Life in London

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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

It makes you wish you were an otter.....

Well we’re back from our long bank holiday weekend, in the heart of Tarka country. We didn’t see any otters, but my mother will be glad to hear we stayed in a farmhouse where chooks tried to come inside whenever a door was left ajar.

We left London lateish Friday night, in a fairly successful bid to beat the traffic. We’d surrendered our eco-friendly credentials and hired a Renault Megane for the week, such decadence! As a consequence of our late departure, we didn’t get to Horn’s Cross until well after midnight.

Devon was lovely, lots of thatched cottages, old pubs, winding country lanes with hedges and little bridges, docile cows etc etc. It does seem to suffer from traffic problems though, but maybe it was because we were there in the school holidays. The weather was pretty dismal, but at least it didn’t rain. We had to fire up the Aga most days, and at 19C, the beaches might have been beautiful, but certainly weren’t enticing.

We didn’t realise that Bideford has one of the longest medieval bridges in Europe. It also has a very good curry house.

It was good to spend some time with Lee, Keirsty, Georgia (‘Why didn’t one of you sleep in the other bed?’), Joshua (‘Why are all the Daddies leaving?’) and Jamie, Julie, Karen, Sean, Maddie and Rueben, even if the kids were getting up at 7 am….. Some highlights included the day at Watermouth Castle, Clovelly and the scarecrow festival in Week St Mary, where a friend of mine lives. I even let my hair down and ate cream tea (devonshire teas, in fact) and pasties. All that pastry and clotted cream doesn’t bode well for Stiges though. Maybe I’ll just have to go to bear bars – my newly bearded face might get me past the door. At least on holiday I got to read up on celebrity gossip in Heat magazine and other quality titles - I'll be able to out-gossip everyone else in the villa.
More pics can be found here.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

A Little Light Music

Last night we met up on Southbank with Louise and Jo for dinner. We hadn't seen the girls for quite a while and they were bothing looking really well. They've been exercising a lot and even given up booze for 6 weeks!! (hmmmm - maybe that's why we hadn't seen them?) We went to Tamesa at the OXO tower, which was a pretty good choice if I do say so myself. Good food, attentive service without being in your face, not too busy and a good wine list. What more could you want? It was even considered for a significant birthday next year, but we balked at the £300 charge for a private room. We had a good catchup and talked about important things like house prices/job satisfaction/summer and winter holidays/haircuts/trips to Oz.

It all went too quickly, and as the girls sped off into the London night in order to catch a train to Brighton, Paul and I walked along the south bank of the Thames and dodged muggers and boarders in hoodies. I wasn't cold, but then alcohol's good to me like that.

The Royal Festival Hall is getting a facelift, and part of that is a new installation that enables you to be a part of an orchestra - we sat on a light cube and played excerpts from Tchaikovsky's 4th. It was good fun. You can just see the top of the BA London Eye in the photo I took.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Berns Night

Last night Paul, Simon, Bernadette and I, instead of going here, we bought our own bottles of crisp white and

went here. Mr Christou does very good cod and chips.

After depleting the North Sea's cod stock even further, we headed up the road to the bar at Orrery.
Paul and I discovered we knew the Maitre'd. Everyone decided Raspberry Mojitos, whilst considered unorthodox by cocktail aficionados, are tasty. There was much discussion of the legendary Black Cardamon hand cream.
The cocktail maker was annoying ('Guess what country I'm from!' 10 guesses later we were tired of that game - for God's sake will you leave the punters alone!).
The drinks were expensive - £84 for eight cocktails. Ouch.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Of Queens and Princesses

Sunday we went for a long walk. The weather was changeable and crappy, but it was still pleasant. We started at the Wellington Monument at Hyde Park, a massive statue of Achilles, dedicated to the Duke of Wellington and his brave comrades. I'd actually never noticed it before, but don't know how......

We were heading over to the underrated Serpentine Gallery and so walked along the Serpentine to get there. Every year (well, at least for the past 6 or so?), the gallery commissions a temporary structure for their summer exhibition. This year’s is by Rem Koolhaus and Cecil Balmond, and look like a giant egg floating over the trees. It’s pretty impressive.

On the way we passed the Diana Memorial Fountain. We’d never seen that million dollar white elephant and were afraid we’d fall and break a hip if we ventured too close, but we did stop to have a look. There was a guy in a wheelchair there and for a short period I thought his family were going to lower him into Diana’s healing waters to cure him, a la Lourdes, but they just walked (and wheeled) away. Looks like I picked the wrong day to witness a miracle.

The fountain itself is a bit weird, not really a fountain, more of a race I'd say, but what do I know about waterways?

Part of the walk to the gallery was along the Diana Memorial Walk. Of course, you all know that Diana was Patron of the Serpentine Gallery, and so it’s only natural that the gallery has some memorial paving out the front and the ubiquitous memorial benches. (Paul said ‘She did alright for someone with not even one CSE’. ) We were pretty Diana’d out by the time we reached the actual gallery. I expect they’ll be renaming the gay cruising ground in Hyde park the Diana Memorial Cruising Ground soon, ‘cause we all know how much she like a bit of how’s your father.

The current exhibition at the Serpentine is by Thomas Demand, who builds scenes from paper and cardboard, and then photographs them. I liked it. Paul said ‘I could do that’.

Someone (not me!) decided they wanted a G+T (so why did I get a pint of beer?), and I wanted to go to the Royal Academy, so off we trotted to Soho. The long way around though, through Mayfair – always good for celeb stalking (maybe this time we’ll see Madonna!). We had the obligatory stop at Berkeley Square, so Paul could check out the Cadbury office. Then it was on to the Royal Academy, whose courtyard at the moment is dominated by a colossal statue of a pregnant woman. Except it’s by Damien Hirst, so one side is a cadaver. Nice.

I added some of the photos, but you can see more here.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

So goodbye to all that.....

Chris and Bernie are embarking on a new adventure. Chris is now back in Melbourne, and Bernie has one last hurrah in Europe before she joins him. So last Friday Paul and I invited them to a farewell dinner at ours. But we had hatched a cunning plan.

Instead of dinner, we’d invited Lucy and Brock, Mark and Angel, Stuie, Clayton and Jari, Don and Derecks, and Andy around for surprise farewell party. Our cunning plan worked, Chris and Bernie were surprised, and we had some very pleasant drinks to say farewell. Geez, Chris and Bernie’s friends can drink some booze! I’m glad they’re not my friends…..

I spent most of the early part of the evening in the kitchen preparing food (matyrdom complex – who me?), so I was less tired and emotional than some by the end of the evening. Those of us who were so inclined went on to London’s premier polysexual club night, Fiction, where we danced (but not near that bloody Fire Exit sign) and behaved in a thoroughly hedonistic manner until the small hours.

It all seems very surreal – Chris came up for a curry at our local Indian on Monday night and I managed to catch his cold before he left (thanks Chris!). We said our goodbyes and that was it. So now he’s gone, 23 hours away on a plane. No more ‘Hello Chris, it’s Chris’, ‘Yes Chris, it’s Chris here Chris’. But we still have the lovely Bernadette, and she is coming to Sitges with us and bringing Lucy. Our very own Fag-hags! We can’t wait.

Saturday Night we had Mark’s birthday bbq, in deepest darkest South London. But we survived (note to self: drinking pints of G+T makes your head hurt). We caught up with some of Marks friends we hadn’t seen for a while, which was good. It was my first bbq at Mark’s parent’s, as I left London the first year I could have been invited, and then when we returned Mark was in Brussels, so he hasn’t had one in London for some time. It was a lot tamer than I thought it would be, but I suppose all his friends are middle-aged now, they don’t roll around on the grass snogging people anymore. Well, not at bbqs, anyway. Mark decided he wanted to go to The Two Brewers, so we went over, watch the obligatory drag show and had a bit of a dance.

Sunday I discovered why gin is called "a mother’s ruin". I put on a brave face though, and despite lots of tutting and asking how I was feeling today (I love it when people take the moral high ground), we managed to make it to London’s glitzy West End (right). Scoffed down some Dim Sum ( or Yum Cha – call it what you want – I don’t mind), then went to see the BP Portrait Award (or something like that) at the National Portrait Gallery. It was OK – I love the NPG, but I find the BP competition a bit crappy generally. There’s a lot of dross in there, and only a handful of the paintings I actually liked. So sue me.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tired of waiting

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Maida Vale 7:30am

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Day trip to Brighton

Saturday we headed down to Brighton for Pride on the train, along with the rest of London. Due to some technical difficulties getting a coffee and a pain au chocolat, I didn't manange to get into the same carriage as Stuie and Paul.
Instead as I walked the train trying to find the boys, I was goosed by Chris and Ronald, being the polite boy I am, I stayed with C + R, chatted and drank cheap cava.

Also in the same carriage was Ian (an ex of someone we were friends with in the early 90's) and one of my clubbing stalkers, Jason. In the spirit of human kindness I offered Jason a glass of cava, but he declined, as "I have to go back to London tonight". This was at 11:30am. Go figure.

We met up with Clayton, Jari, Damien, Mark, Angel, Mark, Oscar, Giles and Andy while we were down there, as well as few others we know from various places. We started with lunch down on the beach, then headed to Preston Park after for Pride proper and socialising. It was good fun day, even if a lot of it was spent on the mobile saying things like "The Wild Fruit tent", "To the right of that if you're looking at it" , "I'm waving a red-tshirt" etc. etc. trying to locate friends. Pride finished up around 20:00 and we managed to catch the last train back to London at 23:00.

Full set of photos can be seen here.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

See, everything is connected

So tomorrow we're off with the rest of Gay London to Brighton, for Brighton Pride. Still free and still a lot of fun - it's like London Pride used to be. All afternoon drinking in a park - something tells me it could get messy. I spoke to my Mum ('Hi Mum - hope you're feeling better!'), last weekend and she asked 'How long does Pride last?' - I suppose it's all very confusing what with London Pride(or Europride as it was this year), Soho Pride and now Brighton Pride. Anyway, they're all different and all separate. And we're going to them all. Tomorrow with Stuie, Damien, Mark, Mark, Oscar, Lee, Clayton, Jari et al.

Also going along tomorrow is Derecks. Whose combined birthday party with his partner, Don (he of the death trip to Wales), we attended on Saturday night. Rupert, whose exhibition opening we went to last night, was at the party too. He's a sweet guy and it was very interesting chatting to him about his paintings. Rupert channels his colours. Now Paul wants to start channeling. Imagine the first channeling accountant, channeling speadsheets. I can see there would be a demand for it.

Don is originally from Cork - and his son is friends with someone who was in the Cannes-winning film 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley'. And we saw that on Wednesday night (8.15/10, since you asked). It was very good - I liked it a lot and thought it was pretty fair to all sides. And it showed what pr*cks human beings can be to each other. And how lucky Australia was to be granted independence and not have had to fight, brother against brother, family against family for it. And that imperialism is wrong, which bring me on to Lebanon, and Iraq, and.....

So you see, everything is connected.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Covent Garden 6pm

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