Ain’t too proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations is the West End debut of the 2018 jukebox musical all about the classic R&B Motown band, The Temptations. You’ll know them from song’s like ‘My Girl’, ‘Get ready’, ‘Papa was a rollin’ stone’ and of course the song the title of the musical comes from ‘Ain’t too proud to beg’. It’s from the same producers that did Jersey Boys, the brilliant musical about the Four Tops, as such it does feel very similar in style. As it was press night we had an extra special guest appearance at the end of evening from the founder and only original Temptations member left in the band, Otis Williams. I went with my friend Simon and we loved it.
So often when we live in a city like London we can forget the wonders that are right on our doorstep. While abroad I often take the chance to visit those countries art galleries and museums, I forget that some of the best of these in the world our actual in my own home city. Making a conscience decision that I needed to rectify this I suggested to my friends that we should head to the Tower of London. Not only is this World Heritage site actually in our city, it’s even in our borough, so local in fact that as residents of Tower Hamlets we can visit for just £1. Anyway we all took the Friday off work and headed to Tower Hill with our proof of addresses and local library cards.
After buying our tickets we walked through the main gate and waited on the bridge over the moat and on the advice of the ticket office waited for one of the regular tours that start from there every half an hour. The completely free tours are led by one of the famous tower beefeaters and take about 45 minutes. The tour only covers the outside of the tower complex, but gives a really good overview of the various buildings and the beefeaters are excellent guides and drop in lots of jokes and fun facts along the way. This leaves you to explore the insides of the various buildings by yourselves. The main building is the White Tower, which although famous as being a jail was actually a royal palace for over 500 years,
Tower of London
The other main building is of course the Jewel House that houses all the Crown Jewels. This building is completely windowless (I imagine for security reasons) and also included the coronation robes. Annoyingly no photography is allowed, though I did manage to catch a sneaky shot of the imperial state crown when one of the guards wasn’t looking! I asked why no photography was allowed, but was told if I wanted a picture I could buy a postcard in the gift shop, which I thought was a tad rude. The main jewels are located in glass cabinets with travelators each side like you get at large airports. I assume this is to stop overcrowding and encourage people not to dawdle, but it was hardly necessary on the day we visited as it really wasn’t that crowded.
Afterwards we went to the small Chapel Royal of St Peter next door where some of the VIPs were buried after their executions, including three Queens of England, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey.
We finished off our tour by walking around all the battlements walls of the Tower and admiring all the stunning views of the City of London and Tower Bridge that they provided. We then exited on to the riverside and walked across Tower Bridge to the Ivy Market Grill at One Tower Bridge for a late lunch.
Ravens at Tower of London
My neighbour Adam invited me to this one night only gay Oktoberfest special event, which rather randomly actually took place at the beginning of November, rather than in October. He’d been before and insisted that we all dress in traditional German lederhosen gear and well I love fancy dress so how could I refuse? I ordered the whole lot off Amazon for around £30. Unfortunately I was running late so had to head to the delights of Canada Water where the event was held on the tube in full garb all on my own, so got quite a few strange looks and how fun it was to be in just shorts and a thin cotton shirt on a very cold November night. The venue is a few minutes walk from Canada Water tube, around the side of the dock in a massive converted modern warehouse and after downloading my ticket I met my friends inside. This being Oktoberfest we expected a large selection of beer to be on offer. However they seemingly only has one beer left and it was awful! I generally can drink pretty much everything, but this beer was genuinely disgusting. We all thought the same, we tried mixing it with lemonade to make it less bitter, but in the end we just had to hold our noses and chug it. Not very impressed. Anyway we very quickly moved on to gin and tonics which were thankfully much better. The drag queens and other entertainment they had laid on was great and we had a fantastic time, despite the terrible beer. Just all very odd that a beer festival would screw up the beer which one would think was pretty key and also quite easy to order more.
I’m a huge fan of the TV shows ‘The Good Wife’ and it’s sequel ‘The Good Fight’. Honestly two of my favourite ever TV shows. If you haven’t watched either of them I can really highly recommend them. Both star the wonderful British actor Cush Jumbo, so when my friends let me know they had managed to bag £10 tickets to see her in the titular role of Hamlet at the Young Vic I jumped at the chance to join them.
Hamlet is probably one of the hardest roles any actor can perform, there’s a lot of lines and it’s a seriously intense role. The last time I saw Hamlet performed was Benedick Cumberbatch’s sold out, rave reviewed performance at the Barbican, so expectations were high. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed, she did a brilliant job. Well worth seeing.
Finding a good authentic laksa in London is not easy, but I’d heard good things about this place and with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme I felt it was as good time as time as any to give it a try. What with it being named after the namesake dish I had high expectations. I started with a honey duck bao bun. While the filling was pleasant enough, the bun was a bit hard in places and certainly not the soft pillowy bun one would expect. It was also torn, to be honest if I was the chef I wouldn’t have served it, but they did. Not a great start. For the main dish I of course also ordered a laksa. There was several different options but I went for the classic Singapore-style curry laksa. This dish was better, as one would hope for a restaurant literally named after the dish. Was it the best Laksa I’ve ever had no, not the worst either, pretty average overall though. Also afterwards I had quite a nasty stomach ache, which I’m not certain but may or may not have been from the meal. Either way don’t think I’ll be going back. My search for a decent Laksa in London continues.