Vote for The Warm and Toast Club to Win £50,000

The Warm and Toasty Club have made it to the final of The People Projects for the Anglia East region and we have the chance to win £50,000 of National Lottery funding for our project Memory Afternoons – and we need your VOTE to help us win.

Memory Afternoons are charming befriending and conversation events for older people with delightful live entertainment. These unique events are all about making older folk feel cherished and valued whilst providing development opportunities for young aspiring artists.

With your help, we can invite up to 100 older people every week for a year, to a local community hall to share positive memories of their lives, be entertained by singers and dancers and take part in a range of activities that will help them feel less lonely and isolated.

Memory Afternoons have proved to be extremely successful over the past 4 years with The Warm and Toasty Club having held these afternoon events at retirement establishments in Colchester and Essex.

Our team put their heart and soul into making these events special and we would love to be able to take these events out into the community – your vote can help us deliver a year’s worth of these delightful afternoons at a set local venue with community transport to help bring our less mobile guests in.

Memory Afternoons will support, develop and showcase young emerging artists and provide opportunities for community arts professionals to work directly with the older participants.

Young songwriters will be supported in writing and performing songs about the shared memories, artists will draw and make memento cards and singers, dancers and entertainers will perform as collectively we chat, we laugh, we share and we get happy.

We want to get people away from the TV to act as the catalyst for change by getting them chatting, laughing and making friends, as positive face to face engagement is so good for your physical and mental well-being.

Memory Afternoons also capture people centered positive stories of days gone by for future generations to access on the archives of Essex Sound and Video Archive and Colchester Recalled and via our online podcasts. But this isn’t a dry offering, oh no, this is face to face engagement that is full of fun, laughter, singing and dancing.

By sharing memories of lives well lived we turn the mirror back on participants to celebrate the rich and varied lives they have lived – our events have shown to really work in helping participants feel good about their lives and open up, they feel cherished and appreciated and we have seen that by doing so their loneliness is lessened, their social activities and circle of friends improved, their long term memory and their cognitive skills improve, they get out of the house and their self-worth and confidence greatly improves.

We’ve seen the real difference Memory Afternoons make – giving a new-found joy and confidence so that older folk blossom again.

Feedback from participants:

“Memory Afternoons are a tonic for the soul” 

“You’ve given me my sparkle again” 

“You delivered happiness” 

“We love it, it lifts our spirits high”

“This work wakes us up, makes us think and makes us appreciate what we have today”

“It eliminates loneliness doesn’t it”

“When I walk out of here I feel warm and I feel contented”

We will also hold public entertainment events at Colchester Arts Centre to showcase the worth of our older generation to the wider public.

Winning this money would make such a big difference to the lives of older people in our area and allow us to set up a central local hub which they can attend weekly to chat, laugh and have fun and which they don’t have now. Many older Colchester residents (both living in care homes and independently in the community) face a lack of engagement or activities available and/or relevant to them, particularly when faced with issues of health, mobility and finance, this project will greatly help with that.

This funding will pay for the venue, staff, community transport, food and drink, equipment, singers, dancers and songwriters and give so much back to our community with our people centred approach.

If we win we’ve got big plans to make a big difference to older people’s lives with these lovely afternoon events but we can only do it with your help-please vote for Memory Afternoons 

#MemoryAfternoons Where older folk come to top up their happiness batteries


Telephone: 07986837056

To vote click HERE

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Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for April 2018


FREE PUBLICITY! If  you are involved in music-making, we are  privileged to offer a free publicity service to our local community with concert previews and reviews with weekly columns in printed publications such as the Essex County Standard and Colchester Daily Gazette and a monthly page in Essex Life. We also offer regularly contributions to websites such as Colchester 101.

If you have a concert of classical music you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994.




Colchester is Britain’s oldest recorded town and former capital of England. It has many visible connections and buildings from its Roman Heritage and the Siege of Colchester. In addition to being steeped in historical culture it has a thriving classical music scene with an abundance of musicians forming many choirs, ensembles and orchestras performing in beautiful venues such as the Old Barn at The Pimlott Foundation and St Botolph’s Church.

Roy Teed had been President of the Colchester Symphony Orchestra for over 20 years and much had been planned for a concert to celebrate his 90th birthday but sadly this was not to be as Roy passed away last year. His encyclopaedic knowledge of music was of great assistance to the orchestra for both concert repertoire and programme notes. He was a great admirer of Brahms and keen to promote young gifted soloists hence the choice of the Double Concerto with the young soloists Martyn Jackson (violin) and Rowena Calvert (cello). Given Roy’s considerable output as a composer (he was Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music), it is most appropriate that his Phantasy for Flute and Strings will be included in the concert. Flautist Debbie Rogers gave the premiere  of this work and will also be the soloist on Saturday 21 April at 7.30pm in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester

Tickets: £15 (01206 271128)

Founded in 1984, Colchester New Music’s original aim was to support performances by local composers and also the students and staff from Colchester Institute’s then acclaimed Music Department. Now independent of the Institute, and known as CNM it continues with its aim plus develops projects in partnership with local organisations such as Firstsite, Colchester Arts Centre and the Friends of the Moot Hall Organ.

CNM has teamed up with the world’s busiest early keyboard duo, Francis Knights and Dan Tidhar and launched an international competition for keyboard music. The winning pieces will be performed at 3pm on Saturday 28 April 2018 at The Old Barn, Old House, Old House Road, Great Horkesley, Colchester CO6 4EQ.

Tickets: or contact Daniela at The Pimlott Foundation (01206 271291)

Wrabness is a small village near Manningtree and is home not only to Grayson’s Perry’s  A House for Essex but also All Saints’ Church, a 12th century building with its bells temporarily re-located in the 17th century to a wooden structure in the churchyard, where they remain today.

Twenty-five years ago, Liz Connah and her husband Trevor started the Wrabness concerts in All Saints’ Church.  Sunday April 15  4pm there is concert in memory of Liz who died suddenly before Christmas. The Archaeus String Quartet performs works by Beethoven, Rachmaninov and Schubert.

Tickets: £12 (01255 880791).  All Saints’ Church, Church Road, Wrabness CO11 2TG.

Saturday April 14 The Pimlott Foundation hosts an afternoon with Der Kleine Chor, a choir of fifteen singers from Bielefeld in Germany. The choir will perform music by Fanny, Felix and Arnold Mendelssohn which will be interspersed with songs selected and performed by Daniela Bechly and accompanied by George Ireland, one of the Foundation’s sponsored students. Saturday, April 14 at 5pm. Old House Barn, Colchester Co6 4EQ. Next Saturday the same venue hosts Colchester’s New Music concert at 3pm.

More info next week and here or (01206 271291)

Back to Sunday April 15 when in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Felixstowe, there is a Come and Sing the Mozart Requiem. Rehearsal is at 12 noon and performance at 3pm. Tickets: £12 for singers and audience. (01394 670633). The following Saturday evening, April 21, the Halstead & District Choral Society under its new conductor James Davey will also perform Mozart’s Requiem in St Andrew’s Church, Halstead at 7.3opm.

Tickets: £10 (01787 478789)

Look out for more news in my weekly Classical columns in our local newspapers for latest news on concerts in April including the Clacton Choral Society accompanied by the Kingfisher Sinfonietta on April 28 in St James’ Church, Tower Road, Clacton.

Tickets £10 (01255 221511)

If you have a forthcoming concert of classical music you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994. You can also read more from Liz at

To ensure you never miss out on our news, follow this link to sign up to our regular newsletter. We will not add you unless you do this.

Looking forward to helping you hear more music in 2018.

Liz Leatherdale

Colchester Classics & Classical Music columnist





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Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for March 2018 Part Two


Tiptree Choral Society under its Musical Director Malcolm Boulter is performing works by Schubert and Brahms with soloists Carolyn Cook and Victor Sgarbi (these soloists were last heard in March in the choir’s performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah).

Schubert’s Mass in G, written in six days when he was just 18 years old, contrasts with the main work of the concert, Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem which was written over eleven years.  The choir will be accompanied by pianists David Leveridge and Daniel Law.  Saturday March 24 at St Luke’s Church, Tiptree at 7.30pm.

Tickets: £12 (01206 734625) or on the door.

Last December the choir performed an uplifting new symphonic mass for choir and strings, Sunrise Mass by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo. It can be heard again in a joint concert with a choir from the French city of Castelsarrasin on Friday 11 May in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester and again on Saturday 12 May at Tolleshunt Knights Village Hall.

Further details (01206 734625)

St Luke’s Church in Tiptree will also be the venue for the Chelmsford Singers in a mainly Mozart concert including his rarely-heard Mass in honour of the Most Holy Trinity and also Misericordias Domini. It also features J S Bach’s O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht and Haydn’s Insanae et vanae curae. Saturday 17 March at 7.30pm

Tickets: £12 on the door.

Mozart’s Requiem, contrasting with Bob Chilcott’s Little Jazz Mass, will be performed by the Anglia Singers under Chris Green at our Lady Queen of Peace Church, Braintree on Sunday March 18 at 4pm.

Tickets: £8 (01245 350988)

Back to Colchester when its Choral Society will be performing Faure’s Requiem and other works on Saturday 17 March with soloists Gill Wilson and Colin Baldy at 7.30pm in St Botolph’s Church. On Sunday the Kingfisher Ensemble and friends perform a programme of Mozart, Debussy and Brahms at 2.45pm in Lion Walk United Reformed Church, Colchester.

Tickets: £12

Sudbury Symphony Orchestra are pleased to introduce Christopher Bearman who will play Gregson’s Tuba Concerto in their Spring Concert in St. Peter’s Church, Sudbury at 6.00 pm on Sunday March 25th. Other works being performed at this concert include Mussorgsky’s Introduction to Khovanshchina and Tchaikovsky’ Symphony no. 5 in E minor.

Details here

And last but not least hear J S Bach’s St John Passion in St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Maldon, CM9 5HW on 30th March at 7.30pm. In the spirit of recreating Bach’s original devotional event, there is no entry charge. People are welcome to come along to experience the performance from whatever perspective they like: as an act of devotion, a moment of reflection, or simply to hear great music. There will be a retiring collection to help defray the costs of the professional orchestra etc.

If you have a forthcoming concert of classical music, you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994.

You can also read more from Liz at

FREE PUBLICITY! If you are involved in music-making, we are  privileged to offer a free publicity service to our local community with concert previews and reviews with weekly columns in printed publications such as the Essex County Standard and Colchester Daily Gazette and a monthly page in Essex Life. We also offer regularly contributions to websites such as Colchester 101.

If you have a forthcoming concert of classical music, you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994.

Twitter @ClassicalCDs

Start your love affair with Classical Music at and take a minute to watch their company video: 

Liz Leatherdale








Liz Leatherdale

Jumbo’s Restaurant in the Sky Takes a Big Step Closer

After decades of speculation and dashed hopes, plans to renovate Jumbo, Colchester’s unique Victorian water tower, have taken a huge step forward after the submission of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant application which will pave the way for residents and visitors to enjoy the spectacular views across Colchester and beyond that await at the top of the tower.

Photo: Darius Laws

Colchester and North East Essex Building Preservation Trust is working with partners, including the building’s owner Paul Flatman, on the multi-million pound project to conserve and renovate the Victorian Grade ll* listed landmark. The Trust’s plans will see the 34-metre Balkerne Water Tower, affectionately known as Jumbo, preserved and put back to use after 30 years of being vacant.

Trust Chairman, Simon Hall MBE, said: “Everything about the project is big and our Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) application is a step on what will be a long journey to save this magnificent piece of Victorian industrial heritage for Colchester and the nation.

“Jumbo is recognised as the most important municipal water tower in the country and is testament to the skills of the Victorian engineers who built it in 1883. Since it ceased to be used as a water tower in 1987, it has sadly been standing idle and in 1993 it was put on the national Buildings at Risk register.

CNEEBPT/Mike Cameron Photography

“We have received excellent support from across our communities, Colchester Borough Council and heritage experts as we start the process of seeking funds for our plans. Clearly, Jumbo has a big place in the hearts of many people. This first grant would allow us to develop the plans fully before we source additional funds for the conservation and restoration. A second HLF application could then be made next year to allow work to start. If the second application is successful, the owner will grant the Trust a long lease and we will have saved Jumbo.”

Darius Laws (Con) Councillor for Castle Ward, in which Jumbo sits, added: “I know that every single Colchester Councillor, regardless of political colour, is committed to promoting and enhancing our unique heritage, and Jumbo preserved with a restaurant, bar and hire space in the sky represents a massive opportunity for Colchester.

This also an exciting opportunity to work with the Mercury Theatre, the Church Street Tavern, the Arts Centre and other nearby businesses to deliver a brand new public square at the base of Jumbo – just by the original Roman City entrance to Colchester.”

CNEEBPT/Mike Cameron Photography

If everything goes to plan, it will be at least two years before building work can start to give Jumbo its new lease of life. The present proposals include a split level restaurant. The stunning former water tank, with its unrivalled views, will be used as an intimate hire space for dining and arts, as well as a heritage interpretation area. A new floor will be inserted above the top level of brick arches to house a reception area and small gift shop. Above this, the impressive space of the former engineers’ room will become a bar.

The Trust has pledged to work closely with many community groups, including schools and colleges, to ensure everyone has access to Jumbo and can be inspired by this unique piece of industrial heritage.

So hopefully, within the next few years, the dream for many Colchester residents of at last being able to take in the view from the top of this unique building will become a reality, and Jumbo will live on, restored to its former glory and with a new purpose for the generations of Colcestrians to come.

Simon Crow


Turtle Bay Colchester – Review


I make no secret of my love of the Caribbean and its cuisine, nor of my delight at the opening of Turtle Bay on Colchester’s High Street just before Christmas. Several trips to Jamaica have given me a taste for such local delights as jerk chicken, curry goat and beef patties washed down with Red Stripe beer and rum based cocktails.

So the chance to along to what has fast become one of Colchester’s favourite restaurants to enjoy some of Turtle Bay’s delicious food and let you know what I thought about it was not one I was going to pass by!

We booked for Friday night, traditionally one of the busiest nights of the week, and when we arrived the restaurant was already busy and the standalone ‘island hut’ bar was buzzing with the Friday night crowd enjoying classic cocktails with a Turtle Bay twist made from a choice of a staggering 40+ hand-picked rums from across the Caribbean, as well as a magnificent mix of their signature cocktails too.

The Caribbean laid back vibe is all around you in this beach shack themed restaurant, the design of which is unique to Colchester and includes an open ‘street kitchen’ and a raised veranda seating area at the back of the main dining area, along with reclaimed wood and chequer-plate, lights hanging from beer crates and giant paintings on brick walls to complete the look. And, of course, reggae music playing in the background!

We decided to skip the bar and went straight to our table where we ordered drinks from our waitress. I ordered a Red Stripe to recapture the feeling of that first beer at the hotel pool bar after a long tiring day of travelling to Jamaica, and my partner decided to try a Reggae Rum Punch which apparently “hit the spot.” Nuff said!

After changing our minds several times about our starters thanks to the mouth-watering choices which included my favourite, Beef Patties, as well as such delights as Duck Rolls and the very tempting Jerk Glazed Pit Ribs, which will of course mean further trips back to sample them, we decided to share a Seafood Platter. It did not disappoint and there was ample food for us both, which included curried fish roti flatbread, chilli squid, crispy panko whitebait, sweet corn fritters, mango mole with herb mayo and a green salad. This turned out to be the perfect starter, or ‘cutter’ as they call it down Turtle Bay way.

After a short interval to let our starters go down our main courses were brought by our cheerful waitress. It is so noticeable at Turtle Bay how enthusiastic the staff are, and how knowledgeable they are about the menu, and tonight was to be no different as they took exceptional care of us as usual. I had decided to try the Guyanese Curry Duck. As a big fan of any Caribbean curries, and duck, I thought this might be the perfect marriage. And it proved to be so with the slow braised duck leg perfectly complemented by the citrus fruit flavours of the curry and served with coconut rice ‘n’ peas and dumplings as good as any you will find in the Caribbean.

My partner had no complaints either about her Jerk Chicken with was also served with coconut rice ‘n’ peas with a sour orange chutney, coconut shavings & Caribbean slaw. She said it was amongst the best she has ever eaten. Praise indeed.

Desserts were up next, though with our appetites now well and truly satisfied these were an indulgence rather than a necessity. Caymanas Upside Down Rum cake for me, with just enough of the rum taste coming through to excite the taste buds but without overwhelming the other flavours, and Spiced Rum and Chocolate Pot for my partner which also did not fail to deliver.

So, as ever, a fabulous dining experience at Colchester’s Turtle Bay, one in which you can lose yourself in the tastes, smells and sounds of the Caribbean for an hour or two.

Simon Crow

Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for March Part One


This month there is a chance to hear Richard Strauss’ famous Four Last Songs performed by young soprano Gemma Summerfield accompanied by the Essex Symphony Orchestra under its guest conductor, Philip Sunderland.

At the 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, Gemma Summerfield won both the First Prize and the Song Prize. Having recently completed her studies at the Royal College of Music International Opera School she is now an active recitalist, with concerts at the Wigmore Hall, St John’s, Smith Square and on BBC Radio 3. The orchestra will also perform Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.2 on Saturday March 3 at 7.30pm in Christ Church, New London Road, Chelmsford.

Tickets £14 (01245 601418) or on the door. 

In complete contrast the following afternoon at the Ipswich Corn Exchange the Ipswich Symphony Orchestra presents its annual Family Concert. This year it is called Time Travellers with favourites including theme music from Doctor Who, Star Wars, The Planets and Star Trek. There is also an opportunity to try out musical instruments on the stage.

Sunday March 4 at 3pm.  Tickets:  £7 – £10.

Following last year’s performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Colchester Choral Society conducted by Ian Ray presents a programme of French music including Faure’s well-known Requiem. This popular work is more often sung with full orchestra but the Society will perform it with soloists Gillian Wilson (soprano) and Colin Baldy (baritone) and the Colchester Sinfonia in its original 1893 version edited by John Rutter.  The original orchestration uses a solo violin, played by Jesse Ridley, in two of the movements. Faure’s popular Cantique de Jean Racine, his Piano Trio, with Jessie Ridley, Ian Ray (piano) and his cellist son, Oliver, and Poulenc’s expressive Four Penitential Motets complete the programme. Saturday March 17 at 7.30pm in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester.

Tickets: £15 available from Mann’s Music or

The Tuesday before, Ian presents an organ recital of music by Alfred Hollins including his Trumpet Minuet and Song of Sunshine. The concert is called ‘Alfred the Great’ but is nothing to do with King Alfred and burnt cakes! Ian will perform on the magnificent Edwardian organ in the Moot Hall, Colchester Town Hall.  Admission is free with a retiring collection. Tuesday March 13 at 1pm.

The following day Ian will be accompanying local soprano Gill in a recital at the Lion Walk United Reformed Church in Colchester on Wednesday March 14 at 1pm.

Admission is free with a retiring collection.

Ian Ray has had a life-long commitment to stimulating the musical life of Colchester:  lecturer of music at the Colchester Institute for forty years, Director of Music at Lion Walk Church since 1969 including running the Wednesday lunchtime concert series, conductor of the town’s choral society since 1976 and the town’s Honorary Borough Organist since 1988, so it is no wonder that Ian recently received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Essex in recognition of his services to music in Colchester and the surrounding area.

If you have a forthcoming concert of classical music, you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994.

You can also read more from Liz at

FREE PUBLICITY! If you are involved in music-making, we are  privileged to offer a free publicity service to our local community with concert previews and reviews with weekly columns in printed publications such as the Essex County Standard and Colchester Daily Gazette and a monthly page in Essex Life. We also offer regularly contributions to websites such as Colchester 101.

If you have a forthcoming concert of classical music, you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994.

Twitter @ClassicalCDs

Start your love affair with Classical Music at and take a minute to watch their company video: 

Liz Leatherdale







Liz Leatherdale

Colchester in the Snow 2018

Simon Crow took a walk around Colchester with his camera when the Beast from the East struck Colchester and took these photographs around Castle Park and the town centre.

Simon Crow







The Shape of Water


BBFC 15 2hrs 3mins

I was lucky enough to have seen Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water at last year’s London Film Festival (it was the hot ticket screening) and I have been thinking about it ever since. It’s a movie that can be enjoyed purely at surface level – a romantic fairy tale about a mute cleaning lady at a top-secret Government research facility who falls in love with a fish man – but it contains multitudes and the more thought I put into it the more pleasure I get from it.

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) lives a lonely, routine life in a shabby apartment above a movie theatre in Baltimore, 1962. Her best friends are Giles (Richard Jenkins), her closeted gay neighbour, and Zelda (Octavia Spencer), her chatty, brassy co-worker with whom she shares her secrets and scrapes gum from the floors of jet-engine laboratories. When a new “asset” arrives at the facility, along with its handler Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), Elisa’s natural curiosity and compassion leads to an unlikely, inter-species relationship. The asset (Doug Jones), you see, is a humanoid, amphibian creature captured from deep within the Amazon by Strickland and brought to the lab’s in the hope that unlocking its secrets will give the US the edge in the Cold War in general and in the “Space Race” specifically. When it transpires that those secrets can only be revealed via the asset’s death and dissection it is up to Elisa and her friends to help it escape the facility and release it to freedom.

Whilst The Shape of Water can be enjoyed at its most basic fairy-tale level, a quirky riff on The Little Mermaid or The Creature From the Black Lagoon, a throwaway genre romance, it is when you start to unpack its many layers and storytelling choices that it reveals its true glory. Key amongst these choices is understanding the viewpoint from which the movie is told: The movie is bookended by Giles’ lyrical narration, how you react to the much of the film (and especially the ending) relies upon whether, or not, you believe him to be a reliable narrator. A subplot involving sympathetic scientist Dr. Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Soviet spies which, on first viewing, appears to be ridden with clichés and rather silly makes a lot more sense when you understand that it is coming from Giles, whom it is established is a dyed-in-the-wool romantic fantasist. Just grasping this one simple device, I think, will give you a much more enjoyable and nuanced viewing experience.

Director Guillermo Del Toro (known, not only, for his audience pleasing genre crowd pleasers like Blade II, Pacific Rim and two Hellboy movies but his more arthouse fantasies Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone) has absolutely stuffed the film with references, textures, metaphors and salutes. The Shape of Water is Del Toro’s love letter to Hollywood and, in particular, the movies that have influenced him. It is not difficult to see the spot nods to silent cinema (after all the two main protagonists, Elisa and the asset, are both mute, both silent); there’s a wonderful fantasy pastiche of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” sequence from Follow The Fleet; there’s quiet tributes to Powell & Pressburger, Vincente Minelli and Douglas Sirk and, most obviously, Del Toro’s love of classic monster movies. This is about as close to Del Toro’s Cinema Paradiso as we’re ever likely to get to or hope for, occasionally pausing to take in moments of real Hollywood gold (such as Shirley Temple dancing with Mr. Bojangles, Bill Robinson). Everything is imbued with meaning from individual props, the choice of colours, the choice of language, even Alexandre Desplat’s beautiful score harkens back to Hollywood romanticism. And all these things are not there to be clever or smart, they are there to move the story forward and provide texture and background.

In any other year you would nail on Sally Hawkins performance to win the Best Actress Oscar (such is the quality of her fellow nominees, especially Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). There is never a single moment when you don’t know what she is thinking or feeling (emotionally), it’s a (largely) wordless performance and yet through her face and body language she says more than virtually any other actor on screen. Richard Jenkins is wonderfully sweet and affecting as the gay artist with one foot firmly in the dreams of Hollywood musicals and romantic yearnings for the guy who runs the pie shop. Octavia Spencer, always wonderful, provides the majority of the film’s humour as the sassy, vociferous and loyal Zelda. My only gripe with the film’s casting is that Michael Shannon is too perfectly cast as Strickland, we’ve seen him play similar roles too often for it ever raise a question in our minds as to who is the real monster of the piece? He’s great as a vile, entitled, toxic male who could sadly exist in 1962 or 2018, but as a subversion of the B-movie, lantern-jawed hero he’s just a wee bit too familiar.

Not forgetting Doug Jones who, with a dancer’s physique, poise and grace brings The Asset to beautiful and vibrant life.

It may seem a little strange to give The Shape of Water a Valentines Day release, but it is, ultimately, a film about love and as Guillermo Del Toro so poignantly explained, “…love is like water, it has no shape. It can take the shape of whatever you pour it into. You can fall in love with someone that is twice your age, the same gender, completely opposite religion, the completely wrong political persuasion – it just happens. And it is, like water, the most powerful and malleable element in the universe. And it goes through everything.”

Andy Oliver

Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for February 2018 Part Two


This weekend the St Botolph’s Music Society presents its annual Gala Concert with soloists Philip Smith (piano) and Melinda Blackman (violin).

Chopin wrote some of the most popular solo piano works of all time but only wrote two piano concertos (curiously the second was written before the first but published afterwards – don’t ask!) Philip will be performing the 2nd Concerto with its most beautiful second movement.

Mendelssohn’s celebrated Violin Concerto in E minor, nearly 150 years after he composed it, remains one of the most regularly performed concertos and it is the choice of young budding violinist, Melinda Blackman. Saturday 17 February 2018, 7.30pm St Botolph’s Church, Colchester.

Tickets: £15 (01206 823662)

In Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday year, many performances will take place in tribute to this hugely influential conductor and composer. Chris Green will be holding a one-day workshop about Bernstein at the Ipswich Institute on March 3.

Tickets £20 (01473 253992).

Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony uses a large orchestra and is considered by some to be the greatest of all his symphonies. It is sometimes known as “The Apocalyptic” but don’t let that put you off as it is essentially a breath-taking and awesome work. (I use awesome in its real sense, not in the commonplace overuse of the word.)

This month there is a rare chance to hear this symphony which is full of monumental grand passages, a dance-like Scherzo (with maybe a nod to Bruckner’s Viennese background), an Adagio with extensive use of the harp and an awe-inspiring Finale.  Chris Phelps trained in Vienna and will conduct the Colchester Symphony Orchestra in this epic work composed there in the 19th century. It will be performed without an interval on Saturday February 24 at 7.30pm in the magnificent acoustics of St Botolph’s Church, Colchester. After the performance, there will be an informal gathering with the chance to meet the orchestral players and Chris Phelps, and to browse through a selection of CDs from Colchester Classics.

Tickets: £15 (01206 271128)

Colchester Symphony Orchestra will be back at St Botolph’s Church on Saturday April 21 in a tribute to its late President, Roy Teed. The concert includes a performance of his Phantasy for Flute with soloist Debbie Rogers.

The Kingfisher Ensemble returns to Colchester on Sunday with a violin and piano recital including works by Schubert, Brahms and Walton.  Sunday February 18 at 2.45pm in Lion Walk United Reformed Church, Colchester.

Tickets from £10.

FREE PUBLICITY! If you are involved in music-making, we are  privileged to offer a free publicity service to our local community with concert previews and reviews with weekly columns in printed publications such as the Essex County Standard and Colchester Daily Gazette and a monthly page in Essex Life. We also offer regularly contributions to websites such as Colchester 101.

If you have a forthcoming concert of classical music, you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994.

Twitter @ClassicalCDs

Start your love affair with Classical Music at and take a minute to watch their company video: 

Liz Leatherdale







Liz Leatherdale

Black Panther

BBFC 12A 2hrs 15mins



Ten years and seventeen (mostly enjoyable) instalments into its existence, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has introduced to a host of colourful characters; explored the far reaches of space and time and unknowable dimensions; dipped its toe into incredible technology, magic, mysticism and mythology; forged friendships and ripped them apart, created conflicts and uneasy alliances and established a blueprint upon which all prospective movie franchises aspire. If I have one problem with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is this: It exists within a bubble. The world/s it has created all serve the stories (and vice versa); it’s a parallel dimension upon which the real world (that is, our world) and real-world concerns never really seem to have any impact.

Until Black Panther, that is. The eighteenth instalment of the MCU creates a world that is very much based in our world, the problems our world face every day are what powers the film, move it forward and provide much food for thought long after the movie ends.

It is also beautiful to look upon, provides the best “villain” of all the Marvel movies so far and is a whole heap of fun to boot.

After the death of his father (as seen in Captain America: Civil War) Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his homeland, the isolated African nation of Wakanda, to take up his rightful mantle of King and Protector. To Western eyes Wakanda appears just another African nation of grasslands, jungle and scrub, the kind of place a certain world leader would refer to as a “S**thole”, but Wakanda hides a secret: It is actually the most technologically advanced country on Earth, blessed with an abundance of rare natural resources, not the least of which is Vibranium (the stuff used to make Captain America’s shield and Black Panther’s super suit). Vibranium is so valuable, in fact, that to control its mines and production could provide the means to fund a whole new empire, a global superpower greater than any which exist today.

Enter Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), an exiled Wakandan who has been living in the United States, who has seen the injustices, inequalities and prejudices perpetrated against people of colour both historical and contemporary. If Killmonger can kill T’Challa and take the throne of Wakanda he could create his own new black empire and take revenge on those nations he believes responsible for his people’s oppression.

The movie pivots on this central dialectic, an argument that is impossible to ignore and creates a moral quandary very few films have the bravery to explore. On one side you have a kingdom in the largest historical sense, a kind of Land That Democracy Forgot, hiding its wealth and technology, jealously guarding its secrets for the good of its people. On the other a world ravaged by the historical inequities of forced slavery, European colonialism, poverty and prejudice, a world in which Wakanda could have easily intervened and fought for the good of a continent instead of living in a self-imposed “Wexit”. It’s a genuinely thought-provoking thesis and, to be honest, something I never thought I’d see explored in a Superhero movie.

And while your mind is being blown by dialectical conundrums your eyes are assaulted by the kind of production design that comes along once in a blood-blue-moon. Wakanda is Afrofuturism writ large, it is at once a science-fiction wonderland of flying cars and monorails and super-suits and fancy gizmojigs but everything feels organically grown from ethnocentric, culturally authentic roots. Black Panther doesn’t stop there though, the world-building is incredibly thorough and believable, and I don’t just mean the architecture, there is more to explore in Wakanda’s culture than a single movie can possibly do justice to. From the politics of power through the veneration of its female warriors; from its spiritual Gnosticism through the ideas that preserve it and so, so much more.

What director Ryan Coogler has created here is a platform to not only explore further aspects of the MCU but a film upon which it is possible to investigate black politics, feminism, exile (self-imposed or otherwise), subjugation… should I go on?

But let’s not forget that this is first and foremost a superhero movie and, as such, it works really well (for the most part, unfortunately some rather shonky and weightless CGI mars the action sequences and, occasionally, the fights are difficult to follow with regards to who’s where and how things are happening). It’s just a shame Coogler didn’t bring the visceral and hard-hitting action over from his previous effort, Creed.

There’s terrific performances from the entire cast. Chadwick Boseman is suitably regal, his face occasionally softening as the young prince not quite ready to lead his people threatens to force its way to the surface. Michael B. Jordan is righteous anger given form, his body marked with a keloid scar tally of all his fallen enemies, an angry Simba who seriously just can’t wait to be king. There’s terrific support from Forrest Whittaker, Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman and (surprise Oscar Nominee) Daniel Kaluuya but special mention has to go to Lupita Nyong’o as T’Challa’s bodyguard and all round badass Nakia (like Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok I’d happily pay good money to see her in her own spin-off movie).

Black Panther is a seriously good movie. It’s not the movie I expected just one instalment away from the culmination of where the MCU has been heading for ten years (Avengers: Infinity War Part One lands in May, if you didn’t know) and, while for some this may come as a bit of a disappointment, I really enjoyed the change of pace.

*They don’t show end credit sequences at preview screenings because, you know, spoilers, but I have been assured there is one mid credits and one at the very end so don’t leave your seat too early.

Andy Oliver

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