Sunday, February 27, 2005

Housekeeping and the Weekend

No computer set up at home yet, so have done this update from an internet cafe on the Strand. Oh well, it's nice to get out on a Sunday evening... Even if nobody else does!

I will look back at this weekend and think of the fabulous things that could have been done such as:
* Russian Orchestra at the Barbican
* Walk through the Heath in the light snow
* Take coffee throughout Bloomsbury
* Major blockbuster Turner, Whistler and Monet at the Tate

But no, instead I cleaned the old flat at West Hampstead and after downsizing (ie throwing lots of things out or giving them to Charity) I moved everything else into my new place in Bloomsbury. It was exhausting. You don't want to be carrying an ironing board, two boxes of books and clothes and a wheelie suitcase everyday on the Thameslink. It didn't help that this weekend the Jubilee Line was out for engineering works either. There is no dignity when moving on the cheap. By the time I got to Kings Cross I decided to catch a cab for the rest of the journey home.

We will find out tomorrow during the flat inspection whether we get our (or rather mostly my) bond back, minus the next two weeks...

The rubbish real estate agents hinted that we could get out by 1 March and they would move somebody in from that date but it turns out that they will stick to our six week agreement as they are having trouble moving new people in... Maybe that is because:
* The place was built using dodgy offcuts of wood
* The roof in the kitchen wasn't fitted correctly so now it leaks and is home to several types of mould
* The living area doesn't get much natural light and has curiously unusual corners and dips in the floor
* The neighbor sounds like she is a hooker who gets bitch-slapped every other night
* Homeless men shit outside your place (but I covered that in October)
* Winter is a bit of a slow time anyway

Well hey... Its only money...

News: Oscar Oscar Zzz

Will probably fall asleep tonight watching the Oscars, which has to be better than Temazapan. They are broadcast on the BBC which is a bit unfortunate as they have to find something to fill the regular 3 minute commercial breaks. If last year was any measure of a guide they had Jonathan Ross and other film aficionados smugly commenting on the proceedings while drinking champers. It was excrutiating. So much ado about over paid surgery enhanced actors. Good to read that Awards fatigue is setting in...

New place, New stuff

On the plus side, after getting another one of those fabulous coffees near me, I spent early this afternoon getting some new stuff for my room to make it just so. It now is just so right...

New places: Planet Organic

I now live just around the corner from a Planet Organic so yesterday I thought I would give it a try as it is always busy when I walk by it.

The coffee wasn't so great for something organic and the cafe seemed to be frequented mostly by middle aged women and youngish-scruffy-pasty-white men with bad sinuses. The fact that I could fit into that latter cohort was not lost on me. Was the organic life me, or was I just having a bad hair day and not giving a shit about what I was wearing??

Anyway rather than dwell on this too much, I drank organic coffee, ate my organic muffin and after purchasing an organic cucumber for twice the Gross National Product of New Zealand, I left.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Location Location

To think I was considering moving to the East End - Mile End to be particular and just yesterday a bit of meat cleaver incident happened at Mile End tube station.

WC1 seems so much more sensible. Especially since I have found that there is an Italian cafe nearby that sells the best coffee I have tasted in London for just £1... I am easily pleased...


Was talking about accents to a manager here who is Melbournian and returning to Oz shortly... She was scoffing that neither of us have strong accents and I went... "Naaaooooooooh we doooaaaant".

She is so Melbourne with her dark clothes and dark makeup... Actually some people referred to her as the "Ice Queen" so I would just tell them that's what all Melbournians are like... They wear dark clothing and sit in inexpensive restaurants offering quality food while espousing liberalism while downing a double expresso...

I tell them as well that you can't do that in Brisbane because it is too hot and that makes the coffee taste bitter... In Brisbane you have to have a surfie hairdo and a bit of facial growth under your lip. Then I add, "Well, that's what it was like back in 2003!"

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The view from the city

In some ways the view on the cover of Ian McEwan's novel Saturday is the view I see of the BT Tower. Although it is definitely from another angle since there are none of these homes within visable distance!

Snow and Lights in the city... BT tower is somewhere there in the clouds as well... Posted by Hello
News: No snow without ice

As no let-up is predicted in Britain's big freeze (and it is snowing outside as I write this), I can confirm that it is cold and London has finally had winter. Its cold but bearable. During a bit of snow last night, I went out last night to get some water and odds and ends at the local M&S and found myself being accosted by Scientologists on Tottenham Court Road.

Alas I forgot that I now live just around the corner from the cult and I had to pass it to get to the store. It isn't their centre for celebrities which is Mayfair, this is just their shopfront for plebs so there was no chance of spotting Tom or John or Kirstie or whoever.

The pleb-shop's ploy last night was to get perky happy looking people to stop you on the sidewalk outside their lair and offer free personality tests and a break from the snow. But I knew once entering there would be no exiting. So I kept walking. Will this be a regular ordeal to have to pass by... or will I start crossing the street before reaching their premises???

Monday, February 21, 2005

News: Ok just this once

Youngster Pete Doherty, who rose to new heights of fame in the past few weeks having photos of him drugged out (and possibly drooling) on the front page of most of the tabloid press following a hotel fight will be allowed out late for a gig in Brixton. His previous bail conditions required him to be home between 10pm and 7am.

The bad druggie boy image however has just given him more street cred amongst the twenty-something punters...

Weather: Brrr

It has wavered between sleet and snow today. Snow after lunch and then sleet into the early evening... There is a chance of "significant snow" overnight but anything is possible in a city that has its own weather... It is a great time to be out there moving the last bits and pieces into the new place... Or not...

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Scenes from Bloomsbury 5.26pm: Cold and quiet, but at least the rain and sleet held off as I moved my stuff out today, or rather, this afternoon / tonight Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Scenes from West Hampstead 5.21pm: Late afternoon lunch Posted by Hello
Moving from NW6 to WC1

Today I finalised getting a new place in Bloomsbury. Hello Central London. Farewell West Hampstead. Its a downsize but a sensible location. Rather than pack of course spent way too much time wandering around West Hampstead, which seemed a little daft given the light sleet/snow that was falling from time to time.

Theatre: Talk to the hand/ass/stigmata

Jerry Springer outing last night wasn't bad, although some of the principals were not performing and it showed a little (lacking a bit of style alas). I sat next to a man from New York (who was in London for a week and had seen at least a show a night - although he was a theatre teacher/director) who enjoyed it a lot and couldn't believe what he was hearing (or seeing)...

Unlike a Jerry Springer show, the characters in the Opera are quite likeable which gives the show its charm amongst all the profanities. The morality of it all is still a bit ambiguous. Is it a critique of modern TV - the celebrity culture where people will do anything to get attention - or is it reveling in the swill of it all? It leans towards the former, but it also celebrates the latter, which is definitely an explanation as to why it gets up people's noses.

Outside the theatre there was also a group of little old ladies and little old men handing out pamphlets from the Christian Voice. This organisation is an anti-gay, anti-established Church (it's too liberal apparently) and generally bemoaning the debauchery and sin of Britain... Well compared to Australians the British are a saucy bunch so maybe they should all emigrate if they weren't so preoccupied with wanting to save Britain...

Anyway the leaflet makes a few arguments about the blasphemy and depravity of the show (particularly in the second act), but omits the fact that the second act set in hell is taking place inside the head of Jerry Springer as he falls unconscious after getting shot.

It is Jerry's version of Christianity that is unfolding and I get the feeling it is meant to be deeply offensive yet funny at the same time. In a way the audience is laughing at the extreme liberalism of it all. Of course it still all comes down to interpretation so no doubt there will be pickets outside whatever theatres it plays when it goes on its national tour. No doubt a little controversy will help the ticket sales, as it isn't the most commercial show to tour...

Friday, February 18, 2005

News: No tube for smarties

Mass consumer hysteria has broken out over the news that
Smarties are set to lose their tube packaging and plastic lid and will be sold in a box. Consumers have hit the BBC website demanding a boycott. Smarties have been sold in a tube in Britain since 1937, so people are finding the thought of life with a tube-less Smarties a bit hard to take...
News: Light up

London Landmarks are to be lit up tonight for Olympic bid. They should commence in a few minutes and are expected to woo the 2012 Olympic Bidders, who yesterday traveled two stops on the Jubilee Line to see how well that would work should London get the games...

London Weather

It hovered somewhere in between 1deg and 8 deg today, but there is a chance of snow over the next few days... Whatever happens, it will be a bit of a brisk weekend to start moving things... But it looks like that will be the case..

Another Jerry Springer Moment

Going to see Jerry Springer: The Opera tonight. It closes tomorrow night before going on a national tour... It will be a chance to again savour opera with such lyrics as:

I don't give a f*ck no more
If people think I am a whore...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The move?

I may have found a new place to live. Will have to sort out the details tomorrow but it is a small flatshare in central London. I discussed this option with my colleague at work and she pointed out:
* I go home late
* I like old buildings
* I got on well with the potential flatmate

So it all seems like the logical thing to do... But that means that this weekend will mean I have to start moving...


Which books are yours?
Which tapes and dreams belong to you and which are mine?
- From "Where Do You Start" Johnny Mandel and Marilyn & Alan Bergman

In reality however:
* All the computer magazines and tech books are not mine
* All the books about literature and art (and the Tube) are mine
* Most of the CDs and DVDs (of Elaine Stritch and Betty Buckley) are mine.


There is a product that has been around for a few months called Cillit Bang which has caused a bit of minor storm amongst the domesticated since it is one of the few cleaners on the market to clean off London calcium, dirt and grime from kitchens and bathrooms...

The product appealed to me because I initially mis-read the name of the product and just had to buy it with its purple bottle and pink spray head. The fact that it works and has a minor following doesn't make the initial motivation to purchase seem so silly...

Well anyway, it will come in handy over the weekend...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Living: The hunt continues

Went to Ravenscourt Park (near Hammersmith) to see another place. Definitely would take it if offered. Don't know if I passed the "beauty contest"... Since I was late coming from work (again).

It was the first place where the person offering it described a 10 minute walk as 10 Minutes.

This was unusual given the London exaggerations such as:
* A five minute walk really takes ten to fifteen minutes
* Close to shops and transport links means forget about getting to them without a car
* Modern furnishings = Ikea
* 8" = 6"

Its all part of the games people play in London. Sometimes you just have to go what-evaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Actually I say that at work a bit and for a skinny white guy saying that, it gets lots of cheap laughs.

News: Ken not sorry

London Mayor - that's the Mayor of the Congestion Charge and general publicity - Ken Livingstone is in hot water for likening a reporter to a concentration camp guard.

While most reporters here are like attack dogs, it is not the done thing to make references to the war in that context and his conduct has been referred to the standards board - which could recommend he be suspended from office.

The Olympics Inspectors are in town - hence the tube trains with the bright yellow seat covers...

And it is London fashion week and the news is "bling is out". Expect to see more narrow flannel trousers and single breasted jackets for winter 2005/06...

Scenes from the tube 22:20: Heading home from a flatshare hunt in the east end of London. Seat coverings in garish yellow and "back the bid" logos... As for the place at Mile End... Great place and unusually large as it is a warehouse conversion...  Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Music: What I am listening to...

Today despite the 2500 my iPOD tells me I have on it, I realised I need more music for the gym. I do have music but it is the same music I had two years ago and it seems so 2003. Music is all about association and I didn't need to re-live two years ago. So I went to HMV to get Kylie's "Body Language" album, and picked up a reissue of Liza's album with the Pet Shop Boys from 1989. But thinking of Bernstein's Candide from last night I did like the following lines from the final number Make Our Garden Grow:

"Let dreamers dream
What worlds they please
Those Edens can't be found.
The sweetest flowers,
The fairest trees
Are grown in solid ground."

A stanza for those very sensible realists out there in the world no doubt...

Moving: What move? Oh that move

Before I move out of the current quarters, it is probably worth noting for the record that from today I officially living alone in West Hampstead. This is not a great deal of difference to how things were in the past few months, except that are less vitamin supplements in the cupboards and more space in the bathroom. Free space will no doubt expand over the next couple of weekends as everything is gradually moved out... and cleaned... The latter I can't wait for...

Saturday Night at Leicester Square 8:49pm: Thousands waited and watched the cars of stars go by at the BAFTAS. I was just walking by. Forgot that Cate, Leo et al were attending and already inside. Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Up and down on the Piccadilly Line

Today looked at:
1. A place near Holburn - Excellent place in a sensible London location, but I don't think I will get it as I didn't think I bonded with the person there. Later today saw the guy at the gym I have just joined. We both had iPODs on so follow-up conversation was not required...

2. A place near Earl's Court - Nice place and large room sharing with a couple. It was made clear that the spotless kitchen was "the way it always is". I started having flashbacks to leaving coke cans on kitchen tabletops in Haringey. Still the couple were interesting enough and we chatted for a while. Providing I didn't use the kitchen for anything more than getting a glass of water I guess I could live there.

Actually, the kitchen was in a very odd place. It was an alcove off the living room and there was no dining area. The area they used as a bedroom was the obvious choice to put the kitchen I thought but I guess that would make the place one bedroom rather than two, and being central London they probably need the lodger.

Were less interested in me when they found out I only wanted it for a few months, so I don't think that will be one that will happen either...

3. A place at Finsbury Park - that defies description. I arrived late as I underestimated the time it would take to get there (my usual problem with getting around in London - underestimating the time it takes!) and the next person to look at the place arrived the same time that I did. The place was a basement flat painted white from top to bottom and decked out with mirrors and fluro lights. It looked like the toilet of a nightclub where the lights are deliberately made ultraviolet.

The owner had a connection to Chanel and so there were references to Chanel throughout. Coco would have been horrified. The other guy asked questions quickly and couldn't get out of there soon enough. I decided the place was so baffling that I would stay a little longer and have a small conversation with the owner.

So two strikes and possibly three for today. As for the previous week's efforts, turned down two offered to me (they were a little too far out) and the one I really wanted was not offered as they wanted someone who would stay a bit longer... Such is the situation when you are looking for a flatshare...
News: Crushes and constitutions

In the past two days:

* Charles proposes (and nobody seems to care) to his long-term mistress. Constitutional experts and the tabloids seem to show most interest. Thursday night Camilla was in a red dress so The Sun splashed the headline The Lady in Wed... Weally...

* Ikea store opens in North London and people are crushed and several hospitalised while trying to get a £45 flat pack sofa. Emergency services couldn't get to the store as people had abandoned cars on the motorway in search of a bargain. Once again proof to never get in the way of Londoners and their insatiable desire for a bargain. A stabbing was attributed to the store opening as well until it was determined to be an unrelated gangland incident that happened nearby

Music: Candide

Went to BBC Concert Orchestra's Candide tonight. The audience seemed a bit ambivalent to the concert until "Glitter and Be Gay" was performed by Carla Huhtanen (it was that sort of audience)... Michael Slattery as Candide went down well too and Sir Thomas Allen also featured.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

News: Now f*ck off and cover something important you tw*ts

Alastair Campbell's advice sent by blackberry in error to BBC's Newsnight team. Know your technology.

Scenes from the Metropolitan Line Monday 9.59pm. Rush Hour has passed... Posted by Hello

Monday, February 07, 2005

Life: A place to live

* traveled to Hampstead to see a place. Nice location, expensive and ex-Council flat...
* Then traveled to Clerkenwell to see another place. Not bad location, not bad place and 10 minutes walk to the Barbican and walking distance to the fun bars and restaurants in Islington

Looking for a place to live is such a beauty contest as well. Even when you really really want a place, you have to pass what the others think of you. Today I did my best to look conservative and stable. Picked safe shirt and jacket and pullover to underscore this.

In many ways it is great fun looking for a new place. You get to visit strange and interesting new parts of London and meet some pretty interesting people as well... If neither come to fruition, then there are lots more to check out...

Scenes from GBK West Hampstead Sunday Night: The best burgers in London... and dare one say... anywhere! Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Music: What I'm Listening to - Kristen Chenoweth

Downloaded a Kristen Chenoweth album off iTunes last night. She's showy and she's brassy and she's loud... But her album had many songs I weren't familiar with so it was aIt has this wonderful little ditty written by Comden & Green called "If" with lyrics that include:

IF: you had been on the square, and had treated me fair, and we'd not had a tiff…
IF: you had not said I should go and jump right off the nearest cliff!
IF: You had stayed off the make, and you never had taken to coming home stiff.
IF: I hand not smelled perfume with a nasty unfamiliar whiff!
I'm gonna miss you baby
Things could've been teriff!
Ah, what's the diff…

...Amen to that honey!

Actually while we are on the subject of music that I listen to, a colleague at work saw me on the tube a few weeks back in my own little iPOD world. He had his own music so I didn't interrupt. We don't work together so that was fine. Time passes and then just this week he came into the office and asked what I was listening to that day he saw me on the tube. I had no idea what I was listening to. When you have an iPOD it makes you very odd in that you shuffle tracks from Brahms to Britney. Of course in reality I am sure what I was listening to was A New Brain - which is a musical about a NY gay Jewish man who gets a brain tumor - so to sound more mainstream I said I was listening to Rufus Wainwright. This led to a whole discussion on Vic Chesnutt, Tom Waits and various other artists he likes and I am quite partial to as well. The conversation ended with a promise of a "mix tape" or CD of some his vast record collection...

Being a suspicious person living and working in very suspicious times I made some discreet enquiries into the motivation here. Haven't come up with anything yet, so will have to wait and see whether I get a CD I suppose...

Sunday working hard

Today I Finally joined a gym. It took a while to get it all together, but now will have to make it a regular activity. I will also try and find a place to live that works in well with the trip home...

After 25 minutes cardio I have realised that a year and a half of non-gym activity has taken its toll. I am not very fit. Fortunately I was not alone in that department so I wasn't exercising in shame...

It is a fantastic gym as well full of great equipment and the rest so that is enough to spur on the motivation I think...

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Got this in the mail from Vodafone today... Not terribly well targeted I would have to say... Posted by Hello

Scenes from SE8 at 4.30pm: The Thames looking east towards Greenwich. The Housing Estate block on the right is being demolished. Two others nearby are still standing...  Posted by Hello
To do: Nightlife

As I have a quiet night in I was compiling a list of places to visit and of course, there is already a comprehensive list of pubs and clubs in London...

A place to live... the search goes on

Today I decided to look at a place in SE8... Canada Water on the Jubilee line is nearby, or rather 20 minutes walk away, and it was near the river but not quite on the river. The guy offering the room owned the place and was nice and friendly and we got on well, although he mentioned he was going out to XXL tonight and I wasn't sure what to make of that information...

The room overlooked a common garden which looked charming in that English people who potter about on their garden plot on the weekends kind of thing, but what loomed large over the garden plot was a hideously enormous and monolithic Council Estate. I imagined waking up first thing in the morning and seeing this out the window and screaming. Even if I was here for just a few months I think it would be tough going.

The Thames was a short five minute walk away and I was informed that there were plenty of restaurants and bars along the riverfront. Curious, I decided to walk along the entire stretch back to Rotherhithe tube station. It took about an hour and I found two or three places. But mostly I found regenerated docklands dwellings circa late 1980s. I don't think it would be me, but it was fascinating to walk along the old docklands area and take in the views from the Thames.

I still have a few more places to sus out this week.

Life lessons: Theatre or not

Tonight I was de-invited (or should that be disinvited?) from a show that was playing at The National. Have made mental note not to let friends of partners to ever buy tickets for something I really want to see again as they can do the de-invite when it all goes pear shaped.

Actually on Friday night a colleague at work decided to do a bit of psycho-analysis of my situation (its okay he is in training), and he was curious about my response to the mutual friends. I am happy to let them all go... Afterall, there are only so many dinner parties / gatherings where people talk about their careers, intellectual abstractions or what fabulous things they are doing with MDF in their latest renovation you can do in your life...

So tonight instead I went into Soho and had dinner alone, in a very cruisy restaurant. Nothing more to report though... Was too tired after my long walk this afternoon...

Theatre: Holly Hunter's Nipples

Forgot to mention that in the second act of Holly Hunter's Irish Medea show, she appears in a dress that shows off her muscles... Yes she was a bit Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2-ish and had very defined arm muscles... The dress also showed off her nipples as well. And she was high-beaming. For those of you that like Holly Hunters er work, I would have to say she looked darn good for a woman in her late forties...

Friday, February 04, 2005

Theatre: By the Bog of Cats with Holly Hunter

Holly Hunter in a West End play was too good to pass up at £15, so I went to Wyndhams Theatre to see By The Bog Of Cats tonight. The house was half full so there was plenty of room to stretch out in the theatre.

It was an updating of the Medea story to Ireland amongst the peat bogs and the travelers who live in them, so that might explain why it hasn't found an audience. Holly Hunter could stand on stage and recite a list of vulgarities and it would be still worth seeing her act of course...

At crucial moments in the story the man sitting next to me kept rustling his bag of nuts which was a bit of a distraction, and just before Hunter's character gets killed by a man with a white face (not sure about the logic behind that part) somebody's phone went off. The magic of live theatre...


* Liquorice Allsorts are back on my table.
* Was followed tonight at Piccadilly Circus tube station by a man in a pinstripe suit and a cheap backpack.
* Have started looking in earnest for nice place to live in fabulous location... That has own bathroom and broadband. Apart from that, I am not fussy.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Politics: New Labour testing ground

Labour is testing a series of posters that it may use in the election on the theme Britain is working. Don't let the Tories wreck it again (which borrows the same slogan from what the Tories used 10 years ago but anyway...). They are all are pretty underwhelming in the mudslinging stakes and surely must only appeal to the most die-hard of campaign fanatics...

Meanwhile over on the site, the new slogan: "Are you thinking what we're thinking?" is being rolled out... Quite cryptic really...

News: Crimes against intruders

Amid concerns that crime is out of control (and depending on what statistics you look at you could argue this toss one way or another), in the battle over what people can do to protect their homes during a burglary, new guidelines released this week say pretty much anything now goes. You still can't set traps or punish a burglar by death, but anything else is fair game. The advice was released to make homeowners feel safe about keeping that cricket bat by gun by their bedside table (who also will be voting in May as well)...

News: Mandela in London

Nelson Mandela is in London for the rest of the week to address the G7 industrialised nations about "making poverty history". He will also address a Rally in Trafalgar Square. Chancellor Gordon Brown is leading on the initiative from the Government, but whether any real action on wiping third world debt and giving developing nations real access to world markets is another matter...

Films in London

There are a couple of films shot in London screening here at the moment:
* Closer - drama with Julia and Jude etc... location map is here
* Creep - A garden variety slasher flick set on the London Underground and uses the disused platforms at Charring Cross.

Life Bits

* New haircut (check)
* New gym membership (check)
* New place to live (still looking)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Conversation: Haircuts

Paul (to colleague): I am leaving work early tomorrow at 5.30 to get a Haircut.
Colleague:: Is this allowed?
Paul:Well I need to look my best now...