Life in London

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Better late than never, I suppose.

This post is way overdue, but thought I'd post it anyway.

Management summary - Went skating, it rained, went to pub.

The day before NYE, we met Brock and Lucy and Mark and Angel to go ice skating at the Tower of London. Luckily the afternoon's incessant rain had stopped by the time we got there and the sky was clear. At least it was for 30 minutes or so it was. Then it p*ssed down. Lucy and Brock threw in the towel, but I was insistent that it would clear. Lucy told me I had lived in England too long. ("Chris, face it - we have crap weather" she told me.)

So we admitted defeat, got changed and then went for beers at St Katherine's Dock. Then the pub closed at 10:30! We were aghast - despite the fact that 24- Hour Licenses can be obatined, I know of only 1 pub/bar that's extended it's hours sinec the relaxation of licensing laws. So much for the downfall of British Society.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's very cold....

It snowed yesterday - but not a lot. I'm one of those annoying foreigners who thinks "Aaaah isn't it all pretty?", not 'Bugger. The tube/trains/buses won't be working again.' But it makes London look beautiful in winter.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It’s Always Christmas in the West End.

Last Thursday I met Stuie for a quick drink in London’s bohemian Soho after work – and the walk for me from my new office at Great Portland St to Soho was less than 20 minutes! What’s not to like about that! Paul and I were going to Avenue Q, (tix a Christmas gift from Stuie) – so when Paul joined us we went to Browns (haunt of Alistair Appleton and that girl from the Sound of Music) to take advantage of their pre-theatre menu.

Avenue Q was good fun – not as rude or subversive as it’s been made out to be, but we both enjoyed it anyway. I was surprised Paul said he’d go again, but he’s entitled to his own opinion (generally) - I’d give it a 7.8/10. There were some good songs (that’s funny good, not catchy tunes), like “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”, “The Internet is for Porn” and 'The More You Ruv Someone (the More You Want to Kill Them)', but at times it was a bit like watching an adult ‘Sesame Street’.

Friday night I was out drinking again as Paul had his work Christmas party. I could have stayed in I suppose, but where's the fun in that? I met up with Stuie, but the drinks went to his head and he left early. He left not long after Paul had joined us brandishing his go-karting trophy. Paul was most distressed to only have come third (he is the best driver in his family, you know). We spent some of the night chatting to a nice lesbian from Melbourne and her Kiwi friend - they were good fun.

Barcode Soho was on the way home, so we called in for a swift pint – I had forgotten that Mark and Matthew were going to be there, so that delayed us further. Our friend Eduardo works at Barcode, so when he finished work, we all went to the Escape Bar for a small dance. I chatted to an American intern who is working for a conservative MP here. She was trying to reconcile that with her being a Democrat. She was out with a friend and they's only been here a week, which meant I spent an hour boring giving them tips on London, now that the pound is worth $A2 …..

Saturday I foolishly spent an hour on the phone to my sister, who has just booked her tickets to come to the UK in April. Foolishly because I should have been getting ready to go meet Paul’s Mum and his Aunt Daphne for our ‘Golden Girls’ lunch. Paul headed in early and I followed, met them in Fortnum and Mason for a coffee, then Patsy and Edina Julie, Daphne, Paul and I went to Quaglino’s for lunch. It was very good – last time I was there I wasn’t impressed, but this time the food was spot on. It’s still very much a big Terence Conran 90’s restaurant, but it’s almost retro in style now.

I didn’t take my camera, and forgot about my phone, so you will have to go without pictures. Those of you on dial-up will no doubt be delirious.

Monday night we stayed in and watched ‘Cinema Paradiso’ which was very seductive. I found it to be a bit too sentimental and simplistic, but it was beautifully shot. And quite humorous in parts. I loved it just for the cinematography. I’d give it 7.6/10.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Never cross a foreigner......

Tuesday night, Damien, Paul’s new best-friend Sue, Paul and I went to see ‘The Page Turner’, at the Curzon Cinema in Monopoly's most expensive real estate, Mayfair. I'd probably class the film as a thriller with some comic touches, but I’m not entirely sure if it was supposed to be comic. Lots of French brooding in it too. The young female lead Deborah Francois was excellent, very sweet, yet menacing and Catherine Frot is beautiful in it, exuding French style through every pore….. And Mum would think Pascal Greggory was pretty dishy as well – he’s a sortof gallic Christopher Plummer. I gave it 7.2/10.

After the film we went to possibly London's only Polish-Mexican restaurant. They have flavoured vodka!

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Monday, January 15, 2007

We only made it a block

It was a fairly quiet weekend, which befits a mid-January weekend, I think. Friday night we watched this. Which wasn't either as good or as bad as I thought it would be. Peter Bradshaw had it as his film of the year, but maybe it's one of those movies you need to see on the big screen. Anyway, it wasn't anywhere near as mawkish and gung-ho as I'd feared, but I suppose I took issue with a film depicting events that we know nothing of.

Saturday was a day for doing important jobs like choosing a new colour to paint our bedroom. After trying five, we think we've settled on one, now we just have to buy it and get stuck in. Then there’ll just be the kitchen and lounge to go, and then it will be time to look for somewhere else to move to!

Our (young!) friend Giles turned 30 last week, so Saturday night was his party. We almost didn’t make it, as the Kylie comeback concert was being broadcast on Channel 4 and let’s face it, it’s every gay man’s dream to be Kylie’s wardrobe assistant (either that or dresser for her dancers). But we couldn’t let Giles down, so out to deepest darkest Watford we went. We had fun, mainly because Chris and Ronald were there, and we hadn't seen them for six months or so. It was a funny sort of party - Giles has a straight twin brother, so there were a few people there eager to impress on you the fact they were 'cool' about the whole gay thing. Like we cared.

Sunday I was awoken by the dulcet tones of my father's voice at 9:30am. God, don't old people think anyone else ever sleeps? Dad was kind enough to let me go back to bed, and I rang them back around 11. I decided to have a mini-detox, using products we’d hadn’t actually bought ourselves. There was this facial wash, then this scrub (both from Julie), then this body wash from Damien and then a rosemary sea-salt scrub from Bernadette. People say it’s better to give than receive, but all that receiving felt pretty good to me. Luckily, I didn't include stolen products, or I would have been in the bathroom all day.

It was such a nice day, we thought we’d go into town to the British Museum. It’s one of those places in London we never go to, just because you know it’s always going to be there. It generally has some pretty interesting exhibitions on too, things like ‘Empire and Theft – 50 treasures stolen because the natives couldn’t be trusted to look after them properly’.

But first we popped into the pub around the corner to see if we could hire a room for my birthday this year. Because it was local and we know the food there is good, we thought we’d give it a try. The manager there was really nice – which was justification enough for our decision – he couldn't do enough for us, got us tasting wines we could have at the party etc. etc. We ended up staying for roast lunch (£12.00 for half a corn-fed chicken - what's not to like about that!) and didn't actually make it into town. Oh well, the British Museum will still be there next weekend.

The whole local pub thing we think is a good idea, mainly because we really like the shops near where we live, and we’d rather give our money to some local businesses, instead of some bar in central London who doesn’t look after you because it will be full of punters next week and the week after, regardless. I like the fact if I walk past the shops near our place and five people say hello to you.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

It's all about the water II

Our bathroom was finished a few weeks before Christmas, but I hadn't got around to taking any decent photos. So here some are.

Brock and Paul did a fantastic job. It's lovely - it gives me something to look forward to in the mornings.

We're very happy with it - it's very sexy. I love the single piece of glass and the

'rain' shower head. Oh - and the taps.

The downside is every time I am in a bathroom now I check everything out - taps, porcelain, the lot - it's sad.



Wednesday, January 10, 2007

So complimentary...

We were discussing the various calories and fat level of some cakes we were having at work.

Colleague: What did you just have?

Me : I chose the chocolate mini-roll. I thought it was a good compromise between the austerity of the blueberry muffin and the decadence of the golden syrup flapjack.

Colleague: You're the Stephen Fry of the IT world, aren't you?

Me: Are you calling me gay, depressed, or fat?


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Years Day - West End Stylee

Paul and I woke lateish after NYE festivities, thinking we’d been visited by the bottle fairy (how did all those empty bottles get in our kitchen). While Paul slept some more, I decided to take advantage of that large yellow ball in the sky. I washed over 24 empty glasses in the sun in the kitchen with my shirt off – it was almost like living in Southern Europe, except we don’t ride with eight people to a scooter….

After sorting out the house, we grabbed our brand new yearly travelcards (cheaper than the £4 per one-way trip the tube now costs – ouch!) and before you could say ‘What hangover?’ went to meet Stuie, Mark, and Angel in London’s barricaded-off West End. En route, as they say in France, Paul and I watched the London Parade for about 5 minutes, then decided we’d had enough. There are only so many brass bands you can take with a fuzzy head. And I was bought up watching the Bendigo Easter Fair Society processions, so the London Parade was always going to have to be top-notch to compete with that.

The boys had splashed out and been to Browns for lunch – no dining Alistair Appleton this time, but Connie Fisher (Maria in the Sound of Music) was there. She didn’t sing, and she wasn’t wearing curtains. While Paul and I grabbed a sandwich, the boys went to the National Portrait Gallery. After Paul and I tired of the woman in Pret talking WAY TOO LOUDLY (maybe she was caught up in the excitement of Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU), we found the boys, saw the Pet Shops Boys photography exhibition, and then walked down to Trafalgar Square to check out the Norwegian Christmas tree. It wasn’t suffering needle drop like our tree is. Isn't it good, Norwegian wood?

By this stage Stuie had already left us to meet Derrecks because it was beer o’clock. I think Stuie's clock is Swiss - it keeps very accurate time. Mark, Angel, Paul and I wandered slowly back up to Soho and the den of iniquity that is Rupert St. My resolve to drink less in January failed about then. Derrecks, Augusto and Lee were already there, so we had a few drinks to celebrate the New Year. I suppose there’s always February to drink less in – that could work for me, it being a shorter month and all. Augusto and I had a discussion about who was taller. From this photo it looks like Augusto is, but he is standing closer to the camera. Clearly I am the taller of us. There are more pics here.

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Happy New Year From London

My resolution to drink less in January went out the window at 16:17 January 1st...... Not that bad, I don't think.