Sunday, 27 December 2009

Chariots of Fire

Went running in the snow and ice today and passed a very young looking Nigel Havers running in the opposite direction. I immediately had a Chariots of Fire moment ...

Apparently the film was to have been called 'Runners' but Colin Welland ,the writer of the screenplay, heard the phrase during Jerusalem on Songs of Praise.

Will leave you with the famous Vangelis title theme of the film - all together now ( in slow motion) ...

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Boys' Xmas shopping trip

Each Christmas, Mark and I, our brothers and our sons ( occasional daughters) go on a London shopping trip - this involves meeting in a pub in Covent Garden, followed by a Chinese meal in Soho, finishing off with cake, expresso and grappa in Bar Italia - we sometimes also wash it down with a half pint or so of bitter from the rather wierd French House, also in Soho. No shopping is involved.

As we poured out of the Joy King Lau restaurant behind Leicester Square, I saw the banner below:

Now, St John in Smithfield is one of my favourite restaurants and specialises in nose to tail eating ie eatring all of the bits of a pig.

Coincidentally, later the next week I was in Smithfield buying the Xmas turkey, ham, beef etc and celebrated a toughand challenging purchasing session with lunch at St John. I bumped into Fergus Henderson, the founder, at the bar and plucked up courage (after a pint of Black Sheep bitter) to ask him about St John's plans for Leicester Square. He was charming and funny and told me they had acquired the site where Manzi's used to be - a famous old fish restaurant apparently - and they are planning a St John restaurant plus hotel . Perhaps their famous Eccles cakes will be served at breakfast.

Would recommend you looking at Fergus's alternative food videos on St John TV
My 2 favourites are how to eat a pork pie and eating a doughnut.

Lunch was excellent - I went a bit off-piste and had Woodcock for main course - they were very kind and served the head and beak as well .

The tiny feathers that are located at the tip of the Woodcock's wings are referred to as "pin feathers" and these are much sought after by artists for fine painting work.
They are also sought by game shooters who will place them in the band of their hat to show friends that they have shot Woodcock. It is thought that the phrase "a feather in his cap" is derived from this practice.

Amazing what you learn on a boys' shopping trip ...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Led before bed.

Had a very heavy week - went to the British Premier of the film IT MIGHT GET LOUD at the Hammersmith Apollo. This is a documentary featuring Jimmy Page , The Edge and Jack White in which they chat about and play the electric guitar. Lots of great live footage and we almost exploded with excitement when Jimmy Page came on stage to introduce the film.

Jimmy had some of the best lines and one of the many highlights was when he started to play the riff from A Whole Lotta Love in front of the other two , who both immedialtely put their guitars down and were clearly transported back to their early guitar playing days. I knew that Jimmy Page was the best guitarist ever but had never realised how good he was at air guitar in his front room ...

Later on in the week I went with youngest son to see Them Crooked Vultures - also at Hammersmith Apollo - with Dave Grohl on drums, Josh Homme on guitar and John Paul Jones on everything else.

My 13 year old son was beside himself that he'd seen half of Led Zeppelin in a week.

Highlights were JPJ playing slide on his base and Dave Grohl's animal-like drumming .

Would highly recomend their new album. John Paul Jones was born in Sidcup.

I also found a good quote from Jimmy Page on wikipedia on how they met-

'I was working at the sessions for Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man, and John Paul Jones was looking after the musical arrangements. During a break, he asked me if I could use a bass player in the new group I was forming. He had a proper music training, and he had quite brilliant ideas. I jumped at the chance of getting him'

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Culture workout.

No running planned for December due to various party and shopping trip commitments - also its a bit cold and slippery ...
Managed a fair bit of culture in December - the highlights being RED at the Donmar Theatre (all about Mark Rothko) and a visit to the new Medieval and Renaissance galleries at the V & A. Fortunately, I had seen Graham Dixon-Taylor on the Culture Show and he introduced his top 5 pieces. One of them was a very rare wax model of a slave by Michelangelo used to make a final marbel sculpture now in the Accademia in Florence for the tomb of Pope Julius II.

Apparently, when he was carving a large marbel sculpture, he would place a wax model in water and gradually raise it to reveal more of the form.
My next favourite was this silver hand which is a reliquary - not something I had come across before. Valuable relics would have been put inside the reliquary- these were often modelled on parts of the body.

In this one the relics, now lost, would have been visible through the windows in the fingers .
My other highlight was the Luck of Edenhall Goblet - the glass beaker was made in Egypt or Syria, probably in the 13th century. At the time the Arab lands produced the world's finest glassware, which was decorated with enamelled and gilded designs.

Its true origins were forgotten, and a legend grew up to explain its presence. According to this tale, a party of fairies were interrupted while making merry round a north english spring called St Cuthbert's Well. As they fled, they left the beaker behind, and one of the last cried out, 'If this cup should break or fall, Farewell the Luck of Edenhall'.
Well worth a visit.