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EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL 2017: PHOTO MONTAGE REVIEW

EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL 2017 – PICTORIAL GALLERY

I attended the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last week for a holiday and had a brilliant time. I saw loads of comedy shows, ate at some great restaurants, witnessed some great architecture, experienced some fine nature and drank a fair amount of fermented water i.e. booze!

I will doing a little write-up of some of the shows I saw and places I went but for here a just a few of the photos I took while there.  I would definitely recommend visiting Edinburgh in general and during the Fringe Festival as it a culturally rich city. Here are just a few images to support that view.

As I say, it’s a fantastic time to go and a week just was not enough!! There are so many talented people there and some lunatics too but all told a great time was had by all!

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R.I.P – JOHN HURT (1940 – 2017) – PICTORIAL OBITUARY

R.I.P – JOHN HURT (1940 – 1977) – PICTORIAL OBITUARY

The masterful actor John Hurt passed away today and to celebrate his works as a stage and screen performer I pay homage with some pictures and videos of his work. He was always able to imbue a character’s worth and emotion on screen and gave some incredible performances over the years.  Rest in peace John Hurt who was never ever less than brilliant whatever the role.

ALIENS TO ZOO: MY WEEK’S REVIEW

ALIENS TO ZOO: MY WEEK’S REVIEW

As cockney comedian Micky Flanagan might say I’ve been DOUBLE BUSY this week from a cultural point of view. So rather write a lengthy movie review I thought I’d treat my fan (you know who you are) to a quick rundown of all the fun stuff I’ve been up to, watched, listened to and experienced this week.

 DOCTOR WHO

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As a massive fan of the Scottish actor Peter Capaldi I really want to watch the new series of Doctor Who! However I am bound by my rules of not watching any episodes of long-running dramas or comedies out of linear order.  Thus, I have had a massive catch-up in the last month from David Tennant’s Doctor onwards. Some brilliant episodes include The Idiot Lantern, Satan’s Pit, Gridlock, Blink and many more full of fantastical sci-fi ideas with Tennant performing miracles as everyone’s favourite Timelord. Ironically, Capaldi pops up in The Fires of Pompeii and I can’t wait for his tenure in the TARDIS once I’ve got through Matt Smith’s two seasons.

SIN CITY – A DAME TO KILL FOR (2014) – MOVIE REVIEW

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Roberto Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s sequel to the mind-blowing violent-noir-comic-book-digital-backlot-splatterfest SIN CITY (2005) was eagerly anticipated by myself. Yeah, I’m a sucker for hard-boiled Chandleresque dialogue, femme fatales, knuckle-headed masculine losers and bone-crunching, bloody violence.  Like the previous incarnation A DAME TO KILL FOR has some fantastic imagery and eye-popping brutality amidst the side-alleys, mean streets and smoky bars of Basin City.

Yet, overall I felt a strange sense of disappointment combined with negative deja vu while watching the film. The first film was so memorable any sequel had to be bigger and more explosive but while a fine watch it was not as good as the first one. .  The cast are fantastic though notably the gorgeous Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mickey Rourke as Marv – the maniac-with-a-heart. The stories never quite take flight as they did in the first film and I’ll be honest the perpetual voice-over kind of ground me down. Still, if you’re a fan of the original there is enough in there to satisfy Noir addicts everywhere.

WHIPSNADE ZOO

On Sunday me and the son and heir Rhys went to Whipsnade Zoo for the day.   It’s a lovely place full of animals obviously with a wonderful walk round of about 3 miles.  What I love about the place is the animals have loads of room to roam and it’s far more spacious than the claustrophobic London Zoo.  It’s not too expensive either so recommended for all the family.

BAND OF BROTHERS (2001 – HBO)

I am deeply ashamed to admit that I only watched the first couple of these when it was first aired many moons ago.  However, I have finally caught up again with this sensational WW2 drama this week. The mini-serial covers the harrowing exploits of Easy Company — of the US Airborne — and their various campaigns including: D-Day, Operation Market Garden and The Battle of the Bulge.  It is high-end quality television par excellence with a massive cast and budget to boot!  The horrors of war that Spielberg and his team presented so viscerally in Saving Private Ryan (1998) are also represented here with savage aplomb as we empathise with these gallant men fighting for freedom against the Germans in grisly and murderous conflict.

TOTTENHAM F.C. v AEL LIMASSOL (3-0 – WHITE HART LANE)

On Thursday evening I was at White Hart Lane to watch the mighty Spurs dominate possession and put three goals past their Cypriot rivals, and in the process, go through to the Europa League group stage.  I hadn’t been to the football in a few years and enjoyed the experience very much.  The White Hart Lane pitch looked stunning as Kane, Paulinho and Townsend (penalty) scored the goals that put Limassol to the sword.

At times it was like a training game really but I was impressed with Harry Kane upfront – despite his penalty miss – and Brazilian midfielder Paulinho. Plus, the philosophy Mauricio Pochettino seems to be promoting is a passing, possession game involving patience and interchangeability of the three behind the striker. So, despite the lack of quality of the opposition I was pleased with the result and now look forward to watching Spurs on ITV4 as they travel the 10,000 mile journey to Outer Mongolia in the Group Stages.

WITHOUT FAIL (a JACK REACHER NOVEL) by LEE CHILD

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I finally finished reading a book that I started on holiday in July. It’s a Jack Reacher novel of which I understand there are many.  It was a very well plotted and designed thriller which pits an off-the grid-ex-military-anti-heroic-hard-nut on various missions against bad people.  In this case  a mysterious assassin who wants to kill the Vice-President for some unknown reason.  It’s a very long book of around 550 pages and I felt it could have been pruned here or there and while I didn’t really care too much about the Vice President, I empathised with his team of agents charged with guarding him.  Reacher is a military expert and it’s his intelligence, steel and mettle which makes the story interesting. In my opinion the novel gets slightly bogged down in police/FBI/CIA procedure but it’s very well written with some excellent twists and as potboilers go it is worth a read.  Reacher’s no Bond though; give me Ian Fleming’s lean, sinewy writing any day of the week.

KASABIAN – 48:13 – ALBUM REVIEW

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I don’t listen to too much “new” music these days and have somewhat lost touch with the up and coming rock and roll bands of this millennium. However, one band whose albums I always look forward to are Leicester’s neo-wave-electro-rockers KASABIAN. Their new album is another triumph of rocking beats, hefty basslines, rich synths and nonsense urban-meets-Lewis-Carroll-style lyrics. Covering very similar ground to their last record VELOCIRAPTOR this is a great party album which will no doubt work very well in movie soundtracks and in the big arena’s Kasabian are now playing in.  They don’t have much to say politically and could be argued to be style-over-substance but what a style they have!  Serge Pizzorno knows how to write a cracking tune and he more than proves that once again with tracks like: Stevie, Eez-Eh, Bow, Bumblebee etc…

A TRIP DOWN WHITE HART LANE: MY FAVOURITE SPURS MEMORIES

A TRIP DOWN WHITE HART LANE: MY FAVOURITE SPURS MEMORIES by PAUL LAIGHT

Audere est Facere: To Dare is to Do!

The new Premier League season is upon us and just to take a break from my usual cinematic blog nonsense I would like to write a bit about my ongoing support for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

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Spurs have a great history being the first Non-League club to win the FA Cup and the first team to do ‘the Double’ in the 20th century. Since those glory days they have successfully won the FA Cup several times, the Cup Winners Cup, the League Cup and UEFA Cup.  They have always prided themselves on playing sweet attractive passing football with a history for flamboyant flair players. In the 1976/77 season they suffered relegation but soon bounced back to the top division. Under Keith Burkinshaw they almost won the league title and enjoyed some league success and further FA Cup glory under Terry Venables stewardship in 1990/91.

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Since the 1990s they have had mixed fortune in the league and have flirted with relegation as well as having a bit of an open-door policy when it comes to managers.  Of late, Spurs could be classed as a ‘nearly’ club pushing the top four but usually cementing a respectable top six or so position. Under Harry Redknapp they reached the dizzy heights of the Champions’ League quarter-finals and were unlucky not to qualify again BUT Chelsea’s jammy Champions’ League win in 2012 prevented this.

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I have followed Spurs since the start of the ‘80s and while I have attended several games down the years , if I’m honest, I could be described as a classic “armchair/watch down the pub” supporter. Having said that I am very passionate about the team and while there are ups and downs I consider it a privilege to follow them as they have always been in the top division trying to challenge despite them not winning the league for some time.

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What’s great about supporting Spurs is the unpredictability. They are very much an “Icarus” team. They promise much and occasionally fly high only to somehow burn up spectacularly when they get too close to the sun.  The “Lasagne Gate” episode of 2006 is a case in point where Martin Jols’ Spurs were so close to finishing 4th in the Premier League; before an alleged batch of dodgy pasta knocked the team sideways. They would be beaten 2-1 by London rivals West Ham and get pipped to 4th by dreaded North London rivals Arsenal.

Anyway, I thought it nice to take a trip down memory lane and pick out my favourite Spurs moments, goals, matches and people.  They are in date order and of course very subjective but I hope fellow Spurs’ supporters enjoy these memories.

GLENN HODDLE – (1975-1987 – 377 apps – 88 goals)

Arguably the greatest ever Spurs player in regard to longevity and sheer entertainment value. So much skill, power and vision and I got to meet him recently at a Spurs’ supporter football event. This YouTube tribute says it all really.

1981 – RICKY VILLA – GOAL AGAINST WOLVES – FA SEMI-FINAL

This is my earliest Spurs’ memory.  Our mercurial bearded Argentinian midfielder cutting in from the wing and launching a thunderbolt left foot drive. Sweet!

1981 – FA CUP REPLAY SPURS V MAN CITY – 3-2

This is still one of the greatest games of football I have ever seen.  Both teams were up for it and the game was a see-saw classic.  Steve Mackenzie’s volley for City was spectacular but Villa’s goal that won it was pure genius.  And never forget a great tackle by Graham Roberts which helped set-up the winning goal.

THOSE GLORY GLORY DAYS – FILM (1982)

It would be remiss of me to have a blog piece without mentioning a movie and I loved this film when I was a kid. It concerns a group of schoolgirls who are obsessed with Spurs and the legendary Danny Blanchflower. It’s a sweet, touching and funny coming of age football story with a gender twist.

GARY MABBUTT – (1982-1998 – 477 apps – 27 goals)

If you cut Gary Mabbutt in half he would bleed white and blue and also most likely die. But this is a man who literally put his life on the line for Spurs given he overcame diabetes to become a Spurs legend. Mabbutt was an incredibly consistent defender who led by example and was deservedly capped by his country too.

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1984 – TONY PARKS SAVES PENALTY TO WIN UEFA CUP

The UEFA Cup was a big deal then and Spurs had won through some tough rounds including beating Bayern Munich. The final against Anderlecht went to the wire and Tony Parks stepped up to save the last penalty and become a Spurs hero!

1986-87 – CLIVE ALLEN SCORES 49 GOALS IN ONE SEASON

Despite scoring so many goals, and with a midfield including Hoddle, Waddle and Ardiles’, Spurs trophy cupboard was empty at the end of the year. They finished 3rd in the league and lost to Coventry in the FA Cup Final. Yet, Clive Allen, playing up front on his own, had the mother of all purple patches under manager David Pleat scoring a shedload of goals in one season.

1991 – PAUL GASGOIGNE  V ARSENAL (FA CUP SEMI-FINAL)

Gazza was one helluva player for Spurs. An electric, skilful and powerhouse of a performer on the pitch. Yet, his Spurs career came to an abrupt end when he lunged at Gary Charles in the 1991 Cup Final. He had some stunning games for Spurs but his legendary free kick against Arsenal is ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff; a belting exocet missile which smashed the corner of the net and broke Arsenal hearts. Terry Venables’ led Spurs were outstanding on a day to remember at Wembley.

PETER COOK – (1937-1995)

Peter Cook was one of the funniest people that ever walked the Earth.  Satirist, comedian, writer, actor, drunk, raconteur and famed Spurs fan he formed a wonderful double act with Dudley Moore after rising to fame as part of the Cambridge Footlights including Moore, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett.  His very rude and naughty ‘Derek and Clive’ tapes were essential listening while I was growing up as they took filth to a whole new level of piss-up artistry.

1994 – KLINSMANN CELEBRATORY “DIVE”

Oh, Spurs fans were never more optimistic than this season. We saw Klinsmann, Sheringham, Dumitrescu, Barmby and Anderton going forward; however, we also had Calderwood and Nethercott at the back. So, for all our attacking prowess we could not defend for toffee and struggled under Ardiles. Klinsmann’s celebration was wonderful though; sending up his reputation as a diver gained during the World Cup.


DAVID GINOLA (1997-2000 – 100 apps – 13 goals)

The word mercurial was invented for the likes of Ginola. Spurs were a pretty ordinary team from the mid-90s onwards. One of their shining lights was flashy Frenchmen Ginola who played so well in a struggling team 1999 that he was awarded the Writer’s and Player’s Footballer of the Year. Without him Spurs could’ve gone down. He was outstanding and it was such a pleasure to see him twisting and turning on the Gallic flair for the Lilywhites.

2006 – LEDLEY KING tackle against ARJEN ROBBEN

Loved Ledley King. Loved him.  The Lane has seen some great defenders and Ledley was definitely one of the best.  Pacy, intelligent and a great tackler, he read the game brilliantly.  Sadly his career was blighted by injury but Sven Goran Eriksson rated him so highly he took him to the World Cup even though he only had one working knee.  Such a lovely guy too.  This tackle on speedster Robben just demonstrates how good he was.

2008 – SPURS BEAT ARSENAL 5-1 in the CARLING CUP

Spurs have kind of closed the gap on Arsenal in the last decade and results like this really brightened up every fans existence. We didn’t just beat them we wiped the floor with them. Of course, Arsenal have got their own back on us since but we don’t remember those.

2008 – SPURS CARLING CUP WIN OVER CHELSEA

Our last bit of silverware was won by with manager Juande Ramos in charge. Alas it turned out to be his one and only glory as he was sacked early into the next season with the team floundering at the bottom of the league. It was a battling performance from the team and a Berbatov penalty and Woodgate header late on sealed it following a mistake by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Ramos went to Real Madrid temporarily afterwards but then got banished to Siberia or some other godforsaken place.

2009 – ARSENAL 4-4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (2008/09)

Aahh… for every great player Spurs have had they’ve had their fair share of those who have ultimately failed to deliver. David Bentley was one of these. I felt he had SO much potential — as seen in his wonder goal against Arsenal. This was Harry Redknapp’s 2nd game in charge and what a game it was! An 8 goal thriller!  In Robert DeNiro’s film The Bronx Tale (1989) one character said, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” Sadly Bentley fits into this category but Spurs fans will always have his thunderbolt against the Arse.

GARETH BALE (2007-2013 – 146 APPS – 46 GOALS – many assists)

To think the Welsh wing wizard played 24 games for Spurs before being on the winning team and he almost got loaned out or even sold to Birmingham or Nottingham Forest. Thankfully Spurs persevered with this incredible talent and he went from left-back to left-wing to all-out attacking phenomenon becoming a force majeure for Spurs and one of the most exciting players we have ever had.

Without him the team may have gone out of the 2010 Champions League early doors. Moreover, under Andres Villas-Boas he almost single-handedly dragged us into the 4th place spot just missing out to Arse again. Spurs would get a massive fee from Real Madrid and last season he at times lit up La Liga the way he lit up the Lane.

LEST WE FORGET…

Since supporting Spurs’ from the 1980s we have had so many great players play for us and I haven’t been able to mention them properly in the piece but much kudos goes to:

Ray Clemence, Steve Perryman, Darren Anderton, Teddy Sheringham, Luka Modric, Dimitar Berbatov, Paul Allen, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Gary Lineker, Robbie Keane, Jermaine Defoe, Chris Waddle, Garth Crooks, Graham Roberts, Ossie Ardiles and many more. Plus some right jokers who I’d prefer not to mention: Paulo Tramezzani anyone?

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2014/2015 – ????

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Who knows what the new season will bring? But under Mauricio Pottechino I just hope for some consistency of performance and maybe a bit of flair. A good top six finish and decent cup runs at least is required I would say. If we can build a team around Eriksen and perhaps hang onto our star performers rather than sell them off over the next few years who knows – we could get into the Top Four again. However, misguided it may be I always have blind optimism with regard to Tottenham Hotspur F.C. After all, it is better to aim high and burn in the sun than keep your feet on the ground. Or is it? To dare is to do!  To dare is to do!

(At time of writing Spurs are 0-0 away to West Ham…)

HAPPY ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS 2013!

HAPPY ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS 2013!

I’m not religious or addicted to buying crap for people but Christmas is always a great period of the year because I get time off work. To celebrate this I have chosen some alternative Christmas music, films, TV and other ephemera to talk about. Anyway, Merry Christmas everybody! Good luck in 2014!


BAD SANTA (2003)

This film is THE greatest Christmas film of all time. This is just one of the great scenes of many great scenes.


TRADING PLACES (1984)

Dan Ackroyd gives his finest acting performance in this movie and his desperate, drunk and destroyed Santa Claus really hits rock bottom at the hands of arch-capitalists. While it’s very funny there’s some real satirical subtext in there too. Probably.


CHRIS KAMARA – born December 25th 1957

I’m an internal enthusiast but Chris Kamara is heralded here due to his incredible energy and extrovert enthusiasm. I like that he doesn’t mind being the clown either. Great catchphrase too: UNBELIEVABLE!

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE – 2009 Christmas Number One!

The people who got this to number one deserve much much much kudos. Personally, I quite liked Joe McElderry on X Factor but was glad Simon Cowell got screwed over by the incredible musical geniuses that is Rage Against The Machine. Joe McElderry didn’t do too badly as he switched career and became an Olympic diver named Tom Daley.


BIRTH OF THE INTERNET (SORT OF) – 25th December 1990

Did you know on Christmas Day in 1990 there was the first successful trial run of the system which would become the world wide web. And thank god for that as without it we would not have millions of cat videos online. 9 millions views! Stop the world I want to get off!


LEWIS BLACK ON CHRISTMAS

Shamefully I didn’t know this comedian until I saw him in an episode of Big Bang Theory and then checked him out. He’s grizzled, bitter and very funny. My kind of humourist.


RED SLEIGH DOWN – SOUTH PARK (SEASON 5)

This episode is hilarious as Santa’s sleigh is shot down in Iraq because Cartman is trying right all his wrong-doings over the past year. Jesus and the boys go to Iraq and kick some butt to save Santa! One of South Park’s shittiest characters also makes an appearance – the Christmas Poo – Mr Hankey! What can be more Christmassy than Santa, Jesus and a stinking pile of crap!


SEX PISTOLS – final UK gig – Huddersfield 1977

Johnny Rotten and the lads played a benefit for striking firefighters before their ill-fated trip to the United States. The rest they say is history. And what went on before as well.


MAD WORLD – ANDREWS/JULES Christmas Number 1 2003

This moody, introspective and pretentious song was a great alternative to the usual Christmas hits. Cursory research shows the songs’ lyrics were inspired by Arthur Janov and his book The Primal Scream. I don’t know much about this but it makes me seem mildly intelligent. It was also in Donnie Darko; a brilliant yet very over-rated film. Jake Gyllenhaal was incredible in it though.


BLACKADDER’S CHRISTMAS CAROL

The Christmas Carol story has been done to death and even had Ross Kemp playing a version of Scrooge recently on ITV12 or something. This one-off special subverts the story by initially showing Blackadder as good and then deciding to be bad. Very clever that. And very funny!


THE SILENT PARTNER (1978)

This excellent crime thriller starring Elliot Gould and Christopher Plummer was a real eye-opener to me as a kid as it was the first time I’d seen Santa Claus shown as a negative figure. It’s not shown on telly much now but it certainly stuck with me. Worth checking out if you get the chance.


DIE HARD (1988)

Did you know that Yippee-kay-yay is actually the Eskimo phrase for Happy Christmas. And of course John McClane’s catchphrase in Die Hard. It’s not really a Christmas film as such but shoe-horns Christmas into the plot quite neatly using it ironically to show families brought together in conflict rather than round the table stuffing themselves with turkey and pudding.