Spank's LFF Diary, Sunday 15/10/2023
Edinburgh Festival 1989-2023: An Index

Simian Substitute Site for November 2023: Spunky Monkey


Comedy: Yes, there's a lot of stuff that's late on this site at the moment. Look on the bright side, at least it's being updated more regularly than our Bermondsey Beer Mile site. It's been a year of turbulent change on the Mile, but The BBG and I can never quite find the time to document all the bar closures and openings: more often than not, we're relying on the people who leave comments on the site to update us with the latest happenings. One of our recent commenters was Ben Clover, who runs a monthly Bermondsey Beer Mile Comedy night at the London City Runners clubhouse on Druid Street, on the first major stretch of the Mile. It's an enjoyable night out: on our visit we saw decent sets by Dan Fardell, Sam Golin, Ed Mulvey and headliner Maria Shehata, with Ben himself doing excellent work as the compere. We really should be bigging this up on the Beer Mile site, but the problem is that it's let down by, ironically, its beer: with only Camden, Beavertown and Brooklyn available on tap, it's by far the least interesting collection of brews on Druid Street. Presumably running and nice beer are considered incompatible, which is a shame for Ben and his clubnight. But if you're not so much of a Craft Beer Wanker as we are, maybe give it a visit.

Food and Drink: Meanwhile, over on my Moblog - which is somehow still going, even though I suspect the site owners abandoned it many years ago - we've still been keeping up the once-a-year traditional of literal real-time updates for BrewDog's Collabfest. In previous years, these have been four-day epics in which we've run frantically between a dozen or so of BrewDog's bars in London, trying to sample as many of the 70-80 beers their bars worldwide have made in collaboration with local breweries. Times are hard, though, and this year the event's been cut way back: only 31 beers, and only 4 of the London bars serving them. As such, the Moblog entries - written in the bars as we were drinking - don't deteriorate over time as much as they have done in previous years. But not as many people are getting to read the Collabfest reviews since I stopped promoting them on Twitter, so here they are for your entertainment. Over nine bar visits, we drank the beers from Shepherds Bush, Hull, Brighton and Edinburgh Cowgate: Dundee, Goteborg, Dublin and Aberdeen Castlegate: Reading, Newcastle, Oxford and Stockholm: Rotterdam, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester: Tallin, Frankfurt, Canary Wharf and Grunnerloka: Norwich, Bristol and Nottingham: Camden and Glasgow: Shoreditch: and finally Exeter and Bournemouth. This means we got to try at least 1/6 pint of 28 of the 31 beers, which is an acceptable strike rate. There should be another page on Moblog where we say which were the best of those beers, but I'm afraid that's late too...

Travel: "No. No no. No no no no no no." Not my words, but the words of a young woman in front of us who'd just discovered that the almost naked Japanese man standing in the middle of Trafalgar Square was about to be joined by thirty schoolchildren. After a few years off the scene for inevitable reasons, it was a warm welcome back to Japan Matsuri, central London's annual festival of Japanese culture, looking like it had never been away. Too much like it had never been away, to be honest. In the past, you could be reliably surprised by the acts on offer - for me, the absolute peak was the year when the festival was invaded by mascot characters, including the legendary Kumamon. But in the years leading up to the pandemic hiatus, it started getting into a bit of a rut, with the same people appearing time after time. And it's still the same people in 2023. Yes, Joji Hirota and his taiko drummers are great, but they've been the headliners for several years in a row now. We also get the usual martial arts schools, Radio Taiso demonstrations, traditional tunes from the SOAS Min'yo Group, more traditional tunes from Okinawa, and an artist I refuse to name who pops up several times throughout the day and really, really shouldn't. There's one act here who couldn't have appeared before this year, and it's the aforementioned Tonikaku Akarui ‘Tony’ Yasumura of Britain's Got Talent infamy, posing for a solid twelve minutes in his undercrackers while pretending to be naked. The poor kids didn't know what hit them. Anyway, Matsuri is still a fine afternoon out, but a few more food stalls without massive queues wouldn't hurt, and neither would a few new faces on the stage.

In the meantime, your Simian Substitute Site for November 2023 is Spunky Monkey. There's a long, rather dangerous tradition of November Simian Sites being for fireworks or firework manufacturers with 'monkey' in their name. This is a huge display firework made by Celtic Fireworks, although if you need one for this weekend note that Fireworks Crazy are currently selling it at a discount of twenty quid for a mere £44.99. To quote the site, it's "a 30 shot, max bore 30mm cake, that fires volleys of howling tails to bursts of golden willows with coloured strobes." If you want to know what that looks like, there's a video of the bigger 49 shot version on the Fireworks Crazy page. The least said about the name, the better.

This month, hopefully we'll get all caught up with at least some of the late stuff: the Wrap Party for LFF 2023, the updated index for the Edinburgh Festival 1989-2023, the updated index for LFF 1989-2023, The BBG's roundup of nice Italian food we ate this summer, and a BrewDogging that's been sitting around half completed for the last two months while we've been watching films. No promises, though. Feel free to argue about that in the comments if you like.


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