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London Film Festival 2019

Left: 1989 LFF programme, by Beryl Cook. Right: 2019 LFF programme, by DBLG. I miss curves.Being a poet helps, apparently. Last August marked the 30th anniversary of my first visit to the Edinburgh Festival. As regular readers will know, I attempted to mark the anniversary by seeing how many of the acts I saw in 1989 could be revisited at the 2019 festival. The answer was five, possibly six: and interestingly, two of them - Attila The Stockbroker and Roger McGough - were poets. Which either says something about my artistic tastes over the last three decades, or about the longevity of poets.

This year also marks the thirtieth anniversary of my first ever London Film Festival. Sooo... how many of the people I saw at LFF 1989 will be at LFF 2019?

Right, that's the cliffhanger set up. Let's move on.

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Simian Substitute Site For October 2019: Dumpling Monkey


Food and Drink: The Bermondsey Beer Mile - the other website I co-run, the one that's so popular that a confused local councillor has asked us to stop - includes a page about Hiver, the bar that's owned by a brewery which specialises in beer made with honey. The most recent update on that page notes that they're no longer co-habiting with Bermondsey Street Bees, leading me to wonder where Hiver get their honey from now. Thanks to a delightful birthday present from The Belated Birthday Girl, I know part of the answer to that one: it's Bee Urban, a community apiary situated in the middle of Kennington Park. Go there at the right time of year - they've just finished for their winter break, sorry - and you can go on a tour that combines seeing the bees up close with a beer and honey tasting session. The tour predictably starts with you having to sign a disclaimer that you're not aware of any bee allergies, which I suspect you can never be entirely sure of until one of them stings you and you die. Still, the beekeeping suits they make you put on seem solid enough, although it's surprising how quickly you forget you're wearing the helmet and start feeling like your face is now your biggest target. But as our helpful guide points out, bees don't want to sting you - think of it as their human allergy, if you will - and as long as you don't do anything stupid, you'll be fine. It's fascinating seeing the hives up so close, and the tasting session is a great way to wind down afterwards. Expect the season to start up again in April 2020, if you feel like trying it for yourself.

Internet: I've mentioned Rule Of Three here before: one of my favourite podcasts right now, it features comedy writers Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley (currently responsible for, amongst other things, this) talking to fellow comedy people about funny things they love. I mention it here because this month, as part of the London Podcast Festival, they recorded a live episode at King's Place, and we were there too. Their guest Tom Neenan was a total unknown to me, but their subject - the film Shaun Of The Dead, winner of VidBinge 2004 - absolutely wasn't. The finished podcast is now available to listen to, and hearing it back it's surprising how little editing there's been - the hour flowed pretty much the way you hear it, apart from a couple of film clips that've been edited in afterwards. It's interesting to observe the dynamic between the two presenters: Joel is the one prone to detailed theorising, while Jason is happy to throw one-line bombs (comedic or philosophical) into the conversation and run away to observe their impact. If there's one thing I've taken away from four series of their discussions, it's their shared love of structure, and Shaun's got plenty of that for them to talk about. It's a shame that one of Hazeley's best gags is compromised by him accidentally saying 'caterpillar' rather than 'centipede', but fair play to them for not trying to fix it in post.

Music: This is all going to be stuff I've talked about here before, isn't it? Because I first mentioned the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers back in 2007, when we were still on a high from Earth Celebration and wanted to see if Japanese drumming was a thing back in the UK. It turned out that Mugenkyo weren't just a touring outfit, they also held regular courses in Taiko drumming at their dojo in a converted farmhouse just outside Glasgow. We've been back there several times since, and seen them perform in a number of concert halls: so when they announced a weekend-long 25th anniversary celebration to be held in Glasgow, we had to be there. The main meat of Reverberations Festival was a six-hour concert held at the Old Fruitmarket: it was billed as Mugenkyo and friends, but in reality their friends were either splinter groups from the main outfit or former members coming back to say hi, so in reality it was entirely their show from start to finish. (Apart from the surprising appearance of Scottish sax legend Tommy Smith in the final minutes.) With nifty use of a side stage for smaller-scale acts while drums were moved around on the main stage, the pace barely let up for the whole day, with drum performances both traditional and experimental. They kept the hall open afterwards for an after party, primarily for the performers to chill out and natter with fans, with the added bonus of a jaw-droppingly energetic couple of numbers by Harbingers Drum Crew from Edinburgh. But that wasn't all - on the Sunday, for anyone who wasn't too hung over, a series of taiko workshops were held at the Scottish Youth Theatre for anyone who fancied joining in, so The Belated Birthday Girl and I got to whack the skins for a couple of hours under the tuition of former Mugenkyo member Liz Walters. It was an absolutely terrific weekend, and I hope we don't have to wait 25 years for the next one.

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