Life in London

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

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ciao for now

Friday night we had drinks for Tim. Tim managed the gym we go to and returns to Australia at the end of the week. He is such a nice guy. The gym was ok when he started a couple of years back, but he has improved it beyond belief. Tim is one of those guys who has such a sunny disposition all the time, that you can’t help be swept along with it. Clever, funny and articulate (not what you expect from your normal run-of-the-mill gym staff), he turned into a good friend as well.

So Friday we went out with Jacinda, Vicki and Tim to say goodbye. We got drunk, we were silly, we said goodbye. We’re going to miss him so much, but are already looking forward to catching up with him back in Australia.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year From London


Monday, February 12, 2007

I guess it's pretty lucky neither of us is rich, huh?

Last Wednesday I met Paul and Damien at Barrafina in Soho. after I’d got back from Strasbourg. It has been getting great reviews and it was excellent - outstanding tapas, good wine and good service. I liked the fact Paul and Damien had to do the hour-long wait in the queue without me. I’d definitely go back and highly recommend it. It’s run by the people who run Fino in ‘Fitzrovia’, but is more of a tapas bar than restauarant, with a very long bar that you sit at to eat. All very Spanish.

So Spanish in fact, that the guy who sat down next to us felt the need to demonstrate his prowess with Castilian, and was chatting to the owner off and on. After a while he said ‘Excuse me, what are razor clams again?’. The owner picked one up from the bed of ice to show him. ‘Oh no, I know what a razor clam is. I meant I’ve forgotten how to say it in Spanish’. What’s Spanish for wanker?

After Barrafina, we went to see Dame Judi and ‘Our Cate’ in ‘Notes from a Scandal’. It was excellent, and funny in an odd way. ‘You sent her fiancé a wreath!!!’. As if. It was refreshing to see older lesbians portrayed in such a glamorous light, too. (After , ‘La Tournese de Pages’, this was our second lesbian-themed movie under a month – they’re like buses you know – you wait forever for one, then two come along at once. Boom boom.) Both Dame Judi and Cate had great roles. I’d give it an 8.8/10, despite the fact I heard some people moaning about Cate Blanchett’s accent when we were leaving. Please.

Most of our weekend was spent inhaling solvent-based paint fumes, while we finished off painting the window and skirting boards in the bedroom. We know how to have fun! Paul and I took a break Saturday night to go to a friend’s Titanic-themed birthday party on the Thames. Poor taste? Who’s to say? It was a good party and we made some new friends (we had to – we didn’t know anyone else there). We resisted the siren-song of Vauxhall clubs at 2am and called it a day.

Sunday night Paul surprised me and took me here to see
this. .(Incidentally, Paul's brother Lee is in the video for the song, by the band Deep Blue). It was very sweet of him. I was trying to guess all the way where we were going, but had no ideaThe hotel has a Sunday night film club which is pretty good value. The idea is you have a three-course meal and then go downstairs to watch the movie – very civilised. The Charlotte Street Hotel is pretty cool – not uber-designer-cool, but very relaxed and comfortable cool. Good food and service too. The staff seemed to be all Hispanic as well - ‘What London was like in the good old days’, someone remarked.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Freude, schöner Götterfunken

So, earlier this week I was in Strasbourg for work. It seemed a pretty town, although I didn't get to see much of it as my new boss is a bit of a workaholic. But I like her anyway, because she doesn't pull any punches. And she seems to think I'm doing a good job, so it's all good.

Strasbourg is where the European Parliament sits when it's not in Brussels, and so work was a model of European harmony and I felt no guilt whatsoever about only using 10 words of French whilst I was there. ( I was not as bad as an American at breakfast who, after looking at the waiter's badge, said 'M-a-r-c. How do you pronounce that? Oh, Mark?'. What do they feed them??!!)

I did draw the line at telling a colleague I was having difficulty understanding him because of his heavily accented French though. I'm not that insensitive. I also love a French accent, so tried not to stare dreamily at him too much. It was quite ironic to be working with some Russians, a Pole, some Germans, a Japanese and some French, especially considering just over 60 years ago we would have been tearing each other limb from limb.

One of the differences I did notice was absolutely no-one was in the office before 9:00 and everyone left at 17:00. (except for me and my boss of course - I had to drag her out at 18:30, after a 10.5 hour day) And everyone had lunch in the (delicious and heavily-subsidised) canteen for an hour. Which is a million miles away from the eat-lunch-at-your-desk and maybe take 30 minutes for it culture here. And don't start me on the coffee breaks.....

My self-control went out the window, it was all french pastries for breakfast and wine (Pinot! Shiraz! Syrah!) and steak at dinner. I even ate at a cheese restaurant one night (La Cloche à Fromages), where, as you'd expect, cheese featured heavily on the menu and I could feel myself piling on the weight with every mouthful.

I had to fly into and out of Stuttgart airport (look at this - why can't Heathrow be like this?). The taxi to Strasbourg sped down the autobahn at 180kmh in driving rain. Even though I was safely ensconced in the back of a big Mercedes, it didn't stop me praying all the way to St Diana of Windsor.

My train to Heathrow took 50 minutes instead of 15, because someone had jumped at Southall... people nowadays are so inconsiderate. I blame Tony Blair.

I had a little time to spare at Stuttgart Airport, so took the opportunity to have a nice cold German lager in the cockpit bar. It was nice.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow Mail Travel Chaos....

Surely the headline for tonight's Evening Standard


A merry flag in the artic wilderness of my life.

Sorry for the break in transmission - I have been without access to the google for a few days.

Last Friday, Paul and I joined Catriona and Chris at Covent garden for dinner and 'Il Trovatore'. Dinner was fine (not outstanding, but satisfactory - I think it's a sign of how good food now is (or people's expectations of it) in the UK. 10 years ago I would have said it was very good). And the opera was excellent - we splurged a little thanks to Catriona having access to good seats. The sightlines weren't fantastic, but the music was so much better than up in the gods where we have sat before. And it's always nice to go home without a bleeding nose.

As you know, I don't know much about opera,(except they're all tragic of course) but Marcelo Alvarez was in it - he was the tenor I saw in Carmen (and isn't he chunky closer up?). Stephanie Blythe was excellent as the gypsy Azucena, and Catherine Naglestad was very good as Leonora. well.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Winter is for Tulips

I bought these for Paul last night, but I love tulips too........

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cake! Sweets! Toys!

And that was just our Friday night..... As part of our winter of cultcha, Paul, Damien and I went to see Frost/Nixon. It was very good - I always enjoy going to see something where liberals are able to hiss from the cheap seats. I'd give it 8.2/10.

Then we went for a quick drink in Soho (where we ran into Giles and mate), which turned into another drink in Vauxhall (I know, I know.......). Saturday was quiet, that's all I'm saying.

Sunday we had Jamie's first birthday on, so Paul and I had the opportunity to use our new gold railcards (such glamour!) to get out to the Essex/Suffolk borders. It's nice to watch little kids get excited about some cake and sweets. There was champagne to get me excited!! The boys were all dressed the same though, so I couldn't tell them apart. Next year I'm taking name tags.

Oh and then we watched while the country seemed to be tearing itself apart over the whole catholic/gay adoption/discrimination thing - will the Catholic church never learn? Oh, I forgot, something about 'Love the sinner, hate the sin'. What about 'What would Jesus do?'...... you're either for or against discrimination. Sigh.

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