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There was commotion outside Bethnal Green tube station this evening.

Walking from the station to the nearest bus stop, I spotted an elderly man sat in the middle of the road, surrounded by passersbys and the driver of a black minivan. Cars swerved around him, cyclists slowed down to take a good look, pedestrians lost interest in where they were going or the conversations they were having on their mobile phones to stop and watch with furrowed brows.

The man, it seemed, had been jaywalking with some other people when he was knocked over. An elderly Polish lady touched his shoulder and he swatter her away. She crossed over to the bus stop and told someone: “he’s rude! He’s rude!”

The black minivan driver rubbed the old man’s back, got into her car and drove away. New people arrived and formed a human shield around the man. One bespectacled gentleman got off his bike and became a traffic warden. A few of them spoke into mobile phones (emergency services?) The old man remained seated on the cold, wet asphalt, hunched over, cradling his arm.

Buses arrived and people climbed in. I decided to wait for the next one, as did the Polish lady.

“Did anyone call an ambulance?” I asked her.

“He’s lying!” she blurted back. “There’s nothing wrong with his arm! I touch it. I touch it hard. If it was broken, he would feel pain. He feel nothing. He’s pretending.” [1]

“Oh,” and I looked back at the old man (now turned into a con artist in my eyes) and the group of people (suckers.)

“I was behind him when he fell. Nobody touch him. He just fall by himself. He make this to get money from the government.”

“I’m sure the ambulance crew will figure this out when they check him.”

“I fell down my building’s stairs once. I get bruises on my back. I can’t bear even a small touch. So that’s how I know he don’t break arm. I touch and he feel nothing! I know what to do in this country. You go to hospital and you get doctor to write everything down. That’s how you get money from government. But he wants people to believe what he says, and not what the doctor says. He do the wrong way.”

A much emptier No.8 bus arrived and we climbed in together. Her Oyster card was a Freedom Pass. I climbed upstairs and sat on the seat right at the front, where I could look down on the man as the bus drove by. He had now been moved to the median strip. He looked a bit confused.

[1] Recreation of the lady’s Polish accent may be slightly incorrect due to author’s incapability of remembering verbatim what she said.
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powerplant-night by wizmo
powerplant-night, a photo by wizmo on Flickr.
There was one section inside the house where a river flowed. A man with long black hair had been caught in this river trying to jump one of the many logs that crossed it. When I followed this river I reached a balcony in the house that overlooked a canal in Israel.

It was nighttime and I could hear singing on the canal and see, further away, the lights of Israeli homes and offices. The singing grew closer and I knew I'd been to this place before. The singing came from an ancient young people who lived in these rivers - had done so for many thousands of years, even before the arrival of human civilization.

They noticed me on the balcony. One of them jumped over the house's fences and easily climbed the walls until he joined me. I was afraid but he didn't do anything except continue to sing.

Something fell from the sky - the piece of an airplane - and one of the buildings across the canal exploded. More pieces landed near us - one of them hitting the house I was in. The singing had stopped and now we ran through the house, trying to escape the fire and the cries for help. Someone lamented they had seen a father and his child fall into the canal.

I was barefoot. I ran back to the balcony to collect my boots, ignoring calls for me to save my life.
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I've been thinking today if blogging and livejournaling is dead. Dead in the sense that most people who used them before have gone on to acquire many more social networks, and because of the increase in their personal admin (checking Facebook, checking Twitter, checking Instagram, etc) they no longer can tolerate long pieces of writing.

Twitter, to me, seems of the time. Tiny digestible nuggets that can lead you to longer articles if you so desire, but there's no pressure to read - you can easily just move/scroll on.  Before, with blogs and livejournals, there was the online social pressure to at least skim read.  Make some noise that you were paying attention. Now, they lie unread, uncommented, unnoticed. Or saved for "later" reading.

The age of people keeping blogs to document their lives as policemen / ambulance drivers / sex workers is also dead. Again, I think personal admin has got in the way and that type of cultural product is resigned to the noughties much like a lot of reality shows.

For myself, I sat in an old cemetery for lunch today and read some Walt Whitman.  I now know that Livejournal will never be the same, but I'm Ok with continuing to write here, for myself and for the few that still read this.  I've also started writing letters to friends who refuse to use social networks, and on Monday mornings I find a cafe before work and do a bit of fiction writing.
commonpeople1: (Sea)
Victoria Park, London 02/10/10

I was on my way to the gym this morning when a young man stepped out of a house ahead of me, also on his morning commute (I assumed.) Tall, skinny and very soon with a lit cigarette in his hands. I felt a little sad for him, like I always do when I see young people smoking.

Old Ford Road runs past Victoria Park. He crossed the street and took the path by the pond. I assumed he was heading towards the canal or north of the park. Then he swerved out of the park, back onto my sidewalk. It reminded me of when I was a smoker and I liked having a cigarette while playing a favourite song. I wonder what that brief walk by the pond as he smoked his cigarette brought to his day.

Bleak 70s

Feb. 5th, 2012 08:19 pm
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Nineteen Seventy FourNineteen Seventy Four by David Peace

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

David Peace's debut crime novel starts out fantastically well, with an unlikeable young journalist entering the investigation of the disappearance and murder of a 10-year-old girl that may be connected to other missing children cases. Leeds' dreariness towards the end of 1974 is perfectly set up for this noir that borrows from Irvine Welsh's style and taste for the brutal (violence and humor), peopled by corrupt cops, drunk journalists and thoroughly miserable denizens.

So it's a big disappointment when Peace loses it all towards the end, with an entire section set in prison that reads like bad creative writing 101, plus an unbelievable and badly-explained resolution that comes across (to me at least) as Peace not knowing where he was going with his story. Peace is also not very good at shifting gears throughout the novel, introducing fast-paced action very awkwardly into scenes - almost as if he were already thinking of the story as a film/TV adaptation.

Still, it was a mostly enjoyable, atmospheric crime read that made me wonder if the storytelling improves in Peace's sequels (this is the first part of the Red Riding quartet.)

View all my reviews
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We Need To Talk About KevinWe Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This novel is the equivalent of driving by a fresh highway pile up. You go slowly past it, seeing all the bodies crushed inside, the blood on the cement, the sound of ambulances and police far off. You try to look away but you can't. You feel angry at yourself for choosing to drive on that particular time of the day, but later at night you think that maybe you've learned something from the experience.

The novel is made up of letters written by Eva, a successful businesswoman who gave up her career to raise a family, to her husband Franklin, about their young son Kevin who has been sentenced to prison for a killing spree at his school. They are written at the turn of the century, at the height of the epidemic of school shootings in America, just before the twin towers came down on 9/11. The first hundred pages were hard going, as Eva is quite wordy and adds, frankly, a lot of unnecessary padding to the story. But once you get used to her narrative voice, it becomes a compulsive read - a modern horror tale.

I'm not convinced though that it's as good as it's praised. It's popularity surely rests on its subject matter (mother fails to bond with son) rather than the story itself, which is quite tricksy and reliant on some unbelievable plot twists, though Shriver does have a fantastic way with words. It's hard to go into the story without giving things away, but suffice to say that I wasn't convinced Eva - in all her intelligence and perception - could have quietly stood by certain events in her life. Also, the novel's climax calls into question some of the novel's initial build up, making the behaviour of the neighbours towards Eva in the first hundred pages inexplicably bizarre.

I suppose that's the whole point of some horror - it's irrational and plays to the readers' fears. It gets its kicks from exploring our darkest imagination rather than trying to neatly tie things together. I do feel a little bit cheated out by Shriver, but I enjoyed the carnage nevertheless.

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Just a quick post to let you know my neighbours are alive; we shared the elevator with them this evening.

More news tomorrow. Nighty night.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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[ profile] wink_martindale thinks the neighbours are dead. We haven't heard them make noise in days/weeks and now someone showed up with a clipboard, knocking on all doors and asking when was the last time we saw them. We could have assumed they'd done a runner except... the hallway is smelling distinctly bad! (hopefully just some bad food in their fridge?)

They have three children and they are generally very boisterous. The mother in particular has a foghorn down the throat. They have lived here forever and it was my understanding that they owned their flat. It's all very strange.
commonpeople1: (Default)
See y'all at 9pm tonight!

[ profile] millionreasons, pass me the popcorn. [ profile] the_meanest_cat, don't hog the blanket!
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Cold MirrorsCold Mirrors by C.J. Lines

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first collection of short stories by British author C.J. Lines, bringing together pieces he has published in the past ten years in a variety of places, from magazines to anthologies. These stories vary between short vignettes to long horror tales, mixing the modern macabre with creepy Victoriana.

C.J. Lines is better known for his first novel, Filth Kiss, which was a sort of horror roller coaster ride set in a middle England town. The qualities in that novel that I loved so much - the attention to detail to what it's like to live in England today, from the banality of work and family relationships to the small-mindedness of provincial life - can be found in these collection of stories and are, in my opinion, its triumph. People who enjoy ghost stories from the Victorian age, and that style of writing, will also love some of the stories gathered here, in particular Debut. My favourite stories were The Trending, about the dead coming back to life with the help of Twitter, and Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be, for bringing together the weird with 80s New Wave music.

A collection to keep you company for the long winter nights ahead.

View all my reviews
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though I'd love to be reincarnated as a really talented singer. But you can't choose the cards you are dealt with...

Big Mouth

Aug. 4th, 2011 02:00 pm
commonpeople1: (Default)
This is a little late but I feel like I want to put down my two pence regarding what Morrissey said about the recent massacre in Norway:

"We all live in a murderous world, as the events in Norway have shown, with 97 dead. Though that is nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Shit every day."

Coming so soon after what happened, it was a grossly insensitive thing to say, even for Morrissey's standards (if anyone remembers his recent comments about the Chinese being a "subspecies" because of the way they treat animals.)

It was reported that Morrissey chose to stick to his guns and had no further comments, but the general disgust made him issue this statement a few days later:

"The recent killings in Norway were horrific. As usual in such cases, the media give the killer exactly what he wants: worldwide fame. We aren't told the names of the people who were killed - almost as if they are not considered to be important enough, yet the media frenzy to turn the killer into a Jack The Ripper star is .... repulsive. He should be un-named, not photographed, and quietly led away.
The comment I made onstage at Warsaw could be further explained this way: Millions of beings are routinely murdered every single day in order to fund profits for McDonalds and KFCruelty, but because these murders are protected by laws, we are asked to feel indifferent about the killings, and to not even dare question them.
If you quite rightly feel horrified at the Norway killings, then it surely naturally follows that you feel horror at the murder of ANY innocent being. You cannot ignore animal suffering simply because animals "are not us."

Most of you know that I'm a fan of Morrissey's and he's mentioned here a lot (and his song titles used as tags.) I don't want to defend him, but I feel like I need to understand. The person he is now is so different from who he was before - crass words, lack of sympathy, lack of wit. What happened?

Morrissey's personality was shaped by the punk movement and its uncompromising attitude to the media and the world. He was in the audience when the Sex Pistols played their first gig and he worshipped Patti Smith and the New York Dolls. His aesthetic has always been un-PC, though ambiguous and playful. It fit well in the 80s and made his fortune. Nowadays though he's too direct with his words, lacking in humour. We know who he hates, we have no clue if he loves.

Context is everything. The whole story about him being anti-immigration, racist: he championed Echobelly in the 90s (Britpop band fronted by a British Asian singer with lyrics about racism in the UK); he allowed a band made up of illegal immigrants to do a cover of "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get" (but don't try to Google for information on this band because it's strangely not available anywhere); and he's issued statements against racism and helped fund a concert against the BNP/EDL. But those are not the stories we hear in the media or stick in the mind of those that don't like him.  To most people he's a dickhead with some racist tendencies.

Did Morrissey say some shit that he regrets and doesn't stand by anymore? Very likely! But why has he lost his way with words and seems to put his foot in it so often these days? (I didn't even listen to his recent interview with Dermot O'Leary because it was apparently cringeworthy.)

In his last album he sang about using anti-depressants and this made me think of family members I have who are on Prozac and the way they have become insensitive to the world. Dealing with them is so difficult because they can't understand why their words would be hurtful - they are chemically numbed to the pain of others (but perhaps not to whatever ideology they stand by, like Morrissey's "vegetarianism".) For someone like Morrissey, already a misanthrope searching for a little hope, it must mean that all the barriers have been erased. The poetry is lost, the songs all sound alike and we get nothing but a has-been making a spectacle of himself.

I think it's time for him to stop. Perhaps concentrate on writing books (he has an autobiography coming out soon, apparently). Stop now before all that was built before is completely destroyed.
commonpeople1: (Default)
Hello Livejournal,

Welcome back.  I said some bad things about you while you were away... but now that you are here, I'm staring into your eyes, my heart is slightly aflutter and I feel... I feel... I feel sorry for those hurtful words! 

I'm glad you are back (however long that may be - we must all realise nothing lasts forever.)  I've been busy and neglectful but I promise that things will be better after this weekend, when I get my life back.



Jul. 16th, 2011 05:24 pm
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Milly DowlerRupert Murdoch

It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly's wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.
commonpeople1: (Default)
The past couple of days have been wonderfully long and enjoyable. It started on Friday with a talk on time travel at the British Museum as part of their current exhibition on Science Fiction, Out of this World. Audrey Niffenegger, who wrote The Time Traveller's Wife, was part of the panel as well as sci-fi novelist Stephen Baxter, some guy who writes for Dr Who, some other guy who writes on the science of time travel and a woman who works in publishing (and who chaired the talk.) Audrey was a cross between Margaret Atwood and Tori Amos, all deep husky voice and very funny down-to-earth comments. The audience had a few nutters who shot theirs arms straight up when it was question time. I spotted a few friends of [ profile] hester 's in the audience but I couldn't remember their names or LJ handles.

Yesterday, I went to the garden's Summer Fair then met friends in the evening at Rich Mix for the documentary Senna. It's a wonderful film which is hard for me to be objective about. Because I'm brasilian, I grew up watching Senna race every Sunday, my family and friends filing my home with cheer for his victories or despair for his losses. Seeing his life played out on the big screen brought back nostalgic memories for me as well as some good laughs at how naff Brasil was in the 80s. Well, wasn't the whole planet?

Senna was to Brasil what Lady Diana was to Britain in their deaths: this outpouring of emotion that showed the true extent they had affected people's lives while alive. He was different from her though in how there was nothing contrived about him: he was pure talent, hard work and charisma. There was something about his eyes that was very beautiful, his smile too - that gave away how idealistic he was about Formula 1 and making a mark in the lives of the less fortunate in Brasil (I suppose similar in that sense to Diana).

Everyone in Brasil knows where they were when they heard he died (i.e. most were in front of the telly) just like everyone in Britain still remembers hearing of Di's accident in Paris.

Today, I woke up early to meet [ profile] kirsten at Columbia Road market for breakfast. It was rainy, cold, grey and horrible. We had a look around the shops and found a table in Restaurant Espagnol, which has lovely coffee and breakfasts (chorizo on top of fried eggs and toast; why did I never think of this?!)

We then drove to Camden so she could get a piercing at Cold Steel. On the drive back home we blasted 2 Many DJs and talked about Salt-and-Peppa and what the hell happened to them. Weirdly enough, a few hours later I watched a documentary by Chris Rock called Good Hair, which featured interviews with them. It's a bit of a surreal documentary that falls under that subgenre "we all live on a crazy planet". It looks at the multi-billion dollar industry surrounding hair in America in the black community, and its consequences to themselves and other parts of the planet. Funny at parts, weird in others. Made me wonder what will happen to all those people who spend thousands of dollars on their hair if the American economy continues to slide into the hole. It's completely unsustainable, like a lot of other things in America...

Tonight, we are watching Soprano episodes while eating our dinner, reading old newspapers in bed and listening to classical music. Global warming feels like a dream when the typical grim British summer returns to chill our apartment and cover the city with rain.

P.S. More Gingerganza this way! (thank you [ profile] kirsten for the link.)

Foxy Jones

May. 31st, 2011 08:18 am
commonpeople1: (Default)
Do foxes eat cats? On Saturday night, on the way home from a pub north of Victoria Park, we spotted a ragged fox in a front garden. It stood right behind a fluffy black cat that didn't seem aware of it. Both looked at us with glassy eyes before the fox leapt into the bushes and disappeared. The cat never moved its eyes from us. Was it about to be killed?

Sunday night, our friend T shared with us his memories of living in New York in the late 70s. He remembered seeing Grace Jones play her first gig, before she was known or had her first record out ("Portfolio"). T saw a picture of her in the Village Voice advertising her gig, dressed in a vintage look that reminded him of Billie Holiday. Off he went with a friend to the gig, a train ride to the middle of nowhere followed by a walk across a busy highway before they reached the disco she was performing in.

Her voice was flat but it was undeniable she had star quality. She changed costumes after every song (she still does it today), had two Muscle Mary's accompanying her on stage and performed the final song in a bridal dress with S&M gear underneath.

commonpeople1: (Psycho)
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Geek Killer
commonpeople1: (Car)

They heard me singing and they told me to stop
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock
These days my life, I feel it has no purpose
But late at night the feelings swim to the surface

'Cause on the surface the city lights shine
They're calling at me, come and find your kind
Sometimes I wonder if the World's so small
That we can never get away from the sprawl

Living in the sprawl
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains
And there's no end in sight
I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights 

- Arcade Fire: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
commonpeople1: (Mr Stamp)

Amid the damage of the devastating New Zealand earthquake has come an unlikely discovery - two time capsules that fell out of a 19th century statue that toppled over in the disaster.

Christchurch Major Bob Parker said a handwritten parchment in a bottle and a sealed copper cylinder believed to contain historic documents were discovered inside the statue of one of the city's founders, Irishman John Robert Godley.

The statue, which stood in the city's main square near its historic cathedral, fell during the earthquake on February 22 that killed at least 155 people.

Museum experts were examining the items, which appeared to contain a message from the city's founders expressing their vision for it.


What do you think the message said?

April 2017



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