As Summer prepares to retire and the long days start to wane, it’s time to banish the summer’s end blues and prepare for my favourite time of year. Russet-coloured river walks, pumpkin pie, cosy, crackling fires in my local pub, conker games, and rain, rain and more rain: roll on Autumn in London!
Revolutionary Ode to Hendrix
I spent my bank holiday Monday in the company of Jimi Hendrix’s ghost. My great friend and vlogger Lucy Siddiqi asked my daughter Eloise to photograph her son with Hendrix’s famous Brazilian rosewood guitar. The guitar was making a quick detour to us on its way to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It will be taking pride of place in the exhibition which opens on Saturday 10th September: You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970.
And this isn’t just any guitar: it’s the legendary Monterey festival Stratocaster guitar, the one which the audience thought Hendix had torched after singing Wild Thing. He had them duped, having switched guitars moments before setting the substitute one on fire.
We shot singer and songwriter Tchengiz with the infamous instrument at The Troubadour in Earl’s Court, one of London’s original coffee houses and clubs which once hosted the likes of Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Elton John, and of course, Jimi Hendrix.
The major exhibition at the V & A examines the late 60s and 70s through film, fashion, music, fashion, design and politics, and how the revolutions of the 60s have affected us today. If you’re a Jimi Hendrix fan, you can also head over to the Handel and Hendrix Museum on the 26th September, where the exhibition’s co-curator Victoria Broackes will be discussing the exhibition. V&A Handel and Hendrix Museum
Book your seats for Café Society, and indulge in another round of Woody Allen nostalgia. The backdrop is 1930s Hollywood and New York, and stars include Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Kirstin Stewart and Steve Carell. The bittersweet film follows Bronx-born Bobby Dorfman (Eisenberg) to Hollywood where he falls in love, and then back to New York where he is swept up in the world of high society nightclub life. The soundtrack is a rhapsody in joy, with jazz tunes by Benny Goodman, Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks and Count Basie. Allen always comes up with the best film titles, don’t you think?
It’s a busy time for Harry Potter and his antecedents this Autumn. September 6th sees the release of three short stories in e-book format: Of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists; Of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies; and Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide. The short stories include appearances by a young Dolores Umbridge, Voldermort, Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin, together with juicy insider tidbits about the school of witchcraft.
You can also head over to the Palace Theatre for a marathon two day theatrical experience and see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2. I’ve heard it’s an act of pure wizardry and that the five hours whizz by in the flash of a broomstick. My tickets are booked for next year, and I can’t wait!
Get ready to book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, out in November and starring Eddie Redmayne and Colin Farrel. The first in the trilogy, it’s set in 1926, and sees wizard Newt Scamander arriving in New York for a stopover during a global excursion. He has a magical suitcase full of fantastical, dangerous beasts, and yes, you guessed it, the creatures escape.
Dine with Twits
Les Enfants Terribles, creators of immersive experience The Game’s Afoot at Madame Tussauds, have done it again. This time, it’s a dinner party hosted by Roald Dahl’s characters Mr and Mrs Twit. The menu includes Sting and Tonic cocktail, Sky Rodent Goujons, Festering Clutches, Mr Twit’s Bird Pie and a Terrible Trifle. Brace yourself for the most revolting dinner party, followed by 90 minutes of entertainment from the worst hosts ever, and a chance to roam around the sumptuous outhouses of the Ghastly Garden. Twits Dinner
If you’re watching the mini-series, Victoria, on ITV, then you might enjoy the Chiswick Book Festival this September. Novelist Daisy Goodwin, writer of the drama series (starring Jenna Coleman – pictured below), and A.N Wilson, author of Victoria: A Life will be opening the event with “Victoria: Fact and Fiction”. There are an additional 80 speakers taking part in the festival which runs from the 15th to the 19th September, including Paula Hawkins (author of bestseller The Girl on the Train), and Jacqueline Wilson and Cressida Cowell who will be delighting children with their tales.
If you’re into your pumpkins, Chiswick House will be teaching 4 to 11 year-olds during the October half term how to carve them, how to make a bug hotel and how to decorate spooky masks. Tickets are £7 and will be on sale shortly. Chiswick House
Opening on the 6th October at the National Portrait Gallery, Picasso Portraits is an exhibition of over 80 works focusing on the artist’s portrayal of family, friends and lovers. Some of the works include private collections which are on show in the United Kingdom for the first time. Picasso Portraits
Head over to the Tate Modern from 14th September to see avant-garde Cuban artist, Wifredo Lam. My father, the MADI artist Volf Roitman, knew Lam in the 1950s when he visited the MADI Research and Study Centre. “From 1951 to 1957, this centre functioned as an avant-garde laboratory, a mini-Bauhaus where members of the movement met to work together and show the results of their experiments. The tout Paris of the art world came to visit us there.” (Volf Roitman)
Whilst you’re at The Tate, take a peek at the Sir Elton John private photography collection (on from the 10th November) and which showcases works from Man Ray, Matisse, Picasso and Breton. Tate Modern
London’s a Stage
As we’re just coming out of mourning for the great Bowie, Lazarus, his musical and one of his final pieces of work, transfers to London from a sell-out run at the New York Theatre Workshop. Written by Bowie, the play is directed by Ivo van Hove (who also directed the hugely successful A View from the Bridge). The play features some of Bowie’s classics including Life on Mars, Heroes and Changes. Lazarus will run from 25th October 2016 until 22nd January 2017 at the Kings Cross Theatre South.
Inspired by the true story of conjoined twins and vaudeville stars Daisy and Violet Hilton, the Broadway musical Side Show is about love, fame, acceptance and embracing the unique. Side Show first opened in 1997 when it was nominated for four Tony awards, and it features a score by Dreamgirls composer Henry Krieger. On at the Southwark Playhouse from the 26th October.
Who can forget Dominic Cooper in The History Boys and in the seedy role of Saddam Hussein’s son in The Devil’s Double? From the 22nd September, he’s on stage as the hedonistic Earl of Rochester at the Haymarket Theatre Royal in The Libertine.
The romantic, opulent and enchanting Tales of Hoffman is on at the Royal Opera House from the 7th November. Love-struck poet, Hoffman, recounts the three passions of his life in this three-act opera: Olympia, a mechanical doll; Antonia, a singer who is dying; and Giuletta a prostitute who steals his reflection. It includes a stellar lineup with Vittorio Grigòlo and Leonardo Capalbo sharing the title role, together with Sonya Yoncheva and one of my favourite baritones, Thomas Hampson playing the villainous roles.
Pomp and Circumstance
The Lord Mayor’s Show colourful three-mile procession takes place between 11am and 2.30pm on Saturday the 12th November, and you can book tickets now for prime seats. The parade includes 7000 people, 200 horses and more than 150 floats. It starts at Mansion House, past St Paul’s Cathedral to the Royal Courts of Justice and back to Mansion House via Victoria Embankment. It’s followed by fireworks over the river Thames at 5pm. If you miss the show, you can still see the Lord Mayor’s golden carriage at the Museum of London. Lord Mayors Procession
I started playing the très British game of conkers at the British School of Paris when I was four. Conkers are the seeds of the horse chestnut tree and were introduced to England in the 17th century. The origin of the word conker may come from the French word cogner, which means to hit.
These days, a lot of schools have banned the game for health and safety reasons, but when I’m walking Sahara, I often see kids of all ages stuffing conkers into their pockets in anticipation of an illicit game. If you’re a fan, there’s a Hampstead Heath Conker Championship on the 1st October.
If you’re not British, you may be asking yourself what on earth I am talking about. Here is how you play:
Conkers is a game for two people.
You need to use hard conkers. Traditionally, these are hardened by using one year-old conkers, or stewing them in vinegar.
Carefully drill a hole through a hard conker using a small screwdriver.
Thread a piece of string or a shoelace through the conker, tying each end with a large knot.
Each player takes turns hitting the other player’s conker with theirs. One player keeps their conker hanging down whilst the other swings their conker and hits the other.
The aim of the game is to destroy your opponent’s conker!
OK, so you just can’t be bothered to step outside. I’ll forgive you if you watch the highly anticipated Narcos Season 2 on Netflix which airs today. I’m not going to lie, it’s total telly addiction, and I gobbled down Season 1 in one day. The smouldering Aidan Turner is back in Poldark, and if you need more inducement to stay cosy this Autumn, take a peak at Peaky Blinders. (Seasons 1 and 2 are also on Netflix).
On a final note, I wanted to post a photo of Bianca Fulvio, who has been participating in the Notting Hill Carnival since she was two and a half years old. I’m constantly in awe of the children who are the heartbeat of the London cultural scene.
Home page image by Robin Wylie on Flikr.