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!