Giggles all aboard The Good Ship

Edinburgh Fringe is fast approaching!

Heading up? We have your warm-ups sorted. It’s dangerous not to do some abdomen stretching before a laughter marathon, after all.

Not going? Never fear, us lucky NWers don’t have to venture far – excitement likes to turn up on our doorstop.


The Good Ship Comedy Club is halfway through their Edinburgh previews. We were at last week’s cackle-fest, astounded by not only by the quality of outstanding headliner Nish Kumar, who nailed his set – from covering the formula of any Bond theme to articulating the inverted morality of Monopoly – but also by the polished performances of the two warm ups.

With online tickets at £4, that works out as £1.33 for each act. Certainly saves on the train fare to Scotland…

After nearly nine years of running comedy at The Good Ship, veteran Ben hosts regular Monday nights August to June, but right now during festival frenzy, catch:


MONDAY 20 July: Dark comedy troupe Gein’s Family Giftshop Vol. 2

TUESDAY 21 July: GQ’s ‘best comedian of his generation’ – Richard Herring

THURSDAY 23 July: Paul Sinha – Postcards From The Z List aka one of the ‘Chasers’ on The Chase (not to mention a highly acclaimed comedian… he must really hate the Chase thing).


MONDAY 27 July: Angela Barnes

THURSDAY 30 July: Liam Williams

Book online and find out about other upcoming gigs.

The Good Ship is based at 289 Kilburn High Road, NW6 7JR. A 3 minute walk from Kilburn tube station and Brondesbury Overground.

Chuckles commence at 8pm.

I heart Idris. Oh, and he is hosting a night at Love & Liquor.

Idris Elba aka DJ Driis presents 7 WALLACE, launching Friday 25 January at Love & Liquor, 34 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, London NW6 (020 8969 0098)

As Stringer Bell in The Wire
– that was how Idris first grabbed my attention. (I was an early adopter of the HBO show, I’ll have you know.) Then there was his C4 documentary How Clubbing Changed the World. (An ex-dance music journo myself, it’s one of only two things to have ever earned a press of the ‘Keep’ button on my Sky Plus; ahem, the other is a TV show I presented in 2006, The Smiths Hotels for 2. We never watch it, but I might spook my daughter with it one of these days…)

This isn’t just a gratuitous lovefest for Idris and an excuse to post a nice big pic of the handsome devil on Park Life. There is a point: on Friday 25 January, our man IE launches a DJ residency – on our doorstep – in between his hectic Luther filming schedule.

Idris Elba may be best known as a Golden Globe-winning actor but the Hackney-born DJ’s roots are  in clubland. Having opened as the turntablist for deadmau5 in the US, and for Usher at Ibiza’s Ushuaia, he’s now coming to Kilburn…

Seven Fridays, seven guest DJs: for seven weeks, DJs Driis will be spinning at Love & Liquor in West London, introducing his latest project, 7 Wallace. It brings together his love of throwing a great party, and he is inviting his friends and DJs he’s down with to spin and party alongside him.

PS When I came out publicly with my love for Idris yesterday via Twitter, Tim Barber tweeted me this amusing gif.)

PPS Note to Idris, if you ever need help explaining the UK clubscene to your American cohorts, this Vice magazine article might help.

All you need is Love & Liquor

We’re celebrating NW6’s hot new cocktail bar, Love & Liquor with the chance for you to win a guest list and table for four with a bottle of champagne on ice…  FOR ONE LUCKY WINNER. See below!

Since the Westbury closed its doors in June we’ve been wondering what might emerge from its ashes to fill the boozer-shaped hole in the lives of Kilburn’s party crowd.

Three months later it opened its doors as the younger, trendier and grittier late-night venue, Love & Liquor. I ventured down to Kilburn High Road on Friday night with a couple of friends to sample the cocktail selection. All in the name of research, of course.

Newest member of the Colombo Group family (which brings us dearly beloved Paradise by Way of Kensal Green), Love & Liquor channels the industrial-hipster vibe of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg via deconstructed wall art, neon and plenty of exposed brick.

Seated in a booth in the back mezzanine area, surrounded by a cage and beneath a chandelier made of what appeared, in the faint light of neon, to be chicken wire. We made appreciative noises reminiscent of what you might hear in a Brooklyn warehouse gallery (“ah, industrial art”) as we perused our cocktail menus. (The enormous deconstructed wall mural, I discovered later, is a creation by street artist called Alexandre Farto aka Vhils, whose work is, actually, quite cool.)

Love & Liquor prides itself in its Twenties’ style cocktails “with an edge”. Prohibition-era classics – the Manhattan, White Lady, Hemingway Daiquiri – make an appearance alongside a Pomegranate Cosmopolitan, Velvet Elvis and Elderflower and Blackberry Bellini. The ladies opt for a Bellini while the gent among us can’t resist the Velvet Elvis. We sip our drinks and watch the crowd trickle in – it doesn’t really get going until around 11pm.

On the decks is DJ IQ (Professor Green’s DJ) – the dance floor fills quickly. The organisers have put a lot of effort into the line up, which they describe as ‘disco, house, hip hop and party bangers’. Three times DJ of the Year Sam Young and respected West End DJ Ben Cain both make appearances in the next few weeks.

As we slip out, the dance floor crowd looks to be settling in for a long night. Why not? Love & Liquor is open until 3am. And the best thing about this local late-nighter is the stumbling distance home.

THE WINNER of some BEATS AND BOOZE on the house is David Paine who tweeted us this:

And who are we to argue with that? Runner-up is the lovely Charlene Francis. Congrats on having a baby girl three months ago… But every new mum needs a night out too now and again!

Love & Liquor is at 34 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn NW6 5UA; 020 7625 7500

Seduction, Slaughter & Sleeping with the Enemy… all just a night out in Kilburn!

Upstairs at Kilburn’s Cock Tavern pub lies the intimate Cock Tavern Theatre, currently staging a forceful retelling of a legendary, sinister myth. ‘JUDITH – A Parting From The Body’ is showing until 26 February…

Written by Howard Baker, the story is one of clash and conflict – clash of desires, of politics and of the sexes, as an Israeli widow, with her comically outspoken servant at her side, seeks to deceive and destroy an Assyrian general in order to protect her country. This story of seduction is in itself seducing – with immensely bold, striking and lyrical dialogue.

After recently reading Philip Pullman’s (who, might we add, has recently spoken out in the fight to save Kensal Rise Library – we love him) ‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’, written as part of ‘The Myths’ series which publishes ‘bold re-tellings of legendary tales’, it seems Howard Baker shared a similar objective – re-imagining well-known age-old tales into thoughtful and provocative pieces of art.

‘The Cock Tavern Theatre continues its commitment to reviving the works of crucial and relevant playwrights with this timely production of JUDITH.’

Tickets £12/£10 concessions – book: online or ring 020 7478 0165. Performances: Sunday to Tuesday 7.30pm; Wednesday 9 February 7.30pm; Wednesday 16 February 7.30pm; Matinee: Saturday 26 February 1pm.

The Cock Tavern Theatre is on Twitter and Facebook.

Charteris Sports Centre – use it or lose it!

A much-loved sports and community centre in Kilburn is set to close unless local residents can persuade Brent Council to rethink plans…

Charteris Sports Centre in NW6 is Kilburn’s ‘hidden gem’, combining a pay-as-you-go gym with sports, fitness classes, school holiday activities, kids’ parties and cycling sessions. Residents are concerned that the centre’s closure – scheduled for 1 April – will leave the area with no sports or community facilities.

Simon Rogers, chair of Brent Eleven Streets residents association says: ‘Charteris is a central hub for the community, and has a lot of support from people living in Kilburn. Residents, young and old, love coming here, and we hope to save it.’ Local schoolgirl Tiger Brigden, age nine, says: ‘My sisters and I have had many birthday parties and after-school clubs here. Many children would do anything to keep Charteris standing where it is.’

Over 150 residents attended a lively meeting at the centre on 22 January to discuss next steps with the council. Mike, a war veteran, told Cllr James Powney (Lab, Kensal Green) ‘I study aikido here and it changed my life. It stopped me from being psychotic, and prevented me from doing harm in the community. “Could you tell me from your cost benefit analysis just what you think that is worth?’

ACT NOW Charteris is improving the health, well being and social lives of the whole community – and it’s right on your doorstep. Don’t let this unique venue disappear!

What you can do…

1. Use it or lose it! Book a fitness class, use the gym, hire the hall for five-a-side football or a children’s party. Now taking bookings for February half-term activities.

2. Join the ‘Save Charteris Sports Centre’ Facebook group

3. Sign the petition at the sports centre (Charteris Road, NW6)

4. Email the council and tell them what you think:
(Message title: ‘Save Charteris Sports Centre’)

5. Spread the word! Ask your friends, neighbours, school mums and dads etc to back the campaign. Print off this  A4 poster to print off and put in your window or on your car – please support the campaign to save this vital resource for our community.

New show ‘Water’ makes a splash!

It is beyond rare that we’re disappointed by The Tricycle Theatre’s consistently triumphant selection of plays, but ‘Water’, the latest production to our beloved local stage, is truly outstanding. Currently running (oh, the puns!) from 1 February until 5 March…

To call the play ‘digitally ambitious’ would be an understatement. Never before have I seen modern technology woven into a play to such an extent. What could almost have been a hindrance or distraction from the performance managed to successfully enhance the whole production through the well-orchestrated and fumble-free use of Macbooks (wasn’t enough product placement to sway me from my firm PC status though), webcams, projectors, and you name it!

The sound effects are produced live on stage by a musician and the cast, making for dynamic, energetic story-telling and exciting scene changes. The final scene was so visually real that I fully believed that somehow myself, the theatre and the entirety of the audience were all suddenly underwater and it wasn’t until the cast emerged for a deserving applause that I could accept this was just the work of a really good visual effects team.

A common theme of water flows (come on, we had to) smoothly between parallel storylines, from an ambitious diver preparing for his most daring gig yet, to an environmentalist struggling to keep afloat (are you getting sick of these, yet?) at a political summit, to a brothers’ disagreement over the truth of the life of their late father.

With absorbing performances supported by a faultless, fabulous production, we’d recommend you booking tickets today. Tickets: Monday, 8pm and midweek matinees, £12; Tuesday to Friday 8pm and Saturday 4pm, £18; Saturday, 8pm, £22.

Harvest Festival and Ceilidh

Park Life loved chatting to the Transition Town Kensal to Kilburn folks at Queen’s Park Day and hearing about their fantastic work which helps the community and the environment.

Fruits of TT KtoK's voluntary labours

On Saturday 2 October TT KtoK is hosting a Harvest Festival at Salusbury Primary School (12pm–4pm) and then a Ceilidh in the evening (7pm–11pm).

Tickets: £10 each, £6 for OAP and unwaged, and can be purchased from The Lexi Cinema, Friends of Salusbury, Minkie’s Deli or Princess Frederica PSA.

Ever wondered what swishing is? Got a passion for sour dough yogurt and vinegar culture? Want to block those draughty windows and doors before winter truly sets in? Then come to the first Transition Town Kensal to Kilburn Harvest Festival. TTKK have teamed up with friends of Salusbury School to bring you a fantastic Harvest Festival event.

Juice from locally harvested apples

During the day there will be loads of fun community workshops which will excite children and adults alike. You can make a pom-pom, or a clay-and-twig hedgehog, or a vegetable musical instrument; learn how to make bread, jam, and baskets, or watch a recycled fashion show (that’s the clothes, not the models). Minkie’s Deli will also be on hand to help kids with pizza-making. As well as this, there will be a quiet area for story-telling, and bike ability training as well as much, much more.

Cut a Shine, purveyors of barn-dancing fun

The evening event is a more flamboyant affair, for over-12s only, and ticketed too. Doors reopen at 7pm, and the evening kicks off with a harvest supper beginning at 7.30pm. Catering is courtesy of Spice Caravan, who specialise in North African cuisine (and made an appearance at The Lexi’s outdoor screening of Casablanca a few weeks ago), and will be cooking a big vegetable stew using some of the ingredients that people have brought along during the day.

Once you’ve let your food go down, the music and dancing will begin. Cut a Shine, is a barn-dancing troupe of musicians, dancers and singers from around London whose aim it is to ‘preserve, promote, reinterpret and propagate traditional folk music and dance to as wider audience as possible’. They will lead the Ceilidh (that beloved Irish take on barn dancing fun) from 9pm. So, take your partner by the hand ’n’ all that, and come along for what The London Paper once claimed would guarantee you a ‘naff but great night out’.

We're jammin': join in one of their workshops

Don’t forget to bring your chutneys, seeds, classy clothes, jams, chutneys and pickles to ‘swish’, apples and pears to ‘juice’ and veg to display during the day, before they go in the pot in the evening.


This Transition Town offshoot covers Kensal Rise (NW10) through Queens Park and over as far as Kilburn High Road (NW6) and they invite you to get involved by donating vegetables or fruit from your garden, or joining in their many workshops – or suggest you start your own projects.

Cock Theatre, Kilburn

A proper old boozer in Kilburn isn’t your obvious destination to enjoy a little fringe theatre action…

The other day we popped to the theatre above the Cock Tavern in Kilburn to see the play Subs (which runs until 7 September), and afterwards my pal surprised me with this impromptu review of the pub below...

Hey Park Life! Thought I’d send you this review of the Cock Tavern for kicks… Love, Amy

What a fascinating local watering-hole, that was. Nestled pungently between McDonalds and Argos, the Cock Tavern welcomes local friends with breezy, Dali-esque arrangements of tables, each with a delightful character from the local populace nursing his warm, aged cider between moist palms. Indeed, the Cock is very much about history, from the antique-ish, stained chairs, to the month-old cut moldering flower decorations, to the swirling carpet.

The long, inviting bar is well-stocked and a great place to swap observations, as you wait for the single, harassed, member of staff to work her way down the line of parched, animated drinkers which are an incongruous cocktail of red-cheeked locals and unwitting visitors to the tiny theatre above. Endeavouring to do what most would shy away from in terms of decoration, the Cock uniquely unites the old and new with jumble sale prints, jauntily resting alongside five plasma screens. And what it lacks in air freshener (if Jo Malone did the fragrance, I think it would be called ‘Portaloo’), it more than makes up for in location, being a mere stone’s throw from buses, tubes and an overland train station. But then you might not be heading there for the boozer part – just the bijoux bench-seated theatre above.

If that isn’t enough info about the theatre itself, let’s just say it’s pretty small, fairly hot and quite dark – and what it lacks in drama in its surroundings it should compensate for in whatever the performance is. We say, judge for yourself. Hey don’t expect the West End. But it’s a decent cultural diversion if you’re on West End Lane…


Edward Bond Season 14 September–13 November

Six Edward Bond plays From six decades of British theatre:
Olly’s Prison
The Pope’s Wedding
The Under Room
The Fool Red
Black & Ignorant

…and the world premiere of a brand-new play, especially commissioned for this season.

TICKETS: £12/£10 concession; ALL PREVIEWS: £10; a limited number of £5 tickets available.

School of Rock

Sunday 4 July, 6pm For one night only, The Rhythm Studio headlines at The Luminaire, Kilburn.

The Luminaire venue on Kilburn High Road has carved a name for itself for showcasing new and emerging talent. Those who have stomped on their stage include – deep breath – BabyshamblesBat For Lashes, Editors, Hot Chip, Jarvis Cocker and The Fratellis, to name but a few.  No, joining the ranks of these hallowed artists, are the pupils from London’s very own School Of Rock, the Rhythm Studio.

Based at the top of Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington W10, this fantastic music factory boasts three basement studios where young and old learn their craft, from keyboards and drumming to bass, guitar and even songwriting.

Their dreams of headlining Wembley may be closer to reality than they think… And if not, they sure have a helluva time practising for that fantasy gig – with this very exciting performance in the mean time.

The Rhythm Studio Substation, Saga Centre, 326 Kensal Road, London, W10 5BZ (020 8969 8616)