MON 24 – SUN 30 SEPT
Cliveden Literary Festival, Cliveden House, Sat 29 – Sun 30 Sep
For a small festival, this sure punches above its weight. Famous names this year include historian Kate Williams, actress Ruth Wilson, broadcaster June Sarpong, author Professor Simon Schama, MP Priti Patel, psychologist Tanya Byron and barrister/former PM wife Cherie Blair. With the sumptuous hotel as the backdrop, this promises to be a fabulous affair.
THEATRE: A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad), South Street Arts Reading, Wed 26 Sep
It’s a joyful, buoyant, gleeful, slightly silly, sugar-coated, unrelenting and completely super happy show! Except for the bits about depression. Written by Olivier award winner Jon Brittain (Rotterdam and Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho), this is a funny cabaret musical about depression, that explains, sings, and throws glitter about how it’s OK not to be OK.
Also performing on Tue 25 Sep at Norden Farm Maidenhead.
FESTIVAL: Windsor Fringe Festival, various Windsor locations, Fri 21 – Sat 6 Oct
If you like your arts fresh out of the box, head to Windsor Fringe Festival – the second oldest fringe in the UK after Edinburgh. Expect an eclectic programme of comedy, music, drama, DJs, arts, gin tasting and more, plus the world reknowned International Windsor Fringe Award for New Drama Writing, sponsored by the legendary Kenneth Branagh.
SHOPPING: Clearance sale, Douai Pavillion Woolhampton, Tues 25 Sept
On your marks, get set… go! The Corner Shop in Woolhampton, Beaver’s Pots and fashion brand Aspiga are clearing stock to make way for (whisper it, Christmas). Sharpen your elbows and get yourself down to Douai Pavillion RG7 5TG from 8am. Loads of beautiful things for an absolute steal (shhh, up to 75% off). Don’t worry, I’ll leave plenty of goodies for you. For more info email: email@example.com
THEATRE: Trial By Laughter, Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – Sat 27 Oct
Following on from the record-breaking play The Wipers Times (if you missed it, it’s on at the Oxford Playhouse 3-8 Sep), Ian Hislop and Nick Newman are back at the Watermill Theatre to premiere a new play. This true and extraordinary story is about the trial of William Hone – a forgotten hero of free speech, he was charged with ‘impious blasphemy and seditious libel’. The only crime he had committed was to be funny. Worse than that he was funny by parodying religious texts. And worst of all, he was funny about the despotic government and the debauched monarchy. I enjoy Ian Hislop’s razor-sharp wit so it’s bound to be a fun evening an it’s got a whiff of Private Eye…
An Audience with Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, The Watermill Newbury, Tue 25 Sep
Want to meet the writing talents behind Private Eye, Spitting Image, Harry Enfield and Chums, The Wipers Timers, to name a few? Now’s your chance. Spend the afternoon with Ian Hislop and Nick Newman as they give an insight into the lives and careers, approach to writing and how they created Trial By Laughter at this special fundraising event. Tickets £25… it includes tea and cake. Just saying.
FILM: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Datchet Village Hall, Tues 25 Sep
I gotta confess I didn’t know a lot about Hedy Lamarr until now, but what a woman! A Hollywood bombshell from the silver screen days of the 1930s to 1950s Hedy appeared in a few hit movies. But it was her work as an inventor that make her catnip for the curious. During the Second World War she invented a radio guidance system for allied torpedoes, the US Navy adopted the system in the 1960s, and the principles of her work were later used in Bluetooth technology. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story reveals how the world underestimated the brains behind Hedy’s beauty. It happens to me all the time. Tickets £6 on the door.
NT Live: King Lear, UK national cinema release, Thu 27 Sep
These National Theatre live screenings are fab. No need to schlep into London and pay through the nose, you can immerse yourself in Ian McKellan’s critically acclaimed performance at The Roxy in Stowe School and then be home in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. If you want to give the multiplex a body swerve, see it at the Corn Exchange Newbury and South Hill Park Bracknell.
ART: The Seven Halts on the Somme, Eton School Hall, Wed 26 Sep
My paintings tend to come in the form of emulsion slapped on the wall , so when you get up close to the work of true talent, I am generally in awe. British painter Hughie O’Donoghue will be in da house to discuss his abstract series known as The Seven Halts on the Somme.Each painting connects to a location where the British Army was brought to a standstill during the Battle of the Somme. A unique and special opportunity to learn from a genuine master. I’m off to buy an adult colouring book – baby steps and all that. Tickets £12.
SPORT: Half Marathon, Windsor Great Park, Sun 30 Sep
Well it’s not quite a marathon (thank god) but it’s still a sizeable puff around the royal splendour of Windsor Great Park in the shadow of Windsor Castle. It’s essentially a family fun day in aid of The Prince Philip Trust with a more leisurely 2.5-mile option also available for ages 10+, so if you’re a horrifically lapsed exerciser like me this could be the kickstart to your fitness you’ve been looking for.
CULTURE: Henley Literary Festival, various locations in Henley, Sat 29 Sep – Sun 7 Oct
Did you know Muddy is part of the Henley Literary Festival this year? Squeals of excitement at the uber literary-ness, fizz and intelligent chatter at the Muddy literary salon. A few other highlights: Kate Humble talks about her new book Thinking On My Feet, Cathy Newman on Bloody Brilliant Women, Bryony Gordon on Eat, Drink, Run (following in the same venue after our salon so you can make a night of it), Kate Mosse on The Burning Chambers, Lucy Mangan on Bookworm and Rebecca Front on Impossible Things Before Bedtime. Plus, we’ve snaffled a stellar panel of three dazzling writers for our salon – Viv Groskop, award-winning comedian and author of The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons From Russian Literature, Farrah Storr, Cosmopolitan editor and author of The Discomfort Zone: How To Get What You Want By Living Fearlessly and Caroline O’ Donoghue, writer for The Pool whose Promising Young Women is one of the most acclaimed debut novels of 2018. The festival is now one of the biggest in the UK and well worth a visit to this chichi riverside town.
DANCE: Tassels: An Evening of Burlesque, Corn Exchange Newbury, Thu 27 Sep
Naughty has never been so nice. The fabulous burlesque dancers Tassels will be heading to the Corner Exchange Newbury with a glittering evening of good old fashioned saucy entertainment. With a bevy of glamourous stars, speciality variety artists and fabulous costumes, this dazzling new show is the perfect blend of danger and delight. Leave your inhibitions at the door and experience a burlesque extravaganza.
THEATRE: Forbidden Nights: Sexy Circus Tour, Hexagon Reading, Sat 29 Sep
This brings a whole new meaning to the Big Top, because Forbidden Nights is where circus gets sexy (their line not mine). Who knew? Not one for the kids as although the clown count maybe high, the moves are anything but PG. Brace yourself for the ultimate strip tease from a cast of acrobats, aerial artists, fire acts and circus performers. Steer clear of the front row, there’s a high risk of baby oil in your eye.
COMEDY: Brewery Comedy Spectacular 2, Windsor & Eton Brewery, Sat 29 Sep
Following on from the sellout Brewery Comedy Spectacular of 2017, we have Brewery Comedy Spectacular 2. Like all good sequels is doesn’t need a fancy title, just a number. I’m a big fan of the monthly comedy nights on the factory floor of Windsor and Eton Brewery, so you know they’ll be massively upping their game for the Fringe. It’s also Brewery Comedy’s 4th birthday, even more reason to give it some welly. Names of the acts are being kept under wraps, but it promises to be an unforgettable night with a lorra laughs, silliness, surprises and booze. If they can’t organise the proverbial p*&% up in a brewery, I don’t know who can. Tickets £10 in advance or £12 on the door.
MUSIC: Toffeetronic, Chad Jackson and Se7ens, The Old Court Windsor, Sat 29 Sep
Back to the old skool for a superclub flashback, hands in the air kinda night with Toffeetronic‘s acid house-techno-hip hop musical mash up, former Hacienda Club resident DJ Chad Jackson (remember Hear the Drummer Get Wicked? That was him) and Windsor’s renowned Se7en’s crew will be playing the crowdpleasers. Raid the depths of your wardrobe, smiley faces and crop tops (*cough * perhaps not) and remember 90s rave culture the second time round. Tickets £5.
SHOPPING: Miranda Dunn Pop Up, Jax Jeans Hungerford, Thu 27 – Sat 29 Sep
Hotober can do one, I’m all about sunshine and f-f-f-reezing temperatures. Only because I and longing for a Miranda Dunn London hug in a faux fur ‘Happy Coat’. Miranda will be popping up at Jax Jeans Hungerford this week, so you can stylishly snuggle up to your coat of dreams which come in different lengths, styles and designs, plus you can add your initials on the back too.
CULTURE: Conquer the Tower, Windsor Castle, until 30 Sep
To the tower! On this occasion you’ll keep your head. The iconic Round Tower dominates the Windsor skyline, and now you can take the 200 steps (wheeze… one too many ice creams this summer) to check out the epic view from the top. While the Queen’s holidaying in Balmoral, poke around her gaff and see St George’s Chapel, Long Walk, Windsor Great Park and the London skyline.
SHOPPING: Autumn Gift Fair, RDA Hillfields Farm RG8, Thu 27 Sep
Can I mention the C word? There’s less than 100 days until the big gift giving frenzy. Before then anxiety kicks in, get a head start early birders, by popping along to the Autumn Gift Fair in aid of Newbury Riding for the Disabled. There will be 50n fab stalls of food, clothing and homewares. Giddy up, it’s for an awesome charity and your can polish your Crimbo halo.
Hillfields Farm, Park Wall Lane, Lower Basildon, RG8 9PE (9.30am–4.00pm)
MUSIC: Portugese Fado with Claudia Aurora, Windsor Baptist Church, Fri 28 Sep
Relive the sounds of summer with the critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Claudia Aurora in the ethereal surroundings of Windsor Baptist Church. Claudia will perform traditional Portugese folk songs, as well as her own beautiful passionate songs of loss, love and longing. She has performed throughout the world, and her sell out concert at the Festival Hall was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. A unique voice in an equally unique venue. Just add custard tarts and good wine. Cue stampede. Tickets £13.50.
FILM The Wife, UK cinema release, Fri 28 Sep
Superbly acted by Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, this intimate look inside a marriage is based on the book by Meg Wolitzer. Joan and Joe Castleman have been together for 40 years but when Joe wins the Nobel Prize for literature, the award exacerbates strains in the marriage. Interestingly, this is less a portrait of a marriage and more about the compromises a mid 20th century creative woman felt she had to make in order to survive.
FAMILY FUN: The Marvellous Picnic, Great Missenden Abbey, Bucks, Sat 29 Sep
Enjoy loads of family-friendly activities and a yummy picnic in the grounds of Missenden Abbey, all in aid of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity. Activities include story-telling, puppets, bouncy castle, face painting, cake bake off, bouncy castle, acapella choir and, if you’re in need of a pick-me-up after that lot, a Pimm’s Bar, thank you very much.
CULTURE: An Evening with Grayson Perry, Jay Rayner, Gareth Malone and Rachel Tucker, New Theatre Oxford, Mon 24 Sep
Never say Muddy doesn’t find you the unusual… Start your evening with restaurant critic Jay Rayner telling tales of dining hell and bad reviews, followed by West End leading lady Rachel Tucker singing songs with choir man Gareth Malone. Quick G&T in the interval before listening to artist and author Grayson Perry discussing cultural division in the world of Brexit and Trump. All proceeds go to charity.
CHIT CHAT: Graham Norton in Conversation, Old Town Hall, Wycombe Swan, Fri 28 Sep
Plugging his second novel The Keeper (his debut Holding was a Sunday Times bestseller), Graham pops up in High Wycombe to talk about his book – a tale of secrets and ill-fated loves – followed by a Q&A. Let’s face it, the opportunity to ask Graham some nosey questions is the draw rather than the free signed copy of his book but we’ll humour you, Graham.
THEATRE: Antony & Cleopatra, National Theatre, London, now until Wed 19 Jan 2019
Super thesps Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, star in Shakespeare’s tale of ill-fated lovers in war torn Ancient Rome and Egypt. With celebrated director Simon Goodwin in charge (who even took a trip to Egypt to consider how the country might differ in our imaginations from that of Shakespeare’s day) and award-winning designer Hildegard Bechtler, it’s shaping up to be a special theatrical event.
THEATRE: Pinter at The Pinter, London, now until 23 Feb 2019
Never before have all twenty of Pinter’s short plays been performed together in one season. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pinter’s death, this gathering of stellar actors (many of whom worked with Pinter) looks like a humdinger. Famous names include Martin Freeman, Jane Horrocks, Tamsin Greig, David Suchet, Sir Anthony Sher, Mark Rylance, John Simm, Penelope Wilton and – alright, love – Danny Dyer! And if that’s not enough, they’ll even be some surprise guest stars. This is gonna be big, people, so get booking. Bonus: one act plays mean you’ll still have some evening left for dinner and drinkies in the Big Smoke
EXHIBITION: Dark Arts, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios, Watford, Fri 28 Sep – Sat 10 Nov
Back by popular demand, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios will be decorated the Great Hall with over 100 floating pumpkins, as seen in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with a Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Arts – wand combat techniques and Death Eater duels as well as filmmaking snot, blood and drool. Er, nice!
EXHIBTION: Black Mirror: Art as Social Satire, the Saatchi Gallery, London, Fri 28 Sep – Sun 13 Jan 2019
In these troubling times, satire can provide some light relief and hold up a mirror to modern-day politics. This new exhibition explores how art and satire can question and commentate in a way that can diffuse situations. All sorts of media have been used, including photography, installations and more obviously caricatures, and what’s even better is it’s completely free (very helpful when in Chelsea flexing the credit card).
UNIQLO Tate Lates, Tate Modern, London, Fri 28 Sep
Totally groovacious after hours event at Tate Modern on the last Friday of every month, with a mix of art, music, film and workshops. Yours from 6-10pm and absolutely free. tate.org.uk
TALK: Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends, The Royal Albert Hall, Sat Dec 1
Tickets for Rob Lowe’s live show go on sale this Friday and are bound to sell out fast (as they have in the States). Inspired by his memoirs of the same name and his previous book Love Life, Mr Lowe will spill the beans on a career from the Brat Pack to The West Wing to Parks and Rec and beyond. Apparently, he’s quite the raconteur with loads of witty anecdotes that touch on his career, fame, Hollywood, fatherhood and marriage.
THEATRE: The Wider Earth, The Natural History Museum, Tues Oct 2 – Sun 30 Dec
Exciting news – there’s a theatre being opened in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum for the European premiere of award-winning drama The Wider Earth, a play about the young Charles Darwin. Puppets, an original score and cinematic animations make this theatrical event a great draw for kids plus they’ll learn a helluva lot in the process.
THEATRE: Evita, Wycombe Swan, Tues 23 – Sat 27 Oct
After a smash hit run in London, Bill Kenwright’s production of Rice and Webber’s classic Evitapromises to captivate the provinces with its story of Eva’s rise to power at a time of political unrest, leading her to be heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people. With top West End stars including Lucy O’Bryne and Mike Sterling, it’s been doing the rounds to critical acclaim so get booking tickets now.