Life in London

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

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's Very Dangerous Here

So tonight we braved the 'killer fog' and went out to grab some food for Christmas the holidays . We ended up queueing here for over 40 minutes for cheese (only). We had some banter with the fellow queuees, and got free hot chocolate and cakey things, so all was not lost. And the staff were all foreign, how cosmopolitan!! They even spoke French to each other. It was sortof all the best bits of Med food transported to London. And cheap! Tuna, £18 a tin. Chocolates, £85 a kilo. Ham, £150 a kilo (well it was Jamon Iberico)....

Off out to serial killer country tomorrow, if the fog doesn't get us first......

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Paul and I gritted our teeth Saturday and headed into London’s sparkling West End to start our Christmas Shopping. It actually wasn’t too crowded, but then again we were there at the relatively early shopping time of 10:45, so who knows what it was like later. I was getting annoyed with people dawdling and stopping dead in front of me. I knew what I wanted and where I needed to go, so anyone in my way was an annoyance. When we were at dinner Saturday night, someone suggested implementing a fast and slow lanes, but I think it would be better just keeping tourists and stupid people out of town for the month of December, and deploying marksmen on the tops of buildings to shoot trangressors.. I wonder if the Mayor of London has a suggestion box?

I bought some shoes (on sale!) as my mum’s Christmas present to me. Thanks Mum!

When we were on Bond St, we saw Gordon Ramsay illegally park his silver Lamborghini and go into some ritzy jewellers, come out and drive off. F*ck!! (I don't normally swear, but I felt I should for Gordon's sake). His skin is really bad. But he has a classy car.

Paul suggested lunch at the new wine bar in Fortnum & Mason,
1707. It was very good, and the winelist was done by either Jancis Robinson or Tim Aitken. (I can’t remember which, but they are both MWs and two of my favourite wine writers). Jancis should be the next Queen of England. Anyway, the food was very good and so was the wine champagne. The room itself is all oak and so it felt a bit like sitting in a sauna with septuagenarians. If it had been Germany, they all would have been naked. It didn't bear thinking about.

The toilets at F & M have the same flush button as our new bathroom. How exciting! And F&M was founded before the white discovery of Australia.

The British press is very excited about Kate Middleton going to HRH William’s graduation at Sandhurst. She will probably now be hounded to death. I pity the poor girl, but I suppose if you start snogging the future King of England, it’s the price you have to pay.

Saturday night we went for dinner with Louise, Jo, and Stuie. At
Spiga, in London's down-at-heel Soho. It was very good, and as a bonus, they forgot to charge us for the wine. Oh well. First we meet here for a drink, where I almost choked when I was charged £8 for a glass of wine. "It's very good", the barman assured me.

Louise and Jo are going to Paris for few days before Christmas. I hope they go here for dinner/lunch – it’s lovely. I believe they are what people call ‘lipstick’ lesbians. Some people think lesbians are all overalls and reassembling cars for the hell of it, but most of the lesbians I know are very glamourous.

Speaking of DIY (well sortof), I had to replace the bathroom light switch the other day and didn’t electrocute myself. Sometimes my butchness astounds me.

It’s finally got cold – just in time for Christmas! The weekend was very clear and crisp, but freezing as soon as the sun went down. Luckily I was wearing a beer coat for most of it.

I am not going to mention the Ashes, because I don’t really care about them.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas in the West End

Out doing Christmas shopping today...

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Friday, December 15, 2006

'Are you having another of your queer spells?'

That was one of the questions asked of Old Vic Theatre Artistic Director and late-night dog-walker Kevin Spacey, in Moon for the Misbegotten, in Sarf London last night. The play was excellent, but pretty intense. The subject matter of alcoholism, poverty and unrealised love was a nice way to kick off the Christmas season, too.

And the Bishop of Southwark kicked off his Christmas in a
big way this week too, glad to see someone’s enjoying themselves.

We’re going to be spending Christmas a few miles from the ‘Ipswich Ripper'. Looks like I picked a good week to stop turning tricks.

And what planet is John Lethlean on? £7 for a loaf of bread? Was it supposed to have been posted from Paris?

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The sweet life

With the War on Toothpaste still not won, Friday night Paul and I rushed to get out to Heathrow, as getting through security on time is always a gamble. There's also the added excitement of not knowing how many items of clothing you'll have to remove, too. I only got to remove my belt and shoes this time, but because I now wear jeans that only cover half my bum, everyone got a good look at my underwear too. (Not really - I am not 16, I just try to dress that way).

A couple of lipstick lesbians were sat opposite us in the BA lounge, en route to Honkers. They had a small child with them, who was calling both of the ladies 'Mummy'. Both Mummy I and Mummy II were a bit grumpy though. I tried to give the little girl my best "Don't worry about grumpy mummies, they're probably not even going to sell you into the white slave trade, and even if they do, steamed rice and Kai lan is very slimming" smile, but I'm not sure if she got my vibe. At least I tried.

Our flight was delayed (thanks, BA!) and we ended up at Fiumicino on a public holiday, after public transport had stopped running. As much as I love Italy and Rome, that was enough to strike fear into our hearts, especially when we saw the size of the taxi queue. In most places taxis would be flying into the airport, but in Rome they were arriving at the rate of one every five minutes or so. We finally got a taxi over an hour later and didn't have a drink in our hand until after 1am.

We spent Saturday afternoon at Castel Romano, not some renaissance masterpiece or roman ruin, but an Italian Factory Outlet. If your idea of fun is trying to fight Italians off at cash registers (will they ever learn to queue?) and shopping for four hours, then you would have thought it was great. With hindsight, we spent a bit longer there than we would have liked, but Christmas demands sacrifices like that I suppose. Sophie picked us up from the metro station (€1 a trip!) and drove us out and Alexander and Edward joined us. It’s amazing how a balloon and a paper bag will keep young boys entertained for hours. Seriously. At one stage Edward was stroking my calves in the changing room telling me how hairy they were. I was just praying the whole thing wasn’t being captured on CCTV and I wouldn’t be spending the rest of the weekend explaining myself to the Carabinieri.

Saturday night was our designated Trastevere night. First we had dinner here, and it was very good, and everyone got to try the spigola with truffles. It was ridiculously cheap at €30 a head for 3 courses, wine, coffee. La Dolce Vita indeed.

We even had some Amaro.

Afterwards we wandered around Trastevere, (so much more crowded than it used to be, just ask Iz!) and went for a drink at the little Scala. Paul and I checked out our old apartment and tsked over the state of the shutters.

I went for cornetti for the group. Then we ended up in some sort of social club, where we drank a little later than we should have. It was just like old times.

Sunday was more like Melbourne – it rained solidly all day – so we abandoned any hope of strolling through piazzas, and instead went for lunch. After trying to call a taxi and failing miserably, fate then had the good grace to delay us at the metro because some old girl couldn’t work the ticket machine and of course the others were broken. Then arriving at Colosseo metro, buses weren’t running. We were reminded of how frustrating we found living in Rome. It didn’t stop us admiring the roman ruins and renaissance architecture on the way to lunch though – what Rome lacks in infrastructure and service it certainly makes up for in atmosphere. And good coffee. I didn’t have a dud one all weekend – it’s always perfect.

I sort of stuffed myself at lunch, purely because I knew I wasn't going to back for a while, and being a bit hungover helped too. Spagetti with Swordfish and Melanzane, Maialino (roast baby pig), and a fried artichoke then Millefoglie. Lunch over, it was time to jump in the car and head back to the airport at 160KPH – this time not in a taxi, but in a chauffeur-driven leather-upholstered Lancia. Nice (and only €40 – the same as the taxi). The whole weekend was a bit of a rushed trip, but it was very enjoyable and good to catch up with Steve, Iz, Gary, Debs, Trish, Sophs and the boys (H was away), Jean and Mary again.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

With one glance he was possessed...

Last night Mark and I were lucky enough to see the new ROH production of Carmen (one of my favourite operas). I've always liked opera, but never really been truly enthusiastic about it, but last night provided a 'now I understand what all the fuss is about' moment.

In my experience, if Don Jose (Carmen's soldier boyfriend) or Escamillo (the toreador Carmen ditches Don Jose for) are too portly or wimpy, then the whole thing doesn't seem to work.

Last night
Jonas Kaufman was Don Jose and Ildebrando d'Arcangelo was Escamillo. Carmen was Anna Caterina Antonacci. So far, so smouldering. Carmen and Escamillo were excellent, but Jonas brought the house down with his "La fleur que tu m'avais jetée". It's one of my favourite arias, and he sung it with such intensity, passion and agony. It was amazing. He was great.

Here's a the original and a translation:

La fleur que tu m'avais jetée,
Dans ma prison m'était restée. Flétrie et sèche, cette fleur
Gardait toujours sa douce odeur;
Et pendant des heures entières,
Sur mes yeux, fermant mes paupières,
De cette odeur je m'enivrais
Et dans la nuit je te voyais!
Je me prenais à te maudire,
À te détester, à me dire :
Pourquoi faut-il que le destin
L'ait mise là sur mon chemin?
Puis je m'accusais de blasphème,
Et je ne sentais en moi-même,
Je ne sentais qu'un seul désir,
Un seul désir, un seul espoir:
Te revoir, ô Carmen, ou, te revoir!
Car tu n'avais eu qu'à paraître,
Qu'à jeter un regard sur moi,
Pour t'emparer de tout mon être, Ô ma Carmen!
Et j'étais une chose à toi
Carmen, je t'aime!

The flower that you tossed to me
In my prison stayed with me.
Withered and dried, this flower
Kept always its sweet odour
And during all of the hours,
Over my eyes closed my eyelids,
I became intoxicated with this odour
And in the night I saw you!
I became accustomed to cursing you,
To detesting you, to saying to myself :
Why is it necessary for destiny
To put herself there on my path
Then I accused myself of blasphemy
And I didn't feel but in myself
I didn't feel but one desire
A sole desire, a sole hope
To see you again, oh Carmen, to see you again!
For you had only to appear
Only to toss a glance towards me
In order to take a hold of all my being
Oh my Carmen
And I was yours
Carmen, I love you!

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Slough or Great Portland St - you be the judge

Where would you rather walk at lunchtime?

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One of those mornings

Rained on on the way to gym, then loose paving stones shoot water over my trousers, then splashed by a car on the way to work. At least things can't get much worse, can they?

At least there was no Polonium 210 in my coffee, it's everywhere you know.
And then there's the fact that Friday night we'll be drinking here.....


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No news here

There are more of us than they thought.

They apparently have a lot to be happy about.

And I didn't have to sit this (but could answer the sample questions).

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