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...