Tuesday, 3 February 2009


A few weeks ago I flew to Dubai, United Arab Emirates on business with British Airways. I hate long flights because I can never sleep and I find them so boring. But this flight was different. I, unexpectedly, found a movie to watch (I am not big on movies) called Hairspray. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining I found it.

It tells the story of Tracy, a young girl in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in the early sixties. She is obsessed with a television show called The Corny Collins Show because some of her classmates take part in it, including a Link Larkin with whom she is madly in love but who is dating a rich and snobbish other classmate called Amber.

The show is based on singing ‘race’-related music and Tracy’s mum (played by John Travolta in the movie) is not happy with this for obvious reasons. Also, when Tracy goes for an audition at the television studio, she gets turned down on the basis of her (over-)weight – imagine that happening today in the UK!

But Tracy does not give up and she learns various R&B dance moves from the best dancer, Seaweed and this gets her a place on the Corny Collins Show. The show organises an annual ‘Miss Teenage Hairspray’ competition and Tracy’s immediate popularity makes her a very strong candidate to win it. She also starts becoming popular with Link, much to the dismay of his girlfriend Amber. In fact, Amber gets Tracy sent to detention to get her away from her boyfriend but this backfires because he gets himself sent to detention too to support her!

Although Tracy does not actually win the contest, she achieves another possibly more important goal – that of getting Link to fall in love with her!

I found the movie Hairspray to be thoroughly entertaining and that is very unusual for me because I do not easily like movies.

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Sunday, 1 February 2009

Snow, Glorious Snow!

Today I am not going to write about cheap London theatre tickets as I usually do. No, today I am writing about something much more exciting – snow!

We have been warned! Snow is on the way and plenty of it. In fact, we have been told that we are in for some of the coldest weather in 14 years – brrr!

And here it is. Snowing it is and with a vengeance too. I don’t know about you but I love snow even though that means that it is usually very cold. And nobody can deny that today was deceptively cold. I say, deceptively, because it was also a very bright and clear day, which leads one to believe that it is spring like. But step out into the open and that Polar wind immediately makes you feel like you are in the middle of a desert, a cold one, of course.

Today, I decided to take my family out for a pub lunch and wanted to find a nice pub in a quaint little village somewhere in Hertfordshire or Essex. So, I headed out of London on the A10 through Enfield and past the M25 into Hertfordshire. The first thing I noticed was that there was much less traffic than usual, which was great for two reasons, the first obvious – nobody likes traffic and the second because more people would be on their computers booking cheap London theatre tickets.

Anyway, after looking at places like Bishops Stortford and Great Dunmow we ended up in a little place called Stebbing. It is a little village off the A120 past Stansted on the way to Colchester. There are probably no more than 100 houses, a beautiful medium sized church and one pub – yes, just one pub! And what a pub! It has been open since 1756 and it used to be one of 13 pubs in this little village and is now the only surviving one. I thought all this augured well and I was right. The food was good and so was the service and the atmosphere was comfortable thanks to the large open fire and the friendly patrons.

After lunch we drove around Essex and came across another pretty village called Finchingfield. It has what is essentially a small pond in the middle of a large bowl-like central square. The village is littered with thatched-roofed cottages, which contribute to its charm.

Then, back to the main event of the day – the snow. On the way back to London, it started snowing and that got us all excited. It did not snow heavily but all the same.

Anyway, back home and after about an hour I looked out of the window and by then everywhere was covered with an inch of the white stuff, much to the delight of my sons. And to my delight, people had stayed in and had been looking for cheap London theatre tickets all day!