April 19th, 2012

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E4 Udderbelly Festival at Southbank Centre, London

Photo credit: http://www.thenewcurrent.com/2012/02/15/14964/

I don't normally feature comedy, circus and cabaret on the site, but the Udderbelly Festival takes place on the Southbank and is HUGE! So here, belatedly, is a plug for it.

Cut and pasted from the Underbelly Website:

E4 Udderbelly Festival at Southbank Centre, London
6 April to 8 July 2012

We are delighted to announce that E4 Udderbelly Festival has opened its doors at Southbank Centre for its fourth ox-hilerating year.

Our upside-down purple cow will play host to a full programme of family shows, music, theatre and the biggest comedy programme anywhere in London.

With an excellent programme of internationally renowned artists like Tim Minchin, Greg Davies, Nina Conti, Abandoman and many more it's full cream ahead as E4 Udderbelly Festival returns until Sun 8 July.

Follow the link for all the details, including the full programme and brochure:

Further details

Underbelly is a UK based live entertainment company. We run Underbelly at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - one of the largest venue operations at the largest arts festival in the world - and E4 Udderbelly Festival at Southbank Centre in London. Our iconic upside-down purple cow venue - E4 Udderbelly - is an annual fixture on both the London and Edinburgh skylines. Through our Underbelly Productions arm we also produce and promote live shows for UK and international touring. In short, we're all about entertaining people... and last year over 350,000 bought tickets to our shows.

London Festival

In 2009, Underbelly joined forces with Southbank Centre to launch the E4 Udderbelly Festival at Southbank Centre - an 8 week summer festival of the brightest comedy, circus, family and cabaret shows. In 2010 we extended the season to 10 weeks and in 2011 E4 Udderbelly Festival played a whopping 13 weeks on the Southbank.
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In praise of Sir Humphrey Appleby

Photo credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1280016/Sir-Humphrey-alive-Epping.html
Yes, Minister: Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne in the centre), along with Bernard Wooley (Derek Fowlds on the left), would use verbose language to bamboozle minister James Hacker (Paul Eddington on the right) in the BBC comedy.

This post is dedicated to all my past and present colleagues in the Civil Service, in particular the Senior Civil Servants, the Directors, the Director Generals and the Permanent Secretaries.

A recent question posed over on GLEE @ PwC, the inclusive business network for gays, lesbians and everyone else, was the following:
As a child, what was your first dream career or job?
For me personally, it was an easy answer. I wanted to be Sir Humphrey Appleby - and yes, I was a very sad, very geeky and slightly weird child!

I grew up watching Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, with my family and we all thoroughly enjoyed the weekly machinations of Sir Humphrey Appleby, as he plotted and manoeuvred, so that by the end of each half hour episode he had completely managed to pull the wool over Jim Hacker's eyes and got his own way. I therefore decided at a very early age that my lifelong ambition would be to be Sir Humphrey Appleby, and head up the Home Civil Service, walking the corridors of power at Westminster.

At the GLEE networking event that I recently attended I was shocked to find that some of the younger members of the network, who were in their twenties, had never even heard of Sir Humphrey. How could this be? For me, Sir Humphrey was a genius, a legend, a cultural icon. I decided that it was about time I banged the drum for Sir Humphrey so that the younger generation a) knew who he was and b) acknowledged and recognised his genius!

The obvious question is ... why did I want to be Sir Humphrey? I am going to give an honest answer.

I wanted power; I wanted to run the country. I LOVED Sir Humphrey because of his Machiavellian machinations, his ability to manipulate people, his ability to deceive and dissemble, and his power games. I LOVED his use (or, to be more accurate, his abuse!) of the English language; the way he could concoct the most convoluted sentences, where by the time he reached the end of the sentence you had forgotten the beginning and the point he was making; his use of the longest and most complex words in the English dictionary; and his general smarminess! He also seemed to have an amazing lifestyle, swanning around the corridors of power in Westminster, hanging out and drinking at all the best private clubs in London, and going to all the best parties and events. To cut a long story short, I was DESPERATE to be Sir Humphrey!

Unfortunately, this particular dream went up in flames in Summer last year during the London Riots! However, many of my closest friends still work in the Civil Service, some of them at quite exalted levels, and so I console myself with the thought that one of them, one day, will make it to Cabinet Secretary or Permanent Secretary ie Sir Humphrey, and then they can live this lifestyle, and I can achieve my lifelong career ambition vicariously through them!

Cut and pasted from Wikipedia:

Sir Humphrey Appleby, GCB, KBE, MVO, MA (Oxon), is a fictional character from the British television series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. He was played by Sir Nigel Hawthorne. In Yes Minister, he is the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Administrative Affairs (a fictional department of the British government). In the last episode of Yes, Minister, "Party Games", he becomes Cabinet Secretary, the position he retains during Yes, Prime Minister.

Sir Humphrey is a master of obfuscation and manipulation, often making long-winded statements such as:
"In view of the somewhat nebulous and inexplicit nature of your remit, and the arguably marginal and peripheral nature of your influence within the central deliberations and decisions within the political process, there could be a case for restructuring their action priorities in such a way as to eliminate your liquidation from their immediate agenda."
He is committed to maintaining the status quo for the country in general and for the Civil Service in particular, and will stop at nothing to do so — whether that means baffling his opponents with technical jargon, strategically appointing allies to supposedly impartial boards, or setting up an interdepartmental committee to smother his Minister's proposals in red tape.

Throughout the series, he serves as Permanent Secretary under the ministry of Jim Hacker at the Department of Administrative Affairs; he is appointed Cabinet Secretary shortly before Hacker's elevation to the role of Prime Minister.

Sir Humphrey represents, in many ways, the perfect technocrat. He is pompous, arrogant, elitist and regards his less-well-educated minister with some contempt. He frequently uses both his mastery of the English language and even his superb grasp of Latin and Greek grammar to perplex his political master and to obscure relevant issues under discussion.

He genuinely believes that the Civil Service knows what the average person needs and is the most qualified body to run the country, the joke being that not only is Sir Humphrey, as a high-ranking Oxford-educated Civil Servant, quite out of touch with the average person but also that the Civil Service identifies whatever is 'best for Britain' as being 'best for the Civil Service'. Jim Hacker, on the other hand, tends to regard what is best for Britain as being whatever is best for his political party or his own chances of re-election. As a result, Sir Humphrey and Hacker often clash.

Sir Humphrey enjoys the finer things in life, and is regularly seen drinking sherry and dining at fine establishments, often with his fellow civil servant Sir Arnold Robinson, who was Cabinet Secretary throughout Yes Minister. Sir Humphrey is also on the board of governors of the National Theatre and attends many of the gala nights of the Royal Opera House. His interests also extend to cricket, art and theatre.

The BBC Websites for Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister are here:

You can buy Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister on Amazon here:

Let us give it up for Sir Humphrey!

Photo credit: http://www.yes-minister.com/tribute_nigel.htm
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Some people are gay. Get over it!

And with this image from Stonewall I am concluding my campaigning for today!

Photo credit: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/media/current_releases/3512.asp

Cut and pasted from the Stonewall Website:

Some people are gay. Get over it!

The uncompromising statement and powerful design were developed in collaboration with 150 secondary school pupils and teachers for Stonewall.

The slogan was originally launched in November 2007 by Dr Who and Torchwood star John Barrowman as part of Stonewall's Education for All campaign to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.

After the launch, 600 billboard panels, kindly donated by Titan Outdoor Advertising Ltd, depicted this legend in giant, tabloid-style capital letters, on a bright red background at sights in England, Scotland and Wales. In September 2009 the simple, striking poster campaign appeared on 20 major railway stations advertising screens and on 3,500 interior bus panels in November 2009 for Anti-Bullying week.

The zero-tolerance message of Stonewall's anti-bullying campaign has been endorsed by politicians and celebrities alike. These include former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Stonewall co-founder Sir Ian McKellen, Alan Carr, Rhona Cameron, Sarah Waters and Dannii Minogue.

The iconic posters, stickers and postcards were originally distributed to all 5,000 secondary schools across England and were so well-received by pupils and teachers that the message has had a much wider reach and gone beyond the school gates.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall's Chief Executive, says:
"Homophobia is almost endemic in our schools and blights the lives of people throughout society. It makes sense that this zero-tolerance message should be extended to the wider public. Across urban and rural Britain, this plain-speaking slogan will remind people that discrimination against gay men and lesbians is no longer acceptable."
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E4 Udderbelly Festival at Southbank Centre: My Top Tip is Havana Rumba!

Photo credit: https://www.underbelly.co.uk/

My hot tip for the E4 Udderbelly Festival is Havana Rumba! and I have my ticket already. If you go during previews you can get in for £10.

Cut and pasted from the Underbelly Website:

Havana Rumba!, Wed 30 May to Sun 8 July 2012

The hottest Cuban Salsa party in town! Direct from Havana. An intoxicating cocktail of Rumba, Salsa, Rum and Reggaeton. Dazzling, eye-popping mind-blowing performances from the Kings of Cuban Dance.

For more details follow the link:

E4 Udderbelly Festival at Southbank Centre, London
6 April to 8 July 2012

Follow the link for all the details, including the full programme and brochure:

My feature on the E4 Udderbelly Festival at the Southbank Centre can be found here: