The Battle of the Sexes – London Film Premier

Billie Jean King at the premier of the battle of the sexes
Billie Jean King at the premier of the battle of the sexes

Out of the blue I got an email at work from Helen asking if I wanted to go to a film premier in London’s Leicester Square that evening. Her sister had won a couple of tickets on Twitter and none of her friends could attend at such short notice. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, pondered for a short time and tried to figure out if it was possible. The event started at 18:00 so I thought it would be difficult to get there in time if I left work at the official time of 17:00, however if I left at 16:00 or soon after it should be feasible. The premier was for the film The Battle of the Sexes a documentary about tennis star and women’s rights activist Billie Jean King won a total of 39 Grand Slam titles, but the biggest match of her career took place in 1973 against former men’s champion Bobby Riggs, a self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig who declared that, even at the age of 55, he could beat any woman in the world. A rousing and hugely enjoyable documentary with a great soundtrack.

Danny Boyle at the premier of the battle of the sexes
Danny Boyle at the premier of the battle of the sexes

I must admit I did not know what to expect and I did not know anything about the story, but it sounded interesting, and most of all it was one of those events you don’t want to miss because they don’t come along very often, and I just loved the idea that I had only just found about about it and would have to make a real effort to get to it. First things first check with the boss that he had not issues with me disappearing at 16:00, easier said than done he was in meetings most of the day, but we were due to talk so no problem. Next what time are the trains, Tring was probably the station of choice, there was a train at 16:34 (ideal) then one at 16:56 (OK but pushing it a bit. I never got to check with the boss but I took a flier, I had been in early for the past couple of weeks working on a big project, so the hours had been put in.

So I left work at just after 16:00, went home for changes into jeans and T-shirt (that is what you wear to a premier isn’t it?), drove to Tring station. I got to the station at 16:28 leaving me 6 minutes to get on the train. I had phoned Helen;s sister and she would probably be on the 16:34 if she rushed, so the challenge was on. Parking was easy as a space was free near the entrance, but the parking ticket proved confusing in my rush, it was not clear how much money I needed to spend, so I just fed the machine until it gave me a departure time, as it happens £4, not so bad. Next ticket I ran across the bridge  to the ticket machine but noticed that the ticket office was open and there was no queue probably the quickest route. Travel card in hand I slipped onto the train which was waiting on the platform with 20 seconds to spare, slightly out of breath.

Yvonne Goolagong at the premier of the battle of the sexes
Yvonne Goolagong at the premier of the battle of the sexes

Helen’s sister had met up with Helen;s cousin on the way to the station and she was off to London for rehearsals, in play soon to be premièred. They both made the train at Berkhamsted and I switched carriages and joined them. We were soon arriving at London Euston. It was not too busy even though the rush hour was about to start it was 17:05 ish. We jumped on the Northern line and got out at Leicester Square at was 17:22 not bad I had left work only 1:20 earlier and had been home and got changed on the way. Next job was to find the cinema the Vue, we to the main square I noticed some press photographers but thought nothing of it, then down to the bottom of the square. We could not see it, so out come Google maps turns out we had walked past it the press were outside it was at the top of the square. First we checked that we were on the list, the people at the door checked our names ,and said we were a bit early which suited us as I was hungry and needed some food. After walking through some of Chinatown we settled on Pret as it was easier, and quicker. I had a goats cheese and beetroot sandwich, and a Pain au Raisin. At about 18:00 we headed back and they let us in.

I was not sure what to expect and was surprised to see press photographers either side of the foyer as we walked though. They clearly did not recognise me as only a few of them took pictures, perhaps they were going for the natural light and had switched off their flashes? We were directed up stairs to a big room where people were milling about in suits and smart dresses, there were a few of us dressed for the occasion in jeans and T-shirts mainly staff! We grabbed a seat round the edge of the room and indulged in some people watching. Basically people arrived through the entrance and were sometimes followed clearly staff who had had to refer to a printed booklet to know who they were and whether they were important. Some of the people (most whom I did not recognise) were stopped by the photographers in the room for a photo opportunity. Other “normal” people were left alone so it was easy to tell who was famous. I spotted a few people I recognised most famous of whom was Billie Jean King, and then Danny Boyle who sat down and chatted to someone I did not recognise only 4 yards away.

The eight of the 9 at the premier of the battle of the sexes
The eight of the 9 at the premier of the battle of the sexes

We managed to indulge in a glass of champagne and a bag of pop corn before we were called into the screening. I suggested we go early, and it was a good job as the centre section of the cinema was reserved for Billie Jean King guests, but we managed to get some good seat on the isle, then we sat back and waited for the film to start. Before the film there was an introduction by the directors and producers followed by Billie Jean King, who bought 8 of the famous 9 down to the front of the seats. The projects then rolled and we sat back and enjoyed the film. It was well made and told a great story.

When the film finished we did not hang about, and left to go home. Back on the tube then just made the 21:04 with seconds to spare and out of breath from running. I was home at 22:00 not bad I thought for a school night. I had thoroughly enjoyed myself, days like that don’t come along too often, they must be grabbed with both hands.

January catch up post

Spiller Millenium Mill viewed from ExCel London
Spiller Millenium Mill viewed from ExCel London

I have not posted for a few weeks so I thought I would do a catch up post. Last weekend I went on what seems to have become an annual trip to the Outdoor, Bike and Boat show at ExCel exhibition center in east London. I am interested in all three so it is really good value for money, three exhibitions at one venue all on one £20 ticket. You can save money by booking online early but although they advertise a £4 saving it turns out that there is a £2 booking fee.

It had snowed recently so I was not sure whether I could get there so I did not bother with the paltry £2 saving. As it happened the roads were clear once I got to the A41, and the roads were quiet I think the snow had scared everyone off. I got to the venue by 11am and parked up which cost me £20 for the day, quite steep if you are the only person attending.

Snow Wendover Woods in Black and White
Snow Wendover Woods in Black and White

The halls were quite quiet whilst I was there I think most people waited to see what the weather and road reports had to say before heading out. However by the end of the day it was very busy. The exhibition was not quite as good as last year where I enjoyed the cycle polo, which this year had been replaced with an evening criterium race. The highlights of the day were a talk by Charley Boorman about his new vehicular adventure, and the launch of the Madison cycle team, who were all going to use steel bikes!

This weekend started with a film, Django Unchained on Friday evening. Helen and I really do like to start the weekend with a film. I gave the film a 4/5 but Helen gave it 4/5 for the first two hours but only 1/5 for he last hour, which I have to admit was a bit violent. It was classic Tarantino, and one I enjoyed especially the first 2 hours.

On Saturday Helen was busy with her visiting sister, so I took the opportunity to head to the hills with my camera, it was probably the first opportunity to get pictures of the snow without it either snowing or there being a grey sky. I parked up at Dancersend, and headed up to the Ridgeway above Tring park, then across to the Cafe in the Woods in Wendover Woods. The sun shone the whole time and it was great to be back out in the fresh air after having spent the past two weeks cooped up either in the office or at home.

Snowy view from Dancersend
Snowy view from Dancersend

Saturday evening was a real treat we went to a talk at the local church in Aston Clinton, St Michael and all Angels, for a talk by one of the curates Carole Peters. Carole had in a previous life been an investigative journalist starting off in newspapers then progressing into television. She told us about her adventures in Africa investigating war lords, and in Haiti too. It was very interesting. Everyone bought finger food and there were drinks for sale. I was quite unusual to be drinking beer and wine in a Church, without the vicar handing it to you in a silver chalice with a dry wafer.

On Sunday we went to see another film, Hero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama Bin laden. It was a well made film which confused me at first. I give it 4/5. That was the end of an action packed weekend.

Home alone

College Lake from Octagon hide
College Lake from Octagon hide

Helen is away with the girls this weekend, in Birmingham. Had Pizza for Tea on Friday, went to bed and got up early on Saturday full of plans. Ended up tinkering around the house, until early afternoon, when I dragged myself out for a walk around College lake nature reserve. The sun was shining but there was still a chill in the wind. Took a quick look from the new and nearest hide, saw ringed plover, redshank and red crested pochard. I then headed out a a fair swift pace around the rest of the reserve, and soon found I was getting quite hot from the exertion. I stopped off at the octagonal hide and saw a few more redshank.

On the path I came across a a Burying Beetle which was moving very fast see the video.

After that excitement I went to Tesco for some supplies then headed home has the rest of last nights dough in another Pizza, watched a French film called “Tell No One” which has the same directory and many actors from the file “Little White Lies” it was a brilliant murder/mystery/thriller.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/YtWup5fk7-4?hd=1&w=500]

Les Petit Mouchoirs (*****)

Petits Mouchoirs
Petits Mouchoirs

Went to Rex with Abida, to see this French film. It is a story about a group of long time friends from Paris. One of them Ludo is the soul of every party and one night is hit by a lorry on his way home from a night club. Even though you know it is coming it still comes as a surprise.
Anyway all the friends who usually spend the grande vacances at Max’s summer cabin near Bordeaux, now in a dilemma whether to go or not. Eventually they do.
The film concentrates one by one on the different charaters and relationships between the various people. The film makes you laugh and cry. Just deserving of the 5 stars.

A Single Man (**)

Film poster a single man
Film poster a single man

This film is takes place on a single day some time around the Cuban missile crisis. George Falconer (Colin Firth) is trying to overcome the grief of losing his long term partner, over the course of the day he has various encounters, and we are treated to lots of flash backs and day dreams. The film is visually stunning but with too much symbolism for my tastes hence only two stars.

The Informant (****)

The Informant film poster
The Informant film poster

“The Informant” is a true story that parallels a mixture of “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Insider” — where real life Ph.D.s had done something extraordinary. Based on Kurt Eichenwald’s 2000 book, “The Informant” is the tale of Mark Whitacre (played by Matt Damon), an Ivy League Ph.D. who was a rising star at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in the early 1990s. Executively produced by George Clooney who has a history of sponsoring interesting films in the tough mainstream environment. Saying no mopre to give nowt away 🙂

The diving bell and the butterfly (****)

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly film poster
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly film poster

This is a French film about a the editor of a women’s fashion magazine Bauby who suffers a stroke and and ends up a prisoner in his own body. The condition is called locked in syndrome. He could only move his eye but thanks the patience of his speech therapist he was able to communicate and eventually write the book that the film is based on.

The story shows the relationship between Bauby and the speech therapist, his wife, three kids, ex colleagues, mistress etc. It is very thought provoking.

At the start of the film the shots were a bit wacky but it was an attempt to see the world through is eye’s and we soon got used to it.
Despite the depressing subject matter, the film is a great attempt to see a world we could never imagine, and is actually really well filmed.
I give it 4 stars.