The Fiona MacCarthy

The Fiona MacCarthy

What pleases and annoys

Instinctive, impulsive, and logical but always passionate and reflective of what I feel here and now.

Individual blogs are in most recent, first sequence and are also grouped in various "categories" which are just to the right & down a bit should you prefer to search that way. Please feel free to add a comment.

Blog restarted June 2018

Great exhibition of the North

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, August 26, 2018 08:28:23
Took two days out this week to enjoy the Design and Art trails of this "Very Good" (my italics) exhibition. Plan to look at the Innovation trail next week.

Its not necessary to follow individual trails and instead to just go to specific venues.

The "App" provides a bit more guidance than the guide book but overall I did not find the information good enough for someone who might by unfamiliar with Newcastle. After 16 years here, the event still offers plenty in revisiting old venues with new exhibits and several new venues too.

The Arts Trail

Starting from Gateshead end and crossing the river back into Newcastle

New Bridge project. (close to metro)
Small in scale, the offer of tea (donation offered but not accepted) was a bonus. The venue is to encourage artists and I hope the centre grows to have a greater diversity of artists. Exhibits of which not many focused on the impact of industrial life and technology upon the lives of people.

workplace Gallery
This venue closed when we visited ie not working although as sign outside

Needle Point or what is really St Marys church
Ignore directions on the App and enter via the car park entrance.
I would normally ignore embroidery but the panels here on display (only till 6th and not the 9th Sepyember) from different parts of the north were really excellent. Why no books for sale on embroidery although books on nearly everything else.

Sage Gateshead
We walked through not stopping for the various Portraits (for adults) and the activities for younger folk.

I do not expect this centre to please me on every level but thee is always somethings to enjoy entertain and inform:

Disappointed that the 10 concrete items, each representing light emitting devices linked with the North, outside have a strict notice about not climbing on them. They look more like fallen chess pieces and are ideal for sitting on.

Level 4 is the most interesting and a diverse eclectic mix of exhibits.

Level 3 "having you on" by Michael Dean is interesting use of rebar (steel bars twisted
to shape) adorned with used packaging and coins. The clue is in the name of the exhibit

Level 2 Suggest visit this first and see the viewing times as the movie is not shown hourly back to back which would be wiser.

Level 1 "our kisses are petals" is pleasant and intelligent use of fabric designed materials.

Food on the quayside
The container thingy on the quayside is a great setting for overpriced and tasty food but its quiet weekdays as most outlets closed coming alive Friday evening and weekends. Will return.

Live Theatre garden
Once you have jumped and selfied on the billy elliot stage, the main art exhibit is in the garden in the corner which might have been sponsored by mi5 due to lack of signage. As rain started to fall, we did not stay to explore.

Side gallery near quayside
Over 3 floors this is a lovely new venue for me with a collection of pictures from times old.

Baltic 39 (off Grey st on "high bridge st")
Deceptively small entrance but opens up on 4th floor to a large variety of displays that gets one talking and thinking. a real gem of a venue and my first time here - will check out in future.

That concluded our participation in the arts trail and only a few venues were not visited

The design trail was enjoyed !!! earlier in week and included

Hancock Museum. I love the diversity of whats on display here. Not really a great amount of "Design" as overlaps with everything else

Northumbrian university- needs more help on design as what i found was very poor. Too many buildings, too few signs.

Biscuit factory: great commercial displays for sale. Nothing practical in progress to observe

Toffee factory commercial-

Design Centre- entrance layout designed by morons. Gave up as was foot exhausted by now and dispirited by guidance.

The App as used request date of birth which is too much information to provide for its use and even entering year of birth involves scanning month by month back in time- may have been designed by a 15 year old orphan.
Misleading entrances as in St Marys / "Needle points". Information not really helpful. Only good point is that its better than the guide book.
Both lack a knowledge understanding and appreciation of what each venue offers.

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Spike and KKK

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, August 26, 2018 07:10:41
Very much enjoyed Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman

The movie is a very simplistic in its portrayal of Ron Stallworth's actual work as a police officer back in 1970 in police penetration of the Colorado branch of the KKK. It is well acted, scripted and a very well filmed. The message is simple the characters non-complex.

The KKK is portrayed as operationally stupid, the police as a mix of racists and good and the Black community as victims of discriminatory and vicious practises. Second class citizens in the "land of the free" and that in the 70's was very close to apartheid South Africa in the 80's for me where I lived. The proximity in time and similarity in attitudes and actions so close. The movie therefore also serves as a useful reminder of the history of the USA which has not treated its own people fairly (and the indigenous less so).

The movie comes topical in the strategy of the KKK to focus less on the hooded cross burners and more on the attitudes towards eg immigration and race where it seeks alignment with larger numbers of people who would not consider themselves aligned with the KKK. Insistence on not referring to the KKK by name was part of that. An end of movie video sequence of the 2017 Charlottesville attack together with the commentary from Trump about same, prods the realisation that racist values have trumped. A movie more for americans at home but not lost internationally.

Truth and Fiction
Artistic license abounds in this movie but the core is true. A black man (Ron S) did join the KKK, obtaining a membership card and doing the talk via phone including with the national leader. As in the movie, a white man represented him at actual meetings. the police team frustrated and disrupted activities by the kkk. More information in this link.

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Sunday 15th July

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Mon, July 16, 2018 07:41:39
Two Movies

Enchanted by "Mary Shelley" starring Elle Fanning and directed by Haifaa al-Mansour (one of Saudi Arabia's very few female directors). I loved the poetic and artistic brilliance of Shelley and Byron but not the way they treated their friends and lovers. I enjoyed the way Mary grows from a innocent teenage girl in love to a mature and confident woman. Douglas Booth as Shelley himeself is very good in the role despite their being so little in him persobally to warm you towards him. The script is very good and its filmed mainly in Dublin.
Five stars from me

Whitney is a dicumentary style movie with family support (cue the view presented) of the incredibly talented Whitney Houston. I found strong parallels with a similarly approached documentary on Amy Winehouse a few years ago. During the week there was some debate in the media about loneliness and the role if any for governemnt in support. She did have a close family around her but so many of them seemed to have been appointed to roles based on being family rather than on skills. Being so close to her workwise would surely have given them an opportunity when her drug taking became increasinly addictive but it all seems to be a roller coaster of joy for the entourage and sotragically sad for the artist who is is making it happen. The relationship with Robyn Crawford is touched on and not in any depth nor does Robyn feature. Hence this documentary may be biased in its views. It is however well done and the music is fab.
fours stars from 5 for me

One Book
"Ice" by Ana Kavan is an addictive fictional read set in world where advancing ice sheets trigger conflict and a bloke pursues a woman through a disintegrating world. It was one of the books that talked to me from the shelves
three stars from me.

I was pleased to read what Theresa May and her people have eventually produced. Disappointingly it has taken nearly 2 years to produce this robust proposal that both severs ties with EU and simultaneoulsy puts in place a plan for future trading. Doing so seems to confuse many critics who have yet to develop their proposals beyond tweets and short articles. Post- EU we will continue to trade and this proposal for negotiation provides a good basis for a future trade relationship whilst recognising independence.

I remain opposed to leaving the EU as it has delivered peace across Europe and if one does not like the music being played at a neighbours party its best to try and change it rather than leave just beacuse of the music. With the rise of nationalism across Europe I fear that a yet agin fragmented Europe will disinterate into squabbling conflicts.

Nail art for the fortnight ahead
Inspired by an online picture I liked the flame-like flickering floral colours

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Pairs? or 2 by 2

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Mon, July 09, 2018 08:20:56
Two Movies
Leave no Trace is one of those movies that is very USA on one level but very serious and touching in terms of the father daughter relationship and how it develops, and not in a soppy way.

Directed by Debra Granik it starts with a father & daughter living in a large wild national park, in a makeshift camp with tarpaulin and flint to ignite a fire. Their interaction with "civilisation" is limited to crossing a symbolic bridge. He suffers from some form of PTSD not explored much as the movie concentrates on their strong relationship throuh events.

Society intervenes and the two are incorporated into the "normal routines" of society before striking out on their own again. It was a delight to watch the development of the daughter into a young woman growing in personal confidence whilst Dad learnt to let go and adapt to his own truamas. Reminding me loosely of "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back: its yours, if not: it never was" Four stars from me (from 5).

The Happy Prince directed by and starring Rupert Everett is a powerful and bleakish movie with occasional sparkles of Wildean wit, looking at the life of Oscar Wilde after his jail sentence when he lived in France and Italy, before his tragic death, too young.

I enjoyed the story and the acting but think that the script could have been sharper with more of those gems that I expect from a tale of Wilde. These when they were delivered, helped liven the mood through the otherwise sad tale. Four stars from me.

Two Books
Jon McGregor's "Reservoir 13" has a creative narrative technique of relating the tale of the inhabitants of an English village following the death of a 13 year old girl, the daughter of a couple visiting one Christmas time. The tale is very well told over years with a sentence or 2 for each of the subplots each featuring a resident running in a random seqeunce continuously prompting a whodunnit thought before plunging into the next sub plot. Sometimes individual sub plots are explored in more depth as relationships between individuals evolve and dissolve. I especially enjoyed theinterlinking of nature, the changing seasons, the birds and animals as the season pass and as do the years. Three stars (from 5)

Progressing well with Nicola Barker's "The Cauliflower" which is magical tale of Hindu spiritualism crossed with eccentricity and a large hint of confident madness.

Two goals
Delighted to see Englands progression in the World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Sweden on Saturday after the earlier in week victory over Columbia in what was also a dragon slaying of penalty-demons from the past.

Disappointed that the last 4 are all from Europe and that the African teams were eliminated in the group stage. Two Central American and 3 Southern Amercan made it through the Group stages with 2 of the latter making it to the last 8. But 10 of the last 16 were from Europe of which 4 now remain.

My maverick delight was met in seeing Japan through the Group before being defeated by Belgium 3-2 in a gutsy determined play. Belgium are still in and due to play France this Tuesday. I anticipate an England France final: what could go wrong?

Have been surprised how much I have enjoyed watching the various games despite tennis as an easy alternative. The games of been good, the goals great, the expressions of players and supporters wonderful and the pathetic amatuer dramatics generally treated as they should be.

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Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sat, June 30, 2018 19:41:15
Having returned from an awesome holiday in China and having retarted the "next contract" search, both mentioned elsewhere on my website it was necessary to take some me time out this week for some entertainment

First movie seen showing locally in Newcastle was an excellent documentary on the tragically short but creatively hectic and wonderful life of Alexander McQueen called by his surname. I loved the way it traced his life from his first job in savile row as an apprenetice to a master tailor from Cork in Ireland before moving on very quickly to more creative and modern fashion focused gurus who seemed to delight in helping him to blossom for the talent he was. The documentary conveys the obsession with building his own own Brand of McQueen whilst leading the creative established of Givenchy et al.

The 2nd movie as part of my self styled double bill was "In the fade" starring Diane Kruger. She is excellent in her role as are the two opposing legal eagles in this murder who done it, courtroom, justice failed, international and German nazi, revenge movie. Some of other acting is averge mediocre and the script varies but Diane's performeance throughout is excellent.

Goldsmiths University established an annual prize in "2013 to celebrate the qualities of creative daring associated with the University and to reward fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form." Working there in 2016 I was encouraged by association and introduced to several writers including Mike McCormack, Rachel Cusk and Eimera McBride who were amongst the short list that year and whose books as submitted that year proved most enjoyable to me (also).
A bit late for the 2017 crop of contenders I have just completed "First love" by Gwendoline Riley which is a powerful tale, sharply told and very unpretty or sweet. Have a few other contenders for the 2017 prize for reading this week when not too busy looking for work. Relaxation and simulataneous sharpening of the mind rather important at this stage. I like the idea of a quality prompted suggestion that is a tad differenet to the mainstream.

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Family Cancer

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, November 26, 2017 06:25:36
Its 2 months now since my youngest sister was told she had a stage 4 brain tumour, non-operable, aggressive called gleoblastoma multiforme. I find even the name of this, one of 130 or so types of tumour chilling. She is not currently suffering ill effects of the daily chemo programme, now 3 weeks old combined with a weekday radiation programme. Another 3 treatment weeks and her body will be allowed to rest for 4 weeks. Mid January will see the chemo start again 3 weeks on one week off. The objective to stop growth and maybe shrink. It will be some time before we now how effective this treatment might be.

Im stunned by the suddeness, the terminal essence of this grim reaper collection dis-service. I seek and attain temporary short term solace in a way I know well. Am confident that my resilience will pull me through this early shock phase before settling in for the medium haul in the new year. I do hope that there is a long haul option of a longer life for a sister I love plenty.

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Seasonal Blues?: No

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, November 26, 2017 06:12:53
The joyful seasonal exuberance is not infecting me. I happily and confidently risk being called a spoilsport as the commercial festival is into full swing already with a week gone and 4 weeks to go before it even starts. It will then last a week at least. At least 6 weeks? is far too long.

For the 12 months to september the UK economy is the poorest performing of leading economies but like the pathetic drug addict we too are in search of our "fix" to make it all okay. Earnings lag inflation and have done so for some time. But if we all get excited then maybe it will be okay in the morning. No it will not.

Im saddened and disappointed by the con-commercial-fest beings extended to such a long period. Im not a kill-joy, but realistic about how we are allowing ourselves to be suckered into think free oblivion.

These words from Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 1

"If all the year were playing holidays,

To sport would be as tedious as to work,

But when they seldom come, they wished for come,"

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Food Festival, Bandwidth, Zebras & Immigrants

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 19, 2017 07:14:29
Immigrants & I

On the evening of 16th March 2002 I boarded a plane in Lagos Nigeria, bringing to an end 18 years of life upon the African continent and bound for London where I arrived in the early hours of Sunday 17th March which you may recognise as St Patricks day, an immigrant to this wonderful country. I therefore found the speech by the Irish PM Enda Kenny in the presence of Trump most touching and heart warming as he talked about immigrants. (Consensus on Patrick is that he was from Wales, captured enslaved, freed and returned to bring Christianity). It has been the most impressive political leadership riposte to the ignorance of the leader of the USA.


Certain Women (9/10 in my opinion) was a delightful movie of 3 stories about 4 women in a rural setting of the American North West directed skilfully by Kelly Reichardt. Excellent acting of the ordinary lives of these women seeking to realise ambitions and dreams, explored sensitively. The first two stories reflecting frustrations of working and living in a male dominated society (not a historical movie either) whilst the last story explores the friendship of two very different women thrown together by accident of classroom.

Lion (6/10) as directed by Garth Davis is a heart touching true tale of a boy lost on the Indian railway system, adopted by Australian parents who don’t want their own children (they adopt two). Searching his own roots at University prompted by other non Australian born he (Dev Patel playing adult role) uses Google maps to track down the village he came from. Some scenes with Nicole Kidman are excellent but it is boy-Saroo played by Sunny Pawar that steals one’s heart with his expression and acting. A great movie for Christmas time on the sofa.

“Van Dyck and the artists Eye” at the Laing Gallery was good show of paintings by artists of themselves including the approximately 1640 Van Dyck painting and a Picasso too.

Robert Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern was mind blowing in showing his versatility, skill and in my opinion his humour. Variety of subject matter, materials used and scale of work from his 6 decades of work frequently took my breath away or just brought a big smile to my face. Eg the stuffed angora goat.

Food Festival, Bandwidth, Shekels, Rugby.

Hosting a Food Festival upon Fish Quay North Shields in the 2nd weekend of March was the outcome of a meeting of minds of an optimist with a lunatic. Saturday was damp drizzly misery forcing a happy adjournment to a local hostelry (Low Lights) for several hours. Sunday brought inspiring freshness of air and sunshine to allow exploration of small range of stalls and standardised options. The sign for chai tea lured me to one but there was no “masala chai” to refresh memories of my Indian adventures. Hopefully the show will return in future years in warmer times and on a bigger scale.

Off to London last week on Tuesday for 3 days followed by a trip to Manchester on Friday, to meet various Agencies and “rocketise” my contract search and shekel-search (ancient use not modern intended) for life and holidays. I admit to not being 100% these past weeks in my emotional state of mind but am getting to where I want and need to be and where my “elevator pitch” is pitch perfect. At one of my meetings this week a non-young agent said I had “bandwidth” and before I used my talons to pop his eyeballs onto my perverse-pool-playing surface in response to references to elastic/ ated waistlines insults as inferred to my mind scanning all wavelengths but missing the right tune. He was referring of course to my breadth of experience rather than being specialised in a micro segment of accounting which is the norm now. But there are roles for those such as I with “bandwidth” (of skills) he assured me. I am more confident than before.

Last weekend saw a van arrive at my door with various family heirlooms including my mothers dressing table. All items welcomed displayed hung (if needed) housed etc and that concludes that phase of a rather rocky nine weeks. Shared pictures from my sister of my mothers home now listed for sale shows a very empty house and home. Mine is delightfully crowded and very homely. Thank you Mum.


Yesterday brought to an end that great competition of rugby rivalry: Six Nations. Ireland have been inconsistent and England consistent but unexciting. I was not optimistic but certainly not as pessimistic as implied by Austin Healeys (an Englishman) prediction of a 23 point victory by England. Ireland played with perfect clinical passion against an uninspiring England winning 13-9 scoring the only try of the match.

England also won the womens version of this same competition and the Table sequence was the same as the Mens being in sequence Eng, Ire, Fra, Sco, Wal, Ita. wonder the odds on that.

Nail Art
Classy Red meeting wild graceful zebra (aka merger african past my present)

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Spring sprung

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 05, 2017 07:35:52
At Sanctuary house yesterday, I had nail-art inspiration in the form of the above from an on-line picture of half Yellow vertical block covering half the nail with adjoining black white stripes. To avoid looking like a mutant bee, the Green moved in and non-symmetrical pattern applied. As St Patricks day of Friday 17th is before my next appointment and as I arrived on St P day in 2002, its a nice combo of Irish roots and Newcastle home (the football colours are B&W - for the slower!!).

Last weekend was back in Ireland for Saturday - Tuesday for the "month's mind" for my mother who died 7 weeks earlier on 14th January: How time flies and slowly heals although healing is rather non-linear but the trend is the right way. The family gathering at and after mass (dont do many of those) was very cathartic and it was strongly supportive of a steadily developing positive outlook. Spent 2 days with my sisters at Mum's home to sort and share those items from our 5 decades (approx) shared times. Some items are now in their new home whilst others will arrive next Sunday. Funny how some just fit right in as if they always lived here and others are like waving:at me.

Pursuits of the mind have been scarce this past fortnight but will re-engage with local offerings this week (to come). Bacchus inspired pursuits were too dominant last weekend.Liked the quote from the linked wikipedia article about the months mind from Bede "survivals of the Norse minne, or ceremonial drinking to the dead".

Continue to look for next work contract but my mind is becoming more focused and less emotional: Clearer maybe even like that of a bee. Plenty of work out there but one must have done the near same role very very recently. Being professional interim does not sell in most places as hamsters preferred. Have now got a refined plan for that.

Yoga and walking provide either stretch that body or let the wind blow cobwebs from the mind. Recent reading suggests that the "mind" is not just the brain but a greater spatial occupier. Both very therapeutic and still thinking about mind.

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Darkness lightens

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, February 19, 2017 07:40:27
Picture is from my latest fortnightly visit to the creative Christine at Sanctuary House. idea found by nail guru me on-line of course.

The topic of the music lecture this week from the Explore programme ( was the composer John Cage whose style was best exemplified by the quote "Everything has its own spirit which can be released by setting it to vibrate". His use of chance in itself promoting the concept of risk, such as involving the I Ching to frame compositions or the creative 4'33" work which encourages us to "listen" in the extreme. My own summation is that sound is all around us and it is to us to provide context structure and extract pleasure.

Enjoyed Denzel Washington's adaptation of August Wilson's stage play "Fences" about a dysfunctional and very non rare family set in the 1950's Racist USA. Disappointed dreams of the father Troy (Washington) who has replaced love with automaton duty, is conditioned by the racial roles of the time and seeks to impose his values and distrust of sport upon his youngest son who has the same sports genes but less confined by walls or fences than his father. The conflict between the two is realistically harsh. His wife played by Viola Davis struggles to bind the family and is a delight to watch. The dialogue of the script is a gem to the ear. My assessment 8/10.

Later this Sunday I start a 2nd yoga class which I hope will complement my long running (no run!!) saturday session and returns me to where I was in 2015 with 2 classes per week. This body needs love and care.

Busy week, work search but no interviews yet. Continue and expand approach next week. No worries.

Off to Ireland next weekend for a Mass in Waterford on Sunday for my mother and then to her former home on Monday/tuesday in Navan to sort out some things. The growing daylight in the morning mirrors my own lightening of mood but dark days intrude too sometime.

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Blog restarted

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, February 12, 2017 07:20:24
A few weeks ago, this picture was taken of me whilst waiting at Agra rail station en route to Varanasi: a minor 12 hour overnight journey officially (Northern India if you must ask and my website has my notes and pictures). There were some seasonal delays in services due to fog but I was thinking and making plans whilst reclining on my rucksack under the protective covering of my sunhat at approx 8pm.

Back home in North Shields now, its time to make those plans real.

Firstly I am actively engaged in looking for a new work contract to replace last year's excellent contract at Goldsmiths University in London. No longer bound to the beautiful North East but free to apply my skills wherever I can source good meaningful and intelligent fairly paid work. (not too much of latter nearby but there is some). But here is "Home".

Secondly, I am continuing my interest in what is artistic and or educational in its broader sense. This week I have been lucky to enjoy

The German black comedy Toni Erdmann with its sensitive observations about an unhappy relationship between joke making father and work focused ambitious daughter. At nearly 3 hours its a longer than normal movie but such is the quality of the script and performance of the father daughter actors that its a joy of a movie 8/10 for me.

Also enjoyed but not as much T2 Trainspotting a follow up of the classic movie from 20 years ago. The acting is excellent, the script slow moving for the first half in explaining what happened so long back which I my opinion could have been sped up with a different technique for explaining the past. Its 4 lads now Mark, Simon, Frankie and Spud with the latter making the biggest steps in life following advice from Mark that he has to replace his heroin addiction with a different and better addiction. A lesson that can be applied to any other bad habits we may have which im working at (not the heroin bit!!). 7/10 for me.

A very thought provoking exhibition at the Baltic by Italian artist Monica Bonvicini, made much better by a 1-1 guided tour by a staff member. One floor is the big installation and painting works and loved the variety of techniques applied and in particular the use of drip paint in the 2 colour paintings of buildings in USA following various natural disasters. The 2nd floor of her work focused on control including various displays of bondage gear in everyday shapes. That was also good <smile>.

A lecture as part of the Explore (WeAreExplore) programme on the use of forms of Jazz music (broader sense rather than purist whom I think get it wrong by too narrow definition) by classical composers including Shostakovich (eg Tahiti Trot), Gershwin (eg Rhapsody in Blue), and Darius Milhaud (La creation du Mond), not to forget Ravel and Walton amongst other. The start of this Jazzy thing was of course back in Ragtime and loved the sounds of Scott Joplin to shade the blank canvas as my mind was rather blank on the matter at the start of the lecture.

Northern stage is one of my favourite theatres and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein a stirring imprint upon my childhood brain. I was therefore expecting to enjoy as I did Dr Frankenstein directed by Lorne Campbell and Polly Frame playing Victoria a female version of the Victor of old. Excellent acting and I especially enjoyed the "dream" scenes blending so magically with reality. The themes of where life begins and ends as well as taking responsibility for our actions are ageless but more complicated with Science. So appropriate as we create more complex and therefore more "human type" robots.

Live music excursions to the Exchange last Sunday for the monthly (1st sunday) musicians playing their own compositions rather than covers followed by the Boneshakers at the Maggie which following the departure of the manager seems to have shut its doors this week (was closed saturday night 10.30pm), and no future music listing on display as is normal. Will check out today but it will be a sad miss to the live music scene and more so being 100 yards from my back door.

Bucket list of short and longer holiday destinations taking shapes as well as other plans for the next 2 decades or so. Life is too short

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Autumn Arrives (6th weekend in L)

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, September 18, 2016 10:57:35

Autumn arrives

Time is moving on and whilst I have enjoyed much in this fascinating city I realise I have barely touched the surfaces.

Some venues have seen my footprints far more than others.

Back at the Tate for the modern art collection. Picasso’s 3 dancers great painting indeed but Dali’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus the one that hit my brain full on. Dazzling creativity. The range of paintings, the variety of styles, the output of such talent. A nice haven from the crowds is the balcony in the members area facing the river where one can sip and savour a flavoured waterey refreshment at 350 pence or so whilst enjoying a fabulous view. The frequency of visits to the non free parts of this venue have paid for the annual fee.

My other frequent favourite is the British Museum and this weekend I enjoyed free tours of the “Japan” collection (note this is also an air-conditioned room far up and away from the sweltering (korea and Inca rooms too provide respite when London gets hot). The 2nd free tour was of Sassanian glassware which prompted a time check as to century. From 250-600AD/CE and strung between Syria and Iran was a powerful and rich empire. Yes the old glasses and bowls impressive but it was the small coloured glass perfume bottles that caught my eye. Small enough to be enclosed in a fist, they were such a personal touch from a time so distant. My perfume bottles will not last so long!.

Back to live Comedy and this time at Comedy Carnival at Club rumba next to Trocadero. Friendly intimate more personal and distinctly cheaper (£16 entrance on Saturday and change from £20 for a bottle of wine). I laughed from beginning to end and eyes filled with water several times as a range of varied and talented comedians pushed various boundaries of humour. Much preferable to the Comedy Store nearby.

Do the crowds never give up. Every street so busy, every table occupied, bars boldly busy.

National Gallery for the George Shaw exhibition. Detailed paintings particularly of trees in enamel. The rest of the Gallery will be explored in instalments as will the Portrait gallery nearby who have daily talks on specific paintings and occasional musical recitals.. More work lol

My 3rd and final visit of this years Proms was #72 (previously 37/57) and as close to the Last as I could get.

Woody Allen’s Café Society seemed auto biographical in style, well acted, beautifully filmed and costumed and with a ¾ dazzling script.

Ron Howards documentary on the Beatles Eight days a week was very enjoyable and technically they have done magic with old images. Ringo’s comment about how poor the sound systems were in the USA where they frequently played over the staium tanoy system was hilarious. He had to watch the movements of Paul’s arse to work out where they were in the song. They were good at songwriting, professionally packaged to perfection and incredibly close knit team of four.

Andrew Neil chaired a session on plotical landscape of Britain post Brexit vote. Anatole Kaletsky (doom), Liam Halligan (optimistic), Chris Darbyshire (on fence) Claer Barrett (no views of note) were united in not being sure of their facts. Why anyone would talk before Andrew without fact checking beats me.

Next fortnight

Cosi fan tutte, Tate talk on Georgia O K, British Museum talks on Egyptian wisdom and their new SA art and a New Statesman/ Goldsmiths lecture. Those booked must fill in the gaps lol

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Last Summer Bank Holiday (5th weekend in L)

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, September 18, 2016 10:55:39

Last Bank Holiday of Summer

Comedy Store in central London was my first London Comedy night out. It was slick professional and pricey. The comedy was no better than that which I have experienced at the Stand, Newcastle although maybe the best were all at Edinburgh this weekend. Jammed pack in rows of seats that would make Ryanairs Michael blush. I laughed of course. But at £26 for ticket, nearly £25 for bottle of wine and £12 approx for a steak sandwich, it aint cheap. My normal prices at Stand are £12 entrance Saturday (£6 Friday for same acts with annual membership £30) and change from £20 for a bottle of wine (quality comparable).

An earlier visit to the Tate which is another venue to be explored slowly revealed the photographic works of the Finnish Konttinen based in Byker from 69-77 recording the British working class. She clearly was welcomed into the homes of many and her pictures are natural, professional and a historic record.

Walking in Hampstead was part of my series of Sunday walks via “London walks” where one turns up at a Tube station at a certain time, no booking, pay a £10 for 2 hours guided walk. Hampstead is quaint, perched on a hill to the North, pretty and pricey. Ridley Scotts 30 room home was sold for £28m. I find the idea of £1m per room supportive of the idea of keep the plebs out. In a local pub that seemed to have missed the gastro pub paint brush a Sunday lunch was enjoyed at £12 whilst a woman from up north (Manchester me thinks) quibbled about the price of a half pint saying that for same £2.40 she’d get a pint and more back home. The east European staff could not care less, nor could I.

A tour of Westminster Abbey on Sunday was moving beyond belief. The introduction included the memorial to the unknown soldier and the story was relayed by our Guide in a way that moved tears to cheek with ease. In a place that hosts remains and records of so many powerful and famous it was the death of a single symbolic soldier that made the most impact. Id like some of my ashes scattered in the quiet cloistered area. My ghost will have much to learn as night falls and spirits mingle.

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August Arty (4th weekend in L)

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, September 18, 2016 10:53:48

My 4th London weekend

Set in a rather posh part of town, okay its very posh aka Knightsbridge, the Royal Albert Hall is a lovely building in tribute to some long dead bit of royalty. But in contrast to the Royal Opera House it conveys a feeling wrapped in an atmosphere of British essence of normality, packed full with a love of music. And so it was upon my first visit to building amidst the 2 month long series of proms, number 37 that I swivelled my chair to gaze over the Prommers, those who stand for a sliver of the seating price having perhaps queued for upwards of 1,300 tickets designated for non cushioned attendance. As it was not packed by ay any means many stretched out upon the floor. The musical programmes was varied and entertaining. (prom #37 Waltons Partita, Webern’s Pascaglia and Brahms 4th the latter being the only piece I had heard before but all equally enjoyed

The Royal Academy (London is tough on those seeking venues of a Republican hue) is that semi egalitarian semi democratic, majority elite where a bunch of Artists in the club or guild or Union depending on perspective invite British artists to submit works of art and approx. 10% approx. get to be displayed and cannot help but wonder how much gets displayed in bed in order to get displayed on the walls. The selection process by reported accounts is flawed and artists who have financially made it judging who to admit has the hint of non fairplay to it. The rooms are delightfully bright and the displays of artistic exhibits conversation prompting in the main and pleasing in the minority. The bijoux garden areas surrounded by 4 high storey buildings a pleasant respite from how did that get in here to how did the gem survive the architects pen in a city noted for the price per square foot. Your two feet will probably fit with a shape of 1 foot square but your hips and shoulders will probably not. Ordering 2 glasses of prosecco for my friend & I and asking of snacks, offered bowl of almonds and waiter says I will bring them over, shot the bill up into levels (I have just returned from a meal of afghan spag bol for /£6.50 at nearby Perseplois) I decided to skip contemplation . £23. The absence of pence from bills is a warning.

I had by this weekend been to the Royal Opera House to see 3 very different shows, Obsidian tea plus 2 other dance/ballet, Verdi’s Il Trovatore and the Bolshoi’s Taming of the Shrew, without misogyny. The Bolshoi will not be back in London next year touring Paris, Scandinavia, New York and Japan and as it was my birthday week and as there was only 1 seat left for sale and none for Swan Lake, it seemed only fair to join the reverse-paupers in the stalls for Le Corsair (The Pirate) and their last night in town or indeed the UK. Critics may debate the finer points of Ballet but they bring an expertise to costumes that is superlative. The most humble of parts and judging by only 2 performances are attired in the most delightfully coloured, tailored and role appropriate costumes. As tho the Ballet and having only seen UK groups before before Obsidian tear, the Bolshoi bring a lightness of touch, a glide and a gracefulness, an energy and excitement enhancing sense. They are true Masters and Mistresses of their art form. I’m glad I paid the asking price of £135 but I leave my friends assured that my next three shows at the ROH in total cost £12 less than that single price. Yes, Im back up the top dusting the ceiling but still savouring the beauty of what art is available so frequently here.

The options on Sunday based upon why not go on the river was to go up river somewhere nice or downstream to Greenwich. Those of you familiar with the way of rivers and as limited by there being only one will understand the great choice of 2. Greenwich won and we headed off in the non touristy but tourist filled commuter boat. The Cutty Sark waved its sails and gosh it is small, the village was jammed with tourists. The former naval building designed to assist the recovery of sailors of the British navy from injury and ailment so vast in scale they could probably accommodate the entire naval staff now. It was and is a symbolic tribute of physical and perhaps psychological benefit to those who had served to expand and maintain the empire at its height. Up the hill to see the folk queue to be pictured on the meridian line and learn about Harrisson’s clocks (Dava Sobel’s Longitude purchased) provided a technical guru expertise counterbalance to the physical ardours of those who recovered at the base of the hill. Atop the hill allowed those Londoners to update their clocks daily. And all that in the last 2 centuries.

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melodies of notes and love

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Wed, June 22, 2016 22:07:44

A musical weekend with The Force on Friday and then “Big Red and the Grinners” (Sunday) providing good quality live music entertainment and pleasure in my local home pub, the Maggie Bank. I am firm in the opinion that the absence of live music is a poorer place to live. Sub optimal in extremis. Both bands were energetic, professional and left me feeling much happier for enjoying their magical touches.

In the middle of last week (Tuesday) I was very fortunate to attend and enjoy some great entertainment from Paul Cassidy at Goldsmiths; Frederic Chopin Ballades 1&2 and a new composer to me Frederic Rzewski born 1936 Ballades 3&4. Great contrast, great talent and great luck to be there.

Mikado by Scottish opera at Theatre Royal Newcastle was a dilemma in entertainment. It offered ingredients of pantomime, predictable lines eg “Yum Yum” as the main female lead and whose humour from aging magician playing touch bum with young female assistant was more in Carry on mode. Or maybe carry on just adopted the great scripting and lazily enjoyable music of Gilbert & Sullivan. Skilful, professional but so dated despite some efforts to make it au-jour (to the present day if my French is awful)

More recently I enjoyed intensively the delightful movie Tale of Tales, an extraordinarily creative trilogy of fantasia and imagination. There was plenty of material for plenty of discussion and I do wish I had seen this with an equally adventurous imaginative friend. Skip here if you plan to see.

For me the tale of the 2 brothers born, of selfish maternal love at all costs to have a child and then create 2 by sorcery. Their love for each other proved stronger and overcame the other one sided love of the warped mother.

The Princess in hope of love who is married off by a father more in love with a flea than her to an ogre of great physicality but no love, she wins, forgives father and becomes queen.

The two sisters in aged support and gentle but eventually cruel rivalry. The twist was the rich bloke fooled into accepting into his bed one of the old women , then realising his error trying murder before falling in love with the reincarnated but now younger woman. But she loses her youthful skin and runs away. Love is more than physical although that is oft the spark.

True love is stronger than selfish love. Embrace. (okay I will xxx)

Typed as Ireland beat Italy and go through to next round. FANTASTIC only saw the replays as I typed lol
Wednesday 26th June, 2016

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