Tuesday 7 May 2013

Book review March / April 2013

Bone Quill
John & Carole E. Barrowman
Published by: Buster

The second the in the series of Hollow Earth books aimed at a younger audience from the Barrowman family. Having enjoyed the first I was eager to know whether the children’s missing mother would finally turn up again. I’m not going to say, but the adventure continues well as they try to go behind the adult’s backs to find their mother landing them in all sorts of bother and unleashing something from the past that should really have stayed there. The sortie to Victorian England felt slightly drawn out, but over all a fun read and I’m looking forward to the next installment.

 Doctor Who - The Coming of the Terraphiles
Michael Moorcock
Published by: BBC Books                             

I’ve had this one on the book shelf for some time, and finally got round to reading it. I had been warned off by several people, so it struggled to find its place at the top of the ‘to read’ pile.  But if I’m to maintain my goal of having read all Doctor Who novels it had to be done.

Unfortunately the warnings were correct, and I found it nothing but a load of over indulgent twaddle.  Very little happened in the story, the Doctor and Amy play some abysmal mashed up version of sorts and games whilst trying to find out who had attempted to steal a hat.

The wittering tangents that drifted from the narrative left me gasping for sanity.

Sherlock Holmes - The Army of Dr Moreau
Guy Adams
Published by: Titan Books

This was light relief after the Terraphiles, and the second of Guy Adams’ new Sherlock Holmes adventures that I have read. Like before there is a slight over loading of characters taken from other literature including Conan Doyle’s own Professor Challenger. The story unfolds with mutilated bodies turning up in the river, and the suspicion from Mycroft Holmes that work of the late Dr Moreau has been resurrected.

A good extension to the world of the detective from 221B Baker Street.


Doctor Who - The Silurian Gift
Mike Tucker
Published by: Quick Reads

One of the regular releases aimed to encourage the less frequent reader to pick up a book.  This time the Silurians are back, and offering mankind a super energy, but it takes the Doctor to realise all is not well with the deal. 

A fun read that will help pass a train journey.

Moon Boots & Dinner Suits
Jon Pertwee
Published by: Fantom Films Limited

A book I’ve wanted to read for years, but it has been out of print for so long. Finally the boys at Fantom Films have returned this gem to circulation, with a new ‘Forward’ from Ingeborg Pertwee written specially for this edition.

This is Jon Pertwee in his own words, telling the early years of his life and career from being expelled from drama school to waking up in a morgue during the war. It covers a period up to the Navy Lark so does not cover anything to do with Time Lords or scarecrows, but was well worth waiting for.

May Day Work

A few photos showing some progress on the latest coffee stick houses I worked on over the bank holiday once all the other jobs were finished, including the first grass cut of the year and having to replace 17 cupboard door-handles in the kitchen.

Eventually work on these had to stop when I almost ran out out of clamps.

Some of the planks are held in place with dress pins, hammered into them.

Monday 6 May 2013

Bar room, fixtures, fittings and furniture

Whilst moving the contents of various storage boxes around this bank holiday Monday, I dug up the pieces I made for a game session set in a bar. At short notice I needed a bar set, and although I had one set of resin tables painted up there was certainly no time to shop for more and even then only one in the set was a basic table top; one had dishes set out for dinner and the third was more a study table. 

Keeping in mind the last part of the first book in the Karl trilogy I set about putting together the necessary fixtures, fittings and furniture for this scene as a starting point.

However for the game session I also needed the upstairs rooms, so not only bar room tables were needed in bulk for this session but also beds.

For part of the general bar room I built a couple of style bars, a fireplace and additional chimney stack, and a staircase. The bulk of the materials came from the usual source, the coffee stick collection.

The tables were small lengths of coffee sticks cut to size, joined together by additional smaller pieces on the underside with legs cut from matchsticks. The beds were built on basically the same principle, and so were the smaller bar stools. 

A single length of coffee stick with tiny angled pieces made a couple of benches. The bedding was made from cut up coffee cup holder, one of those extra cardboard bands you get sometimes if the coffee is too hot to hold. The pillows were slices of packing chips.

The basic paint job of black under coat, brown top coat and a dash of white dry brushing completed the effect.

The fireplace and chimney started life as a thin, tall cardboard box, the type used for toothpaste tubes. Cut down and shaped it was covered in DAS putty and had a brick effect scored in whilst the DAS was still wet. Again a quick red brick paint job completed the build. The colourful flames and occasional tankard came from tiny coloured plastic beads I found in Hobbycraft. The red, orange and yellow ones were cut up to form the flames on the fire, and the light grey ones were stuck on to surfaces for mugs or cups.

The bars and stairs were again cereal packet corners cut to shape, covered in coffee sticks and painted up, decorated with a man behind the bar and some barrel pieces I had already bought I think the effect worked.

Anyway, enough reminiscing, back to work, it is a bank holiday after all.

Thursday 2 May 2013

Love of Lego

During the 1970s as a small kid I discovered Lego. I loved it, and so did my parents if truth be told. I think most adults do. Quite often I remember setting Mum and Dad a challenge to build something after I had gone to bed, to come down in the morning and see what they had made. I remember a yellow castle very well although I don’t have any photos of the models. 

In those days you didn’t photograph everything that moved or didn’t unlike today when camera phones get whipped out at any and every opportunity.  (But that’s a discussion for another time.)

As time went by I remember buying small sets of either tiny models or just assorted bricks to take home and build up my collection. It really is no wonder I still make model houses today from all sorts of materials, but back then it was Lego. There were small stickers in the boxes which you stuck to collector sheets to send off for bonus sets, people that were giants to the mini figures of today and trees that were flat.

Then along came mini figures and space Lego. I got some of the early sets and build my lunar landscape, and made up stories about monsters from outer space that terrorised the base. I recall being influenced by a TV series at the time called ‘The Nightmare Man’ (look it up – go on) and ended up scaring the hell out of myself courtesy of my own imagination.

Then as the years went on the sets got broken up and put away, but never forgotten about. Then a few years ago a couple of friends got me started collecting the packets of mini figure collectables that Lego now release. And like anyone else inflicted with the “completest gene” I had to collect the whole set of sets. 

This has led on to me rediscovering the whole world especially now that there are sets for Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Monster Hunters to name but a few. Although I do think the new sets, however ingenious with new style pieces and parts that interact and light up in ways they never did before are a trifle more flimsy being built from single width bricks (1x3) rather than the thicker (2x3) bricks when the range of pieces and colours were fewer.

However, the addiction has been awoken and I now have a display of Lord of the Rings at the moment, plus a Halloween display planned, along with Lego being my planned style of Christmas decorations for this year

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Theatre Roundup April

Three visits to the theatre during April, and three quite varying stories and productions.

by Amanda Whittington
St James Theatre
(8th April 2013)
Runs 27th March 2013 – 4th May 2013

Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Britain, convicted of the coldblooded killing of her unfaithful lover. This is her story, the fact that she pleaded not guilty after having handed herself over to an off duty police officer at the time of the murder, and offered no defence at her trial.

The story follows the investigating officer’s gut feeling that there was more to her case than was first apparent. His investigation takes him to the nightclub where she worked and the story unfolds through the eyes of the other women that worked there.

Although well staged, it did feel as if something was lacking, and that might have been the non presence of the other men in the story, the violent ex-husband and the equally unpleasant boyfriend and murder victim.

This production contains gun shots, smoking, strong language, scenes of a sexual nature and recreational drug use, and is recommended for ages 16+. Smoke, Haze and Strobe lighting are used throughout.

by David Eldridge
The Lost Theatre
Ran 24th to 27th April

The art of selling shoes in Romford Market during the 1980s, with Margaret Thatcher as the market inspector. This play set during the years of Margaret Thatcher’s occupancy of number 10 Downing Street felt a little rushed to stage to coincide with her passing. Whether you loved or loathed her, Margaret Thatcher changed the United Kingdom during this period.

I remember the period well. I remember Romford Market during that period and I have to admit the play did bring back memories of the lost era. The characters and stalls depicted were almost as I remember them, although I’m not so certain there was a stall full of CDs in 1985, more vinyl than shiny disk. The story was a bit weak, following a young lad starting as tea boy on the shoe stall and performances were mixed, although the fights were staged culminating in the biggest fight Romford Market had ever seem. (However, I’m guessing that might have changed since the period it was set.)

I will pick out George Vafakis, as Mouse, his comic expressions and timing were brilliant, and I hope to see more of him in future productions.

The performance was not suitable for under 12s

By Rikki Beadle-Blair
Theatre Royal Stratford East
(30th April 2013)
Runs 26th April to 25th May.

Described as “A daring, shocking and intensely emotional new play by Rikki Beadle-Blair”, this play is certainly an emotional rollercoaster. There are quite a large number of very funny moments during the play which contrast against other times when the story becomes quite uncomfortable and other moments where it is funny but you are telling yourself they shouldn’t be.

The story follows Bridie Prospect (Louise Jameson) and her four sons, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John and their partners in a turbulent examination of a mother’s love for her boys and where this dysfunctional and self destructive family went wrong. The Prospects are the royalty and the nightmare family on this council estate in South East London.  When one of the boys is released from rehab it triggers a 24 hour period that will change the family forever.

Louise Jameson gives a tremendous performance as the hard but vulnerable mother, and I challenge anyone not to feel for her by the end. The whole cast give strong performances and the only problem I had towards the beginning was to follow the timeline of the play as there were many fast and often short flashbacks during the narrative, signalled by the projection of images of the boys as children above the stage. 

GUTTED embraces adult themes and contains extremely strong language and scenes of a sexual nature. Suitable for audiences aged 16+