Life in London

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Houses I wished I Owned (2 in series of 250,000)

in a pretty little cul-de-sac near us - but the chandelier in the back room would have to go to St Vinnie's.

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Monday, October 30, 2006


did I not know about this? Chocolate con churros a block from where we used to live?
What's not to like about that?

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Nothing to see here

Today was such a lovely day that Paul and I decided to go for a walk on Hampstead Heath, and even though it felt like we spent the best part of the afternoon waiting for the bus over, it was beautiful once we got there. Euan McGregor plays a gay man in a new film shot on Hampstead Heath - 'Scenes of A Sexual Nature', but we didn't see him anywhere. :(

I had had a force 10 hangover, but running to the gym and back had reduced that to a force 8 - too much beer and red wine last night with Louise, Jo, Clayton, Jari, Lucy, Brock and Jason. We had been at Islington's cool-ish 'The Green', then had tapas and some lovely tempranillo from Ribera Del Duero. I had planned to have a quiet weekend on the alcohol front, but fortunately events conspired against me.

Paul arrived home Friday night with champagne to celebrate my new job. It looks like I've landed another job with our main client, but at this point in time I'm not really sure what it is. I was rung the other day to ask if I would put myself forward for it. The job was with a few agencies as well, but as it was so great it seems I was the only applicant. Hmmm. I'm not too sure what that means at this point in time. I think it's more a of project management role, and the project runs until June next year, so I'm hoping it will all work out and it's a permanent way out of my current role. I'm pretty excited by it, but a bit nervous too.

Anyway, my lovely boyfriend bought champagne for that, and then we had steak with garlic and rosemary potatoes, so some Yarra Valley red was consumed with that....add last night's drinks in and the plans for a light weekend went out the window......there's always next weekend I suppose.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'm so excited

this is the view from my new office in London - it's fantastic to be back working in town...

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Her Hands Were Very Cold

After a quick, affordable (£10.95 for two courses, what’s not to like about that?), pre-theatre meal at Browns ( and you all know, when at London Pride, Alistair Appleton chooses to eat at Browns), Paul, Mark, Damien, Claire and I trotted off up Long Acre to the Royal Opera House to see Puccini’s ‘La Boheme’.

After the initial disappointment of hearing that
Katie Van Kooten (oops that should be Nuccia Focile ) was unwell and was to be replaced by the Kiwi Anna Leese as Musetta, we settled in for the emotional roller-coaster ride that is ‘La Boheme’. And it was a cracker. Poverty, love, deception, self-medication and billiards, it had the lot.

Incidentally, there’s nothing like being typecast, the kiwi’s role (Musetta) was a tart in act one, then a drunken tart in act two. You can take the girl out of New Zealand……

We didn’t know when we booked (Or even up until last week, we’re not opera buffs), that one of the world's top tenors,
Marcelo Alvarez, was to sing the role of Rodolfo. He was superb, even from the more affordable seats at top of the upper amphitheatre. In the heat of the moment after the performance, I gave it a 9.5, but now in the sober, cold light of day, I’d give it a 9.2.

Going to the Royal Opera House is a pretty amazing experience – the floral hall is breathtakingly beautiful, and as there were two intervals, we braved the plumes of passive smoke and took in the amazing view from the garrett terrace over the roofs of Covent Garden and to London beyond.

The crowd was very middle class and a bit snooty, with the odd theatre gay standing around – every now and then some 50-yo man in a tight (designer) t-shirt would walk past with a 30-something and I’d say to Damien ‘Do you think he’s gay?’. ‘Who can say?’ would be his reply.

I’ve been meaning to post some other ‘reviews’ of a couple of things we’ve been to see recently:

‘Bent’ starring Alan Cumming at the Trafalgar Studios theatre in Whitehall. Paul, Mark from London, Mark from Amsterdam, Marcus (any more Marks/Marcs?) and I decided on the spur of the moment to see this, as Mark was over from Amsterdam, and wanted some cultcha. It was pretty grim stuff, about a gay man in a concentration camp during the WWII. I enjoyed it and there were some very powerful scenes, but I felt the second half suffered from a certain mawkishness (more a result of the writing than the acting). Alan Cumming and Chris New(!) were excellent in the lead roles. I’d give it 7.4/10

Movies: ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ - It was hard not to be seduced by the glamour and glossiness of TDWP. Meryl Streep was excellent (no surprise there then) and Anne Hathaway is very beautiful in it. Our excitement level rose because our friend Cressida is an editor at the New Yorker and so we visited the Conde Nast building and ate in the $30 million
Gehry-designed canteen last year. And funnily enough, Paris looked beautiful - they even showed Maxims (rolls eyes). Fine as a piece of light entertainment, 7.5/10.

‘Little Miss Sunshine’ – this was ok, but I never managed to shrug off the feeling that the move was trying too hard to be quirky. I don’t like movies that spend the whole night saying ‘Look at me, aren’t I a quirky little movie?’. Toni Collete was good, the other performances were good, but as Damien said ‘it lacked teeth’. 7.7/10

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Friday, October 20, 2006

I'm Outraged

Today's Evening Standard:

How on earth can they condone that - it should be 'George Michael smokes drug on TV'. Unless of course he had some crack mixed in with his grass, but that's more Whitney Houston than George Michael....

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In other news

  • Last weekend we was out in East Anglia for Keirsty's birthday. She only celebrated over three days, which was quite understated I feel. Happy Birthday!

  • The dental floss fell into the toilet - I threw it out.

  • My 10 minute bus-trip to get my haircut turned into a 40-minute trip, as a horse-drawn hearse blocked the road. Honestly, dead people have no respect for the living. And a horse-drawn hearse? What century are we in? Screw the greenhouse emissions.... I was expecting to see Emma Thompson running around in crinoline at any minute.

  • I whiled away the time by reading the book the guy next to me was reading - it justified eating meat by quoting the Old Testament. I thought he might stone me if he knew I was a sinner.

  • I also danced in my seat to Bananarama - to observers it probably looked like I had worms.

  • I don't, but I do have tinea at the moment.

  • I rang Sam (my Cypriot hairdresser (Greek-Cypriot or Turkish-Cypriot - who knows? I don't want to offend by asking.)) to apologise. He is very nice and was cool about it - he probably hangs out with George Michael smoking a drug all the time.

  • At lunchtime, the guy next to me in Tesco (on the banned list, but I needed bananas), crouched down to enter his PIN, hid the keypad with his hand and kept looking around for dodgy characters. I started to giggle.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Houses I wished I Owned (1 in series of 250,000)

I'd obviously take better care of the plants though.....

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Friday, October 13, 2006

More Madrid 1

Firstly apologies - blogger is playing up on me and I have had to remove the photos from my post and put them in another, here's the accompanying text:

In the end there was a pretty mad dash to get from home to Victoria Station in time to catch the train to Gatwick last Friday. Even though we managed to get to Gatwick in plenty of time, the war on hand-cream meant we had about a 40 minute wait to get through security. Great. Luckily for us, Damien used to do stand-up, so he kept us entertained for about three minutes of the forty.

The delay at security meant we weren't able to make full use of the BA lounge. We three barely had time to ignore the 'Members can only take one guest into the lounge' sign, throw back pour a G + T (the drink of ruined mothers) and run.

Madrid's new terminal 4 was where we alighted, and it's beautiful. As someone who is quite easily seduced by the new and shiny, I loved it. Great toilets, funky booths, bins for recycling, what doesn't it have.? I could have stayed there for the four days (and for a while it looked like we were going to be waiting for our luggage that long), but Madrid was beckoning.

We were renting an apartment in the north of Chueca fro four days and their rep. met us (for a small fee) to drop off the key and provide some fascist comments ('We tend to find people from richer countries are the best tenants - south Americans are the worst.') Nice. Welcome to Madrid (Oh, I should stress he wasn't Spanish, even though he displayed signs of craziness). The apartment was good, roomy- newish (not as cool as the airport though), and we looked across the street into a Pilates Studio - all very Habla con Ella (Talk to Her) - Paul was beside himself.

As our last visit to Madrid was two years ago with my parents, and they are the kind of people who like to stay out drinking at bars until the early hours of the morning, we weren't aware that in a (failed) attempt to stop the botellon, the (surprise - right-wing!) Madrid council had stopped the sale of alcohol in shops after 22:00. (As if that will stop people drinking on the streets). So, we had no choice but to go out for a drink and chose Liquid. Liquid is a videobar and was in the middle of a Madonnathon when we arrived (at around 1:40, passing people in the street eating dinner as we went - those Spanish are crazy...), which proved once again that gay men the world over are pretty much the same. We decided to call it a night at 4:00, as at that hour only clubs were open and we didn't want to spend our entire holiday sleeping (and we didn't trust ourselves ounce were inside a club).

Saturday saw us just walking in central Madrid (sol, Santa Ana, Chueca, Plaza Major etc), grabbing some tapas, then going to the Prado. Bosch. Tick. Goya. Tick. El Greco. Tick. Velaquez. Tick. Oh and back to the Ruebens. Tick. It was a beautiful day, so we hit the Retiro for a walk in the 28C sun. Lovely. I was very thankful that I had worn shorts and not jeans, in fact I believe we all were.

Dinner that night was booked for midnight (it was the earliest they could fit us in - those Spanish are crazy....), so at our ages that meant a siesta was mandatory. So after a nap and a fairly rigourous beauty regimen (not me - that was Paul and Damien), we headed down to meet some friends for pre-dinner (for us - post-dinner for them) drink at 23:30 in Chicote, a fantastic art-deco cocktail bar, famous for not having closed during the civil war. Dinner itself was a little disappointing for me, but I shouldn't really complain - it was more down to my choices than the restaurant and it was a snip compared to London prices. We did consider going for another drink after dinner, but decided to have a relatively early night (at 3:30 - those Spanish are crazy). We passed one of Madrid's legendary early-morning clubbing traffic jams (we were staying near to Pacha).

Having been worded up by friends in London and Madrid that the best clubbing iwas to be had on Sunday at Space of Sound, we headed there Sunday afternoon. (not before Pual had danced on the balcony in his underwear, and been caught by the women acrooss the street - very amusing). SOS was very good and we made some new friends - Jose-Maria and Carlos from Madrid, and Jorge and Mark from Belgium. Carlos turned out to be a riot. I was calling him Spanish Damien, mainly becuase of his stupid jokes. After Space of Sound Carlos persuaded us to go to another club via the the Metro. Carlos was dressed in a Adidas boiler-suit and as we entered the second club, the bouncers asked him if he was there to fix something, which had Damien and I in fits of giggles. At one point in the evening,a midget appeared and started having his photo taken with people - it was all very surreal.

Monday we were pretty subdued, so grabbed a Menu del dia for lunch (for 12 Euro! 3 courses for less than £10 - those Spanish are crazy!), then went for another long walk and hung out in few plazas. Mondays are for eating in, so we found a market and bought far too much chorizo, jamon, olives and cheeses etc for dinner. (Paul caused an international incident with a little old lady - 'Are you still buying things?' she asked glaring at him). We polished it off with a couple of bottles of wine. It doesn't get much better than that.

Tuesday after picnicing in Plaza Santa Ana, we booked a couple of hours at the turkish baths and went and detoxed - it was very relaxing and just what we needed after the excesses of the previous few days. We all signed up for the 'exfoliating massage', which involved being pounded by a plump Spanish lesbian with exfoliating gloves on.

Madrid was great fun - it's one of my favourite cities in Europe. It has a great combination of nice people ( there were at least four instances where random strangers went out of their way to help us, which was great), the city's pretty, there's good nightlife and food, and then there's the weather. I can't wait to visit again.

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More Madrid 2

Terminal 4 Madrid Aiport

The view from our apartment

The Retiro

Carlos and Damien on the Metro


Wednesday, October 11, 2006


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Friday, October 06, 2006

What's not to like?

Comedy gold - the new series of 'Extras' - last's night's episode had Ronnie Corbett doing lines of cocaine in the toilets at the BAFTAs - Ricky Gervais is a genius. I haven't laughed so hard for ages.

Political gold - Australian Liberal (conservative) MP Petro Georgiou, who helped draw up Australia's multicultural policy in the 1970s for the conservative government, pulls apart the Howard Government's proposed citizenship test. Hooray!

Imaginary Gold - we're off to Madrid with Damien for a four-day mini-break.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

St John's Wood 7:00am

It's enough to make you want to spend all day in the kitchen.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

50 Things I love about London

  1. Coming out of Charing Cross station onto Trafalgar Square
  2. The cathedral-like Paddington Station
  3. Dick Whittington's cat on Highgate Hill
  4. Real Ale
  5. The buzz on the street
  6. Georgian houses
  7. Picnics on Primrose Hill
  8. Walking along the South Bank
  9. St Pauls
  10. Centrepoint (so sue me)
  11. Theatre
  12. The Tube (mostly)
  13. Saturday's Indy
  14. Cheese shops
  15. Walks on Hampstead Heath
  16. Weekends in Europe
  17. Fish and chips at the Golden Hind
  18. theguardian
  19. Eurostar
  20. Greenwich Park
  21. A summer's day in Soho Square
  22. Borough Market
  23. Red Ken's buses
  24. The calm of Sunday mornings
  25. Channel4
  26. All weekend 'night'-life
  27. European wine
  28. Regent's Park
  29. BBC2
  30. French bakeries
  31. Canals
  32. Radio4
  33. The Thames
  34. Foreign friends
  35. Cold winters
  36. Soho
  37. The eccentricity of Highgate ponds
  38. The National Gallery
  39. European lager
  40. The Gherkin
  41. St Pauls
  42. Orange Wednesdays
  43. Indian Food
  44. Hungerford Bridge early in the morning
  45. Marylebone
  46. The Unilever series at the Tate Modern
  47. Red Ken's free flicks
  48. London Cabs
  49. Snow in winter
  50. North London

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