alexsarll: (default)
Just over a week now since I got back from Prague; the now-traditional late anniversary trip which has taken us ever further afield, first Margate, then Bruges, and this year Mitteleuropa. The first time I've flown in getting on for a decade, too, and I still can't abide the ridiculous mixture of security theatre and profiteering which we still have to go through on account of one half-arsed terror scheme all those years ago.
In Berlin, which even more than Paris seems to have made too many concessions to the automobile, we almost wholly failed even to skirt the fringes of the city's famous nightlife. True, it can't have helped that we were there on weeknights in January, but mostly we tired ourselves out sufficiently doing the hits (museums, Wall fragments, the Brandenburg Gate) that evenings in with Lidl fizz were a welcome wind-down. The exception being the black light crazy golf, which was a truly consciousness-expanding experience (not something one often hears said of golf), even given we left the cocktails until after. And then, a train along the Elbe, all castles and crags. Well, I say that; first there were interminable plains which made East Anglia look fascinating, but I try to forget those. But then the romantic riverside, and then Prague itself, one of the very few cities which to me is a thing in itself rather than a monoculture ultimately traceable to a cutting from one London district. This was my third visit, and I hope it won't be my last, for each time there are new riches, or at least new riches to me - the Cubist cafe, the old Jewish cemetery and the Municipal Hall have all been standing since long before my first time there, way back in the nineties. There's a lot more English spoken now, which I put down to the stag parties and the Internet; also a lot more Thai massage places, which I'm pretty sure will just be the stag parties. But it's still Prague, still cheap by any standards other than the past's, still enchanted. And long may it remain so.

Since I returned, I've managed to be busy without being particularly social, in part because I was already booked elsewhere on the night of the month's big people-I-know-gig. Still, worth missing the odd show to see Daniel Kitson, who remains, well, Kitson - more comedic this time than sometimes, more play than storyteller, but still a law unto himself. Ditto Birdman, a film I like despite it being up for awards from the Academy, whose general cluelessness is finally beginning to become more widely apparent now they've snubbed The Lego Movie (I'm not saying they're the world figures most in need of hanging from lamp-posts, but I would like to see them on that list). Even at the Union Chapel, for my first Daylight Music of the season, I managed to miss many of the people I knew on account of it being unusually full of people I didn't. Who could have known that the mainstream draw they needed was Amelia Fletcher singing about chickens, Sarah Cracknell's new sixties-style side-project, and Darren Hayman doing William Morris?

There's still a ton of other stuff I should write up - most of Autumn and Winter is jotted in drafts somewhere - but let's post this now, at a sensible length, rather than strive eternally for something compressed and complete.
alexsarll: (default)
Just finished reading The Thin Veil of London, a book loosely concerning the great Arthur Machen, and a companion to a walk I went on a couple of Sundays back. Elements which could have felt like am-dram instead felt like they were genuinely ruffling the surface and some Thing might chance through at any moment, as we walked streets I'd never seen within ten minutes of where I've been working for two years. And Machen's grandson was there, now old enough to resemble the great man's jacket pictures. Truly an experience to treasure.
Other London adventures:
- Victoria Park, which I have passed but never entered, finally visited. Would be lovely if it didn't have so many wasps and men who think they're it.
- The Archway Tavern has now become a tiki bar, and not in the half-arsed manner one might expect - there's even an indoors water feature. Also tequila girls and bog trolls. They come with the venue. The night, being loosely glam, had attracted a bafflingly mixed crowd, including some full-on townies and what looked like US-style good old boys as well as the obvious. Most terrifying, though - one man who looked like a seventies TV presenter, and one girl wearing the classic 'sexy school uniform' look. In defiance of all laws of comedy, they didn't seem to know each other.
- I've never sat in Greenwich Park and not faced the view North before. Around the bandstand it feels like another park, less London, older. I like it.

Saw Menswear again on Friday; I say 'again', last time it was Johnny Dean and the Nuisance band, but a rose by any other name would smell as Britpop. When I wear a suit, I can even confuse other nineties indie celebrities into thinking I am him.

I was dimly aware Art Everywhere was coming, but it was very much background knowledge until I glanced at a billboard and thought, hang on, what the Hell are they trying to sell with John Martin's fire and brimstone? And they weren't; it was just saying 'Hey, look at John Martin! Isn't he good?' Second one was Samuel Palmer. I don't go to a lot of single-artist exhibitions, but I've been to see both of them. Approved.

War of the Waleses is, by its dramaturge's own admission, 'sillier and nastier' in its current version that first time out. I can see how the shorter version, with fewer actors, is much better suited to the practicalities of Fringe life, and making any play crueller about Princess Di is fine by me (the new line about her "simpering sedition" absolutely nails it), but I miss some of the Shakespeare resonances lost - especially when it comes to John Major and the vanished John Smith. The comparison of the two takes set me thinking - Major was our Yeltsin, wasn't he? By which I mean, a very long way from perfect, and you can entirely understand the pisstaking at the time, but it was a brief glimpse of doing things a slightly different way before the ancien regime reasserted itself, more dickish than before in so far as that dickishness was veiled around with a new insincerity.

I'm up to the end of Breaking Bad's third season, whose pacing and tone seemed a little off - too often the show overegged the comedy, before slipping into mawkishness when it pulled back from that. Too much old ground was re-covered in the tension between the leads. And then I saw an interview with Bryan Cranston where he claimed that other TV shows were about familiarity, about seeing the same character each week, and nobody on TV has ever changed like Walter White. And I thought, no. Absolutely take your point about most network crap, and even some very good shows, but never say never. Because Babylon 5 had Londo and G'kar, and they changed like nobody's business. So this nudged me back towards my paused rewatch of B5's second season, and I realised, it wasn't just the general principle of a character who changes: Walter is Londo. He's a proud man, feeling his time has passed, staring the end in the face. So he makes a deal with the devil and at first he's thrilled by the power, before realising that he has become something he hates, and there's no way to get off the ride. He even has a conflicted relationship with a younger sidekick possessed of a certain inherent haplessness!
Other television: Justified got a fair few articles this time around about how it deserved more attention, which is more attention that it used to get, but still not as much as it deserves. I'm intrigued by the way other characters were built up this time out, especially among the Marshals - it could almost survive without Timothy Olyphant, I think, not that I'm in any hurry to see it try. The Revenants was good, even if it did cop out a little by going to a second series WHICH HAD BETTER BLOODY ANSWER EVERYTHING. Speaking of cops, French police uniforms suck. I did love how unashamedly Gallic it was in scattering sexy superpowers around the populace. And BBC4 continues to brutally beat down every traitor who ever dissed the holy BBC. Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as Burton and Taylor was a suitably meta final outing for their big dramas; just as Cleopatra marked the end of Hollywood's grand era, so this brought down the curtain on BBC4's days of riches (at least, until I rule the world, when the accumulated wealth of the entire Murdoch mob - and the proceeds from sale of their organs - will all go to bolster the licence fee). But they still have their documentaries, the sort of shows other factual broadcasters pretend they're going to make, before wheeling out a load of gimmicky recreations, recaps and silly music. Consider the recent show about Ludwig II of Bavaria; I'm by no means unfamiliar with him, but there was so much here I didn't know. His grand castle Neuschwanstein is the basis for the Disney castle - but I had no idea it was itself a theme park, with modern architecture and engineering hidden behind the scenes, council chambers which were never used - essentially a private playpen. All this was the work of a constitutional monarch conscious modelling his private realm on absolute monarchies - yet at the end they talk to young citizens of Bavaria who acclaim him as too modern for his time. Most broadcasters would be unable to resist a honking noise then, a reminder of the mistake, but BBC4 trusts us to make our own connections.
alexsarll: (bernard)
First weekend of June was very much the first big weekend of the summer. Started early by playing to stereotypical associations of 'Japan', packing out [ profile] xandratheblue's local sushi place and all being a bit disturbing. Saturday was her official birthday, in Highgate Woods, with a pinata who died too easy. I the interests of keeping the jovial violence going, wrestling ensued, as a result of which I am still nursing a slightly stiff ankle I SAID ANKLE. In between - Nuisance with JOHNNY RUDDY DEAN FROM MENSWEAR fronting the house band for a set of Bowie covers - and, inevitably, an encore of his own material. All of it excellent, except perhaps the rather idiosyncratic choice of 'Crash' among the latter. The final track was a version of 'All the Young Dudes', which also featured Jaime from Marion and the word 'YOLO'. A perfect fusion of seventies, nineties and 2010s, right?
On the Sunday, my Cthulhuson was most impressed by all the diggers and forklifts clearing up after the Stone Roses clusterfucked Finsbury Park. I can't say I was quite so fascinated, but it was certainly more appealing that watching a tuneless homophobe and three hypocrites massacre songs that used to be quite good.

The week after that had little to report here - certainly not our ignominious placing in the Doctor Who pub quiz, which wasn't even the only Whocentric socialising that week, not that I am a geek or anything. Then a quieter weekend, off to deepest Middlesex to see where [ profile] wardytron lives now he's allegedly a grown-up. Say what you like about the suburbs, and I do, but I will always be likely to approve of any party with a friendly dog. Then home via another party, with me refusing vodka on the train - not because I hold to the laws on that, or had suddenly turned abstemious, but simply because it tasted like Malibu. Ick.

Made my first visit to Finsbury Park's new theatre last night. They've had various exciting new dramatists' stuff already, so obviously I went for the classic - School for Scandal. I've never seen any Sheridan before, and I'm still not entirely convinced that watching Sheridan is as good as reading Cabell's chapter about Sheridan as epitome of the "glorious mountebank" in Beyond Life, but the sheer wit and deviousness and moral vacancy of the whole affair was a delight. Could perhaps have done with spending more time on choreographing the key farce scene, though, and less on the musical interludes they'd added.
alexsarll: (Default)
Well, if we overlook an astonishing disappointing Dalek effort from the once-great Moffat, that was rather a lovely evening - lounging in a Crouch End gazebo by candlelight, all suitably louche. And at lunchtime I'd finally got round to attending one of the Union Chapel's daytime concerts, with (The Real) Tuesday Weld taking full advantage of the pulpit; the night before I'd walked through Holborn, along the South Bank and then down to the deep South for [ profile] my_red_dream's wedding reception, where pretty much all the old faces were together again for the first time in I don't know how long. It has been, in brief, a pretty satisfactory weekend.

At some point I got very behind writing about shows I've seen; Edinburgh is done now, and I've not even caught up with the last of the previews I saw before it kicked off. Impressed to have caught three of the Best Newcomer nominees (including the rather surprising winner) courtesy of [ profile] diamond_geyser (all mentioned in previous posts, I think) - but then there were also the very sweet Grainne Maguire (who is not a character act), curly-haired Matt Highton (for whom I became a professional gag-writer), Phil Nichol (a sort of Canadian Al Pacino who was probably great once he'd learned his material), and Nick Doody (wrong and brilliant). And then, at a normal venue, whatever the opposite of a preview is, so now I have *finally* seen Dinosaur Planet in full.

Also, there were plays! At the Bridewell Theatre, which is not just a name, for said well half-blocks the entrance to the basement bar. I was there to see [ profile] perfectlyvague's Thatcher in Berkoff's Sink the Belgrano - which is treasonous rot, but part of being one of the good guys is being able to enjoy art even when it's wrong. Also on the bill was Man of Destiny, the first George Bernard Shaw I've seen in ages. He really was much better at speeches than drama, wasn't he?
alexsarll: (death bears)
Just finished watching the finale of Mad Men season 4, and it continued the season's mix of perfectly played scenes (Peggy and Joan) with baffling developments on the wider screen. I haven't kept track of who's been writing what, but I've often been reminded of the final season of Angel, or what little I saw of latter-day Frasier - the ingredients were all there, but one got the sense that they were being mixed by a teenager with an imperfect grasp of the show's crucial dynamics. If it's true that the Dark Lord Murdoch's hordes are poaching the show from next series...well, I suspect I'll not miss it as much as I once would have done.
Much the same applied to the final episode of the one and only series of Swingtown, another series about the birth of modern America, but there it applied from the start - it was in the nature of a show pitched at HBO which then ended up on network. Plots were too repetitive, resolutions too pat, occasionally the whole thing lapsed almost into sitcom (and even more occasionally it was funny while it did so). And yet, there was stuff that worked. From US networks, that's the most you can expect. From cable, like Mad Men's home at AMC, it should be the least. Never mind from HBO, but their gigolo-com Hung has also been massively uneven in its second series, albeit mostly in the opposite direction - what should be comic instead coming across as merely dramatic. So I suppose I now at least get the patriotic frisson of a month or two where most of my viewing will be UK: Jimmy McGovern's Accused, which as usual with him is preachy but has the actors to get away with it; The Trip, self-indulgence done right; the increasingly geeky/brilliant Misfits; the reliable Peep Show, and its better-than-expected brand extension Robert's Web.

In spite of the snow of which I was so foolishly doubtful in the title of my last post (hence the title of this one), I made it down to Clapham on Tuesday to see [ profile] perfectlyvague in Ubu Rex. Which was a quick way to see her in panto, Shakespeare, Sesame Street and Jackass all at the same time. I read the play years back and didn't get the point at all, but on stage, treated with appropriate verve and liberality of interpretation, it's quite something. A sort of grotesque satire on everything as a disguise for simple schoolboy delight in rudeness, or possibly vice versa, with nods to the 'Wild Boys' video which she insists are coincidental.

John Man's Alpha Beta is a book about the alphabet. Not the sort which has a big red picture of an apple, but one about the sheer strangeness of an idea which, unusually, seems only to have occurred once in human history - that 20-40 signs with no intrinsic meanings are enough to get down a whole language. Even languages with no direct connection to the original alphabet seem to have developed one only when they heard reports of the concept - which were apparently enough for the idea to take hold*. And Man follows this idea as it runs rampant, taking in everything from the most abstract concepts - like rhotics, an entire discipline devoted to the study of the letter R - to the spectacular "Thomas Dempster, scholar and hooligan", father of Etruscan studies. "The twenty-fourth of twenty-nine children, and one of triplets, he claimed to have learned the alphabet in a single hour when he was three.""After a duel with a young officer, he had the man held, stripped and bvggered in public by a 'lusty fellow'." His wife Susanna Valeria was "a girl so astoundingly beaiutiful and provocative that she caused Parisians to riot". And so forth. Calmer, but no less intriguing, is the early Korean emperor Sejong, who really was the sort of all-wise and benevolent ruler North Korean propaganda tells them they still have now. But what they do still have is the alphabet he developed, reckoned by connoisseurs to be the best in the world.

*In this connection Man talks briefly about the concept of the meme - which, writing in 2000, he has to explain. He mentions the term's arrival in 1976's The Selfish Gene, and that "When Dawkins came to check out his creation on the Internet some twenty years later, he found over 5000 references". Five thousand whole references to memes on the Internet! Bless.
alexsarll: (howl)
Couple of BBC radio shows of possible interest: a documentary on Banshees and Magazine guitarist John McGeogh, with contributors including Howard Devoto and, as of tomorrow, one about the mighty HBO, with Stroud Green Road habitue Aidan Gillen taking part. I should also have mentioned the Paul Morley programme about celebrity culture, but forgot after the first part, and the second wasn't nearly as interesting.

It's worth seeing Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum in David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow simply because it's a script that gives two great character actors a lot of opportunities to have a whale of a time shouting good lines at each other. But that's not necessarily to say it's a good play. Mamet is much better at writing men with men than women, so in the second act, when it's Goldblum and Laura Michelle Kelly, everything sags rather. I don't know her - apparently she's mostly done musicals - and I wouldn't say she's a bad actress, but she doesn't grab the attention like Spacey and Goldblum do - though with the material Mamet gives her, can she really be held to blame? If you want to consider this play as a story, not a vehicle, I think it's fundamentally flawed.
Summary of plot:
Spacey wants Goldblum to make a prison blockbuster starring a hot property actor. But should Goldblum instead make a film of apocalyptic Great American Novel The Bridge?
Flaws in plot:
- The Bridge is rubbish. We hear plenty of excerpts, and I'm not sure whether Mamet has deliberately written it as a parody of the sort of impenetrable toss which a certain type of critic loves, but that's what it is.
- Apparently the problem with filming The Bridge is that it's about the end of the world, and Hollywood doesn't like films about the end of the world. Is this play set in some bizarre parallel universe, or just incredibly dated? If the latter, what period would that be? Because I am hard pressed to think of any long period without a big doomsday film. If anything, The Bridge sounds like a rubbish version of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, the big-budget film of which is already in development.
- Goldblum has just been promoted - he's about to make his first film as co-producer. At no stage does anyone suggest hey, let's do the prison blockbuster and *then* make The Bridge! Even though the blockbuster already has a script, while The Bridge would need rights bought, an adaptation commissioned...a delay, in other words, during which Goldblum can easily cement his position with the more commercial film.
Nonsense, in other words, but entertaining nonsense. Much like the power ballads night I attended afterwards at the new Monarch, which used to be the Misty Moon and before that the Chalk Farm Road Wetherspoon's, and as such shouldn't work at all as a venue, but sort of does.

I can't imagine why Woolworths could ever find its market position threatened when it's selling such well-conceived items as the Lolita bed for young girls. Which reminds me rather of Alan Moore's comment re: Lost Girls that "It's a stick and a carrot combined, that for the purposes of commerce it can flood your mind with the most licentious ideas and imagery but woe betide anybody who actually finds themselves in this inflamed state and responds. Because then they are a dirty, filthy person who responds to p0rnography", and makes me want to write something about Lost Girls, which I started reading during its abortive serialisation 13 years ago and eventually got to finish a couple of weeks back, on what happened to be the night before the More4 broadcast of Chris Langham's apologia. The problem is, I'd still feel fundamentally uneasy because I would be blogging about p0rn, an unease only emphasised by how many words I'd have to deliberately mis-spell to avoid blocking the friendslist of those people who read LJ in monitored workplaces. We're none of us quite free, are we?
alexsarll: (crest)
Just returned from the Bankside 12th Night celebrations - unfortunate that the thing which best gets me in the relevant festive mood is the one marking season's end. It's vastly more popular than last time I went (I think I missed last year), but I still managed half-decent views of the Green Man's arrival and the wassailing, and was in a pretty good position for the mummers' play. There's a nagging sense in my mind of a half-formed connection between this and Popular last night - the Number One single as a British folk tradition, perhaps? - but I don't want to force it. Suffice to say, both were great fun. Highlight of Popular: 'Welcome To The Black Parade' into 'Boom! Shake The Room' (it may have a 100% strict concept, 'God Save The Queen' controversy aside, but how many nights can honestly equal that variety?). Highlight of 12th Night: the blithering arses next to me as the Green Man sails in justify their yapping by noting what I would otherwise have missed - there's a fragment of rainbow in the sky above us, and it's on a curved cloud. In other words - the sky smiled.
Post-mumming, took a look at the Tate's crack. I've seen better. Still, rather that than Catherine Tate's crack.

Don't know why I never got round to seeing Die Hard With A Vengeance sooner, given I love the first two, but the delay has made parts of it queasily prescient. Shots of the twin towers looming as New York is attacked I could have expected, but the real know the plan Jeremy Irons and his accents are supposed to be undertaking, to beggar the USA? Dubya's pretty much managed that, hasn't he? And done it all while speaking in almost as silly a voice. Still, with Barack Obama's campaign regaining momentum, for now there's still hope. And in the Andes, two of the USA's hyper-rich are helping to fund an eye on the sky which will not only increase the sum (and accessibility) of human knowledge, but could well save us all from apocalyptic meteor impact. Isn't it odd how the merely super-rich seem content with vulgarity like diamond-studded mobiles and £35,000 cocktails, but the hyper-rich seem to rediscover altruism and vision? See also Warren Buffett.

A pretty quiet week for comics, but there were excellent new issues of Buffy (the first slow, character-centred episode of Whedon's Season Eight, but worth the wait) and Moon Knight. I still don't know what part of writing Entourage has equipped Mark Benson with a knack for brutal vigilante thrillers, but between his Punisher annual and this, I'm impressed. Just a shame about the art. Otherwise, it's Warren Ellis' week; Ultimate Human may not be the obvious title for a series marketing would probably rather have had as Ultimate Hulk Vs Iron Man, but fits the story Ellis has started telling, one of the happier vehicles for his recurrent fascination with the nature of posthumanity. Thunderbolts, on the other hand, is leaving the smart politics aside for the moment and concentrating on insanity, treachery and Venom eating people. Which also works.
alexsarll: (bernard)
The Bacchae opens with Alan Cumming's arse descending from the heavens, upside down. And a very nice arse it is too, so fair enough. All these centuries on, Greek tragedies are a damned hard thing to get right; if you've never seen a cod-Shakespearean translation staged with dusty solemnity by an am dram shambles, then count yourself lucky. You need to balance the stage as the distant place in which the story unfolds, and the stage as the platform from which a speaker interacts with the audience. You need to balance the alien with the intimate, and only an incredibly rare director will be able to do both sides full justice. So maybe this production doesn't quite capture the strangeness and the terror - the music for the Bacchae's chants would need to be catchier for that, and just generally *more* - but it has the intimacy, the immediacy. And that's all down to Cumming, and the masterstroke of playing Dionysus as a pantomime character. Or two, perhaps - he's a hybrid of the Dame and the Principal Boy. I suppose he's the father of carnival, isn't he? So they're both his children, no wonder if we should think he resembles them both when really it's the other way around. And at times the staging catches glimpses of his power - you can feel the flames which burn Thebes, and the light when he appears in all his pomp is genuinely dazzling.
Translator David Greig has his tone about right (I particularly like his use of 'The Scream' rather than 'The Roarer' as one of the god's names). It's a long time since I read the play, but I don't recall it being quite so one-sided when I did - or rather, I knew that *I* was entirely on Dionysus' side, but I thought that was as much me as the text. Now...well, as Greig says, "There are still men who would control women in order to bolster their shaky sense of self. There are still men who are lost because they refuse to lose themselves in dance." He could add that some such men are also obsessed with male pride, and absolutely petrified of alcohol and 'corrupting influences' of the wider society, just like Pentheus. So for all that I liked Pentheus as the no-nonsense Scot unaware what a nonsense it is to resist Dionysus, I think the times and the translation would have been better served by dressing him as an imam.
My biggest problem with the play, though, is one I'm sure was in the text, but which I never really noticed, because when you're reading a play, you can...if not skim the bits you don't enjoy, then at least read them faster. Staged in front of you, there's no fast forward. Once Pentheus gets his come-uppance, once the others who slighted Dionysus and his mother get their just desserts, they don't half spend a while wailing about it. Look - I don't care. You were idiots. You had warnings, and still you stood against a god - and not just any god, but an incredibly cool god. Now you have been destroyed, as puny humans will be in such circumstances. And you were miserable sods, so I'm glad. Where's the tragedy? This isn't Shakespeare, or even Sophocles, where people are trapped impossibly between contradictory imperatives which must all be honoured. This is more like the end of The Wicker Man - ie, party time.

Speaking of puny humans, a marvellous quote I keep forgetting to post:
"At moments like this I hate being an unreconstructed human - an island of thinking jelly trapped in a bony carapace, endless miliseconds away from its lovers, forced to squeeze every meaning through a low-bandwidth speech channel. All men are islands, surrounded by the bottomless oceans of unthinking night."
- Charles Stross, Glasshouse. The speaker is a future human used to being able to swap bodies quicker than we'd swap outfits, confined by lunatics to a normal human body in a re-creation of the 1950-2050 Dark Age.
alexsarll: (magnus)
I never took to Gaslight on screen (I may have attempted the wrong version), but the Old Vic's stage version was another matter. It's much stronger for observing the unities...well, most of them; for a psychological thriller, once or twice it does come a little close to French farce, at least once accidentally. The Bond girl and Pompey both give excellent performances, but the surprise for me was Andrew Woodall; where Anton Walbrook was far too obviously sinister as the husband, he makes a believable Victorian paterfamilias, much more ambiguous as he infantilises his wife, much more plausible. And the real surprise for me was how much that theme's played up, how strong a feminist statement the play makes - because from the four novels I've read, most of Patrick Hamilton's women are absolute bitches.

After a whole season of Russell T Davies smugly grinning and SFX techs geeking, I abandoned Doctor Who Confidential, but I made an exception for the Stephen Moffat episode because Moffat always gives good interview. I had no idea, though, that we'd get him and Tennant interviewing each other around Television Centre and a generall great documentary out of it. But the most moving bit came, surprisingly, from RTD, when he talked about how, as a kid, he always thought that at any moment you could turn the corner and see the TARDIS there, door half-open.
Which reminded me of the TARDIS-a-like 'phone box in Derby Children's Hospital, and rushing towards that half-open door, and finding only a payphone inside. I wonder if that's where it all began to go wrong?

Didn't make it to Stokefest in the end - my sources informed me of crowding, and summer crowds are not my idea of fun. But the local history...that I liked. Rampaging elephants! Bob Hoskins! Mutant milkmaids! Finsbury Park has had it all. Maybe even Ho Chi Minh, though the evidence there was hazier. Plus, the definitive sources on all this include the work of Ken Gay. Now, you'd think a name like that was hard to beat, right? But you'd be reckoning without his collaborator, Dick Whetstone.

Never mind the stripper vicars - what about a flasher judge?

January 2016



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