RSS Feed

Posts Tagged ‘london’

  1. You Give A Little Love

    April 15, 2012 by Amy Hansford

    A bundle of us trotted down to Commercial Road yesterday for this.

    Ready for Fat Sam's Speakeasy

    L-R: Mel, Alex, me, Johnno, Debs, Lynette*

    We, along with hundreds of others also in 20s get up, loved the whole experience. It’s not often you enjoy queueing, but when you’re continually entertained by inquisitive molls, child audience members carrying ‘Splurge Inc’ boxes with gangsters and pedal cars, it’s a pleasure. Ramsey was told to hide his inflatable gun (“Whataya doin’? There’s cops here, ya know?”), Bugsy asked Debs and Lynette if they were “da dancin’ goils” and a fight unravelled in front of us, complete with inept coppers.

    The Troxy was beautifully done out to bring back its glory days, beautiful lights embellishing the already in place art deco touches. Cabaret seating meant it was a real Speakeasy atmosphere, compered by Fat Sam himself. There was at least an hour’s worth of entertainment and participation before the film itself was screened. As an audience, we whooped for the heroes and booed for Dandy Dan and his gang. For the finale, it’s no secret that FutureCinema have prepared the biggest pie fight you’ll ever find. Fat Sam gave us all a minute to grab a poncho while the dancing girls loaded up the pies before the film restarting and the gangsters letting rip with their authentic looking Splurge Guns. An entire room full of children and adults dancing with their hands up and singing “you give a little love and it all comes back to you” won’t be forgotten.

    A brilliant time had by all – so inclusive, immersive and above all, fun.

    The great news is that this operation is getting bigger. FutureCinema are looking at creating more child friendly immersive cinema treats along the same lines as Bugsy, the first time they had made a family oriented cinema event. What could be next? I’d love to see what they could do with the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or my personal favourite, the Goonies. What classic family films would you pick?

    Whatever they do, I hope they continue. These wonderfully theatrical adventures are exactly the kind of thing I’d love to bring Little L to one once she’s old enough to enjoy them. Until then, Mummy and Daddy will indulge themselves in their childhood dreams.

    *Picture half inched from Paul Ramsey who was hiding behind the camera at the time!

  2. Circus Hilarious

    April 11, 2010 by Amy Hansford

    To celebrate the Easter weekend just gone, I did a bunk* off work and went to see Circus Hilarious under the advice of a friend of mine. The intention was to go and watch some of their slapstick routines to help with ideas for the upcoming pantomimes. As was somewhat expected, Catford’s Broadway theatre was somewhat thin on the ground audience-wise. It’s an outdated premise, the circus. It can’t still be that funny, can it? Hell yes. It followed the golden rules of live entertainment performance;

    – Something for the little ones; half the audience were under 8s and they were totally captivated by the whole thing. Literally, sitting on the edge of their seats to get just slightly closer to the stage. Mesmorised. Plus the whole thing about the stooge doing all the naughty things that children aren’t allowed to do, like call out, throw things, silly words and names.
    – Something for the mums; I have to say, Danny Adams (the stooge) is certainly very kind on the eye. Not to mention his brother, Johnny Knox (I think).
    – Something for the dads; the four Circus Hilarious dancers gradually wore more and more clothing as the show went on. I would say that four leggy blondes wearing body stockings and bikins to open the show certainly adds glamour, if not the glitz.
    – Audience participation; from getting people on to the stage to throwing things at them from it, everyone joined in.
    – Personable; Clive Webb and Danny Adams signed autographs for the kids after the show and were happy to spend a minute with everyone there. A superfan had come to see them – a grown woman told them ‘I’ve seen you like, fifteen times or summet’, although I was a little off put that all this was said without looking up from her mobile from which she was texting at the time. It does annoy me a little (and this goes for all my interests) when fans feel that their idols owe them something for turning up. Surely the point is to have that moment with the person you’ve gone to see? Or perhaps modern life continues to dictate that the world is soon to be seen through the eyes of a cameraphone? Sorry, I went off for a little rant there.

    But it was so damned funny. Every other second was some gag or another, and all so slick. Magic tricks that I just do not know the logic or workings of. Slapstick routines where the slapstick wasn’t even the highlight. Naughty jokes to fly over the heads of babes and into the ears of those paying for the tickets. Cartoon-like explosions and costumes. I’m not giving away anything they did – I would love to see them again and urge you to do the same.

    Now the campaign to get them on Twitter. Hmm…

    *I took a day’s leave. But saying I took a bunk makes me look cool. It does. Just ask Fonzie.

  3. Location, location, location

    July 22, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    It’s all been a bit quiet on the Awakey front, or so you would think. I’ve actually moved up from London to Milton Keynes to our new house, which is very exciting! Four days after we moved in, all the boxes are now unpacked and we’re back to normal life, which is lovely. My other half is testing the new route to work – a little different from changing tube stations – while I’m free to job hunt and give a bit more time to the As If By Magic Costumes orders. My colleague Ilona has made some truly beautiful things of late, so I’m looking forward to publishing pictures of the latest pieces soon.

    I’ve also been working on the costumes for the New Expressions production of We Will Rock You. I wouldn’t say it’s been too much of a challenge, just tricky when the cast swear they’re one size when they’re actually another. Such are the stigmas attached to size labels! Much kudos to Maggie for the loan of her amazing purple furry boots.

    Keeping with the amateur dramatics side of things, I’m looking forward to auditioning for Rent with Luton Light this weekend. I’ve not auditioned for what seems like years, and am well aware that my singing peak was back in Anything Goes in 2007, so I’m a little nervous. But excited!

    So, not a huge update. Just a little update to let you know I’m still kicking about.

  4. London London London

    April 2, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    A friend visiting London was asking for some advice on places to eat and shops to visit. It’s not the first time, but I always forget what I’ve said. Through sheer laziness of not remembering this nugget of information for every person, I thought I’d put a few notes down here for future reference.


    TREAT: Ping Pong. These do Dim Sum and are cool without being snooty. There’s a few around including one near the National Theatre on the Southbank.
    PUBBY: The Crooked Surgeon. This is just off Leicester Square (not far from The Prince Charles CInema) and does decent pub grub. It’s not a traditional pub – they’re so hard to find these days – but it’s okay value.
    CURRY: Masala Zone. This is off Covent Garden. They, like most places in London, do a pre-theatre deal. You don’t have to be going to the theatre to use the deals! About a tenner for a very tasty three course meal.
    FUN PUB: Ben Crouch’s Tavern. It’s off Oxford Street. Probably the only place I feel at home in London! Again, good menu, great value and it has a horror theme. Don’t tell your family about the screaming/chainsaw sound track playing in the toilets!
    Plus there’s plenty of Wagamamas around and all the usual chains.


    CAMDEN is all there and complete. The smaller market by the canal’s closed, but everything’s there. Sadly, they ditched the hotch potch covered stalls in all the arches for some glass monstrosity that I’ve not looked into – all glassware and t-shirts – but Punkyfish and the New Rock boot shops are all around as are the goth shops.
    OXFORD STREET is still packed with every shop imaginable.
    Check out FORBIDDEN PLANET for amazing sci-fi and film goodness.
    For your musicals, check out DRESS CIRCLE off Covent Garden. It has everything to do with every musical ever made.

  5. Save Jason!

    March 16, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    Do you ike the Gadget Show?
    Adore the weekly challenges they do?
    Take Part in Jason Bradbury’s flashmob this Friday at 1pm in London to help him win this week’s challenge, and get to appear on the show too!
    Details to follow, or alternatively follow @JasonBradbury on Twitter.

    Date: Friday 20th March 2009
    Time: 1pm
    Location: Somerset House
    Reason: To prove the power of Twitter in getting the word out!

    Jason Bradbury can only use Twitter to organise this, so do please follow him to keep fully updated or check here for more news. However, you, my wonderful lovelies, are free to spread the word any way you wish!

  6. Snow Day

    February 2, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    It’s been lovely seeing everyone’s comments and emails on the snow. For those reading this in retrospect, it’s Monday morning and most of Britain has woken up to 5 inches of snow, a rarity.

    I’m planning on posting some of my favourite comments here for posterity and also to allow you to share too, even if you’re not getting your ‘Snow Day’.

    “Cats sleeping apart from Otter, who is calling me to look at the disaster that has happened in the back garden. I tell him it’s ok, and he cries “no it’s not ok, it’s all out the front too, loooooooooook”, and we have to go look at the front. If I dont look he howls.”
    ~ My sister on her cats ~
    “I have one unhappy cat taking a crap in the house. Ack!”
    ~ A friend on her cat’s reaction ~

    “I feel like writing on a big piece of paper, ‘how many survivors?’ and showing it to the office across the street.”
    ~ via Twitter ~

    “Watching the TfL home page is a bit like a view into some sort of civic apocalypse”
    ~ via Twitter ~

  7. To Ceroc or not to Ceroc

    January 29, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    Ladies and gentlemen, forget the gym, forget going for a run – if you’re only doing (or failing to do) one bit of exercise in the week, let Ceroc lead the way to your new sustainable regime.

    If you don’t have time to read this note (I have a feeling it’ll be a long one), check out for more information. In the meantime, here’s the word from the horse’s mouth on what it’s like to be a newbie at a Ceroc night. Note the use of ‘night’ over ‘lesson’.

    I hate the gym and I hate the outside world, so I figured I needed some sort of keep fit class. Inadvertantly stumbling onto Weight Watchers and discovering Ceroc earned you more food points, I thought I’d check it out. The above website pointed me towards a regular event taking place on a Thursday night nearby, appealing to my lazy not-liking-to-travel-far nature. Having read all the FAQs and other information available, I went expecting a structured dance lesson with a bit of free time at the end.

    Arriving at the church hall armed with my already completed membership form (downloadable) and small fee I breezed in, was given a membership card and a dvd with all the beginners moves on. At this point there were only about 8 people there – would I be dancing alone? By 7.30pm there were about 30 people with plenty more arriving through the night, relieving my concerns. Important note: no-one made a fuss out of me being a beginner. Huge benefit. Means you feel on a par with everyone else in the class instead of having your incompetence pointed out.

    Quick note: I thought Ceroc was going to be like keep fit utilising dance moves. So wrong. It’s more like a jive or lindyhop or salsa dance. Very social.

    The coach was great – friendly yet not overbearing and demonstrated all the moves on the stage. Excellent man:woman ratio with the women moving along the men in turn. In 45 minutes we covered just THREE moves. Perfect. Not loads to remember, but plenty to practice, ending up with a smart looping routine. And it was informal – no-one pointing at your feet and telling you you’re going the wrong way. If it goes with the flow, it’s all good. While the intermediates started their lesson (by now there being at least 50 people there) 7 of us went upstairs with two instructors to review what we’d just learned.

    With extra attention from the instructors we were all fluidly working through the routine by the end of the extra 45 minutes. It was great having the opportunity to hone where I should end up after a spin and practice with others. Then back downstairs for the ‘Freestyle’.

    By now I’d been dancing an hour and a half. The previously well lit church hall had now turned into a proper party – decent disco lighting in a darkened room, a table with water/pop and a window with tea/coffee. Everyone was going for it, beginners mixing with intermediates, people spinning here and there and everyone just having a damned good time. An intermediate asked me to dance. He was really good at leading and so he made me look like I was a professional, spinning me here and dipping me there. Magic.

    But this is the thing – it didn’t feel like I was going there to keep fit. It felt like I was on a night out. Everyone is friendly and no-one is left out or, equally important, hassled. It’s a brilliant concept, and you don’t get lost if you miss a week as you learn new moves each session. I will be cancelling my gym membership this week. And investing in a plaster collection for my little toe – it’s going to be hard pressed every Thursday from here on in.

    I attended the Ceroc night at St George’s Church Hall, Muswell Hill, N10 3AH.
    Sessions are Thursdays with beginners 7.30-8.15, intermediates/beginner revision 8.30-9.00 and freestyle until 10.30pm.
    ?8 per session, ?2 membership payment on your first visit, ?6.50 if you’re just there for the freestyle.

  8. Costumes: Tube stations

    January 5, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    One of the up and coming costume party themes at the moment is that of Tube Stations. As bizarre as it sounds, there are just over 200 tube stations (including DLR) and they bring up all sorts of costume ideas.

    Below are many costume suggestions, less the stations for the DLR as they’re not (as far as I’m aware) included for the purpose of the party for which this list was originally made. Which is a shame as that’s where some of the names get really inventive.

    Angel Islington – angel (did you really need to ask? really?)
    Arsenal – lots of weaponry / an Arsenal fan
    Baker Street – Baker / Sherlock Holmes
    Bank – Banker
    Barbican – Barbie (in a can if you can manage it)
    Barking – Dog
    Barons Court – Panto style baron (i.e. Baron Hardup)
    Becontree – Chrimble tree with a beaconesque light
    Belsize Park – Bellboy
    Blackfriars – Friar all in black / Burned food in a giant frying pan
    Blackhorse Road – Panto horse
    Bond Street – James Bond
    Bounds Green – Green bondage
    Bow Church – Prest/Nun/Monk covered in bows
    Bow Road – Generally lots of bows
    Brent Cross – Brent Spiner from Star Trek looking annoyed
    Burnt Oak – Singed
    Canada Water – Bottle of water / Canadian
    Canary Wharf – Yellow bird
    Chalk Farm – Farm animal drawn on a blackboard
    Chesham – Chess piece
    Cockfosters – Cockeral and can of Fosters
    Colindale – Colin Farrell / Colin McRae (rally driver) / Colin Firth
    Colliers Wood – Shaggy dog
    Covent Garden – Priest/Monk/Nun with a flower
    Dagenham East – Dagger
    Dollis Hill – Dolly
    Ealing Broadway/Fulham Broadway – ANY Broadway show character with a London twist
    Earls Court – Jolly jolly posh. What ho.
    East Ham/West Ham – Pig
    Elephant and Castle – Elephant (and a castle if you can arrange it)
    Euston – astronaut (as in ‘Houston, we have a problem’…)
    Euston Square/Leicester Square – Cube/Square
    Fairlop – Fairground person/freakshow
    Finchley Central/Road – Finch
    Gloucester Road – Dr Foster
    Golders Green – All in gold and green / Goldmember
    Goldhawk Road – Golden hawk/bird
    Grange Hill – Grange Hill uniform / Dinner Lady / School Nurse / Teacher
    Green Park/Greenford – All in green
    Greenwich – Green witch
    Gunnersbury – Lots of guns
    Hammersmith – Giant hammer / MC Hammer
    Hampstead – George Michael
    Hanger Lane – Noose / Pilot / Air Hostess / covered in hangers
    Harrow and Wealdstone – sign: Hello – I have a stone and know how to use it.
    Harrow on the Hill – sign: Hello – I have a stone and I live on a hill.
    Hatton Cross – Ricky Hatton
    Heathrow – Pilot / Air Hostess
    Hendon Central – Police trainee
    High Barnet – Tall wig
    Holland Park – Dutch outfit with clogs
    Hornchurch – Priest/Nun/Monk wearing a hat with horns
    Hyde Park Corner – Jekyll and Hyde
    Kew Gardens/Ruislip Gardens – Botanist / Flower / Weed / Bill and Ben
    Kilburn/Kilburn Park – Singed
    Kings Cross – Angry king
    St Pancreas – operation patient halfway through
    Kingsbury – King fresh from the grave
    Knightsbridge – Knight
    Lambeth North – Pearly queen/king
    Marble Arch – Giant marble
    Mornington Crescent – sleepy pyjama wearer who’s just woken up
    Neasden – cut out knees
    Northolt – RAF person
    Northwood – Lumberjack
    Notting Hill Gate – Hugh Grant / Julia Roberts
    Old Street – OAP
    Oval – Cricketer
    Oxford Circus/Piccadilly Circus – Ringmaster / acrobat / lion tamer
    Paddington – Paddington Bear
    Park Royal/Royal Oak – Royalty
    Parsons Green – Parson/Priest
    Pinner – Giant tack
    Preston Road – Preston and Chantelle
    Queens Park/Queensway – Queen / Freddie Mercury
    Queensbury – dead queen
    Ravenscourt Park – Black bird
    Rayners Lane – Clare Raynor
    Richmond – Someone who’s loaded
    Rickmansworth – Rick Astley / Rick Mayall / Ricky Tomlinson
    Roding Valley – Horse rider / jockey
    Royal Victoria – Queen Victoria
    Russell Square – Russell Crowe / Russell Grant / Russell Brand
    Shepherds Bush – Shepherd and sheep
    Sloane Square – Dr Mark Sloane (Diagnosis Murder)
    Snaresbrook – person caught in a bear trap
    St Pauls – Paul McCartney / Paul Gasgoine / Paul McKenna
    Stanmore – Stan Laurel
    Stockwell – Giant Oxo cube
    Sudbury Hill/Sudbury Town – soap suds
    Surrey Quays – Captain of a boat / sailor
    Swiss cottage – Swiss cuckoo clock inhabitant
    Temple – ANY God (have fun with this one)
    Tooting Broadway – Brass player
    Tower Hill – Beefeater
    Tufnell Park – Phil Tufnell
    Turnpike Lane – Big fish
    Victoria – Victoria Beckham / Queen Victoria /
    Warren Street – Rabbit
    Warwick Avenue – Duffy
    Waterloo – Abba / Napoleon
    Wembley – Footplayer
    West Brompton – Cyclist with a tiny bike
    White City – all in white
    Whitechapel – Priest/Monk/Nun all in white
    Wimbledon – Tennis player

  9. Toronto round up

    November 21, 2008 by Amy Hansford

    There are many wonderful things about Toronto, not least of which is the amazing undergound shopping network, meaning no-one really needs to be outside in the sub zero temperatures for more than five minutes.

    Also, the fact they darn well just get things done. Yesterday morning, the top news story was that of a house in which four bodies were found. By this afternoon, they’d revealed it was actually three murders and a suicide, their names, that they were a lovely family caught up in the economic strain and related issues and that it was all pretty much sorted. It did not involve a three month long investigation like we normally have for such things, or a Facebook group of people saying ‘boo, isn’t this bad – having an online theoretical group of people who agree with this will make a difference and bring them all back to life’, or ministers commenting on whether or not it should have beenb allowed to happen.

    People are nice. Just because it’s natural to be nice, and say hello when you pass each other, and say thankyou.

    The cost of living is lower, so people can enjoy things more, so they are happier.

    There are no chavs. There are only the occasional gang of emos, which are of course very easy to deal with as they’re not interested in cutting you, only themselves.

    Adverts for Dr Who are hilarious.
    Deep voiced American: ‘The universe is at stake…’
    David Tennent: ‘It’s alright – I’m the Doctor!’ [in a Michael Caine-esque voice.]

    They can heat things properly, so you don’t feel like a room is being deliberately overheated – it’s just right.

    It’s clean. This is because the people aren’t idiots and know how to use a bin. As bizarre and difficult a concept as it sounds, people actually put wrappers in their pockets until they find a bin rather than dropping it on the ground. I know – unbelievable.

    Toronto is what a city should be – it works!

    Tomorrow … Vancouver, and the search for cupcakes.