talkRADIO’s Launch Reviewed

Post length: 497 words, just over 2 minutes.

Note: this review was written before the Brussels attacks of 23rd March 2016.

There is no doubt that launching a radio station is a difficult thing to do, especially a poorly promoted talk station with no callers. That’s what Paul Ross was battling against yesterday morning on the launch day of Wireless Group’s talkRADIO. But the Paul Ross Full Set Breakfast really struggled to find its identity jumping from current affairs to gossip, staying with no topic long enough to do it justice. Backed by male-dominated, shouty idents, adverts clearly lifted from sister station talkSPORT and impeded by terrible sound quality from poorly tuned compression and the shoebox of a studio the station launched with a whimper rather than a bang.

The station’s lineup also leaves something to be desired: women. There is currently only one female presenter on the station’s weekday schedule, two on Saturday and one Sunday, although Katherine Boyle is not credited in the title of her “7 Days of talkRADIO” programme.* (Arguably this isn’t a problem unique to talkRADIO. The station’s closest competitor, LBC, also only has one female weekday presenter although they do have two on each of Saturday and Sunday.) [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 22nd March, 2016 at 7:48 am in Arts & Ents, Obiter dicta.
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September 2015 Films

Post length: 604 words, about 2 and a half minutes.

With the first weekend of September well underway it’s time to look forward to the films which we might take in this month. As we leave behind the summer and people start to return from their holidays the upcoming releases are starting to look much more appealing that the August set. The first wave — from 4th September — we have of course already seen and I have linked to those items in my movie database with the listing.

4th September

American Ultra – between the two of us we gave this mixed reviews. I thought it was surprisingly good — a little off-beat, with humor and enough action. Admittedly it was all pretty much just about fighting, and this lead to Monica finding it long and boring. I was also surprised to find out that is had a $28million budget — if felt kind of indi.
No Escape – perhaps “Escape via Vietnam” is more accurate. To give him his due Owen Wilson is actually not bad in a film well out of his comfort zone. [read more]

Posted on Sunday 6th September, 2015 at 10:18 am in Arts & Ents.
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August 2015 Films

Post length: 678 words, 3 minutes.

Monica and I recently reached the 1 year anniversary of being a Cineworld Unlimited Card holder. After a year Unlimited Card holders  are privileged to be upgraded to premium unlimited. In reality this means you get a little bit more of a discount at the snacks counter, free access to 3D films (in the first year of membership you have to pay a 3D uplift) and a slightly smarter black membership card.

As part of this we have been tending to go to the cinema at least once a week on Friday after work, and this involves planning. On Tuesday Cineworld announce the film times for the weekend ahead. It’s only then that we get to see if the film we were hoping to catch that weekend is actually going to turn up in Aldershot. The best website we’ve found for checking out upcoming films, and how likely they are to be shown at our local cinema, is the Film Distributors’ Association’s UK film release schedule.

We’ve found the site is only complete with dates and venues about a month in advance, so at the start of this month I decided to take a look at what films we might try to catch this month: [read more]

Posted on Monday 10th August, 2015 at 4:23 pm in Arts & Ents.
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How About a Round of Applause?

Post length: 621 words, almost 3 minutes.

Am I the only London theatregoer left who thinks that a standing ovation should be reserved for only the very special — for time when you really have been blown away by a performer or cast — and not for West End productions which are the same day-in, day-out? Of course there will always be special cases, and everyone has a different opinion of what is good and what is astounding, but why is it increasingly the case that the whole audience feels the need to leap to their feet?

Monica and I went to two West End musicals last weekend as an Easter treat. First The Phantom of the Opera, and second Cats. Both very different, and both good professional productions, well executed and totally immersive. There is no doubt that we enjoyed them both and that the skills of all involved were excellent, but they weren’t, for me at least, anything groundbreaking.

That opinion was not, apparently, shared by the majority of the audience. As the curtain came down large swathes of the audience jumped up. More followed as leading actors took their curtain call. I suppose both audiences must have regarded the performances they had just seen as the best piece of theatre they had ever experienced. Or was it something else? [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 14th April, 2015 at 8:58 am in Obiter dicta, Theatre.
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Open House London

Post length: 632 words, almost 3 minutes.

The 20th and 21st of September was the weekend of the Open House London event for 2014. I had been to a previous Open House event with some friends and enjoyed it, even though we’d only managed to see one property, so I thought it was about time I went back and did it again. This time I went with Monica and we planned the day a little better. We had a few different places on the list of buildings we wanted to see, most of them around Westminster. We only managed to get to three in the end but I was pleased with the selection, and there’s always next year. The full set of photographs can be seen here.

The first building was the Royal Courts of Justice. It is a large Victorian Gothic style building built in the late 1800s on the Strand. Once through security you find yourself at the front of the 238 feet long Main Hall. [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 30th September, 2014 at 9:15 am in Photography.
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The Love Tour: Radio in the Community

Post length: 1,111 words, almost 5 minutes.

I’ve long been a supporter of independent local radio and listened to it in one form or another for as long as I’ve had my own tuner. I remember waking up listening to Mark Page and I think back fondly to keeping the radio on quietly at night, hoping my parents wouldn’t hear, to listen to Alex Hall both on The Pulse (I honestly think that Alex was a big part of my love of talk radio). When I was at university I would dip in and out of The Bay and was of course involved with the student radio station 87.7 Bailrigg FM. These days while I mostly get my music from BBC Radio 2 when I’m at home, I usually pick up an hour or so of LBC each evening depending on who is presenting.

The recent trend towards networked programming and heavily branded groups of stations is something which really saddens me. While I appreciate that there are (relatively high) costs involved with putting out a radio station and that, as commercial entities, each station has to make a profit [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 15th July, 2014 at 9:29 am in Arts & Ents, Obiter dicta.
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Stephen Ward The Musical

Post length: 268 words, just over 1 minute.

It may have recently closed on London’s West End, but I’ve just caught up with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s newest musical, Stephen Ward The Musical. At least the music. Having been to see the closing throws of Tim Rice’s version of From Here to Eternity recently, and having been quite impressed, I was hoping for much more from the Stephen Ward soundtrack.

I’ve listened through the musical a few times now on my daily cycle and just can’t get past how it sounds very much much like Lloyd Webber’s 1979 musical Tell Me on a Sunday. While this in itself is not necessarily a bad thing it does make what should be a fresh new piece feel tired and, at least as a stand-alone soundtrack, remarkably dated. While I appreciate that the subject of the show — the Profumo affair — happened at the start of the 1960s, and that the writers may well have been trying to reflect that in the sound of the musical numbers, at a time when musicals such as The Book of Mormon are commanding upwards of £150 for premium West End seats and selling out months in advance, Lloyd Webber’s score sounds as if it is aimed at audiences from another time. [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 22nd April, 2014 at 5:45 pm in Theatre.
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London 2012: Photos and Chocolate (and a little money)

Post length: 1,064 words, about 4 and a half minutes.

The year 2012 saw the Olympics heading for London for the third time in modern Olympic history. For two weeks London was taken over by the games and all the infrastructure which comes with it. Not living in London meant the games didn’t affect me directly (except with the TV schedules, and knowing that the Team GB Synchronised Swimming team train the the pool just down the road), but I still felt that I wanted to at least have a little to do with it — after all I can’t imagine London, or anywhere else in the UK, being awarded the games again in my lifetime. So, last Saturday, I headed into the capital with my cameras to see what I could find down on The Mall where the walk races were taking place.

I took the tube from Waterloo to Green Park and walked down through the park to the exit by Constitution Hill. I spent quite a few hours around the course, snapping away at what was going on before hand, before finally taking a place at the barrier right outside of Buckingham Palace, just in front of the misting shower, to watch the race. [read more]

Posted on Thursday 16th August, 2012 at 12:27 pm in Obiter dicta, Photography, Photos.
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Aldershot Live Music Day

Post length: 78 words, about 0 and a half minutes.

Aldershot Live Music Day

Last weekend saw Aldershot Live Music Day — an event held across three stages in the town centre showcasing a range of live artists and bands. As I didn’t have anything else on this weekend I decided to take my camera out and have a look.

I have added a full straight colour edit of my photos to my gallery, but thought I’d also produce some more ‘rocky’ style black and white images. [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 24th July, 2012 at 10:34 pm in Arts & Ents, Photography, Photos.
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Wedding

Post length: 1,157 words, just over 5 minutes.

Now I know I haven’t finished with the second half of the stag weekend posts so forgive me, but I wanted to write this now before I go away.

I’m heading back from Scott and Jess’ wedding this weekend. They had a handfasting ceremony and asked me to do their photos for them. While I was, of course, honoured that they would ask me and trust me to shoot such an important event, I was more than a little nervous. While I’m comfortable shooting live events and theatre, I had actually never previously shot a wedding. Wedding photography is not something that I have ever really wanted to get into, but I have known Scott since we were very young and Jess a few years now, so I agreed on the understanding that they know my style and they knew what they were getting.

I travelled up on Friday morning and stayed with my dad for the weekend. (I’m not sure how long I will have that luxuary now my mum has started her new job. Their house is up for sale and I guess it all depends on how long that takes to sell.) [read more]

Posted on Monday 22nd August, 2011 at 2:14 am in People, Photography.
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