Jack Wills and Wonsuponatime Parties

(Or, don’t drink and blog)

As you all know, I’ve been having a massive Jack Wills love-in lately, as evidenced here. I was delighted to be invited along to one of their ‘Unmissable Parties’, in the Covent Garden store. If you haven’t been in, it’s a gorgeous space set over three floors packed full of precisely folded clothes and charming staff. Obviously the first stop, though, was to the drinks table for elderflower presse and bubbly. Mostly bubbly.

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As with all Jack Wills stores, this one feels sort of homely and sort of like school, which I very much enjoy.

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DJing among the jumpers…

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The place was buzzing with activity – including face and nail painting, a lot of balloon-popping, and…more drinking. I’m not going to lie to you, readers. We went for cocktails at Cellar Door beforehand, and by this point in the evening I was somewhat spiffed at this point, and very much on the train to Drunkville.

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When did candy floss get so difficult to eat? My companion and I attempted it, got candy floss beards, and discarded it in fury.

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Ultimately, in the rather tricky area of ‘in store parties’, Jack Wills manage to pull it off. The staff were charming as always, and there was a fun, laid back vibe. A bit like a house party but where you could buy things. Heaps of discounts and freebies if you wanted to shop, but equally accommodating if you were there for the candy floss and the atmosphere. We headed on (me in a slight haze) towards The Penthouse, Leicester Square, for my friend Sarah Betty’s party for her jewellery brand Wonsuponatime. The Penthouse isn’t the most prepossessing building from the outside, but LOOK AT THE VIEWS.

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Here’s the awesome Zoe Hellewell, aka The London Lipgloss, doing an absolutely smashing DJ set.

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SBA is one of the very coolest people I know. She’s down to earth and yet whimsical, and she’s created a jewellery company with such cohesive vision. A very hard-working young lady, and always a source of inspiration to me.

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Honestly, readers. I realise this is a very scant blog post but by this stage in the evening I was completely lamped on gin & tonics. I didn’t manage to get a single decent photo of the jewellery, but I’ll write another post to amend that. Urgh. Maybe they should rename it ‘blogger’s ruin’ instead.

Awful behaviour. But look at these pretty flower arrangements!

Blog fail.

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Disco at Kingly Court

HEY!

So, I’ve been on a blogging hiatus since June, because quite frankly, I couldn’t find the time. And I was having too much fun. I’m going to attempt to catch up a little bit, and let’s start here, with a club review.

Absolutely ages ago in the Summer (remember THAT guy?!), I piled along to a new concept club called ‘Disco‘ at Kingly Court, just off Carnaby Street. It’s the newest creation of the hugely innovative Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling (also responsible for Maggie’s), and it’s one of those fantastic places where every single detail has been carefully considered. On arriving, you’re greeted by Pan Am uniform-clad staff, all perky smiles and pencil skirts. It’s fun – you’re given a boarding pass to enter, and the rather tiny club is a delightful tangle of rollerskates, neon and disco balls.

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The drinks selection is glorious and…I’m trying to skirt around using the words ‘kitsch’ or ‘retro’, so I’ll just say: very apt for the theme. Cocktails heavily feature Midori, grenadine and orange juice, and spirits can be ordered with a mixer of Cream Soda or R. White’s lemonade. If you’re getting down on it, opt for the twinkly jewel in the ‘Sharer’ crown: a hollowed out disco ball packed full of black raspberry vodka, Moet, Malibu, Midori, pineapple and passionfruit.

If you’re into zinc counter tops and slate walls, this place is not for you. Only take your fun friends, those who have a healthy taste for gold hotpants and Donna Summer. While it’s obviously supremely gimmicky, it’s so well-conceived that you can’t help but be charmed by it. All in all, I absolutely adored it. To get in, you either need to become members (it costs £35 a month after a £100 joining fee which includes free entry for two, discounts on private hire and priority booking on tables) or you can get on the “limited” guest list on the website and pay £20 for entry. Possibly not the most budget-friendly of places, but you’re  guaranteed a wonderful night.

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This very lovely bouncer asked to pose for a photo….

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…and then was worried he didn’t look tough enough, so he did a ‘security guard’ pose…

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Take a Different Route Home

When I was a fresh-faced yoof undertaking my first proper daily commute to London, I was determined to stay wide eyed and interested in the world around me. I didn’t want to become a typical commuter, slumped in my seat on the train, head down as I tramped the city streets, never looking up.

That was 7 weeks ago.

Even in that short time, I find myself getting into bad habits. I doze on the train where initially I read ‘improving’ books. My healthy juices have been swapped for cloying lattes. I tut and sigh at anyone who gets in my way or irritates me, whereas my attitude used to be ‘at least I’ll never see that commuter again, look on the bright side’.

In an attempt to remedy my morning and evening ennui, I decided to go from a different station (Victoria instead of Charing) and ended up on a glorious walk that sliced me through Piccadilly, Mayfair and St James’s park. I enjoyed it hugely. Give it a shot, take a diversion, find something different.

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Theatre review: Blind Date @ The Charing Cross Theatre

Going on the title and the poster alone, I wasn’t sold. Going on blind dates is insane enough, let alone watching a show about them, surely? But when a chum kindly invited me along, I did a bit of reading round, and was intrigued. Blind Date is a show conceived by comedian/actress Rebecca Northan, which revolves around the structure of a blind date played out in front of a voracious audience. The difference? The blind date is plucked from the audience, minutes before the show starts.

Improv is a sticky game, to mix my metaphors. By its very nature, it can’t be predicted, nailed down, or neatly defined. At uni, I came across the work of a theatre group called Improbable, who frequently improvised sections of their shows around the life stories of audience members. That was one thing, but this show was going to rely hugely on the charm and watchability of the poor chap chosen to be the male lead for the night.

So let’s backtrack a minute. As the lights come up on the stage, we meet Mimi (Northan) for the first time, as she sips nervously at her red wine, waiting for a date who never turns up. It’s a drizzly Wednesday evening with a typical London crowd, and we’re watching a woman with a ‘joke’ red nose perched ludicrously on her face. No one is sure what to expect, but what we do know is that we’re going to make her work hard for this.

Thing is, you fall for Mimi almost straight away. Northan’s been touring this show for years, and you can tell. It’s a masterclass in improv and how to handle a rather nervous member of the audience who is desperate to impress the 200 people watching him…And that was where the problem came. Northan was perfect, delightful, and hilarious. Her date, plucked from the cosy embrace of the plush velvet seats, was not. In fact, he was downright irritating, slightly drunk, very sweary, and occasionally offensive. His date, in the audience, was also very much ‘over-refreshed’ and vocal….

It was a unique experience, hugely entertaining, quite wince-inducing at times, and all in all was quite like a real first date! Northan is a tremendous talent and it’s worth seeing it just for her. The concept is a thrilling one, and the ‘anything could happen’ atmosphere is electrifying. Go, see, be entertained, be horrified, be charmed. Blind Date runs at the Charing Cross Theatre until the 29th June.

When Mac Met Cheese at The Endurance

Hello! A massive lack of posts lately, but let’s go straight back in with a food review. Since working in Soho, I find myself making quite a lot of ‘what to eat in Soho for lunch’ inquiries into Google. The problem is, there’s almost too much choice, and I’m attempting to avoid chains and explore somewhere different most days. I’m planning on writing posts based around my lunchtime escapades, in the hope that it might help out someone else similarly stuck for where to eat! Anyway, mission statement dispensed with, let’s go to the food:

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When Mac Met Cheese: The Concept

Virtually underneath our office is a rather glum pub aptly named The Endurance. It’s nearly empty and appears to play host to a variety of pop-up ventures, including When Mac Met Cheese. When I saw the posters, I nearly passed out with excitement. Mac and cheese is one of the most truly perfect foods in existence, and a dining experience solely devoted to it sounded wonderful. I’m a big fan of the new wave of restaurants offering just one choice of food in a couple of incarnations (Honest Burgers, Burger & Lobster, Bubbledogs). I read up on previous reviews of WMMC as a food stand, and set my hopes to: ludicrously high.

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The Food

Three options for the pasta, optional extras (bacon lardons, chicken, rocket, tomato, broccoli); a side of coleslaw; deep fried Oreos. Absolute simplicity, which made me think that the food was duty bound to be excellent. I mean, if you’re only serving one thing, you’ve got to do it right, haven’t you? I opted for one option with a ghastly name: the ‘cheesy green afro’. Because, you know, who DOESN’T love thinking about a hairstyle with a hygiene problem while eating? Anyway, with stilton, mozzarella and broccoli, it ticked quite a few boxes.

On first mouthful, I was happy. Rich, extremely cheesy and supremely comforting, this was like the Richard Madeley of foodstuffs. It came to us in cardboard boxes, and let’s just say that mac and cheese is never going to win any beauty contests, so visually it wasn’t much. I started flagging at around the halfway point. It was lukewarm on arrival and cooling rapidly, and each mouthful tasted exactly the same. My companions struggled  – this, from one of the boys: ‘I think I’m going to go to Leon after this to get a wrap’.

The primary issue for me was how I felt afterwards. A truly great eating experience leaves you full but happy. I’m not just referring to restaurants – just down the road from The Endurance are Freebird Burritos and Jerusalem Felafels, both of which leave me full and happy, whereas WMMC left me feeling like more sluggish than a slug that had just taken part in a marathon slug battle and had also found out its’ slug wife had left it. That’s how sluggish I felt. The general table consensus was indeed: ‘I feel full. Not the good kind of full’.

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The Atmosphere

Curious. We were served by a waitress AND someone who appeared to be from The Endurance itself. Things rapidly descended into a Fawlty Towers-esque situation with one waitress coming from the right, another from the left, asking us the same questions. The person serving us from The Endurance came across as slightly brisk, telling us she had ‘nothing to do with the pop up’, she was ‘just helping out’. Taking orders was a bit of a faff: ‘they get it all mixed up in the kitchen’. Mm.

I’m going to touch on decor here too, for a minute. A stripped out ghost pub; tables clung to the walls like kids at their first school disco. Stuffed animal heads on the walls and wallpaper that reminded you of those strange country hotels where you feel slightly uneasy but can’t really put your finger on it. And dark, it was so dark. Dimness doesn’t equal atmosphere, lighting concept designers.

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Overall

Some street foods translate perfectly from pavement to plate. After all, you never expect street food to be that hot or that pretty but it still kicks ass (kinda like Mickey Rourke). But when you’re served that same lukewarm, messy dish with plastic cutlery in an actual  restaurant, it’s a different matter. Come on, would it kill you to give us some proper cutlery? Even wooden cutlery would do. Anything. A rough hewn tool from wire and rocks. Just not plastic.

For me, this entire experience demonstrated the sticky problems with pop ups. What exactly constitutes a pop up? What service do we expect? Should the food come in takeaway boxes or should it be properly plated up? To give it the benefit of the doubt, I think I’d have been a lot happier with this if I’d been eating it while wandering around Camden Market, which is where it usually stands. But as it is, I’m confused, I’m underwhelmed, and I still feel full. And not the good kind of full.

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Arrested Development UK Premiere

Much as I’d like to pretend a thick, glossy invite popped through my letterbox (ok, now I just sound like Tobias), I actually stumbled across the Arrested Development premiere by mistake on my way back to the station after work. Usually I avoid Leicester Square as it’s full of ghastly tourists who shamble about taking photos, but last night, something caught my eye. The Bluth frozen banana stand! It’s been doing the rounds in London, and each time I’ve managed to miss it.

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Not this time, though. I fought my way through the crowds, shoving my way towards the banana stand. Hang on….what was all that orange carpet? And the massive posters? And all the photographers? Oh. My. God. Using skillz wot I honed at London Fashion Week, I politely but authoritatively slipped to the front of the crowd (NO TOUCHING!)

No one seemed to know what was happening, twitter was low on info, everyone was cold and damp, but spirits were high. Word was that some of the cast would be heading down, and after grilling the people closest to me, I heard Jeffrey Tambor and David Cross were rumoured. At that moment, I knew I was in it for the long haul. Come on, the girl in the $5000 shirt shaking from cold is gonna miss out on this?

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After nearly an hour of shaking violently from the chill and craning my neck to see what was happening, the stars began to appear. Tobias, George Sr, George Michael, Maebe and Buster, all lined up before my very eyes. Seriously, has anyone in that family even SEEN a chicken? I’m not usually such a crazy fangirl, but I was so excited I nearly cried. Some TV shows are just special, and you love them and cherish them, and then Fox cancels them. All the cast seemed lovely, smiling and chatting away, and giving autographs. I got a huge smile from Jeffrey Tambor, which probably made my entire life.

Sorry for the crappy quality of the pics, they were taken on  my phone (SLR sadly perched on my desk in the office). How great does Alia Shawkat look? MARRY ME. Arrested Development is out on Netflix from 26th May, but I think I’m going to be too busy reading Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog and attending Blue Man Group rehearsals to watch it, so let me know what it’s like, ok?

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