A Return Visit To Paradise by way of Kensal Green, 8 October 2017

No comedy moustache this time…
…nor festive cracker hats!

We returned to the scene of last year’s Christmas festivities (those December 2016 ones depicted above).

It was almost the same group of us too, except was around and Micky joined us this time.

The place is probably better suited to a regular Sunday lunch feast rather than the Christmas feast. The regular Sunday lunch is gargantuan enough, but within a tolerance that doesn’t require several days of overindulgence-recovery-time.

Good food too. Janie and I both especially enjoyed the crispy belly pork. I found the Sunday roast trimmings (not least Yorkshire pudding) went surprisingly well with it. Yummy starters too – mine was a seared tuna salad, Janie’s a crab thing.

But of course it was the company that really made the day so good. Even after Micky, Max and Kim had gone, Janie and I stuck around chewing the fat with DJ until long after dark. Winter is setting in!

Now That’s What I Call A Good Friday, Lunch With Kim & Micky In Noddyland, 14 April 2017

The night before, Janie and I had a super dinner with Toni Friend at Il Baretto.

Prior to dinner, Janie had picked up huge quantities of Lebanese food from Karam (formerly Crackers) and stored it in the Clanricarde Gardens flat fridge, while I played a losing game of real tennis at Lord’s en route to Il Baretto.

After dinner on Thursday, we stayed at the flat, then took ourselves and all that grub to the house early Friday…

…”are there four of us or forty of us for lunch?” I asked, as we lugged bag upon bag into and then out of Dumbo…

…before we headed off for an early game of modern tennis at Boston Manor Park.

Kim and Micky came over around 14:00.

Along with the wonderful Lebanese nibbles, Janie also served up some superb organic smoked salmon from Helga’s local Ummera smokehouse – thank you Helga.

It was too cold to sit outside, but we could admire the wonderful Noddyland bird life from the warm comfort of indoors.  Micky had never seen one of our woodpeckers before:

Wine flowed throughout the afternoon. I was being fairly abstemious, as it happens, as was (to a lesser extent) Janie.

Just around the point that everyone was feeling replete, Daisy then served up kebabs (for three of us) and falafels for Kim.

Then fruits and chocolates, just in case anyone still had some room.

Soon after we’d eaten, Kim, full of advice, as always, asked me if I knew what the phrase “fair weather friend” meant.

I explained that I had written a lyric about the Fair Weather Friend many years ago – click here for a link to the lyric – and indeed had been working up a performance of it on the baritone ukulele lately.

Janie chimed in that she really likes my Fair Weather Friend song. So I played and sang the song.

“We can do better than that,” announced Kim, dragging Janie off to the surgery room for about five minutes, after which they returned with their own lyric ready to “sing” and instructed Micky to video the result.

Here is their result…or I should say, here WAS their result…

Censored text block, by antonella.beccaria (flickr) http://www.flickr.com/photos/_shalom/548635280/
The original uploader was ChildofMidnight at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Frankly, it is not bad for five minutes’ work by a somewhat tired and emotional duet. But one of the performance artistes has subsequently requested that the video be removed from the public domain. Very close friends might ask for sight of the material…at their own peril.

By way of comparison, I laid down a one-take, unplugged cut of my Fair Weather Friend song – click the play icon on the MP3 below…

…and originally asked the court of public opinion to decide between the two songs in a mini Ogblog/on-line Eurovision-style contest.

Whether the self-censoring contestant decided to withdraw their entry for reasons of modesty/manners, or simply decided to award themselves “nul points” in the contest will remain an unanswered question until the end of all time.

Still, it was a fun afternoon – what better way to start the holiday long weekend than with friends?

The next day, Kim and Micky outdid us in the bird life department by somehow attracting a grey heron into their garden…

Thanks to Kim for this stunning photo of “her” grey heron

…but now it seems that Kim and Micky no longer have any fish in their pond. I suppose you can’t have everything.

Christmas Day In Paradise, 25 December 2016

You’re crackers, sir!  I said, “it has come out of one of your crackers, sir”!

It was DJ’s idea.

Paradise by way of Kensal Green is one of his favourite places; we’ve been there with DJ a few times on a Sunday.

Unusually, he, Kim and Max were going to be around on Christmas day. The idea of Christmas day with friends for once, without cooking/washing up pleased us enormously, so we were up for it.

It was fun.

I wasn’t properly up for such a stonking big meal though:

  • antipasti (prosciutto, salamis, artichokes);
  • pumpkin soup;
  • turkey with stuffing and all the trimmings;
  • Xmas pud;
  • cheeses;
  • mince pies;
  • chocolates…

Not only that, but the feast was served for six although there were five of us, as Pinball Geoff was due to be there but dropped out at the last minute. That was a shame for several reasons, not least that Geoff would have enjoyed my plastic tashe, as his group, The Bikini Beach Band once supported Sparks.  I love that Kimono My House look.

I know you don’t have to eat it all. I know you don’t need to drink half a bottle of Barolo on top of the aperitif of a big glass of white. Oh how I suffered the next day.

Ogblog readers will sympathise with me en masse, I just know they will.

A Groovy Happening In Cricklewood, Kim and Janie’s 60’s Party, 28 May 2016

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This party was rather a long time in the planning. The date was set at least 18 months before the event. Kim’s birthday is late April, Janie’s is late June, so the last Saturday in May, which is also a bank holiday weekend, seemed ideal.

60’s as the theme, given the “big zero” milestone year both of them were to be reaching. It did help just a bit, of course, that Kim is in the themed party planning business. It also helped that several vivid imaginations went to work on the ideas.

On arrival, everyone was given a little bottle and a pewter cup (see photo above). People only heard 1960s style sitar music – the following playlist was playing on a loop: 60’s Warm Up Ravi Shankar To Beatles Playlist Final.

People were kept in a relatively small reception area, part courtyard, part entranceway to the Theme Traders site.

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Actors dressed as Hari Krishnas welcomed new arrivals and mingled with the guests.

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Then the Hari Krishnas led all the guests through the warehouse, past all the nooks and crannies that would later be party breakout rooms. At that stage the 60’s Warm Up Ravi Shankar To Beatles Playlist Final was playing throughout the warehouse.

In the garden at the back of the site, the guests were crowded into an enclosed area, not realising that the walls were paper and that behind the walls was a band ready to play and a barbecue ready to grill. In that area one of the actors was dressed as a guru. Janie had briefed him on the sorts of things to say, which ended up being a mixture of Timothy Leary, Beatles lyrics, general “peace and love” messages, getting people to chant back his incantations and the like.

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It’s hard to explain why this was very funny, but it was. Some people seemed to be really into it. Only a small handful of us knew what was really going on; we of course egged on the guests, although they didn’t need much egging. Everyone must have realised that it was all meant to be a bit of fun.

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Then the guru started to get very excited and even more rambling in his incantations, the drums started to roll and the guru tore down a paper wall to reveal the band.

With everyone looking towards the band, I realised that someone needed to make a start on the wall to reveal the food, which I did and found rather cathartic after all those months and especially the last few days of preparation. Soon others were helping me and the whole process probably took 5-10 seconds.

The band, Never The Bride, were really excellent. They are friends of Kim’s, or is it fairer to say that Kim is one of their groupies? Both statements are true I think. We’d seen them perform before at a small party at Kim’s house, but I hadn’t realised from that scaled down performance they had the oomph and repertoire to create a “60’s rock fest” atmosphere – but they did just that.

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They performed two sets during the evening. The first had the most impact, naturally, but the second was a good “watershed” period for the party…

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…a different atmosphere in the dark and a good foil for presenting the cake, butlers removing their trousers and other such merriment.

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Between live sets, there was a DJ. We had supplied him with a strong playlist of sixties dance music…

60’s Dance Soul and Funk Top 100 Playlist Final

…but he played little from that and showed reluctance when several guests (including Janie) made specific requests, unfortunately. Later in the evening, I switched the sounds in the Mods breakout area (see below) to the above playlist so that some of us could have more appropriate bop.

Breakout Rooms and Music

The breakout rooms were fabulous. I curated different music for different zones, the playlists for which (but not the music) are all downloadable here:

60’s Surf, Lounge, Jazz & Tropical Playlist Final

60’s Folk, Hippy and Psychedelic Zone Playlist Final

60’s Carnaby Street, Quintessential Playlist Final

60’s Mods, Go-Go, Ska & John The Only One Dancing Playlist Final

Between the surf lounge area and the hippy psychedelic area was a small breakout room with everything upside down, “Alice In Wonderland”-like. When we went over to set up the sound the day before, Kim’s team were worried because there was so much sound bleed between those two other zones in that area. I listened for a while and realised that the very different types of music, one  type coming from one side, the other type coming from the other side, created a very strange soundscape and decided that this was exactly what music in the upside down room should sound like! It became a real feature.

The actors changed from Hari Krishnas to characters from the Sixties and mingled around the party and the breakout areas. By way of example, here is a picture of “Andy Warhol” in the Hippy Zone:

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Movie

One of the breakout rooms was a mini cinema, which showed an amazing short movie that Kim and Janie had made a few weeks before the party. It depicts the two of them talking about the heady days of the sixties and mingling with many big names from that era. It is really very funny. If you haven’t seen it and want to have a look at the movie, for the time being drop me an e-mail or a comment and I’ll arrange for you to see it.

Photos

There are loads of photos. For now, if you go to my Flickr albums area, you can see all the mini albums that friends have sent to me and Janie, click here. More are coming through and we plan to sit down with Kim and make up a consolidated album over the next few weeks.

More

I’ll write more about the food and the photos and the music in the fullness of time, but it is (at the time of writing this piece) nearly two weeks since the party, so the public deserves to read something about it by now. Although those of us who were there will struggle to forget this party…

…although they say that if you remember the Sixties you weren’t doing it right…so in that sense, I suppose, this memorable evening was contra-Sixties. Or perhaps uber-Sixties.

Anyway, it was fab and groovy. Peace and love.

A Lunch At Gravetye Manor With DJ, Kim and Micky, Then Overnight 28 and 29 June 2015

Actually taken in 2014, but the blustery moment looks more like 2015 – thanks to Kim for the picture

After the great success of our lunch at Gravetye Manor last year, DJ asked us again for 2015.

We arranged to stay over on the Sunday night, driving down on the Sunday morning. I’m not sure whether we played tennis – I have a feeling we did play, early.

Once again it was a lovely lunch. The food is very good there. Such a relaxing place.

Somehow it didn’t quite have the magical atmosphere of the previous year, perhaps because we were doing the same thing for a second time, perhaps it was just the vibe of the place this time around.

One highlight of the afternoon was a package of photograph prints and a memory stick from Kim as a gift to Janie. The above picture is one of the hundreds of pictures from that stick; many of which will surely find their way onto the retrospective sections of Ogblog.

The weather wasn’t quite so special, the sun and the showers came and went with regularity. So rather than hanging around digesting our food in that large outhouse/arbour thing and the smaller, more outdoorsy chairs and arbours from the previous year, we relocated inside to a snug spot within the Manor itself for most of the afternoon, although the showers became less regular and passed through as the afternoon went on.

Before too long, DJ, Kima nd Micky all decided to go, so Janie and I sorted ourselves out in our room and then went outside to enjoy the now rather glorious early evening, playing some croquet and badminton on the lawn.

I also decided on a photo-opportunity for a King Cricket piece I was minded to write about our visit to the test match a month or so earlier.

 

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, the King Cricket crowd were much to clever for me and rumbled the set up photograph – as you can see from the comments on this link – I cannot imagine how or why they did that.

We drove back on the Monday in our tennis (lawners, not realers) gear, stopping off at Boston Manor for a hit. We also enjoyed the rest of our Monday off. Indeed, we did little work and had lots of fun that week, as you will see if you read on in sequence, not least the first couple of days in July.

Party at Kim & Micky’s House, 26 April 2015

Janie and I know what Kim & Micky’s parties can be like, so we hadn’t arranged anything for the Saturday evening and had arranged to take the Monday off.

This was a relatively small gathering by their standards, Sunday during the day, in honour of Kim’s birthday.

The usual suspects were there, plus some of the less usual suspects and of course Kim’s menagerie.

Imagine a smaller version of Never The Bride (shown above at Milton Keynes) performing in a conservatory

It was the first time I had seen Never The Bride, who Kim arranged to perform in the conservatory. In truth Kim’s conservatory is a bit small for the Never The Bride sound, even when the group turns up with just a core of performers and keeps the amplifier’s volume dial well below eleven.

Still, Never The Bride were very good and got everyone at the party singing along by hand picking the sorts of songs that most people of a certain age know well enough to sing along to.

Janie might remember more about the party than I do. We left relatively early in the evening, having been there since lunchtime, but I think a few people stuck around until very late by all accounts.

Not only did we take the next day off (pretty sure we played tennis and used the time pretty well) but we also had nothing arranged for the following weekend either.

I think that was more to do with having left dates clear for our impending Ireland trip than a need for a week or more’s clearance after Kim’s party. Perhaps a bit of both.

Whatever the reason, the next non-work thing in my diary is our visit to Lord’s on the Bank Holiday Monday, just before we set off for Ireland.

Dinner With DJ, Kim and Micky at Scalini, 21 February 2015

DJ very generously wanted to treat us all to dinner at Scalini. It is hard to refuse such offers.

I suspect we arranged this some months in advance; it is not so easy to get all of us together at the same time these days.

I think it was just the five of us that evening; if one or both of Max and Jo are around they sometimes join such an evening, but that night I think was just five of us.

I’m pretty sure Janie and I stayed at the flat afterwards, as it was deep midwinter and we also had a Wigmore Hall concert the next night.

I can’t remember exactly what we ate and drank; only that we did a bit too much of both and that the evening was very good in all departments.

Janie might remember more and chime in…but then again she might not.

Kim Micky & DJ For Dinner, Noddyland, 25 January 2014

My diary is not very forthcoming about this evening.

I have a vague feeling that Janie sourced a high quality capon for this meal.

This is not to be confused with the tough old boiler chickens referred to as capons that I discuss in the middle of this history piece from 1967 – click here.

In any case, you can be sure that Janie cooked a very good meal and that we all had a very enjoyable evening.

The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, Temple Studios, 11 January 2014

This was an extraordinary installation/show. Not quite in the same class as The Masque Of The Red Death, another punchdrunk masterpiece, but not far off.

We went with Kim and Micky, eating a spread of Big Al goodies at the flat before ambling over to the venue. The “Temple Studios” installation was in the old Paddington sorting office; the place from whence I used to collect my parcels and “must be signed for” mail, back in the day.

This piece is about the making of a Hollywood movie and the studio that is making it. But are the scenes we see playing out scenes from the movie or real violent drama playing out in the studio?

Kim tried to amuse herself by putting the performers off, but they were all too seasoned for that. I enjoyed getting lost around the studio and examining the incredibly detailed artefacts punchdrunk had strewn around the place, before wending my way through the various performance scenes.

It was great fun.

The bar and entertainment therein was good too. At that juncture, Kim’s style of intervention was positively sought after and Kim did not disappoint.

Here is a link to punchdrunk’s explanatory on-line resource and you might enjoy the “film trailer” below.

This link will take you to plenty of reviews; mostly excellent but some reviewers didn’t get it.

Kim & DJ, Theme Traders 20th Anniversary Party, The Stadium, 29 May 2010

This was a really good party.

Not quite as good as the Kim and Janie one in 2016 – click here – but still really good. Same holiday weekend; just six years earlier.

Could it really have been 20 years? Yes of course it could, but still it sounds ridiculous when I say it.

Anyway, all of the usual suspects were there – DJ’s friends, Kim & Micky’s friends…which of course meant lots of our (Janie’s and my) friends.

There was a special guest appearance by neighbour Ken Livingstone, with whom I chatted idly for a while. Also the local mayor was there.

Never ones to miss out on a promotional opportunity., I discover that Theme Traders made a promotional video of that party, in which, if you look carefully, you can spot both me and Janie, more than once…

…which provides evidence that we were really there…

…and will aid our memories of the event, which was one of those hard to forget (because it was so spectacular) yet hard to remember (because we were enjoying ourselves so much) evenings.

The Bikini Beach Band were the headline act and jolly good they were too, as always.