Monday, 31 January 2011

The death of a Londoner. January 31st 2011.

This is dedicated to the memory of a small Londoner who this morning died in my arms. A wee Lady who came into my life just over fifteen years ago and was more or less a constant companion to me ever since. She survived being born on the streets of Tooting in Southwest London where she was found wandering at the young age of 6-8 weeks old. She came to live with our family a few weeks before Christmas when she was 12 weeks old. An unusual step for the dog and cat home in Battersea, as we had informed by them that they do not like to home puppies and certainly not so close to Christmas. You see we asked for a puppy as we already had a boisterous German Shepherd bitch and did not want to introduce an adult dog into the family as we were not certain that she would accept it. However, fate intervened and there must have been something about the Zig Zag family that was agreeable to the staff at Battersea as we had a phone call telling us that a puppy that had been found by the police , was now available and we had a couple of days to get in and see it.

We took along our German Shepherd to meet this new possible addition to the family. At first I was put off as this ugly looking little dog with it's big paws, but of course my children fell in love with her right away. At least the GSD showed indifference.

We took her home and fretted as to whether or not the GSD would savage her that very night. And the usual argument as to whether or not the dog would be allowed to sleep in with the children. That was a big no and it was decided that she would sleep downstairs. After a period of time of being in the house the, as yet, nameless dog headed for the occupied basket of the GSD. Hearts went into mouths, breath was held and this Agent stood by to intervene in any unpleasantness. We needn't have worried, the GSD sniffed at this interloper and gave way to allow her access into the basket! We could hardly believe our eyes as our somewhat belligerent GSD made room for this wee bundle of hair, head and paws to snuggle into the GSD and promptly fall into a fitful sleep. This small dog was to become known as Sally's dog. (One of my daughters, who had pestered me for weeks to get a puppy as the GSd really is a one person dog).

From that moment afterwards they were then inseparable buddies and never a cross growl passed between them. Of course the GSD passed on before the wee Lady but my other half took her to the veterinary when her time came.

Unwittingly, the wee Lady has been the cause of much mirth amongst our family. When she came to be on her own she had a habit of trotting on ahead 20 or 30 metres, but never very far away. One day whilst enjoying a pleasant walk on a sun filled day, air alive with insects and butterflys, we had walked along the side of a trout filled stream and were now crossing a water meadow. The wee Lady had walked ahead and through a stile to greet some other walkers, the first sign of anyone else we had seen for sometime. She trotted past them and the followed them back through the stile towards us. Meanwhile we had stopped to just look back at the view and as this middle-age couple came towards us , we greeted them as according to our manners and the woman asked us; "Is this your dog?". There was no one else in sight and we stifled our laughter and relied in the affirmative. She then went on to say what a lovely dog she was. This is still an 'in' joke within the Zig Zag household.

We have been blessed to have such a dog in our lives.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

La Puce à l'oreille (A flea in her ear)

Hasn't London got some prime theatres and actors? I have been to the Old Vic for the second time to see A Flea in Her Ear. A classic example of British farce, except that it was written by a Frenchman, Georges Feydeau and set in Paris in 1900.

Raymonde suspects her husband, Victor, of infidelity and she turns to her best friend, Lucienne, to help her gain proof. They concoct a ploy — based on a perfumed letter — to trap him at the Hotel Coq d'Or. In true Feydeau fashion the plan misfires; the plot is complicated by confused identities, revolving beds, a great many doors and the fact that the foolish hotel porter, Poche, is the exact double of Victor.

Superbly acted amidst lovely set designs, this is a play worthy of spending your hard earned cash and going to see. Wonder at John Marquez's over the top portrayal of the manic hispanic character. I promise you, that you will laugh out loud.


Saturday, 1 January 2011

Keeping Mummery.

Twelth night will soon be upon us and I invite you all to join in a little revelry on Bank Holiday Monday.

On Monday 3rd January at 1pm, the theatre collective, the Lions part will be presenting their annual end-of-Christmas ritual The 12th night Mummers play. It's not actually Twelfth Night on the 3rd but it's the nearest holiday we can get. The event begins outside Shakespeare's Globe with the arrival of the Green Man, by boat, followed by the wassailing ritual. We then make the short procession to the Bankside Pier where the mummers play is performed featuring Father Christmas, St George, the Turkey Sniper, the Spanish Doctor, and Beelzebub. At the end we will find the King Bean and Queen Pea from the audience and have a coronation. From there we farandole off to the George Inn for mulled wine, ale food and Morris dancing and singing.

"A more oddly English event you could not hope to find in London."

See The Lions Part

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Elephants in London

The London Elephant parade will be upon us from the merry month of May. Remember those painted ceramic cows a few years ago, that were dotted around London? Well we are soon to see Baba the elephant and chums dotted around London. The map above shows where some of the elephants have been placed so far. They appear to be the brainchild of Mark Shand, of the charity Elephant Family and they will stand in prime locations across London for two months before their auction in July. Some have already been bought for £5,000 and the proceeds will then go to 20 wildlife charities actively working to protect the endangered Asian elephant — the smaller, forest-dwelling cousin to the better-known African — in India and across the continent.

I first came across Mark Shand when he presented a lecture at the Royal Geographical Society about his adventures whilst travelling through India on an elephant, named Tara. I have read two of his travel books, Travels on My Elephant and River Dog and both are ripping good reads. His older sister is also the Duchess of Cornwell, although I had no idea about this fact until I read about it in the London evening newspaper. I wish this venture well and I would love to see a large amount of money raised for these charities. After all do we Londoner's not have a love affair with the elephant? We even have an area of London named after these magnificent creatures, The Elephant and Castle. The rumours about the area being so called comes from a corruption of "la Infanta de Castilla" referring to any of a number of Spanish princesses connected to English history including Eleanor of Castile, Catherine of Aragon, and Maria, daughter of Philip III of Spain. However, there is no trace of the informal name before a reference of 1765 when the Court Leet of the Manor of Walworth met at met at "Elephant and Castle, Newington" on 21 March 1765. If the pub had had a different name, then because of its prominence on the principal routes, the area likely would have been called by that name.

Details of the parade here.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

New Wimbledon Theatre

Last night I went to the musical 'Hot Flush' at the New Wimbledon Theatre. Who would have thought that a musical about the menopause would be so hilarious? I certainly didn't but I'm pleased to say that I had a very enjoyable time.

The Theatre is about to celebrate it's centenary and is hosting an open day on 14th April with a grand opening at 11am by June Whitfield CBE. Throughout the day there are prizes to be won, such as the chance to fly across stage like Peter Pan. Theatre tickets for a year. There are workshops that include 1920's dance, lighting & sound and a family panto workshop. There will be stage make up demonstrations and songs from My Fair Lady performed by the Wimbledon Light Opera. The day culminates in a ghost tour at 6 pm.

It is advisable to book for the dance workshops and ghost tour on

Children U14 must be accompanied by an adult.

More info here

Saturday, 3 April 2010

What to do over Easter?

A couple of good plays currently showing that I can vouch for as being good or very good, are

Sweet Nothings, playing at the Young Vic, explores the power of sexual longing, the cruelty of tradition and the vulnerability of those in love. It is directed by the feted Swiss/European director Luc Bondy.

And on at the Duke of York's Theatre is that Alan Ayckbourn classic, Bedroom Farce. Very amusing and well acted.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Art of Cheese

Now I like cheese, but surely this is taking the biscuit? News has reached this agent's ears and assailed my olfactory bulb, that a restaurant dedicated to cheese opened sometime this year in Chelsea. Apparently the restaurant has a menu of a hundred different types of cheese.

One review I read stated that they had enjoyed the lemon tarte du jour served with a tongue-tingling homemade blueberry sorbet. Now that sounds like my type of pudding! The restaurant even has cheese ice-cream on the menu. Can you imagine?

I enjoy a nice piece of stilton with plum pudding as much as the next agent, but cheese ice-cream? Almost on par with cheese in a can. I shudder at the thought. I think I was put off cheese when I spent a lovely week in Switzerland. My hosts were proud of their region and epicurean delights, that mostly involved cheese. Raclette and fondue being amongst their favourites. But I failed to see the delights of eating fondue with or without kirsch, and after a week I looked forward to returning home to a cheese free month.

I realise that there may well be some of you that enjoy such folly in abandonment and for those of you who would care to? The name of this restaurant is L'Art du Fromage at 1a Langton Street, SW3

Ben Gunn, eat your heart out!