#RADA Workshop at Millman Street Centre


Norman and RADA’s Ingrid out-acting each other…

Yesterday (25th April), Millman Street Community Centre hosted the first taster workshop by RADA’s Elders Company.  The tutor was Ingrid, and she was assisted by Diana and Jean. We at HCA hope that this initial session will inspire a regular series of workshops at the Centre.

Our members were taught warming-up exercises, and then the RADA actors read lines from Anthony And Cleopatra (a 17th century play by some bloke called William Shakespeare, apparently).  Our members each recited a line from the play, culled from a speech by Domitius Enobarus, and the thesps explained what each line meant in modern parlance.  To this reporter’s great dismay, no one could recall their explanation of the couplet “The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne/Burned on the water: the poop was beaten gold…”

One can only hope that the ‘poop’ referred to the poopdeck of the barge…


“On each side her stood pretty, dimpled boys…”


An actor’s life for me…

As is often the case at the Centre, a dearth of information about what occurred during the workshop meant that research had to be undertaken in order to flesh out an otherwise threadbare article.

It seems that Domitius Enobarus was a real historical figure; a general and politician in 1st Century BC Rome. He ‘probably’ played no part in the assassination of Julius Caeser (15th March, 44BC).  We can probably rule him out as a suspect in the Kennedy assassination in 1963 (AD), too.


Domitius Enobarus did not do Caeser in..

As for this William Shakespeare chappie, according to Camden Libraries’ Tudor (an authority on Elizabethan Holborn), Shakey’s Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed at a long-gone playhouse in Gray’s Inn.

While this has precious little to do with the RADA workshop, it is a first-rate example of padding out a blog for want of information.  Similarly, the identity of the “Sweet swan of Avon” (a nickname invented by fellow playwright Ben Johnson) has been a matter of speculation for centuries.  Some, unable to accept that a mere glover’s son from Warwickshire – much less someone with no university education – could have authored the plays and poems ascribed to Shakespeare, have nominated various other candidates over the years.  These supposed wordsmiths include The Earl of Oxford, Francis Bacon (no, not the 20th Century artist famed for his 1944 triptych Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion), and even the first Queen Elizabeth herself.

In order to clear up the supposed mystery once and for all, your HCA hack turned sleuth, embarking on an all-expenses spared expedition to Stratford.  Not the Stratford in Warwicksire, sadly, but the one in East London.

While in the East End, he also had a go at identifying Jack the Ripper, and believes he has also solved that long-standing mystery: it turns out that Jack the Ripper is the name of a pub in Whitechapel.  Research within said establishment led to, er, “general fuzziness”, a condition to which hacks and other blighters who ‘interpret’ research seem particularly prone.  Consequently, the hapless hack concluded that the Bard’s aforementioned sobriquet – “Sweet swan of Avon” – indicated that Shakespeare was an Elizabethan Avon lady.  This reporter now considers the matter closed…

Relax, regular readers: The captions for the following slide-show are of the usual, ahem, ‘comic quality’…

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  • RADA’s Elders Company is a community initiative designed for people who are interested in developing drama skills in their retirement.  They also work with a comissioned writer and stage a production in one of RADA’s theatres each December.
  • Holborn Community Association would like to thank RADA’s Elders Company for providing the workshop for our members.  We hope there will be more.

Norman’s verdict on the workshop: thumbs up…

For more information on the Elders project, please contact caryswilliams@rada.ac.uk.

Photos by Sarah; rambling report by Notes Smudger

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#History Pin at Millman Street Community Centre


The Timeline Collage. Before…

On Wednesday, 12th April, Millman Street Community Centre members enjoyed the latest in a series of workshops presented by Amy (from Building Exploratory) and Polly (of History Pin), under the auspices of The Kings Cross Story Palace.  They explained that the idea was a “narrative to upload pictures and documents,” to “pin history” to the Kings Cross area.  They asked our members to add their own memories to the Timeline Collage they’d brought with them.

Queenie said she originally came from Caledonian Road.  Margaret added that “Hatton Garden was home to all the jewelry shops.”

Gloria recalled that “They used to have the Flying Scotsman at Kings Cross station,” prompting Queenie to recall: “I used to go down to The Cross for shopping,” adding: “It used to have a bad reputation.”

Quite. “Drug-taking by homeless people,” David added.  Not to mention prostitution.  “I used to sleep on the streets myself,” David revealed, after he “First came to Kings Cross in 1979” from his native Ireland.

Jose came to Kings Cross in 1967.  Our new member, Joan, agreed that there had been drugs and prostitution in the area.  This prompted Gloria to recall: “Women were scared to go down there alone, afraid to be put on the game, and drugs.”

After talk of Leather Lane market, members also recalled the Kings Cross tube station fire of 1987.  “It was terrible, a man died,” Anne remembered.  “Someone called out ‘Fire!  Fire!’  and I ran out of the flat!”

Further back, several HCA members recall how the area was bombed during the Blitz in 1940.  “Kings Cross station was bombed,” Ivy said.  “The estate where Ivy [now] lives got bombed,” said Margaret.  Ivy recalled a timebomb that had been dropped on Millman Street during the war.

“I got a job in the school, serving dinners,” said Margaret.  “Weren’t it horrible [in Kings Cross] years ago?” she suddenly said, to Ivy.  The latter agreed.

On a cheerier note, Fred said: “We used to watch trains at Kings Cross.  There were only two tunnels: one in, one out.”  He and Olive were born in St Pancras Hospital, he said.

Mulegetta came to Kings Cross in the 1970s.  He said that his teachers (in his native Ethiopia) gave him “some idea that London was a big city before he moved to London.”

Members also remembered the various salesmen who had peddled their respective wares on the streets of post-war London.  “People used to come through the streets with barrows, selling toffee apples,” Queenie said.  Gloria recalled “The onion man” and “rag and bone men,” and also “The parrafin man,” and “The bilko man”, who sold soft drinks.  There were also knife-sharpeners, coalmen and others selling things from hand carts.

“Sarah is the best thing that’s happened to this place,” said Ivy, out of the blue, to general agreement.  And Sarah’s blushes.

Helena recalled “The Italian Procession,” through the area, “from Clerkenwell, Farringdon and Leather Lane,” which apparently still takes place every July [Sunday July 16th this year, research reveals].

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Then, as is often the case, everyone started talking at once, and this reporter snatched what conversational snippets he could from the ensuing good-natured chaos.

Amy and Polly added various post-its to the Timeline Collage as our members’ stories unfolded.  They plan to add photos of HCA members to their archive in future workshops.


The Timeline Collage. After…

Terrible photos and rambling report: Notes Smudger

Posted in Activities, arts, community, Events, Holborn, Living Histories Project, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

#Magnetic: Happy Birthday, Tom!


“Stalks in the fruit? That’s Sassenachs for ye…”

Last Tuesday (18th April), Millman Street Community Centre members wished Ayrshire-born Tom, a very, merry birthday.

During his working career, Tom was an Accountant Management Consultant.  He had his own business, after several years working for “top international companies” to gain experience.

A keen sportsman, in his youth he played inside forward for Scotland Under 18s, against both England and Wales.

As for the party at the Centre, lips were sealed and details scant, as is so often the case. However, this reporter discovered that members broke with tradition by not singing Happy Birthday to Tom, as he “doesn’t like” the song.  When asked for clarification, he was more concerned with the fate of Ayr United (currently languishing bottom of the Scottish Championship, alas).  He also seemed outraged by the prescence of “stalks on the fruit” in the lovely-looking birthday cake that Steve had ordered for the occasion.  Tom didn’t exactly say that such a thing was an abomination upon God’s clean Earth, but he may have thought so.  Or not….

Anyway.  Prior to the non-singing of Happy Birthday and cutting of the stalk-ridden cake, members also enjoyed another of Carmen’s Arts and Crafts session, where they made fridge magnets.  Thus allowing lazy hacks to flesh out scant reports and to contrive a tenuous link to Tom’s, er, magnetic personality.  See the Fridge Magnet Special slideshow:

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While there was only one photo of the birthday boy, there were, perhaps tellingly, several snaps of the delicious-looking cake:


The stalk-ridden horror…


Sevilla contemplates the stalk-ridden horror…


Unflattering snap of Carmen…

As for the after-party, whiskey-fuelled excesses may well have happened.  Or not.  If so, no one told your HCA scribbler about it.  But then, they wouldn’t have, would they…?

Holborn Community Association would like to wish Tom a very happy birthday.

Photos: Steve and Sarah; rambling report by Notes Smudger

Posted in Activities, arts, Atmospheric, Birthday Bash, Events, Holborn, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

#Going Out In Style#The Last Word In Film Review

Going Out In Style - pic

Caine, Arkin and Freeman: (Grand) Daddy was a bank robber…

Monday just gone (10th April), saw another excursion to the pictures for Millman Street Community Centre members, once again courtesy of our friends at Warner Brothers cinema.

The movie they saw, Going Out In Style is a comedy, a ‘reboot’ of a 1979 film of the same name which starred George Burns.  The new version features Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin as senior citizens who attempt to rob a bank after their pensions are cancelled.

Unusually for the films our members are shown, Going Out In Style is actually still on general release now.  Some things never change, however: this reporter is still not allowed to attend the screenings, due to the long, long memory of those who run the movie business (i.e: his expulsion from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood after a 1941 contretemps with Carmen Miranda over the merits of Citizen Kane).

Graumans Chinese 1941

You don’t mess with Carmen Miranda’s mates…

But what of those who did see Going Out In Style?  As ever, your HCA hack tried to get an idea of the story from what our members recalled a couple of days later.

“It was a very good film,” said David.  “Michael Caine was in it.  The best bit was the ID parade.  They’d robbed a bank, and the police asked kids to do the identity parade.  The kids pretended not to recognize ’em in the line up,” he laughed.  “It was fantastic, a great film!”

“It was a laugh,”  said Margaret.  “I was expecting him to be a young man doing the robbery, but they turned out to be elderly.”

She roared with laughter at any suggestion that Going Out In Style had given her and Queenie any ideas of following messers Caine, Freeman and Arkin into a late career in bank-robbery.



Thieving Blighters!

A miscellany of celluloid robbery, swindling and general ne’er-do-well-ery…

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Quentin Tarantino’s ultra-violent heist movie, peppered with crackling wise-guy pop cultural dialogue, the director’s fave choons on the soundtrack and colour-co-ordinated character names.  Caused quite a storm on its release a quarter century ago, and this reporter’s then-girlfriend (a big cineaste) insisted on seeing it at the cinema.  Twice.  It seemed like an event at the time, but nowadays the flick is sadly relegated to re-runs on Channel 5.

The Bank Shot (1974)

Perhaps best known for his Oscar-winning portrayal of General George Patton (1970), George C Scott also starred in this comic caper, wherein a bank is temporarily housed on a mobile home whilst a more traditional bricks and mortar structure is being built to house 70s moolah.  This unlikely scenario permits tea-leafs to wheel the entire bank away in order to rob it.  It would be wrong to reveal if they managed to do so, even if this reporter could remember the ending…

Kelly’s Heroes (1970)

Far-fetched bank holiday fodder, but none the worse for that.  At the tail-end of WW2, Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas lead a rag-tag band of American GI’s in a semi-comic quest to er, liberate, gold bullion held in a bank vault.  Trouble is, the bank is behind enemy lines – and guarded by three tiger tanks, to boot.  Happily for Clint and the gold-hungry gang, by the time they discover this potential plan-spoiler, they’ve already recruited Oddball (Donald Sutherland), a US tank commander who agrees to lend his Shermans to the bank raid in exchange for a share of the spoils.  Somewhat incongruously, Oddball and pals are hippie types, some twenty-odd years too early.  Equally unlikely is when the Nazis, led by Karl-Otto Alberty’s Panzer Kommandant, suddenly agree to help the Americans nick the gold.  Lovely old tosh.

The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle (1979)

A somewhat revisionist version of the Sex Pistols’ story, as told by their manager Malcolm McLaren.  Confusingly for future generations, the film has very little to tell about the truth of the Pistols, and its title is pretty much a misnomer:  in reality, the band released records quite legally, and fans bought them of their own free will.  It is certain that the taxman received what he was due from said sales, so there was no ‘swindle’.  Director Julien Temple redeemed himself somewhat in 2000 when he also helmed The Filth And The Fury documentary, the band’s version of events.  Sadly, some folk still like to believe McLaren’s ‘svengali’ nonsense.

Stand And Deliver (1981)

But this is not a film, I hear you cry!  Quite right.  But the video for Adam and the Ants’ hit single featured singer Adam as a masked, tricorn-wearing highwayman who, according to the lyrics, was more concerned with criticism of contemporary fashion than with actually demanding money with menaces.  Perhaps the closest he came during the Ants’ heyday was on the previous year’s Kings Of the Wild Frontier album:  a track called Jolly Roger, which aside from featuring that rarest of things in a pop song – a whistling solo – ludicrously claimed that, “It’s your money that we want…And your money we shall have!”  Daft buggers.


And now back to the main feature…

Gloria thought that Going Out In Style was “Lovely!  I really enjoyed it.  It started off sad but had a good ending.  They make you very welcome there,” she added of Warner Bros cinema staff.  “And they put on a nice tea afterwards.  They don’t have to do that but they do.  Very nice people!”

Holborn Community Association would like to thank our friends at Warner Bros cinema for providing our members with both a film and slap-up feast afterwards, all free of charge.

  • By the way: most film experts now agree that Citizen Kane was not “a load of old cobblers”, as Ms Miranda insisted.

Report by Notes Smudger




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#Bird-Related Activity and Gardening at Millman Street Community Centre


Alice helps Helena identify birds…

Today, Millman Street Community Centre saw two workshops blending into one another as both Alice and Rema hosted Bird-Related Activity and Gardening sessions respectively.

Alice said her group were “Making factsheets for identifying birds in the Millman Street garden,” and commented on the “Amazing variety” to be found there.


Bird-related activity…


Meanwhile, Rema’s group were potting this year’s strawberries.  “Anne is my star member,” Rema said.  “She potted nine.”  Edna potted four and Queenie three.  Rema was keen to stress that the strawberry variety is Cambridge Favourite.  “We all tried to work out funny tubers,” Rema said, before revealing that they were Jerusalem Artichokes.

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Holborn Community Association thanks both Alice and Rema for their respective efforts to inform and entertain our members.  We hope to see more of both of them now that the weather’s improving.


Steve pots strawberries as if serving Sunday lunch…

Photos by Kate; report by Notes Smudger

Posted in Activities, arts, Atmospheric, Birdwatching, community, Events, Free of Charge, gardening, Holborn, Spiritual, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

#Floristry Design Workshop at Millman Street Community Centre


You’ll all be wearing them this time next year…

Next Thursday (13th April), Millman Street Community Centre will host a Floristry Design Workshop.  Run by Master Florist and RHS Silver Medallist Peter Alan Bodnar of the Working Man’s College, the workshop will take place between 10am and 12 noon.

That’s 13th April, 2017

10am to 12 noon

Cost: Donation for materials used

If you are interested, please contact Carmen – Tel: 02074052370 (Option 2) to reserve your place.

Contact Peter via: https://www.facebook.com/peteralan.bodnar

Working Man’s College: http://www.wmcollege.ac.uk

Report by Notes Smudger


Posted in Activities, arts, Atmospheric, community, Events, Forthcoming, gardening, Holborn, Spiritual, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

#”No matter where we go, it’s a laugh!” Tea Party at St George the Martyr Church


St George The Martyr church

On Monday (3rd April), our friends at St George the Martyr’s Church in Queen Square once again provided Millman Street Community Centre members with a tea party.

“It was very nice,” Ivy said.  She went on to recall how she and John, the vicar, had “talked about old times.  Like when he visited me when I was in hospital.”

“They’re all really nice people,” she added.  “There were some nice flowers given to us.  And home made cakes, sausage rolls and sandwiches.”

Queenie said: “It was a laugh.  No matter where we go, it’s a laugh!” – [Hmm.  Sounds like one of those lengthily-titled music hall songs.  Now, where’s that lyric sheet and pen…]

Anne also enjoyed herself at St George’s, as did Helena.  “It was very nice,” she said.  “I always enjoy it.  [John] is a very nice person.  They always lay things out [food] beautifully,” she added.

Margaret said: “It was lovely, really.  They’re kind enough to do all those sandwiches and give you little flowers.  I like Mary [from the church],” she added.  “They’re all very, very nice.  They make you all welcome.  Lovely selection of cakes and sandwiches.  really lovely!”

Extolling the virtues of the atmosphere at St George’s, Queenie suggests that “We should have games at the Centre,” and urges someone to “Make something up, and we’ll have a game of it.”

Make something up?  Invent it, that sort of thing?  Hmm….

Have you any ideas for new games for Queenie and our other members to enjoy playing at Millman Street Centre?

If so, please contact this reporter [c/o Filthy Capitalist Management], who’ll help take your game idea to the commercial market and, ahem, deal with all the boring stuff [rights, legal issues, publicity, residuals, etc] all for a modest 50% of any profits generated.

  • No Matter Where We Go, It’s A Laugh is awaiting release on limited edition 78 rpm shellac vinyl on Millman Street Records via its New Music Hall label [c/o Filthy Capitalist Management]…


Holborn Community Association would like to thank our friends at St George the Martyr’s Church for, once again, providing our members with a lovely afternoon.

Photos: Alas, none taken; report by Notes Smudger

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