Alex's show is on Stray FM each weekday from 9AM till 1PM, plus you can catch him every Saturday and Sunday. He likes Phil Collins, bath bombs and the 1980s, and dislikes wasps & mayonnaise. Here are some of his random musings.
So today is an historic day in Harrogate’s rich history. The town where Agatha Christie was found ; the town where Monty Python’s Life of Brian was banned from the cinema in the 1980s (and remains so, as far as I'm aware); and now…we have a Pound World!
I popped down this afternoon to have a browse, and was met by a huge Pound Coin mascot walking around the Victoria Shopping Centre drumming up business. It turns out this wasn’t really required, as the queues snaked from the harrassed till assistants’ work stations all the way down the first two aisles.
I ended up waiting for almost 25 minutes to buy a strange assortment of goods. Wild bird food, Toffifee (one of my favourite confectionery products in the world), crisps, a candle, HP Baked Beans (rarely seen on the shelves elsewhere), and some toiletries. I heard a couple of baffled locals asking “how much is this? Is it really just £1″? The trick is to make you think you’re almost robbing the store. Whilst queuing, I saw several people doubling their spend with impulse buys, cleverly placed on the way to the tills.
For those who argued Harrogate would spurn a Pound Shop, I’d say today’s large queues certainly contradicted this theory. Now…who would like some HP Beans on toast?
It’s hard to believe that the Priscilla movie was originally released in 1994, almost twenty years ago. This larger-than-life musical adaptation sashayed its way onto the Alhambra Stage this week, starring the biggest-selling UK and European pop star in 1989. No, not Jive Bunny, silly…Jason Donovan! Richard Grieve (better known to many as Sam in Neighbours and Dr Lachlan Frazer in Home and Away) slips into a slinky sequinned number as Bernadette, and Graham Weaver completes the trio, putting in a superb performance as Felicia.
This is an all-singing, all-dancing production right from the start. Think disco balls, outrageous outfits, saucy one-liners (including a memorable quip about a ginger nut biscuit!), and an array of colourful characters. There are even ping pong balls. Don’t ask.
I loved this show from start to finish. The soundtrack is superb, the outfits outlandish, and the set changes really impressive. You’ll never hear Don’t Leave Me This Way in quite the same light again after the funeral scene midway through the first act, and there are plenty of Kylie songs sprinkled in for good measure. Sadly, nothing from Jason’s pop career, but at least he made a passing reference to his Neighbours character.
One of the very best shows I’ve seen at the Alhambra, and everyone I saw filing out of the theatre after the standing ovation at the end had a huge smile on their face. 10 out of 10!
Keeping your valuables safe when out and about in the Stray FM area
I've joined the Harrogate District Safer Communities Partnership twice over the last week, to help them get the message out in the area about opportunistic thieves.
Picture the scene...the sun is shining, you're sipping a latte 'al fresco' at a nice cafe...where is your £400 mobile phone? If you answered 'on the table', then you could probably benefit from some free security advice. The team were dishing out bells, which attach to your purse or handbag, and alert you if someone tries to nab your stuff. They were also quite Christmassy!
There is a range of other items available too, including hooks for your bag + UV pens to 'mark' your property with your postcode.
To find out more, just go to www.saferharrogate.org.uk. Thanks to Julia and her team for welcoming me in Harrogate and Ripon during their campaign.
Following my blog about the Cottage Road Cinema, where I watched The Heat at the weekend, I had the pleasure of watching The World’s End at another fab independent cinema last night. Wetherby Film Theatre won a national radio competition a few years back for ‘best small cinema in the UK’, and definitely deserves a visit if you get chance. Friendly, one screen + great value for money. Plus amiable Scotsman Ray and his wife to greet you on the Box Office when you arrive!
Onto the film, and I had high hopes following Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. This has been billed as the third part of the so-called ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, and started off very well. Gary King (a Sisters of Mercy T-shirt-clad Simon Pegg) is on a mission to get his old crew back together to try and complete a pub crawl which they first attempted in the early 90s. For the first 45 minutes, the film focuses on the fact all of Gary’s friends have got married, found responsible jobs etc…except for Gary. He seems to be clinging onto his late teens, even retaining a mix tape which one of the gang made for him in 1990 and the car he bought for £300 in 1988.
Another ex-007 makes an appearance, following Timothy Dalton’s excellent turn in Hot Fuzz, and there are also excellent performances from the likes of Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, and of course Nick Frost, who provides one of the movie’s funniest moments when he puts a window through as the gang leave one of the pubs.
There are nods to the previous movies in the ‘trilogy’, with the fruit machines playing the same tune, another fence-jumping scene, and of course the obligatory ice cream product all making an appearance.
The second half of the film is quite bizarre, however, as it turns out the world is being taken over by robots (don’t call them that, though!). It’s a nice idea, but I felt a bit like I enjoyed the film more when it was just a group of blokes being big kids again, and perhaps the aliens took up too much of the screen time in the end. There is even a bit of a ‘moral’ ending, which He-Man cartoons also used to have when I was growing up!
Overall, though, well worth a watch, whether you’ve grown up yet or not. A good 7.5 out of 10 from me. I may also have to get the soundtrack CD, which includes gems from Primal Scream, Soup Dragons, Beautiful South, Stone Roses…and Kylie!
I remember quite clearly going to see E.T. in the early 80s at the Odeon in York ; a beautiful 1930s art deco building (still in use, but with a different name!). Ever since then, I’ve always loved the magic and romance of seeing movies on the big screen…particularly quirky, independent cinemas such as Cottage Road Cinema in Leeds.
This place has been showing movies continuously since 1912, and has real character (plus a piano down to the left of the screen!). I love thinking about all the couples who’ve been here on a date over the years. Friends seeing the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Families watching a Pixar or Disney animation. All enjoying movies on the big screen.
Tonight’s film was The Heat, which stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. It’s the classic ‘buddy cop’ film, but instead of Eddie Murphy and co, we have two fab lead female actors giving us lots of laughs. It’s well worth a watch, and gets a good 9 out of 10 from me for some genuine laugh-out-loud moments, plus a bonus point for the cat!
If you haven’t been to Cottage Road Cinema, I recommend you give it a try. Ticket prices are incredibly reasonable (change from £6), and the naughty treats are even reasonably priced. Other things I like about the place include the fact they still open the curtains at the start of the screening (I may be alone on this one, but for me it’s part of the magic of going to the cinema!), the fact they have an intermission between the adverts and the main feature, and the friendly team who work there.
I’d love to know which cinemas you like to visit. Are you a fan of the small independent cinemas? A multiplex fan? Or is going to the cinema not something you do in an age of digital downloads?
Get in touch and let me know. Here’s to the next 101 years of the Cottage Cinema!