Thursday, 26 February 2009

Sister Act The Musical: I'm So Excited

Whoopi pictured with Patrina

One of my favourite musicals is gearing up to receive a theatrical makeover in a couple of months. Sister Act, the classic musical comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg, is scheduled to make its West End debut at the Palladium Theatre in May. Am I the only one who is beyond excited by this? Seems so. While discussing this tantalising news with one of our lovely contributors over the phone, I received this dispassionate response from Litte Miss Far From Impressed. Me: “So Sister Act the Musical starts in May, wow, I’m soooooo excited” … (Silence). Me: “Monica, are you still there? Did you hear me? Monica: “Yeah, I heard you. I HATE musicals”. Ohhhhh kay then, yet another reminder that I need to bring it down a couple of notches on my excitement quotient. I get far too animated about things most consider barely worthy of discussion. 

So who’s gonna be in it, who’s gonna be in it? (Sorry, still at it; can’t contain myself). Well according to the press release, after a year long search, a 24 year old singer/actress by the name of Patrina Milner has been cast in the lead role of Deloris Van Cartier, made famous by Whoopi. I’ve just You Tube’d Patrina, and the girl can surely saaang! I’m quite conflicted by that actually. I liked the fact that Whoopi could barely carry a tune and in her nightclub singing days would perform as a second rate Diana Ross complete with bad wigs, bad make up, and ill fitting sparkly numbers. But apparently the producers wanted a more rousing gospel feel to it, hence the appointment of power chops Patrina. And I guess in all honesty you’d feel hard done by after parting with your hard earned cash only to head to the theatre to hear bad singing. I know I certainly would. To find out more about the show visit 

For old school heads, here's a number from the film

Cocoa Chat: Trisha Goddard

Photo credit: The Daily Mail

Whenever I think of the DC3 classic "I'm a survivor, not gonna give up” yadda yadda yadda, I think not of the hilarity of the perfectly poised Beyonce pretending to be shipwrecked, but of daytime TV queen and perennial survivor - Trisha Goddard. What hasn't Trisha been through? Depression. Divorce. Her own DNA dramas which revealed that the white dad she believed was her biological father, was in fact not. In all honesty she could probably fill a couple of seasons of her show based upon her own traumatic life experiences. When it was revealed last year that she had breast cancer, I thought to myself: my gosh, hasn’t she been through enough? However, in no time at all she successfully battled the disease and is currently fighting fit. I must admit, I’ve never really been a fan of her show, so felt quite indifferent about interviewing her. But after a 30 minute conversation with this one woman powerhouse I'm now a fully signed up member of the Trisha Appreciation Club. In a word - inspirational. I hope you agree after reading the interview, which is also featured in the latest issue of Pride magazine, out now.

So your show recently ended on Channel 5, so this is like a new chapter in your life. What have you been doing since, and what are your plans for the future? 

Actually we’re still doing the show because it doesn’t end till the end of the year. We’re still in production, so I haven’t really begun to think about it to be honest.

How did you feel when it was announced that your show would be axed, did you feel as if it was time to go, or do you have so much more to give? 

I’m quite philosophical about it to be honest. I always think when one thing ends something else begins. It will be nice to be creative in other ways. 

So tell us about the initiative you are involved in the NHS Patient Choice?

Well I got involved for a variety of reasons. I’ve always been involved the health world albeit the mental health world and well being. The Patient Choice is the beginning of a new initiative that I very much support because anything that supports the consumer is a must in my mind. So being able to choose when and where you go to hospital is very important. Anything that takes away the added stress of having an operation has got to be a plus. For instance my husband had to go and have an extraction to have his wisdom tooth taken out. And the hospital he went to was the hospital that I got treated for breast cancer from and that freaked him out. He didn’t think it was going to freak him out, but had he thought about that in advance he probably would’ve wanted to go to another hospital. 

As you’ve just mentioned, you recently battled breast cancer. What kept you going through your battle with the disease, was it a strong sense of faith, family support, your work etc? 

Yes, ditto for all of those. I had a strong sense of faith and I was very fit. The doctors told me time and time again that the fact I was working out with weights, I was running, I was still recording the show, the fact that I was fit and doing these things meant I had the energy to keep up and keep going all the way through. And a sense of faith as well, my strong family ties, specifically my husband and my daughters. And I guess the resilience that you build up over the years. 

Jade Goody has been criticised for being so open about her cancer plight, but you were equally candid. Why did you make the decision to go public with news of your cancer and did you ever at all regret it? 

I didn’t mean to be to be quite honest. I would have kept it quiet but the story leaked. Mainly because at the time I was so knocked for six I just wanted to hunker down with my family and deal with it. The last thing you're thinking is ‘yippee lets have a press conference’. And also when it was leaked I had some family that didn’t know about it. Only my immediate family and my business partner knew, not even my staff knew. I thought if I was going to say anything to them I would say this is the state of play, this is what the results are and this is what the prognosis is. At that point I didn’t know. So people say how brave I was to share it with the rest of the world. I could lie and say ‘oh yes, I was’ but the reality was it was taken out of my hands I didn’t have much of a choice. 

Throughout the experience we saw a whole new Trisha. You cut off your hair and looked great. Are you still wearing your short crop? 

Yep, I do the show wearing a wig because I don’t want the guests focusing on me. But otherwise I’ve still got my cropped hair. I’ve had the colour changed a bit to what I call black blonde. And now I’m really getting into it. And it’s funny because one of my anthems while I was running and going for treatment was the India Irie song ‘I Am not my Hair’, it’s my absolute anthem because of the positive lyrics. And it’s interesting that I’ve now gone back to my roots, literally, and wearing my natural hair for the first time since 1988. So I think you sort of get real. And I like it. I can be edgier and funkier. 

So how are you feeling now? 

Great. I’m still weight training I’m still running; it’s part of my life. I’ve had numerous doctors say they’ve learned a lot from me. All of them said they’ve never come across someone like me, who not only worked through my treatment but continued to run and train. I had nausea I had diarrhoea my eyes dried up, I had mouth ulcers, throat ulcers - I had the lot. But it didn’t impact on me so badly. I didn’t know that I was particularly suffering that badly because I didn’t go on those (cancer) websites as I find them a bit victim-ish. So I just thought all that I was going through was normal. And each time something came up like mouth ulcers I’d ask my doctor and I’d find out to gargle with Panadol. But it didn’t drag me down. Every time I’d start running I’d initially start off feeling like throwing up or crawling under a bush, but 15 minutes in I’d be like ‘yeah!’. I had all my uplifting ‘I Will Survive music’ on my I-Pod, so by the end of the hour I’d be ready to go and work.  

You’ve been through so many adversities but always seem so unfazed by any curve ball that life throws your way. What do you attribute to this attitude? 

I probably appear that way, but going through things is like wading through dog poo. But at the time, I just take it a step at a time rather than think ‘oh my God’. Plus, the more you go through the more you learn you that you can withstand. I think resilience is important, it’s the greatest gift we can teach our children. And the way we teach our children resilience is not to bail them out of every situation, but to let them know you are there and to let them figure things out. Because the more they get practice at dealing at stuff, the better they’re going to be at life. Unfortunately in this day and age too many parents are quick to bail their kids out. But my kids weren’t allowed to have mobile phones until they were in their teens. And even then they had to pay. They’ve never ever been given money. They have to work for money. No jobs, no money.  

You are one of few black women on terrestrial British TV, why do you think there are still so few of us on the box? 

Oooh don’t get me started (laughs). You know what I find so hypocritical. The press are raving on about how fantastic Barack Obama is, I’m sorry but it’s bullshit. Because while they’re all raving on about how it’s going to change the world, yet over here in the UK they’re just sitting here. Because we’ve got equal opportunities, and anti-discrimination laws that’s all they think they have to do. There is no will in this country. And also we have a class system that holds us back, whereas you don’t have that in the States.  Okay, I’m gonna just ask a question and throw it out there. I’m on television every day. Before being on Channel Five, I was on ITV every day. Now don’t get me wrong, I know them and admire them,but Fern Britton, my friend Fiona Phillips who has been so good to me and Lorraine Kelly. Now we all see ourselves as kind of the same group. I challenge you to add up how many times the others have been on the front of magazines, and how many times I have been. Now the only time it got me down was when I was really ill and you have bad times, and I said to my husband “I must be ugly. I’m obviously not as good looking as Lorraine Kelly and Fiona Phillips because no one wants me on the front cover of their magazine.” So I’m just throwing that question out to magazine editors, why when I’m on television as much as my other friends, am I still deemed too unpopular to be put on the cover of their magazine?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Deadenders: The Verdict

Well I missed last night's "history making" episode of Eastenders, but enjoyed reading the recap from Janice @ Madnews. Have a (Pat) Butcher's here:

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Eastenders Does A Vogue Italia

Picture: Patrick Truman, courtesy of the BBC. 

Hang on to your hats folks, apparently tonight's episode of Eastenders will feature an all black cast. According to various media sources Patrick Truman (played by Rudolph Walker) will school Chelsea (Tiani Benjamin) about the harsh realities that Caribbean immigrants endured upon arrival to  50's Britain. In the spirit of the good old fashioned Eastenders monologue Patrick will apparently make reference to the Notting Hill race riots, Martin Luther King, and racist slogans such as 'Keep Britain White'. The Sun newspaper claim that although the BBC haven't advertised it as  an 'all black episode', there won't be a word uttered from a non-black barmaid, shopkeeper or passer-by, which suggests that the Beeb have done a U turn in their decision to promote it for some reason.. Mmm, it's a bit of a weird one. As it's only being publicised/leaked now, I'm for once going to agree with the Sun. And while this gallant effort by the programme makers should ignite some sort of excitement within me, on the contrary, my mind is on standby, gearing up to go into cringe mode. 

For the uninitiated, Eastenders is one of the UK's longest running soap operas. However, their track record in race representations leaves a lot to be desired due to their heavy reliance on racial caricatures & stereotypes. In the past couple of years alone we've had Gus the dustbin man/Gary the drug dealer/Patrick the nice but dim jolly man from di islands/Denise, the archetypal angry black woman... You catch my drift. 

Monday, 23 February 2009

My son, the gang member

Photo from the Guardian

Interesting piece in the Guardian, about Suzella Palmer, a criminologist who uses her teenage son as a case study to examine black youth violence. Click to read.

Thursday, 19 February 2009


Last year my ever so thoughtful buddy copped me a copy of ARISE magazine, a new glossy published by the people behind This Day Africa, the charity dedicated to bringing awareness of the issues affecting Africa through fashion and music. I  have to say; the magazine was truly breathtaking. The cover featured catwalk goddesses Alek Wek, Naomi Campbell and Liya Kebede, and inside there were back to back fashion shoots with models donning couture from predominantly African designers. The second issue of the magazine is out on sale now. But in these economically challenging times, I really had to think twice about the hefty  £4.95 cover price (didn't they get the memo on recession), and ended up picking up a 65p copy of Star magazine instead. Blah!

They Call Me Grace...That's Not My Name

Gosh, what an absolute snooze-fest last night's BRITS Awards was. With the exception of Take That and dare I say it - Girls Aloud, the show was totally lacklustre in my opinion. I was really looking forward to Estelle's duet with the Ting Tings, as I love both artists'. But for me, the pairing just didn't work. I don't know if it was lack of rehearsal time, but there was zero onstage chemistry and musically their respective sounds clashed big time.

Ms Swaray definitely channelled her inner Grace Jones last night. I know a lot of people aren't feeling her futuristic get up, but I applaud anyone who is willing to be a bit daring, and take a few style risks. In case you missed it, check out the performance below. 

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

One ELLE of a Night!

Images sourced from

Not even the torrential downpour was going to stop the long-limbed Louboutin wearing fashionistas from attending last night’s Elle Style Awards. Considered the Oscar’s of the fashion world, the event took place in central London and in usual fashion attracted high profile guests including Sienna Miller, Courtney Love and the PM’s wife, Sarah Brown. Cocoa beauties included Thandie Newton who wore a rainbow hued Jonathon Saunders dress, Naomi Harris who kept it fuss free in a black figure hugging knee length dress; Alexandra Burke who took a style risk by donning a sequin D&G nautical dress (mmmn, the verdict's still out), and VV Brown who stayed true to her quirky style by rocking a vintage top with a Luella Bartley prom style skirt. 

Monday, 9 February 2009

Gongs & Grime at this Year's Grammy's

Congratulations and all that good stuff goes out to Noel Clarke for picking up a BAFTA Award at last night’s star-studded ceremony. The actor/director won the Orange Rising Star Award, the only accolade to be voted by the public. Meanwhile across the pond, my girl Estelle was wowing her American boy plus countless others at the illustrious Grammy Awards, where she not only performed with Kanye West, but also picked up a Grammy for best rap/sung collabo. Psst, I’ve got a confession to make. I really liked Estelle’s outfit, although I know it’s been panned by the critics for it’s salutary nod to Dr Spock and his Star Trek cohorts. Hmph, whatever. They just don’t know style. It certainly was a great night for the Brits. Witnessing the likes of Adele, Coldplay, Duffy and M.I.A receive their props made me feel quite a sense of pride (although to be quite honest I was mortified at M.I.A’s ill-fitting dress and cringe-worthy performance) . I definitely feel there’s a strong resurgence in British popular culture that the world probably hasn’t witnessed since the swinging sixties. Yay Britannia! 

As per usual, I stayed up waaaay past my bedtime to watch the frocks, shocks and frolics that was the Grammy Awards Red Carpet Arrivals on the E Channel. Such compulsive viewing, I tell ya. First up was the visibly uncomfortable interview between Red Carpet host Ryan Seacrest as he tried his best to avoid foot in mouth disease whilst interviewing Jennifer Hudson (welcome back Jen). He definitely tore up the rule book though when it came to interviewing T.I. The normally cool and debonair American Idol host within a heartbeat transformed into our very own Jeremy Paxman, his line of questioning as follows: “So you’re going to prison for having a carload of guns? (cue: awkward response). "And you've learned from this experience, right.” (add another awkward response). Talk about random. And so widely inappropriate considering the occasion. But nothing however could top the news coming in from sidelines. One minute we were witnessing a live televised dressing down, the next we’re being told that Chris Brown won't be appearing due to his arrest earlier that morning for felony battery. Huh? Sounded well dodgy. But as the story materialisesd it became apparent it was indeed true, and his young lover, Rihanna (who also cancelled her appearance), seemed to be the unnamed victim of the alleged assault. The gossip blogs are currently going into overdrive, salivating over a variety of salacious stories which lay claim to know the reason behind the altercation. Whatever the case, I think it’s pretty sad. To lose it so badly gives us some an indication of the kind of pressure cooker environment that these young stars are under. Let’s not forget that behind the diamond studded earrings, and Gucci shoes, lie just a couple of kids. 

Friday, 6 February 2009

Valentine's Cocoa Calendar

Wow, it’s nearly Valentine's already, can you believe it? While I’m not adverse to the season of love, I’m certainly not one of those hopeless romantics who go all out by ordering a trailer load of rose petals, shiny heart-shaped balloons, or anything equally crazy. *Shrugs*, I guess I've never really been that kinda girl. But anyway, I'm not complaining. As cheesy as it is a concept it's a day to get glammed up and head out for a night on the razz nonetheless. So for those celebrating in and around the capital, here are a few happenings going down that might entice you to battle the cold and go out and celebrate. 

Bamboo Grove

Bamboo Grove is a Caribbean restaurant located right in the heart of South Croydon.  Owned by renowned chef Anthony Cumberbatch, I visited for the first time last week and can personally vow that the food is truly lip-smacking. I usually frown upon words like “nouvelle cuisine” when applied to Caribbean food, but trust me, it definitely works. If like me, you're a seafood junkie, I'd wholeheartedly recommend the three fish curry. Little miss gluttony here devoured the whole plate entirely and has been routinely dreaming about it ever since. The braised oxtail is great too. Anthony will be creating a special Valentine's menu during the season of love, so check him out at 


Jazzie B & Soul II Soul - 14th Feb

Ready to go back to life, back to reality? Well join Jazzy B and his funky associates, Soul II Soul, as they take to the stage at the Jazz CafĂ© for one night only. The group are still going strong, having relocated to Antigua to create what sounds like some kinda of funky soul commune. I’m pretty certain revellers can expect a melange of classics such as “Keep On Movin’” and “Back 2 Life”, as well as more recent material. For further info visit 

Jodeci - 14th Feb

Well look what we have here, us Brits can’t get enough of Jodeci. Although the group haven’t had a hit in years, they still have a loyal fan base in the UK, and every Valentine's it's almost a given that they’ll roll into town for a series of gigs. This year they’ll be appearing at Wembley Arena alongside R&B singer, Joe. Provided that they all actually turn up, it should be an interesting gig. Visit for bookings. 


 Image by Flasch photography

Yolanda Brown - 14th & 15th Feb

Mobo award winning Jazz saxophonist, Yolanda Brown, is set to headline her own Valentine’s concert this month. Comprising of a full live band and special guests, Yolanda is one hell of a performer and a total sweetie. I have a sneaky suspicion that the gig on the 14th is sold out, but don’t take my word for it. Visit for info.

Rose Royce - 14th Feb

The group behind enduring soul/funk classics like ‘Car Wash’, Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ and ‘Wishing on A Star’ head to the Indig02 this month for a Valentine's concert. I saw this Rose Royce randomly at Catford Broadway about four years ago and they are phenomenal live. Now reunited with lead singer Gwen Dickey, audience members will be in for a treat. Visit for ticket info.  

Mica Paris - 20th & 21st Feb

I'm such a Mica stan. The singer of 80's hits such as 'My One Temptation' and 'Where Is The Love' is sadly now known more as a TV personality/ reality TV star than the phenomenal soul singer that she was born to be. I've never seen her live so I'm particularly excited about her forthcoming shows at the Jazz Cafe. For details visit 

Freddie Jackson - 28th Feb

Soul crooner Freddie Jackson performs at the Indig02 this month. The man behind soul classics such as 'Rock Me Tonight' and 'You Are My Lady' hasn't performed in the UK for over 10 years, so I suspect lovers of old school soul will be out in their droves to see this one. Tickets are priced between £30-50, visit for further details. 

Thursday, 5 February 2009

N-Dubz: I Put A Spell on You

It’s official, N-Dubz done juju* up the whole of England. This morning I was getting dressed for work when I heard GMTV’s Andrew announce that the group would be performing after the break. Huh? But didn’t they appear on the show a mere few weeks ago, I asked myself. See, see, they’re playing tricks on my mind: juju. You still don’t believe me do you? Okay, read on. So there I was a couple years back at the MOBO launch when I first came across this group named N-Dubz. Comprising of two guys and a girl, they bounced onto stage with the confidence of seasoned artists. Then they started their - ahem - “performance”, the girl doing her Fergie, Black Eyed Peas thing, and the boys trying their best to communicate some kind of decipherable speech via their so-called rap. I chuckled inwardly. Their set reminded me of those end of college year performances you had to endure when you were younger. You know the ones with the crackly backing tracks, awkwardly constructed melodies, and crappy vocals from the college hottie who was more than convinced she was gonna be a superstar. But surely this can’t be right? We’re not at Southwark College; we’re at one of the most prestigious black music events in the UK. Then it dawned on me. I thought ‘awww, how cool of auntie Kanya to allow her nephews to perform at such a high profile event’ (I’d later discover that none of the members are related to MOBO founder, Kanya King ). So I turn to the girls standing close by and smile that kind of “we all know they’re shit but let’s humour them” smile. Stunned, I’m to discover that said girls are not only bopping along to the song, but mouthing the lyrics too. Juju! And then the next thing I hear N’Dubz are signed to a major record label and their publicist is calling up to ask for press coverage. Juju. Then platinum record sales: juju. And then the final straw occurred when they grace the premises of GMTV twice, finally confirming my theory of their “special powers”. Best be careful of them N-Dubz boys ladies, can’t say I didn’t warn you.

How's this for profound lyrical content

All I've got is these pictures of ya
And your light blue bruk down Nokia

Papa (Can You Hear Me), N-Dubz

*For those who don't know, juju is a West African term for witchcraft. This post should hopefuly make sense to you now, lol.

N-Dubz, Ouch

Thinking About Jade

Maybe it’s the mummy thing, or maybe it’s because I’ve lost two close family members to cancer. To be quite honest, I’m not entirely sure of the reason, but all I know is that without a doubt my heart is bleeding buckets over the news that Jade Goody’s cancer has spread. Initially when the news broke I assumed this would be just another episode in the reality star’s drama filled life. That this would be another footnote in her colourful history, providing the reality TV star with fodder to peddle to the likes of Hello and OK magazine for a tidy profit. But alas, it hasn’t quite gone according to script. The prognosis is bleak. Initially given a 50/50 survival rate, that was then reduced to 40%, and now specialists concede they are just looking for ways to prolong her life for as long as possible. I’m really hoping she’ll revert to form and bring out that fighting spirit we’ve become accustomed to over the last few years. Chin up girl!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snowed Under

So this morning my house phone starts ringing about 7am, I try to catch it, but typically it stops as soon as I pick up the receiver. Seconds later my moby goes off and  I start to panic (I always get anxious when the phone rings super early) so quickly fish my phone out of my bag. Instantly my nerves evaporate when I see my son's nursery number flash up. It gets better. It's Sandra, the General Manager sounding all serious. "Hi Keysha, we're just calling to let parents know that nursery will be closed today due to the heavy snow". "Huh...okay". " We've taken the advice of Transport For London who advise that people should only travel on the roads if their journey is absolutely necessary. Plus, there is no form of public transport, all services have been suspended". "Oh really?" (big cheshire cat grin). Wow,  I couldn't have dreamt up a better start to the week. Like Sir Bob Geldof and his Boomtown Rats I'm also pretty adverse to Mondays. Absolutely loathe them. But this Monday was magical. I loaded up my laptop and worked on some of my pages while sipping tea and eating homemade shortcake biscuits under the duvet (bliss). Khy, obviously enchanted by the snow, insisted we go out and make a snowman. Although initially reluctant, we eventually succumbed to his whinging and ventured out into the blitz like conditions. 15 mins later we had our own little toddler sized frosty. I love crazy, unpredicable days like this, it really makes you feel alive. More snow expected on Wednesday. Bring it on! 

About Me

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I am a thirty-something African Caribbean female from South East London. My blog will shine a light on Black British culture offering the best in entertainment, fashion, beauty, community, film & music, with the occasional personal musing thrown in from yours truly. Thank you for taking out the time to peek into the pages of my diary. Now grab a cup of cocoa, relax and enjoy.