The magazine for men in Wales
“IT’S ALWAYS MAD WHEN WE PLAY IN WALES” The Stereophonics love to gig on home turf THE BEST WELSH FOOTBALL TEAM EVER? Read what Chris Coleman thinks FANCY STAYING IN A HO-TEL? Bennett knows a few
FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS S4C’s Lois Jones has 35 days to live
CONTENTS FEATURES 16
Right On Cue
A lot can happen in 35 Days
Chris Coleman, football manager
“We’d hang ropes from trees to make swings”
Snooker wizard Michael White scored his first century break aged just nine Who killed the cute air hostess? Be the detective with S4C’s new crime thriller Find out why Rhydian never got bullied at school The Wales national team’s manager on the prospects for Bale & Co
A childhood exclusive with the Stereophonics’ Richard Jones
You’re the one that I want!
Bostin’ Tea Party
Top tips for the perfect wedding Sure fire footwear winners Why tea is taking on coffee
Scene and Heard
The Back Page
24,134 Total Average Net Distribution per issue between 1st January – 31st December 2012 through an average of 862 quality outlets in South Wales Conroy Media Ltd all enquiries: 029 2019 0224 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/red.handedmagazine twitter.com/#!/RedHandedMag
Your social calendar for the next few months, sorted Better start saving - this gear is good! What does ‘half plus seven’ mean? Welcome aboard Niall’s time machine Fancy a wee dram in Edinburgh? Suits you. Looking sharp for the spring season It’s all happenin’ - booze, sport, competitions, recipes, the list goes on... Tom Ford’s new grooming range is a class act How to live longer - seriously! Who’s next on the Welsh football roundabout? Three – is the magic number for Mazda We ate, we read, we moshed, we watched. And then we wrote it up - just for you Bennett Arron is The Hotel Inspector!
Maybe the joke’s on Jason Jones? He sure doesn’t get it
I’m having a funny turn. Or, more accurately, I’m having an unfunny turn because a lot of the current crop of comedians who populate our panel shows, sitcoms and stadia don’t really tickle my funny bone. Take Miranda Hart. The past couple of years have seen her star rise and rise due to the huge popularity of her eponymous sitcom that’s a combo of old-school pratfalling and postmodern asides to camera. It leaves me comedically cold, though. I’m sure she’s devastated about what I think, especially when she fills out her tax return. Mind you, it will be interesting to see how her humour translates to the competitively cutthroat stand-up world (Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, March 10 & 11, from £31.50, 029 2022 4488). Russell Howard is another gagster I don’t get. However, his cheekychappy sunniness appeals to enough folk to make his latest Wonderbox tour his biggest to date (Motorpoint Arena, February 24-26, from £33). Jack Whitehall has made a career out of his dumb posho take on the world. More power to his elbow, but it doesn’t prise a LOL out of me (Motorpoint Arena, March 12, from £31.50). At the opposite end of the class scale is Jethro, who specialises in comedy you’ll either find rib-rockingly refreshing or unfunnily dated (St David’s Hall, Cardiff, April 16, from £17.50, 029 2087 8444). Jason Manford is undoubtedly a big draw, but I walked out of his latest show halfway through I thought it was so mediocre, but hey, give it a go. You might not be as much of a comedy curmudgeon as me (Swansea Grand Theatre, March 15, £23, 01792 475 715).
The Real Rib-Ticklers Enough moaning and on to the comics who do make me laugh. Sarah Millican’s schtick is to come over as a straitlaced schoolteacher and then sucker-punch you with the pottiness of her mouth. Book sharpish as she’s one of the most in-demand stand-ups on the circuit (St David’s Hall, April 20, £25). Another turn renowned for the risquéness of her routine is Joan Rivers. She may be 80, but she shows no signs of smoothing her razor-sharp wit. Again, get your tickets quick as it’s guaranteed to be a top-seller (St David’s Hall, October 13, from £30). Russell Brand continues his bid for world domination with his Messiah Complex show, in which he dissects the mental disorder that leads sufferers to deify themselves, and asks: did Jesus have it or Che Guevara, Gandhi or Malcolm X? Naturally, he’ll be wondering, in his own inimitable flowery way, whether he has it himself (Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, March 3, £27.50, 029 2063 6464). Another Russell, this time Russell Kane, who is less interested in the bigness of life and more the messy minutiae, hits The Grand Pavillion, Porthcawl, (April 23, 01656 815 995) followed by The Coliseum Theatre, Aberdare (May 2, £17.50, 08000 147 111). Fresh from his stint on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! Now! up-and-comer Rob Beckett brings his brand of irreverent tomfoolery to town for a one-nighter (The Glee Club, Cardiff, February 26, from £10, 0871 472 0400), while old-hand Ed Byrne mournfully muses on the mini miseries of being middle-aged (The Coliseum Theatre, March 26, £20). On a more serious note, Ruby Wax uses her wit and wisdom to debunk the myths that swirl around mental illness (The Coliseum Theatre, March 13, from £14).
Clockwise from bottom left: Joan Rivers, Sarah Millican, Jack Whitehall, Jason Manford, Jethro, and Russell Brand
Let It Rock Hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks are going from strength to strength with their raft of radio-friendly tracks (The Great Hall, Cardiff University Students’ Union, March 6, £18.50, 029 2078 1400). Hip-hop with a harder edge comes care of Big Sean (Motorpoint Arena, April 4, from £25). Newton Faulkner is famous for his percussive guitar-playing and sensitive songwriting as well as a winning way with fans and media alike (Solus, February 28, £21). The Modfather himself, Paul Weller rocks up at an open-air bash in Cardiff Castle this summer. Expect to hear hit after hit from his days with The Jam, The Style Council, and through his hugely successful solo career . (Cardiff Castle, July 24, £47, www.orchardentertainment.co.uk and 02920 230 130) . With nods to Fleetwood Mac, The Cranberries and Suzanne Vega, it’s safe to say Paper Aeroplanes’ worldview is more serenely sedate (Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, March 3, £9, 029 2023 2199).
Clockwise from below: Paul Weller, Manic Street Preachers,Warhorse, Ross Noble, Ant and Dec, The Lion King, Jason Derulo and Rizzle Kicks.
Old Dogs, New Tricks Old-schooler Adam Ant hits the touring trail again. Expect a run through of his back catalogue as well as more outré new material (Solus, April 7, £26.50). Again with the old guard and punksters The Stranglers are still enjoying giving a two-fingered salute to the Establishment (Solus, March 20, £24.50). Temples are more psychedelically far-out with their musical template (The Globe, Cardiff, March 6, from £11, 07590 471 888) whilst anthemic pop-metal is Fall Out Boy’s trademark (Motorpoint Arena, March 15, from £27.50). Rock standards are more the Manic Street Preachers’ style and they never courted trendiness so have never gone out of fashion (Motorpoint Arena, March 29, from £35). Jason Derulo tours his third addictively listenable album too, R’n’B-ing it round the country (Motorpoint Arena, March 19, £28.50) and Tinie Tempah’s rescheduled tour finally reaches our shores as he storms the stage with his keenlycrafted commercial rap at the Motorpoint Arena (April 4, from £25). Altrockers Elbow are also gigging it. If you haven’t seen them live, then go. It’s worth it (Motorpoint Arena, April 8, from £30). More angry-youngmen in their approach are The Answer, who are on the cusp of breaking the big time with their blend of rock and blues (The Globe, March 17, £14).
Treading The Boards In theatreland, there’s a strong showing from big-name West End transfers coming our way. Wicked, a relook at The Wizard of Oz, comes to the capital for a residency (Wales Millennium Centre, March 12-April 26, from £20). Equally wildly successful is Warhorse, a show so emotional it could bring a tear to a glass eye (Wales Millennium Centre, June 18-July 19, from £20). To commemorate the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth, his masterwork Under Milk Wood gets an airing (New Theatre, Cardiff, March 11-15, from £9, 029 2087 8889). Another Welsh legend, Tom Jones, receives the theatrical treatment in Tom, a production that covers his early years climbing the greasy pole of fame (Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd, March 1 & 2-8, from £10, 01443 485 934). Just announced is Wales Millennium Centre’s big Christmas show – yes, I did just invoke the C-word – and it’s the longrunning Disney musical The Lion King. If you fancy a spot of schmaltz, this is the show for you and if you can’t be schmaltzy at tinsel time, then when can you? (November 6-January 13 2015, from £22).
Early Doors And how about a few more early shout-outs for shows set to be surefire sell-outs? Two showbizzers whose careers can’t possibly get much stronger are Ant and Dec. They’re touring the ratings-jacking Saturday Night Takeaway format as they cement their status as full-on National Treasures (Motorpoint Arena, August 6, from £49.50). Fast becoming a veteran of the sniggering scene is Ross Noble, who brings his rambling, whimsical stream-of-consciousness style to the capital in his suitably-titled Tangentleman tour (Wales Millennium Centre, January 25 2015, £26.50). Coming from a more caustic comedic sensibility is Jimmy Carr whose career continues to surf the stratosphere (Wales Millennium Centre, January 7 2015, £26).
Image © Brinkhoff Mögenburg
“in brief” Dad’s Gone to Iceland With the Euro 2016 Qualifiers just around the corner Chris Coleman will be looking to forge a squad of players capable of getting to the knockout stages in a major finals for the first time in over 50 years. Preparations start with a friendly against Iceland at the Cardiff City Stadium on the 5th of March. Despite having a population of only 300,000 Iceland still manage to put out a strong team so expect a really exciting match. With tickets priced at £10 for adults and only £1 for under-16’s this one’s a no-brainer. For more info: www.faw.org.uk
Cowell was spotted ordering a takeaway to be delivered to his BGT dressing room recently. So if it’s good enough for the notoriously hard-toplease multi-millionaire, it’ll do us. For more info: www.duchessofdelhi.com
A New Discovery Exciting news from the dinner table of Knife & Fork Food Ltd (the guys behind the excellent The Conway, Pontcanna; The New Pilot, Penarth and the Old Swann Inn in Llantwit Major) as they have taken over The Discovery in Cyncoed, Cardiff and are busy refurbishing in anticipation of an early March opening. Expect a drastic overhaul of everything from interiors to the menu – bringing the fare and the vibe in line with their other ventures. For more info: www.knifeandforkfood.co.uk
Taking Care of Business When Matthew Pritchard from Dirty Sanchez invited RedHanded to the launch of his new SWYD Tattoo and Barber Shop we thought it would be a good idea to take out some life insurance…and buy some AlkaSeltzer. Lo and behold he didn’t disappoint – with a bevy of stars in attendance, naked flesh being inked all around us and free booze flowing throughout the night it was every bit as decadent and debauched as we’d hoped. Now open for business, think of our sore heads the next day when you go there to have your barnet cut or have MAM tattooed on your arm. For more info: www.facebook.co./SWYDtattoo
My My My Delhi-la Drawing inspiration from the rich heritage of the Rajas and Moguls of India, a visit to the Capital’s newest fine dining Indian restaurant The Duchess of Delhi is as much a feast for the senses as it is for the taste-buds. Located down on Cardiff Bay, the restaurant’s walls are covered in exotic and colourful murals – such a prominent feature of castles and palaces during the Mughal period, whilst the interiors are equally as lavish and luxurious. The decadence synonymous with the past Emperors of Indian history is evident throughout – not least in the menu, where traditional Indian delicacies sit alongside the best from Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Burma, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh. Simon
Po-lo Can You Go For our readers familiar with the ‘sport of kings’, St David’s Polo has been the name most synonymous with it over the years. From 2014 onwards the team taking over those duties will be Castell Polo – with their first event being held at Fonmon Castle on June 8th. Expect a modern and stylish twist to this quintessentially British sport, with corporate and hospitality packages to impress clients and colleagues on sale as we speak - as well as tickets for those wanting a day out with friends and family. This promises to be a must-attend event for your diary this summer. For booking and general info: www.castellpolo.co.uk
Home From Home Bittersweet news filtered through to RedHanded Towers recently of long-time friend of the magazine Thomas George deciding to sell his eponymous business to the Principality Building Society. Whilst we think it’s an amazing deal for all concerned and chuffed for Tom, we’ll miss our regular chats with him on the phone. The new owners have got ambitious plans for the business - and we’re happy to report that they’re keeping the name! So if you’re bored of your four walls, check out the website for sales and rentals: www. thomasgeorge.net
That’s Entertainment None other than the sharp-dressed Modfather himself Paul Weller is preparing to rock Cardiff Castle this summer. The Jam and Style Council star who has forged a hugely successful solo career will play an open-air gig at the historic venue on July 24th. Orchard Media, the biggest event organisers in Wales and the people to thank for bringing this almighty musical extravaganza to life have seen tickets fly out of the door since they went on sale – including exclusive corporate hospitality packages for businesses or friends and family wanting a VIP experience. What better to schmooze clients, reward staff or treat the family than to book one of the balcony enclosures with amazing views of the stage and of the man himself. Get yours now at: www.thinkorchard.com
New Plaice Like most blokes we’re folk of simple pleasures – so when we heard that one of our fave fish’n’chip shops were opening another place down the bay we were mightily pleased. Multi award-winning Top Gun also has a shop in Pentwyn to go with the original one in Whitchurch which opened over 25 years ago. It’s a beautifully designed restaurant with an authentic seaside vibe – we recommend a tryout next time you get a bit peckish down t’bay. For info and a look at the menu: www. topguncardiff.co.uk
The Stuff of Life
Owain Taylor-Shaw searches out the best gadgets for your manbag
When 2 Become 1
Most of you out there will have evolved from big clunky desktop computers to laptops. Tablets then came to emancipate the rest of us from the keyboard – allowing us to surf the net anywhere and everywhere. But what of those who still need the humble keyboard for work or play? Arise a new computing phenomenon – the 2in1. These combine the tablet with a proper keyboard, meaning that when you fancy nipping out to the coffee shop you can detach the keyboard, stick your tablet in your manbag and off you go. On show here - the Dell XPS 11 2-in-1 Ultrabook is the world’s thinnest, lightest and most compact Ultrabook. With a backlit solid keyboard and touchscreen monitor you’re getting the best of both worlds without compromising on quality. Price: £859.99 Retail: www.dell.co.uk
iON The Prize With the brand new iON Air Pro 3 Wi-Fi even the most extreme, out-of-this-world, crazy live action can be recorded in beautiful and stunning HD – and transferred onto your computer instantly hassle-free via Wi-Fi. Because it’s waterproof, lightweight, tough, anti-fog and has a morethan generous 2.5hrs battery life you can take this camera almost anywhere – be it the ski slopes, BMXing or up a mountain in the middle of nowhere. And ‘cos of the wide-angle lens you don’t even have to try too hard to make it all look so effortless. Price: £349.99 Retail: www.ioncamera.com
Magic Mic Gone are the days of crowding round the ‘wireless’ to listen to the new big thing’s big single – everyone wants their music on the move these days... and we’re not just talking about the listeners. Recording music is done everywhere from big studios to kids’ bedrooms to the back of a VW Campervan. Music is truly mobile. So some very clever peeps created the Blue Tiki USB Microphone - giving you instant crisp, clear high-end vocal straight into your laptop’s (probably hooky) version of ProTools type-software wherever you are. Use also for Skyping – it makes conversations much clearer and much more fun. Price: £49.99 Retail: www.bluemic.com/portable
Blend It Like Beckham Dudes...whether you’re the yoga-toned juice-detoxing type or the protein shaking ripped-Adonis sort - pretty much all of us are using blenders for one thing or another these days. That’s why this very clever bit of lateral thinking has not gone unnoticed here at RedHanded Towers. The Breville Blend Active has been designed so that the blending is actually done in the bottle - you then carry it away with you to work, the gym or the living-room sofa for your thirst-quenching pleasure. Not only does this limit the amount of washing-up (it is dishwasher safe BTW) but it also saves a heck of a lot of time and effort. Top Blending Tip: don’t follow 50Cent’s lead and use Crystal to make your protein shakes – water or milk will do just fine. Price: £29.99 Retail: www.breville.co.uk
Video Games Going away and worried about the security of your home? Want to know that your elderly/sick parents are okay in their home whilst you’re at work, at home or away on business? Or do you suspect that your no-good, floozy wife is having it off with the postman whilst you’re breaking your neck at work to put Gucci handbags in her wardrobe and Louboutins on her feet? (aaaaand breathe... Count to 10...think nice thoughts).Whichever scenario fits your circumstances you could do much worse than pick up the Indoor HD Wi-Fi Video Camera from HomeMonitor. For a quarter of the cost of a private detective you can have peace of mind that everything is as it should be at home. It uses Cloud recording to allow you to view any goings-on from anywhere in the world, saving it online for 7 days for free. If you suspect that things are going bump in the night (ps. it has infrared night-vision) then set-up one of these pronto to put your mind at rest. Price: £122.50 Retail: www.amazon.co.uk
Control Freak Gaming on your Apple devices just warped into another dimension. With hundreds (probably more like thousands by this time next year) of games on the way that support this controller you’ll be able to transform your iOS 7 devices into proper gaming machines. Wi-fi connectivity allows you to control from afar, so you can run around your living-room dodging bullets whilst trying to take out the opposition in Call of Duty, or cruise the city with one hand in your pocket looking cool in GTA. The SteelSeries Stratus Wireless Gaming Controller suddenly gives Apple users a much bigger bang for their buck. Price: £84.99 Retail: www.steelseries.com
A Spring forward in time
Niall Griffiths is looking forward to being where you are now
You’ll be reading this when spring is almost around the corner. Soon you’ll be surrounded by gambolling lambs and fluffy bunnies, all the gardens and hedgerows on the verge of exploding into fragrant and colourful life. Shortly, your mornings will be accompanied by a soundtrack of chirruping and twittering and no doubt your fancies will be turning to thoughts of gettin’ it oooon and your gay young hearts will start singing little songs of celebration and skipping sweetly through sunlit and daisy-starred meadows. You’ll be thinking of a holiday. You’ll be already thinking about those long and lazy, liquid afternoons in pub beer gardens. Each morning will dawn a little brighter. As you are re-born with the day, in your bed, your souls will leap and carouse and you’ll spring out into life on resilient legs, have a cup of hope and a bowl of optimism for breakfast before prancing off to work, stopping only to exchange pleasantries with the bluebirds in the blossom and the rabbits at the roadside and the kindly postman or postwoman who smiles widely as they deliver letters of love - never final demands - through your newly-painted and sparkling door. The me that is here, now, is envious of the you that is there, then. Because as I write it’s 4pm and the curtains are closed against the damp blackness; rain makes a sound on the windows like a handful of hurled gravel. When I awoke this morning it was the same; the dark arse-cheeks of the night mooning me through the bedroom window, the drizzle, the drudge,
the drear. The porridge and the endless tea. The cats, loathe to get wet, staying indoors and alleviating their boredom by savaging curtains and furniture and ankles. Christmas Day is less than a week away but, as yet, I haven’t spent a penny on shopping, and I know what’ll happen, because I do it every year; I’ll put it off until Christmas Eve when I’ll spend a day having my shins bashed by pushchairs and purchases, getting jostled and barged, endlessly queueing, wondering what to buy for those relatives impossible to buy for and then settling on something that they’ll already have because I bought it for them last year. Carols over a Tannoy. Cliff bloody Richard. Some social functionary wearing a Santa hat and a grimace. Home, moist, with my paltry packages, and all of this in drizzly darkness. It’s relentless, this time of year. I understand the urge to light it up, to fill our towns and houses with candles and twinkles, but it’s not so much Scrooge who has the right idea as all hibernating animals; find a safe and isolated cosy hole, curl up in it, and sleep until the clocks go forward. And it’s inevitable, at the year’s end, to reflect on what’s gone. Arbitrary as human timelines are, they nevertheless offer convenient temporal sectioning on which we can evaluate and assess. Soon, as 2013 becomes 2014, we’ll welcome in a New Year but the only new thing about it will be the numerical label; people will still be starving in this, the 7th richest country in the world, inequality will gallop ahead as determinedly and unopposed
as it has been doing for decades, encouraged and overseen by those pudgy-faced idiots who stand to gain most from it and who need another zero on their bank accounts like, right now, I need more greasy drizzle. All of this will continue. What will change will be the date you write on your ever-more-crippling-cheques, that’s all. Ah, but it’s great to be a grump at Christmas. In the midst of such bogus bonhomie, your bah-humbuggery stands out like a Lars von Trier film used as a backdrop to a Robbie Williams show. It’s tremendous. There will be moments in the coming fortnight that I’ll enjoy, of course; drinking with friends, decent specials on TV, and no doubt Santa will bring me something nice - I’ve asked him for Jessica Alba and a bottle of Talisker. I might even eat a date. But what I’m most looking forwards to is being where you are, as you read this, in the re-awakening of the world, when optimism will rise not because a bland face in the media and a chirpy ditty on the radio tell you it’s rising but because the irrefutable proof of it will be all around, in the yearly rebirth, the green shoots from winter’s mucky leavings. 2013 is in its death-throes as I write, twitching, flopping, refusing to relinquish life. Let it go. In a few months, I’ll be where you are now.
© Niall Griffiths 2014
The first night with Sister Gina An exclusive extract from Half Plus Seven, by new Welsh writer Dan Tyte
When I woke up at the strange house in bed with the 39-year-old psychic, I didn’t know yet how Sister Gina would change my life. Sister Gina was a psychic too. But we’ll get to her later. I’d drunk a bunch of booze the night before and ended up in the arms of another. This kind of happens a lot. More than it should for a man of my experience. But to be greeted at first light by the ageing face of a fading earth mother 10 years my senior, well that’s kind of a new low. Or high. Half full. Half empty. Half crazy. Half happy. Let’s just call it a benchmark. It’s a new BENCHMARK. Let’s rewind to how… Christ I can’t even remember her name … at least once you’d think I’d be able to remember their name. Let’s call her The Mystic. This is how she found her way to my side. It was a Friday night and I’d been at a bar in the town. It’d been the usual sketch. I’d had a pint which turned into three at lunchtime and had zoned in and out of consciousness at my desk for the rest of the afternoon. My boss had asked me to file a report on the Henderson campaign by 3pm but I’d crawled out of it by blaming the more culpable morons I had the pleasure of spending five days a week with. Come 4pm my body was craving another drink. I’d looked around the office and could only see Pete. The last PR man standing. I grabbed his attention with a snarl and before either of us knew it we were stood at the nearest bar discussing the merits of the latest batch of strawberry beer. ‘Well it might not put hairs on your chest, but it’s not half bad you know.’ ‘Quiet Pete. Get me another.’ And repeat. Pete came and went and other voices passed through my brain over the ensuing hours. The Hi Honey I’m Home hours. The Hi Honey Oh Yeah You Don’t Exist So I’m Going To Go And Get Plastered hours. No checking
little Dave’s long division, no asking Alice about ballet class. Just drinking. And thinking. And thinking about drinking. Before I knew it, I was asking the outline of a smallish man in a double-breasted jacket and a well-worn badge of honour what his purpose was, where he’d been and if his mother loved him. He looked at me like I was strange or the town drunk. Turns out I was neither, either or both depending on what day it was or who you asked. Before the clock struck ridiculous, the cognitive side of my brain battled with the booze to convince my body that a breather might be a good idea. Left followed right followed left followed right followed left to the door of the bar. The cold air hit me. My brain oxygenated. My senses sharpened. My hands reached into my pockets for a cigarette. I had remarkably soft hands. You’d have thought I swam in lakes of Fairy Liquid before breakfast every morning. My father’s hands were man’s hands. Bricklayer’s hands. Coarse, cut, knowing. My wear and tear was in the brain box. Mental. Metaphysical. A cluster of failed relationships, shot down dreams, hypochondriac breakdowns, parental indifference and bullshit jobs had seen to that. And it wasn’t getting any rosier. The maze of city streets was dotted with people like Pacmen; shoppers, sinners, losers, winners. I already knew which I was. ‘Need a light?’ ‘Erm ... yes.’ ‘Well, do you want one?’ ‘Erm ... yes.’ An experienced hand reached out of the vacuum to light my smoke. A tattoo of an eye snaked past. The movement was hypnotic. Stay sharp. ‘I can sense your aura. You’re troubled. Why are you so troubled?’ ‘I can sense your aura too. It says you’re a
loony cat-hoarding tree hugger.’ She shook. Or perhaps I wobbled. ‘Why are you so angry?’ I took a deep breath. In through the nose. The air hit. The brain whirred. Out through the mouth. ‘I’m sorry. I really am. My dog died last week. Mauled by cats. Poor Timmy. It’s just you looked like a cat person is all. And it all came flooding back. The screech … the fur… the whimper. Let’s hope all good dogs do go to heaven.’ ‘Oh.’ ‘Let me buy you a drink.’ ‘Um ...’ I took a long drag on my cigarette and grabbed the eye-etched hand. Back into the sea of depression. Back indoors. But not alone. ‘I’ve made you a cup of chai.’ A questioning noise spluttered out of my mouth. I generally couldn’t talk until I’d sunk two cups of tea in the morning and found it even harder to enunciate when being offered a cup of God-knows-what by God-knows-who. ‘What the hell is that ...? And where the hell am I...? And who the hell are you ...?’ Flashback. Falling up the messy stairs of a house to a bolted door. Darkness. Candles. Strong smelling candles. Cheap nasty liquor. Bullshit talk about who we used to be two months ago, two hundred years ago. Changing the subject. Lecturing, aggressively, dismissively. Fumbling. Spilt drinks. Pulled hair. An ageing body fading from the light. The eye-etched hand blinking, sagging, giving. Sweat. Nothingness. Half Plus Seven by Dan Tyte is published by Parthian books on March 1, priced £9.99. Available to pre-order now at www.parthianbooks.com
Cue Action Michael White, snooker’s Welsh child prodigy, may have found the transition to professional tough but, as he explains to Paul Kelly, the future looks good Redhanded: Is it true you’re officially the youngest player to have scored a century?
amateur. Then come back stronger at 17 and push on.
Michael White: Yeah, it was a competitive league match. I can remember it as though it was yesterday. It got me an invite to the World Championships where they did a piece on the TV on me and Judd Trump and gave us free tickets for the semi-finals - which was great fun at only 9-years-old.
Is the step up to professional difficult in terms of the quality of the play or is it the environment? It’s the conditions. It is far more serious, which I really struggled to deal with. Completely different levels of pressure. I was technically good enough but too young to cope at 16.
Was that when you decided you wanted be a professional snooker player? Sort of. People started saying I was very good at a young age but it wasn’t really until I won the world amateur at 14 – I knew then that I had a really good chance to do it as a career.
What’s life like as a young pro trying to work your way up the ladder? Lots of practice and a lot of travelling, which I enjoy. It can be quite isolated but you get friendly with the other players. There’s a lot of camaraderie on the circuit and a fair few jokers who like messing about and having a laugh off the table. Lately, we’ve been playing badminton which is good fun because none of us can beat Mark Williams which gives him the chance to wind us all up.
How did you get so good so young – was it just practice? I did practice a lot but not every day as I was obviously still in school and had other interests, especially football which I gave up at 12 after winning the Welsh under 14s at 11. That motivated me to keep winning. And at 12 or 13 I was able to start practising on a full size table in my nan’s garage. It was about that time that I really started to put the practice in. Any big-name scalps in the early days? I won a scholarship at 14 to go up to Scotland and train with Stephen Hendry. I went up with Terry Griffiths and played Hendry and Steve Maguire, who I think I might have beaten, which was great for me at that age. Prior to turning professional, did you have your career mapped out, what you wanted to achieve and by when? No, not really. I don’t set goals for myself – I just practice, prepare well then turn up wanting to win. I don’t say to myself I want to win a particular tournament or get to a certain point in the rankings. How did you find the transition from amateur to professional? Probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with as a snooker player because I went from winning everything as an amateur to no success at all early on, losing regularly in the first or second rounds. Dropping off the tour was probably the lowest point. At 16 there was a lot of talk about me not being good enough and giving in but I had good people around me who convinced me that I was and encouraged me to have another year as an
What have been the high points so far? It would have to be the quarters of the World. I got to the quarters in India in October and I was bitterly disappointed to lose having been two balls away from going into the semis – Jim (Maguire) just did a ridiculous clearance out of nowhere. I was sick as I had one foot in the semi and really fancied going all the way. Are you starting to feel like you will go all the way? Yes, in most games my form is good enough to win the tournament. But then I’ll have a dip whereas the top boys don’t tend to do that. But hopefully with more time and experience that consistency will come. There are more qualifying tournaments and rounds than ever – does that make it tough, financially, for younger players? Yes, I know that some of the players lower in the rankings struggle to cover the travel costs, especially if they haven’t got a sponsor but luckily I’m doing well enough for it not to be a problem. Does the dedication needed to succeed mean you rarely get to do the things that most people your age are doing? Yeah. Most of my mates go out a lot and socialise more than I do. I do go out, just not as much, but that’s the choice I’ve made. You must hope that all the sacrifice will
bring a major tournament in the next couple of years? I hope, yes, but it’s not a target. I don’t say that I want it by 24. When it happens, it happens. Fancy your chances in your home tournament? Yeah, I’ve not qualified before but now that the format’s changed so all the players automatically get to play I’m really looking forward to it. I should have quite a few family and friends there. Does that add to the pressure? Possibly. It has in the past qualifying rounds because I’ve really wanted to get to the finals because it’s my local. Who are the front-runners? Robertson, Ding and Selby are the main three. And Sullivan is always lurking around, when he decides to turn up! Up and coming, Luca Brecel and Jack Lisowski, who are very talented and will win tournaments one day. And I think I can do well. Obviously, I’d like to win any tournament but it would be really special if the Welsh Open was my first. Lastly, any advice to budding amateurs? Just practice, practice, practice. Welsh Open Snooker, Feb 19 – Mar 2, Newport Centre. Tel: 01633 656757 www.worldsnooker.com/tickets
Even the cast donâ€™t know who murdered the pretty air hostess who lives down the street in new S4C drama 35 Diwrnod (35 Days). Phil Boucher talks to Lois Jones - who plays the unfortunate victim
Whodunit? The saying that “you never know what’s going on behind closed doors” has never been more apt than on the suburban housing estate of Crud yr Awel. Under normal circumstances the small cul-de-sac would be viewed the same as any other upmarket housing estate in the UK, whether it be in Wrexham, Widnes or Brighton. Yet that’s without reckoning on the fact that Crud yr Awel provides the backdrop to S4C’s new murder-mystery series 35 Diwrnod (35 Days). Written by the BAFTA Cymru winning scriptwriter Siwan Jones and award-winning novelist and scriptwriter William Owen Roberts, the show begins with the murder of a young woman called Jan and then immediately whisks you back 35 days to the moment she arrives on the estate. From that hour until her death in her own home, 35 days later, viewers are hurled into a twisted suburban world of secrets, revenge, lies and ambition as the story unlocks Jan’s past and details her rapid descent from middle-class home mover to crime statistic in the space of just over a month. Viewers are then left to pick their way through an assortment of plot twists and red herrings to try and identify the killer – and offer an educated guess at why they have committed the crime in the first place.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle to keep it all secret”
“The viewers are the ones who will analyse the clues and events,” explains writer Siwan Jones, who describes the concept as turning the traditional detective genre “inside out.” Co-writer Roberts, adds: “We will sustain the mystery about the body until the very end and let the viewers solve the different motives by attempting to understand the suggestions we’ve planted here and there. We’ve also misled and teased with suggestions and secrets which could be significant – or then again, might not.” This air of mystery hasn’t been restricted to the viewers either. Due to the nature of the plot, the entire cast has been kept completely in the dark about the true nature of the goings on
in the estate. This even extends to actress Lois Jones, who plays murder victim Jan. While she knows that Jan dies at the very start of the series, Lois is in the exact same boat as everyone else and won’t know the identity of her own murderer until the final episode airs. Which, let’s face it, is weird on all manner of different levels. “We have filmed two different endings, so like everyone else I guess we are just going to have to wait and see, as nobody is going to tell us!” says Lois.
“We have filmed two different endings, so like everyone else, we are just going to have to wait and see!” During filming the 28-year-old also had to go to great lengths not to reveal any details of the plot either, just in case anything leaked out that may have spoiled the big ‘Who Shot JR’ moment. “It’s been a bit of a struggle to keep it all secret,” she adds. “My boyfriend asks me every day ‘how has your day been?’ and I sometimes just had to say ‘well, you’re just going to have to wait and see!’ “So I haven’t spoken to anyone about it really. I have just tried to keep my head down and kept everything about the character under wraps. I haven’t really said anything about the show to anyone, so it is going to be a bit of a surprise to my friends and family when they watch it.” So what, then, can she reveal? “I can say that she is called Jan and she is new on the close,” reveals Lois. “There are five houses in this close and everyone who lives there is kind of wary of her. In the first three episodes she doesn’t really say anything - she is just more of a presence really, and all her neighbours are wondering why she is there. “Then you get to know that she is an air hostess and she has moved there for a purpose. Jan has got a reason for living there and that is
slowly unveiled through each episode. “There are lots of twists and turns and lots of mystery about it.” If this sounds intriguing then you had better tune into S4C on Sunday March 23 and keep tabs on the story for the subsequent eight episodes (English subtitles are available). Your only other option is to somehow find one of the tiny band of people at S4C who know the identity of the killer and ply them with booze until they reveal the name. But even then you’ll still have to watch the final installment of the show to be certain that they haven’t given you a bum steer. Meanwhile, Lois will be busy working on the comedy Gwlad Yr Astra Gwyn, which is just about as far removed from a murder mystery as it’s possible to be. Or is it? After all, even appearing in a comedy that takes place entirely in a taxi and is largely shot at night can’t be as absurd as playing a character who is, well, basically dead from the very first second of the show? “Jan was quite an unusual role, as I knew it wasn’t going to end well for her!” jokes Lois. “At the beginning of every episode you will see my body on the floor. So it was slightly weird because I knew what was coming, but obviously I couldn’t play it like that when I was acting, as the character didn’t know what was coming. It was all very weird!” Yet one thing is for sure: along with Gwlad Yr Astra Gwyn and the recent success of gritty crime thriller Hinterland, 35 Diwrnod (35 Days) proves beyond any doubt that S4C is capable of producing some of the most original, thought-provoking drama anywhere. “When I first got the script I was thrilled,” adds Lois. “It is such a meaty part and such a great role and is part of something that S4C have never done before either, so it is really exciting to be involved. “S4C does try to produce things that are slightly different to the norm. That’s great. It’s really good to know that Wales can produce different things and original ideas. “Dr Who is filmed in Cardiff now and James Bond is going to be there soon too. Wales it taking over!” The first episode of 35 Diwrnod airs on Sunday March 23 on S4C
First in Classics Rhydian’s back to what he does best RedHanded: I got a surprise when I started playing the sampler for your new album One Day Like This, whose idea was it to sing Nights in White Satin in Italian? Rhydian: Mine. The whole album has an Italian feel to it. I toured with Justin Hayward and we talked about that song a lot which is when I got the idea. Singing it the same way as the original would sound too karaoke but singing it in Italian gives it a different feel and rhythm. Did you get heavily involved in the production? Yes, I oversaw everything, which was quite tiring. I handpicked the orchestra, decided what instruments went into it, produced all the guest artists on it and had it remastered twice to make sure I got the epic, powerhouse sound I wanted. I really haven’t skimped on it. Fortunately, the making of the album was cloud-funded by fans through a website called Pledge Music that’s been used by stars like Slash and John Barrowman. I’ve paid for all the marketing personally having seen close-up how Simon Cowell’s machine works – money talks. It’s quite an eclectic mix of tracks, how did they get chosen? It’s almost two albums in one. In order to get into the classical chart, 60% has to be from the classical repertoire. But being crossover I had to make sure I got in songs like the Blower’s Daughter. There’s a story to a lot of them. I sing Pearl Fisher’s Duet with myself, because I can sing tenor and baritone. That was the first opera I heard when I was 14 and it made me go into singing. Ombra Mai Fu was the first aria I ever sang and I auditioned for music school with Litanei by Schubert. Is this your most personal album? Absolutely. I haven’t got Simon Cowell telling
me what to sing! We tried pop with my third album but despite it being critically acclaimed my audience was confused. I live and breathe classical crossover and that’s what people expect of me. In the future will you continue to mix it up a bit or stick to classical cross-over? Good question. Depends how successful this album is. We want a Number 1 in the classical charts and I really want to win a classical Brit Award. If you establish yourself in the classical world, you’re there for the long-run. Having said that my live show has a bit of everything, including original material and I do musical theatre as well. How an earth did a classically trained baritone end up on X-Factor? (laughs) Yeah. It was the prize of a record deal. I really wanted to be a recording artist but in the classical world it doesn’t happen until you’re much older. Cowell was offering a recording contract, and he likes classical music so it wasn’t such a long-shot. He said to me backstage “Rhydian, trust me, I look after El Divo, I know exactly what to do with you”, so I’m glad I did it. Which do you prefer, recording or live performance? I love both. Recording’s great, especially when you’ve got freedom and great musicians as I have with this album. But I am a bit of a showman and the bigger the stage the better. I want to play more arenas. Look at Alfie Boe – his albums took off after doing arenas. Off-stage, are you still a showman? No, I’m quite private and like my own company. I hate being recognised, I even wear a hat to hide my hair! I save my energy for when I’m on stage, like a lot of performers
actually. Having said that some performers try to recreate the stage buzz using drugs but that’s never appealed to me. Escapism is how I survive the intensity of performing. How do you escape? I have houses in France and the Bahamas, as I love the sun. I try to get away as much as I can. I love what I do but the public, rightly, own a piece of you and have expectations – when I’m in France or the Bahamas no-one knows me and I can just relax and be myself. I hear you like your suits? Yeah, I’ve got too many, 86 I think. It’s an expensive business trying to look different every performance but perhaps I’ll just start re-wearing them. After all they’re Saville Row and gone are the days when the record label paid for everything! Are you big into fashion? I love my suits but I wouldn’t say I’m into fashion. Apart from my sports kit, I’m big into that, mainly Nike. I hear you’re a big sports fan and pretty handy on the rugby pitch? Yeah, I went to Llandovery College which is a rugby school of excellence so I wasn’t bad. George North, Alun Wyn Jones and Andy Powell were all there. I was school-boy bench press champion so I didn’t get stick on the pitch for being a singer. You wouldn’t think it now looking at me – I couldn’t lift a cocktail stick. I’ve lost five stone since then! They were good days though and taught me that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it, which is exactly how I’ve approached this album. One Day Like This will be released on Futura Classics on April 7
Chris Coleman: Wales Manager in association with
Welsh Premier League teams may be shedding managers leftright-and-centre, but national team coach Chris Coleman is just getting on with the job
“With the players we have, I am confident we can give anybody a game”
squads. Nowadays people get carried away because there is more media coverage. There is so much publicity surrounding top football – more than there ever has been. And when you have people like Gareth Bale representing you, people say, “Wow, you must be a team”. As we all know he is such a talented, gifted player. You watch him train and it’s something else. Added to that, we have some very good Premier League players. Look at Aaron Ramsey and how he has done this season. So of course it is a very good group. But I played in some very good Welsh teams. They were full of top players. The squad which belonged to Terry Yorath – brilliant. Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Neville Southall, Ryan Giggs, Dean Saunders. Come on. They are real top, top players. People look at this current squad and say, “It is the best.” But hold on, slow down. It has got the potential to do something special and that is qualify. We can’t get carried away though because in the past 10 or 15 or 20 years some of the squads have been very weak and some of them have been very strong and still didn’t qualify. So things need to be kept in perspective. RedHanded: You’ve sorted out your new contract and had a bit of time to reflect on the last qualifying campaign for the World Cup, so what are your reflections? Chris Coleman: It was a tough two years, I have to be honest. I think we went into the campaign under a cloud, under a shadow for obvious reasons [because of the death of Gary Speed], and it was tough for the players. Then we lost key players at key moments. Unless we have our strongest players playing consistently it is always going to be very tough because we don’t have a big pool of players to choose from. It was a tough learning curve and a tough campaign, but from all that we have gained, and I myself have gained, a huge amount of experience that I really think will help us in the next campaign. Looking at the next campaign, it should, arguably, represent Wales’ best chance for some time to qualify for a major championships. You have some tremendous talent in that squad and, of equal importance, the European Championships has expanded from 16 to 24 teams. When we have everyone fit and available, I don’t think it matters what group we get. Honestly, I don’t. It would be great if we got a kind group, or certainly better than the last group because that was incredibly tough. But generally I don’t mind what qualifying group we have because with the players we have, if they are available, I am confident we can give anybody a game. I will be going to the draw in February to find out our fate and see who we
have drawn, but I am confident in this group of players. The important thing is that we concentrate on ourselves and make sure that our players are available for us more than they were in the last campaign. That issue of player availability is obviously a big one. You’ve described it previously as “like winning the lottery and not being able to spend the money”, such is the frustration of not always having your better players available. Is there anything you can do to improve that situation? We are on a wing and a prayer really. It is always a roulette the weekend before an international break when players are playing domestically. Every phone call, you don’t know if it is going to be good news or bad news and there is nothing we can do. We only ever borrow the players from their respective clubs so there is nothing we can do. We can only hope that we have a bit more luck than last time with injuries, mainly, and also suspensions. Losing key players at key moments last time really, really hurt us and it will be key this time. We are just hoping this time that Lady Luck smiles on us more this time than she did last time in that respect. How do you assess this current squad? You have Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Ashley Williams: these are top players. How good is this era compared to others? That’s a hard question to answer. People say it is the strongest, but when I look back at some of the Welsh squads, I see some really good
Needless to say, Gareth Bale is central to everything. I think if you look at Gareth Bale, he is one of the most recognised football players on the planet. He is a super, super talented boy. It is obvious we won’t be as strong without him in the team. We would be weakened without him, obviously. He is a devastating footballer. What we can’t do is put all our eggs in one basket. We have a squad and we have to use our squad. Is it much of an advantage for you having Swansea and Cardiff in the Premier League? I think in terms of Welsh football, it is fantastic to have both teams up there in the top division and competing. It really is fantastic. It is the best and most publicised league in the world. But it doesn’t change a lot for me and the Welsh national team because they don’t have many Welsh players between them. Two Welsh teams lose their managers in quick succession. What do you make of it all? I look at it and to be honest nothing surprises me in football anymore. But Malky Mackay did a good job at Cardiff and he is a good manager. As we all know, as managers you are here today and gone tomorrow. There is no sentiment in football. Sometimes decisions are made and everyone is stood around scratching their head, but that is football. It has always been like that and it’s not getting any easier. It’s getting harder, if anything. On that note, best of luck for the Euros.
STILL LIVING THE DREAM
It’s been more than 20 years - but the Stereophonics are still going strong, still full of creative energy. Richard Jones talks to Iestyn Jones about growing up in Cwmaman, recording the latest album and ‘zoning out’ at Glastonbury Photos ©Steve_Gulick_2012
“It’s always a mad night whenever we play anywhere in Wales” Hard to believe it was nearly 20 years ago that the Stereophonics first arrived on the scene - and they’re still going strong. Last year they released their highly acclaimed eighth studio album Graffiti on the Train on their new label - Stylus. This year will mark the third year at their very own self-built studio in Shepherd’s Bush, west London. “It’s our little pad,” says Richard Jones, one of the group’s founders and bassist since they started back in 1992. “We’ve turned the two lower floors into a recording space. It keeps the pressure off us. Usually, the clocks are ticking when you’re with the big labels. Now, we can work on something and come back to it if we don’t feel it the first time. We’re working at our own pace now,” he adds cheerfully. There’s something very friendly about Richard. It’s been 15 years since I last had a chance to speak to the shy Welshman. The last time I saw him was backstage at a charity gig to raise money to save Mount Snowdon in 1998.
“It was a great day. Mike Peters asked us to play. I’m a big fan of The Alarm – it’s hard not to like other bands from Wales!” Undoubtedly, 1998 was a vintage year for Welsh music and Richard was in his element as he reminisced about that special time. “It was very exciting, there were so many names flying the flag for Wales: Catatonia, The Furries, The Manics of course and the 60ft Dolls too. “It’s great that we’re still recording music. It would be ace if that type of thing happened again.” I could have talked to Richard about the 90s all day but time was pressing so I asked about their last big gig in Cardiff. “We always love playing Cardiff. It’s always a mad night whenever we play anywhere in Wales.” And, what’s the usual set these days? “Well, we play all the new stuff and also play the old favourites to keep everyone happy.” And as far as playing live goes - is there one specific time
or a special gig that he remembers more than any other? “That’s a difficult one,” He pauses for a few seconds. “Well, we’ve played massive ones like Glastonbury and Live8. But, during the big gigs, it’s like I’m zoning out and I can’t enjoy myself as much as I should. Maybe the best ones for me have been the Fuji Rock events in Japan… The ones where I’ve got to play with some of my favourite artists like Neil Young, U2 and the Chillies.” All these music “heroes” were an influence on the last album. “There’s so many influences. The main influence behind the last album was the film that Kelly’s been writing.” Richard is referring to a script that the Stereophonics’ lead singer Kelly Jones has been writing after recently completing the scriptwriting course at college. It’s likely the film will also be called Graffiti on the Train. But will it get made? “There’s a few producers
that have shown interest,” says Richard. “It’s an exciting story that tells of two friends from Wales that go on a life-changing journey after losing a friend in an accident.” So is he a film buff himself? “I like all sorts. I’ve got a favourite. My favourite ever is an old film with Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine called Emperor of the North. It’s a story about a security guard in the 1930s who’s trying to protect a train from all the hobos that are trying to catch a free ride. There’s something really sweet and memorable about it.” With Kelly realising a dream with writing a film, does Richard have any harboured ambitions? “I’m living the dream with the band, the only thing I ever dreamed about was to be in a band,” and he is smiling. “I loved listening to music when I was growing up, it’s always been about music. And as I watched the groups on the telly playing live, I always thought – that would be great;
“The only thing I ever dreamed about was to be in a band”
entertaining people and getting paid for it!” Over the years, Richard’s responsibility with the group has grown... the band not only have their own label but also an impressive back catalogue of hits to preserve. “We need to protect the integrity of our music, so the last thing we’re going to do is sell one of our songs so it can be played on a crappy old advert or something that we just don’t agree with. We need to be careful with things like that,” he says. Richard has come a long way. I wonder what kind of life he had growing up in the sleepy village of Cwmaman. It must have been very different. “I grew up in a big family. I’m one of six. I’ve got a big brother - I guess I learnt all my bad habits from him. The village
was a quaint – idyllic place, there were plenty of places to go out and play,” he recalls. “We’d go to the mountains, build dens and make dams from old bricks and stones. We’d hang ropes from trees to make swings. We’d always find some kind of way of entertaining ourselves and getting into trouble at the same time,” he adds. So, who has he learnt the most from on the journey from little Welsh village to rock stardom? “Ourselves. I learn most of life’s lessons from the other guys in the band. And as far as other people in the business go, I’d have to say Tom Jones. I’d always listen to Tom’s advice. Tom’s a cool guy, he doesn’t worry about a thing in the world, he’s just great!” As I say farewell to Richard he has some words of advice for me: “Take care, take one day at a time and make the most out of life – enjoy the ride!” Graffiti on the Train is out now. Look out for a new Stereophonics album later this year
A Men’s Guide to Getting Married From popping the question to the honeymoon, via the stag do and “I do”, don’t get married without reading this first
She’s the one
If you’ve taken your sweet time to get round to proposing, when the moment comes you’d better do it right. Whatever romantic ingredients you throw into the mix, it’s a good idea to make it personal and tailor it to your beloved – a hot air balloon proposal for a girlfriend with vertigo is not the way to go. Try to incorporate things she likes, experiences you’ve shared and stick in a bit of wow factor (candlelight, a picnic, a puppy with a ring around its neck are all good). Whether to make it public or private will come down to how much she likes being the centre of attention – and how confident you are she’ll say yes.
If you don’t want to risk buying the wrong ring, there’s also the option of proposing with a substitute – a jelly ring, a Hula Hoop, an empty box – and the pair of you can buy the real one together later.
Band of gold
For the ring, don’t just make a stab in the dark – this is jewellery she’ll be wearing for life. Unless you’re really confident about picking something she’ll like, it’s probably best to interrogate her sister/mother/best friend beforehand, or even your girlfriend herself if you can do it subtly enough. Advice from staff at quality jewellers like Crouch the Goldsmiths (fraserhart.co.uk: 029 2039 9769) or Parkhouse (parkhousethejeweller.com: 029 2066 0890) can be really useful too – they’ll be able to talk you through stones, settings and other things you’d have never thought of, and they have vast ring displays so you should be able to find something worthy of your future wife’s finger. If you’re feeling creative, you can commission a bespoke ring. Crouch and Parkhouse both provide this service, while the award-winning Northern Star Bespoke Jewellery (northernstarjewellery.co.uk: 029 2070 9707) specialises in it, taking advantage of cutting-edge computer-aided design techniques. They can also help you re-work a family heirloom into something unique and modern.
What colour will the napkins be?
It will be a rare woman that doesn’t take the lead with wedding planning and as she and the florist discuss the relative merits of peonies and roses, you may start to wonder whether you’re needed at all, but it’s best to remain - or at least seem - interested. One thing you really need to care about, though, is the budget. Costs can really spiral, so set out at the start how much you want to spend – although keep in mind that your fiancée has very likely been dreaming of this day since she was five, so you’ll need to show some flexibility. You’ll also want to get involved in narrowing down the guest list. Take your eye off the ball, and you might find there’s no more room or money for your grandmother to attend.
You could take the opportunity to get yourself a bespoke lounge suit that will last you for years to come, but this option may end up very pricey if you have to kit out your best man, ushers and fathers of the bride and groom too. Hiring’s a great option to ensure the whole wedding party has a unified look without spending thousands. Perfection Bridal and Menswear (perfectionbridalandmenswear. co.uk: 029 2039 6315) has a huge range of different looks to choose from. If you’re a true patriot or just looking for something a bit different, you can get kilts in your own family line’s tartan from Welsh Tartan (welsh-tartan. com: 01792 474685).
Fast cars and dancing ‘til dawn
Yes, the wedding’s about love and commitment and all that, but it’s also one of the few chances you’ll get to have a really fancy car for the day, so you shouldn’t feel bad about treating yourself. Try Perfect Wedding Cars (perfectweddingcars.com: 029 2002 4341), whose fleet includes a white Porsche Cayenne, a silver Bentley Arnage and white Mercedes E-Class Sport, or there’s Amazing Autos (amazingautos.co.uk: 07811 957411), where you can pick from cars such as a Ferrari F430 F1, a Mercedes C-Class Sport and a cool 1963 VW camper van. And remember you’re effectively planning a party and need to keep people entertained. Make sure there’s enough in the kitty to keep drinks flowing (at least until a certain point in the evening, followed by a pay bar) and hire a great band or DJ, who under no circumstances will play Come on Eileen.
I love you man
You’ll need to appoint a best man, but which friend to choose? The one who told you to leave your fiancée back when you first got together, because she was a ‘wrong ‘un’ – he’s not the one. Go for someone that shares a history with you, with great tales to tell, and someone who can judge what’s appropriate for Great-Aunt Mabel to hear. He’ll also have to plan, or help you plan, an epic stag do. A word of advice: try not to get sucked into stag one-upmanship – you don’t have to spend a week in Vegas to top Gareth’s weekend in Amsterdam. You want camaraderie, fun and a little misbehaving, which can be found close to home. Shaggy Sheep (shaggysheepwales.co.uk: 07919 244549) offers an awesome range of activities from the old favourite, paintball, to more unusual experiences like land-yachting, coasteering and 4x4 off-road driving. Another unique experience is Go Ape (goape.co.uk: 0843 770 3877), which lets you get in touch with your inner Tarzans and bond on a treetop adventure. If you want the emphasis more on fun than adrenaline, newly opened Welsh Games is a good alternative – their completely bonkers, Welsh themed games and activities will have you in stitches. www.welshgames. co.uk, 029 2010 9333.
The BIG day
Having been second-in-command (or lower) until now, come the wedding day you and your friends will find yourselves in charge. Your bride won’t be there when the guests arrive, so it’s your job to greet them and check everything’s ticking over. Then there’s the speech. No, you can’t wing it. You might think you can, but it’s funny how standing up in front of 100 people makes the free-flowing pub charm harder to come by. Also, Dutch courage has its merits, but don’t get drunk. A slurring groom isn’t going to impress anyone. Although you’ll want to make it personal, general tips on public speaking and structure are really useful. Toastmasters (toastmasters. org) is a great source for that kind of information and will help you get the cheers and applause you want when you sit down, instead of awkward shuffling and silence.
Top spots for your big day Town & Country Hotels
Great for: A vintage-themed wedding The lowdown: Town & Country Hotels only give their name to the best. Their two magnificent country house hotels – CoedY-Mwstwr in Bridgend and New House in Cardiff – are both perched amid rolling hills, with jaw-dropping views and extensive grounds, and are ideal settings for a bit of sophisticated, period glamour. There’s also the Bear Hotel in the heart of Cowbridge - dating all the way back to the 12th century - which is loved for its home-cooked food, excellent ales, cosy feel and history-rich charm. We particularly like: The 1920s ice-cream tricycle that’s available to hire - a fun touch for a hot summer’s evening. Find out more: townandcountryhotels.co.uk
house speciality being steak, you’ll probably want to treat your guests to a fillet or sirloin. We particularly like: The idea of arriving by waterbus before heading to the intimate function room – ideal for a sophisticated gathering of 50 or fewer. Find out more: pier64.co.uk, 029 2000 0064
Oldwalls, Gower, Swansea
Great for: Rustic charm The lowdown: This five-star resort, hidden away from it all in 50 acres of Welsh countryside on the Gower, is a luxurious home from home, with its beautiful cottage accommodation. Your guests will love the Gower setting – the beaches are just minutes away. Marry in the impressive high-ceilinged Oakroom, which looks out over the lakes. And, if you just can’t wait to get that ring on her finger, Oldwalls offers a Whirlwind Wedding Package that allows you to put together a nocompromises day within six months. We particularly like: The Rose Suite, complete with your own private garden, infinity hot tub and sauna – make sure you bag it for your wedding night. Find out more: oldwallsgower.com, 01792 391468
Pier 64, Penarth Marina
Great for: Foodies The lowdown: This is a venue that’s built its reputation on great food, so you can be sure your guests will be well fed if you book your celebration here. The stylish wooden restaurant is perched above Penarth’s beautiful marina, with a terrace that’s great for sundown cocktails. They’ll let you build your own customised wedding menu, although with the
Speaking from experience Will Hayden, 28, from Cwmbran, took the brave option of proposing to his girlfriend Kirsty in front of her whole family: “It was her birthday and everyone gave her their presents. When it came to my turn, I got down on one knee and popped the question. She said yes, and was very happy – thankfully! A few tears were shed by our parents.” Chris Murray, 32, from Caerleon, says his fiancée Judith took the lead in planning their wedding: “We married at my old university, so I booked the ceremony. I also sorted out the suits. My fiancée did more or less everything else and it took up a hell of a lot of her time. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds though – she likes to be in charge!”
National Museum Wales
Great for: An arty touch The lowdown: The National Museum Cardiff, the St Fagans Natural History Museum and Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum are all striking, atmospheric places to celebrate with your friends and family. The first option offers real grandeur and the opportunity to let your guests mingle among some of the world’s great art, while St Fagans, with its beautifully kept gardens, has history seeping through the walls. The more modern Swansea venue sits by the marina, and its ultra-modern glass and slate building will lend your day a cool vibe. We particularly like: The fact that you can have Renoir and Monet providing the décor for your drinks reception. Find out more: museumwales.ac.uk
Vale Hotel/Hensol Castle, Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan
Great for: Fairytale and contemporary combined The lowdown: At the Vale Resort they have a super-romantic 17th-century castle where you can tie the knot, before moving on to a reception in the modern hotel. It’s all set within picturesque Welsh countryside, with a 15-acre lake, meaning you’ll have stunning backdrops for photos and the range of rooms means you can host a celebration for anything from 20 to 400. We particularly like: The fact that there’s loads of accommodation for guests, so you’ll be able to keep the party atmosphere going into the next day. Find out more: vale-hotel.com, 01443 667800
a hair salon for last-minute grooming. Find out more: celtic-manor.com, 01633 413000
Maldron Hotel, Cardiff
Great for: Urban chic The lowdown: With a swish ambience and bang in the centre of Cardiff it’s probably the most conveniently located hotel on our list. Being next-door to the station you don’t have to drive so there’s no need to abstain from booze or worry about the inevitable hangover. We particularly like: Being able to continue the party way into the night/morning at one of the ‘diff ’s many nightclubs. Find out more: maldronhotelcardiffcity.com, 02920 668866
Celtic Manor Resort, Newport
St David’s Hotel, Cardiff Bay
Great for: Contemporary cool The lowdown: With a stylishly, sleek look inside and out and breathtaking views over Cardiff Bay, the five-star St David’s is hard to beat when it comes to wow factor. There’s a spa on site and Cardiff Bay on the doorstep, so you and your guests can make a weekend of it. As well as the photo opportunities outside, the modern architecture means there are also some quirky options for group photographs within. We particularly like: The big windows and waterside setting which combine to flood your day with natural light. Find out more: thestdavidshotel.com, 029 2045 4045
Great for: Luxury on tap. And golfers The lowdown: The famous home of the 2010 Ryder Cup, this resort makes for a seriously impressive wedding venue. If you can tear yourself away from the golf course for long enough to say your vows, there’s a variety of stunning ceremony and reception settings to pick from – you might like the historic charm of The Manor House, or you may prefer the understated elegance of The Resort Hotel. We particularly like: The fact that there’s so much on site, including a spa, a pool and even
Secrets of a wedding planner Caren Davies is the wedding planner at Oldwalls, Gower. She shares her tips on what makes for a great wedding “Your starting point should be finding a venue you love and which will work for the type of wedding you want. Bear in mind that the staff at the venue are particularly important - there is nothing nicer and more reassuring for a couple than having accommodating staff to greet your wedding party and assist throughout the day. A good wedding team should always be around to answer any enquiries from couples and be willing to build a relationship to ensure the big day is a great success. “A well-thought-through colour scheme
United we stand
One final option worth considering is the home of your favourite sports team. Be it the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff/Swansea City, Cardiff Arms Park or the Swalec they’ll have the facilities and expert staff to host a wedding – just don’t wear your kit.
or theme can also really help a wedding stand out. One couple who married here had an Alice in Wonderland theme – they transformed the whole place, even down to the alarm clocks on the tables, which were all set off when the guests sat down for the wedding breakfast. It was absolutely amazing! We’re pretty accommodating at Oldwalls, so can help you create your vision. “If you’re deciding which areas of your budget can be cut, I’d make sure you don’t skimp too much on the photography and entertainment. I always recommend spending slightly more on a photographer to ensure top quality pictures, as this is the lasting souvenir you’ll take away from the big day. Evening entertainment is also crucial as a good band can create the perfect atmosphere for the evening, while bad entertainment can certainly kill the atmosphere!”
SCOTLAND THE (ALMOST) BRAVE Edinburgh still caters to the weekend break hedonist, even ones like Paul Oswell who are slowing up on the decadent lifestyle a little
As younger men, the mountains we would climb on waking up in a strange city would likely be metaphorical ones. We’d navigate our way up the slopes of our hangovers, fried breakfasts and hairs of dogs – these were the walking poles we’d need to climb to the summit of Mount Recovery and the prize for making it was the chance to descend once
again into the valley of hedonism. It’s surely a sign of maturity, then, that we’re spending our first morning in Edinburgh on a physical slope, all of us in relatively good health. It could also be a sign that we’re eyeing up the business end of our late 30s (my friend Andy is here to celebrate his 40th birthday). Stood at the bottom of the steep hike up to Arthur’s Seat, that grand old man looming over the city, we almost considered taking on something even less demanding. “Weather looks a bit changeable,” someone said. “Maybe something a little more sedate? Calton Hill?” It was tempting and we’d still get to see the National Monument and the City Observatory, but we had to at least vaguely test ourselves, and an hour or so later we were literally patting ourselves on the back as we took in the overload of panorama that presents itself - true photo-worthy city views. We bowled back down the hill, buoyed by our early(ish) morning conquest, the four of us filled with the vigour of champions. By the time we reached the Royal Mile, we were ready to re-attend to our waistlines with a burger among the slightly grand interiors of the Royal Café. We knew that the evening would probably bring less cultured pleasures, and since we’d been relatively wholesome with our bodies, so far, we’d give our minds the same benefit of clean living with a shot of art.
I’m not sure if there are any other kinds of walks that you can do in Edinburgh that aren’t brisk, but one brisk walk heading out of the city centre bought us to the National Galleries of Scotland, set against the backdrop of some countryside that once again lends itself to filling up your camera phone. A former orphanage built in 1830, The Dean Gallery is a fascinating place to spend the afternoon even for people with not much expertise in art, for which read our group. There’s a wealth of accessible works, for instance the sideways look at the world that you can get through their large collection of Surrealist and Dada artworks. Minds sated, we swung back to our rented apartments – the regally-named Knight residences in the Old Town (though we preferred to equate them with Knightrider).
Mix and match? Three more city breaks with culture and hedonism – all have flights direct from Cardiff Airport with Cityjet Glasgow: What used to be Edinburgh’s rougher neighbour now enjoys a healthy modern art scene – try Kelvingrove or the Riverside Gallery (both via www.glasgowlife. com). Paris: What’s not to like about the Louvre, the Pompidou and famous architecture around every street corner? You can take the edge off with a bawdy night drinking in the Pigalle. Jersey: Island life is a cultured pursuit in its own right, with boy’s own adventure possibilities such as the war tunnels and the museum dedicated to racing hero Nigel Mansell.
There may have been a remedial amount of napping before the first night began, reports are sketchy. Mike Meyers once said that he thought all of Scottish cuisine was based on a dare. Food here does get a rough ride, but its image receives a much-needed boost at restaurants that have a slightly more progressive view of Scottish cooking. One that goes beyond dropping a Mars Bar into a deep fat fryer. The Grain Store, for example, is all exposed brickwork and trendy young people, and it serves up the best local food using Scottish produce, including some impressive beef, lamb, seafood and wild mushrooms. We decided that over two nights, we’d have to have our fill of pints of cheap lager just as a matter of course, so no harm in having one night at least making a stab at more sophisticated drinking. We made it to two of the city’s nicer craft cocktail bars, Hawke & Hunter and Bramble. Both places are adept at making you feel more like a connoisseur than a drunkard, and alongside shots of unusual whiskey, we downed exotic concoctions and tried not to feel too much like Del Boy, even when the drinks presentation was somewhat flamboyant. The alcohol fumes were given a chance to escape through our pores as – at Andy’s request – we spent the next morning being pampered in the plush surroundings of the Escape at One Spa, located in the Sheraton Grand Hotel. If there’s anything more metrosexual than lolling about in a heated outdoor pool or the steam of the futuristic thermal suite after a night on the craft cocktails, I’m not sure our group could have handled it. We wended our way to Edinburgh Castle via a cosy little tapas bar (Barioja) and joined a guided tour of the dramatic battlements that dominate the skyline of the Old Town. The Great Hall that dates back to 1511 and the Mons Meg – a medieval gun that could fire its ammunition almost two miles – were among the personal highlights. Ageing bones were letting convenience take the strain as we hit the afternoon and a bus tour of the rest of the city. The rest of
the medieval Old Town, the new Scottish Parliament buildings and the Georgian finery of the New Town all rolled by in the unexpected sunshine. We’d been pretty thrifty with our entertainment choices so far, something we threw to the wind as we sat down for dinner at The Witchery at the top of the Royal Mile. It’s a slightly goth-looking maze of rooms in an ancient building, all low wooden beams and
Travel facts Eating and drinking: The Grain Store, 30 Victoria Street, www. grainstorerestaurant.co.uk, Hawke and Hunter, 12 Picardy Place, www. hawkeandhunter.com, Bramble, 16A Queen Street, www.bramblebar.co.uk, The Witchery, Castlehill, The Royal Mile, www.thewitchery.com Plane: Daily direct flights from Cardiff Airport with Cityjet (www.cityjet.com)
rooms decked with heraldic regalia and the opportunity for more Harry Potter jokes than is probably appropriate. We wanted to keep the jokes going into the night, preferably told by people way funnier than us, so we hit The Stand, one of the country’s most famous and respected comedy clubs. Improv comedy would usually send chills down my spine, but when it’s done well, it’s hard not to be thrilled by it, and the birthday boy even enjoyed his spin on stage as a “volunteer”. As I paid for and delivered our fifth round, the group laughing their way through a sketch involving a monk and a penguin (I think), I thought of the few more we’d have on the way back and how we weren’t quite over the hill JUST yet. The beauty of Edinburgh is that it allows you to take your foot off the accelerator pedal and stop off and take in the history and beauty of the city, even as it tempts you back for one more single malt and one more morning blowing away the cobwebs on Arthur’s Seat.
Photography by Mission Photographic www.missionphotographic.com
Jacket, Austin Reed - £175 Shirt, Austin Reed - £30 Tie, Jeff Banks - £17 Jeans, Levi - £55 Shoes, Kurt Geiger - £49 all from Bridgend Designer Outlet
Shirt, Polo by Ralph Lauren - £85 Waistcoat, Ted Baker - £95 Chinos, Tommy Hilfiger - £85 Shoes, Bertie - £85 all from John Lewis
Top: Jacket, Musto - £120 Shirt, Musto - £40 Jumper, Musto - £60 Chinos, Musto - £40 Scarf, Musto - £20 Shoes, Kurt Geiger - £45 all from Bridgend Designer Outlet Right: Jacket, Jeff Banks - £107 Waistcoat, Jeff Banks - £50 Chinos, Jeff Banks - £25 Shirt, Jeff Banks - £25 Shoes, Jeff Banks - £59 all from Bridgend Designer Outlet
Top: Jumper, Hackett - £110 Shirt, Gant - £85 Chinos, Selected - £40 Boots, Dune - £89 all from John Lewis Right: Suit, kin by John Lewis - £159 Shirt, Calvin Klein - £59 Tie, Ted Baker - £49 Shoes, Dune - £85 all from John Lewis Shot on location at Penarth Heights, Paget Road, Penarth, CF64 1DS t.02920 711357 www.crestnicholson.com/penarthheights Thanks to our model Ollie. Thanks to Bridgend Designer Outlet, The Derwen, Bridgend and John Lewis, St Davids Dewi Sant, Cardiff for supplying clothes
If you think you've got what it takes to model for RedHanded, email a full length pic and contact info to email@example.com 40 REDHANDED
What, never heard of a shoe tree? Lacoste, Sherbrook, £110 from Pavilion Clothing
Redwing,08131, £229 from Pavilion Clothing
Oliver Sweeney, Hasketon, £275 from The Brogue Trader
Photography by Mission Photographic www.missionphotographic.com
Grenson, Snuff, £195 from Pavilion Clothing
Grenson, Stanley, £199 from Pavilion Clothing
Cheaney, Ethan, £285 from The Brogue Trader
Loake, Hyde, £220 from The Brogue Trader
Cheaney, Edinburgh, £285 from The Brogue Trader
Loake, Jones, £150 from The Brogue Trader
Thanks to The Brogue Trader, Morgan Arcade, Cardiff. t. 0843 6581970 Pavilion Clothing, Wharton St, Cardiff. t 029 20235333
BEOLAB 18 AND BEOVISION 11 BEOPLAY A8 (SIDEVIEW)
With a great summer of sport ahead, it’s a good time to think about your home entertainment system. And like all the important things in life if you’re going to do it, it pays to do it properly.
When choosing where to make such a significant, long-term investment, it helps to understand the values that a manufacturer represents, as well as the technology itself.
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT BANG & OLUFSEN? A very simple answer. Everything. Bang & Olufsen is not just a company. It is a community. As the oldest producer of audio equipment in the world, we’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to make products that are truly something special. Once you become a Bang & Olufsen customer, you’ll wonder how you ever made do with anything else. Behind every Bang & Olufsen product is a story. Have you ever wondered about the magic behind the BeoSound 3000 or 3200’s sliding glass doors? They stem from our Chief Designer, David Lewis’s visit to a local supermarket, when the glass doors slid apart, and the lights inside welcomed him, inviting him into the store. That same inviting yet simple magic is present in all Bang & Olufsen systems, speakers, televisions and telephones. Behind every Bang & Olufsen product is technology. Plasma screens that automatically adapt to the light in the room, always making the picture the best it can be. Telephones with crystal clear sound that also allow you to turn down the sound on your television or stereo when you get a call. A six disc audio system that can go from the middle of a song on disc 1 to the first track on disc 6 in no more time than the pause between songs. Ultra compact high
performance loudspeakers that have no need for an external amplifier, but fill the room with sound. Or our BeoLab 5 loudspeakers that can calibrate the sound to the room they are placed in. So whether your living room is minimalist with 8-foot ceilings, or filled with plush leather furniture with 50-foot ceilings, your sound will always be the same. Spectacular. Behind every Bang & Olufsen product is craftsmanship. Did you know it takes days for Bang & Olufsen employees to hand assemble a BeoVision 12 television in our factory in Denmark? All of our products are made with the same care, expertise, and attention to detail that you simply don’t find in other brands. Everything we make is also put through extensive product testing. We expose our products to what amounts to years of smoke, cold, heat, and sun exposure, we shake them, drop them, and still, they hold up. Our testers account for every possible environmental factor they can think of, and make sure our products can take whatever life dishes out, ensuring that your systems will be around for a very, very long time.
A HISTORY OF DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION Bang & Olufsen are not only the oldest audiovisual manufacturer in the word, they are
the most distinctively designed audiovisual products in the world. Best in class sound and picture, together with a build quality and aesthetic beauty to match no other are key Bang & Olufsen attributes. Two designers are synonymous with Bang & Olufsen – Jacob Jensen and David Lewis, both of whom have designed audiovisual products that have formed part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. In 1972 Bang & Olufsen developed the world’s first electronically controlled tangential gramophone, the Beogram 4000. In this pioneering concept, the pick-up moved in a straight line towards the centre of the record parallel with - or tangentially in relation to - the groove. Often cited as the world’s most beautiful turntable, in 1972 it won the iF Design Award and in 1973 the Danish ID Award. We still have the Beogram 4000 that our MD, Paul’s dad bought in 1972 as part of our legacy collection. Naturally, it still works perfectly. There are too many other B&O icons to list – everyone’s seen the landmark BeoSound 9000 6-disc CD player – a magnificent piece of engineering that can whizz between tracks on discs in a fraction of a second, as it became a benchmark for style and its successor today, the BeoSound 5 retains that tactile mechanical magic of the 9000 for today’s world of digital streaming.
At Bang & Olufsen, we love the products we make, and we love what we do. No more so than at B&O Cardiff.
BANG & OLUFSEN CARDIFF Our MD, Paul first connected with Bang & Olufsen at eight years old when he accompanied his dad to buy a Bang & Olufsen hi-fi system way back in 1972 and has spent years since with their products. In the 1990’s Paul’s business became one of the very first Bang & Olufsen custom installers, creating bespoke whole-house entertainment systems and private cinemas for those who demand the best. When the opportunity became available to open a dedicated Bang & Olufsen store in Cardiff in 2012, Paul jumped at the chance. Store Manager, Phil, also has a long history with Bang & Olufsen, having been working with the brand at an engineering level for over 10 years. In that time he has designed and built some of the finest home theatres and whole-house multimedia systems both in the UK and overseas. With decades of audio visual experience at the highest level combined with years of specialist Bang & Olufsen know-how there is no one more accomplished to deal with any audio visual requirement. We are specialists in private theatres, home automation and 2 channel audio with a real passion and extensive
knowledge of the world of turntables. We have provided solutions for some of the most famous names in the world of business, sport and entertainment and can find the ultimate system to suit your requirements.
images and powerful sound. BeoVision 11 will challenge your senses and all previous conceptions of what a TV can be. With a truly realistic motion control engine and Judder control the BeoVision 11 combined with the Bang & Olufsen loudspeaker range you will feel like the World Cup is happening live in front of you. Come in and meet us and we’ll show you just how good Bang & Olufsen really is. Design is life enhancing and combined with unbeatable sound and picture, you’ll wonder how you lived without some B&O in your life. B&O owners stay B&O owners as once you switch, nothing else will do. As Henry Royce once said “the quality will be remembered long after the price is forgotten.” Everyone who comes in to the store for a serious demonstration can ask for a limited edition Bang & Olufsen smart phone case, as these are very limited it will be a first come first served basis. Come visit us today, and let us show you what really makes Bang & Olufsen so special.
While BeoVision 11’s stunning lines may at first seduce the eye you’ll find countless innovations inside its sleek exterior that will bring you to a new world of sensory delight. Engineered with uncompromising Bang & Olufsen perfection, they drive outstanding performance through the exceptional LED-based LCD display. Heightening the imagination with razor-sharp
Bang & Olufsen of Cardiff, Morgan Arcade, Morgan Quarter, Cardiff, CF10 1AF. Tel: 029 20372799 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.bang-olufsen-cardiff.com Open Monday to Saturday 10am - 5:30pm (closed Sunday)
BANG AND OLUFSEN TODAY Bang & Olufsen’s range is now more extensive, and as impressive, than ever. Two products that typify the current range and are generating huge amounts of interest at the moment are the Beoplay A8 and the BeoVision 11.
BEOPLAY A8 Another iconic design and already one of the best selling Bang & Olufsen products ever, the BeoPlay A8 is a complete Bang & Olufsen HiFi system you can carry away in a single box. Its looks and room-filling sound are stunning and it works with all smart devices.
All round winner Glamorgan all-rounder Jim Allenby speaks from his native Western Australia about preparing for the new season, Ashes embarrassment and missing Welsh lamb I’ve really enjoyed spending the summer in Western Australia; it’s been a good mixture of relaxing and preparing for the 2014 season. Having the Ashes on has certainly made it more interesting although I must admit that Cardiff feels more like home to me now. When I sold my house in Perth to move to Cardiff and set up my life there, it became more like a permanent home, although I still like to come back to visit family and friends and escape from the cold! Still, when I’m away I find that I miss Wales, especially the lamb. It is usually too hot over here in Australia to have it and there is nothing better than Welsh lamb! I also miss the rugby days, although hopefully there will be an international on when I get back in February. When I came back to Perth in November I played a couple of games in preparation for the match against England at the WACA. I then had two months off from playing as I wanted to make sure I got the rest I needed to be fit for the 2014 county season. The game against England was great fun and from a personal perspective it was nice to know that I am good enough to play against an international side on a pitch like the WACA. To come out of the game with the best bowling figures for either side and to also make some good runs was really pleasing and I am hoping it may lead to more international opportunities. As for the England performance in the game, I would say it was OK, but it was early in the tour so they may have been settling in. Bell and Trott both played very well and I was surprised with what happened after that. I think the pressure from the Australian public and media was so intense it was hard for England to come back from the first few losses.
Before the series I did a few Q&As for various functions and I was predicting 3-0 to England, after that I’m not sure I will be asked back again! Since the New Year I have started playing again for ClaremontNedlands Cricket Club where I have played since I was 10 years old and also helped coach. It’s been a very busy time as I also got married between Christmas and New Year. We had 135 people come to a vineyard just out of Perth and if the bar bill is anything to go by, everyone had a great time! It was an amazing day and we had a lot of fun and it was great to have some really good friends from the UK come all the way over to help celebrate. Apart from that, it is now full-on preparing for the upcoming season and training has really stepped up. I am combining that with gaining as much experience in coaching players and leadership on and off the field, as possible. I can’t wait to be back in Cardiff next month and get into the outdoor nets – perhaps in a tent! www.glamorgancricket.com
CENTRE OF ATTENTION Wales ace Owen Williams talks about his return from injury, hopes for a Wales call-up and how Blues are backing Cop Trumps It’s great to be back playing after the hamstring injury I picked up against Australia for Wales. It’s been a frustrating couple of months for me, over the Christmas and New Year, so it was great to get back out with the boys. I thought I went alright in my comeback game against Bath… although I was cramping up towards the end and looking at the coaches for help! But it was great to have the jersey back on. We’ve fielded a young team these last few weeks, with players away with Wales for the Six Nations, and we’ve taken the positives from the performances. We’ve had a few guys getting debuts and a few staking a claim for more regular rugby. It’s been a big opportunity for the youngsters to show what they can do and they can be proud of what they have achieved. People will ask me about Wales and getting myself involved in the Six Nations, but I’m just focussed on Blues and getting some games under my belt. I need to get my
form back and see what happens. It’s been a frustrating time for me because after the autumn spell with Wales, and my try against Tonga, I was looking forward to getting back and playing some rugby in the big Heineken Cup games for Blues. The injury was a setback, but I’ve got to dust myself off and work hard during this period with some big games coming up in the RaboDirect PRO12. I need to help Blues climb the table as we chase a top six place and anything else is a bonus. Away from the rugby, I was pleased to be asked to help launch the Cop Trumps youth engagement initiative with South Wales Police and children from St Mellons. Cop Trumps is a collector card based idea – like the old Top Trumps - featuring the Blues players and a series of messages about online safety, personal safety, keeping healthy and being a good person. The cards also form part of a game with each player rated on speed, power, height and weight – so no doubt it will spark plenty of lively debate in the dressing room! They are available from South Wales Police in Rumney, Llanrumney, St Mellons and Trowbridge.… so get collecting us!
Extra Time To commemorate this year’s FIFA World Cup Hublot, the tournament’s official timekeeper, have teamed with Brazilian football sensation and brand ambassador Pelé to unveil his signature watch, the Hublot Classic Fusion Chrono Aero Pelé. The watch takes on the Classic Fusion Chrono Aero, here crafted in satin-brushed and polished black ceramic; one of the toughest materials out there. The 45mm wide case is finished with blackened titanium “H” screws and a black ceramic crown and pushers. Through the anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal sits a transparent glass dial, allowing the wearer to appreciate the open-worked “Aero” chronograph movement, treated in dark coating to blend in with the case. The sub-dial at 3 o’clock is decorated with the outline of a football, and the entire dial is adorned with yellow markings as well as a yellow central seconds hand for the chronograph, the principal color of the Brazilian team’s jerseys. The skeletonized date wheel is set with a number 10, commemorating the football legend’s number 10 shirt. The strap is embossed with a football pentagonal pattern, inlaid into a rubber strap with yellow stitching. The case back has a sapphire glass displaying the HUB1155 automatic skeleton movement within, with the crystal depicting the outline of Pelé in mid-air performing one of his legendary “bicycle kicks”, accompanied by his signature. The Classic Fusion Aero Pelé is limited to 500 numbered pieces worldwide and is available at Crouch the Goldsmiths, St Davids Dewi Sant, Cardiff, t 029 20 399769
Welsh Games is an exciting new activity in South Wales specifically geared towards stag and hen groups. You’ll whack, wobble, chuck and chase your way through 9 games of mayhem and madness making it a truly crazy day to remember as you celebrate all things Welsh. The crazy Welsh themed games, such as Welsh Celebrity Knockout, The Rugby Run, Drunk Dragons, Leek Lampin’, Duffing Dafydd and Sheep Shenanigans, are guaranteed to have you rolling around in laughter with the rest of your group. Included within the price is a dedicated host for your group who will guide you round the games and keep the scores, a prize for the winner and individual group photos loaded onto Facebook the same day. Opening in April 2014, this exciting events specialist are coming to Wales after three very successful years in Bristol running West Country Games. Events take place every Saturday until October near Cwmbran. Opening in April 2014, this exciting events specialist is following on from three very successful years in Bristol. Bookings can be made through visiting www.welshgames.co.uk. They are currently offering a “Stag Goes Free” offer for groups of 12 people or more. Tidy like!
PITCH PERFECT We stumbled on the Gower Golf Club recently ,this lovely course hidden away only a few miles from the motorway, yet on the edge of Gower, but what a spectacular destination with amazing views! A lovely natural parkland Golf course with rooms on site and a bar and Sky Sports so we were surprised we hadn’t heard about it before. Our friends at the Gower have put together these special Red Handed deals just for you. Live nearby? Come along and have a round of golf for 4 and a single course bar meal for £80 simply by quoting RedHanded (Offer excludes Saturday mornings). If you like what you see why not join as a lifestyle member which gives you membership at a price you choose. Live a bit further away? Come along on a midweek deal: play 2 rounds and have an overnight stay and 2 course dinner for £70 per person (twin occupancy rooms) and quote RedHanded. Perhaps tie it in with your favourite football or rugby game and upgrade from our Lounge to your own private room with Sky Sports. We don’t even mind well behaved stags ( just don’t make divots with those hooves!) Gower Golf Course, Cefn Goleu, Three Crosses, Swansea SA4 3HS 01792 872480 • www.gowergolf.co.uk
Sochi it to 'em Just booked a last-minute deal to go skiing and need to top up your skiwardrobe sharpish?Then check out these bargains at Bridgend Designer Outlet TOG 24 Men’s Cobra ski coat £99.95 now £69.95
TOG 24 mens Arctic base layer RRP £29.95 now £9.95
Trespass Gateway Cobalt socks RRP £7.99 now £3.99
Campri Ski Glove Mens £5.99 @ sportsdirect.com
Tea, the new coffee?
There’s a Japanese proverb that says: “If a man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.” Thanks to Friends and other American sitcoms, “Latte to go” and “Cappuccino Grande” have become a part of our daily vocabulary. But in our rush to soak up all things American we’ve come to overlook that most traditional of British beverages, tea. Not any more. Tea is booming. A spate of new and exciting tea room openings is testament to renewed interest - the leaf is steadily catching the bean in terms of popularity with a younger, trend-setting and sophisticated audience. This is partly fashion, but it also reflects the range and quality of tea on offer and the fresh approach, often inspired by the coffee shop experience, that a new generation of tea rooms are adopting. An early trend-setter in Cardiff was The Waterloo Tea Gardens in Penylan and now at The Washington in Penarth. Owner, Kas, has seen increased interest from a younger, fashionable crowd frequenting his establishments. “Tea is following the same trend as did wine, beer and coffee,” he said. “We regularly give talks on tea and engage with the public on the new movement in teas and broadening palates.” “We brew teas with accuracy, paying particular attention to temperature of the water, dose and time of infusion and abide by Fairtrade and Organic regulations.” Natalie Eddins, owner of Thé Pot Café on Crwys Road has also seen an increase in specialty tea drinkers. “Since we opened in 2008 our male clientele in particular has increased in number. The rise in popularity of tea rooms has meant that loose tea is more
accessible and not just in the ceremonial ‘afternoon tea and cake’ sense.” Negotiating over a pot of speciality tea seems to be catching on too. Natalie added: “Just like the coffee houses, most tea rooms now boast WiFi too so that would entice men and women alike as a spot to meet and do business. We stock 15 different loose teas and the health properties green and white teas boast, as espoused by men’s and women’s health magazines, are also a reason for the upsurge in its popularity.” In recent months more new tea rooms have opened, often with a new or different emphasis. Chaiholics in Wellfield Road is the first authentic chai/tea house in Wales. In addition to traditional blends it specialises in spiced teas of the type traditionally brewed by Chaiwallas all over India as owner, Ray Sandhu explains “Chai is tea with spices, fully loaded with anti-oxidants, capturing the different regions in India. The health benefits of tea have been known for years which is one reason why interest, particularly amongst younger people and men is growing. Funky decor, high service standards, and a perfect cuppa make it a favourite meeting place to enjoy a hot, fresh cup of chai or a pot of single origin and/or organic tea and to discuss the day’s happenings.” Not one to stand still Ray intends to take Chai to a new level. While the rest of us potter about with pots, leaves and bags, Ray has been busy pioneering a bespoke espresso drip “tea machine”. He explained: “The USP of this tea house is that we offer loose leaf chai/tea which is brewed through a bespoke steam pumped espresso machine that no one has done before. We worked with the best Italian coffee
machine manufacturers to achieve this.” Cutting edge technology is not the priority at newly opened Barker Tea House in High Street Arcade. There isn’t even WiFi – deliberately so, says Steve Barker. “It’s all about the experience and conversation - we don’t want people staring at laptops, he said. From the outset we felt it should be much more of an event than calling in at a coffee shop.” “With a contemporary take on a Victorian gentlemen’s club, complete with sumptuous leather sofas and wing-backed chairs, ornate ceiling and cosy booths, it has a great sense of occasion - the type of place to pre book and make a date in your calendar to meet old friends, treat mum, gain brownie points with the girlfriend or a business associate you want to impress”, he said. “We offer sixty loose teas carefully selected and blended from all round the world served in cast iron tea pots, a cracking breakfast menu - from organic granola to eggs Benedict and mouth-watering afternoon tea and cakes too.” Wale’s sophisticated set are trailblazing the tea drinking phenomenon, from traditional blends to spicy and fruity infusions full of antioxidants. So those of you sniggering into your cappuccinos with your unsightly froth moustache, you are falling way behind. Tea triumphs, whatever blend you choose. www.waterlootea.com t. 029 2045 6073 www.thepotcafe.co.uk t. 029 2025 1246 www.chaiholics.com t. 029 2049 5975 www.barkerteahouse.co.uk t. 029 2034 1390
Lifestyle From rugby pitch to business pitch… Top tips from an inspiring entrepreneur Nathan Brew is the managing director of the Skill Group, a leading training provider founded in Wales in 2009 and now employing 72 people across the U.K. For Nathan the road to business success has been a long and sometimes rocky one. A former professional rugby player who reached the top of his game playing for Wales, Nathan understood that he wouldn’t be playing forever. Possessing a natural entrepreneurial spirit, he launched his first business venture, a restaurant in Swansea, aged just 24. Despite it not going to plan Nathan persisted, experimenting with several other projects before starting Skill Wales. “Although there were times when I felt fed up and exhausted, my various business enterprises enabled me to envisage a future with excitement and optimism post rugby, he says. “I realised that the best way to succeed would be to set up a business that complimented my life experiences and passions, specifically my love of sport and well-being. “The company was founded upon teaching children the value of health and wellbeing through the medium of sport but soon
grew to include adult training courses in both the public and private sector. The average week is gruelling but no two days are the same and I wouldn’t change it for the world, especially as we enter a pivotal year for the business aiming for record growth in 2014!” Having experienced the highs and lows, here’s Nathan’s top 5 tips for success: • Passion and commitment are key regardless of whether you’re working within an organisation, own your own business or wish to set one up. Think of ways in which you can utilise your interests, skill set and hobbies to create a business model that will work for you. • Never stop learning - there are 1,000s of credible training courses available to enhance your skill set. Identify courses that will enhance your competency or support your ambition to embark on a new career. • Diversify – are there products and services that would complement your business’ current offering? In today’s economic climate it’s essential that you ‘hedge your bets’ but equally don’t spread yourself too thinly by offering products that are not in line with your core objectives.
• Utilise your network – focus on 20 business associates you know well. Their career field is irrelevant, as you never know where your next opportunity will come from. It’s important that you network, research and contact networking events that could potentially be beneficial. Most will be happy to hear from you. • Review your current position – are you currently happy in your role, is your skill set being maximised? If not, it’s never too late for a change in career. Study your target industry, establish the qualification requirements and job opportunities available and remember the sky’s the limit. For more information on courses and services visit www.theskill-group.com
The rise of the Micro-Brewery… Something rather spectacular is going on down the pub. There’s a revolution going on. Across the country, small breweries are reinventing beer as we know it. Wales’ is thriving with independent brewers such as Otley, Tiny Rebel and Kite producing fine cask ales. The Kite Brewery, for example, has recently acquired new premises in a bid to deal with growing demand. The new site, three times the size of the former location, is designed to increase annual output by 60%. Kite’s MD, Rhys Anstee explains why: “There is a huge demand at present for locally produced cask beer with new micro-breweries popping up all over the UK in record numbers. In my opinion the three main driving forces behind this surge are the Progressive Beer Duty legislation that came into play in 2002, ‘localism’ and taste. “Until 2002 all British breweries, regardless of size, paid the same level of excise duty and the burden on the smaller producer was crippling. Thanks to PBD brewers that produce fewer than 40,000 barrels a year now pay lower rates of duty on a sliding scale. “There is also a rise in demand for all thing’s local, people want to know where their produce comes from. 'Craft' brewers tend to buy the finest malts and hops locally and hand produce in smaller quantities. 1 in 7 pints served in pubs and bars across the U.K is real cask ale and the number is increasing. It’s an exciting time for micro-brewers and we all endeavor to capitalize on this by continuing to produce real ale with great flavor and class. “The sheer choice, variety, creativity, innovation and proliferation of styles on offer is a welcome contrast to the bland selection of lagers and beers available in recent decades. At Kite alone there’s WPA, Thunderbird and Cwrw Gorlas in the original core portfolio and additionally a range
50 REDHANDED ....... WINTER 2013/14
of seasonal beers. Our locally sourced ales are already stocked in more than 300 bars, pubs and restaurants throughout Wales and the South West. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for The Kite Brewery and our fellow craft brewers.” Founded in Wales’ in 2011, The Kite Brewery based in Llantistant, is affiliated to The Glamorgan Beer and Wine Company, a family run business established in 1994 and Wales’ largest independent licensed trade wholesaler. For more information visit the company’s website www.thekitebrewery.com
All Heart, and Sole In November 2013 The Brogue Trader opened its doors in Cardiff’s Morgan Arcade to become one of only a handful of purveyors of fine quality footwear in the UK catering exclusively for men. Chris’s belief that a well fitted, long-lasting shoe, hand-made by master craftsmen is a mark of refinement and personal pride is clearly evident in the wonderful array of shoes available. Whilst there are many styles from a select band of makers including Loakes, Cheaney, Herring and Oliver Sweeney, they are all hand-made in Britain using traditional Goodyear welting. This adherence to quality doesn’t just mean great looking shoes that will be the envy of any discerning chap. It also means optimum protection for your feet from the stresses and strains of everyday life for many years. And of course you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made a very wise investment and one that will get nods of approval from shoe aficionados and casual observers alike. These values are also evident in the understated elegance of the shop’s décor, reminiscent of a gentleman’s club and the
One hundred and twenty. That was the size of shoe fanatic Chris Macnamara’s footwear collection at its peak. That may seem a lot, but for Chris and increasing numbers of informed and style conscious men a pair of fine quality shoes speaks volumes for the wearer, in much the same way as a fine Swiss watch. On Christmas Day 2012 Chris decided to leave a successful career as Principal of a prestige car dealership in order to turn his passion for shoes into a business.
EDITORIAL Editor: Jeremy Head CDs: Jude Rogers Films: Adam Kennedy Health and Grooming: Jason Jones Riath Al Samarrai, Bennett Arron, Phil Boucher, Niall Griffiths, Jason Jones, Adam Kennedy, Madoc Roberts, Jude Rogers, Owain Taylor Shaw, Michael Took, Nigel West, David Whitley Photography: Mei Lewis MissionPhotographic.Com
Publisher: Paul Mulligan Tel: 029 2019 0224, sales@ conroymedia.co.uk Administration: Jimmy Man Tel: 029 2019 0316, sales@ conroymedia.co.uk
PRODUCTION Designer: Alan Chaston Sub-editor: Sally Newman Printed by: Wyndeham, Plymouth Distributed by Pear Distribution
perfect environment to sample its wares. Wares that also include Dents, world renowned makers of gloves and fine leather goods since 1777; Corgi Hosiery, the world renowned and Welsh sock makers founded in 1892 and awarded the Royal Warrant by The Prince of Wales; and finally James Ince & Son, who since 1808 have been making by hand the country’s finest gentleman’s umbrellas using materials such as ivory, brass, whalebone and wood. As a family run business, traditional values are paramount. Such as service. Not in your face, but subtle, friendly, helpful and above all patient. Whether it be a complimentary coffee, beer or whisky or a personal visit to your home or office – nothing is too much trouble. The Brogue Trader, 27a Morgan Arcade, Cardiff. Tel: 0843 6581970. wwwthebroguetrader.com
To receive RedHanded call: 029 2019 0224
RedHanded Magazine is published by Conroy Media Ltd, PO Box 607, Cardiff CF24 1ZR ©Conroy Media 2014. All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form in whole or in part without the written permission of the publishers. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this magazine, the publishers can not be held responsible for the accuracy of the information herein, or any consequence arising from it. The views expressed in RedHanded are not necessarily those of the editor or the publishers.
Home Made Ravioli Pasta Feeling ravenous? Try some ravioli suggests Tony Venditto Serves 4 Ingredients for fresh pasta 250g flour type “00” 2 large eggs & 1 egg yolk Salt to taste Ingredients for pasta filling 1 whole chopped aubergine 125g Ricotta 50g Parmesan cheese 2 large seedless chopped tomatoes 2 tblsp olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
Easy Lamb Railway Curry A personal favourite recipe this dish was popular in the time of my great grandfather, head chef at the Eastern Shipping Company in the days of the Raj when the Railway Curry was considered aristocratic and served in train refreshment rooms. The dish was delicately spiced to suit the refined British palate but flavoursome enough to be enjoyed by railway staff on long serving shifts. A lovely balanced subtle dish.
Chefs Tip: This time of the season ask your local butcher for spring lamb, a flavoursome, tender meat to carry the spices and add to the depth of flavour. Serves: 4 Ingredients 125ml sunflower oil Whole spices: 2 cinnamon sticks 1 nutmeg 4 green cardamoms For the filling… 1. Sautee the chopped aubergine in the pan with olive oil for 5 minutes then add the tomato and bake in oven for 10-15min 2. In the meantime mix together the Ricotta, Parmesan, salt and pepper 3. Once you have taken the aubergine and tomato out of the oven wait for it to cool down then add to the Ricotta mix – now your filling For the pasta… 1. Place the flour on a board and make a hole in the center and crack the eggs into it 2. Beat the egg with a fork until smooth 3. Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour a little bit at a time until it is all combined 4. You should end up with a smooth ball of dough 5. Leave your dough to rest in the fridge for 45minutes – then take it out and leave to rest at room temperature for 15minutes 6. Roll the dough out into a square shape 10cmx10cm then slice into 16 squares all of the same size 7. Brush the pasta sheet with one whisked egg then put one teaspoon of the filling onto 8 squares 8. Put the other 8 the squares on top of the ones with the filling and seal the sides by pressing together with your fingers. 9. You should be left with 8 parcels and these are ready to cook, put them into boiling water for 5 minutes then serve! Buon Appetitto from all of us at Amici Restaurant www.amicirestaurant-cardiff.co.uk
2 1/2 tbsp ginger & garlic paste 900gms lamb, cut into boneless cubes 2 onions finely chopped Salt to taste
Ground spices: 1 tsp red chilli powder 3/4 tsp garam masala 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder 1 tsp turmeric powder 200gms tomato puree 50gms yoghurt 800ml water 2 tsp chopped fresh coriander for garnish 1 tsp roasted whole cumin for garnish
Method 1. Heat oil in a handi (stock pot); add the whole spices and sauté until they crackle. Add ginger & garlic paste and sauté for a further 5 minutes. 2. Add the lamb cubes and chopped onions. Cook on medium heat until any moisture dries out. Add salt and all the ground spices. 3. Stir in tomato puree and yoghurt (rogan oil should appear during this stage*). Stir for 2 minutes then add in water. 4. Reduce heat and cook until the lamb pieces are tender and the curry thickens, remove from heat. 5. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the fresh coriander and roasted cumin seeds. 6. Serve hot, traditionally served with bread or dinner rolls. * When onions and spices are fried in oil they release an aromatic flavoursome oil called Rogan that flavours the dish. It shows that the onions are soaked completely with spice and it takes around 2 minutes after adding yoghurt. The first Indian chef to use food science in his menus Cobra Good Curry Chef of the Year Stephen Gomes is the owner of award winning Moksh in Cardiff Bay (Where Chefs Eat Guide) and the newly opened Meluha, 51 Park Street, Bristol. His menus are created in chapters to lead diners through a journey of the senses; adventurous, beautiful yet anchored solidly in authenticity. www.meluha.co.uk, 0117 930 4693
HIGH FLYING DUCKS
Gareth Dobbs, Chef/patron of hotly tipped Duck Egg Bleu, plays down talk of a Michelin star and explains why he loves the colour blue and Canton You’ve had a lot of people saying nice things about you recently after opening both Duck Egg Bleu and Lazy Duck next to each other in Canton. But we want to know about your credentials - tell us a little bit about your background? I started out in the four season in London washing pots, and since then I’ve worked in some really great restaurants for some fantastic chefs, which I’d like to one day emulate. People presume that Stuart and I are looking for a Michelin star straight away but that’s just not the case. The restaurant needs time to establish itself and grow. There’s no such thing as perfect and we want to continue improving all the time. So what’s the fascination with Ducks – and whilst you’re at it tell us the differences between the two eateries? Duck has a great flavour when cooked nicely. It’s an ingredient which I really enjoy cooking with and I feel some of my best dishes contain it. I’m a big Manchester City fan who play in a pale blue! The Lazy Duck is a very chilled out place to be. It has cosy sofas, nice rustic dishes, good coffee and nice beer and wine. duck egg bleu we hope, is a little bit more special where you can enjoy a more refined meal. Sounds like they’re the type of places you’d expect to grace the town centre – what drew you to Cowbridge Road East in Canton? First of all I live in Canton - it’s a great place and I really love it. It reminds me a lot of Bayswater in London where I lived for a long time. It’s a fun place to be with a lot of characters and if this was London no one would think twice about a nice place opening up outside of the city centre. I also think it’s an up and coming area so I wanted to add to that. Besides there’s some great little restaurants around here already.
NoFit State return to Cardiff with their stunning production Bianco. Bianco is the latest award winning incarnation of NoFit State’s seductive, thrilling, and totally immersive contemporary circus. From twelve countries across three continents, NoFit State assemble some of the world’s finest circus artists. With a cast of 18 and an electrifying live band, Bianco is a two hour explosion for the senses blending sensational circus and subversive edge. Back in the iconic silver spaceship Big Top this promenade production swirls above, around, and alongside you, transporting you to another world. We talk to one of the performers, Anne-Fay Johnston.
For more info on Lazy Duck and Duck Egg Bleu go to www.duckeggbleu.co.uk
Tell us a bit about yourself I’m a 25 year old contemporary circus performer and from Quebec. I started the Quebec Circus Schools at 12, where they allowed me to go to school and train at the same time. I progressed to the Canadian National Circus School and graduated in 2009. What do you do in Bianco? I have two acts in Bianco, a high-energy dual swinging trapeze, and a hand balancing number. I love the company’s approach to circus and working with so many passionate people. You must be very fit, do you practise lots? Every day before the show, I train and warm up. My warm ups consist of a combination of stretching and yoga, and balancing on my hands. Recently I got into rock climbing and I’ve been doing that when I’m not working on a show. What are you plans on returning to Cardiff? The company returns from Australia in a couple of weeks and we will be rehearsing in Cardiff in May. We will then be presenting Bianco for three weeks next to the company’s training space on John Street. It’ll be great to be back in Wales, especially as we don’t get to perform in NoFit State’s home town very often! I am also looking forward to a few good nights out on the town… Bianco will play in the NoFit State Circus Big Top, John Street, Cardiff CF10 5PE from 23rd May to 7th June, for tickets visit www.nofitstate.org or call 0333 222 9000
Win, win, win!
What could be better – looking good and a great pint Win amazing Male Grooming Packages from Groom For Men*
Wet shave Back, neck and shoulders massage
Get sharp and feel good with these stunning packages, especially designed for us chaps, from Wales’ premier men’s grooming centre, Groom For Men. Open since 2012, Groom For Men, as the name implies, caters only for men with staff and treatments that are focussed exclusively on male needs and whims. www.groomformen.co.uk for more info.
To enter simply send an email headed Groom For men to redhanded@ conroymedia.co.uk with your answer to the following question: in what year did Groom For Men open?
First prize – worth over £100! Cut and style Cut-throat wet shave Face Hydration Full Body Aromatherapy massage Full manicure and pedicure Plus two Runner Up prizes – worth £45 Cut
* Deadline for entries is 15th May and prizes must be claimed by 31st August. All prizes and appointments subject to availability.
Competitions 3, yes 3 cases of Welsh Pale Ale up for grabs! 3 lucky winners will be enjoying a case of Welsh Pale Ale courtesy of rapidly expanding craft ale brewery Kite.* Each winner will get 12 bottles of one of the finest ales around – a light golden ale with a clean crisp palate balanced by a fruity citrus hop character. One of Wales’ newest and most exciting micro breweries, Kite have recently moved to new and larger premises in Llantrisant and produce a range cracking real ales – and we should know we’ve tried most of them – with WPA being our personal favourite. To enter simply send an email, headed Kite, to email@example.com with your answer to the following question: where is Kite Brewery based?
* All entrants must be over 18 and resident in the UK. Deadline for entries is 15th May.
Jason Jones picks the products to keep your fettle fine this winter
6 of the best… Wellbeing Products Can grooming products improve our health? Well, before you dismiss that as the most ludicrous question ever posed, clearly I’m not talking major illness here; although applying sunscreen does significantly stave off the chance of getting skin cancer. What I really mean are those products that perk us up, calm us down and generally just sort us out when we’re feeling under the weather. Which at this time of year is pretty much a given. While I wouldn’t exactly call these products health boosters, I do think of them as little pick-me-ups that lift our day-to-day wellbeing.
Spa Gazing Forum Spa at Celtic Manor Resort, Coldra Woods
1. Aromatherapy Associates Support Breathe Bath & Shower Oil (55ml, £39) If you’ve got a cold and feel all bunged-up, this is the perfect product to ease the pain. A mix of eucalyptus, pine, peppermint and tea tree, it bracingly clears the head, nose and chest and recharges tired and aching limbs. 2. Vitaman Mud Masque (200ml, £29.50) Whether it’s sweating the small stuff or dealing with life’s big curveballs, we all get stressed from time to time. One of the best quick ways to chill out is to stick a facemask on. This is especially effective because it takes 15-20 minutes to work which forces you to get off the hamster wheel and let your head stop worrying. Plus, it gives an amazing boost to your mush. 3. Ron Dorff Arctic Roseroot Body Scrub (236ml, £28) As our lives get ever more frenetic, our energy banks can run on empty. This body scrub, enriched with the plant extract Arctic Roseroot that helps fight fatigue and improve mental agility and mood, restocks energy reserves as well as getting rid of dead skin.
Signature treatment: The ancient Arabian-inspired Rasul Mud Ritual (from £44 for one person, up to £130 for four). In a private chamber, you apply mineral-soused mud and allow the heat, steam and simulated tropical rain to let those life-stresses ebb away. Prices: For a high-falutin’ spa, the prices really aren’t too pickpocketing. One of the best value is the Elemis Only For Men Booster Facial, which comes in at a competitive 40 quid for 25 minutes. Even mediocre spas charge much more. Also, keep an eye on their website for limited edition special offers. Service: Super-slick without being too oligarch OTT. The staff know their stuff, but tailor their approach to you individually. The X Factor: This resort has USPs all over the place. (And, yes, I know a plural of USP is an oxymoron; don’t write in.) From the rolling countryside of the surroundings to the sheer choice and high standard of the facilities, everything about Celtic Manor screams – discreetly, natch – 5-starriness. Score: A near-perfect 9 out of 10. celtic-manor.com
4. Recipe For Men Under Eye Patches (4 pairs, £14.50) Be it business or pleasure, most of us spend way too much time glued to a computer screen so our eyes get a bashing. These patches soothe tired and sore peepers as well as de-bagging, de-puffing and de-wrinkling the windows on our souls. 5. This Works Muscle Therapy (50ml, £17): This is the time of year we sheep-flock to the gym with the strong possibility we’ll overdo it at some point. A potent fusion of essential oils including marjoram, black pepper and clove, this does what it says on the tin and takes the heat out of muscle burn. Also, handily comes in a rollerball dispenser making it easier to massage deep into muscles and hard-to-reach areas. 6. Nickel Morning After Rescue Shower Gel (200ml, £16) If you have one (or two?) too many to ward off the long winter nights and suffer for it the morning after, this straightforwardly-titled shower gel will kick-start the hangover healing process nicely - so you can head to the nearest greasy spoon for a fry-up and a full-fat Coke.
A Ford To Be Reckoned With Top-dog designer Tom Ford is never knowingly under-groomed so much so there’s not even a dogrough pap shot of him in existence. Consequently, it came as no big shocker when he announced he was adding a men’s grooming arm to his already-fingerin-every-pie global empire. Famously, Ford is an OCD perfectionist – he even road-tested his women’s make-up range, although, sadly for comedy value, not in public – so the standard is typically sky-high. Standouts are the Daily Moisturiser (50ml, £75), which is creamily hydrating minus any clagginess, and the Wood Oud Body Moisturiser (150ml, £42), so finely scented it could be used in lieu of fragrance. When the range launched much was made of the fact it contains ‘make-up’, but that was just tabloidese for a bit of concealer and bronzer (15ml, £32; 75ml, £35), which even the male cast of The Valleys probably wear so big whoop. Pricey, yes, but a class act so worth every penny. Just look at Tom’s perfectly-preserved face. Available at House Of Fraser
Want to live longer? Jason Jones has the strategies! 3 WAYS TO LIVE LONGER
Eat less Cutting our daily calorie intake by 2530 per cent to around 1,800-2,000 can increase life expectancy. Studies at the Washington University School of Medicine found that the hearts of monkeys who were fed less functioned like those 15 years younger. “It’s about getting the most nutrition per calorie,” says Professor Luigi Fontana, who led the study. Run up to 20 miles a week Researchers at the University of South Carolina discovered that middle-aged people who did just that, lived longer generally and specifically were at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Tracking 53,000 adults over 32 years, the study showed that running reduced the risk of mortality when a person didn’t exceed more than 20 miles per week. Those who ran for greater distances lost the survival edge gained by those who ran less. Drink 4 coffees a day A 12-year study by the American National Cancer Institute published last year found that men who drank at least 4 cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of dying by 10 per cent. Dubbed ‘the coffee effect’, it was seen to reduce the most common causes of death, including heart and respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes and even accidents. However, it had no effect whatsoever on the instances of cancer.
10 TIPS TO LOSE THE WINTER WEIGHT Always eat with a knife and fork And at a table if possible. This means we eat with more consideration and, usually, better. Eat in company The stomach produces a chemical that tells us when it’s full. If we eat too quickly, we stuff ourselves before our brain gets the message. Eating with others generally means we eat more slowly. Drink water Few of us religiously drink the 2 litres of H20 a day our bodies require, but often when we think we’re starving we’re actually thirsty so it’s worth hitting the watercooler. Enjoy feeling hungry It’s our default setting. For most of our existence as a species we’ve been a bit peckish. Only weigh yourself once a month And don’t trust scales as a measure of how well you’re doing as muscle weighs more than fat. Trust your belt. If your clothes feel looser, you’re losing weight. Don’t exercise alone Invest in a trainer or an equally committed friend. Improve your posture To lose a stone without doing anything, stand up straight, lift your head and push your shoulders back. Learn to cook If you do, you can control calorie content because you know exactly what’s going into meals. Limit the damage It’s inevitable the wheels will fall off the healthy living wagon, just don’t use one slip-up as an excuse to give up entirely. Simply get back on the horse. Be realistic There’s no point setting the bar so high it’s unreachable. Ultimately, the point of losing weight is not self-flagellation, but to look and feel better.
5 OF THE BEST FITNESS GADGETS Nike Fuelband (£129) Simply logging your activity can be a good way to motivate yourself to do more. The Nike Fuelband makes that simple. It’s a wristband that contains motion sensors to track movement throughout the day, translating activity into Nike Fuel points that aim to let you compare yourself to others, regardless of the sports you’re doing. It also counts the steps you take – 10,000 per day is the optimum indicator of a healthy lifestyle – and also tells the time. It comes in three colours - but classic black is still the coolest. Jawbone UP (£99.99) While it’s more fiddly than the Nike Fuelband, the UP wristband gives more control over data, is a lighter and arguably more visuallyattractive device and has the advantage of a 10-day battery capacity as well as an excellent app which links into several external services to share info on iOS. It’s not perfect, admittedly, but it’s an easy and effective option for tracking exercise. Bose SIE2i Headphones (£129.95) There are three good reasons to get dedicated
sport headphones. Firstly, they usually have special tips that keep them secure in the ears while training. Secondly, the best ones are weather - and sweat - resistant. And finally, they tend to have shorter chords, which means you don’t get tangled up in them as you move. These ones have all of the above as well as, most importantly, top sound quality. Polar Rcx3 GPS (£249.50) If you’re a runner or cyclist and are more serious about collating your activity, then it’s worth considering a GPS watch rather than a wristband. This will chart your route, speed and distance, which you can upload to Polar’s Personal Trainer website, providing access to training programs, progress reports and feedback on each workout. Xbox 360 Kinect Training Bundle (£320.99) Want to get fit but without the hassle of going outside? Enter the games console. Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect motion tracker is compatible with a range of exercise games that offer surprisingly good workouts. Nike+ Kinect (£24) and Adidas miCoach Kinect (£22.99) both offer training programs, fitness plans and performance analysis.
Ole! It’s all change at Cardiff and Swansea. But what is going on? Riath Al-Samarrai looks for the answers
All change for Swansea Football’s narrative follows a peculiar and predictable pattern each time a manager is booted out of a club and into the embrace of the League Managers Association. We say they were no good and they say they needed more time. The sad truth of Michael Laudrup is that he probably had a bit too much time at Swansea City. A school of thought developed in south Wales after his sacking that he was not a good manager. More regrettably, he was characterised as someone who had no control over his squad, belittled to the extent that it sounded as though he could not organise a sock drawer. Laudrup is, in fact, a good manager. But only for so long. Throughout his managerial career he has proven adept at making a quick impact before leaving clubs after a short period. At Swansea his impact was to win the only major trophy of their history. He took them into the knockout stages of the Europa League and signed Michu for £2million. So his laidback style and training sessions can work. The problem was that his manner and sessions ultimately stopped generating a response from his players. Maybe the novelty of working with a true legend of the game wore off. Either way, that loss of impact happens at football clubs. Then it’s time for a change. That’s what happened to Laudrup. It doesn’t make him bad at what he does, it just means his approach, like most, has a shelf-life. He deserves respect for what he did at the club.
All change for Cardiff City The king is dead, long live the king. But who is the king of Cardiff City? Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Vincent Tan? Solskjaer might like to think the manager is the most important man at a football club, as he told us in his first press conference. But we all know it’s Tan’s train set. However, does that make Tan the madcap foreign owner he’s been portrayed as? No. This is not meant to be a defence of the Malaysian,
more a mitigation of sorts. There was certainly little class in the way Malky Mackay was dismissed, with a string of provocative actions and next to nothing by way of public explanation from the club or Tan for most of the three-month saga. Yet, having learnt and reported the details of some of Mackay’s signings, it seems fair to question the success of the Scot in the transfer market last summer. It is also fair to question the negative tactics he deployed and, furthermore, it’s hard to make a convincing defence of his results this season, when set against the relative spending and success of Hull City, who finished eight points behind Cardiff in the Championship. Of course, it would be naïve to think the off-field saga did anything but hinder the club’s on-field performances. But it would be equally naïve to believe Mackay was doing a wonderful job this season. None of this should detract from his achievement in turning Tan’s millions into a promotion, particularly in the context of the chaos he inherited at the club. I’d still say it was harsh to sack Mackay - but it was not, in my mind, the outrageous call some think it was. Now it’s Solskjaer’s turn to take over. He has been given money to spend and has received reassurances that he is in control of the football operation. The club needs this to go well.
second place. That’s when it started going wrong for Manley. He thought he had won a silver Mercedes for his shot, but was then told the prize was not available on that day. Frustrated, he shot 11 at the next hole. Cruel game.
What’s in a number? 6 – Aaron Ramsey’s age when he was first spotted. Gary Lewis, a development officer with the Urdd with Cardiff City connections, was the scout. I caught up with him recently and he said: “Our Urdd team became a centre of excellence for Cardiff and we went to Brentford for an Under 9s tournament at the Brentford training ground. There was QPR, Watford, Brentford and us - we went undefeated. Aaron was fundamental in that. “He was really quite shy but a nice kid. He would express himself on the pitch. In the Cardiff junior teams, we used to sometimes play big sides in friendlies, like Everton away, but we mostly played Torquay or Exeter on muddy pitches. He would stand out against every team, even Everton, and we all noticed that. He was brilliant on park pitches. “At Cardiff, I used to recommend players to a man called Gavin Tait. He used to have a saying: ‘Is he better than what we have got? If not I don’t want him.’ With Aaron, I said: ‘He is a lot better. A lot better’.” Good call.
Same as always Welsh rugby is in crisis. It’s good and reassuring to know that in an ever-changing world some things always stay the same.
Green with envy A tale of two holes in one. Welshman Jamie Donaldson got the good end of the deal, landing one million airmiles from Turksh Airways after his ace in Belek recently. He went on to finish the competition in second. Poor old Stuart Manley, though. Donaldson’s countryman was playing in Australia where a hole-in-one at the third moved him into
Good things come in 3’s
New Mazda 3
SpainMazda are on a roll. The CX and 6 have won numerous awards and are consistently at or near the top of magazine polls for their class. All thanks to a combination of shrewd, attractive design and, crucially, their cutting edge SkyActiv technology which sets the bar for green-ness whilst maintaining performance. Good as these cars are, in sales terms at least, they’re merely the prelude to the main show – the new 3. The family hatch sector is where the volume is but it’s also fiercely competitive and any car wanting to make in-roads has to be the bees-knees. It’s already created a buzz having been short-listed for 2014 Car of the Year, so will it be the land of milk and honey for Mazda or is there a sting in the tail? Visually, it’s a continuation of the KODO design theme used on the 6 and CX. There’s a Fastback (saloon to you and me) and a hatch, which will doubtless be the seller. Both have styling that’s crisp, dynamic and well balanced. The styling also gives the 3 a sense of purpose – the haunched rear arches and large and pronounced grille bestow a sense of motion even at standstill. A good start. Inside the first impression is one of quality. Controls are unfussy, logically arranged and exude considerable class, both visually and to the touch – they’re soft-touch but nicely solid, if that makes sense. The pared down layout is courtesy of a new infotainment system whose many and varied functions, such as sat-nav and the stereo, can be easily accessed via a seveninch colour touch-screen, or a BMW iDrivestyle controller. Equipment levels are a major
draw too – undercutting rivals with satnav, a head-up display, adaptive front headlamps, internet connectivity, Bose audio and front and rear parking sensors. The driving position is excellent with plenty of scope for adjustment, comfortable seats and a good view all round thanks to narrow pillars and plenty of glass. It’s a roomy cabin too giving passengers ample leg and shoulder-room with space for oddments and plenty of luggage. All very good so far then. Before we get on to the crucial issue of what it’s like to drive, a word on SkyActiv. It’s Mazda’s holistic approach to energy efficiency and performance. Mazda have redesigned their cars from the ground-up using a paraphernalia of advanced technology and light-weight materials with the simple aim of combining great performance with mpg and CO2 levels at least as good as class leaders. And the CX and 6 prove it’s not all hot air. In practice it means the 3 has an advanced, light-weight but extremely rigid chassis which, allied to a wide wheel base and sophisticated suspension geometry, delivers impeccable, sure-footed handling. It’s great through tight bends cornering flat and with a panache that’s rare at this level. The steering’s direct, responsive and nicely weighted and ride’s decent too, despite the 18” rims. And so to the engine room. We got to drive all the main engine variants. Whilst the job is made easier by the 3’s lean-ness they still have to deliver the goods in terms of efficiency, power and delivery. And they do. The twin turbo 2.2 diesel’s combination of 70mpg/109g
of CO2 and 148ps/280lb/ft of torque is quite remarkable – that kind of economy/CO2 level is usually reserved for weedier engines, not one that’ll do 0-62 in 8.1secs. It’s punchy throughout its rev-range and smooth, with diesel clatter only noticeable when revved at a standstill. The lower powered 2.0 petrol chucks out a very reasonable 120ps, with a well above its weight punch of 0-62 in 8.9secs and CO2/ mpg at an excellent 119g and 55.4. It makes for an interesting comparison to its beefier brother, the Sport Nav’s 168ps 2.0. On paper, the more powerful engine is not that much quicker, 62mph arrives in 8.2secs and it’s still naturally aspirated (no turbo). But it revs more freely, feels considerably quicker and seems to be well within its comfort zone, especially when overtaking. It’s just more fun and, given its performance, CO2 and mpg are still top notch too at 135g and 48.7. For the record, manual gearboxes are sweet as a nut whilst the auto box is smooth with ratios well-spaced. Mazda really are on a roll at the moment. The 3 looks great, drives great and, thanks to SkyActiv, delivers a stunning combination of performance and economy. What’s more, they’ve achieved all this not by copying other manufacturers but by ploughing their own design and engineering furrow. Time to take a fresh look? We certainly think so. 2.0 petrol 120ps from £16,995 2.0 petrol 165ps from £21,620 2.2 diesel 150ps from £19,245 Thanks to Victoria Park Mazda, Hadfield Rd, Cardiff
Hall or Nothing Newport’s Shire Hall has it all I’ve got nothing against modern apartment blocks. In fact I like them, having lived happily in a few over the years. But wouldn’t it be good to be able to combine the practicality and easy living of a new build with the charm, splendour and space of a building that was built, no expense spared, in Britain’s heyday? This thought occurred to developer Jahan Abedi when he first set eyes on Newport’s Shire Hall. Built in 1902 as Monmouthshire’s County Hall, it epitomised the wealth and status of Newport as one of Britain’s major industrial ports. With its grand entrance lobby, wide corridors, high ceilings, ornate marble floors and staircases, oak panelling and huge windows it was some statement, even by Edwardian standards. So much so, that it was given listed building status in 1998. How sad then, that it fell in to disuse and ultimately disrepair at the turn of the millennia. But at least this story has a happy ending. By the time you read this, this beautiful building will have been renovated, inside and out, and converted into 18 studio, one and two bed apartments that mix the very best of old and new. With its wonderful Edwardian features back to their former glory and the former office spaces sensitively converted into large, airy, contemporary apartments, combined with a great location in trendy Goldtops, a stone’s throw from Newport station, you couldn’t want for more – especially at the price. The entrance lobby is as impressive as any you’ll see. Huge oak panelled doors give way to a large, open foyer resplendent with intricately patterned marbled flooring, marble pillars, high
ceiling with detailed coving and a stunning staircase complete with wrought iron balustrade and an oak handrail. The staircase leads to two further floors each with large, impressive communal lobbies. All lobbies access wide, open corridors that lead to the apartments. Inside the apartments, there’s evidence of the past everywhere. The developers have repaired and restored the original coving, skirting and picture rails, the original full height window frames, doors and even the oak panelling in what used to be the council chamber. But this is only half the story. Preserving as much history as possible is all well and good, but these apartments also have to work as modern living spaces. To ensure they do, all main living areas are as open and large as possible, combining lounge, dining and kitchen in an open plan arrangement. In fact, by comparison to most modern apartments they’re huge, with the average two bed weighing in at almost 70 sqm and the top of the range, flagship, double-height apartment at about 200 sqm, which despite its £300k price tag (a first for an apartment in Newport) represents great value per sq ft. Not only is the flagship apartment huge, it’s architecturally unique being predominantly comprised of an octagonal, double-height chamber. To make best use of this great space, there’s a mezzanine first floor (comprising two bedrooms, bathroom and small study) that sits above and overlooks the main, octagonal lounge/diner. It really does have a ‘wow’ factor. Which isn’t to say others don’t – some are split level, or have oak panelling, some have great views, some even have the original Edwardian
Straight to the Pointe Cardiff Bay’s International Sports Village residential development Cardiff Pointe reached a milestone in mid-February when its new show-home opened its doors. Potential buyers now have the opportunity to see first-hand the traditional yet high-quality build, as well as the contemporary lifestyle offered at both Cardiff Pointe and the surrounding area. The stunning two-bedroom showhome, fitted out by interior designer Andrew Henry Interiors, will showcase a number of features including an open-plan kitchen, dining area, living space and spacious bedrooms and bathrooms. Launched as part of the £200m development, Cardiff Pointe includes one, two and three-bedroom apartments, through to four and five-bedroom family homes, all designed and built to an outstanding specification by developer Figurehead Homes.
The luxury waterside development will create a new residential quarter next to Cardiff Bay Yacht Club, with stunning views across Penarth Marina, with everyday needs catered for – including waterside views, convenience shopping, local restaurants and the International Sports Village. Lydia Seymour, new homes sales adviser at Cardiff Pointe, said: “There has been a huge amount of interest in Cardiff Pointe, even before the show-home had been launched. Cardiff Pointe is a visible location and interest in the show-home has been huge and feedback on the quality of the build, positioning and surrounding area has been extremely positive.” Cardiff Pointe, Empire Way, Cardiff CF11 0JL. T. 0845 340 3927 www.cardiffpointe.co.uk
toilets and tiling! The standard of finish and attention to detail is immediately obvious as you enter the show apartments. Paint and plaster work are pristine, there’s masses of natural light and a thoughtful mix of down lighters, up lighters, lamps and up-market pendants, kitchens are fitted with bespoke German units and built-in appliances whilst the bathrooms wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury hotel. Bedrooms are very well proportioned and, again, full of natural light. All apartments have Virgin/Sky and Cat5 as standard and come with gated parking and outside storage. Spire Hall is a unique and very successful mix of Edwardian grandeur and modern contemporary living. Throw in its central location, excellent access to road and rail links to Cardiff, Bristol and beyond, not to mention impressive bang for your buck (especially so when Help to Buy and stamp duty exemption are taken into account), and it merits serious consideration for any professional looking for a great, but affordable, home in south east Wales. Studios from £70,000, 1 bed apartments from £95,000 and 2 bed from £125,000. For more information go to www.shirehallnewport.co.uk or contact Imperial Services, tel: 029 2030 3040
Miss Jones, Cardiff
Trade Street Café, Cardiff
Miss Jones is a modern venue brimming with history. Located in the Cardiff suburb of Whitchurch, it was an ice cream parlour and tea room owned by two sisters – Dorrie and Paulina Jones – until 1996. Almost two decades on, their surname lives on, only this time Miss Jones is serving a lot more than sweet treats and hot beverages. Miss Jones is split into two parts – the ground floor is home to a sleek cocktail bar with live music and the top floor contains a secluded dining room. My dining partner and I fell into the former category (initially) and passed the lively cocktail bar and went upstairs to be greeted by our incredibly friendly waiter. To start, my dining partner had the pan-fried scallops served in a lemon and garlic sauce. I’m informed that the scallops were perfectly soft in texture with a mild sweetness, the lemon and garlic sauce giving the dish an acidic zest. I opted for the pan-fried king prawns and chorizo served in garlic butter. This was a simple dish but big on flavour with the garlic butter acting as a neat cooling aid for the pan-fried chorizo. The prawns, meanwhile, were deliciously tender. As I was about to order a rack of lamb for my main course, our waiter interjected, ‘I strongly recommend you try the duck, sir’. Encouraged by his clear enthusiasm for the duck, my mind was changed easily. It was the right choice; the duck breast was a lip-smacking, decadent treat served with a neat supporting cast of buttered cabbage, goats’ cheese, pom puree, fennel crisps and a pumpkin puree. As well as swiping a slice of duck breast from my plate, my dining partner had the baked fillet of cod for her main along with confit wild garlic and shallots, served with tarragon, pea velouté and an impressive looking deep fried crab ravioli. The cod was crispy and light, the crab ravioli a delicious taste from the sea. For dessert, I devoured a winter berry crumble. Served warm with a small jug of double cream. My dining partner chose the Sicilian lemon tart, served with a mango sorbet studded with tangy, refreshing chunks of mango. Sufficiently sated, we left the table, thanked our waiter and joined the party downstairs.
Cafes are a British institution. It’s where we ‘re-energise’ after a heavy-night with a fry-up, where we grab our lunch midweek. If Carlsberg did cafes - it would do a British greasy spoon cafe. However (and luckily for us) if Peroni did cafes it would be the Trade Street Cafe – just off Penarth Road, opposite the Brains Brewery. The signage and interiors are a giveaway that this is different from your ordinary ‘Caff’ – they’re bright, welcoming and eye-catching. The whole layout is completely open plan – allowing you to enjoy the theatre of Christian, the Head Chef, and his talented team cooking your dishes in front of you. A look at the menu to find choices such as Mediterranean quinoa, beetroot and goat’s cheese salad and minute steak and chips puts a big salivating smile on the face. Trade Street Cafe is no slouch in the macho breakfast stakes – the Full Welsh Breakfast, bangers & mash and BLT wraps and other manly staples are all here but are sourced locally whilst also being cooked and presented with a bit more finesses than you would usually expect. We chose the Spanish omelette served with mayonnaise, ham and cheese as filling – it has the appearance of a doorstep sandwich with the omelette (cooked the traditional way with potato) presented in a thick tasty wedge. It will sate the biggest appetites without stuffing – it’s a light dish but served in a more-than generous portion - with the side salad served fresh and crisp. I plumped for ‘today’s special’ (it changes every single day) which was the chicken paella. Again, a portion large enough to send me to sleep in front of my desk later that afternoon – but without the usual sluggishness and bloatedness from overeating. The inspiration for this menu lies with Christian – originally from Spain he wanted to offer healthy, nutritional and freshly made meals to the Capital’s workforce. Having only been open a few months they already have an army of regulars, who either dine-in or take-away the culinary delights to their desks. With aforementioned Peroni on tap, the Don Draper types can wash down their lunch in style, whilst it also serves as being a great place to get together after work for a pint and nibbles. Go try it out – though you might end up like 70% of customers and return there every weekday.
27 Merthyr Road Cardiff CF14 1DA 029 2062 4000 www.missjonescardiff.co.uk
4 Trade Street Cardiff CF10 5DQ 02920 228 666 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mocka Lounge, Cardiff Nestled within Cardiff’s café quarter on Mill Lane, the ambient bare-brick Mocka Lounge has already made a name for itself through the seductive signature cocktails (often available as 2-4-1). As such we brightened our stormy midweek evening with a blush of schnappy Berry Mockas, mulling over the menu and unwinding to the lounge bar vibe with a sophisticated, post-office crowd. Extending their repertoire from breakfasts and lite bites, the evening gastro-bistro food choices make smart use of simple flavours from Norwegian prawn salad to their popular ham hock with egg, chips and pineapple. We started with crisp dill fishcakes accompanied by a fresh sweet chilli mayo and succulent marinated artichoke served with a crispy prosciutto salad – presented with flourish on gleaming white plates. The city blustered by our intimate window table as friendly, attentive staff brought us well-dressed mains. A grilled fillet of salmon was packed with citrus zing and blanketed a flavoursome base of tender braised lettuce, peas, bacon and new potatoes; it would have been perfectly suited to a summery lunch on their terrace - if the weather warms up. Inside and cosy, the spinach and ricotta pancake was comforting, with tang and a mellow spinachiness perfectly balanced and wrapped up in a smoky cheese sauce. As a later evening indulgent vibe kicked into the bar, we got flirty with fruity Flirtinis and decided to share a rich chocolate pudding caressed by creamy amaretto custard and a warmly-spiced apple crumble. Now serving food after their previous 7pm curfew and with a drinks license calling last orders at 3am, Mocka Lounge is a welcome addition to the relaxed dining scene in the city. With their excellent service it is worth asking about their VIP packages too. 1 Mill Lane Cardiff CF10 1FL 029 2022 1292 www.mockalounge.com
Duck Egg Bleu, Cardiff A capital city lacking a Michelin starred restaurant? Unacceptable in this day and age. We have stadiums, theatres and galleries galore, but how can Cardiff ever attain the status of European capital of culture without a beacon of world-class gastronomy to call our own? The gourmand with a plan to put Cardiff on the map is Gareth Dobbs, top-dog at Canton hot-spot Duck Egg Bleu. Having travelled the world, following a baptism of fire in the kitchens of London’s Pétrus and Le Gavroche, the Penarth-born chef has come home to Wales to share his ambition with us. Following months of pre-launch hype, and some minor teething problems, I was truly blown away by my first visit to Duck Egg Bleu. I was thrilled to return, for the purpose of this review, and I wasn’t disappointed; it was an experience to savour while rejoicing in contemporary Welsh cuisine. The well-considered menu highlights local, seasonal produce at a price that beats most central fine-dining venues. For £32.50, the three course a la carte menu includes an amuse-bouche and pre-dessert which adds to the all-round air of wonder to be found at Duck Egg Bleu. A fantastic first course - the “ duck egg bleu” ham, peas, egg and chips - is already one of the restaurant’s stand-out stars; a multi-textured treat that brought a stunning savoury trifle to mind. The underlying saltiness of the braised pigs cheeks was neatly balanced with a lucious, sweet pea sauce - topped with a poached hen’s egg and finished off in style with a pair of pain perdu soldiers. Having thoroughly enjoyed a glorious Gressingham Duck as a main upon my first visit to Duck Egg Bleu, I opted for the pan-fried rump of lamb, from Penrhiw Farm near Merthyr; it was expertly prepared, and was given an added depth thanks to a winning combination of sweet beetroot and strong cumin flavours. The creme bulee and ginger shortbread was a perfect pre-dessert, whilst the Calvados and cinnamon Savarin that followed was a triumph. The cinnamon-flavoured rum baba-style cake and apple panna cotta topped with a ravishing apple sorbet - underlined the artistry at work at Duck Egg Bleu. Believe the hype, book a table there at once, and don’t be surprised when Chef Gareth Dobbs proves to be Cardiff’s Michelin man. 435 Cowbridge Road East Victoria Park Cardiff CF5 1JH 029 2022 0993 email@example.com
New bar on the scene Face11, located on Cathays Terrace, Cathays - an area synonymous with young professionals and students breaking free from uni-halls life - has quickly become a hub for all who want something a little bit different from their downtime. Owners Matt and Paul set out to create an evening more personal and individual for their customers than that offered by the beer-by-numbers city watering holes. They have certainly succeeded creating a hangout where they can take time to get to know you and make you feel like a proper regular because they seem to take genuine pride in chilling you out. The look of the place is not too dissimilar to an apres-ski bar, with skiing kit and paraphernalia pinned to the log cabin-esque interiors. In fact the name itself comes from an infamous Alpine run that the owners tackled and defeated together. My partner J and I visited on a damp and cold Tuesday in January and were treated with great care by Paul and his team, feeling like we’d stumbled into a warm and happy safe-haven away from the winter blues. We headed mouth-first into the no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point menu - burgers, pizzas, cooked breakfasts, oggies and ribs being the order of the day. Interestingly they also cater for those following a Paleo diet - which mimics the meals that would have been eaten by our cavemen ancestors - said to have huge health and nutritional benefits. We both plumped for very non-Paleo options, J went with the BBQ Chicken pizza – made fresh with a thin light, base. Interesting fact: the sauce is made from a recipe handed down from Paul’s Nan, which adds a real individual and personal taste to the dish. It would have gone perfectly with one of the cold Peronis behind the bar, but we were both doing ‘Dry January’ - so our waitress concocted a bespoke virgin cocktail with refreshing mint. My main was the signature Face11 Burger. Homemade beef patty with your choice of cheese buried inside. I went for blue cheese and was absolutely in love with every mouthful. Each bite not only released the salty, earthy and juicy flavours of the gourmet burger - but with the almost-bitter aftertaste of the blue-cheese it made you really savour and take time with every mouthful. Too stuffed for proper dessert, Paul made a mini cheesecake concoction to accompany our coffees – a nice touch. With burgers and pizzas of this quality, I’m genuinely excited about coming back here and working through the menu. Now that Dry January is well and truly out of the way I’ll also roll my sleeves up for the drinks menu as well – with a signature Face11 draught cider catching my eye. One of the beauties of this place is all the little quirks and personal touches, from the food and drink on offer to the decor – something a punter will never get from a big chain venue. Come here and come here often – there’s a lot to get to know. 105 Cathays Terrace Cardiff CF24 4HU 029 2022 822 www.face11.co.uk
Our man Michael Took gets a blast from the past on a night out in the capital
Editors Cardiff University The Editors have often been tagged as alt-rock underdogs. Their breakthrough in the mid-00s left some referring to their morose sound as akin to Joy Division and when they changed musical tack and aimed for stadium-filler status with their second album, An End Has a Start, it unfairly left them as perennial bridesmaids to the likes of Coldplay and The Killers (despite topping the UK album chart). Another setback for the Stafford collective was the departure of guitarist Chris Urbanowicz in 2012 and their latest album, The Weight of Your Love, is their first without his distinct, spiralling riffs. As a live prospect, Editors remain an engaging force. Admittedly, Urbanowicz has left a gaping hole on stage but lead singer Tom Smith was as loose-limbed as ever, throwing all manner of shapes and delivering each baritone vocal harder than the last. Showcasing new material can bring mixed results but the crowd was in a boisterous mood and cheered everything thrown at them (note, there had been an international game at the Millennium Stadium earlier in the day). Opening track Sugar was a sign that Editors still have designs on bigger venues with a sound powered by moody, Depeche Mode synths and Smith’s snarling strut. Recent single A Ton of Love is a dumb yet fun blast at re-piecing together mid-80s U2 – it got the thumbs up from the crowd as they pogoed gleefully with their half-drunk pints thrust aloft. With the new material dispatched unscathed, it was time to roll out the back catalogue. Bullets, despite missing Urbanowicz, sounded as huge as it did when it came out a decade ago with Smith’s scatter-gun vocal backed by pounding drums and that unmistakable, scaling guitar hook (deftly put away by Urbanowisz’s replacement, Justin Lockey). An extended version of synth stomper Papillion closed the show, leaving the pogoing punters heavy-legged when the house lights came up. Midway through the set, Smith was seeking reassurance from the crowd, “Are you still out there Cardiff?” Of course, everyone was rooting for the underdogs. Image©Matt Spalding
The Pharcyde The Globe, Cardiff With hip-hop increasingly spewing the same narrative of babes, bling and bragging, it’s refreshing to take a step back and look at what a huge force it could be – both musically and socially. In the early 90s, The Pharcyde released a debut album that would go against the grain of mainstream gangsta rap. Bizarre Ryde II the Pharcyde pushed the hip-hop envelope to a new level – it was intelligent and boisterous, confident and self-mocking. Over two decades since its release, original Pharcyde members Slimkid3, Fatlip and J-Swift alongside producers L.A. Jay and K-Natural have come together to play the seminal record in its entirety. The intimate surroundings of The Globe created a block party vibe as the collective bounded onto the stage one by one, immediately getting the crowd worked up with a call-and-response routine during the opening track Oh S*** that was orchestrated to perfection. The most remarkable thing about
Bizarre Ryde II the Pharcyde is its widespread accessibility. A punter next to me said, “I remember spinning this vinyl so often in Maesteg that I broke the needle on my player”. This is music for the everyman, not just L.A. folk. The album’s finest cut, Passin’ Me By, heralded the biggest whoops of the evening - a slick tune that’s part rap, part funk and part jazz - all underpinned by the Quincy Jones sample Summer in the City and a rapturous, collective chorus from all present. After the debut was done and dusted, we were treated to a few standout moments from The Pharcyde’s underrated follow up, Labcabincalifornia. First came Runnin’; another rap bolstered by a jazz sample (the sumptuous guitar line is lifted from Stan Getz’s Saudade Vem Correndo) and then Drop – one of the first hop-hip songs to delve into psychedelia (with surprisingly cohesive results). Admittedly, The Pharcyde has struggled to reproduce anything that comes close their mid-90s pomp, but this was an evening to reminisce about one of hip-hop’s finest albums. Retrospection had been fully earned.
Parallel Lines Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff When theatre company Dirty Protest launched in 2007, they couldn’t have imagined this is where they’d end up, even in their most fantastical of dreams. Bourne of the frustration of old-fashioned productions and overpriced tickets, they aimed to revamp live performance in Cardiff using venues such as pubs and kebab shops as their stages of choice. Having assembled a healthy army of supporters, Dirty Protest was given licence to flex some considerable muscle with their latest show, Parallel Lines, playing a ten night run at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. Gone were the script-held performances, in came Katherine Chandler’s winning script from the inaugural Wales Drama Award in 2012. When a schoolgirl makes an accusation against her teacher, the consequences are epic for all involved. Steph (Rachel Redford) is an uncontrollable teen – continuously lashing out after claiming she’s sexually involved with her supposedly clean-cut teacher Simon (Gareth Pierce). But who’s telling the truth? The stage was split between two kitchens – the left occupied by Steph and her promiscuous mother Melissa (Jan Anderson). For the most part, mother and daughter communicate in bellowing slanging matches – both exasperated by the situation they find themselves in. The right kitchen is occupied by Simon (Gareth Pierce) and his wife Julia (Lisa Diveney). They display an image of picture postcard suburban life, but an underbelly of anger slowly emerges, just as explosive as the kitchen opposite. In one scene, Steph dances provocatively on a table to the Lorde track Royals whilst Simon, a few inches away at a table opposite, buries his face in his hands as the enormity of what’s been levelled against him hits home. This was compelling viewing from both sides of the divide. Parallel Lines recently scooped the award for Best Production in the English Language (Critics’ Choice) at The Theatre Critics of Wales Awards. After they’ve buffed the silverware and put it on the mantelpiece, Dirty Protest will hopefully be plotting to take Parallel Lines on the road.
Music Does Robbie really swing both ways? And does anyone care? Jude Rogers has the answers BEYONCÉ Beyoncé Parkwood/Columbia David Bowie might have surprised everyone by releasing a single out of nowhere, but Beyoncé’s gone further this winter: by keeping a whole album a surprise. With every track on her fifth album being accompanied by a big-budget video, Mrs Carter also jumps between different genres with a newfound nerve. Here are filthy love songs (Drunk In Love), dirty Southern hip hop (Flawless) Arcade Fire indie pomp (XO) and Lana Del Rey cool (Pretty Hurts), with Mrs Carter singing at the top of her game – and she’s looking pretty sharp too. The record’s eponymous title suggesting a woman happily striking out on her own, and making everyone buy the record in full in its early days of release was an inspired move. A few months and many more listens down the line, the hype’s faded, but it’s still worth shelling out the big bucks. Music industry nil, Beyoncé 1.
the boy can’t help you smile, and you know a night on the tiles on him would be immense. Sorry about that, Gary.
flamboyant best with songs like Human and Miss Atomic Bomb, while new tracks Shot At The Night and Just Another Girl will get you posing with your tennis racket – just like the teenage rock god you’ve never really not wanted to be.
CATE LE BON Mug Museum Turnstile Here’s a great recent Welsh record you should grab a copy of, too. You may remember Cate Le Bon collaborating with the Super Furries’ Gruff Rhys on Neon Neon’s eponymous, Mercury-nominated 2009 album – but if you don’t, Google that LP’s lead single I Lust U and prepare to be seduced. Le Bon’s third solo record is a similarly intriguing, lovely thing – her heavy, West Walian voice carrying strange twisted pop songs along, and addictively woozy ‘60’s sounds.
EMINEM The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Aftermath/Shady/Interscope Another recent surprise return came from the man we once knew as Slim Shady, who is now 41, but still as angry as ever. On his eighth album, Eminem rants and raves about women, characters from his old songs, the Columbine High School Massacre, and – soft target alert – 90’s boy band The Backstreet Boys. His ire seemed striking when he was in his 20s, but it’s a little embarrassing now; even the best songs – like Berzerk, written by the surviving members of the Beastie Boys – feel like a re-run of old tricks. Nevertheless, Mr Mathers still raps amazingly, shooting out phrases and rhymes with the skill and grace of an acrobat. Sadly, there’s nothing very memorable here, which is what this boy used to be.
Also coming soon in 2014...
ROBBIE WILLIAMS Swings Both Ways Island/Universal Here’s another music business provocateur, although a much sillier one. You’ll either love or hate Robbie, but at least he has the humour and self-awareness to take himself away from the shadow of Gary Barlow, who spends his time cosying up to the Queen and being bland on the X Factor. Swings Both Ways (yes, another album title from Robbie that raises its eyebrow rather archly) waltzes between grannypleasing nostalgia and down-the-pub camp. Dream A Little Dream with Lily Allen and Soda Pop with Michael Buble offer diabetic levels of sugary sweetness, while No One Likes A Fat Pop Star is a ridiculous self-parody with a choir singing the chorus. Nevertheless, the chops of
KILLERS Direct Hits Island/Mercury It’s been ten years since The Killers first glittered into Britain from their homes in Las Vegas, bringing back the sounds of 80’s pop, and some much needed glamour into rock. Direct Hits reminds us how good these boys are at writing songs that burrow into your brain and rattle round it for days. This record moves chronologically, from the riotous romps of Mr Brightside and Smile Like You Mean It, to the Springsteen-aping bombast of the singles from Sam’s Town (the time when singer Brandon Flowers sported an ill-advised moustache). Thankfully, the boys went back to being their
First up, it’s Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes (Columbia), in which he revisits older songs, outtakes and covers and brings them back to life in new, mature versions. Long-lost country recordings of Johnny Cash have also recently emerged, to be released as an album, Out Among The Stars (Legacy Recordings), coming in midMarch. Blondie also bounce back with the voguishsounding Ghost Of Download (Eleven Seven Music), while U2’s much-delayed 13th album – unlucky for some, Bono? - is rumoured to finally be arriving in the spring. Until then, tuck up warm, and keep airguitaring ‘til the chill goes...
Read more of Jude’s interviews, features and reviews at www.juderogers.com
To advertise in RedHanded call Paul on 029 2019 0224. With a circulation of 25,671 affluent men living in Wales RedHanded can make your business succeed. REDHANDED 69
The name is Jones. Jason Jones. Our swashbuckling reviewer takes on the latest Bond incarnation
SOLO William Boyd £18.99, Jonathan Cape There’s been a definite trend in the publishing world for the past few years that has seen famous authors reimagining works by other famous authors who have long since left this mortal coil. They have to be dead, obviously, because writers’ egos being what they are lawsuits would be flying around like confetti. So, there have been reworkings of classics including Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Jekyll & Hyde as well as the current rewriting of the most well-known of Jane Austen’s canon by established authors PD James, Joanna Trollope, Val McDermid and Alexander McCall Smith. Even Shakespeare is set to get the makeover treatment by contemporary wordsmiths. And so we come to William Boyd’s Solo, which takes the quintessential British icon of James Bond and gives him his latest spin. The year is 1969 and our super-spook is dispatched to a fictional West African country divided by civil war. The prize is oil and Britain, amongst others, wants the conflict done’n’dusted since you can’t drill when guns are going off near to massive, multibillion-dollar petroleum fields. Bond’s nine lives, as ever, come in handy. The title refers to Bond going rogue in order to defy M and get the job done. In other words, classic 007, but, crucially, with a contemporary remix. Whereas other authors who have taken on Ian Fleming’s original mantle – seven before this outing including such literary titans as Kingsley Amis and Sebastian Faulks – and pastiched the franchise this definitely, defiantly almost, has the unique Boyd stamp of a stylish, suspenseful spy thriller.
BREAKFAST WITH LUCIAN
STRAIGHT WHITE MALE
£25, Jonathan Cape That great art is the product of extreme personality is a rule that has been proved so conclusively it might as well be a law of physics. And few can compete with the extremity of the late Lucian Freud’s big-noise life with its trinity of compulsive gambling, predatory philandering and casual sadism. Arguably one of the greatest painters of all time by dint of his fleshy nude portraiture, the focus of this biographer isn’t art history, but rather the colourful adventures of a man whose famous psychoanalyst grandfather, Sigmund, would have had a field day decoding. Let’s start with the gambling, which was so chronic he racked up huge debts all over London, often having to flee gangland goons trying to recoup them. Tellingly, he only gave it up in later life when he became so rich all risk was removed. Then there was the labyrinthine litany of lovers. There were around 500 of them, but even this could be an underestimate because as one of his early girlfriends delicately put it: “He was completely unstoppable. He would go for anyone and anything.” Little wonder he ended up fathering 14 children, although again this is only the acknowledged offspring and the likelihood is there are more. Not that he was a loving father figure, preferring single-minded selfishness instead. He was also violent, even into his 80s, throwing punches at people he perceived to have slighted him or even people he just didn’t like the look of. The book is the result of the author, by his own admission, “stalking” the fiercely-private Freud for 20 years until eventually the two of them would have breakfast together for the last decade of his life and the legwork shows in its monomaniacal attention to detail and juicy anecdotage that has produced a warts-and-all portrait of a flawed artist.
£12.99, William Heinemann John Niven has form as a satirist. In his debut novel, 2008’s Kill Your Friends, he brilliantly and blisteringly skewered the mad excesses of the music biz. For this latest offering he takes on the film industry, academia and publishing with even greater success. Kennedy Marr is the anti-hero of the piece. Living in Hollywood, he’s a borderline alcoholic sex addict whose CV says he’s a screenwriter. Only the trouble is he’s suffering from a severe case of writer’s block and is drowning in mountains of debt. At fortysomething, he’s begun to loathe the meaninglessness of his hedonistic life and uses his caustic tongue to lash out at the egocentric inhabitants of Tinsel Town. When a literature award is controversially bestowed upon him, he reluctantly has to wrestle with his innate narcissism and selfdestructiveness and his desire to change. The reason I say that the satire here is a greater success is because whereas Kill Your Friends was a riotous rollercoaster that barely let you come up for air – really, if you haven’t read it, check it out – this has a more mature tone, a more assured voice. The near-the-knuckle humour is still present and correct, but there’s a meditative quality here that packs a powerful punch. Essentially, it’s a novel about the male midlife crisis and what society expects of us, which is especially sobering and poignant because it comes wrapped in the velvet glove of comedy.
Films Adam Kennedy is clearly losing the plot - he’s started dishing out Oscars of his own
Image: Dean Rogers
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Bargoed boy Craig Roberts broke onto the scene as one of Wales’ finest young acting hopes three years ago in coming-of-age comic-drama Submarine. And he’s back here, albeit in a much smaller role, in director Richard Ayoade’s Hollywood take on a piece of classic literature. Jesse The Social Network Eisenberg is the real star, however, taking on two roles - as a doormat office worker and his evil doppelganger. The whole thing is based on a work by 19th century Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, although it does rather come off as a darker, dystopian sibling to Youth In Revolt. Ironic, really, considering many casual cinema-goers have previously mistaken Michael Cera for the similarly bratty Eisenberg. Roberts’ cameo is worth catching anyway, proving deadpan and (just about) straightfaced as a detective’s assistant among the film’s strange goings-on. For fans of: Youth In Revolt, Submarine Verdict: Twice as nice 3/5
Whoever your favourite A-list star is, the chances are they haven’t had a solid-gold cinematic run like Leonardo DiCaprio. Since his punchable Titanic days, the fella has scarcely made a movie misstep. The Great Gatsby, Django Unchained, Inception, Shutter Island, The Departed, Catch Me If You Can... shall we go on? In this true-to-life tale of scruplesaverse stockbroker Jordan Belfort, DiCaprio is at his slick-talking peak, regularly breaking the fourth wall and generally carrying the requisite charisma of a man making a good living ripping people off. It’s not the first time DiCaprio has excelled as a confidence trickster and, we’d wager, it won’t be the last, but lap it up while you can. Fans of Aussie soap opera honeys, meanwhile, stand to attention (in whichever way you choose to take that): Margot Robbie – once known as Donna from Neighbours – pops up as DiCaprio’s love interest. Side note: her acting chops haven’t vastly improved.
OUT OF THE FURNACE After winning a best supporting actor Oscar in 2011 for The Fighter, Haverfordwest’s very own Christian Bale was being tipped to double his tally with this gritty thriller, which has broad parallels to the aforementioned pugilistic hit. Here, Bale is Russell, a grizzled older brother to Casey Affleck’s bare-knuckle boxer Rodney in working class America – so far, so Fight Club goes Deliverance. Then things take a turn for the messed up when Rodney disappears and nobody but Russell seems especially worried about tracking him down. It’s Woody Harrelson that deserves to join Bale in the decorated best supporting actors’ ranks, however, appearing at his menacing bad-guy best, looking for all the world like he’s just stepped off the set of Mad Max. For fans of: Fight Club, The Fighter Verdict: It packs a real punch 4/5
For fans of: Catch Me If You Can, Wall Street Verdict: A long way from a stock (market) film 4/5
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB Matthew McConaughey may just be Hollywood’s greatest comeback king. From romcom stiff to genuinely fascinating shapeshifter, anybody who saw his titular turn
as a debauched bounty hunter in Killer Joe a few years ago can attest that he’s creepily compelling box-office gold. He continues that rich vein of form in this biopic of Ron Woodroof, an Aids sufferer in the famously intolerant climes of Texas. Faced with no choice but to look outside America in pursuit of the unapproved pharmaceuticals that he needs to survive, Ron soon becomes a lifeline for a disparate community of HIV positive Texans. A skin-and-bones McConaughey inhabits Ron’s skin like a parasite, while an almost unrecognisable and gaunt Jared Leto also takes character acting to impressively role-inhabiting levels. All in all, Texas Buyers Club is a silver lining to depressing subject matter. For fans of: The Machinist, Killer Joe Verdict: You’ll want to buy into this one 5/5
WATCH OUT FOR… To coincide with Oscar season, we’d like to proffer our own RedHanded film gongs for the season, right here. Funniest promotional poster award: the Rocky-meets-Raging Bull boxing baloney of Grudge Match. If Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone’s heads weren’t digitally grafted onto their hyper-buff bodies, we’ll eat a whole copy of Photoshop. Most likely to pick up an actual Academy Award? 12 Years A Slave, the shockingly brutal real-life account of a free black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Least predictable action star? Joel Kinnaman, last seen as a reformed addictslash-ratty detective in the US version of TV drama The Killing, is now operating in a different police department for the reboot of RoboCop. Fittingly, there’s a touch of television movie about the whole thing. And a special award for contribution to Welsh cinema: Valley Of The Demon has amateur gore written all over it (possibly in blood – or more likely tomato ketchup) as an illegal rave goes hellishly wrong in the Rhondda Valley. We assume it’s fiction, but in that part of the country, frankly, who can be sure...
Room for improvement Bennett has serious reservations about some of the hotels he has stayed in
As a birthday treat the family and I recently stayed at The Landmark Hotel in London. Of course, as it was my birthday and I was the one paying, then the ‘treat’ was really more for them than me. But I have to say, the hotel was incredible. As well as the lovely bedroom and friendly-to-the-point-of-obsessive staff, the food was incredible. The breakfast hours were 7:00am – 11:30am. I know, as those were the hours we stayed there. (It was an all you can eat buffet.) Prior to being a comedian the only hotels at which I had ever stayed were those on family holidays or for the occasional acting job. When doing these acting jobs I would always pretend I was James Bond in the hotel bar and ask for my drink to be shaken not stirred. Which I know sounds ridiculous, especially as I was drinking lager. However, since touring the country peddling my jokes for money I have stayed at literally thousands. The photo attached is a selection of key cards my daughter has collected over the years. Yes I know other fathers bring back clothes or toys but there’s no point spoiling her, and you never grow out of key cards. When I first started as a comedian, having the comedy company for which I was working, pay for me to stay in a hotel was quite exciting. However, it has now become simply part of the job. And not always a pleasant one. I obviously can’t name the bad hotels for legal reasons; and as I am possibly being sued by a TV production company for publically mentioning the fact that they are broadcasting my work without paying me (I know!) I can do without further legal action. However, there is every chance you might be able to work out the establishments to which I am referring. Years ago I stayed with some other comedians in a hotel in central Manchester. The foyer of the hotel was stunning. Lovely Art Deco styling which gave the hotel a real feeling of class. However, I can only assume that ALL the building money had been spent on the foyer just to give the guests a false sense of security. The hotel certainly saved money on windows. No word of a lie, when I arrived in the bedroom, I hop-scotched over the stains and burns on the carpet and opened the curtains to reveal – a framed
picture of the world outside. A room with four walls and no window. But that wasn’t the worst part of the stay. Coming back after the gig with one of the comedians and his girlfriend, we were stopped by the hotel bouncer (yes, not concierge, ‘bouncer’) who, pointing at my friend’s girlfriend, said: “You can’t bring her in here.” There was a long pause whilst the three of us tried to work out what he meant. Then, to add to the confusion, he continued with: “If you want one, you have to use one of ours.” He then pointed to the Art Deco foyer behind him where there was a group of women all dressed inappropriately for the cold weather. We suddenly realised what he meant. “She’s my girlfriend!” said the comedian. “They all say that,” said the Bouncer. “What are you implying?” asked his girlfriend, understandably angry. “Can you bring the manager?” I asked. “What for?” asked the Bouncer, genuinely bemused by this request. “Because not only have you just accused my
friend’s partner of being a prostitute but also just explained that this hotel runs an illegal service for which you no doubt receive money.” He let us in. Unsurprisingly, I never stayed in that place again although I often wondered why, considering the apparent services they offered, they didn’t call it a Ho – Tel. Depressingly this actually wasn’t the worst hotel in which I’ve stayed. I once stayed in a place just outside Derby which had four stars – only because that’s what you could see through the hole in the roof. I stayed at one in Blackpool which had a shared bathroom – with an adjacent hotel, and I stayed in one near Southampton where you had to leave a deposit for the batteries in the TV remote control. Of course since then I have stayed at some incredible places. The five star hotel I stayed at in Dubai, which had a 24 hour Michelin starred chef, was incredible. And, ironically after eating there for a week, I looked exactly like the Michelin Man. I have also stayed at five star hotels in Turin, Brisbane and Hong Kong. Of course, had I been paying for my own accommodation in these countries then I would have taken a tent. This type of luxury does come at a phenomenal cost. I once worked out that if you are staying at one of these expensive hotels and only use it for sleeping, ie you check in, have a shower, then go out until bedtime, it would cost almost £100 an hour. Just to sleep! I lay awake the whole night thinking about that. I hope you enjoyed this article. Funnily enough, I’ve actually written it whilst sitting on my bed in a hotel room. I won’t tell you whether it’s a fancy one or not, but I have to finish now as I don’t have another 50p to put in the electricity meter… See what Bennett’s up to at www.bennettarron.com Follow Bennett on Twitter @bennettarron © Bennett Arron 2014