almostwitty: (monkey)

I was outside my local food shop the other night when a woman came up to me and thrust £5 in my hand.

Alas, it was because she wanted me to go in and get her some organic chicken – with a strong emphasis on the word ORGANIC. She couldn’t go in as it would apparently mean tying her yapping dog up.

So being the nice chap that I am, I took her money, verified with her that the chicken was suitably organic, made my own purchases, and gave her her chicken on the way out. (How often do you get to say that?)

And as is always the way when one stranger in London reaches out to another, she had to justify and explain the whole thing. Apparently it was because her boyfriend had inconveniently invited someone round for dinner after a gym session, so she needed more meat. But then, she said, she was a veggie anyway… Why she didn’t tell her boyfriend to pick up something on the way home, I’m not sure.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)

Disney characters starvingOne of the many many reasons for living in London is that it’s meant to be a world-class city, the place people flock to.

Well, I hope they don’t want a simple takeaway delivered on a Saturday night because it seems nigh on impossible.

Our first choice was Sufi – a Persian restaurant round the corner rated by Jessie J and Time Out, amongst others. We’ve ordered from there before without any problems, but of course that was on a weeknight. We called them tonight, to be told they don’t deliver on a Saturday night.

Next stop, another Persian restaurant called The Piano in Chiswick. We ordered it via Hungry House seemingly without a problem – thirty minutes later, with our hunger pangs getting ever more desperate, we get an email only to be told they rejected our order without any explanation as to why. I really should have checked the website earlier – they manage to spell Persian wrong on their homepage. Seriously.

Ditching the notion of such exotic cuisine as Persian altogether, we thought we’d retreat to the safety of Chinese food. So tried to call the Drunken Tiger restaurant (great name, amiright?) in Shepherds’ Bush. After five minutes of them not answering their phone, we gave up.

We finally resorted to the tried and tested Seven Stars takeaway round the corner – really, we should have stuck with them from the start, because they took our order without any problem and it’ll arrive in thirty minutes. Fingers crossed.

And now we’re starving and ready for bed at the same time. Not a great combo!

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)
Me in costume at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony
Me in costume at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony

In the best tradition of every sports story, my moment as part of 10,000 performing volunteers (1,000 in my sequence alone) in the Industrial Revolution sequence of the Opening Ceremony was merely the climax to a very long journey, way back in the first auditions last Autumn, through to tonight’s moment.

Along the way, there’s been heartbreak (my dearest wife was also accepted, but had her offer withdrawn due to visa restrictions), struggles (rehearsals every weekend since early May, mostly in a Dagenham car park), pain (my muscles seized up during one particularly intensive rehearsal to the point when it hurt to type for a week, and I’ve caught colds standing in the rain), stamina with 4 mile-walks back and forth across the Olympic Park, disappointment (my role in the ceremony amounted to lifting fences and turf in style!) and surprises (the turf we move get twice as heavy after it rains – and it’s rained a LOT during rehearsals!) not to mention a preview of the transport chaos.

It’s tested my patience with the constant changing of plans in the early days, and stamina with all the physical activity that’s been involved from the very beginning of the auditions – I’d never had to “walk with sass” before! There have been weeks when I’ve barely seen my family and friends with my work and Olympics commitments, and missed my son’s first steps as well as a friend’s son’s christening (sorry Matthew!) 

The constant travel across London to the rehearsal venues has been a little wearing – although I stopped complaining when I realised a fellow volunteer had to fly in from the Falkland Islands every week! I’ve also missed out on opportunities to enhance my skills by volunteering at work for some of the Olympic duties, which has been annoying.

All this for an Oyster card, daily sandwich lunches – oh, and the chance to squeeze my theatrical performing urges in front of an audience of 60,000 and a TV audience between half a billion and four billion or so (depending on who you talk to).

County Essex!

Some of the County Essex performing volunteers

It’s been an amazing journey, and one I’d do again in a heartbeat if I could. I’ve made friends with a totally random selection of fellow volunteers of the great British public, from 18-year-old students to retired PE teachers. We have a sense of purpose and unity that’s not often found in everyday life. We’ve laughed in the middle of the Olympic Stadium, cheered people on as they went on an impromptu run around the track, and cried at key moments of the Ceremonies – even when we’ve seen it three times already.

Waiting to go on stage at the Opening Ceremony…

And that’s not to mention the indescribable feeling of walking on “stage” into a stadium filled with flashing cameras – a feeling that I am very unlikely to ever experience again.

Tonight, we feel a sense of elation that our families can now finally understand what we’ve been working towards for the last twelve weeks, tinged with a sense of sadness that this will be it for some of us. We’ve been given the opportunity to take part in other ceremonies, but personally, I think it’s time I came back to normality, and saw my son a bit more often.

But at least I can have a lunch that doesn’t involve Pringles crisps and crunchy bars!

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)
At the dress rehearsal for the London 2012 opening ceremony

A crowd of 60,000 people at a dress rehearsal for the London 2012 opening ceremony (via @2012govuk on Twitter)

So as you may not have noticed, I’m one of the performing volunteers for the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, in front of a total of 200,000 people in the stadium over three nights, and one billion TV viewers worldwide. Which, oddly, isn’t that daunting – probably because I’ve got a relatively small role.

You won’t get any particular spoilers from me (unless you want to know precisely where I’ll be, in which case just ask!) – but you may want to carve out 90 minutes of your life on Friday to watch the ceremony. I’ve seen most of it four times, and there are bits that still manage to either draw out a small tear. Or have me playing air synth with gusto.

So get in front of your TV just before 9pm UK time (or 4pm New York, 1pm California time). You’ll love it, I promise.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)
The Shard and Nineteen EIghty-Four

The Shard and Nineteen EIghty-Four

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (monkey)

Over one week in November, three British-Chinese actresses are bringing you In The Mirror in Central London – telling British-Chinese stories of identity, politics, belonging (and not) and parenting. And given that I know at least two of the three performers involved (at least via blogging), I’m pretty confident that it’ll be free of the cliches that does tend to surround British-Chinese theatre.

I’d go, but I’ll be in Hong Kong, irony of ironies.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)
Not of the rioters - of my stupidity.

Left to my own devices and with sufficient energy, I might have been dumb enough to head towards the action and take photographs of the ensuing chaos - like this guy...



Fortunately, leaving my wife and kid at home is not the best idea in the world during a riot, and besides, my energy is usually expended at work and then helping (in my own meager way) with looking after the baby after the fact.

Which is a good thing, because in my genial liberal middle-class way, I'd never have considered that the rioters were just as likely to head for anyone with a camera and mug them...

As it is, we spent most of the night watching it on TV and reassuring American friends that we weren't in harms way... although after we went to bed it turned out that one of the hotspots of the riot was a bus ride away...
almostwitty: (evil)

So, [livejournal.com profile] bijziend and I were watching the news reports about yesterday’s violence by some anti-capitalist demonstrators in Central London yesterday. Up flashed an image of a McDonalds being attacked.

The next thing you know, she has a sudden craving for McDonalds, and if it wasn’t the fact she had a baby strapped to her bosom (and she maintains that the taste of British McDonalds’ meat is sufficiently different to American McDonalds’ meat as to make it inedible), she’d probably have gotten up and biked over to our nearest McDonalds to get a burger.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

I realise that alongside transport discussion, talking about house prices in London is one of the dreariest middle-class things one could possibly do in London, but since we’re looking for some kind of dwelling that has more than one bedroom to accomodate a screaming child, I’ve been taking more than a mild interest in property prices.

So when I noticed a “For Sale” sign besides a derelict building on the same main road as work, it perked my interest. Sure, the house was huge but on the minus side, it was on a busy road opposite a shopping centre and car park, in a fairly dodgy area of West London and in an era of falling house prices. It can’t be that expensive, surely?

Nope. To buy a derelict house that requires extensive renovation, on a busy but dodgy and certainly unglamorous part of West London, would set you back the not-inconsiderable price of £785,000. Sheesh.

So the long search for a 2-bedroom flat in an area with a nice school within an hours’ commute of Shepherds Bush continues…

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)
Student protestors at Regent Street on 9 December 2010

Protestors at Regent Street on 9 December 2010

HyperHam and I were headed into Central London last night (for a thoroughly enjoyable Airplane! Q&A, as it happens) when our bus hit gridlock around Oxford Circus. I’d assumed it was general Christmas shopping traffic, until I saw the cars on the other side of the road replaced by a crowd of protestors waving placards and marching headed in the other direction.

Once we turned the corner and were headed down Regent Street, the marchers seemed to get a bit more demonstrative, and some of them started throwing orange barricades into the road, presumably to impede the progress of the police vehicles ahead and behind them. But given there were a pile of bricks on the road, they could have caused much more damage if they’d have wanted to.

Thankfully for us, they didn’t. Although since Prince Charles and Queen Camilla were apparently down a side street heading for the theatre (which we didn’t know at the time) maybe their attention was elsewhere.

Anyway, here’s some blurred shots of what little action we saw on Regent Street around 7.25pm.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

Ob. disclaimer – we went to a Qype event and the soft opening of the new Hawksmoor in Covent Garden

Good luck on actually finding the place (psst: it’s pretty much opposite the famed Pineapple Dance Studios) – and once you do, you’ll find a very imposing set of double doors.

But get past those and there’s a friendly host who offers to take your coat. Not many places do that these days for free, so there’s a good start!

Down the steps, and as someone else mentioned, it’s a throwback to urbane 1950s New York, with a dark bar thronged with people supping cocktails and generally being fabulous. There’s not really any such thing as a bad cocktail, but the Hawksmoor Julip was tastily bitter, and the Concealed Weapon certainly was.

The bar snacks on offer are highly recommended – the lobster roll are oozing in gorgeousness and something slightly Oriental, while the lamb cutlets were very easy on the stomach.

Of course, all it did was whet the appetite, and we’ll have to come back one night for the steaks in the dining room, which looked opulent, spacious, gorgeous and well-lit.

Definitely somewhere you’d take Christina Hendricks on a date *swoon* and far more visually impressive than its predecessor.

Check out my review of Hawksmoor – I am almostwitty – on Qype

LondonEating & DrinkingRestaurantsSteak Houses

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

Ob. disclaimer – we went to a Qype event and the soft opening of the new Hawksmoor in Covent Garden

Good luck on actually finding the place (psst: it’s pretty much opposite the famed Pineapple Dance Studios) – and once you do, you’ll find a very imposing set of double doors.

But get past those and there’s a friendly host who offers to take your coat. Not many places do that these days for free, so there’s a good start!

Down the steps, and as someone else mentioned, it’s a throwback to urbane 1950s New York, with a dark bar thronged with people supping cocktails and generally being fabulous. There’s not really any such thing as a bad cocktail, but the Hawksmoor Julip was tastily bitter, and the Concealed Weapon certainly was.

The bar snacks on offer are highly recommended – the lobster roll are oozing in gorgeousness and something slightly Oriental, while the lamb cutlets were very easy on the stomach.

Of course, all it did was whet the appetite, and we’ll have to come back one night for the steaks in the dining room, which looked opulent, spacious, gorgeous and well-lit.

Definitely somewhere you’d take Christina Hendricks on a date *swoon* and far more visually impressive than its predecessor.

Check out my review of Hawksmoor – I am almostwitty – on Qype

LondonEating & DrinkingRestaurantsSteak Houses

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

The GoldhawkFor the last ten years, my local of choice has been The Goldhawk. It’s a short walk from my house, and serves pretty good food and a wide selection of drinks for a London-reasonable price. And it’s always accepted my American Express cashback credit card, which is handy because I can tell myself that I get 10p back for every £10 I spend.

On Sunday, we had need of a Sunday roast dinner. So we blearily stumbled down to The Goldhawk for 12pm, and noticed change was in the air.

For a start, instead of the usual chirpy cheerful barmaids that usually greeted us, there was a strange man with a whispy Dad’s Army-esque spiv moustache. He was friendly and polite enough, but we had to ask for the Sunday lunch menu. Then it turned out that there wasn’t one – and we could choose from chicken, lamb or beef. When asked where the usual-vegetarian option was, he shrugged and said the suppliers hadn’t brought any in, and that apparently the pub had just changed hands from one national conglomerate to another – namely Faucet Inns.

Still, our stomachs cried out for a traditional Sunday roast and Miss H deferred to our immediate needs, and she ordered nachos and chips instead. I took out my American Express card for payment, and was immediately told, most apologetically, that they no longer took American Express. Disgrace! Still, our hunger could not be denied.

Our food came in due course, and here came the final change. One that was so heinous that if we hadn’t already paid, I’d have seriously contemplated going somewhere else. A very meagre allocation of roast potatoes – just two – AND NO YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS. A Sunday roast just isn’t a Sunday roast without Yorkshire puddings. And to top it all off, the puddings menu was non-existent too.

To be fair, the rest of the food was delicious, and I’ve had reasonably good times in The Goldhawk before so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But even so… be careful, Goldhawk Manager. That’s all I’m saying.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)



Yahoo! Ping Pong-23

Originally uploaded by Ping London

(In other words, great, you got sponsorship, where’s the return?)

Across London, ping pong tables have sprouted up to encourage Londoners to have a go at ping pong/whiff whaff. All nicely decorated with the various sponsors’ logos, including Yahoo!

Accompanying these tables are some leaflets about the Ping London project, which also – of course – encourage you to share your participation, by using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or maybe even Flickr

Note that of those four websites, only one belongs to Yahoo – one of the main sponsors.

Surely a major dotcom company, upon committing some sponsorship money to a project, would want their websites or services to be promoted – perhaps Buzz or Pulse – alongside the rest of the web offerings?

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

Ob. disclaimer – I went to the Old School Yard courtesy of Qype for a mykindofphone.com event

As soon as I walked in, I knew it was my kind of pub. Huge screens, games to be played, drinks to be consumed, and a feeling of space. The main problem was a distinct lack of chairs – but if you’re playing, why are you sitting down?

There’s even a tiny back garden with some faux grass if you need a sense of fresh air – or you can stand outside the pub itself, which has plenty of space. There’s even a wonderfully decorated basement with all sorts of nick nacks and decoration touches.

On the night we were there to look at Windows Mobile phones and gaming, there was even a very knowledgable cocktail meister serving some delicious cocktails (we counted watermelon and ginger amongst the ingredients) and some oh-so-juicy burgers. Nom om om.

I was handed a surprisingly svelte’n’sexy Windows phone to play with for five minutes. It had a very whizzy user interface that begged you to swipe and swipe away, and it’s certainly come on leaps and bounds since my last-thwarted attempt to get a Windows phone to work with me, back in 2008. The games looked fun, the screen looked bright and colourful, and the interface seemd incredibly responsive to my touches. Aside, that is, from the touch-screen keyboard which was responsive but just couldn’t quite cope with my drunken attempts at writing a text – but then again, I’ve never gotten on with touch-screen keyboards generally.

If only there was a way to actually try a phone in the real world for a while before you bought one – I’m in the market for a new phone, but have yet to find a cool phone with a physical keyboard – and touch-screen keyboards and I just don’t seem to get on yet. And yes, I’ve been told that I need to train touchscreen keyboards to respond to me – but quite frankly, if I have to train an input device, then something’s gone wrong straight away. I already know how to read and write – I don’t need to adjust my reading skills for a different book, do I?

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

The ideal living room - Cinephilia

The ideal living room - Cinephilia

Ob. disclaimer – I was invited via Qype to a night at Cinephilia West, a film cafe/bar/screening room in Westbourne Grove. My review of the place follows:

If you like food, or cinema, this is DEFINITELY the place for you.

First off, it’s a learned cinema fan’s paradise. The basement is the ideal living room, stuffed full with cinematic books and DVDs for sale, and at the end a huge screen where they hold evening screenings. It’s a fantastically chilled out place from where to watch your favourite obscure film (Brazil). They hold screenings of curated films once a week, and it sounds like a fantastic way to broaden your film knowledge.

The ground floor holds film exhibitions, and a very very good selection of film magazines that you can just pick up and read. Plus there’s wi-fi if you want to work on your killer screenplay.

Alongside all this is a cafe, but not just any cafe. The sangria is gorgeous, and the cakes are oozing with seductive delights.

If I had one complaint about this place, it’s that it’s obviously not for your average-going Odeon mainstream person who prefers Doctor Doolittle to Doctor Parnassus. And the price for food heaven is a bit high …

But for years I have often lamented the lack of film-centric places in West London. Now there is one, and I can’t see how it could get better. (well, unless they held screenings of Doctor Who)

Check out my review of cinephilia – I am almostwitty – on Qype

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

[livejournal.com profile] actionreplay is going to a London Underground-themed fancy dress party, and was looking for suggestions for costumes based on tube stations (ruling out Victoria, Angel or Kings Cross as that’s far too obvious).

In less than 3 minutes, my brain came up with the following suggestions that I’d never enact:

Shepherds’ Bush Market – go as a shepherd, with a codpiece upon which market vegetables are stuck.

Queensway – dress up as the Queen, with a placard saying “This is my way!”

Waterloo – a portable urinal with some handy drinking water nearby?

Elephant and Castle – a hat which looks like a castle, with an elephant on it?

White City – just a white bra, and perhaps a hearing aid…

Cockfosters - erm…. well, you’ll need a can of Fosters. And possibly a male chicken.

Care to add to this fun list?

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

ActionReplay is going to a London Underground-themed fancy dress party, and was looking for suggestions for costumes based on tube stations (ruling out Victoria, Angel or Kings Cross as that’s far too obvious).

In less than 3 minutes, my brain came up with the following suggestions that I’d never enact:

Shepherds’ Bush Market – go as a shepherd, with a codpiece upon which market vegetables are stuck.

Queensway – dress up as the Queen, with a placard saying “This is my way!”

Waterloo – a portable urinal with some handy drinking water nearby?

Elephant and Castle – a hat which looks like a castle, with an elephant on it?

White City – just a white bra, and perhaps a hearing aid…

Cockfosters - erm…. well, you’ll need a can of Fosters. And possibly a male chicken.

Care to add to this fun list?

Mirrored from almost witty.

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