Monthly Archives: January 2012

Favourite photos

The first picture shows Mersina as she is eating the crust off of a pizza from Mamma Mia, our old local pizzeria.

The second picture is in honour of another M and of Australia Day on January 26.

Mary Daisy Dinkle from Mary and Max

I’m only saying what you’re thinking, favourite blogs

Sometimes I can’t decide whether it’s Charlotte’s despairing but triumphant snarkiness that makes me love her blog or whether it’s her daughter Lil’s hardened and world weary glance. Just take a look at the photo of the two of at the about us page and see if you don’t become addicted to their life serial.

I love this blog and the recipes and tales of what Charlotte and Lil get up to. I love the photos of the little one even more. It’s ever so slightly moreish. Delightfully but also truthfully and not-so-fun-sometimes moreish.

Hard hitting journalism / blogging at its best

Mayday Mayday, review

A chance to see Tristan Sturrock up close, and telling his own tale, is a bit like being given the chance to be in the same room as Richard Gere just before he did Officer and a Gentleman. Or maybe George Clooney just after the first series of ER.

Sturrock is a leading man, who had he been in Hollywood, would have his picture on billboards within months. His presence is subtle yet vibrant and when he is presenting the one man show he wrote, he is so many characters that it’s hard to remember it is just him out there. But it is just him and his story.

On Mayday in Padstow, Cornwall, among the celebrations and the music, Sturrock falls off a wall and breaks his neck. What follows is a production that explores what happens to the man that landed on his head between a wall and a garage.

He tells us all about it with his acting. A twist of a hand that brings our character to a state of drunkenness, a glance that reminds us that the way home is up the ziggy zaggy stairs, a curtain that becomes the entry to the living room and the bedroom, a spotlight that becomes a bathtub.

The props are minimal but it seems that the creativity of our only character is infinite and all-embracing in order for us to understand exactly what happened.

Mayday Mayday has been developed through Bristol Old Vic’s Ferment programme where it was known as Frankenspine. The result is an emotional journey that is fascinating and gripping in equal measures. Sturrock falls down on stage to show us what happened but moments later he is up again, a feat, that in real life, his wife and director, Katy Carmichael, thought would never happen.

Characters he encounters come to life for moments at a time and then pass away. We meet the surgeon and the driver of the ambulance. We are there when he is learning to walk again. Most importantly we meet the narrator who looks back on it all and we learn what he learns, that sometimes just being heard is important and that there is always something that will make us laugh. This isn’t a somber production but it is heartfelt and will make you think. May inspire you a little, as well.

Mayday Mayday runs until February 4 at the Bristol Old Vic

Guardian Book Club

If you like books and you like talking about them then the Guardian Book Club is a huge, huge treat. I’ve signed up to the newsletter and yet haven’t quite synchronised enough to read the book at the same time as it’s been discussed but I intend to very soon.

The current book, in it’s third week, is Small World by David Lodge. Lodge is one of my favourite authors and yet I didn’t manage to get the book in time to my dismay. The next one, February, is Susan Hill’s Woman in Black. Maybe, I’ll get around to that one. Luckily there’s always March, then April, May, June etc.

This is what the Guardian has to say about the Book Club:

Hosted by John Mullan, professor of English at University College London, the Guardian’s book club examines a book a month, via a weekly column in the Guardian Review and a live Q&A session with the author. Mullan’s first three columns discuss the book in question; his final column consists of a selection of your comments from the live event and the blog. To be the first to find out about forthcoming events and featured authors sign up to the newsletter.

Preview: Mayday, Mayday

Darling star of the Bristol Old Vic, Tristan Sturrock, performs his own story about falling head first off a wall on May day in Padstow, Cornwall. He was one of the most vibrant things about Juliet and Her Romeo, an astounding menace and role model in Treasure Island and a sinister star of Coram Boy at Christmas time.

Mayday, Mayday is his solo show following on from Frankespine, an earlier version of the piece which played at the theatre earlier this year. Not only does this sound like an intriguing production but it’s also a rare opportunity to see Sturrock up close and personal.

Told by the man who fell. With smoke and mirrors, music, slapstick and a guest appearance from the Obby Oss, this extraordinary theatrical adventure starts with an unforgettable celebration: a day where everything changes.

26 January – February 4, 2012,

An interview with Tristan Sturrock.

Sister Act, Review

Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Glenn Slater
Director: Jerry Zaks
Reviewer: Joanna papageorgiou

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★½

It’s easy to see why choreographer Anthony Van Laast was awarded the MBE for Services to Dance and Choreography in 1999, because his work turns Sister Act from an engaging story to a funny, charming, hilarious and occasionally brutal and poignant masterpiece. The musical opens with a sexy and bootylicious audition by Cynthia Erivo’s Deloris Van Cartier and her two dancers, and by the end of the first scene Deloris is looking for protection against her married boyfriend who has just killed someone in an alley.

The story explores how change, whether wanted or not, can help us find ourselves through the most unexpected ways. In a materialistic society where Deloris’ biggest desire is to sing in a club and own a white jacket like Donna Summer’s one, having to relinquish all her possessions and dress only in a nun’s habit is shown as something terrifying. Coming from a broken home, she only has her appearance from which to gain any self worth. At the same time, she encounters women who have been hidden away for so long that they have forgotten who they can still become. The fabulous juxtaposition of nuns and nightclub singer make for a heart-warming reunion of a kind. Each finds what they are missing in the other; love and self-respect. We see the same in Edward Baruwa’s police officer Eddie and his shining moment is one of the best songs and transformation scenes in the whole show. Go just for that!

The production is outstanding with dancing and comedy galore. In the week of her 25th birthday, Erivo shows as Deloris all of the grace, beauty, charisma and singing power of a diva in the making. Unfortunately it didn’t manage to last for the whole production. A 30 minute delay during interval led to the replacement of our main star with her understudy Gemma Knight Jones. The change seemed to shake things up a bit with a line dropped here, some hair dropped there and a few too many smiles from our star. Her voice was just beautiful though and she carried on quite impressively.

Michael Stark, best known from Brookside, as Monsignor O’Hara gave a brilliant performance with his Elvis style and comic timing. He was a great foil for Denise Black’s Mother Superior with her dry tones but steady strength. Some of the funniest scenes were due to Gavin Cornwall’s bad guy Curtis Jackson’s sidekicks, Gavin Alex’s Pablo, Tyrone Huntley’s TJ and Daniel Stockton’s Joey.

Sister Act was hilarious, clever, brilliant and definitely had the audience boogying by the end, albeit on their feet in a standing ovation. Considering the delay and the star switchover, there seems to be no better testament for a show that will have you in stitches and in tears, often at the same time.

Runs until 21st January 2012

For The Public Reviews

New Year’s menu

Sometimes, I wish that every meal I ate could be sourced from the deli / butcher / restaurant Source but alas it just isn’t meant to be. For special occasions, however, they are the most wonderful resource in Bristol. My household had Christmas dinner from there which we ordered in advance and I also went there for ingredients for my New Year’s dinner.

The main meal was steak and frites. Two aged Aberdeen Angus sirloin steaks were cooked simply on the frying pan after being left out to get to room temperature. They were covered in oil and salt first. That doesn’t require much of a recipe but it may need a little improvement so suggestions are welcome. Maybe I should have tenderized the beef slightly by bashing them with the frying pan first? I shall experiment.

The first dish I cooked was a lovely chorizo, chickpea and prawn stew. It was very nice and could turn out to be amazing with a bit more care and seasoning. I bought tiger prawns from Source that were so big I managed to cut myself three times on the shells as I peeled them. I undercooked the prawns, didn’t have sherry so I used Port and I forgot to add salt and pepper.

But next time the stew will be incredible.

For now, here’s the recipe.

3 tbsp olive oil
4 fresh piquillo peppers, cored, deseeded and cut into 2cm squares
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
150g good-quality cooking chorizo sausage, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 ½ tbsp sherry vinegar
3 tbsp dry sherry
600g drained cooked chickpeas (freshly cooked or tinned)
100ml chicken stock
70g baby spinach leaves, washed
20 good-quality raw tiger prawns, peeled, deveined and heads removed
Large handful of basil, leaves only, torn
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make tiger prawn, chorizo and chickpea stew
1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, wide pan and add the peppers, red onion and chorizo. Cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes again, then add the sherry and vinegar and reduce down.

2. Add the chickpeas, stir and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken stock and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat.

3. In a separate pan, fry the tiger prawns in the remaining olive oil for about 30-45 seconds each side. Once cooked, add to the chickpea stew with the spinach. Let wilt slightly, then scatter over the basil, season and serve.

© Gordon Ramsay

Book giveaway, The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment, edited by Sian Norris, is a collection of writings from people describing the moment they realised they were feminist. This is a curious, diverse and fascinating glimpse into people’s lives.

There is a wide spectrum of articles including creative writing, personal accounts and observations. You can read a review here.

Leave a comment on this blog post to be in with a chance to win. The winning entry will be drawn on January 29, 2012.

Loquax Competitions

The Lightbulb Moment, edited by Sian Norris

Sian Norris writes the blog Sian and Crooked Rib and is the one woman publisher behind Crooked Rib publishing. She invited people to submit a piece about the Lightbulb Moment when the realisation that they were feminist occurred to them. It was a call out to what she herself acknowledges as a self-selected group of individuals but the stories, all 34, are still diverse and varied.

27 year old editor, Norris, published the book through her own publishing company which so far is just for her own work. The work ranges from vague generalisations to detailed tales that provide clear paths to feminism. There seem to be more than a few instances of marginalised individuals finding strength in belonging to such a community, virtual or otherwise. The range of topics include sexualisation, domestic abuse, gender inequality, gender roles, and some brief moments of motherhood.

While I can see why articles by Laurie Penny and Just Women pieces were included by a new editor/author who perhaps would like to import some legitimacy by invoking strength through already published pieces, I think it’s a shame and the pieces seem to weaken the work. The edited blandness of the Just Women pieces, no matter how suitable – one of them is the only piece in the book that talks about the importance of women as mothers in the feminist narrative – contrasts sharply with the raw and powerful original pieces that were submitted.

The Lightbulb Moment didn’t need the artificially polished brusqueness of Laurie Penny talking about Germaine Greer. A piece by Greer would probably have been more useful.

All sorts of paths to feminism are invoked including a personal story by Norris herself and a poem about women’s inequality from a muslim perspective. Creativity blends with short point-form articles. Stories about teenage years shift to a mother’s view point and then to a boyfriend’s and then to an angry city dweller who feels she is working in a city that’s becoming a brothel.

The weaknesses of feminist arguments come through as well with a woman sharing that she had always known that women were disadvantaged but without sharing how she knew this. Another writer, Gillian Coe, says: “I have always believed that women are as valuable and intelligent as men, so when I saw that they were treated as less so, and excluded from all manner of things for no good reason, I naturally thought that this should change”. She doesn’t say from what women are excluded and as a white, educated, middle class woman I can’t even imagine to what she’s referring.

The stronger pieces provide examples that include sexual aggression, sexual objectification, the malignant nature of female and male magazines and the disgusting page 3 culture of the Sun newspaper. Marta Owczarek searches for important women in the local art scene rather than just noting their absence: “countless examples of amazing women and what they did…”.

One of the best pieces is by sports journalist, Carrie Dunn, who took a personal experience of a gender biased passion like football and describes what she experienced as a professional in that field. I found this quite a touching piece especially as my 10 month old daughter already has her first football kit.

Some parts are angry but mostly they are exploratory and creative and a wonderful insight to a part of life that affects us all. A brilliant beginning from Norris.

The Lightbulb Moment is available to buy from Crooked Rib publishing.

Favourite photos from last week

On Wednesday, last week, we went to visit Mersina’s childminder in Clifton. We then went by Papadeli where I enjoyed a delicious coffee and and a chocolate croissant while Mersina ate some of her plain croissant. It was lovely.