Thursday, April 28, 2005
This week Hampstead bathers win court case establishing their right to swim in freezing ponds - without a lifeguard - if they wish to do so. Bathers and their supporters hailed it as a victory against the Nanny State (which is very important here, unlike in Australia where people love the government to tell people what they should and shouldn't be doing). The case was seen as a test case against endless regulation and fear of litigation. The judgement paves the way for members or the swimming club to swim at the ponds without life guards on duty - and also protects the Corporation of London from being sued should anything go wrong. That sounds awfully sensible.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
- A rat went scurrying past me in the kitchen last night. He seemed to be in a bit of a hurry. This news seemed to be just as shocking to my flatmate as the news that I should vote Tory. I suggested that warfarin would solve the rat problem, but that Tory voters are bound to flourish as Labour continues to stay in office.
- At the National Theatre tonight a rat ran out from under one food counter and hid under the table near me. It then ran back. A few of us watched this rat run with bemusement. Have made mental note to just use the bar at intermission in future.
- They do seem to be getting closer...
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Finally caught The History Boys at the National. It was closing night of its extended run and it was another astonishing piece of theatre. As theatre goes, this has to be as good as it can get. At the conclusion, the audience gave a standing ovation to the cast and playwright Alan Bennett.
The play is described as "an unruly bunch of bright, funny sixth-form boys in pursuit of sex, sport and a place at university". But there is so much more going on here. Broader issues of Education are explored as just the starting point. This is a play that is full of witty barbs and sharp dialogue that surely will have a place in future dictionaries of quotations. A particular favourite of mine in the second act...
Mrs Lintott (a teacher): Our Headmaster is a twat. An impermissible word nowadays but the only one suited to my purpose. A twat. And to go further down the same proscribed path, a condescending cunt.
At a point later in the second act the actor playing this teacher lost the line and had to be rescued by having it called out offstage, which temporarilly broke the spell of the performance. But the cast as an ensemble worked so well together during the near three hours they were onstage, that this stumble was soon forgotten. Besides, there was so much memorable dialogue to take in.
The play is due to go to Broadway and tour Australia next year, but surely this play has even more future in it. I have an autographed hardcover script as well...
Overheard at the theatre after the play
Mahn #1: I think it is time tea...
Laaydy: Time tea?
Mahn #2: Yes it's the new talk for time to have some tea.
Laaydy: Oh yes well it is probably a good idea since look it's raining now...
Monday, April 25, 2005
I had a quiet weekend (not counting getting home at 3am on Saturday and Sunday morning) so I used the time to catch up on some letters from home. Since my mother is probably the only person that reads this I thought I would answers some questions from her recent letters:
- I don't know anybody that collects stamps. I try not to use the word philately in conversation in case it is misunderstood...
- Don't let Dad leave you outside the men's toilets. It isn't a good look.
- I did hear about the baggage handler who had a camel's head. It is nice to hear that QANTAS employs all sorts...
- When seeing London in only one day, Do breakfast in Soho not Piccadilly, go to the Tate not Saatchi Gallery, and see a £10 play at the National or use the TKTS booth.
I found out from the following website that I should vote Tory if I did bother to register to vote. Actually on my first attempt it suggested because I had such non-committal responses to all their questions I should vote for nobody - so I am doing the right thing by staying out of this one.
Only after I decided on the questionnaire to keep Britain out of the Euro and to believe in tax cuts and ID cards did the site suggest I should vote Conservative. Labour came second. Interesting stuff, although it does not factor in the character of candidates and the type of person you would be more inclined to vote for... Policy, pledges and platforms (for whatever that rubbish is) surely can only get you so far... Personality of the leader will always clinch it for me...
The other thing is that I don't know how I am going to break this to my housemate who did the test and was told he should vote Green... He will be horrified. It was his birthday the other day and there was a birthday card that had TB on it. I had to get it for him as the idea of giving him a card with Blair on it (that also was mild political satire) really amused me...
Your expected outcome:Labour
Your actual outcome:
|Liberal Democrat -20|
|UK Independence Party -6|
You should vote: Conservative
The Conservative Party is strongly against joining the Euro and against greater use of taxation to fund public services. The party broadly supported the Iraq war and backs greater policing and ID cards. The Tories are against increasing the minimum wage above the rate of inflation, and have committed to abolishing university tuition fees. They support 'virtual vouchers' for private education. And they have a leader who is a bit spooky and known to have a potty mouth
Take the test at Who Should You Vote For
News: Plastic and Glass
- One of the more perplexing things about the tube is that they have soft cushioned seats. For something that is used by so many millions of people everyday, you have to try not to focus on all those asses (and everything else) that sat down before you. Now it has emerged that plastic seats may be considered on some lines that are a little bit dodgy...
- A window opens and it falls out of the Gherkin (aka the Swiss Re building in the City) today. That's a big bit of glass to go flying about the city...
Saturday, April 23, 2005
At after-work drinks last night, J mentioned he was going to his partner's place and was looking forward to a night in. Massage was mentioned as part of the night in. I commented that it had been some time since I had that... The massage, not the night in... So J told my mission for the evening was to get a massage - without having to pay for it (as that would be too easy)...
Today I texted J: Mission Accomplished
London is like that... When it works, it works very well...
Friday, April 22, 2005
- Variety called it "Les Miz lite" and others have been even less unkind. So much so that The Independent suggests there is a curse of the Shaftesbury theatre... Or at least a curse of crap productions playing in it...
- Oh and Kew Gardens has a big, smelly flower
- And lock your doors, Violent crime in London is up, although crime overall is down. Part of the increase in certain stats is that they are now being recorded. For instance, sexual offences are up, as indecent exposure now is a criminal offence and is recorded. Fascinating stats are available across all of London to enthrall.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
The Sun Newspaper - not to be outdone by the conclave in Italy - set up its own chimney and set off a puff of smoke today in London. The smoke was red indicating it will support Labour for its third term. Oh and the front page today read "From Hitler Youth to Papa Razi"... Boom boom!
The weekend trip has had a positive impact on me.
- I have been drinking more French red... It helps with the cold I still have...
- I have been enthralling colleagues with photos from France.
- Plus since returning I have downloaded some music off iTunes by Dalida.
Il suffisait de marcher
Le lambeth walk
C'était pas compliqué
So I now have the French version of "The Lambeth Walk"... And I never did have enough eighties French pop in my collection...
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Scenes from the National Theatre 19:18 - Book signing with Julian Clary. After a talk tonight that I attended I picked up a copy of the book as well... and got Julian to sign it... Up close he doesn't look half bad. However his good hair stylist and tailoring made one feel downright shabby so avoided any conversation...
Hearing about the death of a friend today has put blogging a little on hold... But coming home on the tube tonight I did listen to a song by William Finn which contains some great lyrics:
And I have found,
Hyperbole, is not what makes the world go round,
Just living, just navigating firm and level ground,
Has power to astound,
I have found.
It's been said,
And I have heard,
That quiet, doesn't have to be a dirty word,
Just talking,is often more expressive than a shriek,
Its nice to merely speak,
I have found.
Contentment it seems,
Accompanied by no grovels
And no tears
from "I have found" - William Finn
And so life goes on...
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Paul's Travelling Tips Miscellany
More on my weekend later but first my observations travelling 300kph out of Paris:
- A trip to Paris, then on to Angers need not be tiring... Just travel first class. My return leg was in a solo seat so I did not have to play footsie with anybody... The seats are bigger and the cars are quieter... And in general the cars have much better looking people in them... Although the only attractive people in my car tonight are the women...
- You also get nicer messages on the PA system, and the crew are much more polite. Unless of course you are Grace Jones trying to get a free upgrade, or the Asian woman at Gare Du Nord who showed her ticket to the smart French gent after me and got: "YOU ARE CAR THREE THIS IS CAR TWELVE! MOVE ALONG!"
- I am typing this while having a nice glass of champagne. There is a bottle of Bordeaux waiting after that as well...
- The 3pm train out of Waterloo is a good one to catch if you wish to pick up a Gaelic Businessman returning to Paris. I just didn't try hard enough, but then again I only had the Perrier as an aperitif...
- I am enjoying myself more as I type this and quaff champagne...
- Oh and check the Price differential between 1st and 2nd class when you book... For me it was only £20 so I figured that was a bargain...
Friday, April 15, 2005
Travelling on the Eurostar speeding through the French countryside, one notices how much smarter it is to travel in first class. However one can sympathise with Grace Jones as the leg room is still a bit minimal. Have been playing footsies with the French businessman sitting opposite me for most of the journey. Oh and there is an over representation of laptops in the car I am travelling in - hence getting out the iPAQ to be a poser as well...
Julius Caesar last night at the Barbican was a marathon effort. First half ran for two hours, then half an hour intermission, followed by another hour. F thought there were a few places they could have cut, but with things falling onto stage, loud explosions, huge crowd scenes, and an updating of the production to a Bush-like era, there was plenty to take in.
Sitting in second row, Ralph Feinnes as Marc Antony was particularly engaging. Of course he could read the back of a cereal packet and have had the audience hanging on to every word. But the rest of the cast was just as good.
Being a preview there were a few little odd bits, such as a very bright torch falling on stage and pointing out to the audience. The effect was that half the audience in the stalls had to squint for five minutes until an actor picked it up.
Given the star power of the cast, it seems like it will be a popular blockbuster production. Whether everyone will buy the updating to the Bush era - complete with battles fought wearing desert fatigues - may be another matter.
It all happens during interval:
A woman brushes by Paul.
Paul (to F): Did you see that woman rub her breasts up against me?
F: Yes... Complete waste of time for her wasn't it...
Actually, the audience was much better looking at the LSO concerts... But anyway...
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Lucian Freud new self-portrait goes on show at the National Portrait Gallery. The speculation over who the young naked woman clinging to the 82 year old painter is commences... Nothing like a bit of mystery in the art world, particularly involving a superstar artist...
Alas the gallery was not open when I walked by it tonight... Some other time
News: Sock it to him
Cherie Blair last night tells the East End constituency of New Labour MP Oona King to give George Galloway a bloodied nose at the ballot box. George Galloway used to be a Scottish Labour MP who was famous for visiting and brown nosing Saddam in Iraq. Now with his own loony left / broad coalition of anyone against the war party, he is hoping to capture the Muslim vote in the east end. The papers tried to pin many things on Galloway but he won libel suits against them, but there is something unpleasant about this beady-eyed bald Scotsman. Still that has never stopped anyone from getting elected...
News: Outfoxing the mugger
South Kensington City Fund Manager (and woman) gets pistol whipped in a botched mugging Monday night. Rather than hand over her ring she threw it into bushes and told the would-be mugger that she dropped it... Don't mess with the city fund manager...
No gym tonight as picked up lurgie in the past couple of days. But:
- Will catch the Barbican production of Julius Ceasar Thursday night
- The show is now estimated to run for three and a half hours. As Thursday night is the show's first night it is probably too early to expect too many cuts...
- Julius Ceasar cast includes Ralph Fiennes and Fiona Shaw.
- I was to take Marc to this but that was in the before time, so I am now taking colleage F from work.
- This change of plans did not go down well and I more emails from him in one afternoon than I have had in the past four months (which provided for interesting reading for my friends who love reading the rantings of a madman). Of course personally when you have done the madman relationship in the past it is all a bit frightfully passe.
- Planning to consume the odd can of Red Bull to make it through Thursday and the occasional Lemsip
- Friday afternoon take off to Angers, France for the weekend. Planning on catching some sleep on the Eurostar...
- Life goes on...
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Monday, April 11, 2005
Today was told my skin looked fabulous. I explained could have been the result of:
- Several litres of water (with gas) I have consumed in the past 24 hours
- Some anti-aging face mask I had a sample of and applied overnight
- Sauna at the gym at Bayswater from Sunday
- Bronzing anti-shine face powder (just the thing for polluted London streets)
- All of the above
Much later, after a 20 minute jog at the gym, one did not look as great. Yet to master the look cool in the gym. Just look sweaty instead.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
'Rubbish' art offered to visitors at the Serpentine today as Takahashi's installation is offered to the public...
Wearing an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt ordered online this week which has on it "Here's to being single". A&F are quite popular here amongst the gay punters with their modern takes on classic clean cut items. Late last year they settled a class action discrimination case which accused the company of being a little too clean cut and a little too all-white. Of course none of this stops the punters buying the goods...
Chav #1: I am not doin' any more girls until school finishes...
Chav #2: Yeah?
Chav #1: But Jo came yesterday at 5 and I gave her a good shaggin'... She won't forget that...
Overheard at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Fest tonight:
Leather Man #1: You know Peter, the young boy that hangs around us sometimes?
Leather Man #2: Oh yes I know the one
Leather Man #1: Well he sent me a text around lunchtime which said, "Get yourself to a TV, she looks faaabulous in oyster silk and chiffon!"
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Scenes from outside National Film Theatre (under Waterloo Bridge) 15:30 - crowded both inside and out with punters seeing the London Lesbian & Gay Film Fest
Saw The Far Pavilions tonight. It is a new musical based on the novel by M.M. Kaye, and was previously a BBC mini-series. Obviously musical was the next logical step. Hmmm... Unfortunately epic stories don't usually make for great musicals. For every Les Miserables there is Gone with the Wind or Shogun. This show seems to fall into the latter category.
Set in India it is a convoluted tale about love, the Raj and lots of other things. Being an epic melodrama, the story did get in the way of everything. It also didn't help that the music is not very good (a problem since it is mostly through-sung), the cast had difficulty with the music, and the stage kept spinning around. The spinning stage was a curious staging choice that had the effect of making most people in the front rows a little giddy from its overuse.
On the plus side however I thought the staging and some of the songs were quite good. And given that Bombay Dreams isn't playing in London for the time being it does have the corner of the Asian-themed musical market. Male lead Hadley Fraser had his shirt off at various points throughout the show as well...
It is still in preview and opens officially next week so no doubt changes will still be made. But half the group I was with left at interval so it isn't a good omen for the show. They didn't think much of Fraser's physique either (maybe a few more sessions in the gym before opening night would help). Actually the second half, free of all that messy exposition of the first was actually a bit better. The guy next to me thought it wasn't the worst show currently on the West End - he reserved that for Mary Poppins(!) - which goes to show you can't please everyone.
Overheard on Rupert Street after the show
Transgender girl to boy: So are you like, whatever, gay, like whatever, straight, like whatever, bi, like whatever?
Friday, April 08, 2005
Caught the LSO Beethoven Concert tonight. It was a sensational programme of the Coriolan Overture, Symphony No 6 (‘Pastoral’), and then Symphony No 7. All are very listenable and perfect for unwinding at the end of the day, and the sound that conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner got from the orchestra was exquisite. Hearing the orchestra at times barely above pianissamo was something else. Quite appropriate to play the Pastoral symphony today as storms break out over Britain, and temperatures are expected to dive below freezing tonight.
Also, during interval I did notice how cruisy the foyers were... I didn't get approached but I did some heavy duty checking out - complete double takes, distracting people from their conversation and the like (and no I didn't have something on my tie - I did check). It was great for the ego. I could feel it inflate as I drank my Becks.
Alas there was no follow up as the bells went to go back in to the concert hall. There was no chance to follow up after the concert either. There are so many exits out of the Barbican who knows which one to stake out? I took heart however that it wasn't a bad result for somebody who had been at work since 8am (although I was using the right products to conceal any sign of fatigue) and besides there are many more concerts...
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Big news tonight is that the Government announces that receivers are called in by MG Rover, and the company disputes this. The announcement came after the Chinese back out of a deal to take over the company. Production stopped today in the West Midlands plant and the future of the company doesn't look bright. Apart from making rubbish cars that fill up London streets by people with no taste, it appears the company hasn't really made it ever since BMW walked away from it five years ago... Unfortunately 20,000 jobs are likely to disappear in a matter of days...
Grace Jones gets thrown off the Eurostar in Kent for being a bitch, which is why people love her anyway (although not Eurostar staff now I suspect). Actually when I saw her on the front page of tonight's Evening Standard I thought "oh no, she's dead!". But no, she was just causing a ruckus after sitting in Premium Class when she only had a First Class ticket, and then beating up some poor unsuspecting Eurostar inspector. Maybe it was the warm leatherette that appealed to her so much she didn't want to move. I am traveling first class next weekend to Angers, but I don't think I will be a slave to the Premium class, I will sit where my seat allocation tells me to...
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Have managed to go to the gym four days in a row. Doing different parts of the body of course, but this sudden burst of physical activity was more by accident than design. For the last two nights people have cancelled drinks on me. Having a hunch that this was possible as both nights the drinks would have been with ambivalent types, I took my gym bag as plan B. So while I haven't been social, I have been getting fitter. I pointed out to my single colleagues at work that this is important in the post breakup period as by the time one has got one's shit together, one will look a bitofallright. Because let's face it, when you are in a relationship... Things can get let go... Even when they shouldn't.
Overheard at the gym tonight:
Nothing... All was quiet (during the times I wasn't plugged into the iPOD listening to Kylie's latest single Giving You Up - her 29th top 10 UK single - downloaded from iTunes)
But overheard on Tottenham Court Road:
Girl #1: Have you ever considered dropping by the Scientology shop?
Girl #2: Uh no...
Girl #1: They apparently offer all sorts of psychological testing...
Girl #2: My issues aren't worth testing...
The Sun did its bit to help the royal marriage get over the recent series of mishaps by sending a Druid to Windsor Castle to bless some lookalike couples and waving a "curse-be-gone" stick. That'll do it... The Druid appears to have a fake Santa Claus beard and is wearing an outfit with the logo of the paper in clear view...
- Pope dies and is buried Friday. On Monday morning there was much alarm at the thought that flags on buildings would be flying at half mast on the day the heir to the throne would be married. The fact that they are flying at half mast on various buildings is something to pause about in Protestant Britain. But the problem disappeared once the decision to change the wedding to Saturday so the Prince could attend the funeral. How in 500 years things change. The Guardian is calling it the slow death of Protestant England. Protestants can take heart that at least the future King is marrying a divorcee, and if the Daily Mirror is to be believed, he was furious that he had to change the date to Saturday. The front page had the classic headline: NO WEDDING AND A FUNERAL. Oh and given the wedding is now on Saturday, it will clash with the Grand National, and so after some horse trading, the race will be delayed by 25 minutes to enable the BBC to cover both...
- The election was called today which was probably the worst-kept secret in politics, since as far back as May last year this date was flagged as the date for the election. Polls are showing a closing of the gap between Labour and Conservatives, but due to the voting system here that will not be enough for an upset (at this stage). This election will be the first election using weblogs, but this one won't be (unless the campaign just happens to run across my travels).
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Managed to find my stash of Australian Kangaroo Pins given to me before I left by a friend in Oz. The idea being to wear them while you are out and about and if you hit it off with somebody who is abitofallright then you give them the pin. Well hey, you gotta have a gimmick... Will try it out over the next few days...
It was announced late this morning that the Pope's funeral was to be Friday, then an hour later Clarence House announced Charles and Camilla would now get married on Saturday. In the meantime, punters raced out to buy all the tat they could grab with the wrong date on it. I guess the thought is that one day it would be valuable, but cheap printed tea towells are hardly going to a collectors item.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Scenes from Covent Garden 18:16. There was an unusually large number of people watching this act. This appeared due to the fact the performer wearing a thong and with a large bulge down his front. Here he was mounting an unsuspecting man from the audience... Not much was left to the immagination here...and the punters couldn't get enough of it... Saucy bunch of tourists...
Scenes from Milton Keynes 6:50pm. I went to Milton Keynes tonight to see the UK tour version of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which was great. The show didn't last long enough in London for me to get around to seeing it last year, and I always have wondered what Milton Keynes was like. Now that I have seen it, I don't have to ever die wondering what this place is like. It has a well-deserved crap town status.
I had pre-booked tickets to see at the National Gallery Caravaggio: The Final Years, which everyone has been raving about, and it was worth it. Some amazing pieces of the artists work made in his final years together in the same location was quite impressive. Those that recommended the exhibition to me I suspect were devotees of the Derek Jarman film from the eighties which certainly focused on the homoerotic nature of his works (and the artists impulses in that direction)... The exhibition suggests his life was a little more complex than a raving queen who got into fights and killed a man, but it all made for interesting context when looking at the art.
Actually amongst the hoards of people at the exhibition there were quite a few friends of Dorothy lurking amongst the darkened rooms and I thought it was if the curators were trying to add some of the seediness of the life the artist led to the exhibition. In fact the darkness was to bring out the artwork - which in some cases was damaged or in poor condition - but that didn't stop that strange feeling that one was being followed from room to room. Just as well there were only six rooms.
Afterwards I quickly ducked into the main gallery to look at Seurat's Bathers at Asnières. The Van Gough collection on the opposite wall is always more popular, but I just like this one. And unlike Caravaggio, there is all that colour and light...
Overheard at the Caravaggio Exhibit
Foreign tourist #1:Zha zzzha zhaa zha Caravaggio.... gay.
Foreign tourist #2:Ahh nozha zha zha zha Caravaggio... bisexual!
Guy-who-took-room-after-me ends up suggesting on Friday night we go for a drink, which after leaving work at 8pm I figure what the hell, I'll skip gym for that. However:
- He has another commitment so drinks will commence at 10.30pm, which is hardly enough time before closing to make it worth the effort, but I figure I am only a 20 minute walk to soho so I should be arsed to do that. I spend the hour and a bit between getting home and going out again discussing the imminent Papal death with lapsed Catholics back in Australia.
- After quick drink in soho Guy-who-took-room-after-me suggests we head to G-A-Y at the Astoria. He bought with him fliers to get cheap (and quick) entry which I thought was pretty organised. The only thing to wait for was the security check. Security guard frisks me and queries the five pound note I have scrunched up in my jeans pocket. I say to him, "its money" and I guess that dumb response suggested I was not some coke addict.
- G-A-Y at the Astoria on Friday nights is pretty casual and relaxed. The music on Fridays is all ABBA, Kylie and a curiously high number of Pointer Sister tracks which will make you wish you put on your "Choose Life" t-shirt, shoulder pads and extra thick hair gel. But hey when you can sing along to all the tracks it can't be that bad a thing...
- Drinks come in cans which is fine if you like English beers or cider. Beer or cider in cans in a very warm and sweaty environment is such an experience, but it does encourage the punters to drink more... Well those punters that can take their alcohol - and take English beer or cider.
- It was probably around the fourth or fifth can of cider that Guy-who-took-room-after-me found an Asian midget and started snogging the thing.
- I realised I was way too sober and after the earlier discussion about Catholicism really not ready for the wild crazy hedonism that seemed to be breaking out on the dance floor amongst the discarded cans, the warm air, the bright lights, and the Spice Girls Movie playing on a large screen and the endless stream of classic pop from the eighties. So I called it a night at the awfully sensible hour of 2am, wishing (on three separate occasions) someone a good night after they tried to distract me from leaving.
- Five minutes later I was home... Location location... I got a text today enquiring if I got home last night and some references to a few too many cans of cider but I figure since I make a lousy drinking buddy and I don't drink cider, I probably wouldn't skip gym again for that. Although I did download some Pointer Sisters tracks from iTunes for my collection... Baby, make your move, step across the line,
Touch me one more time, come on, dare me!
Amen to that...
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Friday, April 01, 2005
At the gym tonight I get a text message from guy-who-took-room-after-me who suggests we should catch up again for a drink. Naturally I text everyone who I had mentioned this unfolding little story, but neglect to text guy-who-took-room-after-me back. Seek to resolve this by phoning but get voicemail instead. Let the phone tag commence...
Overhead at gym tonight
Muscle Mary 1: I was married once. Two years. No kids thankfully.
Muscle Mary 2: I have always wondered what it would be like to do... You know... A woman...
- The heir to the throne was caught on microphone saying how awful the bloody (royal) press are... Well what do you expect from the journalists where a scoop constitutes who Prince William has been taking to the slopes??
- And over 9 million people tuned in to see it, but Christopher Eccleston won't return for a second series of Dr Who. After finally watching it the other night, it was actually pretty darn good. London looked great in the first episode of the new series where mannequins and wheelie bins wreck havoc over the city.