Friday, December 31, 2004

"We are doing very little at the moment," said Jan Egeland, the UN's emergency relief coordinator. "It will take maybe 48 to 72 hours more to be able to respond to the tens of thousands of people who would like to have assistance today - or yesterday, rather.

"I believe the frustration will be growing in the days and the weeks ahead," he added. [from the Guardian]
The devastation in South East Asia has completely screwed my ability to think on a reasonable scale: I just cannot picture the range and scope of destruction, death and despair there at the moment. The numbers have, sadly, become meaningless to me and I'm dazzled by the death toll, the square metres, the height, width and length of destroyed land. After a comfortable and indulgent week of festivities both here in London and in Dorset, it's even harder to imagine what it must be like in that part of the world. Please, please, please go to the Disasters Emergency Committee website and give what you can; I'm proud to note that the UK has already donated more than it originally pledged, the amount is still going up (with some of your help, I hope).

I looked up a few links on aid and support for the disaster and came across a mind-bogglingly horrible article which I won't even link to because it made me so angry and incredulous to read it. It was basically a man with several degrees and some career experience in finance and business pleading with readers not to give any aid in cash. It was a waste of American tax-payers' money, apparently, as the money would get to the countries affected by the tsunami and there wouldn't be anything to spend it on once it got there - there are no crops, no clothes and no materials for shelter so, by his reckoning, the money would just go towards making the rich in the country even richer.

According to this odious writer, it was also unfeasible for the US to give money to the countries stricken in this natural disaster without demanding some sort of expense report - if aid really had to be given in cash, then it should only be given on display of a comprehensive list of receipts (which could be rejected or asked to be justified before any money was given over), the same way you have to submit receipts to reclaim expenses at work. Yes, even paraphrasing the article has made me angry and I may remove this as I would not like people visiting this blog and accidentally thinking these sick opinions are mine. Aid is aid - it is not a fucking expenses claim. Grrr.

I'm feeling rather hopeless at the moment - I have no medical skills, no experience in disaster relief, I haven't even been in any of these countries and have only the faintest grasp of the geography of the area (getting better as I read news coming in). If I had any useful skills to offer, I would be there now, but I can't think of how I could be useful at this South East Asian Ground Zero. Once the relief plans have come together and there is a clearer idea of what we can do over here, I shall do my best to do my best - because in a situation like this, what else is there to do?

There's no time for questions, for conspiracy theories, for celebrity endorsements - and if any fucking specially released music singles or videos come out in the next few weeks, I will scream until my face turns blue. There is simply no time for talking - it's all doing. Please do what you can for the hundreds of thousands of people in distress at the moment. It's going to be a long journey out of this dark time.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

"A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together." - Garrison Keillor
Since I last wrote here, I seem (to those who only know me through this blog and what appears on it) that I have since then crawled under a rock and stayed there. But - no! I have been out and about and actually been too busy to write up my thoughts here! Isn't that exciting readers? I've had a semblance of a social life! Full of dining out and plays and films and exhibitions! Huzzah!

Well, go here for the Taxloss/Londonist review of Tropicana which we saw with the folks from my office - I've always considered myself not afraid of the dark but had to think twice about that during the performance. It's very dark down there.

I've had dinner with dear Sir Humphrey again and managed to spray him with mouthfuls of wine as I shouted and ranted about "working on the frontline of the arts - I've worked on reception before, I've been in the face of it all, you can't tell me what it's like!" (Sorry. Just kick me next time I decide I'm a lone and noble crusader for the arts and everyone needs to know.)

Some fellow friends have followed the Beloved and I down the path to marital bliss and celebrated their engagement with us in the same week. We filled the kitchen (and the rest of the flat) with the smell of wonderful spices and burnt cinnamon - a very nice evening though we started late and ended even later. The race is on to see who gets to the chapel first...

I've had a good run of plundering my contacts in the arts lately and managed to invite myself to a private view one Saturday morning recently at The Serpentine. Interesting stuff and more than once did we (PostGrad N and I) have to be directed out of the twisty-turny exhibition. It was a top morning - walking through the park and being greeted in the marquee with hot mulled wine and breadsticks, then staying for the talk and being fed bowls of chicken stew and mashed potatoes, then actually seeing the exhibition and marvelling at the transformation of the gallery... very nice. Just to balance the early start in cultural enlightenment, we went shopping on King's Road afterwards and had coffee in the Royal Court, hoping to bump into another PostGrad friend who works there so that we could continue our series of getting things for free. Alas, he wasn't there. But I've figured out a way of getting hold of his rota... so who wants to come and see a play there?

What next? Well, another night out with PostGrad N, this time at the open studio event at Studio Voltaire - this was quite a revelation, as I've known about her renting a studio for her sculpture work for a while but could never really picture what it was like and what she did. Well, I've seen it now (and even had a go on the swings...) and glad I did too. Interesting stuff, and I'm still somewhat inspired to make a go of the stuff I do...

And the following weekend was spent in the company of my old university chums in north London, catching up on all our news and views of things before I went off to join Taxloss and other London Bloggers in another part of town. Photos that prove 1) we were there - in the background, backs turned to the camera - and 2) I do exist can be found here. I'm getting tired of convincing people I do really exist, so go and find these other bloggers who were at this party and confirm, once and for all, that yes, I really do exist. Bah.

Okay, so far I've boasted about private views, extraordinary events under London Bridge and dining out. Now I must confess one outing which is rather difficult to talk about in this god-I'm-so-cool stream of consciousness. I went to see The Phantom of the Opera - the Movie! with my mum. Bloody hell, that film is noisy with no let-up in the shrieking, colour or ridiculousness. It takes itself so very seriously, I was giggling into my sleeve throughout. There's fire, and dungeons, and fairground organ music when you least expect it. And it's so loud! I had a banging headache before we were halfway through and I'm sure the music is very important in a musical film but it's all so horrible and... well, it could have benefited from having less. I did like the bit with the falling chandelier - the highlight of the stage show which, yes, I have also seen with my mum, and really did jump in my seat when it came crashing down into the stalls. It had a far more exciting journey via CGI in the film and by then I was so overcome with all the noise and the colour, I cheered quietly to myself when I saw it take out quite a few people in the theatre. And then it sets fire to the place and it all goes up in flames! Yay! Anyway - in my defence, I was accompanying my mother to the cinema, watching a musical film adaptation of a musical stage show I had taken her to see the year before and therefore I was fulfilling my role as the camp gay son every mother secretly wishes she had. So there.

And then Christmas dinner with the Beloved and Boatie Flatmate at Inn the Park, where we ate oysters and black pudding and pheasant, roasted suckling pig, lamb shank and other delicious things. A very nice Christmas treat for the household, despite my second bout of shouting and ranting about "working on the frontline of the arts - I've worked on reception before, I've been in the face of it all, you can't tell me what it's like!" when we started talking about the recent freeze in arts funding. Sorry. It's the Shiraz. Never get into an argument when Taxloss, me or both of us have had a few glasses.

And then last night - a trip to the Bloomsbury Theatre to see Pam Ann and her gayer-than-the-gayest-thing dance troupe Pam's People, for free!(Via work) And we were invited to the aftershow party where I got horribly drunk on champagne and shrieked really loudly "Is she here? Is Pam here?" when I was standing right in front of her. A very nice evening, very funny, very camp and bitchy and gay. We felt conspicuously straight in the aftershow party whic only added to our enjoyment of it all.

And we're off tonight to see my folks for the annual early Christmas feast. It's all good. How are you?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Farmyard muck... head to toe..."
This news made my breakfast slip down with a smile. I like the way the report makes clear it is Kilmore-Arabs and only him who heard the supposed pro-Islam cry as the shit hit the fan. And his face.

It's hurting my knees, but I'm doing a little barnyard dance under my desk. Git orf moi land, indeed...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

"Oh Brad, Brad. Wherefore art thou Brad?"

"But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Helen is the sun."
I've had some top cultural outings in the last week after a long dry spell of not doing much more than going home each evening and knitting in front of the TV - but I want to write up details once I have time to look up further details and composed thoughts on what I've seen and done that are slightly more critically adept than "that was nice / good / interesting / waste of my frickin' time." So: another time but to summarise (and to serve as a reminder to myself): Shunt - Tropicana under London Bridge, installation private view at the Serpentine, Turner Prize and stuff at work.

Okay, I've mentioned fanfiction before on this blog and also explained what a Mary Sue might be... I've got my own series of Christmas Harry Potter Mary Sues courtesy of the beloved Former Flatmate A but then there is this, vanity publishing at its very worst.

You know, you can even star with your lover in Romeo and Juliet and give yourselves a happy ending. If we find ourselves unwrapping five copies of Taxloss and Hypatia - the Happy Ever After Edition on our wedding day, we know where to find you and also how to hurt you.

Speaking of Happy Ever After, we stayed in this weekend (having a break from Cluedo and Monopoly in case we spoil ourselves or file for divorce before we've even made it to the chapel...) and watched Shrek 2 and I, Robot, both thoroughly enjoyable and the most successful joint choice from Blockbuster since... well, ever. Isn't Shrek 2 fantastic? I laughed until my knitting needles jangled in my hands at the scene where Pinocchio has to lie to make his nose grow to reach the incarcerated Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots and it is suggested he says "I'm wearing women's underwear" and he says it and nothing happens. The pause is fabulous. As is everything else.

In other news: I've spent all morning hauling boxes into our basement and am feeling like I've been running with weights all day. I'm tired. I mean, really tired. I think the most part of this evening will be spent curled up on the sofa reading Hypatia of Green Gables and replacing dear Gilbert with... suggestions below please...

Friday, November 26, 2004

"On the day, all five bands played amazingly, but there could only be one winner and after all the judges had voted we were pleased to announce..."
...that mine and Planet Halder's favourite to win did NOT win the Xfm Christian O'Connell's Rock School Competition 2004. Bastards.

The feeling of dismay and disbelief is close to what I felt for the American elections - there was clearly a better candidate but the better candidate did NOT win. Outl4w clearly rocked harder than any of the others and should be there opening the Winter Wonderland gig next month - I demand a rematch! I only hope they don't go back to school and fuck up their GCSEs and end up flunking out of some local polytechnic, resoting to trying to make it as "food and hygiene technicians" for Starbucks, branded and scarred forever by this loss.

They should have won. They'll never have this power or passion again. Never. Their voices will break next week. And then when their balls drop - well, the world will have lost the chance to know true rawkk greatness.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

"While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery." - Anonymous
Last Saturday: We played Monopoly in the ICA until we were the last people in the bar and argued about the game all the way home. Making board games available in the bar on weekends has made our membership very, very, very worthwhile. The game is evil, by the way. I had to do a corporate merge with Taxloss in order to keep it all going against the unexpectedly successful property magnate Boatie Flatmate. And this was after he won Cluedo. Bah.

Speaking of Cluedo, I'm devising a formula that will win the game in up to 8 moves. I was quite good at probability at school (despite the best attempts of the bonkers-mad and loony maths teachers to annihilate all mathematical ability out of us) - and I reckon it is possible to win by calculating the following:
- count number of cards in each category
- count how many cards of each category YOU hold
- calculate the average number of each category cards the other players hold
- keep note of who shows a card per accusation and for what accusations and make deductions from patterns formed
- make the final accusation before any other players have even begun to guess and be the envy of the table when you win

I'll write out the proper mathemathical formula once I've figured out the correct mathematical figures. And it will only cost you £49.99 to have it emailed to your personal email address!

In other news, I almost choked to death on a particularly jagged shard of muesli this morning. I think it brought home to me and the rest of the office the fact that health food is bad for you. Still, at least I managed to make everyone smile with my rendition of the "Fuck, I think I'm dying - painfully" coughing song.

Question: what would be the ultimate home-made Christmas present for you? For me - a range of savoury pies and traditional cakes and tarts (including things made with coconut) and permission to keep the tins after I've eaten them. Also books - home-made, self-penned books which I have received from Former Flatmate A for the last two years: nothing can beat unwrapping your very own Harry Potter - Mary Sue story in which you play an important part. Answers on a postcard pinned cunningly to the inside of the comments section please.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

My name is: Frosty Christmas Stockings.

Great. A new cuddly way of calling me frigid. Cheers.
- It wasn't a great thing to discover about myself when I first got into the office and checked my emails.
What is your secret Santa's Little helper name?

Strangely compelling little distraction... some of the names are far from pleasant and twinkly and are verging on disturbing and distasteful... and accurate?

Prandial – Licky Monster

Devukha – Cutie Brandy Butter

Planet Halder - Happy Brandy butter-Elf

Taxloss - Scrummy Horny-Snowdrop (aargh!)

Sir Humphrey - Wriggly Nose-Pie

Lawyer Buddy - Lovable Chocolate Toes!

Baglady - Tumbleflump Dancing-Hippoface.

Boatie Flatmate - Wriggly Brandy butter-Fairy

God – Smiley Bum

Former Flatmate A - Tumbleflump Dancing-Tinsel

Former Flatmate B - Tumbleflump Horny-Noodles

McReadie – Cutie Cracker

Fizzwhizz – Cutie Dancing-Elf

Sundried – Fuzzy Christmas-Helper

Reviewing the list, I'm not sure what is more amusing, the pseudonyms I've assigned various friends and fellow bloggers or their sickly Christmas names.

Monday, November 15, 2004

"Most Chinese in China do not see traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine as being in conflict. In cases of emergency and crisis situations, there is generally no reluctance in using conventional Western medicine. At the same time, belief in Chinese medicine remains strong in the area of maintaining health and wellness. To put it simply, you see a Western doctor if you have acute appendicitis, but you take Chinese medicines to make your body healthy enough to prevent appendicitis, or you recover quickly from the surgery." - from, "Definition of Traditional Chinese Medicine"
I meant to post this yesterday when it had some sort of relevance but, as evidence of just how very spaced out I was feeling, I completely failed to post it and only saved it as a draft. I also skipped my dance class as I had, by 5.30pm, lost the ability to differentiate between left and right, so met Taxloss and Boatie Flatmate in the pub. We sat and stared into space a lot and the Beloved managed to drop a pound coin and it completely disappeared. The three of us had a comedy quarter of an hour looking for it but it had definitely, completely and utterly vanished. Then we had one last look and I found it in the turn-up of my trousers. How we laughed. I hate Mondays.

Had a nice weekend relaxing at home and playing Cluedo in the ICA with Taxloss and Boatie Flatmate. Perhaps I hadn’t been quite aware of how much I needed to rest during and after my attack of the lurgie but this weekend, I prioritised shutting down and spending time on my own and just chilling out. I started thinking idly this morning about supplements and guides-to relaxing and how Chinese medicine has been incorporated into a lot of the stuff I see in cosmetics and food and Western medicine. It’s quite risky stuff and I speak from experience as one who has grown up with both Chinese and Western medicine; I once went to a Buddhist ceremony in Chinatown and everyone attending was given a cup of tea made of some sort of dried root - lots of tourists had been attending for the colours and the chanting and had been given this tea as well. I went home on the tube and was almost sick – my heart was racing and I was dry-mouthed, panicking, giddy and nauseous. I wondered how many other people had drank the tea and how many of them were feeling the same way. It is not easy to predict what effect certain stuff will have on certain people and also, who is regulating the potency of things like ginseng added to vitamin pills? Who decides what is a good dose – a Chinese doctor or a Western one?

This isn’t a subject I’m pursuing in a ferocious, investigative reporter-type way – it’s just something my mind has drifted to this morning. Something about the weather and the state of my head today brought back a memory that includes ginseng and so, I suppose, that’s why I’m writing about it…

In the pursuit of relaxation and unwinding during exam time at university, I once went through the mysterious Dried Things my mother had given me along with a rice cooker, some TUC biscuits, a very small frying pan and a very big spatula, instant noodles and a bottle of port. I found a bag of dried and flaked ginseng root and spent a good five minutes weighing the pros and cons of drinking an infusion of the stuff in my moment of need. Pro – it would definitely relax me, in fact, I could spend the rest of the day feeling stoned and mellow. Con – I would inevitably suffer a migraine and perhaps even heart palpitations. I chose not to drink any ginseng tea.

However, when Former Flatmate A approached me in her simultaneous hunt for relaxation, I gave her the ginseng and she had a large cup of the stuff. I warned her about the possibility of a migraine / headache but she risked it and when I popped in to see her an hour later, she was serene and mellow. Very mellow. Very. There had been a half hour of headache but after that… just airy lightness and calm. This stuff was the good shit, clearly. She got less work done after the ginseng than when she was experiencing full-scale stress but at least she was mellow.

I would like to take this opportunity to recommend some herbal hippy-tea which I picked up from the local hippy-health food shop this weekend: Heath and Heather Night Time Tea. It’s so good, I’m still half asleep now and feeling seriously mellow and slightly stoned. I checked the ingredients a hundred times before I bought it and then again before I drank it, in case there was any ginseng lurking in there but was satisfied that there was none. Now I’m wondering, in my floaty-mental state, what was in there that wasn’t ginseng but has the same effect without the unpleasant migraine the G-stuff triggers.

Laa-laaa-laaa. I’m off to smell the flowers and have a chat with the trees. Wooooooooooo.

Edit: Jesus, I was fucking stoned, wasn't I?

Monday, November 01, 2004

"Never be ill in your own time.
- Human Resources"
Sage advice I completely ignored this weekend. I succumbed to a throat infection on Thursday afternoon and on the dot of me putting on my coat to leave the office on Friday afternoon, I sneezed and realised that I was actually quite (very) ill. Parked myself on the sofa the second I got in to the flat and stayed there until Sunday evening, hacking, coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose and wiping my streaming eyes. I was truly miserable. And I still am, though operating without the chills in my bones or the roaring ear infection - still "sleeping" sitting up to avoid choking but on the mend, I think.

What doesn't help is how angry being ill makes me - when I'm enfeebled and weak, I get very annoyed with myself and have long, pointless internal monologues along the lines of "...what do you mean you can't breathe through that nostril? That's fucking useless, that is... and so is that aching hip joint, it shouldn't be hurting, it has nothing to do with your cold! Pathetic! Why do you have to make so much mucus in your lungs and in your nose anyway? You don't need that much, and look what trouble it causes when you drop your guard and allow in a could you let your immune system get into such a state? Why weren't you taking better care of yourself - you knew there were people in the office with colds...etc etc" At least I managed to keep myself entertained as I lay, catatonic, under my blanket in front of the TV.

As I was ill and therefore incapable of anything else, I managed to watch three and a half films this weekend, two of them films I have been wanting to watch but never had time to until Disease offered me the opportunity: The Hours and Belleville Rendezvous, plus The Day After Tomorrow and half All the President's Men before I passed out and snored, fast asleep, through the rest of it.

The Hours is a tremendous film, very very very deep and subtle and has the added bonus of a Philip Glass score which binds together the three stories in the film very cohesively and comprehensively. The DVD had a very good interview with Glass who described the score as a character in the film who was present in every scene and contributed something without being seen to do it - and it's quite amazing how much his music adds to a film that could easily have split the three stories very distinctly and could well have unfolded as a chirpy, female-orientated Shortcuts or Magnolia. Instead, The Hours is fluid, bold and doesn't waste any time on charming the audience or trying to win our sympathy - these women are all trapped in their own unhappiness and seek ways to escape it, to be free of it on their own terms. Performances are strong and again, not seeking sympathy but cry out for empathy - and I loved this film, I felt like I was watching something very special, very true.

Belleville Rendezvous
was a refreshing jolly film to watch after the emotional wringer of The Hours and was delightful, witty, completely lovable without the knowing comedy of other animated films like Shrek and Toystory. I think that's what was so charming about it; there was barely any dialogue and no sarcasm or spite in it whatsoever. It wasn't as uplifting or breathtaking as Spirited Away but doesn't really warrant comparison with such a fantastical film; this was much more down to earth and besides, was very French and therefore a completely different kettle of fish. A good choice for a Sunday afternoon, I thought.

The Day After Tomorrow
was highly recommended by Mr Election Frenzy Taxloss and we watched it together, scoffing at all the bad science and gasping awe regardless at all the dramatic bad weather - and the weather is bad. A good diversion. Had to drape the blanket closer around me throughout.

So I watched films, finished reading Cold Comfort Farm (great book! Thanks Boatie Flatmate, I loved it! I can see why so many people have been recommending it to me for so long... like a female Evelyn Waugh writing Decline and Fall - fantastic fun...) had to buy more toilet roll for my nose, missed a Halloween party, guzzled Anadin, Lemsip, honey and lemon, oranges, pie, stew and Maltesers, crept around the flat surreptitiously sniffing bottles of hand cream and perfume and socks and jars of horseradish trying to gauge how much of my sense of smell I had recovered (none, after all that experimenting) and had The Beloved worryingly wipe my fevered brow a few times.

I was going to end this entry by saying emphatically that I really, really, really hate being ill. But having written up this quick summary on how my weekend with a cold has been... I don't think it would be entirely true to say so.

How have you been?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Every mile is two in winter. - George Herbert
This could explain why I'm feeling so very lethargic and lazy at the moment and all I really want to do is stay at home and rearrange my underwear drawer. It's with a rather unpleasant lurching sigh that I have to get myself out of bed these recent mornings. If only I could come to the office in a sleeping bag - I'm sure I would deal with all this much better.

Still, once I'm up and about and daylight has finally caught up with me, it's crisp and sharp and pretty out there and I've had a quite quiet week at work that hasn't spoilt it. I remember walking through Regents Park a few years ago at this time in the turn of the seasons, forcing myself to take another turn despite the inside of my nose threatening to fall out in icy blocks. I'm not sure why it was so important but I suspect I had just finished reading Wuthering Heights and was looking for some flat,open green and lonely spaces in which to mope and that was the closest I could find in central London. The way it felt, to be totally alone in the damp brown grounds with the wind and the silence is still with me today. I recommend a walk through a London park in the middle of winter to anyone (but be safe!) You only have to do it once and can dine out on it forever afterwards.

In other news: This is a response to the limecat. Citrus domestic animals seem to be all the rage at the moment.

Since my last burst of enthusiasm for getting out and about to see and do things, I haven't actually managed to get out and about to see and do things: I've been meeting friends who I haven't seen for a while and catching up over coffee and drinks, I've been falling asleep on my sofa wrapped up in a big blanket with Eastenders shouting out of the TV and I've been making lots of soup. (The pleasant Western type, not the scary Chinese type. No chickens' feet or seahorses or dried endangered fungi were harmed in the making of this broth.)

However, I did spend a Friday night basking in the wonderful music of the Regent Singers, a choir that Former Flatmate A has joined and heard for the first time Faure's Requiem sung in full. I felt extremely sophisticated and enlightened, spending my Friday night in a church hall relaxing to this delightful piece - it was soothing, uplifting, very moving. I could have been an emancipated female character from an E M Forster novel - I could do this more often...

On the subject of music, John Peel has died. I don't want to talk about it. What more can I say? We will miss him; he was important to so many of us. I hope, somehow, he knows that.

I'm off to my dance class tonight but in serious doubt about my enthusiasm for it. Small scary shouty Japanese teacher barking "one and two and one and two and no no no no! What is your problem? Again! Again!" and still not getting it right... ahh. The things I do for art.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

"Shut your filthy girl-gash."
People have often asked me, why do you keep a blog? Well, I like writing. I enjoy the space and spirit of blogging - uncensored, self-centred, highly subjective and a tool to express myself however I wish with no restrictions but those I exercise on myself. I'm aware The Avenue can often read like a whining teenage Livejournal "I don't like my job nobody understands I look at him and he doesn't know I'm alive and I just want to die I feel so fat I feel so ugly Dear Livejournal you're my only friend OMG MY HELLO KITTY BUBBLEGUM DISPENSER IS SOOO CUTE!!!!!1!!1!!" etc. but it suits me to whine here and allow those who follow my business the opportunity to scroll past all the tantrums and sulking. It's also comforting to know that the selected range of my friends and family abroad can share my news and get in touch and, as my recent reunion with Sir Humphrey proved, this blog is a useful tool to fill in the gaps when there's been a while since last contact.

Above all this, this blog has introduced me to some fabulous new people - Planet Halder, McReadie, Shem and others. The extraordinary things about blogging is: I've never met them. And yet I religously check their blogs each day or each time I'm online which means each day) and I notice if there hasn't been any update, I might worry a little, I pounce on the latest entries and I have an urge to comment and create dialogue because there is something that tickles my interest or maybe I just want to let them know I'm there. It's like any relationship we maintain - only this sort is conducted through what we put up on our blogs.

How can this sort of relationship between a bunch of people talking to each other through websites be at all satisfying or fulfilling? It just is - there's a very generous, open spirit in blogging; people share alot about themselves and spend a lot of time writing and posting their thoughts, opinions and experiences. When one blog encounters another and sparks fly, it's like any other relationship or bond - it's exhilarating, stimulating, inspirational. Sometimes just silly and amusing. Sometimes... just habit. You check the blog because you always do and you'd miss it if you didn't.

And sometimes, blogs and blogging can lead to some quite extraordinary events.

I met Monerz from Winnipeg yesterday who was taking a tour of London with Taxloss. I've never met her before and was only recently introduced to her blog via Shem (who I have never met, neither has Monerz) via Taxloss (who he has never met and who Monerz had never met before). And yet there we were, having lunch together, 5 minutes from my office, in central London.

It was too brief to make much of it but all the best to you Monerz)! And the rest of you - keep writing! Keep reading! When are you next in town?

Gosh. Who else is feeling all warm and fuzzy?

"I have lost friends, some by death, others through sheer inability to cross the street.
- Virginia Woolf

"A friend is a present you give yourself."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Jim Hacker: "You know, your trouble is that you're more concerned with means than ends."
Sir Humphrey: "There are no ends in administration, Minister, except loose ends. Administration is eternal."
Bernard Woolley: "Forever and ever..."
Bernard & Sir Humphrey: "...amen."
Had an extremely good evening with Sir Humphrey earlier on in the week, catching up with each other after four years (four years!) of no communication – despite working and living not very far from each other for the last two and a half. I lovingly introduced him to My Favourite Place to Take People for Food and Drinks, the ICA, and am now awaiting an introduction to Sir Humphrey’s Favourite Place to Take People for Food and Drinks: the game is on!

Four years – and of all things, I’d forgotten how tall he is. We spotted one another in the doorway and as we walked towards each other, I felt my neck craning further and further back as we neared. Question: did he remember how short I am?

In our breathless, tireless, unflagging conversation that night, amongst all the other millions of things we talked about, we tried to recall all the plays and films and talks and events we had been to together at university but clearly all the alcohol and 17th century history and literature had too profound an effect on us during that time and we only managed to recall one play and one talk (which we identified as the talk where it all started). I’m frankly horrified that either a) our memories are so bad or worse - b) we didn’t actually manage to go out and do cultural, enlightening, intellectual things despite all my fond, possibly false, memories of going to the theatre and sitting around talking loudly about the artistic merits of Brechtian Alienation devices in a devised show about getting drunk on Benilyn cough syrup and accidentally sleeping with your own brother.

We clearly must make up for lost time. I’m going to spend my lunch hour tearing pages out of the film, theatre and visual arts section of Time Out. Brace yourselves: I’m feeling one of my Must Do and See Things and Drag Everyone Else Along With Me moods approaching. Duck and cover, boys and girls.

I’ve been in an extremely good mood since Monday night, feeling in generally high spirits with good news on the job front from Boatie Flatmate and good news from our very own Provincial Princess that has only added to my happiness. However, all silver linings are accompanied by clouds and I have just cocked up a whole morning’s worth of training and possibly pissed off three paying people, all the while trying to keep the understaffed office on its feet; also Taxloss is away from this evening until the weekend but I will do my best not to pine for The Beloved or at least, not whine about it here on the blog.

Sir Humphrey: It takes two to quango, Minister.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. - W B Yeats
Your mind is not a dish that can only hold so much information; it is a sponge that can soak up infinite wisdom - My mother
This week, I have been to Birmingham and back, looking after a group of trainees over two days. It was more fun that I thought it would be - I certainly didn't expect to spend the evening racing around the city centre in an illegally overcrowded car, screeching along to Belinda Carlisle and Roxette at the top of my voice while laughing and pointing at the B'ham uni Freshers lurch about on their evil pub crawl. Nor did I think for one minute that I would enjoy the training so much - I was sent to Birmingham to chaperone a group of trainees and attend the accountancy course myself! But it was great! I want to be an accountant! I do! I do!

Seriously, I think I might have it in me to become a number-cruncher. It's genuine brain-work, very mentally challenging and satisfying stuff. I'm heavily influenced by the film / book Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry, but I'd quite happily draw up cashflow forecasts and maintain accruals accounting without the vigilante social justice.

Aside from my own professional development, Planet Halder has gotten me thinking (as usual) on two things: the films of Wong Kar Wai and silver surfers. Both our parents use the internet without a great deal of fuss and going online seems to have become a normal, unremarkable part of their lives. My mother makes full use of her wireless laptop and listens to Hong Kong radio streamed live in the kitchen then reads the news in Chinese in the living room and browses for celebrity gossip in her bedroom. It never ceases to amaze me how adaptable my parents are and how resourceful they can be: they grasped pretty quickly that the internet is a valuable source of real-time information available to them in the Chinese they understand best. They're not dependent on it but it's certainly made keeping up with the news and the things they are interested in much easier, much more convenient. I wonder how much this adaptability is due to my parents immigrant experience but that kind of question could keep me up all night should I ask it, so I won't. Still, I think it's significant that both Planet Halder's folks and my own have had similar experiences of immigration and growing old in this country and curoiusly, coincidentally, both seem to have picked up on using the internet in their later years... more exploration of this needed, I think.

While on the subject of my parents, who are never far from this blog in one way or another, I'm extremely pleased the Planet Halder alerted me to the Wong Kar-Wai season at the NFT. He's an amazing film-maker and I've enjoyed all his films - don't go expecting the John Woo ballet-with-guns and breath-taking explosions and stunts sort of film Hong Kong cinema is normally associated with. Oh no. Kar-Wai's films are much more European and subtle than that; celluloid pieces of moods and atmosphere, often in beautiful recreations of Hong Kong in the 60s, when the men wore Brylcreem in their hair and neat dark suits on their narrow shoulders and the women wore brightly printed cheongsams and teased their hair into beehives. My parents met in this decade and we watched In the Mood for Love together one evening and spent the whole film sighing over the rich and wonderful detail in Kar-Wai put into it. The rain. The food. The set. The city. The clothes. The mood. The atmosphere. Go and see what you can. If you're not moved by even one frame of these beautiful films, there's something wrong with you and I want you to stop reading this blog and go and get help.

And speaking of getting help, I think everyone who was involved in the travesty that is Inside I'm Dancing needs medical or psychiatric help. The title of this film alone offends me - then I found out what this wretched piece of shite is about! And the cast aren't even disabled themselves - they're just pretending! Damn waste of time and money. Why not just fill a few buckets with vomit and let the audience tip it all over themselves? Ugh. I feel cheap and manipulated just writing about it.

What's made YOU angry this week?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

"Finally met a deadline" - epitaph for Taxloss in his Fantasy Funeral Questionnaire
I am charmed and morbidly tickled by the latest survey on The Beloved's blog and far too lazy to pick it up and adapt it here on mine, so I've cut and pasted it direct. Comments and contributions welcome, extra points for anyone who works in an excellent pun...

Taxloss:"Since I'm musing over the subject [of obituaries in the light of this], let's play the epitaph game. What would you like your epitaph/obit/final wishes/disposal of body to be? You can choose as many as you like, and remember this is an after-dinner game, so points go to clever or funny, not touching or sombre."

For me -

Epitaph: Exit, stage left (death date).

Funeral song: Je ne regrette rien, sung by an appropriately mascara-smeared aging chanteuse swigging from a half-empty bottle of gin. And I'd like half a dozen distraught floppy-haired schoolboys to attend, clutching their anguished, incoherent collections of poems about me as they burn with repressed and unrequited love for me (or one another, either way is fine).

Disposal of remains: cremated please, then I'd like my ashes to be kept at the back of the fridge in a neat little tupperware box. Because even in death, I still like to keep things microwave / dishwasher safe.

Friday, October 01, 2004

"Chassé, chassé, then first position... demi-plie, arms in second... and prepare...and...jette! Jette! Left, right, left! No! No! No! Stop! Hidoi! Osoroshii! Again, you go again..."
I've started dance classes again, still doing contemporary and still at intermediate level though it's been four months since I left the Laban centre and it really shows. I spent most of last night staggering around a very crowded studio in The Place, scared out of my wits by how much I had forgotten, and also by the tiny, scary, shouty Japanese teacher who was making us all work very hard, not only at our dance steps but also at our language skills. She has an extremely strong Japanese accent and refers to all the ballet moves in their original French which makes following her very difficult in all approaches. It was fun but now my bottom hurts. And my arms. And my legs. And my back. And... well, it could have been worse; the pilates I did over the summer mercifully minimised the pain and at least I can walk today, which I don't intend to do much of, actually.

I'm not at work today, and somehow ended up at Paddington Basin where I did a tour of the new bridges put up there. I was excitedly trying to convince my mother in my totally inappropriate and inaccurate Cantonese that the Heatherwick bridge could lift up and curl in on itself, when we realised there were lots of students gathered around it, all armed with cameras. Two men in suits and reflective jackets appeared and started to fiddle with a control box nearby - and suddenly, the thing started to rise and indeed, curl in on itself. A magnificent sight and truly beautiful, moving so quietly and gently, you can't be quite sure you're not imagining it.

The Paddington Basin development is wonderful - so central and so nice to have all that water and open space. I've decided that if Fizzwhizz is a Provincial Princess, I'm going to be an Urban Duchess. I don't want a castle or a Prince Charming on a white horse - I want a loft-style, open-plan riverside development apartment (with mezzanine level bedrooms) and a free-lance journalist husband who specialises in writing about our favourite city. Ahhh. And I want a kitten too. And some new shoes.

What else could I write here? Not a great deal to report on the domestic front and Taxloss, Sanctified Heresy and McReadie cover politics amply for all of us, Planet Halder and Prandial (see his Florentine doorbell Flicktion for more proof) are artistic and cultural enough for me to put my feet up and watch Eastenders and you know what? I've got the rest of the afternoon off and I'm going to take a nap.

Reading: Modern Fairy Tales (including the Coraline-inspiring The New Mother - "... sometimes a blinding flash comes through the window, and they know it is the light from the new mother's glass eyes, or they hear a strange muffled noise, and they know it is the sound of her wooden tail as she drags it along the floor."), The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Private Eye
Eating: full English breakfast at 10pm on a weeknight, the last quarter of the comedy marrow
Playing: Monopoly at the ICA. I completely and utterly won that game. I was kind enough to ask Taxloss to look away as I did my victory lap around the bar. I had Mayfair and Park Lane and ALL the railway stations within the first half hour. I think it's fair to say I won. I won, I won, I won, I won! Muahahahaahahahah!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

"So, where's the Cannes Film Festival being held this year?" - Christina Aguilera

Looking for a film to watch this weekend, I found this site - not only a fantastic resource for independent cinema in London but also great for the "What actor would this cinema be?" schtick. Now, to expand this gimmick further, what sort of cinema would you be?

Me: Brixton Ritzy. Watch with Baby mornings, live events in the bar, obscure and weird foreign films in between showings of Harry Potter 1, 2 and 3 and Shrek, big sofas in the café, organic carrot cake made by the cinema owner’s mum and a terrace overlooking the crack-fields of Brixton. Definitely.

Taxloss: ICA cinema (what else?)

Fizzwhizz: the film tent in Glastonbury that has been showing the same 12 minute loop of Withnail and I for the last 6 hours and all 9 people still there sprawled on hand-knitted beanbags haven’t noticed

Prandial: Curzon Soho cinema hosting a New Wave Spanish Film Festival with VJs and a “Test Your Stand Up Comedy Routine in Spanish” open-mic event in the bar afterwards

Devukha: Cine Lumiere, toujours, oui?

Planet Halder: open air screening of classic black and white silent movie projected onto the side of a Thames-side monolithic building with a specially devised score performed live by Asian Dub Foundation

McReadie: "Cinema? Fuck off, I’m watching the Alias triple bill on Channel 5."

Former Flatmate A: big swirly projections on the back wall of a sweaty Brighton club in the early hours of a Sunday morning that go round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and oh dear I think I’ve fallen over. Again.

Former Flatmate B: Lactose House Lecture Theatre Cinema 1 – The Thyroid Series: Episode 1 – Attack of the Hormones, Episode 2 – Fellowship of the Neurosurgeons, Episode 3 – Return of the Hot Flushes

My Bro: Prince Charles Cinema – 48 Hour Manga Marathon: How Much More Weird Shit Can You Take?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

"Stands the church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?"
"Yes dear, and brains too."
It’s Saturday night (or for the pedants, very early on Sunday morning) and I’ve enjoyed an evening of zombies, mussels and knowing burlesque topped off with a brief reading of Poppy Z Brite’s more lilac-hued American Gothic pretty-boy vampire horror, helpfully recommended by Taxloss as "like reading a homosexual necrophiliac Brideshead Revisited." As you can imagine, I fell on the proffered book like one of the slavering vampires its pages contain – he knows me so well.

We finally watched Shaun of the Dead and laughed our pants off - Spaced series one and two on DVD has to be my favourite ever Christmas present from the beloved and I have watched those two discs over and over and over and over again. And Shaun of the Dead is like watching an extra-long episode of this top-quality comedy series – with extra zombies! Fabulous. Especially the Paul McCartney and John Lennon outtake and the flipchart version of the film…

Knowing burlesque was an unexpected bonus of my visit to the Thames festival with my parents in the early evening. We missed the Akita Kanto due to rain but then we caught the first three (and best) acts of Lost Vagueness - I missed their big weekend event in Brighton despite Former Flatmate A’s best efforts to take me along when she went a few weeks ago, and was so excited to see this naughty bunch do their stuff right next to the London Eye…

Father was slightly dubious about being out in the cold and damp, and didn’t seem particularly impressed with the drag act MC who cracked jokes like "I used to be a music hall star… I sang songs like ‘My Lovely Thrush and Me’… I mix-up my old songs with more modern sounds now, I throw in a bit of hip hop and breakbeat… Maud Evans from the retirement home does the decks for me… she’s got Parkinson’s, she’s great at spinning the discs…" Then the can-can dancers came on and Father was surprisingly more focussed on the event, even making sure we all stood closer to the front...

The slightly ropey can-can dancers (one pair managed to completely fail the handstands with legs opening and closing bit but 6 out of 8 sets of crotches flashing in and out of view isn’t bad) was followed by a wonderful Marilyn Monroe in resplendent Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend outfit; she sang that well-known song and then launched into an amusing ukele ska version of Blondie’s The Tide is High with a selected loon from the audience providing the dancing with no trousers on.

A long tour of the rest of the festival was great with lots to see but cold and worryingly dark as the lights seemed to have short-circuited along the Gabriel’s Wharf stretch of the river – sort it out Ken! Nonetheless, I went home happy and slightly hyperactive, just like in the good old GLC days when this sort of riverside festival was a fixture in our summer holidays. A night carnival finishes things off tomorrow with what promises to be big fuck-off fireworks – yes, I will be there with bells on.

Great stuff. How was your weekend?
"It’s all crispy in my tits."
It’s good to know The Actor is keeping herself amused in between performing Shakespeare and her more contemporary stage roles – welcome to the blog and how good to be back in touch! Yes, it’s good to be back in touch with so many people I’ve wanted to speak to and know all about and hang out with since graduation so cruelly broke us apart and scattered us to different parts of the country with sadly more responsible and sensible adult lives. All thanks to Former Flatmate A and her Incredible 25th Brighton Birthday Bash - wow, what a gathering of people: I think it’s been far too long since we were all in the same place at the same time having a ball. In fact, the last time we were all together like that was probably at a ball – a post-exams May Ball (yeah, yeah Prandial, you can stop sneering now).

It all started with drinks in a play-your-own-CDs bar then dancing and being cool in a jazz-club that was appropriately low-ceilinged, funk-drenched and sweaty. The band was extremely good and we all had a good time including our friend who danced barefoot on broken glass and especially the birthday girl who was amazing in her hotpants and cheerleader pom-poms. I hope both items made it safely home…

Fond but slightly blurred memories of the weekend: Giggling in the back of a cab as we circled round looking for the right house and eventually being flagged down by the birthday girl high kicking in her hotpants on the front doorstep. We didn’t need to pay the driver a tip.

Eating pizzas in the kitchen and letting the parrot mock us from under her covered cage, our ears still ringing from all the very loud music.

Passing out on the sofa after an hysterically lengthy struggle to get into the sleeping bag.

Sitting around the kitchen table the next morning with all the Sunday papers with the whole lot of us settling into our fried breakfasts and hangovers.

Hopping off the train at Victoria and doing sensible Sunday shopping with Taxloss, returning to Earth slowly over lime sodas and the Observer.

Wah. I didn’t want it to end, but it did. We’ll just have to do it again…

In other news, I've been avidly watching CSI series one on DVD and I need help. Well, really I need series two. I can't get enough of it. We all mock Channel Five for its rubbish content but in between the sensationalist tits and Hitler programmes, there's gems like CSI - and World's Wildest Police Videos. Such shameless TV. Sigh.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

"Temper... rising...fury...mounting..."

Taxloss: What's wrong with you? What are you watching?
Me: (Through gritted teeth) It's this godawful review show, they're talking about this shitty new Spielberg film, The Terminal. Why, WHY is he making a gentle rom-com out of what is a truly awful situation a real man once found himself in - there are issues about asylum-seeking, the US attidtude towards refugees, the useless, frustrating bureaucracy displaced people face - and he casts Tom fucking Hanks who is more American than... America to put on a stupid, patronising, embarassing "foreign" accent and makes him get his leg over with Catherine Zeta Jones! An American air stewardess! Who isn't actually American! Grrrrr!
Taxloss: Calm down!
Me: I can't! I'm so angry! I'm going to turn green and all my clothes will fall off!
Taxloss: (incredulous stare, baffled silence)
Me: You know. Like the Hulk.

I was making a chick pea and spinach stew. I asked future husband to taste it and he clumsily dropped two chick peas onto the living room carpet, where they rolled off. We found one, but the other proved more elusive.

Taxloss: I can't see it.
Me: [bemused at the state of affairs]You know, we're looking for a chick pea.
Taxloss:[faux-panicked] I CAN'T FIND A PULSE!

Some bits of conversation from the living room and kitchen, just because.
"I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity.

Nor had I time to love, but since
Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me."
Emily Dickinson, I Had No Time to Hate Because

Busy busy busy but in a good way and anyway too busy to grumble - and too busy to write here, but here I am on a Saturday afternoon, still in my dressing gown, perched on the sofa, idling and enjoying the idling I've missed sorely in the last two weeks...
- 5.15am: out of bed
- 7.15am: on train to Coventry
- 8.30am: in cab to Warwick university, stuck in the school run
- 9.00am: training course starts
- 4.00pm: training course finishes
- 4.30pm: on coach to Birmingham
- 6.00pm: launch party at Birmingham Rep, receiving guests with my clipboard, name badges, glass of wine and a cigarette
- 8.30pm: leave Birmingham Rep, feeling slightly wobbly
- 8.45pm: shakily demand Virgin trains changes my ticket from 10pm to 9pm; they refuse me politely
- 9.05pm: stagger around WH Smith
- 9.25pm: go to platform and wait
- 9.35pm: still waiting
- 9.45pm: still waiting
- 9.51pm: realise I'm on the wrong platform
- 9.55pm: can't find right platform. Panic
- 9.57pm: on right platform, breathless, told train is delayed
- 10.05pm: board train.
- 12.25am: look for taxi. Can't find taxi.
- 12.35am: finally get in taxi
- 12.44am: realise taxi is going in completely the wrong direction
- 12.47am: stop taxi, prepare to cry, order driver to turn around and fret about the fare. Taxi driver decidedly unimpressed, unapologetic and unswerving in expecting the full fare. Argue vaguely against this
- 12.52am: pull up to my door with Taxloss waiting patiently with extra cash. Taxi driver surprisingly nicer to me once he spots our rather nice street and the faithful fiance at the door. Leap out of cab into his arms

Quite eventful, really. And how interesting to finally see Warwick University, one of my choices for my degree; an odd place, a cross between a business park, council estate and extended lecture block with bonus Arts Centre. I wonder what kind of student I would have been if I had studied there? Any thoughts, Prandial?

Off to celebrate Former Flatmate A's 25th birthday in Brighton (cripes, another train journey!) - time to wipe clean the crinoline and brush off the fez if I want to be the star of the dance floor. Now where did I put my lucky cravat?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage which we did not take, towards the door we never opened Into the rose-garden. - T. S. Eliot
Remembrances, for no other reason than having had a quiet week to reflect and indulge in warm and fuzzy thoughts.

- During lunch during my holiday week, my brother, mother and father were recalling the mornings in their flat in NW London when my big sister and brother were very small children, looking out of the window with mother at a perfect view of the train station, waving to father who would be standing on the platform, waiting for his train to work, waving back in silhouette...

- Reading The Wasteland in the hot, red, dusty hills in Crete the summer before I was due to start my degree at Cambridge, and feeling like I was entering a whole new world

- Waking up in the middle of the night in my old bedroom in Brixton, realising with a sinking heart that I had woken again because I was shaking so badly in my sleep from the cold; it was a miserable winter in a room that was impossible to heat up and I would sit at my computer trying to type, feeling my frozen fingers creak and crawl across the keys

- coming back from University for the Easter break in my first year, desperate to see my family and sleep in my own bed again and being greeted by my father who said he had a present for me and I went apprehensively to the dining table where he said he had left it, expecting perhaps an unfortunate jumper with a puppy embroidered on the front or - I dunno, a good Chinese boy village-stock husband, and instead finding two bottle sof vodka and a small pot of caviar

- lying on top of the hill in Cambridge with my head on Former Flatmate A's tummy whose head was resting on M.W's tummy whose head was resting on Taxloss' tummy whose head was resting on mine, the four of us staring up at a crazy full yellow moon that was lilting as drunkenly in the sky as we were on the ground

I could go on. But instead, I invite you to add a nice remembrance in the comments below.

In other news, I have finally purchased: Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde, fourth book in his hugely enjoyable Thursday Next series. In the run up to the release of this fourth book, I've re-read the previous three in double-quick time and am galloping through most delightfully. Huzzah!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Boatie Flatmate, with his mouth full: "Plums on toast must be a euphemism for something else..."
It's the end of my holiday and I will be returning to work tomorrow morning which fills me with no end of sadness because it's been a really swell time. I have...
- run a workshop for on Edward Bond's Saved, using mainly Brechtian alienation techniques to great effect
- seen Metropolis on the flytower of the National Theatre, sitting in a deckchair with friends and fellow film lovers around me; I experienced the most hilarious toilet break so far, running through the deserted National Theatre with Fizzwhizz, pretending to be distressed silent movie stars being pursued by our overflowing bladders
- seen the third Harry Potter film (finally!) and thought it was fantastic and more than made up for the tooth-grindingly twee shite films that came before; I actually believed I was watching a film about teenagers, who were cocky and obnoxious and fun-loving rather the self-righteous, humourless little pricks that the first director decided would be Harry, Ron and Hermione
- been around the British Museum
- visited the Royal Court and met up with various people I used to work with
- had lunch with my parents and Taxloss' parents: the parents were meeting for the first time and things went very well
- enjoyed some thrilling salsa music at the National Theatre which was played by such an energetic and infectiously groovy band, myself and PostGrad N were treated to the most magnificent sight of a sea of people dancing: old, young, mental, babies... a brilliant sight to a fantastic sound
- done some great cooking
- watched table tennis with overexcited glee, squealing with joy whenever the Olympics coverage swung round to this most excellent sport

I don't want this holiday to end. But *sigh* looking at the time, it already has.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"Chinese. All of this. Definitely."
After kicking Taxloss out of bed and sending him off on his long long loooooooong journey to work, I curled up in bed with a graphic novel and the latest P J Harvey album. (Yeah, that really is my idea of fun.) Thanks to my bro for lending me the book. God, I love being on holiday. Of course, it couldn't last forever: I had to eventually get out of bed to have a lunch of pancakes and waffles with my folks which gave us all a great deal of calories to burn off which we did by taking a very long turn around the British Museum.

Dad: You see those totem poles? The Chinese taught the Native Americans how to do that.
Me: Really.
Dad: The Chinese were in America first. It was the Chinese who taught the Native Americans this sort of thing. Then we left the US and destroyed all traces of what we did there because we had our own civilisation already and it was just something the explorers wanted to give to the people they met there and then the Europeans found America and that was that.
Me: Dad - I don't think that's what happened.
Dad: No, no, that's what happened, but there's no evidence because the Chinese were too clever to be traced as the people who gave civilisation to America. We destroyed anything that would give us away, that's why it seems like we were never there.
Me: Dad... let's go look at the Egyptian stuff.
Dad: Hmmm. None of this is as good as what the Chinese did.
Me: (Pause while I consider pointing out the pyramids are quite impressive)
Dad: They didn't really do anything special did they?
Me: (Pause while I consider pointing out the pyramids are quite impressive, standing next to a display of breath-taking sarcophagi in a room full of tablets engraved with intricate hieroglyphics)
Dad: Look, these vases are all rough and half-finished compared to the stuff we saw downstairs.
Mum: (Loudly) Shall we go home now?

We got caught in the most dramatic burst of heavy summer rain... EVER!(tm) when we left which meant I was too wet and miserable to spend any time at the Roma Festival in Trafalgar Square - a shame, as it looked like cracking good fun from the top of the bus when I went by but never mind: plenty more free events to attend in the next few weeks...

...including the final free open air screening at the National Theatre this Saturday: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari - who's coming? Myself, Fizzwhiz, Taxloss, Devukha and (briefly) Prandial had an unofficial blog meet-up at the last screening which was Metropolis (which was brilliant) and we are now well-practised in the way of these things so get in touch...

In other news, we are now file-sharing across our mini-home wirelss network and have been sitting in the living room with our laptops, swapping ridiculous and nonsensical mp3s of, amongst other things

- a female choir's version of I Touch Myself
- classic Abba songs sung in Hindi
- ragtime Eminem
- a Norwegian choral version of Nirvana's Nevermind

We love the internet. Oh yes we do.

Friday, August 13, 2004

"Let not the bad colour be seen; it attracts them."
I've just watched the trailer for The Village and I'm all alone in the office (hence my viewing of movie trailers at my desk...), the sky is clouding over out there and I AM SCARED. Goddammit - what I saw of it looks like The Blair Witch Project crossed with The Crucible (NOT the pissy Winona Ryder film version but the stage version with all its ghastly, deadly, small-village-in-the-middle-of-nowhere paranoia), a dead-cert recipe to make me scream out loud and cry like a girl. And it's directed by Shyamalan! I wonder if he will try to cameo in this... can't picture it really.

There are footsteps out in the corridor. It's either the line manager returning with a sandwich... or THEM.

Either way, I'm off to hide under my desk.

By the way, did you know I am Mother Teresa...?

Monday, August 09, 2004

"Life out of balance."
Yet another weekend spent wandering around London in the sunshine and enjoying all the fabulous free events on offer at the moment, in particular, an absolutely breath-taking showing of Koyaanisqatsi at the National Theatre. This could be the most extraordinary film experience I've had so far: the top terrace was absolutely packed with people who had camped from early on, hogging the rows of National Theatre deckchairs with strategically placed jumpers and bags, gazing in awe at the projected image on the enormous Lyttelton flytower. The queue for the bar was phenomenally long and slow. The middle terrace was a much smaller place and was even more crowded with people staring in awe at a considerably smaller screen and on ground level, it was quite a sight to see so many people lounging on the astroturf, on cushions, on plastic bags, on each other, all crammed together to watch this amazing film on a hot summer's night.

And guess what is showing next weekend? Metropolis. We've learned our lesson now and will be going super-early to bag some seats - who is coming? Let us know and we'll bring extra plastic cups and a corkscrew...

In other news, I mentioned the strange thing I had about waking up with first light no matter what which was robbing me of a decent, unbroken night's sleep... well, with the heat and humidity at the moment, I can't seem to stop sleeping - I think I've been genetically warped and become a cat because every time I go near a sun beam, I just curl up and fall asleep. It's not as cute as it sounds: do you know how cats keep themselves clean?

Friday, August 06, 2004

"I could have saved more.This tiepin... this diamond... I could have saved two more people... this car... five more... I could have saved more... why didn't I?"

I was very touched by this and not a little surprised - I thought I might be Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? or something of that "faded filmstar" bitchfest ilk. Or maybe Toystory. But no! I turned out to be Schindler's List, this top-quality, meaningful film and quite like the implication that I am far more compassionate than Bette Davis in her "without HRT!" performance in scary little-girl ringlets and pancake makeup, being mad and bad in a way only she knows how. Though I'm sure if I took this test at some other time during the month, Baby Jane would come up with bells on.

I LOVE these tests (mostly on a quiet Friday afternoon, I've noticed.)

Sunday, August 01, 2004

"I love this city!"
Now this is what makes a perfect sunny summer Sunday in the city...

We didn't know what was going on out there when we set out to do some shopping but we wandered along, enjoying the sun and the quiet streets and discovered Trafalgar Square filled with steelbands playing in the sunlight, the closest band bursting into a cracking version of Abba's Dancing Queen just as we approached. A bunch of skinny white girls started dancing in the space in front of the band and there was a distinct lack of interest from the slightly more substantial looking black girls going for it on the drums who would no doubt have been more impressed if a crowd of big-hipped proper dancehall queens had come by to shake their thang.

On our return trip, they kind of got their wish: we saw the truly joyous sight of an aged Indian lady in a fabulous red and gold sari dancing solo in the sunlight, throwing some seriously cool traditional Indian dance moves to the uplifting Caribbean beat...

And we went shopping in Chinatown which was strangely empty for a Sunday afternoon and sniffed at durians and marvelled at the silkworm cocoon-like Dragon's Beard sweets then strolled back through St James Park and saw the pelicans, the squirrels and the ducks. The City of Bristol Brass Band was playing sedately to a mainly stationary audience of old people in deckchairs and the contrast to the foot-tapping, arse-wiggling beats of Trafalgar Square made us smile. An ice-cream and a quick trip around the ICA bookshop completed the day.

Ken Livingstone: I salute you! We saw London today at its marvellous, mad and magical best.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

"Whatever happened to the teenage dreeeeam?"
I'm currently idling away a sunny Saturday afternoon by sitting in my dark basement bedroom, mucking about online and listening to the best of Marc Bolan and T-Rex. What a top album, though I can't listen to it that often because it always makes me feel like I've not taken enough drugs in my youth. The Secret History by Donna Tartt has a similar effect and always makes me feel like I wasn't drug-addled, eccentric or snobby enough at university (though considering where I got my degree, I'm sure I did quite well just by being there) and reading too much Neil Gaiman (which I do more often than is good for me) makes me long for the days when I was a borderline Goth and I get all broody thinking of just how far I could have gone down that path of black lipstick and vampire conventions. *sigh*

Other things that have had a major influence on my lifestyle (sometimes embarrassingly):
Brideshead Revisited (book and TV adaptation)
Any Merchant Ivory film adaptation of E M Forster novels (the books less so)
the soundrack to the film Bend It Like Beckham (but not the film, I hastent o add)
Dorothy Parker - poems and short stories
the seemingly infinite store of slash fanfiction available online
blogs and bloggers
the Anne of Green Gables nine-book series (especially influential - disastrously - on ideas of dress-making and housekeeping)
Royal Court Theatre
physical theatre company Frantic Assembly
Nick Marber - the Food Doctor

Hmmm. And you?

Edited to add: one of the greatest influences on my lifestyle so far has got to be Taxloss who introduced me to the joys of loafing about and doing as little as possible and enjoying it. I've said it before about my luxurious loafing about: I learned from the best!

Now - who's turn is it to take out the rubbish?

Thursday, July 22, 2004

"I was here four nights a week, I'd come straight down for drinks, or my writing workshop and then drinks after, and stay here until they kicked me out. I moved from my parents' place to my flatshare halfway through that time and once forgot where I lived when I got on the Tube..."
Ah. The memories. I always get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I visit the Royal Court theatre, usually because I bump into handfuls of people I've worked with before and it's always good to see them... and they remember me which makes the whole experience nicer than I expect... I'm in desperate need of friends and memories and experiences of my recent past, to see me through a really awful time at work at the moment and cripes, was it a good choice to get out and about this particular week.

I went to see the latest play, Shining City by Conor McPherson - he wrote The Weir and on the strength of that play, I had no hesitation booking tickets and my visit turned out to be extremely well-timed. The Box Office staff recognised me and were incredibly nice in our brief chat; there was a Donors and Benefactors evening which meant the Development Team were hanging around to greet and meet and I said hello and was extremely pleased when they remembered me and the time I spent with them on work placement; a friend from my post-grad course was there with his fiancee and we compared engagement rings... then today, I got a heads-up on some vacancies going at the theatre and will, once I've read more carefully what it's going to involve, get cracking on an application.
And on top of all that, it was an excellent play. It has an ending that electrified me in the final five seconds more than all that I've seen in the last three months put together.
I also ran an event at the Lyric, Hammersmith earlier this week and had a very welcome flashback to the times I spent there on summerschool-type schemes, giving the cafe staff a really tough time and conning the bar staff into letting me get drunk while seriously underage, all the time nursing injuries from falling on the dance floor the wrong way, yet again.
It's been a curious time of renewing friendships, some intentionally and some completely unexpectedly  - the Refugee Arts Initiative will be launched next week and I'm gagging to go to the big bash, to catch up with my colleague of the Office of Doom who has been key to pulling together the organisation, and then out of nowhere, a friend from years and years and years ago stopped me while I was slobbing around the local supermarket and we caught up while going around the aisles, gossiping and talking ferociously like a pair of old biddies.
I've got the taste for it now: everyone passing by this site, do drop a line in the comments section below and add yourself to the list of folks getting in touch, in this week when I need lots of folk getting in touch!
In other news, I've been waking up, without any discernible reason, at first light every fricking night for the last few weeks: even if I've struggled to fall asleep right up until the sky starts to lighten, I'm awake at four or five AM. If I've had good sleep up until then, I can generally resume the same quality of sleep quite easily and it makes no difference to me but if I've had a bad time getting sleep anyway, that first light thing kills dead any hope of sleep and rest, comletely.
Does this happen to anyone else? Or do I just seem to have more peasant genes than most people and am biologically programmed to be up at first light to dig up my day's ration of turnips?

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

"Silly Caucasian girl likes to play with Samurai swords."
According to this quiz, I am O-Ren Ishii.

Was there ever any doubt?

Sunday, July 11, 2004

"... cough ... cough ..."
First of all, thanks to all the ideas for my London citybreak: I shall come up with an itinerary soon and seek further approval and suggestions from you all. I've been lounging around the flat, coughing and blowing my nose in disgusting foghorn fashion, as I am concurrently getting over a cold and recovering from an excessive Friday and Saturday night.

Last night I revisited Hammersmith, location of the Office of Doomand had a cracking night out with university friends who came out in force to celebrate mine and Taxloss' engagement. Most of London seems to be refurbishing at the moment which is a little annoying but we still had a good time bar hopping and then having dinner at the heartily recommended Hammersmith cafe (greasy spoon diner by day, BYOB Thai restaurant by night - an amazing place, truly). I feel as though I have conveniently gotten this part of West London out of my system and can focus on other, less familiar parts of London for my holiday.

Is there any thing in Hackney worth seeing? Or should I really not bother with that borough at all? Brick Lane and Stepney Green for the Genesis cinema is on the list but that's all for the eastside unless anyone can convince me differently...

And hey! Look at me! I'm writing this blogpost via wireless broadband! And curiously, the signal strength, like my mobile phone, keeps changing whenever I lean even a fraction of an inch forward in my chair. I'm currently typing this with my arms stretched fully in front of me as I don't want to fuck up my connection. Despite the cramp settling into my shoulders, it's worth it: Boatie Flatmate is currently watching The World's Wildest Police Videos with Taxloss next door and simultaneously commenting on the previous post, Taxloss is downloading something right now... and all without a single wire to trip us up around the flat. Bliss.

By the way, is it ridiculous for a 24 year old avid anti-exercise, "all my previous experience is in beginners' contemporary dance and the slightly less pretentious end of physical theatre" full-time office worker to learn classical ballet? Am I just asking for endless mockery if I invest in a tutu and tights in the next few weeks? And is it okay to smoke at the barre?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

"A healthy body is the guest-chamber of the soul; a sick, its prison" -Francis Bacon
Soooo... after all the excitement of the Summer Event, things are seemingly back to normal. However, due to the excessive rain, wind and running around we all had to do on the day and in the weeks leading up to it, the office has become a doctor's waiting room, with all of us hacking, coughing and falling over. A lot. I held out against the Office Illness longer than most but it's nothing to be proud of as everyone who succumbed before me has taken time off and I am left to sit sniffling, guzzling paracetamol as The One Who Got Left To Man The Desks Because There Is No One Else To Do It, Despite Being Very Ill Myself. Grrr. I'd rant more about the injustices of the situation but I just don't have the energy. Tea and sympathy to the usual place please.

Still, it's good to be able to move on from the most ambitious and weather-beaten event the organisation has ever attempted and I am looking forward to some time off... I'm planning a week's city break, touring and hanging around and generally enjoying a place I have also wanted to go to for a holiday... London.


1) I need to go somewhere I don't have to pay for accommodation
2) I need to go somewhere that doesn't cost a great deal to get to or travel around
3) I want to go somewhere cosmopolitan, with nightlife and great places to eat out, hang around, markets and museums

If I choose London for my week's city break:

1) I've already paid up for accommodation and therefore am not actually paying extra for shelter for that week
2)I've got a travelcard already, so as above, I'm not actually paying surplus funds towards getting around the place
3) London is an amazing city and I want to see it as other wide-eyed, enthusiastic out-of-towners see it, rathe than through the jaded and cynical eyes of one who has grown-up, lived and worked here

I'm booking a week off this afternoon. Any recommendations for what to see and / or do (especially the more off-beat stuff), drop in the comments box below - I'm very grateful! Remember - I've already been on the London Eye...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

"A woman is like a tea bag--only in hot water do you realize how strong she is." - Nancy Reagan (The Observer, 1981)
Good thing that has happened since I last updated this blog: I had tea with Mother and Grandma Taxloss and had a happy afternoon eating homemade chocolate cake and discussing the wedding with these two lovely ladies.

Bad thing that has happened since I last updated this blog: On the same evening I went home and fiddled about with my broadband connection and managed to totally screw my computer. It took my bro most of the next day to sort it out while I sat around the flat in a foul temper. Thanks bro - look! I'm updating my blog! You're a genius - you fixed it!

Good thing that has happened since I last updated this blog: My wireless broadband kit has arrived!

Bad thing that has happened since I last updated this blog: My life has been taken over by this. I'm looking forward to it, but believe me, it has been a hard and tough journey to getting everything done. Anyone who is in the area on Friday night MUST come to see the open air performances - it's a going to be a cracking afternoon. It had better be after all the collective grief it has put us through.

Good thing that has happened since I last updated this blog: I have discovered for myself how fantastic this stuff is. Fizzwhizz was right: nummynummy and I felt virtuous and saintly after having half a pack for lunch today with salad without dressing instead of comfort-eating some sort of bacon and avocado sandwich in fancy-schmancy bread and artery-hardening French mayo.

Bad thing that has happened since I last updated this blog: I have eaten an entire family size bag of onion rings by myself over the last two evenings in front of Eastenders and I am currently dehydrated and have orange fingers. (I can't escape the need to comfort-eat at the moment but once this is all over, I swear I am never going shop at Tesco while starving and miserable and only ten minutes away from my favourite grotty soap opera. I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that I was compensating for missing the episode last week when a helter-skelter fairground twirly slide fell down and crushed several cast members in what I suspect was a series of shoddy special effects. So there.)

Good thing that has happened since I last updated this blog: I'm still going to marry Taxloss. Which is rather nice, actually.

An extra-good thing that has happened since I last updated this blog: I was given this as well as technical support by my bro and am considering a Pingu theme for our big bash (whenever it may happen). Taxloss has already ruled out sending invitations written in invisible ink and has specified that though I may choose my own engagement ring, I cannot have The One Ring ("but they're giving them away at Mordor Saturday morning fruit, veg and antiques market! Half price on all Sauron-era jewellery - it would be a bargain!") so if I can have green penguins at any point, I shall be placated if not happy.

And Former Flatmate B is now Doctor Former Flatmate B, my line manager has a new baby daughter in his family, we're getting a new sofa which is also a handy sofa bed, I have just encountered Flashman in Tom Brown's Schooldays and think him a simply ripping type of bounder and cad and I love him and... well, though I have been doing a lot of complaining recently, I suppose there's really not that much to complain about really.

How are all of you?

Sunday, June 20, 2004

"What's in that old coffee jar?"
"Sake. Get it while it's hot!"
"Why is everything in this house served out of an old coffee jar?"
Now that is how a weekend should be spent and much thanks to my future hubbie for teaching me the way of the Loafer - I learned from the best! After a splendid evening in North London with G & L and the three and a half year old golden haired moppet L2, I had a deep and satisfying sleep late into Saturday morning which unfortunately meant Taxloss had the same and missed his train to his folks. He was gone in double-quick time however and I slept on, then had a leisurely coffee with Boatie Flatmate, a stroll around the market together and then a long and enjoyable afternoon in the library.

Current reading list:
The Gothic Short Stories of the Marquis de Sade
Tom Brown's Schooldays
The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (a satirical guidebook to the genre by Diana Wynne Jones)
Death (the J-pop cutesy manga spin-off comic book to Neil Gaiman's Sandman collection - as weird and wonderful as it sounds)

Current CD list:
The Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Broadcasting from Home
John Parish and PJ Harvey - Dance Hall at Louse Point
Philip Glass and Fodoy Sousa - Music from The Screens

Current video list:
Swan Lake by Adventures in Motion Pictures (the alternative all-male swan lake - yummy)
Malcolm in the Middle

There. That should keep me going for a while. Or at least until Taxloss returns and I can spend my time pestering him for sweets instead.

And today - a proper Sunday with a dim sum lunch with my folks and then tea and tiny thimbles of hot sake at the flat and a quiet smiley chat about wedding plans with my Ma (the in-laws have yet to meet...) and a presentation of fancy whisky to Pa because it's Father's Day and...

.. my Ma has just burst in brimming with indignation and some shopping shrieking about the brat that just blocked her way back up the stairs.

Ma: $%^*"((£!!!!!! So young and so rude already! If I see her again, and she blocks my way again like that, I will hit her. I will HIT HER! A damn five year old trying to duff up a 60 plus old woman like me! How dare she? I will throw her down the stairs if I have to! Does she think she can pick on me? Does she think I won't react? I'll react! I'll show her! Grrrrrr! [shakes bag of potatoes violently] I got a cauliflower for dinner! Here, [slams package of individual Mr Kipling apple pies on table] you take these home! They were on offer - they are nice! Ooh, I'm just furious now - that little brat! And take these pears too! Grrr!

Wow. Now that is evidence that you should never literally cross my mother.

Hope all of you have had good weekends - what did y'all get up to?

Friday, June 18, 2004

"Let's just order a pizza..."
That's not an option at a traditional Chinese wedding. Remember: it's not a proper wedding unless everyone has been forced to take home at least 5 foil boxes of surplus food each even though they have eaten so much already, blinking begins to hurt. Oh dear. I can feel the cultural clash coming upon us even before we've set a date.

It's important to observe certain Chinese traditions, I don't feel comfortable looking forward to the ceremony, the Big Day etc without thinking of certain things - my sister did it all marvellously at her wedding last year, with a wonderful tea ceremony and a totally unforced combination of East and West. I wonder how well Taxloss and I will manage it. I don't think he knows about the obligatory limbo dance contest he must take at the altar. Or the two live snakes he has to swallow to earn my parents blessing the day before. And orange / lime green tartan is the traditional dress for the groom...

While looking up these links, I found this and though I was going to make some amusing quips about it here, I had a closer look and felt it was completely and utterly inappropriate to do so. Look at these women. There's more to this site than just lonely hearts looking for love. This is trade. This is consumerism at its lowest and sickest. Bah. Jokes about mail order brides and so on I do find amusing but when I think about the lives these women lead once snapped up... it's just too awful.

On a happier note: Fizzwhizz has started her Older Gods series to complement her Older Goddesses series which has been immensely enjoyable so far. Woo! Jeremy Irons Jeremy Irons Jeremy Irons Jeremy Irons...

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

" '' ' ''' ''''' '' '' "
You are Woodstock!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Whee! That, amongst other things that have happened recently, has made me extremely happy - I always loved Woodstock and the loopy, twittery appearances he / she made in the strip (what gender is the little yellow bird?)

Thanks to everyone who congratulated me and Taxloss on our engagement - we're so happy you're happy! More news to come, of course...

Saturday, June 12, 2004

A Joint Announcement From Taxloss and Hypatia.
Taxloss: It’s our fifth anniversary today, and so I arranged to take Hypatia for a spin on the London Eye.

Hypatia: I’ve never been on the London Eye before, and was really looking forward to it.

T: I, however, had concealed intentions.

H: I thought as much.

T: So, when we reached the top …

H: … I said “oh look, we’re at the very top”.

T: And I got down on one knee and asked Hyp to marry me.

H: And I said yes.

T&H: Just thought you’d like to know.

T: Buy your hats now.

H: Holy crap, Batman! To the chapel!