Clockwise from top left: Channelling the 70’s vibe and Margot of The Good Life in floral jump suit and wedges….. Carry On prints in the snug at Wild and Woods….. prize May purchase: Deco silver pineapple candelabra….. home made pot pourri from peonies left over from an event….. lost and found: Buddy….. The Australian Landscape at the British Museum.
Weekends in May……
The Royal Wedding weekend came to a close with a relaxed Sunday (still in Hitchin) spent at Adam’s parents’, mainly lazing in the garden, soaking up the early summer sun. Having scooped up all the bumper editions of the Sunday papers with their Royal Wedding supplements so that I could re-live all my favourite moments, I settled down with the Hoggles (that’s the dogs…..more on those in a bit…..) and a glass of wine.
After poring over each and every photo from each and every angle, as well as what everyone had to say, I came across an article in The Observer about a newly found short story by Daphne du Maurier. The short story was published there too in the paper, for the first time. The Doll is a chilling and unnerving story of a man who becomes obsessed with a girl he meets only to find that she is in fact obsessed with a mechanical doll she keeps locked up. As Ann Wilmore, the book shop owner who found the story points out, the story is even more disturbing when one considers the age in which it is written. The sexual undertones and shocking subject matter, one would have thought, are topics we are quite comfortable with in this day and age. But it’s the macabre setting and the near personification of the doll that made this a wonderfully interesting, if uncomfortable read for me.
Well I promised you more on the Hoggles, and in fact May brought us a new Hoggle to our little pack, in the form of Buddy, a brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Adam’s Mum, Liz, found Buddy tied to a fence post whilst walking the other Hoggles, along with a note, which read:
Well, little Buddy could really not have landed better on his feet….he had found himself in the most pampered home known to dogs of all time. The whole family instantly fell in love with him as he proved to be incredibly obedient and adorable….even as we met passers by he was an instant hit and children would beg their parents to let them take him home! The senior Hoggles were not so sure as Buddy grabbed all the attention and bounded about like a loon….but Adam’s brother’s dog, Peanut, wanted to be no less than best friends with Buddy (and Buddy likewise) and so it was that Buddy found a new permanent home with his new partner in crime. He really is the luckiest dog…..
Cinema in May…..
Our cinema viewing in May could really not have been more varied, with a comedy-fuelled British-based alien fest on one visit, and an action-jammed historical ninja-epic on the next. But both were amazing.
Attack the Block is based in a South London council estate during an alien invasion, and centres around a group of teenagers who take it upon themselves to defend their ‘hood’. We loved the kids’ performances (sorry to sound patronising but I’m fifteen years older than you and so have the right) as well as the awesome special effects….we were genuinely terrified by the aliens and the gripping chase scenes. Most of all though this film is brilliantly original (yes, I know it’s an alien invasion film and there are half a dozen this year) and blooming hilarious. We left the cinema calling each other ‘bruv’ and exclaiming ‘allow it’ and ‘trust’. Down with the kids we are not, but then our favourite quote (‘We should call the police’…..’You’d be better off calling the Ghostbusters love’) at least made us swell with pride as we realised we are at least old enough to have seen Ghostbusters the first time around.
13 Assassins had me leaving the cinema similarly enthused, this time exclaiming ‘Samurai is my favourite type of warrior!’ The action takes place in 1840s Japan, and as a you guessed it, no less than thirteen Samurai warriors join together to assassinate an evil Lord (who also happens to be the Shogun’s brother). The settings and costumes are beautiful and to my semi-trained eyes authentic enough to have you believe in the characters’ surroundings, whilst the plot doesn’t take itself so seriously that I was bored. The climatic action sequence was truly epic, had my heart both pounding and seemingly stopping in places, and whilst the ending brought us a pleasing triumph, I wasn’t disappointed by a cheesy ‘everyone lives and makes friends and lives happily ever after’. No, this is gutsy and gory and you should see both films if you haven’t already.
Other viewing in May…..
In other viewing, May heralded my first TV football match in very many years, as the FA Cup Final happened to coincide with Adam’s being away for the weekend. Yes, my boyfriend went away and so I watched football on TV. We enjoy a good role reversal (I made up for my laddishness by making a lovely batch of pot pourri though). It was in fact my Midlands roots which had me fixed to the screen, as my old team Stoke took on Manchester City in their first ever FA Cup Final. With nobody in the flat to bother (nor to make me feel embarrassed) I transformed into a shouty yob, hurling abuse at the players and bombarding Twitter with my vexations at decisions I had no right to disagree with. Unsurprisingly, Stoke were robbed, snatching defeat from the jaws of glory, and at least for Adam’s sake I was downhearted enough to swear never to watch another match again.
Adam’s absence also gave me the opportunity to view what otherwise I’d not only have had to wrestle the remote for, but somehow work out a way to stop him cutting off power to the flat. I’d never have gotten away with watching Eurovision with Adam at home, so perhaps in his being away I savoured the guilty pleasure all the more. Twitter was ablaze with scathing comments on the costumes and hair of each act, as well as cheerings on for those acts which had apparently struck the right balance between quirkily entertaining and embarrassingly ridiculous. I couldn’t plum for a personal favourite myself, finding it too difficult to see past the political unfairness, the starkly varied production (how come some acts get fireworks and awesome projection whilst others settle for a high stool to sit on) and Terry Wogan’s distracting sarcasm. I love Terry.
But Adam wasn’t left out of everything in May, and indeed the month finally brought our much awaited visit to the Royal Albert Hall to see the legend that is Eric Clapton. Despite a rather annoying start with late comers having us stand up every other minute through the warm up act, by the time he came on we were so excited that we’d forgotten and were just desperate to hear him play. It’d be silly to say that he played insanely well (I mean, he’s Eric Clapton), but it’s fair to say that his performance blew us away and had Adam wishing he’d spent more time practising his guitar. There’s still time to become a Rock God though I’m sure.
Out and about in London in May…..
Perhaps even more than the concert at the Royal Albert Hall, I’d been desperately looking forward to our next visit to the opera. The English National Opera were to perform The Damnation of Faust at the Coliseum, directed by one Terry Gilliam. His Brazil being amongst my all time favourite films, I couldn’t wait to see his much anticipated opera debut. There was much chatter on Twitter and the ENO website in the weeks leading up to the first preview, taking us through Gilliam’s first rehearsals and the trials of working in an all new media. So by the time we got into the cheap seats way up in the Gods of the Coli, I had high expectations. I’d love to say that they were all fulfilled, and that I left the place reeling as I did the first time I saw Brazil and 12 Monkeys, and perhaps there’s something to be said for the fact that we saw one of the previews before the official opening Press performance. But, fulfilled I was not. Moderately satisfied yes, and perhaps even curious enough to go and see it again if someone wanted to give me a ticket for a performance further into the run, or Gilliam’s next opera, should there be one. Many of the reviews were scathing and critical of some of the more risque ideas and ‘gimmicks’. For me though, there was just something lacking; the ‘polish’ or ‘gel’ of an accomplished opera director, and although I found some of the ideas visually and intellectually appealing, I couldn’t help feel that they weren’t executed with the usual flair and poise of an ENO production.
We have, however, been able to count on the British Museum’s offerings since we took up membership last year, and the Australian Landscape and Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World exhibition we went to see in May were no exception. In partnership with Kew Gardens, and following the wonderful African Landscape exhibition last year, the ‘front yard’ of the British Museum was transformed into a red-ash-pathed, luscious oasis of antipodean flora and fauna. We spent an age taking macro shots of our british bees enjoying busying themselves in the exotic blooms, before heading inside to see the exhibition. In true form, the museum had dozens of wonderfully laid out, incredible pieces, including the first tomb to have been discovered at the first century AD site at Tillya Tepe…..which like many of the other exhibits showed the remarkable craftsmanship of the country in the form of their stunning gold jewellery. My favourite piece by far though was the amazing folding gold crown of a nomad princess. Well, I suppose when one travels a lot it is necessary to have a ‘flat-pack’ crown.
Afterwards, ready for a rest and some sustenance, we found Wild and Woods, just around the corner from the museum at Holborn. The charming little wood panelled coffee shop is dotted with black and white photos from the Carry On films, and we settled into a tiny alcove within an adorable snug. The coffee beans are roasted by Monmouth and our latte and cappuccino were expertly prepared. The cakes too were fabulous (too many to choose from, as well as lots of yummy looking home made sandwiches). The service too was good and and we vowed to return upon every visit to the museum.
As we wandered back home and through Covent Garden, we found the Tommy Hilfiger ‘Prep World Tour’ pop-up store, which like their current campaign (LOVE) exuded the ‘preppy’ quality I can’t resist about their collection…..I love the idea that casual can also mean you’re still smart (without the dreaded smart-casual label). The store, surrounded by a white picket fence and topped by a wonderful weathervane (I adore their little Bassett Hound mascots!) was the perfect New England beach house, filled charmingly with tennis racket chandeliers, backgammon boards and dog accessories. The astro lawn, overlooked by the ‘Hilfigers’ mail box, also played host to suitably chappish models in croquet-playing tableaux. Spiffing.
In May we also finally made it to see the Ray Harryhausen exhibition at the London Film Museum. We’d never been to the museum in the former County Hall, and in honesty, had we not been so excited to see the special exhibition we’d have been rather disappointed. Whilst there are some pretty exciting pieces, there just aren’t enough to create a real draw, and they certainly aren’t presented well enough. The Ray Harryhausen: Myths and Legends exhibition though was what we’d come for and albeit rather small, the contents was exactly what we were hoping for. There were all of the original models from the films we’d been hoping to see, as well as a massively scaled up version of the Medusa from Clash of the Titans which was incredibly impressive. Had it been my exhibiton though, I’d have situated her in a dimly lit crypt like the one in the film, complete with rattle snake sound effects and shields for visitors to use to get around (like Perseus who used the reflection in his to escape the Medusa’s deadly gaze). Just an idea.
Work in May…..
Just around the corner and overlooking Trafalgar Square, the MASK girls and I were treated to a showing of the new Vista Terrace at the Trafalgar Hotel. The only non-branded Hilton in the world is one of my favourites, if not only for the light-up-colour-changing ‘disco’ lift. We were there to see the brand new roof-top terrace which was to be opened that week. Having chatted to the busy builders polishing off the almost-finished larger terrace to the rear, we took in the views on the Trafalgar Square side along with a few rounds of divine cocktails. It’s one of those wonderful places where you feel like you’re on holiday and very much part of the buzz of London, but far and apart from all the sirens and traffic noises all those floors below.
Having made ourselves late with what seemed like an essential extra round of cocktails, we were whisked off to the Waldorf at the Aldwych….another of my favourites. Here we toured the luxurious hotel (one off pieces of art a favourite feature of mine) before a gorgeous meal in their Homage Grand Salon. Then not long after it was off to another of our favourites for the Goring’s annual summer garden party. It was the first time we’d visited since Princess Catherine had spent her last night there before the Royal Wedding so we were all keen to see the new suite and spend time in their gloriously secret garden. And it was roof top gardens next, at Kensington Roof Gardens’ birthday celebrations, all with a fabulous 80s vibe (glow sticks, Blue Hawaiin Cocktails and the most wonderful band who followed us into the lift playing Lionel Ritchie tunes). The spoiling wasn’t over though until we’d taken up the Swan at the Globe’s invite to Shakespeare’s Globe and a special performance by the Comedy Store Players there, followed by a wonderful supper and cocktails. How very spoiled we are.
It wasn’t all drinks and dinners at work though……. our sister company were busy putting up the impressive Pavilion structure within the moat of the Tower of London…… and May saw the much anticipated arrival of the Royal Court Theatre Gala at Shoreditch Town Hall. We’d been planning the event with the theatre’s Development team for around six months, and so we were all desperately excited for the day to come. The design process had been like no other event I’ve ever worked on, but everyone’s persistence paid off as we opened the doors to a truly unique experience. With Vanity Fair, Event Magazine and Time Out in attendance, as well as tables full of celebrities (Kurt Geiger, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Smith, Daisy Lowe, Matthew MacFayden, Doug Hodge, Toby Jones…..) we might have been nervous as to how our creation would be received. But with armies of LAMDA students, the theatre’s production crew, live theatre OVER the bar and in little ‘tableaux’ windows through the reception, and dining tables which turned into a stage, there wasn’t time to worry about anything else but ensuring everything came together perfectly; as I directed from the balcony above, with headset and clipboard. We needn’t have worried anyway, as the guests were wowed by the unusual take on the Gala formula, as well as a stunning Create meal (light bulb dessert, canapes which looked like pencils and typewriter keys….) and Time Out called it one of the best parties of the year. Job done then.
And not wishing to let go of the party spirit, it was almost straight onto our next large event just two weeks later. In the stunning Dome of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Mask created the Waitrose Summer Menu Launch. Had the weather been fit, the guests would have spent the evening in the magnificent John Madejski garden, however as British weather prevailed, the guests were only too delighted to sup their cocktails under the incredible Dale Chihuly centre piece. Create again served up treats, this time to food bloggers and press, from a menu devised by Heston Blumenthal. We were lucky enough to try the yet-to-be-released Heston ice creams (LOVE the Chocolate and Rosemary, and the Salted Caramel Popcorn), whilst TV chef and sometime DJ Gizzi Erskine spun retro beats. Even with the rain trying to spoil our efforts, the Twitter buzz and blogs next day proved that it had been a great way to start the summer…..now if only our British weather could play the game too…..
Daphne Du Maurier’s Short Story…..
Terry Gilliam’s Damnation of Faust…..
The British Museum……
Time Out’s Blog on the Royal Court Theatre Gala…..
MASK’s Blog on the Royal Court Theatre Gala…..
MASK’s Blog on the Waitrose Summer Menu Launch……
Other Bloggers at the Waitrose Summer Menu Launch…..