Sunday, 27 February 2011

China Town chow down....

....This afternoon Bugsy managed to organise, with aplomb, a get together in China Town.



There was a slight twist, in that it was only the male half of our social group. What an exciting prospect!



We ate, (and ate), dim sum from the laden trollies in Chuen Cheng Ku, which was fantastic. We finished off by walking in to Soho for a coffee, (and a brownie in my case), at Foxcroft & Ginger.



A brilliant little cafe that I have never been too before, but was very good. It was a fantastic afternoon and great to be out with the boys, for the first time in......well, maybe that was the first time! Let's do it again soon please.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Bev hits 50....

....Kelly's mum, Beverley turned 50 on Sunday, with a celebratory dinner the night before, at La Margherita in Cambridge.



Family and friends were in attendance and sang at least two renditions of 'happy birthday' inbetween courses of fantastic pizza and pasta.



Amongst the presents was a personalised number plate for Bev, with which she was very pleased.



Happy Birthday!

Dinner with Ian & Susie....

....I can't remember the number of dinners we have hosted for one another now. This time Ian & Susie took us, but had an ingenious surprise.....they hadn't cooked at all. Instead, we ate a wonderful takeaway from Zaffrani on Chapel Market.



Washed down with plenty of rouge and lots of good chat, it was another fantastic evening.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Ruth & Andy's place....

....Almost a year to the day after getting the keys in their hands, Ruth and Andy have transformed their home from this, in to this:





Incredible.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

A weekend with (pregnant) Ruth and Andy....

....Make that heavily pregnant - only 4 weeks til the due date. Kel and I visited Ruth and Andy for a relaxing weekend in Leeds.



We did very little, (but eat), on the Saturday, which to be honest was a welcome relief. On the Sunday we went for a walk at Bolton Abbey, followed by a roast dinner at the Red Lion.



It was a lovely weekend, and great to see Ruth so happy and at ease......and both she and Andy prepared for what is about to hit them!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Would you Adam & Eve it? I'm leaving AMV....

....You read it right. After nearly 5 years, I am leaving AMV for pastures new.


How I looked on the final day(!)

An NYC style champagne breakfast this morning was bestowed on me by colleagues.



Tonight I had my leaving drinks and tomorrow is my final day.





Sad times. But in leaving a wonderful agency, I am also joining a brilliant one in Adam & Eve, where I start on Monday. Let work commence!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Doug's belated birthday Buen Ayre dinner....

....A good while after Doug celebrated his 30th, here we were at dinner - a belated present from Liam and I. (A present to ourselves too, really!)


Sausage eaters




Birthday boy

We grazed on a vast platter of meat and glugged copious amounts of red wine.



We then headed over the road to Off Broadway for one too many cocktails.



A fantastic evening, in fantastic company.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Valentines day -1....



....Kelly and I decided to do this today, so we could have a day together, rather than a rushed evening on the Monday. We started the day with breakfast at the newly opened Railroad in Hackney.



A wonderful Moroccan eggs dish and sausage sandwich, washed down with Square Mile coffee from homemade earthenware mugs.
(Just like dad used to make!)



We then cycled up to the Museum of Everything, on it's final day of it's third installment.



This time, Sir Peter Blake was given the reins to fill the space with his collected ephemera. Everything from assemblies of Punch and Judy, the mesmerising embroideries of self-taught tapestrist Ted Willcox to the Victorian animal empire of Sussex legend Walter Potter.



It was a fascinating peak in to a weird and wonderful world of collected artifacts. We cycled home, just beating the rain, to relax before heading out for a Sunday roast at the Kenton. A great feed in a lovely pub and the apple crumble was a winner.



Once home again, we settled in with the BAFTAs on the telly, (The King's Speech winning everything, yawn!), making it a wonderful day. Happy Valentines!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Revolutionary drinks....

....To celebrate the fall of Mubarak and liberation of Egypt, Nick & I went for drinks at an appropriately named pub, The Camel, in Bethnal Green.


Pie-eyed

We ate pie and mash and supped on pints whilst discussing foreign politics like proper oldies!


A poster in the loo! (wish granted)

Get in there, Egypt!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Karen hits 40....

....Ten years wiser than us scallywags, Karen celebrated turning 40 years young last night.



Drinks at the Blue Posts were followed by a piƱata smashing session, before heading to Trisha's for a nightcap.



Many happy returns!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Fighter....

....Another day, another film. This one, directed by David O. Russell, is based on the true story of U.S boxer Micky Irish Ward. The welterweight fighter is none too known, but retired as recently as 2003, having formerly been world champion.



The reason behind this biopic, I guess, lies largely in the circumstance through which Micky, (played by Mark Wahlberg), overcomes before reaching that goal. The film begins not with his childhood, but firmly in adulthood, with Micky already a renowned local boxer. More renowned, however, is his step brother Dicky Eklund, (played by Christian Bale), who, despite losing the fight, once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard. However, things have changed - Dick is addicted to crack whilst still trying to convince himself he can make a come back, alongside training Micky up to do what he couldn't - be World Champion.



Bale is phenomenal - scrawny, deep sunken eyes, slurred speech. Creating a man you quickly dislike, yet somehow still believe in. Micky is the opposite. More shy by comparison, he wants to box well and stay out of trouble. With that, Wahlberg plays it well too - he's believable, likeable and whilst you want him to win, it just seems too far out of reach to be possible.



The film builds, with Micky eventually getting a title shot. And with Dick freshly out of jail, freshly off the crack, his brother takes him back in to his corner once more. It is a truly rewarding film - a feel good film that packs more punch emotionally than it does brutally. I really enjoyed it and so should you.


Micky Ward Vs Arturo Gatti, fight 1, round 9

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Journal....

....Whilst I was in South America, I filled a journal given to me by Rick & Sue Elliott - parents of Matt. It was a wonderful present and allowed me to put to use my love for writing, as I recorded everything we did.



When I arrived home, in addition to having the journal as a keep-sake, I decided to scan every page and to drop in relevant images where I had left gaps. As a result, the journal now exists as a digital file and one that I can share. (so, help yourselves below).



Take a read if you fancy, but I won't be held responsible for poor spelling, scrawled handwriting and swear words!

AMV Park Cup...

....Our bi-annual football match at work, where the 'suits' play the 'creatives' was competed toward the back end of last year. The 'suits', (my side), brought the overall score level by running out 3-1 victors in this fixture. (Watch out for a Messi-like goal by yours truly. And some Robert Green-like goalkeeping from the opposition!)

Monday, 7 February 2011

127 hours....

....I had heard the story of Aron Ralston long before this film came out.


A photo Aron Ralston took of himself whilst trapped.

There was such a media frenzy surrounding his survival story from 2003, it made it across the pond. And rightly so - a true feat of strength and character. So, then, I was interested to see quite how Danny Boyle could make a feature film out of such little action.



The film opens in a triple split screen, music pumping bundle of energy.....which quickly comes to represent the adventurous spirit of Ralston and how he views life. But, when the accident happens in Blue John Canyon, (his arm becoming trapped under an immovable bolder), the film descends in to more a social study. Of human character and spirit.


A still of James Franco re-enacting the moment Ralston captured of himself, above.

James Franco, playing Ralston, was excellent - and had to be as the camera was always on him. The monologues in to his handheld camera descended in to hallucinogenic rambles as a lack of food and water took it's toll, and the realisation that the only way out, was cut off his own arm.



And so he does. And we watch - a man, with a blunt blade, cutting himself free using the last dregs of energy he owns. It is incredibly moving to watch. It provokes me to think, would I have done the same? Would you? I hope we need ever find out. Typically, today, Ralston continues to be a climber and mountaineer, has a wife and family and has learnt from his experience - in that, now, he'll always leave a note to say where he is going!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

BOXPARK....

...."An industrial retail market space".



Coming to my doorstep later this year apparently. I'm not totally convinced, although it is a better use of space than as it currently resides - unused grassland. Watch this space.

Ivvet hits 30....

....Ivvet is next to hit the third decade and celebrated on Saturday night with drinks at the Boogaloo.


Nisha, Kat & Ivvet

On top form as ever, another midnight rendition of Happy Birthday was sung as appropriate.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Welcome to Romford....

....Kelly told me about this, as a friend of hers, Timothy Foster, directed it. It is a 30minute short documentary film, based around Romford's A1 mini cab service and the nightly passengers they carry. It is hugely engaging - particularly when it could have slipped in to drunken, puking passengers only.


Six-zero and some friendly passengers.

The split screen device allows us to watch how the cab driver interacts with their customers - which vary from first internet dates, post wedding journeys, a forlorn widower and of course, the obligatory snogging couple. Despite cameras being set up in numerous cabs, most of the action is captured from within the car of 'six zero'. The driver, (known only to the viewer as six zero), is able to conduct an almost inquisition of his passengers, managing to do so in an inoffensive way. As a result, guards are let down and real people are captured in natural moments. I found it sweet, funny and shocking in equal measure. Channel 4 describe it here, and you can watch the full episode here. (Which I urge you to do).

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Black Swan....

....Much has been talked of this film and plenty written. Having said that, I have not actually read any reviews, but heard the word 'dark' bandied about a lot. And sure it is, but then the story it is portraying - Swan Lake - is a dark one in itself.



Director Darren Aronofsky, has taken that edge and twisted it in to a horror film. It seemed to me that the film overtly portrayed life imitating art - with Nina Sayers, (played by Natalie Portman), handed the role of Queen Swan.



Portman's performance held the required intensity and flawless beauty, but sometimes, like the scratches on her own back, was an irritant. Nina, (Queen Swan), is a ballerina with such focus, dedication and drive for perfection, that her life became a replica of the performance she craved to master - meaning a constant battle with the Black Swan within her.



The soundtrack, not just musically, but the sound engineering, was brilliant. Panting breath, raps of wind and more, all invading your inner ear, as your mind is messed with by the scene in front of you. The cinematography too made for an eery intensity from the start, even in the most mundane moments - something was always afoot.



In reaching the crescendo of the Swan Lake performance, we also reach the crescendo of the film, but not before a psychological twist and then turn. I really enjoyed it. I am not placed to say if the ballerina performances were passable, but the acting was top drawer. My only niggle was that at times it was in danger of slipping in to the slightly mock horror, (ie, some of the gory moments unintentionally bordered the hilarious), but managed to stay just on the right side. Well worth a watch.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The King's Speech....


....Much lauded, I watched this film tonight.



Aside from the subject, (that the film title makes obvious), it is the relationship between King George VI, (Bertie, played by Colin Firth) and his speech therapist, (Lionel, played by Geoffrey Rush), that is at its heart. And what a relationship it is, with Rush stealing the show with an exceptional performance of eccentricity and humour. Together, he and Firth produced some funny and truly touching moments, whilst around them the film built up tension as the prospect of a war time speech loomed.



The speech itself was not flawless, but delivered with true nerve and ultimately, success. Throughout, the supporting actors, including Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce were also a joy to watch, whilst the direction by Tom Hooper was superb, with detailed, considered scenes that captured the spirit of the time and the King's personality beautifully.



It was interesting, (and warming), to read in the closing credits, that Bertie and Lionel remained close friends for the remainder of their lives too.
Inevitably, the film has several Oscar nods, and whilst I don't think that Firth should win, I do think that Rush deserves best support. Well worth watching.

Crime Watch UK....

....So, the Met Police, to much uproar, have set up a website making available local crime figures in your area. The site allows you to tap in your postcode and see what offences, from burglary to violent crime, have been committed on your doorstep. On the morning of launch, 5,000 eager residents blocked the site for a few hours, before sanity was restored.



Clicking around my area it seems anti-social behaviour is the top offence, swiftly followed by violent crime. (Here's hoping that doesn't affect the price tag of my house too much!) Within hours of the launch, the backlash began, with this witty photoshopped image tickling my fancy, taking a stab at our dear government.

(click to enlarge)