When I heard that Arthur Smith was going to be appearing at my very very local pub a couple of months ago, I bagged me and The Man a couple of tickets immediately.
I have been to a few of the gigs put on by lovely compere Susan Murray as part of the Guffaw Comedy Club at Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre Pub – and I have seen some great stuff, including Richard Herring TWICE!
Susan Murray was on especially sparkling good form (perhaps because it was her birthday and her parents were in the audience – although we never heard/saw any evidence of said parents, so perhaps they were made up!).
Next was Grainne Maguire – Irish (obviously), self-deprecating, unique, extremely likeable, and ‘not very rude’ as she kept pointing out. She actually had the audience in the palm of her hand, expertly playing us until we were almost weeping with laughter – a class act!
It seemed like there was going to be an Irish invasion, as next up was Rory O’Hanlon. Unfortunately, as it is now a week ago, I can’t remember much about Rory, which is rather embarrassing – but I know that he was very amusing.
Canadian Ryan Cull made a rather brief appearance next, and as happens often with foreign acts, he pointed out the funny things about us Brits – which is always completely hilarious. He had a ready smile, and was quite cute – and he was only on for about 15 minutes…he couldn’t go wrong really, could he?
Finally, it was time for the main attraction, the wonderful grumpy old man that IS Arthur Smith – the Night Mayor of Balham (luckily I’d recently had my shots, so couldn’t catch anything from this particular specimen from South of the river!) I have a real soft spot for Mr Smith (ooer) – grumpy old man he may be, he’s never ‘nasty’, and he’s got that voice, that wonderful gravelly voice. Not only do a listen to that voice almost every night when I go to bed (he does the continuity for the Comedy Zone on Radio 7…10 til midnight – yeah, OK they now call it 4Extra, but it will alwyas be Radio 7 to me!) but I was once fortunate enough to talk to the man himself on the phone – back in about 1994. Oh how gooey I went at the sound of that voice!
Arthur was a wonderful mix of observations and old favourites chucked in for the kitsch factor.
I have to say, every single one of them hit the spot and made for a fantastic evening where I sniggered, chuckled and indeed guffawed happily.
I believe Stuart Lee and Richard Herring are due to appear in the summer, so we’ll be looking out for those!
You might have noticed that I post quite a lot of book reviews. I also post whether I have read the book as it was chosen as part of our E17 Book Club. I think that this has provoked quite a lot of publicity for our book club as I have received many requests over the last year or so by people who would like to join.
We are obviously a rather literary lot in Walthamstow!
Turnover of members of our book club is rather low indeed – we ‘allowed’ a couple of newbies in when one member left in September, but the number of people asking to join and being turned away is growing weekly.
I am sure that there are probably others, and if you know of them please do let me know.
However, my point for this post was to suggest that maybe someone sets up another Book Club (or two!) in Walthamstow – there are obviously enough people interested to fill them (we have found that about 10 people at any one meeting is kind of the upper limit…and about 14 on the list tends to get 8-10 each meeting).
I have quite a large number of people ‘in my archives’, so, if anyone wanted to set something up, I would be happy to get back in touch with peopel that had contacted me in the past and asked to be put on our waiting list to see if they would like to join.
So, come on, is someone going to stand up to the mark and say “YES! *I* will start organising a new book club in Walthamstow!”.
(PS – we now have no idea who ‘runs’ our book club…once you get a few meetings out the way, the members kind of look after it as one.)
***UPDATE*** Someone has kindly taken on the mantle of setting up a new book club, which will meet once a month at The Chequers. Let me know if you would like more details.
Also, as per Jenny’s comment below, there is a book club set up that meets in The Castle once a month!
We really, really are a well-read bunch in E17!
I am very excited to have received the email above from the organisers of World Book Night. For some reason, because I was successful last year when I gave out 20 copies of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman (which was my first choice as it is one of the best books EVER!), I thought that it would be weighted against me and my application wouldn’t get through for this year.
I have to admit to not being quite as excited by the shortlist this year as I had last year, and I wondered what had happened to all the ones I had voted for, but The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness is definitely a book that I voted for through the whole process, and as you can see, it was my number one choice (you can see my review of it here).
I was a little wary at first as this is the first book in a series of three AND considered a ‘young adult’ book, but then I thought that was what would make it perfect to get people reading even more that don’t necessarily read usually.
I will probably be foisting them on random people in the Rose & Crown like I did last year, but if you are in Walthamstow, and would be interested in reading this, let me know and I will reserve you one of the 20 copies!
Roll on Tuesday 23rd April!
On Thursday, I went along to my first experience of Austentatious. I say ‘first experience’ because I enjoyed it so much that I will definitely be going along to see them again!
Austentatious is a show from ‘The Milk Monitors’. It is a complete hour-long improvised comedy story loosely-based on the works of Jane Austen.
Before they begin, they pass round a basket to be filled with title-suggestions from the audience. This gives the theme for the play to be loosely based on. (If anyone used to listen to the marvellous ‘The Masterson Inheritence’ on Radio 4 in the 90′s, but repeated frequently on 4Extra, it is exactly the same idea!)
Previous show titles have included Man-filled Park, Pride & Predator, Mr Arsey, Tents & Tent Stability…the list is (almost) endless.
During the intro, two or three titles are blindly picked out that ‘almost made the cut’, and then the actual title is picked out…and on Thursday, the randomly chosen title was ‘Tax & Taxability‘.
Our story was based in Hemel Hempstead, starred Lady Beatrice Beatrice and Pastor Parson amongst others and featured a scandal, a grand ball, lost wealth, plenty of blessings and lashings and lashings of gin.
It was hilarious! The cast know their Austen, and they work with each other so effortlessly. The parts where they forgot their names, or whether they were a Lord or a Viscount or stumbled over silly phrases or forgotten words for things wasn’t brushed off, it was embraced and referred to later to aid the continuity (eg, the Lord claimed to have lost his vast wealth by not paying his taxes).
It was totally enjoyable, and the way that they wrapped it up exactly within the hour gave it the time to be fabulous without starting to grate or get ‘samey’. Me and my mate are planning to go to another show in a couple of months.
Also, when I checked out their website, you can imagine how delighted I was to read this:
“Austen is understood to have written a number of lost novels, novellas, cartoons and plays. Some of these appear to have been irrevocably damaged by fire or exposure; others are believed to have been misplaced by publishers; a few may have been purposefully destroyed by Austen herself. Most recently a collection of 576 of her short stories was found behind the bins of the Walthamstow Lidl, much to our delight.”
It has amused me that the past couple of days, people have apparently landed on this blog after Googling ‘”murder alley walthamstow’.
I have no idea how they ended up here, but it is fact the right place to be as the name was coined by me and my mate.
Many years ago, we gave this affectionate name to the little alley between Aubrey Road and Howard Road – purely because after drunken revelry, my mate used to have to walk through this to get home. she used to say that she’d get raped or murdered or both stumbling home one night, and so I used to tell her to text/call me to let me know she had been OK going through murder alley.
I am assuming that people searching why it was called that have seen it since I added it on Foursquare one day – although I am not sure who has classified it as a hot spring
As far as I know, noone has ever been murdered there – it’s not even dark – it is very well-lit. However, I can imagine it becoming a bit of a zombie bottleneck during the eventual zombie apocolypse, purely down to them not being able to work out the railings.
Just wanted to make sure people weren’t getting the wrong idea You can see Murder Alley for yourself here.
UPDATE!!!: Apparently, the reason that so many people have been searching it today is because it wasmentioned on BBC Radio London. i have no idea why, or how it came to their attention, but I love the fact that a joke between my and @goodwin71 has now become a radio topic
Last week, Waltham Forest council put on another concert as part of The Big 6, as a ‘celebration’ of being an official Olympic borough.
You may remember my trip to Party On The Pitch – this again was a free concert with a random ticket ballot. Unlike Party On The Pitch, I think this was absolutely fantastic.
I have to say, it probably helped in some way that the weather on the evening of July 5th was gorgeous – an unexpected occurance considering the weather this summer. The crowd was also extremely varied.
Urban Classic is a real musical mash-up – the BBC Symphony Orchestra playing with urban hip-hop artists. It had its first outing in 2006 to much acclaim and earlier this year it apparently had a very successful run at the Barbican (which somehow passed me by – shocking for a Barbican member, as this is right up my street!).
Luckily, last week it literally WAS right up my street, taking place in the Chestnuts Showground behind the iconic Walthamstow Town Hall. There were loads of food stalls and I had a gorgeous chorizo, red pepper and rocket roll No alcohol though, and no food or alcohol allowed onto the site. they even nicked my hairspray which was a brand new can and I hadn’t taken out as I’d come straight from work Boo!
There was a great atmosphere with everyone happy to be out somewhere being entertained for free in the sunshine. There was such a mix, as you can expect, with loads of kids down the front cheering and shouting, unable to contain their excitement for seeing Fazer (from N-Dubz), Skepta, Devlin and Ms Dynamite (who I had actually heard of!) and then others (the oldies, like me) who were looking forward to the 85-strong orchestra (although personally it was the whole mash-up that appeals to me personally!) and (like me) had brought along their foldy chairs
First of all there was a rather random DJ, who, although enthusiastic, unfortunately came across as a kind of local radio DJ with an over-abundance of sound effects, he was particularly fond of a breaking glass one, which after a while we found really amusing. he even houted “SHABBA!!” a couple of times. I can’t believe that he was cool even to the yoof, but bless him, he got the party started.
The orchestra kicked it all off with Jules Buckley conducting and then were joined by each of the artists in turn – I even got to sing “Ms Dynamite-ee-hee” which is the only part I actually knew from any of the tracks (I am SO old)…but it was all amazing…I loved every single second.
At one stage, Fazer was joined by Ed Drewett for their cover of Englishman In New York, which was really good, but this was totally blown away when Ed Sheeran joined Devlin (I think they’ve collaborated many times) for their cover of All Along The Watchtower that is being released as a single. I hate to say it, as the original really IS a classic, but I loved it a hell of a lot more than I should’ve done.
Here’s my vid of that part:
There was an unexpected firework show to end things, and we all went away feeling thoroughly entertained and extremely happy. this was a total success, as I said it was so much better than Party On The Pitch, and I think appealed so much more to the diverse population of the borough. I hope there’s the opportunity for more things like that – I would be willing to pay to see such a brilliant show on my doorstep!
I was just looking at something for this year’s E17 Art Trail and realised that I never got around to posting my photos from my art trail visit with The Girl to the Paekakariki Press around the corner.
I had never realised that it was there, and it is literally in the next road.
It was absolutely fascinating to see this fully-working old press, it was a really comforting (if loud) proper machinery sound, along with the smells, and the fantastic rows and rows of drawers holding all the letters in various fonts. Fantastic! If you get a chance to see it on this year’s Art Trail, do. Just beware as it wasn’t open for very long last year, so plan it in!
As part of the ‘Olympics celebrations’ (don’t get me started), Waltham Forest are holding The Big 6 – six free events put on for residents of the borough. There has already been Winter Wonderland and fireworks for New Year, neither of which were of mch interest to us.
Party On The Pitch was a pop concert, free to all residents, with tickets allocated by lottery. I thought The Girl might like it (being 12 and all that), so applied for tickets early on. I have to admit, as the acts were annonced, my internal raver kept dying a little inside – Alexandra Burke, The Saturday, Scouting for Girls and finally Cover Drive.
I didn’t get tickets originally, but a friend did and ‘donated’ his to us (as he was off to watch West Ham) which gained us entry to the Gallery and free drinks and nibbles — which certainly cheered my mood up (It was nice to jump the long queues afetr we got off the bus too!)
I have to say, from our vantage point, the crowd seemed a little sparse, which was disappointing, as people shouldn’t really apply for these tickets if they have no intention of showing up – a good, solid crowd certainly adds to any artist’s performance!
I missed who the ‘compere’ for the day was, but I have to say, he was actually really good for the family-friendly audience. Just the right amount of cheese and forced jollity without being too over the top.
First on stage was local girl, Mizz Camara – at just 15 she can play 6 instruments apparently, and although she only sang two songs (and played the trumpet too!) she had a very strong voice and is certainly someone to watch for the future – yay for homgrown talent
Next up were Bajan group Cover Drive, who I had never heard of, but The Girl seemed to know most of their songs and hapily sang along and danced. They weren’t too bad at all – easy listening, a bit souly, but what impressed me most was the amazing midriff of the lead singer – my God she was totally ripped! Anyway, The Girl would now like their album, and I have no issues with that at all.
We were then entertained by Kaleidisco, a rather odd five-piece act from Ibiza. They consisted of a guy on bongos/drums, a girl on saxophone, a couple of neon-clad dancers, seemingly improvising to the backdrop of dance tracks spun by their DJ. A rather odd choice for the venue, I must say. However, I can imagine that they are qite effective in-situ in a proper club.
Then came what I was dreading most, and unfortunately my fears were completely with reason. The Saturdays were down to four (apparently they’re usually five) as one of them has just had a baby. They looked very good – all jewelled corsets, hot pants or short skirts and high high heels, perfectly made-up and coiffed.
I didn’t know any of their songs, but that hadn’t really made a difference with the first two acts. They really weren’t my kind of thing obviously, but personally, I don’t really think that they ‘brought it’. They seemed very much to be going through the motions, with no real stage presence, chemistry or character. I guess all I have in my mind to compare them to is Girls Aloud or The Spice Girls, and although I’ve not seen either of them live, I have seen clips of shows etc, and The Saturdays were nowhere near the same league.
In fact, well before the end of their set, The Girl said she should probably go to the loo as we knew Unity UK were going to be on at some stage, and she was worried they would be straight after The Saturdays and we’d miss them!
She was right too – even though they only did a short piece, local dance group Unity UK were definitely the highlight for me. The Girl had wanted them to win Got To Dance – but they got pretty close! Do check out their audition if you haven’t seen them before.
Alexandra Burke was up next – and I at least recognised a couple of her songs, and The Girl was happily singing along, and dancing – as were a few of her friends that we bumped into…they had dance routines and everything (oh to be that age again!). She certainly seemed to have a LOT more stage presence than The Saturdays, and a pretty impressive voice too, which I wasn’t really expecting. She also had two VERY hot dancers, that got a whoop out of The Girl when they took their tops off. A whoops off of lots of women and girls actually (and a fair number of men).
Then was the longest wait of the day (which to be completely honest wasn’t that long a wait at all!) and then Scouting For Girls came on stage. At this point, I had managed to convince the steward that seeing as many people had just left (probably to get younger kids home and miss the rush), that there should be no problem with letting us onto the pitch where we managed to join one of my friends.
I have to say, I always thought Roy was quite cute, and the songs were always proper pop sing-a-longy type creations. Good for what they were meant to be, and as it was the end of a pretty nice day with The Girl behaving herself, and the band were obviously well up for it, it was quite easy to give into the pop-pressure and sing along to songs which I didn’t realise I knew the words to!
They were a good finale to a very nice free day.
I have just asked The Girl for a quick review: The highlight for her was also Scouting For Girls as it really made her want to dance around, low point was not being allowed onto the pitch until right near the end. She also loved singing along to Halleluljah and other songs with Alexandra Burke.
Now, I am especially looking forward to Urban Classic which I have managed to get tickets for. Far more my kind of thing!
Just for balance, I bumped into the infamous Walthamstow Scene whilst there, and you should read his writeup too, as I think he has very different opinions to my own
This wonderfully designed poster is up in my local chicken shop, that gourmet extravaganza ‘Tasty Chicken ‘N’ Pizza’.
I have many friends who are trying to convince me (VERY unsuccessfully) to get married in Vegas – but why the hell would I do that when I could have such amazing catering for my wedding right in Walthamstow?!(Note: I realise it’s probably just a poster for a separate catering business, but come on – it’s amusing!!)