17 March 2017

Low Level Panic at Orange Tree had little going for it


Low Level Panic was another play at Orange Tree Theatre that I failed to see the point of. It may have made an impact when first performed thirty years ago but the only thing that the play seemed to be trying to do was give us the professional ladette's view of life which is now not new. It was not even the first play this year that I had seen that had a naked woman in a bath in it.

In trying to shock us with tales of casual sex and masturbation the play did not bother with any sort of a story or with much characterisation. At the end of the play we knew very little about the young women or their circumstances, nor did we care. Low Level Panic, I presume, referred to the women's feelings of trepidation towards aspects of their lives which while accurate also confessed that the drama was mild.

I felt sorry for the three competent actress for having so little to play with. Only the deliciously Welsh Sophie Melville had anything interesting to do as she told us about a recent sexual assault that had led her to being very wary of going out. This change of pace and tone was very welcome but was not developed and the darkness was allowed to lift.

The one redeeming factor which made the play bearable was the humour. It was never very funny but it made me smile often enough to sit through the eighty five minutes in comfort if not in pleasure.

12 March 2017

Another brilliant evening with The Honeyslides at The Half Moon


It was almost a year since I last (and first) saw The Honeyslides at The Half Moon in Putney and it was an easy decision to see them play there again when they finally returned. A lot of the details were the same as my previous visit and perhaps the most significant difference was that I dug out a check shirt for the occasion, as did several other people. No jeans though as I do not own any.

Again I was too busy enjoying the music to do anything other than note a few words, words that will mean a lot to any Neil Young fan; Cinnamon, Pocahontas, Words, Alabama, River. Cowgirl, Ohio, Cortez, Hurricane, Southern. To which I would add the word Brilliant.

The Honeyslides played for the best part of two and a half hours until the 11pm curfew meant we all had to leave and find another pub to drink in (Willoughby was still open, of course). It was a stupendous two and a half hours and while I occasionally wanted some of the songs to last a little longer that would have meant playing fewer of them and I think that they got the balance right.

The Honeyslides were somewhere between sitting at home alone listening to Live Rust on headphones and being in the front row of a concert with Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and that was a might fine place to be.

Update: 18 hours later and I'm still singing Cinnamon Girl to myself, and sometimes to the rest of the office too.

11 March 2017

Josef Frank Patterns Furniture Painting at Fashion and Textile Museum


It was not much of a loose end but I had a few hours to fill between theatre appointments in Shoreditch and so I made another visit to the Fashion and Textile Museum (FTM) in Bermondsey, a short hop on the Northern Line from Old Street to London Bridge with a refreshing walk at either end.

Any visit to a museum starts or ends with a coffee and some cake. This time it started that way.

All I knew about Josef Frank beforehand was what FTM had shown me in their regular emails which was enough to tempt me to the exhibition but did little to inform me about the man or his works so I went in with some expectations and a lot of curiosity.

I soon earned that Josef Frank was Austrian by birth but moved to Sweden in middle-age to escape anti-Jewish persecution where is work in architecture extended to other forms of design.

Those expectations were quickly met too with large displays of fabrics in the style of the poster. The scale of the patterns with their large repeats and their lack of symmetry made them quite different from the floral patterns that I was familiar with from the likes of William Morris and Liberty. Somewhere along the line I remembered that I had some Ikea chairs with a pattern not unlike these, perhaps it a Scandinavian style.

Upstairs was something of a surprise as it was mostly paintings. Frank liked painting but was not terribly good at it, his cars looked very amateurish and his sense of perspective was unusual. That said, he often painted interesting scenes and their natural beauty and interest survived his artistic interpretation.



The paintings and other displays were interesting but it was the fabrics and furnishings that made the show special for me and there were lots of them to enjoy even in the relatively small space that is the FTM. I had to walk past them all again as I came back downstairs to leave and I enjoyed seeing them the second time almost as much as I had the first. It was a slow and pleasant exit.

The FTM is a remarkable place simply because it continually does exhibitions as stimulating this one.

8 March 2017

BCSA "Get to Know You" Social (March 2017)


Even by the usual high standards of the monthly BCSA monthly Get to Know You Socials, March was a great evening. It was not just that it was busy, though that helped, but something about the combination of people there made the conversations flow even better than the beer did, and that flowed well.

One highlight of the evening was a discussion on Physics that moved onto a Czech physician who I had become Facebook friends with ten years ago to the day and who was known, surprisingly to me, by a few other of the people there. I had a quick chat with her on Facebook to let her know that we were thinking about her. These evenings are called socials for a reason.

The hardest part of the evening was finding a different way to photograph my smazeny syr and in the end I settled for playing around with the mayonnaise. The smiley face is exactly how I felt.

1 March 2017

The Complete Steranko SHIELD Collection

I have written before about the comics legend that is Jim Steranko but that was mostly in relation to his Captain America work whereas it is Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. that he is rightly most famous for.

I had read and bought various collections of his later episodes, and I may even have the occasional single issue in a comic box somewhere, but there was much of the run that I had not seen before, or even knew much about.

The ComiXology made me an offer that I could not refuse.


I am not sure what the occasion was but they had the completion collection in one of their sales and I did not hesitate to take the bait. The prize was almost 500 pages of comics for around £5.

Unexpectedly, and welcomely, the complete collection included complete copies of Strange Tales where Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD first appeared and which it shared with Dr Strange.

Both artists seem to have been told to try and emulate the styles of those that preceded them with Jim Steranko looking very like Jack Kirby (who did some of the layouts) and Dan Adkins like Steve Ditko. One of the joys of the comic is to see how the artists' styles evolved as they developed their own styles.


Elements of the Steranko style were there from the beginning, especially in the high-tech equipments, but it was a while before he was able to throw of the constraint of the six panel page to create stunning compositions.



The detailed line work with heavy contrasts that had been used sparingly became the signature of Steranko's work and why he is a legend.

The storytelling developed nicely too and I love the way that the panel above has no words, something that Warren Ellis also does very well. This is a marked contrast to Stan Lee who filled panels with lengthy speech balloons and explanatory texts. Comics were growing up then and Steranko was one of the people helping them to do it.

It is many years since I first came across Steranko's work and it still gives me a thrill.