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

Mystery Donor Stuns Rough Sleeper Group

Colchester Rough Sleepers Group’s plans to create a mobile homeless shelter to help the town’s rough sleepers have taken a gigantic step forward after a mystery benefactor contacted us and donated £25,000.

The money has now been used to purchase a second-hand vehicle which we took possession of yesterday, with enough left over to tax and insure it and possibly buy a support vehicle.

This incredible act of generosity came out of the blue after recent coverage of our plans in the Gazette and has stunned and delighted us all.  We had been planning to raise money over the coming months to buy a vehicle and had hoped to be in a position to purchase one in the autumn, ready to be converted and put into use next year. But thanks to our mystery donor we have been able to buy a vehicle we had been keeping an eye on and bring our plans dramatically forwards.”

The vehicle is a double decker touring coach, rather than a double decker bus as originally planned, which we have named Chariot 180. We decided a touring coach would better suit our needs. People will be sleeping on the coach so safety is of paramount importance and our coach has two flights of stairs and emergency doors which would aid evacuation in an emergency. Also, unlike a double decker bus, it already has a water storage tank and plumbing for a toilet, air conditioning and an entertainment system, and as a bonus there is a large storage area underneath to store supplies and residents’ belongings.”


One of the group’s founder members, Pete Hope formerly of GO4 Enterprises who run a pay it forwards breakfast scheme for rough sleepers from the Café on the Rec on Old Heath Recreation ground, said “Like many towns and cities Colchester has a rough sleeper problem and in spite of the amazing work done by organisations such as the Emergency Night Shelter and Beacon House there simply aren’t enough beds to get them all off the streets. Chariot 180 will help with that by working with and supporting existing services, and additionally we plan to use it as a drop in centre during the day. Chariot 180 will literally be helping people to turn their lives around.”

The group, which we founded last year to maximise the impact of the support and community spirit already in place to help rough sleepers, received another boost recently when The Right Reverend Roger Morris Bishop of Colchester offered to become its our patron. We are currently applying for charity status and fundraising will continue, initially to raise money to convert the coach, and long-term to support the project on a day to day basis. We believe we will be able to launch their mobile shelter ready for next winter.

Simon Crow, Vic Flores, Mike Clark & Pete Hope from the Colchester Rough Sleepers Group aborad the coach

Local signage company and vehicle wrappers Premier Signs are donating their time and materials to produce distinctive graphics for the coach which should soon become a familiar sight on the streets on Colchester, and the group would like to hear from any individuals or businesses who would like to make a donation or help raise money, and longer term will need sites where we can park the coach overnight and volunteers to man it.

Anyone interested can contact Colchester Rough Sleepers Group via our Facebook page, email hello@crsgroup.org or by phoning us on 07379 987181.

Simon Crow

 

Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for February 2018

OUR CLASSICAL MUSIC COLUMNIST LIZ LEATHERDALE, FOUNDER AND OWNER OF COLCHESTER CLASSICS, BRINGS YOU HER PICK OF FEBRUARY’S CLASSICAL MUSIC EVENTS IN, AND AROUND, COLCHESTER.


Each year the Roman River Music Festival is launched by various musicians and this month the 2018 concert series will be opened by the Endellion Quartet, one of the world’s finest string quartets.  This evening promises to be an important night in Colchester’s 2018 Classical Music concert calendar.

The quartet makes its Festival debut with a programme including string quartets by Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and Webern’s Six Bagatelles.  This concert is Tuesday 6 February at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester. More information can be found in Neil D’arcy-Jones’ feature published in last week’s Essex County Standard.

Tickets from £12. Box office 01206 573948

If you missed hearing young musician Eleanor Voak, accompanied by pianist Ian Ray, at a concert for the Pimlott Foundation last year, there is another chance to hear them next week at Lion Walk United Reformed Church. Eleanor opens the new series of lunchtime concerts with a work for bassoon and piano by Schreck, the 19th century German composer, and some music from the 18th century for contra bassoon and piano by the French composer, Vogel. Eleanor has played in a number of youth symphony orchestras as well as successfully competing in many competitions and, most recently, winning the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Young Musician of the Year 2017.

All Wednesday lunchtime concerts at Lion Walk United Reformed Church, Colchester, are free with a retiring collection. Wednesday 7 February  at 1pm.

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.

www.colchesterclassics.co.uk

www.facebook.com/ColchesterClassics

Twitter @ClassicalCDs

www.linkedin.com/in/lizleatherdale1/

www.instagram.com/ColchesterClassics

Start your love affair with Classical Music at www.colchesterclassics.co.uk and take a minute to watch their company video: 

Liz Leatherdale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Leatherdale

 

Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for January 2018

OUR CLASSICAL MUSIC COLUMNIST LIZ LEATHERDALE, FOUNDER AND OWNER OF COLCHESTER CLASSICS, BRINGS YOU HER PICK OF JANUARY’S CLASSICAL MUSIC EVENTS IN, AND AROUND, COLCHESTER.

Classics

Happy New Year!  Welcome back to another year crammed full of concerts!

Kick-start your musical year with The Kingfisher Ensemble! They are in Colchester on Sunday 7 January 2018. On this occasion, lead violinist and founder of the Ensemble, Beth Spendlove, will be joined by Kelly Jones, (violin), Laura Feeney, (viola) and Susanna Davis, (‘cello). The concert includes Haydn’s Sunrise String Quartet No.4 Op 76 and Schubert’s Rosamunde Quartet No.13. Sunday January 7 at 2.45pm at Lion Walk United Reformed Church, Colchester.

Tickets: £12 on the door.

The following weekend, the superb wind and brass sections of the Colchester Symphony Orchestra join forces once again for a concert including an arrangement of Rossini’s William Tell Overture and Mozart’s Serenade for 13 Wind instruments.  This last work was made famous in the film ‘Amadeus’ when Salieri analyses the piece as it unfolds in the background. The concert takes place in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester on Saturday 13 January at 7.30pm.

Tickets: £ 14 (01206 271128) or www.colchestersymphony.org.uk

Clarinettist, Carol Taylor is a Music Examiner and regularly performs as soloist in Colchester and is principal clarinet with many local orchestras and clarinet ensembles. Also on Sunday 7 Jaunary 2018, Carol will be the soloist with the Essex Chamber Orchestra in Crusell’s Second Clarinet Concerto.  Crusell was a Swedish-Finnish clarinetist, composer and translator, and was the best-known Finnish-born classical composer before Sibelius. Sunday 7 January at 7.00pm in Ingatestone & Fryerning Community Centre.

Tickets: £10 on the door or visit www.essexchamberorchestra.co.uk

Director of Music at St Peter ad Vincula Coggeshall, Philip Prior launches the 2018 series of organ recitals at the magnificent Moot Hall in Colchester.  Philip’s recital is called Something Borrowed as the music performed includes well-known tunes in arrangements by various composers . Tuesday January 9 at 1pm in Colchester’s Town Hall.

Admission is free with a retiring collection.

After its successful Christmas concert, the Clacton Choral will be back to work early this month! Its current members will be hosting a ‘Saturday Sing’ with an invitation to any new singers to join the choir. Gilli Dulieu, the choir’s conductor, will be introducing the works being performed at its next concert, followed by a chance to sing through the programme music, such as Handel’s Zadok the Priest, Haydn’s Little Organ Mass and Mozart’s Te Deum. Saturday January 6 at St James’ Church Hall from 1.00pm – 4.00pm.

New singers contact Gill Osborne (01255 427691) or gill@gilljohn.co.uk

Further afield but so worth the journey ….

Saffron Hall is an award-winning 740-seat performance area built in the grounds of Saffron Walden County High School.  Since opening in November 2013, it has been widely praised for its critically acclaimed acoustic and state-of-the-art facilities.

Its 2018 season kicks off with pianist Paul Lewis presenting a recital including Haydn sonatas, Brahms’ late piano pieces and Beethoven’s Bagatelles. Sunday 7 January 2018 at 3pm. Later in the month the Emerson String Quartet makes its Hall debut playing the First Quartet by the American Charles Ives plus music by both Haydn and Schumann. Friday 19 January at 7.30pm.

The following day there are two performances of a Family Jam Percussion led by Colin Currie. Here is your opportunity to shake, rattle and roll on many instruments! Suitable for 8 years and over. Saturday 20 January at 11am and also 2pm.

All the above concerts take place at Saffron Hall.

Ticket availability and prices (0845 548 7650).

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

www.colchesterclassics.co.uk

www.facebook.com/ColchesterClassics

Twitter @ClassicalCDs

www.linkedin.com/in/lizleatherdale1/

www.instagram.com/ColchesterClassics

Start your love affair with Classical Music at www.colchesterclassics.co.uk and take a minute to watch their company video: 

Liz Leatherdale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Leatherdale

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

BBFC 12A 2hrs 32mins

 

 

Full disclosure: I have never been a Star Wars fan. I don’t own any toys; I have never read any of the extended universe novels; no posters adorn my walls; the prequels (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and The Revenge of the Sith) didn’t upset me, only bored me; I don’t own any of the dvd’s; I even had to look up the names of the prequels just now.

This, of course, does not mean I don’t recognise their value or, that in any way, I dismiss them as fan-serving fluff. The job of a film reviewer is to try to honestly convey to the reader what they’ve seen up there on the screen, to give a completely unbiased opinion based upon a number of criteria (such as storytelling, direction, acting and technical merits), to be as informed as possible and to try not to bore said reader in the process. Oh, and avoid spoilers… yes, definitely avoid spoilers.

I tell you all of this for one simple reason. I want you to know that Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is not just a great Star Wars movie, it is a really, really great movie in its own right: it achieves exactly what it sets out to do and does so in a way that never is boring, flabby or uninteresting; moves its characters and plot forward in a satisfying and, sometimes, moving arcs; it stays true to the series ethos and mythos whilst introducing new and interesting riffs upon them and, along the way, it corrects a course-direction that the prequels (and even The Force Awakens to some extent) managed to muddle and muddy.

Yes, The Last Jedi works… with a few caveats.

Picking up directly where Episode VII: The Force Awakens ended Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found the now reclusive Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on Ahch-To and seeks answers to not only her heritage but to her place in the universe. The Resistance, led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher), is on the run from The First Order and fiercely outnumbered. New alliances must be forged and old questions beg answers.

So far, so Empire Strikes Back.

Where The Force Awakens was basically A New Hope remastered, The Last Jedi shares a whole heap of DNA with The Empire Strikes Back. But, unlike its predecessor, Jedi manages to shine despite its familiarity and not because of it. It’s the difference between a Woolworth’s Top of the Pops collection and something like Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions… (the former being a cover version album, the latter taking the familiar and creating something new and exciting with it). Replace Ahch-To with the Dagobah scenes of Luke’s training; the neo-Vegas glitz of Canto Bight with Cloud City; the shock revelation of Rey’s true ancestry and cliff-hanger ending and you’ve got Empire 1.2. What writer/director Rian Johnson manages to achieve though is something always fresh, sometimes surprising and, ultimately, emotionally satisfying.

New layers have been added to familiar characters like Rey, Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and even Luke Skywalker. Existing characters are expanded upon giving them both motivation and weight, specifically General Hux (Domhall Gleeson), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) – a villain so repulsive he could easily have risen to power wearing a red “Make The Galaxy Great Again” baseball cap. New characters are introduced that will immediately become fan favourites like Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), DJ (Benicio Del Toro) and purple-haired Resistance fleet Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern). There’s plenty of spectacular battles, an all-timer light sabre duel, emotional highs and devastating losses. There’s even a new shade of grey introduced into what is, essentially, a universe of black hats versus white hats that, if carried forward and expanded upon, will move the Star Wars Universe in a deeper, more nuanced direction.

I’m desperately trying not to give too much away but I have to address the elephant in the room: That The Last Jedi is the slam-bang in the middle of a three act story and, as such, it struggles to be anything but the set-up for the final chapter. This is a problem that all trilogies face and, though it is probably the best instalment since Empire, it’s difficult to judge it as its own thing. The whole Canto Bight storyline will become clearer in the context of the whole, I’m sure, but here it feels slightly crow-barred in and excessive to the needs of the story despite introducing new characters Rose and DJ and that much needed shade of grey. It’s not that the Canto Bight sequences are bad, far from it, but here they tend to feel like something you’d get in an extended edition dvd rather than an essential part of the story.

There’s also a fear that new elements of the film have been added simply for their merchandising potential than as necessary plot points. I’m thinking specifically about the Porgs (cute rabbit/penguin hybrid critters, plushie-toy-friendly creations coming to a Christmas stocking near you) which add little to the plot but potentially enormous earnings beyond the movie.

The tragic loss of Carrie Fisher hangs heavy over The Last Jedi and it would take a hard heart not to break over her final scene as Leia, a scene that even without the actress’s death would have audiences reaching for the handkerchiefs. It’s the kind of emotion we should have had in the previous episode for Han Solo but were denied through awful writing and direction, but alas.

So, did Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi make a fan of me? Only for its two and a half hour running time, but during that time I was as thrilled and invested as any fanboy. It’s a transportive experience, the kind that only great cinema can offer and, trust me, this is great cinema.

Andy Oliver

 

Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for December 2017

OUR CLASSICAL MUSIC COLUMNIST LIZ LEATHERDALE, FOUNDER AND OWNER OF COLCHESTER CLASSICS, BRINGS YOU HER PICK OF DECEMBER’S CLASSICAL MUSIC EVENTS IN, AND AROUND, COLCHESTER.

Classics

Celebrate, rejoice, rise up and praise –  the festive season has arrived!

This month is full of music celebrating Christmas with a cornucopia of concerts – some crammed full with carols.

Here Comes Christmas is the popular annual concert of music for voices, brass quintet and organ held in the Edwardian splendour of Colchester’s Town Hall. Colchester Choral Society, conducted by Ian Ray, will be joined by children from both Birch Primary and Heathlands Primary Schools and accompanied by organist Dr Gillian Ward-Russell. After the concert there is a chance to pop to the Mayor’s Parlour for some mulled wine and festive treats. Sunday December 10 at 4pm in Colchester’s Moot Hall.

Tickets: £8 from Manns Music, Colchester.

Next Saturday (16 December), Gillian Ward-Russell will be conducting the Maldon Choral Society in a Christmas Carol Concert featuring the choir of Elm Green School.  Saturday December 16 at 7.30pm in All Saints’ Church, Maldon.

Tickets: £7 on the door.

Often considered to be the music for Christmas, Handel’s popular oratorio, Messiah, is sung in full or part at this time year. On Saturday 9 December, the Choir of St Mary’s Maldon will be joined by its favourite orchestra, Pegasus Baroque, in a full performance of the famous oratorio conducted by Colin Baldy. The performance is on Saturday 9 December at 7.30pm in St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Maldon. CM9 5HP.

Tickets are available from the Maldon Tourist Board (01621 856503) and on Eventbrite.

Also on Saturday 9 December Philip Smith will be directing the St Botolph’s Music Society Orchestra from the keyboard in music by J S Bach. Scarlatti’s Christmas Cantata and the world premiere of Nativity Thoughts, composed by the Society’s founder Colin Nicholson, will be performed by the society’s choir and orchestra.  Saturday December 9 at St Botolph’s Church, Colchester from 7.30pm.

Tickets: £12 www.sbms.org.uk

Conductor Patrick McCarthy and his orchestra, the Colchester Philharmonic, will be accompanying Christmas concerts on the next two Saturdays.  On December 9 they will be at Witham Public Hall with Witham Choral presenting Sing Christmas! at 7.30 p.m. including excerpts from Messiah, audience carols and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols with baritone soloist Alastair Merry.

Tickets £12 and £5 (full-time education) at the door or phone 0345 017 8717.

On 16 December the Harwich & Dovercourt Choral Society will perform Messiah Part One with mezzo Elaine Henson and famous carols by Holst and Rutter plus carols for audience. The concert starts at 7.00 p.m. in St Nicholas’ Church, Harwich.

Tickets are £12 and £3 (full-time education) at the door.

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

www.colchesterclassics.co.uk

www.facebook.com/ColchesterClassics

Twitter @ClassicalCDs

www.linkedin.com/in/lizleatherdale1/

www.instagram.com/ColchesterClassics

Start your love affair with Classical Music at www.colchesterclassics.co.uk and take a minute to watch their company video: 

Liz Leatherdale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Leatherdale

Turtle Bay Preview Night

I’ve been lucky enough to have visited Jamaica a few times, though sadly not in more recent years, and I’m a huge fan of the island, its charming people, the laid back culture and its delicious food. So I was delighted to receive an invitation to the VIP Preview Night of Colchester’s newest dining experience, the Caribbean themed Turtle Bay.

Located in Greytown House next door to the Town Hall, this previously drab building has been wondrously transformed into three brand new restaurant units, the first of which to open, in time for Christmas, is Turtle Bay.

The Caribbean vibe hits you the moment you walk in and get your first look at this cool beach shack themed restaurant that transports you to sunnier climes. The ‘island hut’ bar takes centre stage at the front of the restaurant, ideal if you are waiting for a table or just popping in for a cocktail (more about them later) or a glass of cold Red Stripe lager. With reggae music playing in the background you really could be in a Jamaican beach bar.


Reclaimed wood and chequer-plate, lights hanging from beer crates, giant paintings on brick walls along with the open ‘street kitchen’ and a raised veranda seating area at the back of the dining area are just some of the features and little touches that give this restaurant its charismatic vibe for your unique dining experience.

And what an experience it is! Let’s start with the cocktails. They have over forty, yes FORTY, different rums from across the Caribbean which they use to make classic cocktails with, of course, a special Turtle Bay twist. I had a fair crack at working my way through the cocktail list, aided by the very friendly and knowledgeable Turtle Bay team who were happy to recommend their favourites, which of course it would have been rude not to try. Now I’m not really a rum drinker, in fact I would go so far as to say I’ve never really liked it very much, but each of my cocktails beautifully hit the spot, and after also trying a couple of neat rums too I’m now a convert.

But enough about the cocktails. Every single item from the selection of mouth-watering dishes we were served was a delight to eat. From the crispy panko coated whitebait nibbles on the bar, the sweetcorn fritters, crispy okre, and sweet plantain in the vegetarian platter, to the jerk chicken were as delicious and authentic as you could hope for. But the curry goat stole the show for me. Every trip I’ve made to Jamaica has begun with curry goat and a Red Stripe, and Turtle Bay’s take on this classic dish was up there with the best of them I’ve eaten in the Caribbean. With Sean Paul playing in the background happy memories from trips gone by soon came flooding back.


Just when I thought I couldn’t eat another morsel along came a selection from the Puddings menu (yes they do call it that) which included their rum and raisin bread pudding and sticky black treacle pudding. Now I’m not really much of a dessert (or pudding!) eater but I gave in and tried a couple and they really were absolutely delicious, and the staff happily offered to pack up what we couldn’t eat to take home with us, which delighted my daughter to find she had Caribbean puddings to add to her lunchbox this morning.


Talking about home, we were glad it was a fifteen minute walk away which gave us a chance to walk off some of the food we had eaten as I really did have that Christmas Day stuffed full feeling!

Special thanks go to all the staff who worked so hard last night to make our preview night so memorable. Turtle Bay is going to be a welcome addition to Colchester High Street when it officially opens on 4th December, expanding the town’s dining options as well as a few waistlines I should think!

www.turtlebay.co.uk/colchester

@turtlebayuk

www.facebook.com/TurtleBayRestaurants/

EMAIL

Simon Crow

 

When Question Time Came to Colchester

When David Dimbleby announced at the end of BBC’s Question Time the other week that the long running political panel show would be coming to Colchester I was on the website requesting a ticket even before the end credits had finished rolling.

The online form asked for information such as which political party I support and how I voted in the Brexit referendum, and several days later on the Monday before the show I received an email telling me to phone a lady called Alison if I was still interested in attending. So I duly called the lovely Alison who asked me for two questions I would like to ask the panel, telling me that I would be asked again on the night as things can change dramatically in politics in only a few days. Once I’d done this she confirmed I’d been accepted to be in the studio audience and explained how the show is pre-recorded then broadcast later in the evening. Moments later my e-ticket appeared in my inbox with instructions to arrive at the Town Hall, where the show was being filmed, between 6pm and 6.30pm.

On the day I met up with some friends, who had also been lucky enough to get tickets, for a quick livener at  Three Wise Monkeys before we made our way to the town hall where we were directed to the Jury Room on the first floor and given cards to write our name, occupation and our questions on. There was tea and coffee too, and with all 100 of us who would be in the audience gathered in the room we had quite an excited atmosphere going on.

We filled our cards in and handed them in to the Question Time team, then to our delight David Dimbleby entered the room to brief us about what to expect, running through the structure of the show and reminding us to applaud and to react anything said that we liked… or didn’t like.


Eventually we made our way up to the Moot Hall where the familiar Question Time set awaited us, which was a little surreal to see in a room I am very familiar with. A friend and I had become split up from our little group and were directed to seats in the second row. Once everyone was seated the names of those who had been chosen to ask their questions were read out one by one so they could stand up to identify themselves while the camera and sound teams ensured they would be able to get to them when their time came. They were then led away by a member of the crew for a briefing before returning a few minutes later.


I was delighted to see that one of those chosen was local actor Vince Rayner who made regular appearances in Hi-de-Hi and Allo Allo, and I had high hopes that when he was asked his question he would preface it with “Listen very carefully, I will say this only once…”

Finally the night swung into action and the floor manager invited five members of the audience to sit at the desk and form a mock panel which he then hosted. An audience member asked a question and we were off! I was actually surprised how heated the toing and froing between the panel and the audience became considering this was just to warm us up, but that was of course exactly what they wanted to get us all in the right mood for what was to come.

Once that was finished David Dimbleby and the panel finally appeared and we were really in business. The panel for our show was:

Greg Clark MP – Conservative Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Diane Abbott MP – Labour Shadow Home Secretary

Bernard Hogan Howe – former Metropolitan Police Commissioner

Sir Stuart Rose – former CEO of Marks and Spencer

Dreda Say Mitchell – crime writer

The first question, about capitalism, was asked by a lady a few rows behind me us, and we were off. I won’t bore you with the details of the ensuing debate, suffice to say it was fascinating to actually be part of it after having watched Question Time on Thursday nights for many years. My only beef was that where we were sitting my view of David Dimbleby was blocked by a camera. I could see the panellist on either side of him, just not the great man himself.

Unfortunately, about thirty minutes into the recording, out of the corner of my eye I saw someone falling from their seat in the front row, accompanied by a thud and a groan. The debate continued for several awkward seconds during which it wasn’t clear whether the panel didn’t realise what had happened or just didn’t know what to do until directed, but eventually the floor manager stepped towards the desk and told them something had happened to an audience member and to stop. People nearby rushed to the aid of the lady on the floor who I heard tell them she had a spinal injury and not to move her. David Dimbleby came over to find out what was going on for himself and spoke to us to keep us informed, 999 was dialled, and some minutes later paramedics arrived. Before long David was speaking to us again to tell us they had been informed that the lady couldn’t be moved for another hour so the recording was going to be abandoned and they would only be broadcasting what they had recorded up until the lady was taken sick.


So that was the rather abrupt end of our Question Time in Colchester experience and it only remains to say I hope the lady makes a full recovery and the show comes back to our town soon.

Simon Crow

New Changing Places Facility is Opens

After months of waiting Colchester’s newest Changing Places toilet facility for people with complex care needs was opened in the town centre library this morning.


It is estimated that there are ¼ million people in the UK who for one reason or another cannot use a standard disabled toilet. This can include people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as some elderly people.

Local resident Scott Everest, whose 13 year old son Johnnie is physically disabled and attends Lexden Springs School, has been campaigning for the past 18 months for this new facility that will make visits to the town centre less stressful for those who may need to use it, as well as for their families and careers.

Scott has been helped by Essex County Council Councillor Sue Lissimore, who is also Scotts Colchester Borough Council ward Councillor in Prettygate. Sue worked hard to access funding from Essex County Council for the equipment and construction and liaised with Colchester Borough Council who agreed to clean and maintain it.

The new Changing Places, which is about the size of a single garage to give the user and anyone accompanying them plenty of space that a standard toilet doesn’t provide, includes a height adjustable changing bench, a hoist that can be moved around the room on runners affixed to the ceiling, a privacy screen and height adjustable sink.


The ribbon cutting ceremony was carried out by Councillor John Aldridge the Chairman of ECC, and attended by Johnnie, Sue, and Scott. A clearly delighted Scott told us after the brief ceremony: “My family and son are so grateful for the changing places facility in Colchester library, my thanks go out to Sue Lissimore my Councillor for securing funding with the Essex County council short breaks team led by the hard working Up Mason. I would also like to thank Colchester Borough Council for agreeing to look after the cleaning and on-going maintenance of the facility. It brings a sense of family life where now, as a family we can all visit town together and address sanitary needs without having to change my son on a cold, hard, wet and urine soaked floor.”

Well done Scott and Sue for making a difference to the lives of many!

You can watch the ceremony HERE on the Colchester 101 Facebook.

Simon Crow

A Taste of the Carribean Coming to the High Street


After months of speculation about who would be moving into the three restaurant units that have been created in Greytown House next door to the Town Hall in the High Street we can reveal that Turtle Bay Caribbean restaurant will be opening on December 4th.

Established in 2010, Turtle Bay has 40 restaurants across the UK employing over 1000 people, with a further 50 jobs now being created in Colchester. An £800k investment has created a 160 seat restaurant with its own design which will be unique to Colchester featuring an open ‘street kitchen’ and a raised veranda seating area where they will be bringing their trademark jerk spices, sunshine-inspired cocktails, and island spirit to the town.

Turtle Bay offers an eclectic menu of 50+ authentic Caribbean dishes offering a huge choice of bold flavours and rustic dishes. Signature dishes that Colchester diners can look forward to include their famous jerk chicken and curry goat, but there’s plenty for all to choose from including burgers, salads and a great collection of dishes for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diners. All inspired by the laid back vibe of the Caribbean

The menu also includes ‘Cutters’  – inspired by Beach Shacks and Street Hawkers of the Caribbean Islands which are perfect for sharing over cocktails – the Jerk BBQ Pit, Curry One Pots, a fabulous Lunch menu, and a dreamy desserts collection.

This is fuss-free soul food for individuals that love, and live, to eat!

The standalone ‘island hut’ bar will offer a staggering 40+ hand-picked rums (yes 40!) from across the Caribbean used to create classic cocktails with a Turtle Bay twist, as well as a magnificent mix of signature cocktails too. And even better news, the whole list of cocktails are available as 2-4-1’s during Happy Hour.

We can’t wait!

www.turtlebay.co.uk/colchester

@turtlebayuk

www.facebook.com/TurtleBayRestaurants/

EMAIL

Simon Crow

 

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