‘Girls is off’

I’m at home. Home home – not flat in Camberwell. Time for a stretch of R and R after some odd weeks at work and elsewhere.

A few years ago a piece of wartime correspondence from a great uncle was dug out and it always entertains me to read it; I’ve been meaning to copy it down for ages.

Saturday, August 29th 1914

Lucknow, India

 Dear Gerald,

That you have been and gone and done it is the best news I’ve had for years. And I will guarantee that every single brother will do his utmost to support you.

The only rule to be observed is that the first ‘wee one’ must be a boy. ‘Girls is off’ completely and absolutely because there must be someone to carry on the name.

After you’ve bred 2 boys then you may throw off girls by the [load] if you want to.

Old lad, I’m darned glad and I know you won’t have chosen anything that you wouldn’t have been proud to show to Father and Mother, ergo what’s yours is ours and very much ours, for her sake and for yours.

I’ve only one prayer: and that is that your boys, by united efforts (if necessary), are educated and brought up at the same schools as all of us.

May God bless you and your wife and may I have the very very very great pleasure of greeting and loving my sister-in-law [soon].

‘Credentibus non dificile’ [Believing isn’t difficult] is a top-hole motto, and as a family not lacking in brains it is up to us to combine Uncle Henry Hunt, Uncle Fred and Uncle Arthur into one. Let’s do it as (i) a Soldier, (ii) a Lawyer or (iii) Business –

(a) because it’s for England

(b) because it’s brains (and self)

(c)  because it’s useful for the family

If you produce 3 then make sure the eldest is a sailor, the second a soldier and let the third provide the business to keep on the show. But all their eyesights must be good – no spectacles, that is a sign of deficiency.

Yours gratefully,


For me it is such an interesting snap-shot of an era, a genuine peek into the sensibilities and expectations of an elder brother in 1914. What I love most about it is the genuine affection that creeps through every now and then alongside his business-like entreaties about first-borns, professions and education. The letter paints the picture of a man to whom duty meant everything; not just duty to the Army or his country but to his family. Posted far rom his family in Northern India, it’s pleasing to see this sense of duty crumble on occasion.

One thing’s for sure, as a spectacle-wearing ad man who was never much cop at sports, barring a conversation about how great it is to be a man, he and I would not have had a lot to talk about.

“The past is foreign country…” and all that.

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Two tunes that have been on constant ‘rotation’ within iTunes over this past Autumn to finish with.

One from John Hopkins‘ LP ‘Insides’, most of which I caught at a live show the other day and was blown away by. Secondly, ‘Lucky Woman’ from a London producer who goes by the name of Phanes. No more detail beyond that except to say that, if this tune is anything to go by, we can expect great things in the future – one of the most striking opening sequences I’ve heard all year. Check out the fantastic video below – edited from a VHS copy of ‘Clash of the Titans’ (1981).

John Hopkins – ‘Vessel’

Phanes – ‘Lucky Woman’



Have a look at this stunning short film from Tim Bowditch celebrating the La Vallette Bathing Pools in Guernsey, Channel Islands. Beautifully shot and wonderfully evocative, the film intercuts footage of the pools today with interviews from those who used to swim in them. Much like another (entirely different) documentary I saw this summer, namely Senna, the interviewees are never shown leaving the shots of the pools themselves uninterrupted and the voices like ghosts rising from the calmly rippling waters.



Would you dive into water with flaming petrol on the surface? They were tougher back then.


So the summer’s over. It didn’t last long. You may have missed it if you were in the bath or doing the ironing. No problem, Vondelpark are hear to bring it kicking and screaming back into your rain-soaked day.

Some great records were released in the first half of the year; some, like The Horrors’ Skying and Metronomy’s English Riviera, were perfect accompaniments to the great British summer. However, after stumbling upon the second EP from Vondelpark, all other records were knocked into 2nd place.

I don’t know a great deal about these guys but I’m reasonably confident in saying that they’re from Surrey, there’s three of them and they make haunting 2-step electronica using samples, minimal guitar chords and loosely scattered vocals.

There are elements of the xx’s sonic landscape in their blend of crisply produced beats and elongated guitar lines but, on the whole, Vondelpark’s sound is richer and less stark than that of the Mercury prize-winners.

From the opening chords of ‘TV’ to the distant shimmer of the single vocal line on ‘Outro for nyc’, their sophmore EP ‘nyc stuff and nyc bags’ is simply stunning. I dug up their more upbeat debut release ‘Sauna’ which is equally good but without the maturity displayed in their later compositions.

I’m really looking forward to seeing where these guys go next, their live act needs polishing but a debut full-length must surely be on the cards for 2012 at least.

Stretch out the summer with three tracks below.

‘TV’ from nyc stuff and nyc bags EP

‘Hipbone’ from nyc stuff and nyc bags EP

‘California Analog Dream’ from Sauna EP

Futura Titles *Vintage Film Effect*

I’m currently rather obsessed with messing about on iMovie. I’ve never been good with things like this but it is incredible how intuitive a piece of software it is. Mess about for long enough and anything seems to look reasonably good. Add this to the fact that the HD camera on the iPhone 4 is something of a minor marvel and you get the picture.

In fact you get two videos of people you don’t know larking about. One features a nice jaunt to the seaside and the other is of a recent wedding that coincided with the Chelsea Arts Club’s annual Festival of the Nine Muses at Milton Manor in Oxfordshire. This festival was an odd one but great fun nonetheless. Think ‘eccentric gentry reciting Homer and Aeschylus at one another in the grounds of a decaying stately home’ and you get the picture.

Yes, the videos are a bit ‘new-age-fun-with-a-vintage-feel’. Yes, you’re probably not interested in seeing people you don’t know. Yes, you could probably do better on Final Cut Pro. But it’s my blog so tough.

The Smith Westerns – ‘Weekend’

G-Swing Feat. Le Major Melon – ‘La Voix Humaine’

A Woman Killed With Kindness

After much deliberation and thought I’ve decided that, yes, the National Theatre is my favourite place in this fair city.

What’s not to like? Yes some of the shows are a bit hit and miss but that’s the point isn’t it? They take the risks that other theatres can’t afford to; some pay off and some don’t. Who else would have staged a cut-down version staged Ibsen’s 7-hour Emperor and Galilean? I rather enjoyed its balls and bombast even if it went a little ‘Monty Python-meets-Hair’ at some points.

I love the shop, the events, the music, the ugly-but-somehow-beautiful building and have spent many Sunday evenings reading in the sun on the 3rd-floor balcony looking down at the bustling South Bank and across to Westminster. I particularly love the NT Live scheme that sees shows broadcast worldwide. Hytner and his team know what they’re doing and they’re at the forefront of those trying to broaden theatre’s appeal and bring it to as wide an audience as possible.

What’s more, if you’re 25 or under and live in London it’s surely a no-brainer to get an Entry Pass and see as many of their shows as possible for a fiver a go.

My last visit was to see Katie Mitchell’s startling staging of Thomas Heywood A Woman Killed With Kindness. I went against popular with my review of Frankenstein and here I fear I will do so again: I loved it.

Upfront I should say that I was in row B and therefore the whole affair was quite ‘up close and personal’ whereas I have heard that the Lyttleton’s notoriously bad acoustics and some shaky preview performances combined to ruin a few people’s evenings. Practicalities aside clarity was simply not an issue; Heywood’s language lacks the colour and diversity of Shakespeare but it is nothing if not direct. Mitchell’s direction is also faultless and she draws fantastic performances from her cast. Paul Ready and Sandy McDade are particularly strong and whilst Liz White struggles early on it is merely because her role is somewhat under-written until the inevitable ‘fall from grace’. Giving equal weight to the two plots works brilliantly and, aside from an uncomfortable scene in which ‘the help’ discuss ‘barn dances’, the 1920s urban setting neatly compliments Heywood’s text and augments Mitchell’s argument.

It is not, and never will be, one of our great plays; but in the hands of a director as confident and single-minded as Mitchell it becomes a truly powerful piece.

The National is offering deals galore at the moment since it would appear that both A Woman Killed… and Emperor and Galilean have hardly set the box office alight but I would urge anyone to part with a few quid and check them out. (Get your bladder in training beforehand though as neither are kind in that respect; Emperor and Galilean is 3 and a bit hours with one interval and A Woman Killed… is 2 hours without one!)

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I haven’t posted much music in a while and the record that’s really got my juices going this summer deserves a stand-alone mention so for now here’s Clock Opera’s latest remix (yes, them again). This time it’s Joe Mount’s gang Metronomy in Guy Connelly’s lab with their single ‘The Bay’ from The English Riviera (itself one of the best records released this summer). Check it out below and view the fantastic video for the original single here.

Metronomy – ‘The Bay’ (Clock Opera Remix)

Screen Legends

Dance Like They Do is back.

I haven’t posted for some time so to the millions of you out there that have been clamouring for a sign, a signal, a sentence from me over the last 2 months: I am truly sorry.

But I haven’t been sitting on my arse. There follows a series of short posts on a couple of things that have caught my eyes, ears and little grey cells over the last few weeks.

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Rooftop Film Club @ The Queen of Hoxton

So this summer Secret Cinema seems to have taken a vacation and slunk off to its Bat-Cave in order to indulge in a bit of R&R after a bit of an Icarus-like couple years.

I’ve said it before (at length) on this very blog, but size isn’t everything and at one stage Fabien Riggall and his gang messed up. Having said that, after the ‘Laurence of Arabia Incident’ I did attend ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ in Notting Hill and it was tremendous – Calpol-flavoured doughnuts and all. A wider choice of dates meant the audiences each night decreased making the whole experience a much more pleasant one. Good work sirs.

But if punters were worried that they wouldn’t be able to get their fix of ‘I-was-there’ cinema this summer they needn’t have. There still exists, in London at least, a huge array of events to satisfy the multiplex-weary filmgoer. Here’s just a few:

Nomad Cinema appears to be the most prolific with huge programme of films on offer right up until mid-September. Each screening is staged in a different location designed to compliment the film – it’s a bit like Secret Cinema without the actors, mystery or prices. I’m off to a screening later in the year thanks to the lovely folk at Qype so I’ll keep you posted.


The Scala cinema lives again for one summer as the folk behind the notorious screen in Kings Cross (which includes the fantastic Stephen Woolley of whom I’m a huge fan) roll out a programme of debauched and deranged classics at various independent cinemas in London. There’s a great write-up about the events and the old cinema itself here.


Future Shorts, the folk behind Secret Cinema, are staging a one-off event in its absence. It sounds like a Secret Cinema event minus the secrecy and whilst for some that will be more attractive, for others it slightly defeats the object of the exercise. The Lost Boys and Top Gun will be showing at their Californian-themed location on the 3rd and 4th September. Right on.


Finally, if you’re a landlord with a beer-garden you need to get that king-size sheet and rented projector sorted pronto and follow the Queen of Hoxton’s lead and its ‘Rooftop Film Club’. They’ve been showing a great programme of flicks on the bar’s terrace overlooking the City all summer. Lucy and I spent a great night watching Who Killed Roger Rabbit? in July so book now or follow them on Twitter for updates. (I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the Queen of Hoxton despite its look-at-me trendiness although it never ceases to amaze me how rude the bar staff can be.)


Take your pick.

Or you could of course head to the actual cinema. They still exist don’t they? 3D’s dying out isn’t it? You can’t watch something under the stars but, then again, you’ll probably be warmer.

Adland #3: ‘Museum of Me’ – Intel

Brand: Intel

Title: Museum of Me

Agency: n/a

I little expected to dedicate two posts in the space of a few months to campaigns from processor-giant Intel but this proved stratospherically popular upon its release yesterday and for good reason.

It’s a fantastically simple use of Facebook Connect technology and whilst the idea is relatively basic the execution is stunningly detailed and well-finished. The experience leaves me feeling both hugely big-headed about being portrayed as the epicentre of any kind of social network whilst also highlighting the rather inane things I appear to ‘Like’ on a daily basis and the number of ‘friends’ I don’t recognize from Adam.

As an awareness driver it’s proving to be hugely successful and, as BR Wall points out, the fact that you don’t need to ‘Like’ Intel to take part alongside the staggeringly high amount of people who have chosen to do so anyway is possibly the most refreshing aspect of the whole thing. There you go marketeers – do something simple, do it well, and let the people decide.