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This ninety minute play set in New York is well worth a visit. It has it all. Amir, a Pakistani who has renounced Islam, Em, his white liberal wife who paints Islamic-inspired art and loves everythging Islam, Hussein/Abe the pro-Jihadi nephew, a Jewish art curator and his black wife who is a work colleague of Amir. The bonds between them are complicated.
It is an intimate play whose centrepiece is a dinner party where tensions run high and perhaps shows that for all our liberal veener we revert to type when pushed. Great dialogue excellently played by the cast I felt I was at the dinner party itself and desperate to shout, “No, don’t say it, please don’t say it.” It shocks, it surprises, it challenges and it makes us laugh. Can’t ask more than that for £20. Four plus stars.

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A week in the life

June 7, 2013

It’s turning out to be quite a week. Started on Sunday with friends over for dinner. Sitting in the sunshine eating a full roast outside and then moving indoors and reviewing our holiday photos from Barbados. Lovely easy evening with cracking company.
Monday saw us at Murano, Angela Hartnett’s restaurant in Mayfair. She’s ex-Claridges where she trained under Gordon Ramsay. We were with some friends from the North who used to live opposite us when our kids were small and they moved after they started producing offspring. Soooo nice to see them I have virtually forgotten what I ate as it was so incidental to the conversation. I think it was leek to start but then what……? No idea. It was good but not mind blowing. That could have had something to do with the free flowing wine of course…. The decor in Murano is pretty drab – but to be honest it didn’t matter a jot as we created our own buzz on the table and the staff were lovely.may 001

Murano

Murano

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Tuesday saw me have an early start (630pm) in Cote in Ealing. Compare and contrast you may think, but my steak frites was top notch actually, despite looking pretty bland and unappealing. The asparagus starter was fresh and light and the creme caramel a knockout dessert. But what topped it off was the great suggestion by one of my dining companions to have Irish coffee. I had brandy rather than whisky and boy was it easy. Slipped down a treat and felt it had a real slug of cognac in it. And again an evening with longstanding friends that just flew by.
Wednesday night was a work event, and unfortunately that’s exactly what it was but at least it ended early. In fact earlier than my husband ever gets home from a normal work day.
Then last night it just got messy. Very messy. Three doctors out alone is a recipe for trouble. Especially when it starts with cocktails. Of which we had a few. Then we moved on th a rather gorgeous bottle of white wine. Then to food and two more bottles of white wine. Or it may have been three more. I really can’t rememeber. It wasn’t me ordering. But the semblance of respectability disappeared with the espresso martinis. Stoli Vanil and Illy coffee liqueur, shaken with a shot of espresso. But not strong enough. They got sent back for recharging. But they retruned with stronger coffee rather than more alcoholic punch. One of us had to go to relieve the babysitter. Wise move.
The two of us still left downed the drinks and ordered another set to see if we could get an adequate alcoholic kick. Once again, the caffeine nearly blew my heart out of my chest, but we struggled through to the end. It was like a jaegerbomb on steroids I was buzzing so much. We had to dash for one of us to catch the last train home. We held on to each other as we teetered to Marylebone. I looked at my mate and thought “She’s completely wrecked.” I unlinked my arm from her to let her get her train and promptly walked in to a wall. Well, not quite, but just misjudged where the wall was and crashed in to it with my shoulder.
The cab ride home was woozy. I hate getting in cars the worse for wear. Its a recipe for nausea and worse. But I held it together and took a call from my mate who should have been on the train. “Hello?”, “Hello?”, “You alright?” Silence. “You OK?You on your train?” Silence. “You called me. Are you alright?” She hung up. I laughed to myself about how utterly wasted she was.
But this morning I think we all know who is in a worse state out of the two of us. I can give her 20 years, so I don’t feel too bad about it. She texted early to say she was already in work preparing for a big important meeting that started at 9. I, on the other hand, rolled shakily out of bed and logged on without even managing to get dressed. The joys of working from home.

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not so fucking clever now are we?

Years ago you were allowed to smoke on the Tube. Each train would have two smoking carriages, usually the second one in from each end. I knew this because as a smoker you had to learn where to stand on the platform. Then at some point in the mid Eighties it got banned in the actual trains, but you could still smoke on the platforms until after the Kings Cross fire when the ban became total.
I tell this story to set the scene. It is probably about 1978 and I am smoking on the platform at Oxford Circus tube station, waiting for the northern-bound train to take me back up to University near Warren Street. The train arrives and it is heaving. I  push my way on to the train, just squeezing in as the doors close. I am leaning against one of the single doors that is at the end of the carriage. There is a large man in a cream mac facing me with his arms leaning against the carriage wall, either side of my head. It is as if he is bracong himself against the weight of all the people behind him.
I can’t look up as that would mean looking directly in to his eyes and I am a Londoner on the tube so I’m not going to do that. So I look down.
And see it.
A huge erect penis staring at me.
I reflexly looked away by lifting my head.
He is staring down at me, proudly displaying himself.
My first thought was that I could stub my cigarette out  in his prick and say “Handy little astray you’ve got there.” But I didn’t. My second thought was that if he was mad enough to do this, he was mad enough to have a knife on him. He’d cleverly positioned himself so that only I could see his member. He had me trapped between his arms and his mac splayed open, concealing it from anyone looking in from the side.
I wish I had spoken up. I wish I had said something. Anything. But I didn’t. Poleaxed by shock and an element of fear. And perhaps not wanting to make a fuss.  Never was I so glad to be getting off at the next stop.
As the door opened and I ducked out from under his arm and on to the platform, I saw him neatly press his mac to his body so that he was no longer exposed. He’d got what he wanted; a look of shock and fear from me and the thrill that it no doubt gave him.
When I told the person in the ticket office about it he asked if I’d got the bloke’s name and address for later as if it were all a joke. And the pathetic thing is I laughed along too. Not wanting to make a fuss I suppose. How times have changed.

Is it only me that gets excited when given new skincare, haircare stuff or makeup? My trouble is that I then want to get started using it and have usually not actually finished with the current favourites. So I have to slap it on thick in an effort to use it all up as quickly as possible. Because I couldn’t just throw them out – that would be far too wasteful. I did try seeing if any homeless charities wanted my half used cast off toiletries, but they didn’t. Only unopened ones. Which is fair enough I suppose, but I’d hoped that some tramp would have loved luxuriating in a bit of shu uemura overpriced conditioner, or enjoyed using Eve Lom cleanser or Liz Earle facial scrub. All of which are now sitting in my cupboard as I’ve got too impatient and had to start the new stuff. Yum.

This intimate play is set in a remote Irish country pub where the locals banter and bicker with one another giving us plenty of laughs. However, this is no simple comedy. There are numerous silences – as in real life when three single men spend virtually every night together. It is a slow burn with no real ‘action’ to speak of. A snapshot in time of one night in the pub. A pub that has photographs on the wall including one of the local weir – a dam that provides the hydro electric power to the community. The photo on the wall is when the weir flooded, and perhaps this is a reference to the metaphorical bursting of the dam that we witness in the play as the characters eventually open up and speak from their hearts about their sorrow and sadness.
We have Brendan, the gentle, modest barman farmer, Jack, the big and blustery aged bachelor, and Jim, the slightly slow off the mark mechanic who cares for his Mum. All rubbing along in their usual way when Finbar arrives. Finbar, the one who got away and found success and marriage. He is showing Valerie, the new arrival from Dublin, around.
The dynamic in the bar changes as we watch the men perform for Valerie – regaling her with local tales of the supernatural. There is comedy, there is drama, there is tension. The men are worried they are scaring her, but Valerie is in fact comforted and reassured by hearing about others supernatural experiences and gives her the confidence to tell her own story of real haunting grief. This revelation in turn allows Jack to recount his regret at throwing away his chance of marriage because of his own cussedness. The loneliness of all three single men is palpable.
We saw this in its original London run in the late 90s and I preferred that production. Partly probably because of the unexpectedness of it – I wasn’t expecting the silences, the sadness whereas i knew what was coming this time – but mostly because Brian Cox (as Jack) was too dramatic for me. Too thespian, rather than the less over the top version Jim Norton gave us in 1999. Plus his accent seemed to go all over the place. So, I would have given the original production 4 easy stars and this one gets 3.

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