Sunday, July 30, 2006

The One Without A Title

Okay, so I’m a bad blogger; it feels like forever since I’ve written anything.

Thursday night was the Chorus’ 15th Birthday Party at Heaven. It was a fun night – I got to see a few old acquaintances from yesteryear. I did unfortunately have a bit of fashion disaster; the nice white vest which looked quite sexy in the mirrors at home, when viewed in the mirrors of club suddenly revealed all those restaurant meals I’ve been eating lately. I was definitely mutton dressed as lamb and couldn’t get my shirt back on quick enough. (Unfortunately I didn’t look in a mirror until we were getting ready to leave, so by then I fear the damage to my credibility was already done…)

Friday I clock-watched all day at work and then vegetated on the sofa in the evening.

Saturday wasn’t much better. I got up with great ambitions, but let myself get distracted with domestrivia: Suddenly it was mid-afternoon and we had to hurry to get to the Imax in town to meet up with Ping and watch Superman in 3D.

The movie was actually quite good, although there were several points where I just sat there and consciously had to keep my disbelief suspended. (Rather strange that this should have been a problem for me you would think, given the premise of the movie is a guy who flies, has laser vision and stops bullets without a blink, but actually the internal consistency of the plot left something to be desired.)

We had dinner at a Turkish restaurant off the The Cut afterwards.

Today I essentially spent clothes shopping. As Brett had a Chorus meeting to attend and I needed to get to the shops today, I’d talked Ping into coming along as my second-opinion. He turned out to be filled with some childish excitement about ‘going to a mall’ (we drove to Bluewater.) We had a good day there, even though we didn’t get absolutely everything I was after.

This evening Mark (Brett’s old music teacher) arrived to visit with us for a brief spell; he’s visiting several of his British friends now that his choir tour is finished and he is overnighting with us. Tomorrow evening we are off with him to see Sunday In The Park With George again.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


After starting the week feeling totally washed-out and very anti-social, I seem to be getting back to humanity now. I could still do with more sleep and less heat though!

I realised yesterday that, after a lifetime of handling everything the world can throw at me, I have now got an allergy. For several weeks I’ve been sneezing lots and had a very runny nose, but no other cold symptoms have appeared. I was also noticing that I tended to sneeze whenever the atmosphere around me changed; for example on entering or leaving a building or car. Yesterday I picked up some hay-fever medication from the local chemist and took a dose and, sure enough, within a couple of hours the sneezing had stopped and hasn’t come back. I guess maybe I am human after all.

Jim left for home yesterday; Brett took him down to Gatwick for his flight in good time. However this evening we got a call from Brett’s mum saying she’d got a message his flight was cancelled, so we spent an hour or so trying to track him down to find out what had happened. Typically we were calling just after the airlines’ customer service desks had all closed for the night and there wasn’t even anyone at the airport who could be much help. Brett was fretting quite a bit (and being somewhat overprotective I think) about his dad being alone at the airport. Jim is a pretty quiet guy, but he also knows how to take care of himself so I wasn’t especially worried. We eventually discovered that the airline had re-booked him on a flight tomorrow and put everyone up in the airport hotels overnight – although there was no record of who was where, even at the hotels themselves! So we let his mum know the new flight details and then called it a night.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Avoiding The Wall

After a long day yesterday, a full day’s work today and then a Chorus rehearsal this evening I’m pretty knackered, so I’ll leave off writing up the last day of the holiday until I have more energy.

Today was kind of easing back into work gently; instead of getting right down to dealing with the long list of emails I left my Out Of Office messages switched on and had an all-day training course instead. That got me back into the swing of things without the feeling of running into a brick wall.

The training course was very enjoyable; Travel Safety for the Business Traveller. Myself and four senior consultants in a room with a chap who has been all over the world in various capacities and now runs a business passing on the knowledge he has gained. It was a fairly informal course with lots of discussion about the issues raised; a couple of the consultants had also travelled very widely and had lots of anecdotes and advice.

The morning covered the more familiar aspects of travel safety; planning, kit, getting about, eating, basic health/medical, situational awareness and that kind of thing. The afternoon was a bit more hard-core, dealing with muggings, physical attacks, kidnapping, action under fire and checkpoints. We were shown a fascinating video of rifles being fired at a variety of surfaces such as brick walls, concrete walls, car doors, etc. and I think we were all surprised at how easily most things were demolished by a few rounds of fire.

One of the highlights of the day was just before the video, as we were discussing the lethality of various weapons, someone came in to deliver a message to one of my colleagues and saw the (deactivated) semi-automatic pistol and AK-47 rifle lying on the meeting room table along with rounds of various types of ammunition – his face was an absolute picture as he retired from the room; I’m sure he thought we were planning the revolution!

After the course though, it was back to Mundania and I had to face up to my inbox. To be fair, it wasn’t too bad and I cleared it by the end of the day with only a few things to investigate or follow-up tomorrow.

Then it was on to Chorus. Tonight is the last rehearsal before our summer break but, instead of winding down at the end of the season we are still polishing the repertoire ready for the Classical Music Festival in Turin in early September. My heart wasn’t in it, even though I need the polishing as much as anyone else.

Home now and off to a much needed early bed.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hadrian's Wall

We spent this morning exploring the history of Hadrian’s Wall, first at the Roman Army Museum and then at nearby Vindolanda. The Army Museum has an engrossing ‘Eagle Eye’ film, which combines aerial photography and CGI reconstructions to give you ‘then’ and ‘now’ views of the wall and supporting fortresses. Ironically, the museum building is itself built out of stone pillaged from the wall in the eighteenth century.

After the museum we walked up to the wall itself. It was a bit of a hike, but very picturesque when we got there; with the wall snaking along the top of some crags. We got the obligatory photos before heading back. As we were trekking back down the crags Jim commented on the barrenness of it all, noting that if Hadrian had built a wall like this across Texas there’d be a chair-lift up to it, a roller-coaster back down again and a hot-dog stand at the top. I’m sure he was right, but I’m glad that they haven’t done that here.

The discovery that makes Vindolanda worth visiting is the stash of written material recovered there; everything from personal letters to duty rosters and inventories. It has given us a huge amount of information about daily life in the Roman Empire around the 4th/5th century. The modern site has a museum covering a lot of the written material and some physical reconstructions of buildings, notably sections of the wall, as well as the actual fort itself laid-out in well-labelled ruins.

We didn’t really have time to do Vindolanda justice as it was getting late and Jim was tiring already, so after a brief look around we grabbed a quick lunch and got on the road home.

The Northeast of England is nowhere near as well connected as the Northwest; you can travel to Glasgow by unbroken motorway from either Exeter in the Southwest or Folkestone in the Southeast, but if you want to go Northeast the motorway runs out at Leeds and then you are on narrow, winding, roller-coaster A-road occasionally broken occasionally by a stretch of the motorwayed A1.

We wasted a lot of time in convoy behind tractors and slow-moving bulk haulers as we drove south but did eventually make it to the M1. Just as on the way up, there was a major accident ahead of us which closed the motorway for several hours, but again we were able to navigate around it without much difficulty (Let’s hear it for GPS!)

We stopped at some services for dinner and I made the mistake of trying Wimpy’s take on KFC. Ugh; some kind of a crisp spicy batter over chicken absolutely dripping in oil! I eventually gave up on the chicken and just ate the fries, as they were without doubt the healthiest part of that meal!

We eventually made it home at around 8:30, unloaded the car and then I ran it up to the Avis office car park to avoid the Congestion Charge in the morning. I SO enjoyed climbing into bed when I got home!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Second Day In Edinburgh

Okay, so the cooked breakfast wasn’t as good as Briar Cottage’s by a long stretch, but there was a much wider continental selection, so I suppose it’s horses for courses.

Anyway, this holiday must be doing me some good; after breakfast as we were getting ready to check out, Brett gave me a long kiss which really got the juices going. One thing almost lead to another, but alas bills had to be paid, fathers had to be met in reception and tourist things were waiting to be done...

So we headed off to the castle. We didn’t head there straight away of course; oh, no, first we wandered the streets of Edinburgh for a while as Brett scoured the tour-bus itineraries to find out where the nearest stop was that would take us to the castle in the shortest time. After some faffing about, we got on one which took us back to the terminus on Waverley Bridge and then we got on another which eventually deposited us at the top of the Royal Mile.

One crucial thing that I had forgotten about since being a tour manager was the queue for tickets; as a TM you are pre-booked, so can use the priority window and the whole thing takes less than five minutes. As just another Joe Public, we queued for half-an-hour to give them our money. Absolutely nothing had changed inside the castle since I was last there (which I think was probably with Brett at New Year a few years ago.) We followed the spiral road some of the way and then Jim took off up the Long Stair and ended up at the summit, skipping half of the tour which we then partially completed on the way down.

There was more low cloud today and the view over the city was very hazy so there were no good photographs to be had. The one o’clock gun seemed to attract everyone’s attention, although possibly because there seemed to be a special guest with the Governer of the castle who I think was probably David Cameron.

One thing I did notice– here and at Glamis also – is that the tours don’t really present any coherent timeline of events. They are route-driven telling you about different periods and events in history depending on what you are looking at, but not pausing beforehand to give you any kind of overview in chronological order. Personally I think that doing so would give you a framework into which you could fit the titbits and dates that they then proceed to toss at you in rapid succession.

After returning our audio tours and determining that there were no chocolate liqueurs in the gift shop (Jim is determined to take some home; I suspect he may end up back at Fortnum & Mason’s where I bought the originals) we walked back down the Royal Mile, pausing briefly for lunch, to the Dynamic Earth exhibition.

There was major déjà vu here, as the large pavilion which serves as the café and ticket desk for the exhibition is virtually identical to the one at the Saga Headquarters; it’s almost as if Norman Foster had copied the plans for one, changed the flooring material (sprung wood at Saga, stone at Dynamic Earth) and resubmitted them for the new building!

The subterranean exhibition was an interesting and informative summary of both the geology/tectonics and the biosphere of our planet though; it was a little heavy on the kid-friendly gizmos – lots of flashing lights, hands-on interpretation, video-screens and attendants telling you when the next time machine would be leaving – but still educational. I am glad that I am never likely to meet the earliest known scorpion in the flesh (it was about a foot long!) and I have discovered numerous curious fact-lets (for example; there are more species of snail on the planet than there are species of mammals and birds combined. And did you know that Magnolia is the oldest surviving flower? I shall never be cruel about pale-cream coloured walls again!)

After emerging into the light again we debated what (if anything) to do next and settled on the adjacent Palace of Holyrood House, the official Royal Residence of Scotland. This turned out to be an interesting tour; I hadn’t realised how much court life and design in the seventeenth century had been influenced by the Bourbons at Versailles, but the layout of the State Apartments and a lot of the Court Etiquette seems to originate there. The whole place also looks a lot more pristine than places such as Glamis or the Butes’ house at Cardiff, I suppose because it is still a working Palace rather than a museum of one; if the drapes are getting worn, HM just orders new ones. After all, you don’t want your fellow Heads of State tutting over threadbare carpets when you have them over for dinner-and-a-trade-deal evening, now do you?!

Once we were through with Holyrood, we hopped a taxi back to the hotel to collect our luggage and head south to Hexham. Not a moment too soon, either by the look of Jim who nodded off in the back seat en route. We arrived without incident around eight and settled right in. My only concern is whether the sheep bleating from all directions will keep us awake…

Friday, July 21, 2006

Arrival in Edinburgh

After the somewhat hectic pace of yesterday, we planned an easier day today; a late breakfast, an unhurried trip through the Fife countryside and then into Edinburgh for a city tour on top of a bus.

All went according to plan, we stopped on the south side of the Forth Estuary to look back at the two bridges and then drove into town to check-in at our hotel; a beautifully restored townhouse in Edinburgh’s New Town (pictures here.) The manager (owner?) Ian had something about him which said ‘family’ to me and certainly the interior design looks like it’s had a gay man’s touch; everything is done in russet and gold and there are really sumptuous fabrics on and around the beds. The fittings in the bathroom are all gilded and absolutely gleaming; not a spec of dirt or sign of wear anywhere. We are on the second floor of the building and so have a reasonable view over the roof tops of the city. If the breakfast tomorrow lives up to the expectations set by the furnishings, then I think I’ve found my regular hotel for when I’m up here with work!

After checking in we took the planned bus tour around the city and then had a very late lunch and a stroll around before retiring for an early evening relaxing in our rooms.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Cairngorms and Glamis

Today started with a bump; double-beds aren’t as wide as I’m used to so when the alarm went off, I rolled over and promptly fell out of bed: Not an auspicious start. Overnight, clouds had come in to give the loch a brooding, melancholy feel but the temperature was actually quite pleasant. In the end the forecast rain did not materialise and we had a temperate, dry day.

After a lovely breakfast we made an early start for the Edradour Distillery, taking the ‘scenic’ route along the south side of Loch Tay. The single-track road hugging the loch shore was in pretty poor condition and took forever to navigate but in the end we got to the Distillery pretty much on time, shortly after it had opened. We took the tour and it was very much as I remembered it, with the exception that they’ve now introduced a cream-liqueur as well as the basic whisky products. In the shop I splashed-out a little and bought a bottle of their 22-year old as well as a bottle of their regular 10-year old offering to keep my stock up.

From there we headed off towards the Cairngorms, driving north along Glen Shee we had coffee at the Spittal of Glenshee (which is now signed as ‘Local Services’) and then on to Braemar. From there we followed the River Dee along to Banchory where we had lunch and then went to see the salmon leaping at the Bridge of Feugh.

I am always amazed at watching the salmon run. The Falls of Feugh are somewhere between rapids and a waterfall; they are certainly very fast flowing and quite steep. Given how many fish you see leaping again and again at the first level of the falls, it seems incredible that any of them ever make it up that first rock face, let alone hold that position against the current in some tiny pool to try for the next level and beyond. It seems impossible that any of the fish ever make it past the falls and yet, the fact that every year there are fish who try demonstrates that at least one or two must make it upstream to spawn. Living things can be tenacious and ingenious things when nature is driving them.

From Banchory, we followed the old Saga route south along a scenic B-road which leads up to the Cairn O’ Mount and Fettercairn. Normally you get fantastic views from the summit cairn but today the clouds were rolling by and while we got some lovely monochromatic cloudscapes, there was no patchwork panorama of fields and hills as we looked east.

That said, all along the roads the heather is just beginning to flower so in amongst all the multi-hued greens there are frequent bursts of bright purple, although sadly they don’t show up especially well when photographed.

The final stop on the itinerary was Glamis Castle. Although at first glance it looks like a nineteenth century Scottish Baronial creation, the heart of the building is much older and it is redolent of history, owing both to ancient royal connections as well the more recent connection to the Queen Mother, Touring it you get a lovely sense of both the ancient and modern; the old crypt, lined with claymores and armour from the Civil War and the modern library with piano and billiards table. One day I am going to hire that gorgeous dining room and lay on a fine dinner for thirty of my closest friends!

Photos of the day can be found here.

The loch was totally still when we got back to Briar Cottage, so Brett and I took the 22-year old Edradour and a couple of glasses out to the lochside and sat on the garden swing together; enjoying each other’s company, the fine whisky and the peaceful beauty of the scenery all around us. It was a moment to cherish.

Later on, I also went skinny-dipping in the hot tub, which was both slightly surreal (taking a Jacuzzi in the open air at ten o’clock at night in the Highlands of Scotland? Never!) but also very pleasant…

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

To Lochearnhead

My parents’ house is a positive haven for wildlife; Jim was surprised by the bees yesterday and this morning there was a duck shepherding her ducklings around on the patio while we ate breakfast. [Picture here.]

Chris C briefly dropped by to say hello while we were loading the car. He is recently returned from some work jolly which took him to Las Vegas where, rather than playing the tables, he got to play with all kinds of guns. That’s a tale I shall look forward to hearing the next time we catch up with each other properly…

The weather people reckoned that today would be the hottest day in over ninety years but fortunately, as we were driving north we didn’t see any temperatures beyond 30°C.

As we had a way to go today (250 miles) we didn’t take so many breaks as on previous days; we stopped off at Carlisle around eleven to visit the castle there [More here.] The castle was a favourite of mine as a child when we came to Carlisle to visit my grandparents. Since then there have been some archaeological digs done which have unearthed no end of Roman artefacts from the old fort which stood here nearly two-thousand years ago.

We crossed into Scotland and followed the motorway towards Glasgow for another hour or so. It was a strange section of the trip for me; the route we were taking seemed so familiar; Gretna, Lockerbie, Moffat, Abingdon, and yet thinking back I probably only did the tour that took this route two or three times. It’s funny how things stick with you.

Another strange recollection related to the music. I’d picked up some cheap CDs last night and one of them was a Simon and Garfunkel compilation (In certain moods I like their music, but don’t currently own any of it.) Listening to the lyrics of I Am A Rock, it brought back vivid memories of Peter G and I, mired in our teenage angst, discussing how well the song applied to our lives in so many different ways. It was a strangely nostalgic moment; probably for the lost innocence of youth. Anyway we made it to Lochearnhead by about four in the afternoon and booked into the B&B.

Staying at bed and breakfast establishments can be a rather hit-or-miss way to travel but this one is definitely a hit. It’s a conversion of three sixteenth century crofters’ cottages, sitting on the loch shore. The rooms have plenty of mod-cons, at the rear there’s a sun terrace with barbeque and a hot-tub(!) and on the shore of the loch there’s a little summer house and pavilion with yet another barbeque! [Gratuitous pictures here!]

Once we were settled in, Brett and I took a run over to Glen Coe, the very picturesque glen towards the west coast. It sits amongst some spectacular scenery, but unfortunately we didn’t get any photos that do it justice as the sun was always behind the good views. I wish we had time to come back tomorrow morning just to photograph it again with the sun behind us, but sadly time does not permit. What pictures we did take can be found here.

We had stopped off at the nearest grocery store to pick up provisions for a barbeque so, when we got back, the three of us fired it up and cooked ourselves some steaks by the loch. It was quite a meal; the food was all good, the temperature was pleasant, there was a gentle breeze blowing and the sound of water lapping as we sipped some light red wine and the sun set behind the hills to the west. Bliss.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Wimbledon to West Park

So we’re on the road again; today heading north.

Yesterday afternoon we picked up a hire car to use for the rest of the week. While the Fiesta is great for city driving and is very economic, it’s not really ideal for a sightseeing road trip. So we’ve booked a people-carrier to get the higher-level seating and plenty of luggage space. We ended up with a VW Sharan, which is a hideous name, but not too bad a vehicle once I’d gotten used to the automatic gearbox again.

We got another fairly prompt start, although in the process we managed to forget to put any CDs in the car, so we’ll have to pick a few up in St. Helens as the radio reception is pretty intermittent in the Highlands.

We took a route through the Cotswolds to enjoy what I always think of as ‘Miss Marple Country’; alas, Jim didn’t seem particularly taken with the yellow stone, cottages and climbing roses of the picturesque English villages.

After lunch at a lovely little hotel in the curiously-named village of Lower Slaughter, we headed for the motorway again.

The SatNav helped us avoid the worst of the congestion caused by two accidents closing the motorway ahead of us and we got into St. Helens only about twenty minutes after we expected to arrive. We had dinner and then took a walk around the park.

My mum and Jim seem to be getting on well talking about health food; he is avoiding wheat to control his arthritis and she is wheat-intolerant. As we walked down the street to the park, Jim was quite impressed that our house was built just before the American Civil War. It hadn’t really occurred to me that the war was that recent but I checked the dates and it did indeed start in 1861, the year after our house was built.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Memory of a Goldfish!

I was feeling particularly contrary at the Chorus rehearsal tonight. Charlie was teaching us a new piece by ear; apparently we are going to be doing more spiritual improvisation in Turin, possibly as a lead in to the popular Keep Your Lamps (Trimmed and Burning) that we sing.

Tonight was also the AGM and around eight o’clock we stopped rehearsing to do the hustings. In the newly re-written Election Procedures, only the Chair and Vice-Chair candidates have to take questions from the Chorus and the whole affair was very bland; several people were disappointed not to have the opportunity to question candidates for other posts – which is a fair point, since they want you to vote for them – but then again, there aren’t really any posts to stand for any more; other than the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary and Treasurer, everyone else on the committee is elected ‘Without Pre-Defined Portfolio’ which, apart from being a daft name, means that no-one is really responsible for anything artistic that happens any more. There is some vague corporate responsibility taken by the committee as a whole which will ‘designate specific responsibilities as it sees fit’ but that’s as close as you get.

Maybe I’m just feeling negative because the elections, whose just and transparent implementation I put so much effort into protecting, were so casually administered tonight that I may as well have not bothered. People have short memories and the abuses of the previous administration already seem to be forgotten. Tonight any unscrupulous person could have picked up as many ballot papers as they liked and completed them; no-one was keeping track. For an organisation that makes such a fuss about its democratic principles, we seem remarkably cavalier about protecting their integrity.

I feel an ‘Angry From Manchester’ email coming on… let’s just wait for the results to be published before setting the cat amongst the pigeons.

China, Human Rights & Organ Harvesting

I heard a very disturbing interview on the Today Programme this morning. I think most people are aware that China’s record on human rights has been rather poor; every time there is talk of trade deals or State visits, there is a call for the parties to put pressure on the Chinese about the subject.

Hearing today the claim that the Chinese are harvesting organs from healthy political prisoners for transplant surgery on demand – effectively murdering the ‘donors’ in the process – really turned my stomach.

Although I heard the interview on Radio 4, I don’t see anything on the BBC News site however I did find several articles in the Canadian press (See here and here.) The Chinese Embassy is refuting the report’s validity but not, in my opinion, being terribly convincing about it. (See here.) I think this is something which needs further investigation – if only to establish where the shortfall in identifiable organ-transplant donors is being made up from and how exactly a hospital can guarantee you a matching organ within a few weeks of your request.

Road Trip: Intermission

Today we are back at home for the day; a brief interlude in our road trip between Wales and Scotland. We have various bits and pieces to do before heading north tomorrow, first to my parents' place and then on to the Highlands for the rest of the week.

I must say I’ve been very impressed with the usefulness of the TomTom (SatNav) while touring. I suppose it’s only really doing what it says on the box, but it’s just incredibly easy to navigate from one place to the next, choosing the kind of route you want to take, finding tourist attractions, car parks and Tourist Information offices; definitely one of those gadgets where you wonder how you used to live without it!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

From Cardiff to home

The morning after the night before started a little late; Jim called our room around eight-thirty to see what we were doing and we slowly emerged, gruff-voiced and sleepy for breakfast around nine. By ten-thirty we had left the hotel and drive down to Cardiff Bay, which we had had recommended to us. [Pictures here.] It was pleasant enough, with some nice views, but clearly what you would term a ‘tourist development.’

From there we started our journey eastwards and called in at Caerleon, to see some Roman remains. In the end the nominal attraction (the Legionary Barracks) was nothing more than grids of stones in a field, whereas the second-billed Roman Amphitheatre was more interesting and set in more picturesque surroundings. [Pictures here.] Unfortunately the associated museum was closed, so we could only wander around the sites, reading the information boards.

As we finished in Wales early, we decided to see if we could fit in a visit to Windsor Castle on the way back into London. In the end we made it to the castle with twenty-minutes to go before last entry, only to find that the State Rooms were closed today so we decided that Brett and Jim could train it down here one day after we get back from Scotland.

So in the end all we got from Windsor was a coffee and a photo.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

LGMC at St David's Hall, Cardiff

St. David’s Hall in Cardiff is actually a really nice auditorium to sing in; it’s reasonably modern and it has a lovely acoustic that gives you some feedback and doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re singing out to an empty void. The backstage areas are well supplied with vending machines and water fountains to get you through all the hanging around, although they are a bit of a rabbit-warren.

We had a three o’clock call to stage for a two-hour tech-run and sound check which all went reasonably smoothly and then were free until the pre-show warm-up.

Brett and I grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby coffee shop, then had a bit of a wander through Cardiff’s early evening before meeting up with Jim to sort him out with his ticket for the show. Then it was backstage once again to get changed and warm up.

Charlie gave us a lovely peaceful warm-up that had me feeling really focussed as we went on stage to open the show with Va Pensiero; Verdi’s Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves.

The audience was not large (I think less than two hundred) but were sufficiently spread out through the stalls that it didn’t look like the place was empty. They were very enthusiastic though as we worked our way through the more classical side of our repertoire. Strangely there was pretty much no talk between songs; usually we at least introduce each piece, but tonight we just went straight from one number to the next. I think this might have had something to do with the hard deadline of when the coaches needed to leave to get back to London, but it made for a very short first half.

The second half was the more camp section of the show. For me though, the second half sounded like our heart wasn’t in it. It may have just been where I was standing (back row) meant I didn’t really get to hear anyone else singing, but to me it felt like we didn’t have enough energy to really sparkle.

We also had a local choir guesting in the second half; Only Men Aloud did four excellent numbers. After remarking earlier to someone that ‘Only Men Aloud’ sounded an even less inclusive name than our own, I subsequently heard that they weren’t even a gay choir. I wonder if that was just rumour-mongering, because at least one of the group of ten had his wife with him in the bar afterwards, or whether somebody at our end didn’t do their homework before offering to do a concert with them…

Either way, the audience seemed happy enough and gave us a standing ovation at the end. They went into positive raptures when we did the encore number; Teddy Bear’s Picnic!

After we had changed we all trooped down to the bar. Jim had gone back to the hotel (although he later said that he thought the show was fantastic, which I suspect is high praise from him.) We had a couple of drinks and did the usual mingling; I exchanged a few friendly insults with Marc D and got a tip on how to go to work with a hangover from Jerry H (apparently you just find the biggest document you can lay your hands on and sit in front of it all morning, occasionally turning pages or highlighting a line of text.) That topic came up because the Chorus’ big birthday party is on a Thursday night and I intend to get thoroughly trashed, but most of us have work in the morning…

The coaches left for London at 10:15 and those with local accommodation (a higher number than I’d expected) wandered to the nearest gay bar to continue the evening. We started at Kings Cross, but once we’d discovered that we couldn’t drink outside after 10:30 it wasn’t so attractive. Brett and I had one drink inside because he had already ordered, but it was smoky, crowded and noisy so we left as soon as we’d finished drinking.

The second place we tried was the Golden Cross (not sure why they have this ‘cross’ thing going with the name of gay pubs…?) which was much more pleasant; they had a saloon bar which was virtually smoke-free and quiet enough that you could hold a conversation easily. On the other side of the bar was the clubby section; crowded, dark and with a little stage at the far end, around the corner was another lounge bar section and out back was a terrace area where we eventually ended up with the familiar crowd of Chorus boys.

We were a bit of a hit with several of the locals; as I went through the club area, I had a shirtless teenager gyrating in my face for a while and later, on the terrace, one of Cardiff chaps was very keen to help us find our way around the gay scene in Cardiff which was nice, if a little bit ahead of himself. (I think he actually wanted to get inside John W’s trousers.) The other chap who hung around with us wasn’t quite so forward and later on he and I had an interesting chat about gay men, religion and singing sacred music. I spent some time teasing Nick B about the accuracy of his committee minutes (I discovered on Thursday that he’s been spelling Brett’s name wrong all year long!) and gave the lovely Tony C some hugs and kisses to make up for not really having spoken to him in ages.

It was a great night – reminded me how much I enjoy actually socialising with the guys, as opposed to just seeing them at rehearsals. (It also reminded me that we have several people we really must invite over for dinner!)

Taxi home and in bed by 1:30.

Cardiff Castle

We were up and about fairly early today and, after breakfasting at the on-site Little Chef, we drove on into Cardiff and parked-up. Cardiff Castle was our tourist attraction of choice this morning. [Pictures here.] It’s a lovely space in the middle of town; most of the buildings are of nineteenth century construction and it pretty well fits the description that Wikipedia gives it; a ‘fairytale residence.’ The Disney architects couldn’t have done a much better job; there is an ancient ruined Keep on a very prominent mound in the centre of the site. The mound is surrounded by a deep moat which is still filled (something which I don’t think I’ve seen elsewhere, usually they are drained!) The historical castle and its grounds have been walled around with fanciful battlements and a gatehouse and on one side is a big mock-gothic confection which was a home to the Bute family until the middle of the last century, and is a testament to how you can go totally over the top in decorating your home if you have enough money. (The builder, the 3rd Marquis of Bute, was pretty much the Bill Gates of his day.) Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the interior, but if you are ever in Cardiff, it’s worth a visit!

While we were there, there was a faire set up in the grounds in front of the keep; lots of roman-period historical-re-enactment folks done up in homespun clothes showing you the trades and wares that were available in late Roman times. There were even a couple of guys hacking at each other with short swords.

We left the castle around midday to drive out to our hotel and have lunch. We were staying at the Cardiff Copthorne, which is located in the middle of a very unprepossessing retail park to the west of the city. Nevertheless the hotel itself was lovely; it sits on the edge of a landscaped canal with ducks and a heron in residence and is shielded from the surrounding bustle by a well-placed screen of trees. The interior is done in an understated Edwardian style; lots of dark wood and regency green and is very well appointed for the price we paid. I’d stay there again.

They also made a very good lunch for us; everything seemed to be freshly cooked, rather than just reheated prêt à manger meals. We ate in the lounge overlooking the landscaping and the canal in all its hot summer's afternoon beauty.

After that, and a brief interlude ironing costumes, we headed back into Cardiff ready for our show.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Day of Stones; Circled and White

Well, Day One of our road trip. How did it go?

Pretty damn well, actually.

We left in good time; I’d been aiming for 10am but we were away by nine. The traffic wasn’t too bad leaving London. An hour or so into the journey, the overhead signs warned of delays ahead, so we told the SatNav to route us around it and we ended up with an absolutely beautiful drive through the English countryside, ending up at Avebury around 11am. [Pictures here.]

We spent a while wondering around the circumference of the stone circle on top of the embankment which, once we got out of the village, was so peaceful and rural; watching a farmer driving in and out of the stones collecting his hay bales. We also came across a group of tourists sitting in the shadow of one of the big stones being lectured on the mystical power of crystals… People are strange.

When we got back to the village we settled down for pub grub at The Red Lion. Then we were back in the car for the run south to Stone Henge. It was another lovely drive, but Stone Henge was very different from Avebury; there were people everywhere; coachloads of people. Fortunately the crush abated somewhat once we got through the tunnel and we got good views of the monument itself. [Pictures here.]

Actually the weather today has been just perfect; showing off England at its best. Sunshine and clear skies, but not too hot.

We left Stone Henge around three and headed for the white stone splendours of Bath. [Pictures here.] The SatNav came into its own again, finding us a scenic back road into town and then locating a car park. We spent a couple of hours in Bath, visiting the Abbey and the Roman Baths, before heading on to our hotel (well, our Travelodge) for the night.

Jim is proving a pleasant travelling companion – although I did have to point out to him that smoking on a petrol station forecourt was probably not a good idea. He seems keen on pre- and ancient-history, so today has been right up his street. Tomorrow I think we’re going to do Cardiff first thing, rather than going back to Bath, which will give us time to take in some ruined castle or other on the way home on Sunday…

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Coriolanus at The Globe

Not a bad show in the end. I won’t say I didn’t notice the three hours going by, but I will say I didn’t mind, although all that authentic Elizabethan design is hard on the backside, even with the rented cushion and back-support! Rowan left at the interval as she was having trouble on the benches after her recent operation.

The performance was very good though; Jonathan Cake (Coriolanus) is a strong lead and Margot Leicester held her own as his domineering, pushy mother. My only complaint was difficulty hearing some of the dialogue; partly the inevitable open-air acoustic and partly the speed at which they spoke it (but again, really inevitable as it took them three hours to complete the play even going at that speed!)

There were two sets of stairs in The Yard, well actually two sets of long, stepped rostra leading from the direction of the entrances up to the stage, which I don’t remember from last time. They were made good use of to involve the audience in the play.

Two odd moments to note for you; the first was during the interval, realising the audience was probably 60% American tourists and maybe only 20% Brits and debating whether that said more about American tourists or British culture. Secondly, towards the end of the second half as the night had drawn in, I’m really into the ambiance of the theatre and the atmosphere of the play, when I lean forward and notice the glowing purple band around the top of the Tate Modern’s Chimney staring down at me from next door: Quite incongruous.

Anyway, to bed now; off to Bath tomorrow!

Es Mus Sein

Well, I continue to be absolutely not in the mood for being at work. Fortunately there are only a few hours left before I can escape. Although 3 hours of Coriolanus are going to have to be pretty gripping for it to be a good night out…

On the upside, the company announced our bonuses yesterday; we’ve had a very good year and are being given 12.5% of our salaries as bonus! Two-thirds of that amount will be paid as cash. Ok, it’s not enough to retire on, but it’s a nice little pot of money that I wasn’t expecting, so maybe I can do some (long overdue!) clothes shopping and have a week’s exotic foreign holiday after all. I might even have some left over to put into my savings.

We had a Chorus rehearsal last night which was enjoyable but underlined that I’ve forgotten some of the detail of the pieces we sang in April, so this morning I was freaking out my fellow commuters as I sat there, plugged into my MP3 player, mouthing words to several pieces by Rufus Wainwright.

After what was, I suspect, a carefully contrived conspiracy of silence last night, word leaked out today that we’ve only sold 130 tickets in the 2000-seater St. David’s Hall. I’m not sure why that needed to be a big secret; surely, if there was going to be a morale dip, better to have it now before we’re actually on stage facing the emptiness. To be honest, I really don’t mind how many people are in the audience. I’m just in the mood for a damn good sing!

Send in the Clowns!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Las Horas Largas

This week is just dragging by. I don’t know what it is about it, but I am bored out of my mind; not really motivated and just watching the clock for it to be over. I feel like I need a holiday but I can’t decide whether next week will be more of a holiday or more of a job, as I’m kind of locked-in as the tour guide for Scotland.

I spent some time at the weekend mucking about with MySpace, the social webspace which I’ve been hearing stuff about. In the end it isn’t really that much different from OutEverywhere, which I’ve been using for years. One advantage of it though is that it lets you upload and share video files, so it’s got me thinking about my video projects again; I’ve managed to track down someone with lots of still photographs of the EuroPride parade that I can inter-cut with my footage (to remove all the seasickness-inducing jerky camera motion) so once that’s done I’ll publish a link for you all to see.

While I’ve been at work this week, Jim and Brett haven’t really been doing that much. Brett is now joining his dad for short cycle rides, although they have yet to locate the (now almost mythical!) cycle route to Richmond Park across Wimbledon Common! Jim spends plenty of time reading; currently he’s consuming a book about biblical fundamentalism that I bought from Amazon a while back. I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet though, so discussing it with him is a bit one-sided.

Tomorrow I think they are finally doing the Museum of London before meeting me and Rosie for Coriolanus at The Globe. (Probably not the most entertaining of Shakespeare’s plays, but alas the only one we could get to while Jim was here.) Then on Friday the three of us are off for a long weekend to Cardiff (where we are singing on Saturday) via Stonehenge, Avebury and Bath.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Today in Westminster

A hectic day all round today; I was in work early, which meant enduring the rush-hour crush on the trains. The reason I was in early was that I had arranged a tour of the Houses of Parliament with Jess for 11 o’clock which I knew was going to take a fair chunk out of my day.

Brett’s former music teacher, Mark S, was along too having just arrived in the UK yesterday. He’s here early for a tour by his current choir and is doing some sightseeing of his own.

After some initial confusion about which entrance we needed to use, we finally met up with Jess and spent a good 90-minutes wandering through some gloriously overdone interiors as she gave us the history of the building. We did what’s called the ‘Line of Route’ tour, which starts at the Sovereign’s Entrance and passes through the Robing Room, Royal Gallery, Princes Chamber and the Lord’s Chamber before crossing the Central Lobby into the Commons areas; the Member’s Lobby, the actual Commons Chamber and the division lobbies before ending up outside Westminster Hall.

Jess looked very well and reported that she’d had two of her new staff in post for about a month now, so they were just beginning to be useful. I know she’s been terribly understaffed this year and her department has been the focus of a lot of attention because of John Prescott’s shenanigans.

Anyway, I left Brett, Jim and Mark after the tour to get back to work, where there was plenty of firefighting to be done; licensing problems stopping one of our project offices from working on a server, a key disaster-recovery server blue-screening and sundry other minor irritants.

To finish it all off, just before I left Gaetan appeared back in the office, having been knocked off his bike by a motorist at a junction. Fortunately no serious damage seems to have been done him, although his bike will need substantial repair. The motorist stopped and gave her details, so it should all be covered by insurance since it was clearly her fault.

My only other concern is that, with Sid on a training course, Henri on holiday, Rav in Leeds (fixing that blue-screen), if Gaetan needs to take tomorrow off sick, it will just be me and the work-experience guy manning the department…

Choir tonight was fairly enjoyable; we’re still polishing the show for Cardiff. The only thing I didn’t enjoy much was spending time on the choreography for Back In Business, which I’ve never liked anyway. Brett is concerned about his voice though, as he’s finding there are sections of his register that he just can’t reach. I suspect he’s overstretching himself singing tenor full-time. There’s no longer any need for him too and I think he’d be more comfortable as a baritone. I think we are both going to skip the Christmas season though, so making the switch in January will hopefully be easier as there won’t be so much stuff to relearn.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Sunday was the day of rest.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Museum Hopping

Well, Jim beat us all out of bed this morning; by the time we emerged from the pit around nine, he’d already been out and done his daily ride so he was waiting for us to get ready to go out. Walking to the station caught him on the hop though; he was definitely loitering waiting to get into the car when we headed up the driveway on foot!

Today was ‘Museum Day’; we ended up doing the Natural History Museum instead of the Museum of London, but it was a good day nevertheless. There are a few photos and more detail here.

After that we headed home and collapsed for the evening, watched the season finale of Doctor Who and, well, that was about it really…

Friday, July 07, 2006


At last we’ve reached the end of a very long and tedious week. I got more done at work than I’d feared I would, but even so I was forcing myself to be productive when I really didn’t want to be there.

Around lunchtime I got a worried phone call from Brett; his dad had gone off cycling around the Common a couple of hours previously and still wasn’t back. He wanted to know if he’d called me at all, which he hadn’t. I called back an hour later to check what was happening and it turns out Jim had called-in in the end; he’d just gotten lost trying to find his way back to the flat.

That seemed to be all the activity for the day though, as they were at home later on when I called again; I guess the day of doing a few riverside attractions had given way to a quiet day of resting after a long journey: Probably best.

Tonight we had invited my sister over for a games night. Brett had cooked enchiladas (his particular style of doing them is about the only bit of ‘tex-mex’ cuisine I’ve encountered so far that I really like!) In the end, no-one had much enthusiasm for poker and we ended up watching TV and reading before retiring.

Jim had spent the afternoon reading my old Blue Guides of England and Scotland and we chatted a bit about the bloodiness of Scottish history and the motivations behind it. He also wants to borrow my cycling cleats for his ride tomorrow morning; I am somewhat wary of that, as he’s never ridden with cleats before, so I expect I shall be up early making sure he does some practice along the road, attaching and detaching himself from the bike, before I let him head off to the Common on his own...

Thereafter, the plan tomorrow is to go either to casualty while he gets his broken bones set, or to the Museum of London to explore the history of the Capital and then the British Museum for the Greek and Egyptian antiquities – something on which I am thoroughly keen!

One Year On - so what?

The media seem determined to make an event out of the first anniversary of the London bombings. It seems ironic given how little we let it impact our lives last year when it actually happened. Lot’s of public fuss about the anniversary is only making the terrorists successful and while, hopefully for some of the victims, it may be a cathartic time, I’m sure everyone involved in the events would rather not handle today in the glare of the media spotlight; that doesn’t achieve anything good for anyone.

I suppose there is a reason why summer is termed the ‘silly season’ in the press; there’s not much real news around. I rather like this article though; it’s in the same vein as the original reaction, even if it does lay the stoicism on with a trowel!

Panicky Australians

Grr! My mobile rang at 01:15 this morning. It was the security guard from work saying the Australian Office urgently needed to talk to me. I took the call; it turns out that their office chief is in Japan, connected to our WAN, but cannot send or receive emails. A project office in Sydney is having similar problems, ergo the problem is in London.

I connected to the company network and got through to the mail server without a problem bounced a few test packets around the network and the only office I couldn't contact was Adelaide. "Do you have Internet access?" I ask. "I don't know," he replies.

At that point my heart sinks; he hasn't checked that their network is intact before calling the problem in. Sure enough they have no Internet access - a key requirement for their office to connect to the rest of the network - their office LAN is detached from the rest of the company and people outside of that LAN can't contact the mail server within it. I recommend he calls the local ISP, try not to be too ungracious about being woken up in the small hours for no good reason and go back to bed...

...Where I fail to get back to sleep.

This morning I feel like I haven't slept at all. Damn, that means I'll only have managed one day this week in work where I have been properly alert. I'm sure that's not a good thing.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Rest Of The Week

Well, after the very packed weekend, the last thing I wanted on Monday was a Chorus rehearsal. Normally we don’t rehearse on the Monday following a show, but we have another show in a fortnight which we need to prepare for. We’re singing in Cardiff’s St. David’s Hall, doing a revamp of our Anniversary show from April, so there are a couple of new songs to be perfected and plenty of old ones to be revised again.

To be honest I don’t think anyone was really up for it and the whole rehearsal lacked energy. I was clock-watching almost from the moment I got there!

Brett was rushing round getting signatures on his nomination to stand for the Steering Committee again. I was not impressed, I thought I'd reasoned him out of it as it takes up too much of his time; time that he will need in the next six months to improve his skillset and find another job, but he insists that there are things he needs to see through so who am I to argue? I signed his form, but he knows that there are caveats to that signature; I start using strong-arm tactics if Chorus politics begins to distract him from the real world!

With the heat we’ve been having I didn’t sleep too well on Monday night either, so was a grumpy zombie all Tuesday. Rosie had arranged us tickets to watch a West Wing quiz being filmed for Channel 4 on Tuesday evening though. I did my best to be cheery and companionable.

In the end though, I didn’t have to try too hard as, once the initial waiting around was over, it was actually quite good fun. Rory Bremner was hosting and David Tennant was one of the contestants. All the contestants were entertaining enough, although the audience definitely knew the show better than any of them, albeit David Tennant and the LibDem MP, Mark Oaten, both made a good showing.

When I go to the theatre, I’m always the one checking out the technology which runs the show, so with my newly revived interest in the televisual arts, it was interesting to see how they filmed it almost live to tape. I’ll be even more interested to watch the finished product (E4, 29th July, The Ultimate West Wing Quiz) to see how slickly they’ve edited the gaffes out.

Wednesday night was spent tracking down a Highland B&B and an Edinburgh Hotel to use in our whistlestop tour of Scotland with Brett’s dad.

Thursday at work was pretty much a write-off as I was bizarrely excited about Jim (Brett’s dad) arriving: Probably something to do with having to dust off my old Tour Manager skills. He’d originally be scheduled to arrive this morning, but his inbound connection from Dallas was delayed so he missed his transatlantic flight. The next one wasn’t for another twelve hours so, rather than arriving this morning he arrived tonight around 8pm. He actually got to the airport before we did, but it made the pickup nice and smooth.

Having not got much sleep last night and resisted the urge (been unable!) to sleep on the plane over, he was fairly tired, so after a tour of the flat and some chat he retired to bed. Hopefully that will see him past the worst of any jet-lag and he’ll be in good shape for tomorrow.

Apparently back home he goes out for a twenty-mile bike ride at six o’clock every morning. Brett offered to ride with him before he found this out. Brett hasn’t ridden his bike in nearly a year but I think some Freudian/machismo thing kicked in to stop him backing out of the deal.

I look forward to seeing him at (a post-ride) breakfast tomorrow…

EuroPride 2006 - The Show

OK, so just catching up on my catching up. Last Sunday we sang at the Royal Albert Hall for EuroPride 2006 – The Show; on stage with pretty much every gay celebrity around. It was a long, hard, hot day prepping for it though. The problem with celebrities is that somehow their sound checks always seem to take longer than scheduled, so ours got pushed and pushed. In the end so did the start of the show to accommodate everyone.

The show itself was actually very impressive; Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry, Julian Clary & Sandy Toksvig hosted, with walk-ons from Jennifer Saunders and Ruby Wax. The big west-end shows did turns; Mama-Mia, Chicago & Avenue Q. We opened the second half with a couple of our better numbers and then supported Heather Small singing Proud. Elton John closed the show (now only running about an hour over time!) with a twenty-minute set which eventually got the crowds on their feet. We were all pretty surprised though to see him using an autocue for the words of his songs! I can’t decide whether its ridiculous because he must sing his songs so often, or whether its understandable because he must have so many songs in his repertoire now…

I took a few photos on my phone during and after the sound checks. You can find them here. The following day, the Evening Standard reviewed the show (here) and mentioned every act – even the ones they didn’t like – except ours. Bastards!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

World Cup Defeat - We're not bitter! Really, we're not...

Found this on the ever-entertaining IT site, The Register. Apparantly Cristiano Ronaldo, England's World Cup 'nemesis' is available for purchase on eBay. It made me smile.

A Fresh New Day

Okay, enough catching-up for one morning. (May be some more tonight.) After a number of long, exhausting days and broken nights’ sleep, I slept soundly last night and feel good this morning.

While I’ve been writing there has been the most impressive thunderstorm going on outside; positively torrential rain lashing down. Now, within half an hour of it starting, it’s passed again and the sky is clearing. At least the air is cool now. It's like the Indian Monsoon Season! The climate is changing: I don’t remember weather like this when I was younger; one half of the country baking in a fatal heatwave, while the other half drowns in flash-floods!

Apparently we are expecting more rain today – although looking at the BBC’s forecast, it’s predicting clear skies (i.e. sunshine) all day until late tonight! Huh?

The tennis is definitely picking up the pace in Wimbledon now; the streets are crowded with people and they have erected crowd-control barriers along the high-street. Last night as we were coming home the pavements were packed with late night partiers – despite the last British contender being knocked out of the Championships.

Speaking of getting knocked out of competitions, now that England’s national football team are home again, one has to wonder what will happen to all those St. George’s Crosses. The BBC has some helpful hints.

While it would have been nice to have won the competition, I can’t help but be secretly glad that we didn’t. Football-mania would have expanded out of all proportion if we’d taken the World Cup home. I can just imagine all the sycophantic hero-worship and puff-pieces about a return to the ‘glory days’ that would have followed. In fact I think winning it only once in forty years, wouldn’t exactly be a record of which to be proud. When we’ve won at least a couple of successive World Cups, then you can tell me we have a world-class team to admire.

EuroPride 2006 Parade

The weekend was hot and sunny. The temperatures were around the 30°C mark (that’s the high-80s Fahrenheit.) Despite all that, though, for the first time in years, I managed to complete the EuroPride March without sunburn, dehydration or losing my voice; it was actually a really good day.

It was a late Saturday morning call to the assembly point where we proceeded to hang around for an hour or so for no readily apparent reason before moving off. This year, I think partly because we are helping organise lots of stuff, the Chorus had paid for a float in the parade, so we were following that. As a choir, people are always expecting us to sing for them en route and this year (because we had a gig the following day) we especially didn’t want to (not that we want to any year, as outdoor singing is very hard on the voice!) This year though, someone had come up with the idea of pre-recording several of our numbers and playing them from the float, to which we could gently sing along. It worked quite well, although some of the arrangements were new to us and hard to follow as they’d all been redone to a pretty up-tempo beat.

The crowds were all appreciative as we paraded through London’s major streets and they all liked the music. It probably took us a couple of hours to reach the Embankment were the parade ended and we were finally able to sit down with iced coffees. (Actually we took them into the gardens near Embankment Tube and watched some dancers of Eastern European extraction, decked out in delightful Austro-Hungarianesque costumes. If they hadn’t clearly been a mixed straight troupe on tour, they were camp enough that they could have qualified as part of a gay pride show!)

After our break, we headed into Trafalgar Square with John & Rich to listen to the Manchester choir sing on the main stage. We had to listen to an overlong speech by Ken Livingstone about what a great guy Hugo Chavez is first though. I wouldn’t have minded so much if it had been half the length, but Ken is nothing if not an old-school political ranter!

I also felt the introduction that the compère gave to the Manchester Chorus could have been more positive; it was a little in the vein of “The LGMC couldn’t sing on stage today so here’s the Manchester L&G Choir instead.” Which I felt was a rather insulting to them. We stayed and listened a while before finally heading home.

Although tired, we were in pretty good shape when we got there, so after a shower and change of clothes I sat down and started editing together a montage of the video footage we’d taken during the day, over a cut-down version of the ‘Proud’ track we are backing at the Albert Hall tomorrow.

Unfortunately I didn’t have enough decent footage to cover even the cut down version of the audio track, so in the first cut there’s an awful lot of jerky crowd footage; you actually feel rather sea-sick by the time it finishes. I think I’ll wait until a few people have put up their photographs of the day and include some of those instead before publishing it for your delight and delectation…

Monday, July 03, 2006

Europride 2006 - The Summary

Just time for a very quick recap while Brett is on the phone to his mum. Friday night Brett was home so we were snuggling and then on the Internet looking for hotels in Wales and Scotland. Saturday was mostly spent at the Europride march through London; probably one of my favourite Prides to date – and watch out for a video montage which I put together last night which I will publish as soon as I find space. Sunday was mostly spent in the Royal Albert Hall rehearsing for and then performing in a big gala show for Europride. It was my first time in the Albert Hall (OMG, it’s huge!) and my first time on the same bill as Elton John, Heather Small, Boy George, Julian Clary, Billie Jean King, Sandy Toksvig, Ian McKellen and several West-End Shows! Whoooa! The show overran terribly and we didn’t get out until nearly midnight. I also distinguished myself by opening our set with one of the most visible choreography cock-ups I could have made. Even so it was a memorable night and you can hear more about it when I have time to write. But right now, it’s late, I’m tired and I have work (and yet another Chorus rehearsal) tomorrow. Good night.