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Do you believe in life after death? I believe that the energy in our universe remains constant, and that when you die your energy is dispelled and becomes something else, so in a sense there is ?life? after death but not in the religious sense. I used to be a Christian, but I have two major problems with the idea of an ?afterlife? where you are reunited with your loved ones in ?Heaven?, and the idea of God in general. Number one, what if you don?t want to be reunited with a ?loved one?, but they want to be reunited with you? Number two, I just can?t find any respect for a God who would want or demand the kind of bowing and scraping that goes on in churches, mosques and other religious places throughout the world. To roughly quote Monty Python (the Meaning of Life) ?Oh Lord you are so big, so mighty and so great, please don?t burn me, squash me?? etc; etc; I think we should all take responsibility for our own actions and try to live together peacefully without relying on a deity or afterlife to bail us out. ● Should smoking be banned in public places? No, I?m a non smoker, but I think we should live and let live, we are all far too intolerant these days. Yes, I know the tired old chestnut about we?re having to breathe it in and that?s not fair blah blah blah but if we are all considerate of others (and most people are) we can always work out a way that everyone is happy ? I have never yet met a smoker who would be rude enough to refuse to put their fag out or move away if asked nicely ? and as a non smoker I?m perfectly happy with the smoking/non smoking sections compromise. . ● Is capital punishment wrong? Not sure about this one?I would say that it is wrong, but that if someone murdered or raped someone I loved I would want them dead. Our justice system isn?t good enough though, innocent people would be sentenced to death, so I think it should stay in the past. ● Should cannabis be l
egalized? No. My fiancés best friend is a pothead and you can SEE his brain cells slowly dying off one by one. Some might say that?s his choice but if it was legalised I?m sure there?d be an awful lot more people slowly killing themselves in the same way. ● Is beauty only skin deep? Definitely not. But let?s face it, we?re not all attracted to the same people, so it?s ?in the eye of the beholder? as far as I?m concerned. ● Do animals have rights? They should have. I prefer animals to people. But I still eat them. They taste nice. Sorry. ● Does Britain still need a monarchy? I like the Queen, and I think it would be a shame to lose such a large part of our heritage. But I think we inevitably will, and when we do people will want to go back to what we had ? the grass is always greener. ● Should fox hunting be banned in England and Wales? Yes. I don?t believe in hunting for pleasure, it?s wasteful, cruel and unnecessary. ● Should Britain join the Euro? God Knows, I don?t understand the arguments and don?t have a clue about this one. I don?t really care, is the honest answer. ● Should all fire arms be banned for private use? Yes ? just look at the state of America. ● What is your opinion on legal prostitution? Whether we legalise it or not we will still have prostitutes on the streets, and the drug problems associated with that. I don?t agree with legalising it for this reason and, because I don?t think sex is a commodity that should be taxed in the same way as, say, a packet of cigarettes or a bottle of wine. ● Are we living in rip off Britain? I would leave this country in an instant if I could secure a job in somewhere like Australia or Canada where the standard of living is higher, the costs of living lower and the weather a damn sight nice
r! I don?t like living in this country and am hoping to emigrate in the next few years. My brother, who emigrated to Australia a year ago, has just bought a four bedroom house with a swimming pool, timber lodge and massive 80 foot garden. For less than I paid for my cramped two bedroom flat in London! ● What is your opinion on pornography? I like it. Some of it, at least. My partner and I use it on a regular basis. There?s a lot of rubbish of course, it?s just a question of finding something you like. We all have desires, there?s something out there for all of us! ● Is genetically modified food right? No, I?m sure we?ll all pay the price for our perfectly spherical tomatoes and flawless strawberries at some point down the line. I try to eat organic non GM food when I can, I just wish it wasn?t so expensive!
Café de Paris is not cheap. It is, in fact, very, VERY expensive. Not the kind of place to pop to on a whim when you find yourself with nothing to do on a Saturday night. It is, however, very, very nice, and a wonderful place to treat yourself and the special people in your life to, preferably when you?ve just won the lottery or are celebrating a successful bank heist. *** First Impressions WOW! An immaculately dressed doorman ushers you into a hallway with a sweeping staircase leading down to a plush red carpeted ballroom, complete with towering chandelier in the centre of the intricately decorated ceiling. Tinkling piano music accompanies you as you elegantly make your way down the staircase and are shown to your table by a smiling host. It?s posh. Very, very posh. The dress code is ?Dress to impress, but not strictly black tie? which seemed to equate to little black numbers for the ladies and shirt and smart trousers, at the very least, for the gents. It?s full of immaculately made up beautiful people, staff included. Yet for all it?s grandeur, I didn?t feel intimidated in the slightest, possibly because apart from the brief sashay down the staircase, you never feel ?on show?. All the tables are arranged discreetly so that you feel like you?re in your own private world, just you and your party, it?s very well done indeed. *** Ambience The ambience changes throughout the night. Early in the evening, it?s all very quiet and genteel; just the unobtrusive piano music in the background, dim lighting and relaxed atmosphere as people begin their meals and settle in, anticipating the enjoyable evening ahead. Then as the wine continues to flow and the excellent food keeps on coming, it becomes more ?buzzy? and exciting. At about 7.45pm, a jazz band begins to set up on stage, and you?re aware of an air of anticipation, excitement. When the band starts to play, you realise why. They?re superb. Really, really good. You?d pay a fair
bit to go somewhere and see them elsewhere, but here they are, all part of the Café de Paris experience! It really makes the evening special. *** Food By the time the food arrives, you?re expecting it to be fabulous, given everything that?s gone before, and you won't be disappointed. It is wonderful ? perhaps not the best I?ve ever had, but certainly up there in the top ten. To start, I had a lobster risotto, which was all a risotto should be ? creamy, rich and indulgent. Two of our party opted for the game pate, which was pronounced superb, and my other half went for scallops in a rich butter sauce with samphire and asparagus, again, delicious. We all went for the same main course ? seared tuna, which was very rare ? really it was sashimi without the soy sauce & ginger ? and very tasty. I had to try the cheese platter, which consisted of four different cheeses, all very different, and all very nice, and a friend went for passion fruit crème brulee. I stole a spoonful, and it was the best crème brulee I?ve ever tasted. There?s normally something to criticise food wise in a restaurant, but really I can?t think of a single thing that marred that meal in any way ? it was simply superb. *** Drink A very good selection of wines were available, we ordered both red and white and they were both fine, very overpriced though ? I saw a bottle that you can pick up from Tescos for £7.99, listed at £27.50! If you?re celebrating, a bottle of house champers will set you back £45. We were offered a complimentary cocktail, which was a bit too sweet and sickly for my liking. It was all fine, but the prices really did spoil my enjoyment of it somewhat ? a spirit and mixer came in at £10.50, and it is extortionate ? you could get it in the Wetherspoons pub round the corner for £1.99! You?re paying for the experience though, and all in all it was a wonderful experience, so I suppose as a one off it?s just about bearable, although I w
ouldn?t want to pay those prices on a regular basis! *** Service Couldn?t fault it. Our waitress was both discreet and attentive, everything a waitress should be. Our glasses never went empty, our food arrived in reasonable time and in perfect condition, and we wanted for nothing the entire evening. Without a doubt the best service I?ve ever experienced in a restaurant. *** Prices I?m not going to say too much more about this, as you?ll already have gathered from my comments at the beginning of this op and in the drinks section that it most definitlely aint cheap, guv?nor! There were four of us, and we were taking advantage of a special offer that gave us 50% off the total food bill, and the bill still came in at over £250. But it was worth it. *** SUMMARY For an evening of total and utter decadence, when you want to feel really special, or to make someone else feel really special, you can?t beat Café de Paris. It was an experience, not just a meal, one of the best nights out I?ve ever had. Yes, you?ll pay through the nose for it, but at the end of the day you really won?t care, because as you sail up that staircase and out into the night, well fed, entertained and feeling incredibly happy and important, you?ll know that that feeling will stay with you for a very long time. And you?re worth it too! Thanks for reading Amanda 20/10/03
To be fair, I should have done a bit more research before I travelled to Malta. Had I just looked round a little more carefully on the net, I would have realised very quickly that it probably wasn?t a place I was going to fall in love with, and I would also have been warned off the atrocious hotel I was duped into booking us into, the infamous Palm Court hotel in Qawra, to which there are, I now know, hundreds of internet sites denouncing as possibly the worst hotel in the world. However, it wasn?t all bad. There are some things I really liked about the place. What I liked : Mdina Mdina is a mediaeval city full of glorious old buildings and with a real sense of history. It?s absolutely beautiful, and an absolute must for any visitor to Malta. Don?t bother with any of the rip?off tourist traps like the ?Malta Experience? or the many gory ?interactive? experiences that the touts will immediately try to entice you into when you walk through the main gate ? just wander at your own pace through the pretty little streets, enjoy a slice of cake, a cool drink and the breathtaking views from one of the lovely little tearooms overlooking the walls of the city, and marvel at the gorgeous cathedral with its stunning stained glass windows and colourful shrines. The History Malta has a varied and colourful history and the Maltese people are rightfully proud of their heritage and eager that the visitor to their country gets a taste of it. The many beautiful churches and cathedrals bear witness to the religious fervour of the people through the ages (and still very apparent today) and the village ?festas? (religious processions and evening parties which are held in villages throughout Malta all year round) give the visitor a real sense of the vibrant, close knit communities that exist there. Those who are interested in the war and Malta?s part in it may want to go on one of the organised tours. Gozo
Gozo is Malta?s sister island and most people only get a chance to see it on day trips from Malta. It?s a lovely little island, much ?greener? than Malta and apparently it?s great for diving, although we didn?t have time to try out any of the dive sites. Pay it a visit ? it?s only a half hour ferry ride away and you won?t be disappointed, I promise. The Heat I love hot places. Even hot places that most people would consider waaaaaay too hot. This includes Malta in the middle of August, at 35 ? 40 degrees in the shade, admittedly very VERY hot, and I loved it! Just make sure you get a hotel with air conditioning or travel out of season if excessive heat bothers you. (Most of) The People The majority of the Maltese people were exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Occasionally the deceptively charming behaviour was there to lull you into a false sense of security in order to try and get you to part with large sums of money (see ?time share touts? below) but most of the time they were just lovely because that?s the way they are. Especially outside Qawra, where they aren?t used to seeing English people acting like drunken football thugs and are prepared to give us the benefit of the doubt. Holiday reps, tour guides, and Joe Bloggs in the street were usually very pleasant and helpful. Some Restaurants In Qawra, I can recommend the Overflow restaurant, which serves delicious freshly cooked fish and other tasty looking dishes, and Michaelangelo?s on the seafront which is slightly pricier but very good. Most of the other places we tried were disappointing. I wasn?t that taken with Maltese food in general (with the exception of a stunning Maltese seafood soup in the Overflow), but I suspect that?s just because Qawra is so touristy and wish I?d had a chance to go further afield and try some more traditional dishes. What I disliked : Time Share Touts They were everywhere! And they had som
e really nasty little tricks up their sleeves, including stopping to ask a hapless holidaymaker if they know the way to a particular hotel, then talking them into showing them the way and luring them into giving them information such as their room number, with which they will then pester the poor tourist for the entire duration of their holiday, hoping to get them to go and see their timeshare apartments. They also used the scratchcard method; stopping a holidaymaker in the street and giving them a scratchcard which they MUST use there and then ? oh, surprise surprise, you?ve won a holiday! Take my advice, throw it away immediately or better still, refuse the ?kind offer? in the first place! We were approached about a dozen times every time we left our hotel, and it was really off putting. I would never buy a timeshare apartment even if I really liked a resort, and nothing could ever entice me to go near one in Qawra! Our Hotel Our hotel, the Palm Court, was quite simply the worst hotel I?ve ever stayed in. Don?t go near it, I beg you! The ?all inclusive? food was disgusting, the pool was horrifying, many of the rooms were damp and smelly and so many people got sick there it really wasn?t funny. The company that we booked our holiday with are currently under investigation. We managed to have a good time despite the appalling hotel by getting out and about as much as possible, but it really was dire. Lack of Beaches I can?t really complain about this because I should have done my investigations before I left, but Malta really isn?t a beach lovers holiday. It is possible to swim in the sea at Qawra but you have to negotiate some pretty intimidating rocks to do so ? I recommend diving bootees or some sort of beach shoe! Apparently there are some nice beaches on the other side of the island to Qawra but I would imagine they get very crowded. I was also expecting great snorkelling around the island as I?d heard the sealife was
fantastic but I was really disappointed ? we hardly saw anything at all, even at the ?best? snorkelling sites! The Greek and Canary islands are a hundred times better for snorkelling. SUMMARY I don?t think I?d go back; there are far nicer places for around the same amount of money and although there were things I liked about the place they weren?t enough to draw me back for a return visit. If I did go back, it would be to a different part of the island ? Qawra is just like Southend. We had a good time, despite the terrible hotel, and there is a fair bit to do, but for a budget holiday I would suggest that places like Zante, Tunisia, Fuerteventura and Kos are a far better bet.
After reading someone else's review of vanilla coke yesterday, I decided to try their tip of combining it with vodka. I had already tried vanilla coke on its own and love it - if you love the taste of vanilla you can't help but love it really, it's smooth, creamy and very, very more-ish. But believe me, it's even better combined with the strong stuff!! Both the diet and 'full fat' versions of vanilla coke are scrummy. I tend to drink more of the diet stuff as I am struggling to shed some pounds, but I don't think there's much difference between the two anyway really. I have no idea whether actual vanilla is used in the recipe, as the additional ingredients are lumped under the heading 'flavourings' which isn't very informative, let's face it. It certainly tastes authentic though, and that's good enough for me. I was told by someone at work that the diet version is a good appetite suppressant, but I have to say I haven't found that to be the case, or maybe I've just got too hearty an appetite for a mere flavoured drink to have an effect! Uses for vanilla coke : - Down it on its own - Combine with vodka, rum or bacardi - Add some icecream and voila - a cheap dessert! - Use it in baking - there are recipes that use normal coke in cakes and buns - substitute the vanilla version. - Make vanilla coke ice lollies/sluch puppies So there you have it - if you haven't tried this stuff, I heartily recommend it. A word of warning though - don't make the mistake of assumming the new lemon coke is in the same league - it is truly disgusting, far too lemony and synthetic. Stick to the vanilla stuff or if that doesn't appeal, the good old fashioned original coke in the trusty red bottle. It'll always be better than pepsi! Happy guzzling!!
The Matrix Reloaded has generated mixed reviews since its release on 21st May 2003. I was one of the first to witness the return of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus on the opening night, and I was surprised and bewildered by the media's lukewarm reception of what I consider an awesome, jawdropping giant of a movie. We see so few good sci-fi movies these days. Those that do make it to the cinema are clichéd, predictable and generally follow a standard format. Even the eagerly awaited Star Wars prequels disappointed many fans of the original trilogy with their over emphasis on repetitive, unrealistic special effects and lack of character development (the stilted acting didn't add to their appeal either). The original Matrix was like a breath of fresh air with its dazzlingly simple yet fascinating concept, breathtaking action sequences and appealing characters. Admittedly, it had special effects by the truckload but they were so polished and well executed, and so neatly fit into the context of the plot that they did not subtract from the story in any way whatsoever. The original film spawned a cult following and fans awaited the sequel with bated breath. Would the enigmatic Wachowski brothers be able to deliver a film of equal quality and widespread appeal as the first movie? In my opinion, the sequel easily matches and in some cases surpasses its predecessor, but it has undoubtedly failed to appeal to as wide an audience as the first movie. To briefly set the scene; Neo (Keanu Reeves), who was established as 'the One' believed destined to save the human race from enslavement by the machines in the first movie, is now a well established messianic figure in Zion, the only remaining human city on the planet. Along with his great love Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) and father figure Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) he trawls the Matrix searching for highly developed, sensitive people to release from their false existence into the real world
, where they will contribute to the ongoing battle against the machines. In this second instalment of the trilogy, Neo comes up against the machines again; they are planning nothing less than the total destruction of Zion and all remaining opposition to their control of the human race. Can he overcome his own personal demons and make the harsh choices necessary for the salvation of mankind, as well as overcome opposition from those who refuse to believe he is 'the One?' You'll have to watch the movie to find out! All the old favourite characters are back, plus plenty of interesting new ones. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving - superb) is now a renegade program, having been 'released' from the matrix by Neo in the first movie. He provides some great comic moments in this sequel. Trinity and Neo's passionate love affair is at its peak in this movie, and the chemistry between them is very evident and well presented onscreen. New characters such as the evil twins (played by English actors Neil and Adrian Rayment), and the delightfully demonic Merovingian add new interest to the story. Keanu Reeves has improved no end in his portrayal of the haunted, reluctant hero Neo. The awkward and sometimes exasperating Neo of the first movie has become a compelling, dynamic character in the second. Carrie-Ann Moss is still delightful as feisty, passionate Trinity, splendidly sexy in her skin tight PVC catsuit. A somewhat podgier Lawrence Fishburne is still good as Morpheus. Morpheus was a very distant and Godlike figure in the first movie, but he comes across as a more fallible character in the sequel and is more endearing as a result. Some of the new characters were superfluous. Niobe (Jada Pinkett) seems to have been included as a bit of extra female totty, she adds nothing to the plot and is not a particularly interesting character in her own right, but she looks good in a PVC catsuit. The 'Keymaker' (who immediately
made me think of Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters!) is a sweet little oriental guy but has little significance to the story. Monica Belucci's Persephone is arguably more important as she stirs up some jealousy from Trinity and adds depth to out understanding of the relationship between Trinity and Neo, but she didn't really need to be in the movie for as long as she was. The special effects are simply amazing. Take the fight scenes from the first instalment and magnify them to the power of 10, and that's what you've got in this sequel. A fight between Neo and a thousand Agent Smiths, although a little too long, was extremely well choreographed and great fun to watch. The car chase at the end of the movie, which I was expecting to be bored by, went really quickly and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The images of Zion, the human city, are intricate and absorbing. The effects in the first movie were described as groundbreaking, in the second movie they are simply phenomenal. Much has been made of the 'deeper level' at which this movie works, but I prefer to think of it as an expansion of the story begun in the original 'Matrix'. There has always been a spiritual level to the story; Neo as 'The One' cannot be explained or categorised either by the machine world or the human world; we have always known he has some sort of higher purpose and a role in the salvation of man. I do not feel that the philosophising that takes place in the sequel is overdone, although some reviewers clearly do as many cite this as one of the films biggest failures. The movie is a masterpiece, but one which I feel will only be recognised and given the credit it deserves when all three movies can be seen together. Perhaps the movie disappointed many fans because it isn't just about the fight sequences, it is a complex story with many layers that cannot be absorbed from a single viewing. If you haven't yet seen it, and
plan to, I envy you the experience you have to come. I plan to see it again and again, but nothing will match that initial excitement, the buzz of adrenaline that is the first viewing of this phenomenal film.
Detroit is the perfect place for Londoners to head for dinner and drinks after a long hard day at the office. Sleek, contemporary surroundings, delicious, well presented food and some of the best cocktails in London, you're sure to leave with a smile on your face. **** AMBIENCE Detroit is a basement bar/restaurant but unlike many other similarly situated venues it comes across as cosy and cavelike rather than dingy and claustrophobic. You enter the restaurant through a discreet doorway from street level and down a dimly lit flight of stairs; it's like entering a club rather than a restaurant. Candles sparkle welcomingly along the bar and across the tables, funky artwork adorn the walls and the drinks displays add a touch of colour. It's both lively and relaxing. The bar is cleverly designed with booths and tables where you can sit and chat to friends, or you can park yourself at the bar for a more open experience. **** SERVICE The bar staff and waiting staff are all very friendly and couldn't be more helpful. On my visit, the (extremely cute!) barman spent ages helping me choose my first cocktail, asking me all kinds of questions about my likes and dislikes, and was able to produce my idea of a perfect drink; a divine vanilla infused rum concoction that my tastebuds were more than happy with. The waiting staff were similarly helpful, willing to take the time to discuss the menu and recommend dishes. **** FOOD The menu isn't particularly long, but despite that there's something for everyone and everything I've tried has been absolutely delicious. Every time I go there, I resolve to try a different starter, but I always end up ordering my usual because it's simply perfect; saffron king prawns on a bed of wilted spinach - scrumptious beyond words. My two favourite main courses are the wild mushroom risotto (fabulous flavours but very, very rich) and the minted lamb; if pressed I
would probably rate the lamb as my ultimate favourite. For dessert, try the white chocolate tiramisu or the cheeseboard - stacked with cheeses from Neals Yard Dairy, a couple of minutes down the road. **** DRINKS The cocktails are heavenly but very expensive, starting at £6.80 each. They have a good wine list, the Chilean Merlot is particularly good and reasonably priced at £12.80 a bottle. My favourite cocktails are : Malecon : The vanilla rum concoction; sweet and warm, I can?t recommend it highly enough Mitch Martini : An apple martini drink; very refreshing Twinkle : Rose petal martini topped with champagne; one is lovely but any more would probably be a bit sickly. **** PRICE Drinks are expensive, cocktails ranging from £6.80 to £7.50 and there's no happy hour, unfortunately. The food is more reasonably priced. Starters and desserts are around £4 - £6 and main courses around £10 each. I was lucky enough to take advantage of a 50% off the food bill offer, which meant that a meal for two, including a bottle of wine, only came to £26! Keep an eye on www.toptable.co.uk for similar offers. **** LOCATION Detroit is located at 35 Earlham Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9LD, approximately a five minute walk from Leicester Square tube station. It opens from 6pm - 10.30pm Monday to Saturday and is closed on Bank holidays.
**** This is a review of 'Macbeth' starring Sean Bean and directed by Edward Hall, which is currently showing at the Richmond Theatre and is due to open at the Albery Theatre in the West End in a few weeks time. ***** I don't like this trend of plucking people off the telly/out of the recording studio and sticking them on the stage. An actor who has spent the majority of his working life in front of a camera is unlikely to have developed the vocal power and stage presence necessary to do justice to even a minor Shakespearean part, let alone the principal role. Sean Bean proved this to me recently with his weak, dull and barely audible interpretation of arguably the Bard's greatest tragic character, Macbeth. Apparently, Bean is 'returning' to the stage after a twelve year absence, but if you were in the audience this Saturday, you could be forgiven for thinking he's never acted onstage in his life. This production has been eagerly awaited by theatregoers and critics alike for some time, and is due to move to central London in a month or so. Richmond theatre is its launch site; presumably they intend to iron out any flaws and inconsistencies here before taking it to a harsher, less indulgent audience in the West End. They'll have their work cut out... **** THE PLAY One of Shakespeare's best known plays, Macbeth is the tale of a once great soldier's fall from grace. Following a successful battle, Macbeth, accompanied by his friend Banquo, is visited by three 'weird sisters' who prophecy his ascendance to the Scottish throne. His initial scepticism is jolted when one of the witches' other predictions come true, and he is crowned Thane of Cawdor. He begins to wonder whether the witches prophecy will only come true if he takes matters into his own hands...And is presented with the perfect opportunity when the King decides to stay at his castle. With the
King under his roof and in his care, Macbeth becomes afraid and decides not to kill him, but is persuaded to do the dirty deed by his wife, a strong, powerful woman who is skilled at manipulating her husband. Macbeth kills the King and leaves the bloody daggers with his guards to make it appear as if they have killed him. When the murder is discovered, the Kings two sons flee Scotland, and Macbeth is crowned King. Tyranny, violence and death follow. Macbeth believes he is invincible because the witches tell him that no man born of woman will kill him, but he is finally vanquished by Macduff, who was 'untimely ripped' from his mothers womb. **** CHARACTERISATION Macbeth I have no doubt that those who cast Sean Bean in this role practically wet themselves with excitement when this well established TV and movie actor expressed an interest in the part. They may have been less ecstatic when rehearsals started, but they probably hoped the audience would overlook his obvious unsuitability for the role simply because of who he is. Unfortunately, they overestimated the audience?s tolerance levels considerably. The main problem with Mr Bean's performance was that we could hardly hear him. I was in row E, five rows from the stage, and even I found myself straining to catch some of his speeches. It must have been terribly frustrating for those further back. At one point, a fed up audience member shouted 'speak up!' prompting murmers of assent from the rest of those near the back. Rude? Yes - but totally understandable. Lack of volume aside, Bean's performance lacked depth and he failed to adequately convey Macbeth's inner turmoil as he struggles with his conscience, his own ambition and his wife's. Sean Bean's Macbeth is a pathetic and clumsy creature. His discomfort is way too obvious when the King?s body is discovered, and his descent into torment and madness is too sudden and
out of the blue to make any dramatic sense. Despite Lady Macbeth's best attempts to rouse him to fury and her blatant sexuality, Bean does not convey the powerful bond between Macbeth and his wife, and his tearful reaction to her death is simply not credible. Another, more personal reason I found Sean Bean's performance uncomfortable was that I couldn't get past his accent. Why have all the other actors speaking with Scottish accents (some of them passable, most diabolical) if you are going to have the central character speaking with a northern drawl? Some of Macbeth's key speeches just sounded comical. 'It will have blud...Blud will have blud they say...' It just isn't right! Either have everyone speaking with their own accents, or everyone speaking in Scottish accents. Surely an actor of Bean's calibre (and salary) could manage a Scottish accent...? Lady Macbeth The actress playing Lady Macbeth gave a strong performance and I really liked the sexy edge she gave the character. Dominating and manipulative, Lady Macbeth is the force of evil behind the death of the King and this came across very well in the actresses' erformance. The sleepwalking scene, in which Lady Macbeth is found by her distraught maid and a doctor walking and talking in her sleep, and trying to wash her hands of the imaginary blood of the King, was very creepy and powerful. I felt that at times the actress went a bit over the top in her performance, such as when she calls upon the spirits to 'unsex' her and fill her full of cruelty - she almost screamed the lines, and I think a slower, less hysterical approach would have had more impact, but on the whole her performance was sound. The Witches I have never seen a production of Macbeth where the witches had so little impact. The director has obviously decided to try and cash in on the sex appeal of a big name movie star and has given th
e witches a similar sexy edge to Lady Macbeth, three pretty model types squeezed into satin negligees and draped across the admittedly handsome Sean Bean, as opposed to the traditional three hags huddled around a cauldron. The witches pranced across the stage, skirts a billowing, and lisped their prophecies girlishly to an entranced Macbeth. I'm sorry, but if I wanted to see semi naked women pouting and preening, I'd buy a copy of FHM. There was no dramatic impact in their speeches, no horror in the tableau they present to Macbeth in Act 2, no revulsion from Macbeth and consequently no struggle between good and evil (represented by the witches) in his mind. The minor characters in the play gave generally good performances, with the exception of a stilted maid with a hideously bad Scottish accent and the cute little boy drafted in to play Macduff's murdered son, who simply couldn't act. Macduff himself was very good - the scene where he discovers his wife and children have been murdered was genuinely moving and his rage in the final scene, where he comes fact to face with their murderer, is formidable. **** SETTING I couldn't work this out at all. The actors were dressed in modern war uniforms, suggesting a modern setting, but Macbeth's home was a creepy gothic castle complete with candles on the walls and a portcullis door. Macbeth carried a sword and wore silver plated armour, but his attackers were dressed in camouflage gear and carried snipers rifles. What??? The only reason I can think of for the director having such blatant incongruencies in the setting is to convey the idea that the action is taking place in a time, space and reality completely separate to our own, but what?s the point? It just totally confuses the audience. We couldn?t accept the sword fight between Macbeth and Macduff when we had just seen the SAS storm the Scottish castle, blasting everyone into oblivion. **** CONCL
USION It isn't all bad. There are some excellent moments. A sketch just before the interval where we see Macbeth crowned under the Scottish flag with Lady Macbeth hovering nervously by his side, captured their journey from ambitious wannabes to murderous tyrants perfectly. The scene where a bloody Banquo's ghost appears to a tormented Macbeth at a banquet was excellently staged and drew gasps of shock from the audience. However, there were some cringe inducingly awful moments - two of the worst being the King?s son staggering from his fathers deathchamber and vomiting violently onto the stage, and a plastic replica of Macbeth's head, thrust onto a wooden stake at the end of the play. Both these elements were included for shock value and were completely unnecessary - the horror is in the acts themselves, not the body fluids and parts involved. I really can't help thinking it would have been a far better production with an experienced stage actor in the role of Macbeth. I was immensely disappointed with Sean Bean's performance. If you're considering going to see this production, and you've never seen a production of 'Macbeth' before, please, please don't let it put you off the play. I have seen some breathtaking performances of this play. Unfortunately, this was not one of them.
'I am Legend' is a horror/sci fi novel about vampires. There are hundreds of novels about vampires, some good, some bad, some terrifying, some merely comical. This one manages to be both scary and exhilarating, and, despite the fact that it was written in the 1950's and is, therefore, over forty years old, it is still a fresh and thought provoking read. Robert Neville, the protagonist of our story, is probably the only human being left on the planet. The rest of the population have fallen foul of the 'disease' of vampirism. By day, they sleep soundly wherever they can find shelter from the suns rays, by night, they stagger through the streets, taunting Robert and urging him to give up his one man war and join them. The vampires dread Neville. He is a legend of terror and death, stalking the vampires when they are most vulnerable, despatching them ruthlessly using all the old tried and tested methods; the stake through the heart, throwing them into the deadly sunshine, cutting off their heads. Garlic keeps them away from his house at night, and he spends the nights making stakes and drinking, heavily, both to block out both the leers and taunts of the vampires, many of them his former friends, and to find escape from his own torment. He has plenty to be tormented about - he has lost all those he loves to the vampires, and is truly alone amongst enemies. Destroying as many vampires as possible is an engaging enough activity for a while, but soon Robert yearns to uncover the secret of the vampire plague, and spends all his waking time obsessing about what may be the cause of the 'disease' and how he might 'cure' it. This is where the novel differs from many other vampire classics; the supernatural is not an element of the story at all. At no point is vampirism endowed with any kind of mystique, it is always a disease, a biological problem, and a solution is always just around the corner. Matheso
n's use of language is simple and engaging. He doesn't over elaborate with fancy, flowery descriptions of the vampires; they are not romanticised in any way, rather we are encouraged to regard them as we might a swarm of cockroaches, or a group of lepers - diseased and contagious. Robert Neville is not romanticised either - he is in fact a thoroughly unlikeable character. His behaviour and appearance deteriorate in a way that we might expect from someone who has no contact with other human beings for many months, and the story is all the more real for it. The novel ends powerfully leaving us with an intriguing question - the vampires are the majority, so at the end of the day, who is the monster - the vampire or the 'terrorist' who stalks them at their most vulnerable? In the years since this novel was written, vampires have become a rather tired and overused theme, but 'I am Legend' is a powerful, gripping tale, and despite its age, it does not appear to have dated in any way. Considered Matheson's best novel, it is a good introduction to his work, and few can fail to enjoy this classic horror tale with a twist.
...By 'them' I mean everyone responsible for the current appalling state of the roads throughout this country, and particularly in London, where I live, where it's currently taking me two and a half hours to get into work when it should take one and a quarter. My journey to work consists of a two mile bus jouney followed by a twenty minute train journey. The train journey is fine, even occasionally enjoyable, as it's one of the less congested routes and I rarely find myself without a seat. The bus journey, number 36 from Camberwell to Vauxhall, has degenerated over the past few months into an absolute nightmare. First, there were roadworks at the busy junction between Camberwell and Brixton, which lasted three months and caused absolute mayhem. No sooner had they finished (with no discernable improvements on the junction) than roadworks popped up at the Oval AND Vauxhall Cross, and these made the Camberwell/Brixton mallarkey look like a walk in the park. The temporary traffic lights they've erected do not work in sync even when they're switched on, which is rare, so there are jams at every exit, and more often than not NOTHING IS ACTUALLY BEING DONE on these work sites, so the poor commuter has to inch past rows and rows of pointless traffic cones, gritting their teeth and wanting to lynch somebody. Apart from these two major areas of work, there are what seem like hundreds of 'mini roadworks' here, there and everywhere, what look like holes dug in the road for no reason then closed off with cones and wooden poles, which add to the problem by slowing drivers down and are, in my opinion, dangerous. Travelling around the capital, it's obvious that this kind of chaos is going on everywhere. What is the government/TFL playing at? I'm absolutely certain that these 'roadworks' aren't necessary. Can it really be a ploy to make it look like congestion charges are working wh
en they're finally introduced? Will all the roadworks magically disappear when that happens, leaving Mr Livingstone free to claim that his silly little scheme works? Surely not, they can't think we're that stupid...?
For those occasions where you want to look and feel your best, for that youthful, radiant 'glow', you can't beat Clarins Beauty Flash balm. Beauty Flash Balm is marketed as a luxury product for occasional use, which will make your face appear smoother and younger for a limited period of time. I was introduced to this product by my Aunt, who's thirty seven but looks twenty five (I'm not exaggerating), and at first I baulked at the price - £25 to £29 pounds for a 50ml tube. I actually took the plunge when I discovered my first wrinkle! I needed a confidence boost, and if my Aunt?s gorgeous skin was anything to go by, this balm was my best hope. *** PACKAGING The balm comes in a small white tube adorned with the Clarin's red and gold logo. It is easy to store on a shelf and fits nicely into a cosmetics bag. Unfortunately, the ingredients aren't listed on the tube, but they listed in a little leaflet that comes boxed with it. *** TEXTURE AND APPEARANCE The balm itself is a very pale pink colour, and looks like a typical hand or face cream, with a slightly oily feel to it. You only need to apply a little to see and feel the benefits. *** APPLICATION You are supposed to apply a thin layer over the face, neck and eye area without massaging. I actually only apply it to my face, because I'm not all that bothered about my neck, to be honest (no turkey jowls so far, thankfully!) and I don't want to waste too much of this expensive product. The most important thing to remember is not to massage in the cream, as the results won't be as good. You need to 'pat' the cream into your skin very gently, until it is completely absorbed. I would then advise waiting a couple of minutes before applying make-up, and when you do, apply your foundation as you have applied the cream, patting it in rather than rubbing or massaging. Alternatively,
you can apparently use the cream as an intensive revitalising treatment, applying a thick layer and leaving it on for 10 - 15 minutes, but I have not used it in this way as I'd rather save it for special occasions. *** RESULTS A couple of minutes after applying the cream, if you look in the mirror you will notice that your face appears smooth and glowing. The effect is hard to describe...it's as if the cream 'plumps up' your skin, making dry areas and dark patches far less noticeable. Your skin will feel soft and moisturised. It's an instant boost. I suppose it's the facial equivalent of a body moisturising treatment or skin wrap. The effect should last a good few hours, and retouching your make-up will not spoil it. *** CONCLUSION This is an excellent product and will be on my beauty 'must have' list for many years to come. The best thing about it is that the effect doesn't seem to lessen the more times you use it, as it does with some other beauty products. You will always be pleased with the results. Yes, it's expensive, but having said that, I've had my tube for about a year, use it at least once a week, and it's still going strong. Clarins don't claim that this will 'cure' problem skin, but it does hide flaws and give you wonderful looking skin for a while, which is sometimes just what you need.
That'll teach me to ignore the critics. I put off seeing this film at the cinema as I read quite a few poor reviews when it first came out, but I have now seen it on DVD, and can't understand how anyone could not like it. K-PAX is a beautifully made and thought provoking film about the possibility of extra terrestrial life, that in my opinion knocks the socks of crass Hollywood sci-fi spectaculars like Independence Day and Men in Black. *** THE PLOT A man appears in a crowded US train station, apparently out of thin air. He goes to the aid of a mugging victim and is mistaken for the mugger by the intercepting police. He says his name is Prot, and claims to be a visitor from the planet K-PAX, in a constellation called Lira some 100 billion light years from Earth. As you might imagine, this doesn't go down too well with the local US police force, who bundle him into some handcuffs and drag him off to the nearest mental health hospital department. Enter William (Jeff Bridges), a workaholic psychiatrist, who is given the task of analysing Prot and diagnosing his condition. He soon becomes perplexed as Prot displays detailed knowledge of solar systems and mathematical formulae that even the greatest astronomers and physicists struggle with. He can't bring himself to believe that Prot is an alien, but what other explanation is there...? I won't spoil the plot by giving too much away, but suffice to say that all is not as it seems, and the viewer is forced to reach their own conclusions about what, or who, Prot is. *** WHAT'S GOOD The acting. Spacey is fantastic as Prot, often using facial expressions and 'stillness' to create a powerful, somehow 'different' persona. A faultless performance. Jeff Bridges' William is less convinving, and occasionally clumsy, but generally speaking he does quite well. There are also some excellent supporting performances from some of t
hose playing the other psychiatric 'inmates', although I felt that one or two of them were a bit cliched - the nervous obsessive compulsive, for example, and the twitchy paranoid schizophrenic. The camera work is also delightful. Prot claims to have travelled to Earth 'on a beam of light' and the theme of light is used again and again in the film to great effect - dust motes trailing in a beam of sunlight, for example, and the reflections from a glass paperweight on the psychiatrists desk. It all added to the uncertainty and brilliance of Prot's character. I felt that the plot (based on a novel by Gene Brewer) was generally very strong. We want to know if Prot is telling the truth, and if he is, he could leave at any time, which really adds to the dramatic tension. *** WHAT'S BAD The sub plot regarding William's lack of involvement with his family was another big cliche and was very clumsily handled. For example, at one point we hear about a horrendous crime involving a child, and then we cut to a shot of William gazing tenderly at his own daughter, presumably 'realising how lucky he is ' - Far too obvious and quite cringey, really. There's also a ludicrous scene involving Prot talking to a dog - classic 'alien can talk to animals' rubbish, that in my opinion detracted from the impact of the character. Those who like a lot of action in their movies may well be disappointed with K-PAX, as it is quite slow moving. *** CONCLUSION I loved it. Spacey makes the film, and I don't know if I would have enjoyed it with any other actor playing the part of Prot, but it's made me determined to buy all three K-PAX novels as soon as I get the chance. In my experience the books are always better than the film, and this film is so good that the books must be absolutely outstanding. The critics were wrong - this is a little gem of a film, and
I'm paraying for a sequel.
From the number of restaurant reviews I've been posting recently, you may have noticed that I've been eating out almost constantly for the past week. This is mainly due to a major project at work meaning that I'm working quite long hours, and by the time I get home I just can't be bothered to cook. Needless to say, enjoyable though it's all been, my wallet (and waistline!) have been suffering! With my dwindling bank balance in mind, but still no real urge to hit the kitchen, this Saturday I decided to give a restaurant called Zara's kitchen, in Camberwell, a retry. I say a retry because I have actually tried it before, but I wasn't very well at the time and didn't really enjoy my meal because of this. I remembered the meal being very cheap and the fact that you can bring your own drinks is another big plus for the budget conscious. Zara's Kitchen is a fairly large Indian restaurant in the heart of Camberwell, SE5. It's not particularly pretty from the outside, the tinted glass actually makes it look a bit dingy, but once inside it's bright, clean and fairly pleasant. It's a family run restaurant and the service is friendly and courteous, if not particularly prompt - we were kept waiting a while for our main course. The menu is quite varied with a good selection of starters, including my favourite - daal bhajias, and a decent selection of main courses. The prices are especially refreshing if you're used to the extortionate cost of eating in London. Starters range from £1.10 - £2.50 and the most expensive main course (King Prawn Masalla) is only £5.00. A selection from the menu : Starters : Dahl/onion/spinach Bhajias Chicken/lamb tikka Shish kebab Vegetable pakora Dahl soup Main Courses : Chicken/lamb Jalfrezi/Korma/Bhuna/Dhansak/Vindaloo Keema Aloo (minced meat and potatoes) Keema Mutter (minced meat with peas)
Vegetable Curry King Prawn Masalla My daal bhajias, spicy little lentil patties garnished with slices of lemon, were as delicious as I remembered them to be. My partner's sheek kebab was a good size and he said it was very tasty. The main courses were also good - my chicken dansak was hotter than I'm used to, but no less enjoyable for it, and my partners lamb bhuna had a lovely thick sauce and smelt fantastic. The one disappointment for me was the naan bread. I like a nice, thick chargrilled naan with lots of lovely black burnt bits, but this was pale and flaccid, although liberally sprinkled with garlic. Zara's Kitchen has a BYO (bring your own) drinks policy, so we took a bottle of wine along, but you can order soft drinks, teas and coffees if you wish. And the price? £17.00 for two. A real bargain. One last tip - make sure you have enough cash or take your cheque book along, as they don?t accept card payments. Address : Zara's Kitchen, 15 Camberwell Church st, London SE5 8TR 0207 252 4587
This review covers the pre-theatre menu at Mon Plaisir, which costs £13.95 for 2 courses or £15.95 for three, and is available Mon-Fri between 5.00pm and 7.00pm. Mon Plaisir is a small French restaurant about a five minute walk from Leicester Square station. Colourful and vibrant, it's ideally situated for a pre theatre meal as it's within walking distance of most of the West End theatres. It's a friendly, bustling place with an upbeat, buzzy atmosphere. Cosy rather than crowded, it's a good place to dine with friends or business colleagues. The pre theatre menu offers a choice of two starters, main courses and desserts, so is pretty limited, but costs much less than the standard menu, which averages around £7 per starter and £10 - £17 per main course. The evening I ate there, the pre theatre menu was as follows : STARTERS Chicken Caesar Salad OR Carrot soup MAIN COURSES Breast of duck with red wine jus OR Roast Salmon Selection of vegetables and French fries DESSERTS Chocolate Mousse OR Vanilla Ice Cream EXTRAS Glass of house wine (red or white) Coffee to finish I opted for the caesar salad, followed by the roast salmon, and the chocolate mousse for dessert. The salad was crisp and delicious, with a strongly flavoured cheese dressing and tender chargrilled chicken pieces dotted throughout. The roast salmon was cooked to perfection and drizzled with a refreshing cucumber jus, although the 'selection of vegetables' turned out to be only one vegetable - peas in a white sauce - and the fries were nothing special. The best thing about the meal though, was the fantastic chocolate mousse, which was without a doubt the best I?ve ever tasted - smooth, rich and wondrously creamy. Almost worth the £15.95 on its own! The service was very good, and despite the 7pm cut off point, they were happy to off
er us the pre theatre menu even though we arrived at 6.45pm, and we never felt rushed. A couple of minor problems - my coffee being only lukewarm, for example, were dealt with promptly and with profuse apologies. All in all, a very enjoyable meal for a very good price. I'd definitely recommend Mon Plaisir for a pre theatre meal. The standard menu also looked very good ? some tempting fish dishes and steaks, and I?d like to give it a try in the future. After your meal at Mon Plaisir, I recommend the Dial Bar across the road for a couple of drinks - it?s stylish, relaxing and a great place to chat with friends. Address : Mon Plaisir 21 Monmouth Street London WC2H 9DD Telephone : 0207 836 7243 www.monplaisir.co.uk
Despite curry being my absolute favourite food, it'd been a while since I ate in an Indian restaurant, so when my partner and I found ourselves all shopped out and starving after a hard evening shopping in the centre of London, we were pleased to stumble across this little gem of a restaurant. Taste of Spice is a small Indian restaurant in the heart of Soho, about a five minute walk from Tottenham Court Road station. **** FIRST IMPRESSIONS My first impressions of the restaurant were good. From the outside, it looks cosy and inviting. The dining area, which is essentially one small room, is painted in shades of muted pink and brown. The walls are decorated with pretty Indian paintings and the staff are smiling and friendly. The menu, which is extensive for such a small restaurant, is displayed in the window for the perusal of passers by. The bar is unobtrusively situated towards the back of the room. The smell as you walk in is absolutely fantastic - I started drooling instantly! **** MENU Both the food menu and wine list are impressive. All the standard Indian dishes are available, plus some surprising extras such as Mussel Puri and Crab and Ginger Aloo starters and Fish Masala/Jalfrezi main courses. As a seafood lover, I was very pleased to see the variety of fish dishes on offer - something that's often lacking in Indian restaurants. There were about twelve starters available, and at least thirty main courses. The wine list boasted some impressive new and old world labels at reasonable prices. My partner and I plumped for the Penfolds Kalimna Shiraz which is one of our favourites, it was served at a good temperature and offered to us to taste first. **** FOOD I tried the Fish Tikka starter, which was mouthwateringly tender and subtly spiced, and my partner opted for the Mussel Puri starter, which consisted of delicately spiced mussels cooked with onion, coriander and c
umin on a small flat bread, and was simply delicious. I'm having that next time! The main courses were slightly - but only slightly - disappointing after the fantastic starters. I'd ordered the Fish Masala, which was a bit too sweet and coconutty for my tastes, not to mention an alarming bright red colour, and my partner ordered the House Special Korma, which despite its name was pretty bog standard. The Tarka Daal (lentils) we ordered as a side dish was fantastic though - just the right consistency, and a good balance of garlic and spices. The pilau and plain boiled rices we ordered were well cooked and smelled wonderful, and my partner was more than happy with his keema naan, which was soft and chewy but charred black in some places, just as we like it! We were too full to look at the desserts menu, and I didn't actually see any other diners eating dessert while we were there, but I've no doubt there was a decent selection. **** SERVICE The service was very good. Our waiter was very attentive and our orders were brought within a reasonable amount of time. Our bill was brought promptly when we asked for it and they fetched my coat without me having to ask. My one complaint is that one of the waiters kept opening the door, and I had to ask another to close it a couple of times, as I was sitting directly in front of it and it was a chilly October evening. **** PRICES Taste of Spice is quite pricey for an Indian restaurant, but then it is in the heart of the West End. Starters range from £2.50 - £7.00, and main courses average around £6.95. Our entire meal cost £48 for two, including a bottle of wine. **** SUMMARY It's a nice little restaurant and well worth a visit if you happen to find yourself in the area - particularly if you've had an exhausting day shopping in the madness that is Oxford Street! I'd happily revisit, but I'll make sure I order
something a bit spicier for my main course next time. A Taste of Spice is located on the right hand side of Wardour Street off Oxford Street.
Advice on how to write good dooyoo opinions. Hmmmm. That's a tricky one. What makes a 'good dooyoo opinion'? And 'good' from whose point of view? Dooyoo is a consumer site, so presumably a 'good' dooyoo opinion is one that gives the reader the clearest, most accurate insight into the nature of a product or service you're writing about. But I write plenty of those, and I'm currently averaging around 12 - 18 reads per op. Not great, especially when I'm frantically trying to get enough points to cash in my miles before the powers that be decide to wipe them from existence (oh, what a morale boosting joy of an idea THAT was - bet someone got a lovely big bonus for that little gem!). An opinion that gets 12 reads is not a 'good dooyoo opinion' from my point of view is it? This opinion will probably get far more reads than the last three I've written, but I don't expect it will get higher than a 'U' rating. Not an offical 'good opinion', but certainly a lot more 'useful' for me. There aren't enough people reading and writing anymore. They've all done a runner. We're suffering from a serious lack of members (don't laugh. I'm upset!). And isn't that what the site's all about, really? Dooyoo IS its members. We are all consumers, as well as contributors. If we are not being kept happy, the site will suffer. And I don't know about anyone else, but I'm certainly not happy at the moment. I have no incentive to try and write 'good' opinions anymore, crowns are few and far between, and have been eradicated from far too many categories, hardly anyone is reading at the moment, and those who are are the same people every time (bless them!). No-one likes the redesign and no-one who can do anything about it seems to care. I keep getting logged off for no reason. Links lead to nowhere. I can't find opinions that I could
find easily before the site went arse over tit (oops, sorry, since they launched this marvellous new platform, I mean). I may as well sit here and churn out as much as I can in the hope that I can work up my points enough to cash them in, which is looking increasingly unlikely. Yes, it probably is in the wrong place.