Thursday, March 27, 2003

"Okay, how many people are coming now?"
My guest list has just doubled in the last two hours. My head *really* hurts. It *really, really* hurts. Bwah.
"Oh, go gotta come to the screening... you've got to...oh, go on... it'll be *great*, I promise... it's going to be *so good* - please say you'll come. Please? Pleeeeease?"
Apologies for the interruption to the usual service on the Avenue but due to the Joys of My First Job, I've taken on / been cruelly delegated a whole load of stuff at work: I've been organising a screening of short films made by young people (from way before my time... waaaaaaay before my time) at the same time as wrapping up the weekend training courses and planning / schmoozing for a festival next month, while simultaneously getting the proverbial ball rolling for our big website / re-branding event in May. As well as all that, my LittleBigSister's swiftly approaching wedding abroad has been eating up my non-work time when I've not been sleeping and beating up booze-stealing punks in my dreams. And the new series of arm-severingly good ER has started on Channel 4 so at least one evening a week is taken up. Ergo, there's been little activity on the mean streets of Hypatia, and for that, my apologies.

Once this damn screening is over (kids and plasticine mainly, my favourite bit is the roll of credits at the end and ooh, when the lights go up and we can go home; yeah, I love that bit) I am determined to have more time idling on my computer, fiddlng about with this blog in particular and chainsmoking and running up enormous bills on my mobile because I'm still on dial-up and have to pay through the nose to talk on the phone while surfing really slowly...still, it'll be blissful after all of this. Blissful. Totally. :: sigh :: Not long now until I have to drag my office-numbed arse to the BBC. :: second dramatic sigh :: Not long now...

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

"6. Saddam has been universally seen firing his gun indiscriminately and menacingly. Under the second amendment, this right would be extended to everyone." – Matthew Engel ponders what would happen if Iraq, post-war, became America, in The Guardian today
And that's all I want to say on the matter.

Well, I had a great weekend despite the clouds of ol' Armageddon looming. To keep up the cheer and stick two fingers up to anti-French sentiment which I think is an abysmal consequence for a country that isn’t all that keen on becoming America’s towel-boy, I went to see a film. A French hip hop dance musical, in fact. And it was brilliant. It was also the last - and only second – time it will be shown in the UK as it was part of a festivalwhich is just *so* unfair as it’s a really fun film, full of the most amazing dance sequences and would go down really well as a general release… So though I was about to let rip and start raving about how original, funny, uplifting and breathtaking, gravity-defying, mind-blowingly great it was, there’s kind of no point if none of you can go see it. Unless you buy it and watch it at home, of course. Or go to France, pester my sister for food and shelter, go native and say fuck you to the US and their goddamn "freedom fries" - chips with extra irony, methinks - by renting it from the video shop and watching it in the comfort of a country that isn't really in the mood to blow up half the world. The choice, as we say in the "free" world, is yours.

Monday, March 17, 2003

”They were stealing my booze.”
Roughly translated from loud Cantoneses over dinner with my folks; all sound effects reproduced as faithfully as possible.

Mother: Oh! It was *so* annoying. He, your father, was sound asleep on the sofa, snoring and snoring… [makes shovel dragging along pavement sound] and then he started shrieking and crying out… like this: [starts hoo-ing and eee-ing in a creepy high pitched way]
Father: I was having a bad dream.
Mother: And then he threw a punch! I was just sitting down, minding my own business then he lashed out at me. I thought to myself, lucky I’m sat over here otherwise I would have been whacked good and proper. He went [demonstrates a hefty punch and Bruce Lee-style “Hiiiii-YA”]
Big Sister: Who were you beating up? Osama? Bush? Blair?
Me: Saddam?
Father: I was beating up three punks. They were stealing my booze.
Mother: Hmmph. He threw a punch. He was shrieking like a… like a…he was crying out really loudly and then he threw a punch. Going like this…[more shovel along pavement noises] all the time! Then [another demonstration of the punch and Bruce Lee-style “Hiiiii-YA”]
Father: [trying to talk over Mother’s sound effects and over-enthusiastic re-enactment] They were trying to steal my booze. They tried it twice, then I thought, how dare they, they’re nothing but punks. So I hit them.
Mother: [interrupts] He tried to hit me! In his sleep!
Father: [talking over her] They kept creeping up to the bottles so I got up and hit them, to keep them away. It was my booze. They were trying to steal my booze.
Mother: I was watching the news.
Father: Huh.
Mother: And all the time all I could hear was [totally OTT hoo-ing, eee-ing, shrieking, snoring and kung fu noises, rattling the chopsticks on the table]
Father: I don’t sound like that.
Mother:Hah! You don’t know what you sound like when you sleep! You’re too busy beating up punks! Punks! In your sleep! Making horrible noises! Like this! [more ear-splitting sound effects]
Father: They were stealing my booze. [silence]
Me: Top up my glass, will you? And dad too. Christ, just open another bottle.

Friday, March 14, 2003

14. "Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house." Steven Seagal

In other news, please feel free to analyse my personality.But do it gently, dear readers, as Prandial wouldn’t like you to hurt his yummy new porcine friends.Blinking flip; I've not heard this much culinary frothing at the mouth about food since it was discovered that all British meat products came with extra "mad" flavouring. Pheh. It’s all spam, I tell you, spam, spam, spam!

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

"between impecunious asses
spot the cunning vicissitude."
- fridge magnet poetry courtesy of Devukha…so classy
So, on Monday night, despite feeling like I had died, been pulled through a mangle and spat out all…mangled into the ninth circle of hell that is Working While Emotionally Drained and Sleep Deprived, I gritted my teeth and went off to the NFT to see Alan Parker's The Life of David Gale as a guest of one of our lovely trustees (who happens to be Up There in the BFI and NFT). Despite feeling so tired I thought I'd be sick, I thought the film was great – "more twists and turns than a pair of tights at the end of a night out clubbing" were my words to jealous non-attending colleagues the next day.

Kevin Spacey is, always, amazing and infinitely watchable, Kate Winslet could have been better but then again only has to be a listening post for Spacey’s flashback storytelling and then wailing in slow motion a few times when the story requires some feminine distress. Laura Linney is also v. good in the film but plays a slightly bizarre part – you gotta see it to understand what I mean, but she's good in it nonetheless. It's a clever thriller but little more than that – it's tense and well plotted but has a few holes in the story and character developments, that clearly came about for the sake of the tension and suspense.

Whatever the flaws, it's a good film and it was free and because it was a special preview, Michael Parkinson came on stage to interview Alan Parker with clips of his other films! Waaah! They're old mates, apparently, so there was much jovial banter. We thought we'd blagged enough out of the NFT for the night so slunk away without crashing the Double Parking reception held afterwards.

In other news, after working late yesterday and feeling absolutely fucking green by the time I got off my heavily delayed train, I went to bed at 8.30pm. 8.30pm Blinking flip. I clearly needed the rest, since I’m actually able to stand up and focus my eyes today.

In other news, Devukha has joined the world of blogging, spoiling us like a particularly extravagant European ambassador with some elegant Fridge Magnet Poetry. Why he hasn’t been published yet is still a goddam mystery; the Webmonging genre really needs some new PR.

Monday, March 10, 2003

"My pig had a tattoo saying 'Danish' along its side. and it was standing in a frying pan."
Yep, more nonsense from Day 2 of our staff bonding/training bollocks. After brainstorming with the whole team on what our organisation would be like if it was 1) a film, 2) an animal, 3) a cocktail or 4) a journey. The chainsmoking junior members of the team secretly agreed while puffing away outside that the organisation would be 1) a tourist information video for Skegness made by blind black lesbian dyslexics 2) a battery farm chicken 3) a pint of meths and supermarket cola with a torn pink paper umbrella and a soggy glace cherry and 4) a community day out to Margate in a leaky minibus with no suspension and a tourguide who only speaks Gujurati. We also had to do a personality test where we all drew a pig on our notepads then learnt what kind of person we are according to the kind of pig we drew. Today, there were some informal reviews in IM of this particular exercise:

H says: I showed everyone my picture of a pig at the party on Saturday night.
H says: they said I was a freak without even knowing it was for a personality test
Colleague 2 says: Hee hee - my pig had vitutally no tail - so apparrently im completely sad and sexless (how did they know) - personally I found the pig analysis the most valuable part of the whole experience - well worth 10k
H says: my pig had a tattoo saying "Danish" along its side. and it was standing in a frying pan.
Colleague 2 says: covered in ketchup
H says: i notice they had no category for that in their fricking test

After that fruitful day at the office, I dragged myself home and got ready for August D's party. I felt so tired and drained I had to put on my Sophie Ellis Bextor album really loud and dance around my room to it in my silliest underwear. It was…rejuvenating and I managed to get out to the party with a sparkle in my eye.

The party was fabulous – Happy Birthday August D! – so good, in fact, I was obliged to turn up late at my parents' place the next day, giving me only an hour to say goodbye to my LittleBigSister.

We were all trying not to cry when she got in the car to go to her imminent married life in France – but we all failed at different times and I blubbed into my takeaway curry back at my place later on in the evening in a rather unexpected outburst of delayed emotion. God bless you sis, good luck and all our love for everything.

Oh dear. I'm all weepy again. Must put on my Pink Panther pants and crank up the volume on my stereo that is still blasting out ol' rhombus head Sophie Ellis Bextor before I collapse into a heap of soggy tissues and melancholic snot.

Friday, March 07, 2003

"...What the blinking flip is going on...?"
Oh my god!

We're being stormed by protesters! I don't know who they represent, I don't know what they are trying to say but the cars in the car park are getting trashed and we've asked all our students to stay in the classroom and to close all the windows. The group we've got in the edit suite is made up of people in exile and I'm worried some of them might be deeply upset by this. One colleague is a journalist in exile from the Balkans and can't bear raised voices in the office - this could be a very bad event indeed.

In this building alone we have the Kurdish association, Brazilian contemporary arts, Polish tranlsation service, the Iranian assoication, the Iraqi assoociation, the Ethiopian Advice and Support Centre, the Eritrean society, the Community transport group and our own media training groups made of people in exile.

There are cars and flags and people with megaphones stamping around the car park looking very aggressive...

...and I've just heard a police van pulling up.

Fuck. That ruins my plan to get a mid-morning doughnut from across the road.

Edit: Apparently, they were Kurds picking up their mates from the building and parading their delight at "war breaking out" and the chance for them to reclaim the land. They're following a really old, fucked up and taped up car - which apparently they're going to set fire to outside Downing Street today. We've called the police and they should be intercepted before anything goes horribly wrong. Any news footage you see tonight - that's our volunteer running out with a camera that just so happened to be set up for one of our classes and sending it straight through to BBC newsroom.

Holy fucking shit. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

"Can you *please* be careful walking through here..."
Have been networking at the BBC, dah-lings, as part of my increasingly busy working life. As the biggest local business in the London borough I happen to work in, and as part of the local businesses consortium thingie wossit doodah whatever that my organisation is also part of, we were invited to a networking tour and lunch in the Television Centre. On this most pleasant morning, I did the following:

collected lots of business cards
saw the newsroom – a feckin’ huge sprawling open plan room where *all* the news comes in, for *all* the broadcasts: radio, world service, News 24, breakfast, lunch, 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock…
saw the midmorning news being filmed in the middle of the newsroom. Amazingly, the desks the newsreaders sit at are normal working desks that just so happen to have a lit backdrop behind them and a camera in front of them. When the news is due to go out, the desk gets tidied up, the backlights go on, the camera is flipped to record and the autocue starts up. Then when it’s over, it just becomes a normal working desk in the office.
I walked into the backdrop halfway through a broadcast. Anyone who was watching the 11am news and saw the background wobble to the sound of a shrill voice shriek/whispering “Feck! Sorrysorrysorry…” as the supporting metal grille on the back shuddered and threatened to fall off, bringing the whole thing down, that was me. Sorry.
ate lots of sandwiches.
saw the TV studios where Top of the Pops and Blue Peter are filmed, the set of Johnny Vaughn’s BBC3 talkshow and the enormous TV studio 1 where they filmed the ship interiors for Red Dwarf. The studio is stripped bare between bookings, with all the gangways and rigs and cables exposed so that new productions coming in can start set-building from scratch. The Red Dwarf team, in the spirit of true crappy budget sci-fi tv, booked TV studio 1 and left it exactly as it was; all the interior shots of the ship, especially the shots of where the green Spacebug is docked were all done in what was basically the shell of the studio with no additional set building or…anything.
lost my colleague on the way out of the super-labyrinthine building and had to send our guide back in to find her while I stood outside like the harassed and neglectful parent of an errant child wandering free in a department store at Christmas. They didn’t do a tannoy announcement to my annoyance, which I initially requested not so much as to locate the missing colleague but to show her up to the whole of the BBC – she was on the lav. It would have been funny.
saw Queenie, Baldrick and Edmund’s costumes from Blackadder II and Kryten’s head which we all kicked around for a bit for a laugh. It’s very rubbery. I wanted to play with the velociraptor head from Walking With Dinosaurs but by then the coffee had arrived and we had to move on.
found out that the sprawling building is actually shaped like a question mark with the studios fitted around the curve of the open-sided top part of the punctuation mark and the newsroom filling several floors of the entirely circular building

I didn't want to go back to the office. I wanted to hide in the Television Centre forever but then we were taken through a lobby which seemed vaguely familiar and I had a sudden flashback to being 14 and a reserve contestant for a junior episode of Big Break. I was taken to the BBC in a taxi then left stranded in this particular lobby with my sister, starving and confused and bewildered. Since I wasn't taking part in the actual show (thank god) we were taken to a viewing room and fed canteen food until it was over and we spent the rest of the night in the green room making agonising small talk with the other junior contestants (freaks) and the junior snooker players (complete and utter, totally freaky freaks in patterned waistcoats). We drank as much free wine as we could then left as quickly as possible before Jim Davidson spotted us. In the midst of this flashback, the office was suddenly more appealing.

Monday, March 03, 2003

"I have Lizzie's brain on my hands as well as on my trousers." - Andrew takes the dog for a walk in deadkidsongs
Diversions and roadworks have meant that the normal flow of brain-drool has been re-directed and soaked up by media other than this modest little sidestreet. However, since the congestion charge was introduced, I've managed to get back onto the Avenue in half the time I expected and am filling the gutters with the usual brainwater and tripe.

Since my last entry I have been mostly reading: deadkidsongs by Toby Litt. Like The Wasp Factory but instead of a solitary sadistic evil little shit, this book has a gang of four. It is now my current favourite book in the "Jesus, that's fucked up" genre.
Hot on the heels of deadkidsongs is Varjak Paw by SF Said. SF was Arts Editor when I was Literature editor of the student news and was great fun to work with; I was amazed and delighted with a surprisingly small amount of bitter-edged envy when I walked into the bookshop and saw a stack of his kung fu cat kid's story. It's coming along nicely; further reports to come. And how the blinking flip did he manage to get Dave McKean to illustrate his book? I am determined to find out...

In Other News, wedding and moving abroad plans for LittleBigSister have been occupying my time away from my books and has even affected my strict regime of Going To Work Then Coming Home, Cooking Dinner Then Watching TV With My Jaw Hanging Slack In Total Vegetable Form. I am still wearing contact lenses, my hair is getting longer, I have *another* lot of council tax to pay as well as my rent and I'm in work for Day 2 of training (this time with the board of trustees...ugh) next Saturday, when August Dangerlove turns 25. Interesting Times, my friends... these are interesting times.