Jasmine’s Juice – Bend It Like Beckham With Preeya Kalidas!

So Bend it like Beckham is the feel-good new modern British musical which has been doing really well in London’s West end this past few weeks, with its now familiar story of a two sisters (Jess and Pinky), living in a family in Southall Broadway, the buzzing hubbub of Asian families socializing, shopping and gossiping about each other, all set amongst the backdrop of Asian store brands like Royal Sweets, Sagoos, Madhus. Southall Discount Tyres and more.
Photo Copyright – Ellie Kurtz.

Jess needs extra time. She is facing the most important decision of her life: live up to family expectations of university, career and marriage, or follow in the footsteps of her hero David Beckham. When the talented teenager is spotted playing football in Southall, a world of unexpected opportunities opens up before her. But as her sister Pinky’s traditional Indian wedding approaches, can she keep her family happy and still follow her dreams?

Photo Copyright – Ellie Kurtz.

Jokes about Asian females hairy lip lines, whole houses ablaze with twinkling fairy lights for weddings, passions for mani-pedi, facials and boyfriends reign…unless you are young Jess who adores the sport of football and alongside her footie best pal Jules, has to lie to her family in order to join in with the local Hounslow Harriers ladies football club.

It’s a perfect musical for all the family, especially if you love football; like the footie version of Westside story but with big song and dance musical numbers sung in an Indian accent, like the infectious “girl perfect”. The live band on the balcony juxtaposed with the catchy songs sprinkled throughout will have you bopping in your seats all night.

Photo Copyright – Hector Perez .

Most impressive is the massive powerhouse voice hiding inside the petite body of actress and singer Preeya Kalidas, who often stole the show as she belted out songs and danced up a storm.

‎In amongst all the Indian clichés, issues and jokes about fair skin vs darker skin ‘’look how dark you’ve become’’, Indian mothers emphasis on teaching their daughters to cook and ‘’not being seen outdoors with any old man’’, were more touching, deeply sensitive issues about the generations born abroad and born here just not understanding each other. ‎There were even nods to indigenous white families not understanding each other’s lives, ambitions and values anymore. It was particularly poignant watching and relating to the struggle between young peoples dreams and their ‘duty’.

Photo Copyright – Ellie Kurtz.

After the show, I caught up with Preeya in her dressing room for a chat, and asked her how she thinks Indian themed musicals making more of their mark on the west end stage have faired recently?

Preeya; (the fact that they’re) Indian themed musicals, is what sets them apart from any other show, and makes for an interesting cultural fusion, particularly musically, which audiences seem to really love and enjoy.
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Jasmine; You played a different role in the film/ musical- tell us about that?
Preeya; I played the role of Monica, the cousin of football mad Jess. Monica is your typical Asian west London type who actually wants to be Pinky, Jess’s sister, the role of which I am playing now.

Jasmine; BILB is based in Southall – it’s managed to stay respectful and funny instead of offensive and stereotypical- was that important to you all?
Preeya; Absolutely. I strive to be part of projects that represent our community in a positive light and not to focus on the one-dimensional aspect. Bend it like Beckham has all the right ingredients that audiences can relate like cultural conflicts of generations portrayed in a realistic manner that will make you laugh, but also make you recognise the experiences.

Jasmine; Tell us about your role-playing Pinky- and explain the nickname Pinky to those unfamiliar with Asian culture?
Preeya; Pinky is the complete opposite of tomboy Jess who dreams of playing football, whereas Pinky dreams of getting married and having the perfect family setup. She is a fun loving energetic, juicy couture wearing, typical Southall girl. Her name Pinky is actually a typical Panjabi name meaning Most Beautiful; Pink Coloured; Sweet; but having also discussed this with Gurinder Chadha – our director – her real name is probably something like Paramdeep, but its typical to have such names shortened …and also the fact that she loves wearing pink!

Jasmine; Even though you don’t play the main lead role, you’ve managed to steal the limelight in the musical, how have you managed to shine – but not too much?
Preeya; Ah thank you for your kind words! I have had a wonderful time re creating the character for the musical and Pinky is a great character to play, I just thoroughly enjoy myself on stage and its refreshing for me to get the opportunity to do comedy, sing, dance and act all in one production!

Jasmine; What kind of statement do you think the success of this musical has had on the west end and on an Asian cast?
Preeya; The last successful west end musical with a British Asian cast was AR Rahman’s Bombay Dreams, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which I had the wonderful opportunity to play the lead in. It was groundbreaking and of its time for many reasons; one being the fact it represented the Asian community and gave us a voice. Bend it like Beckham is now doing the same thing but representitive of the British Asian community (Bombay dreams was set in India).
TV, Film and Stage are fantastic outlets to change perceptions of ethnic communities and it is important that there are more opportunities for this to happen. Gurinder Chadha is a real pioneer of representing the Asian community to a mainstream audience. She lets them into a world that they may not know but in actual fact will find that they can completely relate. I suppose that’s why Bend it Like Beckham is so special, for that reason.

Jasmine; How difficult is it securing roles that aren’t focused around your ethnicity and how engaged do you get in all the industry ‘diversity’ conversations?
Preeya; I have been lucky in that I have played roles that aren’t specific in ethnicity, there are certain casting directors and producers who are open minded and will focus on talent, which is fantastic, but there is still a long way to go. I also love playing roles that represent my community, as long as they are interesting stories and not one-dimensional characters. I engage in ‘diversity” conversations with my peers as there is a lot of frustrated talent out there. We can talk as much as we want, but action would be more conducive, I say lets get writing and tell the stories we want to tell!

Jasmine; What’s your biggest challenge as ‘Preeya Kalidas’ in the showbiz world?
Preeya; I think anyone that steps foot into this industry will face a number of challenges. Being put in a box is a big problem in the entertainment biz, but for me I strive to stay out of the box, which is why I have managed to have a diverse career in film, TV and stage.

Jasmine; What one thing do you want people to know that might surprise them about you?
Preeya; I cook???!!! Tasty meals…ha!

Jasmine; You’ve always juggled both acting and music equally – tell us about that journey now in 2015? How easy / difficult is it? Is this genre your perfect career fit?
Preeya; It’s down to you to keep pushing and find people who believe in what you do and can do, that’s the task. It’s a perfect fit for now but who knows what the future holds.

Jasmine; Any other separate music and acting updates we can expect from you in the future?
Preeya; There is always something Kooking in the Kalidas world, I am on a constant creative journey. Follow me on twitter and you can keep up to date @PREEYAKALIDAS ;)
(OMG she’s gone all K K K K Kardashian!).

Photo Copyright – Ellie Kurtz.

Bend It Like Beckham is a celebratory fusion of culture, music, emotions and fun, bursting with warmth, humour and heart and is at the Phoenix Theatre in London. Bookings from now until October.

Jasmine’s Juice- Exclusive Interview with Drum ‘n’ Bass Legend Goldie – (Everything He Touches Is Timeless and Turns to Gold!)

I’ve known Clifford Joseph Price, aka Goldie, since the eighties, when one of my best friends used to date him. It was around the time that he was selling gold teeth in the UK and USA, and generally hustling hard.

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

He was always the lovable scallywag. Flitting from the UK to the USA, dabbling in loads of pop culture arts like breakdancing (when he had a head full of ‘’goldielocks’’) and graffiti, dj’ing, making music and more questionable tomfoolery. He’s always had a healthy interest and submersed himself into it all, from holding an exhibition of his own painted artwork a few years ago to dating bad ass women with attitude like Bjork and acting in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, Eastenders and even playing a baddie in a James Bond movie!

A truly multi-gifted, sometimes troubled, but now most definitely a wiser grown up adult, who enjoys his family, yoga and sushi. The change I’ve witnessed in him across three decades has been panoramic and inspiring.

This week at London’s Royal Festival Hall, the drum and bass icon’s seminal album Timeless, was performed live by the Heritage Orchestra. Godie, in typical lastmin.com fashion called me on the morning of his gig and declared that I must come. On arrival outside the RFH all you could see was a sea of middle aged, trainer-clad, old-skool jungle ravers, all excited about the night. The original eighties children that were a part of the generation that grew up to pop, rock, indie, dance, hip-hop, R&B, dub step, jungle and more. ‘‘The best decade to be born into if you loved music’’ reminisced many people chatting on the night.

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

Named by The Guardian as one of the fifty most significant events in the history of dance music, Timeless is a truly landmark album and to hear it brought to life in the Royal Festival Hall was a once in a lifetime moment for drum and bass fans. Way back in 1995 NME in its Albums of the Year feature said Timeless was ‘…an astonishing… symphony of whizzing breakbeats, fluid soundscapes and mind-warping moodswings…’

Picking up my tickets from the box office i noted Goldie had arranged a box for my friends and I. Before we could even jump up and down in excitement a roar of ”Jasmine!” thundered behind us as Goldie greeted us in his OTT dynamic manner musch to a very packed foyers amusement.

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Returning after a sell-out show at James Lavelle’s Meltdown last year, Goldie was back (after his own personal adventures in Thailand), to introduce The Heritage Orchestra, who performed his most celebrated album, live. Conducted by Jules Buckley, Goldie and the Heritage Orchestra had expanded and reworked the tracks for full orchestra, band, choir, electronics, and guest vocalists and the final result was mind-blowing!

Seeing the album translated from vinyl to 3D orchestra was magical. Jules lead the conducting onstage whilst Goldie leapt about from the stage to the audience like a mad music scientist.

The Timeless album originally fused the breakbeats and basslines common in jungle, with orchestral textures and soul vocals by Diana Charlegmagne. The album’s title track was a 21-minute symphonic piece. Timeless also helped popularise drum and bass as a form of musical expression. The song “Inner City Life” was probably it’s biggest commercial hit in the UK charts at the time.

Years ago it was the Bluenote club that jungle music fans packed, tonight it was the revered Royal Festival Hall, usually a place for more sedate, demur audiences. I am certain this building had never seen thousands of middle aged ravers, jumping around for two solid hours in the stalls, circle, aisles and royal boxes in this crazed manner.

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

The hall was packed with an audience cheering screaming from the start of the first notes of the album played by the orchestra. There were line-ups of singers, strings, horns and percussion onstage and the atmosphere was electric with anticipation.

There was a nice slow build up with smooth strings for Sea Of Tears, before the drummer (Adam Betts), manically burst into drum and bass beats, which he continued to beat like a man possessed for the next two hours! Actually, the drummer astounded us. If you imagine a whole album made up of drumming, even with this 50-piece orchestra it was this lone, sweat-soaked drummer that was punching well above his weight. He must’ve been knackered and lost at least stone right there on stage, with his frenzy of beating those skins solidly for so long.

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

As well as the drummer, the pianist was letting loose too, one moment as if he were in a rave dancing frenzy, and then the next minute he would suddenly be sat upright and composed, ready to play his section. The orchestra couldn’t stay still either and were bouncing throughout; and even conductor Jules was hopping about the beats were so infectious. Just. So. Cool. Highlight tracks for me included ‘Saint Angel’, ‘A Sense of Rage’, ‘Angel’ and ‘State of Mind’.

Goldie spoke to us a couple of tracks into the set

‘’two decades ago I wanted to create something timeless,… All my experiences were put into this project. I had a misspent youth so with this new project I put all of that into something new… We are a family, UK culture, UK jungle music (mass screams and cheers), We were on the cusp of the analogue and digital change which is all being celebrated now…. Now it’s the rebirth for me from flat sheet music to 3D music orchestra! …An old man in New York once said to me ‘’don’t wish too hard kid, it might come true’ and it has!’’

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

It was all fascinating art in motion. The laser lights were choreographed to dance with the music, and the audience was bouncing as the lasers swam across them. Audience members were leaping in their seats in the stalls, boxes and circle balcony. ‎

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

As Pied Piper Goldie led the dance and passed by audience members and musicians, they’d all whip into an even more intense frenzy! What an incredible feeling to see and hear the work that you made two decades ago, resurrected like a great phoenix from the flames, in front of its original fan base.
The nights were produced by Goldie, Chris Wheeler and Southbank Centre and the arrangements were by Matt Calvert, Jules Buckley, Tom Trapp, Ben Cottrell, Matt Dunkley and Simon Whiteside.

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

‎Afterwards I caught up with Goldie backstage where he told me the concept of these 20year shows and how it all came about logistically.

Goldie; Knowing how far ahead the concept of the music and album was, I always wanted this project to be seen in this light, so the concept was always there- I want to stretch the boundaries of what you can do with drum n bass, so we move the music forward, creatively not commercially. The logistics are really a lot of back n forth with the Heritage orchestra in coming up with the tracks in notated and playable form.

Jasmine – What sparked your passion for orchestras in recent years?
Goldie; I’ve always been a fan of classical music and I really like a challenge so when I see a new area to expand into I go head first into it

Jasmine – Jules Buckley’s a bit of a classics star himself. Tell me about working with him.
Goldie; He is a genius to work with, as is Chris Wheeler, the fact that they can interpret the music which is so dense takes a lot- the project would not have happened without them.

Jasmine - How much more can you milk your art from two decades ago? Any new concepts on the horizon?
Goldie; Well, the live project is a completely new interpretation of the album. So we’re showing it in a new light, we’re expanding it. In the back of my mind I always knew it could be played in this way but technology and belief needed to catch up with the concept.

Jasmine - Talk about that fan base that was dancing in a frenzy. What kind of feedback have you had from them.
Goldie; It’s been overwhelming, the replies via social media and everyone coming up to me at the shows has been amazing. I don’t think the Southbank has seen reaction within its walls like that before. The emotion and the power of the sound really caught people. It was great to see.

Jasmine – How has the character Goldie changed from his place in the world from 20 years ago?
Goldie; I’m a lot more focused and I have a better understanding of myself. I’m still fighting for what I believe in but I’m also much more intelligent about how I go about this fight to achieve the best results. The love of my family coupled with Bikram yoga has lead to an inner calm that has created this focus, the life of an artist will always be a troubled one but there are things you can do to make your passage slightly smoother.

Being put up for adoption and being raised in a variety of childcare homes and foster parents hasn’t held this over achiever back. He cites his own biggest achievement in life so far as

‘’ Being voted by the public into the Top 60 of the ‘New Elizabethans’; the most influential leading figures in HM Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, with people including David Attenborough, Margaret Thatcher and Sir Edmund Hillary. Also, my degrees and honours; an honorary degree with Brunel University; a Doctor of Social Sciences at Brunel, West London / a Doctor of Design Degree from the University of Wolverhampton as well as being a professor at Thames Valley University!’’.

Tonight’s iconic performance of urban meets classical music is just another string to his very over flowing bow.

Jasmine’s Juice – Jill Scott’s 5th Album ”Woman”, A Track-By-Track Breakdown.

JILL SCOTT ‘’Woman’’ album review.

Jasmine with Jill Scott.

This week see’s the release of Grammy award-winner Jill Scotts 5th studio album Woman, and luckily, I was given a sneak peek listening link weeks ahead of release, and am relieved to announce; she’s back with a vengeance!

I was such a devotee of her first album Who Is Jill Scott, which was filled with classic R&B anthems, that I even named my iPod after her!
Like many artists on their sophomore album, she decided to go from being my best female audio friend, to all-experimental on us.
On her second outing Beautifully Human, there was a lil too much shrieky cray cray for moi. After that I lost sight of her next two releases, until last month when her new record label sent me her new music.

My perfect Jill Scott has always been heavenly sounds that I can rely on for dinner parties, relaxed drives and romance. Approaching the 15-year anniversary of her first studio album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1, I am really happy to hear her latest release is that beautiful, melodic, silky bird-like voice back to its finest with catchy, memorable hooks. Like her debut outing, this too has hooks that fans will learn and sing with slick, eyebrow raising attitude. All the production is head-bouncing, high-level, audio gold.

Jill Scott’s 5th studio album is an empowering ode to women titled WOMAN.

Woman kicks off with the call out to us all to be awakened and listen to WILD COOKIE.

PREPARED is a sexy reminiscent ode to a new awakening. A beautiful rich anthem for ladies looking for that soul mate its chorus has you chanting along cult like. Like artists like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and India Irie, Jill has always made the ladies feel empowered and men are always judged as those who understand these ladies will always choose strong, intelligent women for partners. BTW CRUSIIN is my joint on this album, just easy, laid back vibes that spoke to my heart. No explanation necessary, just listen.

RUN RUN RUN is a faster paced Motown meets the sixties vibe. A juxtaposition of all the fun you had to Beyonce’s Work it out meets Outkast’s Ms Jackson.

You’ll want to two-step with your other half to CAN’T WAIT, which is a lovers rock style lullaby.

Describing Woman as “classic Philly soul meets country rhythm served with captivating storytelling,” Jill executively produced the album in collaboration with long-time creative colleague Andre Harris (behind her hits ‘A Long Walk’ and ‘The Way’) and songwriter/producer Aaron Pearce. That’s probably why on new track LIGHTHOUSE; it starts with a sound reminiscent of her classic anthem A LONG WALK…

The albums lead single is titled FOOLS GOLD, and with no pretence or hiding, likens a sour relationship and an unworthy lover to Fools Gold. Audiences will already be familiar with this by the time the album is released on July 24th.

There are two ‘’interludes’’ on this album starting with the WILLING INTERLUDE and then later PAUSE INTERLUDE (which sounds very Laura Mvula) . I’m not a fan of ‘’interludes’. If you got something to say, say it in a full thought out song. An interlude is like social media subliminal tweets. Say it in full or don’t say it at all. #JusSayin

CLOSURE as you can imagine is an upfront, in your face, angry, I’m kicking you to the kerb’ flick of the hand, laudation to a dumped, cheating lover.

Jill really shows off her pipes in a big ballad vocal vehicle on YOU DON’T KNOW, a slow, country gospel meets R&B soul vintage big number.

SAY THANK YOU reminds me of a disturbing Pulp Fiction film soundtrack song. A Wild West female gun-slinging boss! (Pronounce it ‘’baus’’ tho).

BACK TOGETHER takes Jill back to church where a sermon is being lead to take us on a high rolling journey of rebuilding and recovering.

COMING TO YOU a high impact feel good, belly-wrenching vocals from the gut evocative of the Shaft era. Jill says stuff like this ‘’ I’ve done a lot of fighting in my time, and I’m down to do some more. I don’t want to, but you know, there’s just certain things that you can’t sit down and take’’. And this; ‘’ When I got my success, I became decadent for a while. This was 2003 to 2008. I fell for tiramisu really hard. I’ve become more moderate since, because African-Americans are prone to diabetes’’. Love her for that.

Jahraymecofasola just needs to be enjoyed as if on an out of body space traveling experience.

Jill Scott’s music is like a soundtrack to our lives, good love, bad love, lost love, love regrets and everything in between. In explaining the formula for her prolific writing and ability to serve as the voice of many women, Jill says,

“I put myself in each woman’s place…and found that it became more about me, all of it, with the envy, the anger, the frustration, the loneliness, the joy, the passion and the rapture”.

BEAUTIFUL LOVE, a duet with BJ The Chicago Kid, is what it says on the tin, a track to make love to.

Jill is currently just underway in her solo headline tour taking in 25 American cities. This new album is the follow-up to her 201 The Light of the Sun, which debuted at No. 1 on the Top Billboard 200, and no doubt this one will start at the top too. It deserves to.
Welcome back Ms Scott.

Woman Tracklisting:

1. Wild Cookie
2. Prepared
3. Run Run Run
4. Can’t Wait
5. Lighthouse
6. Fool’s Gold
7. Willing (Interlude)
8. Closure
9. You Don’t Know
10. Pause (Interlude)
11. Cruisin
12. Say Thank You
13. Back Together
14. Coming To You
15. Jahraymecofasola
16. Beautiful Love (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid)

Jasmine’s Juice – Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint Hits London!

Legendary American comedian Dave Chappelle’s had a rollercoaster of an infamous career journey thus far and continues to push boundaries.

AFTER THE SHOW IT’S THE AFTERPARTY – Dave Chappelle, De La Soul,musician Fred Yonnet and the crowd at Dave’s Juke Joint event in London.

As well as a comedian, Chappelle is a screenwriter, producer, and actor who has been in London this month playing a series of sold out date’s at Hammersmith Apollo.
He ‘likes to engage in marijuana use, but does not drink alcohol’. He even chain smoked all the way through his London shows having acquired a special licence from Hammersmith Council to be allowed to smoke onstage each night!

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Band member Frederic Yonnet, Ed Sheeran and Dave Chappelle at Juke Joint London.Photo copyright – Derrick Jones.

After beginning his film career in the USA film industry in 1993 with small cameo roles, he continued to land minor roles in box office hits including The Nutty Professor Con Air and Blue Streak. His first lead role was in the 1998 comedy film Half Baked.

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Just over a decade ago, Chappelle was also the star and a producer of the Michel Gondry-directed documentary Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, which chronicles him hosting a free concert in Brooklyn on September 18, 2004.

Several musical artists, including Kanye, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Dead Prez, and Jill Scott are featured in the movie both performing in the concert and in conversation off-stage. He even brought Yellow Springs residents to Brooklyn at his own expense. Another surprising highlight of the event was the temporary reunion of popular 1990s hip-hop group The Fugees. Even to this day, people rave about and debate this film on social media.

This outing which merged his world’s of comedy entertainment, throwing parties and music, had such a big impact on him that he started another brand called ‘’Juke Joint’’ which merges live musician’s with a party crowd in a very unique old skool jazz club vibe.
Dave threw the first Juke Joint last April in Ohio, and was convinced he had witnessed the capturing of lightening in a bottle. This weekend he brought this concept to a west-London warehouse.

After his seven night sell out show in the capital, he brought Juke Joint to Loft Studios, in North West London for two nights, where with members of Stevie Wonder’s touring band, and Prince’s band, as well as world renowned harp player Frederic Yonnet and legendary Hip Hop DJ D-Nice, put on a sweaty exuberant party akin to a live musicians jamming session.

Hilariously, one of the first things he did as he took to the stage with the live band was to say ‘’now I’m going to do my favourite white people shit’’, ran and leapt into the crowd and moshed just centimetres from us.
I was in shock, relieved that he hadn’t vaulted into my group of girl friends. Our hair buns, outfits and phones would have gone tits up, with a huge insurance claim for personal injury the next day.

Inspired by the birthplace of modern music, the deep American South’s Juke Joint, the music was a heavy mix of jazz, fusion and sprinkles of R&B. Dave played both dj records and joints by the live band, of his favourite playlist tracks from Coltrane to Nirvana as his ‘’The Band With No Name’’ battled DJ D-Nice into the small hours.
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An hour into the fun, I noticed another mosh pit and spotted little ginger Ed Sheeran in the centre of it, having come straight from his Wembley Stadium show.
Next thing, Ed is pulled onstage by Dave, and Ed proceeds to blow the crowds minds by taking us on a 20-minute journey of karaoke skitting with the live band.

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Ed had the party guests join him on call and response hit song’s from a wide array of act’s from Bob Marley, Snoop Dogg, Pharrell and even our very own Krept and Konan and Tinie Tempah which had the crowd baying in hysteria! I was most impressed by his Caribbean accent and version of many bashment and reggae songs. Its official. Ed is down.

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Dave’s night always attracts his peers like Naomi Campbell and Venus Williams who were also in the house.
At one point he asked his DJ D Nice ‘’what’s that British shit that had the crowd at the show lit?’’ …D Nice proceeded to throw down Lethal Bizzles POW and the party jumped harder than before with us all singing and rewinding POW to sing it again, and again, about 16 times in all!
The roof was jumping and the floor was definitely shaking.

The following night saw much of the same but with legends De La Soul take the mic for impromptu sing-offs. What a concept!

The nights were HOT not just socially, but akin to a bikram studio. Clearly Dave is clued up and his ryder includes a big metal fan onstage all night, pointing upwards, to keep him cool. At one point he even picked it up and fanned us. Beyonce take note!

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Dave told me later ”In regards to the Juke Joint events:it was the idea of taking it out of the traditional venues and putting it somewhere else where it’s alive and kinetic and not so much a show but a celebration lead by virtuosos.”

Regarding Frederic Yonnet Dave championed him saying:“Fred is one of this guys that is very fluent in the language of music. A man that’s so good at playing harp that another man that’s good at playing harp hired him.”

I admire Dave for speaking up when all around him would simply shut up and take the cheque.
Showing incredible tenacity, as so many successful multihyphenate behemoth peers do, in his early career he was picked up and dropped numerous times by TV companies but kept working the scene.

In 2003, he became more widely known for his comedy sketch television series, Chappelle’s Show, which ran until his retirement from the show two years later. By 2006, Dave was called “the comic genius of America” by Esquire and, in 2013, “the best” by a Billboard writer. To this day, his show continues to run in popular late-night syndication and on television networks around the world. The show parodies many aspects of American culture, including racial stereotypes, politics and pop culture. Along with comedy skits, the show also featured musical performances by mostly hip-hop and soul music artists.

Band member Frederic Yonnet performs at Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint London.Photo copyright – Derrick Jones.

In the midst of all the success, an axe fell, in Dave’s heart. Season 3 was scheduled to air on May 31, 2005, but in that month, Chappelle stunned fans and the entertainment industry when he abruptly left during production of the third season of Chappelle’s Show and took a trip to South Africa.

Chappelle said that he was unhappy with the direction the show had taken. ‘’Coming here, I don’t have the distractions of fame. It quiets the ego down. I’m interested in the kind of person I’ve got to become. I want to be well rounded and the industry is a place of extremes. I want to be well balanced. I’ve got to check my intentions, man’’.

Immediately following Chappelle’s departure, tabloids quickly and repeatedly speculated that drug addiction or a mental health issue, rather than ethical or personal concerns drove Chappelle’s exit. In a later interview with Oprah, he expressed his contempt for the entertainment industry’s tone-deafness toward black entertainers and audiences: ‘’When I see that they put every black man in the movies in a dress at some point in their career, I start connecting the dots’’.

I always tell my young reporters three things;

1 – If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
2 – He who is a pin is carrying pain.
3 – You are the average of the 5 people you spend most time with.

Dave encompasses these ideas. Key influencers and gatekeepers surrounded him as a child; his parents were politically active, and notable individuals visited the family house during his youth. In fact, it was American jazz singer Johnny Hartman who predicted he would be a comedian and, around this time, Chappelle’s comic inspiration came from Eddie Murphy and Richard Prior.

Chappelle then moved to NYC to pursue a career as a comedian and gathered the courage to perform at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre in front of the infamous “Amateur Night” audience, but he was booed off stage. He described the experience as the moment that gave him the courage to continue his show business aspirations and quickly made a name for himself on the New York comedy circuit, even performing in the city’s parks.

He converted to Islam in 1998 and told Time Magazine in 2005, “I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing. And I believe it is beautiful if you learn it the right way.”

Dave’s clearly a leader, not a follower, speaking up about discrepancies as they happen and unlike many wont just ‘take the cheque and sell out’’ if it doesn’t sit well within his psyche.

Dave – Your fans globally salute you!
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Jasmine’s Juice feauturing the Sillimanjaro mountain champions!

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On stage with Eddie and Robbie, Holby City and The Revs Jimmy Akingbola.

On a balmy Sunday two weeks ago, GeeStor Productions invited me to their comedy & music fundraising gala at the Hackney Empire, SILI Time, in aid of the 4 charities my pals BBC London Presenter Eddie Nestor, actor Robbie Gee, their wife Lisa Nestor, manager & GeeStor CEO Sarah Moore & fitness instructor Dave McQueen were supporting, when they climb Africa’s highest mountain the mighty Kilimanjaro.

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Peter Hunnigale & Tippa Irie.

With over 20 artists on the bill the show started promptly with the 1st act being my old friend and presenter from MTV Base – Kat B – who managed to have the crowd in stitches in the 5 minutes allocated to each performer. Hosted by Eddie and Robbie the acts came thick and fast with comedy from the don dada Curtis Walker, queens of comedy Glenda Jaxson, Angie Le Mar & Felicity Ethnic, rising star Axel Blake and so many more. The many excellent music acts included Aysha Loren, The Voice contestant Lara Lee, Peter Hunningale and Tippa Irie who brought the house down causing Axel Blake to comment ‘he must have been big back in your day’! MOBO Award winning saxophonist Yolanda Brown wowed the sell out audience with her version of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud.
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Eastenders and The Revs actress Ellen Thomas joins Eddie and Robbie onstage.

Celebrities who graced the stage on the night included Vanessa Feltz looking svelte and glam, as did her BBC colleague, the ever stylish Brenda Emmanus. Actors included Casualties’ Patrick Robinson, Holby & Rev’s Jimmy Akingbola, EastEnders stars Ellen Thomas & Angela Wynter, who informed us all of the great work the Rudolph Walker Foundation undertake with young people. Non Blond Jocelyn Jee Esien and Voice winner Jermain Jackman popped by, and the audience didn’t let him leave until he sang acapella for us.
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Eddie makes it to the top of Mount Killamanjaro.

The night was closed by my favourite UK comic Slim, who had tears of laughter running down our faces. Overall it was a great night and the audience not only had 3 hours of top quality entertainment, but also left knowing they had supported 4 great causes.

The night raised over £10,000 for the Silimanjaro charities; the ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust), MacMillan Cancer Research, Rudolph Walker Foundation and Urban Synergy, bringing the grand total raised to date to £30,000.
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Silimanjaro was the brainchild of Eddie Nestor. Seven years ago he was diagnosed with the cancer Hodgkins Leukaemia. Whilst undergoing chemotherapy he made a promise with his maker that if he recovered he would raise monies for charity. He has already run the marathon, and completed a skydive, and this is his biggest adventure to date. Sadly Robbie Gee has had to pull out of the climb as he is filming ‘Frankenstein Chronicles’ for ITV alongside Sean Bean and assures me he doesn’t get killed in any of the 8 episodes.

This past week Eddie and his team succeeded in their Killamanjaro climb and my team and I want to wish them the biggest congratulations in the world!
Many people talk, but few act on changing life as we know it, and Eddie Nestor is a game changer.
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Eddie, Sarah, Lisa and Dave- mission accomplished!

To find out more about the climb and how to support go to www.geestor.co.uk/Silimanjaro.

Jasmine’s Juice – VOILA! – 10 things you need to know about Cannes.

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I needed a short trip away, with lots of hot sunshine, sea, sand, and fabulosity. Searching the usual travel sites like Expedia and lastmin.com I finally settled on Cannes. I’ve only ever frequently Cannes for MTV Movie work so usually fly in, hotel, shoot, party, no sleep, start all over again schedule for a few days, before returning to London like a flogged horse.

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This time I vowed to do it in style. I was taking my mum and so a self-catering apartment or ‘economical hotel’ a little out of the way wasn’t an option for her 80-year-old legs and temperament. I decided only the best was good enough for the woman who had given me birth. So I didn’t look at the price and booked the infamous Carlton slap bang in the middle of the most famous film festival strip in the world, on what turned out to be a pretty good deal all things considered. The Carlton is the Palace to the stars and is the star of all the hotel palaces on offer. Every film legend you can name has stayed there as well as Princess Diana, Grace Kelly, Sharon Stone, Puff Daddy, Ronaldo and more. If only those walls could talk!

The Croisette is the beachfront strip of 3km of curve of the Cannes bay, lined with palms, hotels, designer boutiques, ocean liners and yachts. Day and night it’s the spot to see and be seen. The Carlton breakfast terrace is the best terrace on the whole of the Riviera, to watch the ocean and passers by stroll along the infamous fashion catwalk, otherwise known as the Croisette.
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We only spent a week there but these were the ten things we were really struck by;

1. Age ain’t nothing but a number in Cannes, and very old ladies wear clothes that most British OAPs would deem inappropriate.

The great thing is, that they looked great and were clearly as confident in their old age as in their youth – if not more. They were rocking wedge shoes, mini skirts, and strappy string vests. Je n’en crois pas mes yeux ! Initially it was a shock for my very British fashion-brainwashed brain to accept, but after a day or two I got it. You name the trend, these oldies were on it. Nothing was too much. Cannes old lady fashion is incredible. There are no ‘‘dressing for your age’’ rules out here. Wrinkles, veins and more are like life scars that no one bats an eyelid at. These oldies are strutting with sass and confidence.

2. Speaking of wedge shoes, this is THE footwear for all females strolling along around Cannes.
Shoe shops regular and high-end sell a million different wedges. Never once did I spot a stiletto.

These women have pretty feet that won’t be ruined by trying that very British awkward stagger in really vertiginous heels. French femmes are lean and strong, built like racehorses and I’m convinced it’s their wedge shoe walking diet.

3. Another reason they may be lean and skinny is that French ladies smoke. A lot. All the skinny model-looking chic’s that were wearing shorts, vests and attitude usually had a fag hanging off their lips 24-7. Even whilst riding their mopeds. Especially whilst riding their mopeds. I’d love to see the French medical stats of smoking related illnesses.

4. Speaking of health, the French love to tan. In fact, in the same way that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, the tan in Cannes looks incredible on man or woman.
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The sun is high in the sky and burning hot from 8am until well after 9pm, and on not one occasion did I spot anyone on their beaches using sun cream! This could be why most of the white folk I observed out there had tanned so dark they resembled someone wearing blackface. The irony of a country that is stereotyped as being racist but they’re craving to be dark.

5. Instead of spending my money flying to far off exotic destinations its much more economical to get a cheap flight to Cannes (Nice airport), and spend the rest of your money on a great hotel or activities.
Also, once you get to Cannes, there’s loads of free stuff to do. Day and night the Croisette is like a live, free fashion catwalk with lovers walkers, rollerbladers, scooter flippers, cyclists and more doing their thing.


Also there is so much free art by the likes of Salvador Dali and Matisse just placed outside buildings for you to take in.
All the tourist spots where the famous Cannes film festival takes place are access-all-areas so you too can pose on the same spot as your favourite film icon or place your hands in their handprint walk of fame!
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6. Unlike most popular cities there are no tour buses in Cannes. Instead they have a very cute, olde worlde ‘’Petit train’’ that will take you on tours through the old town and cinema locations for €10 an hour.

The Cannes city street layout is like New York pretty easy to get to grips with. Its not a grid system as such but the roads are laid out in distinct shopping, eating and business districts so very easy to familiarize yourself with in a day.

7. Unlike all the tacky tourist beaches across the world where you’re hassled to buy pineapple or braid your hair, Cannes beaches are on a whole different level of opulence.
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Here a photographer accompanied by his assistant holding a giant beauty light and tripod will do a full on glamour shoot for you in the ocean. Awkwardly they’ll do it without asking your permission then try and sell you ‘’ze lovely picture’’ of you looking like a bright red beached whale. Non-merci ami.

Also lithe, tanned young ladies carrying bags of sexy bikinis and lace beachwear will plop themselves down in front of you and change into every garment in their bags and parade up and down like a fashion show trying to tempt you into buying their wears. Of course I succumbed, but then wondered why the sexy black bikini I purchased didn’t make me look like the same sizzling siren I had brought it from.

8. The beaches are a point of contention but needn’t be. Basically on the main strip, each section of beach is owned by the hotel it sits opposite. You have to pay to sit on this beach EVEN if you are a paying hotel guest.
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The Carlton charges most for its pier, then its front row on the sand and also half days.

Generally, each five star hotel, charges a selection of sliding scale rates for different spots. C’est naze!
private beach

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You can even buy a real bed on the beach to show how fabulous and wealthy you are and that you just throw yor money away!Laisse tomber…
beach beds
Its outrageous, but just a few meters down the Croisette are totally free public beaches, which are exactly the same but without the snobby folk, attitude and cost. And much better for people watching.

9. The 5 star hotels are expensive. But for the cash that you’re saving on flights its well worth it. From the beautiful rooms with small touches like beautifully made beds and top quality bedding, to great branded beauty products in the bathroom, a retractable, discreet washing line in the bathroom, a free daily newspaper and all your needs met. Their breakfast may be around £30 per person, per day, but it’s a kings feast buffet with full English breakfast, a pastry bar, antipasti bar, nespresso and champagne on tap.

We made sure to make the most of this and lined our stomachs well so that lunch wasn’t needed. I even spotted other guests sneaking fruit, pastries and more into their handbags. I felt a euphoric high on paying €10 for a pot of tea with silk tea bags and €20 for a sliced watermelon presented on a silver platter. I did snigger in disgust at myself as I stroked the silk tea bag that I steeped my daily pot of tea with.
silk bag

10. One of the best things about Cannes is wherever you are at any time of the day you can take a seat. There are seats in public everywhere.

All along the Croisette are metal bright blue seats that can be moved into pairs or groups depending on the size of your group.

You can place them facing the sea or inwards facing the twinkling palm trees on the road and watch the pink lit up street all night.

How quaint! In the UK I guarantee these would be nicked and sold for scrap metal. ‎Even on the high street full of shops, there are seats everywhere attached to the bottom of lampposts. It’s these little touches that make life so much more sociable and easy on the Riviera. Ça vous dit?

Jasmine’s Juice – Can You Join The Sport of Polo?

So, we’re slap bang in the middle of music festival and summer sports season, and where you and your bank balance sit financially and on the class graph may dictate where you end up.

On the one hand we have music festivals like Glastonbury and Wireless for the great unwashed. On the other we have House Festival and Hampton court style music festivals for the middle class, more grown up, hamper and picnic set, who don’t want to rub shoulders with or mingle with the bawdy working class.

Similarly with sports, it’s about the televised big dog events like Wimbledon and rugby, watched on telly for many of us. The horsey sports like racing, shooting and polo, are even more out of reach and always seem to be off limits for your average working class bod for obvious reasons. Horses are expensive to keep, own, ride or consider as part of your weekly hobby.


Do you recall when the TOWIE set tried to overtake the scene around five years ago, and were subsequently ridiculed and made to feel unwelcome, by articles like this Can anyone stop polo being over-run by chavs? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1202024/Can-stop-polo-run-chavs.html

Nowadays the general public aspires to attend things like Ascots Ladies Day with as much gusto as they do their local tanning salons , but in 2015, we still haven’t really been convinced about how accessible and inclusive the actual sport side of polo can be, to the masses.

I’ve visited the biggest polo club in Europe – Guards Polo Club – out past the west London city boarders, over the years, as both a one-off lunching guest or working on media stories and last weekend had a conversation with Diana Butler from GPC about just how inclusive the sport of polo can be for your average Brit. So pay attention.

Diana should know what she’s talking about as she’s been working in the sport of polo for many years and this year marks the club’s 60th anniversary – Prince Philip founded the Club in 1955. They play more polo, at all levels, than any other club in the UK. In fact, the club wrote the polo pony welfare rules that are now recognised around the world and put pony welfare at the top of all that they do. Diana gave me her thoughts on all the misconceptions many of us have about the sport of polo. Isn’t it totally inaccessible to us minions? Don’t you need to be a billionaire to partake?

What kinds of backgrounds are the players usually in most instances from?

Players come from all types of backgrounds these days – it is no longer exclusively a game for the very rich or the military. The world’s top players are from South America, Argentina predominantly, and they are often the sons/grandsons of players who learnt the game on their family’s farms alongside the gauchos. With an increasing number of clubs in the UK, many people now take up the game with no background in the sport – you can even pay to play these days, without the need to own horses. Many of our patrons are successful businessmen who were introduced to the game by colleagues/friends and became hooked.

How much would it cost a player to learn and play regularly?

It depends on what level you play. To play the high-goal you need a substantial amount of money as you need the horsepower and employ the very best professional players you can afford. However, to play club matches and low-goal (up to 8-goal polo) you need a much lower budget. A rough guide is:
· Competitive low-goal £50,000 – playing several key tournaments in a season
· Competitive medium-goal £500,000 – playing several key tournaments in a season
· Competitive high-goal £1m – playing top two tournaments in a season

Gulp, that’s still pretty steep! Do all players own their own ponies? If not how do they play? It is a wealthy persons sport isn’t it? Can you play without owning horses/kit/livery etc?

At the high level, the team patrons own many of the horses, but the players also own their own horses. The higher handicapped players have their own strings. However at some clubs – such as Ascot Park – you can pay to play so you just turn up, jump in a horse and play a practice chukka or two without the expense of ponies, farriers, stabling, grooms etc.

‘‘Jump in a horse’’! Love it! Can ‘’regular folk’’ just turn up and watch matches? How much does it cost?

Anyone can come and watch polo as Windsor Great Park is a public park with free access for those on foot/bikes and they can watch the games from the north side – opposite side to the Royal Box. For regular days we charge £20 per car (regardless of occupants) and charge £40 on the day per car for the Cartier Queen’s Cup Final. However on finals day we also open our members’ side (same side as the royal box) to the public so they can buy hospitality, grandstand tickets and car passes.

Well it’s obvious that your average A-Z list celebs and their teams, all want you be seen where the upper classes and Royalty are. How and who decides which guests join the Royal box?

The balcony is reserved for members of the Royal Family, the chairman of the Polo Club and the key representative of the sponsor of the day.

What makes clubs like yours the best place to enjoy polo in the UK?

The location, great fixtures and superb facilities. We host some of the leading polo tournaments in the world and each game, regardless of handicap, is managed by a professional and dedicated team which ensures that players and spectators experience polo at its very best.

I see that the social side of the polo scene is as buzzing if not more than the actual sports side what with regular dances and parties, you guys love a twenties themed party?

Social membership to Guards Polo Club costs just £375 per annum, plus a one-off joining fee of £300, which is no more expensive than a gym membership For that a social member receives one metal members badge, three guest badges and members car park pass. This gives access to more than 600 games in a season and major discounts for our two major ticketed events – the Cartier Queen’s Cup Final and the Royal Salute Coronation Cup. We also have an extensive collection of reciprocal clubs around the world, which offer access to our members at their members’ rates.

That’s exactly what I pay for my annual gym membership! So I could be hanging with the hoi polio instead of my treadmill at my local leisure centre.

What is your biggest challenge as a club? And as a sport?

To promote the sport rather than the celebrity activity in the media. The top teams and their ponies are athletes and train as hard as any leading sportsmen and women and the game should be recognised for its toughness, horsepower, skill and bravery.


Jasmine’s Juice , If you’re a very stylish girl, you’ll have Breakfast at Tiffany’s, courtesy of The Royal Albert Hall.

Whole industries and commercial ventures have been based on the 1961 romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany’s. From posters, to copycat film promos, to t shirt slogans and even a hit music record, (The lines of dialog “How do I look?” “Very good. I must say, I’m amazed” and “I am a very stylish girl” were sampled in the Dimitri From Paris song “Une Very Stylish Fille”).


This past week London’s Royal Albert Hall brought a new angle to the iconic film, with a live screening accompanied by the Philharmonia Film Orchestra accompanied by the Philharmonia Chorus, conducted by Justin Freer.

Conductor Justin Freer, who was leading the Philharmonia Film Orchestra, has produced, curated and conducted film-and-live-score shows for movies including Gladiator and The Godfather, and will bring Alice in Wonderland and Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage to the Royal Albert Hall later this year. Performing Henry Mancini’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s score at the iconic London venue was the culmination of a lifelong dream for the conductor, whose musical education was supported by a Mancini Scholarship.


The Royal Albert Hall has put on regular classic films with live orchestra’s performing the soundtrack to the film, and this was one of its greatest pairings, as Henry Mancini’s Academy Award-winning score lends itself to a big band, big experience, and big night.

This classic Blake Edwards film, based on Truman Capote’s bestselling book stars Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, a deliciously eccentric New York City playgirl and socialite who catches the attention of her new neighbour, struggling writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard). Regularly cited as one of the greatest movies ever made, it’s also among the most stylish, with the sight of Holly – oversized cigarette holder in hand – one of the most clear-cut and distinct moments in cinema.

I’m always fascinated by the way Audrey Hepburn plays Holly Golightly, the craziest heroine who ever crept between the pages of a best-selling novel! That one-minute manic diva, the next the sweetest most vulnerable waif, makes me think she was certainly on some level bi-polar. Her salary for the film was $750,000, making her the highest paid actress per film at the time.


Even though the World Premiere of Breakfast at Tiffany’s was at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York City many decades ago, I know the vibe; atmosphere and experience of the grand Albert Hall brought the film to life and afforded the score much more extravagant justice.

Watching the film, simultaneously to seeing the orchestra pick up their instruments every few scenes, to interpret Mancini’s legendary score, is truly a once in a lifetime experience for a film and music aficionado.

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As if the whole experience wasn’t already special enough, as a special treat for the audience, Mancini’s daughter, double Grammy-nominated singer Monica Mancini, performed her father’s Oscar-winning song Moon River at the start of the performance with her mother (Mancini’s wife) Ginny watching sat just behind us!

The irony of this classic moment and song, is that the song “Moon River” was written especially for Audrey,and since she had no training as a singer the vocals were written to be sung in only one octave. Its said that when the film was first screened in Hollywood, at a post-production meeting that followed, a studio executive, in reference to “Moon River,” had said, “Well, I think the first thing we can do is get rid of that stupid song.” Apparently Audrey stood up at the table and said, “Over my dead body!” The song stayed. The rest as they say….

Back then Mancini had said, “It’s unique for a composer to really be inspired by a person, a face or a personality, but Audrey certainly inspires me. Normally, I have to see a completed film before I’ll compose the music, but with Tiffany I knew what to write for Audrey just by reading the script.”


It’s incredible to think how many fashionistas have been influenced by the style of Holly Golightly, who wears the same dresses all the way through the movie, simply changing the accessories to give each outfit a different look. Her black shift dress features through the movie at least four times. Also, no huge ageism in the screen industry back then clearly, as Holly is supposed to be just nineteen years old. Audrey was in fact thirty-one years old when playing Holly!


Interestingly, Audrey very nearly missed out on this ground breaking moment in her career though as originally author Truman Capote envisioned the Goddess Marilyn Monroe in the but Marilyn’s drama coach, Lee Strasberg, told her that playing a call-girl was not good for her image. The film went on to be a huge success, with Audrey receiving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. Bet Marilyn kicked herself and cussed Lee!

Although not visible on camera, hundreds of onlookers watched Audrey’s window-shopping scene at the start of the film. Legend has it that this made her nervous and she kept making mistakes and It wasn’t until a crew member nearly got electrocuted behind the camera that she pulled herself together and finished the scene.


Additionally, animal film stars were already in vogue back then with around nine cats used throughout the film as the role of ‘Cat’. More post production trickery in the fact that Holly’s whistle when she hails a cab for Paul was actually dubbed in. Audrey attempted to learn how to whistle with two fingers, but could never produce the desired sound.

After an interval during which I accidently learnt how well champagne and sweet popcorn compliment each others flavours, (and were my ‘edible Audrey moment of fabulosity”), we settled down to the second half of the classic movie, after which as an extra-special treat, we got an encore over a montage of film stills, behind-the-scene images and shots of the team, whilst Monica Mancini once again sang and her mother, who was acknowledged by the conductor, stood up to applaud the moment.

All in all, a truly fabulous occasion after which I really did feel like ‘a very stylish girl’.



We Brits are a great contradiction. On the one hand we are infamous globally for our questionable behaviour on Marbella style vacations. On the other, the world believes there’s something so proper, classy and quaint about our heritage, history and all things adorned with the union jack.
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They say people in high places judge each other on the watches, cars and pens that they own. Well, add the activities they partake in to that list. Fabulous things rich folk like include horses, fine wine, sailing, private jets, black credit cards, pre-nup agreements, professional blow dry’s, butlers, white trousers on men, range rovers and the air of being a very classy girl.
Stuff rich people love also includes sports that the rest of the world does not pay attention to, including aerobatics, shooting and polo. Most attractive to the wealthy in polo, is that the horse is central to the match and money can buy happiness and success.

To speak the language of polo you need to understand the basics. Each team on the field consists of 4 players and their horses. The object is to strike the ball through the posts at the opponent’s end line, the most goals wins. One match is typically 8 ‘’chukka’s’’ or periods, which last 7 minutes each. What truly distinguishes this as stuff that rich people love, is that polo players typically switch horses after each chukka – that’s 8 horses ponies per rider per game!

I introduced myself to the sport this weekend with the first of the annual high-goal UK tournaments; The Cartier Queen’s Cup Final at Guards Polo Club, Windsor (Guards is the biggest polo club in Europe). They told me that the day’s team sheets read like a polo Who’s Who. Sunday was the date for the final of The Cartier Queen’s Cup – featuring Dubai v King Power Foxes.
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I was told that after the previous 22-goal matches that this was going to be an epic game featuring Facundo Pieres v Adolfo Cambiaso. So, the Messi and Ronaldo’s of polo. The final, with trophy’s presented by the Queen, took place straight afterwards on the field.
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This is what I learned.

Polo is now a big thing all across the world; in fact, the final winning team at Guards Polo Club this weekend were Thailand. It’s also big in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Morocco and the USA. In fact according to the Polo Times ‘’ Polo is played all over the planet and over 50 countries worldwide are involved in the game. The dominant nations are Argentina, the USA and Britain, each of which has a thriving polo scene and industry. Other polo hotspots include New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Dubai, China, Chile and Spain.’’

The modern game of polo, though formalised and popularised by the British, is derived from India, where the game was known as ‘Pulu’. The name polo is said to have been derived from the Tibetanword “pulu”, meaning ball.The first polo club was established in Assam, India, in 1833. The reason the players wear white pants is as the Indian players needed something light to avoid heat-seeking mosquitos.

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At Guards, The Royal box is a part of the polo grounds, slap bang in the centre of the field for the best views of the match.
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Convenient for Queen Lizzie as her abode is next door. Apparently she treats the grounds like her back garden, often to be seen driving her own (vey cheap regular) Land Rover across the grounds.in fact Prince Phillip drove her in on Sunday himself! Its not called the sport of Kings for nothing. But it is a sport of Kings that anyone can play…

Yes, inclusivity is the way forwards. One of the aims of the clubs is to dispel the myths associated with polo and make the sport accessible to all. Sussex Polo Club, for example, was set up in 2002, with the slogan “more new blood, less blue blood”. Contrary to popular belief, most polo games are cheap to watch. Entry to some parks for their biggest day, the Gold Cup final, costs under £20 per person in advance. Many smaller clubs around the world don’t charge entry at all. In fact, many of the UKs clubs have more social members than playing members. Playing polo is not cheap. But contrary to popular belief, it is not exclusively the preserve of millionaires. Although running a high-goal polo team requires a well-padded bank balance, a growing number of enthusiasts are playing locally at weekends, hiring ponies or perhaps keeping just a horse or two to play.

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The Prince of Wales found he had suffered more serious injuries from playing polo than Amir Khan has done from boxing. Polo is the game for true men of steel. The idea of actually straddling a horse and playing polo makes my blood rush. I could just about hit the ball in hockey at school and forget rounders- I hated it. This is multi-tasking on behemoth levels.

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Whether a rider on the ponies or a socialite on the polo scene, Polo is one of the most, if not THE most activity to partake in or attend. You will find many HNWI (high net worth individuals), are a part of this very exclusive scene. Amongst the sponsors at Guards Polo Club for example, are big brand names like Cartier, Audi, The Dorchester, Land Rover and more.

Most sports teams win sponsors and cups. But at the polo the main sponsor Cartier also gift each player in each finals team, with a very big face blinging Cartier. Forget the cup, it’s all about the booty.
cartier watch face

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Old school manners, pomp and livery are de rigour.

From the elderly gent’s in their grey slacks, navy blazers and straw hats directing people, to the weathered faced outdoorsy horsey types, to the marching band and drummers, this is old school British heritage at its finest.
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Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, regardless of how much money you have, their manners are friendly, welcoming, informative and formal. EVEN ALL THE OTHER PAPARAZZI ARE LOVELY AND HELPFUL TO EACH OTHER! (Totally unheard of).

Regulars at any event can tell if you’re a regular or newbie. This is more prevalent than ever at the polo. There are subtle yet not strict rules. For example one always refers to the horses as ‘’pony’s’’. The mounts used are called ‘polo ponies’, although the term ‘pony’ is purely traditional and the mount is actually a full-sized horse. The polo pony is selected carefully for quick bursts of speed, stamina, agility and manoeuvrability. Standing on the side of the pony lines watching the riders gallop up at high speed, screech to a stop and leap sideways to a fresh pony is breath-taking (and slightly terrifying!). Pony tails are either wrapped or braided to stop them becoming entangled with the sticks.

The surface of a polo field requires careful and constant grounds maintenance to keep the surface in good playing condition. During half-time of a match, spectators are invited to go onto the field to participate in a polo tradition called “divot stamping”, which has developed to not only help replace the mounds of earth (divots) that are torn up by the horses’ hooves, but to afford spectators the opportunity to walk about and socialise. (It’s not clear who was the first enterprising club manager to realize he had an abundant and cheap grounds-keeping crew at his disposal, but old-timers will tell you the job used to be done by hired help).

For this reason, dress code is a very intricate choice. Regulars like Princess Kate may well just rock a nautical t-shirt with jeans and ballet pumps but all other female regulars rock wedges. At a special polo day with final matches and public riffraff like me attending, they may make a bigger effort with smart trousers and a blouse or a floaty frock with blazer, but on NO ACCOUNT will a lady that’s classy and knows her polo etiquette, wear the Essex look of tight, bright mini-dress and vertiginous stilettos that sink into the grass. It’s awkward to watch a newbie polo attendee totter around looking uncomfortable all day. No one will point or snigger openly. But they saw you. And judged. Trust me. They think you’re vulgar.


Guards at Ascot, Henley, Ascot, Hurlingham, and Cowdry are part of the polo location vocabulary in the same way that Aspen, Capri and St Barts are for vacations.

On a very big public event like a polo final, the real horsey community don’t care about the superfluous dressed up VIP tents, catering for once a year visitors and their fancy 3 course lunches and champagne flutes. In fact what I noticed was that, they pull up in the car park alongside the playing field and open up the boot of their big, family range and out pops a fully set picnic with hampers. Many of them also bring pop up mini marquees, foldup chairs and tables. Don’t get it twisted though. They can afford the fancy experience and much more, but they choose to spend their cash wisely. (The polo merchandise shop on site sells a simple shirt for £120! – I wanted a navy one real bad and nearly bought it, but my photographer Richard gave me ‘’the reality talk’’ as I was fumbling for my credit card).

land rover ride
Whilst most of us partake in some apple bobbing at the fair or wall climbing at the O2, at polo, the punters get to play with the sponsor’s wares. For example Land Rover owners not only get to relax in its exclusive hospitality area with a complimentary ciabatta and soft drink or afternoon tea, in addition spectators were able to experience how the latest Land Rover models handle the steep incline of the mighty Twin-Terrapod. Like Alton Towers where you drive your own ride!



Set up just offsite, next to the car park, are four stalls. A hog roast stall that does pulled pork rolls. A coffee and sandwich stall. A bar staff for drinks like the expected champagne and pimms set. And the best of all find for me? A mobile POPS wagon that sells ice pops/ ice-lollies. But not any ice lollypops. Oh no, these are made from champagne and Bellini ingredients! The champagne popsicle was divine! There are no chips, burgers or fried chicken options here. So if you’re not a sarnie girl or if you are Muslim, eat before you come! Also, bring real cash. It’s all in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere. Wireless credit card transactions can be ropey.

queen arriving
Can you imagine The Queen popping to Ealing Community Centre to hand out prizes without huge fanfare, security, hysteria and pomp? No, neither can I. what’s really impressive about the polo crowd is that they don’t scream or ask her for a selfie, but politely take photos from a distance.
queen walks
The Queen is clearly quite comfortable walking around freely and conversing in these well-behaved circles. Polo doesn’t discriminate between humans and animals. As well as the best player awards, even the pony’s get a look in with the best pony being crowned and being wrapped in a Cartier blanket.
pony winner
The pony was even walked up to the Queen who clearly knows and loves her horsey talk.

There’s nothing us media folk like more than to see the divide between real A Lister household names and then your average celeb that’s gotten famous in dubious ways. How they all sit above and below each other on the chart chain of celebdom is of great entertainment.
joan cllins

For example, bonafide classic legends like Dame Joan Collins, supermodel and Jaggers ex wifey Jerry Hall, actress Stephanie Powers and other various Lords and Ladies were guests in the Royal Box.
jery hall

Whilst tennis ace Boris Becker, singer Ellie Goulding and others were merely VIP guests of Cartier, quite a safe distance away from the real old moneyed wealth.

The polo set love to party with themed dances and a very full annual social calendar. Tickets for the Club’s amazing, 1950s-themed dinner dance on Saturday 27 June are like gold dust. Not surprising, with classic cocktails, sumptuous food and decadent theming, plus twilight polo and a bespoke cabaret. If that is not enough you can then dance into the night with a Big Band. Ticket info here; events@guardspoloclub.com ‘’Fifties fashion is encouraged’’.


No not your political aspirations; Left-handed. Why are there no left-handed players? Lefties were officially banned from polo in the mid-1930s for safety reasons, but the restriction was relaxed after World War II when polo players of any persuasion were a scarce lot. Then clubs reinstated the lefty ban again in 1974 and it’s stuck: there are no more left-handed polo players. They can only play if they are willing to play right-handed . To understand why, consider this: you’re driving merrily down the road when all of a sudden, coming straight at you, is a crazed American driving on the right side of the road. The panic you’d feel in that situation is just what a right-handed polo player feels when he and a lefty approach the ball from opposite directions.

If there’s only one thing you take away from this don’t forget, if you’re a lady attending polo, forget the stilettos. And whatever the weather sunglasses are quintessential!

Jasmine’s Juice – Usher at LSO, Too Hood For TV!, BBC New Javone Prince Show, Terri Walker Entitled Showcase.

A hectic fortnight full of fabulosity!

Usher at intimate MasterCard Priceless gig held at LSO St Luke's London. Find out about forthcoming gigs at pricelesssurprises.co.uk

This weekend I had dinner with my girls at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant where we put the world to rights and shared our life growth so far over a bottle of red. Saturday at the Dotiwala crib saw a big group of us settle in to watch the whole of season 1 of 50 Cents TV series Power which had us all screaming at the telly whilst chowing down on sushi, curry, cheese boards and prosecco (its running out so we stashed a few bottles!).

Usher at intimate MasterCard Priceless gig held at LSO St Luke's London. Find out about forthcoming gigs at pricelesssurprises.co.uk

Sunday daytime was a trip to Chelsea’s Hurlingham Club to watch those dashing men play polo. They sweat and galloped, we supped bubbly and nibbled delicately on afternoon tea.


The weekend was rounded off watching Usher at his private VIP invite only gig for MasterCard. The venue was LSO St Luke’s, a very interesting choice of location. Basically it’s a church. Yes Usher took us to church to sing and gyrate on a Sunday night LOL. It was truly a priceless moment as he ran through many of his hits like U got it bad, Burn, U remind me and more. At one point of the set he even took audience requests of his own hits and it was the best intimate jam session with him and his live ban, all washed down with-yep you guessed it, more wine and cocktails with mini fingerbowls of mac&cheese, curry and burgers.
Usher at intimate MasterCard Priceless gig held at LSO St Luke's London. Find out about forthcoming gigs at pricelesssurprises.co.uk

The 100 lucky few in the audience, had to be Mastercard customers and enter a random draw to win tickets. A few even got t meet, greet and take a photo with him!
usher ladies

This gig was part of MasterCard’s Priceless Surprises campaign in which a number of iconic artists including Usher, Kaiser Chiefs, Paloma Faith and Mary J. Blige have already surprised their biggest fans and brought them closer to their music. Usher surprised his lifelong fan Claire Spence when he disguised himself as a street-performer on Venice Beach and unveiled himself with a personal performance to her in front of a crowd of onlookers.
Usher at intimate MasterCard Priceless gig held at LSO St Luke's London. Find out about forthcoming gigs at pricelesssurprises.co.uk

Usher told us: “Performing tonight was a completely unique experience – from the intimate crowd and acoustic set, to the incredible venue. It was great to be able to perform a completely different type of concert for my British fans.”
My mate, the big dog, Shaun Springer, Head of Brand, Sponsorship and Music, MasterCard UK & Ireland said: “It was a truly one-off experience for fans to see Usher perform in such an intimate setting. His gig kicks off our intimate music programme which sees us connecting music fans to the artist they love.”
Also in the crowd were interior designer Kelly Hoppen, broadcaster Nihal and his wife, music producer and artist Labrinth, actress Naomi Harris and more of London’s influencers.


I hosted a panel at the Deal Real Legacy pop up store just off Carnaby Street. It was a full house!


The panel was titled TOO HOOD FOR TV? On the panel were movers and shakers from the TV and film industry like Paigey Cakey (Rapper/Actress), Arnold Oceng (Actor/Musician), Femi Oyeniran (Actor/Filmmaker), Aaron Fontaine (Actor), Victor Adebodun (Founder/CEO, Purple Geko Ltd & Director/Producer).


We all debated things like; Do black actors need to go to the US for success? If the writers’ rooms don’t reflect the experiences and backgrounds of the characters for whom they are writing, will we get good and honest portrayals? The media is a powerful tool for change. Are we currently fed up with the stories that are being told and the representation of marginalized communities on television? What role do TV commissioners play in what we see on TV? Do we need help to get us through the door to work in film or/and TV or can we do it ourselves? Do we need the TV networks to get our voices heard? I won’t lie.

It got heated. But a lot of myths were put to rest, debates were squashed and no doubt gave the audience and panellists much to think about moving forwards with great new knowledge and contacts.


I was lucky enough to be sent a preview-screening link for the new BBC Comedy brand THE JAVONE PRINCE SHOW. It’s been a long time since the BBC committed to a solo black comedy act, in fact was the last one Lenny Henry? Anyhoo, the show is starting on your screens soon. It’s a juxtaposition of live studio audience comedy sketches and band. Like the Lenny Henry show meets the Jonathon Ross show meets the real McCoy.

The sketches that are inclusive work better for me. One I like is a pair of characters that are gogglebox style trolls. I also like the sly inside jokes about TV people that try and understand shadism and race issues. There’s a special music star performing live and clearly a lot of money and resource has been thrown at this.

However, there are parts I’m not a fan of. Some sketches feel old and predictable when you expect edgy and genuinely funny from the urban scene that I know exists out there. I’ll watch your feedback with interest once it starts airing.


As if all that wasn’t enough, the week also saw us trot down to the heart of Covent Garden, to the United Nude Flagship Store to watch an intimate music set performed by one of my favourite UK female vocalists- miss Terri Walker!


Before Terri arrived, we were treated to sparkling Presecco, cocktails, cider, chocolates, food, and authentic entertainment. So we’re eating and drinking to our hearts content whilst surrounded by shoes. Like juxtaposing every fun girlytime activity into one mash-up night.

Many of Terri’s die-hard fans and supporters turned out to see her sing a few tracks from her latest album ENTITLED. Before she even hit the stage and welcomed her guests, the crowd were buzzing and the energy was positive. Terri’s arrival instantly charmed her audience with her usual giggly, infectious, charismatic presence. Also of course a voice that speak volumes!
t arms

Performing songs from her brand new 2015 album ‘Entitled’ – Bad, Boy, Already Told Ya, Feel It In The Water, it’s fair to say that Terri Walker the artist continues to grow and continues to make it happen no matter what the industry hurdles she’s had to overcome.

‘Entitled’ is a body of works that highlights her legacy as a songwriter and also the artist that vocalises the songs. Live, she’s never disappoints, she can’t disappoint. Her talent is immense and timeless and it certainly looks like she is in a good space. She will continue to remind us (UK), that she isn’t going anywhere and given any opportunity to demonstrate what she does extremely well……..we will support!
t singing
A salute to United Nude, King Bloom Cocktails, Alska Cider, Pop Chips and Divine Chocolate for hosting such a wonderful event.

Catch Terri live near you and London; get your tickets now for her headlining gig at Under The Bridge (Stamford Bridge) on September 6th.

Entitled Out Now http://geni.us/Entitled @TheRealMzWalker