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Life with Lavendar in London town

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

'Tis the Silly Season

Since I moved to London, I’ve come to experience the months leading up to Christmas as being high pitched and action packed. In anticipation of the holidays and perhaps in an effort to stave off the dark gloom of winter, the sheer amount of social and cultural activities for everyone seem to quadruple as does the desire to attend every single thing possible. It’s a marathon few months run at break neck pace. By Christmas, we are all exhausted and fall down post Xmas in a crumpled, sodden heap.

The lead up this year has been no exception, crammed full with catch-ups with friends, parties and shows galore. London at any time offers a veritable feast of rich pickings and in the last few weeks I’ve been to several shows. Here is a snapshot of each:

Michael Clarke Company

With Kate Moss as a patron, Michael Clarke Company is well situated in positing itself as the cool, hip kid on the block of contemporary dance. Presenting a revival of his 1986 classic, Swamp, together with a medley of pieces set to music by Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and David Bowie, Clarke had his unitard clad dancers performing gymnastic, Cunningham-influenced choreography that reminded me of moves executed by the Chinese gymnasts in Cirque du Soleil. Clarke’s ascetic, constrained style may appeal to some but I prefer my dancers with a little more expression even if it means a little less √©paulement.

The Blind Boys from Alabama

I have always wanted to attend a Gospel revival and on a cold, winter’s night at the Barbican, I got my wish. The Blind Boys bounced onstage in their sharp white suits and showed us the meaning of puttin’ on a show. Slightly diminished in number (one had died the week before and another had been waylaid in transit), they nonetheless raised the roof with their rich, booming voices which resulted in a concert unlike no other. By the end the entire, and I mean entire audience were on its feet dancing, shouting, clapping, hooting and singing. If I could've bottled the atmosphere there that night, I think I would have captured the essence of joy. Eau de Joy courtesy of the Bad Boys. Hallelujah Amen!

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

When the husband told me that we had tickets to go see Tennessee Williams’ classic play, I wasn’t sold. Unlike him I am not a sci-fi geek so the thought of James Earl Jones (voice of Darth Vader) starring as Big Daddy did not make my head turn. But there are worse ways to spend a Friday night so I went along. The minute the Big Man strolled onstage in Scene Two, a quicker reversal of opinion you never saw. His rich, mellifluous voice delivered line after gorgeous line which combined with a dynamite stage presence and solid, assured acting held me in thrall. Mid scene his stage prowess was in full flight; tearing up the boards and eating Adrian Lester for breakfast. His relative absence in Scene Three left a huge belly-shaped hole in the acting which made me want to shout out, Come back Daddy Darth! Show these youngsters how it’s done! James Earls Jones. The man’s got acting in his bones.

Susie Orbach and Marin Alsop

My friend Cassandra and I went along to Southbank last night to hear Susie Orbach and Marin Alsop talk about women in leadership. In 2007 Marin was appointed director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and was the first woman to be appointed as such in America. Susie is a psychoanalyst, lecturer and well–known author, with the phenomenal anti-dieting treatiseFat is a Feminist Issue under her belt as well as the more recent, Bodies. She is also the co-originator of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and convenor of the website AnyBody. To cap it off, Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights organisation, Liberty chaired the event. In the presence of such luminaries we expected interesting discussion and we were not disappointed. Marin spoke about the complexities of being in a leadership role where she found herself a female role model simply because of the sheer lack of any others in her field. Susie was more keen to examine the psycho-social reasons why women still do not 100% feel they can grab hold of the brass ring. And that when they do, why their leadership style has to emulate that of men to be deemed as “real” leadership. After all, she said, Women have been leaders for centuries as guardians of the home but that intimate, complex style of leadership is not regarded as valid. Why? The night ended far too soon and we walked out, our heads filled with questions and a brightness of purpose that being inspired will do to you.

They say there is no rest for the wicked and that's true in my case as the week ahead brings me to see the sexy man of dance Carlos Acosta showcasing Apollo & Other Works at Sadlers Wells and also to hear the great Ranulph Fiennes, explorer extraordinaire talking about his adventures at the Royal Geographic Society.

I'm knackered but I can't wait.

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