Life in London

Life in London for a not-quite-middle-aged gay Australian guy. Oh, the glamour of it all!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Be Still My Bleeding Leftwing Pinko Heart

As we hurtled at 60mph down another country lane in the west of England, in the pouring rain, tailgating the car in front, I made it clear to Paul that if I ended up a vegetable, I wanted the life support machine turned off. I tried to console myself that we were passengers in a German-made car, and they are pretty safe. But we made it to Crickhowell (pronounced Crac-ow -, I thought I was in Poland!) safely, with our limbs and breakfasts intact.

Wales was pretty miserable while we were there – but we had a great time at the Hay Festival. I thought I had died and gone to guardian-reader heaven. More left-wing, pinko, bleeding-heart liberals than I thought existed in the whole wide world were there. We’d booked a couple of events before we got there, but decided upon others as we went. The events themselves were an hour long – with a 40-50 minute talk (or interview), then questions from the floor.

First up was Germaine Greer. This was a last-minute decision, and one of the best talks we saw. I had seen her speak a couple of times before (off the cuff) and she is often on television over here as a talking head on review shows etc. I had never been that impressed with her comments, she always seemed to be saying the first thing that came into her head, and as a result of this, didn’t particularly want to go see her talk on ‘Poetry as Male Display’. She was great, dissecting a John Donne poem for us line by line, saying what a great poem it was, but illustrating how it objectified and subjugated women at the same time. All very interesting and intellectual. (‘She used words I didn’t know!’ someone said afterwards.)

The next day we saw Andrew Davies, who has adapted the Tailor of Panama, Bleak House, Brideshead Revisited and more recently The Line of Beauty, talk about his projects. He was quite the raconteur, and sprinkled his chat with references to other adapters (screenwriters? Who knows? There were lots of sage “Mmmm”’s from the audience – mostly I didn’t know who he was talking about.) His main piece of advice - ’Make sure sex is the spine of the story’.

Another talk we thought might be dry was given by Antony Beevor , on ‘The Battle for Spain’. He talked about how the Spanish Civil War probably wasn’t the fault of either right or left, and modern Spain’s struggle to come to terms with it’s past. He managed to tie in recent events (including remarks by a Spanish general who basically said if the Catalan’s didn’t pull their heads in, then the army would have to take care of things in Catalunya. I was quite excited by that, because I’d read about it. ), so we enjoyed this talk as well. He related Hitler’s diary entry after meeting Greneral Franco and not giving him want he wanted in return for Franco’s commitment to enter WWII ‘He is the only person I’ve met who made me feel like a Jew’. Humorous, if slightly chilling, with the benefit of hindsight.

We then Saw Antony Gormley discuss his installation at Menzies, Western Australia, for the Perth Festival. It was interesting, but there was nothing of note to comment on.

Our last event was the guardian debate: Free to Offend? Joan Bakewell, (Chair) Madeleine Bunting, Ziaudin Sardar, Philip Hensher, Reza Aslan and Anthony Julius discussed whether freedom of speech overrode the right of an individual not to be caused offence. So two Muslims, a Jew, and a Christian and one other (unknown) discussed the recent controversy over the Mohammed cartoons, Jerry Springer - The Opera (7.5/10), and the withdrawal of a play in Britain, because it offended Sikhs. I don’t think they came up with any answers, but the points of view put across were thought provoking.

So that's about it for our weekend, we were lucky enough to get the train back, so there was no need for Novenas on the return journey. I'd have loved to have stayed and seen AL Gore (but he was charging £30!!), and the talk on Creationism v. Evolution ('Who are the monkeys? You decide.'), but obviously it's not possible to see everything. And my brain hurt on the Sunday after attending four events. Next year we'll be back, hopefully for longer and with bigger brains. More photos are here.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Everybody's Favourite Geriatric Godbotherer.....

for my sister. And the worst thing was a tube arrived as I was taking the picture, so now I have to live with the shame of people thinking I'm a Cliff Richard fan.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Takeovers and Tapas

It's been quite an eventful week.

My company was bought out on Monday, but my job is safe - it may mean I end up working in London again, with a day commuting out to Theale. If the London option comes through (and I am so desperate for it to), I'll be about 15 minutes from work, or about a 30 min walk through Regents Park.

Everyone was talking about (and watching) Arsenal playing Barcelona in the Champions League Final. I didn't understand the fuss - didn't people realise that we were less than a week away from Eurovision? We missed the game as we were at the theatre watching Embers. Embers was basically a one-man show, with a great performance by Jeremy Irons. I gave it 7.75/10.

I was pleased to see that one the same day Paul and Heather McCartney-Mills split, Nicole Kidman announced she is engaged again. See, who said only bad things happen in the world?

Friday was one the worst days I've had at work here. I had to stay until 19:30,
which is pretty crap considering I normally leave at 16:30.

Saturday we met Damien, Kirsten and Sharna for lunch at Fino in Charlotte St. We've been meaning to go there for ages, so when Kirsten and Sharna said they wanted to go out for a big lunch before they return to Melbourne, we jumped at the opportunity. The Spanish tapas-style food was excellent, and the wine list was pretty good too. There was nothing wrong with the service either, but the staff weren't particularly friendly, which tends to detract from the whole experience for me. It wasn't that there was any attitude, but there was only minimal interaction between us and them. I loved the vedelho we had with lunch. Must make a mental note to buy more vedelho.

Saturday night we traipsed over to Damien's, in chi-chi Islington to watch the performances in Eurovision. Damien's favourite was the mulleted Russian entry (primarily because of his youth), I thought the Swedish entry was best - pure eurovision - and Germany's country-style entry was pretty good too. Most disappointing was the French entry - some god-awful ballad sung by some crappy chanteuse.

After a couple of hours of pyrotechnics, big hair and eastern european fashion, we headed out to Oscar's birthday party in Limehouse. It was good fun, then those of us with no sense went to 'Beyond' for a dance. It was pretty empty (only two rooms were open instead of the usual three), but there were a couple of groups of our friends there, so we had a pretty good night.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hampstead Heath Spring 2006

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

The things I put up with

Welcome to my world. The first picture is my colleague’s annoyingsmileything – it is solar-powered (WTF?) and nods it’s head from side to side – all day. Next up, is the f*ingannoyingplant – it too harnesses the suns rays, so it can flap (yes, flap) it’s leaves for the next millennia or so. They are both positioned on my colleague’s desk so that there is flapping and nodding distracting my eyes all day.

I swear next time she goes on holiday I am putting them in a bucket of water.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Believe it (or not)

With 30 days to go until Germany 06 kicks off, Mars have (cynically, some might say) jumped on the World Cup ’06 bandwagon, by rebranding the Mars Bar, Believe. The rebranding is supposed to be an exhortation to English fans to believe that the English team can win the World Cup, and they probably can.
Currently they are second favourites with the bookmakers, but I’ll still be supporting Australia, at least until they’re knocked out, then i'll be right behind the English. And the Spanish, Italian and French teams are always extremely pleasant on the eye. See, who says I can’t talk sport?

Oh and I love the Munich Stadium - it glows!

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Same Old, Same Old

Great to see the Howard government spending it's increased tax take as a result of the commodities boom on tax-cuts and superannuation (pension) reform. And increasing transport spending by a 'massive' $2.4 billion , most of that going on roads. Whatever happened to a high-speed rail link along the eastern seaboard? So much for nation building and climate-change, I'm off to burn some coal and sand-bag around the house.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Catch it if you can

Despite the fact we saw 'The Crucible' 2 weeks ago and are going to see 'Embers' next week, and last night we saw 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'(8.7/10), we aren't often at the theatre. Kathleen Turner was great as Martha, even if I did have flashbacks to 'Julia & Julia' and kept remembering how long her nipples were in that film. The Guardian had an interesting interview with KT a while back, where she laments the lack of decent roles for older women in Hollywood and how that has meant she has had to focus on stage roles (and move to Europe). The play finishes this weekend.

And how angry does that woman in the photo look? Scary


Monday, May 08, 2006

Love, Love, Love My Way

My lovely sister (complete with new house!) bought Paul this for his birthday. It's fantastic.
We love Claudia Karvan, and we love how dark (but in a positive way, if that makes any sense) the show is.

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Nothing to see here...

We had a fairly quiet weekend, as our midweek trip to Wales midweek left us a bit knackered, and I was oncall. Which means we only went out and got drunk twice. As you do. Friday night saw us out in London's trendy London Bridge. We met the lovely Chris and Bernadette for a couple of drinks, then dinner at Brindisa, a great Tapas bar right next to Borough Market. Chris and Bernie were on good form, too, so we had a fun night. They headed home around 10pm, so we bravely ventured to a less salubrious south London bar for more drinks.

But I can't misbehaved too badly, as I got up and cooked ricotta pancakes on Saturday morning (Photo 2) and then made my famous tuna baguette for lunch Saturday (photo 1). The ricotta pancakes were made with raspberries and then I served them with honey, creme fraiche and strawberries. The recipe was taken from Nigel Slater's new cookery book (The Kitchen Diaries) - which I can't recommend highly enough (9.6/10). It's fantastic -written diary style, (whoever would have thought!) and he manages to impart a real love of food. I've never been a huge fan of his until this book.

We had wanted to catch a movie Saturday night, but I had placed M:I:3 on the banned list, as I think Tom Cruise is a freak, and the Guardian had given it only one star. So we went to see Confetti instead. It was quite good (7.4/10) - in a quirky mocumentary way. Stuart really enjoyed it, which is why we'd chosen it. It was followed by drinks at Rupert St, then a quick Japanese at Taro, then more drinks at the Friendly Society. Maria shouted me a G+T, after I thanked her for hosting our birthday drinks. Then she let us stay for a lock-in.

Sunday I was called for work, so had to do an hour's work with a throbbing head (oo-er, missus). Not as throbbing as Stuie's lip though, as he was mugged on the way home. They grabbed his wallet and new mobile, but he has grazed knees and a swollen lip. Unfortunately his inebriation meant he doesn't recall what happened.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Charlotte in Heat-buying Shock

At the ritzy West Cardiff motorway services, I spotted a young lady sporting green and gold glitter eye-shadow. "Who's this cheap council-estate slapper?" I thought. "And why the crappy Charlotte Church hairdo?'
Then it dawned on me - it was Charlotte Church - voice of an angel, mouth of a trucker. I can reveal that welsh royalty purchased 'Heat' magazine, (or was it 'Now'? For Australians, the equivalent of 'Who Weekly'.) And then Gavin Henson came in, followed by his hair 5 minutes later. He was very orange, and taller than I'd imagined. And did I say fit? But I don't understand they had a need for five litre bottles of Volvic.
I'd also like to be able to say I was dignified in the face of celebrity, but I think I mostly growled "It's Charlotte Church! It's Charlotte Church!!! " to Paul. The cashier being paid £3 an hour took it all in her stride, as though she deals with celebrity every day of her life.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I know this to be true....

  • It is not a good idea to run for 6 miles (10 Kms) in new trainers.
  • Some people consider it a sign of vanity if you know you have a zit on your back.
  • I do not look 39 - apparently I'm 35 at a push.
  • Not all chubby, sweaty, gay spaniards who offer lifts to guys on the side of a road are psycho-killers.
  • Every time a man lies about waxing his back, more hair grows on it. Apparently.