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Showing posts from 2005
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Scenes from various parts of London Thursday evening. I kept getting the strangest of looks on the tube home with my luggage covered in plastic wrap. It was if I was carrying Laura Palmer home. Cling-wrapping your luggage probably isn't as popular here as it is in Australia as Londoners don't know that loud mouthed drug smuggler from the Gold Coast otherwise known as Schapelle Corby. I got the "Schapelle Wrap" as I wasn't confident that the zips would contain the 30kg of stuff contained within, and I didn't want my Aussiebum pants flying all over the cargo hold, rather than over any concern about what baggage handlers in Brisbane would do with them (or stick in amongst them)...

Of course since everyone in Australia now is paranoid about 4kg's of dope being inserted by Brisbane baggage handlers the wrap is de rigeur. Incidentally while in Oz I heard a new jingle:
Don't blame it on the sunshine,
Don't blame it on the Bali Nine,
Don't blame it on Q…
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Scenes from Heathrow Thursday 19:36 - After nearly an hour at immigration (where someone was arrested after walking around for 10 minutes yelling out what sounded like "Stella" in another language), Paul walks back into London...

Incidentally as the plane was getting ready to land one could glimpse all the major landmarks of London (Tower Bridge, Westminster, The Eye etc)... Just another winter's night in London.

Oh and it wasn't as cold as I was expecting... Temperatures were somewhere above zero for most of the night...
Housekeeping 11 November 2005

No more postings on this site until I return to London... Assuming I am allowed to return! In the meantime my blog is at http://paulincognito.blogspot.com. Thanks for reading...

Art: Rubens

One thing I didn't miss was the National Gallery latest blockbuster Rubens – A master in the making. I caught it yesterday evening. It is a collection of his earliest works and a great show indicating how his style developed and evolved. There are some very dramatic paintings including the recently discovered "lost Rubens" that sold for £45million in 2001. The way the paintings are displayed is a tad shambolic and suggests they were a little rushed in putting it all together but it was a great early evening diversion.
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Scenes from Paddington tube Wednesday 18:39 - Lard-arses waiting for the tube with a box of Krispy Kremes...

Last thoughts...

As it turns out, today is my last day in London. Tonight I fly back to Australia. Whether this is a permanent arrangement or a temporary one I will find out in a couple of weeks, so it is probably worth making a list of…

Things I will miss (in no particular order):
The weather. It has been fine and mild, and as the leaves are now starting to fall it looks all rather pleasant. I will be returning to Australia (Brisbane in particular) where it is hot, sticky and glaringly bright. When I tell English people about this they look at me and say "Oh yes I can see how you just can't stand the prospect of returning…"
Public transport that sort of works. Actually even with its problems it is still by far the most civilised public transport I have encountered in all my travels.
The parks the greenery and all that goes with that
British Television. Series three of Little Britain is about to commence. Darn.
Marks and Spencer food. By far the most edible and doesn't taste like they mad…
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Scenes from Tooting Common Tuesday 11:46. One of those fine crisp autumn days...

Theatre: Glorious

On Monday evening I caught the play Glorious, which is playing at the Duchess Theatre in Covent Garden. The play is based on the last year in the life of Florence Foster Jenkins. Florence Foster Jenkins was a rich woman who staged her own opera recitals in New York in the 1940s. The only problem with that was that she was tone deaf. She also made records of her performances and her album of butchered arias is no doubt the reason for her lasting appeal and the reason this play was made.

Maureen Lipman starred in the title role and was quite hilarious. It was quite amusing watching her antics and the highlight definitely was her recreation of the "Queen of the Night Aria" from the Magic Flute. Florence on record sounded like a strangled Chihuahua and Lipman equally rises to the challenge. She isn't singing Oklahoma here…

In her recitals Florence put on some rather extravagant costumes (that she made herself) and threw flowers out at the audience. She often got so carried a…
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Scenes from G-A-Y at the Astoria Sunday 02:08. Jason Donnovan singing live. The photo can't capture the horror a gaunt, aged poxy-ridden (he had some sort of flu) man he actually was. Guess those years of class A drugs took their toll... The punters loved Jason, but I think I was too sober to get into that. Oh to be at the Astoria on the wrong night. In two weeks time Madge will be there performing live to plug her new album release "Confessions on A Dance Floor"... Timing is everything...
Theatre: Macbeth and the night of woodies

On Friday evening I caught the opportunity to see the travelling production of Macbeth at the Almedia. It was a one-man version of the show starring Stephen Dillane (he starred opposite Nicole in The Hours). Alas it wasn't the most interesting of shows to see. The words pretentious and rubbish come to mind when describing it. You have to hand it to a director who manages to strip all the nuances and power from a story and just leave you there trying to work out what's going on while an actor changes voice, speaks in French at times (a French lady Macbeth anyone – ooh la lah!), and fights to be heard above music screeches that were composed specifically for this production.

It is the sort of show however that some people have loved, and its short run is practically sold out. I wondered how some of the audience managed to applaud after 100 minutes of squirming and restlessness. I didn't. It was the first time since seeing the English …

Concert: Renée Fleming

I knew it was going to be a bit of a treat last night when Renée Fleming walked on stage in a sensational Vivienne Westwood gown and the audience at the Barbican started cheering and carrying on. This was even before she sung a note. As she would later tell us during the course of the evening that the programme was something she was trying out with pianist Hartmut Höll and there really was something for everyone in it and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves – especially Renée.

The recital in the first half consisted of songs by Purcell and George Crumb. Fleming gave some background on why Crumb was a particular favourite of hers, noting that while as a composer he wrote rather dark moody music, in real life he is such an unassuming character he offered to fix a neighbours lawn mower (so there!). André Previn, Alban Berg and Schumann completed the second half and by the end of it all the audience was completely taken by her. It was what the punters had come for. And she is such an…

Overheard at the gym...

Australian: Did you go out on the weekend?
Other guy: Yeah it was a big night on Sunday…
Australian: Did you take any pills to get you through it?
Other guy: Yeah had a few things, how about you?
Australian: Yeah me too, although the one I like the clubs don't like here…
Other guy: Yeah GHB is good. I did a bit of K too…
Australian: I'm not a fan of K. I like to know where my feet are…
Other guy: Some of my friends don't like it because they think it is a horse tranquilizer, but it must be okay if paramedics use it…
Australian: Yeah I know what you mean. I try and do the cryptic crossword to make up for those brain cells I am killing off…

TV: Rome

Last night the first episode of the new series on Rome aired so I was among the 6.6million people who tuned in to watch it. After a few minutes of viewing I couldn't help but think that for a show about Rome there were an awful lot of maps of Tasmania on display. Getting past the beaver and buttock shots (which were interspersed amongst gore galore – which in retrospect was an inappropriate time to be eating lasagne) there was some sort of story, which potentially could be quite interesting over the next ten weeks, but I think the story isn't the drawcard here. Get the punters in by having freshly sacrificed bovine blood rubbed over Atia's tits is the drawcard. As fascinating as all that is it just isn't as fun as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum…

Geography: out and about...

There is a north / south divide between Londoners, which is silly really as there are crap parts of London both north and south of the Thames. Only the other day I was taunting somebody in NW London over their local unisex sauna that they described was where you could pick up an Eastern European sex slave. Welcome to the new Europe.

In SW2 where I am now located there isn't much of that. Although on the weekend a strange man (who was not local) knocked on the door and asked if A would mind "holding his things" for a little while… Apart from that it is a nice quiet street, in easy walking distance to Balham and Streatham Hill, although personally I prefer the extra walk to Balham than Streatham Hill which has to have one of the crappiest high streets in Britain.

Well this arrangement is temporary and depending on the outcome of a few things my location will change quite drastically in the next week or so…

Exhibitions: Diane Arbus

Yesterday I caught the Diane Arbus photography retrospective at the V&A. It was quite an amazing and fairly extensive exhibition of her work. Arbus was famous for her photographs mostly shot in New York from the sixties up until her suicide in 1971. The exhibition originated in San Francisco MOMA and at the moment you can't go anywhere on the tube without the V&A's ad for the show featuring an Arbus photo of a drag queen holding a cigarette, mouth partly open and hair in rollers. Don't know if that sort of imagery will bring the punters in but it certainly grabs your attention underground…

At the exhibition there were quite a lot of photographs to get through in the hour I set aside to see it. The exhibition also included letters, proofs and other paraphernalia relating to her life and gave some insight into the inspiration for her photographs of eccentric yet everyday scenes. You don't get much of a sense of why she may have killed herself at the age of 48 (alt…
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Scenes from Soho Thursday 23:29. After failing to get into a pub on the Southbank where an Australian TV programme was being filmed, Ad and I walked back into Soho and went to a more familiar bar that had a much more cheekier display. The bar dancer moved like he was imitating a spin cycle on a front loader, but the punters seemed to like that anyway...

Left Baggage

On Saturday catching a tube back home someone left a bag in the car I was travelling. The first thing I knew of this was when a passenger pulled the emergency alarm. The rest of us just sat there as the passenger informed the driver of the situation. He must have been awfully worried about this piece of left baggage as he took off while the rest of us just stayed on the car. The driver appeared. He asked the car if anyone owned the bag. Nobody did. I looked at the bag. It was just across from me. It looked very thin. There was a small child sitting there earlier, maybe it was hers. Anyway, surely it was much too thin to hold an Indian Tupperware containing some sort of explosive device. So I just sat there like everyone else. Surely it was harmless.  Station security must have thought so too as after a few minutes a man appeared and grabbed the thing and the journey continued on…

Idle Friday Lunchtime Chatter

Paul: I live near Tooting Bec Common now
Fa: Well you will have to get yourself a dog so you can walk it in the common
Paul: Yes I notice that dog walking or walking small children is the popular thing to do there
Fa: Hmm... I would just stick to the dog...
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Scenes from SW2 Thursday 11:35. The morning milk run...

News: London is Lousy?

Another rant from Gwyneth this week has set everyone talking. She calls customer service here rubbish and complains about the dirty streets and the weather. Actually she is sounding more and more like a local…

Her best advice though was to bring your cashmere sweater when coming to Britain. Of course it is worth noting that cute little outfits that cost a fortune carry no cachet with Londoners. Dress shabby.

And of course customer service here IS rubbish. I used a pretty lousy minicab service the other night to get to SW2 and was charged an extra £5 for carrying luggage. Ok so it was a little TV, a monster suitcase and a few boxes but I still thought that was outrageous. I suspected I was being scammed here but in the end I couldn't be arsed to haggle over it. I just made a mental note to write about it on the blog and to avoid that company in future…

Housekeeping...

I will be moving out of WC1 this week. I will miss living in zone 1, and having the view of the BT tower from my bedroom window. Well maybe for some other time…
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Scenes from South London Monday 13:32 - Approaching Clapham Junction on a foggy day...

News: Chicken's off

A bird in the hand may be worth throwing in the bush as after a week of scaring the general population with threats of 50,000 deaths in the UK from an outbreak of avian flu, this week the threat is what it will do to chicken sales? While there actually may be no link between the flu and dead chickens, all this talk of diseased birds are certainly putting one off a chicken roast for now. How the rest of Chicken mad Britain reacts is another matter…

Movies: Wallace and Gromit

Caught the new Wallace and Gromit movie last night. As it had just come out (in time for the school holidays here) it was particularly popular with the punters. A wasn't sure about seeing such a high culture film but I suggested that since it is a hit in cinemas in several countries it could be considered to be selling British culture to the world.

Indeed there were a lot of typically British things on display including:
A passionate love for not killing animals
Overzealous gardening (and it all looked very organic)
Upper class twits and eccentric town folk
Edwardian terrace housing, and
The usual red telephone boxes and post boxesSo who could ask for anything more? On the downside the Odeon cinema where I saw it is such rubbish. It is only five minutes away so it is handy but it smells across between a toilet and a candy store. Indeed the threadbare carpet has a stickiness about it that makes you wonder about how it got that way. Perhaps children gorging on fruit pastilles vomited them…

News: Northern Line

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Golders green station
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Northern Line trains being refitted with safety equipment at Golders Green.

This week everyone has been an expert on trip-cocks and other things that stop trains when tube drivers do a SPAD. The Northern Line resumed a very limited service tonight for the first time since Wednesday evening. But it will be another few days before there is anything like a regular service… A good time to be on holiday…
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Scenes from WC1 Saturday 10:33. Morning mist...

Life Lessons of the week

It has been a bit of a quiet week while I sort out some all-important matters (such as whether I am staying here in London beyond November). This weekend however I have started to move my things out of WC1. I will say goodbye to all the delights and conveniences of Zone 1 living (such as being able to walk to the gym, to Covent Garden, to Soho) and will be staying temporarily in Zone 3.

This week my flatmate R was also at home on holiday so it was a bit of the idle life this week.  R and I were reflecting on the past few months this week and I would have to say that my time here has been the best of all my living experiences in London. No prissy queens, no heavily medicated boyfriends, just good sensible living, with a smattering of gentlemen callers. Actually this week it has been more like lashings on R's part I don't know how he has the stamina to keep up, but I digress…

Reflecting on it all R mentioned that he had sussed me out pretty quickly, but what I didn't mention…
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Scenes from the supermarket Monday 21:07. Sarnies in a box for sale.

News: Squirrels on Crack

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Shocking news over the weekend. Not of cocaine being found in Boy George's apartment in New York (who would have thought?!), but of South London squirrels on crack. Not content to just hide nuts for the winter they are digging up stashes of drugs buried by the locals for later use. Brockwell Park is definitely worth an autumn visit now in search of dazed and confused rodents.



And speaking of Boy George, there is the tragedy of his arrival at Heathrow yesterday. After wondering for years why he wears all that hideous makeup the truth is that he is concealing an even more hideous reality. He looks like the rough trade you find at The Black Cap on a slow night… Put the makeup back on!

Bar Chatter

Ad and I were talking to some Austrians at a bar in Soho on Friday night…

Ad: Well Austria's greatest contribution to society was Hitler wasn't it?
Austrian Woman: You are so rude!
Paul (to the woman): Yes he's terrible. And if the drinks weren't so expensive I'd tell you to throw your glass of wine at him…
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Scenes from W1 approaching Dickens and Jones Saturday 12:50 - Does anyone still wear a wrap?

Television Torture

On Thursday evening I travelled out to White City to the BBC Television Centre to watch a taping of a variety show on musicals. It was two years since I last did this and forgot that television recordings are a five hour odyssey.

At the time I thought it was just because I was seeing a taping of Celebrity Mastermind which made it dull, but this was an odyssey too. It was one full of bad jokes (the warm up man used the line "dirty stinkin' gypos" which I thought surely wasn't very BBC-ish), hideous sets, and endless repeats of poorly arranged songs. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, they managed to find an arrangement to do so.

Television is a curious thing as well as what makes it what it is, is local celebrities and local in-jokes, so it is a difficult thing to appreciate culturally as well if you have not had the years of exposure to it. The host was a typical garden variety smarmy type who had hosted several game shows and curiously seemed to be…

Theatre: The UN Inspector

On Tuesday evening as a diversion from waiting for news on other matters, A took me to see The UN Inspector at the National Theatre. Well first we went for tapas at Meson Don Felipe where after a bite to eat washed down with sangria it certainly put one in the mind for a silly sort of comedy update of Gogol's "The Government Inspector".

This version was set in a Ukrainian-style country where an English conman was mistaken for a UN inspector looking into the country's human rights record. Michael Sheen was quite funny as the bumbling English conman but every once in a while the comedy ground to a halt when someone's tongue was ripped out, or people were killed. A little bit too black and not enough comedy perhaps. Also at nearly three hours, it tended to drag a bit.

Geraldine James as the President's wife was also particularly amusing, although A suggested that Jewel in the Crown and Gandhi were the days of her better work, but I suggested her best work surely …

Domesticated Dialogue

Paul borrowed some socks off A last week and after washing them returned them to him this week…

A: Thanks for washing them. What washing powder do you use they smell terrific?
Paul: Why I use Fairy… Non bio…

At this point Paul does not mention the M&S fabric softener as A is too busy cracking up…

Weekend Brunches: Skirting around the issue

On the weekend I managed to have brunch both days with Ad. We went to the same café in Soho on both days which was a cause for concern for Ad as he was worried that people would think that we were an item, as we usually end up laughing and looking like we are having a good time (and that would hurt his chances of picking up).

I told him that there was nothing to fear as if by chance he saw something that took his fancy I would rush to the bathroom or make some sort of quick exit. Of course Saturday and Sunday mornings in Soho are not the places you are going to find the most eligible men in the city so I figured I would not be making any quick departures…

On Sunday Ad had the skirt steak and it was a source of much discussion as to what part of the animal this came from. The waiter was none the wiser on its location. It was of particular discussion as Ad said it was tough (and it looked like old tyre tread). The waiter agreed and he suggested to Ad that he feed him something else next …

Sunday

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Originally uploaded by Pauly_.
Scenes from Tottenham Court Road Sunday 12:21. A quiet start to the day...

News: Saturday sparks and crowds

Just as the suicide bombers hit Bali yesterday a power surge at London Bridge caused a few sparks along the tracks and caused a mild case of pandemonium south of the Thames.

Meanwhile closer to WC1, there were plenty of punters out and about as Oxford Street closed to traffic so there could be a street party. The effort was to boost sales that have been sluggish even before the July bombings.

No number of street performers bussed in from Covent Garden can conceal the fact that Oxford Street is a bit of a disaster. The shops east of Oxford Circus are mostly rubbish, and what is west to Marble Arch you have to fight through the crowds on poorly maintained footpaths. Oxford Street is really something to cross to get to the gym, to get to Soho, or to go anywhere else…

Later in the day the punters were out at the Astoria in force as Robbie Williams was doing what was described as "a small preview concert" of his latest album. Who would have thought so many females under 25 could be…
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Scenes from South Kensington Tube - Tuesday 16:41. District Line Eastbound.

Well its been a long day...

Not much to blog about in the past few days… Well there has been but I have been otherwise preoccupied on my holiday, but this weekend will be a chance to put that right…
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Scenes from the Westminster Tuesday - 19:17. The joys of the internet and live feeds... You can watch him rub his hands, talk on the mobile and wave to photographers... It's just like big brother!

Art: Between Past and Future

In a spot of diversionary sightseeing from other more pressing events later in the week, I caught the Chinese photography exhibition Between Past and Future at the V&A this afternoon.

I understand that it isn't a terribly popular exhibition and while it has some great photography in it, Modern China isn't the most exciting thing to see – unless overdeveloped grey concrete bunkers in a cold and hostile environment is your idea of living. Interestingly one of the collections of photographs by Song Dong I had seen in Brisbane at the APT in 2002 (so there was a touch of the so-three years ago about the exhibition as well)…

Anyway, you do leave with a sense of wondering about this emerging superpower as to what sort of future is in store for a country going through rapid industrialisation and upheaval. And it still wasn't enough to convince me to have some dim sum for lunch…

News: New rooftop tours of Parliament during the summer

I missed that part of the summer tour of Parliament back in 2003 – where you can scale the building and unfurl a banner about not getting access to your kid. This is what happened this afternoon when yet another protestor scaled the Palace of Westminster. The BBC is being kind enough to show a live feed of the man on top of what looks like Westminster Hall. At the time of writing you can watch him make calls and wave to the passers by as there is still enough light around. It is pretty exciting stuff, and watching it you can't help but wondering in a perverse sort of way… Will he slip??
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Scenes from Bloomsbury Sunday 14:11 - It isn't everyday when you find a working fridge freezer for £35 outside your front door... Not surprinsingly (as Londoners love a bargain), within an hour it was sold... Just in time to beat the heavy afternoon rains that would have probably rendered it less useful...

In another curiousity the central heating came on this week in the building... Apparently winter is here even if it isn't... It made me wonder whether:
The other residents of the building are fearful of temperatures below 15 degrees,The authority that runs the building gets a good deal on the gas used to heat the boilers,The other residents missed the furnace-like atmosphere of the stairwells over the past three months when the heating was turned off,The basement rats turned it on after eating their way through everything else down there,
The authority that runs the building doesn't have any idea as to what it is doing, or
All of the above.
In another property matter my flatm…

News: Stoned and gathering Moss

Kate Moss stories this week have been fascinating. While we are all relieved to know that she wasn't so low-brow as to do crack, as more and more labels are dropping her, more dirt is being dug up on her hoovering up the cocaine before switching to ketamine. So that's how she can take listening to the Babyshambles… The images of cocaine Kate have been tightly controlled by the mirror but Gawker has an interesting take on it all before the Mirror's lawyers stepped in.

One suspects that the Met Police is more interested in this story than in the past as the current police commissioner is keen to focus on middle-class drug users… Moss is not getting off as easy as when resident toff and former Squidgy-lover James Hewitt was let off with a warning over cocaine use.

On a more sanguine note, St John Ambulance is hoping that London poddies will take advantage of first aid tips that can be downloaded to your iPOD. Another post-July must-have download perhaps…
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Scenes from Stockwell Tube Northern Line Northbound Thursday 22:43 - Heading back to Bloomsbury after some sensible drinks with friends in Brixton... Unexpectedly I also managed to get a few presents as well including a bottle of champagne and a bottle of fizz from Australia. These were consumed on Friday evening in WC1 which has left one feeling a tad tired today...

Dining: Chez Bruce

Oh and for dinner on Wednesday, A treated me to Chez Bruce in Wandsworth, which has just been voted in Harden's London's favourite restaurant (knocking off Covent Garden's The Ivy from the top spot).

It isn't hard to see why it is a favourite. It has great food and is a smart restaurant without being too pretentious.

For the main course I had a baked cod which was fabulous and A had a pig's trotter. I asked whether this meant there was a three-legged pig wandering around Wandsworth Common but the waiter assured us that all the legs were taken off the pig so no wandering about the common could take place…

It has been around for ten years as well and no doubt the latest publicity will bring in new punters to SW17 (afterall, it is only a short trip from Victoria Station)…
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Scenes from the South Bank Wednesday 18:28. Royal Festival Hall is now covered in scaffolding for the big refurbishment, but the front of the building is very sensible with the new eateries and establishments along it, and very very popular as basically there has been only rubbish along here before...

Theatre: Two Thousand Years

Tempting a bit of luck I decided on Wednesday to head to the National's box office to see if there was any chance of getting any ticket for Mike Leigh's first play in 12 years. This play has had an enormous buzz around it and has completely sold out its run. Interesting for a play that until two weeks before the opening didn't even have a title or any information on what it was about. Now that is buzz…

Such is the pulling power Mike Leigh has nowadays, although he is more famous for his films such as Vera Drake and Topsy-Turvy, and Secrets and Lies. As luck would have it there were returns, so I snapped one up to the matinee performance. Leigh is famous for his use of developing characters with actors and making them improvise the subsequent scenes over an intensive period of rehearsal and workshops. Through this process the story and the narrative takes shape.

As it turns out the play is a slice of life story about a middle-class secular Guardian-reading Jewish family in Cr…
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Scenes from the Ritz Tuesday 20:00 - Champagne Afternoon Tea with an assortment of sandwiches, scones and pastries. A declared that it was definitely something sensible to do before one turns thirty amongst the palms and golden light and silver service... And it was ever so sensible.

The late sitting wasn't as heaving as other sittings can be throughout the day. There were an elderly couple a little way over who A suggested could be us one day. He particularly remarked that the old lady could be me in the future as he could always picture me wearing a pearl necklace.

There was an element of surprise to the goings on as I was told to meet him outside Fortnum and Mason at 7pm wearing a jacket and tie. Since being on vacation for the past few weeks this was a change from what I had become accustomed to wearing but jeans and A&F polos can't do for every occasion...

So I scrubbed up fairly well and we walked down Piccadilly to the hotel. It was such a warm night however that being…
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Scenes from the British Museum Tuesday 15:52 - My what a big fist those Egyptians have...
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Scenes from the British Museum Tuesday 15:44 - Just visited the Persia: The Forgotten Empire exhibit which consisted of lots of plaster casts and a few amazing artefacts loaned from Tehran which give an indication of the former empire. The casts (one is pictured above) taken in the 19th century are now in better condition than the originals so have special significance.

This show has been getting raves and while it is a cramped exhibition (particularly trying to navigate around the pushy old ladies who are experts at trying to push you away from what they want to see) it is well worth catching...
News: London crackheads

A new interesting stat has cropped up suggesting that 46,000 Londoners are using crack. Sometimes it feels like you know them all when you wander through certain parts of Bloomsbury, or use certain railway stations in South London. It hasn't been out of the ordinary for some crack users to light up on public transport... Such is the life of a London crack user.

In the last few months I have noticed the dealers in Soho are getting more and more bold with just openly asking you if you are after various vitamins. It is mainly "coke" or "charlie" one is offered (being white and looking middle class I guess). When I am with Ad he has this annoying habit of talking back to the dealers by saying "No my name's not Charlie". Oh bah hah...

And in today's breaking news Kate Moss, who the Daily Mirror caught snorting cocaine (surely that couldn't have been hard), has been dropped by H&M as the face for a new fashion lineup.…

Life observations: Turning Thirty Tomorrow...

And now...… A little diversion:

I'm thirty years old tomorrow
And I haven't worked since late August.
What a bum!

Just thinking about tomorrow
Turning thirty while pals are pushing forty
I feel young!

So I'm on holiday
And its grey
And chilly
But I just head to the gym
And grin
And Say

I'm thirty years old tomorrow
So I gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I'm thirty tomorrow
And that means not much
Nowadays

A rats life

This morning I awoke to see in the kitchen the remains of a small grey furry mouse. It had its head caught in the trap and had fortunately kept it together rather than snap it in half and have its innards oozing out. It definitely did put one off coffee and bagels this morning as I got the dustpan out and shoved it into the garbage bag.

It isn't a good sign when your building supervisor exclaims "oh you too" when told that there are either mice or rats in your flat. I suspect it is both and that when the lights go down it is a little rodent free-for-all in this place.
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Scenes from Buckingham Palace Saturday 16:03. Just who are these two gentlemen in white? Rumour has it that they went to Buckingham Palace in their white wardrobe to see the special exhibition of Queen Elizabeth's (later the Queen Mother's) White Wardrobe. While their clothing isn't exactly Norman Hartnell it is amazing how the one of the right is wearing a black sash just like the Queen did on her tour to France in 1938 (although the fact that it is a black Kipling bag is beside the point)...

The summer opening of Buckingham Palace (which runs through to 27 September) was a chance to see the State Rooms of the palace as well. There is a sense of the dramatic in the design of some of these rooms along with a great sense of history. The state rooms are a mixed bag of grand stately design and over the top dramatics but it all seems to work rather well. Besides it is a fabulous location with a rather grand backyard (where the above photograph was taken). One also got to see so…
Achievements

Things that I have done this week while on holiday:

1. Read. Including newspapers. The Guardian has a fantastic new format and has finally ditched that san-serif font that I loathed... Not that I want to get the reputation for being a "Guardian Reader". Over the past two years I have carefully cultivated an impression that I read the Times... And I do... And this has got me out of a few sticky situations (believe it or not) but I may have to change now that The Guardian has gone berliner... It will mean having to put up with all that anti-war editorial but oh well...

2. On Monday I met with A near Embankment Tube. I was a little late so was looking around for him and then suddenly out of nowhere I see him jump in front of me and shout "BOO!" While I was initially startled I took it to be a personal triumph that I managed to get a man who was wearing a pinstripe suit (and looking all very senior executivish) to do something totally silly.

That's it for …
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Scenes from WC1 Thursday 12:22. I am on holiday and it is cold and it is raining. Well...
Theatre: Romance

Caught David Mamet's latest play Romance last night which was an unusual experience. It took a while to dawn on me that this is a farce and a bit of an odd one at that where the dialogue actually doesn't help with the comprehension of what the story is about. By the second scene however it began to make sense to me that it doesn't make sense. So if you could sit back and enjoy the ride then you would have the time of your life as middle east politics, burnt stew, gays and goys take over... Most of the time saying fuck this and fuck that in that very tasteful way that only David Mamet can put it.

By the time the interval came around and we were doing post first act analysis, A commented that he wasn't so sure about it. A friend of his quipped that he didn't understand it at all but was absolutely transfixed by the lunch actor Nigel Lindsay was carrying in his trousers. I think it was the cut that made the trousers hang in this particular way but whate…
News: Ashes and gunshots

Trafalgar Square was a popular spot to be for the ashes fans... St George flags were all over central London yesterday as everyone (who was English) decided to go crazy after winning the Ashes for the first time in 18 years... Fortunately all the Australians interviewed on TV were very complimentary saying the "better side won" and all those niceties.

Meanwhile over at Harvey Nicks at Knightsbridge a man shot and killed a shop assistant in the beauty department before turning the gun on himself. Probably not the best place to go for a facial at the moment...
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Scenes from Victoria Embankment 16:22. Just another sunny day in the park... a nice place for a nap?
The dinner game

There has been a slight hiatus given that one has been busy with a few other tasks, but on Sunday a successful dinner party was held in Balham. A was cooking curries for his friends and I was an innocent bystander in the goings on.

During the evening however, the subject of chicken curry I cooked in Australia was brought up as a topic for discussion. I had cooked a curry for six and when eight arrived I threw in a head of cauliflower so there was enough for everyone. I had raised this a week or so back with A as I found the whole idea of using cauliflower as "chicken extender" quite amusing. A being an aficionado on what to put and not to put in a curry found the whole idea of cauliflower in a chicken curry to be a ghastly thought and so much discussion ensued about the merits and demerits of cauliflower in a chicken curry. I maintained it rather a practical solution for when eight instead of six guests arrive.

After everyone left and we were doing a bit of clea…
Movie: Pride and Prejudice

On Friday night I caught a preview at the National Film Theatre of Pride and Prejudice - the new version with Keira Knightly. Keira is on all the posters for this flick, but the real thing that everyone in the cinema was talking about was whether Matthew MacFadyen would be any good as Mr Darcy and especially if he could match up to Colin Firth.

I had an open mind about this as I had only just recently seen MacFadyen in Henry IV (Part 2) at the National. He played the role of Prince Hal in this production and while he was very good, in Part 2 this role doesn't give him much to do except for walking around becoming more and more regal. I had it on good authority from A that he was much more interesting role in Part 1, but still I could see that he had the necessary sour-puss face required for Mr Darcy.

The National Film Theatre had just renovated the main cinema to improve the sound and acoustics. As the cinema is located underneath Waterloo Bridge one once c…
Overheard at the gym tonight:

Man #1: How is your back?
Man #2: Ah I had that back injury years ago...
Man #1: You did?
Man #2: Yeah but the injury seems to live on in stories doing the rounds...
News: Cricket and Warne

Shocking news on the front page of the Evening Standard that Shane Warne was suspected of shoplifting. Even more shocking was that he was shopping at Cecil Gee, which sells mostly rubbish at name label prices without the snob value of buying an actual label. Then again, it is probably a safer bet than talking dirty on a mobile phone...

The final ashes test has made anybody with the slightest ambivalence towards cricket a little more interested in the game now that it actually seems like England has a chance of winning. As much as people taunt me about this prospect I don't really care if Australia loses as they have held the bloody thing for 16 years. Ok I may be accused of being thoroughly un-Australian for saying it but surely nobody can deny that this Ashes has been more interesting than the last few?
Music: Prom 71

Caught Prom 71 last night with A. We didn't sit together as A was very organised and got his tickets ages ago while I bought my ticket online at 1am Monday morning upon remembering that this concert was coming up this week. This last minute purchase meant that I sat in the circle with a restricted view. This meant that I could not see all of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and at times the acoustics made it seem like the orchestra were playing down the street. It was also bloody hot with the heat from the lights and 3000 living and breathing bodies in the hall seemingly rising and hitting you in waves... But I could see the conductor Zubin Mehta and the soloist Katarina Dalayman. As it was an event concert that was being televised it was exciting to just be there anyway...

It was a bitty programme really however with the lovely Haydn Symphony No 103 opening the programme, followed by Three Fragments from Berg's opera "Wozzeck" which didn't really s…
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Scenes from the V&A Garden Wednesday 18:04. Prior to heading to the Proms concert at nearby Albert Hall I met up with A for a quick bite to eat in the V&A Garden, which has only just recently opened. The garden is where you can have a quick coffee and a muffin or something a little more substantial in the open air and feel very sophistimicated amongst the York stone and overlooking a pond and lush grass. It is a very smart space. I felt smart just by being there...

Anyway, the V&A is open late on Wednesdays and Fridays and is well worth a trip in the early evening when it is less crowded and there is a programme of events.

A also gave me a quick tour of the museum - which included showing me the toilets the Royal Family uses when they visit the museum. Alas I couldn't see the cubicle with its own wash basin as somebody was using it at the time of visit. They must have been awfully surprised to hear A and I trying to open the door before we realised that it was engaged. O…
News: Special K goes mainstream

The press today were in the full of reports about the popularity of ketamine. Ketamine for the past few years has been the drug of choice by the gay clubbing community and it has been standard issue at any gay party or dance club as it can be easy to conceal and if taken correctly gives you an experience. Thanks to a new research report it has confirmed what has been going on in the wider clubbing community - ecstasy is out and ketamine is in. It also helps that ketamine is a legal drug for now. All you need to do is be on good terms with your local vet...
Theatre: How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Of course there was another reason to travel to Chichester yesterday and that was to catch How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying before it ended. It is a very silly show although one could get some career guidance out of the central message that a little bit of research and a lot of brown-nosing can get you anywhere if you play your cards right.

The show was a lot of fun and well staged in the Chichester Festival Theatre. It is a very funny show and despite some of the stereotyping and sexual innuendo (or perhaps because of it) it still holds up well. Some songs such as "A Secretary Is Not A Toy" had difficulty being accepted by the mild-mannered Chichester audiences. They were much more comfortable with the standard from the show (I don’t think there is more than one) "I believe in you". The little old folk beside me at the back row were humming away to that one (a pity they were drowning out the …
Overheard on East Street Chichester

Slapper (on mobile): Now John I won't say she's using you, but John, but John no, no John but John... John... John...
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Scenes from Chichester Cathedral Monday 17:32 - The Cathedral has obvious influences from a variety of periods dating back to the Norman periods (and that is the bell tower on the left), but in the grounds amongst the old gravestones there were a few goths having a picnic and burning what looked to be a bible. Oh those crazy goths. They will try and smoke anything...