SEARCHING FOR NOISE

Ever been brought to tears on your commute? (No, delays on the Overground or missing your bus do not count.)

Last week, a journey home was rather emotional. It didn’t involve another, boring, generic remark about my wooden complex. But it did see a surge of sadness run through my veins. To the point where I actually spent the rest of my evening wanting to turn back time and change my actions. Here’s why:

Picture the scene. I’m on route to a doctor’s appointment, on a bus that seemed to be hit with a severe case of red light syndrome. The anxiety of my looming appointment, teamed with the rocking back and forth consequent to the bus driver’s hesitant foot – and its constant misjudgement of whether to accelerate or break – meant that I was not having the most comfortable of rides.

An older lady sat beside me on the 27 heading towards Camden Town. She was elegantly dressed, her make up picture perfect and her hands decorated with long, black lace gloves. With my eyes transfixed on her adorned arms, she lowered herself on the seat next to me with her walking stick. With barely two seconds passing of her being my new neighbour, she turned to me (someone that’s apparently very unapproachable) and said:

“Excuse me dear, I’m looking for a cinema. Can you tell me if this bus is heading towards a cinema in Camden? I don’t mind which one.”

Being a resident here for the last couple of years, I explained that yes, if she got off at Camden Town Station she could go to the Odeon.

It was her next few sentences that really got me.

“It’s my 75th birthday today you see. And I can’t bear spending it alone in the four empty walls of my home. I don’t even care what I see. I’m just going for the noise really.”

All of a sudden, my heart did what I can only describe as a variation of a burpee inside my chest. For the two stops I had left on the bus, we chatted about her birthday and the buildings we passed through Mornington Crescent. We looked out and discussed the high-rise blocks of flats, the weather and the shops that occupy NW1’s iconic High Street. The small talk that I would usually take for granted had made her afternoon. As the bus approached my stop, I thanked her, wished her the happiest of birthdays and got off.

A doctor’s waiting room is the worst for overthinking. When you’re trying to keep a low profile and not calculate the germs you’re contracting, it’s your duty to take your brain as far away from the situation as possible. Because how many leaflets scaring you into thinking your infected toe is actually gangrene, are necessary anyway?

Sat in that cold room, I could not shift one thought: Why the hell didn’t I accompany this lady to the cinema?

You’re thinking it too, right? I’d fallen victim to self-absorption. I could have made this woman’s decade by not only joining her on her search for noise, but actually giving her birthday company. She was celebrating 75 years of life. That’s 75 years of laughter, energy and chatter. Why should it stop now?

She provoked a conversation with me, because she missed interaction with another human being. She couldn’t careless how I looked, what I was thinking or whether I’d respond. It was the fact that her loneliness had driven her to do something about it. And that itself is incredible. On so many levels.

It got me thinking of the thousands of people who have accepted that days, weeks and months without communication, are part of who they are now. When life decides it’s your time to be lonely, it shouldn’t mean that words are restricted to inside your head. No one signs up to isolation. So when it happens, it’s easy to become stuck. Not knowing who to turn to, which support groups are there for you or how to break the silence. Sure, you’ve got your own company. But sometimes, it’s not enough. When life as you know it suddenly becomes unfamiliar, and you haven’t had to make new friends in decades. And you live miles from any family. Or your family have all passed. And you’re the last one. It’s then that it gets really difficult.

Conversation and having company. Two things we don’t often give much thought to. Because for most of us, we either have them both on tap, or are just a few smartphone swipes away from a familiar voice. But when you reach an age where those things become a novelty, who are we to deny someone such human rights?

Though my experience is generalising the elderly, it’s a problem that can affect anyone. You don’t have to be an 82-year-old widower to be cursed with loneliness. There are plenty of people that, given certain circumstances, find themselves segregated. Some people choose to live their lives this way. And that’s fine. It should be something that’s optional.

I will always feel guilty for not going to the cinema with the lady on the bus. But I‘ll always be grateful that she opened my eyes to the problem. Since my emotional commute, I’ve looked into ways to help. Because, yes, we’ll never eradicate the problem. But with hours seemingly wasted scrolling on social networks, there appears to be a way we can all help. If we want to make the time for something, we can. And will. It’s simple.

There are plenty of charities that support the search to end loneliness. Each with different techniques on how to soften the feeling of companionless-ness. That’s why I now volunteer with Age UK. Their telephone friend scheme pairs you up with a lonely elderly person, who you build a friendship with for half an hour every week. In this day and age where phones are seemingly an accessory on a person, permanently glued to our hands and are generating a future of neck and back problems from the 5+ hours a day we spend looking down at them, surely we can all spare thirty minutes to create a wrinkly smile? A smile that has the power to last until the next time you speak. A smile that will appear when your phone call is imminent. Let’s reaffirm laughter lines to faces, because it’ll mean more to them than you’ll ever know.

Advertisements

Big Apple Brixton

As winter well and truly owns the November skies, it’s nice to see venues keeping up appearances. Formally Brixton Beach, this South London rooftop is bringing the Big Apple to the big smoke for an appropriate seasonal makeover.

Located above Pope’s Road, this interpretation of the concrete jungle we all know and love has done a great job in capturing the big lights, bold signage and stateside vibes.

IMG_0688.jpg

Though you can leave your passport at home for this American adventure, you might confuse yourself for being in an airport when it comes to security checks. Lets face it, most of us are quite accustomed to feeling like a modern day Mary Poppins when heading anywhere midweek. But unless my hard drive, an old metro copy and my empty tuppaware are criminal, there was really no need to get bicep deep in my tote. Unless she felt compelled to attempt a dig to the Statue of Liberty. Because that’s what that level of privacy invasion felt like.

Keeping up with the weather is difficult for any establishment. But being a pop-up, outdoor (but covered) venue open for the duration of the colder months, you’d think they’d take that into consideration when deciding how many heaters it’d need to keep the premises warm. Yes, I know that’s virtually impossible with a canopy roof mid November, but I can tell you know, three aren’t quite suffice for several hundred people to gather around. Unless you’re down with that level of privacy invasion. It’s certainly a way to make friends…

IMG_0689.jpg

In an attempt to keep warm we wandered around, exploring all Brixton’s answer to New York has to offer. Quirky rooms dressed as a vintage Barber shop, a Chapel, a Record Store and Peep Show are available to hire complete with tables, chairs and fun decor. Though we didn’t have one ourselves, we were told that if booked, your drinks are ready on arrival. Plus, each is combination lock operated and only your party is given the code. Meaning that you can come and go as you please without the fear of an American gangster breaking in.

IMG_0691.jpg

Now for something that’s usually my favourite topic: FOOD. On a Thursday evening, only three out of the four vendors were open – meaning Pizza was out of the question. With a sterling choice of Mac to the Future, Plucky’s or Burger Bear – it was chicken that I felt my tastebuds would thank me for most. Turns out, my stomach was not quite the fan. When ordering my food, the guy who appeared to be in charge of the stand was beyond rude. Myself, along with the girls I was with, were completely taken aback by his attitude and manner. We had to ask if it were okay to order… We ordered… He silence led us to ask whether we had made our orders… And then ten or so minutes later, our burgers and nuggets were ready on a heated bar – awaiting their arrival of chips. The chief brought the basket over from the frying pan and began serving them equally onto our portions – HELPING HIMSELF TO SOME TOO!!!!! I mean without sounding too much like Joey Tribbiani… But I’m not sure we ever gave the okay for sharing our grub. It’s not common practise. And that’s because it’s just plain rude!!!! Shocked, we sat down and began to tuck in… To a very short-lived meal. We had uncooked chicken nuggets and the salt in the chips made it feel as though we were sipping seawater on the side. Not ideal.

IMG_0696 (1).jpg

Either this vendor needs a stern talking to or another street food pop-up should take its place. Because when faced with the question of did it #CrackMyBitchFace, that’s an easy no. I mean shivering whilst mentally begging the chip-stealing chef to leave my burger with a couple of mates isn’t really something that encourages a positive look upon my face. And in hindsight, perhaps my resting bitch face was the reason as to why he took it upon himself to be a chip scrooge. When such effort has gone into smashing the mulled wine recipe and making the place look good – it was definitely a bit of a shame.

“I thought you hated me when I first met you…”

Typically annoying CBF remark no. 17, first received when I was 12 years old.

*Insert deep inhale and exaggerated sigh here*

giphy (12).gif

Oh that old chestnut. The honest answer to this is: If you chew your food loudly, are the type of person that claps your hands when your plane lands/your film has finished in the cinema or you wear kitten heels – then your observations are probably true. You get on my tits.

However if none of the above applies to you then chances are you’re quite mistaken. And you’re just on the unfortunate receiving end of my face when it’s taking a rest. No biggie.

It’s often thrown at me when I’ve been in the company of the said person for a number of weeks or months. When they finally feel comfortable enough to confront me about the ice-cold glare that takes over my appearance when I’m daydreaming. They’ve wanted to address the situation for a while, but due to my look 78.4% of the day, they weren’t too sure of the repercussions.

“So what’s with that look you give?”

giphy (13).gif

Fellow victims completely get it. We have this understanding. So when we’re about to cross paths with someone that looks as though they’re about to go Naomi Campbell on us, we know there’s more to the story. That it’s nothing more than a mere case of innocent evils. In fact, if we both weren’t so busy thinking about what our next meal is going to be, we’d probably sense the forthcoming encounter and high-five our co-sufferers. Because it’s a tough world out there, regardless of resting bitch face. And girls should be nice to one another.

We can’t help the laziness in our cheekbones. The gaze that strickens our eyes. The perfectly horizontal position of our mouth. Our natural bitch faces shouldn’t be judged. It’s just the construct of our appearance when we’re neutrally engaged. So if you find yourself in a situation, where you’re not sure if someone you’ve recently become acquainted with actually likes you or not, just stop. Analyse the predicament and ask yourself these three things:

  1. Are you sure you didn’t cut them up on the tube?
  2. Are you positively certain you didn’t push in front of them in Pret?
  3. Have you done the mandatory Facebook stalk to ensure that there’s no best mate’s step-sister’s cousin’s ex hate going on?

If you answered yes to all of the above then please, save yourself from becoming the 181st person to state “you thought they hated you when you first met”. Because trust me when I say, the most you’ll get out of that person is an eye roll. And it’s highly likely that for the pure reason of hammering those nine words at them alone, they will think back to that very first moment you entered each other’s lives and find a reason. Because it’s THAT annoying.

giphy (14).gif

Many thanks to Dana Scully for helping illustrate the mysterious looks of resting bitch face. You deserve a blog post dedicated to you, you alien-fighting babe.

Chronicle 4: Queen Elizabeth II

screen-shot-2012-07-29-at-3-01-33-am.png

When it comes to faces we see on a daily basis, this lady kind of trumps them all – apart from our own reflections of course.

If she’s not in your back-pocket making up the ‘head’ side of your loose change, you’re licking the reverse of her head to send post. We’re ever so familiar with Her Majesty, but we’re not ones to take such an iconic face for granted.

The only time I’m called royal is when I’m being a pain in the arse. Meaning I don’t have any first hand experience with Britain’s most prestigious family. However, when you’re reppin’ the country, handling corgi bills and have to put up with the recent moronic decisions politicians and your public have made – you’ve got to feel the pressure somewhat. Not to mention hearing your grandson has made the news – only fearing it’s for the wrong reasons. Sure Harry’s stint in Vegas was a couple of years ago now. But poor old Lizzie – she remembers it like it was yesterday.

giphy (11).gif

Let’s not forget, she’s a great-grandmother. You try accepting you’re the glue to the three generations of family beneath you. Of course it’s going to make you feel your years. And quite frankly, with all the forced smiles she’s had to pass on to the world over her reign – her face, more than anyone, deserves some down time. I can’t imagine how sore those cheeks of hers must be.

We salute your neutral expression Ma’am. And we’re well aware that whilst appearing royally peeved off, you’re probably just throwing back to the polo game in the summer of ’92. What a hoot one had. Or just wondering whether Jeffrey is going to put on a spread of quail’s eggs for breakfast tomorrow morning. It’s all relative.

On the contrary she’s got a lot to be smug about. She owns a palace, is the only person in the UK allowed to drive without a license and travel without a passport. Plus, she has a pet Jaguar she keeps at London Zoo. Casual. So when you next see our queenie looking as though little George and Charlotte have just scribbled all over her draft for this year’s Christmas speech, let’s just give her face the benefit of the doubt it so rightfully deserves.

 

REFORMER PILATES: EPOCH FITNESS

Always one for trying out a new exercise class, Reformer Pilates at Epoch Fitness caught my attention. Probably because, in all honesty, I’d never heard of it before. For someone that’s never participated in any form of Pilates or Yoga, but a keen gym-goer, I was excited about getting stuck in. (The typical thoughts of a girl prior to forcing her body into unnatural shapes.)

stamina-aero-pilates-reformer-pilates-reformer_2_0

Call it doing your homework, curiosity or just plain sensible – I had a cheeky Google pre-class. ABSOLUTE ERROR. The machines looked like torture beds and Google Images kindly displayed a selection of photos that I can only describe as a contortionist’s library. Cheers Googs.

The classes are held in the Fitzrovia Centre – a little random – but you’ll know when you find the correct room, as you’ll be confronted with 8 torture beds. The instructor was friendly and explained the class to a few of us beginners, including a quick demo of the Reformer machine. Towels and bottled water were provided, which was definitely appreciated and a nice touch.

The lesson is made up of squats, lunges, press-ups and core toning – with the springs underneath the reformer machine creating the resistance. As the class is quite small, the instructor is able to observe, help and correct you when you aren’t quite nailing it. And don’t worry, they’re used to sweaty backs.

giphy (9).gif

Things not to expect:

-An easy hour

-Getting it right first time

-Flattering positions

Things to expect:

-Burning thighs

-Thinking “20 more? You’ve got to be kidding me”.

– Walking like a penguin the next day

Turns out, the only similarities that the reformer machines hold to my initial description of torture beds is that you spend the lesson lying down. They aren’t half as bad as they look. Quite the contrary, you might say, as you’ll leave having been introduced to muscles that you’ve never met before.

Did it #crackmybitchface? Well, I’m pretty sure during the class my face didn’t look that approachable. When one’s left leg is indicating South East and one’s right is pointing to South West, whilst your feet are hooked into resistance straps; I ask does anyone look cheery? (Those that are in to kinky bedroom antics need not answer that.) But after feeling the burn 24-48 hours afterward, I was certainly smiling on the inside: NO PAIN NO GAIN, right?

Chronicle 3: Kristen Stewart

aon-kristenstewart-inside

For girls of twelve or thirteen, it’s the norm to begin experimenting with facial expressions and mirrors. However when you’ve just starred alongside Jodie Foster in a hit blockbuster, things are a bit different. Kristen Stewart spent those tender ages peeved at the world’s press. How are you meant to teenage the crap out of life when your most awkward years are being documented by the media?

Sure, her big break into the world of A-list was a few years off. But her success in prior roles meant that she was never too far from privacy invasion. And I can’t imagine anyone growing up with a camera in the face is going to be best pleased. So can you really blame Kristen Stewart for falling into CBF’s pissed off gaze?

Her bitter stare into paparazzi’s evil lens just stuck. Like a maths geek and algebra – it’s the things you learn in your pubescent years that are with you through life. Thus, the struggle to smile when your face is in autopilot has become an iconic trait of Kristen Stewart – contrary to what she may be thinking or feeling on the inside.

In a bitter twist of irony, the lass struck global stardom playing Bella – the love interest of a Vampire. Until she ended up becoming one herself. I don’t know many Vampires. But none of them scream cheery. And with Miss Stewart’s demonstration of Chronic Bitch Face, you can almost hear the casting directors shout JACKPOT. It must be part of the job description. And that’s totally cool. I mean they’ve got a lot on their blood-hungry plates. Anyone that has seen the saga will know that for Bella, it was life-changing. So let’s just cut her some slack shall we?

giphy (8).gif

Who are we to assume she’s pissed off? Because the first rule of Chronic Bitch Face? Don’t jump to conclusions. For all we know she might just be thinking how she actually quite partial to the taste of blood. She may be thrilled about her new casper complexion. Heck, she may even have been LOLLING on the inside at the very moment her and Edward first realised they kinda liked each other as their alter-ego mortal selves too.

R Patz was her boyf. He saw beyond the way the press portrayed her moody demeanour. Yet with a jaw more chiselled than a renaissance sculpture, even he couldn’t shift her facial enigma. But that’s Chronic Bitch Face for you. Sadly, there is no cure.

On the other side of things, let’s not pretend that her face was screaming bitch for no reason. Perhaps he was rubbish in the sack. Perhaps he spoke about blood too much. Or perhaps she was just sick of avoiding garlic. After all, who would put up with that kind of flavour deprivation?

Regardless, since their split she’s still nailing the bitch look. And I applaud her for it. There is no such thing as the smile police. Her face should be able to express whichever mood it likes. Despite whether it holds any truth. Because if we can accept Kristen’s neutrally engaged appearance, then who knows. There’s hope for vampires everywhere.

 

LAND OF THE LIONS

Step off the tube and into the Gujarat state of India at London Zoo’s latest attraction, Land of the Lions.

L8chydGTJ6pVliYk9iMR_IMG_4383.JPG

One male and three females have taken residency at the newest enclosure. Their new crib has room to roam and roar; but some privacy can be found in hidden caved outlets. (A lion likes a bit of Netflix time too you know. And yes Mufasa and Simba are up there in their list of favourites).

Having not ticked India off my travel bucket list yet, I can’t give marks to actual accuracy. But the South Asian majestic and authentic balance the designers have painted throughout the Lion’s new digs, certainly have a way of taking you out of Regent’s Park. Replica street markets, a food hut, carts, tuk tuks and shops complete the Indian wonderland – where attention to detail has been absolutely nailed. It’s as much fun exploring the intricate side of ZSL’s take on Gujarat as it is seeing the beautiful big cats explore their new habitat.

d75JQu40SmaXWjcuuT13_IMG_4384.JPG

We were lucky enough to swing by the pride at feeding time. The ladies did Beyoncé proud by being all independent in owning and chomping up the animal carcasses that were on the menu. It was just a shame that the arm of the keeper didn’t have the same power when it came to throwing the flesh beyond the Indian moat surrounding their territory.

GSN524PIRmKhwsxp4opx_IMG_4346.JPG

The main lad Bhanu was dominating his man den during our visit, so we didn’t actually get up close and personal with him. But when walking along one of the bridge walkways in the Gujarat compound, we were hit with terror and amazement when what we thought were really cool sound effects, happened to be Bhanu just voicing his thoughts on Donald Trump. His deep tones echoed through the entire Indian state and sent excitable chills and panic right through you. In a few month’s time, the Gir Lion Lodge Cabins open their doors to the public for sleepovers, so I’d imagine those roars will make for excellent alarm clocks.

With glass panels on several look-out points, Land of the Lions is probably as real as it’s ever going to get when rubbing snouts with jungle royalty. And did it #crackmybitchface? It certainly did. Having a face off with four of nature’s most stunning creations means that it’s pretty hard not to be blown away. Namaste Heidi, Indi, Rubi and Bhanu. It’s a pleasure to have you.

A LIVE PODCAST RECORDING: WATERSTONES FITZROVIA

It’s no secret: Books get me giddy. So does wine. And when you put the two together? I don’t remember anything I’ve read. So I can’t review Waterstones in Tottenham Court Road. Sorry.

Okay, so I didn’t get that bladdered in Waterstones – I do have some form of self-control. As it happens, I wasn’t drawn to the venue solely for its alcohol supply. The lower ground floor is the happy home to lots of cool events and talks, which very nicely coincides with its reservoir of the rouge stuff.

The event that I was honoured to be in the audience of was a live podcast recording, with two absolute feminist icons of the moment, Emma Gannon and Cherry Healey. And if you’re yet to hear Emma’s audible instalments under the same title as her book, where have you been? She’s absolutely smashing the digi-generation, giving raw, intellectual and inspiring chats with global #girlbosses. Both Cherry and Emma have strung thousands of sentences together to form their books – and in a world where women are finally giving sexism the middle finger, their timing couldn’t be more perfect.

‘Ctrl Alt Delete: How I Grew Up Online’ is Emma Gannon’s fabulous masterpiece. And if you happened to be a youngster in the nineties, her digital throwback will take you deeper and further than any Thursday has, ever. It’s completely relatable. Her words have the power to believe that you’re actually really good mates – until you snap out of your book bubble and realise that it’s her memoirs that have been your sidekick for the past week. Not her.

Cherry Healey’s ‘Letters To My Fanny’ is a heart-warming thank you to something that women should cherish – their body. Cherry hits the nail on the head with the love-hate relationship women seem to have with their frames. Her empowering words make you feel like your not alone in a world where we’re brainwashed with make-believe perceptions of perfect. As she very openly shares her experiences be prepared to feel, again, like your besties for 288 pages.

XqCHJ2D8SfymsyYJjO9s_IMG_8896.JPG

The downstairs of Waterstones in Tottenham Court Road was the perfect place for them to bring their worlds to life. If you’ve watched any of Cherry’s documentaries, her integrity and warmth that you’d expect filled the room – as she and Emma turned a relaxed interview into a friendly feminist chinwag about all things growing up online.

We were a gathering of around 30 people – though it has the capacity for 200 standing. But the wallpaper of novels and autobiographies means that it’ll always feel like an intimate space.

Did it #crackmybitchface? Without a shadow of a doubt! These two awe-inspiring femme idols make you feel like you can take on the world. What’s not to smile about? Plus when a cheeky tipple is in reach and you’re surrounded by wisdom, there’s not much more you can ask of an event space.

I’M A SELECTIVE SMILER…

Smiling isn’t on any national curriculum. But apparently, it’s something some folk naturally do. (I know right, who knew?)

Alongside your birth certificate, you’re not given a smile guidebook. When you start school, you don’t have to sit an exam that analyses your ability to express a constantly upbeat expression. And when growing up, your parents didn’t take you to the doctor to explain their concerns for the disappearance of your smirk. You know why? Because there are no rules.

So let me ask you this: Why do complete and utter strangers deem it necessary to request a smile from my face when it’s in rest mode? Just because it made a decision early on in life for said expression to portray a sullen bitch, it’s not an invitation for people to demand positivity.

giphy-7

In a society where gender equality imbalance is being fought globally, it should surprise me (but sadly doesn’t) that 97.4% of these comments are put to me by men. Remarks for me to cheer up or smile more are just tiresome. Why are they interfering with me when I’m in autopilot? Why does it matter if I’m smiling or not? Why do they think they deserve to see me sport a big fat grin?

Eleven times out of ten, the reason behind my moody demeanour is Chronic Bitch Face. But to all those that aren’t usually a victim to CBF’s glare, there’s going to be a reason behind their glum appearance. And I can guarantee you now, that reason is going to be none of your business. You jeering ‘Gis us a smile love’ is going to be the last thing they need. A bad day, fresh from an argument, a grievance or hearing disappointing news – there are so many factors that contribute to your expression. And when it’s not Chronic Bitch Face, smiling is going to be the last thing on their mind. So how about you butt the eff out alright?

I’m bored of people telling me that “it might never happen” if I don’t cheer up. I mean, what do you say to that? How are you meant to respond when such words are uttered in your direction? Over the years I’ve experimented with replies: Fake smirks. Rolled eyes. Verbal excuses. But now I come to think of it – do they even warrant acknowledgement for their rudeness? No. It’s my face and I’ve come to terms with the fact I look like a bitch when I gaze. You should too.

2016-04-10-1460309131-9049885-maxresdefault.jpg

Yes. I’d go as far as saying it’s a form of harassment. And Tatyana Fazlalizadeh thought the same, when four years ago she started the art series Stop Telling Women To Smile. She didn’t stop there. Because the issue of street harassment towards women lies much deeper than this. Posters of her work above can be seen around the world, with strong, simple and clear messages. It’s unwanted attention. Uninvited comments. An invasion of personal space. We’re going about our own business. If I needed a daily reminder to smile, I’d just set a reminder on my phone. (If there isn’t already an app for it, Apple, you heard it hear first.)

And riddle me this: Why do men not pick up on the miserable faces of other men? Guys get moody. Their faces show it. So surely they should be on the receiving end to one of your “be positive” jibes, no? Whether they’re fellow CBF sufferers (yes, they do exist – Kanye West) or are just peeved that they lost at a game of Fifa, their pissed off look can go by unnoticed and they’re off the hook. They can get away without having their concentration broken by someone they’ve never met before. But your facial expression shouldn’t fall into a double standard trap. Not in this day and age.

That’s the thing with CBF. You could be thinking about a new puppy you’re on your way to pick up, or that funny thing Lucy did at the weekend or even that meme that was just shared in your group Whatsapp. But on the outside, your face just says vengeance.

In my books, that’s totally fine. There are no laws that depict how your face should appear when in a daydream bubble. And it really grinds my gears (making that look of vengeance intentional) when nosey bystanders burst it.

 

 

 

ALADDIN: THE MUSICAL

To this day, a magic lamp complete with Genie has always been top of my Christmas list. And though my wishes change on a daily basis depending on my level of hunger, one thing that doesn’t is my love Disney’s classic Arabian fairy tale.

When I heard that Prince Ali was heading to town, I knew that I had to see him. So it wasn’t a matter of if I’d go… It was when. And I can confirm that I wasn’t disappointed.

DISCLAIMER ALERT: I promise I’ll do my best to not give away too many spoilers.

First thing’s first – the real heroes that should take a bow are the production team. Attention to detail? On another level. Props, special effects and lighting? Nailed. Set design? Out of this world. Words alone can only go so far when attempting to describe this work of theatrical genius – with a special nod to when you’re taken inside the cave with Al himself. I mean lets just say there’s enough gold to give Kanye a second shot at the Forbes rich list. The whole set glistened from start to finish – it’s the kind of stuff Magpie dreams are made of.

giphy (4).gif

The first time I saw Genie appear, I honestly had to shake my head and look hard to work out how they made his emergence from the lamp so realistic! He really did steal the show. His take on the character that Robin Williams made so lovable in the first place raised the Prince Edward ceilings – and also took elements that teetered on the edge of pantomime into full-on West End spectacular. His singing, aura and stage presence meant that the interval was spent researching where this wish-granting legend had come from.

Love’s young dream was brought to life by Aladdin and Jasmine – who certainly demonstrated they could hold a note or two, but didn’t quite bring as much as Trevor Dion Nicholas did as Genie. I’d like to say that the chemistry between them was enough to light Ababwa (if it were a real place) but sadly it felt a little forced. All of your favourite songs were there – alongside a couple that felt they were just there to fill an outfit change or pad out the sequence – I mean, Proud Of Your Boy? Very odd.

Yes, a couple of adaptations had been made and there was no pet monkey – apparently Marcel from friends had prior engagements. Iago’s  parrot to human transformation was quite a success too – after all, what would Jafar be without a sidekick?

One last special mention has to go to the true magic of the entire show, so lads: take note. If in life, you ever find a way of getting your hands on a magic carpet, TAKE IT. Say yes. Don’t look back. And you’ll be romantically sorted for the rest of time. I think I speak on behalf of all ovaries in the theatre when I say if I were Jasmine, I’d be putty too. The lighting, the song, the moment – it’s the stuff cupid thrives on.

giphy (5).gif

But the real question on Arabia’s lips: Did it #crackmybitchface?

A million percent yes. It’s Aladdin: In front of your eyes for crying out loud! London has to be one of the luckiest cities in the world right now with this playing in the West End, so whilst it has residency here – book it. Because it’s the closest you’ll ever get to meeting a blue giant. You will not regret it.