts to look pleased at hearing Arthur isn't dead as expected -- 'I had letters to the contrary' -- doesn't convince anyone, but it's mighty hilarious nonetheless!)

Of all the characters in the winding tale, Launcelot is the most deluded; he believes his love for Guenever is pure but it is hard to deny that he is 'naked' with her in her bedchamber (though not as naked as some maybe thought possible). The hapless Elaine -- Mariah Gale as a quintessential teenager in full-blown crush-mode -- inevitably falls for Launcelot's looks, charm and politeness, completely missing that his heart belongs to another. And in pursuing the Grail, it is Launcelot's heart that sees bewinged angels.

Jonjo O'Neill as Launcelot and James Howard as the Grail Angel in Morte d'Arthur. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

I feel so incredibly privileged that we got to see this show - it was spectacular and beautiful on every level. But there were other aside pleasures: besides reuniting with our friends of the Saturday October 2008 matinee, I also ran into a couple who had sat near Helen and I on the Friday October 2008 evening performance. And then, in a lovely reversal of the Saturday afternoon of October 2008 when I had encouraged our youngest friend to the stage door, grandma encouraged me to do my own autograph gathering. I ended up speaking to and getting autographs from 15 of the cast and crew - including, to my great delight, Greg Doran. Everyone was utterly delightful as we chatted about hot weighty costumes, desperate thirst, loving the chance to sing, the chaos of stage door chatter, the art of signing in mid-air and much more. I wouldn't have dared do all that without encouragement - I kept automatically lurching back into helping smaller people forward, and loaning my pen out - so it was a real treat to end up with so many signatures.

A total delight and a day I will treasure for quite a long time.

*You remember October 2008? When Love's Labours Lost and Hamlet ruled our every activity...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Word Verification - spammed to oblivion and sick of it

Apologies to those who have left legitimate comments that I haven't responded to at the moment: you may have spotted that in recent days I have been getting hellishly spammed. So back on goes 'Word Verification' which should hopefully prevent the worst of the spamming.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Medium Rob - Guardian star!

No mention of Joanna Page, or the Random Acts of Ali Larter, or - bafflingly! - Doctor Who - but there mentions for our favourite Medium Rob feature, Sitting Tennant.

Shame his hosting site decided today was a good day to drop functionality (albeit temporarily) but well done Medium Rob for his Guardian Internet site pick of the week!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer Sundae 2010 - Sunny Sunday! 15 August

***Still a Work in Progress! (but nearly done!***

Bliss! The sun is out! - BBC pictures here for Sunday at Summer Sundae 2010. We start the day with breakfast at the Landsdowne bar which serves around 30+ people a much deserved sit-down breakfast in the midst of the festival.

With sunlight greeting the final day of Summer Sundae, it was definitely a day for enjoying the sun as much as the music. Nevertheless, we kicked off things with most of the set of David Gibb [and the Pony Club] putting in a charming local performance (he's from Derby!) and setting the folk-esque tone for the day. This was followed up with the Red Shoe Diaries, more local music as they;re from Nottingham. Getting the right balance of local music and those from further afield is hard: it could go too far, but its nice to hear good music from the local area. Very inspired by Camera Obscura and Belle and Sebastian but I'm hardly likely to complain about those influences am I? So I offer up my money for a very home produced CD and am very pleased about lending a hand to local talent.

As the sun continues to shine in fearsome defiance of the previous days rain, we revel in cider/beer and sitting about. The Guthlaxtones pump out some mighty and fearsome covers of classic soul/funk/pop from the 70s and 80s, the Summer Sundae Choir rehearse for the last time, and we enjoy the hilarious spectacle of a 14 year-old girl locating and berating her father.
Girl: "Dad! What do you think you're doing?!"
Dad (had been sitting reading his Observer newspaper)
Girl: "You were supposed to meet us at the Rising Tent!"
Dad (starts to get up, calmly and casually folding his paper)
Girl: "God! You can be such a child!"
Ah, the moral certainty of the 14 year old girl...

We peer in through the back of the Musician Tent to watch the crowd whooping it up the YMCA from The Guthlaxtones (I really think they should have had the big stage)

Anyway, after that fun, we took in the pleasure of Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, sadly without Laura Marling (who he duets with on his recent album 'Been Listening') but its clear evidence of his style. Perfect for the summer sun.

Megafaun had come over from South Carolina (as we were reminded often), but they were GREAT fun. Bearded, folky, rocky, and generally just great entertainment. From the same stable as Bon Iver (which may give some idea of their style. They would randomly go acoustic in the middle of their songs and wander around and into the audience much to our general delight. They had a a great 'devil-may-care' attitude about many things, not least their records. "We have an album out... but we don't have it for sale here because we couldn't afford to get it through customs. You can just steal it from the internet. That's fine. Unless you;re our record company, in which case, but it. But mostly you can just steal it. You can always buy it from iTunes, which is kinda halfway between the two..." Genius!

After such excitement, we couldn't really be bothered with Junip (but then Jose Gonzales has singularly failed to capture my imagination on any of his previous turns at Summer Sundae). Instead we ducked indoors for a brief encounter with Errors (previously watched with the George at Summer Sundae). Fine, but we were getting in gear for one of our anticipated highlights - The Low Anthem.

From my first hearing of 'Charlie Darwin', it was hard not to love The Low Anthem. When their rockier hoe-down side came to light via the album it was both a shock and pleasure. So we were really looking forward to seeing them at Summer Sundae.

We planted ourselves near the stage: a good thing as at one point the mike stopped working (Ballboy suffered a similar fate at IndieTracks) but it didn't really deter The Low Anthem who just promptly moved into acoustic mode. Beautiful for those of us close to the stage who dropped to a hushed attentiveness to capture their talents. Gorgeous.

It was a stunning performance, even though at the end the band apologized for their "sloppy performance", but I knew what would get to me, and that was when they sang 'Charlie Darwin'. I'm sorry but it is SUCH a wonderful song: the harmonies are like angels. Not ashamed to say I had tears rolling down my cheeks at that.

I didn't think much would top that before the magnificent Mumford and Sons hit the finale, but I was pretty much proved wrong.

David Ford first hit my radar via a Word magazine compilation - it featured the heartbeaking 'A Long Time Ago' and from that I was sold. I've played the song MANY times. So I wasn't going to miss the chance of seeing him here. We got far more than we bargained for, thanks to a grumpy local church causing the postponement of his performance with the band. But this is David Ford. He doesn't let that hold him back despite the fact that one of his songs is called Cheer Up (You Miserable Fuck): it's actually a heartening song!

Anyway. Having been infuriated into walking away - "hopefully we'll be on in an hour" - I stumbled back from the toilets to find... he's just sitting there singing! He proceeds to sing his way through several songs, roping in the audience on tambourine etc for percussive effect and some gentle bongo playing from one of his band members. He nevertheless gives the impromptu set real vigour: we're an addicted crowd, many knowing his work.

We even had a sing-a-long to 'kumbaya' ("what do Christians sing?") and much amusement at his delight when the compere (from the Musician venue of Leicester who sponsor the tent) offered to make him a coffee.

He ended his acoustic set by coming down into the crowd and proceeded to sing 'Stephen' which he acknowledged as 'probably the saddest song ever' -- I couldn't help spotting a couple just by where he stopped: he with his arms around he, she near tears. Understandable as it is truly one of the most moving tracks you could hope to hear in such a setting (it was dedicated to Kate Carroll and her husband Stephen who was a Catholic policeman murdered by the Continuity IRA earlier in 2009. David has said that he was moved to write the song after hearing Stephens widow talking in a TV interview where she said "I hope these people are listening and if they just realised that we only get one chance at life and a piece of land is a piece of land.)

(I spoke to the couple who had been so moved by his performance of "Stephen" - I knew it must have made their festival, not just the acoustic set, but to end on that particular track. A lovely moment. They'd only seen him when he supported The Low Anthem on tour earlier this year, never having heard him before then. But they won't forget Summer Sundae in a hurry).

After that, David Ford took a well-deserved break before - he'd done an acoustic set for the best part of 40 mins and then he came back to do a shortened full-set with his band. What a bonus. Okay, so he had to reject requests for songs already done in the acoustic performance (we'd had a spikey 'State of the Union' for example) but I don't think anyone left that performance unimpressed. A real festival highlight.

(even worth missing Los Campesinos!)

Frightened Rabbit (25 mins)

Mumford and Sons are one of those bands whose time has been coming for a LONG while: another 6Music find (of course), they were inevitably many people's highlight. Indeed, they were no doubt a big reason why the Sunday tickets sold out first.

Arty photo of Mumford and Sons!

Summer Sundae pictures - miscellaneous nonsense

Here are just some of the mad sights of Summer Sundae 2010

Red person. Don't ask

French Lobsters. As you do...

Sand Art

Neil and Lisa at summer sundae 2010

Neil hula hooping...

Summer Sundae 2010 - Soggy Saturday 14 August

And the rain continued...

Oh well, at least the music kept going and our spirits were not entirely demoralised. And they had ordered more matting so at least some extra space wasn't a quagmire...

After breakfast butties in town, we dodged the showers and I ended up buying a new coat. Hurrah!

Lisa in her new Goth coat

After that we took a stride up the hill and into the festival just in time to catch the arrival of Gaggle: hard not to love a 20+ female choir strutting out harmonic versions of punk classics.

After, and in view of the rain, we headed to the Rising tent to catch Black Carrot. Described in the Summer Sundae brochure as
Surely Market Harboroughís most ëout thereí band, Black Carrot are a vibrant quintet who perform dirty new-wave krautrock jazz madness that oozes rock with a psychotic edge. Ploughing their own furrow for the last ten yearís their music is a fierce and abstract brew, with nods towards Beefheart, Soft Machine and Pere Ubu but shot through with flavours of New York jazz skronk. Theyíve received high praise from their heroes (Faust) and right across the leftfield music press (BBC Radio 3ís sorely missed Mixing It, Wire, Artrocker). A third album is imminent. They are a must for Fall fans at the festival too.
(We realised afterwards we had actually had some tracks courtesy of the lovely George - who else!? - which was probably why a couple of tracks sounded familiar!)

We then mooched about, taking on food, and listening to the rehearsals for the Summer Sundae Choir. Very good fun, but they were a lot braver than us! Time for some more alcohol!



Oncoming storm

We then wandered to the main stage but quickly dashed into the nearby Musician tent as a torrent of rain fell from the sky: this meant we caught the last four songs of John Butler, who despite excited cries from the compere of the tent ("Scrap Mumford and Sons, John Butler should headline!") wasn't all THAT great. Ex-Diesel Park West he may be, but...

Others were less impressed with The Moulettes taking to the main outdoor stage, but personally I thought it was lovely to see them getting such an opportunity. having delighted in their charms at The Big Session, I thought they deserved their moment (just a shame it wasn't quite as sunny as they warranted).

The Moulettes living it up on the big stage!

Still, no time to waste as I really wanted to ensure I grabbed a place for The Leisure Society who were playing the Musician Tent (it was PACKED).

I fell in love with The Leisure Society via - guess what? - 6Music. Harmonies, strings, melancholy. Just what this girl loves.

It is hard not to be thoroughly invigorated by the uplifting charm of The Leisure Society. For example, they may say they're never going to do their cover of Gary Numan's 'Cars' again, but bands say such things all the time and when a cover is this good, it's worth keeping. And to prove they ain't just fey, their rock out finale of The Sleeper really got us cheering.

After that we headed inside for some chilled out Laura Veirs. Phew.

LV was in fine form, supported by guitars, mandolins and violins. After a swift wander for air, we then settled into upstairs seats for Tunng who quite frankly were VERY strutty.

After seeing a rather nervous Tunng on the main stage at our first Summer Sundae, it was wonderful to see how they have grown (wonder if they still found time for fish and chips?). There was plenty of wiggy dancing and quirky noise.

We'd enjoyed Stornoway at the Big Session, but in some ways they were even nicer to see on the main outdoor stage - even though Summer Sundae wasn't quite the right audience to do 'We are the Battery Human".

After that, and more food, we headed to the Rising Stage for Fool's Gold. At time ultra pretentious LA white boys doing funk/world music, they nevertheless made good enough use of their racial diversity to bring it off eventually. If they guitarist can tone his posing down, then they'd be even more enjoyable live.

Over the rest of the day we caught some of The Go! Team (in passing), but along with a significant number of others, it was all systems heading to the Indoor Stage for The Fall. Would the mighty Mark E Smith turn up? Would he play? How long for?

We needn't have worried.

Sweeping the Nation said it best:
Tinchy Stryder was headlining outside, but the action was never going to be there. Having never seen the Fall live but read a lot about it we were pleased that, fighting and walking off early apart, everything we expected to happen happened - Mark E Smith twiddling with the amps, wandering with vague purpose around the stage, singing with his back to the audience, getting out his scraps of A4 for lyric advice, having a go at Eleni's keyboard during Blindness before slinging one of the four mikes he tried out (sound engineering the Fall must be a high pressured job in itself) into the front row. Oh, and also that the current Fall are a shit-hot proposition, garage Krautrock with menace, tight as you like and blessed with great sound helping them thunder through. Of course the hardcore filled the first few rows and the sixteen year old girls decided on unilateral early exits, and of course there were no Fall originals from before the last ten years (Frankie & the Heartstrings had played a snatch of How I Wrote Elastic Man between songs after Frankie told how one of them had bumped into Mark E), but you wouldn't have it any other way.

After that, we couldn't face the shrieks of the Stryder crew, so we stumbled on back to the hotel for a sarnie and a cuppa.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Trying to find time to write up and post Summer Sundae pics/reviews

In the meamtime, I got distracted by this piece of Tachyon TV related amusement.

Summer Sundae 2010 - Friday 13 August review

Summer Sundae arrivals can be strange things: this was the first year Neil and I had arrived together (usually I get the Friday off work and travel in alone with Neil following me after leaving work a bit early).

This year, due to us taking the TRULY idle option of staying in a hotel for the duration (not even bothering to travel home to our own beds), we both had the day off and tried to allow time to travel in and get checked in the hotel. However, the trains were a bit chaotic so we didn't get to Leicester til after 2pm - convenient for check in, but I was getting hungry by now...

Thankfully a summer burrito fixed that (I had three over the course of the event. Yummy!) and a pint of cider helped too (though see Pleasures and Gripes)

First up on our viewing was Kirsty Almeida, whose promotional stickers were many and popular. Bringing a kind of voodoo Southern Gothic style pop to the situation, she kicked of the festival for us with a bang (even dropping in a neat cover of Plan B's widely circulating "She Said"). Kirsty had great shoes as well.

After that, we wandered over for some of the New Doors-esque tunes of Erland and the Carnival. Highly enjoyable and plenty of woozey 60's psych organ work to charm.

We then loitered a bit and caught some of The Sunshine Underground as we wandered. Nothing to really grab the guts though...

We next nipped indoors for some of the chilled out vocal work of Lou Rhodes, formerly vocalist with Lamb (whose track Gorecki remains a much played track in my collection).

Anyway. Long-since solo, Lou appeared at Summer Sundae with a fabulous double-bass player (Jon Thorne?) who sadly had to run - with his bass! - to catch a train two tracks before the end of her set. Notably Lou politely but firmly requested the audience shut up talking during her songs (there is a quiet melancholy to her work and yaddering doesn't suit any performer, let alone a quiet one). She got big enough cheers and claps for taking on the chattering but it's inevitably to little avail. I wish people would think about WHY they come in to see/hear the music. What's the point if you're going to talk right through it?!

Teenage Fanclub
have been going since... well forever it feels. With their sunny-ish guitar pop they can weave their way into your heart easily. Coming in with grunge and the tail ending of baggy (as per the Fannies MySpace page), they've nevertheless retained all their verve and delight. Now more of an occasional than regular project, they've nevertheless come back with Shadows and some really top notch tunes. I don't think I was the only one to shriek with delight when they started up 'Baby Lee' (first heard played by Norman Blake on Marc Riley a LONG while ago) but at the time I felt as if I had confused those around me with my delight!

Ending with a cracking collection - Everything Flows, Sparky's Dream and The Concept - the band was a hit despite the drizzle and frankly dismal weather overseeing the set. A shame: just imagine how it would have been with a sunset...

We then, for reasons best known to someone other than us, meandered over to the Comedy tent where we caught most of the act of Junior Simpson. Sometimes amusing but you do wonder about people bringing in small/young children to a festival comedy tent...

We should then have perched ourselves for Seasick Steve, but despite there being a lovely logic to him headlining the main stage, we're still treasuring his turns a couple of years ago when we saw Seasick Steve in the much more intimate surroundings of the Musician Tent. We caught some of his 2010 performance, but we were getting worn down by the weather of the day by now.

We then tried to take in some Roots Manuva, but frankly we couldn't muster up enthusiasm to stay.

Shame on us, we tripped down the hill, bag of chips to sustain us, and fell into our hotel bed.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Sundae 2010 - pleasures and gripes

I'm working on getting reviews clear in my head, so in the meantime.....

A great festival so many pleasures to be had.

  • Range of bands performing
As ever, there was a wide and interesting range of bands on display. Plenty of local talent - thought they may need to watch that doesn't overload the schedule - but some really sparkling new/old acts from the UK and well beyond.

  • The atmosphere
Great vibe to the place as ever: cheery staff, friendly volunteers (hi Becky!), and plenty of bonhomie despite the weather. More walkway mats on Saturday may have helped but it all dried up on Sunday. Good luck to the DMH crew though fixing the state of the gardens!

  • Staging
Great range and good layout of stages: nice that the Rising stage is making use of the big top (as did the Comedy tent for its double!). Generally just the right amount of space per stage. They may need to think about the Musician tent on a Sunday though for its schedule - see the David Ford Sunday review for details!

  • Range of food
Superb. I miss the freshly made pizzas of the oven company (replace by corporate Pizza Express) but otherwise a nice mix of festival regulars, bigger names and quality small firms. Nothing under par food-wise. Happy Lisa.

Any big organisation/event will inevitably stirs a few moans. Here were mine:

  • Ticketing
We had collected our tickets from Leicester several months ago. So when we got to the festival gates, we were rather thrown by the instruction "go there to get your tickets". We already had tickets in our hands. What was the man saying?

So we joined the queue to get in the festival: bad idea. Should have done as the man said. We needed to get our tickets exchanged for FANCY tickets with a picture and foil.

Okay: I get the security issues of ticketing but really - not very green is it? Two lots of paper tickets and receipts with name/address on for each booking...

  • Drinks
Real ale drinkers do quite well by Summer Sundae (though running out of beer by early afternoon of the Sunday probably needs reviewing). But my biggest moan is tied up with sponsorship: I get the festival needs sponsors but how come cider drinkers have to put up with Bulmers or nothing? The standard beers/lagers on offer don't stop the festival having a beer tent, but Bulmers promotion means its them or nowt for cider drinkers.

And cider over ice is an abomination. (I was so vehement and frantic in my vociferous refusal of ice on my first purchase that the staff remembered me. We actually had quite a good laugh about it in the end as with subsequent purchases they would tease 'put some ice in it'. Memorable to the last I am!)

  • Information circulation:
Here was where I really missed Richard Haswell, and where I think - despite the big team that his co-founder of the festivals, Rob Challice, points out in this online interview, it really came to light how one person can be the crux of a system.

Last year, Fanfarlo were booked for the Rising stage. Would have been awesome; they pulled out.

This year, they got stuck in traffic: now, I don't know, this could have been a life or death situation, but really --- once is disappointing; repeating the no-show for a second year felt dire.

BUT the biggest problem for me was not the cancellation, at the last minute, but the information about this. In previous years EVERYONE seemed to get notices about last-minute changes of performances. The Streets cancelled late last year (swine flu) and within minutes every barrier and noticeboard had signs up about the rescheduling of bands.

At 5pm as the Rising Stage finished its performance with Erland and the Carnival the MC announced 'Fanfarlo on the main stage next'. We got there to find the MC for the main stage announcing 'And now one of my favourite singers, Fionn Regan' (who had been due on the Indoor stage from 5.15pm).

Everyone we then spoke to for the next 15 minutes - and myself and several other visitors were trying to find out what was going on - didn't know anything. They didn't know who would know, who we should talk to, who knew what... anything. One security guy listening on his headset said 'no-one seems to know, the organiser is trying to find out now'.

By the end of Fionn Regan's set, there were a couple of signs up saying about the change but only near the main outdoor stage, no where else.

And the announcement came over at the END of the set 'yes, we are sorry, the rumours are true that Fanfarlo won't be playing at Summer Sundae. They were involved in a traffic incident on the motorway and although they tried really hard to get here, they won't able to appear'.

1) rumours? They were due to have just played. I think you'll find that was a case of the audience noticed the band they were expecting hasn't played...
2) traffic incident? I'd be interested to know the news on that - it's maybe on Twitter? - because they have nothing on their own MySpace or website.
3) they tried really hard to get here? From when? From where? I get that bands are often cramming in several festivals to a weekend, but surely it must have been obvious by 4pm that Fanfarlo were not going to be there. Could an announcement AND the notices not have been done earlier? And how come staff didn't seem to know anything. I don't expect everyone to know all the answers but information circulation - at least WHO should be contacted to find out - really should be known to all staff.

  • Toilets:
Bless em: to top everything the toilet company tardis (don't laugh) break down in one of the carparks - creating havoc for bands arriving - and thus leaving toilets without new paper supplies or being cleaned out.

Not nice and again, information availability about why and a possible time schedule for being fixed would have been good.

All a shame as there were far more things to praise than this post suggests.

Summer Sundae 2010 - what we saw

Another Summer Sundae weekend has passed. It was out FIFTH visit (woah!) and the 10th Summer Sundae to take place. The festival has grown from a single day event to a three day event; from two stages (outdoor and indoor) to around five [the numbers have varied, with up to 6/7 in some previous years].

Was it good?

Well, you decide. The acts we saw over the three days were (reviews and links to follow):


Kirsty Almeida
Erland and the Carnival
The Sunshine Underground (a bit)
Lou Rhodes
Teenage Fanclub
Comedy - Junior Simpson (most of set)
Seasick Steve (some)
Roots Manuva (a bit)


Black Carrot
Summer Sundae Choir rehearsal (15 mins)
John Butler (last four songs of set)
The Moulettes (20 mins worth for me)
The Leisure Society
Laura Veirs
Stornoway (most of set)
Fool's Gold
The Go! Team (in passing)
The Fall
Tinchy Stryder (enough to hear teeny screaming)


David Gibb [and the Pony Club] (half of set)
Red Shoe Diaries
The Guthlaxtones / Summer Sundae Choir rehearsal (background)
Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit
Junip (in passing)
Errors (first 15 mins)
The Low Anthem
David Ford (missed first 'acoustic' song; saw whole of shortened set)
Frightened Rabbit (25 mins)
Mumford and Sons

It seems likely we had a good time, yes?

You bet. With added fun from the hula hoop stand, great cups of tea from Mashed, Punch and Judy, French lobsters on stilts, hilarious overheard exchanges of conversation, somehow the fact we got irregularly drenched on Friday and Saturday mattered much less.

(By the end of Saturday the site was a quagmire; the Sunday sunshine dried this all pretty effectively though!)

Reviews from elsewhere:
Leicester Mercury
Sweeping the Nation - Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

London and Cricket at Chesterfield

Had a lovely weekend celebrating 20 years together: got up early for train to London on Saturday (sold to me as 'fancy breakfast at Brunos?') and then after a brilliant breakfast we did a visit to Selectadisc in the South (aka Sister Ray), a trip to the National Gallery Fakes exhibition, a stroll down past Houses of Parliament to Tate Britain, and then a wander round Rude Britannia (better than the name suggests, not a good as it good be).

We then dodged our first shower of the day (the forecast had been for a lot of rain) and wandered along the Strand and up to Covent Garden where we took in the madness that was the launch of the new Apple Store.


We then headed back to the Southbank and went to see the Hip-Hop Shakespeare event with MC Marechal from Brazil (part of the Brazil festival). [Read a preview here]

This was a fabulous event, making clear the connections between hip-hop beats and Shakespearean rhythms and language. Truly inspiring and though I wished I had the Portuguese to have been able to fully appreciate the linguistic talent of Marechal's impassioned performance, his meaning was clearly conveyed.


We then dodged another shower (and there were no more!) and meandered along the south bank, before trotting over to Waterloo and then making our way for tea at our second favourite London Italian, Ristorante Cappuccetto near Cambridge Circus.

We threw the staff a curveball by ordering three mains and a side salad (we have become addicted to their gnocchi with gorgonzola, but it isn't enough on its own so we share it AND have a main each as well. Yes I know: greedy.) But it was lovely. I think they were quite shocked at us clearing our plates so well.

After that it was a slow wander back to St Pancras, almost taking in a viewing of Sherlock Holmes' abode.

We didn't get in until about 1am after the train home but it was worth it. And we think we saw a hare on the car park...

Sunday was a slow get-up but we had to be on the ball as Nick was coming over to go with us to Chesterfield for a classic cricket match: Derbyshire v Yorkshire in a one-day game.

Cricket is gloriously pointless but wonderful. And when accompanied by food and company for conversation it is perfect.

Okay, so the deployment of a troupe of young women in gym clothes with pom-poms doing cheerleader dances was like feminism never happened, and the cries of "Yorkshire, Yorkshire'* from bevied up Yorkies wasn't great fun to sit with, but the sun was out and the weather lovely and we grazed on good food all day.


Even if Derbyshire lost.

(Maybe serves them right for having cheerleaders. And for using the cheesiest promo line for the sponsor 'AutoWorld' -- "big enough to manage, small enough to care".)

And then home in time for Sherlock's big finale of the first run. Worth coming home for.

*That wasn't the worst of the chants. Bairstow, Bairstow, where's your dad was another. Jonathan Bairstow is a Yorkshire player whose player father, David Bairstow, killed himself. Classy, Yorkshire fans, classy.

Waiting with breathless anticipation for more Sherlock

Well, Sherlock WAS good wasn't it?

Like we ever doubted it would be so. However, it really does appear that Moff and co are on a roll here. Casting has been excellent -- Freeman is the perfect foil to Cumberbatch and stories have been delightful.

We know there should be more Sherlock episodes to come (understandably the American market has gone mad in anticipation - I bet illegal downloads have been highly popular). Thing is can we wait? Do we have the strength to let them have the time to build up equally excellent stories and filming?

And how can Moff do DW and do Sherlock alongside?

Plus, how much has the value of Benedict C and Martin F gone up since these episodes aired?

PS nice to spot the Blue Plaque for Giuseppe Mazzini at Sherlock's house in North Gower Street!

Reasons to not be blogging

Rubbish. But that is what comes of a hectic summer, not enough free time, work being utterly frantic (despite it being the summer - and everyone thinking I have nothing to do) AND having been without my computer.

Yes, my lovely little mac mini has come back home so in theory I can catch up on missed blogs.

I'd like to promise but I don't think I dare!

Friday, August 06, 2010

South Riding coming to the BBC --- with Douglas Henshall AND David Morrissey

Ah, there is bliss in a good novel adaptation.

South Riding is to be adapted by the BBC and the cast looks AWESOME.

Anna Maxwell Martin as Sarah Burton!

David Morrissey as Robert Carne!

AND Douglas Henshall as Joe Astell, the "Riding's only socialist councillor and rival to Carne for Sarah's affections" (as the BBC Press release describes him).

I have fondly read South Riding, and will look forward to doing so again.

Oh, and the person adapting this classic text?

Why 'tis Andrew Davies of course!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Dance Your Way to Psychic Sex by Alice Turing

Dance Your Way to Psychic Sex by Alice Turing - this going to be great.

I've ordered my copy: go on, order yours!

Some of us already know what a great and witty and insightful writer this author is: I can't wait to read this book!

Twenty years of love and friendship

Hard to believe, but twenty years ago this week I was staying on the Finchley Road at Westfield College for my A102 Open University Summer School.

It was there that I met both my lovely friend Chrissie AND the love of my life Cloud (Neil).


(There is a version of the tale of me and Cloud meeting under Q5 on the Me-Me I did back in 2005) Warning: it is rather romantic.

Monday, August 02, 2010

'Tis the season to be tidying...

Never mind spring clean: how about summer clean.

And summer tidying.

And most especially summer clearing.

Norm talks through his experiences of working through 'stuff'. We spent most of yesterday doing similar.

There must be something in the summer air.

We managed to empty and move ONE book case/shelf unit yesterday. I had hoped to moved three. This may have been optimistic but even so. I felt like I spent the whole day move and throwing stuff out (including innumerable accumulated photocopied/printed articles from over the years of academic study/research). And STILL it didn't look like we'd done anything.

Why do we seem more inclined to do this during the summer?

Ah, I know what it is: the impending autumn term. Once we hit September, it's eyes down til Xmas with nary a chance to catch breath.