Thursday, 16 June 2016

Hamilton: An important lesson in American History

Hamilton is the hip-hop Broadway musical which swept the board at the Tony Awards on Sunday night, winning 11 awards including Best Musical. 

Following the announcement that this smash-hit musical is coming to London in 2017, it’s about time we all need to brush up on our American History.

According to an article on the Daily Beast, Hamilton, which evokes the rise of immigrant Alexander Hamilton and the early years of America, "has received the kind of rave reviews that are usually reserved for the Pope".

A musical about one of the founding fathers of the US does NOT sound appealing – BUT this show has been a total Broadway sell-out and its biggest fan, President Obama, described it as “not only a smash hit but a civics lesson our kids can’t get enough of”.

Now - a confession... I didn't know a huge amount about this for the obvious reason that (a) I haven't studied American History and (b) haven't been to see the show on Broadway but everywhere I turn, people are talking about Hamilton - particularly after winning so many accolades on Sunday night at the Tony's.

I have been obsessed with watching their YouTube videos including their White House performance and James Corden's Carpool Karaoke - the latter of which I sent to Ruby Wax who introduced the whole Hamilton thing to me - and it made her fall of her chair.

This mesmerizing show was written by Lin Manuel Miranda (picture above) and he seems to have shot to fame at an incredibly fast pace (apparently in September 2015, he had 85,000 twitter followers and now he has 537,000...not that that's a strict measure of fame but you know what I mean!). He dedicated one of the acceptance speeches on Sunday evening to the victims of the Orlando shooting which happened only shortly before. 

I feel privileged to share my name with one of the coolest people around – and can hardly wait for Hamilton to come to London. He has starred in the Broadway show and may do the same in London but not necessarily at the start. Yikes ! I say Bring It ON.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Glamour awards 2016

This week saw the great and the good gather for the famous Glamour awards... It's a celebration of women, who - lets face it - (still) have to work EXTRA hard to get any kind of recognition...

I voted for Emma Freud to win Column of the Year and guess what - she WON! This is too exciting for words - so much so that she has changed her name on Twitter to: iwonanawardFFS. 

Another notable award was to Jennifer Saunders for her outstanding contribution....

It couldn't have gone to a more well-deserving recipient. Here is the most brilliantly funny moment that Dawn French gives the award and the acceptance speech from JS that follows (where she dedicates it to Victoria Wood):

Thursday, 9 June 2016

A different kind of bus !

If you spend a frustrating amount of time in a city, stuck in traffic on a bus that looks like its going nowhere fast.... have faith! Soon, we may have such things as elevated buses that travel above the traffic.

Alleviating congestion and reducing pollution - and speeding up the commute. I say bring it on Sadiq Khan ! Fascinating video below....

Friday, 3 June 2016

Books not screens

Apparently some of us are guilty of checking our phones as many as 150 times in a day... I would love to think that I was nowhere near that bracket but am sure if you counted how many times I even glanced at it, it would probably be a very high number (I love the Do Not Disturb Setting on my iPhone).

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are all perfect procrastination tools.

Feeling very conscious that I was looking more at screens than books, I have made a huge effort to read more lately and am feeling much better for it. 

Cue: An invite to two book launches in two weeks!

Firstly - Positively Primal by Emma Woolf

Due to busy diaries, I hardly ever get to see Emma but what a privilege to be invited to her book launch at the famous Waterstones on Piccadilly. 

Described at the "perfect antidote" to our 24/7 lifestyle - I have never felt more in need of a book like this. 

So much of life is spent rushing about, this book is a "re-connection" with food, work, relationships, the real world, family..... carefully researched and very inspiring, it is a breathtaking effort from someone so young and who I am lucky to call my friend !

Then - The Inner Fix by Joey Bradford and Persia Lawson

I had never met Joey and Persia before but had been a big follower of theirs since they founded Addictive Daughter - this is a brutally honest manual. 

Their book launch was magical and in order than they both had the same level of enjoyment on the night, they were handcuffed together. Also very useful for people like me who wanted to meet them together !

This is a much better and more worthy description than I could write - 

With our lives being overrun by social media and celebrity culture, being twenty-something has become pretty complicated. Wanting things we can't afford, finding ourselves stuck in a job we don't enjoy, or still living at home with mum and dad, we reach for things to try to perk us up (sex, booze and drugs) - but eventually, they turn out to be the very things that bring us down.

Having been caught in a cycle of self-destructive behaviour and come out the other side, Persia and Joey - friends, life coaches and founders of Addictive Daughter - colourfully chart their lives from childhood insecurities to adolescent obsessions. With tools and exercises to work through at your own pace, THE INNER FIX is guaranteed to teach you how to stop worrying and start living.

So much of the above will resonate with so many people - even if they won't admit it - I struggle to think of a more helpful guide to help you muddle through the maze that is 2016 and beyond.

Out next week!

Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon

I think this book deserves a blog post all of its own - partly because the book hasn't come out yet - but I have seen it. 

But also because Bryony came up with the brilliant "Mental Health Mates" who are a group of people affected directly or indirectly by mental illness and who wanted to meet to form their own "tribe" - sharing stories / making friends / having a support network - and I am so happy to be part of this group - and want to write about it properly along with the book launch at The Pool shortly.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Elegy at the Donmar Warehouse

There was no better way to spend a Monday evening than at the Donmar Warehouse watching Zoe Wanamaker performing in Elegy. I have seen Zoe performing once before on stage and was yet again completely blown away by what I saw. 

Zoe played the starring role (Lorna) in an all-female cast (just three members). 

Lorna has a devastating and terminal brain disorder, with the only treatment to cure it being a drastic method that would also remove her memories of the earlier 20-30 years - as well as the moment she met fellow teacher Carrie at a choir rehearsal.

What if every neuron in the human brain could be mapped and decoded? Every act of human behaviour catalogued and wholly understood? Elegy imagines a very-near future in which radical and unprecedented advances in medical science mean that it’s now possible to augment and extend life.

Through the beautiful and moving story of three women who’ve made the choice between love and survival, Elegy explores a world in which the brain is no longer a mystery to us. But at what cost?

Could you fall in love with someone all over again if you had the memory of meeting them first time round removed?

It was one of the most thought provoking plays I've seen in ages, quite short - only an hour and a quarter long - but with so much emotion and so many questions raised in such a short time, I don't think I could have coped with it being any longer in length.

Covering love, death, grief... its a very personal story. I'm not sure what I would do in Lorna's situation - but who better to discuss it with than with Zoe herself afterwards. Such a treat.

Hurry - Elegy is only on until 18th June and I think its pretty much sold out...