JASMINE’S JUICE-MTV BRAND NEW, ADIDAS CHRISTMAS, SNOWMAN AND ST PAUL’S ORCHESTRA, 007/ BELVEDERE VIP PARTY.

MTV BRAND NEW

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GEORGE THE POET IS ON MTV BRAND NEW’S LIST FOR 2015- HERE HE IS PERFORMING AT THEIR PARTY.

It’s the time of year when all the big brands put out their end of year lists. Lists of the most googled, best and worst dressed, films of the year and what to look for in 2015. This fortnight both the BBC and MTV released their ‘’ones to blow in 2015’’ lists. MTV launched their list with a party and performances at their annual Brand New party at Dstrkt in town.

KWABS
LAST YEAR’S MTV BRAND NEW NOMINEE KWABS SINGS AT THE PARTY.

Both last year’s nominee Kwabs and this year’s nominee George The Poet performed very powerful sets to rapturous applause. Personally I feel like George already blew this year as anyone and everyone has featured him on TV, radio, live shows and print press. MTV would’ve impressed me more if they’d have added new act Stomzy or similar. But all good. Georges profile so far has been national and hopefully MTV’s co-signing will lead to more international presence for this very talented young man and his fellow Brand New peers.

ADIDAS CHRISTMAS SOIREE

ADI GRP

Next Adidas threw a very small, intimate Christmas party at a real home on the south bank where their very close ambassadors enjoyed a very serene, warm, cosy house party style evening with food flowing from the kitchen, a giant Christmas tree and goody bags full of adidas superstars sneakers on exit. Attendees included comedian Eddie Kadi, film director Mo Ali, J2K, singers Shingai (Noisettes), Terri Walker, Roses Gabor, DJ Swerve, trainer Robert connoisseur Brooks, broadcaster Reg Yates and his lady beauty and fashion leader Tia Ward and many more.

TIA SHINGAI
MY NIECE TIA WARD AND NOISETTES SINGER SHINGAI HAVE THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT.

We were even given the chance to paint our very own sneaker in the hallway. Food was by Roberts dub plate kitchen and included ‘one drop balls’- rice and peas and spicy daal in a crispy crumb, fish deep fried in red stripe batter, gungo peas humus and plantain strips, curry goat and plantain burger, chocolate and Guinness cheesecake. Hot mulled sorrel got everyone wavy and in the Christmas spirit!

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SHINGAI AND JAS GET INTO THE FESTIVE FUN!.

THE SNOWMAN AT QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL

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THE SNOWMAN AT QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL ACCOMPANIED BY ST PAULS ORCHESTRA AND MY FAVOURITE CONDUCTOR- BEN PALMER!

Clearly all festive minds align at the South Bank….I was invited to Queen Elizabeth Hall , again, on the Southbank to watch The Snowman movie accompanied by St Paul’s orchestra and the story of Peter and the Wolf narrated to a family audience. It was fascinating to see toddlers as young as three and early teenagers et their first experiences of classical music in a theatre setting. It was fascinating to see after a Noisy restless start by the kids in the audience it only took a couple of minutes for the rowdiness to settle down and hypnotize the children into the experience. There were Family unit’s everywhere. Grandparents. Parents. Friends, godparents and more. A whole vast side of society that us yummy media types without kids never collide with.

Last week dame Janet Suzman caused uproar by suggesting that theatre audiences weren’t as racially diverse as theatre wasn’t a part of ethnic culture. I laughed as I heard that as so many theatres like Shepherds Bush Empire and Hackney Empire are packed to the rafters for black comedy and black theatre nights. However, I spotted only a handful of BAME faces at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which made me, wonder why people of colour don’t seek out amazing experiences like this for their children more often.

The story of Peter and the Wolf was told magically with a velvet voiced female narrator and the animated conductor Ben Palmer, explaining the story via the musical instruments of the Orchestra of St Pauls. They explained to the young audience that the parts of different story characters, would be told by the instruments. For example, the Bird would be portrayed by the soaring notes of the flute, the Duck would be played by the waddling oboe, the Cat by the leaping, pouncing the clarinet, the Wolf by the menacing French horns and the main role of Peter by the inquisitive, playful strings. As a fun way of Introducing kids and toddlers to music and the theatrical experience it was over in a quick hour.

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BEN PALMER AND HIS ORCHESTRA TAKE A WELL DESERVED BOW!

In an age where music lovers often question why Classical music is not taught in schools as a priority anymore and pop stars like Laura Mvula and the BBC are collaborating to change this with projects like their Ten Pieces, which is ten pieces of music which will act as a gateway to children learning more about classical music and inspire them to use music as a stimulus for their own creativity. Ten Pieces is an ambitious initiative for primary schools, which aims to inspire a generation of children to get creative with classical music. With a range of online resources, UK-wide events and close collaboration with partners, every primary school across the UK will have the opportunity to take part. The ten pieces were announced at the launch of BBC Music, as the BBC renewed its commitment to music and announced a series of initiatives, including support for emerging talent, digital innovations, landmark programmes and live events.

Live events like The Snowman at Queen Elizabeth Hall are an excellent gateway to helping young people expand their horizons and start their cultural life early. Conductor Ben and his female narrator storyteller were like a rapper interacting with his DJ as they handed the story to and from one and other. It was also interesting watching that whilst the whole orchestra was lead by and controlled by Ben, his power was limited, as he was lead and controlled by the classic timing and narrative of the film projected on the giant screen.

MEDIA FAMILY DINNER

MM XMAS 2014

My nearest and dearest friends from the industry across a 20 year period and I had our quarterly dinner where we share show and tell as well as debate anything and everything on the radar to industry chat, wheels and deals, new acts, management changes, world social debates and more. Should certain music stars speak on political and social issues? Who is newly signed and dropped? Are the protests across the world relevant here? Where is the future of our music going? It gets very rowdy!

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BELVEDERE PARTY

JD BOTTLE
THE NEW LIMITED EDITION OO7 BELVEDERE VODKA BOTTLE.

JB TOPLINE

I finished my week at the Belvedere Party at the London Film Museum, where an exclusive party to celebrate the coming together of two truly iconic brands in what will be one of the most talked about partnerships of 2015 took place.

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JAMES BOND CAR WITH GUNS, ROCKETS, BELLS AND WHISTLES WERE ALL ON DISPLAY, MINGLING WITH THE A LIST!

BARTENDERS

You will already know that the 24th James Bond movie Spectre is coming next year. Well Belvedere have become a partner and so have made 100 limited edition vodka bottles lasered with 007 and the MI5 building on them. The bottle even glows!

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TINIE AND I CATCH UP.

In the house were supermodels like Lily Cole, DJing was Tinie Tempah and his uber manager Dumi, leaders of major brands and all the iconic James bond cars, planes and jet ski’s for us to fawn over and pose with.

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TINIE MAKES THE HNWI JUMP,JUMP!

JD CAR

JASMINE’S JUICE- THE GODFATHER AT ROYAL ALBERT HALL.

Ever since I can recall, the men I have been surrounded by from family, to friends to work colleagues, to random strangers, have cited The Godfather as being ‘one of the best films ever’.

godfather rah pic

I think it’s to do with the testosterone filled themes of loyalty, brotherhood, vengeance, manhood, and lawlessness and of course the bad boy swagger factor.

So when trying to get to grips with this movie from a female angle, the lure of viewing it on one of the biggest screens in the world, at one of the most stunning venues and accompanied by a live orchestra, the temptation was all too much.

The showing of The Godfather at the Royal Albert Hall accompanied by a live orchestra! Sounds dreamy right! The Godfather was the latest in a series of classic films with live orchestral accompaniment at the majestic venue.

I’m embarrassed to say I only recently came upon the fact that these film events happen at the venue, after living in west London my whole life. But now that I know, I’ve been raving about them and been a fan of the venues fabulous film events ever since. So far I’ve taken my mum (Gladiator), my Godchild (Frozen) and my partner (The Godfather)!

Mum and my other half had never been there before but the showing of many of the venues movie runs, like The Godfather live with orchestra, is a great example of something anyone from any background, class or culture would love. If you want to experience the Royal Albert Hall but aren’t sure if the events are for you this is the type of easy break-in event that would show you just how inclusive the venue is.

Only this week, after Asian actress Meera Syal appealed for theatres to look more to Asian audiences, all hell broke loose as One of Britain’s most distinguished actors dame Janet suzman, sparked controversy on Monday by claiming that “theatre is a white invention” and it is in the DNA of white people, but not of other people. “Theatre is a white invention, a European invention, and white people go to it. It’s in their DNA. It starts with Shakespeare,” Suzman said.

Before you could say Othello, talk radio and print press were up in arms, with the black community calling / writing in to state just how wrong Dame Suzman is.

There are many reasons London’s theatres aren’t filled with BAME audiences but this blog isn’t where I will address these issues aside from mentioning (cos I just can’t help myself) ….Often the content doesn’t speak to them. The tickets are pretty pricey. The plays aren’t promoted to these audiences. Audiences like to see themselves represented onstage too and so feel alienated when it’s a totally white cast. You only have to go to Hackney Empire or Shepherds Bush Empire on certain days to see the venues packed to the rafters for black comedy events by Alpo or Kojo, or plays by Angie Le Mar to see that there are huge ethnic audiences for theatre …but I digress!)

THE GODFATHER, released in 1972 to popular and critical acclaim, tells the story of the Corleones and their rivalry with other New York crime families between 1945 and 1955, as the title character (Marlon Brando) hands over the reins of power to his youngest son (Al Pacino). It also stars James Caan, John Cazale, Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton; the film won three Academy Awards – including Best Picture and Best Actor (Marlon Brando) – and established Coppola’s reputation as one of the exciting new breed of directors who revolutionised Hollywood from the late-1960s onwards.

The opening shot of the film is a long, slow pullback, starting with a close-up of Bonasera, a character who is petitioning Don Corleone, and ending with the Godfather, seen from behind, framing the picture. This move, which lasts for about three minutes, was shot with a computer-controlled zoom lens and is even more impressive from any seat at the Royal Albert Hall, where frankly there’s not a bad seat in the house.

In 2008, an Empire magazine vote saw The Godfather named as the greatest film ever made, a distinction also awarded it by Entertainment Weekly and Metacritic. It came second in Sight & Sound’s 2002 list and Time Out’s 2003 readers’ poll, and is currently ranked at number two in IMDb’s all-time list.

Seeing this dramatic action resurrected in this electrifying venue is an experience in itself, but watching Composer Nino Rota’s dark, looming, elegant music come to life in front of you is mesmerising. His music for The Godfather, including its immortal Love Theme, was ranked at #5 in the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest scores ever written.

Conductor Justin Freer lead a live orchestra performing Nino Rota’s immortal score and the audience gave them a deserved outstanding ovation at the end.
Justin told us: “It is with great excitement that we are able to bring this masterful score and film to the Royal Albert Hall. That we are able to preserve and present some of the most cherished music in the history of our craft is both exhilarating and humbling. “There is little film music as instantly recognisable as Nino Rota’s opening music played on trumpet, and only a handful of films as masterfully made as The Godfather. The marriage of these two masterpieces on stage live at Royal Albert Hall will be something to remember.”

I don’t think The Godfather has ever been seen, or heard, like this before. All in all it was dramatic, surreal, breath taking, romantic and a classic experience set in stone. Watching the Corleone family on a 100-foot tall screen certainly beats the 50-inch screen that my uncle brags about.

If you’ve never been to the Royal Albert Hall for whatever reason think again. Future events include similar screenings of Gladiator, JJ Abrams’s Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, and West Side Story.

I’ve always been a great believer of gifting people experiences rather than materialistic things, and who isn’t into movies, music and gorgeously fab locations? It’s a triple threat winner!

JASMINE’S JUICE- MONTANA THE MOVIE!

December 11th see’s the release of the latest film by director Mo Ali titled Montana. I was lucky enough to attend the gala screening this past week.
(ALL MONTANA SET SHOTS COURTESY GARETH ROBERTS)

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JASMINE WITH DIRECTOR MO ALI AND ACTOR MCKELL DAVID AT THE GALA SCREENING OF MONTANA- OUT DECEMBER 11 IN CINEMAS.

The movie is based ‘In the mean streets of London’s East End’, where a former Serbian commando and a fourteen-year old boy plot revenge against a powerful crime lord and his ruthless lieutenants. As our heroes prepare to take on their enemies, the boy is mentored in the dark arts of assassination and learns the true meaning of friendship, honour and respect.

Shooting on Montana lasted for six weeks taking in locations all over London. Yes! Only six weeks! Four weeks pre production – six weeks shoot – incredible, no?
Director Mo Ali confided in me ‘’ we worked in the noisiest, coldest, sootiest places in London, Hackney, Poplar, Brick Lane, White Chapel and a sugar mill in Greenwich. But we had to shoot them at night-time, so for two weeks we would shoot 24 hours a day with two different crews, with different actors. The weather was freezing for the entire shoot, being one of the worst winters in memory. The grit and the grime that colours the film is genuine’’

montana poster

The film reminds me of early Guy Ritchie movies Snatch and Lock Stock with its action, thriller and cockney attitude- but for today’s generation, with todays pop culture influences and slanguage. Due to the fact that its directed by a black man and features a few well known BAME actors, no doubt this will be tagged an ‘’urban’’ film, but honestly, it sits in the genre of great grimy British movie too. Director Mo Ali isn’t phased by the urban label though ‘’ the Urban film brand, the word doesn’t bother me, the older generation sees it as negative, young kids love it, so I embrace it whatever’’.

Co-lead man McKell David is a very impressive young fourteen-year old, who plays the part of Montana. He’s a relative newcomer and also had smaller parts in My Brother the Devil, Black Mirror, but in Montana he discovers that the powerful crime lord and ruthless lieutenants, for whom he works, secretly killed his father.

At the same time Dimitrije (Lars Mikkelsen – The Killing, Borgen, Headhunter), a former Serbian commando, comes looking for the gangster in order to take revenge for the death of his wife and son. Realising that they share a bloody purpose, the commando now mentors the boy in the dark arts of assassination and relearns the value of life as he teaches the boy the true meaning of friendship, honour and respect.

lars: mckell
(ALL MONTANA SET SHOTS COURTESY GARETH ROBERTS)

You never know what you’ll get at screenings that haven’t had massive hype around them, billions poured into their marketing or the blessing of a massive picture house. So it was really refreshing that from the first few seconds into the movie until the very end, I was gripping my chair with emotions ranging from fear, anger, empathy, pain and laughter.

A thrilling and gritty revenge tale, MONTANA also stars multi-faceted Ashley Walters (Small Island, Hustle, Top Boy), Michelle Fairly (Game of Thrones, Philomena) and the erratic Adam Deacon (Babyon, Kidulthood, Adulthood). It’s directed by Mo Ali (Shank) and produced by Mark Foligno (Moon, The Kings Speech, The Rise).

I recall meeting Mo Ali many years ago when he was a music video director for urban music acts. He was a runner for a TV company before that and quickly leapt from music video director to feature film producer. From his infancy as a street kid in Saudi Arabia, to his childhood and adolescence on the estates of East London, he brings an understanding of the manner and language in which the youth communicate.

With his extreme drive and visual bravado, Mo has already directed over eighty music videos. Years ago, he could be found shooting free videos for independent and underground UK acts. He got his big break directing Lethal B’s “POW” video, as well as directed for acts including Tinchy Stryder, Chipmunk, Skepta, Jammer and many more.

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MO ALI ON SET DIRECTING.
(ALL MONTANA SET SHOTS COURTESY GARETH ROBERTS)

His music video director days also influenced his making of Montana ‘’ I used my music video background to inject some visual excitement into Montana and, in particular the fight sequences with a limited budget. I incorporated many highly visual action sequences that added adrenalin and energy. An example of this is the very first scene where Dimitrije is introduced, escaping from torture and certain death’’

He smiles with the relief of someone’s that put in the graft and paid their dues ‘’ I look at my progression from TV runner to music videos to feature films, I’m happy and hungry, nothing holds me back, I’m not afraid to try anything new’’.

And this is new. Yes, the film does reference back to age themes of old crime lords, drug dealers, youth and hints of romance, but what makes it really topical and relevant to today is its acknowledgment of the eastern European influence the country now has, as well as British black stars that all hail from the capital. The last movie Mo made was Shank- about a group of young people that lived in apocalyptic London.

With the cast, Mo has also juxtaposed old skool, new school, classical and unknowns in Montana. Montana’s straight laced female copper is played by Michelle Fairley , an Irish stage and screen actress famous, most notably for her excellent portrayal of Catelyn Stark in the immensely successful television series ‘Game Of Thrones’. Fairley has also starred opposite Nicole Kidman in ‘The Others’, appeared in ‘Harry Potter’ and most recently can be seen in Oscar nominated ‘Philomena’ and also The Invisible Woman. So to reiterate, there’s no need to brand this an urban movie but if you must, you will.

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MO WITH MCKELL ON SET FOR MONTANA.
(ALL MONTANA SET SHOTS COURTESY GARETH ROBERTS)

As a youngster growing up in poplar, east London, Mo was a huge film fan that daydreamed about being an action superhero and describes Montana as homage to Luc Besson’s iconic LEON as well as giving a nod to films such as Karate Kid.
This nod to his favourite movies is apparent as Montana has moments of Karate Kid, Gladiator and Kidulthood – all made by directors that he himself greatly admires.

Not only was Mo brought up in East London, but also passion for his roots run deeper than simply immortalising it on the big screen in his movie ‘’I grew up in Poplar; the opening scene is exactly where I grew up. That opening walk that Montana does is me as a kid. I used to hang out on that balcony and daydream about my future life’.

(This is such a common story- directors and producers showcasing parts of their own life via younger actors and storylines; like Benny Medinas story portrayed by Will Smith in Fresh Prince of Bel Air)

Montana is full of action, crime, violence and stunts. Oftentimes when witnessing this outside the big budget Hollywood blockbusters, mass gun and explosive action can seem amateur, awkward and comical, but Montana captures the tone and technique of Israeli martial art krav maga perfectly. Krav maga is a self defence system developed for the military in Israel that consists of a wide combination of techniques sourced from boxing, muay thai, wing chun, judo, jujitsu, wrestling and grappling alongside realistic fight training. Krav Maga is also known for its focus on real-world situations and extremely efficient and brutal counter-attacks so perfectly paired with Montana.

Mo tells me ‘‘as the film is so stunt heavy, we set up a four-week boot camp for McKell and Lars. They went through intensive weapons training with armorer Matthew Strange, and stunts and martial arts training with stunt coordinator/second unit director Peter Predrero. Lars went on a strict diet and training regime to physically condition himself, and by the time we began shooting he was by his own admission in the best physical shape of his life. When we came to shoot, the majority of the stunts were performed by McKell and Lars’’.

GUNS
(ALL MONTANA SET SHOTS COURTESY GARETH ROBERTS)

Mo is full of admiration for the stunt coordination team ‘’ we had a great stunt coordinator that’s done a lot of Hollywood films, my input was as a music video director I had visuals I wanted too, so we had to train two people to become assassins, a master killer and a trainee killer. This took a lot of choreography. We had SAS trainees teach them how to shoot guns and only two weeks to teach them the fight choreography, which is an insanely short period of time. Both Lars and Mckell picked it up with extreme focus and performed like seasoned pro’s that you took seriously’’

Mo explained to me, that in order to show the learning and support between the trained assassin and the trainee, all the moves were first taught to Lars, who then taught his young charge McKell AKA Montana, Lars is a versatile, unique and acclaimed actor, treading the boards in over forty plays, appearing in numerous films and featured in television series including a BBC’s popular ‘Sherlock’ and Danish series ‘Forbrydelsen’, released worldwide as ‘The Killing. Developing a taste for performance after learning juggling and fire breathing, the now well-lauded actor and two friends travelled Europe performing on the streets of cities such as Paris, Munich.

Mo’s concept and Jeremy’s script required a cast that could deliver convincingly on the physical action sequences but also portray the emotional complexity of the central relationships.

Seeing young McKell in action is quite something. Mo reveals

‘’As there are not many ‘stars’ of that age, and none that fitted the character, we had to cast the net wide. We did open castings, approached drama schools and after school clubs, martial arts clubs and of course an open call to agents. I auditioned hundreds of young actors, but from the first time I met McKell David, I knew I’d found my Montana. ‘’our casting director was incredible and scoured London’s streets for hundreds of young boys. This kid with a Mohican walked in, very calm and controlled, I thought this kid looks great, I hope he can talk well too, he could! Then I thought can he take direction, he did it well again. I wondered ‘what’s his improve like, he had it all! I asked if he could box…. he said ‘’yeah I come from this area so you know that’s a given…’Certain people told me a kid with a Mohican wouldn’t work. But I was determined that I wanted a black or mixed race kid to prove anyone can be a hero’’.

Mckell David is indeed a powerful co lead and delivers a powerful and explosive performance well beyond his years. Mckell’s clearly a born go-getter. Hard working and determined, at the age of just twelve McKell began broadcasting a hidden camera comedy show via his own You Tube channel, where he pranked members of the public. The show got him noticed and was the perfect platform to allow his cheeky, confident but charming self strut into the consciousness of the UK and the US. To date, McKell has received over a million views online and over 12,500 fans on Facebook, both numbers continuing to rise as his profile as a film actor grows. 2012 saw the release of two films for McKell, ‘My Brother The Devil’ where he played ‘Demon’s Boy’, and Illegal Activity as ‘Leeroy’. Following these was ‘Our Girl’, released soon after in 2013 where he played the part of ‘Dean’.

With Montana, McKell tells me…

‘’ it was really exciting for me to get this so early in my career. I was 15 when I did this, I had been on film sets before but nothing this big, this was huge for me, and also gave me an opportunity to showcase what I could do as It was a really physical project. I got the script, loved it. I wanted this role really badly. Working with Lars, the irony is that off-screen we had our own story- what I learnt from him was amazing, he helped me out with my script lines too.
Working with Mo, I had little experience of film sets before Mo, he’s very direct, he’s both hard-core and soft and nurturing as a director, he always knows exactly what the shot should be and helped me get them in. The stunt guys made me feel really comfortable-Pete Pedro/Chris king- they were all 6 foot and massive, I was only 5.5’’, but they made me feel confident- luckily I’m very sporty anyway so it was just about remembering getting the movements right so I’m really grateful to crew and cast ’’

Mo did look back and acknowledge that the old adage ‘never work with animals or kids;’ didn’t prove true in his experience. His experience with the two young actors was very positive. ‘This girl Sinaed (who plays teenager Jess), she’s incredible, and mature for her age….both these kids are under age- McKell was 14 at time of filming, so legally only allowed a certain time on set. Mckell had to learn his fight sequences, imagine the pressure on them knowing they’re learning and performing on set in front of whole crew and set. Sinead would ask to retake stuff cos she knew she could do better’’.

The Montana crew knew they wanted to cast a European actor to play Dimitrije, and being huge fans of the hit Danish TV series ‘The Killing’, they were excited to offer the role to Lars Mikkelsen. Lars responded positively to the script, but had concerns, as this would be his first major English language role. He met Mo to discuss the project and committed there and then.

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ASHLEY WALTERS SHINES AS USUAL.
(ALL MONTANA SET SHOTS COURTESY GARETH ROBERTS)

Mo reached out personally to Adam Deacon and Ashley Walters, both of whom he’d worked with before, and they both loved the script. Mo acknowledges ‘‘both deliver what I want on set. To get them is a privilege. Its good to have a part in keeping our cultural icons out there on screen. I would whisper ‘’Joe Pesci’’ in Adams ear. As long as he had a stack of red bull and Joe Pesci whispered in his ear he was good. He was buzzing from doing the fight sequence!’’. And Ashley is a laugh a minute, we had a scene where we were shooting a chasing sequence in a Est London cemetery at 4am and Ashley’s got them all singing R&B songs to stay warm!’’.

Young McKell even found working alongside Ashley and Adam mind blowing ‘I had watched their films before this, I was excited to work with them, I grew up listening to So Solid and Adam gave me so many banter moments in the middle of the night with him doing his Australian accent- it was good!’’.

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ADAM DEACON.
(ALL MONTANA SET SHOTS COURTESY GARETH ROBERTS)

I bring Mo and McKell back to the subject of being pigeon holed by labels like urban and diversity in the film industry. Mo explains it thus ‘‘They’’ only want us to do estate films, ‘’they’’ know who they are. Even British director Ridley Scott recently said that his biblical film Exodus wouldn’t be financed if the lead actor was called ‘Mohammad so-and-so’ . This film is a testament of not giving up. This will make kids from estates think if Mo Ali can do an action film so can I. To me it’s a father and son story with action, we don’t have father and mentor relationships anymore in the western world, were missing that, so that’s what Montana’s about’’

New about-to-blow star in the making McKell has the last word

‘’There’s so much competition out there; if you want it really badly the law of attraction will make it happen. In life you’ve got to breakdown barriers, the barriers like defining words like urban are here to stay. One of the new leads of Star Wars is a young black man from the UK. We’re all doing things!’’

JASMINE’S JUICE- CANNON IN THE CLUB, SHINGAI ON THE ROOF, GTP AND KWABS ON THE LIST, VS SUPERMODELS ON THE RUNWAY!

NICK CANNON DJ’S AT CIRQUE.

CIRQUE
JASMINE GETS HER FREAK ON AT CIRQUE NIGHTCLUB WITH NICK CANNON, KOJO AND FRIENDS.

A whirlwind of a week! I always think I’m the best multi-tasker I know, but Nick Cannon gives me a good run for my money! Both of us juggle TV, radio and more. Me mostly TV and print press, him mostly broadcast world and business!
This fortnight he was in town to promote his new dancehall artist Kreesha Turner as well as film his American tv special ‘’Lifestyle’s of the rich and famous’’.

Aside from taking him to the south London pattie shop- on his request, and knocking out lots of press and friends debates, he also had a stint at Cirque nightclub djing.

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NICK CANNON HITS THE SOUTH LONDON PATTY SHOP AND EXCITES THE LOCALS.

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NICK IS EXCITED THAT HIS ENGLISH MONEY MATCHES HIS VIOLET TIE AND SOCKS.

Capital Xtra’s breakfast show host Kojo took a few friends including his right hand man-DeJay Longers, his radio show co-host Jade Avia, and the rest of us all down to the club to support Nick whilst he spun the best in hip-hop and R&B on the decks.

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NICK WITH DEJAY LONGERS AND PALS.

The circus themed performers were all very fun and welcoming. So welcoming in fact that even my mortal fear of snakes didn’t stop me being encouraged to wear a snake around my neck-though I didn’t dare open my eyes to acknowledge that it was actually there! Eek! The performers also had us stroking their midgets -YES- and averting our eyes when the naked burlesque pole dancers became a little too risqué.

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SHINGAI SHONIWA AT MONDRIAN ROOFTOP- RUMPUS ROOM.
(ALL SHINGAI SHONIWA PICS COPYRIGHT Paul Hampartsoumian).

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SHINGAI PERFORMS AT RUMPUS ROOMS.

Next, man-about-town- or should I say the world- as he’s now head hunted globally- Pardeep Sall, returned to London town and invited us to see musician Shingai Shoniwa (Noisettes), perform her solo album set for her new album ‘’Tropical Metropolis’’, at Mondrian Hotel’s rooftop bar the Rumpus Room. Such a dramatically slick and sexy venue.

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The stage is set against the floor to ceiling glass wall, that faces the London skyline and St Paul’s cathedral. Stunning! Shingai came, saw and conquered the VERY trendy crowd that had packed out the venue in her honour.

SHINGAI

The songs were catchy, diverse and very classic. Shingai leapt from stage to tables and chairs in her bare feet, falling into the audience’s arms and having a whale of a time, which of course meant that we did too!

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MTV BRAND NEW PARTY.

MTV BN

Next, I was invited to join my surrogate old MTV family at DSTRKT Club for their annual MTV BRAND NEW party where they announced which ten music acts are the ones to watch next year. Last years nominee Kwabs performed a very soulful set and this year’s nominee George the poet had everyone mesmerised with his very strong poetry.

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GEORGE THE POET PERFORMS AT MTV’S BRAND NEW ACTS TO LOOK FOR IN 2015 PARTY.

At one point in time in the past decade, MTV and the BBC’S brands end of year lists were something to behold, but now I’d argue that most on the list annually are already known by their audiences and have been covered up front by other media brands already. For example VICE Magazines music branch NOISEY tens to be ahead of the game musically and always brings a new, refreshing angle to music stories, and huge national news shows like Channel 4 News make mini features introducing you to acts like Charli XCX and George the Poet way ahead of the BBC/MTV lists being made public.

KWABS
LAST YEARS MTV BRAND NEW NOMINEE KWABS PERFORMS AT THIS YEARS LAUNCH PARTY.

But on the other hand, theres clearly room for everyone and its still an honour for these acts to be associated with the big brands. I would only suggest that the big brands move ahead of the times, and formulate new ideas to move the conversation forwards with more edge, the way they once did.

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VICTORIA’S SECRET TAKES OVER LONDON TOWN WITH BRA’S BLING AND BUTTOCKS GALORE!.

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THE VICTORIAS SECRET STAGE A FEW HOURS BEFORE IT WAS COVERED WITH SUPERMODELS, ED SHEERAN, TAYLOR SWIFT AND ARIANNA GRANDE!.

Finally, All eyes were turned onto Earls Court Centre for the final big party before the legendary venue is knocked down. A-Listers and supermodels from all over the world were flying in for the annual Victoria’s Secret show.

Its one of the only times the shows been relocated from the USA and boy was it a big deal. Models took over central London as security teams tried desperately to protect their million dollar brassiere sets. Fake tan booths and hair extensions were aplenty and west London was locked down to host the blingiest bra bonanza in history!

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Now I’m getting it together to go check out my boy film director Mo Ali’s new film Montana! #TeamUK!

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JASMINE’S JUICE FEATURING WEST LONDON TURNED GLOBAL STAR- JAY SEAN!

I’ve known Jay Sean since he was a rapper in a trio in west London many years ago. Now he’s a record-breaking award winning international music act that’s settled down with his wife and new baby in the states.

He crept back into London last week for a quick catch up and to remind us his new album THE MISTRESS and single TEARS IN THE OCEAN are out now.

I invited my LONDON360 reporters who didn’t know him as well as I do, to grab him for a chat about all things music, politics, music industry , Cash Money, life as a new independent music artist and more!.

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JASMINE AND JAY SEAN.

Jay began by informing them about his background and roots;

Jay: I grew up in Southall which is West London, a heavily, heavily populated Indian area. I am a first generation British born Indian so my parents were actually 4 or 5 when they came over from India. So for me, growing up in a very Indian area, but then I went to school in Hammersmith at Latimer Upper School and there I had a massively diverse group of friends from all different backgrounds. So that really was key to me because that equips you with what it takes to have a whole, well rounded personality and be able to communicate with all different types of people.

L360- You’ve always maintained an element of Indian culture in your music, why was that important for you to do?

Jay: In the beginning, it was very organic and very natural the way it happened, the way I fused the music together. Indian music is gorgeous, it’s beautiful, its melodic, its emotional and the scales are gorgeous and I’m a very melodic writer. So I tend to borrow a lot from that emotion. It happened very organically in the beginning, 12 years ago I did a track called Dance With You where we fused a different dialect as well, Punjabi language and we put it together. It worked, it was very natural. Then I did it a couple of times again but what I started to notice was, it was becoming somewhat of a gimmick, the last thing I wanted to become was a gimmick artist: ‘ah whos that guy jay sean who just wacks a tumbler on everything’ I didn’t want to be that guy. Like, what if I wanted to do a song like Someone Like You and a beautiful, gorgeous piano ballad and all of a sudden ive got to put a satari on it. It’s not going to work. So I just feel me being Asian, and doing well, being successful is good enough to represent my people.

L360- How did you get together originally with Cash Money?

Jay: Cash Money actually heard a song that I did called Ride It which was a really pivotal song for me in my career. It was also the song which crossed me over from just the Asian population into the urban scene and that’s when I won a lot of the black audience over as well and the song went international so it was winning over a lot of new territories. It didn’t win over America because hardly anything gets over to America, its very difficult to break America. Cash Money though did come across this video through the producer I was working with at the time. He showed them the video, he said theres this guy called Jay Sean who I’m working with, you should check out his stuff. Boom. Watched the video and they fell in love with the song, loved my vibe and were like, you know what ‘hes clearly got a massive fan base, lets bring him over here and put him out in America’ and they did. And it was amazing,

I had the most incredible experience of my life being signed to Cash Money. I mean without a doubt. It took me from here to here (raises bar) I became a household name in America. That first song I put out went number 1 on Billboard and after that, what do you even do after your first song gets number 1 in America. So, of course we tried to follow up with more success and we were very fortunate to have a lot of success. We ended up selling over 15 million records over there so for me it was great. The madness that came along with that was of course one of those things that you tell your grandkids, Justin Timberlake called me up to get me on his show in Vegas where just a handful of Justin’s friends, since when. When I was growing up in Southall I never thought that would ever happen in my whole life. And then you have all of these things. Casual chit chats with Jay Z who is my ultimate icon but then hes talking to me and making jokes that I stole both of his names. These funny little antidotes, which you will never forget, only happened because I made it in America and it was really an amazing thing. But I never got caught up in the fame aspect of it, I never got caught up in any of that because that for me was a by-product of what I really wanted. What I wanted was success and respect in terms of ‘Big up Jay Sean, he’s repping us. I’m proud to have Jay Sean on my iPad or iPod’ that’s what it was about for me.

L360- -So to go from a West London boy all the way to America selling thousands of tickets to shows, how does that even happen?

Jay: There’s no secret man. No secret otherwise everyone would be doing it. They have to take to you man. They have to like you. That’s it, they have to like you. The media has to like you, the people have to like you. You have to walk out of a room and people have to go ‘you know what, I like that guy, I wanna see him win’ and that’s literally how it is. They will fight for you if they like you and like your music then they will want to see you win. The difference is in America, honestly, they do kinda wanna see you win because it gives every kid hope. Every child in America is raised with the thought that they could become the next president, that’s literally how it is. ‘Son, if Obama can do it then you can be the next president’ and that’s how it is. They just aim high. They have all these massive athletes at college level who are superstars, at college. Like everything there is about making it and I like that because I’m all about that. My whole ethos in life is if we’re here once, why would you want to be mediocre at anything, why would you accept mediocrity when you can be brilliant and that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.

L360- -So you made it in America, on a unprecedented level, not a lot of people have done that, Chipmunk went over, he’s not even signed to Hustle Gang anymore, people have said Angel should blow in America, why do you think there’s such a barrier?

Jay: Look, like I said man, its hard and the thing is they have their superstars, they have theirs. So, they don’t need our superstars, they have the best of the best for them as far as their concerned. If we can offer something different and unique that they then are drawn to they’re gonna be like ‘yes, I like this’. Sam Smith is killing it over there because he’s coming with a singer/songwriter style that American artists aren’t doing, Adele did the same thing, Ed Sheeran did the same thing, they’re different, they’re unique. British Hip Hop,

…if I’m honest, Grime is going to be so difficult to break into America for one reason only: they need to understand what we’re saying. It sounds so stupid but when I’m singing, I sing in an American accent, not intentionally but because I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, all of these people you listen to you sing like them so that’s how you learn to sing. So we just have an American accent when we sing. British rappers of course are very British sounding and if the audience over there cant understand what they’re saying, how can they be drawn to it? How can they get attached to it. That’s the only thing I can think of which is making it so difficult, not because they’re not good.

L360- -How are you labelled over there, are you that British guy, are you that Asian guy?

Jay: No, some of them don’t know I’m British; they definitely don’t know I’m Asian. Everybody speaks to me in Spanish when I’m over there, everybody! Everyone just speaks to me in Spanish because they think I’m Puerto Rican or Dominican or Mexican, they don’t know. I think they like, once they get to know me and I open my mouth in interviews is ‘Oh my God you’re British’ they focus on the British thing more than anything, they love it. They just love British culture. And the British accent really helps out there, by the way. Any guys watching go to L.A and put on the accent really thick, you’ll have a great time.

L360- -How do you feel your legacy is received here, do you feel sometimes you’re slept on? You’ve sold 15 million records being from over here, I can’t think of someone else who has done that.

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For sure, I’m slept on. I know that for sure. It used to bother me a lot, when I was a kid but now that I’m a man that shit doesn’t bother me. It’s like, I don’t do it for that. I have a very strange story over here in England, I was very niche, I was a very underground artists and I still had mainstream success. I had 3 top 10’s before I even went to America and a couple of top 20’s. All in England but you never saw me in the Heat magazine, you never saw me in the front page of GQ or even in GQ or any of the other British publications. For some reason, I just think they thought ‘ah, but, he doesn’t really fit this. Asian Network right, that’s what you do, Asian Network’. I’m sorry, what about Radio 1, wasn’t I on that as well? Everything was very much ‘oh, I don’t know how he fits in here’. That’s cool man, it’s alright, I’m different, I’m unique, I’m one of hardly any others who are like me. So, if I don’t tick all your boxes, I’m not gonna try to impress you so I can be all up in your magazine. That’s not my style man; I’ve never been in it for that. Write about me if you want, that’s cool, don’t write about me if you want, that’s not what I was in it for.

L360- Do you stay up to date with the British scene at the moment?

Jay-Its hard for me to keep up to date but I know there’s a tonne of new artists, especially from the British Hip Hop scene, the Grime scene who are coming up. I’m hearing their names floating around all the time, I wanna get into it and learn a bit more about the new flavour without being like ‘oh I’m jumping on the bandwagon, I need to do something with him because he’s the cool one right’ nah I don’t wanna do that.

L360- So you citied a change in direction as the reason for leaving Cash Money, could you explain just a bit more about that?

Jay: Yeah, like I said, I had a lot of pop success and it was wonderful, it was amazing, it changed my life and it was an adventure, a journey that I will never, ever forget and its still going on. I’m still very lucky that I have a massive American audience. But I think, really, the thing is I went too pop. Too pop. There is a danger and there is such a thing as going too pop. When you’re having so much success in that lane, youre killing it and every song after song is selling millions and millions and millions, it’s the music business at the end of the day. It’s a business. We’re selling something. So if I turn around and go ‘errrr guys, I know we’re killing it in this pop lane right now, but I’m not enjoying these songs anymore man, trust me, I feel sick writing these songs over and over again’. How many songs can I write about partying? How many songs can I write about throw my hands in the air? I don’t wanna do that no more, even if that will win every time, I don’t wanna be that guy. Let me go and do something that makes my soul happy because you know what makes my soul happy is this right here. It’s that RnB music that I’ve returned to, its that Mistress II, that makes me happy. So, I go for where my hearts happy man.

L360- Do you think that is the direction Pop has taken Hip Hop?

Jay: Pop is popular music right? It’s the only thing that sells in the millions, still to this day in the music industry. All the other genres are struggling to survive because there too niche now. Back in the day you could be a RnB artist and sell 3/4 million albums, no problem, you could be like an Indie Rock artist and sell millions of albums, no problem, country can sell like crazy but that’s different. In terms of the genres we know like Hip Hop, RnB, Pop, Rock, Pop is the only thing that’s selling so its no wonder is it that Chris Brown, Rhianna, Usher, Ne-Yo, myself, Enrique, so many of us went from our little niche genres into the pop world because the pressure was on by the record companies to do that. That is why the other genres are struggling to survive.

L360- So how important is it for you to go back to your essence with the Mistress II?

Jay: Its very important. It’s important for my soul man. More than anything else, it makes me happy. What makes me more happy is when people come up to me on the street and go ‘yo bro, your Tears in the Ocean song is ridiculous or when people come up to me and say ‘all I want is My Jam you don’t understand I’m looking for a R&B song like that for ages, nobody has that anymore, nobody does that anymore.’ That makes me happier than standing there on stage singing a song that I’m not even into, singing a song that I’m not proud of.


L360-: Recently, you’ve been going into schools and talking with school kids, what brought that about, did something personal trigger that?

Jay: Yeah, for me man, I’ve been very happy to be in this game for over a decade. I feel I have a lot to share, I have stories for years, I’ve been through everything, there’s nothing you can throw at me that I haven’t been through. Trust me, I’ve been in the independent world twice, Ive been signed to 2 majors, walked out,

I know this game inside out. So for me, I have a lot to share with the kids who are trying to get into it, I see all these kids who’s eyes light up with visions and dreams of being a star and I wanna give them, not only the hope and dream element but I wanna give them everything it takes. Everything it takes, the truth that nobody will tell you because once you’re in that world and then you’re like ‘no one told me how to deal with all this, no one told me about this backlash and this media and why people are cussing me and why people are writing stuff about my mum, I don’t know how to deal with this’. Stupid stuff that people don’t expect comes along with stardom. I have to teach them all of that stuff, I want to tell them all of that stuff. They loved it because they knew, I’m telling them things like ‘don’t forget your real friends man, don’t start worrying about the amount of followers your getting to see if that’s how you’re popular, don’t lose your real core’. Don’t lose your real friends and family, those people will keep you grounded because when all this ish goes and it will go one day, that’s all you got left. When I tell them that man, I can see that they appreciate that and it makes me happy.


L360- Do you think in school in the current education system, there should be more emphasis on the creative arts?

Jay -Well Latimar Upper, the school I used to go to was amazing, they’re producing on pro-tools, they use literally the same set up that I do as a professional recording artist so I was amazed to see that. I would like to see some emphasis on different genres of music because its pretty funny to this day that we learn about Beethoven, Mozart and stuff like that on the piano and that’s important because they are beautiful pieces, but I bet if you said to a kid you have a choice ‘Beethoven or Coldplay, which one you wanna learn’ they’ll say ‘Coldplay’ because that’s contemporary, that’s what they want to get into and it would be nice to see some of that too.

L360- We did a #hiphoplifelessons feature last week and one of our colleagues looked at hip hop and Shakespeare so like the English curriculum has been updated with Dizzie Rascal, we spoke about modernising the music curriculum, what else do you think could be done to prepare people for, say, the entertainment world?

Jay: It would be interesting to see media training, I’ve never had media training but I’m very fortunate that it comes very natural to me and I know how to speak eloquently enough to get my point across.

But there are a lot of kids who are very talented and when you put them in the spot light, they wouldn’t know how to claim that moment, wouldn’t know how to seize that moment and would say a bunch of stuff like they’re talking to their mate Tony: ‘You get me like, man just get into the game like’ you have to understand that they might not understand what you’re saying. You’re gonna lose a big opportunity here because you’re not saying what you wanna say in that moment, look 2 minutes to get your point across. Those type of things are important. I’ve seen so many people fail at that hurdle and that’s why they don’t have that x factor to become a star.

You have to be a star when you grab them in your hands. When you look at Beyonce, every interview she does is just perfect delivery, perfect execution, and the thing is she has honed that skill down. I do interviews so much more than I do other things in my life, imagine if I didn’t know how to do a good interview, people wouldn’t wanna know you anymore, people wouldn’t wanna interview you. The word would spread around, don’t interview Jay Sean, trust me you’re gonna get nothing outta him. Little things like that are important.

L360- How in touch are you with politics?

Jay: When it comes to politics, I do my interviews and I talk about things, I don’t tend to talk too much about politics because I have to be careful about my artistry and my political opinions.

L360- Do you vote though, how important is it to be engaged?

Jay: Very important to vote, I’m actually pleasantly surprised at how many youngsters are into politics when I was talking to kids in schools and stuff and talking about a selfie I had just taken with David Cameron. So they were saying ‘ah I saw your selfie with David Cameron that’s so cool man’ and they started talking about Cameron, this that and the other and politics and I was like you guys are like 17 18 years old and you’re this deep into it. That was nice for me to see that.

This is our country that we live in right and that’s how you get your voice heard, you have a choice, they’re giving you a choice here. How do you want to live? Where do you want your money to go? If you don’t tell them, if you leave it down to someone else, ‘ah its alright I’m not gonna vote, I’m sure the neighbour will vote for him’ imagine everybody had that opinion. So, it’s very important.

L360- We saw in America Hip Hop got behind Obama and helped me gain power, do you think musicians here should take more of an active role in encouraging youngsters to get involved?

Jay: Not necessarily, not if they don’t fully believe it, I don’t like the idea of celebrities doing things for the sake of it. I don’t like the idea, I think its disingenuous, I think they should get behind something they are passionate about. So if I see a celebrity who is into a certain charity cause, you can tell the ones who have been assigned a charity and those who are just passionate about it by the way that they speak about it. I just feel like yes, when you are a celebrity, you have a platform, you’re very powerful, people look up to you. I personally believe you should use that platform to your advantage and not just to your advantage sorry but to the benefit of other people because that is really when you are gonna change. You can bring forward an entire scene, you can bring forward an entire race, you can bring forward an entire city or country, whatever it is when I’m out in America I’m repping England so whatever I say its reflecting British people too. There are some people who have never had any interaction with a British person, I might be the only person ever so imagine I said something really stupid and dumb and they’ll be like ‘Oh my God, those British people are so dumb and so thick’. I have to be careful about my platform and what I’m saying so I wouldn’t say or talk about anything that I ain’t passionate about.


L360- So you’re now independent again, what message would you send to other independent artists?

Jay: What I would say is I know independent can be a struggle sometimes because your using your own money but when it wins and it pays off not only are you gonna make your money back, it’s gonna be a good investment. You’re gonna be so much more in control of your entire career then on because you would have seen what you achieve so then if you do wanna team up with another person and do a JV with another record company you can come in there not from a position of desperation and need but you can come in there from a position of power all of a sudden. Now it’s like ‘OK, what can you offer me’. That is the ultimate move.

JASMINE’S JUICE- PRECIOUS AWARDS, NICK CANNON, MUSIC MOGUL VIVIAN SCOTT CHEW, WINTER WONDERLAND!

PRECIOUS AWARDS.

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JASMINE FINALLY GETS HER HANDS ON HER PRECIOUS AWARD AFTER FLYING HOME FROM HER SHOOT IN INDIA.

Many thanks to the judges and voters of this months PRECIOUS AWARDS where I won THE OUTSTANDING WOMAN IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES award. It was so nice to be recognised after so many years in the industry. Alas as many awards nowadays are based on a persons background, community, ethnicity (and no one claims me as apparently I’m ‘’not really Asian’’ and ‘’not really black’’ due to my Parsi / Zoroastrian Persian/ Kenyan roots, it was nice to feel included somewhere!
I was in India on a top-secret mission with a top-secret lady shooting, so unable to accept my award on the night. But I sent along one of my current London360 reporters Hope Lanek to make a short speech for me. I understand she did me proud. Thanks Hope!

NICK CANNON.

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NICK CANNON AND HIS ARTIST KREESHA TURNER WITH JASMINE IN A SOUTH LONDON PATTIE SHOP (CAN’T SAY WHICH ONE IN CASE WE HAVE TO GO BACK THERE LOL!)

Next my extended family member, the multi faceted entertainment mogul -Nick Cannon flew into the capital to shoot his American TV show Lifestyles Of The Rich and Famous. He also brought along his new dancehall act Kreesha Turner for some promo. (Always multi tasking he is!). upon landing, he and his team were peckish, so instead of the usual Mr chows style posh nosh, we drove him to South London’s finest Jerk Chicken and pattie shop. It was pretty quiet as it was a Sunday night. However you know the hood communication system. One couple came in. the female near damn fainted at spotting Nick. Got on her phone, and within minutes the shop was full of excited, happy fans asking nick for selfie’s and snap chats- all which he did happily after his long haul flight – what a good geezer!

VIVIAN SCOTT CHEW. BIANCA RAQUEL.

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JASMINE WITH NEW MUSIC ACT BIANCA RAQUEL AT MANGO ROOMS.

Then female music industry mogul Vivian Scott- Chew (look her up), stopped off in London for the final leg of her artist- Bianca Raquel’s- European tour. She gathered a very special music industry crowd of 25 for dinner at the age old, dependable Mango rooms in Camden for a wonderful music industry get together and reunion, during which Bianca sang, Viv made a heartfelt moving speech about all her London connects and a very merry time was had by all.

WINTER WONDERLAND OPENING PARTY

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JASMINE ENJOYS WINTER WONDERLANDS OPENING VIP NIGHT!

I felt like I’d won the Willie Wonka Golden Ticket when I was invited to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland opening night VIP party launch.

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A wristband meant free rides, fun, circus and so much more! It’s like being in a real life Christmas movie!

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I scoffed Christmas nibbles and knocked back chery mulled wine as a stellar line up of celebrities hugged Santa and rode the scary rides!.

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Names that joined me included: Kelly Brook, Princess Beatrice, Tim Burton & Helena Bonham Carter, Jodie Kidd, Anton du Beke, Brendon Cole, Tom Daley, Danny O’Donoghue, Poppy Delevigne, Suki Waterhouse, Brooklyn Beckham, Matt Smith, Jason Donovan, Scott Mills, Vanessa White, Neon Jungle, Little Mix, Tara Palmer Tomkinson, Lizzie Cundy, Kirstie Allsop, Rachel Riley, Tamara Beckwith, Henry Conway and Dr Christian Jessen and we were all lucky to be amongst the first guests to experience this year’s event.

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My faves were The Magical Ice Kingdom – a breath-taking snow and ice sculpture experience, the UK’s largest outdoor Ice Rink stretching over 1,600m2 and the iconic Giant Observation Wheel, which illuminated the skyline.

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Other favourite attractions were Santa Land, a haven for young visitors where Father Christmas will be every day with his Elves and a sack of free gifts. There will also be over 200 chalets in the beautiful Angels Christmas & Yuletide Markets offering unusual and handmade gifts and crafts, including ceramics, candles, jewelry, wooden toys, nativity scenes and Christmas decorations.

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The best thing was Zippos Circus, which had us all gasping for air as the flying trapeze, and ice sculptures came to life!

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The ever-popular Bavarian Village had mountains of bratwurst and mulled wine whilst hosting live music throughout the day and evening. In addition to the many restaurants and bars there are delicious food and drinks available throughout the attraction to help you warm up on a cold crisp winter’s day. And for those thrill seekers, there will be an array of traditional and high energy rides.

So book early for the Ice Skating, The Magical Ice Kingdom, Giant Observation Wheel and Zippos Circus to avoid disappointment and discover what 12 million visitors have already enjoyed.

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For the best ways to enjoy Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, be sure to follow the festival’s top tips to really make the most out of London’s spectacular Christmas destination. Avoid the queues by visiting during the day on weekdays and in school holidays, buy your tickets to the main attractions in advance, bring cash to exchange for tokens and make sure you grab the kids and wrap up warm- a guaranteed magical day out for you and the entire family!

POPS 90TH BIRTHDAY!

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JASMINE AND POPS AT HIS BIRTHDAY LAST YEAR!.

Now it’s our granddad ‘’Pops’’ 90th birthday weekend, so I’m on family duty to pick up huge rum cakes and attend dinners and parties with the fam! See you all on the flip side!

JASMINE’S JUICE- FROZEN AT ROYAL ALBERT HALL, NICK CANNON AT SOUTH LONDON PATTIE SHOP!

'Frozen' at the RAH.

Frozen Photo copyright- Andy Paradise.

Who wouldn’t want to be a princess? They rule their world’s and wear pretty things, people fawn upon them 24-7 and life’s a total breeze.
As we grow older we may grow out of pink but the princess gene and attitude is ever present even if in teeny doses.

This week I attended what I thought was another one of the Royal Albert Hall’s many humungous-ly fun, interactive movie screenings, alongside music, choir, and orchestra moments. I was in for a shock.

On arrival, thousands of little girls were running around all excited and wide eyed, in their princess costumes and shrieking with delight. It felt like every family in the country, with little girls aged between three and thirteen, had descended on the venue, waving magic wands in their princess gowns. Adults were pointing and cooing at the best costumes and wigs. (They were learning early about being rewarded for looking pretty).
I knew the Disney movie Frozen was popular but not this popular. Googling once at home, I saw how very uninformed I was about talking snowmen, ice princesses and Prince Charming’s.

Frozen is the highest-grossing Disney film of all time, having made over $1 billion at the global box office. Critics and audiences are united in their praise for the film, which amongst its many accolades has won two Academy Awards for Best Animation and Best Original Song for ‘Let It Go’, as well as a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe. From this month audiences are invited to become a part of the interactive show, joining in with all of the film’s original songs, including ‘Let It Go’, the chart-topping song that has so far received over 500 million YouTube views!

Online there are viral videos that pair Frozen with Breaking Bad, fan made videos, spoofs, viral videos of little girls in Belfast throwing strops in Frozen mode, and song parodies of every song in Frozen, mostly its big hit Let It Go.

The mini fans that couldn’t Let It Go’ had clearly watched the movie so many times, they didn’t miss a beat when it came to joining in en masse and singing the songs throughout the film which was shown in stunning high-definition. The lyrics were projected on the screen – with a bouncing snowflake allowing us to join in with the film’s stars Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff, and sing-along. Even though the bouncing snowflake jumped along each word to remind us when to take our cue, the audience clearly didn’t need it.

'Frozen' at the RAH.
Frozen Photo copyright- Andy Paradise.

The Frozen soundtrack was the No 1 album in the US for nine weeks – to put this in perspective Beyoncé only managed three. The movie’s big song “Let It go” won the award for Best Original Song at the 86th Academy Awards, beating U2′s “Ordinary Love,” Pharrell’s “Happy” and Karen O’s “The Moon Song, and the two five year olds sitting behind me singing at the top of their little voices proudly, were testament to the delirium the song evokes from many. The fans hysteria, buoyancy and sparkly high spirits were really infectious and had us grinning in bewilderment from start to finish.

Pretty early into the award-winning animated comedy adventure, I could see why the girls were enraptured. Its characters and song lines have a massive don’t give a f*&* attitude.

Saucer eyed, teeny – waisted, blinged- out, ball-gowned Frozen lead- ladies Elsa and Anna are all the rage now, and clever Disney has embraced the feminist theme that older female pop stars have been pushing this past few years with a vengeance. Teen fan army’s may have Rihanna and Beyonce, but toddlers all stan for Elsa and Anna even though they look totally unrealistic!

Just this week a new ‘normal Barbie’ has been launched by graphic designer-turned-toy-maker Nickolay Lamm, who has created the Lammily doll — what the Barbie would look like if she actually had the measurements of an average 19-year-old woman’s body (based on CDC data). And brown hair. (She also comes with a sticker extension pack, complete with cellulite, freckles and acne.) When Nickolay Lamm presented a Pennsylvania class of second graders with his Barbie alternative, the reactions were healthy. “She looks like my sister!” “She kind of looks like my aunt Katie,” “She looks like a regular girl going to school.” “She’s not like other dolls… she looks real.”

That reality check didn’t prove to be a bad thing. When presented with a blonde and busty Barbie, the children said that they’d rather have the one who, if real, “would be able to stand.” (Barbie wouldn’t be able to lift her head fully if she were an actual human).

This would probably please Dr. Rebecca Hains, an expert on children’s media culture and the author of the book The Princess Problem. She says ‘Princess culture encourages unhealthy consumerism and saddles girls with noxious messages about their gender’. It’s true that Frozen still encourages pretty princess, except now they have major attitude!

Whilst Frozen was playing to whoops of delight from both children and adults, and the odd childish chortle and wolf whistle when there’s a line ‘’I want you to take me up the north mountain’’, I could feel the air rackling with mini feminist attitude. A whole arena full! Girls about to hit puberty were in their element!
Hans Christian Andersen gave me Cinderella, the Princess and the Pea and Sleeping Beauty, where the lead ladies were docile princesses saved and rescued by external forces- usually men. But Disney has brought the fairy-tale into modern day equality rights and pushed this with The Little Mermaid, Mulan, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast and now the gladiator of all princess movies, Frozen!

I could see whilst surrounded by toddlers fanatical about the characters, that the film has captured and bottled this new girl power attitude and its grown an army of billions of obsessed little girls across the globe. It appears that sisterhood is aggressively alive and well amongst the Barbie generation and I didn’t know it.
It’s a very empowering, kick-ass film for girls but it’s not just for the daintier sex. It’s also a very male film that little boys would love too with loads of action, snow monsters and slivers of horror.

Afterwards Jasper Hope, Chief Operating Officer at the Royal Albert Hall, told me: “Frozen’s captured the public imagination like few family films of recent decades and we are delighted to be presenting it at the Hall as a sing-along show. We know better than anyone that there’s nothing quite like 5,000 voices singing live to raise the roof – the Royal Albert Hall is the perfect venue for this unique event. With children under four admitted free, it’s the ideal show for everyone who has fallen in love with this movie – and refuses to let it go.” (See what he did there?)

With a new United Nations report out this week that states that a swell in the global population of young people has the potential to transform economies for better or worse and that the global population of young people between the ages of 10 and 24 has hit 1.8 billion, a historic high, this is the time to capture those young hearts, minds and voices. Frozen has done that.

My fellow staff members are now all revealing that they are panicking about sourcing the latest Frozen goodies for their lil princesses for Christmas. I have a suggestion…

Whether at a venue near you, or even better, keep it cheap and techy and host a sing-along party at home in front of your computer. A cultural, dressed up, all-empowering, toddler sing-along could be that once in a lifetime experience.

=========================================
cannon kreesha
NICK CANNON WITH HIS DANCEHALL ARTIST KREESHA TURNER AT THE JERK CHICKEN SHOP IN SOUTH LONDON – KEEPING IT REALLY REAL!

Nick Cannon is in town this week shooting his Lifestyles of the rich and famous TV shows. On landing in London he and his team were peckish so we took them to our favourite South London Jerk Shop, which was pretty quiet on a Sunday night…until 10 minutes later when the hood communication system had informed all and in minutes the shop was full of fans ….all delighted to meet and take selfies with Nick and his new dancehall artist Kreesha Turner.
Check her out online and her new track with TOK!.

JASMINE’S JUICE – BACK, FRONT AND CENTRE-STAGE AT THIS WEEKEND’S MTV EMA’S 2014!

JD AWARD
BACK WITH MY OLD MTV FAMILY FOR ONE WEEK ONLY AT THE 2014 MTV EMA’S.

THE MTV AWARDS used to be the ONLY music awards worth watching. But now with every brand having their own version, MTV EMA 2014 stepped up by having a show that united music legends like Slash, Ozzy Osborne and U2, new fresh blood like Arianna Grande, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sande and Charli XCX (yes #TEAMUK!), the ‘in-betweeners’ like Alicia Keys (kudos for performing with no stress or diva-isms whilst 5 months preggers!) and Enrique, model types like Jourdann Dunn and this year with the help of a time machine we even had…a dinosaur…no not David Hasselhoff, a real dino!!

JD HUG DINO

I was host producer. That means it was my job to look after Nicki Minaj’s script’s, liaise with her stylist about outfits, communicate between her team and the main show’s producer and director, ensure she was totally supported with all show editorial, her team were happy, her timing was on point and absolutely anything else that she may need.

PROD DIR SIGN

NM ROOM
NM BACKSTAGE DRESSING ROOM.

Over 1,000 people came along to the 2014 MTV EMA open castings, including:
*3 groups of cheer leaders, 2 school teachers, Twins, a mother and daughter duo, a unicorn, who drove through the night from London and waited outside the venue from midnight, and a performing hotdog!
*The casting team also saw a husband and wife rapping duo, an opera singer, a juggler, break dancers, beat boxers, a champion tap dancer (2nd in the world) and none other than Miss Glasgow!
*A grandma came to collect granddaughter then decided to audition – to “We Will Rock You”
*The casting unit went ‘mobile’ to local schools, colleges and universities, they auditioned over 500 students.

Massive salute to the MTV Marketing team.
This is the first time in its 20-year history that the MTV EMA has been held in Glasgow! You couldn’t step anywhere around Glasgow city without seeing MTV EMA branding.
Conveyor belt at Glasgow Airport.

conveyor belt

Gate flights board at Glasgow.

gate board

hydro day

#MTVEMA Trended worldwide on twitter for hours.

ema twitter

To retain its crown as one of MTV’s biggest social experiences of the year, MTV flew in its team of 20 digital media experts who worked 24/7 to deliver content for MTV’s social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Imoji and Vine.

ema website

The 2014 MTV EMA app was available on iOS and Android in 10 languages, while the 2014 MTV EMA website was available in 19 languages across 34 regions!!!.
Fans at home were able to check out exclusive behind-the-scenes shots and clips via the MTV EMA website, including shots taken from a 360-degree essence booth – just as the stars were about to walk the “timelessly” fabulous ‘’black’’ carpet!

The awards were held at Scotland’s latest landmark arena – the SSE Hydro –, which only recently opened its doors in 2013, since becoming one of the most modern and exciting arenas in the world. The Hydro at night looked spectacular and the staff were professional, efficient and friendly. Starships were meant to fly says Nicki Minaj and The Hydro looks like just the carrier for her!

hydro external

The 2014 MTV EMA performers, presenters and crew enjoyed over 40,000 delicious meals and snacks from specialist showbiz caterers Eat Your Hearts Out (EYHO) using locally sourced, high quality ingredients., The most popular dessert, served at the MTV EMA, was sticky toffee pudding – a to-die-for treat for the hungry MTV EMA crew!

eat YOUR HEART OUTjpg
THE FOOD MOUNTAINS AND FEASTS THE CREW ARE FORCED TO ENDURE FOR LUNCHES AND DINNERS. WHAT A LIFE!

Nicki’s hotel- Blythswood Square – saw fans stay put to wait and cheer for their Minajesty through rain, bitter cold and shine. They were camped out both at the front and back of the hotel. Nicki, bless her, on occasion was happy to leap out of her car and pose with them all.

nm rain fans
NM FANS AT FRONT OF NM HOTEL.

nm diehard back
Nicki’s diehard fans camp out at her back door secret exit (clearly not so secret!)

I had a couple of late night meetings with NM and her team to go over costume, script, her Scottish rap (she taught me that the ”THOT” in her Scottish rap meant ’’that hoe over there’’ “I never f**ed Wayne cos he is not a Scot…The other reason is I’m not a thot.”’

Here is the infamous Pink throne that took centre stage at the start of NM performance.

THRONE

NM brought her own dancers with her, who were lead by J Lo’s ex Casper Smart aka ‘’Beau’’

The rest of this year’s troupe of 30 dancers, were selected by MTV EMA veteran Aicha McKenzie of AMCK (from 700+ who auditioned!) was choreographed by Kristin Denehy.
Dancers performed with giant headdresses – whilst fire-juggling – 4 metres up in the air (but fortunately not at the same time!)

KP BUM

Katy Perry also snuggled up to Nicki’s bum pillow, and Sharon Osborne was chatty chatty backstage.

TV dinners – this is the producers and directors table where the most important people (EXEC PROD RICHARD GODFREY/ PRODUCERS DEBBIE PHILLIPS AND CHLOE MASON AND DIRECTOR RUSSELL THOMAS) and I, spent most of each day viewing host rehearsal and staging and standing in for people when needed.

TV DINNERS

PROD DESK

Of course before the main act pops into the harness to fly around the set of wires, someone has to try it out. I was lucky enough to be asked, as I’m petite like Nicki and Arianna so I got to play in the sky in their absence! So much fun!

JD HARNESS
Jasmine tests out Nicki Minaj’s first intro shot harness for health and safety and camera shots.

Jasmine harness hanging- Being petite and the same height and size as nicki and Arianna meant I got to go up in the harness and glass flying bubble to test them out before the real stars.

NM HARNESS

The 2014 MTV EMA set was designed by celebrated German stage and set designer Florian Wieder – creative mastermind who was also responsible for MTV EMA set designs in Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Liverpool and Amsterdam. The 2014 MTV EMA featured one of the biggest sets EVER in MTV EMA history, measuring 50m wide by 20m high, backed with a giant high resolution LED screen and over 30m of transparent gauze.

The day before the show was my MTV wifey’s birthday. Bianca Acca, who I’ve travelled the world with, taught Jay Z about skinny lattes in Africa with and rode on elephants with in Bangkok, had a few drinks at the bar. After finishing up with NM’s team I joined the crew to toast Bianca for her special day.

COCKTAILS

Dom P in the house.

dom p

The view in the Corridor the next morning.
corridor botttles

KK
Jasmine bumps into her mate MOBO CEP Kanya King (who was having a tour of the MTV venue), backstage on rehearsal day 2.

Jasmine and the EMA dinosaur.
Stage designs remain a closely guarded secret before the show airs, and this years show had a “time travel” inspired theme; which was echoed on the red carpet, in the set design and via the main show performances. Our dinosaur ‘Trent’’ was a star we teleported back from the ice age.

DINO READY
DINO READY FOR HIS MOMENT.

SELFIE DINO
JASMINE AND CREW REHEARSE NICKI’S SELFIE WITH THE CAMERA’S BEFORE THE REAL THING.

DINO REAL
DINO GETS HIS MOMENT FOR LIFE WITH NM.

SHOW DAY BLING.
I’m not very sentimental, but this is the same show day bling I rock for good luck at all shows for MTV.
AWARDDAY BLING

My right hand on rehearsal day and show night – the incredibly efficient host Floor manager Ed Sharpe!

ED FLOOR

Tasked with trying to make me look halfway presentable were the glam squad lovelies- Make up and hair- Bambi and Lyndsey

EMA GLAM 2

EMA GLAM

The 40 people stromg MTV EMA professional makeup artist team has spent over 500 hours with internationally renowned make-up artist and MTV EMA guru, Glam Squad’s Debbie Dannell. A backstage wiggery has been installed to house over 500 over-the-top wigs, 300 hairpieces, 200 weaves, and 100 poly heads, with the onsite help of 22 expert hairdressers.

Collectively, the MTV EMA Glam Squad has racked up over 80 years of experience working on the show with many professional makeup artists returning to the show year after year from all over Europe! The team includes a specialist graffiti artist – The Urbanist – who has a unique way of treating the human body as a living canvas! Also there was A LOT of fake tan in the house- a lot!

NM STYLE

Red carpet gossip…- NM had intended to make it to the ”black carpet”wearing this fabulous drop-dead gorg dress- but limitations on her time meant this didn’t happen.

RUSHKA B
NICKI’S STYLIST- THE INCREDIBLE RUSHKA BERGMAN- contributing fashion editor for L’Uomo Vogue and Vogue Italia- WHO DRESSED NM IN 10 HAUTE COUTURE OUTFITS AT THE AWARDS- THE LIKE MTV HAD NEVER SEEN A HOST ROCK BEFORE!

Nicki just hanging around.
NM HARNESS 2

JASMINE ”I had to get her out of that harness real quick!. Hands in places that most fans and men would have swapped places with me for in a heartbeat. Yet i was trying to keep it together worried that if i didn’t get her out of that harness double quick, that the floodlights would snap back onstage with me grappling around under her dress area!

To power the show, nearly 10,000 kilometres of cable were laid down. 1,200 flight case boxes were used to transport equipment such as lights, cameras and tripods. 30 HD cameras were used to shoot the show and 40 TV screens were installed backstage.

Did you like Nicki ‘’lighting up the joint’’ in her own minagestic way at the start of the show?
To ensure a truly explosive 20th anniversary celebration, the MTV EMA was ignited by 600 pyrotechnics during the main show including spitfire flames, air flame explosions and smoke storm machines.

nm afterparty]
WHAT NM AFTERPARTY COULD HAVE LOOKED LIKE…ACCORDING TO THE MTV EMA 2014 TIME MACHINE.

MTV cast over 2,000 local fans – via public castings and mobile castings in local schools and universities – to be part of the MTV EMA live audience, with 700 fans invited to scream their hearts out of the MTV EMA red carpet. Post party madness- Despite the scale of the event, an intimate team of 15 wardrobe staff have worked around the clock to produce more than 80 costumes for dancers, presenters and artists. The team has used over 200 metres of fabric, 50 metres of chiffon and 1,000 hand-sewn rhinestones.

A moment that really impressed me – Nicki’s backstage lights in her ‘secret tunnel quick-change dressing room’ blew cos a certain someone (not MTV staff), popped his plug into her fuse box. So she ended up doing three of her quick changes for three links in near pitch black like a total ‘’the show must go on’’ pro- very impressive!

We were all warned and on the look out for Ukranian prankster Vitalii Sediuk, who had threatened to ‘’get Nicki at the MTV Awards’. Luckily he was a no show. But for a while it was like being in a scene from The Bodyguard.

Ukranian prankster Vitalii Sediuk
Ukranian prankster Vitalii Sediuk had us all on alert- but pity he never showed up- both Nicki’s security and MTV security were ready to kick his ass.

I think we need to pause for a minute and take note of what Nicki Minaj actually did on EMA night – the triple threat Queen wore that crown by hosting, performing AND winning best hip-hop!

nicki m
An exhausted NM two hours post show, post more press interviews, wrapped up snug in hoodies and jackets to keep her teeny frame warm.

ALL HAIL THE QUEEN AND THIS YEAR’S MTV EMA!

The next morning, proving she’s no diva, NM and her team jumped on the MTV STAFF BA flight with us to catch her connecting flight back to L.A.

BA FLIGHT

grizz2
NICKI LANDS AT LAX WITH HER TEAM- PICTURED HERE WITH HER PHOTOGRPAHER/ VIDEOGRAPHER ”GRIZZ”- NAMED BY THE DAILY MAIL AS HER BOY FRIEND- WHICH HE MOST CERTAINLY IS NOT. LOL.

Show end credits…

EMA CREDITS

JASMINE’S JUICE- MAGICAL INDIA-THE THINGS THEY DON’T TELL YOU!

Nothing pisses me off more than people’s presumptions and misconceptions about people, things and places that they haven’t experienced, but only been fed media myths about. One of these areas of contention is India. I myself have walked the tightrope between being scared of India and proud of it.

goa yoga
ME. ON THE BEACH. IN GOA. DOING YOGA. ONLY SAVED FROM THE HOT SAND BY MY ADIDAS SLIDERS!.

As a girl born, bred and proud of bring a Brit, my mum’s homeland of India always brings with it an avalanche of mixed feelings. Its one of the more mysterious countries on the planet, and one that boasts some of the most drastic differences in lifestyle between poverty-stricken and the rich. The seventh largest country in the world with over 1 billion people living in its territories, makes it second only to China. It’s a land of legends, myths, food, culture, political strife, and a wide variety of ethnic and cultural diversity.

As a young girl that visited her grandma, aunts and cousins there it freaked me out. It was total sensory overload. As soon as you stepped out of the Bombay airport the hostile heat, intense noise, variety of pungent smells and stares from locals at my white skin and foreign clothes was intimidating. I guess it didn’t help that as a west London teenager I loved to experiment with fashion and my Salt & Pepa shaved hairstyles and Madonna fashion didn’t go down too well with the very traditional locals. Often they’d point and laugh at me. Beggar children would surround me to plead for money or stroke my very pale skin.

boss
TYPICAL YOUNG BEGGAR CHILD WITH ”BOSS” TATTOOED ONTO HIS KNUCKLES- HE DESERVES BETTER.

Back in the nineties it was manic. Imagine the busiest road in your city or town, and then triple the traffic, and add lone camels, herds of cows, lounging buffalo, erratic goats, barking dogs, a colourful temple emitting chanting, people’s cell phones blaring Bollywood tunes, constant cars hooting pointlessly, and overpowering smells – exhaust fumes, animal excrement, incense, a bit of wee and some chai masala spices – and you get an idea. It couldn’t be more different now though.

street buffalo
MY BURGER TAKING A LEISURELY STROLL THROUGH TOWN.

Also, back then many of their houses and buildings all looked like they were in a dilapidated state and could do with a few licks of paint and renovation. However once you understand that the wet and hot weather damages paintwork year round, you understand why they don’t all look fresh to death like western buildings. Nonetheless it was traumatic for a western kid.

However over the years I’ve grown to realise that India is a magical and charming country that really is like no other place on earth. The things that used to fascinate me now impress me. It’s a country of extremes. One moment you’re driving through the chaos of the cities, and the next sitting in the desert watching the sunset, seeing a caravan of camels against the horizon. Another moment you’re maneuvering around thousands of people in a train station, the next you’re gawping at dramatic white snowy mountains and emerald green tea paddies whilst traveling on an old steam train.

The organised chaos that is their roads has to be seen, to be believed. Scuffed cars, millions of motorbikes, random cows (The cow is venerated because of its association with the Hindu deity, Krishna, who is believed to be a prince of the cowherd clan. It is an important symbol in some Hindu rituals, but is not part of everyday religious practice in India.), the occasional ox pulling carts, huge, colourful, music blaring lorries and pedestrians, all get around in perfect harmony with no road rage and total equality for all regardless of number of wheels or animal obstruction. The locals simply drive around the animal in their ‘live and let live’ state. However, It’s not all crowded and overrun by traffic. Wide-open areas exist too, as do under-populated rural areas.

GOATS N BIKES
BIKES ARE THE BEST WAY TO GET AROUND IN INDIA – EVEN THE GOATS ARE CONSIDERED SWAPPING 4 LEGS FOR TWO WHEELS.

This month I took my mum back to visit her family for her birthday treat. I also took my other half for his first ‘totally up for it’ adventure to the Asian continent. He’s a born and bred south Londoner with Dominican roots that fancies himself as unshakeable, so this was going to be interesting. We spent four days in Mumbai where her sister and my cousins live, four days in Goa for a beach break with 13 family members and four days in Pune where my mum was born and university educated, before marrying a Kenyan and traveling to England in the sixties to settle down.

When informing others of my impending trip to India the preconceptions and misconceptions were outrageous. Lets take a look at some.

The idea that Indians all work in call centres or are genetically predisposed to be good with computers. That they’re all living in squalor and that they have mass famine all the time, and anywhere you go in India you will see people in a state of starvation. …. I’ve seen more opulence in India that most countries.
Every family, regardless of class has maids and servants to help with daily cooking, cleaning and chores. Their brides wear and own more real gold than most western women can comprehend or will ever see. Most kids travel to and from school in taxis and are much more highly educated than our own often speaking up to six languages by the age of 14. Every home and public building has air conditioning. Their food is fresher and tastier than the pre packaged produce we get at our supermarkets. Theirs comes straight from the fields and oceans onto their plate. Not my definition of poverty.

Also, The service is crazy efficient in India. They don’t want you to lift a finger. Your suitcase will be carried, your tea will be poured, your food served and your every need catered to.

That Slumdog Millionaire and Bollywood are true reflections of exactly what it’s like in India… This is like saying that every part of the UK is like Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Railway Children or a James Bond movie. Any Indian you come across with roll their eyes if you mention these. Yes, the slums of India are known worldwide for being some of the worst in the world, which is unfortunate given the wealth of the nation and the absolute opposing lifestyle of those people enjoying the high life. However, even their slums have all the modern electrical gadgets of an English home and satellite TV! I’ve seen more poverty on UK reality shows like Benefits Street.

GOAT PLAY
NO BORING CAT AND DOG PETS HERE- THESE KIDS CHILL WITH THE GOATS AND MORE.

People asked if I was going to ‘find myself’ in the mystical land of yogis and Ghandi where everyone is some kind of deep Gandhi like Guru who sleeps on nails and levitates and has a deep spiritual side, the land of snake charmers, elephant mahouts and mystics…. Lol. This is like foreigners coming here, and assuming we are all akin to ye olde englande of yesteryear, and assuming that still in 2014 we brits Morris dance, only eat fish & chips, speak in plummy accents, wear bowler hats, are all violent football hooligans and that our only reason for being is to acquire materialistic wealth and be on permanent diets (that last one may be somewhat true).

The idea that you will only be able to eat curry, and almost certainly suffer Delhi belly…. Firstly, not all their meals are curry-based. Secondly, most westerners see India as a backpacking cheap holiday adventure, and so eat at street food stalls that they’d never dream of eating from in the UK. Of course you’re going to suffer! Eat in regular establishments as you do at home and Delhi belly wont affect you!

That the climate in India is always “hot”… It’s as diverse as it can get depending on where you live. In Mumbai we experienced extreme heat and humidity, the next day in Goa it was scorching hot one minute and monsoon torrential rain the next, and in Pune the climate was as calm and as green as in London. India can be both the hottest and coldest place you have ever been on earth.

MUMBAI

local train
CATCHING A LOCAL TRAIN IN MUMBAI- YES, I AM AN IDIOT ABROAD.

Our trip began in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), where on day one,feeling adventurous,I convinced my local family and Mr South London to travel the local train from one side of Mumbai to another as challenged by a Mumbai-ite who now lives and works in London. She said if I were truly ‘’street’’ I would take pics at regular stations to prove I’d done it.

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LOCAL TRAIN CHALLENGE. NO PROBLEM. I’M A STREET CHIC.

in train
PACKED LONDON TUBE VS PACKED MUMBAI LOCAL TRAIN- NO DIFFERENCE.

Oh the jokes! My little lord Fauntleroy style Indian nephews weren’t impressed and looked traumatised, my other half couldn’t believe the crowd and open doors as passengers hung off and on top of the trains, but challenge completed we celebrated with high tea at the opulent Taj Palace Hotel.The scene of the terrorist attacks in 2008 when by horrid coincidence i was also there with my family. I will never forget the kindness and help of the Virgin Atlantic crew on that trip that kept us safe and reassured at the airport.

The beautiful parks and gardens and the grandeur of the famous Taj Mahal Hotel overlooking the Gateway to India (which is similar looking to our Marble Arch), is the focus of a BBC documentary HOTEL INDIA, showing on our TV’s right now.

GOI DAY
AT THE GATEWAY OF INDIA.

So I was like a groupie when I spotted staff members that the TV show has made famous. The ultra efficient concierge who has served royalty, presidents and superstars was at his desk. I giggled like an excited schoolgirl. The high tea was in the famous sea lounge and more proper than the high tea I have often partaken in at Harrods, Fortnum and Masons and Mayfair.

taj hotel pics
AT THE TAJ- CAN YOU SPOT ANY FAMOUS PREVIOUS PATRONS?

High tea at The Taj is legendary with its fancy food stuffs and array of tea and coffee choices.

HIGH TEA CHEF

HIGH TEA VIEW
THE VIEW FROM THE SEA LOUNGE AT THE TAJ FOR HIGH TEA.

HIGH TEA

HIGH TEA2

After high tea we strolled across the street where an old dude was crushing raw sugar cane bamboos into sugar cane juice- delicious!

SUGAR CANE PRESS

CANE JUICE
DELICIOUS FRESHLY SQUEEZED SUGAR CANE JUICE.

The next day I suggested a slum tour but was shut down by my fam. Instead I finally convinced them to come on the tour of the huge Dhobi Ghat- a massive outdoor laundry area where wealthy people send their clothes to be washed.

DHOBI ARIEL
AN ARIEL VIEW OF THE BIGGEST MANUAL OPEN AIR LAUNDRY IN ASIA.

We traveled there by rickshaw. Mr South London had sworn not to travel in one, as it was ‘too dangerous’. This coming from a renowned motorbike and supercar speed freak. Hilarious scenes ensued with him gripping on for dear life as the rickshaw swerved in and out of traffic and squeezed alongside juggernaut trucks that threatened to squish us. Mr South London squealed. A lot.

RICKSHAW
MY FAVE- A RICKSHAW RIDE!

I pointed out the many imposing Victorian buildings, which would lead you to believe you were in a grand British city. Many places still bear the names of companies, which traded here at the height of British rule. We also clocked the chaotic streets, outdoor bazaars, popular waterfront destinations like Marine Drive, where visitors go to watch the sun set over the Arabian Sea, and the carnival-like Juhu Beach.

DHOBI CUBICLES
WASHING CUBICLES AT THE DHOBI GHAT.

The giant laundry Dhobi Ghat was mind blowing. Hundreds of people launder over 100,000 garments daily, speedily and never mix them up. We were taken through the intricate maze-like cubicles which washer men hire and wash, steam and press clothes in. clothes separated by colour, saris refurbished from old to new, contaminated hospital gowns boiled to cleanse, frail men ironing piles of shirts.

DHOBI HEALTH

Electricity and wiring that resembled a health and safety nightmare. I wont lie, it was devastating viewing with what I imagined sweatshop conditions to look like. But, that issue was just mine, the people there looked happy and grateful to be working and the organisation and efficiency was mind blowing.

MASALA LIBRARY

In keeping with our rags and riches experience, the next recommended escapade was a trip to a restaurant called Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra. Its owned and run by Mumbai’s Jiggs Kalra , a gastronome, food writer, historian and consultant who has spent the past 40 years in recording and reviving Indian cuisine, who owns multiple restaurants in the city.He’s a celebrated name across India and overseas and not just Mumbai, while being based in Gurgaon. But the most talked about is the “Masala Library’. Jiggs says ‘’we serve memories, not just food’’ and he wasn’t joking. While reservations are highly recommended, Masala Library keeps a few tables to cater to walk in guests, which are on first come first serve basis, and luckily i got lucky!

MAS LIB RIBS DUCK\
MASALA LIBRARY – AN EXPERIENCE YOU’LL REMEMBER FOR LIFE.

Frankly readers, it was worth the flight to India alone for this incredible culinary experience. My words can never do it enough justice, the experience was phenomenal. The décor is simple, very sophisticated new york brasserie chic with a touch of Asian waterfall art wall thrown in. I expected a fancy restaurant like Royal China where many of their Bollywood stars frequent, but this was something else. It put our celeb chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Heston Blumenthal in the shade.

It has a reputation of being one of the best Indian gastronomic molecular creative food spots in Mumbai and it didn’t disappoint. On arrival the staff were highly accommodating friendly staff and service was unbeatable.

We asked what they’d recommend and at their suggestion went for the 10 – course tasting menu. This let us sample most of the signature dishes’ on the menu in small portions.

We began with the strange sounding burnt curry leaf martini, which was delicious and lethal.
MARTINI
MASALA LIBRARY’S BURNT CURRY LEAF MARTINI.

Then a marathon of food platters and plates all more marvelous than the last arrived one by one. One of the first courses looked like a regular cup of tea, but was in fact a mushroom truffle chai- totally delicious`!.

TRUFFLE SOUP
MUSHROOM TRUFFLE CHAI SOUP.

By course four we were stuffed but couldn’t resist not devouring the creative, arty food creations that kept on coming.

MAS LIB ICE CREAM
DESSERT WAS A PLATTER OF COCONUT ICE CREAM WITH ROSE SPHERES PLUS A PARCEL OF PISTACHIO PAN.SWEET!

The best part of the dining was Dennis Chelai Wu, Operations Manager of Masala Library, who explained everything about the dish we were about to demolish.

den 2
WITH OPERATIONS MANAGER DENNIS CHELAI WU.

How, why, when it was inspired and created. He answered every query with easily understandable knowledge, and made the dining experience a real culinary and intellectual treat.

MAS LIB CHICK PAN
CHICKEN SERVED IN A MINI PAN.

MAS LIB DUCK
RICH DUCK AND RIBS.

The style juxtaposed modern day cooking techniques with centuries old traditions. The type of dish you can be sure you’ve never been served anywhere else. Ever. The presentation, vibrant colours and captivating blend of flavours had us awaiting the next dish like excited kids at Christmas.

MAS LIB PRAWNS
PRAWNS SERVED WITH BANANA CHIPS.

Prawns served on sliced tree bark, scallops served in shells, a bubble of almond that pops in your mouth, a mini treasure chest steaming with dramatic dry ice which opens to reveal a palette cleansing lollipop.

MAS LIB CHEST
DRY ICE TREASURE CHEST.

But our absolute fave was a mouth-watering honey and maple, pepper glazed rib dish that was so scrumptious we are still raving about it (and unsuccessfully attempting to recreate it at home) today!

MAS LIB RIBS
”THOSE” MIND-BLOWING RIBS!

If you are visiting Mumbai I highly recommend dining at MASALA LIBRARY. At around £30 per head its costly for locals but a miracle for us Brits.

MAS LIB FLOSS
MASALA LIBRARY CANDY FLOSS LOLLIPOPS TO FINISH.

Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra

Ground Floor, First International Financial Centre,

Opposite Sofitel Hotel, G-Block,

Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Bandra (E), Mumbai

+91-22-66424142 / +91-8452900900

Mumbai might not be the capital of India, but like New York feels like the capital city. It was on the eve of Diwali when we experienced stunning, dramatic fireworks all over the city in the lead up to India’s biggest annual festival in preparation for the next day. It also makes for a fantastic hub for jetting off to other Indian city centres like the party capital Goa, where we went next, really excited as we would be experiencing indias biggest celebration of Diwali whilst in Goa!

GOA

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GOA!

Goa is famous the world over for its beautiful beaches and party culture and offers numerous of festivals/carnivals from cultural to music so it is definitely worth checking out what is on while you are there.

GOA CRAB LUNCH
IN GOA YOU CAN PICK YOUR OWN CRAB FOR LUNCH.

Once a year Goa hosts a carnival, which lasts for 4 days just before the season of, lent, the sunburn festival in January is also worth checking out with top name dj’s making an appearance. Little did we realise that as the city is not mostly Indian but catholic- they didn’t celebrate Diwali- so no fireworks in Goa for us!

LUSH GOA
LUSH GOA.

Goa used to have a reputation for catering to the “hippy” tourist, with flea markets and weekend bazaars selling handicrafts, clothes and arts even though the fabled hippy bargains have long since disappeared – thank god!. Goa is a medley of people, culture and festivals. A land of scenic beauty and pristine beaches. It is the smallest state of India with and area 3.702 Square Kilometers and lies along the western coast of India. Panaji is it’s capital city. It is divided into two districts, North Goa (noisy Ibiza style tourist area) and South Goa (more rural, calm, family vacationers and locals).

Thirteen of my family members and I stayed at the Heritage Village- an all-inclusive resort on the beach- in Goa. Everything about this hotel was lovely from the layout, location on the beach, big pool, lush green gardens, tennis courts, spa and dining facilities and bar. The one thing that did let it down though was the lack of wi-fi. They were charging £7 a day, which is more than most top NYC hotels. On day one it was scorching hot and we had a paradisiac day at the beach.

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MR SOUTH LONDON AND I ON THE BEACH IN GOA.

However day two and three it rained torrentially without any relief.

monsson goa
A WET TWO DAYS AT THE HERITAGE VILAGE GOA- MONSOON!

That didn’t stop the hard-core Indian and Russian kids in the pool through, who stayed flipping and splashing in the pool well past sunset. I did my kanye shrug and thought ‘if you cant beat em….’’ And jumped right in to join my young nephews.

Goan’s are friendly, relaxed and extremely happy go lucky people belonging to different faiths and coming from different cultural backgrounds. However all Goans lay emphasis on good living. Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for more than 400 years and was liberated on 19th December 1961. Strong Portuguese influences still abound as can be seen in the architecture across the state and also experienced in their cuisine.

Many had suggested a visit to the local restaurant Martin’s Corner, which has a bit of a reputation now. But a kind local told us that its reputation had made it shoddier now it was too popular and the standard of food and service wasn’t as good as it used to be. He instead suggested an alternative local restaurant zee-bop, which was beautiful. On the edge of the Arabic ocean, with freshly caught lobster, pomfret and giant prawns selections the menu was delectable, accompanied by a live house band and very jovial atmosphere a real treasure find.

YOGA
I ATTEMPTED TO FIND MY INNER YOGI ON THE GOA BEACH.

Most of the beaches are lined with shacks, which have evolved into pubs, restaurants, lounge bars or clubs. Authentic beach shacks can still be found on some of the more remote beaches. The culture is quite tolerant, laidback and relaxed. Apart from the beaches, Goa has stunning old heritage churches, old town areas and forts to visit. You can enjoy boat cruises on the river Mandovi and water sports along some of the beaches.

The cuisine is a good mix of western and Indian that can appeal to most travellers, especially when had with some local brewed alcoholic beverage called Feni- a toxic alcoloic brew made from cashew nuts. Seafood is a staple part of the diet and is also very affordable. Goa is well connected by rail, road and air and also has some nice trails that run along waterfalls through lush thick jungle.
After three days of watching all the blokes in my family try and out do each other in the drinking stakes it was time to fly out of there and escape from the all inclusive resort and make our way onwards to the much cooler, cultural capital of Maharashtra, the old city of Pune where my grandparents lived.

PUNE

Pune is known globally for being famous for the Osho International Commune, established by India’s sobriquet ‘Sex Guru’. It has several museums that portray the history of the ruler Shivaji’s empire. Literature of Pune is famous throughout Maharashtra. It is well connected by air, rail and road. There are picturesque hills and hill stations within 20 kms from Pune. The city is not far from a large number of forts and scenic trekking trails. The state is well connected by the express highway which is one of the first 6 lane high speed high way. Pune has an excellent network of hotels and restaurants and travel within the city is a little more expensive compared to other states.

train mountains
THE VIEW FROM THE TRAIN ON ROUTE TO PUNE.

As my grand parents home was full of relatives, Mr South London and I had checked ourselves into a local hotel- the Hotel Sagar Plaza. It was not great. It wasn’t awful. It was safe and acceptable, but I wouldn’t stay there again. The receptionist was frosty and unhelpful on arrival; the rooms were old fashioned decorated in an old seventies style with stains on the sofas. When the bathroom door was shut mouldy debris fell from the ceiling onto our towels, and you needed a maths degree to understand how to work the telly. If visiting Pune for a bit more money the opposite Aurora Towers hotel is lush, modern and much more professional.

I wanted Mr South London to visit not just the fancy restaurants and bars in the city but also the raw yard style spots. We had lunches and dinners in really classy places as well as the Hard Rock Café and Pune’s finest Indian real food spot- Georges on Main Street. One afternoon I shopped leisurely for fabrics to have a local tailor make me up copies of my favourite shirts and dresses. The fabric cost less than a fiver for four separate outfits and then 20 quid for the tailor to make them to my measurements. Even Mr South London had a few pairs of shorts made up. Brilliant!

TAILOR
THE TAILOR IN PUNE MADE OUR MADE TO MEASURE GARMS. LOOKS RURAL, BUT THE FINISHED PRODUCT WAS IMPECCABLE!

Our leisurely meander took us to the local fruit, veg and flower market. Now here’s where it gets interesting stroke hilarious. Before showing him the lushness of all the local produce, I wanted to take him through the slaughterhouse. This narrow corridor of the market houses live chickens ready to wring, pluck and feather as well as freshly slaughtered animals mostly goats, cows and pigs. Mr South London often shows me videos of his relatives in Dominica slaughtering goats so naturally I had assumed this was all second nature to him. He approached the door and said ‘’eeewww I’m not going in there it stinks’’. I rolled my eyes and said ‘’of course it does- its freshly slaughtered animals blood- come on, man up, if you can buy it in Tesco’s you can see how it got there’’. Mr South London, wearing t shirt and shorts, gingerly tiptoes into the area, careful not to get his white fresh to death sneakers dirty by stepping around the dripping goats heads and skins of offal everywhere. Market traders were yelling at us from all directions to buy their livestock…. Suddenly three huge bandicoot rats run across our path and scamper off. It happened so fast I didn’t really react, but Mr South London froze, on one leg, shook like shaggy in Scooby doo- you could practically hear his bones rattling with fear and yelled at me ‘’oh my god- get me out if here! I HATE RATS!’’. As much I tried to calm hi down he was in full panic attack mode and trying to escape but ran in the wrong direction sending himself deeper into slaughterhouse hell. I stifled my giggles as he darted around wild eyed with panic. Around an hour later he was calmer. But I never did get to show him the lovely market.

Today Pune is a bustling cosmopolitan city, famous for its many large colleges and universities. It also a hub for a lot of IT/Technology companies, and a major training base for the Indian Army where my mother worked in the Southern command when she was younger. It’s much cleaner, cooler and calmer than Mumbai. The central area of Mahatma Gandhi (M.G) road is a major commercial area with shops, stores, hotels, and malls as big and as fabulous as Westfield. Pune also boasts its share of party places that cater to the young crowd. One night we went to an underground basement bar where a local rock band was entertaining the crowd over beers and snacks. They were exceptionally good! Another night it was dinner and cocktails at the world famous Hard Rock Cafe.

HARD ROCK BALCONY
ON THE HARD ROCK CAFE VIP BALCONY-PUNE.

hard rock cafe
COCKTAILS AT THE HARD ROCK CAFE- PUNE.

LUNCH AT THE TAJ.

TAJ POOL
BY THE TAJ POOL POST LUNCH.

TAJ LONE POOL
THE TAJ GARDEN AND POOL.

We flew back to Mumbai the next day and had one final lunch at The Taj with my fabulously connected uncle who’s a member.
TAJ LUNCH
TAJ LUNCH OPTIONS.

This time I was determined to grab a photo with the BBC (Hotel India) star concierge Satish. I asked the desk if he was around. His boss Brian wearily informed me that people arrived daily from the UK asking about the ‘’BBC STAR’’ and requesting photos. He said he’d call him but would we be kind enough to play a prank on him?

Mr South London (always up for a prank) agreed to be a very angry hotel guest. Once the star concierge arrived, Mr South London berated him in an enraged fashion. The poor man looked mortified and so sad and apologised profusely.

Z DURING PRANK
MR SOUTH LONDON CUSSING THE CONCIERGE MID-PRANK.

Mr South London turned to shake Brian’s hand. We all laughed as BBC star Satish looked on totally confused. Even when all was revealed he was still the most humble, dignified gent. Brilliant!

bbc satish
ME WITH SATISH- STAR CONCIERGE OF THE BBC’S ‘HOTEL INDIA’

POST PRANK
POST PRANK WITH BBC HOTEL STAR SATISH (L), AND HIS BOSS BRIAN (R), WHO INSTIGATED THE NAUGHTY DRAMA.

After a final dinner with the full family at Royal China which looked to be all full to bursting with Bollywood stars arriving to dine at 11pm, we all packed and jumped into a car to Mumbai’s stunning airport that resembles a futuristic out of this world style. Its gates are akin to a 5 star hotel and packed with visitors from Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and the States. We were sad to be leaving this country of wildly polarising content.

future airport
MUMBAI AIRPORT.

airport gates
AIRPORT GATES AT MUMBAI AIRPORT.

India is chaotic, noisy, colourful, intense, hectic and sensually rich. If you like your travel destinations as bland as processed cheese, then India’s not for you. On the other hand if you want to experience the kindness of the Indians, the amazing service, excellent food, beautiful hotels which all exceed expectations and a totally different world then book your flights.

World-class hotels and gardens that look like they’ve been transported straight out of Europe share space with the slums and their squalor which is a huge culture shock for many first time visitors too the city but it’s a visit you’ll never forget for all the right reasons.

When I travel around the world, many countries and high streets across Europe and America are exactly the same as the UK. You feel like you’re still in the same country. When you go to India it’s a truly once in a lifetime experience and you will make memories that will last forever!

taj

JASMINE’S JUICE- ESTELLE, THE CIRCLE, RUM RECORD, KEVIN HART COMEDY,GEORGE THE POET LIVE!

What a fortnight- I need a break- and you know what that means….I’m taking one!

DINNER WITH ESTELLE AT THE MONDRIAN

estelle mondrian
WITH ESTELLE AT THE BRAND NEW MONDRIAN-SOUTH BANK.

It started off really good! I caught up with my west London home girl Estelle for diner at the brand new Mondrian hotel on the south bank. We created a brand new cocktail at the very swish bar. Well, actually it was named yellow and green fizz but we re-named it the ‘’Stella jazz’’. Much more appropriate for the champagne based sip.

INFLUENTIAL FEMALES FROM MUSIC, ENTERTAINMENT, AND BUSINESS AND BEYOND SUPPORT THE CIRCLE.
The Mango Tree invitation

The next day it was an all-female sojourn at the exotic mango tree restaurant in Belgravia, where The Circle with Oxfam were presenting an evening of cocktails and canapés. The Circle is an organisation founded by Annie Lennox, which champion’s women’s rights and equality by working with women who are passionate about change.

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Delicious food, drinks, music by Laura Mvula, comedy by Iranian comedienne Shaparak “Shappi” Khorsandi and great conversation all hosted by Meera Syal. The evening’s aim was to raise awareness and funds for the organisations Circle projects in India, Uganda and the Middle East.

FOOD

The theme was ‘Asian fusion’ so I located my most exotic flowery dress (don’t ask), and sashayed on up to the bar to meet my fellow table guests; Adidas leading ladies Paola Lucktung and Akua Agyemfra, Olympic athlete Jeanette Kwakye, Channel 4’s talent specialist Priscilla Barfour, Natalia Georgiou (wardrobe services), Inspirational YOU’s Sonia Meggie and Vanessa Emilien – Richkit International and Armand De Brignac’s Yvonne Lardner. Seriously, can you just imagine the conversation at our table? Both empowering, crazy and hilarious!
TABLE

LADIES
JEANETTE, PAOLA, PRISILLA, SONIA, JASMINE.
PLACINGS

The evening concluded with a stunning performance by triple Brit Award nominee Laura Mvula. Meera Syal told us “It’s fantastic to see so many successful and empowered women coming together to raise awareness and fight the scourge of domestic violence that exists across the world. We are all incredibly lucky to have been given a voice, an education and an opportunity to stand up for what we believe in. The women that we are trying to help have no voice, no education and live a life of constant fear. The work of projects we are raising funds for are a lifeline for women in the most impoverished areas of the world to escape to.”

#circlepresentsmangotree

Laura Mvula added “It’s a privilege to perform for The Circle. When women come together we are a powerful force – we can achieve anything. The Circle is a great example of this. It’s about women using the resources and skills that they have to help those who need our support.”

The Circle Presents @ The Mango Tree - Gemma Cairney, Laura Mvula and Livia Firth
GEMMA CAIRNEY, LAURA MVULA, LIVIA FIRTH.

Guests included Harry Potter actress Bonnie Wright, chef and food writer Thomasina Miers, TV presenters Nick Ross, Sonali Shah and Seema Pathan, Eco-Age founder Livia Firth, Whistles’ Chief Executive Jane Shepherdson and Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls. The fashion world was well represented with shoe designer Jimmy Choo, Luella Bartley – design director of Marc By Marc Jacobs, Vogue blogger and i-D fashion editor Julia Sarr-Jamois, and fashion designer Ashley Williams in attendance.

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi was hilarious and said “It’s great to be a part of this evening which has brought together some amazing and inspirational women who are passionate about transforming people’s lives for the better. From supporting grass-roots projects to lobbying policy-makers, Circle members are taking on the big issues faced by some of the world’s vulnerable women and bringing about real change.”

This event raised funds for two Oxfam projects in Uganda and India, which are supported by The Circle, both of which are tackling violence against women. Domestic violence is the most widespread form of human rights violation in India, and in Uganda it affects 60% of women. These projects will help by providing support for victims, tackling social acceptance of violence against women, raising awareness of women’s rights and influencing laws to promote these rights.
To find out more about The Circle go to: https://www.facebook.com/thecircleofwomen

GUINESS BOOK OF RECORDS RUM TASTING COCKTAIL CHALLENGE
rum world record 2

Next, my friend Ian Burrell, who I know from way back from running Cottons Caribbean restaurant in Camden, invited me to his Guinness book of records challenge to fit as many people in one room and break the record for cocktail rum tasting.

RU SHOTS

We were sat on round tables with 6 fancy rum shots lined up for each participant. We were given a brief lesson on each rum by its creator or brand ambassador and then knocked them. I was driving so stuck my tongue in them and passed the rest on to my peeps to finish off. (Oops am I meant to say that?) anyhoo, David Haye was there too. As he was called out, the ladies in the room suddenly seemed to sit a little straighter and laugh a little girlier, whilst all the men simply kissed their teeth en masse lol.

IAN RECORD
WITH RUM AMBASSADOR IAN BURRELL- A RECORD BREAKER…(YES ITS BLURRY-EVERYONES DRUNK 6 SHOTS OF RUM!!!

90 minutes later we were all record breakers! Yeay! Congrats to the Rum Experience team, great job!

KEVIN HARTS HARTBEAT WEEKEND AT WEMBLEY ARENA.
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Finished the weekend at Kevin Harts comedy night at Wembley arena where most of London, every urban tastemaker, brand leader and celeb were present and correct. The arena was packed solid. Kevin did his intro and welcome set, followed by our very own Kojo, followed by three American comedians. All hilariously funny, with themes that seemed to be popular and on repeat. Racial divide jokes, jokes about good sex vs bad sex, a lot of porn and of course Kevin added a good few new animal jokes juxtaposed with his family. I have to say that once upon a time British comedians may have stood in the American urban comedians shadows, but today, its an equal playing field. Great night!

GEORGE THE POET LIVE SHOW AT THE SCALA
gtp1

This week I’ve worked extensively with George the poet, an incredibly articulate, gifted word smith. His live show at scala was first class!
Hi says things like….

‘’I wrote it because I feel like popular culture should align more closely with issues that are more relevant with people’s lives because then you get more informed citizens. With more informed citizens, you get more people making better contributions’’
‘’Why is there a category called conscious rap? You tell me what that implies about the rest of rap? Unconscious rap? Do you think I came out here to be unconscious?’’
‘’I think culture, pop culture, let’s stop saying we are gonna swear, let’s stop f*****g around, let’s stop messing around with the pop culture thing, let’s start giving people information that will actually affect their life’’
‘’What do I think could be a solution to making young Hip Hop artists more clued up? We’ve got all these Hip Hop artists out here holding microphones, start saying something that matters’


How can you not love this dude? Wanna see what he’s all about and some live action? Watch Channel 4 News tomorrow night!