Sunday, July 31, 2005

Theatre: Some Girl(s)

Saturday night I caught the play Some Girl(s) at the Gielgud Theatre that stars David Schwimmer. I was a bit wary of a star vehicle but I had heard that it was funny, it was written by Neil LaBute and Catherine Tate also featured in it. The premise was simple, a man about to get married looks up some old girlfriends that he thought he did wrong to say sorry and make amends with them before moving on. This could potentially be quite an interesting premise but as the play moved on I realised that I knew far more interesting people than the four people on stage and I wondered about these people around me tittering away at the scenarios dished up on stage (then again it was a Friends audience so they probably found this cutting edge satire)...

My mind couldn't stop wondering thinking about real-life substitutes for what was on stage. Most recently I know F who is dating two men. One night she calls man #2 and gets a woman who tells her that she has the wrong number. This is the same number she has had stored in her mobile for six months so suspicious she sends a text message to the mobile: "You should start being honest with me and facing up with your responsibilities. How are you going to be when I have your baby next month?" Well F isn't pregnant but this simple little message led her to find out that man #2 is married and she didn't know, and now the wife isn't happy. Now none the woman got to have any sort of smart revenge on Schwimmer's man.

Then there were the scenes that should have been in there like the man leaving because he didn't like his partner having opinions? Now surely one of four strong female characters could have bothered this alpha male character enough for him to just leave them. Also what about one of them being too fat, or not having big enough Brad Pitts? The man is up himself enough to travel around America making amends with ex girlfriends, surely he can have some deeply superficial reasons behind doing so?

Still I guess you do have to accept what you are given by the playwright: a man meets four women in four different hotel rooms and nothing happens. There is a grope and a bit of thigh (Schwimmer's and Lesley Manville's), but not much else. By the time the man started declaring his undying love for the Saffron Burrows I had lost track of the dialogue and I didn't realise what the hell was going on. But I wasn't the only one.

A was fidgeting by halfway through the show. As he had only had an expresso prior to sitting down I initially assumed this was caffeine withdrawal. It was only later I realised he was in pain from the bad script and Schwimmer's poor acting. I then noticed that all around people were moving in their seats, munching on crisps and popping open cans of soft drink. So many people kept getting up and going somewhere it felt more like a waiting room than a theatre. LaBute's plays don't have intervals but this one could have done with one. It would have been good to have a break amongst the repetition. And the Gielgud theatre seats aren't the most comfortable to last 100 minutes without stretching the legs...

Still the four women on stage were great and there were some funny lines. Schwimmer was just his Friends character which was a pity as this role required him to be a bit more of a cad. I would have liked the character to be much nastier but I guess one can't have everything. While most of the audience probably would have been excited if Schwimmer was onstage calling out street names out of the A-Z, I found it would have helped to have surtitles as he was a bit hard to hear for the most part. Amazing to think that this man has made so much money out of nine seasons of a tv show, but that's they way it goes.

Scenes from Harrods Saturday 16:30.

The last day of the Harrods sale brought all the punters out for an extra 20% off.

A wanted to get some more dinner plates, but not these ones after I suggested that they looked like you could get them at John Lewis. He settled for something much smarter. Later I bought a couple of shirts, so a sensible round of shopping was had by all.

It was actually the first time I set foot in Harrods, so A was keen to give me the grand tour (but I declined the offer to see the Dodi and Di memorial). While it is a tacky Egyptian bazaar with clothes, crockery, this and that piled up on top of each other in no real sense of logic or organisation, it still does have a certain charm about it...

Still as one sees the fading grandeur of the building and the cracked and dirty tiles in the food hall, it seems like there is a (very) small part of English shopping history that is slowly decaying away... And nobody really seems to notice as they snap up the Harrods bags and bears.Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 29, 2005

Scenes from inside WC1 Thursday 06:46: Early morning cloud completely concealed the BT Tower from view.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 28, 2005

News: Another day, another suspect package

There is no benefit in staying back working late. I found this out tonight when the high street was closed off due to a suspect package found near the tube station. It turned out to be nothing and the main street has just now reopened. Its just another day of heightened state of alert where every package and every passenger is suspect.

Actually dealing with suspect passengers is easy now... You just get up and move to another carriage. I didn't think I would see this but I saw it on the Victoria line when a drunk man asleep across several seats was causing a little alarm to other passengers, so they got up and moved. Personally drunk men flailing about didn't strike me as likely terrorists.

Tonight as the Victoria line was suspended due to more security alerts this meant I took to walking on foot from Brixton to Stockwell. Along the way I noticed the terrorist safe house in Blair House that was raided overnight and the impromptu memorial of paper signs and dried out flowers outside Stockwell tube station to the Brazilian man killed last Friday.

Oh and it wasn't just an ordinary day going to work either. There were very few people on the tube, but there were six Transport Police officers at my station at 7.15 this morning... I did feel a little self conscious with my big bulky rucksack filled with my gym gear and iPOD wires trailing out of my jacket... But life (and the gym and not to mention the music) still goes on...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Scenes from Bloomsbury St - Bloomsbury 21:39. The weather this week has been cool rainy and wet. Given the long period of dry weather the rain seems almost out of place... Now where did I leave my umbrella? Posted by Picasa

Travel advice in London...

Travel advice in London...
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Also doing the rounds today on email... A message board purportedly from Notting Hill tube station this week... It reads:
Please do not run on the platforms or concourses. Especially if you are carrying a rucksack, wearing a big coat or look a bit foreign. This notice is for your own safety. Thank you.

(If you don't believe it, clicking the photo will enlargen it)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Scenes from Torrington Place, Bloomsbury Sunday 15:34 - On a traffic divider a debate written in permanent felt pen takes place about the pros and cons of the Islamic faith. A tell-tale sign of ones proximity to a university campus if there ever was one... Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 25, 2005

News Etc
  • Ted Heath was buried today. I recall Monty Python's quiz joke about Ted, "Edward Heath is a what?". The answer was "a bachelor" which still gets laughs since it is still the euphemism bandied about.
  • The big news today was be on the lookout for bombers with delta containers made in India. These tupperware rip-offs are only sold in 100 stores in the UK. I suggested to A he should do a stocktake of his plasticware and he advised that all containers were present and accounted for. Personally, I don't have any...
  • And as the inquest opened today into the death of the man who was shot eight times at Stockwell tube, there are unconfirmed reports that t-shirts around London have started to appear with the slogan "Don't shoot, I'm not Brazilian"...

Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

London Fights Back: Picture doing the rounds on the email circuit today... I don't think it really is ER. There is something that just isn't right about her posture I think...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Scenes from Hampstead Heath 19:57. The Writer by Giancarlo Neri looking towards Parliament Hill.

Just what is a giant table and chair doing in the heath? Well, it's art. And it is quite impressive...

Theatre: As You Like It

Caught the Young Vic's production of As You Like It at the Wyndham's Theatre on Saturday night and it was quite good (and fun). This production has Sienna Miller as second billing, but playing Celia she hardly has the most demanding of Shakespearean roles. It is quite possible to play this role and to fret over Jude at the same time I suspect.

The stars of the show really were Helen McCrory as Rosalind - who playing a man and woman gets to do all those fun Shakespearean things - and Dominic West as Orlando, who looked suitably good looking and all that. On the strength of McCrory's work in this I suggested to A that she deserves to be a bigger star. After reading her bio I realised that she already has quite a film career but surely she should be the next Catherine Zeta Jones. A suggested that CZJ was far more beautiful that HMcC so she had no chance, but I suggested that with cigarettes and plastic surgery surely anything is possible.

As for the show, this production is set in France in the 1940s, which gives and excuse to have many romantic-sounding songs and to use Shakespeare's text against an accordion, piano and cello. While the logic of setting it in this location may not always make sense, it sounded and looked great... For the most part. The production was a bit sparse in its design of the Forest of Arden. For the first half it was just a bit of grass on the stage with a black brick wall as a backdrop (which gave the impression of being the theatre's back wall). In the second half the black brick wall lifted up to reveal a black and white photograph of a forest. The Donmar style of using a black brick wall as a production feature seems to be catching on.

The update of the production also had a lot more obvious references to naughty bits. This had an interesting affect on the audience, which in the Royal Circle where A and I were sitting seemed to consist mostly of young American women. This meant that every time there was a reference to a penis there was nervous laughter, and everytime there was a reference to a vagina there was a collective gasp. I don't think these women were familiar with Eve Ensler's work. Still, you have to love young American women. The bottom would fall out of West End theatre if they didn't keep coming to shows, and despite references to naughty bits there was a lot in this show for them to love.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The state of being alert but not alarmed...

Catching the tube from Balham into central London was an interesting experience today. Passing through Stockwell and Oval tube stations did cause pause for reflection on the past 48 hours. You can't exactly get back to normality when you're reading The Times which gives you great detail about the bombs that partially exploded on the tube Thursday, and looking at CCTV footage of a man fleeing the station you are just passing through.

The events of yesterday were also quite extraordinary (not to mention exhausting)... And as the police presence on the ground and in the air becomes ever more noticeable you can't help but wonder and hope if it is coming closer to endgame... Whatever the events of the next few days hold, it is now a case of be on the lookout for certain types of young men with rucksacks. They may be easier to spot if there are smart-casual trendy officers with Glock automatics drawn trailing them...

Today I picked up tickets at the TKTS booth for As You Like It tonight, and the police presence on the ground and in the are has noticeably increased with a new booth and lighting installed throughout the area. I'm Looking forward to seeing post-Jude Sienna Miller performing in the play tonight. Apparently she's putting on a brave face, and there's something we can all learn from that...

Friday, July 22, 2005

News: The watershed

Today's shooting at Stockwell Tube station (that's where I interchange in my normal commute) was a bit of an shock. But I can't help but think it is a little relieving that there is one less madman out there... Unlike in Australia, police don't shoot people here as much so it has been described as a watershed for UK security. But what is the alternative when a man on a hot day is wearing a thick jacket and refusing to obey police instructions?

Also a great piece by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times about the incitement of hatred as well. His article doesn't give much time for the excuse-makers either: When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow "understandable" is outrageous.
Theatre: What the Butler Saw

The opportunity arose on Thursday to see the Hampstead Theatre production of Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw with A. After a day of near-miss bombings on the public transport network it seemed like a sensible antidote. Or a silly one anyway. I thought the cast were great and it is such a great play full of witty one-liners about sex, incest and psychiatry so who could ask for anything more on a night like Thursday night was?

It was press night as well so there were all sorts of press reviewers there with their little notebooks (including former Tory MP Michael Portillo - who we made stand twice because we had to get past him to get to our seats in the theatre). The production kept the story set in the 60's which was a good idea since the story while witty and fully of funny lines does tend to go on a bit and all the psycho-talk is very out of date. After the show there were some murmurings about how it was a little amateurish but I thought the story was more at fault than anything else. All the actors did remarkably well screaming and running around in their pants if you ask me...

Incidentally it was a warm day yesterday too and I arrived feeling a little perspired having had to take three tube lines to avoid all the network closures. It was a bit of a tense commute yesterday with everyone checking out everyone else - especially if you had a backpack or bag. By the time I reached Swiss Cottage I was a little bit hot and bothered. Fortunately somebody shoved a drink in my hand shortly after arriving and after a glass of wine I never have to look back...


Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Scenes from Waterloo Station Northern Line Friday 09:31 - The morning commute is disrupted at Waterloo after what was described as a suspect package is found at Kennington... My train had to be reversed back up the line to allow another train to reverse back into the station. It would be the bus for me for the rest of the journey...

Before catching the 59 Bus from Waterloo Station I thought I could do with a coffee. I started heading over to the nearby Starbucks and suddenly British Transport Police appeared out of nowhere and swooped on a tall young lad with a rucksack right next to the coffee shop. I decided to skip the coffee and head to the bus stop. Starbucks coffee is such rubbish anyway. From the safety of the bus stop I could see that it was a false alarm.

**Further Update** It is now reported that a man has been shot at Stockwell tube station around this time (three stops south of Waterloo). Just as well I was late for work today...

Scenes from Westminster Tube Thursday 23:16. An all-too familiar notice of service disruptions across the underground network this evening as the city escapes another round of bombings. Fortunately this time there is plenty of evidence that has been left behind. I was coming home from an evening at the Hampstead Theatre and with all the service disruption it was a bit of a roundabout route...

Watching the footage this evening on the television as people describe the scramble to get out of Warren Street tube today seems all the more close by. Afterall I use that station a few times a week. Tonight I returned home to my street covered in discarded police tape. For most of the evening Tottenham Court Road was a pedestrian mall, but by midnight the road had reopened. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Email Banter

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul
Sent: 21 July 2005 17:07
To: Amanda
Subject: RE: News from a friend...

Always count on you with the latest... But WHERE are these men now???

-----Original Message-----
From: Amanda
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2005 5:09 PM
To: Paul
Subject: RE: News from a friend...

hehe.... not in my life that's for sure.

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2005 5:17 PM
To: Amanda
Subject: RE: News from a friend...

Yeah I'm glad I don't have men with wires in my life either...
Latest Situation

Police search hospital (the one at the top of my street) for a black, possibly Asian man, around 6ft 2ins tall, with wires protruding from a hole in his blue top. It appears they didn't find the man with wires in the hospital, although they have since returned. It is an odd feeling to know that a man intent on blowing himself up over some warped outlook on life is in your manor...

As the hours go by without any further reports, the threat appears to have abated for now... It is now a waiting game... But they will be caught...

Fortunately I am off to the theatre this evening so I don't need to go home just now...

And on the email circuit...

-----Original Message-----
From: Amanda
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2005 5:01 PM
Subject: News from a friend...

Just spoke to X who has spoken to scotland yards ellite special forces unit he used to work for who are the first point of contact for terrorist attacks.

Apparently 4 bombs in rucksacks were dettonated but for some reason didnt go off.
One of the suicide bombers looked very uncomfortable as a small puff of smoke came out his rucksack and then he bolted off the train. 3 people wrestled him to the ground but he managed to escape.
Another suicide bomber was also chased by SO19 into a hospital which has now been shut down and they are currently trying to sort the problem out.

Some of the train lines are now back working

Today Tottenham Court Road

Originally uploaded by akira_kev.

What now appears to be a minor explosion on Warren Street tube has closed all roads around. This picture is taken by a photoblogger at the corner of TCR and Torrington Place.

The hunt is on for the various failed suicide bombers

Warren Street tube station lunchtime

Warren Street tube station
Originally uploaded by donkeyontheedge.

Online bloggers are capturing the clearing of the area

Something Breaking...

Massive disruption again on the underground network this
afternoon as three detonators (not bombs) and a nail bomb on a
bus have gone off across London. The day has changed direction
at 2.12.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

At the hairdressing salon in Covent Garden

Asian woman: You are very rude man. You give bad service
Hairdresser Luke: Well I think you are rude. You wanted your hair straightened and now you want it curled but there isn't enough time to do this before we close
Asian woman: You are hopeless and your work is rubbish
Hairdresser Luke: Lady, go and get FUCKED!

At this point Hairdresser Luke threw the rubber anti-static thing that goes around the neck at her and picked up his bag and stormed off out of the shop. I sat there wondering whether (a) he hurt the woman with this rubber device and (b) whether he was coming back as until this little drama unfolded he was due to cut my hair. Fortunately he did come back to cut my hair. He didn't say much but it was the most aggressive chop I have had. There was raw aggression in his texturing...

This woman sounded like she was a nightmare. I say sounded as I sat in a chair on the other side of the mirror where she was. I couldn't see what she was like except for noting her cheap shoes. Well, Covent Garden hairdressers are passionate about their craft...

Scenes from Soho Bar Tuesday 23:52. I ran into Adam in the gym tonight and we went for a bite to eat afterwards. After that he insisted we should have a drink so he dragged me to a bar full of gays. Since I had been working out I only had orange juice (with a splash of vodka). Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

News: Dogs on the tube

Sniffer dogs are being deployed on the tube network to detect bombs. They will add a much welcome cute furry presence...

Scenes from Leicester Square Tube Sunday 13:37. A less convenient interchange now that the Piccadilly Line is out of action through most of central London... The board above the exit indicating stations on the line is also covered up with tape... Posted by Picasa

Scenes from South Kensington Sunday 17:56. Everybody on the street wear pink. Pink is a popular colour at the moment... Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 18, 2005

Overhead at the Gym tonight:

Muscle Mary (on mobile phone): Well I said to him, "Glen, I am a 'uman beeeeeeing and I am still living here and until I move out my room isn't a sssshow room"
Music: The Fairy Queen (Purcell)

After Glyndebourne on Saturday I went to Royal Albert Hall on Sunday to see a BBC Proms concert of Purcell's The Fairy Queen. As it was a concert it was just the music (so it was only two hours) and it was a very enjoyable way to spend an early Sunday evening.

A had two tickets, one in the stalls and one in the circle. Rather than take up my suggestion of paper-scissors-rock for determining who sat where, he suggested that we swap seats at interval. That far more sensible suggestion turned out to be best as the seat in the circle provided a great vantage point to see everything, while the seat in the stalls was better for proximity.

Purcell in the cavernous space of the RAH may not be the best setting for this music, but it was nice to see it, and it reminded me that between now and mid-September I should be getting to more Proms concerts.

After the concert and as we left the hall to find somewhere to have supper, A spotted a few celebrities in the neighborhood, but I was too busy with those little Purcell ditties running about in my head to notice. Those things can seriously cause you to be distracted. Well that was my excuse for the evening...

Scenes from Glyndebourne grounds Saturday 16:48 - black tie, picnics on the grounds and the opera house in the background...  Posted by Picasa
Opera: La Cenerentola (Rossini)

A invited me to Glydebourne on Saturday (which just so happens to be a country house near Lewes in East Sussex, that just so also happens to have a large state of the art opera house on its grounds). Naturally the chance to see opera done very well in a smashing location was something I eagerly accepted, so on a warm Saturday afternoon I was on a train to Lewes with A... Wearing a dinner jacket (as this is the expected standard of dress), and helping A with the picnic hamper.

There are a few interesting things that is all part of the opera experience at Glydebourne. First of all, dinner jackets are required attire for men. What women wore seemed to veer from flowing ball gowns in an array of summer colours to something still formal yet more sensible. And secondly there is the dining experience. While there are restaurants there, many people opt to have a picnic on the grounds. So on lush green lawns are people in black tie having salads and cold meats. It is all very civilised, especially as English picnics entail silverware, glassware, fine tablecloths, fresh flowers and candles. Not everyone had tables and chairs however, those slightly younger (and who still had their original knees and hips - such as we) took the picnic rug option.

Oh and as for the opera, well it was fantastic. I had seen Rossini's Cinderella before but found it hard going. Perhaps with the right staging, singers, orchestra and sets anything is possible. The singers were all great actors as well. There was comic timing amongst all the scandal and intrigue that make up the story.

The programme notes point out that Rossini's opera is less a fairy tale and more a social commentary on class. There is no glass slipper, fairy godmother or pumpkin carriage. The story is all about the father who dreams to be in a higher class and sees two of his daughters as the means for this, and the prince who disguises himself to see who the genuine woman is. Understanding the focus of the story helps understand the opera and the detail of this production has gone into the intricacies of all these things. A didn't care for Cinderella's ball gown or wedding dress (which were silver and gold respectively) but I figured a little bit of sparkle didn't hurt anybody… Especially since there was no fairy godmother amongst all the social satire to brighten things up. Actually Cinderella by the end of the story does become a bit of a saint. She doesn't seek revenge on her two sisters and her father but forgives them. There were no scenes of huffiness in a golden gown at all! Well it is opera I suppose. And Rossini wasn't writing about a bitch.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Overheard in my building this afternoon

Old lady #1: ...And it only costs a few pounds and they drop you off right at your door.
Old lady #2: Do they?
Old lady #1: Yes...
Old lady #2: Really?
Old lady #1: Yes...
Old lady #2: Do they?
Old lady #1: Yes they do!
Old lady #2: Oh well I'll have to get me one of those...


Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Scenes from London Thursday 11.55 - waiting outside to remember

The sound of a city united and unmoved

Just before noon today we gathered outside our building to observe two minutes silence for the victims of last Thursday's atrocities. As the clock tower tolled 12pm, a wave of silence crashed in as buses cabs and cars switched off their engines, people stopped what they were doing, and there was nothing at all but people on the street saying nothing, yet making an incredible statement.

Some people bowed their heads, but most didn't. It was a time to remember...

Scenes from Covent Garden Wednesday 20:28 - Roof gardens are popular... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blogs: We're Not Afraid

As part of the response to the events of last Thursday the site We're not Afraid! is taking pictures sent in by people around the world in support of London. The city is bouncing back in many ways. Yesterday's raids and arrests were particularly important in raising the confidence of the population, but it also raises new questions...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Theatre: Billy Elliot

A chance lunchtime meeting near the Victoria Palace Theatre meant that I snapped up one of the few remaining tickets to Billy Elliot tonight. Now the critics have been raving (well some at least) that this is the greatest British Musical ever. Well, I don't know about that (I may have found it more enjoyable than Mary Poppins but that was pretty good too) but whatever ranking you give it, it certainly was an entertaining time. I was suspecting that they surely must have broken child labour laws given how heavily the show relies on its young male star. And of course no musical is complete nowadays without its star flying through the air (no matter how preposterous this may appear). But all that aside, tonight's Billy (there are three that rotate through the role) was quite good and you get the impression the adult cast are quite protective and supportive of their young stars which gave a great dynamic to the show as well.

As for the music, there actually are some very good songs in this show, along with some great dance sequences. The songs the individual cast members sang I thought were the best, but there were some rousing anthem-like union songs, and an interesting song that marked the class divide between the police officers and striking miners (now that's something you don't always get in the West End).

It's not all ballet but I guess it is a musical so these things shouldn't be argued about too much. Unlike the film there is even stronger focus on the miner's strike and matters of class warfare. I sat next to an American who loved the show but wasn't so sure about how the union struggle would translate to the US. But I wondered more about how the Geordie accents would translate outside of London. Actually I could have done with surtitles at times as who knows what they were saying, but that's probably just me.

Given the full house (interesting for a Monday night) this show looks like it will be destined to run for some time. The punters tonight loved it. And for three hours it was a great story that transported you back to the heady days of 1984...

Monday, July 11, 2005

you will fail
Originally uploaded by dario.agosta.

Dario Agosta's Flickr site took inspiration from the Statement by London Mayor Ken Livingsone.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Scenes from Old Compton Street Soho Sunday 18:20 - Coffee etc on a bright sunny day... Posted by Picasa
At a Covent Garden ball last night:

Speaker: Ladies and Gentlemen, given the events of Thursday we had contemplated canceling tonight... But given the prevailing mood in London... (the room erupts into cheers).

I went with A to the ball which had a burlesque theme. That basically meant there were lots of tits with tassels, which anybody I think can enjoy. After a vodka and orange and a bottle of cheap white wine (that wasn't so cheap) good times were ensued. During the course of the evening a photograph was taken of me involving two ladies, a whip, a paddle and A. It was nothing like it suggests however... There were also boys in period costume selling bamboo folding fans so I bought one of those. One lady commented that it appeared only the men were using these frilly little fans. Well, it was one of those sort of evenings.

As I was wearing some rough denim and A was wearing leather trousers I did suggest that we could spend the rest of the night in some interesting bars around town, but we decided against this in the end. Besides, neither of us had the moustache (real or otherwise) to carry that look...

After the ball I was going to catch up with M1 and M2 for a drink, but they cancelled. They live near Manor House tube on the Piccadilly line which is now indefinitely closed. A 20 minute journey into central London would now take almost an hour if they caught the bus. I guess the city isn't as easy (or as convenient) to get around as it used to be.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Scenes from the British Museum Saturday 13:54. A missing person poster of someone last seen Thursday morning boarding a bus at Euston taped to the fence. Posted by Picasa

Scenes from Russell Square Saturday 13:42. Tube emergency tunnel support trucks parked closeby. It is unclear the extent of the damage to the Picadilly Line at this section but given the reported damage the line is not expected to be restored anytime in the forseeable future. Posted by Picasa

Scenes from Russell Square tube station Saturday 13:35. The scene of the tube bombing. Same scaffolding and Scientologists. Posted by Picasa

Scenes from Euston Station - northern end of sealed off area. The media film the covered scaffolding as a statement in itself. Scientologists en masse in orange jackets on the left (to give the impression no doubt they have some sort of legitimate status) try to flog their personality testing. They have been swarming around the Bloomsbury area since Thursday. Posted by Picasa

Scenes from Gordon Square Bloomsbury Saturday 13:05 - A crime scene is sealed off with scaffolding. Closer to Russell Square there was a gap in the scaffolding where photographers were taking photos of the bus which today is still on the street... Posted by Picasa
Theatre: Aristocrats

Life does go on. On Friday evening I caught the Brian Friel play Aristocrats at the National Theatre which turned out to be an interesting evening of Theatre. Friel wrote this play in 1979 and it tells the tale of a rich land-owning Irish Catholic family that gathers for a wedding and secrets begin to unravel. There is a hint of Chekhov to the goings on as well.

But the first two acts I found heavy going. A lot of exposition (and Irish history to absorb). And after observing a minutes silence for those killed in the bombings prior to the first act commencing, I found it all too hard to focus on the intricate story. But somehow after the interval it just felt like the story all came together, and I don't think it was the interval drinks that did it. It was just the story then began to move.

The most enjoyable part of it was actor Andrew Scott. He played the twit son who perhaps was not so stupid as everyone believed him to be... The rest of the cast were just as good (and included a couple of well regarded Irish actors) but I particularly took a liking to this character. All told it became a very enjoyable evening - once one got past all the exposition.
Conversation at the Cloakroom of the National Theatre

The day after July 7, things are a little different. I was staying overnight in Streatham so I had a larger rucksack than usual...

Security: You will have to open your bag for inspection before you can leave it at the cloakroom.
Paul: Ok I just have a change of clothes in here...
Security: You will have to open up your bag and show me what's inside.
Paul: Ok well there is a polo shirt...
Security: And what's under your shirt?
Paul: That is just my jeans and a pair of shoes...
Security: Ok now open up the front zipper section.
Paul: Ok well in there are just my toiletries...
Security (also seeing several packets of Lemsip and Syndol): ... Hmm and medications...
A (walks over to Paul after observing this dialogue from a distance): Darling just tell them its your slag bag and so we can all be done with it...

Scenes from Stockwell Tube Friday 17:57. I had no hesitation about catching the tube on Friday to work. It was a silent statement of defiance against the amateur mass murderers with timers. Although in the morning there was a film crew at Goodge St tube station filming people, just to remind you that on the day after, things weren't going to be the same... Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 08, 2005

News: Emerging Technology

Everyone became a journalist yesterday as mobile phones captured the blast aftermath. You may not have got a signal to make a call, but mobile phone cameras and videos captured it all...
Reflections on a Thursday in London

As the search begins for lost loved ones I recall going through my work yesterday. There was enough to do to not think about the events as they were unfolding. Taking calls, placing calls, locating people, background research, typing messages. It all filled time.

But the scale of it all hit me around lunchtime. That was when I first saw the bomb damage at Tavistock Square on the CNN webiste, which is just a couple of blocks from where I live. I recognised the street by the trees overhanging the road as they are so leafy and bright green. I walk down that street on the weekends on my roundabout way into Covent Garden. It isn't the most attractive part of London. The area is not really anything remarkable about this area at all, but because I live there it is familiar. I had this strong feeling of "That's my neighborhood!". Suddenly the atrocity has a very very localised feel to it.

Then to see the wreck of the red bus, its bright coloured seats and orange grab rails it is again familiar. I recall what it is like to be crammed in on a peak hour bus in central London. It is a typical London experience. And then you see that its frame is twisted and the grab rails are flailing about. You can imagine what it must have been like, but then you can't.

It is interesting however as you think well I never travel THAT way to work as if to reassure yourself that you were never in harms way. It is always entirely possible that you could be doing anything on a morning on your way to work, but you weren't.

News: Blog Links

Among the many blogs on London, London Underground Tube Diary and
gia's blog are worth taking a look at in the ongoing commentary about the situation that took place yesterday...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Scenes at the end of my street Thursday 20:17. A roadblock and a crime scene investigation is underway. Just a couple of blocks over is Tavistock Place.

The bus bombing outside the British Medical Association building was timed as the tube network was shutting down (the explosions were initially attributed to power surges) and people were turning to busses to complete the journey. Only two people have been confirmed killed on the bus, but unofficial reports suggest that the death toll will be much higher when they identify the remains in the surrounding area.

This evening the streets were quiet. All theatres were closed. The supermarkets near where I live were all shut due to staff shortages. Thankfully Planet Organic was still open. I ran in and got an organic chicken salad, an organic elderflower drink, organic crisps and an organic white wine for the evening and to watch the day's events on the BBC... Posted by Picasa
Professional Conversation overheard in the office at lunchtime

F: I have been trying to contact Robert for the past hour and his mobile is engaged...
Officer (just walking in to the office): I have just spoken to him...
F: Ah how can you do that?
Officer: I have an emergency override phone...
F: Oooooh!

At several key points during the day the mobile phone network disappeared. As part of the plans for dealing with civil emergencies emergency and government services get priority on the mobile phone network to ensure that their calls get through. It also meant that at 7pm tonight I got a whole stream of texts that had been sent during the course of the day...


This afternoon I had (in no particular order) a chocolate éclair, a packet of pretzels, two bananas, a thai chicken curry, half a tin of liquorice allsorts, a herbal tea, a coffee and a berocca. My colleague F had the same plus a trifle. Another colleague commented at one stage during the afternoon that at times of crisis her comfort food is pizza. For me, I take allsorts...

As the day has come to a close, it has been a tragedy but it also has been a day marked by quiet resolve. Emergency Plans swung into action, emergency services were on the scene of the major incidents within minutes and there was a determination to get on with it. My flatmate was at Liverpool St and helped take people to hospital. Construction workers near where I live offered to give blood at UCL Hospital.While there were no tube trains tonight, people left work throughout the afternoon in an orderly manner, and busses were back up by 4pm.

Something just broke

The timeline to an unfolding day of anxiety
0851 Seven people die in a blast on a train 100 yards from Liverpool Street station
0856 21 people die in a blast on a train between Russell Square and King's Cross stations
0917 Seven people die in blast on a train at Edgware Road station
0947 Two people die in a blast on a number 30 bus at Tavistock Place
It happened within an hour but for the rest of the day the news trickled in... And suddenly suspect packages were everywhere...
0955 First newsflash email that a loud bang near Liverpool Street station may be due to power surge
1031 Email newsflash confirming multiple explosions' in London
1150 First confirmed deaths
1217 PM Flies to London
1533 33 Deaths confirmed

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Scenes from Trafalgar Square Wednesday 19:30 - All quiet after a day of euphoria of London winning the 2012 Olympics. The big regeneration project for the east end will now commence...

There is a sense this result puts it up the French, who after Chirac's comments on British cuisine, are perceived as the obstacle to ending world poverty (while they insist on the EU common agricultural policy).

After Live 8 - for Britain at least - ending world poverty is a prime concern, even if it isn't such a priority elsewhere. The French shouldn't complain too much. With the new Eurostar links in place by 2012 travel to London from Paris will be even quicker than it is now... Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 04, 2005

Scenes from Hammersmith and City Line Monday 21:41 - Listening to iPOD between Farringdon and Kings Cross St Pancras. Have just downloaded Ute Lemper's latest album Blood and Feathers. Its recorded live and is what some people I know would describe as her "head up her arse album" given the self-indulgent asides into screeching and germanic-jazz-scat that sounds like scheisse. Ute is a bit like that though. I'll keep buying her albums anyway as listening to Ute is always an experience... Posted by Picasa
Office Lunchtime Banter

Paul (to AB eating lunch at her desk): Hmm what's that you're eating?
AB: It's snapper...
Paul: Well... You are what you eat...

Theatre: Bye Bye Birdie

I actually saw this in October 2003 upstairs at a pub in Clapham North. Tonight I saw it at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. And I actually liked the pub version better. Sure there were better looking actors in this one... And there were production values... But singing, acting or having a decent audio obviously were not priorities for this production. A pity really. And I think I have seen this show enough now... To last me at least a decade...

On the topic of musical theatre (what else?) Sondheim is purportedly back in town for the premiere of his TV Musical Evening Primrose at the as part of the Lost Musicals series. This show has sold out so completely that reportedly the press had to attend one of the dress rehearsals if they wished to review it. Now that sounds like a popular show...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

News: Leave the chavs alone

An MP (whose constituency is full of em) said this week to leave chavs alone as they are unnecessary vilified. The general reaction from the public to this story seems to be that while chavs are predominantly from the working classes, if they are going to wear track suits and oversize gold jewellry, not work and throw kebab wrappers all over the street then they deserve the name...

Scenes from the Parade (again) - Oh what the hell, why not have another photo of scantily clad muscle marys outside Fortnum & Mason? Besides they look much better in low resolution than they did in real life...  Posted by Picasa

Scenes from Old Compton Street Saturday 16:27 - A bit of colour and life all outside Costa Coffee. Strange since the coffee there is such crap. Then again it is more about location than anything else, and it is on such a smart corner in Soho... Posted by Picasa