Tag Archives: The Who

Once more unto the breach, dear friends…

O! for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention!
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.

Henry V, Chorus I, Shakespeare

The Opening Ceremony

Did anyone spot Kenneth Branagh? Did you? Yeah, well, I guess that cameo is probably the least bizarre of all the happenings of the Olympics opening ceremony. You’ve got to give it to Danny Boyle – he did a bang-up job. Not knowing what to expect, I think that it was fascinating and cringey in equal measure – and therefore very British.

The parents put on a bit of a shindig for the opening ceremony – a friend was one of the winged cyclists! So it was wine, beer and coronation chicken aplenty, and sloping away to bed at the not unreasonable hour of 1am.

From the chimneys sprouting out of the green pastures – symbolising the Industrial Revolution, and a nod to Danny Boyle’s dad – to dancing through the ages, it was stages of wonderful, impressive and downright weird. Jolts of humour – Bond and the Queen, and Mr Bean at the piano – were countered by some truly masterful and astounding feats; those fireworks weren’t quite up to Beijing standards maybe, but using the entire stadium as a TV screen was.

Voldemort and Cruella de Ville being seen off by Mary Poppins, and a blast of The Archers soundtrack weren’t quite what I was expecting, neither was the modern-day love story, told by the medium of technology (not sure how that was portrayed to the audience in the stadium). But I adored the music sequence (yes, I am a Dizzy Rascal fan, and no I’m not ashamed) – including some timeless classics by The Jam and The Who. I definitely think music is a key piece of British culture, and Mr Boyle showed it with great aplomb.

My absolute favourite bit though (besides my friend on a bike with glowing wings), was the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron. Everyone was placing bets on who it would be – from the Queen, to Chris Hoy to Steve Redgrave, to Gandalf* (this was suggested after someone said that the opening scene of the grassy hill and the tree looked like Hobbiton).

I love the fact that it was no one we expected – that the people (picked by athletes) were simply the next generation of Olympic hopefuls. The London 2012 idea of “inspiring the next generation” in physical form. And whoever thought of that cauldron deserves a knighthood! It’s beautiful… I did cross my fingers and hoped it wouldn’t break whilst watching… but it was beautiful.

What did everyone think of the ceremony? And, for those not of the UK – did you get some of the references?

*For the record – Sir Ian McKellen is a legend and I would have loved to see him light it!

Henry V

A couple of weeks ago, Ana asked if I fancied going to see a performance at the Globe theatre in London of Shakespeare’s Henry V. Well, duh.

About a week ago, we realised that this visit would coincide with the first day of the Olympics. As a very unsporting person, I will hold my hand up and admit I’m not doing backflips over the Olympics – as great as they are – because I simply have no interest in the sports. Therefore, to discover that these sports – which I have no vested interest in, though commend anyone who does – were potentially going to ruin my Shakespeare day, it’s understandable that I was not amused.

Yesterday morning, getting the 9.35 train (leaving myself RIDICULOUS amounts of time to get to the Globe “just-in-case”), I found that although it was the first day of the Olympics, and people wearing various supportive outfits and costumes were climbing on at every stop, it was not an awkward journey. That’s fine, I said to myself, I will no doubt have to contend with the crowds on Waterloo concourse.

Erm. No. Contend with dithering tourists (but no more than usual) and avoiding the clusters of lost Olympics fans that seemed to gather around any Games Maker or police officer in sight, yes. But creep under the legs of thousands of people and praying I won’t get suffocated, no.

As it was a beautiful day, off I pottered to the riverside. I aimed straight for the London Eye (nothing like a giant ferris wheel landmark to navigate with), then turned right. And it wasn’t even busier than normal here! Street performers (including artists, comedians, dancers, magicians, and those creepy statue people), Games Maker help points and pop-up shops and restaurants have gathered along the banks of the River Thames, creating a carnival atmosphere (helped by the many people in fancy dress and carousel with shrieking kids).

I took a picture of the giant Olympic rings out on the water, and soaked up the sun, before Ana and Claire appeared and we had a very indulgent lunch of mussels in a creamy white wine sauce and butternut squash salad (me), linguine (Claire), and bruschetta and chips (Ana) at The Wharf.

But what about the play!? I hear you cry. Well… I really can’t say much about the play, because I’m a loss for words. Outstanding, would be a start. Jamie Parker is a fantastic Henry, and delivers his lines with the right amount of sobriety and fierceness. I have never seen Henry V (or read it) before, so coming to the whole thing with fresh eyes was brilliant. I knew what it was about, of course, but never expected the humour, and so found it all the funnier (and more poignant) when it did appear.

For £5, you can stand in the yard (the main area right in front of the stage) and see some of the greatest plays ever to be written, in the venue that they were written for. Okay, so standing for 3 hours wasn’t fun, and when the sun came over I did burn a bit because there’s not a lot of protection, but frankly I didn’t notice the standing part until the play was finished and broke the spell.

The cast was really strong, and they clearly enjoyed working together. I recognised a lot of faces (but I couldn’t tell you where from) and although the chorus woman felt a bit superfluous sometimes – I know she’s there to carry the story along, but it just got to the point where I just wanted the others back out on stage – there was never a point at which I was bored.

The acoustics (there were no microphones that I could see) were outstanding, and I loved being able to watch the reactions of the people in the galleries because it’s a circular theatre. The actors move through the audience and interact with them, which creates a frisson of excitement every time you hear a trumpet at the back of the stage, or see an actor lean down to the crowd. You want to be involved, you crave the attention of the King, long to be a drinking buddy of Pistol and Nym, and banter with Captain Fluellen.

I once considered A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be my favourite Shakespeare. But, I think Jamie Parker might have changed my mind!

By the end though, we were all exhausted and said our goodbyes outside the gates of the Globe. I decided to walk back to the Eye again; the sun had gone in, but the pop-up restaurants were doing booming business as tourists ventured along the riverside for food. This time I found a Michael Jackson impersonator, a street artist chalking all the flags of the Olympians onto the paving, and break dancers teaching the crowd a trick or two.

The homeward journey was as equally uneventful as the journey in; the only difference being everyone was slightly more sunburnt, the adults a bit tipsy, and the children coming down from sugar highs. The detritus of a visit to the capital – British flags and I Heart London tee-shirts, foam hands and deflated backpacks now devoid of snacks and drinks – dragged along Waterloo concourse, the sun sagging low over the river, and the trains took the passengers home to bed, myself amongst it all, my head full of Shakespeare and tummy full of mussels.

So now I sit here, tired and red and contented. Faced with a blank page of paper, convinced that whatever I will write, will never be as good as Shakespeare, but I might as well give it a go. Because, who knows? A couple of hundred years from now, what I write could be considered the greatest literature of our time, and someone in a blue and white sundress could be walking along the banks of the river Thames with friends, off to see an adaptation of one of my works…

A girl can dream.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect.

Henry V, Act III, Scene I, Shakespeare

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The First Record You Ever Bought

There has recently been a TV series about the importance of the 70s on Britain. This very much excited Poppaloo as he survived the 70s as a teen in boarding school, listening to Punk music and showing off to the local girls school (I believe they are some of the best years of his life). Mummaloo moved to England from Argentina in 1973, so the 70s for her were her first experience of British life.

Anyway, straight after the show is another show about the 70s, this time all the music from that era, and the first song on was “Lola” by The Kinks. If you’ve never heard this song before, it’s definitely worth a listen. Besides being a song by one of the greatest 70s bands to exist, it’s an amazingly feel-good, hot-summer tune that always makes me smile. It’s also about a young man meeting a transvestite in a Soho club, which basically means it’s not your average love song (phew). It’s amazing. ANYWAY, I’m digressing again. The point of this story is that Mummaloo turned around and said “this is the first record I ever bought”. This nearly floored me (her current tastes include the Pussycat Dolls, Daniel Bedingfield, and Michael Bublé… during my childhood it was Wet, Wet, Wet, so you can see why I was surprised).

We progressed on to the age-old interview question: what was the first record you ever bought?

I’m always a little ashamed, because whenever I hear people’s responses on the radio and around the dinner table, it’s always something iconic and cool – like David Bowie, Pearl Jam, Whitney Houston, Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” or Elton John’s “Rocketman” or something equally as memorable and astounding. I always gain great respect for these people – they always remember exactly how old they were, where they were and what they felt like when they bought it.

For me? Well. I was a child of the 90s (whoop whoop, power to the era of double denim and boy bands). So my choice was, looking back, shameful. Yes, people, my first record was the debut album Spice, by the Spice Girls.

Oh, the horror.

In my defence, it took me a LONG time to remember this (earlier memories of music include The Jam and The Who… and All Saints), and I was of the age when Girl Power was all-important and amazing. They were just so cool. And they had those postcards you could trade (remember those!? I used to sit under the willow in junior school swapping limited edition versions with great care every break time).

Since then, needless to say, my taste has improved. Mummaloo argues that the Spice Girls were iconic of my era, and perhaps when I have the same conversation with my kids and tell them that the first record I ever bought was the Spice Girls, they will look at me with the same awe that I did when Mummaloo owned up to The Kinks.

Yeah, I doubt it too.

This inspired me, and recently I’ve been updating my iPod; the beloved, battered thing is nigh on 7 years old, and the music matches it. Which means it’s taken me a while to remove the embarrassing dedication to O-Town (why do I even have that on there!?), rediscover songs like “The JCB Song” by Nizlopi (how cute is that song!?) and also reminisce about the music that took me on my travels (for some reason, it was: Kelly Clarkson for Ecuador, Something Corporate for South Africa and Fat Freddy’s Drop for New Zealand).

I always listen to music when I’m writing, getting dressed, driving or just sitting and doing nothing. It’s a major part of my life, so it feels good to reflect on what I listen to.

What’s on your playlists? And what was the first record YOU ever bought?

You know my story. Get involved!

A (completely honest) list of what I listened to while writing this post:
“Fatboy Slim is F***ing in Heaven” – Fatboy Slim – You’ve Come a Long Way Baby … I bought this album when I heard it on Zane Lowe’s Greatest Albums list. Until then I hadn’t realised how many Fatboy Slim songs I adored.
“Gasoline” – Audioslave – Audioslave … One of the greatest lyricists of all time (I also rate Jack White in this list), and I could listen to this album forever; it encompasses everything I love about music – from raw emotion to beautiful words to hopeful beats.
“I’m One” – The Who – Quadrophenia … Also an astounding film. The Who always remind me of Poppaloo, who showed me what real music sounds like.
“Limited Edition” – Snow Patrol – Songs for Polarbears … I own every Snow Patrol album there is. His voice is so haunting and beautiful. It speaks to the angsty teenager within.
“Still Laughing” – Lostprophets – The Fake Sound of Progress … The sound of my angry teenagehood, alongside Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park.
“Rock With You” – Michael Jackson – HIStory: Past, Present and Future Book 1 … I had a HUGE Michael Jackson era, and cried when I found out he had died. This guy was a genius of music.
“The Way I Are” – Timbaland, D.O.E & Keri Hilson – Timbland Presents Shock Value … When I got my first car, I loved the bass sound R&B music made from the speakers, and it spawned a love of Hip Hop and R&B that never dies.
“The Captain” – Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions … I bought this album after my cousin met the band and said how ace they were. I fell in love instantly!
“Under the Bridge” – All Saints – All Saints … Red Hot Chili Peppers are way better at this song, but the All Saints version has a lot more nostalgia for me.
“Song 2” – My Chemical Romance – Radio One’s Live Lounge … I’ve never been the biggest MCR fan, but the R1 Live Lounge albums (circa Jo Whiley) are beautiful and constantly surprising. They’re worth a listen, even when you don’t necessarily like the band. I also think this Blur cover is done justice – which is hard to achieve.
“Encore” – Jay-Z – The Black Album … Another album bought thanks to Zane Lowe. It speaks to the Hip Hop in me.
“Why do I feel so Sad” – Alicia Keys – Songs in A-Minor … Alicia Keys’ first album was the sound of my heartbreak. Her latest album was the sound of my healing.
“The Air Near my Fingers” – The White Stripes – Elephant … Remember I mentioned Jack White as one of the greatest lyricists? Elephant is considered the best album from The White Stripes, and it was the first album to introduce me to his genius.
“Farewell” – Rihanna – Talk that Talk … There isn’t a single song I don’t like from Rihanna. Her latest album is more grown up and sexy than her last one (which was rock chick in bucket loads). She’s my girl crush.
“Wake Up” – Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill … If the bitch inside me had a voice, it would be Alanis Morissette. Her lyrics are gritty and overwhelming. Oddly enough, we played this album a zillion times over when I was in Turkey last year. It seemed to suit it.
“We Came Here to Party” – LMFAO Feat. GoonRock – Sorry for Party Rocking … The taste of summer; this is the sound that reminds of going out with the girls, cocktails and good times.
“Fallout” – Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns … A new, grown-up Linkin Park than that of when I was a teenager. But they still create beautiful imagery from their songs.

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