9/1/2011 2:26:55 PM
7/26/2011 4:12:12 PM
Going out this month? see venue.co.uk - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings
p.20 Holiday! Glamping, staycations, voluntourism, power breaks, perspective restorers… what will those barmy PR types come up with next? We take a look at 2011’s key travel trends, whilst mapping out a bunch of our favourite summery escapes with a difference…
p.18 Join the docs Who doesn’t like a good documentary? Not us. Robin Askew picks out the best true stories of the summer in movieland.
p.28 Packing a punch The 2011 Bristol Short Story Prize winner, Emily Bullock, re-tells her all-conquering illustrated story of female boxing and family ties in full.
Features p.16 Meet Bristol’s Neil Cross – creator of the Beeb’s urban crime sensation ‘Luther’ p.24 Fashion frenzy! Lily Allen debut range hits Bristol, plus we eye up the hottest styles set to sizzle this summer p.32 See No Evil: we look ahead to a new monster street/ paint party in Bristol – and everyone’s invited!
// Film //
// Comedy //
p.37 Aniston, Farrell and Spacey are ‘Horrible Bosses’
p.69 The best of Bristol’s comedy festivals
// INBOX //
// Music //
// Art //
p.6 Letters, opinion, guff…
p.49 Bristol Pride, Bath Folk Fest, Scarlet Rascal…
p.70 Photography Parr excellence: Martin Parr speaks
// Clubs //
// Books //
p.61 Multiverse Music: Bristol’s groundbreaking underground empire of sound
p.74 Books of the month
// I Saw You // p.9 There you were, there I was…
// NEWSHOUND // p.34 July had it all, didn’t it? Didn’t it? Well not quite all, perhaps. Here’s some of the sillier newsy stuff you just mighta missed.
// Performance // p.65 Bristol Festival of Puppetry, Storm on the Lawn, Peter Hall Season continues…
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Contents 971.indd 3
// Days Out // p.75 Choosing a secondary school: the Venue Guide
// skills // p.80 Workshops, courses, jobs and stuff
// gay // p.85 Euro-rugby comes to town august 2011 // 3
A right rum do
St Pauls Carnival may be a distant memory, but Bristol’s still blazing the party trail, Caribbean-style, thanks to Brugal Rum, coming to a bar near you
or those that flocked to the Harbour Festival in July, you may have spotted a new kid on the block – Brugal Rum – bringing an unmistakable taste of the Caribbean to town in the shape of its pop-up, authentic Caribbean rum shack. You’ll also find Brugal Rum all over the place this summer, leisurely introducing thirsty Bristolians to the laidback style of its homeland and splashing some of its Dominican spirit across the city. Brugal Ambassadors will be touring Bristol from 4-20 Aug offering an opportunity to try the Caribbean’s “number one rum”, whilst indulging in the popular Dominican pastime and latest in-bar trend – dominoes. Head to Arnolfini, Tahiki or The Golden Guinea (details below) to lock horns and challenge your mates to a match. Not quite Caribbean enough for
you? Sample some Brugal Rum at one of the participating bars in the city during August and you will have the chance to win a once in a lifetime trip for four people to the Dominican Republic for the Brugal Carnival in the spring of 2012. TO FIND OUT MORE, LOOK FOR BRUGAL UK ON FACEBOOK OR FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @BRUGALUK. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON BRUGAL RUM VISIT WWW.BRUGAL-RUM.COM …OR SWING BY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING BRISTOL BARS FOR A TASTE: ARNOLFINI 16 NARROW QUAY, BRISTOL, BS1 4QA, 0117 9172300/01, WWW. ARNOLFINI.ORG.UK TAHIKI 46-48 QUEEN CHARLOTTE ST, BRISTOL, BS1 4HX, 0117 929 2271, WWW. TAHIKI.CO.UK THE GOLDEN GUINEA 19 GUINEA ST, BRISTOL, BS1 6SX, 0117 987 2034, WWW. THEGOLDENGUINEA.CO.UK Brugal is also available at Papajis, Windmill, Spyglass, Tiki, Brace & Browns, Byzantium and Victoria Park
The Brugal backstory ● Brugal is the Caribbean’s best-selling rum and is the only rum distilled, matured and bottled in the Dominican Republic. All the ingredients are actively sourced from local farms, maintaining Brugal’s island provenance.
brugal rum v971.indd 2
Shake it up, baby Brugal is perfect for serving neat, on the rocks or simply with a dash of soda or cola. Or have a bash at one of these three classic cocktails from the Brugal back catalogue BRUGAL GOLDEN MOJITO Ingredients 2 shots Brugal Añejo Golden Rum 3 fresh squeezed lime wedges 1/2 shot gomme (sugar) syrup 8-10 fresh mint leaves Ginger ale Crushed ice Method • Clap mint and drop in empty tall glass • Add all other ingredients except ginger ale and gently muddle • Add 1/2 glass of crushed ice and churn well to infuse flavours • Top with fresh crushed ice and ginger ale • Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint and two straws
HISPANCOLA Ingredients 1 shot Brugal Añejo Golden Rum 1 shot Sourz Pineapple Liqueur* 1 fresh squeezed orange wedge Cola Ice * Alternatively use pineapple juice Method • Fill a clean tall glass with cubed ice • Squeeze 1 wedge fresh orange over the ice and drop in the glass • Add one shot of Brugal Añejo Golden Rum and one shot of Sourz Pineapple Liqueur • Top up with cola • Quick stir, serve and enjoy
BRUGAL LIBRE Ingredients 1 shot Brugal Añejo Rum 1 fresh squeezed lime wedge Lemonade Ice Method • Fill a tall glass with cubed ice • Squeeze 1 wedge fresh lime over the ice and drop in the glass • Add 1 shot Brugal Añejo Rum • Top up with sparkling lemonade • Serve and enjoy
www.brugal-rum.com brugal rum v971.indd 3
Inbox Full metal jacket // If I was in the habit of writing letters to the Evening Post, it’d look something like this: as we all know, Bristol’s new M Shed museum has bent over backwards to see that every conceivable minority group in the city has been pandered to in the name of “inclusiveness”. Their huge overpaid team of outreach workers has even made contact with the so-called heavy metal “community” at the ratepayers’ expense, as this here picture shows. His jacket is in the display case, too, but that photo didn’t come out right. How much of the museum’s budget was spent on fumigating this
A tarred museum // There is something very wrong if an official body promoting public health is accepting large sums of money from a tobacco company whilst claiming it is working for the good of the people. Yet that is what Bristol City Council has done, for it has accepted £250,000 from Imperial Tobacco towards the M Shed museum which opened recently.
Issue 971 Destination 2011
6 // august 2011
Letters 971.indd 6
Letter of the month
garment for exposure to visitors? As taxpayers we have a right to be told! Hygienic Disco Kid, Henleaze Thanks, Kid. Looking at our inbox of late, one might be forgiven for thinking that the ‘M’ in M Shed stands for moaning. So it’s nice to have a gentle chuckle, too. The jacket in question is that of sometime Venue contributor Jonathon Kardasz – a thoroughly nice chap, doubtless not in need of fumigation at the taxpayers’ expense. We hope this is a weight off your mind. Meanwhile, please accept this unsubsidised, unfumigated £10 Waterstone’s voucher for your troubles.
The council’s stated aim on public health is to improve our health and wellbeing. Bristol Public Health’s Factsheet on the council website states that: “Smoking remains the main cause of preventable disease and premature death in the UK” – so that means Bristol too (see http://www.bristol.gov.uk/ccm/ cms-service/stream/asset/?asset_ id=34095194).
Venue Magazine Bristol Office Bristol News & Media, Temple Way, Bristol, BS99 7HE Tel 0117 942 8491 (12 lines) Fax 0117 934 3566 Bath Office Bath News & Media, Floor 2, Westpoint, James West St, Bath, BA1 1UN Tel 01225 429801
Fax 01225 447602 Email (Editorial): editor@ venue.co.uk / (Advertising): firstname.lastname@example.org / (Classified ads): email@example.com Website www.venue.co.uk Twitter @venueeditor Group Editor Dave Higgitt Editor-at-large Joe Spurgeon
In England, 80,000 deaths per year are due to smoking out of a population of 50million*. Pro rata, this means that Bristol, with a population of 430,000, has around 688 deaths per year from smoking. Over a 10-year period, that will mean that nearly 7,000 Bristolians will die directly from smoking and the products which tobacco companies promote. Public bodies should not be accepting gifts from companies whose products harm people’s health and kill people. A public museum visited by schoolchildren should not have any tobacco funding whatsoever, it’s as simple as that, just as it should not accept any gifts from pornographers or arms companies selling to oppressive regimes. The council contradicts itself, and M Shed is shamefully tarred. John Taylor, Bristol non-smoker * according to the Dept for Health.
M squib // After all the delay, the controversy, the hope, the hype, the millions spent, the tobacco
Associate Editor Mike White Studio Manager Cath Evans Design Team Sarah Clark, Sarah Malone Production Charis Munday Sub-Editors Tom Phillips, Jo Renshaw Advertising Manager Becky Davis Bristol Advertising Adam Burrows, Ben Wright, Bex
money – the harbourside museum finally opened, and what a damp squib it turns out to be. I can’t believe that so much taxpayers’ money has gone on this, for so little return. M Shed failed to live up to its breathless PR spin. This is a classic lesson in how not to run a project and how to waste money. It was very disappointing and councillors should hang their heads in shame for allowing this mistake to have happened. If only we had allowed the people of Bristol to have a say in whether this was what we wanted or whether we were happy with the trusty old Industrial Museum. Moneyshed is an over-hyped flop! Paul Jones, by email
It’s what we do // So people have been moaning about Imperial Tobacco helping to fund M Shed. So far, so disgusting. But so what? Bristol’s former wealth came from slavery. There was also sugar (much of it harvested by slaves). Nowadays
Baddiley Bath Advertising Nejla Unal Distribution and Subscriptions Simon Butler Publication Co-ordinators Emma Gorton, Ruth Wood Art Steve Wright Books Joe Spurgeon Classical Paul Riley Clubs Adam Burrows Comedy Steve Wright
Days Out Anna Britten Dance Steve Wright Events Mike White Film Robin Askew Jazz Tony Benjamin Lesbian & Gay Darryl Bullock News Eugene Byrne Rock Julian Owen Roots Julian Owen Skills Anna Britten Sport Simon Fry Theatre Steve Wright
firstname.lastname@example.org Each Letter of the Month receives a £10 voucher to spend in any Waterstone’s store nationwide.
it’s tobacco and the arms industry (BAE Systems et al), as evil and destructive a group of villains as you could hope for. I wonder who kills more people each year – BAE or Imperial Tobacco? That would make a nice pie chart. Anyway, the point is: slavery, arms dealing, tobacco-death, you name it – these are the cornerstones of Bristol’s wealth. It’s what we do (alongside the nice stuff like animation and wildlife films). So, like it or not, it is only fitting that tobacco money helped fund M Shed. Sarah Jumet, Horfield
paragon Bordeaux Quay (with no less than four separate entries in EoW, including one that stresses “the guiding principle of sourcing the very best local, seasonal, sustainable and organic produce”). Impressive credentials, while all we can claim is that our pictures, if wrongly selected, are at least locally sourced. Please accept our apologies.”
You say tomato
// Thank you for sending us your new Eating Out West Guide to display in our food shops. I really enjoyed the article on page six about eating local. This philosophy is very close to my heart and wherever possible we wholesale and retail vegetables grown around Bristol. My reading pleasure was spoilt however when I realised the pictures of the vegetables were all from Italy. Camone tomatoes: Sardinia. Medium vine tomatoes: Sicily. Merinda tomatoes: Sicily. Datteri tomatoes: Sicily. Lemons: Amalfi. Oranges: Puglia. Tarocco oranges: Sicily. Peppers: Calabria. I suppose the cabbage was from Chew Valley! All products of a quality difficult to get unless you cross the channel! Further discomfort followed when I realised you had used our pictures without even a mention in your article. Yours with displeasure,
Letters 971.indd 7
John Murray Murrays of Bristol Ltd. Venue’s Food and Drink editor, Tony Benjamin, responds: “You have us bang to rights, Mr Murray – what can we say? If only we did live somewhere where Amalfi lemons count as local produce! Putting the Eating Out West guide together is a big team effort involving many writers and our hard-pressed gang of designers puts together hundreds of entries with scores of photographs. Limitations of time and space meant our ‘taster’ article on some local food suppliers got a generic picture of veg from our files. Red peppers? Red faces, more like. It’s a mistake we’re sure you would never have made, having been famed for your commitment to local sourcing both in your excellent deli (Murrays of Clevedon) and, latterly, your management of green
// As a long-term Bristol resident (nearly 40 years now – where does the time go?) and with a keen interest in history local goings on, I was very curious to see inside the new M Shed. Having had a look around, I’m delighted. Just about the right balance of peopley stuff with stuff about the place and how it’s changed and enough hands-on bits to get involved with. What I like best though – and this is the thing I always find most interesting when considering the past – is there’s so much material from and about normal, everyday people. What life was really like for them – how they felt. That’s all too often overlooked in the museum industry, but not in the Industrial Museum. Sorry, M Shed. Whatever it’s called, however much it cost (nothing compared to all that joyless road building they keep doing), it’s great – a real gem. Something we should all be proud of. Tony Browning, Lawrence Hill NEXT MONTH: THE M SHED RESPONDS...
// SEVERN BORE // Opinion. If you like that sort of thing... // The English countryside, eh? Marvellous thing, what with its green and pleasant green-coloured pleasantness, and the rose-covered cottages and the hedgerow-lined lanes and the quaint pubs... And the quacking middle classes moving in and pricing the locals out. Then they start to cloak their own NIMBY-ism in environmental humbug. Wind turbines? Yes, of course we want green energy, but it's simply not sustainable to put them here. They spoil the natural beauty of the area and make horrible squeaking noises, er, I mean kill birds. Now there's electricity pylons, too. There's a plan to link Hinkley Point with Avonmouth via a chain of 152ft-high pylons stretching across the Somerset countryside. Wells Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt is lobbying against it with a 1,500-signature petition. Pylons are ugly, sure. But if, as some folks are suggesting, you bury the lines in the ground, they'll be more difficult and expensive to maintain and repair. You, the customer, will pay for that. Whether it's fission, wind, wave, gas, coal or cow-farts that's making the juice, something has to transport it so's we can cook, see in the dark, keep warm and update our Facebook status. Same whether you live in an inner-city housing association flat or a delightful rural barn conversion. It would be brilliant if every single household had its own autonomous generating capacity, free of the greedy energy companies our corrupt and arrogant governments gaily sold to foreigners. But meantime something has to give. And that something is the view that quacking country dwellers have from their back windows. 'Course if they all volunteered to give up their 4x4s and restrict each household to a single small car, they'd have more of a case, but this is mostly crass NIMBYism. Meanwhile, the hard-hit rural working class has far more pressing concerns.
august 2011 // 7
8 // August 2011
7/26/2011 4:13:51 PM
To submit an I Saw You email email@example.com web www.venue.co.uk/isawyou
// Reach out to someone // I Saw You on your bike looking at the South Africa Cape display on Millenium Parade a couple of weeks ago. You work in Kathmandu and I used to come in to fulfill my kit-junkie urges and chat to you about taking school kids on walking and camping weekends. You're lovely I Saw You completely gutted, saw you on Sat 23rd July by Tescos on Blackboy Hill but a combination of 'being out of context' & 'running late' meant I saw you a second too late to smile back. It's been years - can't believe I missed my chance. You have such a lovely smile too! I Saw You On the 54 bus from the Wells Rd into town on Saturday 23rd July around 2.30pm. You were attractive, mixed race with short curly hair. You smiled at me as I got on and I looked away shyly. You were wearing a grey or blue T-shirt and you were with your friend who was wearing a checked shirt and glasses. I am petite with long blonde hair and I was wearing a blue and white stripy top, a sleeveless beige flowing cardigan and jeans. The thing that really hooked me(other than the brown eyes and the smile)was that you were discussing cultural stuff you wanted to do like visit the new M-Shed museum...would you like to go together?! I Saw Your "I saw you quite some time ago now. I understand it's for self-protection" and wondered if it was aimed at me or just a coincidence. Can you give me a bit of a clue so I can rule myself out of this mystery or do something if it is about me, please? I Saw You for the first time at the Greenbank in Easton last Wednesday night, and I can honestly say I've never seen any woman as beautiful as you. You
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were with a bunch of mates and you have long dark hair and an amazing laugh. I went for the live music and it was totally rockin, but you were what truly blew my mind. Hope to see you again. I Saw You and can't help thinking that we should be more than friends. We've obviously wanted it to be more for a long time but now you have a girlfriend that you constantly complain about. We'll continue to hang out, but I'm losing interest. See you soon mate (Jam). x I Saw Your "I'm sore at me for not allowing new things to grow. It is my loss. You're lovely, sorry." .... What a lovely message....I hope that they give you another chance and that you are deserving of that other chance.....all the best to you both.....be brave - go for it - you only live once!! I Saw You outside The Clifton sometime in March, you were
I saw you nurses at the childrens hospital, male and female, making my injured son happy and feel good. You did a FANTASTIC job and made his and my day with your expertise and professionalism. Take a bow, you were FAB.
looking cool and I was running late. I see you now, I see you loving me with every inch of you and I see me feeling dizzy. I see you helping me through and supporting me and I see how I need you. I see how you make me laugh, I see how you give me butterflies, i see that I never felt this way before. I saw you, I see you and I'm pretty sure I always will. G-cat I Saw You - Thank you to the man & woman who stopped after I came a cropper of the Queen's Square cobbles. I'm fine (& my bike is too): but your concern was much appreciated. I Saw You trying so hard to save us it is endearing. I also see you drowning in your worldly goods and fast food, bright lights and stuff and things. You want everything at any cost and its caught up with you, I'm trying to drag you out of the sinking whoorlpool but you have to save yourself. Honey wake up. I Saw You used to see you, I know your scared I will find out the truth about your dating. I'm not trying to get you back either. I know you are bitter at me, but I am just sitting back with no hate towards you at all. I don't think your so so tied up as you say you are. I just thought you might say Hi every now and then. I Saw You a few weeks ago sitting by the river nr Snuff Mills, reading whilst absent mindedly stroking your dog. We exchanged a few words about how obedient collies are. Wish I'd asked for your number. I Saw You in the canteen, I enquired about your beard and then asked you if the band I am in can play on a Sunday afternoon. I chickend out of giving you my number as I suspected you have
I saw you in Brislington sainsbury's customer services blonde black glasses lady, the chocolate brownies were pulled from sale, so i bought jaffa cakes instead,i think you're gorgeous, can we go out please ? x a girlfriend. Eitherway your an attractive Australian guy who I hope to see around again. I Saw You pretty finance lady working in the Glastonbury office. You are lots of fun and great to work with! We all hope you have a lovely birthday and look forward to our picnic at the stones! With much love from all of us x I Saw You on Whiteladies Road, by the old cinema, on Monday evening around 7pm. You kindly helped me put bits of a bed into my 4x4. You said you wouldn't say no to a drink... so I'm offering. I Saw You waitress with the gorgeous smile in H&W Bath on Tuesday evening.... phwoarrr :) I Saw You in the flyer you lovely irish letting agent who charmed the pants off my gorgeous friend Emily. You correctly observed the fact we were winos and we've have lived up to this by forgetting all of your names (not Carl Cox). I feel like a terrible friend as it's my fault for dragging her away before getting your number so help me redeem myself by getting in touch. Maybe you could double date with me and gurny Steve. That would be fun, yeah?
For more i saw you – plus I’m Sore At You – see: www.venue.co.uk/isawyou august 2011 // 9
1o // August 2011
ISawYou Are you a photographer?
// Pro, semi-pro, amateur… if you have a Bristol or Bath-related pic and want to show if off, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and the top three will get posted up here.
email email@example.com web www.venue.co.uk
// bristol & bath in pictures // this mont winner h's
‘St Pauls Carnival’ – Ben Price // Ben manages to catch last month’s St Pauls Carnival at fever pitch as the crowd go batty outside the Red Bull Music Academy’s Soundsystem. Ffi: www. benjaminprice.carbonmade.com
‘Untitled’ – Alex Hughes-Games // “It’s my girlfriend in the photo. I like the vulnerability of sleeping subjects (regardless of their demeanour when conscious) and the curious feeling of guilt it gives me to view them.” Ffi: www.flickr. com/photos/alexhg
‘The Invisible Man’ – Carly Wong // “It was a sunny day and everyone else seemed happy apart from this man, sat looking down at the dirty pavement as he probably had the day before, and the day before that. I bought him a burger in exchange for his portrait.” Ffi: www.flickr.com/photos/ alkalinemouse This month’s prize (CDs or downloads up to a value of £50) is kindly provided by AudioGO (formerly BBC Audiobooks) who publish thousands of comedy, drama and factual programmes in both CD and downloadable format. Ffi: www.audiogo.co.uk
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august 2011 // 11
And another thing... Is a bell necessary on a bicycle? Julian Owen thinks so.
hammer, a metal body. Together, a bell. All history is here: as hammer has fallen unto body, so the world has learned of queens deceased, of kings vanquished; men have been summoned into battle, women and children into lifeboats, ships reported lost; bells, bells, bells, each ring changing the course of events like so many fluttering butterflies in so many Amazonian rainforests; indeed, hung from church towers, as a vast network of inanimate existentialists – a wedding to announce here, a remembrance silence commencing there – they’ve made citizenry aware of the very passing of time itself. In short, the bell is one of mankind’s most potent, enduring inventions. Unless you work for Mud Dock Cycleworks, Bristol. In which case it ranks some way behind the High V-Neck Downhill Jersey With Eyewear Chamois At Left Interior Sideseam And AntiBacterial Fabric Treatment. Or so I must assume for, when I popped in last week, said garment was on proud display. As, indeed, were a welter of other should-be humble goods bearing glowing references apparently cooked up by the NASA press office: backpacks, frame wax, and on. But yet... no bells. At all. Anywhere. Not even in the
“Cycling is in no more need of an industry built around it than is breathing in and out.” 12 // august 2011
Another Thing 971.indd 12
miscellaneous pile in front of the checkout. Which was a shame for it was Sunday afternoon, recreational cyclists’ rush hour, and I was about to pedal 30 combined miles of thronging cycle path and busily narrow canal edges. Now, fair’s fair, there are circumstances in which the prominently touted Mud Dock Zest For Trails Organic Soap (yours for a mere £4.50) would offer greater worth than something designed to go ‘ding’. It’s just that they don’t involve riding a bike. For this reason, it didn’t strike me as an unreasonable question. “I wonder whether you might have some bells?” “Excuse me..?” replied the assistant. I’ll admit, I’m not always the clearest of speakers and, from the look on his face, I rather feared he apprehended I’d questioned his manhood. So I spoke more slowly. “A bell. Might you have a bell? To go ‘ding’?” He heard me clearly this time. I knew this because the look on his face had lost any sense of ambiguity and was now firm. Now he knew he was disgusted. Without a word he turned on his heel, walked into the storeroom and returned with arms outstretched, like a washerwoman bearing horizontal tongs from which drape Y-fronts distressingly capable of being deployed with equal utility as beige colour charts. Each hand held a bell. “How much?” I asked, tone involuntarily apologetic, sensing his embarrassed urgency that the transaction be over as swiftly as possible. “Quid for either.” Quid dispatched for the one on the right I left hurriedly, reflective tabard draped around my new purchase like a Roethke around a Razzle. Outside I sat down to recover. Just what kind of lowlife was I, buying something so desultory there wasn’t even any a) packaging or b) marketing spiel? That said,
I’m sure they could have piled bells high and flogged them for a tenner a pop if only they’d thought to tag each one a Soundwave Cascader Featuring Passivated Atomic #13 Casing With Single Action Polypropylene Sidearm. I thought on. Perhaps my reckless disregard at the prospect of carrying extra weight was the issue? But then, as I attached the tiny hemisphere of aluminium to my handlebar, I was reassured to realise I could compensate for the addition of mass by trimming half an inch from each shoelace. I set off up the cycle path. Suffice to say that, over the course of two hours, 50-odd times my new purchase went ‘ding’ and 49-odd times people graciously, often smilingly, moved aside; I’ll hazard a guess that the single chap who didn’t was a cycling zealot standing firm on principle. To his sort, doubtless, I’m a freak. I’ll tether a tent to my bike rack (yes, a rack – more weight! For shame!) and set off for a couple of hundred miles or so in a T-shirt and a pair of shorts. The shirt is not aerodynamically figure-hugging, nor does it breathe
in the reassuringly expensive fashion of Gore-Tex®. It breathes like cotton. The shorts are similarly unprepossessing, doing all that I need a pair of shorts to do in that they start at my waist and end above my knees. They do not cling about me like shrinkwrap to a frozen chicken, nor are they padded out with the lumpen lining of Sir’s Package Protection™. Shrewdly, I’d already ensured snug transportation of my giblets by prior purchase of a dinky little thing called a Comfortable Saddle. Generally on these rides I’ll have the time of my year, for cycling is about escape. From timetables, from traffic, from people, from spending. It’s emphatically not about dropping a small fortune on allegedly cycle-specific goods, dressing head to toe in allegedly cycle-specific gear, and – be still my beating irony detector – affecting to shout “Behold my rugged individualism as I escape your consumerist world!” No, beyond the basics, cycling is in no more need of an industry built around it than is breathing in and out. Or releasing a hammer against a metal body.
August 2011 // 13
August // OUR FAVOURITE
Going out this month? see venue.co.uk - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings
TEN THINGS THIS MONTH...// Event Bristol International Balloon Fiesta // One of those events that defines Bristol somehow, with its annual pilgrimage up to Ashton Court to watch the majesty of the mass ascents (100+ balloons all rising into the dawn or dusk sky at once) and the famous Nightglows, when the balloons’ glowing light dances to music. As ever, there are plenty of other distractions lined up across the fiesta’s four fun-filled days, including a stunt display from the Red Arrows.
BRISTOL INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA ASHTON COURT ESTATE, BRISTOL, THUR 11-SUN 14 AUG. SEE WWW.BRISTOLBALLOONFIESTA. CO.UK FOR MORE.
Event Endorse it in Dorset
// Scrumpy-bathed knees-up just a short hop from Venueland, with plenty of dressing up and a likeably disparate line-up, encompassing everything from classic old-school punk to trippedout electronica. Bigger names include Banco de Gaia, UK Subs, New Model Army and (inevitably) The Wurzels. ENDORSE IT IN DORSET SIXPENNY HANDLEY, FRI 12-SUN 14 AUG. SEE ENDORSEIT.CO.UK FOR DETAILS.
14 // august 2011
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Film Cowboys and Aliens // Genre jambalaya from Jon ‘Iron Man’ Favreau: dusty Daniel Craig and hardbitten Harrison Ford star in this unlikely movie-meld, as classic Western meets alien invasion. COWBOYS AND ALIENS OPENS ON FRI 19 AUG. SEE WWW.VENUE.CO.UK FOR MORE.
// As cars continue to crawl pathetically around the city, getting in each other’s way, killing the unwary and giving our children breathing problems, their short-lived reign over our streets seems very nearly over. Thank goodness for that. The era of the bicycle is upon us, and to mark it, nay, to celebrate it, comes this excellent series of events. Expect talks from world-touring adventurers, hardpedalled tales from the tiny overlooked nooks of our own fair isle, films both informative and uplifting, city-searching prize hunts and handy advice for those yet to upgrade their life to the freewheeling bliss that only cycling can bring. Saddle up – the future is ours. CYCLESCREEN WATERSHED, BRISTOL, FRI 5-MON 8 AUG. FFI: WWW.WATERSHED.CO.UK
Performance The Rogue’s Salute // Between the docks and the old gaol lies a dangerous and lawless land, into which The Invisible Circus (the gang behind ‘Carny Ville’) set sail with this naughty, nautically themed romp of intimate performance, circus daredevilry and live music. Dress for rebellion. THE ROGUE’S SALUTE UMBERSLADE CAR PARK (BEHIND M SHED), BRISTOL, FRI 29-SUN 31 JULY. SEE TINYURL.COM/ ROGUESALUTE FOR MORE.
6. Music Didmarton Bluegrass Festival // Come camping in the Cotswolds, soundtracked by four days of the finest acoustic music – country, folk, Americana, rockabilly and a banjo-load of bluegrass. Yee and indeed haw. DIDMARTON BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL KEMBLE AIRFIELD, THUR 1-SUN 4 SEPT. SEE PREVIEW ON P.51 AND CHECK WWW.DIDMARTONBLUEGRASS.CO.UK FOR DETAILS.
Film Super 8
8. Event Green Man Festival // Only an hour away from Bristol in the rolling grandeur of the Brecon Beacons thrums this thoughtfully curated weekender – highlights for 2011 include Fleet Foxes, Laura Marling (pictured) and Noah and the Whale. GREEN MAN FESTIVAL GLANUSK PARK, BRECON BEACONS, WALES, FRI 19-SUN 21 AUG. SEE WWW. venuemagazine GREENMAN.NET FOR DETAILS.
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// JJ Abrahams and Steven Spielberg join forces for this CGI-enriched, 70s-set sci-fi blockbuster, in which a wouldbe teenage film-maker and his friends accidentally capture a train crash on celluloid. Then some peculiar things begin to happen, and the military get very agitated indeed. Just what was on that train?
Event Bristol International Festival of Kites and Air Creations // Fingers crossed for wind as the record-breaking, string-tugging, stuntflying weekender returns to celebrate its 25th birthday. The exact line-up’s fluttering just out of sight as we go to press, but alongside plenty of chances to have a go yourself, expect the usual loop-the-looping loopiness: giant flying beasts, breathtaking stunt displays and even a wind orchestra complete with a 16th-century European Aeolian cither and a Polynesian bamboo organ. BRISTOL INTERNATIONAL KITE FESTIVAL ASHTON COURT ESTATE, BRISTOL, SAT 3 & SUN 4 SEPT. SEE WWW. KITE-FESTIVAL.ORG.UK FOR DETAILS.
SUPER 8 OPENS ON FRI 5 AUG. CHECK WWW.VENUE.CO.UK FOR REVIEW AND LISTINGS DETAILS.
Performance The Madness of George III
// David ‘The Thick of It’/‘Four Weddings & a Funeral’ Haig takes the title role in Alan Bennett’s endearing examination of a once-celebrated monarch’s descent into lunacy. A compelling concoction of tragedy, politics and irreverent humour. THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III THEATRE ROYAL, BATH, WED 17 AUG- SAT 3 SEPT. SEE WWW. THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK FOR MORE.
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The Interview Neil Cross Dirty crime and circular saws: Mike White talks to former Bristol resident and author of the hugely popular ‘Luther’ detective series. I’m attracted by characters who’ve already got one foot over the edge. I suppose it’s a taste thing; when a character has nothing to lose, their behaviour can be that much more unpredictable. It’s fun for me, and hopefully the reader too. The imagination can be as much a personal impediment as a professional asset. The best thing about it is I ended up doing this; I ended up with [bestselling thrillers] ‘Burial’ and ‘Captured’, and now ‘Luther: The Calling’. The worst of it is that, whatever I’m doing and whoever I’m doing it with, I can’t help but obsessively visualize the very worst thing
“I keep a ‘nightmare tally’ of the number of people who’ve confessed that my work has kept them up all night.” Neil cross 16 // august 2011
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that could possibly happen. As I write, I’ve just returned to my hotel after visiting a theme park – and let me tell you, imagining every possible calamity, from E.Coli in the hotdogs to losing a child’s grip in the crowd, all the way to a full-blown trapped-on a crashing roller-coaster scenario; that can get a bit tiring. And then of course, there’s the drive home. And getting into a lift. At the same time, I do kind of cultivate it; not long ago I took my younger son (he’s eight) to the local DIY superstore in order to look for a really interesting but readily available murder weapon. The sheer unfettered nature of a child’s imagination, unhindered by fear – or indeed shame – can be really interesting. My son was, for instance, very taken with the disarticulating potential of a bench-top circular saw. (If only, he wished, it could be more portable.) We did get some funny looks, though. When we first talked about the casting for ‘Luther’ all I knew was, we wanted someone pretty special. But step into the Tardis, go back a couple of years and throw a brick: chances are, it’ll hit a British writer or producer who really, really wanted to cast Idris Elba in their drama. I loved him, but in that I was far from alone. I never considered Idris a serious possibility, because it would have smacked of hubris and I fear the wrath of the gods. Idris is a star in the classic sense. You only have to look at his fans: they cross all barriers of age, sex, gender and ethnicity. They’re unified only by their absolute adoration of him, and of John Luther. There’s something very affecting about it. Yes, some people advertise that they’d very much like, if at all possible, to have sex with him. But at least as many
Neil Cross's 'Luther' as played by Idris Elba for the Beeb's monster TV hit
want to help him – to be his good and loyal friend. I absolutely love that. It gives me faith. Have detective dramas got nastier lately? Maybe. But I doubt it. There are two broad subgenres within crime fiction: the essentially bloodless conventions of Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple, where ingenious eccentrics treat the solution to murder as an intellectual puzzle. And the crime thriller, where such intricate plotting takes second place to psychology – this tends to be much dirtier. At any given moment, one or the other of these sub-genres may be slightly in the ascendant, but only slightly; the nastiness has always counterbalanced the cerebral. In the late 19th century, lurid chapbooks – essentially crime and horror stories – competed for shelf space with Holmes and Watson’s elegant cogitations. In the 1920s, hardboiled detective stories were dripping with sex, compulsive self-destruction and violence; this was precisely during the ‘Golden Age’ of Detective Fiction. I keep a ‘nightmare tally’ of the number of people who’ve confessed that my work has kept them up all night. It’s one of the greatest little pleasures of my life. Since ‘Luther 2’, I’ve also kept a list of people who’ve said they’ll never again get
in a lift with a motorcycle courier; that they’ll never again fill their tank after dark; that they now double check they’ve locked all the doors and windows before going to bed. In the books we get to see what sent John Luther over the edge. And we get to understand why it sent him over the edge. And hopefully, the story is full of twists and surprises. And little passages that make you wince. Or maybe have nightmares. And lock your doors and windows. I’ve worked on a number of feature films, mostly in Los Angeles. But there will be a Bristol movie: an adaptation of my novel ‘Burial’. Bristol is never actually named as ‘Burial’’s setting, not least because my geography wasn’t completely accurate. But it was Bristol, really. Bristol’s a big part of what I am. We’re keen to set the film there and in the surrounding countryside – which is bafflingly ill-served by British cinema. That’s fine by me, though. It means there’s more for us to use. ‘LUTHER: THE CALLING’ (SIMON & SCHUSTER, £14.99) IS OUT ON 4 AUG. FFI: WWW.NEIL-CROSS.COM
7/26/2011 7:29:27 PM
g a n p oi
How far can, or should you go in trying to make a chimpanzee behave like a human? ‘Project Nim’ is a compelling new documentary recounting an American experiment from the 1970s which attempted to answer this question. Robin Askew met director James Marsh.
hree years on from his Oscar-winning ‘Man On Wire’, British director James Marsh returns with another extraordinary documentary. ‘Project Nim’ tells the bizarre true story of a 70s American experiment to see whether a chimp could be taught to communicate using sign language by raising him from birth as a human child. It’s a film that tells us as much about the humans involved as it does about the unfortunate Nim. Among those taking part are behavioural psychologist Professor Herbert Terrace, who originated the experiment; Deadhead graduate student Bob Ingersoll, who became Nim’s staunchest human ally; and Dr
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James Mahoney, veterinarian at a research lab to which Nim was eventually sold for medical experiments. You’re very careful not to judge those involved, but I felt Professor Terrace came across as a rather arrogant man whose primary interest seemed to be in attractive young ladies. Well, I wouldn’t want to comment on that. He’d be the person to answer that question. But nonetheless, I think I was careful to do two things in this film: one is not to project onto Nim states of mind and feelings that we would want him to have but he didn’t actually have. The word, I think, is anthropomorphism. That felt like a problem in Nim’s life and I was trying to be careful not to repeat that mistake. The second thing was not to
overtly editorialise or pass judgement on what people did at the time. I think that what they did speaks for itself. Terrace is a scientist and I think he has a scientific approach to people as well, and can be quite detached - at certain points quite starkly detached - from people’s suffering. He seems quite indifferent to the damage that Nim was doing to some of the women on the project. But again, I didn’t want to point a finger at him; I wanted him to point a finger at himself. Judged purely in scientific terms, it seems like an extraordinarily ill-conceived experiment. I think one of the problems is that it’s supposed to be a detached scientific experiment. Scientific experiments have to be verifiable. You have to be able to reproduce them if they’re going to have
DOCUMENTARY BOOM! any value. And yet at the same time, he’s asking young women to mother a chimpanzee and have a very strong emotional relationship with him. And therein lies the problem… Chimpanzees [also] have a more interesting take on language than using it to talk to us. They use it to deceive us and manipulate us. What’s interesting is that they discover, in a sense, the treacherous aspect of language, not the direct aspect of it. Nim can say ‘sorry’ when he’s bitten someone. He can use the sign for ‘toilet’ to get out of situations. That’s using language in a very deceptive way. Although the film itself has no agenda, as you’ve made clear, how did you respond to Nim’s story on a personal level? Well, it’s an interesting question. My first reaction to it was what an interesting, challenging story it is. I mean, it has very many unpredictable twists and turns. That gave me great confidence that I could make a film out of it, because it had these narrative surprises. I guess in the process of making something like this you run into many quite vexing big ideas. On a very basic level, you can’t help but have enormous sympathy for Nim, who has no control over anything that he does. The moment he’s born, he’s in a cage. He’s like a guest in our world, and a guest that we don’t treat terribly well. The film starts with a baby being taken away from its mother. Not much good can come of that. What did you make of James Mahoney? He seems like a deeply conflicted person in that he’s responsible for experimenting on these animals and yet at the same time has some of the most insightful things to say about the way they’re treated. Well, my view of him was quite complicated too. I ended up thinking, to put it into one phrase, he’s a good man in a bad world. He did have a genuine relationship with the animals under his care and supervision and tried to do the best for them in these extraordinarily difficult circumstances - and at the end of our story is responsible for a big improvement in Nim’s life. He comes and saves dozens and dozens of chimpanzees from a terrible fate. When you first meet him in the film, you probably think he represents, as Bob [Ingersoll] says, ‘the devil’. But Bob ends up having a very close relationship with Mahoney and they are friends to this day - which is an extraordinary thing, because of the big gulf between how they regarded animals and chimpanzees in particular. So, yes, he’s an extraordinarily interesting character and, on a personal level, someone that I liked very much. What about Bob? If you were to isolate one person who was Nim’s human friend, it would be Bob. Over many years, they had a really genuine relationship which you see play out in our footage. They hang out. Bob becomes more like a chimpanzee. It’s the first time you see a human being trying to meet Nim halfway. They don’t only use sign language; they use body language and they have a very rich form of communication that transcends Terrace’s question about whether a chimpanzee can make a
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sentence or not. It feels like the species are trying to find a bridge. And of course they hang out, they smoke pot together - which seems a perfectly reasonable thing to do given how aggressive chimpanzees can be. So I wouldn’t pass judgement on that, any more than on anything else that happens in the story. You touched on the question of anthropomorphism. But while there is a danger of sentimentalising animals, is there not an equal danger of denying their emotional lives in order to feel more comfortable about what we do to them? That’s an interesting point and I think a very fair one. There is an emotional overlap between the two species, and you see Nim clearly showing feelings that I think we can recognise. He’s confused, he can be scared, he can laugh, he can cry. At certain points in the story, he looks very baffled as to what’s being done to him and why it’s
From ‘Inside Job’ and ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’ to the record-breaking ‘Senna’, 2011 has become a vintage year for cinema documentaries. And there are plenty more to come. // The Interrupters See review on page 41. // Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times (right) What could be more topical than a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the inner workings of a newspaper? No, the Times isn’t a Murdoch title (that’s the New York Post), so there’s unlikely to be any blagging or hacking. Out: Sept 23 // The Green Wave Ali Samadi Ahadi mixes live action and animation to tell the story of Iran’s progressive, youthful ‘Green Wave’, which was so brutally crushed by President Ahmadinejad. Out: Sept 30 // The Boy Mir: Ten Years in Afghanistan Follow-up to the 2004 hit ‘The Boy who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan’. This one tracks Mir from the age of eight to 18, following a journey into adulthood in one of the grimmest places on earth. Out: Sept 30
“The film starts with a baby being taken away from its mother. Not much good can come of that” JAMES MARSH being done to him. Without anthropomorphising him, I think that would be his state of mind. But you’re right; I think there is the opposite danger of not recognising the richness of a chimpanzee’s emotional life and how what we do to them has a big impact on that. In Nim’s case, I think he suffered more from people projecting stuff on to him than he did from people understanding what he was actually like. Is there any significance in the fact that the film is coming out on the same date as ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’? Probably from the distributor’s point of view there is. From mine, it’s a pleasing coincidence that in the present popular culture you have this huge Hollywood machine generating publicity for its film, and in the slipstream of that here we are with a real story about real chimpanzees. It could be a very interesting ‘compare and contrast’ exercise. Project Nim opens on August 12. See review on page 41. A longer version of this interview can be found at www.venue.co.uk
// Four Days Inside Guantanamo An analysis of the four-day interrogation of a 15-year-old Canadian boy at Guantanamo Bay, featuring excerpts from a secretly-shot sevenhour video whose disclosure was ordered by the Canadian Supreme Court. Out: Oct 7 // Pom Wonderful Presents: the Greatest Movie Ever Sold (right) ‘Super Size Me’ director Morgan Spurlock explores the wacky world of product placement, marketing and advertising in a documentary that “was fully financed through product placement from various brands, all of which are integrated transparently into the film.” Out: Oct 14 // African Cats Samuel L. Jackson narrates this Disney pussy cat doc, which was made in Bristol, filmed in the Masai Mara and is centred on a lioness (Layla) and a cheetah (Sita) and their cubs. Out: Oct 21 // Blood in the Mobile Exploring the link between your mobile phone and civil war in Africa, tenacious Danish director Frank Poulsen reveals how minerals mined in war-torn African nations are found in almost every mobile phone in the world. He then goes after executives of Nokia, which is responsible for one in three mobile phone sales. Out: Oct 21
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Going anywhere nice this summer? Anna Britten looks at this year’s biggest travel trends. o how’s that whole ‘staycation’ thing been working out these past two summers? The Boden catalogue idyll promised by the colour supplements, or just another wash-out week of DIY, daytime TV and traffic jams? Even if the recession hasn’t molested your summer plans so far, chances are the volcanic ash did. In short: few of us have enjoyed the holiday of a lifetime in recent memory. Then, just to push our vitamin D deficiency and creaking joints to the limit, we had the coldest winter for 30 years. The urge to escape – cheaply – is biting, and mass departure from England’s chilly shores is predicted. So where’s the savvy vacationer going? And should you be joining them?
NoN Eurozone destinations The pound being so puny, more than one round of cervezas or bières could trigger severe overdraft angst in the averagely-waged voyager. That souvenir friendship bracelet you might once have spent your remaining coinage on now looms as expensive as Vuitton (and Christine Lagarde thinks she’s got problems!). Quite simply, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you steer clear of the Eurozone. Short-haul destinations with their own currency have risen in popularity during the recession, and dominate the list of favourite hotspots for 2011. Says Bristol-based independent travel adviser Steve Jones: “For the last year Turkey and Eqypt have been the most
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popular non-Euro places and what goes alongside that is people going for all-inclusives. They really do work out cheaper.” Find Steve’s website at www.travelcounsellors.co.uk/steve.jones
Hitherto the best-kept holiday secret of the Aussies, Kiwis, Czechs and hardcore ‘Star Wars’ geeks (the Mos Eisley scenes were filmed here), Djerba is an island off the north coast of Tunisia. Warm climate, cheap flights and just three hours from the UK, the island is back in a big way, and both Thomson and Thomas Cook are pushing it hard this summer. Says Steve: “Djerba was quite popular in the mid-90s, then because of the price it went off the map for a few years, but now there are cheap flights and the tourist boards are becoming more active again. North African countries are seeing how important it is to educate the travel industry and the general public.”
Forget the idea of old people in elasticated leisure wear fighting to get an invite to the captain’s table. Cruises are for everyone now, and The Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) expects an 8% increase in the number of Britons taking a cruise in 2011 – building up to a total of 1.77m. “Cruises have been one of the fastest growing sectors for a few years now,” confirms Steve. “There are a lot of new ships from the main lines, and more and more of them are based in Southampton so there’s no flying involved. I would actually book a cruise
myself. They are like floating resorts now – rock climbing, surfing, proper ice rinks, tennis courts, choice of restaurants. Couples can enjoy weddings on board, honeymoon offers…” But it’s families who are being targeted heaviest. The Disney Dream, for example, boasts the first rollercoaster at sea. Royal Caribbean, meanwhile, has teamed up with DreamWorks to bring Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda to several of its ships. “Companies are doing all they can to attract the families. It’s all down to value for money – most things are included in a cruise. You don’t need to see your kids for two weeks if you don’t want to – the kids’ clubs are amazing.”
Valencia and Krakow
Boom cities for mini breaks, each around twoand-a-half hours' flight from Bristol. Valencia is currently hotter than the inside of Sebastian Vettel’s helmet. The third largest city in Spain, it sits halfway down the east coast and offers white sandy beaches, extraordinary old and new architecture, fine food (it invented paella), nightlife and shopping, and Ryanair flies to it three times a week. UNESCO World Heritage Site and former European Capital of Culture, Krakow boasts more history than you can shake a kabanos sausage at. EasyJet flies there five times a week. Says Steve: “A lot of city breaks these days are dictated by where the low-cost carriers go. They’ve made the short break a lot more popular. Valencia has come to the forefront because of its Grand Prix. Krakow is an example of a city you would never go to if it didn’t have cheap flights. I’ve been myself!”
ur; on du jo destinati imagine; 1 1 0 2 a : u yo rba top: Dje bes; e horror ise from e mightn’t be th el company Tri n; s clockw o Polaroid Caribbean Cruis nised by eco trav Ocado generati l e al ita rga ild: a Roy nda, a holiday o -swapping for th nd’s former cap w o g s id a la K o use w P o R h to – in y g y fl Sta to pottin One Fine – it’s (still) cheap Gorilla-s Krakow in re a u q iS Mariack
Basically, the house-swap/couch-surf model cannily rebranded for the Ocado generation. Largely the doing of London-based company One Fine Stay (www.onefinestay.com), who don’t let holiday houses so much as “curate” “decadent, elegant, quirky and surprising” pads replete with White Company toiletries and fluffy towels, and let you stay in them when their owners are out of town, all with the ease of booking a hotel room. Currently, your choices begin and end in the most salubrious corners of London, but plans are afoot to branch out into other cities. (Technically, of course, the term could also be applied to your nan’s caravan in Dorset. So go ahead.)
You’ve heard of slow food, yeah? Well, slow travel is about savouring the journey as much as the final destination. Something you can’t do in a like totally mojo-sapping airport, hence the movement’s focus on trains, boats and chucking away the guidebook and its exhortations to neurotic busyness. Think the late, great Patrick Leigh Fermor strolling across Europe, or Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Travels With My Donkey’. Resist the tourist board hype at all costs – there are no “must-sees” in slow travel. Instead sit in a café, learn a few phrases of the language, discover a country or city’s essence just by staying put and soaking it up. Dawdle. It’s a state of mind. Although our Steve puts it more bluntly: “People are fed up with airports. We’re seeing more tour operators offering guided train tours. There’s not an awful lot of difference in
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terms of timing – if you remember you’ve got to be in a airport two hours or more before the time of flight, then there’s collecting luggage and transfers. Sometimes there’s not much difference. London to Paris is a typical example.”
Picking up new skills on holiday is nothing new – think skiing, diving, even those age-old watercolour holidays in Tuscany for wealthy, mauve-favouring widows. But these days, selfimprovement is a travel industry boom area – we in the wealthy western world are all about self-improvement. Why learn to climb in St Werburghs when you can do it Mallorca, or horseride in Clevedon when you can do it on a South African nature reserve? To put it cynically – it’s a great way to justify self-indulgence in hard times. We pick a few close-to-home options overleaf…
Last October saw Europe’s first eco-tourism conference held in Estonia – hot topics included zero-carbon hotels and ‘voluntourism’ (where you go and save turtles, or teach street kids between sunbathing and reading shifts). We asked Julie Middleton of eco-tourism charity The Travel Foundation (www. thetravelfoundation.org.uk), are green holidays really going mainstream? “I hope so. We’re beginning to see a lot of travel operators embedding green policies into their businesses. One of the ways is through [ABTA’s] Travelife website (www.
travelife.eu) – tour operators can sign up to do a number of things to become more sustainable. It’s great for their bottom line and they’re saving money: going green is good for the purse. “There are some tour operators whose whole ethos is green holidays. Tribes (www.tribes.co.uk) have been around for quite a while and they make sure their holidays are benefitting people, wildlife and environments locally. Thomson and First Choice have their own brand called Holidays Forever and have made certain commitments and set certain goals for sustainability. Virgin Holidays have their own brand now as well, which is called Human Nature. “At The Travel Foundation, our main message is to say a green holiday is not necessarily about staying in a yurt and eating yoghurt. We can be green on holiday in the same way we are at home: take packaging off before we travel because a lot of countries don’t have the recycling and refuse system we do; conserve the water; eat at local restaurants…” (See the full list of tips at www. makeholidays greener.org.uk)
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SKILLING TIME Six self-improvement holidays not a million miles from home. Creative writing
The Arvon Foundation is the daddy of all writing courses. Founded in the 60s by two mates of Ted Hughes, it offers fledgling scribes and established wordsmiths alike four-and-a-halfday residential writing courses in magical settings: you will find yourself living, working and eating in a historic writing house in an inspirational countryside setting, cut off from the distractions of your daily life under the leadership of published writers (who have included AL Kennedy, Ali Smith, Jim Crace, Jez Butterworth, Maggie Gee, Mavis Cheek and Simon Armitage) who live and work with you for the residential period. Furthermore, you’ll cook and eat together for the duration, making firm friendships. Arvon’s centres at The Hurst in Shropshire and Totleigh Barton in Devon are handiest for Venue readers and this summer offer courses in theatre, writing for TV, food writing, fiction, travel, poetry and even writing for video games (insert own ‘take your prose to the next level’ gag here). Ffi: www.arvonfoundation.org
Rapture. Weightlessness. Freedom. The sight of spider crabs nibbling on moon jellyfish. Coming face to face with a six-foot barracuda. Divers have good reason to rave about life underwater. Of course, you can learn to dive
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– as in don a mask and submerge yourself in H20 – in a leisure centre in Bristol. But if you want to really dive may we suggest the little Maltese island of Gozo, which is not only one of the best diving spots in Europe, it’s also three cheap hours from Bristol on Ryanair. Qualified and experienced diving team Scuba Kings Gozo (who even have their own recompression chamber) will pick you up a the airport and take you to their seafront dive centre to explore world-famous caves, caverns and shipwrecks under the warm, azure Med. The (very reasonable) package rates include eight guided dives, seven nights accommodation with a sea view and airport transfers – for a few quid more, beginners can undertake a PADI Open Water Course on a Learning To Dive holiday. “Learning to dive is a lot of fun especially when it’s not at a cold murky lake or quarry!” they enthuse from behind large glasses of chilled white, bowls of olives and sunglasses. Ffi: www. divemalta-gozo.com
How would you cope in a post-apocalyptic world (or even just somewhere your GPS didn’t work)? Would you surrender hopelessly to the elements, or make a fire, a den, a slingshot and a tasty seaweed stew, all whilst appreciating the beauty of nature? Dartmoorbased company Wildwise offers courses that go beyond the usual bushcraft skills to explore how nature can be a source of artistic and spiritual inspiration. Residential courses this August include Family Camp (Mon 8-Sat 13
Aug), where you’ll watch wildlife, detect bats and hunt bugs, often under cover of darkness, make wild fires and gather wild food, learn to scavenge, make wooden things, listen to stories and music around the campfire and make dens, all in the company of other families. Next up: The Dangerous Weekend For Boys (for dads/ sons or uncles/nephews, Sat 27-Mon 29 Aug), A More Dangerous Weekend For Boys (Fri 16-Sun 18 Sept) and Hunting Party (for teenage boys, Fri 23-Sun 25 Sept), both of which include the making of primitive weaponry. Participants will camp on Dartmoor and eat breakfast and an evening meal around the campfire. Ffi: wildwise.co.uk
If the media is to be believed, crafting, thrifting, upcycling etc is the new pilates. Handmade is, basically, hip as hell. In line with this, Bedruthan Steps Hotel in Cornwall is offering craft-crazy weekenders two-night breaks learning how to make adorable and individual things to take home and wait to be praised for. Local artist Poppy Treffry invites you to try your hand at pattern cutting and free hand machine embroidery – described by upcycling poster matron Kirsty Allsop as “the crack cocaine of craft” – from Fri 18-Sun 20 Nov. You can basket-weave from Fri 31 Sept-Sun 2 Oct (sweetly, you’ll be given the makings of a Cornish picnic to put in the basket and take exploring the Cornish coastline on the Sunday). Erica Knight, the inspiring author of ‘Simple Knitting’, will share her knowledge of
oor in rdle D ; ic Du locations n e g to g y pho r learnin t Totleigh r e v e la p: Th spectacu g house a School; e 's om to in ise fr otocourse ched writ e languag ourite w k c v c F t Clo ne of tion's tha r de Fran ocourse fa o , t e Dors n Founda ith Coeu other Fot w o n t v u r ,a the A n; a day o rfe Castle Co Barto
woolcraft from Fri 11-Sun 13 Nov. All this and a gorgeous family-run hotel and spa in a stunning location overlooking the Atlantic. Some meals are included. We accept no responsibility for any spur-of-the-moment hairbraiding that may occur on the beach, nor the repercussions of you jacking in the day job on your return. Ffi: bedruthan.com/breaks
Snappers of all abilities and experience can learn basic photography (and PhotoShop) techniques on Fotocourses’ two- and threeday residential photography courses in beautiful Lulworth Cove in Dorset. Your tutor is leading landscape photographer Gary Fooks – as a native, his vast knowledge of the area combined with his photographic experience means that you will visit stunning locations at the best times to combine the local conditions with the light. There’s no more than six in each group and very little classroom-based learning – most of the time you’ll be in the great outdoors, capturing the spectacular coastline and countryside as well as the Saxon town of Wareham, the ruined
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Corfe Castle and Durdle Door beach. All you need is a digital camera or 35mm SLR, though a laptop is handy if you have one. “Although this is a photographic course the emphasis is very much on you enjoying yourself and treating it like a holiday, learning at your own pace,” they say. The next courses are in September. Ffi: www. fotocourses.co.uk
Any linguist will tell you total immersion is the quickest, and best, method of learning a language. Two weeks of slightly panicked, sweaty-palmed, in-at-the-deep-end “Oui, mais… Non, mais…” will do you as much good as a year of weekly classes back home. C’est un fact. Combine French learning with a Loire valley holiday at Coeur de France, a French language school for adults and families of all abilities. Your base is the 16th-century La Thaumassière château in Sancerre which has classrooms on the ground floor, deluxe (trans: deluxe!) apartments for student rental on the upper floors, and a stone head salvaged from the Bastille storming of 1789 set into the wall. Between classes you can wine taste or just meander through the winding medieval streets of the hilltop town practising your new skills. Classes can be given in groups or privately and for anything from one week to eight weeks. Ffi: www.coeurdefrance.com
Elbow Greece? // So do we strike this old fave off the list for a year, given all that buzz-killing economic chaos and rioting? Athens natives say you only need to avoid the area around Parliament. Elsewhere there’s more chance of being mauled by a donkey than finding yourself in a cloud of tear gas. Travel adviser Steve Jones agrees: “It’s still safe to go to Greece. I had someone come back from a Greek island recently and they said they wouldn’t have known anything was going on if they hadn’t seen it on TV. It’s a country that needs the tourists there.” So is it going to be the bargain holiday of the decade, with moussaka and retsina being practically given away? Like in the olden days? Steve: “No. Prices aren’t plummeting. I’d say it’s reasonable, I wouldn’t say cheap.” In short: business as usual.
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The sun’s threatening, the bass bins are throbbing and everyone’s getting drunk in a field. Best look your best then. Gina Dyer hits Bristol’s local boutiques to hunt down this year’s hottest festival styles.
estival season. The one time of the year when quirky patterns, unusual accessories and loud colours are not only acceptable, but expected. Why spend the weekend in the same old denim shorts and vest when you could be rocking pretty floral maxi dresses, floaty gypsy skirts and oddball charms? This year, floral prints are back. Big time. Ramp up the vintage charm by mixing it with fine lace and a cute corsage. The key to working this trend effectively is to look – and be – comfortable yet chic. Keep your dresses and tops loose fitting to allow movement and team them with oversized sunnies to channel your inner Stevie Nicks. Explore your wild side with animalthemed accessories. Bristol’s Shop Dutty’s chunky gold rhino and elephant rings certainly add a bit of fierceness to any pretty summer combo (watch you don’t have someone’s eye out with them) and follow a key micro-trend for the summer by investing in some avian-themed trinkets. Birdie necklaces, brooches and fascinators in blue, green and silver are a great way to chirp up your outfit. Colour blocking is also huge this year (trust us) – both in the city and in the sticks. Bold, bright clashing tones are your goto staples, so wear them loud, proud and dangerously! 1. Summer envelope clutch – teal, £36, Elsie Riley 2. Summer envelope clutch – cream, £36, Elsie Riley 3. Mocha hobo bag – £48, Elsie Riley 4. Heritage horseshoe bracelet – £24.99, Elsie Riley 5. Sweet bird necklace – £47.99, Soukous 6. Uncaged blue bird pendant – Soukous 7. Poppy Bobbin dress – £24.95, Soukous 8. Gypsy dress – £39.95, Soukous 9. Bird fascinator – Shop Dutty 10. Skirt, gold bangles, animal rings – Shop Dutty 11. Isobel dress – £24.95, Soukous 12. Katey wears yellow top, necklace and earrings – Shop Dutty 13. Meg wears pink
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top, skirt, belt and accessories – Shop Dutty; gold necklace and bracelet (worn as hair tie) – Elsie Riley; shoes and sunglasses, model’s own; Katey wears yellow top, skirt, belt and accessories – Shop Dutty; sunglasses and shoes, model’s own 14. Katey wears Hedwig dress – violet £69.99, Elsie Riley; accessories – Elsie Riley; shoes, stylist’s own; umbrella – £22, Elsie Riley; Meg wears pink top £9, blazer £13 – Shop Dutty; shorts and shoes, model’s own; accessories – Elsie Riley
CREDITS: Photography Elena Goodrum Make-up Verity Gough Models Katey Brooks, Meg Pope Stylist Sian Hogan Shot in Stokes Croft Stockists Elsie Riley 59 Broad St, Bristol, BS1 2EJ, 0117 934 9139, www.elsieriley.com; Soukous 44a-46 Cotham Hill, Bristol, BS6 6LA, 0117 923 9854, www.soukous.co.uk; Shop Dutty 116 Cheltenham Rd, Bristol, BS6 5RW, 0117 924 9990, www.shopdutty.com GINA DYER IS EDITOR OF THE FABULOUS MYSTREETCHIC.COM, A BRISTOL-BASED ONLINE FASHION COMMUNITY COVERING ALL THE LATEST STYLES FROM YOUR CITY.
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Lily Allen and Sarah Owen’s new label is hitting Harvey Nicks. Anna Britten zips up her retro jumpsuit.
ast time Lily Allen rocked up in Bristol, we commented on how her signature sartorial style
had inspired a ninja army of identically dressed young women. Inevitably, the singer soon took her fashion savvy one step further, last year opening vintage hire shop Lucy In Disguise, with sister Sarah Owen, in Covent Garden – all tears, strops and stock issues being captured in the Channel 4 documentary ‘Lily Allen: Riches to Rags’. Explains Owen: “We bought loads of clothes that we thought were really amazing but not quite perfect – maybe they were the wrong material or the wrong cut. We wanted to make them more wearable for the modern girl, so the next step was to start our own label.” Now, Bristol’s not exactly short of excellent vintage clothing stores – Gimme Shelter, Cox & Baloney, RePsycho and Uncle Sam’s to name but a few – but it’s still news to set a fashion bunny’s heart aflutter that the new Lucy In Disguise label has just launched exclusively at Harvey Nichols. More than just a snazzy name, LiD is also an imaginary
muse. “Lucy the character is a timetravelling fashionista,” explains Allen. “The idea is she is inviting you into her wardrobe and showing you clothes she has collected from the 1920s to the 90s. Dressing up and having fun is the ethos of the collection.” Suspicious of slebs turning their hand to tailoring? Worry not. As always in these cases, serious rag trade muscle backs up the whole shebang. Long-time Oasis creative director Nadia Jones helps the sisters create the styles from whatever vintage pieces they fall in love with – merging favourite details from, for example, the neckline of a dress or hem of a skirt to create their modern, wearable designs with a strong, retro flavour. The 18-piece collection features mini, maxi, 20s beaded and 50s prom dresses as well as other items, priced from £95 to £350. We foresee a flock of Zanzibar jumpsuits down Start The Bus this summer, and a flurry of Regatta dresses sipping Pimms in Clifton Village. The LiD toiletry range and lunch box are doubtless forthcoming. You have been warned.
Lily and Sarah step out in London (Lucy's not pictured, mainly because she doesn't exist)
1.LID Honky Tonk dress, £145 2.LID Zanzibar jumpsuit, £330 3.LID Lucy in Disguise Regatta dress, £245
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Bristol Short Story Prize
Last month, as the Arnolfini hosted Bristol’s first ever ShortStoryVille – a mini-festival celebrating fiction of 3,000 words or less – one woman, Emily Bullock, won the 2011 Bristol Short Story Prize for her story ‘My Girl’. With kind permission from the organisers, we’ve re-printed it in full here. Illustrations: Claire Shorrock.
y job is to stop the blood, cool her off, wash her down. Who knows her better than her own mum? I rub the yellow carwash sponge across her head, smooth my fingers over the braids, sweeping away water with the back of my hand. Her coach leans over the ropes, whispering words I can’t hear. All I have to do is make sure the match isn’t stopped for bleeding. I open a jar and rub adrenaline chloride into the cut on her right cheek. Old scar tissue has ripped open, isn’t much blood, but I’m not taking chances. My girl keeps her eyes on the other corner, but she lets me move her face from side to side, checking for fractures. Clean. An eyelash drops and curls onto my finger. I make a wish and send it on its way. The bucket of icy water has clouded pink but her reflection is steady. Nobody hears my wish. Time is nearly up. I collect the bucket, towel and my toolbox of potions. I sit back down on the other side of the ring where it is darker, small pools of pale light collecting under the lamps on each table. I am one of them again: spectator. My girl stretches her arms and legs, letting the ropes take her weight, in the last seconds of rest. But the ring isn’t empty. The men cheer as the bikini bulging girl, slipping in her white slingbacks, parades with the first round card held high above her yellow perm; howls loud as dogs left chained in a backyard, the air cold with moans.
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I rub blue sanitizer into my hands. I don’t want any dirt to get onto her broken skin. The liquid evaporates quick as tears; it smells tart as the gin and tonics splashed across the tablecloths behind me. This is an exhibition fight, but the money is good and it will keep her in gloves and membership for six months. My girl watches it all. She shakes her head and water hits the floor in front of my shoes. The man behind me orders another round of whiskies and a cheer goes up. The bell for the second round deadens the noise for a moment. My girl comes out tight, keeping hits away from the red lump swelling above her kidney. Her opponent is a swarmer. She comes at my girl again, happy to take hits on the ride in. Whisky splashes against my neck as a man behind waves his glass in the air. But my girl is fast. She blocks the blows without turning; eyes watching her opponent’s muscles. Ready to knock and duck. Bang. My girl lands a punch to the side of the head. She circles and steps off again. Reach for it, reach for it, a man screams from behind his stack of pints; myopic eyes blinking through the glass. No backdoor nightclub scratching and slapping here. Some cheer, and some snigger behind napkins as they dab steak juice from their lips. Swift footwork smears blood into the canvas, pinned shadows the fighters move around. A left upper cut to her opponent’s chin silences the crowd.
Splatters of red spin over the ropes and smack the front row; a spot balloons on my jeans. The other fighter’s knees lock, a real pro, and stays standing. She pulls back, elbow in for power, and slugs my girl deep in the gut. I can’t breathe for her, can’t feed her from my body anymore. Her eyes narrow and she circles; playing for time as she sucks down air to free the hot cramping pain. Her blue singlet and shorts turn black with sweat. After the fight, tonight, I will tell her. Enough. My girl took the punches even when she was a swollen bulge inside me. It was a blow to the stomach finally woke me up. I was expecting it, my hands wrapped around her hidden body, leaving my head uncovered. He raised his foot above my face, but something stopped him: the banging from the neighbours upstairs, a siren on the street. He slammed the hallway door so hard it bounced right open again, did the same with the front door. I held on to the broken back of the chair, sat up, and felt my girl kick. I laughed: all those doors wide open. A draught from the fire exit blows litter in off the street, a crisp packet and burger wrapper circle and settle by the bucket. I boot them away. The cold air is no good for her muscles, but no one will hear me if I shout at them to close it again. The green light glows through the grey soup of smoke and beer belches. I shake the clean towels, plumping air into the folds.
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They are locked together, tugging apart at the referee’s shout. Her heart is fair beating out of her chest. She snorts air, nostrils flaring. But she isn’t slowing. Her lip doesn’t droop,
her eyes aren’t blinking. It is a good sign. Her coach signals with his hands, their secret language: a combination of hits or a change of tactics. She won’t tell me their code. And that makes me proud. I’m here because she wants me. She’s long past needing me to pull up her socks, wipe her nose, trim her crusts. So I wait for the bell to go, fold my bandages, mix my ointments to stop the cuts flowing. Hands working automatically as I watch her spin and circle around the ring. Her stretched plaits reveal the soft pink of her scalp; fontanel toughened over the years, but I remember the first warm pulsing. On the 18th December 1989, when waves smashed Blackpool pier, and leaves whipped against windows, she began to fight. In the upstairs bathroom, on a blue fish and smiling dolphin beach towel, the ambulance delayed under a falling oak, my girl was born. She came out screaming: fists balled, face red, breathing hard. No one but me to hear her. The bell goes for the third round. I am back at her side again. I squirt water into her mouth; collect it in the bucket as she spits it up. Wipe down her face and grease her skin to make the leather slide off. My nipples throb under the layers of jersey just like they did when she was a baby. I press a frozen eye iron to the top of her cheek, milking out the swelling. She lets me cradle her head, but tilts her ear towards the bell to better trap its sound.
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She catches a couple of good hits in the third. One to the ribs. One to the back. A small cut is opening up under her right eye. It will need seeing to. She is hooking with her left and some of the men lean forward shouting encouragement, congratulating her coach. She’s a born fighter, he tells them, and waves his hand to show it is all he has to say. I stood outside the gates on her first day of school, parents waving all around. And she asked me, what happened to my daddy? He was a fighter, I told her. If there were ever words I
wish I could swallow back, they are it. The bruises he left me had long since yellowed and leaked away. She didn’t ask anything else and I knew she’d get smart enough to fill in the rest. I watched her swing her orange PE bag over her shoulder and I waved until I thought my hands would drop off. The fluorescent strip light coats her with its orange glue. With a right upper cut her opponent stuns her. I see her eyes as they flicker white. She glances over. All I can do is sit back and let it happen. The other fighter presses closer, forcing my girl’s curling spine up against the ropes. Bang. Bang. Bang. A burst of hooks so fast, I’m not sure if I count three or four. But my girl won’t go down. The light swings above the canvas, dividing up the ring, as they circle each other. Matched pound for pound, my girl stands an inch shorter than her opponent; but she meets her in the eye like they are the same height. No one has ever come close to knocking her down. Not that it stops me biting my lip and holding my breath. When she was seventeen, out of school and out of work, she found her way to the gym. The boys there said, ‘’er’s a funny ‘un’. She didn’t listen to them and went back every day it was open. She asked Bristol Pete, shoplifter to order, to fetch up some Everlast
leather gloves, ten ouncers. I used to worry that she never came home until the sky outside the kitchen was one dark bruise, that welts and scrapes on her skin glowed red in the cold night air. I only let myself exhale when I heard her key in the lock. On Sundays she ran along the cold sucking sand, jumping dog shit the tide wasn’t quick enough to wash away. She swells in and out of the other fighter’s reach, keeping in close and holding her guard up. My girl feints with a left and follows through with a smack from the right. She doesn’t stay still to soak up the praise from the crowd. Feet seeming to float above the canvas as she pushes towards a neutral corner. My girl is punching smooth and fast, legs wide enough for balance but close enough that the petroleum jelly at the top of her thighs has rubbed off. Her skin will be turning red under those long silk shorts. My girl gets up close, ready to finish it. But her opponent isn’t down yet; feet shuffling, shoulders dipping as she comes back at my girl. A deep blow under the belt, but they are too close, their bodies block the referee’s view. Only I see it. That burning pain in her groin is spreading through her legs, slowing her down. She can’t lower her hands, can’t press the spot to deaden the pain. I crack an ice pack and get the water bucket ready. One sneaky left hook and bang, it could all be over for my girl too. Some punches in life you can’t slip. They’re calling her The Blackpool Illuminator because she lights up the ring; that’s what she told me over egg and chips, runny not set, a week before her first match. I knew why. It wasn’t in her face, square and blunt like mine, or her hardened body. It was in the way she moved. Fork to mouth, knife to plate: stabbing out combinations, left and right. She pushed off from the balls of her feet as she got up to help me with the dirty plates. My girl balanced like a spinning top. I held my wrists under the cold water until I managed to squeeze out a smile for her. The ice pack in my hand is numbing my skin. But I suck down hot air, whistling through my front teeth, as my girl takes a jab to the side of the face. Her head snaps back on her neck as the end bell goes. For one moment I taste the frozen silence of the hall, it fizzes and crackles on the heat of my tongue. But it isn’t a sugared ice lolly taste. The points are toted up. The white shirted referee lifts an arm. Of course, the hometown fighter wins. Her fist smacks up into the air. The cheers aren’t for my girl. Not this time. She slaps gloves with her opponent and crosses the canvas, back to me. But I keep my arms stiff at my side, so they can’t open wide and pull her close.
Bristol Short Story Prize Sweat runs into her eyes and she tries to flick at it with her gloves. I hold back her head and wipe her face dry with a fresh towel; press the ice pack to the base of her neck. I dab at the small cut under her eye, red and yellow, congealing already. Maybe if I hadn’t wiped over her beginnings
THE WRITER: with that word, fighter, if she wasn’t born in the great storm of ’89, she wouldn’t be up there now. But I can’t imagine her any other way. Her opponent is carried off in a whirl of white teeth smiles, and pumping arms. The audience are leaving, scraping chairs and slapping backs. I rub her down with the towels, cloak her body and legs. The men tug on jackets, sleeves turned inside out, fingers numbed by booze and legs deadened from steak and chips. ‘I’ll bring the car round,’ her coach says as he gives her shoulder a pat. A lone flash bulb bleaches her face. It’s all done for the night. ‘I lost,’ she says. ‘You didn’t win this one but there’ll be others,’ I tell her. There won’t be any story about my girl in The Echo, not tomorrow anyway. Search for her online and boxer puppies for sale from Blackpool kennels pops up. I hold open the ropes and she climbs out of the ring. She breathes in the coppery smack of blood, the taste of success. Together we walk through the blue ticket-stub, crumpled napkin dust that the dinner jacket men have left behind. Sometimes we aren’t the hero in our own stories: she fights and I stand in her corner, is the way it will always be. Fists balled, face red. Breathing hard. THE FOURTH BRISTOL SHORT STORY PRIZE ANTHOLOGY IS AVAILABLE NOW (£10) FROM WWW.BRISTOLPRIZE.CO.UK AND MANY OTHER FRIENDLY BOOKSHOPS – SEE WEBSITE FOR DETAILS.
So, Claire, what’s your style? I would say my style is quite naïve and colourful but my main aim is for my work to always have a playful quality. I am strongly inspired by travel and often find that my sense of colour is developed in visiting different places, as well as looking at vintage graphics and picture books. My obsession with dogs (despite my never having owned one) is a definite recurring theme!
Tell us about your story. The story is set in the world of female boxing and structured around one fight. At heart, for me, it is about a mother and daughter; the mother’s need to protect her child, but also her desire to be needed by her child. How do you view competitions like the BSSP? There aren’t enough anthologies of short stories. Some people are initially drawn to writing short stories as they do not want to commit to a novel, but they stay because of the excitement of bringing a world to life in only a few pages. The BSSP offers a level playing field, for new and established writers, to get their work read. What differentiates the qualities of a short story from, for example, a novel or play? Everything has to count in a short story, as with poetry. They are sometimes considered a snapshot in time, which isn’t to say that they can’t have a plot, or character development. It is exciting to find a way of telling a story as succinctly as possible, and it often involves hinting at something more.
What next for you? I’m finishing a novel for my Creative Writing PhD, set in the 1950s about a boxer and his manager. I’m also currently sending out my novel ‘Dark Ages’ to agents. (Anna Behrmann)
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How do you feel, having won the Bristol Short Story prize? What will stay [with me] is the amazing feeling of having connected with people through my writing: the readers and the judges. Tapping away at my keyboard, I’ll remember that one day someone might just read what I’m writing. The BSSP is full of new and interesting voices; I feel lucky to be part of it.
Which short story writers do you admire? I like Raymond Carver; ‘So Much Water So Close to Home’ is one of my favourites. I also love Tobias Wolff and AL Kennedy; their characters stay with you. And I’m off to buy Jennifer Eagon’s ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ and Alison McLeod’s ‘Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction’.
How did it feel to win the chance to illustrate the Bristol Short Story Prize anthology? I would say happy and surprised in equal measure. There was definitely some tough competition and I'm an avid reader, so to be involved in the project is really exciting.
What did you try and do with your entry? When I was first coming up with ideas, the concept of innovative storytelling from all over the world was most important, so I chose the paper birds for the direct link to the writing but also their playful nature. Additionally, I wanted the cover to stand out on the bookshelves so went for the strong red background. It also happens to be my favourite colour! What next for you? This year I have been mainly focusing on children's books and have written and illustrated one about a giant dog called Magnus and another about a little boy who loves origami, which I suppose inspired the Bristol Short Story Prize cover. What do you most enjoy doing? Actually, drawing – which is lucky! Where can people see more of your work? I don't yet have my website up and running, but I do have a blog (below) where you can see my work and general updates. FFI: WWW.CLAIRESHORROCK.TUMBLR. COM; WWW.FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/ CLAIRESHORROCKILLUSTRATION
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Above: Inkie on in Bristol mus Nelson Street: “Half the ea t at one time or have been through the m rly graffiti artists agistrates’ co another. Now ur that we’re go ing to be pain there’s a really nice irony t ting it!”
Some of the world’s best graffiti artists are descending on Bristol this month to lively up a run-down corner of the city centre. Eugene Byrne reports.
n what the organisers are billing as the biggest outdoor art festival in Europe, this month will see the transformation of a run-down part of central Bristol by some of the world’s top graffiti artists. The event, titled ‘See No Evil’, will see huge artworks being painted on the sides of many of the buildings in Nelson Street and Quay Street, which link Broadmead with the city centre. More than 20 artists are coming to Bristol from as far afield as Poland, the United States and Chile for the event. Much of the work they do for the festival will remain in place for at least a year, and some works are likely to be more permanent. Some of the paintings will be among the biggest in the world. There have been other similar projects elsewhere in the world, which are sometimes cited as examples of how street art can help regenerate urban areas. One such street in Melbourne, Australia, is now reckoned to attract almost half a million visitors a year. One of the moving spirits behind ‘See No Evil’ is Bristol’s Director of Placemaking, Mike Bennett. Bennett’s appointment was controversial, leading many local politicians and citizens to query his appointment at a time of stringent spending cuts in other council budgets. The project will, he reckons, cost
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around £80,000, half of which will come from private and business sponsors, but the hope is that the benefits to Bristol will be many times the initial outlay in the long run. “Everyone said how good it would be to continue the buzz that came out of the Banksy exhibition at the Museum,” Bennett told Venue. “Urban and street art are widely felt to be an important part of the city’s creative DNA and the Banksy show attracted shedloads of people to come to Bristol to stand in a queue for three hours.” It’s not as yet clear how many buildings are going to be transformed by the artists, but it’ll be at least 10, and possibly more. Some of these are going to be among the largest artworks ever created. One building, for instance, St Lawrence House, is 11 storeys high. This is an office building with a variety of businesses as well as some empty office units. The owners, Newbridge Capital Investments, have agreed that an artwork can be painted on the side overlooking Quay Street, and that it can remain in place for at least 12 months afterwards, if not longer. A spokesman for the company told the press: “We were approached by the organisers, and it certainly sounds very exciting… You can see if you walk down the street there are a few run-down 60s buildings that aren’t occupied. Anything that would revitalise the street and increase footfall
for a minimal cost – then all the better.” Other buildings to be painted include the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Unite building, 9 and 11 Quay Street and the walkway over the street near Trafalgar House. The juvenile courts and one of the police buildings will also be painted, but works here may only be temporary as they are due for redevelopment in October. As Venue went to press, the organisers were still in talks with the owners of other buildings. The historic Church of St John in the Wall will not, of course, be painted. Asked how they managed to persuade so many firms to allow artists to be let loose on their walls with spray cans, Mike Bennett said: “We just asked them, or in a couple of cases we begged them. This is an unloved street, a rundown area right in the middle of town. It needs something big development-wise. If you talk to the business experts, they will all tell you that, with the economy as it is, the prospect of any serious development here in the next five years is almost nonexistent. “So if we do this, and bring that attention to the street, then you get increased footfall, and more attention, and hopefully businesses and potential developers will see that street in a new way. If it grabs enough attention, it makes its own economic case for development.” Bennett is also hoping that if the event is a
Graffiti mak eover (clockw ise from pic Slow and El above): Bonz Mac (whose ai, Ben wor all part of th e Nelson Stre k is pictured here) are et alfresco ar t project
success, more local businesses will get behind sponsoring other projects in the future. The artists move into the area around 14 August, and things come to a head with a number of events later in the week, culminating in a big weekend event over 20-21 August, when the street will be closed to traffic. The big day will be Saturday 20, when there’ll be music, stalls, pop-up bars and all manner of fun things happening out on the street or in empty office/shop units. There’ll also be workshops for aspiring graffers. If the weather’s nice, there’s no telling how many people will show up on the day, but if it starts getting too popular, entrances to the area will be closed off, and people only admitted via the Colston Street end and let out at the Union Street side. One of the principal organisers on the artists’ side is Tom Bingle, better known to his worldwide following as Inkie. He now lives and works in London and his CV includes being a designer for Jade Jagger, and working as head of creative design for games firm SEGA. He was born in Bristol and grew up here, however, and frequently returns. Back in the 1980s he was one of the original crew of inner city artists and worked with the likes of 3D (of Massive Attack fame) and for a time was Banksy’s principal partner-in-crime. “Nothing of this size and scale has ever taken place in the UK and it’s an event that has captured the minds of some the world’s most respected street artists. It’s a major coup that we’ve managed to pull this off in Bristol,” he says. “We have invited some of the world’s most talented graffiti artists to bring their skills to the city, and we have a number of returning Bristolians to head up proceedings.” The title, he explains, is from the three wise
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monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. “It sort of works on the artistic element, and because it has a musical element to it as well. And of course because we’re taking over the old magistrates’ courts. “And of course half the early grafitti artists in Bristol must have been taken to that police station or through the magistrates’ courts at one time or another, so now there’s a really nice irony that we’re going to be painting it!” The exact line-up of artists isn’t fully confirmed, but it’ll definitely include the legendary Tats Cru from New York, who actually came to Bristol back in the 1980s, and whom Inkie credits as a major influence on his own work. There’s also El Mac from LA, famed for his distinctive ‘realistic’ style of painting, plus others from France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Australia and more. There will also be a number of artists who are past or present Bristol residents. As well as the murals, there’s going to be some street dressing for the Saturday event to bring a lot more colour to what is, after all, Bristol’s least colourful street. “Everyone will be doing their own thing,” says Inkie. “There will be colour themes, but we’re not telling people what to paint. “Bristol has always been at the forefront of the UK cultural scene in music and art, and this was true before Banksy came along. He’s a brilliant artist, but there have always been lots of others as well. I’d say that a good 25% or so of the top 100 artists in the country have either come through Bristol or have spent time working here. I hope this will cement Bristol’s position, and spread the word about it through Europe and around the world. I hope it’ll become an annual event.”
. I didn’t was worthless // “I thought it luable. That’s why va it know it was I really am sorry if it. I painted over med, who set,” Saeed Ah people are up on Bristol’s ub cl al ci so runs a Muslim told swns.com ad Fishponds Ro speaking after Mr Ahmed was afitti he had gr e th at learning th de of the over on the si d he as w te hi w mural, e Th . sy nk a Ba ask, had building was m nk pi a rilla in nd 10 showing a go ou ar r ilding fo been on the bu heard years. ho had never Mr Ahmed, w , has engaged a fore of the artist be t conservator. Last we ar specialist fine Street’s pert from Park vation heard, the ex er ns Co t Ar ne Fi International king on the whitewash or Studios was w l chemicals ds and specia with cotton bu could be restored. af to see if the gr uncil is looking Bristol City Co ood cal neighbourh art et into getting lo re st e at to nomin partnerships er of murals st gi re a on works to go d in future. to be preserve which ought
LOVED UP // Bristol-based Te am Love (TL) are programming th e music and helpi ng arrange the Satu rday street party for the ‘See No Evil’ project. TL have hoste and produced sta ges at lots of festiv d als, including Glaston bu at St Pauls Park at ry, Big Chill and this year’s St Pauls Carnival, but they ’ve not done anyt hing quite like this be fore. “It’s shaping up re Paine told Venue. ally nicely,” TL’s Tom “We have a great lineup in place inclu ding the legend that is Greg Wilson and old of Wild Bunch fam Bristol hero DJ Milo e. He hasn’t been and played in Bristol in donkey’s year s so this is a bit of a co up for us. “Alongside this we to host several mu are planning sic events, includin a screening of th g e re Advisor Real Scen cent Resident es Bristol docume ntary (See http://tinyu rl.co plus more events m/65yn9fm) to showcase and celebrate Bristol’ s musical culture and talents.
“Bristol is amazin g right now, bette than we have ev r er known it – an d we have been here ov er 10 years. Ther e is an amazing amou nt city, coupled with of creativity in the belief that people can do anything.”
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Newshound GoING UP
THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF LAST MONTH...(and some other stuff) //
Pull the other one
www! When we went to check again the other day, some spoilsport had removed the letter from ‘Donald A Pinch’ from the Gloucester Citizen website. Mr Pinch wrote in claiming to be a local historian and informing readers of his discovery of a bizarre religious cult in 19th century Gloucester called the Apostles of Onan: “The Apostles were founded by Willem ‘Willi’ van der Wencke, a “Purveyor of Curiously Spicy Sausages and Meat Balls” from the town of Puullenhoorn in the Netherlands. “He believed that through certain rituals involving a votive object allegedly of great antiquity called the Scroll of Righteousness he could attract as his spirit-guide Onan, son of Judah, who appears in the Book of Genesis. Early Onanic gatherings took place in a room above Willi’s sausage emporium...” Apparently, neighbours objecting to the ecstatic noises of
// FACT BITES // GORILLAS IN OUR MIDST
“onanic manifestations” caused the temple to be moved to a potting shed in a garden off Spa Road. Even the famous cricketer W.G. Grace once attended a ceremony. “Doctor Grace performed the ritual of rolling the scroll with such manly vigour he suffered a sprained wrist. “Oscar Wilde visited incognito and, ‘much tucked-up from frenetic exertion, was assisted to a hackney carriage by a youthful seller of ladies’ knick-knacks whom he had
Age of Bristol Zoo in man-years. There are gorillas all over town paid for by various sponsors to celebrate the fact.
Number of life-size gorillas in & around Bristol.
Number of life-size gorillas at Birmingham Coach Station.
Reward for information on whoever set fire to the gorilla at the Mall Gardens, Clifton.
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befriended on the train down from London’. “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came and went. There is a disguised reference to his visit in the Sherlock Holmes short story ‘The Trembling Hands’.” We can only hope that the cause of this rude (but admittedly plausiblesounding) nonsense being published was the staff going on holiday and the summer work experience interns being left in charge. It’s what Venue does every summer.
Date on which they’ll be removed and auctioned for charity.
You’ve got until then to photograph yourself with all of them.
Web page with all the gen, including map, plus map of the 90+ mini-gorillas in and around Bristol.
The Rottweiler’s reputation for stupidity... As Venue went to press, Gloucestershire police were still looking for Rocky the Rottweiler, who’s supposed to be a guard dog, but who ended up being stolen from his owner’s home at a country house near Wotton-under-Edge. A police spokeswoman told the press that the dog had been taken from an external compound, the home had not been broken into and nothing else taken. Anyone with information on who would want to take this useless guard dog should call the cops on 0845 090 1234. National security... Spooks warned parliament last month that the UK’s electronic eavesdropping centre at GCHQ Cheltenham faces a shortage of expert staff because all the brightest talent is being poached by firms like Google and Microsoft. With the country’s computers targeted as never before, we desperately need whizzkid cyber warriors, but they’re all being lured away by fat salaries. The Daily Mail’s coverage attracted comments from confused users who complained that the Mail was always telling them that featherbedded public sector staff were always being paid a gazillion times more than their private sector counterparts.
Number of times local press has used GORILLAS IN OUR MIDST as a headline.
email firstname.lastname@example.org web www.venue.co.uk
Say what? Hello. I like Marmite. I’m very pleased to hear it. It’s important for young ladies to have interests in life. My other interest is standing at this bus stop. I do it most days. Indeed. So do I. I often see you standing here waiting for the 54, like me. I was thinking that you’re a healthy male specimen, and since I am a healthy female specimen with a biological imperative to produce offspring, you might make a suitable mate. I detect a flaw in your reasoning, to wit: I am waiting for a bus rather than riding around in a Porsche. Surely an attractive young woman with a lively interest in yeast extract can snare herself a wealthier swain in a fine, fast car? Your logic, while impeccable, is cold and clinical. My
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affections could never be conquered by an arsehole. I crave romance, a man who will respect my feelings, who loves Marmite and will give me the occasional back-rub. Your idealism does you credit. Besides, the fact that you can travel daily by First’s omnibuses suggests that you are a man of considerable financial substance. You are confident but not arrogant, and have no need of a flashy car to hide any inadequacies. No girl in her right mind would want a weedy little sports car parking in her garage when she could have a great big bus come chugging in. Has it occurred to you that I might simply be a crap driver who’s failed his test several times? No. That’s a relief. Now explain the Marmite fixation.
I was inspired by the story of Terry and Jennifer Constant from Brislington (pictured), whose love blossomed while students at Portsmouth Uni when they discovered their shared love of Marmite. Their wedding some weeks ago featured a Marmite wedding cake, and complementary jars of Marmite for each guest. The bride wore a Marmite-themed hat, while the groom drove a car emblazoned with the Marmite logo. That is indeed a touching story. If you stand closer you may detect a faint whiff of breakfast Marmite soldiers on my breath. Here comes the bus. Do you feel like going to work today? Not at all. Want to come back to mine for a Marmite soldier? I shall make him stand rigidly to attention. I shall phone the office to say I won’t be in on account of something I ate.
these parts // You probably walk past it every day... No. 22 Sea Walls // Sea Walls is (are?) the bit of the Downs on the cliff-edge with the wire fencing and views of the Avon Gorge and Suspension Bridge. There are public toilets, and (usually) an ice-cream van and it’s one of the places everyone goes or takes their guests. This place has a pretty gruesome history. Executed criminals used to be gibbeted (hung in chains) here so’s everyone could see them, both from the Downs and from passing ships below. The idea was to discourage would-be criminals, as the Downs back then was full of robbers and thieves. Andrew Burnet and Henry Payne, who robbed and killed a man on the Downs, were gibbeted here in 1744, for instance, but the bodies were removed. They were later found on the rocks of the Gorge and hung up again. The other problem with the area was that people kept falling off, until 1746 when one John Wallis built a wall to stop them. It was known as Wallis’s Wall until well into the 19th century. The ornate house nearby is called Tower Hirst and was built for a wealthy merchant in around 1860; from here he could see his ships coming in and out of Bristol along the Gorge. There used to be another tower nearby, but it’s now gone. It was called Cook’s Folly and was notorious on account of a bizarre legend. The story goes that it was built in the 1690s by a rich merchant named John Cook or Cooke. He shut himself up in this tower because he had a dread fear of snakes (in another version he’s hiding from the plague) and took up food and supplies on a rope. He died after being bit by an adder which came up in a bundle of firewood.
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WEB FLUFF SAVE THOMAS CHATTERTON’S HOUSE PETITION tinyurl. com/3mdo3ox
BRISTOL ARTIST LEAVES JAR OF ART ROUND TOWN EVERY DAY THIS YEAR 365jars.com
HISTORIC PHOTOS OF CHINA; NEW WEB PROJECT HOSTED BY BRISTOL UNI visualisingchina.net
ANIMALS BEING DICKS animalsbeingdicks. com
BRISTOL WRITER/ ARTIST DANNY D FORD www.theunfolding head.co.uk
//The mists of time// It was 1991, and if the old copies of Venue are to be believed, everyone was having a great time in Bristol and Bath. We expect it was mostly the drugs. // ‘Terminator 2 - Judgement Day’ was out and Venue had a slightly desperate spread of “awesome Arnie facts” in lieu of a proper actual interview with Schwarzenegger. There was Ten Other Famous Arnolds (“Arnold of Brescia, religious nut hanged in 1155; Arnold Layne, Pink Floyd song; Wallace Arnold, a name you
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The News, Digested
New bus service... St James's Priory re-opens... Job losses at Future... Rubbish... // Bristol City Council has signed a new firm for rubbish collection and street cleaning for the next seven years. The £96m deal with Norwich-based May Gurney will, says the council, save around £2.5m per year and it contains the potential for further savings if the amount of waste the city produces can be reduced. Executive member responsible for refuse Cllr Gary Hopkins (pictured above) said: “This new contract will help us to deliver a new approach to the way we deal with waste, by giving the contractor the responsibility to find ways to reduce our waste and increase recycling rates and giving them the financial incentive to do so.” // Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils are due to submit their joint bid for £114m of government funding for the Bristol area’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network on 9 September. This is likely to be the last chance for some years that the area will be able to apply for government finance for
see on coaches”). And “According to the Entertainment Research Group, an American organisation that monitors the sex, violence and rude word content of movies on behalf of concerned parents, ‘Terminator 2’ features eight f*cks, seven sh*ts, three OhmyGod!s, two sonofabitches and an asshole.”... Here’s a guide to some places to visit this summer. Aside from the usual ss Great Britain, Roman Baths etc, there were some longgone attractions including Bath’s Spitting Image Puppet Rooms (“All your fave characters from the satirical TV show”), Harveys Wine Museum in Bristol’s Denmark Street, the original Exploratory Science Centre at Temple Meads and the Venue office in Jamaica Street, Bristol: “Authentic recreation of a Victorian sweat-shop
a major transport scheme due to government spending cuts. The BRT system, which would comprise “bendy buses” running along three major routes is the subject of several major controversies. Some critics claim that bendy buses will be no better than ordinary buses, while others are concerned that Bristol might tax workplace parking spaces to help pay for the scheme. // The oldest building in Bristol, St James’s Priory, re-opened at the end of last month following a £4.4m conservation and restoration programme. Founded in the 12th century, the Priory on Whitson Street is nowadays run as a drug rehabilitation centre. It also has a cafe. See www.stjamesprioryproject. org.uk
year. The Liberal Democrat-run council froze council taxes this year, and needs to take £28m from its annual budget, but projected savings thus far only come to £23m. Some 700 council jobs are expected to go this year, and there have been cuts to bus services. The council is also contending with a rise in demand in services for young people and in social care. // Future Publishing, which brings out more than 80 magazines, mostly covering hobby and leisure interests, is to lose 100 jobs worldwide and at its Bath HQ. The company blames a decline in sales of print magazines, particularly in the USA.
// Bristol City Council was last month looking at an overspend of almost £5m in the current financial
//A competition to name the 12km of new mountain biking trails at Ashton Court and Leigh Woods has been launched, with the winner getting the chance to ride with Olympic mountain biker Oli Beckingsale at Ashton Court later this year. www.betterbybike.info/ name-that-trail for details.
and slum tenement. Grade II listed building, so it can’t be pulled down to make way for something nice, like a car park or rubbish tip. It’s interesting architecturally since it’s held together from the inside by steel joists and chewing gum, and also because it has the oldest working lift in Bristol, though it’s not working at the moment.”... Here’s a big article about the West Country’s thriving, bangin’ (etc) rave scene, in which “scallies” would descend on fields, take “disco biscuits” and dance the night away, or at least until the local constabulary had mustered sufficient manpower to break it up. Several of the scene’s key characters were interviewed. Remember Circus Warp? Norman of Phantazmagoria? Rob of Brainstorm? Cockney of Mutant
Dance? The latter was described as “100% day-glo madman grown under ultraviolet light, provider of generators for free parties.” Cockney wisely opined: “Selling Ecstasy is a disaster if you take it as well. You end up giving it all away.”... Ashton Court Festival had been and gone, headliners including Jonah & The Wail, Nautical William, Tammy Payne, K’Passa and the legendary Moonflowers. The sun had shone and plenty of cash had been collected. One of the best ever, everyone agreed.
Horrible histories Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey were among the stars in London last week plugging ‘Horrible Bosses’. Robin Askew chuckles politely at their risqué interchanges.
evin Spacey, distinguished Artistic Director of London’s Old Vic Theatre Company and honorary CBE, is doubled up with mirth, his face turning a dark shade of beetroot. Jennifer Aniston – aka the sweet Rachel from ‘Friends’ and veteran of a zillion inoffensive romantic comedies – is struggling to keep her composure. Yep, the international press conference for
“That was the fun of it - how far it went. I really went for it. The whole movie really went for it. It wasn’t ‘Sort of Horrible Bosses’. They were really horrible” Jennifer Aniston venuemagazine
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‘Horrible Bosses’ has taken a turn for the obscene, thanks to the unruly actors who play the film’s three protagonists: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis. Sadly, the rules governing New Monthly Venue mean that I am not permitted to share the shameful details with you. Suffice it to say that the phrases “squirter” and “Jackson Pollock” are involved. Directed by Seth Gordon, ‘Horrible Bosses’ is a comedy very much in the popular ‘Hangover’ mould, in which a trio of putupon employees decide their monstrous bosses must die, but quickly find themselves out of their depth. Much of the advance publicity has focused, rightly, on Aniston’s successful trashing of her increasingly tiresome ‘good girl’ image after a seemingly interminable series of anodyne romcoms. Here she plays a sexually aggressive dentist determined to have her way with minion Charlie Day. “Did I worry about that?” she says in reply to the obvious question. “No, not at all. That was the fun of it – how far it went. I
really went for it. The whole movie really went for it. It wasn’t ‘Sort of Horrible Bosses’. They were really horrible.” So was her performance inspired by anyone in particular? “No, I have never come across anyone like her. So it was pretty much kind of going into my own dark imagination and seeing what I could come up with.” Someone wants to know what was the most embarrassing scene for each of the actors. “I had to remove my clothes and stand next to this woman, who looks fantastic,” says Day, gesturing towards Aniston. “I was embarrassed about myself.” “It was embarrassing for me to have to meet you for one day and then straddle you,” she responds. “I was embarrassed for myself. Do you forgive me?” “Probably the scene where I stick things up my butt,” interrupts Sudeikis firmly. The inevitable question about whether any of the cast have themselves had horrible bosses provokes some unexpectedly interesting responses. “I’ve never
Bad day at the office? Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis and Jason Bateman prepare to go postal
had a horrible boss,” insists Spacey. “But I have had really remarkably stupid bosses. And that is frustrating because you think, ‘How did you get this job?’ And then you realise, ‘Oh right, you’re the son of…’” “I was strongly encouraged to learn guitar for ‘Juno’,” reveals Bateman. “There was one scene where I play two lines from some Courtney Love song. And I just didn’t see the need for it. I actually passed on the movie because they kept coming back with guitar lessons. But we managed to find a compromise, so I ended up doing the movie.” Spacey, of course, is a boss. “I’ve been very fortunate since I started at the Old Vic. It’s now my eighth year living here and the start of my seventh season. I guess there’s a little over 60 employees in the company. They get what we’re about and they make me look very good.” He carries on in this vein for a couple of minutes. Yes, yes, but do they have a nickname for him? “I think it’s ‘Asshole’, but I’m not really sure.” Bateman takes a stab at the conundrum of box office success versus critical acclaim: “I would say you care about box office dependent upon your profit participation trigger. Critical love is good if the film doesn’t make any money. You’ve got to come out with some sort of a plus.” This prompts Aniston to confess that she’s been hurt by critics. “It’s so inconsistent. And today critics… it really feels like it’s personal digs as opposed to constructive critiques.” “There is a tendency to criticise a personality rather than the content or actually the performance, and that’s the way it goes,” chips in Spacey, importantly. “The days of Kenneth Tynan are behind us.” There’s a brief pause while all hacks present reflect humbly on our inadequacies. Alas, the moment is ruined when Day pipes up: “I don’t know who that is.” “He was a very, very well known, well respected critic,” responds Spacey, mock-witheringly. “He would have hated you.” Horrible Bosses is out now. See review on page 43 and www.venue.co.uk/film for screening details.
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//THE MONTH AHEAD// Rise of the Planet of the Apes (12A) // (Dir: Rupert Wyatt) In the wake of the success of JJ Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’, origin stories are all the rage this year. After ‘X-Men: First Class’ comes this ‘Planet of the Apes’ prequel directed by Brit Rupert (‘The Escapist’) Wyatt. Set in the present day, it casts James Franco as a boffin who comes up with a brain-fixing drug which he’s instructed to test on chimps. This makes them come over all clever, kicking off the war between man and his simian cousins. There’s another ‘performance capture’ role for Andy ‘Gollum’ Serkis, here playing Caesar the chimp, and the film’s USP is its photo-realistic apes rather than the ‘man in a monkey suit’ approach of the Roddy MacDowall flicks and TV series. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES IS OUT AUG 12
The Devil’s Double (18) // (Dir: Lee Tamahori) Forget ‘I Was Monty’s Double’; here’s ‘I Was Uday’s Double’. Adapted from the book by Latif Yahia, this tells the extraordinary true story of how he was forcibly recruited in 1987 to play the double of Saddam Hussein’s sadistic eldest son. As a result, he gets to witness all the debauchery and violence at first hand, until he finds an unlikely ally in Uday’s concubine, Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier). Dominic Cooper gets the double role of Uday and Latif, with Lee (‘Die Another Day’) Tamahori at the helm. THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE IS OUT AUG 12
Cowboys & Aliens
// (Dir: John Michael McDonagh, 96 mins) Oddcouple cop comedy, written and directed by John Michael McDonagh - brother of ‘In Bruges’ writer/director Martin McDonagh. Brendan Gleeson plays a drinking, drugging, whoring smalltown Irish policeman. Don Cheadle is the fish-out-of-water visiting FBI agent who needs his help to collar a gang of drug traffickers.
// ( (Dir: Jon Favreau) This one could go either way. On the downside, it’s yet another bloody comicbook adaptation. On the upside, it’s directed by Jon (‘Iron Man’) Favreau and has ageing Harrison Ford literally back in the saddle alongside Daniel Craig. And who could resist that premise: back in 1875, a vanguard of space aliens invade a small desert town which is ruled with an iron rod by nasty old Harrison. But buried in the noggin of amnesiac outcast gunslinger Daniel is a secret that could not only stop the locals being picked off one by one but also - ulp! - save the world.
THE GUARD IS OUT AUG 19
COWBOYS & ALIENS IS OUT AUG 19
The Guard (15)
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Fancy a film this month? see venue.co.uk - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings
Captain America: the flag-salutin’ patriotism may prove a difficult sell beyond the US
July 29 // Poetry (12A) See review on page 44. // Arrietty (U) See review on page 44. // Captain America: The First Avenger (pictured above) (12A) (Dir: Joe Johnston, 124 mins) The summer comicbook adaptation glut continues with this flag-salutin’ Marvel flick, whose patriotism may prove a tough sell outside the USA. Chris Evans (not that one) stars in an origin story of the superhero devoted to “defending America’s ideals”. Back in 1942, he’s rejected by the US Army on grounds of weediness and eventually winds up in a top secret military operation overseen by Tommy Lee Jones. One dose of Marvel magic potion later, he comes over all superheroic and sets out to whup much Nazi ass. In 3D, obviously. // Horrid Henry - The Movie (U) (Dir: Nick Moore, 93 mins) Billed as the first British kidflick to be filmed in 3D, this new live action adaptation of the books by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross stars Anjelica Huston as misbehaving Henry’s terrifying
SHOWING // // Bad Teacher (15) (Dir: Jake Kasdan, 92 mins) Cameron Diaz’s misbehaving pedagogue is a lazy, pot-smoking, heavy metal-loving, venal drunk whose ambition is to buy herself a pair of huge plastic tits. Sadly, however, she fails to meet the ‘Bad Santa’ benchmark, despite delivering a reasonable quota of laughs. HHHHH // Beginners (15) See review on page 45. // The Big Picture (15) (Dir: Eric Lartigau, 114 mins) A cracking, Ripley-esque French thriller, adapted from a novel by US author Douglas Kennedy, with ever-impressive Romain Duris as a prosperous middle class chap who accidentally kills his wife’s lover in an altercation and then goes on the run, assuming the dead man’s identity. HHHHH
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teacher Mrs Battle-Axe, Richard E. Grant as a rival headmaster and Jo Brand as the Demon Dinner Lady. // Zookeeper (PG) (Dir: Frank Coraci, 102 mins) See review on page 45.
August 5 // Mr Popper’s Penguins (PG) See review on page 44. // Sarah’s Key (12A) See review on page 40. // Super 8 (12A) See review on page 40. // The Light Thief (15) (Dir: Aktan Arym Kubat, 80 mins) Multi-tasker Aktan Arym Kubat writes, directs and stars in this gentle fable from Kyrgyzstan. It’s the tale of an electrician who ekes out a living in a remote village until ‘progress’ arrives in the form of a corrupt mayor with grand plans for a wind power scheme. Yep, it’s an allegory about the difficulties and dilemmas facing former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
about the little blue people, who are chased from their village by an evil wizard and pop through a portal into New York City, where they proceed to turn the lives of an ordinary couple upside down. That’s right: the old ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ plot appears to have been dusted down and recycled by journeyman director Raja Gosnell, who blessed us with those ‘Scooby Doo’ flicks. // Project Nim (12A) See feature on pages 18-19 and review on page 41. // The Salt of Life (12A) See review on page 45.
// The Smurfs (pictured right) (U) (Dir: Raja Gosnell, 103 mins) Oh, joy: a 3D CGI/live action film
// Spy Kids 4 (TBA) (Dir: Robert Rodriguez) Robert Rodriguez directs the latest instalment in the franchise that keeps on giving. This one’s in 3D, obviously, and centres on a spy-turned-mom (Jessica Alba) who returns to her old profession to foil a villain bent on stopping time. Danny Trejo pops up to play a PGrated version of Machete too. // The Inbetweeners Movie (TBA) (Dir: Ben Palmer) They’re not giving much away about this spin-off from the cult TV show, which appears to
Bridesmaids (15) (Dir: Paul Feig, 125 mins) Kirsten Wiig finally gets the lead role she’s so richly deserved in this justly acclaimed, femaleskewed raunchy comedy in the ‘Hangover’ mould. A rare exception to the rule that any film with the word ‘bride’ in the title is to be avoided like the plague, it’s proven such a UK box office hit that its takings have outstripped those of ‘X-Men: First Class’. Who’d have predicted that? HHHHH // Cars 2 (U) See review on page 43. // Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (12A) See review on page 43. // Horrible Bosses (15) See feature on page 37 and review on page 43. // Kung Fu Panda 2 (U) (Dir: Jennifer Yuh, 90 mins) Fast becoming the new Eddie Murphy - far more palatable in animated form than in the ample flesh - Jack Black returns as roly-poly kung fu panda Po for the inevitable 3D
sequel to the 2008 hit. While it’s disappointing that KFP should resort to the default setting of all US kids’ movies - Dad Ishoos - there’s plenty of humour and action here to keep the target audience amused, and none of those tired in-jokes or pop culture references for adults. HHHHH // Transformers: Dark of the Moon (12A) (Dir: Michael Bay, 154 mins) Third dose of loud toy advertisement action from Michael Bay. Need it be added that this instalment is in 3D? Should you be interested, the new episode has its roots in the sixties space race, during which a bloody great crashed spaceship is found on the dark side of the moon. In the present day, the rival Autobots and Decepticons attempt to unlock its secrets. // The Tree of Life (12A) (Dir: Terrence Malick, 139 mins) Unprolific Terrence Malick’s audience-dividing Cannes Palme d’Or winner. Sean Penn and Brad Pitt star in this
be taking the time-honoured sitcom expansion route of sending the cast off on holiday. That’s right: Will, Jay, Neil and Simon go on holiday to Crete in the hope of getting laid. Let’s hope it’s better than ‘Holiday on the Buses’ and - shudder - the ‘Are You Being Served?’ movie. // In a Better World (15) (Dir: Susanne Bier, 118 mins) This latest collaboration between former Dogme stalwarts Susanne Bier and writer Anders Thomas Jensen is a classic slice of Oscar bait, which duly won the 2011 ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ Academy Award. It’s a morality tale whose original Danish title, ‘The Revenge’, gives a better idea of what to expect. Unfolding in smalltown Denmark and a refugee camp in Africa, it follows a saintly medic ministering to the starving who fails to notice that his son back home is getting into all kinds of trouble at school. The message? Why can’t we just be nice to each other, people?
‘2001’-esque meditation on the meaning of life’n’stuff, which begins in the US Midwest in the 1950s and eventually whizzes off to explore the outer limits of space and time. Bad Teacher: delivers a reasonable quota of laughs
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// REVIEWS //
“I don’t think it’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses this time, dear!”
Review Sarah’s Key (12A) France 2010 110 mins Subtitles Dir: Gilles Paquet-Brenner Starring: Kristin Scott Thomas, Niels Arestrup, Melusine Mayance, Frederic Pierrot, Dominique Frot // How do you engage today’s audiences with a little-known episode in 20th century history? By setting your story in two timeframes, of course, so a wellinformed modern-day investigative journalist can fact the audience up under the guise of deploring her younger counterparts’ ignorance of the darkest period in their own nation’s recent past. Adapted from Tatiana de Rosnay’s bestseller, ‘Sarah’s Key’ is a fictional story set against the real-life backdrop of the July 1942 Vel’ d’Hiv round up
by French police of 13,000 Jews, most of whom were shipped off to Auschwitz for extermination. It’s impeccably solemn, with an appropriately mournful score, plenty of well acted soul-searching, and nods in the direction of ‘The Reader’ and the story of Anne Frank, but never quite manages to offer a convincing answer to the question: does the world really need yet another Holocaust movie? Especially as - in one of those increasingly bizarre movie coincidences - exactly the same subject was covered in the recent ‘The Round Up’. Playing a French-speaking American in Paris (which is just showing off, really), English actress Kristin Scott Thomas is serious journalist Julia Armond, who sets
out to investigate this poorly recorded period of shame. Sixtyseven years earlier, 10-year-old Sarah Starzynski (Mayance) locks her little brother Michel in a concealed bedroom cupboard when her family are rousted from their home and packed off on a terrifying journey - depicted largely through the little girl’s eyes - to the concentration camps. Back in 2009, Julia makes a chilling discovery: the apartment she is about to move in to, which has been owned by her husband’s family since - ulp! - August 1942, was formerly occupied by the Starzynskis. As skeletons literally tumble from the closet, she also becomes convinced that Sarah survived the war. As earnest as you might antici-
pate, ‘Sarah’s Key’ is also involving without becoming overly manipulative or offering easy, comfortable resolutions to actions that resonate down through generations. Kristin Scott Thomas’s typically brittle performance helps in keeping such pitfalls at bay, while Melusine Mayance is equally impressive as the terrified yet determined and resourceful Sarah. That said, we could have done without Julia’s modern-day abortion dilemma, which adds virtually nothing to the story and threatens to set up some dodgy equivalence between her trauma and Sarah’s. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website www.sarahskey.com.au/ Opens: August 5
Review Super 8 (12A) USA 2011 111 mins Dir: JJ Abrams Starring: Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Zach Mills, Riley Griffiths, Gabriel Basso, Ron Eldard // It’s not hard to see what appealed to producer Steven Spielberg about writer/director JJ Abrams’ follow-up to his excellent ‘reboot’ of ‘Star Trek’. A lovingly created, impeccably liberal period science fiction thriller steeped in nostalgia and sentimentality, with two (count ‘em!) lots of
Parent Ishoos to be resolved, it’s the kind of thing Spielberg might have directed himself - had he grown up in the late ‘70s and developed an appetite for Michael Bay-style explosions. There’s plenty to admire and enjoy in what might be crudely characterised as ‘ET’ meets ‘The Goonies’ via ‘The Thing’, although those with a low tolerance of excessive sentimentality may wish to excuse themselves prior to the most crushingly literal ‘letting go’ moment in cinema history during
“Don’t you see? We’re all trapped in a nostalgic film-maker’s idyllic childhood fantasy!”
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the big climax. It’s 1979. We know this because of the soundtrack (ELO, The Cars, Blondie, etc), references to the Sony Walkman, people using walkie-talkies rather than mobile phones, and the fact that podgy, intense 12-year-old auteur Charles (Griffiths) is shooting his zombie movie on Super 8 with his school pals. Down in smalltown Ohio, these mini-Romeros are particularly excited tonight because they’ve lured a real, actual girl, 14-year-old Alice (Elle Fanning, demonstrating once again that she’s the most talented of the Fanning siblings), to take a role in their film. Our hero, troubled, sensitive Joe Lamb (Courtney) - whose mom just perished in a grisly industrial accident and dad, Jack (Chandler), is the local Deputy Sheriff - immediately falls for Alice despite the complicated history between their two families. But before any
snogging can take place, they witness a spectacular derailment after a truck mounts the track and speeds into an oncoming train. “Do not speak of this or else you and your parents will die!” counsels the driver of the truck, whom they find amid the wreckage. But then Weird Shit starts to happen as the military move in to clear up the mess. The early scenes work best, with their warm ‘Stand By Me’esque vibe and sweetly characterised kids. But although the young cast give excellent performances, the seeds of later emotional developments are being all-too-obviously sown. This is as much a homage to Spielberg himself as to classic monster movies; only a second-half capitulation to CGI action reminds us that it’s 2011. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website www.super8-movie.com/ Opens: August 5
Going out this month? see venue.co.uk - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings After weeks of intensive learning, Nim wrote his first message: ‘Sod off and leave me alone!’
Review The Interrupters USA 2011 164 mins Dir: Steve James
Review Project Nim (12A) UK 2011 99 mins Dir: James Marsh // Three years on from the Oscar-winning ‘Man on Wire’, British director James Marsh has come up with another astonishing documentary. This scrupulously non-partisan account of human folly and animal exploitation unfolds over the 26-year lifespan of one ‘Nim Chimpsky’ - a chimpanzee who was snatched from his tranquilised mother at birth back in 1973 and then became the subject of a deeply flawed ‘Nature versus Nurture’ experiment that was very much of its time. Many of the human participants were well-meaning hippy academics. And yet only one - a laidback Grateful Dead fan who shared spliffs with the little hairy fella - appears to have improved the chimp’s life in any meaningful way. Conclusions about the ethics of research on animals and the dubious assumptions and motivations of those involved are left for the viewer to draw. What Marsh does so brilliantly is to fashion Nim’s story into a gripping narrative using archive footage, new interviews and the occasional dramatic reconstruction. And just when you think the film has reached its sorry end, you realise that there’s another 40 minutes of unexpected twists and turns to come.
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The experiment was initiated by Colombia University Behavioural Psychologist Professor Herbert Terrace then a middle-aged gent with a penchant for employing attractive young female assistants. His plan was to see whether a chimp raised in isolation from other members of its species could be taught to communicate using sign language. So Nim was whisked off initially to New York to join the large family of his human “surrogate mother”. But as he got older, his inner chimp began to assert itself and he eventually wound up in a cage back at the grim Oklahoma compound where he was born. When that went bankrupt, all the primates were sold off for medical experiments. You’ll have to see the film to find out what happened next. Suffice it to say that the focus is as much on human foibles and jealousies as it is on the unfortunate Nim. Perhaps unexpectedly, an animal rights activist does more harm than good, and it’s left to the boss of the vivisection lab to observe that: “There’s no way to carry out research on animals and for it to be humane. Once you put them in a cage, it’s all downhill from then on…” (Robin Askew) HHHHH website www.project-nim.com/ Opens: August 12
// A sprawling, artlessly constructed documentary from the director of 1994’s Oscar-nominated ‘Hoop Dreams’, ‘The Interrupters’ approaches its fascinating subject matter in a style that might have been appropriate for a multi-part TV series but feels lumpy and illfocused when consumed in one marathon sitting. The film follows a trio of selfstyled ‘violence interrupters’ from Chicago’s innovative CeaseFire organisation over the course of a year. These aren’t hand-wringing liberal outsiders, nor even upstanding members of the local community; they’re former gang members who were once at one another’s throats and now use those experiences to defuse street violence. “We got 500 years of prison time at this table,” chuckles one of them at a CeaseFire meeting. “That’s a lot of f*ckin’ wisdom.” The most interesting character here, on whom director Steve James might have been wise to focus exclusively, is Ameena Matthews: a feisty, middle-aged Muslim convert and mother of four. She’s the daughter of Chicago’s most notorious gang leader and seems utterly fearless when it comes to wading in to heated conflicts between youths armed with knives and guns. The other interrupters featured are former jailbird (attempted murder, since you ask) Ricardo ‘Cobe’
Williams, who has successfully turned his life around, and Eddie Bocanegra, who’s still haunted by a murder he committed at the age of 17. Interestingly, CeaseFire was founded by an epidemiologist who views street violence as a disease. The organisation is also quite clear about its narrow remit: to save lives rather than dismantle gangs. Even that is quite a challenge, especially when the subject hits the national news agenda after shocking cameraphone footage emerges of 16-year-old Derrion Albert being beaten to death outside the gates of his school. A montage of pathetic street shrines littered with teddy bears and sentimental tributes to fallen homies underlines the fact that most of the participants are children. And as teens file past a slain kid resplendent in his gang baseball cap at a funeral, it’s observed, chillingly, that many of them get off on the whole ritual and like to imagine themselves in place of the deceased. Much is said about the hopelessness of lives in which petty disputes turn violent so quickly, but it’s a shame the film never addresses difficult questions about whether black and Latino culture has any role to play in the carnage afflicting the youth of these communities. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website interrupters.kartemquin. com/ Opens: August 26
Nick Griffin realised he had chosen an inappropriate holiday destination
august 2011 // 41
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Review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (12A) UK/USA 2011 130 mins Dir: David Yates Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter // To some excitable commentators, this is an era-defining cultural event rather than the conclusion of an exceedingly well-crafted entertainment product. But even the smaller ranks of defiant Potter naysayers must concede that the climax - over-extended though it has been to boost Warners’ coffers - provides a very satisfactory conclusion to the most successful film series in box office history. Compare, if you will, the Potters with those rotten Narnia
flicks and their feeble child actors. Note too how every attempt to spin off a replacement kidlit franchise has flopped - often embarrassingly. This stuff isn’t easy to get right. While ‘Order of the Phoenix’, ‘Half-Blood Prince’ and even part one of ‘Deathly Hallows’ smacked a little of procrastination on the way to the main event, this final episode delivers the long-promised showdown between all-growedup Harry (Radcliffe) and evil old no-snout, Voldemort (Fiennes). To get there, we’ve had a bit of a quest pile-up involving Horcruxes and the Deathly Hallows. McGuffins finally exhausted, it’s time for some serious wandplay, startling revelations (for
the 27 people who didn’t know they were coming) and bizarre snogging interludes at moments of maximum peril. Of the adult cast, Alan Rickman still has the best role and now the most interesting story arc as the fabulously sinister Severus Snape. But Radcliffe, Emma Watson and, yes, even Rupert Grint all deserve credit for growing into their characters so convincingly. Now the most experienced Potter director, David Yates choreographs the operatic finale in the ruins of Hogwarts so skilfully that its plot-juggling blend of flashback, spectacle, raw emotion, and dramatis personae both living and dead seems quite effortless. (Robin Askew) HHHHH
“My god - it’s Rowling’s pile of money and it’s toppling this way!”
learned the hard way that “the secret to success is taking shit”. That’s because he’s a minion of the monstrous Dave Harken (Spacey), who’s fond of sneering: “I own you. You’re my bitch!” Kurt Buckman’s (Sudeikis) kindly boss Jack Pellitt (Sutherland) has just moved aside to allow his vile, cocaine-addicted, idiot son, Bobby (Farrell with a comb-over) to take over. They both think dental assistant Dale Arbus (Day) has it easy under sexually predatory Dr Julia Harris (Aniston), who’s not above attempting to have her way with him over a comatose patient (“You’re gonna give me your dong, Dale!”). But eventually all three friends snap and
decide their bosses have to die. The trio’s bumbling attempts to hire a hitman lead to Motherf*cker Jones (Foxx), a conman who’s more than happy to exploit racial stereotyping as their self-styled ‘murder consultant’. There’s a comedic nod in the direction of ‘Strangers on a Train’ here, but the film is mostly concerned with modish envelope-pushing grossout, including a hilarious misunderstanding over the nature of ‘wet work’. (Robin Askew) HHHHH
Italian Francesco Bernoulli (Turturro - performing the same function in animated form as Sacha Baron Cohen’s swaggering French driver in ‘Talladega Nights’). Reluctantly, he’s also brought dim-witted, bucktoothed tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) along for the ride. A misunderstanding then has Mater mistaken for a fellow spy by Brit agent Finn McMissile (Caine)
and saucy rookie Holley Shiftwell (Mortimer) as they uncover a sinister plot to discredit an alternative fuel. There’s certainly some clever stuff here. If you’ve ever wondered how an animated car goes to the toilet, Lasseter and his team provide an elegant answer. Her Maj and Prince William also appear in amusing vehicular form on the British leg. But for anyone over 10, the espionage plot soon gets stale and it’s all too easy to become distracted by the stunning 3D rendering of the streets of France, Italy and London. (Robin Askew) HHHHH
website harrypotter.warnerbros.com/ Now showing
Review Horrible Bosses (15) “Hands up all those who want a hit as big as 'The Hangover'?”
USA 2011 98 mins Dir: Seth Gordon Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Donald Sutherland
// We’re going to be getting a lot of these. The success of ‘The Hangover’ was bound to result in a whole bunch of me-too projects in which a trio of middle-class white guys find themselves out of their depth on the seedy side of town. At least ‘Horrible Bosses’ boasts a killer premise (who hasn’t wanted to murder their boss?), a fair quota of laughs and a trio of highly entertaining performances by Kevin Spacey (clearly enjoying himself), Jennifer Aniston (straying beyond her chick flick comfort zone for once) and a virtually unrecognisable Colin Farrell as the loathsome employers. Nick Hendricks (Bateman) has
website www.horriblebossesmovie.com Now showing
Review Cars 2 (U) USA 2011 112 mins Dir: John Lasseter Starring (voices): Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Larry the Cable Guy, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro // Even an enviable winning streak can suffer the occasional glitch. For Pixar, the world’s greatest animation studio, that glitch was John Lasseter’s 2006 film, ‘Cars’. Now maybe this is a tad unfair. From any other studio, those expressive animated automobiles would have earned our applause. But Pixar has set the bar much higher. In this unwanted sequel, the animation and background detail are once again state-of-the-art, and there are plenty
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of funny bits in the margins. But you can’t help expecting something more sophisticated from the people who gave us ‘Ratatouille’, ‘WALL•E’ and ‘Up’ than a plot that feels like a ‘Scooby Doo’ knock-off with a modish green twist. This time, little red sports car Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is off to Europeland to do battle in the World Grand Prix with egotistical
Her Maj was disappointed to see Camilla turn up as a horsebox
website www.disney.co.uk/cars/ Now showing
august 2011 // 43
Review Arrietty (U) Urinating dogs were one of the hazards of being a borrower
Japan 2010 94 mins Dir: Hiromasa Yonebayashi Starring (voices): Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Tom Holland, Olivia Colman // For film-makers, Mary Norton’s 1952 children’s novel ‘The Borrowers’ is something of a hardy
perennial. Peter Hewitt’s wellreceived 1997 version was its last outing on screen. In traditional bus queue fashion, two new adaptations are turning up this year. The Beeb is currently filming a feature-length live-action ‘Borrowers’ starring Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood and Christopher Eccleston, for broadcast at Christmas. Before that, we get this animated version from Japan’s Studio Ghibli. Unlike the pig’s ear they made of Ursula Le Guin’s ‘Tales From Earthsea’, which clumsily conflated several novels, this is a faithful version, rendered in the studio’s familiar lovely pastel shades, with plenty of imaginative touches and no concessions
Review Poetry (12A) South Korea 2010 139 mins Subtitles Dir: Chang-dong Lee Starring: Jeong-hie Yun, Da-wit Lee // Tough sells don’t get much tougher than a lengthy subtitled film about a sixtysomething woman with Alzheimer’s who decides to become a poet. Okay, so there’s an (offscreen) gang rape and a suicide too, but Chang-dong Lee’s meandering film is in equal parts frustrating and moving, with more than its fair share of longueurs (mostly the scenes of amateur poetry recitals). It opens with the corpse of a schoolgirl floating gently downstream. We then meet elegant and well-preserved if somewhat
befuddled sexagenarian Mija (excellent veteran Jeong-hie Yun), who’s raising her surly, layabout ingrate of a teenage grandson, Wook (Da-wit Lee), while working part-time as a carer for a randy old gent who’s suffered a stroke. She’s also signed up for a poetry class, where she struggles with the notion of poetic inspiration - which, it transpires, is acquired through intense contemplation of fruit. Turns out the dead 16-yearold girl was a classmate of Wook’s who committed suicide after being repeatedly raped by him and five of his buddies. Now the fathers of the other boys have got together to hush up the crime, the plan being
whatsoever to the frantic pacing of much modern animation. Younger children (and their nostalgic parents) will love it, though there’s little here for fans of studio boss Hayao Miyazaki’s wilder flights of fancy, such as ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. The story has a sickly boy, here named Sho (Holland), dispatched to live with an elderly relative in the country. In her large, rambling house, he discovers tiddly 14-yearold Arrietty (Ronan) - one of a family of diminutive ‘borrowers’ who live beneath the floorboards and take a decidedly Marxist view of property redistribution. But their forbidden friendship proves
disastrous as Arrietty’s fearful parents (Strong, Colman) decide it’s time to move out for the family’s safety. Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Ghibli’s youngest director, delivers plenty of impressive incidental detail and gets the scale and perspective shots just right, with some particularly impressive scuttling about in the house’s interstices. Note that the film is released in both dubbed and subtitled versions, so if you have a preference you’d be advised to check which one your local cinema is showing. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website www.arriettymovie.co.uk/ Opens: July 29
Ancient torture techniques were required to get the boy to tell the truth
to pay off the girl’s single mother in order to protect their sons’ futures and the school’s reputation. This male conspiracy is the film’s most interesting element, as Mija finds herself unwillingly pressganged into finding her share of 30 million won (that’s about £17,500, fact fans). The bullying men are mostly wealthy, while the girl sneeringly dismissed as “short and
unattractive” by one of the fathers - comes from a poor farming family. But in avoiding cliché, Lee also makes fragile Mija difficult to read as she faces her moral dilemma. Despite some powerful moments, his film struggles to engage. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website www.kino.com/poetry/ Opens: July 29
Review Mr. Popper’s Penguins (PG) USA 2011 94 mins Dir: Mark Waters Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury // ‘Inoffensive’ is the term a majority of critics reach for when describing ‘family films’ like this. We're here to tell you that ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ “No, I get the $20m pay cheque. You just get these!”
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is one of the most offensive movies ever made, ruining a much-loved, folksy children’s novel from the 1930s about an impoverished smalltown house-painter who acquires a bunch of penguins. In the original story, Mr. Popper is a happily married man with an admirable thirst for knowledge, who names his first aquatic flightless pal Captain Cook. The Hollywood version casts gurning Jim Carrey as a separated, cynical, rapacious Manhattan property developer. Tellingly, his penguins are named things like Stinky and Bitey. Naturally, whiny Dad Issues are at the core of this update, as
is mandatory with all modern children’s films. Carrey’s Popper was neglected by his explorer father and, in turn, understandably neglects his own brace of vile children. Clearly, the function of the funny beasts is to make him a Better Dad and, miraculously, bring mom and dad back together - this theme being one of the cruellest tricks Tinseltown likes to play on the children of divorced parents. Carrey’s Popper also has to become a nicer human being. So anyone whose lunch remains defiantly unregurgitated by the foregoing faces an additional challenge when Hollywood delivers another of its breathtakingly
disingenuous anti-corporate messages in siding with Angela Lansbury’s defiant family restaurant owner against Popper’s evil bosses. Small children may be amused by the CGI-augmented penguins’ largely defecation-oriented antics, but the animal welfare message is deeply confused. A zookeeper is vilified for pointing out, rightly, that Popper is ill-equipped to care for his charges. Only belatedly does the film acknowledge that the best place for penguins is in the wild. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website www.popperspenguins.com/ Opens: August 5
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Review Beginners (15) “I hate to have to break this to you, but you’ve just had the dog’s dinner”
USA 2011 104 mins Dir: Mike Mills Starring: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic // Mike Mills has said that he loathes terms like ‘quirky’ and ‘indie’ being applied to his films. Perhaps he should have thought about that before making his definitively indiequirky debut, ‘Thumbsucker’: a drama
about a sensitive, dysfunctional 17-year-old suburban wuss, soundtracked by suicidal singersongwriter Elliot Smith. Six years on, this semi-autobiographical follow-up seems much more promising, being the story of Oliver (McGregor), whose recently widowed, 75-year-old father Hal (Plummer) announces that he’s gay. What’s more, Hal insists that
he has no intention of being merely “theoretically gay”; he plans to indulge his belatedly acknowledged homosexuality to the full. Plummer is on vintage form as the spry, newly light-in-the-loafers twilight years clubber who acquires a devoted young lover (Visnjic) looking for a father figure and conceals from him the fact that he has terminal lung cancer. Had this been the focus of ‘Beginners’, as the advance publicity implied, the film might have been more enjoyable than it is. Instead, Mills proceeds to get – you guessed it! – indie-quirky on our asses with a non-linear narrative and a painfully cute relationship developing between glum graphic artist Oliver and French
actress Anna (Laurent), who do such achingly indie-quirky things as rollerskating down hotel corridors with Hal’s talking Jack Russell (he speaks in subtitles, obviously). They also have pals who indulge in spray painting cod-meaningful indie-quirky graffiti like ‘YOU MAKE ME LAUGH BUT ITS NOT FUNNY’ (their punctuation). To be fair, anyone who made it through ‘(500) Days of Summer’ without feeling slightly queasy may find themselves beguiled; everyone else will probably yearn for more of Hal’s lust for the life that is ebbing away from him. (Robin Askew) HHHHH
with the tobacconist’s wife. There’s no shortage of contenders: an old flame (Cavalli), momma’s buxom carer Kristina (Cepraga), the hot party girl neighbour (Prandi) whose dog he walks… But Gianni is alarmed to find that advancing years bring with them an invisibility to young women, and those who do notice him treat him as a grandfatherly figure. There’s much male menopausal disappointment to enjoy here, but it isn’t quite as focused as ‘Mid-August Lunch’, being more episodic and veering in tone from bittersweet to the kind of broad comedy that wouldn’t be out of place in a US teenflick: notably
Gianni denying enjoying stereotypical male fantasies
at Boston Zoo decide to help him out, breaking their code of silence to reveal that they have the voices of the likes of Cher, Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, and so on. But while the animals are sharing their mating rituals, Griffin fails to notice Miss Right in the lovely form of co-worker Kate (Dawson). Yep, it’s a film about a fat bloke who falls over a lot, making him
mysteriously attractive to a brace of hot women. While this might fulfil the fantasy needs of a section of the accompanying dad audience, restless kids are likely to feel shortchanged. When a miserable gorilla in solitary confinement asks, “Is TGI Fridays as incredible as it looks?” it’s difficult to decide what’s more depressing: the unfortunate ape being robbed of his dignity or the astonishing product placement that develops into a five-minute commercial. (Robin Askew) HHHHH
website focusfeatures.com/beginners Now showing
Review The Salt of Life (12A) Italy 2010 89 mins Subtitles Dir: Gianni Di Gregorio Starring: Gianni Di Gregorio, Valeria De Franciscis, Alfonso Santagata, Elisabetta Piccolomini, Aylin Prandi, Teresa Di Gregorio, Kristina Cepraga, Valeria Cavalli // Less solipsistic and annoying than his self-consciously upmarket fellow countryman Nanni Moretti, who operates in similar territory, writer/ director Gianni Di Gregorio won a heap of international film festival awards for his 2008 directorial debut, ‘Mid-August Lunch’. In this sequel of sorts, Di Gregorio plays another frustrated and put-upon middle-aged gent named Gianni,
who remains firmly under the thumb of his imperious mother (played, as before, by redoubtable 95-year-old Valeria De Franciscis). That’s where the similarities end, however, as this Gianni is a retired, married chap with a teenage daughter (Teresa Di Gregorio - yes, his real-life daughter). We first meet him trying to hoodwink the profligate yet sharp-witted old crone into signing over control of her property. Gianni’s silver-haired lothario of a lawyer, Alfonso (Santagata), then suggests that what he really needs is an affair. After all, everybody’s at it. Even the unappealing, tracksuit-wearing old barfly down the road is carrying on
Gianni’s inadvertent acid trip and his desperate race to find a brothel before his Viagra-induced erection subsides. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website www.corriere.it/giannieledonne/ Opens: August 12
Review Zookeeper (PG) USA 2011 102 mins Dir: Frank Coraci Starring: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb, Ken Jeong // Every summer brings a talking animal movie. It’s the law. But it’s not necessary for them to be quite as feeble as this huge, steaming pile of loquacious beast excrement, whose five (count ‘em!) credited scriptwriters appear to have taken ‘Dolittle’ as an instruction as well as an inspiration. It’s a vehicle for charmless chubster Kevin James - he of ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’ - boasting a blend of pratfalls and sickly sentiment that effortlessly lives down to the low standards of
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Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company. James plays Griffin Keyes, whose snooty girlfriend Stephanie (Bibb) rejects his proposal of marriage because he’s a lowly zookeeper. Five years on, he’s still moping. His brother then tempts him with the offer of a car dealership job, which is more likely to be a hit with shallow Stephanie. So the inmates
Kevin denied using the animals for sexual gratification
website www.zookeeper-movie.net/ Opens: July 29
august 2011 // 45
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www.venue.co.uk Screen Arts Festival @ 29 JULY-12 AUG A brand new cross-arts celebration, showcasing ballets, operas, plays and concerts. Including: NABUCCO from Sicily DON GIOVANNI from Glyndebourne THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR and HENRY IV from The Globe MADAMA BUTTERFLY, TOSCA and LA FILLE DU REGIMENT from The Met SWAN LAKE – archive performance from Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev
0871 902 5735 www.picturehouses.co.uk 46 // August 2011
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CINecisms Cyclescreen pedals into Watershed … Dance, theatre and opera premiered at in Bath
ristol being a ‘cycling city’ and all, this month the Watershed salutes those furious pedallers brave enough to share the road with the infernal combustion engine. That’s right: the second annual Cyclescreen festival runs from Thur 18-Sun 21 Aug. Highlights include a free outdoor premiere of the locally made fixed gear cycling doc Boikzmoind in Millennium Square on Sat 20. There’s also a rare screening of Jorgen Leth’s highly regarded cycle racing film, A Sunday in Hell, on Sun 21, followed by a Q&A with Leth himself. This is hosted by the Guardian’s cycling correspondent, William Fotheringham. For full programme details, see www.watershed.co.uk/
cyclescreen … Over at Bath’s Little Theatre, they’re launching a hugely impressive new multi-arts initiative, branded the Screen Arts Festival. Running from July 29-Aug 11, this boasts six UK premieres, including two brand new restorations. It’s divided into four strands - ballet, opera, theatre and film - with a mix of live and prerecorded events. The film programme is led by the UK cinema premiere of David Attenborough’s BAFTAwinning Flying Monsters, followed by a satellite Q&A with the great man himself. Among the premieres are the restoration of Orson Welles’ lost 1965 masterpiece Chimes At Midnight, plus new documentaries about Pieter Breugel (The Mill and
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the Cross) and Roger Corman (Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel). The opera strand has three Met Opera productions from 2008-2009 (Tosca, Madama Butterfly, La Fille du Regiment), while theatre enthusiasts can look forward to screenings of three productions from last’s year’s acclaimed Globe Theatre season (Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, The Merry Wives of Windsor). Anyone who enjoyed Wim Wenders’ ‘Pina’ should also hoof along to Dancing Dreams - a brand new documentary about legendary choreographer Pina Bausch. The other big treat for dance fans is the premiere of the restoration of Swan Lake from 1966, featuring Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.
bUMS ON SEATS
Takings for the weekend of July 22-24
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 £8,523,417 (£44,271,997, 2 weeks)
£3,541,664 (new release)
£2,077,239 (new release)
Chart copyright Screen International
// It took (deep breath) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (pictured) just two weeks to not only overtake Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides but surge nearly £12m ahead of it as the final Potter became the biggest box office hit of the year. Cars 2 and Horrible Bosses didn’t really stand a chance. After five weeks on the chart, with the lowest percentage audience decline, Bridesmaids remains the sleeper hit of the summer, overtaking Kung Fu Panda 2. The Guard is also doing well, with nearly £2m in the kitty despite being on release only in Ireland until later this month. On the arthouse front, Beginners charted at number eight, although in screen average terms The Big Picture eclipsed it by a whisker.
// DVDs //
£1,022,982 (£18,356,960, 5 weeks)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon £931,334 (£26,072,873, 4 weeks)
Kung Fu Panda 2
£242,775 (£15,773830, 7 weeks)
£220,498 (£1,769,569, 3 weeks)
£146,096 (new release)
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
£138, 926 (£566,298, 2 weeks)
The Tree of Life
£114,521 (£1,222,747, 3 weeks)
Source Code (12) // A worthy follow-up to Duncan Jones’ similarly far-out debut, ‘Moon’, this satisfyingly ingenious timewarping tale stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a chopper pilot who awakes on a train which is about to be blown up by a terrorist. He has eight minutes to live over and over again, his mission being to find the bomber and prevent a future catastrophe in downtown Chicago. Out: Aug 15 HHHHH
ALSO RELEASED // Submarine (15) HHHHH Paddy Considine’s preposterous mulleted smalltown ‘psychic’ steals Richard Ayoade’s coming-of-age feature debut. Out: Aug 1 … The Silent House (15) HHHHH Effective, ultra-low-budget Uruguayan haunted house spooker, shot in one continuous take. Oh, and it’s allegedly based on a true story. Out: Aug 1 … Little White Lies (15) HHHHH Well acted ‘Big Chill’-style group gathering drama centred on the navel-gazing of the prosperous thirty/fortysomething French bourgeoisie on vacation in scenic Cap Ferret. Out: Aug 22 … Meek’s Cutoff (15) HHHHH Indie darling Kelly Reichardt’s rather over-praised ‘feminist western’, which is mostly concerned with conveying the sheer tedium of an epic journey by covered wagon. Out: Aug 8 … The Extraordinary Adventures of Blanc-Sec (15) HHHHH Luc Besson’s whimsical, handsomely staged adaptation of Jacques Tardi’s comicbook series about an intrepid early 20th century adventuress. Out: Aug 15 … Limitless (15) HHHHH The addiction flick meets the ‘careful what you wish for’ fantasy, with a dash of superheroics and a soupcon of ‘Wall Street’ arrogance as dishevelled author Bradley Cooper is offered a noggin-supercharging new drug. Out: Aug 1 … Sucker Punch (12) HHHHH Daft fantasy adventure starring girls in pants, of appeal only to 12-year-old boys. And their dads. Out: Aug 8 … Scream 4 (15) HHHHH Wes Craven’s tired post-modern horror franchise makes a belated return. Out: Aug 8.
august 2011 // 47
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48 // August 2011
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For more news, reviews and extra pics, see venue.co.uk/music
Scarlet fever Don’t expect to hear any synth-pop when Scarlet Rascal & The TrainWreck take up their well-earned headline slot in the Fleece’s Best of Bristol season, says Julian Owen.
n retrospect, “nonchalant” was the wrong word. It implied they were casual, or imbued with a certain “whatever”-ness, as if what had just happened meant nothing to them. No, back in February, as Scarlet Rascal & The TrainWreck filed through a packed whooping and hollering crowd at the end of a Louisianaslaying set and brushed past your correspondent en route, the word he should have been jotting in his notebook was “insouciant”. It speaks more fully of their poise, the steely look of determination in their eyes. Their debonairness, perhaps. In sum, whatever it was they were giving off that prompted us to write: “From beginning to end they exude the confidence of a group considering themselves the finished product, ticking off the minutes before the world comes to get them.” They’ve only just turned 20. Time is on their side. Already, they’re making good on what drove louchely charismatic frontman, singer/guitarist Luke Brooks, to want to form a band in the first place: the disappointingly dull live shows that formed his first gigging experiences. “It’s about being what you’d want to see yourself. We thought: ‘F*ck it, we’ll be the band that does that, then.’ Simple as that, really.” Scarlet Rascal and Bristol’s wider world musical reputation aren’t necessarily natural bedfellows. “I work around drum and bass,” sighs Luke, “and I can’t stand it.” Instead, it rather sounds as though they’re on loan to us from New York. Could have been so, indeed, from any
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point over the last 40 years. Latest demo, ‘Kichi’, for example, takes in everything from the sunshinethrough-the-mist melodies of ‘Loaded’-era Velvet Underground to the offhand cool of The Strokes. ’Twas ever thus. When the group started as a guit/drums duo, with Maya Indelicato doing the hitting, the clearest influence was prime years CBGBs. “Richard Hell was a massive thing,” says Luke. Actually, “started” as a duo is wrong. Three years ago when the pair met at Access To Music, a variable line-up could number as many as five. A trio become more fixed until they realised, says Luke, “we were making bad music. One day the bass player didn’t turn up and it just sounded better without him.” “That,” says Maya, “and there was only enough space in my shed for two of us.” Thus, the pair we saw trying to fill a BrisFest stage in 2009. The tunes and showmanship were there; the requisite heft was not. “It wasn’t going anywhere,” admits Maya. “We could hear a bigger sound,” concedes Luke. “But the two-piece was a great, weird way of learning what we were supposed to do. Now we do things in a more conventional way we can look at it from the weird way and add to it.”
“What would be the point of being in a band if you’re not friends?” Rich, Scarlet Rascal & The TrainWreck
In April last year, in came Rich Clarke on guitar and James Stockhausen on bass: an instinctive evolution. “It felt like the songs were that big anyway,” says James. The ease is summed up by Rich when he says: “We had our first rehearsal in my flat at the time. Maya brought her kit round
blast from my childhood: Stevie Ray Vaughan,” says Luke. For Maya, Rich and James respectively the Stones’ ‘Let It Bleed’, ‘Turnstile Blues’ by Autolux and “something by The Datsuns”. Despite James being the only Rascal with no time for Prince, that random selection reveals a shared love and loyalty towards something whose death knell has been falsely sounded countless times. “Guitar bands aren’t that good at getting famous,” says James, “but at least it’s guitar bands doing it properly. I thought the synth-pop thing was dying out but it’s really f*cking hanging on. Why not do something different?” Between this interview and taking their rightful place headlining a night in the Fleece’s Best of Bristol season, the band will be attempting to cement that “something different” in the studio. “We’re in the process of learning there,” says Luke. “We want to do
Best of Bristol, indeed: Scarlet Rascal & The TrainWreck
and set up in the kitchen.” Still more so when he adds: “It’s kind of weird talking about it. You never have to think like that any more.” Clearly, expansion hasn’t meant loosening a tight bond. Quite the opposite. “We meet up two or three times a week,” says Luke. “Mainly band stuff, unless we’re going to a gig together. Or getting drunk.” “My dad asked me ‘Are they your friends or is it just business?’” says Rich. “What would be the point of being in a band if you’re not friends?” Popping the ‘What was the last track you listened to?’ question helps explain the attraction. “A
it properly – if it takes a few more times, that’s fine. It needs to be a little bit wrong. But mostly right.” As Rich elucidates, “we want it to sound gritty but also professional.” And thence from the studio to their clear natural environment, the gig. Or, more accurately, the show. “If you’re on a stage,” says Maya, “and given that platform to perform, then do it. Don’t just sit there.” SCARLET RASCAL & THE TRAINWRECK HEADLINE THE FLEECE’S BEST OF BRISTOL NIGHT ON SAT 6 AUG. FFI: WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/ SCARLETRASCALANDTHETRAINWRECK
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Music // THE MONTH AHEAD // ROCK Ian McLagan
WORLD Caras de Querer
// A Small Face, a Bloke backing Billy Bragg, stage sharer with the Stones, Dylan and on – back pages don’t come much more lavishly illustrated than those of keyboard ace, Ian McLagan. Nor performers more genial. Throw in a string of selections from most recent solo album, ‘Never Say Never’, and you’ve a Must Attend night.
// It means ‘Faces of Love’, and that gives you an idea of the passion simmering through this flamenco-based show from Madrid, featuring the raw intensity of Spanish National Ballet singer Isabel Soto (pictured) and original solo and duo choreography from powerful dancers Paula Gomez Quintana and Magdalena Maria Christina (whose folks actually live in Bath).
IAN MCLAGAN PLAYS THE THUNDERBOLT, BRISTOL ON TUE 9 AND WED 10 AUG.
JAZZ Brecon Jazz festival
// A Bath foursome tightly rhythm’d in almost Police-recalling fashion, but don’t be misled – stylistically we’re talking hook-fuelled indie anthems with punk-edged flashes. You’ll hear it on forthcoming double A-side single 'Jennifer / Fresh Air'. NME's Gill Mills heard it on their debut EP and proclaimed “pop with a pumping heart and soul as wide as an estuary”. CENTREFOLDS PLAY MOLES, BATH ON THUR 4, THE FLEECE, BRISTOL ON WED 10 AND THE TUNNELS, BRISTOL ON FRI 26 AUG.
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// Since falling into the Hay Festival crew’s capable hands, Brecon’s jazzfest has blossomed deliciously. 2011’s 51 gigs are a sizzling crosssection of national and international jazziness with obvious ear-grabbers including Courtney Pine, Monty Alexander, Maceo Parker, Femi Kuti and New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint (pictured). Leftfield-leaners might pick Fringe Magnetic, Matthew Herbert, Sarah Mitra or Matthew Halsal, but there’s much, much more … BRECON JAZZ FESTIVAL RUNS FROM FRI 12-SUN 14 AUG AT VARIOUS VENUES IN BRECON.
PIC: MICHAEL WILSON
CARAS DE QUERER APPEARS AT CHAPEL ARTS CENTRE, BATH ON SAT 6 AUG.
CLASSICAL Summer Festival 2011 // ‘Musical Heirs’ unfurls an umbrella for this year’s Bristol Cathedral Summer Festival – a four-concert lunchtime series mixing performers local and not-so-local. First up is Trio Sirventes with Schubert and Spohr. Fresh from Cheltenham Festival, there’s a percussion recital by Rhys Matthews, the Noctutus Wind Ensemble surfs Mozart and Poulenc, and the series ends with Bristol Ensemble (pictured) director Roger Huckle and son. MUSICAL HEIRS IS AT BRISTOL CATHEDRAL FROM TUE 2-TUE 30 AUG.
// MUSIC NEWS//
// Cool Beans tonight lay on an act well-met in name department, given the dense, echo-y production. That said, check out Spector’s handclapping and chanting on heavily airplayed single ‘Never Fade Away’, and you’ll find it’s less 60s sweet pop, more 80s-recalling arch lugubriousness. Big things are expected. SPECTOR PLAY START THE BUS, BRISTOL ON SAT 20 AUG.
ROCK A Day At The Races
7. ROOTS Bath Folk Festival
// It’s EP launch night tonight for the Bristolbased four-piece pliers of rollicking indie roll. Five years to the rather good, there’s a charming Wedding Present-like wistfulness to George Rigden’s delivery of lines like “I’d give just anything to be with you” (‘Valiant’), and a five yearhoned confidence to their playing throughout.
// Back for a second helping of music workshops, sessions and, of course, a whole plethora of folk-based aces including Brian Finnegan, Ed Boyd & John Joe Kelly, Steve Tilston, Inu, Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston (pictured), Amadou Diagne, Elephant Talk, The Fiasco Brothers, Steve Henwood, The Little Musgraves, Alex Percy & Katherine Hurdley, Radio Banska, Lara Conley & Nicks, Lightgarden, Jo Long & the Pure Drop, Sam Brookes... BATH FOLK FESTIVAL TAKES PLACE ACROSS BATH FROM MON 8-SUN 14 AUG.
CLASSICAL Bath Philharmonia
A DAY AT THE RACES PLAY THE LOUISIANA, BRISTOL ON FRI 5 AUG.
// What with the Hollywood picnic last month and a Bernstein-Gershwin end to its Bath Summer Classics (29 Sept), Bath Phil is busy schmoozing Uncle Sam. But this month the mood darkens as Tchaikovsky’s brooding 6th Symphony crowns an invigorating cold shower: Sibelius’s Violin Concerto played by Classical Brit Award winner Ruth Palmer (pictured). RUTH PALMER AND THE BATH PHILHARMONIA ARE AT BATH ABBEY ON THUR 4 AUG.
ROOTS Didmarton Bluegrass Festival // In its 23rd year this brilliant local fest is a past master at mixing the suitably downhome (instrument workshops, Appalachian dance displays etc) with some properly top-line performers across bluegrass, blues, Americana, rockabilly, folk and on: Matthew and The Atlas, Bob Harris-beloved Ahab, Sid Griffin-fronted The Coal Porters, The Carrivick Sisters, and many more. DIDMARTON BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL TAKES PLACE AT KEMBLE
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PIC: MAX WHITTAKER
// All manner of good news from Bath-based folk ‘n’ blues-exploders Kill It Kid. They’ve spent recent months wowing SXSW, playing industry showcases in New York, and chewing the musical fat with Seymour Stein and Jack White. Then, on Mon 18 July, they tweeted the following: “Right, I think it's time to open a window, put the kettle on, wake the others up & go & sign to EMI. Yup, exciting day ahoy x”. Further inquiries confirm they’ve signed a publishing deal with the group but, happily, will be staying on the splendid One Little Indian label to release their new ‘Feet Fall Heavy’ album on Mon 19 Sept. And, indeed, the Mon 5 Sept-released single you can hear here: http://soundcloud. com/onelittleindianrecords/ heart-rested... Good news capping a similarly fine time from Bristol’s Turbowolf, too. Having toured Europe supporting the likes of Korn and Dinosaur Pile-Up, they’ve now signed a record deal with Hassle Records, making them label mates with such luminaries as Alkaline Trio, Cancer Bats and We Are The Ocean. Ffi: www.facebook.com/ turbowolf... And still more! Josh Arcoleo, regular tenor saxist of this parish, has just graduated with a first from the Royal Academy of Music, in the process winning the Principal's prize, a 2011 Yamaha Parliamentary Jazz Scholarship and the inaugural Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize, and scooping a deal with Edition Records (album to be released in spring 2012). Ffi: josharcoleo. com… Finally, Jelli Records were one of 30 local businesses paying £1,000 for a chance to be drawn from a hat (well, pirate’s chest) to be named main sponsor of the Bristol Harbour Festival (Fri 29-Sun 31 July). And so it came to pass! They’ll also be curating the Balloon Fiesta's (Thur 11Sun 14 Aug) Bandstand Stage. For full fiesta info go visit www. bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk
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Music Gift of the Gav
For more news, reviews and extra pics, see venue.co.uk/music
Anna Britten savours the mellow new album from comeback kid Gavin Thorpe.
n some parallel universe, Gavin Thorpe is playing the O2 and soundtracking the new Jennifer Aniston romcom. In this universe, however, he’s a (very) new dad running a guitar shop in Taunton and cheerfully plugging his selfreleased download-only album. The common denominator is his talent. A decade ago, as documented in these pages, Thorpe suffered a stroke of such back-breaking, belly-hollowing bad luck it would have caused many young artists to go completely postal. In a nutshell: lucrative deal with Atlantic Records, album recorded in LA and mixed in NY, $15k dollar cover shoot with same snapper who did Ryan Adams’s ‘Gold’, song on a Hollywood teen flick, and then… blam. The label was bought out, its new owners cancelling all new releases by debut artists. Oh, and banning them from re-recording for two years. After a frustrating spell with only a publishing deal (at one point he was sent off to write with Guy Chambers: “a pompous arsehole. I told him the song title we had wasn’t very cool and he said, ‘I don’t need to do cool because I’m f*cking loaded.’”),
“People are scared to write about being positive about love.” gavin thorpe 48 // JUly 2011
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Thorpe dusted himself off with the help of his loyal dad. “I spoke to him a lot, about the ups and downs. He was always saying ‘You’ve got to keep on; only you can fail. Think of where you’ve come from [Wotton-under-Edge], what you’ve achieved.’” He put out the angry ‘Pictures’ album by himself in 2008, narrowly missed out (to Leona Lewis) on a Radio Two ‘Record Of the Week’ slot, then set about organising Stateside meetings and gigs to regain the ground he’d lost. And then, suddenly, the floor fell away yet again. “I was going on holiday and phoned Dad from the airport. We chatted about football. He died an hour later, from an aneurysm.” Thorpe’s pillar of support gone, there was now also the question of a family retail business to tackle. Thorpe stepped up. “I felt like I had to do it for him. Dad always wanted to run a shop. He always supported me in my dream and I wanted to support him in his. Also it was good to get up and go somewhere and focus on something other than how I felt.” During the ensuing months Thorpe found it impossible – both emotionally and practically – to make music again. Then one day, in the shop, he started riffing. He went into his friend Sam’s studio and put down some ideas, then took them to Stew ‘Phantom Limb’ Jackson to be mixed. Jackson was so impressed he offered to coproduce a new album – using some reworked songs from the Atlantic period – and played on every track, introducing silvery slices of pedal steel. The result, ‘Rollin’ On’, is out now as a digital download. “It really is down to him. He inspired me to get back
Gavin Thorpe: "a bit less LA, a bit more Bristol" Inset: comeback album 'Rollin' On'
on track. I couldn’t afford to pay him so paid him in gear – an old Fender amp, a bass. There’s a laidback feeling to the album. We spent a long time chatting, eating onion rings…” A summer of shopkeeping and babytending lie ahead, but come the autumn he’ll be setting out again on that long, rutted road to recognition. “It’s gonna start again. I feel good about it. Every time I try to run away from music there’s a burning desire that draws me back. Every time I sack myself I hire myself again the next day.” ‘Rollin’ On’ has a warm, guileless feel (“a bit less LA, a bit more Bristol”) inspired by Gillian Welch’s recent comeback ‘The Harrow & The Harvest’ and showcasing Thorpe’s Ryan Adams/Teddy Thompson-esque
tones. One highlight is opener ‘For Your Love’: “My favourite. People are scared to write about being positive about love. Someone said to me, about the album, ‘it’s very love-heavy’”. He shakes his head, bemused that anyone should find this strange. GAVIN THORPE PLAYS THE FOLK HOUSE, BRISTOL, ON 3 SEPT. ‘ROLLIN’ ON’ IS OUT NOW ITUNES, AMAZON, SPOTIFY ET AL. FFI: WWW. GAVINTHORPE.COM
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54 // August 2011
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// don't miss // Thunderfest
// ROCK Time once again for the Thunderboltstaged, Omni Beta Events-curated Best of Bristol fest. A slew of acts each day, with the nights respectively headlined by Emily Breeze, Phantom Limb, RSVP, The Bronze Medal (pictured) and Archimedes. THUNDERFEST THUR 25-MON 29 AUG, THUNDERBOLT, BRISTOL
// JAZZ/ROOTS Three days of nonstop quality gigs at the Cori with Gary Alesbrook’s Duval Project, Phil King and Phantom Limb (pictured) among the many headline highlights.
the big gig
Mark Kozelek // Mark Kozelek’s a shifting cloud. Like similarly eloquent, downcast songwriters Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) and Bill Callahan (Smog), he records and plays under his own name and an invented one: Sun Kil Moon. It’s not always easy to see where one begins and the other ends. Like Oldham and Callahan, Kozelek has defiantly ploughed his own furrow straight and true, unswayed by the mores of fashion. In the early 90s he fronted the Red House Painters, a band whose regret-laden back catalogue retains a cult following two decades on. His output is characterised by a sense of careful, unhurried exploration, of songs which are never quite finished with. He has a penchant for reimagining the works of others – from John Denver to Modest Mouse – but not in a way you’d really call cover versions; his reinvention of songs generally leaves them almost unrecognisable. 2001’s ‘What’s Next to the Moon’ could slide in comfortably between Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen – except it’s an album of AC/DC covers. Kozelek’s dabbled in film work, appearing in Cameron Crowe’s ‘Almost Famous’ and ‘Vanilla Sky’, the
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soundtrack to which included the Red House Painters’ ‘Have You Forgotten’ – a song whose delicate evocation of nostalgia and regret epitomises much of his solo work. In recent years he’s adopted a delicate classical guitar style – fleet-fingered and meditative all at once – leading to comparisons to John Martyn. The arrangements are gentle, pedestrian even, but the music is always secondary to the words. For those that listen close, Kozelek’s unforced use of fleeting details to evoke the passing of time, yearning and loss is remarkable. Like most good poetry, he does a lot with a little. That’s not to say his songs are sparse or brief – they’re often wilfully slow in their unravelling. Don’t like lengthy introspection? Steer clear. But if you’re patient, and sufficiently attentive to relish the nuance – lean close to the speaker, use your best headphones – then Kozelek’s self-regarding despondency can be oddly nourishing. MARK KOZELEK PLAYS THE THEKLA, BRISTOL ON TUE 9 AUG. SEE WWW.THEKLABRISTOL. CO.UK FOR DETAILS. FFI: WWW.MARKKOZELEK. COM
PIC CREDIT: MIKE HOBAN
Mike White finds solace with the master of evocative despondency.
CORITAP FESTIVAL FRI 12-SUN 14 AUG, CORONATION TAP, BRISTOL
Turn of the Screw
// CLASSICAL It might be live – but at a distance! If the Royal Opera’s relays to Millennium Square have given you a taste for big screen opera, catch Britten’s chilling ‘The Turn of the Screw’ live from Glyndebourne. GLYNDEBOURNE FESTIVAL OPERA SUN 21 AUG, THE LITTLE THEATRE, BATH
// ROOTS Seattlehailing plier of rousing street-friendly music, raised up as it is via accordion, guitar, and a sensibility likened to both Shane MacGowan and Tom Waits. Plenty of subtlety too, mind.
JASON WEBLEY WED 24 AUG, THE CROFT, BRISTOL
// ROCK Hurray! Everwelcome return of the Cobain-be-worshipped Japanese pliers of sugar-coated guittrash and winningly nonsense lyrics. Touring 15th studio album, ‘Free Time’.
SHONEN KNIFE SAT 20 AUG, THE FLEECE, BRISTOL
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Saturday 6 August CARAS DEL QUERER £14 / £16
// ALBUMS, SINGLES, EPs, downloads// THE WEARY BAND
‘Office Doodles’ (LP, self-released) // At last! We’ve waited almost a decade but one of Bristol’s true gems have finally released an album. A daydream of a concept album, in fact, taking in everything office-related from pitiable colleagues (‘Salesman Keith’, painted with Ray Davies-like waspishness) to would-be romance (“Stationery girl, keep your hand in mine, if we make it through today then we might find another life outside”). They’re sweet on the CSN-inspired harmony, glowingly West Coast autumnal in the arrangements, and – bored temps take note – Tim Calleja’s voice can carry that sleepywarmwaking feeling with you all day. With an underlying theme of beauteous escape from immediate mundanity, it plays like urban pastoralism. (Julian Owen) HHHHH thewearyband.bandcamp.com
‘The Switch Room’ (LP, selfreleased) // You could dismiss Pressplay for their blatant BS postcode but that wouldn’t do justice to their clear personality. Trip-prog in its ambitions, with Helen ‘Banga’ McDowall bringing classical-leaning piano, Miles-ish muted trumpet or cutting vocals throughout, the music makes a lot from what is basically a trio sound. ‘Dr Rip Hop’ has a great energy, furious bass riff and telephonedistort vocals making sleazy promises, while ‘Time To Pretend’ has a noir 60s thing going on that’s only slightly heading towards Portishead. It’s Rich Magee’s d&b wonk-bass on ‘Dead End Goodbyes’ and Greg White’s matching drumclatter that catch the ear, though, a fine update on a psychedelic freak out that must be a (trumpet) blast live. (Tony Benjamin) HHHHH www.myspace.com/pressplayuk
Dust & the Shadows Calling (EP, self-released) // A door creaks open. In comes Tamsyn Fallows flooding the room with the sweet sad sunlight of her voice, acoustic guitar dancing gently like motes of dust. The things on her mind have an involving depth: intimacy, shared memory, ageing and death. There’s only one disappointment on this immaculately produced five-track EP – the ponderous piano jazz of closer ‘Flight’ – but before that come the poignant pillow-talk of stand-out track ‘Sleep’, the bleak and deliciously ambiguous reel ‘The Bareknuckle Fight’, and ‘Death of an Oldboy’ seen through the eyes of her dying grandfather. Feisty, thoughtful, great. (Mike White) HHHHH www. toyfacemusic.blogspot.com
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‘Gold Mind EP’ (self-released) // This Bathbased five piece describe themselves as an electronica act, but they’re more like slightly proggy indie rockers with synth flourishes. This generally works well, especially on ‘Elekstep’, whose squelching melody line wriggles atop a dirty old guitar riff. ‘Gold Mind’ itself is a bit of a rambler with hints of Talk Talk and The Cardiacs, while closing track ‘The Soundman’ opens with the speech synthesiser effect from LFO’s ‘LFO’ and then goes a bit Hawkwind. They sound like a band who are still playing around with ideas at the moment, but if they cut out a bit of the noodling, they could be well worth keeping an eye on. (Adam Burrows) HHHHH myspace. com/electriccontradictionmusic
‘Re-Gen’ (EP, self-released) // Not, as the name suggests, a Clifton estate agent but a five-piece contemporary rock/metal band concealing some serious ordnance. Synthetic strings buttress the rather ponderous opener ‘Re-Gen’, but ‘Killcycle’ is a sleekly modernist fusion of Tool and Faith No More with some terrifically disciplined riffing and viciously snapping drums. The oddly galloping ‘Airlock’ boasts a massive chorus, handsin-the-air piano and madly torqued stop-start soloing, all impeccably played. It’s a hugely promising debut. Venue’s only reservation is that guitarist and singer Simon Bravery sounds disturbingly like Chad from Nickelback. (Kid Pensioner) HHHHH www.facebook.com/ plantingclaymoreband
Friday 12 August STOMPIN’ DAVE AND HIS BAND, BOOGIE WOOGIE NIGHT £10.00 / £12.00 Saturday 27 August GREG HUMPHREYS £10.00 / £12.00 Friday 2 September THE BUSH TECHNOLOGISTS £10.00 / £12.00 Friday 16 September 20TH CENTURY FOXES £13.50 / £15.00 Saturday 24 September CLAIRE MARTIN & RICHARD BENNETT SING IRVING BERLIN £19.00 / £20.00 / £22.50 Saturday 1 October THREE PIECE SUITE CONCERT FOR CRUSE £8.00 / £10.00 Thursday 6 October FINI BEARMAN (Contemporary Jazz Vocalist) £8.00 / £10.00 Friday 7 October KIKI DEE AND CARMELO LUGGERI £18.50 / £20.00 Friday 14 October BECKY GREEN £6.00 / £8.00 Chapel Arts Centre Lower Borough Walls, Bath BA1 1QR www.chapelarts.org 01225 461700 Arts Cafe - Mon - Sat 9.30 - 5.30
THE MINKE WHALES
‘Turncoat’ (LP, Tandem) // The Minke Whales – possibly named in honour of that doomed visitor to the Bristol Channel two years ago – come across like a sort of Celtic Arcade Fire. Scottish frontman Stuart Reid’s five-piece go heavy on the banjo and tambourine to create ragged, literate, highly musical folk for raising barns to – and then raising the roofs of said barns. Highlights include stomping cautionary tale ‘Witch Hunt’, defiant deserter’s song ‘Turncoat’, the Cossack dance-meets-horah kick of ‘Release’ and the careful handling of ‘Breadcrumbs’’ rising tempo, instrumentation and amplitude. Reliable, festival-flavoured kneesuppage that’s unlikely to end up beached near Barry. (Anna Britten) HHHHH www.theminkewhales.com
EVERY MONDAY Groundswell open mic night EVERY THURSDAY Pepper your Leopard EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY Top live DJ’s playing the best sounds around. Open until 3am. EVERY SUNDAY Comedy Cavern (see comedy listings for details). HAPPY HOUR 8-10pm HOUSE DOUBLES £4 FREE WI-FI . SKY SPORTS ON HD SCREEN POOL TABLES IN THE CELLAR BAR Food served daily from 11am-9pm. Serving Vegetarian/Vegan foods. 20% discounts on food to students with NUS card. Under new management. 15 George Street, Bath, BA1 2QS 01225 424 104 // www.theporter.co.uk
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For more reviews and extra pics, see venue.co.uk/music Kelis: under-dressed as ever
Live review Pride 2011
PICS: MATT COLLINS, WWW.CRUSHIMAGES.CO.UK
Castle Park, Bristol (Sat 16 July) // Pride is an oasis of glorious sunshine. We arrive, minds still reeling from the latest vile antics of the Murdoch media empire - how could this man be allowed to poach ‘Glee’ from E4? It’s also reassuring to learn that the video stall is stocking both ‘The Vicar Of Dibley’ and ‘The Complete Bagpuss’. The Cabaret Stage’s fabulously filthy Mary Golds is mercilessly abusing the pre-watershed with advice on faking orgasm (“It’s easy for blokes, you can just spit on their back!”) and exhorting mass singing (“Swansea’s louder!”) while the Showcase Stage presents formation hula-hooping. Best T-shirts? “Never Kissed A Tory” and “Lebanese”. Gecko clatter through full-fat world grooves and a cover of Outkast’s ‘Ms Jackson’ to general approval. Venue encounters blatant discrimination when forbidden entry to the VIP area despite its press pass. We therefore have no sleb gossip for you. Dr Meaker, battling a sore throat (“I sound like a little girl!”) drops ‘Moving And Grooving’ and gets the crowd doing both. ‘Rubber Glove’ sends out some major bass wobble. It’s now officially glorious weather and a gaudy brass band parps merrily over the hill. Bright Light Bright Light offer up sleek, 80s-flavoured house. “I only like the
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90s” explains the singer, confusingly. Back at the Showcase Stage, Eric Ness and band are a happy clatter of mandolin, bass and drums, offroading into rockabilly with ‘I’ve Been Bad’. Recorded at Sun City in Memphis, insists Eric. The genially bad-tempered cabaret compere, Fanny Dazzle (now disparagingly referring to their stage as “the cabaret mat”) introduces headliner, Fonda Cox, a vision in blue chiffon and outsized wig, like Barbara Cartland gone wrong, for torch songs delivered with sandpaper gruffness. “Her milkshake brings all the gays to the park!” announces our main stage host, magnificently attired in a giant lemon wig and knitted Ziggy Stardust pants. Kelis arrives to a packed arena, dressed as a stewardess from Richard Branson’s forthcoming space shuttle program. “I came here to pleasure myself” she says, the cheeky madam. This is largely true with a set front-loaded with the anonymous big room techno of her newest album. ‘Trick Me’ arrives just in time and ‘Milkshake’ is mashed up with Madonna’s ‘Holiday’ to the crowd’s evident delight. She closes with the rather lovely ‘Acapella’. Goodness me. Emblazoned across the rear of that young man’s pants are the words ‘Wookey Hole’. A fabulous day. (Kid Pensioner)
LIVE REVIEW Avi Buffalo/Admiral Fallow/ Tripwires Thekla, Bristol (Mon 11 July)
The Spooky Men’s Chorale/Kate Rowe St George’s, Bristol (Mon 18 July) // Australians do irony big time – think Edna Everage, Clive James – and this evening reaffirms that preconception. There’s big love in tonight’s sold-out hall so un-spooky woman singer Kate Rowe gets her share for a great voice, engaging stage presence and wryly witty ditties about coffee, blind dates and pirates. She’s an apt warm-up, but it’s the 16-strong Spooky Men’s Chorale (pictured) that’s packed St George’s and the crowd roars as their ill-assorted black-clad shambles emerges. A bunch of larrikins from the Blue Mountains, they’re actually a skilled and disciplined male voice choir whose repertoire is grounded in knowingly debunking themselves. Thus their ‘Manifesto’ song (“We
dream of mastodons, machines and we can grow beards … if we want to!”), ‘Don’t Stand Between A Man And His Tool’ or ‘Why Do You See Right Through Me?’ affectionately deflate the masculine mystique. Thanks to impeccable frontman Stephen Taberner’s well-honed banter this is essentially deadpan comedy, and very funny too, albeit with moments of sheer just so you know we can class when they perform traditional Georgian songs. The audience devotion is relentless across two hours, veering from gales of anticipatory laughter to pin-drop silence (for a Georgian number) and even the hall stewards are whooping by the end. And why not? This very clever combination of musical and comic timing makes a splendidly ironic celebration of the joys of manhood into fine entertainment. (Tony Benjamin)
LIVE REVIEW Goan Dogs/Alms
PIC CREDIT: SARAH GRAY PHOTOGRAPHY
The Croft, Bristol (Fri 22 July) // Ooh, this is interesting. A double bass looks on as referee while two singer/guitarists trade transatlantic battle. Well, okay, we’ve not seen Alms’ birth certificates, but it sounds that way. In the middle is an acoustician picking and chording in a manner suggesting Hefner via Belle and Sebastian, voice to match, as if locked away in a rainy attic, preparing for perpetual disappointment but never quite able to extinguish romantic optimism. Thus, the Determinedly British One: “Just please be quiet, please be kind.” If we suspect his DVD collection goes heavy on ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’-type English classics, then the electrician to his left – skilfully weaving deft, harder jabs of sound – is more of a US indie-flick aficionado. His vocal delivery suggests he’d willingly work a straight 72-hr shift at Taco Bell if there was a soul-crushing ironic couplet to be drawn from the experience. You sense there’s been a lot of falling in love going
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on here, for both protagonists, in the prettiest, most devastating way. By turns delicate and rip-roaring, never less than considered, Alms are something of a triumph. The headlining Goan Dogs (pictured) are both launching an EP and drawing a splendidly appreciative crowd. We imagine we may not have heard them this way if not for Fleet Foxes’ multi-man “woo”-ing and “ooh”-ing. Similarly, if not for the big, mono-paced beat of Arcade Fire. This isn’t meant as criticism, just a note of the style of the times – a generation ago they’d have been taking their cues for the big and expansive from Simple Minds or U2. Moreover, if you were to mark Goan Dogs down on any single factor, it most certainly wouldn’t be for proficiency. Be under no illusion, within their chosen field of controlled bombast they boast a level of competency – much like Mumford et al do for ‘folk’ – that could see them be huge. (Julian Owen)
// At first sound, the year goes fuzzy. Tripwires, a Reading foursome, have the greasy hair in eyes, the flannel, the thrashed guitars that say g-r-u-n-g-e. Their effect washes over nostalgic ears like a valiant attempt at ‘Bends’-era Radiohead rock anthems. Not very now, but not so bad. Admiral Fallow are a sixstrong troupe of Glaswegians and, unfortunately, one of them plays flute. They sing of walls being bulldozed, heartbeats, and how life can be like “[dancing] on a tightrope in the pouring rain”. Their amiable radio single ‘Squealing Pigs’ breaks down into a tambourine hoedown that’s not just a little like a Scottish Mumford and Sons. Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg and his teenage buddies (pictured) made Venue's most played, most hummed, most dreamed-over album of 2010. When they take the stage tonight, it’s clear that the female band-member who is allegedly Zahner-Isenberg’s exgirlfriend is no longer in the lineup. So there goes her airy vocal
foil to his strangled yelps, then. But also... well, it’s a set without a set-list that consists of older songs played so slack they’re nearly unrecognisable, or structureless non-songs that meander to unlikely - and not always pretty - places, inevitably ending in a cliché crescendo of crash cymbals and feedback, when they’re not interrupted by ZahnerIsenberg rambling nonsense into the microphone about time warps and his grandma. We’d be remiss, though, to overlook the blinks of genius: his virtuoso guitar bridges, the way ‘Where’s Your Dirty Mind’ floats thick and shimmering on melancholy and mortality, and when he comes back alone to begin the encore of ‘Summer Cum’ and gets to the line “it’s not the age I feel when by your side” and just about breaks your heart. Totally erratic, but precocious – and occasionally gobsmacking – and worth another chance. (Kristen Grayewski)
LIVE REVIEW Hansel and Gretel
Iford Opera (Tue 21 June) // Knitted cuckoo, a witch’s house made out of cupcakes (very 2011!), a Dew Fairy with snazzy plastic mac and watering can, a hyper-witch looking like a hostess out of a 50s Good Housekeeping magazine: director William Tuckett said he wanted “clarity of storytelling” rather than “layers of contemporary paranoia” for Humperdinck’s edgy fairytale opera. And so it proves. Perhaps the production is more choreographed than directed (Tuckett’s background, after all, is in dance) but gestures are eye-catchingly calibrated, even if the puppetry would have been the sharper for a spot of pruning. Musically, the playing of Chroma under Oliver Gooch’s
urgent baton, has warmth to spare – luxuriously amplified by the confined space so that occasionally the singers are in danger of being swamped. In the close-up actuality of Iford, Aoife O’Sullivan’s appropriately goody-two-shoes Gretel was always going to have to work hard to convince as a little girl, but Ciara Hendrick’s Hansel is both vocally scintillating and in possession of a nice line in facial asides. She’s a born Cherubino. Lise Christensen’s Mother has strong vocal presence too, and, hoisted by her own Baby Belling – her head hocus-pocuses into a giant cupcake – the Witch of Alun Rhys-Jenkins insisting that even in opera, there’s nothing like a (pantomime) dame! (Paul Riley)
PIC CREDIT: JESSICA BEVERIDGE
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For more news, reviews and extra pics, see venue.co.uk/clubs
Chapter & ’verse
Adam Burrows gets the story from the creative quartet behind Bristol’s Multiverse Music. hat connects dubstep, ‘Transformers 3’ and cats with thumbs? The answer is a recording studio on Whiteladies Road, home to seven record labels and a music publisher. All of them are run by Multiverse Music, a four-man collective whose best-known member is Pinch, the producer of classics like ‘Punisher’, ‘Qawwali’ and ‘Joyride’. You’ll have heard his colleagues’ music too, although not necessarily in a club. Multiverse was founded in 2003 by Rob Ellis (Pinch), James Fiddian (Fidz) and James Ginzburg (Ginz), an American who needed a visa to stay in Bristol after university. “I looked at my options, and the only viable one was to start a business,” he remembers. “But looking back at the business plan, it’s funny – by this stage we were supposed to be millionaires.” Multiverse might not have made them rich, but it’s been very influential, not least in the rise of dubstep. It was 2004, says James, when his friend Dickon (ThinKing) “started going on about this night in Shoreditch – FWD at Plastic People. He dragged a few of us down there and we had our minds blown.” Immediately connecting with the new sound, they used their Subtext label to unleash ‘Lion’ and ‘Pop Pop’, two stunning 12”s from shock-andawe duo Vex’d. “We weren’t expecting them to sell”, says James, “because the music was obscure at that time, but they did well. ‘Pop Pop’ is still one of my favourite records.” They founded Tectonic, which became the most important dubstep label outside London. It championed a techno-influenced strain of the
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genre, perfected on albums like 2562’s ‘Aeriel’ and Pinch’s ‘Underwater Dancehall’. “We were putting out seminal records that we didn’t realise were seminal at the time,” James says. “But to think about what we were doing as influential is to have serious delusions of grandeur.” He believes dubstep has moved away from the sound Tectonic pushed anyway. “We’ve put out some bangers,” he says, “but you’re in a club playing what you think are bangers, and then some kiddie starts playing the devil’s music and makes your tunes sound like... soft jazz or something. Nobody really likes the tag dubstep any more, because it bears no relation to what it was at the beginning.” Tectonic’s releases have since diversified, and Pinch is working on an album with maverick producer Shackleton: “I don’t know what you call it,” James says, “but it’s very strange.” Definitions aside, Multiverse imprints have been involved with many of the most exciting club sounds of recent years, from October’s submerged techno to Baobinga’s good times, anything-goes ‘bass music’. Running labels on behalf of emerging Bristol producers is a speciality: “We started Kapsize for
Joker, Wow! for Gemmy, Build for Baobinga.” Next up is a label for Guido, whose ‘Anidea’ album for Punch Drunk was one of 2010’s finest. Bristol is important to them, says James. “It makes a big proportion of the music that’s considered seriously in various genres. Before, you had places like Jamaica and Iceland, and you wondered how they were producing such a disproportionate amount of what you heard. When I came to Bristol in ’98 there was a list of influential names, but now you can just keep on rattling off interesting things that are happening.” As Tectonic, Build and the rest push the boundaries of dance music, the re-launched Subtext is where they’re “taking things completely out of the nightclub”. James – who produced breakbeat and dubstep as 30Hz and Ginz – is half of “weird sound design and noise” duo Emptyset, and their brilliant ‘Demiurge’ album takes minimal electronica into the realm of pure sound. Paul Jebanasam, the collective’s fourth member, previously made dubstep as Moving Ninja but now concentrates on “composed music – a crossover between minimal classical and industrial drone”. They’re also working with Roly Porter
of Vex’d, whose aunt is known for her mastery of obscure instruments like the ondes Martenot. “They recorded her playing various instruments and Roly created a universe out of that,” says James. “It’s simultaneously incredibly aggressive and blissful.” As composers, they’re increasingly in demand. “Fidz is a pure composer,” explains James. “He wrote the music for the Cravendale ‘Cats With Thumbs’ ad. Then we did the trailer for the ‘Transformers 3’ movie – that was one of Paul’s.” They’ve also scored an advertising campaign for Lexus, and licensed tracks to films like ‘Children of Men’. “It’s not like we’re making jingles,” says James. “Film trailers feel like a culmination of all the weird stuff we’ve done. You can make alien sounds and big explosions and somehow it’s economical.” 2009’s must-grab Multiverse retrospective ‘Dark Matter’ was dominated by dancefloor material, but James says “I’d love it if in two years what we were doing was so diverse that you’d struggle to put it all out on one compilation. Hopefully that’s the way things are going to go.” The important thing is that the collective is sustaining for everyone involved. “It’s very difficult to make anything happen in isolation,” he says. “But when you’ve got a community of people who are doing good things, you can create a world that people connect with. Otherwise, you’re just throwing things out into a sea of stuff.” BAOBINGA & CO’S ‘JOINT VENTURES’ IS OUT NOW ON BUILD. EMPTYSET’S ‘DEMIURGE’ IS OUT NOW ON SUBTEXT. PURSUIT GROOVES’ ‘FRANTICALLY HOPEFUL’ IS OUT NOW ON TECTONIC. FFI: WWW.MULTIVERSE-MUSIC.COM
The increasingly in-demand Multiverse Music (and accompanying back catalogue): anything goes bass-heavy boundary-pushers
august 2011 // 61
Clubs // THE MONTH AHEAD // ARC SESSIONS The Return of Arc
JUNGLE SYNDICATE Trace // DJ Trace (above) is a key figure in drum & bass history, and his 1995 remix of T-Power’s ‘Mutant Jazz’ was an important blueprint for subgenres like techstep and neurofunk. Since then he’s founded DSCI4, the label behind the Spy Technologies series, and is here joined by the rampaging breaks of London’s Smyla, the dark atmospherics of Bristol’s Coleco, and a supporting army of jungle, d&b and breakcore destroyers.
// First it was the Arc Bar, then it was Lab, and now it’s Arc again. Confused? Don’t be. One of Bristol’s best small venues is back, as both a ground floor café-bar and an upstairs club for in-house promotions and outside hire. The official club launch is scheduled for October, but in the meantime there will be a series of Friday night sessions through August, with guests Dub Boy (pictured - Fri 5), Dr Meaker (Fri 12), Bunjy (Fri 19) and Roughcut & Metric (Fri 26), plus an eclectic line-up of residents playing drum & bass, dubstep, hip-hop and more. ARC SESSIONS ARC, BRISTOL (PREVIOUSLY LAB). FRIDAYS THROUGH AUGUST. FFI: WWW. ARCBRISTOL.COM
JUNGLE SYNDICATE THE CROFT, BRISTOL, SAT 6 AUG. FFI: WWW. JUNGLESYNDICATE.COM
51°27' Oneman // Often described as a DJs’ DJ, Oneman (below) has come a long way since he was picked by Loefah to appear on Mary Anne Hobbs’ Generation Bass broadcast back in 2008. At the time, his penchant for combining classic garage and house vibes marked him out as something of a maverick. Three years later it’s practically the law – although few do it as well as he does. Now a regular on Rinse FM, his skills on the ones and twos are unearthly, and his track selection is never less than unpredictable and inspired. In other words, he’s one of the most impressive DJs in the country right now. Grab his recent, free to download mix for LuckyMe if you’re not convinced. See panel, right.
3. TOKYO DUB King Earthquake & Young Warrior // Heavyweight roots meets rave session, with two top-class soundsystems in the main room – King Earthquake and Jah Lokko – the latter featuring Young Warrior (pictured), who is the son of Jah Shaka and a respected selector in his own right. The other rooms embrace soundsystem culture’s lasting influence on British dance music, with jungle from Nicky Blackmarket, Benny Page and The Marvellous Cain, and dubstep from Southbound Hangers, Epidemix and Paddy Jinnah.
51°27' THEKLA, BRISTOL, FRI 12 AUG. FFI: WWW.MYSPACE.COM/1MANDJ
TOKYO DUB MOTION, BRISTOL, SAT 6 AUG. FFI: WWW. MOTIONBRISTOL.COM
62 // august 2011
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// A good
Drum & bass? Dubstep? What comes next? Venue grabs a few words with the people behind Thekla’s new Friday session 51°27'.
// Like rock and roll, hardcore will never die. To prove the point, rave leviathans Fantazia are coming to town for a four arena, 10-hour blow-out featuring many of the leading names in hard techno, old skool, jungle and drum & bass. Slipmatt (pictured), Sy, Producer, Ratpack, Krome & Time, Hixxy, Human Resource and Nicky Blackmarket are merely the tip of a very large and extremely hazardous iceberg.
Your guests so far have included Zed Bias, Jackmaster, Hyetal and Loefah. Is there an aesthetic for 51°27' or is it just whatever you’re into? We’re all about house, garage, techno and anything bass-heavy. We give a nod to dubstep now and again too.
FANTAZIA MOTION, BRISTOL. SAT 13 AUG. FFI: WWW.MOTIONBRISTOL.COM
HEADRUSH Arkist // With releases for Apple Pips and DECA Rhythm under his belt, Arkist (below right) is a local producer well worth keeping an eye on. His recent 12” ‘Trapped In Tivoli’ blends dubby techno, breaks and garage and ends up somewhere pretty enormous. Supports include Chris Farrell and Shanti Celeste from hot-as-hell label and record shop Idle Hands, unstoppable party starters The Kelly Twins and the melodic dubstep flavours of Apathesis.
9. KOMEDIA Mr Scruff // Renowned for his lighthearted eclecticism and quirky animated visuals, Ninja Tune’s Mr Scruff (left) has been a downtempo DJ favourite since the mid-90s. Tracks like ‘Get A Move On’ and ‘Fish’ have soundtracked countless smoky after-hours sessions, not to mention adverts and TV links. Scruff’s marathon club sets take in everything from hiphop and funk to reggae, jazz and electronica, and this time he’s reportedly playing for five hours straight with no support. The doors open at 8pm so get there nice and early. KOMEDIA BATH, SUN 28 AUG. FFI: WWW.KOMEDIA.CO.UK
HEADRUSH TIMBUK 2, BRISTOL. SAT 13 AUG. FFI: WWW.TB2.CO.UK
RUN Benga. // From genre-defining classics like ‘Evolution’ and ‘Music Box’ to crossover hugeness with Magnetic Man, Benga (right) has been at the forefront of dubstep from the start. ‘Night’, his 12” collaboration with DMZ’s Coki, is as good a candidate as any for the moment the genre invaded mainstream consciousness. Here he heads a monster of a bill featuring drum & bass scratch-master DJ Hype, liquid funk pioneer Marcus Intalex and Doctor P of ‘Sweet Shop’ ubiquity. RUN MOTION, BRISTOL, FRI 26 AUG. FFI: WWW.MOTIONBRISTOL.COM
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MORPH, NONOM & BROCKOUT Dez Williams
//When he’s not damaging dancefloors with his deep, Detroit-flavoured machine music, Dez Williams (above) calls North Wales’ remote Holy Island home. Williams’ sound channels the futurism of Cybotron et al, but takes in a wide range of electronic styles, from dark and minimal to lush and cinematic. Tonight the reclusive producer – whose tracks have found themselves in the record boxes of John Peel, Dave Clarke and Ellen Allien – plays a two-hour live set. Also on are Jon Convex of Instra:mental, and Retrotek (aka Wedge), plus there's support from LMB, Mortal Wombat and the Nonom DJs, with their cocktail of electro, techno, house, hip-hop, acid, juke, booty and mutant bass. TIMBUK2 BRISTOL, FRI 19 AUG. FFI: WWW.TB2.CO.UK
What can you tell us about your guests for August? Why should Venue readers come to Thekla to see them? We’ve already announced Ben UFO (pictured), Oneman and Dillon Francis. We’re huge fans of Ben and the Hessle Audio imprint and wanted to get him back on the Thekla. Oneman impressed us so much at Standard Place earlier in the year, and his Boiler Room mixes are insane. We have Dillon over from LA to give us some Mad Decent styles. Do you see yourself as filling a gap in Bristol’s clubs scene, and if so what is it? There are so many clubs nights in Bristol putting on dubstep and drum & bass – we wanted to bring a heavy dose of what comes after. Our regular home is Thekla, which has a great pedigree of pushing new electronic music and we wanted to continue with that. Who are the people behind 51°27'? Have you promoted other nights before? There are three of us involved in the night. Two are DJs who have promoted nights in and out of town. The third is the design and online monkey. We’re all terrible musos really.
pic: will bankhead
What are your thoughts on the way Bristol’s underground scene has developed over the last couple of years? Is there a pattern emerging? Bristol’s dance scene is always shifting, but with the likes of Futureboogie and Crazylegs representing the post-dubstep house music scene, the support for that has been massive. Idle Hands is another great addition, and really supportive of local artists. We just hope that our blend of outof-town and homegrown headliners and local support is what Bristol’s been looking out for every Friday. 51°27' THEKLA, BRISTOL, FRI 12 AUG. FFI: august 2011 // 63 WWW.MYSPACE.COM/1MANDJ
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64 // August 2011
THEATRE / DANCE / LIVE ART
Think puppetry’s just for kids? Think again, as Bristol’s world-class Festival of Puppetry returns. Steve Wright pulls the strings.
he first Puppet Fest was all about putting Bristol’s world-class puppetry on the map. This time we wanted to invite the world to Bristol.” Chris Pirie, when not busy with Bristol’s brilliant puppet troupe Green Ginger, is one half of the team behind the Bristol Festival of Puppetry, which returns for its second instalment later this month after a triumphant 2009 debut. And, as Chris is explaining, Puppet Fest #2 takes a clear step from the local to the global. “The Bristol companies who were at that festival and involved in setting up Puppet Place [the engine room of Bristol’s thriving adult puppetry scene, based in an old warehouse on Spike Island] have been touring the world and making contacts with so many international companies, and this is our opportunity to invite those companies back. We could have taken the easy route and replicated the success of the first one but we wanted to take risks, push out into new areas.” Chris co-programmes BFoP with Rachel McNally of Bristol’s Full Beam Visual Theatre – and behind much of this year’s programme is the duo’s strong bond with Nordland Visual Theatre, based in
“People can be surprised by how moved they are by puppetry.” Rachel McNally venuemagazine
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the village of Stamsund, just inside the Arctic Circle in the far north of Norway. NVT, whose work merges elements from the visual arts, theatre, mime, dance, multimedia and, of course, puppetry, are celebrating their 20th birthday this year. “There has always been a strong connection between NVT and the Bristol puppetry scene, so we are thrilled to be part of their celebrations,” says Chris. Green Ginger and [fellow Bristolians] Pickled Image have both made work there, and the latter will premiere their latest show ‘Little Edie’ (Fri 26-Sat 27 Aug, 8pm), produced in association with NVT, at the festival. Pickled Image’s tale is inspired by the story of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie, aunt and first cousin to Jackie Kennedy, who lived in a crumbling mansion in The Hamptons surrounded by music and cats. Elsewhere, we’ve already booked ourselves in for ‘The Writer’ (Fri 2 Sept, 8pm), a co-production between Nordland, Dutch outfit Ulrike Quade Company and Norwegians Jo Stromgren Kompani, in which a researcher interviews a Nobel Prize-winning author accused of betraying his homeland – and, in a subtle and seductive way, draws forth the man behind the mask. And ‘Schicklgruber, alias Adolf Hitler’ (Sat 3-Sun 4 Sept, 8pm), by the brilliant Australian puppeteer Neville Tranter, takes place in a Berlin bunker, among the forced merriment of the Führer’s 56th birthday party, as knowledge of the impending Nazi downfall hangs over the celebrants. A packed bill of family shows,
meantime, includes offerings from an adaptation of much-loved children’s story ‘The Enormous Turnip’ by Stuff & Nonsense Theatre (Fri 26 Aug, 12noon/3pm/6pm), a ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ for ages 2+ by Bristol’s Soap Soup Theatre (Sat 27, 11am & 2pm) and a medley of Grimm Tales (Sun 28, 11am & 2pm) by veteran puppetry, mime and music mixers Lempen Puppet Theatre. There’s also an exhibition of animation (or “puppetry’s first cousin”): ‘Morph vs Medusa’, a firstever joint exhibition of work (models, storyboards and stills) by Oscar-winning animators Ray Harryhausen (‘Jason and The Argonauts’) and Bristol’s own Aardman, exploring both the early history of animation and current trends in the artform. What’s the key to the strange magic that puppetry can exert over audiences both young and old? “I think people can be surprised by how moved they are by puppetry, be it laughter, tears or something more thoughtful,” Rachel reflects. “That sense of surprise, of the uncanny, adds to the magic. And because audiences invest in this object, create their own story and character around it, they are
creating as much as the performers, so that puppetry can be a slightly more intense experience than straight theatre.” “It’s also a primal experience,” Chris adds. “We’re all puppeteers, we’ve all played with our action men, teddy bears, dolls, brought them to life, made them fight, dance, shag, whatever. So there’s a little bit of electricity that happens when, in the middle of a bit of straight theatre, some puppetry is introduced. You would imagine that the reverse is true, that it’s hard to suspend disbelief: but audiences have no problem with it.” So this year’s fest has a more international feel, but is Bristol still churning out as much world-class puppetry as it was two years ago? “Even more so,” says Rachel. “We’ve tried mindfully to support the emerging generation, not just via the festival but via platforms like Prototype [the Tobacco Factory’s work-in-progress nights], and the younger companies will be curating late-night cabaret stages at this year’s festival. One company, Wattle and Daub, moved to Bristol because of Puppet Place and the first festival – Bristol is seen much more widely as the centre for puppetry.” Chris: “As the established artists, we’re now going, ‘oh sh*t, these emerging artists are all quite good!” BRISTOL FESTIVAL OF PUPPETRY TAKES PLACE AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BREWERY AND ELSEWHERE FROM 26 AUG-4 SEPT. FFI: WWW. PUPPETPLACE.ORG/FESTIVAL
Small wonders: this year's puppetry highlights include (from top-bottom): 'The Little Red Riding Hood', 'Schicklgruber, alias Adolf Hitler' and 'The Writer'
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Performance PIC: FARROWS CREATIVE
Bristol troupe RoomOne reprise their gripping, harrowing take on Philip Ridley’s ‘Leaves of Glass’ this month. Steve Wright snaps up tickets.
ow here’s one you have to make time for. Bristol troupe RoomOne Productions staged Philip Ridley’s riveting family drama ‘Leaves of Glass’ at Clifton’s Alma Tavern last year, and we were so gripped we slapped our silver award for the year’s Best Play on it. The good news is it’s back for another week. The even better news is that this rerun at Southville’s Brewery Theatre will feature the brilliant original cast and crew. RoomOne, founded in 2008 as a breakaway group from UWE Drama Society, clearly have a penchant for knotty psychological drama: they made their Bristol debut with a rendition of ‘Some Voices’, Joe Penhall’s acclaimed 1994 play about the struggles, both internal and external, faced by a young man after release from mental hospital. Earlier this year meanwhile, they gave us Ella Hickson’s unflinching monologue series ‘Eight’. The company’s rollcall features a mix of professional actors and drama school students: this play’s cast includes Chris Levens, who played a muchpraised Laertes in the National Theatre’s ‘Hamlet’ prequel ‘Prince
of Denmark’ last autumn. To the play, then… Artist/ playwright Ridley has written both for adults (‘The Fastest Clock in the Universe’) and children (‘Sparkleshark’). He’s perhaps best known, though, for the furore that surrounded his violent, apocalyptic 2005 play ‘Mercury Fur’. Given its first outing in 2007 at London’s Soho Theatre (and starring Maxine Peake), ‘Leaves’ is a less contentious affair, though not without its own sense of menace. “It jumped out at us as soon as we read it,” says RoomOne’s director Sian Henderson. “It’s so beautifully and delicately written, and yet all the while it manages to maintain a disturbing, unnerving edge.” The play centres on Steven, a purposeful, self-made East Ender with an (apparently) cosy little set-up: loving wife, baby on the way, construction business booming. But, as we watch, some hefty unresolved issues from Steven’s past begin to surface. His troubled, poetic, gossamersensitive brother Barry seems writ large in these troubles, along with the two brothers’ memories of their long-lost father. Their mother, meanwhile, shows a determination to rewrite the past, airbrushing out its frequent horrors and schisms and replacing them with a kind of efficient
Glass act: Bristol's RoomOne Productions tackle Philip Ridley at the Brewery
bonhomie just as chilling, in its way, as the boys’ childhood traumas. “Throughout the play, it seems that each character remembers fundamental past events differently,” Sian explains. “We wanted to explore the concept of selective memory – how accurately can we rely on our accounts of the past? Do we remember what really happened or what we wish had happened? And how does our inability to accurately remember an incident affect those around us? Do memories truly remain unconscious until something unlocks them – and what happens when it does, how does that affect those around us?” From our review of the play last year: “an extraordinary slowburner of a play, drip-feeding its revelations gradually but insistently: and RoomOne have done some extraordinary things with it. The play’s brilliance is in its simplicity and total lack of mawkishness: Ridley’s poetic script keeps things both determinedly everyday – references to Steven’s various building projects, his East End commutes – and heartbreakingly poignant. Michael Fox (Steven) and Chris Levens (Barry) also deliver two of the most subtle, gripping and lifelike character portraits you’ll see in a theatre all year, as well as a preternatural on-stage chemistry together. A simple, everyday tale of jealousy, exploitation, self-destruction and, well, family life, told with gripping accuracy, emotional heft and lightness of touch by a local company worth keeping tabs on.” To sum up: book now. LEAVES OF GLASS IS AT THE BREWERY, BRISTOL FROM TUE 16-SAT 20 AUG. FFI: WWW. TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM
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//Longlive theKing// THEATRE // Another fave Bristol company of ours returning to action this month is Darkstuff Productions. This lot have beguiled us thus far with two productions narrated by the extraordinary Eddie King (pictured), the sinister and mercurial compere who leads Tobacco Factory audiences on idiosyncratic promenade theatre pieces, stitching together new monologues by local writers performed around the Factory’s various nooks and crannies. The monologues we’ve seen thus far have been small gems – but only half of each evening’s oddball charm. Equally crucial is King himself, a comic misanthrope played with eyebulging intensity by Bristol actor Stuart Chapman. “Poet, bohemian and genuine toys-in-the-attic eccentric, challenging a mix of John Cleese and the scary one from Sparks,” enthused our reviewer last year. Now, Eddie is back to lead us irascibly around another clutch of boxfresh new playlets by local writers. The third instalment in the ongoing King saga, ‘Pills, Thrills & Bellyaching – Eddie King and the Death of Rave’ will be staged at the Tobacco Factory from Tues 2-Thur 4 Aug, with scripts by some top names from the local talent pool including David Lane, Gill Kirk, Phil John and Simon Harvey-Williams. Chapman is stepping aside as our curmudgeonly host: filling his over-sized shoes is Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduate Ed Birch, who gave a brilliant comic performance as fusty pedant Hugh Holofernes in BOVTS’ ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ earlier this year. Pills, Thrills & Bellyaching – Eddie King and the Death of Rave IS AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL FROM TUE 2-THUR 4 AUG.
The Madness of George III THEATRE // This year’s eighth Peter Hall season at Theatre Royal Bath culminates with Alan Bennett’s compelling, sympathetic study of a monarch hounded on all sides. George III is best remembered today for his bouts of unbridled lunacy, in spite of a
The Comedy of Errors THEATRE //As summer’s shadows begin to lengthen, a fine Bath youth theatre tradition returns. Yes, folks, it’s time once again for Storm on
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THEATRE / DANCE / LIVE ART catalogue of accomplishments – he founded the Royal Academy of Arts, was the last British king to lead the troops into battle and fathered 15 children. Subjected to the appalling medical treatment of the day and battered by power struggles between politicians and his ambitious son and heir, he remains a fascinating and moving figure throughout Bennett’s play, which premiered at the National Theatre in 1991 before going on to vast theatrical – and then cinematic – success. “It’s without doubt one of the most popular historical plays of the last 20 years and, with its prodigious cast, a true theatrical spectacle,” says Hall. “Our sympathies are very much with George, who’s being harried on all sides. It’s a very moving play.” The other shows in this year’s Peter Hall season, meanwhile, continue showing for part of this month. Parts 1 and 2 of Shakespeare’s Henry IV run until Sat 13 Aug. Our reviews for both shows are praising, but they make an interestingly nuanced pair: a five-star review of Part 1 labelled the show “impeccable on every level… combining superlative acting and a sumptuous production design that avoids excess, this is Shakespeare as it should be performed… Desmond Barrit is exquisite as the debauched, lazy and self-
the Lawn, Theatre Royal Bath’s annual alfresco youth theatre extravaganza. Over the years, this summer showcase – for which some 60 12-21-year-olds spend three weeks with theatre professionals to rehearse, design and perform a full-length show in the balmy surroundings of Prior Park College – has offered up some adventurous productions, among them Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ and Old English beast-slaying epic ‘Beowulf’. This year, SotL is tackling Shakespeare’s beautifully crafted farce, involving two sets of identical twins and a succession of belief-beggaring mistakenidentity scrapes. Storm on the Lawn’s adaptation will feature a mix of live and recorded music. The latter will come under the direction of Jon Biddle, who’s
aggrandising Falstaff, and his charming buffoonery effortlessly counterbalances the bleak and threatening atmosphere hanging over much of the play.” Our reviewer for Part 2, meanwhile, while singling out the same actor for praise, was a little more measured: “at least fifty percent talky, static scenes involving men in identical uniforms… Theatrical caffeine is thankfully provided by Desmond Barrit’s wonderful, balloon-bellied Falstaff. The heir apparent’s ‘ill angel’, he begins the play as an urbane, somewhat Quentin Crisp-ish old joker, spends the middle part breaking hearts groaning his poignant “Do not bid me remember mine end” into a whore’s lap, and ends dumbfounded and childlike as he is frogmarched to prison. The tavern scenes are brilliantly edgy, full of a dynamism that threatens to spill into real danger at any second.” Read both full reviews online at www.venue. co.uk, as well as our verdict on the fourth play in this year’s Hall season, Noel Coward’s masterful inter-wars family saga ‘This Happy Breed’ (also continuing until Sat 13).
Shaun’s Big Show
previously waved the baton for the egg’s superb Christmas shows, ‘The Nutcracker’ and ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’. And, says producer Hannah Entwistle, the production will mine both ‘Errors’’ limitless farce and its more serious strands. “As in so many Shakespeare plays, you have so much light and shade, and every laugh has to be echoed with a profound or thoughtful moment. So as ever we’ll be reaching for the big laughs, making sure everyone has a great time – but it’s also quite an interesting tale, of finding your identity and a place in the world, and how a group of people can help you do that.”
THEATRE // Aardman’s much-loved ovine escapologist makes his stage debut… and expresses himself through the medium of dance into the bargain. EMMY and BAFTAwinning BBC family fave Shaun the Sheep takes to the stage in this new adaptation by David Wood, dubbed the ‘national children’s dramatist’ after adaptations of scores of kids’ classics including ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’, ‘The BFG’, ‘The Twits’, ‘Noddy’ and ‘The Gingerbread Man’. Shaun made his debut in Wallace and Gromit’s 1995 short ‘A Close Shave’, as an increasingly resourceful sidekick for our heroes in their fight against the evil sheeprustler Wendolene Ramsbottom and her marauding dog Preston. He later got his own spin-off TV series on BBC1 and CBBC in March 2007. The stage show, meanwhile, finds our hero stage-struck. Joined by his farmyard accomplices Bitzer, Shirley, Timmy et al, Shaun gets the dance bug and puts on a special show in the farmyard’s big barn. The flock dance and prance their way through a series of adventures under the nose of the short-sighted Farmer – who, for his part, has been watching episodes of ‘Strictly…’ and has decided to teach himself how to tango. Performed entirely without spoken narrative, the touring show’s produced by Calibre Productions, who’ve previously put the likes of ‘Inspector Morse’, ‘Porridge’, ‘Dad’s Army’ and ‘’Allo ’Allo!’ on the stage.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS WILL BE STAGED AT THE BALL COURT, PRIOR PARK COLLEGE, BATH FROM WED 17-SUN 21 AUG. FFI: WWW. THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK
SHAUN’S BIG SHOW IS AT BRISTOL HIPPODROME FROM WED 17-SAT 20 AUG. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLHIPPODROME. ORG.UK OR HTTP://SHAUNSBIGSHOW. COM/
THE MADNESS OF GEORGE III IS AT THEATRE ROYAL BATH FROM WED 17 AUG-SAT 3 SEPT. FFI: WWW. THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK
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68 // August 2011
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Ten days, two comedy festivals… last month, Bristol briefly became the UK’s comedy epicentre. Tom Hackett and Steve Wright recall a few highlights from the Bristol BrouHaHa and the Bristol Comedy Garden. BRISTOL BROUHAHA There was a nice air of uncertainty and expectation hanging over North Street, BS3 last month, as some of the country’s best and brightest comics road-tested their Edinburgh Festival shows at the Comedy Box/Tobacco Factory’s Bristol BrouHaHa comedyfest. And the double bill featuring Rob Deering and The Noise Next Door felt more nicely uncertain than most, as both acts thrive on improvisation and invention. Deering confirmed once again why he’s one of the finest (and most bewilderingly underrated) comic minds on the circuit, with an hour of awesomely accomplished and hugely endearing musical comedy improvisation. TNND, meanwhile, are five agile, fearless, frenetically high-spirited and really rather wellspoken chaps who sped through an hour of pacy, inventive sketch and improv comedy. Once again, their skills of invention are impressive – even more so than Deering’s in fact, since very little of the quintet’s set is pre-scripted, the whole relying almost entirely on audience suggestions. And while there are perhaps slightly fewer belly laughs, the opportunity to watch five lithe comic minds going through the gears is as fascinating as it is funny. HHHHH (SW) Carey Marx reached something of a professional high point last year, with a cogent, pugnacious and frequently hilarious tirade against all forms of ‘spirituality’. His BrouHaHa set sees him in a more resigned mood, apparently questioning whether anyone’s listening to him, and whether
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there’s any point. It’s a stance that attracts more sympathy than bellylaughs and some of the new bits, particularly the central section about anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, lack any real bite as yet. But there are some neat new lines – a feminist complains that he objectifies women and he replies “No I don’t, women are my favourite things,” – and enough simmering anger and resentment to keep fans of his trademark style satisfied. HHHHH (TH) BRISTOL COMEDY GARDEN The Comedy Garden kicked off nicely with a set from Adam Buxton, one half of fanboy/ geek comedy duo Adam & Joe, who brought his multimedia showcase ‘BUG’ to the Garden’s Queen Square big top. There’s a very Edinburgh-like atmosphere to this venue, scattered as it is with expensive food and drink stalls and temporary decorations, transforming an ordinary city centre setting into a temporary pleasure garden. Buxton introduces us to various music videos he’s come across on the internet, and reads out some of the more bizarre comments they’ve received on YouTube in various funny accents. If this doesn’t sound like the basis for 90 minutes’ entertainment, think again: the videos are variously funny, beautiful and breathtakingly creative, Buxton’s commentary is unfailingly sharp, and the YouTube comments are easily the highlight of the whole show. They’re so rich in human quirks, stupidity, misplaced rage, and the tragi-comic spectacle of people trying and failing to
communicate, that it’s a wonder nobody’s used them for comedy before. The love for Buxton in this room is overwhelming, culminating in a standing ovation from quite a few punters for this slight, unassuming and at times altogether awkward little show. HHHHH (TH) The following day, the second of the Comedy Garden’s four successive four-comic nights featured sets from Ed Byrne, Craig Campbell, Stewart Francis and Angelos Epithemiou (a.k.a. Dan Skinner). The latter gets one of the warmest receptions: and in fact, watching this strange, outsider character shuffling on to the stage clutching an orange plastic bag to rapturous applause is initially quite jarring; ostensibly this guy still runs a burger van in Hackney, but the fame that the ‘Shooting Stars’ reboot has gifted him means he’s treated like a rock star. His act is decidedly weird, and all the better for it. Acting all the time like he’d much rather be somewhere else, Epithemiou reluctantly leads singalongs, lets stories about his downand-out mates tail off into nothing, and occasionally breaks the illusion of zero talent with a pitch-perfect
Clockwise from this pic: Shappi Khorsandi, The Noise Next Door and Angelos Epithemiou
Nelson Mandela impression. Inspired anti-comedy: all credit to Vic and Bob for springing him on us. HHHHH (TH) The Garden reached its final flowering on the Saturday night with a quartet featuring Ardal O’Hanlon, Milton Jones, Shappi Khorsandi and compere Josh Widdicombe. The latter two, the smaller of the names on the bill, were arguably tonight’s highlights: Widdicombe mixes fine uptempo compering with splendid tales of growing up in Dartmoor’s feral back end, while Khorsandi beguiles us with her easy-going, honest musings about single mumhood, middle-class neuroses and the peculiar social obstacles thrown in the path of a secular, hedonistic, metropolitan Anglo-Iranian, her language and delivery treading a nice line between streetspeak and R4/Guardian worthy. Jones (a battery of puns varying from inspired to groanworthy; wild hair, deadpan delivery, bamboozled expression) and O’Hanlon (engagingly befuddled air, rueful Irish self-loathing) merely do what’s expected of them, but to fine effect. An infectiously joyous evening at the end of what looks a welcome arrival to Bristol’s rudely healthy comedy scene. HHHHH (SW) FIND A COMPLETE SET OF OUR BROUHAHA AND COMEDY GARDEN REVIEWS AT WWW.VENUE.CO.UK
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GALLERIES, MUSEUMS AND MORE
// THE MONTH AHEAD // EXHIBITION The Sea Wall
// Exhibition presented as a conversation between installation artists Haegue Yang (b.1971, Seoul) and Felix Gonzalez-Torres (b.1957, Cuba, d.1996, New York). The show presents the affinities and contrasts in both artists’ practices, examining their approaches to notions including intimacy and activism, private and public, inside and outside, and presence and absence.
EXHIBITION Bristol Art Show
// Return of this big and beautiful open submission show, programmed by and staged at the welcoming, adventurous Centrespace Gallery in the centre of town. This year, for the first time, BAS is open to Bath as well as Bristol artists, and carries the theme of ‘Diversity and Commercialism Today’. Expect an extensive, intriguing collection of work across all media. Pictured here is work by Bath metal sculptor James Jones, whose steel wall art and free-standing and hanging sculptural forms are created from masses of zeros and ones.
THE SEA WALL IS AT ARNOLFINI, NARROW QUAY, BRISTOL, BS1 4QA UNTIL 4 SEPT. FFI: WWW.ARNOLFINI. ORG.UK
3. EXHIBITION David Constantine // Portraits from around the globe by this Bristol-based street photographer, paralysed from the shoulders down after a diving accident in 1982. Unable to pick up his camera, Constantine devised his own adaptations to both camera and wheelchair to enable him to carry on snapping. DAVID CONSTANTINE EXHIBITS AT VIEW GALLERY, 159-161 HOTWELL RD, BRISTOL, BS8 4RY FROM 13-28 AUG. FFI: WWW.SITTINGIMAGES.COM
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INSTALLATIONS Photography and Innovation // ‘Photo-Cubism’ is the label given by Devon artist Ben Yates to his unique technique, which consists of mounting each photographic print three-dimensionally. “Each picture becomes an abstract colour study or optical illusion, changing appearance as the viewer walks around or towards it,” Ben explains. Elsewhere you’ll find his model cityscapes made from recycled computer circuitry – ‘ElectriCities’, pictured – populated with tiny model people, lit with strings of LEDs and encased in acrylic and glass coffee tables. BEN YATES EXHIBITS AT WALCOT CHAPEL, WALCOT ST, BATH, BA1 5UG FROM 9-14 AUG. FFI: WWW. PHOTOCUBISM.COM
THE BRISTOL ART SHOW IS AT CENTRESPACE, 6 LEONARD LANE, BRISTOL, BS1 1AE FROM 7-21 AUG. FFI: WWW.CENTRESPACEGALLERY.COM
5. GROUP SHOW Flight // In which three local illustrators – Paul Farrell (pictured), Dave Bain and Lea Lloyd – convey the energy, freedom and mastery of birds on the wing. Soar, baby, soar. FLIGHT IS AT THE GLASS ROOM, COLSTON HALL, COLSTON ST, BRISTOL BS1 5AR FROM 5-27 AUG. FFI: GLASSROOMART@GMAIL.COM
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EXHIBITION Material Actions
// The latest in artist Nick Cudworth’s series of monthly exhibitions at his Walcot gallery features portraits in paint, pastel and print of admired cultural icons including composer Gustav Mahler, writer Arthur Miller (pictured) and 20s/30s blues singer Bessie ‘Empress of the Blues’ Smith.
// Bristol’s CREATE continues its beguiling strand of green-hued exhibitions with this touring exhibition from Textile Forum South West. TFSW’s works address debates around the ethical, ecological and sustainable use of materials – often (‘Mop Cloak’ by Kim Thornton, pictured) with a humorous twist.
PORTRAITS IS AT THE NICK CUDWORTH GALLERY, 5 LONDON ST, BATH BA1 5BU THROUGHOUT AUG. FFI: WWW. NICKCUDWORTH.COM
MATERIAL ACTIONS IS AT CREATE, SMEATON RD, BRISTOL, BS1 6XN UNTIL 24 SEPT. FFI: WWW.CREATEBRISTOL.ORG
EXHIBITION Trevor Price
// Bath’s Rostra and Rooksmoor Galleries welcome back regular favourite TP, currently rejoicing in the status of Printmaker of the Year 2011. Price’s lithe, sinuous figures will be seen in a mix of erotic sketches and scenes from family life. TREVOR PRICE EXHIBITS AT ROSTRA & ROOKSMOOR GALLERIES, 5 GEORGE ST, BATH, BA1 2EJ FROM 3-31 AUG. FFI: WWW.ROSTRAGALLERY.CO.UK
GROUP SHOW Bristol Painters
// Enticing-looking group show, featuring four accomplished painters all chronicling the streets and scenes of our fair city. The roster includes Simon Hopkinson (starkly lit cityscapes, bringing an eerie quality to the everyday); Scott Barden (naïf, Expressionist-influenced cityscapes), John Garland (still, luminous cityscapes) and Bill Moore (hidden corners of the city, rendered in a shimmering, naïf style reminiscent of David Inshaw or Stanley Spencer). BRISTOL PAINTERS IS AT THE GRANT BRADLEY GALLERY, BEDMINSTER PARADE, BRISTOL, BS3 4QA FROM 5-27 AUG. FFI: WWW.GRANTBRADLEYGALLERY.CO.UK
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GET INVOLVED Bristol: A Second Look
// Grab yer camera, O Reader, and pound the streets, as this annual open photography competition, organised by Bristol snappers’ collective Second Look, returns. The comp is free to enter and open to anyone living or working in Bristol or around. You’re invited to seek out images that show unnoticed or overlooked aspects of the city, details with hidden interest or beauty and/or places people might not normally get to see. The deadline for submissions is 31 August, after which a panel of judges will whittle down a shortlist of images to be exhibited this autumn. The good folk of Bristol will then choose their winner. Last year’s winner, ‘The Eye’ by Shafiq Zahar, is pictured. FFI: BRISTOLASECONDLOOK@ HOTMAIL.CO.UK
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GALLERIES, MUSEUMS AND MORE
Parr’s in your eyes A major retrospective of work by Bristol-based photo-documentarist Martin Parr opens at the M Shed at the end of the month. Steve Wright puts himself in the picture.
eople call me anything from voyeur to patronising. I actually think I’m quite affectionate. I like people.” Martin Parr, Britain’s best-known social documentary photographer, is well aware of the criticisms sometimes levelled at his work. Some critics have detected a patronising, even a cruel edge to some of Parr’s photos, depictions of life in suburban England that show Britons at their most unvarnished. You’ll be able to make your own mind up this month, as a major Parr retrospective goes on show right here in his home town of Bristol. The exhibition, at the Harbourside’s fledgling M Shed museum, will feature some 60 scenes from Bristol, Bath, Weston and surrounding areas, taken during Parr’s two and a half decades living in Bristol. A small selection of the prints, chosen by the public, will go to the museum’s permanent collection. There are pictures of the Clevedon Swimmers, who take a ritual dip in the briny Bristol Channel every day of the year; of Dutch footie fans watching the
“We’re surrounded by lies. All I do is show things as I find them.” Martin Parr venuemagazine
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World Cup Final on the big screen in Queen Square; of sedate bowls matches, livelier St Pauls Carnival scenes, and much more. You’ll find a mix of scenes in the exhibition, covering Parr’s diverse interests – documenting us Brits at rest, work and play. There are scenes from ‘The Cost of Living’, Parr’s 1980s project about the middle classes in Bristol, and images from a year-long project documenting life in the ‘typical’ traditional-cum-commuter village of Chew Stoke, south of Bristol. “It was a portrait of the village in the 1990s, when magazines had a lot of money and the Telegraph commissioned me to do a year in the life of a village,” Parr tells Venue from his west Bristol kitchen. Back to those accusations, though. Parr maintains that his images, far from patronising, are merely (an unfamiliar word in modern photography, this) honest. “We’re used to photography supplying us with propaganda, or lies about the world. When people say, ‘I don’t photograph well’, what they actually mean is, ‘I haven’t come to terms with how old I’ve become’. “Most of the photos in magazines, including yours, are to do with selling – products, ideas, people, lifestyles, holiday destinations. Most Facebook pics are merely how people want to be seen by the world. So we’re surrounded by lies. All I do is show things as I find them. That throws some people and they think it’s cynical and voyeuristic, but I’m just showing life as it is. People say, ‘oh, he’s out to show people at their worst’: not true. I’m out to show people as they are.” I wonder if some of the very
British traditions Parr seeks out – village fetes, bingo evenings – are being lost as ever more of us lose ourselves behind iPods, Facebook avatars and 30inch plasma TVs. “The whole world is becoming Americanised so yes, there is homogenisation,” Parr agrees. Does that make him seek out authentic Britishness all the harder? “No, because I am often photographing the very act of homogenisation. I am interested in both change and tradition. I’m always seduced by nostalgia but at the same time I understand that, as a documentary photographer, you have a responsibility to document how the world is changing.” Does he think of his photos as observation pure and simple or is there ever a social, political campaigning strand? “These photos are about how we live – but they are very subjective, seen through my eyes. What you see in each photo is down to the viewer. I don’t
preach one way or the other – I am attracted to ambiguity. I like to have a story within a photo, which the viewer can read as they want. “And the images have to be entertaining and accessible. I’m a serious photographer, but I disguise it to look like entertainment. I’m not a photographer who goes out to change the world. But I bring in issues like consumerism, tourism, globalisation: I’ve touched on all these over the years. So there will be pictures of supermarkets in there – but none of Stokes Croft Tesco. I don’t do hard news, basically.” Subtle, sublime and softly atmospheric his photographs may be, but to many people Parr will be best known for a work that contains none of his images. Instead, 1999’s ‘Boring Postcards’ is a selection from Parr’s extensive haul of postcards of post-war British municipal architecture – 155 ‘comically dull’ images of airport terminals, caravan sites, bus stations, motorways and housing estates, with captions like ‘Town Centre, Redditch: Traffic Interchange’ and ‘Tonypandy Car Park’. “I did a show called ‘The Worst Postcards’ at Watershed 20 years ago, which got national coverage,” Parr recalls. “I was quite taken aback by that – I realised that this was a subject that really made people light up. So we refined it, did the book, and out of all the books I’ve ever done, it’s been by far the biggest seller. And there’s not a photo by me in there! BRISTOL AND WEST: PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARTIN PARR WILL BE AT M SHED, PRINCES WHARF, BRISTOL BS1 4RN, FROM 31 AUG-27 NOV. FFI: WWW.MSHED. ORG
Swimming in the Severn Estuary, Clevedon, England (2009)
Bristol, England (1999)
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// top ten //
Humorous books for the holidays, as chosen by the good folk at Foyles, Bristol.
Joie de vivre
Cartoon Modern – Amid Amidi (Chronicle Books, £25) ART This beautifully illustrated book documents the graphic freedom found in 1950s cartoons, which exploited the techniques learnt during the golden age of animation (the 1940s) with expressive and creative verve. The results can at times be eccentric: in spite of that, they are often tinged with a kind of mad genius.
Joe Melia meets multi-skilled novelist Christopher Wakling.
Now based in Bristol, Christopher Wakling is publishing two very different novels – his fifth and sixth – this summer. Faber & Faber brought out historical crime thriller ‘The Devil’s Mask’ (set in Bristol just after the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade) in June, while this month sees John Murray publishing ‘What I Did’, a contemporary novel narrated by six-year-old Billy Wright. How do you approach writing in such different styles? It's true that these are very different novels. ‘What I Did’ has the stronger, stranger voice, but it poured out. The more considered narrative of ‘The Devil's Mask’ took much longer to research, write and edit. A lot of material ended up on the cutting room floor. Early drafts sounded too 'historical': I wanted a voice that felt universal, and finding it was hard. The research itself was harrowing. Though some reviewers have still found the novel gory, the horror is deliberately restrained. It's impossible to outdo what went on. I didn't want to try: I simply wanted to add my voice to those reminding us all that it happened. With ‘What I Did’ I was writing much closer to home. I have small children of my own. I listened to them carefully, and tried to see the world through their eyes. Imagining the unravelling of Billy and his parents' world was a different sort of harrowing – but seeing the world as him was fun.
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Billy Wright has such a strong voice, it must have become very addictive. How did you avoid speaking like him in conversation when you were knee-deep in writing ‘What I Did’? Ha! Oddly, I didn't fall into conversational kidspeak much when I was writing the novel – perhaps because eight hours a day in Billy's head was enough – but I hope readers do when they read it. I love the sense of my own world refracted by a novel I'm reading. It's one of the greatest literary pleasures. Walking round Cribbs Causeway with Cormac McCarthy's voice in your head is... a transformative experience. Away from the writing, what’s your favourite bookshop and what makes it so special? Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath. Closely followed by Daunt Books in Marylebone. And the new Foyles in Bristol – the daddy of all independents has taken its first step outside London, landing here in Bristol to save the city from an apparent slide into booklessness. Apart from your own, of course, name a couple of books everyone should read. That's a hard question: I've come over all ‘Ulysses’, ‘Paradise Lost’, ‘King Lear’. Can I confine myself to a recent novel? Gary Shteyngart's ‘Super Sad True Love Story’ is a timely, funny, worrying book: if you've ever found yourself fiddling with your phone instead of talking to the person in front of you, and wonder where that's going to end, read it. CHRISTOPHER WAKLING’S ‘WHAT I DID’ (JOHN MURRAY, £12.99); ‘THE DEVIL’S MASK’ (FABER & FABER, £12.99).
THANKS ONCE AGAIN, TO THE FABULOUS FOYLES, 6 QUAKERS FRIARS, CABOT CIRCUS, BRISTOL, BS1 3BU, 0117 376 3975, WWW.FOYLES.CO.UK
What’s on the cards for Inigo Bright (clerk turned sleuth in ‘The Devil’s Mask’)? I'm writing a book set 200 years later, also in Bristol, featuring Inigo's descendants. Similar themes, but a contemporary novel. He has evolved…
How I Escaped My Certain Fate – Stewart Lee (Faber, £12.99) HUMOUR Three transcripts of some of the funniest standup shows you’re likely to see. A full introduction and extensive annotations reveal the in-depth workings of a comic genius. Paul Klee – Boris Friedewald (Prestel, £14.99) ART There is warmth to Klee’s work which invites the viewer to participate in his playful aesthetic investigations. It’s almost as if you can see the artist’s mind as it wanders across the paper or canvas. A joyful book. The Tiger-Skin Rug – Gerald Rose (Bloomsbury, £10.99/£5.99) CHILDREN A sheer delight for the young or simply young at heart. A hungry tiger takes the place of a tiger-skin rug hanging in a palace garden and adventure ensues. The drawings are hilarious and beautiful. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris (Abacus, £8.99) HUMOUR Human inadequacies and the socially bizarre are David Sedaris’s specialty. In this collection he dives into the eccentricities of his childhood: “We were the family that never shut down, whose TV was so hot we needed an
oven mitt in order to change the channel,” he writes, unleashing equal hilarity on every page. TV Go Home – Charlie Brooker (Faber, £12.99) HUMOUR Before he became a famous onscreen curmudgeon, Charlie Brooker ran a website, TV Go Home, a jokey take on the Radio Times that satirises the rubbish that clogs the TV schedules. Utterly hilarious, you’ll be reading out entries to your friends, if you can stop laughing yourself. Under The Duvet – Marian Keyes (Penguin, £7.99) JOURNALISM/MEMOIR A wonderful collection of downto-earth, witty tales based around everyday experiences. Somehow Keyes manages to write them in her Irish accent, which only adds to the humour. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole (Penguin, £9.99) FICTION Ignatius J Reilly is an enormous flatulent slob, highly educated but with no motivation to use his brain for anything but pouring scorn on the world around him. 30 and still living at home, he scribbles down his grand philosophies, until one day his mother insists he gets a job… An absolute joy. Yes Man – Danny Wallace (Random House, £7.99) HUMOUR ‘Yes Man’ tells of the incredible journey Wallace was taken on by using the simple word ‘yes’. With his own YesMobile, he captures the hearts and laughter of all who come across him. Except, of course, for ‘The Challenger’… The Adventures of Captain Underpants – by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic, £5.99) CHILDREN A clever mix of illustration and story about two boys who create “THE GREATEST SUPERHERO IN THE WORLD!!!” Laugh-out-loud funny all the way through, and a tale about one of the silliest characters ever.
family fun and trips away
Open questions As secondary schools begin their annual bid for pupils, Anna Britten attempts to navigate the minefield.
Picking a good secondary school for your kids can be a pesky little number but looking out for students holding big letters can really help
f it’s August and you’ve got a 10-year-old, chances are you’ve got a few secondary school open days to, erm, look forward to. It’s an easy enough choice for the kids – most will just choose the one that contains the majority of their mates and the best canteen. But for parents, navigating the British education system has never been more confusing. We tackle a few headscratchers.
Aren’t Bristol secondary schools, like, famously terrible? Hey, catch up! Things are getting much better. Bristol schools are achieving their best ever results at GCSE – 46.2% of students achieved 5 GCSEs at grade A* to C including English and Maths in 2010, a rise of seven percentage points compared to the previous year, and the biggest annual rise in results over the last decade. Improved results are expected for 2011. Furthermore, all the city’s secondary schools have either been rebuilt or significantly refurbished in recent years. What’s the difference between academies, specialist schools, trust schools etc? Academies The Labour government introduced ‘sponsored’ academies to address poorly performing schools. But the coalition have extended the academies programme to allow any school to ‘convert’ to academy status. This means they’ll be funded directly by central government and can set their own term dates, curriculum and pay and conditions. They are responsible for their own school improvement, education
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welfare, meals and behaviour support. Eight of the 20 state-funded schools in Bristol are already sponsored academies – City Academy, The Merchant’s Academy, Oasis Brightstowe Academy, Oasis John Williams Academy, Bristol Brunel Academy, Bristol Metropolitan Academy, Bristol Cathedral Choir School and Colston’s Girls’ School. Secondary schools proposing to convert to academies in Sept/ Oct are Bedminster Down School, Cotham School, St Bede’s Catholic College and Henbury School. Community School Fully maintained by the local authority. Voluntary Aided Responsibility for management shared between the local authority and either the Church of England or Catholic diocese. Trust schools State-funded foundation schools which receive extra support (usually non-monetary) from a charitable trust made up of partners working together for the benefit of the school.
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on a temporary site on Burghill Road, Westbury-on-Trym this September, before relocating to Brecon Road next year. It’s the largest of the free schools to open in England next month. Ffi: www. bristolfreeschool.org.uk
Federation Some Bristol schools have formed federations where a cluster of schools have a formal agreement to work together. Do we have any of those newfangled ‘free school’ thingies? You do. Free schools are all-ability state-funded schools set up in response to what local people say they want and need for education in their community. The Bristol Free School was set up by a parents’ group to cater for the youngsters of north west Bristol and will be setting up
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So, what’s the best way to tackle this? DO visit a range of schools, say Bristol City Council, if possible with your child. DON’T leave it too late to start looking at schools and discussing with your child their desires, needs and interests. DO use all three of your choices – it’s the best way to ensure that you get a school that you would prefer. DON’T forget practicalities as part of the decision process – how will your child get to school and will before and after school care be needed? DO read the allocation statements from last year – these will tell you how far away the furthest applicant lived to get into that particular school. These will change from year to year depending on numbers applying. DON’T miss the deadline for applications – online or by post – is Mon 31 Oct. I’m in a complete muddle! A comprehensive booklet listing all the schools and detailing the admissions process is available through your local primary school or online. In addition, Bristol’s school admissions team are available to answer questions on 0117 903 7694 or school.admissions@bristol. gov.uk. And if you need help with form-filling, you can contact the Family Information Service for advice on 0845 129 7217.
// OUT & ABOUT // // Keynsham-based autism/ Aspergers support group Butterflies has launched a new youth group for young people aged 10-17 who are somewhere on the autistic spectrum (“whether diagnosed or not”) and live in B&NES, Bristol or South Glos. Activities include games that focus on typical challenges such as communication, team playing and turn-taking, as well as talking about feelings, interaction and an opportunity to make new friends who share the same challenges socially and at school. Refreshments are provided. Parents are invited to join in with the fun or take advantage of the drop-in facility, relax with a coffee and meet other parents. All of the volunteers are CRB checked through the National Autistic Society. The group meets on alternate Friday nights from 6.30-8pm at St Francis Church Hall, Warwick Road, Keynsham. Ffi: www.butterflies-haven.co.uk // The superlative Bristol Arts & Music Service invites kids to catch the rhythm bug this summer via a new holiday programme at its Southmead HQ. ‘Rhythm Bugs’ is a threeday arts programme running from Tue 23-Thur 25 Aug and aimed at local children aged 5-11. The best bit? It’s just £12 for the three days. Activities will be held outdoors where possible and include drumming, arts and crafts, instrument making, drama, games, percussion, dance, singing and storytelling. All led by professional tutors. Says Head of Bristol Arts and Music Service Andy Gleadhill: “This exciting project will inspire children to explore their creative side right in the middle of the school holidays when they are often looking for things to do and will end with an informal performance for parents and friends”. Ffi: 0117 377 1050 or firstname.lastname@example.org // More musical fun this summer courtesy of Remix at Colston Hall, whose Get Inspired! Holiday Club for young people aged 4-11 takes place every Wednesday during the school holidays. Get Inspired! offers half-day workshops in music
making, storytelling, arts, crafts and drama activities culminating in a show. The sessions run every Wednesday from 9.30am-12.30pm from 27 July-31 Aug and cost £15 per session. There are only 20 spaces per session so book now on 0117 922 3686 or at www.colstonhall. org Ffi: getinspired@colstonhall. org // Windmill Hill City Farm turns 35 this year and is throwing a birthday garden party on Sat 6 Aug to celebrate. Cream teas, swingboat rides, donkeys, floral fun, farm produce, local cider and music are all on the bill, and entry is free. Ffi:www. windmillhillcityfarm.org.uk/ events/birthday-party.html // Much fun to be had on Brunel’s ss Great Britain this summer where professional storyteller Sarah Mooney regales the littlest visitors with adventures of the high seas in Sea Hear at 11am on Tue 2 Aug, and returns for Gruesome Greens: Stories From The Galley on Thur 11, Thur 18 & Thur 25 Aug at 11.30am & 3pm. Meet re-enactors from the 19th Regiment of Foot, The Green Howards in Crimean troop tucker from 11am-4pm on Sat 13-Sun 14 Aug and sample their gruel in the Café Bar. // Bristol Zoo invites you onto The Downs this month with three nature-based children’s events and a unique evening party back on Guthrie Road. Dinosaur detectives on Thur 4 Aug introduces you to Bristol’s very own dinosaur, the Thecodontosaurus; you can learn all about trees and tree spirits in Tree Tribes on Thur 11; and get busy with bees on Thur 18. Fri 5 Aug’s Sunset Special soiree invites you to eat, drink, be merry and find out what the animals get up to after hours. Ffi: bristolzoo.org.uk
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It’s not about the honey
Anna Britten discovers the buzz of a hobby that could save the planet.
s an impressionable pre-teen, I once read a book called ‘A Taste of Blackberries’ about a boy whose best friend died of a bee sting. It was scarier than the Cold War, and I have associated the flying nectar junkies with tragedy ever since. Turns out this is not exactly unreasonable but, of course, I’ve got it the wrong way around – it’s bees that are facing their last breaths, not us. Nobody’s more aware of this than Bristol Beekeepers – a regional wing of the British Beekeepers Association (there are about five such groups in what used to be Avon). From May to September, every other weekend, they run hands-on skills sessions for fledgling and experienced beekeeper-members (as well as those thinking about getting their first hive) in an idyllic orchard-based apiary near Cribbs Causeway. Such urban beekeeping has taken off
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considerably in the last five years and I’m here today with new member Carolyn Cross, who has kept bees on her allotment since May. “People have very different reasons for doing it,” she explains. “For me it was a challenge.” We’re greeted by chairman (“and odd job man”) Garth Chatham, who is leading today’s session about transferring queens from one hive to another. As Carolyn and I pull on our protective suits and veils, his wife
Wendy comments that “there’s nothing worse than feeling a bee crawling around in your bra.” I pull my Velcro wristbands extra tight and shudder.
“There’s nothing worse than feeling a bee crawling around in your bra.” Wendy Chatham, beekeeper
There’s just time, before the members arrive, for Garth to show me the basics of a hive – from the bottom board which keeps out the lethal verroa mite up through the deep super (where the queen lays her eggs and gets waited on – Garth: “typical woman”), the queen excluder (a mesh layer too narrow for her to squeeze through) and the shallow super (where the honey is stored) to the outer cover. Wendy puffs a smoker into the hive to subdue the insects, and it’s immediately evident the bees have little interest in us. Garth hands me a drone – embarrassingly, it has to be explained to me at least twice that they can’t sting – which walks over my latexed hand and is so relaxed (or scared?) it promptly empties its bowels. I then hold a
"Ow! I've just stood on a stinging nettle!"
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Bristol Honey Show & Festival
BEE FACTS // Honeybees have been around for about 25 million years. // There are no longer any wild honeybees in the UK. // Foreign honey can kill colonies – don’t leave unwashed jars outside. // Drones do little other than fly around scouting for queens. There’s been a ‘drone congregation area’ on Hampstead Heath since the 16th century. Yep, that’s young males waiting around for queens. To shag. On Hampstead Heath. // Rain makes bees arsey. // You don’t need a garden to keep a hive – allotments (if your neighbours approve) and roof gardens are both suitable, or your local beekeeping association can advise on hosting. // Bee poo looks like that runny mustard you get on American hot dogs. // Queen bees can sting repeatedly without dying.
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frame covered in honeycomb, bees, honey and nectar – it weighs a ton. “Hence the condition known as beekeepers’ back,” says Garth. I even see a new bee being born, its black head pushing out of a cell. The more is explained to me, the greater the unspeakable confusion bubbling in my head. I quickly realise the extent of my ignorance and confide in Carolyn. “You never stop feeling your questions are stupid,” she reassures me. Furthermore, “if you ask two beekeepers how to do something, they’ll give you four answers.” As Garth explains what I’m looking at, I learn that bees have hierarchies and hereditary issues to rival a Tudor court. Virgin queens, failing queens, old queens, attendants… it’s brutal. When a young virgin queen emerges from a queen cell, she will seek out virgin queen rivals and attempt murder. She’ll then fly off, as soon as the weather’s warm enough, and attempt to have sex with as many drones as possible, storing their sperm and then using it to fertilise eggs all through her life. When a new queen is available, the workers will kill the old or diseased reigning queen by “balling” her, i.e. clustering tightly around her until she dies from overheating. Now, is that not an ITV mini-series begging to be made? When the members assemble for today’s session – a mix of ages and sexes – they strike up conversations about how things are going. “I think I might be
queenless,” grimaces one, sadly. “Mine don’t like being smoked,” says another. I talk to Bristol librarian Jane, a beekeeper for the last year. “My grandson is 18 months and I want him to be aware bees are important. Without them we’d be up the creek. At work I email people pictures of bees and think, well, if it teaches them something… “ Does she make honey? “I’m not in it for the honey. Aggressive bees make more honey but mine are nice bees. I talk to them: ‘this is your mother’. I make a few beeswax candles. I was once stung 11 or 12 times on the thigh when my smoker went out. It’s lovely. It makes you feel high.” Tutor Dave Maslen is protected by only a hat and veil safety pinned to his shirt – no gloves. He locates the queen, places a blob of Tippex on her thorax and puts her in a cage. This is kept warm between someone’s hands until she is installed into her new hive. Things are getting pretty technical now, so I slip away, leaving the guardians of the ecosystem to their studies. Without these people, honeybees could die out for good in just a few years. I’m not ready for my own bees just yet, but I vow to plant a few flowers soon for the benefit of someone else’s. BRISTOL BEEKEEPERS RUNS A FULL PROGRAMME OF SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL EVENTS FOR BEEKEEPERS AND NONBEEKEEPERS ALIKE, AS WELL AS THE ANNUAL BRISTOL HONEY SHOW & FESTIVAL (SEE PANEL). FFI: WWW. BRISTOLBEEKEEPERS.ORG.UK
// Room in your life for some buzzy new mates? Then get yourself along to the annual Honey Show at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden on Sat 3-Sun 4 Sept. Entrants to the competition will be aiming to win the prestigious and beautiful Bristol Silver Queen Trophy. This was first awarded in 1929 to Miss A B Flowers, a beekeeper from Salisbury, and beekeepers from as far as Scotland and Cornwall have won the trophy in the past. Prizes will be given in various categories including best light, medium, dark, naturally crystallized, soft set and cut comb honey plus beeswax candles, mead, bee-related artwork and photography, and honey fruitcake. There will also be live bees in a demonstration hive, showing visitors how a hive works and real bees at work. Anyone thinking of starting out in one of the fastest growing hobbies in the South West will have access to all the information they need, with honey and other products on sale for those with a sweet tooth. The event runs from 10am-5pm each day. Sunday 4 Sept is also Open Day at the Botanic Gardens – part of the National Gardens Scheme – featuring a garden laid out to tell the story of plant evolution, glasshouse with orchids, carnivorous plants and giant water-lilies. FFI: WWW. BRISTOLBEEKEEPERS. ORG.UK/HONEYSHOW/ BRISTOLHONEYSHOW.HTML
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Next year Bristol team the Bisons will host European gay rugby tournament, the Union Cup. Darryl W Bullock scrums down.
any hearty congratulations to the Bisons, Bristol’s gay (and gay-friendly) rugby team, who are celebrating a new sponsorship deal with the recently relaunched Queenshilling and who have won the chance to host the Union Cup – the Europe-wide gay rugby tournament – in June 2013. The Union Cup is Europe’s biennial gay rugby tournament, attracting hundreds of players from all over the UK, Ireland and Europe, as well as from as far away as Australia, and the Bisons beat off strong competition from Dublin to host matches in the city. Established back in 2005, membership of the Bristol Bisons has risen rapidly and the club now boasts close to 30 regular players as well as numerous supporters; no doubt that number is on the increase thanks to a successful open day and recruitment drive during last month’s Pride celebrations. Gay rugby currently has an all-time high profile, thanks to Gareth Thomas coming out and to gay icon Ben Cohen retiring from the sport to concentrate on his new role as the chairman of the StandUp Foundation, a campaign combatting homophobia in sport. At this year’s Union Cup in Amsterdam the Bisons showed how strong the club has become, winning four out of
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five games in the 10s competition and beating the Kings Cross Stealers, Europe’s longest-established gay rugby club. Bristol has more rugby clubs than any other similar-sized city in the UK, and with the city able to offer visitors great food, world-class shops, quality attractions and a burgeoning gay scene, it should come as no surprise that 10 out of 13 votes from European teams went to Bristol. Thanks to successful annual events such as Pride, the city now ranks as one of the UK’s top gay destinations. “Bringing the Union Cup to Bristol would mean so much to so many people in the city, a city which is ready, willing and excited to host such a tournament,” says Barbara Janke, leader of Bristol City Council. “As we are all aware, sport has an incredible power to unite people and communities alike.” “Bringing this European gay tournament to the South West would bring important economic and tourism benefits,” adds Kevin Duffy, centre director for Cabot Circus. “The Union Cup represents a great opportunity for Bristol on many levels,” says Michalis Sanidas, chairman of the Bisons. “As well as a chance for Bristol to promote itself on the international stage, it is a chance for the city to really step up to the mark on equality and acceptance issues. Clubs like the Bisons provide a much needed place for people, including many young people, to meet and develop as part of an accepting group.” FFI: WWW.BISONSRFC.CO.UK
EVENTS NOT TO MISS IN AUGUST Aug 3 // CycleOut Bristol Meet by King William Statue, Queen Sq, Bristol, 6pm. Ffi: http:// tiny.cc/cycleoutbristol • CycleOut Bristol’s (pictured) Wednesday evening rides, are short urban rides providing a gentle sociable introduction to cycling, 10-15 miles with a pub or cafe stop. All are welcome; don’t be put off by distance. You will be accompanied to the finish.
Aug 6 // Dining Out Jeffersons, 5-7 Bridewell St, Bristol, BS1 2QD, 7.30pm, £25. Must be booked in advance. Ffi: www. diningoutevents.co.uk • Monthly supper club bringing together up to 40 LGBT food lovers. The price includes wine on arrival, a three-course supper and freshly brewed coffee. BYO alcohol (£1.50 corkage). Aug 6 // The Rainbow Cafe St Michael’s Centre, next to Little Theatre Cinema, off Westgate St, Bath, BA1 1SG, 10.30am12.30pm. Ffi: 0870 811 1990 • Organised by Gay West, each Saturday. Aug 13 // Come to Daddy Old Castle Green, 46 Gloucester Lane, Old Market, Bristol, BS2 0DU. 10pm-4am. Ffi: www. cometodaddyclub.co.uk •A men-only space for bears, cubs and their admirers. Aug 14 // West Walking Women Ffi: 07804 469991 • Friendly walking group for lesbians meets the second Sunday of the month. Walks are led by different leaders in different areas ranging from The Wye Valley and Wiltshire to Gloucestershire or Glastonbury. The walks are varied, set at a medium pace and last for around three hours (plus a lunch stop).
Aug 18 // Gay Men’s Book Group Ffi: bristolbookclub@hotmail. co.uk • Monthly meet-up to discuss books written by or about gay men. This month’s book is ‘Mysterious Skin’ by Scott Heim. Aug 19 // Pink Masquerade Ball Doubletree by Hilton Cadbury House, Congresbury, Bristol, BS49 5AD, £25. Ffi: 01934 834343 or www.cadburyhouse. com • A night of glitz, glamour and all things pink. Guests are asked to wear their best posh frocks and masks and will be treated to a delicious three-course dinner and live entertainment including an Elton John tribute act, drag from Pixie Perez and a disco until 1am. Aug 20 // Bristol Posse The Ship, Lower Park Row, Bristol, BS1 5BJ, from 3pm. Ffi: 07891 950550 or info@bristolposse. co.uk • Casual monthly gettogether for members of the LGB community. Drop by for a pint (or something nonalcoholic) and a chat, go on for a meal if you’re hungry or carry on into the night pubbing or clubbing.
Aug 20 // Bootylicious! Flamingos Arena 2, 25 West St, Bristol, BS2 0DF, 11pm-5am, £8/£5 before 11.30pm. Ffi: www. flamingosbristol.co.uk • A new night for r’n’b, urban, hiphop and dancehall junkies, each month with a different theme (high top trainers for this launch event) and free giveaways. Aug 31 // Members Bristol Goldbrick House, Park St, Bristol, BS1 5PB, from 8.30pm. Ffi: www.members-bristol. co.uk • Popular social and networking group for gay professionals. Last AUGUST 2011 // 85 Wednesday of each month.
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