See, this is the thing. I love – like your good selves – reading. I also – and some of you may not here – love cats. In the words of the late, great Freddie Mercury, I don’t do children, I do cats.
You know when you sit down to read, and there’s a cat in the room, it’s in their DNA to come and sit on your lap whilst you read. Some felines might albeit uncharacteristically realise the ‘personal space’ boundary, though if your cat is anything like mine, then he will literally nest himself down on your collarbones so your head is at a permanent forty-five degree angle in an attempt to a) let you know he’s there and b) put that book down because I am more important, minion.
To my absolute joy, I discovered a snippet online about several independent bookstores in Manhattan, New York, where the primary public lure of the shops are not the offers, selections or non-book products they may have, but the resident moggies which adorn the bookshelves and have people going in “just to pet the cat for one or two hours.” I would love that amount of time to sit and pet my cat for one or two hours, and I’m sure he would too, but the mere idea that you can go into a beautiful, quirky independent New York bookshop and stroke/ adore/ be a chair to a bookstore cat is enough to make me want to blow my savings on another trip to New York just to do this. Would it be a bit pretentious to go into one of these stores and read a copy of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats whilst sitting with the bookstore feline on your lap? Even if it is, pour me a hot latte and I’ll be there in a New York minute.
Springing to mind upon reading this was the latest episode of An Idiot Abroad 2, the new series from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, where they send not-as-stupid-as-he-sounds Karl Pilkington around the world to fulfil other people’s bucket list dreams. Last week saw him climb Mount Fuji, but before he did, Ricky and Steve sent him to one of the most popular past times favoured by locals in Tokyo, cat cafés. Karl, with his cup of tea, sat in shock in a café where you paid a fee to drink a hot beverage in the company of many assorted pedigree felines. Such a reality was beyond him; just how far people will take their love of cats to this whole new level was lost on him. I think this is a great concept and although it might be considered a bit pricey, the idea that you could pay to sit in a quiet, calm and relaxing room with lots of cats going about their business while the modern metropolis bubbled along outside fills me with a great feline-infused serenity. Might have to make a quick detour to Tokyo on my imaginary-next-trip to NYC.
And so they didn’t tawt they taw a puddy-tat, but they certainly saw their eggs being stolen by those nasty, annoyingly smug-looking green pigs. I am of course referring to the absolute behemoth-success that is Angry Birds. One would seriously need to have been residing on the moon to avoid the impact Angry Birds has had on modern gaming culture and the simplistic, addictive and colourful game shows no signs of its wings being clipped as this week an announcement was made that our Angry Birds-addiction is going to be further fuelled by the release of a movie version of the game in 2015. How might that go? What kind of animation will it be? What about voices? Will they be famous? And the plot? Who knows. One thing’s for certain, you won’t be able to move for more Angry Birds madness and I for one, can’t wait. Wheeeeeee! Three stars!
Hopefully a few blogs ago you will remember I posted a feature about a small map whereby book-lovers could learn via those clever peoples at the Guardian where the best independent bookshops are in the UK. Totally interactive, it showed you the best indies and where they are, and you can add your own submissions and post reviews of your shopping experiences on it for others to see. In a similar vein, if you hop over to www.bookdrum.com/maps.html you will see that an interactive world map, powered by Google earth, has been devised with map pins in to show places where popular novels have been set. There are 150 profiles of well-known books already on the map, and if you can’t see your favourite novel on there you can let the good folk at Book Drum know what you would like added and they will do it for you. Have a look and a good scroll; it’s very interesting to learn more about the locations and inspirations of your favourite novels. You can click on any of the book titles, and a separate window will pop up telling you information on the book itself and its connection to that place. Fantastic.
On Saturday night I ventured up to London to see a very low-key but intimate performance of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the Union Theatre in Southwark. Intimate it was; I had never been to this theatre before and so was surprised and very pleasantly pleased to see that there was in fact no stage in the room; the actors performed directly a few feet in front of the audience. (I took the opportunity and sat in the front row, with many of the props just a couple of arm’s lengths away). The show was an adaptation of the Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds 1982 musical film of the same name, about the unorthodox goings-on in a brothel called the Chicken Ranch situated in Gilbert, Texas, and when it is threatened with closure by the authorities incited by the propaganda of a local God-fearing radio DJ. Its tart-with-a-heart owner, Miss Mona, originally immortalised by the fabulous Dolly, was cast here for stage by the exquisite and highly-underrated Sarah Lark, a Welsh actress who is no stranger to the West End and finalist from BBC1’s search-for-a-Nancy I’d Do Anything. It was only a small cast, the female majority of which acted and sang in their undergarments for most of the show. For a very small production I absolutely loved it. Some of the cast had come from West-End backgrounds too and in a theatre and room as small as this one you were thoroughly treated at such close view at how powerful the voices of the cast were, enabling you to truly appreciate the skills of acting and dancing close-up. What an absolute rhinestone of a gem this little show was.