Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Claude Lamothe"
My nine year music mystery has finally, finally, finally been solved. For nine years I have been haunted by haunting cello music. For nine years, I have brought out on occasion a rattling old unlabelled cassette tape, blown the dust off its brittle plastic case and played the music on it with a certain reverence. Cellos. Sounding like trains. Doing things that I have never heard cellos do before. And I like cello music, I've heard a fair amount. But nothing like this, not in nine years.

The cassette came from a Lyric Hammersmith Summer School I took part in, August 1997, in between my first and second year of A levels. The company leading us was Volcano Theatre Company.

The show involved 32 young people, and among our roles were two lawyers in snorkelling gear in a bathtub on wheels, a 4'10" female Superman - no cape!, a Cantonese speaking mallet-wielding housekeeper with enormous feathered wings (me), a pantomime horse, a PVC-clad prosecuting lawyer and a cowboy with a Yorkshire accent. We did warm-ups every morning before we got started on the very physical devised work and I had my first introduction to yoga and pilates as well as weight-bearing, release technique contact improvisation aka how to run around and jump on people without hurting yourself or others too much in time to music. Those warm-ups were done to a variety of music - Hungarian folk songs, Depeche Mode-type industrial rock, Turkish pop and some very striking cello music.

I liked the cello music so much I asked if I could copy the CD but my friend Neil had beaten me to it and had the CD at home. I gave him a tape to make me a copy while he was making his and since then, the cassette has been in exactly the same state as I got it back: unlabelled and slightly battered. Who the hell is the cellist who can do this with my favourite instrument in the whole panoply of musical instruments? (Sometimes I favour piano but that's another story to tell) Who wrote this stuff? Who plays it? Who lets out that gruff, triumphant groan at the end of a particularly gut-wrenching frenzied sawing of the lower strings?

For nine years, all I had to go on was a vague memory of being told it was French Canadian, by someone called "Claude". I finally tracked down the Summer School leader through contacts at work and emailed him. He emailed back the next day.

The cellist / composer is a Montreal based French Canadian called Claude Lamothe. The album I have on the cassette is called Nu from 1995. I've yet to find a place to purchase it on CD or to download. But I know what it is. I know what it is. And it is marvellous.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"My name is Hypatia and I'm hopelessly addicted to Flickr"
K says: you don't get zoom as you'd imagine on digicams, unless you buy the slr cameras that look like old conventional cameras so that the pros still feel like a breed apart
H says: I think that's the only reason why SLRs are so expensive - to make the old analogue professionals feel like they still have an edge over the camera phone bloggers
H says: and yes, probably only reason why they're made to need the oldskool lenses too
H says: they are special tho
K says: no, I personally can't see too much difference to a picture some guy posts on his website taken at 8M + sooperdooper-zoom and my fuji at 2M
K says: it's like paying 8x more to go on an ego trip, and carry a much heavier camera
K says: then again, I do have a bunch of sour grapes
H says: I, on the other hand, have a lovely bunch of coconuts

All a preamble to my latest link. Click for pictorial goodness - now with extra sets! Though still not sure what tags are for and why I should use them.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Red Dress
I always saw, I always said
If I were grown and free,
I'd have a gown of reddest red
As fine as you could see,

To wear out walking, sleek and slow,
Upon a Summer day,
And there'd be one to see me so
And flip the world away.

And he would be a gallant one,
With stars behind his eyes,
And hair like metal in the sun,
And lips too warm for lies.

I always saw us, gay and good,
High honored in the town.
Now I am grown to womanhood....
I have the silly gown.
- Dorothy Parker

Went into a nearby retro clothes shop on Tuesday on a whim: could this mad, dusty heap of junk yield a dress for me to marry in? I pointed at a clump of red and pink dresses hanging in the rafters and asked the shopkeeper to bring them down to me. He was as unconvinced as I was that any of the outrageous items he unhooked would fit me or even be wearable as some were really very old and in bad condition or blindingly hideous - or both. I took two from him that purported to be my size and I ducked behind a rack of fur coats to try them on (this was the changing room, I was told).

Without really looking at the dresses, I put the first one on. I walked out into the middle of the shop to the only full length mirror. I looked at the shopkeeper whose mouth was open in surprise. Just like mine. It fitted perfectly. I mean, perfectly. The colour was incredible. The condition was pristine. The cut, shape and style was magnificent and like nothing I have seen before. I was told that it has actually been seen before, in the late fifties / early sixties when this dress was first brought into the world. I tried on the next one.

See above.

I didn't feel the need to choose between them. I now have two wedding dresses. Three, if you count the unsuitable eBay purchase I made a month ago. And for those who have known me for a while, I was never going to marry without an interval and a costume change, was I?

Enough dress talk: I feel as if I have spent a ridiculous amount of time and mental, physical effort on the part of my wedding that interests and inspires me the least. Photos of the dresses pre-wedding by request only - email / call / text / Instant Message me if you're keen to see 'em, otherwise I'm going to leave the subject well alone and concentrate on the other details of the day.

Ideally, I would wear a smile and a very small pair of pants and improv dance my way across Hyde Park towards Taxloss who would be feeding ducks by the Serpentine while four cellists play something composed just that morning... we'd say our vows then mount our waiting horses and gallop around the park until we got to the exit opposite the Lanesborough Hotel where all our friends and family would be having dinner and preparing to dance on the roof. Our suite would have a balcony where we can watch the fireworks and would have a very prominent "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.

And then I'd wake up...

Friday, March 10, 2006

"Well, whaddya know?"
So, I went away for a few days to enjoy some new theatre, see old friends, make new friends, admire hats and play games. While running around between hangovers, I was trying my best to find the ultimate dress, with no success.

I come home dress-less, and discover a new shop has opened on the street where I live, taking up the spot that has been unoccupied for over five years.

Well, whaddya know? It sells one thing, and one thing only.

Bloody dresses. You wait over a year and a half for the right one, even leave the country for the sake of it and then a shopful turn up all at once.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Usted esta acqui"
Hurrying back from a meeting this afternoon through the rain, got stopped by an elderly couple, obviously lost. They thrust a map at me, damp and much consulted and pointed to where they wanted to go. Realised they were muttering in Spanish between themselves and I leapt at the chance to be (quite) useful.

"Usted esta acqui. Izquierda, derecha. Vale?"

They were distinctly less impressed than I was by my poor but useful approximation of Spanish, but at least they were no longer lost.

Monday, March 06, 2006

"When shall we three meet again? In London, Nantes or... I dunno, outside Burger King at about 1pm?"
There's something significant about three sisters. Chekhov, Shakespeare and Woody Allen have all grasped the potency of putting three women together in sibling rivalry, sibling support and three-way gossip-mongering. Sisterhood is a special bond (and I'm not talking about the icky "sistahood" that desperate film execs and Bridget Jones-blinded publishers like to think is an accurate representation of female relationships) - when there are three sisters, it's particularly special.

But when shall we three sisters meet again, and where? Since one of us lives in France now, it's kind of difficult to organise lunch and shopping with the regularity of previous years. But for some reason, maybe its the alignment of the stars, maybe the leylines have shifted or perhaps Ryanair has a particularly good deal on flights at the moment, we have managed it. We shall be in France together in the middle of April. I don't think the three of us have been on a flight together since 1988. Our collective sisterly excitement is... shrill.

Must abandon my Spanish for now and concentrate on my French:

"veuillez laisser la bouteille"
"sil-vous-plait, aidez-moi à trouver mes chaussures"
"Je ne peux pas trouver mon sac à main"

And so on.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Madrileno Returns
Wednesday , 22nd February, 2006
Arrive at work
Leave work
9.15pm Dinner with Taxloss, lots of red wine. Go home and fall asleep on sofa for unexpectedly long amount of time.

Thursday, 23rd February, 2006
2.00am Finish packing. Lie down. Check alarm clock. Pass out.
6.00am Alarm clock starts beeping. Turn it off, turn over, go back to sleep.
6.30am Panic, get out of bed, get dressed in the dark, say goodbye to a very sleepy Taxloss, run out of flat wishing I had taken a shower and had a coffee.
7.00am Board Gatwick Express train. Secretly plot to maim, kill and burn the corpses of all the irritating business travellers who crowd on after me, on their way to a meeting and some cheap strip shows on their expense accounts.
8.00am Check-in. Buy a decent, inexpensive watch to replace dead one, have it adjusted, sip a coffee on the way to my gates.
8.45am Board plane. Fall asleep instantly.
12.45pm Land at the new terminal 4, Madrid-Barajas. Get horribly lost inside the shiny, pretty new airport. Finally catch a bus into the town centre then the metro to my hotel. Check in and fall asleep, despite the paper-thin walls and the endless Spanish chatter of the other guests wandering around outside my room.
6.00pm Wake up, take a shower, get dressed, head out into town to start my Madrid adventures.

Yes, I went to the Museum of Ham again. No, I didn't find a wedding dress. Yes, I had an
excellent time.