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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 23 October 2009
The mid-autumn festival in Chinatown
The mid-autumn festival in Chinatown
Moon landing... Goddess in Chinatown

SIZZLING satay sticks! Chinatown celebrated its mid-autumn festival this week with a spread of food sumptuous enough to bring the Terracotta Army to life.
The cookery theme was extended to include professional classes and, for the more dexterous, a chopstick challenge.
Crowds were also treated to a packed programme of events including lion dancing, traditional Chinese music, martial arts displays, lantern making and a gravity defying hip-hop dance performance.
There was also a very special guest in the Chinese Moon Goddess (pictured). Sunday’s event was organised by the London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA) as an inaugural patron of the first London Restaurant Festival.

l A SPOOKY short story magazine featuring scary tales written by Londoners has hit the shelves in time for Halloween. 
The collection features stories about a Thames boat party that never ends, were-carp in an underground river and a man who becomes an item of street furniture.
One Eye Grey: The Last of the Chelsea Smilers is the seventh in a series of “penny dreadful” anthologies, inspired by Victorian pulp fiction released by independent publishers
F and M publications.  
Alice Bower, a 15-year-old Pimlico Academy pupil and the youngest-ever contributor to the magazine, told Diary her story Shanaya meets a Northsider was inspired by the areas where she grew up and goes to school.
The magazine is stocked in Foyles, the Atlantis Bookshop in Museum Street, WC1, and Mysteries bookshop in Monmouth Street.

‘Beckett? Bit of a poser’

FLEET Street photographer John Minihan hit the big time after his iconic snap of a 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer.
The image of the young Princess-in-waiting, standing with two children in a nursery garden, her legs showing in silhouette through her skirt, went global.
Minihan, born in Dublin in 1946, was a staff snapper at the Evening Standard for 30 years where he developed a close relationship with many writers including the playwright Samuel Beckett.
He first made contact while he was directing Endgame at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith in 1980 – it was the start of a friendship that lasted up until the Beckett’s death in 1989.
“He had a great face for black-and-white and he certainly posed,” says Minihan. “The first time I took out the camera, he posed. The way he held his glasses, for example, may look casual but was deliberate.
“I don’t think he realised, when we first met, that I had the tenacity to pursue him and maybe even become a bit of a pain in the arse.”
Minihan photographed Beckett dozens of times and his portfolio, showing a particular affinity between the two men, have been exhibited in leading galleries around the world.
Now living in Ballydehob, west Cork, Ireland, he travels to London to photograph all productions of Beckett in the West End.
“I’ve covered 15,” he told me.
He was recently over to photograph the Complicité production of Endgame at the Duchess Theatre and kindly allowed us to reproduce his work.

Ronnie’s marks 50 years of showcasing top brass

HALF a century ago, a nightclub opened in Soho that would change the face of British music forever. Its name was Ronnie Scott’s.
When it opened in October 1959 in a Chinatown basement there was something of a jazz moratorium in our capital city.
Now it’s not an exaggeration to say that saxophonist and founder Ronnie Scott, the most respected of the jazz “white boys”, was the man who turned jazz from an elitist, impenetrable artform to sexy, dangerous music and put Soho firmly on the brass instrument map. Egalitarian was the social order, as the rich and famous rubbed shoulders with cash-strapped students, bitter and champagne swilled in equal amounts.
There are still two weeks to go in the club’s 50th anniversary celebrations, with a host of famous names set to grace the stage.
Among the highlights is Cream bassist Jack Bruce, who will be playing in residence for one night only on Sunday, and queen of the sopranos Barbara Cook, who will be capping off the celebrations on Tuesday evening.
Visit www.ronniescotts.co.uk

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