Archive | November, 2009

Review: Ice skating rinks

30 Nov

By Akilah Russell

With Christmas hot on our heels everybody is in the mood for some festive fun, and what better way to bring in the season to be jolly than at three of London’s most famous open air ice rinks as whatsup gives you the grand tour of; Somerset House, Hyde Park, and Canary Wharf, and gives you the low down on which winter wonderland will wow you the most.

Winter wonderland

By far the most beautiful of the bunch comes in the very glamorous form of the very famous Somerset House. Renowned for its striking architecture, the stunning scenery is set to dazzle you into parting with your £7.50 (for students with ID) for a session of skating on the spectacular colour changing ice. Sponsored by Tiffany’s and co, it is clear that no expense for elegance was spared as you are automatically greeted by a colossal Christmas tree complete with gold, silver and platinum trade mark Tiffany charms; as well as being serenaded with classical music while you skate. The rink closes in January 2010, however, don’t rush there just yet as prices for students are dependent on times and dates so make sure you check before you leave the house!

If you prefer something a little more subtle then Canary Wharf ice rink is the surprising surreptitious skating space that sits in the heart of the city, is the place for you. For £9.00 with a valid NUS card you can skate in the modest rink which is open until February 2010. Or if you do not want to get your skates on then you can hang out in the Moose Bar next door, and have a nice glass of mulled wine instead!

Self proclaimed ‘‘winter wonderland’’ at Hyde Park which is open until January 2010 comes equipped with a full market place selling various winter warmers like hot chocolate and comfort foods like steak sandwiches. It even boasts its very own bilingual karaoke singing Reindeer head – yes, you read correctly! However, the ice skating rink itself leaves a lot to be desired. Considerably less pleasing to the eye than the others it seems that the rink was a secondary thought to the rest of the ‘‘wonders’’ that were on offer. And at the same price on as Canary Wharf off peak at £9.00, that prices raises to £11.50 for students with a valid NUS card, it seems that it might not be the best offer of the three.

mf You can buy tickets for all three at or you can pay directly at the box office wheb you arrive. So, go on get your skates on! ENDS


I've gone all nostalgic

27 Nov

I seem to start all my posts quite negatively, so apologies for the blatant similarity here.  Scanning down the page, I noticed my previous two posts started with ‘I don’t know anything about (fill in blog subject here).’  My problem this time was my non-existent experience of interviewing anyone in the public eye, and the fact I had never heard of Lady Lykez.

So, with a few hours until I was  due to call her, I did some serious    researching.  What I found was really impressive.  There aren’t many 19 year olds who have already played Glastonbury, T in the Park, worked in America, and supported Method Man and Redman on tour.  She’s also about to release her debut album, Lykez, Camera, Action.

The thing that interested me most was the Method Man link.  I’m probably showing my age here, but I remember when his group, Wu-Tang Clan, became huge in the summer of ’97.  Wu-Tang Forever had just been released, amid massive hype generated from the success of ‘93’s Enter the Wu and various members’ solo albums.  Method Man’s gravel-like, unique voice made me fall in love with every Wu-Tang Forever track featuring hm.

Well aware that the interview was about Lady Lykez and not my teenage hip-hop obsession, I wrote a set of open questions with a rough idea of how the interview would probably go.  The absolute worst thing that can happen in this situation, I’m told, is if every question is met with a monosyllabic answer.  I could only hope for the best.

There were no such problems, fortunately.  She happily gave full, informative answers, and I actually had to cut half of them from the final interview to save space.  As you can imagine for someone so successful, she came across as bright, witty, and above all sensible.  When I asked if she had advice for anyone thinking of trying their hand at the music game, she had some useful pointers.  Her suggestions were to stay in school, get some decent grades, and make sure you have something to fall back on – because not everyone makes it in music.  Wise words indeed.

Interviews are always best if you can get something a bit juicy – something that gives you an insight in to a person’s slightly controversial view on a subject.  Her opinion that ‘you don’t really need talent to become famous anymore’ provided just that.  She was quick to point out, of course, that talent was a necessity when she got her big break.

Naturally, I quizzed her briefly about her supporting role for Method Man and Redman.  Apparently they are really nice guys, but totally different.  Red is lively and loud, and Meth is more the strong silent type.  I got the impression that meeting well-known artists doesn’t faze her at all.  In fact, the music industry in general doesn’t faze her.  She has her feet firmly on the ground and takes it all in her stride.

Lykez performs live in Camden Town on Monday
30th November.  Get tickets!

Read the whole interview

By Chris Warburton

Rigged review by Farah Syed

26 Nov

Rigged review by Farah Syed

Teens will be in for an emotionally charged performance when watchinAdd an Imageg Rigged, a play by Ashmeed Sohoye. Focussing on the lack of choices the younger generation face, the story revolves around Sarah, a pregnant teenager, her wayward boyfriend Nathan, and his mum and step dad. Battles that the youngsters face at home and outside life, as well as the struggles of Nathan’s mum are highlighted throughout the story.

Unicorn Theatre

Rigged - Unicorn Theatre

Rigged, a carefully crafted play, explores the difficulties working class people are confronted with and how Nathan, played by Kyle Summercorn, a young father to be, faces up to choices in life and the consequences of them.

When asked about the importance of the title ‘Rigged,’ director, Natalie Wilson says, “When you live life, you make choices, every choice is a gamble, it is about whether the institutions are rigged in favour or against people.” Rigged was Natalie’s first production for children aged 14 plus. It is a must see theatre production, that will keep you entertained from beginning to end.

Catch the show in January

Politics made interesting (yes, really)

20 Nov

I’m not going to pretend I know a huge amount about politics.  However, I’m not one of those people who sits in a pub complaining about the price of a pint, the lack of jobs, unreliable trains, and then says ‘But I don’t do politics.’  I know it affects me, and I am aware of its importance in the functionality of this country.

I think most people know decisions made in parliament affect them, so in a way it’s strange that so few know exactly what goes on behind those parliamentary doors. Come to think of it, most people probably didn’t know you could take a free tour to find out, either…

Entering the area around the Palace of Westminster (also known as the Houses of Parliament) and its additional buildings (such as Westminster Hall) is like going through airport security.  When you do get in, you are given a photo ID to wear around your neck, and told you must be accompanied by a pass holder at all times. 

I was taken to Westminster Hall, and as I sat waiting for the tour to begin, I started thinking.  It’s funny how, despite the fact I’ve lived in the south-east of England my whole life, there are so many places like this in London I’ve never visited.  I guess when you live so close to something you don’t feel obligated to make the effort.  In the same way that most New Yorkers have never been up the Empire State Building.     

The tour itself was superb – educational, yes, but somehow still extremely interesting.  I was shown around the House of Commons, House of Lords, the Queen’s Robing Room, the Prince of Wales’ chamber, and got an up-close look at some significant things associated with parliament.  For instance, we saw the original copy of the Commons notes when Guy Fawkes was first found to be plotting to blow up parliament.  The Queen’s throne in the House of Lords was obviously very impressive, as was standing in the exact place Gordon Brown would when speaking in the House of Commons.     

Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, and apart from his phone ringing during a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day, was brilliant.  He explained the origins of parliamentary rituals that I’ve always known but never quite understood, like Black Rod banging on the door of the Commons.  He was happy to answer any bizarre, irrelevant questions from members of the tour group, and even did so with a straight face.    

After it finished, I felt really pleased that I’d done it.  It was enlightening, interesting, and wasn’t so long that it became boring in the least.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to find out a bit more about what goes on in those buildings we see on TV most days, and how the country is run.  After all, we do live here. 

More about this free tour – and the one including a tour of Big Ben – can be found here and on the UK Parliament site.

by Chris Warburton

Credit Crunch Top Tips

16 Nov

Far from just a pretty face I will now give you book worms some top tips on how to beat the ever tightening crunch. Most of these tips are derived from the classic saying that time is money…so spend you time on my tips to save money!

1. Febreeze your clothes and you can wear them for two days rather than one (unless white) – thus saving washing powder.

2. Go commando once in a while. it is not only liberating but saves your “good panties” for when you really need them.

3. Chewing gum can be used in place of brushing your teeth – this saves on the water bill.

4. Save energy – drink your own urine – its actually largely vitamin C that your body has decided you don’t need. Single? with rising food prices, even chivalry is feeling the crunch. save money by asking your date if they will get off with you FIRST.

5. When they say no, you’ve just eaten for another day! Can’t decide between PS3 and your lady? luckily technology is moving toward the male persuasion – 3rd gen consoles are wireless so cuddle her whilst fraggin’ the enemy online. fellas your lady will love the fact you’re multi-tasking.


clear or dirty? You decide

6. Cancel your Gym Membership – become an instructor yourself. when on the tube, sit one seat away from the “door seat”. Stand up at every stop, sitting down again when someone moves to take your seat this will give you both a great add laughing manically to strengthen your core muscles- you’ll soon have at least two seats to yourself.

7. Going out tonight? Dreading when its your round? buy the round but have a pint of water for yourself – meaning you can have beer later.

8. Meal ideas – combine some of your favourite foods to save on time and preperation. cheeseburgers and custard creams are nice.

9. haircuts can be expensive as can buying blades.suggest to your girlfriend that gillete is the best a man can get so from now on she needs to buy her own and stop poncing yours.

10. Topping up Pay-as-you-go deals can hurt the wallet. suggest to your other half to get an online phone. when she refuses tell her that her best mate has one and you know this cos she called you last night on it.

11. Big slogan t-shirts are pointless unless you have somethin’ constructive to say on them. So just don’t! this also saves energy for more important tasks such as drinking and telling the kebab man how much you love him.

12. Travelcards are expensive and ticket touts are drying up because of oyster cards. don’t top it up, simply claim you have and that your card is faulty and you’ve ordered a replacement.failing this, limp and request to use the gate.

13. The next time someone says “if i had a pound for everytime…” reply saying if you had a pound for everytime someone said that saying, we wouldn’t be having a credit crunch. Now you’re prepared for the worst!

Lucid Lem

Review: East End tales

11 Nov

‘Sleep in the day,
Come out at night,
That’s when you see the real East End.’’

By Akilah Russell

Southwark Playhouse Young Company – which is run by young people – first production East End tales, is one of the most energetic shows to hit the stage this year.

This theatre drama set in gritty East London, sends you on a wild journey through shocking scenarios and secret spots in a place notoriously known for its dramatic night life.

Said to have been inspired by photos and news reports from local papers, each of the nine tales told will provoke both laughter and sadness, with their brutal and often amusing honesty.

Bouncing from character to character, East End tales gives you a realistic view of melting pot London and – despite being played by a cast of young actors – this talented few are able transform their age, race and culture, before your very eyes!

East end tales

East end tales

If you are not one for theatre just yet, then this is a great place to start. Simple storylines and settings, combined with a fast paced script and stimulating but simple visuals, are enough to keep you interested and entertained throughout the whole show. With a 3 day run, blink and you missed it –  but be sure you see the next show this company puts on

Southwark Playhouse

Dubplate stage Drama!

11 Nov

By Akilah Russell

Les Miserable better take a bow, because there isn’t any drama like Duplate Drama! The UK’s very first interactive show famed for its innovative technique of getting the viewers to vote for the outcome, has decided to take this winning format to the TV and into the theatre.
Although still in the very early stages of production, the MTV BASE’s TV shows creators have set to keep their usual UK urban star studded theme, with talks of cameos, DJ sets, and even live performances! If that isn’t enough Dubplate for you then you can take part in the trademark voting, that will take place live during the show!


dubplate drama

Set to hit the stage at famous Hackney Empire in early 2011, and with no brand new television series of the smash hit show set to being made anymore, this could be your last chance to get your drama fix – you heard it here first – so it can’t be missed.