TV, trips out, London Living and all between...

Friday, 18 May 2012

Revisiting old favourites: The Stand by Stephen King

I'm writing this from the top deck of the bus, having literally just closed the covers on (a very frayed old copy of) The Stand by Stephen King, and I wanted to write something about how having read it a few times in my teens, revisiting it was a weird experience.

Bit of context- from the age of about 12-17 I read a lot of Stephen King, I'm a sucker for a horror story and I remember loving them... Since then I've dipped in-and-out, specifically with the Dark Tower series, and it was a conversation about that that sparked a memory that the Dark Man in that and Randall Flagg in The Stand were the same person, so when I was at my mum and dads about a month ago I found my old copy and started to re-read...

In the 10 years, English Degree, 4 years in publishing and god knows how many read novels since I have to say its lost a bit of its glamour... I remember being about 14 and having a horrendous sense of dread in Willerby Square when someone sneezed, thinking for a split second 'it must be Captain Trips', the fictional flu virus that practically makes the human race extinct, and I have to say in the third of the novel where characters are dropping-off left right and centre I felt the same sense of dread, this time on the tube or on the bus- and in that sense that's The Stand's greatest power.

However, the rest of it is a fairly bloated, overly religious load of twaddle, with annoying characters (I can't believe how many times Frannie cries at BOLLOCKS points in the narrative, you'd think she'd have toughened up a bit or at least work out the old tear ducts by page 900!)

The edition I've got is the updated and expanded version- all the bits King's editors took out because it was too long shoved right back in- and it could do with about 400 pages lopped off!

It's made me a feel a bit disappointed, and worried that if I re-read some of my other childhood favourites I'm going to be let down... All-in-all a vaguely sad feeling! I kind of wish I'd have left it, or got a bargain version of the TV movie off eBay to sate my appetite.

I was going to attempt to re-read the Dark Tower series, but kind of feel I should leave it to the rose-tinted version in my memory... And hope that the adaptation that is apparently on the cards is better than that!

In the words of a wise old sage; "Oh Well"

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Thorpe Park Poncho Wankers

Me and my flatmate went to Thorpe Park for the day a week or so ago... It was suitably amazing.

However, it did make me feel like I'm getting bloody old - I felt completely dizzy the whole day, exhausted after 2 rides on 'Saw' and didn't want to get wet on the water rides... So became one of THOSE people in a theme park... A poncho wanker!

It was a banging day out- so much do that we booked to go back when it's the Halloween nights! Wahoo!

It's been too long!

I decided that it'd been too long without a post- I'm going to keep this blogging malarkey up, there's plenty going on, and I like how this is sort of like a diary... Sorry, indulge me!

So, what do I want to say??? It's been a pretty hectic couple of months... New job, loads of tours up and down the country... Specifically for a book called Geekhood that I'm pretty excited about- and the tour, with ensuing fall-out has been hilarious!

Also, went to my first debate at Cambridge to see my little brother as President of the society chair! Was great seeing him on his throne and hearing both sides of the higher education debate!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

What can I say, I bloody love Christmas, and for me I like to have my Christmas tree up ready and raring to go for the 1st December, so the last weekend in November has become my traditional weekend to put the bad boy up!

So... Merry Christmas! Hope it gives you a bit of festive cheer!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Rihanna in Sheffield: BOGLE BOGLE.

We Found Love in a Hopeless Place…

Well, to round off an absolutely jam-packed week, Saturday morning I set off with my mate Lucy to head for Sheffield, were we met up with my sister, her mates and Claire and Mark. What were we doing in Sheffield you may ask? Well, it was all for Rihanna!

Last Christmas Day as a present to ourselves we booked to see Rihanna, obviously then it felt like a lifetime away, but here we were having a mooch around Meadowhell getting ready 11 months later.

All glammed-up, and after a few gin-and-vitacoco’s, we got to the Arena just in time for Calvin Harris, Rihanna’s latest producer and an absolute blinding support act – he got us fully whipped up pumping out his own tunes and some right floor-fillers! Me, Claire and Mark were all saying “We have to go to Ibiza before we get too old!” Haha – we’ll be booking soon, I can guarantee it!

So, at about 9.30 (about half-an-hour late!) the lady herself appeared and played a banging set – in the words of Prince she’s “got too many hits” every single song was a belter, she did loads from Loud and quite a few from Rated R (my personal favourite of her albums) … The only one she didn’t do that I was gutted she left out was ‘S.O.S’, she even played a bit of ‘Pon de Replay.’

I saw Rihanna a couple of years ago on the Rated R tour, even though I was in the nose-bleeders at the back of the O2 in London it was a great show, but this one was absolutely brilliant! Granted, it was basically a sex show – Rihanna couldn’t help but touch herself and throw herself around legs-akimbo – but it was a bloody good one! Great, simple production, excellent dancers (in the colours of JLS – very confusing) and so many brilliant, floor-filling songs!

She’s a total megastar now, and watching her the next night on the X Factor I felt chuffed we’d seen her in the flesh (and there was a lot of it) and threw ourselves around the arena having a belting time all courtesy of her.

One thing I did find annoying was the few people who just stood there like a statue whilst everyone else danced around them – I do genuinely think if you’re at a concert, you’re in the standing bit and you’re not going to dance you should have the decency to go to the side or the back!

Friday, 18 November 2011

We really wanna see those fingers...

It's "UVAVU" no more, as Shooting Stars has been cancelled...

So sad really, have loved that show since I was 13 or something and it first came out, and there really is nothing else like it on TV now or ever before. I hope Vic and Bob can come back and do something else, their You Tube comedy series was patchy, but bits of it were INCREDIBLE (most notably 'the Shakamoto Report' and 'Glass Blowers')

Well, Shooting Stars was one of the first things I went to see taped live when I first moved to London, so I'm glad after years of trying i got to see it taped live... twice!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

We Married the Night...

Oh, there’s Lady Gaga just at the other end of the room

Well, today seemed like the perfect day to start a blog…

Yesterday was one of my favourite ever London days, I moved down in February this year, and have been trying to cram in as much as possible, putting myself down for as much free stuff as possible, seeing as much theatre, gigs, concerts and nights out as I can squeeze in, and/or afford!

This post starts a week ago when I arrived too late to get into a taping of Alan Carr: Chatty Man that my friend Jen had organized, but if you’re in the queue they give you priority tickets for a future taping – what would be a better taping to go then Lady Gaga!

Phone calls were made to the production company, awful/epic flirtation was committed to the audience-finding guys and first thing the next morning I managed to wangle 3 priority tickets to the taping yesterday, featuring Peter Kay, a performance from Ed Sheeran and the lady herself: Lady Gaga!

Me, Claire and Mark got there early, queued in the cold with some home-made treats (smashing brownies from Claire!) and some Christmas Red-Cup coffees from Starbucks and ended up at the very front of the audience, front row, directly in Alan and Gaga’s eyeline. Literally incredible! We weren’t allowed to take pic when the guests were on, but we sneaked a pic of the empty studios… literally nothing between us and Gaga!

So, she came on first to play a stripped down version of her newest single, Marry the Night on a gothic grand piano surrounded by candles. It’s fair to say that when she opens them pipes the Lady can sing! She cocked up the opening bars a couple of times, saying “Oh f**k off” after her second attempt, before going into a beautiful, haunting version of the song. One of the friends I was with said he likes to think she writes her songs just like that, stripped back at a piano – just amazing!

After a swift costume change (huge pink bow on her head to sleek all-black number, wide-brimmed hat and pearls) she came on and chatted to the chatty man for a good half-an-hour.

I can’t wait to see how they edit it down, but she came across as warm, funny, and very, very normal… well as normal as the biggest star on the planet can! She maintained a playful, cute relationship with Alan as she sipped Jamesons whiskey straight all afternoon (I wonder if she was half-cut?!)

One brilliant bit was when she brought out a copy of her Monster Ball DVD from her handbag to promote it before Christmas… “3 years ago I lived on the East Side with nothing but a pair of shoes and a pipe dream… buy my DVD”, she told a totally lovely story about her dad, who has just opened a restaurant in New York and how he rang her when a Little Monster from Hawaii arrived at the restaurant demanding to see gaga, he called her up and she ended up having a chat with the fan!

There was a lot in the interview about how ‘normal’ and Italian she is, it really jarred with the gang of 15 18-20 year olds surrounding us who were her superfans, camping outside her hotels and her gigs to glimpse their idol… I felt a bit sorry for them that this was the extent of their life – they can’t have jobs or anything as they drop everything and follow her around the country (they were heading straight for the train to Manchester for her gig the next day!), and I felt a bit sorry for Gaga that she has to deal with these characters wherever she goes – she obviously loves her fans and the following that she’s developed, but she doesn’t get a day off from it and has to think about these lot, sending them pizza and cookies, when they’re outside waiting for her for hours. There was one girl who must’ve been a similar age to us, if not a bit older who waited for 9 hours in the rain early in the summer to see Gaga when she was on Paul O’Grady, all she saw was Gaga’s car whizzing by after the taping – surely she had better things to do that day? … It all got a bit feral later on, but I’ll come to that!

One part of the interview (already documented online: bit.ly/rXjkJv ) was particularly hilarious, about how with her mental outfits and tight schedule she sometimes needs to pee in bins in her dressing room… all very funny and tongue in cheek, but as she was saying it she was looking straight at us – specifically maintaining eye contact with Mark who was with us! As taping drew to a close she said to him “I looked straight at you when I talked about peeing’ Obviously, we were all over-the-moon about this connection with Gaga, Batte nodded and mumbled, grinning. I called to her “He love’s it Gaga” and she nodded and asked him “Do you like watching women peeing?” before turning to Alan and commenting “Dirty f*ck.”

Literally the best moment of all of our lives ;-)

Safe to say that after that we were all on cloud 9, and Mark was exhausted feeling like it was a 3-way chat between him, Gaga and Alan!

In all good humour Gaga then went on to do some cooking in a brilliant skit that obviously took about 30 minutes longer than it was supposed to and got Alan and the production staff all flustered!

“You asked me to cook on your show Alan, so I’m going to cook and finish”

She made a lovely looking chicken Milanese (a speciality of the Gaga family) and then came into the audience to give it to her Little Monsters – this was my least favourite part of the day. When they all leapt on her and tore the food to bits like animals. That’s when me and my friends felt worse for her – they just want a piece of her and are willing to fight over a scrap of chicken to get it!

All this went on as a very bewildered-looking Ed Sheeran tuned up and prepared for what must have been the most surreal performance of his career – suffice to say he was brilliant!

We came out emotionally and physically exhausted, spending some QT with such a megastar and literally being so close was a brilliant, brilliant experience! We needed a Jamesons and a coffee in the fabulous OXO Tower on London’s South Bank to bring us back down to earth!

Thanks to Claire and Mark for making the journey and sharing it with me, couldn’t have asked for 2 better Little Monsters to share it with.

Alan Carr: Chatty Man featuring Lady Gaga is on on Sunday 20th November, 10pm, Channel 4 – look out for us on the front row!