January 7th, 2012

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The Strange Case of Diane Abbott and the Offensive Tweet

Photo credit: http://londonmuslims.blogspot.com/2010/05/diana-abbott-first-black-british-pm.html

A very good friend of mine tipped me off about this story as it was breaking.

Cut and pasted from the BBC news site:

The offending tweet:
Diane Abbott: White people love playing "divide & rule" We should not play their game #tacticasoldascolonialism

Shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott has apologised for any offence caused by comments she made on Twitter, after claims they were racist. She said she had not meant to generalise when she wrote: ''White people love playing 'divide & rule'".

The story on the BBC:

The story on OBV:
There is an interesting discussion now unfolding on the OBV site, and my comment is in there amongst many!

Finally, great feature in New Statesman on this topic:

Raks's Reaction

I really like Diane Abbott. However, what she tweeted was completely and utterly unacceptable. Furthermore, it was completely and utterly false.

Anyone who genuinely believes in race equality can do nothing other than condemn the tweet as outrageous.

The question that sprung into my mind was what possessed an intelligent Black woman with a high media profile to say something so crass and stupid?
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Sherlock Holmes Society of London: Annual Dinner, Saturday 7 January 2012

Tonight, I will be going to this and I cannot wait!

Cut and pasted from the Sherlock Holmes Society of London's website:

The Society's 59th Annual Dinner will be held in the Members' Dining Room at the House of Commons, London, on Saturday 7th January 2012. The title assigned to this year's function is A WHALE OF A TIME.

For our 2012 Annual Dinner the Society is delighted to welcome television writer and producer Steven Moffat as our Guest of Honour. He is best known today for his work regenerating Doctor Who and for co-creating Sherlock with Mark Gatiss, our speaker in 2006.

The supporting speaker will be Nicholas Utechin, who joined the Society in 1966 at the age of 14, becoming Joint Editor of the Sherlock Holmes Journal ten years later. He held on to that exalted position for three decades and in 2006 he was given the accolade of Honorary Membership. A Baker Street Irregular as well, Nick has contributed to Holmesian scholarship on both sides of the Atlantic for many years. In a parallel life, he worked as a radio producer and presenter, mostly for the BBC, and now spends much of his time contributing to the arts coverage of The Oxford Times.

Follow the link for all the details:
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A Round-Heeled Woman, starring Sharon Gless, Aldwych Theatre

"Before I turn 67 - next March - I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me."

NYR Box 10607

Based on the true story of Jane Juska.

Photo credit: http://www.paulinlondon.com/2011_11_20_archive.html

Cut and pasted from the ATG website:

Jane Juska placed an ad in The New York Review of Books which said 'Before I turn 67 – next March – I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.'

She received 63 replies, from men aged between 32 and 84. A Round-Heeled Woman tells the real-life adventures of some of the encounters which resulted. Jane's courageous journey takes her through falling in love, some heartbreak, rejection and humiliation, a lot of laughs, and her first orgasm with a man after 30 years.

The play deals with the universally engaging themes of love, loss, personal empowerment, and the wisdom which comes with the passing years. And yes... sex.

Follow the link for all the details:

Raks's Review

I have already spoken about my love for the TV show Cagney and Lacey. Whilst I loved both the female leads in the show, my personal favourite was always Christine Cagney (Sharon Gless). She was strong, gutsy, independent, single (this was important to me, as the show looked at her various encounters and adventures with a range of men) and an alcoholic (flawed). My feature on Cagney and Lacey is here:

I saw this show on Thursday 5 January. I had really wanted to see it all along, but ticket prices were high, then lastminute.com came to my rescue with best price seats for bargain prices and I snapped up a ticket.

Bottom-line - I LOVED THIS SHOW!

It was an honest and realistic portrayal of the highs and lows of the singles/dating scene - in this case the focus was personal ads, but the story could equally have applied to any form of internet dating.

Women who are 66, turning 67, of course have the same emotional and physical needs, including a desire for sex, as women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. The need for a soulmate, a partner, and, on a basic level, sex, does not diminish as you advance in age. It was great to be able to see Sharon play her own age, and yet still be the lead role, in a play looking at love, romance and sex.

The acting across the whole of the cast is outstanding, with all the actors (except Sharon) playing a range of characters. The actors were especially strong at portraying the various friendships in the piece.

I admired Jane's courage in placing the ad, putting herself out there, and persisting, despite some initial setbacks. The men she meets are many and varied, good and bad, and are typical of the very mixed bag you get through this form of dating.

Within the story about her romantic encounters, is the story of Jane and her son, what happened to damage their relationship, her quest for him, and the way that she finds and reconnects with him towards the end of the play.

The final aspect to the piece is Jane's love of Trollope and, specifically, the character of Miss Mackenzie. Miss Mackenzie appears several times in the piece, and the search for a marriage proposal and marriage in the 1800s is compared and contrasted with the search for love and sex in the 2000s. This is interesting. As two of my all time heros are Jane Eyre and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, I strongly connected with this aspect of the play.

The piece plays to all your emotions and is, at different points, funny, moving, touching, heart-breaking and gut-wrenching.

Sharon being the actress that she is, brings a real warmth to the role, and you are very much behind her and backing her.

The vast majority of the audience was women, who had come to see the show with their girlfriends, and the reception towards the show, and towards Sharon in particular, was very positive.

I was lucky enough to hear Sharon give a Q&A after the production. The nicest thing was when she said that she it had been her dream to put this on in London's West End, and she was really happy that she had been able to realise her ambition and aspiration for the project. Obviously this statement went down a storm amongst Londoners!

Highly highly HIGHLY recommended by me!

The production closes on 14 January so if you want to see it, you are going to have to get your tickets in now!

To close, I wanted to say thank you Sharon Gless for coming to London, to grace the London stage with your shining radiance.
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Swivel Theatre Company and Twelfth Night: Please get your tickets in now!

The Swivel Theatre Company: Classic theatre … with a twist

Late last year, I became an official member of the Swivel Theatre Company's Twelfth Night production team. I am very proud to be part of their Events and Fundraising Team, follow the link:

Twelfth Night will be on stage at the Cockpit Theatre from the 29th of February until the 18th of March 2012 (excluding Mondays), with the preview on the 29th February, and the Press Night on 1 March. We now need to sell as many tickets as we can so we can pay the rent on the theatre, so get your tickets in NOW!

You can now book your Twelfth Night tickets online at:

You can also book tickets by calling The Cockpit box office on: 020 7258 2925 (lines open 12 till 6, Monday to Friday).

Follow the link for all the details:

We have chosen Twelfth Night for our second production because we are looking for a new challenge. After tackling one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies (Othello), we thought we should attempt one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies. Our "twist" is that the setting will be Morocco, represented and presented in all its richness and diversity, and the Houses of Orsino and Olivia will be Moroccan households. Our production will be a veritable feast for all of your senses and will feature live music and dance.

Swivel Theatre Company

Swivel Theatre Company is a new theatre company, based in London. Our mission is to produce classic plays in a new and dynamic way, to make the plays more accessible to the general public. We are a group of young professionals, who are passionate about theatre and who want to share our love and enthusiasm for the theatre with others.

The Swivel Theatre Company website is here:

Finally, follow the link to read my features on The Swivel Theatre Company: