Caribbean Comedy Hits the Marq at the British Library

Windrush Caribbean Comedy Week
Star Rating: ****
British Library
St Pancras
London NW1
22nd June 2018

Produced by Entertrainments and the British Library

It’s Friday night so it must be library night. For the second time this month Mr Cee continued his mini comedy tour of London libraries, this time at the prestigious British Library. Well not quite inside the Library, but within the gorgeous marquee on its St Pancras grounds which provided a wonderful setting for a terrific night of Windrush comedy.

This was the finale to a week long run of 5 consecutive nights of comedy featuring Mr Cee as the regular Compere, with Aurie styla, Quincy and in a last minute change to the line up, Special P.

The shows were put on in partnership with the British Library to mark the 70th anniversary of Windrush and highlight the variety of comedic talent in Britain with origins in the Caribbean. The 22nd June 2018 date was highly significant for it marked 70 years to the very day since the SS Empire Windrush landed at Tilbury Docks in East London.

You could see there was great camaraderie amongst the acts who all go back a long way, many of whom were trained by Mr Cee at The Comedy School, where he is a major force behind the School and training a good many comedians who now perform regularly on the comedy circuit.

Aurie Styla

The youngest act of the night by some distance was Aurie Styla (Jamaican), who delivered a barnstorming set with his trademark high energy, confident delivery style as he sought to find hidden meanings to many much loved songs including Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ and Mystikal’s ‘Shake Ya Ass’. Some of our favourite nursery rhymes didn’t escape his attentions either.

His musings on relationships and romance were thought provoking and stimulating, especially when he got the audience involved in sharing their thoughts. It made for great entertainment whilst also striking a chord in how universally men and women view romance.

On a lighter note I loved hearing about the cheeky ingenuity and entrepreneurship of his 5 year old nephew Ryan and young friend Reece.

Special P at the British Library

St Lucian, Special P, entertained the audience with his very expressive and forceful delivery laced with some wicked punch lines. The joke about seasoning was unexpected and particularly funny, original and relevant for a night celebrating the Caribbean presence in Britain. He also shared some strong views on the current crime wave sweeping London, proposing that the parents of children who murder should be given 3 year sentences i.e. as a method of placing greater pressure, onus and responsibility on them to take full responsibility for the actions of their children. On a night set to a near constant cacophony of sirens and helicopters on and above the busy Marlyebone road, this was not just a radical proposal, but serious food for thought indeed.

Quincy

Quincy, originating from Barbados, gave the packed audience plenty of belly laughs about the strife of life as a single father raising his young boys to become men and the impact of that regarding how he moderates his behaviour and conducts himself, knowing he is their father and role model for the type of men they are likely to grow up to be. Whilst he played it for laughs, it also showed that he had and continues to take his parental responsibilities seriously. I don’t know if he’d go so far as to endorse Special P’s harsh recommendation, but I would suspect he need not fear that penalty as it was clear he has raised his children well enough to not get caught up in perpetrating the trouble on the streets of London that we are hearing about all too often these days.

He also had a lot to say on relationships as well as reminiscing on the journey his parents took many years ago by leaving Barbados to live in London.

Entertainments Organiser and Compere Mr Cee hosted kept things moving along nicely throughout and was particularly funny with his well considered strategy for handling any big lottery winnings should he be fortunate enough to strike it lucky.

Mr Cee

The joke about the age of birthday girl and co-organiser Janice lead him to a hilarious explanation regarding why R Kelly has found himself in hot water so often with underage girls.

This was a fantastic end to a week of Caribbean influenced comedy that featured Dane Baptiste, Felicity Ethnic, Glenda Jaxon, Marlon Davis, Kane Brown, Athena Kugblenu, Annette Fagan and Wayne Dibbi Rollins. Not only was their wonderful comedy, but the British weather played its part by being swelteringly hot and tropically Caribbean.

  • Review © Tiemo Talk of the Town
  • Gig photographs © Tiemo Talk of the Town

Audience at the British Library

  1. Songs in a Strange Land – British Library – Free. Open until 21st October 2018
  2. The Empire Windrush and Tilbury Docks – Thurrock Council
  3. Mr Cee celebrates 20 years in comedy with a one man show ‘They Call Me Mr Cee’ at Millfield Theatre, London N18, on Sunday 21st October 2018.
  4. Come Mek Wi Larf – Windrush Comedy Special in Willesden- Tiemo Review – 9th June 2018

Mr Cee at The British Library

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Was Kanye West Right to say 400 Years of Slavery was a Choice?

Predictably Rapper and Entrepreneur Kanye West has copped a great deal of flack for his TMZ interview, 1st May 2018, where the headline take on it was simply “slavery must have been a choice.”

One of the issues with the reception to the interview is not so much that he was misquoted, but that his comments have detracted from the overarching message of the 30 minute interview which was a positive, constructive one. The slavery quote was an aside, it wasn’t even the main point of the interview. However maybe it can be defended.

I accept it could have been better articulated by Kanye West in order to avoid the controversy that surrounded it and for a superstar as media savvy as he is, he should have foreseen that a comment like that without context and succinct explanation would be easily misinterpreted. Nonetheless, I don’t subscribe to the mass criticism he’s received when considered in the overall context of the full interview.

His point was that people, be they African-Americans, or White Americans need to free their minds from “mental slavery”, think for themselves and exercise freedom of thought and being. It would be easy to follow the herd of instant popular opinion and criticise the man without taking the time to figure out what lay behind the seemingly odd comment. Some of course might still call think of him as an idiot and perhaps argue that Kanye’s breakthrough album, ‘The College Drop out’, is most apt. Perhaps he dropped out before the slavery lessons! Or maybe not. Walk with me!

It is clear that as he was promoting freedom of thought, speech, unshackling from mental slavery, he was wondering aloud what took many generations of slaves 400 years to overcome their slave masters. If you consider that the lifespan of slaves over 400 years ago is reported to be around 36 (compared to 40 for white Americans), crudely (allowing for increasing life spans after 1865), that’s around 9 generations of families , then surely Kanye has a right to question that.

Numerically his terminology referring to “400 years of slavery, that must have been a choice” is questionable as slavery “officially” lasted for 246 years (1619 – 1865 when it was abolished). However if he’s considering that slavery, physical and mental, in America has still not ended then I can see why he said 400 years. In fact, some in America are looking to mark August 2019 as the 400th year since American slavery started. Some may feel it’s gross ignorance on Kanye’s part, but to give him his due, I would contend that he’s looking at it from a deeper and more spiritual level, as well as an historically accurate stance.

Another way of looking at it, is that the bible talks about slavery lasting for 400 years and prior to its onset African’s had a choice – obey God or face the consequences. They didn’t and the consequence was 400 years of slavery: “Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.” Genesis 15: 13 If he was alluding to that, then Kanye was right as you can see how this could easily be referring to the USA.

Why shouldn’t Kanye question why it took the slaves and the free citizens so many years to abolish slavery? Not all African’s were enslaved. What were they doing to free their brothers and sisters? What were non-African’s, non-enslaved people, of all nationalities doing to end this monstrous, inhumane practice? Did they have no empathy for their plight that motivated them sufficiently to bring this to a close?

It’s so stereotypical to let the mass media control the narrative of this interview. I suggest you watch it in full and focus on the core message, which is actually an uplifting, refreshing message of positivity for the African-American community and indeed the wider American society as it contends with police lawlessness, out of control gun crime and even, dare I say it, modern day slavery.

He repeatedly stated the we need to love our fellow man and woman. Let love conquer all. This wasn’t a wishy washy statement and he demonstrated how that can be done during the interview. He was verbally challenged by Vas, a very passionate and angry TMZ Staffer, who took great offence at how Kanye, whom he highly rated and often defended when TMZ wanted to just run negative stories on him, could come to his studio and say slavery was a choice. Rather than mirror Vaz’s anger and engage in an aggressive war of words, Kanye walked right across the studio to him, immediately apologised for the hurt caused by his comment, said he loves the man and offered him a hug. He sought to show love for his critic, explain himself, hear what his critic had to say and by so doing, confront and defuse a tense situation.

Ironically the power of love is something that Bishop Michael Curry focused on is his world famous sermon at last month’s wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan. I think his sermon deliberately addressed Kanye’s slave comment for it referenced “a balm in Gilead to heal”, recalling a line from the bible [Jeremiah 8:22 “Isn’t there a balm in the land of Gilead? Isn’t there a Doctor there? So why aren’t the hurts of my people healed?”] an old African-American spiritual sung by slaves. The point he was making was that in spite of being enslaved, these slaves didn’t allow any possible, entirely natural and understandable feelings of bitterness and hate to prevent them having love for their fellow man. If they can show love for their captors in such horrible circumstances, who are we in our lives to allow everyday circumstances to prevent love shining through?

Kanye and Vas continued to debate, but it was done in a respectful, articulate way. It was powerful to see them calmly and peacefully resolve their disagreement. Too many times in American life and over here in England, people, especially men, are resorting to violent means to handle challenging situations. These men showed it doesn’t have to be that way. By the enriching, empowering, power of love as opposed to the destructive, negative energy of hate they rose above it. Two men got into a showdown. Love and respectful reasoning, not hate, won the day and we all tuned in.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links:

  1. Bishop Curry’s Sermon Too Hot To Handle – Tiemo Talk of the Town – 25th May 2018
  2. Facts Proving why the “so called” African-American Struggle is Really Real – Jubilee Hosanna-Praise Jackson – 16th May 2017
  3. Why the 400 years of African-American History Act is so Important – Senator Tim Kaine
  4. After Ferguson, How Far Has the Civil Rights Movement Progressed in America and Britain? – Tiemo Talk of the Town – 11th November 2015
Posted in Debates, Education, News, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Come Mek We Larf: Windrush Comedy Special

Star Rating: ****
The Library at Willesden Green
London NW10
Friday 8th June 2018

It’s been many a year since I last spent a Friday night in a library, but tonight I made an exception. I wasn’t at The Library in Willesden Green to study or look for books though, but to be entertained. That said the audience and I got more than just laughter on this night of edutainment that mixed entertainment with education.

A bumper line up of comedians were compered by Mr Cee, who coolly and superbly warmed up the room to create just the right atmosphere for the acts to perform in. He had to work hard too, not because it was a tough audience, but a couple of forthright women seemed to forget this was a comedy night and came out with all sorts of challenging and aggressively out of place heckles. They probably thought they were being funny but they would have been better of leaving that to the Comedians on stage. In less experienced hands their interventions could have killed the atmosphere, but fortunately Mr Cee was sufficiently skilled to deflect these unexpected verbal attacks and win over these difficult hecklers, who were in any event, soon won over by the first act and the others that graced the stage.

Annette Fagon

First on was Birmingham’s madcap Annette Fagon who was in rip roaring, ‘off her head’ form delighting the audience with her familiar song about Handsworth, battles to stay sane and deal with the effects of getting older on her body. She was hilarious in doing so and the audience loved her. There were a few fellow Brummies in the audience, which made her feel at home and resulted in some jovial Brummie banter.

British-Nigerian Funmbi Omatayo was entertaining and totally won over the audience with stories of how much he wished he was Jamaican as a young boy growing up in London, yet grew to be proud of his Nigerian heritage. That said, he came to realise and enjoy the benefits of being born British and playfully extracted the humour to be found in dual identity.

Felicity Ethnic

Felicity Ethnic closed a marathon first half lasting nearly 2 hours!! Aside from the host she was the first to really link her set with the Windrush comedy theme of the night, citing her frustration with what she sees around her South London neighbourhood and witnessed first hand during her former life as a Pupil Referral Officer, where she came across far too many Black men caught up in the system. That anger and passion came out in a hard hitting set that mixed the political with jokes about parenting and how back in the day the dominant and normal culture revolved around the African proverb: “it takes a village to raise a child,” i.e. as adults we take responsibility for all ‘our youth’ whether we knew them or not, are related or not and would freely discipline or talk to them if they were “acting out”. That’s to a large extent gone now and for Felicity partly explains why there are so many problems with these young men. Funmbi picked up on this theme, saying that in Nigeria that village, community ethos still exists to this very day.

For a comedy show there was a bit too much straight politics and anger in her set. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it could have been more effective it was wrapped up as comedic political satire. Her heart was in the right place though as she put men centre stage in vocalising her passion for raising good young men.

Newcomer Kaz was given 5 minutes stage time to perform on his very first professional show. The youngster wowed the audience with a barnstorming set full of original, topical and personal material, with great punch lines. I loved the brilliant joke referencing the current crime wave in London with the more mundane, yet very real annoyance Londoner’s get with drivers who take the parking spots right outside their houses. This was an amazing set from someone who only started on the open mic circuit in February this year. Look out for Kaz. He is a funny young man with a very bright future ahead of him.

Headliner Kwaku was in typical firebrand, political, take no prisoners mode. Like Felicity and others on the line up, he was livid about the recent Windrush scandal and linked this to the fact its 70 years this month since the SS Empire Windrush arrived in Tilbury Docks. For that generation to be treated so badly he considered it utterly disgraceful.

He took to the stage very late in proceedings – after 11pm and for me, whilst strong on politics, anger and education, it’s focus should have been more on finding the comedy in the situation and getting across his message in a comedic way which is what one would have expected. There were good jokes and audience interaction in his set, but it was perhaps a bit too heavy at the end of a marathon night of comedy that didn’t finish till around 11.35p.m. Each act, bar one, did around 30 minutes each and this made for far too long a night considering there were just 6 acts on the bill. Less is more as they say.

Mr Cee seemed genuinely shocked that someone had come up from Birmingham specifically for the show. He shouldn’t be. This was an excellent line up and worth travelling down from the Midlands for. Come Mek We Larf delivered more than larfs. You could call it edutainment, as not only did the education come from Felicity Ethnic and Kwaku, but from members of the audience. We learned about the Jamaican term ‘Public Defender’ and some more about Windrush from a 72 year old White, English lady in the audience who told a fascinating personal story re her parentage and her link to the SS Empire Windrush. She caused a little controversy too by suggesting that few Black people go to the Cotswolds (she’s probably right!) but should do so. She said it’s just 1.5 hours from London and has a Windrush link thanks to the Windrush River there. Tower Hill in London also has a Windrush link and she encouraged people to pay it a visit.

I enjoyed this more serious side to proceedings and it elevated the night to being more than just a stand up comedy show and was a fitting comedic tribute to Windrush.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Posted in Comedy Reviews 2018, Education | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

George Michael Honoured with Blue Plaque at Former High School

In April 2018 music legend George Michael was honoured with a Blue Plaque at his former school, Bushey Meads High School, Hertfordshire. The Heritage Foundation and school honoured the pop legend with the Blue Plaque for services to music and philanthropy on Sunday 15th April 2018.

In an unveiling ceremony attended by over 150 fans and current pupils the plaque was revealed by the school’s Executive Principal, Mr Jeremy Turner and Deputy Mayor and Conservative Councillor of Hertforshire, now Mayor Councillor, Brenda Batten, following her election to the position on 24th May 2018. They both delivered wonderfully personal speeches. Mr Turner informed gathers that “the motto of the school is ‘To Aspire to Achieve’ and that pupils should have a Mind to be Kind. I think George Michael embraced and exemplified both of those principles in his life.” He revealed that Shirley, of Pepsi and Shirley fame, also was a student at the school at the same time as George and his WHAM! bandmate Andrew Ridgley.

George Michael – WHAM!

The day also saw the opening of the extension of the school’s music building, which was now double its former size. Guests were permitted to have a look around.

In a memorable, revealing speech Brenda Batten recalled fond memories of the teenage Andrew Ridgley being her paperboy and the impact that had on her impressionable, love struck young daughters! She reminisced that they used to play piano quite badly but one day she was struck by how much they seemed to have immeasurably improved as if by magic overnight. She excitedly went into the living room to congratulate them, only to find out to her great surprise that it was none other than Andrew Ridgley playing on her piano!

She also mentioned that when Andrew came round to collect his annual newspaper delivery bonus one Christmas he brought along a friend, a certain George Michael .  You could say it was a case of ‘Last Tipsmas’!

Following the ceremony a number of fans enjoyed a 3 course lunch at the local Three Crowns pub, where George and Andrew used to drink, rehearse and formed their first band, ‘The Executives.’ Landlord Michael helpfully and jovially added to the atmosphere of the occasion by playing a George Michael playlist throughout the afternoon. This informal lunch was hastily organised by Tracy Wills, founder of the George Michael Appreciation Society of Bushey and for some fans, it helped make up in a small way for the late cancellation of a Hilton Hotel fundraiser. More on that scandal later.

Fans at the Blue Plaque unveiling Ceremony

In the evening many fans returned to Bushey Meads High school for a tribute show to George Michael hosted which was performed by current pupils as well as one former pupil. This was superbly organised by the school and its pupils. It was supported and promoted by “superfan” Terry Daniels and The George Michael Appreciation Society of Bushey.

 

The show comprised solo, duo and ensemble performances from pupils aged from 11-18 years old that spanned a mix of songs by George Michael, WHAM! and many other well known artistes. There was a wide range of talent on stage, some of whom were quite superb, such as Bo Kabucho, 12, who stole the first half of the show with his super rendition of ‘Faith’. He had the confident, precocious air of a young Michael Jackson about him and could well go far. There were further fine vocal and guitar performances from older pupils, Adam Dalby and Aaron Robinson, who superbly and with great passion covered the Elton John and George Michael song, ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me’ and Eric Clapton’s ‘I Shot The Sheriff.’ That really lifted the night to another level.

Some songs and performances were spoilt though as a result of either extreme nerves and/or singing songs that plainly weren’t right for the singer’s vocal range. However these pupils shouldn’t be disheartened though as their former star pupil George was quite a shy performer himself of course, even during his superstardom, so I suspect as a youngster he may well have been every bit as shy and nervous as some of those taking to the stage. It can’t have been easy trying to cover one of their former alma maters, who just happened to become one of the world’s great singing talents, but they gave it their all and overall it was a lovely tribute to George Michael. I’m sure he would have been immensely proud.

The evening closed with an uplifting cover of WHAM!’s ‘Wake ME Up Before You Go Go.’

On a sadder much more serious note, the build up to the event was marred by a scandal over a Hilton Hotel Fundraising Luncheon planned in George Michael’s honour. The Hilton Hotel Watford were set to host the £90 a head fundraising luncheon organised by The Heritage Foundation and Terry Daniels. Inexplicably just two weeks before the big day, the Heritage Foundation cancelled the lunch and refused to refund fans for their £90 tickets. When contacted Terry Daniels was unable to talk to Tiemo Talk of the Town citing that the matter was subject to a police investigation. The Charity Commission have stated, “We are aware of serious concerns regarding the Heritage Foundation, which is run by the Arts and Entertainment Charitable Trust.

When contacted by Tiemo Talk of the Town, Heritage Foundation Chairman David Graham was also fairly tight lipped, but by way of explanation said that, “sponsors had let him down who were helping to fund the event. They kept delaying and delaying. I’ve got nothing to hide. It will take place on a new date and all who’ve bought tickets will get free entry.”

Judging by many fans comments and anger over this scandal, I doubt that very much and only time will tell if that comes to pass. Whilst many ticket holders have now received refunds from their banks, two months on, many more still await refunds from the Heritage Foundation.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links:

  1. Tribute poem read at Bushey Meads High School plaque unveiling – Steve Stunt – 15th April 2018
  2. Faith: The George Michael Legacy Lives on by Wayne Dilks  – 19th October 2017
  3. Fans Flock to George Michael Memorial Service – Tiemo Talk of the Town – 1st May 2017
  4. Symphonica concert review – Tiemo Talk of the Town – 19th October 2012

 

Posted in Concert reviews, News | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

G.O.D. (Gold. Oil. Drugs.) by Dane Baptiste

G.O.D. (Gold. Oil. Drugs.) by Dane Baptiste
Star Rating: ***
Soho Theatre
London W1

Review date: 1st June 2018

With a title like G.O.D. you know you’re in for a serious show and arguably one that’s going to push a few buttons. The sermon according to Dane Baptiste certainly did that as he essentially drew comparisons between the worship of the idols of gold, oil and drugs, along with all that they represent versus the worship of God.

Gold in Danes world was represented by money and the importance of accumulating it. Nothing wrong with that per second as many aspire to earn a living and earn as much as they can. The issue arises where one chases money at the expense of everything else in life. “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Or when one pursues the idols of oil, drugs or other “false idols” over God. Dane didn’t make this clear.

As an increasingly successful Comedian with notable successes being Sunny D, the BBC’s first Black British sitcom for over 20 years and being the first Black Briton nominated for an Edinburgh Fringe award in 2014, he joked that this made him a comedy God. Whilst I wouldn’t go that far and he wasn’t, he certainly  offered up a bountiful supply of original jokes, observations and witty asides e.g. when reacting to the name of a man called Merlin sat in the front row and when gently welcoming two latecomers to the show in a refreshingly pleasant and non judgemental way by humbly saying, “We all have things to do.”

References to oil included a classy line questioning what oil and water and God and water both have in common! Sharp jokes and observations like this peppered his show and kept the audience heartily laughing away.

Dane was raised a Catholic but somewhere along the way he seems to have lost his faith in both God and the Catholic church for reasons he doesn’t explain. It would have been more helpful and made for a more relatable performance if he had done so as there would have been more context to his views, especially when on one particular occasion it was blatantly and surprisingly blasphemous.

There was a far higher level of crudity and profanity in the show too which you don’t normally expect from Dane Baptiste so something’s changed which is a shame. For instance his remarks about the Queen and Prince Phillip shocked many in the audience and were, to my mind, unnecessarily disrespectful. That said, is that because we view them as idols on a pedestal who we should respect or because we feel they deserve respect because of factors such as what they’ve achieved, their advanced age and the fact society tell us to respect one’s elders?

This was a solidly, funny and at times thought provoking offering, but the finale left a very bad taste in the mouth and regrettably was the abiding memory of the night. Maybe that’s the message Dane wanted to put out and he has the freedom to do that. However if he was aiming to make clear that society shouldn’t be worshiping false idols, only the one God, he had a funny way of showing it. He would perhaps been better off using his talents to distinguish between what to some might seem unhealthy allegiances to any one particular religious denomination and what could be a healthier, more respectful faith in God, a relationship with God, that is more personal and rooted in scripture rather than some of the man made religious tenets and practices that have been open to criticism.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links:

  1. Shallow Halal – Faith, Family and Relationships – Sajeela Kershi – 30th January 2016
  2. Have We Sacrificed Religion for Materialism? – Battle of Ideas 2012 – 4th November 2012
Posted in Comedy Reviews 2018 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bishop Curry’s Sermon Too Hot To Handle

Two Young People Fell In Love and We All Showed Up

During what was undoubtedly the wedding for all ages, that of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the stand out moment for me was Bishop Michael Curry’s barnstorming sermon on the power of love.

It was a quite brilliant 14 minute sermon that not only celebrated the blessings and joys of romantic love, but focused on the redemptive power of love, something the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr spoke about when he said: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.”

Bishop Curry emphasised the transformative power of love in a wider, more political, less intimate context. Nonetheless it is also a love catapulted from the same source, the heart, as cupid’s romantic arrows of love.

When he referred to the terrible state of the world you couldn’t help but recall the knife crime epidemic in London and the all too regular gun massacres in America. He asked us to pause for a moment and imagine a world where love replaced hate and love was the dominant driving force for all of us.

Just to drive home the point he mentioned love not once, not twice, but an enormous 58 times in just 14 minutes!! The Bishop was on a mission and he was aiming to get us to release and share the love in our hearts and minds. He spoke of the love God wants us all to have for our fellow human beings, not just those we love in the romantic sense of love or because they are family. That’s easy. This is the love that means we care for and have empathy for one another, be they strangers, friends and family alike. This is the kind of love that stops people from going around killing others.

At a time when people are exercised over finding solutions to knife crime and gun crime on both sides of the pond, rather than simply throwing money at the problem, imprisoning people, threatening longer sentences, I would argue that the Bishop provided an alternative,  feasible solution. Focus not on hate and punishment, more on love. Use the burning fire of hatred of what’s going wrong in our world to find and deliver long-term, peaceful solutions that stem from a place of love.

Young people and older alike might just discover for themselves the redemptive power of love if they were to give love, give God a chance, for “God is love” as the Bishop and bible frequently points out.

Imagine a world where more young people and more parents attend church so that they can discover for themselves what the Bishop meant by the redemptive power of love. This aspect of his sermon might have sounded trite and overly simple to some listeners, but it was a lot deeper than that. Bear in mind, church is not just about grand buildings like St George’s Chapel, Windsor, that hosted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding, but it is essentially, as stated in Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” In other words, where two or three people gather in the Lord’s name he is present with them.

Royal Family, Windsor Castle

A Balm in Gilead

Somehow Bishop Curry found a way to segue way a link into slavery. I interpreted that as a deliberate riposte to the infamous Kanye West TMZ interview on 1st May 2018.

He referred to “a balm in Gilead to heal”, recalling a line from the bible [Jeremiah 8:22 “Isn’t there a balm in the land of Gilead? Isn’t there a Doctor there? So why aren’t the hurts of my people healed?”] and an old African-American spiritual sung by slaves. The point he was making was that in spite of being enslaved, some of these slaves didn’t allow any entirely natural and understandable feelings of bitterness and hate to prevent them having love for their fellow man. They had a choice between love and hate and some chose to respond from a place of love. Love the sinner. Hate the sin. All this was not easy of course but was possible regardless of the fact that slave owners clearly had no love or respect for them as slaves. If they could show love for their captors in such horrendous circumstances, who are we in our lives to allow everyday circumstances to prevent love shining through?

Ironically, the day after the wedding Channel screened the first episode of Series 2 of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale‘, which is set in “the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly part of the United States.”

The Marriage Vows

Statistics show that the best outcomes in life, for couples and children alike, are likely to arise, not outside of, but from within the institution of marriage with all its attendant benefits of a shared life, shared values and the equilibrium provided by a mother and father’s support in a child’s life.

As the Bishop so memorably put it, “two young people fell in love and we all showed up.” Why? Everyone loves a great love story. People love weddings. More than that though, the vast interest in the wedding was symbolic of the importance, respect and above all, love that the majority still have for the institution of marriage. If it wasn’t valued we’d have ignored it, but 1.9 billion watching all around the world and 100,000 well wishers on the streets of Windsor didn’t. We all showed up.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Royal Family photo: Credit to Alexi Lubomirski.

Links:

  1. The text and video of Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon in full – Source BBC, 19th May 2018
  2. The Long-term Benefits of Marriage – Evidence from the UK, Harry Benson, Institute for Family Studies 30th January 2018
  3. Marriage benefits: The research – Harry Benson, The Marriage Foundation, July 2017
  4. Marriage Play – Review, 14th August 2015
Posted in Men and Relationships, News, Politics, TV | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

All Rhodes Lead To Rodi

Restaurant Rating: ****

To Rodi,
Greek Mezedes Bar
Menekleous
20 Old Town Rodos
Rhodes
Greece

Review Date: 22 April 2018

Reservations: +30 22413 05005

Two people are enjoying a drink and conversation on a hot sunny day. The next thing, Joke walks into a bar and proceeds to strike up a conversation with these two strangers. You might be wondering if I’m misquoting and ruining a gag with this opening but I assure you I’m not and this is something that really happened this week. I’ll explain all later in the review.

It’s not every day you get to spend your birthday abroad exploring Old Town, Rhodes, but this year that’s exactly what happened to me. This was my second trip; I last visited Greece 15 years ago in 2003. That’s such a long time ago that this felt like a completely new visit to an unexplored Island.

This time I visited with my wife and we started off by visiting the highly recommended Archaeological Museum and then followed the long and winding Rhode to The Palace of the Grand Master and The Byzantine Museum. Both were said to be ‘must see’s’ and I now know why having experienced their magnificent grandeur and ancient history. Unfortunately there were no guides on duty (tour guides, not girl guides, that would be so wrong) which would have been ever so helpful. However one of the guards at The Grand Palace (all were female strangely enough, so in a way we did get to meet girl guides after all … not that we were looking for any, honest!) Ours was very knowledgeable indeed, almost too much if there can be such a thing … as she never stopped talking once she got going. Perhaps she was using the opportunity to practice her English! The last time I crammed in this much history was whilst preparing to take my ‘A’ level history many moons ago.

After these visits and having walked and explored many of the streets and roads of Rhodes we were, unsurprisingly, feeling extremely parched on this very hot day (22c) and were in need of a drink and sit down. In search of this, we stumbled across ‘To Rodi’ Bar and Restaurant and ordered a couple of local Alpha beers. These went down a treat and nicely cooled us down from the Greek heat. The ambiance of the place was wonderful and very cool in the shade compared to many other places catching the sun directly. However there is street level dining area for those wanting to be right in the sun, but we sat upstairs in the shade for some respite. The bar on the third floor was another well thought through space. In total To Rodi can comfortably seat 65 diners.

So back to our joke. The drink and chatter was flowing nicely, when suddenly, mid conversation, Joke walks across the bar and asks if she can take some photos. That’s fine we say. How does Joke take photographs and speak you might be wondering? Well Joke is one of the co-founders of To Rodi. (Yes, you may well have guessed by this point that Joke is a name). She and her husband and Head Chef Dimitri opened the restaurant on Friday 20 April 2018. This tickled me as I couldn’t quite take it in, thinking that Joke was winding me up. Here I am, a stand up comedy reviewer, on holiday, enjoying his sightseeing birthday, stumbling across a female restauranteur called Joke, from Holland. It was all too true. You couldn’t make this up!

To Rodi focuses on locally grown products and prides itself on serving fresh, home cooked food.

We sampled a little appetiser to get a flavour of their offerings which consisted of delicious Greek pitta bread and various dips; humous, aubergine salad and spicy cheese. They were indeed pretty spicy and very complimentary with the pitta bread. It all tasted very fresh. For those who like dips on the very spicy side this would be a delight. The humous was more to my palate. Some nice little meatballs were served up too. It was a “pitta” we weren’t feeling all that hungry as we’d have eaten a lot more from the menu.

I’d certainly travel back to eat here again for not only was the food and drink delicious, the setting was attractive with its beautiful floral decor set against white walls; all this and a discreet location just off the main thoroughfares off old town.

In fact one of the highlights of the day out was taking detours off the beaten track to experience real Greece where actual Rhodians, as opposed to tourists, live. Hence why we stumbled across an authentic and non touristy area which was well worth the detour.

So! The food and drink here is no joke. I was informed ahead of our visit that Greece produces wonderful food and this visit proved that to be the case, not only here, but right across the Island. I wish Dimitri and Joke well with this lovely new addition to the Rhodes culinary scene.

© Review and Photographs – Tiemo Talk of the Town

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