Friday, April 08, 2011

That was the week that was

It's been a busy week with several trips into London and shedloads of researching and writing done. First stop in the week was Notting Hill Gate on Monday to have lunch with a friend over from Canada. She grew up in the Notting Hill area and knows it intimately. Next door to where we ate on the Portobello Road is an amazing old cinema called The Electric. This is how all cinemas should be.
There's a bar at the back of the cinema where you can order great food and drinks and there's waiter service so you don't even need to get off your fat arse. Those with a fatter than average arse like me might want to take advantage of the seats at the back. Basically, they're huge leather double beds for you to sprawl on as you eat, drink and be entertained. If that's too hedonistic, the normal huge, plush leather seats are as comfy as anything and come with footstools ... what a joy. This ain't no Odeon.
Here's a view up Portobello Road ...
... and some graffiti that amused me. A Banksy do you think?
I then met with Alex Andreou, actor and superb political columnist (see his blog here) for tea and cakes at Maison Bertaux in Soho. It's London's oldest patisserie and boasts some great contemporary art including work by The Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding.
I spotted this drawn on the wall of the gents. I suspect Mr Fielding had a hand in it. The art obviously, not the loo.
Beers came next at the Pillars of Hercules with the QI crowd, fresh from a production meeting with Talkback Thames for the new series which starts filming soon. Final trip of the day was to BAFTA on Piccadilly for a screening of new British horror film Stormhouse, written by my mate Jason Arnopp. It's rare a horror film makes me jump. This one did. It was great! It also showed just how important a good script and tight direction (by Dan Turner) can be. Stormhouse was made at a fraction of the cost of Hollywood fare like Final Destination and Paranormal Activity but was just as visceral, just as scary and just as professional looking. Well done lads!
That was just Monday. Tuesday saw me going into London again for the final recording of the fourth series of the BBC Radio 4 Museum of Curiosity show. It's hosted as ever by QI creator John Lloyd and, this year, Dave Gorman acting as curator. Beforehand, I popped along to Tate Modern for a look at Ai Wei Wei's Sunflower Seeds installation.
I can't say it made me go 'Wow' in the way that Louise Bourgeois' 'Mother' or Anish Kapoor's 'Marsyas' did but it is pretty humbling looking at those millions of porcelain seeds and realising that each one was made by hand.
On the walk back over the footbridge to St Pauls, I couldn't help but be impressed by how quickly The Shard is going up. It's going to be a Hell of thing once it's completed; a true 'vertical city' as it's described in the press blurb with offices, shops, a hotel and penthouse living.
No less impressive but a million times more charming is the Henry Heath's Hat Factory building just off Oxford Street. Now a suite of post-production offices and studios, the original building's facade has been wonderfully preserved. No less wonderfully preserved is Mr John Lloyd himself, seen here in a post-recording moment of relaxation in the pub. The new series has been wonderful - possibly the best yet - with guests Graham Linehan, Lucie Green, Harry Enfield, Alain de Botton, Robin Ince, Helen Scales, Jimmy Carr, Rory Sutherland, Alex Bellos, Lord Alan West, Alex Horne, Francesca Stavrakopoulou, David McCandless, David Crystal, Sara Wheeler, Roger Highfield, Gareth Edwards and Natalie Haynes.
The remainder of the week has been spent at home working furiously on the new book and enjoying the glorious warm sunshine. Also enjoying it is my little dog Buster who has developed the habit of turning up in odd locations and pretending to be dead. He may be terminally ill but he seems determined to fool me at every opportunity while enjoying every last drop on sunshine he can soak up.
Next week it's the London Book Fair. Let's hope it's more successful than last year. Thankfully, volcanoes seem to be the one natural disaster that are behaving themselves.


Jim Christian said...

'Made You Look' is unfortunately not a Banksy - I work in that building ;-)

Now I need to have a word with KK for not stopping by to say hello!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Wow! Small world Jim! Yeah, she was a on a flying visit taking in London and Paris. She spoke very fondly about that building and her time working there x

Mopshell said...

Oh how I miss England! It was wonderful to see it again through your eyes - most of it hasn't changed and the new buildings are fantastical.
I wish I'd known about The Electric - mind you, I'd be in terrible danger of falling asleep in such comfy seats, especially the beds at the back!
What a wonderful week and lovely to see Buster soaking up the sun at the end there after enduring all that snow this Winter, bless him. :)

Alex, London said...

And I must say, in our defence, that "tea and cakes" is just an expression. We only had tea, in fact. I still regret it...

Stevyn Colgan said...

Michelle - I'm a country lad and can't be away from the fields and the sea for long. But I love London too ... for visits and pleasure. so glad I don't work there any more.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Alex - Indeed, we were extraordinarily good. Had it not been for the plate glass window, the temptation would have been too great.