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I'm a little sad that I wasn't able to persuade any of my friends to go to the reading of Perdition today. Simply put, the performance was amazing. Seven actors and actresses, using nothing more in the way of props than a few tables, transformed the hall into a court room, and had us all on the edge of our seats. When the complainant's lawyer and defendant hit their stride, with charged verbal attacks flying back and forth like a tennis rally, we really were the jury in a 1967 libel trial.

The play rendered a thorough and damning indictment of Zionism, but it also drove home the real sadness and despair wrought by the betrayals that happened during the holocaust. At so many moments in the proceedings, the bitter taste of "if only" lingered on the tip of the tongue, and when the complainant, at last broken, admits defeat a tangible sense of disappointment at the failings of humanity descended upon those present.

Juliano Mer Kamis, the director of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, for whom the event was raising funds, spoke after a screening of his film. He spoke warmly, but also with concern. Palestine is, he believes, in the beginnings of a third Intifada. The election of Hamas was a spontaneous rejection by the Palestinian people of the peace process that has marginalized them, whilst painting a whitewash of legitimacy in the eyes of the international community over Israel's actions.

It wouldn't surprise me to be honest. In fact, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. The recent abductions by the Palistinian groups were wrong, but with the continued shellings, shootings, demolitions, detentions, disruption and degradation that the people have to endure, you'd have to be ignorant not to expect a reaction of some kind. And Olmert believes he can get away with dishing out collective punishment. (Leaving 70% of Gaza without power is collective punishment, no argument.) The trouble is, he can get away with it, thanks to the complicity of the British and American media. This has to change.

It interested me to hear from Juliano, an Israeli Jew, why so few Israelis oppose their government's actions. The state run channels repeatedly relay exaggerated threats of suicide bombers to the populace. When the threat becomes commonplace, it is escalated even further. This leaves the people terified. Julian himself even admitted to taking his child out of school on account of fear. A terrified population will let its government get away with murder. I wonder if this is where the US got the idea for their terror levels.

Okay, that's enough of that.

I hope my attempts at promotion did in some way help the event. We'd probably have had a little bit more success if it hadn't fallen upon the 1st anniversary of Make Poverty History, but that couldn't be helped, as the events were to coincide with Juliano's visit. One thing I've got to learn is how to get a listing placed in Metro. We made it into the List, but I think that was mainly down to Tam Dean Burns talking to them.

That aside, I enjoyed the day, and I enjoyed helping out.
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Part 1 of 5

In which Leynos arrives, gets lost, meets the Singing Handyman, sees a play and gets drunk.

Lost in Transition


I stepped out of Leicester Square Underground station, and still slightly dizzy from all the beer drunk on the train, I started to wonder around aimlessly.

Erin, my sister, had said to meet at the All Bar One in Leicester Square. Now, erm... Where is that? Not really sure where I should be going, my wonderings took me down a rather pretty lane, lined with what appeared to be nothing but shops selling collectables. Coins, books, records, stamps, toy cars, you name it. That's something I like about London: the way streets and precincts become devoted to a single branch of commerce. Saville Row for taylors, Tottenham Court Road for electronics, Camden Town for cool gothy shit, etc. it's almost adorable. Streets in Edinburgh never become quite so single minded.

So, as you'd expect, I got a little distracted, which was kind of the idea anyway. Eventually, I found Leicester Square. All Bar One still eluded me however. I wound up sipping a glass of bourbon and ice in a chain pub that might as well have been All Bar One. Given the weather, I'd have preferred to sit outside, but a window seat had to suffice. Erin arrived at five o'clock, and we headed for her flat in Woolwich to ditch luggage.

Just to prove that crazy goings on happen all the time, as we left the Square, Darin-esque crooning lilted through the air. The source soon became apparent in the form of a smiling chap singing from the cab of his dinky toy van into a PA system. Ladies and gentlemen, may we present The Singing Handyman.


Voted small builder of the year no less



At Charing Cross Station, my sister informed my, much to my dismay, that my shiny new Ken Livingstone Card would be of no use on the overground trains to Woolwich. Drat. Back to bits of paper with magnetic strips.

Tartuffe


Tartuffe had been my suggestion, albeit one made without much fore-knowledge. The synopsis sounded agreeable, and I knew that it had run at the Lyceum in Edinburgh with much prominence. I don't actually go to the theatre normally, but seeing a play in London had been recommended by a number of people. As it turns out, the play was running in the Greenwich Theatre rather than the West End. Although that just made the whole thing even more fun. Like shunning the famous pubs to find a cosy tavern in a quiet back lane.

We both enjoyed the show, as we were treated to a masterful comedy of deception. The use of rhyming couplets in the writing worked delightfully to accentuate and mock the characters speaking the lines, and the writing positively dripped with erudite wit. The elabourate setup in the first half paid of spectacularly, as the sly villain got his comeuppance in the end, but not before the dull-witted figurehead of the play nearly saw his world collapse around him. Praise must go not only to the 17th century author, but to the translator of this new version, which connects with the audience and delivers impeccable humour whilst retaining the feel of a play from four centuries past.

End of the night


My sister's boyfriend joined us for drinks in a bizarre establishment in New Cross that purported to be an Irish pub. Before long, two guitarists on stage, the guy on the left looking strangely like on of The Proclaimers, had launched into a set of surprisingly passible pop covers.

I guess that this is the South London equivalent of a piano bar. As the night ran, the place slowly began to fill up, and then people started dancing. Before long, the floor was shaking. My sister suggested, "I bet you didn't think you'd see everyone in here dancing like this." An accurate observation I have to say.
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I played a fair bit of Tales of Eternia on the PSP today, and so far it's proving to be a bit of a letdown. I guess it's on account of the game being aimed at people far younger than me, but there's very little that I have yet encountered either in story or character that is actually appealing to me. It's early days yet, so maybe it will get better. I'm a little dismayed too by the combat, which feels very scrappy. There is a little room for strategy in its real time battling, but nothing that ever feels remotely taxing. In only one battle so far have I actually come close to dying, and then it was more through inattentiveness.

I hope the Tales series has moved on a lot since Eternia, and I also realize that it is unfair to judge it based on a port of an eight (estimate) year old game. But if you look at its Saturn contemporaries, Grandia and Princess Crown, they showed how to do turn based and realtime battles that feel both strategic and involving. I'll just have to view this as a stopgap until Nippon Ichi put out a PSP SRPG. Princess Crown in English wouldn't go amiss either.

In other shiny PSP news, SNK Playmore have announced a Metal Slug Collection. W00t.

No such disappointment from Before Sunrise, whose artfully crafted dialogue I enjoyed immensely. I also made a start on Neon Genesis Evangelion.

I had wanted to see Messiah at the Pleasance today. Theatre is something I don't take in much of at all, and I'd hoped to make a start there. An acquaintance from AASoc is involved in the production, which is how I'd heard about it. Somehow though, I very much doubt they'd appreciate someone in the audience hacking and coughing away. The Pleasance theatre is always so bloody cold.

Sadly for me, it's back to work tomorrow.

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