Monday, October 17, 2005
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Indeed there were a lot of typically British things on display including:
- A passionate love for not killing animals
- Overzealous gardening (and it all looked very organic)
- Upper class twits and eccentric town folk
- Edwardian terrace housing, and
- The usual red telephone boxes and post boxes
The other downside to seeing it at the cinema was that you were inflicted with a very bad computer animation featuring penguins that apparently was a plug for the upcoming release of Madagascar on DVD. It was loud, noisy and looked like rubbish… I think one kid in the entire audience laughed at it (presumably she has special needs).
Golders green station
Originally uploaded by kirwilliam.
Northern Line trains being refitted with safety equipment at Golders Green.
This week everyone has been an expert on trip-cocks and other things that stop trains when tube drivers do a SPAD. The Northern Line resumed a very limited service tonight for the first time since Wednesday evening. But it will be another few days before there is anything like a regular service… A good time to be on holiday…
This week my flatmate R was also at home on holiday so it was a bit of the idle life this week. R and I were reflecting on the past few months this week and I would have to say that my time here has been the best of all my living experiences in London. No prissy queens, no heavily medicated boyfriends, just good sensible living, with a smattering of gentlemen callers. Actually this week it has been more like lashings on R's part I don't know how he has the stamina to keep up, but I digress…
Reflecting on it all R mentioned that he had sussed me out pretty quickly, but what I didn't mention to him was what made me interested in this place. I remember that day in February well. Checking out the flat I went to the bathroom and noticed skid-marks in the toilet bowl. I figured that if somebody was that casual about not cleaning the toilet when strangers were coming over to check out their place then they couldn't be all that bad to live with. So that is my flat-hunting tip in London – check the lavatory for skid marks.
Monday, October 10, 2005
And speaking of Boy George, there is the tragedy of his arrival at Heathrow yesterday. After wondering for years why he wears all that hideous makeup the truth is that he is concealing an even more hideous reality. He looks like the rough trade you find at The Black Cap on a slow night… Put the makeup back on!
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Ad: Well Austria's greatest contribution to society was Hitler wasn't it?
Austrian Woman: You are so rude!
Paul (to the woman): Yes he's terrible. And if the drinks weren't so expensive I'd tell you to throw your glass of wine at him…
At the time I thought it was just because I was seeing a taping of Celebrity Mastermind which made it dull, but this was an odyssey too. It was one full of bad jokes (the warm up man used the line "dirty stinkin' gypos" which I thought surely wasn't very BBC-ish), hideous sets, and endless repeats of poorly arranged songs. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, they managed to find an arrangement to do so.
Television is a curious thing as well as what makes it what it is, is local celebrities and local in-jokes, so it is a difficult thing to appreciate culturally as well if you have not had the years of exposure to it. The host was a typical garden variety smarmy type who had hosted several game shows and curiously seemed to be well-liked by the punters. It must be something about the magic of television that I wasn't getting here, or there was a cultural gap...
Having said that, on the plus side, there was very little of the usual Musical numbers that I feared (although they may have recorded those Phantom and Les Miz numbers in previous episodes). Two numbers – a jazz version of "Summertime" and a club-act style version of "What I did For Love" actually sounded pretty darn good too. It wasn't bad hearing those twice, but for the remaining four-and-a-half hours it was less torch song and just more torture.
The recording was made for a series to be aired in January on Saturday nights on BBC1, so it will be perfect for that sort of timeslot when everyone is at home and miserable so why not inflict a cheesy show on the punters – well the ones that can't be arsed getting out on a Saturday evening….
Friday, October 07, 2005
This version was set in a Ukrainian-style country where an English conman was mistaken for a UN inspector looking into the country's human rights record. Michael Sheen was quite funny as the bumbling English conman but every once in a while the comedy ground to a halt when someone's tongue was ripped out, or people were killed. A little bit too black and not enough comedy perhaps. Also at nearly three hours, it tended to drag a bit.
Geraldine James as the President's wife was also particularly amusing, although A suggested that Jewel in the Crown and Gandhi were the days of her better work, but I suggested her best work surely has to be in the second series of Little Britain where she breast feeds her son (aged forty)… Well, it is a popular show here anyway.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
A: Thanks for washing them. What washing powder do you use they smell terrific?
Paul: Why I use Fairy… Non bio…
At this point Paul does not mention the M&S fabric softener as A is too busy cracking up…
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
I told him that there was nothing to fear as if by chance he saw something that took his fancy I would rush to the bathroom or make some sort of quick exit. Of course Saturday and Sunday mornings in Soho are not the places you are going to find the most eligible men in the city so I figured I would not be making any quick departures…
On Sunday Ad had the skirt steak and it was a source of much discussion as to what part of the animal this came from. The waiter was none the wiser on its location. It was of particular discussion as Ad said it was tough (and it looked like old tyre tread). The waiter agreed and he suggested to Ad that he feed him something else next time. I wasn't quite sure what exactly he had in mind but I think the lesson of the day was to avoid the skirt…
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Meanwhile closer to WC1, there were plenty of punters out and about as Oxford Street closed to traffic so there could be a street party. The effort was to boost sales that have been sluggish even before the July bombings.
No number of street performers bussed in from Covent Garden can conceal the fact that Oxford Street is a bit of a disaster. The shops east of Oxford Circus are mostly rubbish, and what is west to Marble Arch you have to fight through the crowds on poorly maintained footpaths. Oxford Street is really something to cross to get to the gym, to get to Soho, or to go anywhere else…
Later in the day the punters were out at the Astoria in force as Robbie Williams was doing what was described as "a small preview concert" of his latest album. Who would have thought so many females under 25 could be concentrated around such a small area of Tottenham Court Road?
Friday, September 30, 2005
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Scenes from the Westminster Tuesday - 19:17. The joys of the internet and live feeds... You can watch him rub his hands, talk on the mobile and wave to photographers... It's just like big brother!
I understand that it isn't a terribly popular exhibition and while it has some great photography in it, Modern China isn't the most exciting thing to see – unless overdeveloped grey concrete bunkers in a cold and hostile environment is your idea of living. Interestingly one of the collections of photographs by Song Dong I had seen in Brisbane at the APT in 2002 (so there was a touch of the so-three years ago about the exhibition as well)…
Anyway, you do leave with a sense of wondering about this emerging superpower as to what sort of future is in store for a country going through rapid industrialisation and upheaval. And it still wasn't enough to convince me to have some dim sum for lunch…
Monday, September 26, 2005
Scenes from Bloomsbury Sunday 14:11 - It isn't everyday when you find a working fridge freezer for £35 outside your front door... Not surprinsingly (as Londoners love a bargain), within an hour it was sold... Just in time to beat the heavy afternoon rains that would have probably rendered it less useful...
In another curiousity the central heating came on this week in the building... Apparently winter is here even if it isn't... It made me wonder whether:
- The other residents of the building are fearful of temperatures below 15 degrees,
- The authority that runs the building gets a good deal on the gas used to heat the boilers,
- The other residents missed the furnace-like atmosphere of the stairwells over the past three months when the heating was turned off,
- The basement rats turned it on after eating their way through everything else down there,
- The authority that runs the building doesn't have any idea as to what it is doing, or
- All of the above.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
One suspects that the Met Police is more interested in this story than in the past as the current police commissioner is keen to focus on middle-class drug users… Moss is not getting off as easy as when resident toff and former Squidgy-lover James Hewitt was let off with a warning over cocaine use.
On a more sanguine note, St John Ambulance is hoping that London poddies will take advantage of first aid tips that can be downloaded to your iPOD. Another post-July must-have download perhaps…
Scenes from Stockwell Tube Northern Line Northbound Thursday 22:43 - Heading back to Bloomsbury after some sensible drinks with friends in Brixton... Unexpectedly I also managed to get a few presents as well including a bottle of champagne and a bottle of fizz from Australia. These were consumed on Friday evening in WC1 which has left one feeling a tad tired today...
It isn't hard to see why it is a favourite. It has great food and is a smart restaurant without being too pretentious.
For the main course I had a baked cod which was fabulous and A had a pig's trotter. I asked whether this meant there was a three-legged pig wandering around Wandsworth Common but the waiter assured us that all the legs were taken off the pig so no wandering about the common could take place…
It has been around for ten years as well and no doubt the latest publicity will bring in new punters to SW17 (afterall, it is only a short trip from Victoria Station)…
Scenes from the South Bank Wednesday 18:28. Royal Festival Hall is now covered in scaffolding for the big refurbishment, but the front of the building is very sensible with the new eateries and establishments along it, and very very popular as basically there has been only rubbish along here before...
Such is the pulling power Mike Leigh has nowadays, although he is more famous for his films such as Vera Drake and Topsy-Turvy, and Secrets and Lies. As luck would have it there were returns, so I snapped one up to the matinee performance. Leigh is famous for his use of developing characters with actors and making them improvise the subsequent scenes over an intensive period of rehearsal and workshops. Through this process the story and the narrative takes shape.
As it turns out the play is a slice of life story about a middle-class secular Guardian-reading Jewish family in Cricklewood. Cricklewood is an area of north-west London not too far from Finchley Road / West Hampstead so one could get all the location jokes. The play initially focuses on the reaction of the family when their layabout son decides to take up the religion, but then moves to focus on other matters that bring all the family members back together. The family home is full of Ikea furniture and Joan Baez albums and captures perfectly a slice of life in north-west London.
The play is also fairly economical with the dialogue in the first scene setting up the whole scenario that is about to unfold for the next two hours, so you have to listen carefully. Being a matinee this can be a bit problematic with the elderly audience forgetting that they are not watching television and so any comment such as "ooh he looks just like my son Dave" reverberates throughout the theatre. Another distraction came in the second half when someone's hearing aid kept whistling throughout and interfering with the sound system. I was half expecting someone to shout "Turn your hearing aid down Agnes!" but it didn't happen. But these distractions still couldn't diminish the interest on what is happening on stage. It was a fantastic play and definitely one of the best I have seen while here. I suspect this play will have a future life…
Incidentally there was also the added bonus of seeing Nitzan Sharron bent over in the second act and showing a bit of plumber's posterior. Live theatre can always have some cheap thrills, and I don't think the blue rinse set were quick enough to pick this little bit up…
Friday, September 23, 2005
Scenes from the Ritz Tuesday 20:00 - Champagne Afternoon Tea with an assortment of sandwiches, scones and pastries. A declared that it was definitely something sensible to do before one turns thirty amongst the palms and golden light and silver service... And it was ever so sensible.
The late sitting wasn't as heaving as other sittings can be throughout the day. There were an elderly couple a little way over who A suggested could be us one day. He particularly remarked that the old lady could be me in the future as he could always picture me wearing a pearl necklace.
There was an element of surprise to the goings on as I was told to meet him outside Fortnum and Mason at 7pm wearing a jacket and tie. Since being on vacation for the past few weeks this was a change from what I had become accustomed to wearing but jeans and A&F polos can't do for every occasion...
So I scrubbed up fairly well and we walked down Piccadilly to the hotel. It was such a warm night however that being served initially with Champagne and then washing it down with copious amounts of Orange Pekoe did have an unusual effect on one's constitution. I vehemently denied A's accusations that I had become drunk on one glass of champagne!
But still amongst all the glamour and glitz, it is very easy as one sips Orange Pekoe to see what others in-the-know know, about life's cares passing away when having tea at the Ritz.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Scenes from the British Museum Tuesday 15:44 - Just visited the Persia: The Forgotten Empire exhibit which consisted of lots of plaster casts and a few amazing artefacts loaned from Tehran which give an indication of the former empire. The casts (one is pictured above) taken in the 19th century are now in better condition than the originals so have special significance.
This show has been getting raves and while it is a cramped exhibition (particularly trying to navigate around the pushy old ladies who are experts at trying to push you away from what they want to see) it is well worth catching...
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
A new interesting stat has cropped up suggesting that 46,000 Londoners are using crack. Sometimes it feels like you know them all when you wander through certain parts of Bloomsbury, or use certain railway stations in South London. It hasn't been out of the ordinary for some crack users to light up on public transport... Such is the life of a London crack user.
In the last few months I have noticed the dealers in Soho are getting more and more bold with just openly asking you if you are after various vitamins. It is mainly "coke" or "charlie" one is offered (being white and looking middle class I guess). When I am with Ad he has this annoying habit of talking back to the dealers by saying "No my name's not Charlie". Oh bah hah...
And in today's breaking news Kate Moss, who the Daily Mirror caught snorting cocaine (surely that couldn't have been hard), has been dropped by H&M as the face for a new fashion lineup. The economic implications of being caught snorting must have became apparent this week when she ended her relationship with Britain's living turd and part-time Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty. Looks like it will be all downhill for Kate now... Here's hoping anyway. It is such a smashing tabloid read!
I'm thirty years old tomorrow
And I haven't worked since late August.
What a bum!
Just thinking about tomorrow
Turning thirty while pals are pushing forty
I feel young!
So I'm on holiday
And its grey
But I just head to the gym
I'm thirty years old tomorrow
So I gotta hang on
Come what may
I'm thirty tomorrow
And that means not much
It isn't a good sign when your building supervisor exclaims "oh you too" when told that there are either mice or rats in your flat. I suspect it is both and that when the lights go down it is a little rodent free-for-all in this place.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Scenes from Buckingham Palace Saturday 16:03. Just who are these two gentlemen in white? Rumour has it that they went to Buckingham Palace in their white wardrobe to see the special exhibition of Queen Elizabeth's (later the Queen Mother's) White Wardrobe. While their clothing isn't exactly Norman Hartnell it is amazing how the one of the right is wearing a black sash just like the Queen did on her tour to France in 1938 (although the fact that it is a black Kipling bag is beside the point)...
The summer opening of Buckingham Palace (which runs through to 27 September) was a chance to see the State Rooms of the palace as well. There is a sense of the dramatic in the design of some of these rooms along with a great sense of history. The state rooms are a mixed bag of grand stately design and over the top dramatics but it all seems to work rather well. Besides it is a fabulous location with a rather grand backyard (where the above photograph was taken). One also got to see some of the secret passageways that connect the state rooms to the private residences.
The actual White Wardrobe exhibit was a bit of a disappointment with only a handful of dresses on display and a few of the gifts. It would have been much more interesting to have a more substantial collection of the dresses to reflect the style of what she wore, and how this became her signature look etc etc but it wasn't to be. Instead it was just a few moth-eaten silks and sequins from the 1938 visit. Oh well, museum curators the organisers are not... The rest of the tour was interesting enough anyway.
As one leaves the section of the grounds you are permitted to walk in you have the chance to purchase royal ice creams and buy trinkets in the royal shop (a copy of a copy of a copy of royal plate anyone?). Along the walk A kept pointing out to anybody who looked in our general direction we were wearing our white wardrobe... So much for the subtle joke.
Oh and one was not the illegal immigrant arrested on the grounds on Saturday either. We paid to get in...