commonpeople1: (Avatar)
Harsh beat, stress down my spine and fingers.

Sitting in the spare room, early Thursday morning in London, about to slip on some socks and head to work.

Bjork so hard, drilling a hole in my head.
commonpeople1: (Avatar)
Vocals and chords from a tiny device I touch, a roar outside.

In my writing room, 9.13 Tuesday morning, before heading to work.

See myself walking all the way to the station while listening to the Jesus and Mary Chain.
commonpeople1: (Avatar)
The start of Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life", sat on a hard chair, surrounded by white walls, faint whiff of the cold coffee to my right and a gentle creaking that is either raindrops or just the window moving to the air outside.

I'm in the spare room - my office - surfing the net and listening to a playlist on Spotify I put together from Electric Dreams songs. My back is sore and I'm sitting up straight; trying not to break in half.

If I concentrate on being in this moment, it feels like I'm sinking into the chair.
commonpeople1: (Avatar)
Walt Whitman by Marion Doss
Walt Whitman, a photo by Marion Doss on Flickr.
I bought a copy of Walt Whitman's poems before yesterday because I've been wanting to revisit Leaves of Grass after hearing him mentioned in My Dinner With Andre. I read Whitman in university and seem to remember my professor not liking him too much; I was a fan though.

I found his poetry collection in that second hand bookshop just by Waitrose in Bloomsbury (the one you go down steps and it's like a Borgean maze of dusty classics.) The book was on the floor, at the top of a poetry pile, waiting for me. £3.

My Dinner With Andre has also made me think/notice about people choosing to dress like what they think they are. I.e. terrorists look like terrorists, designers look like designers, hipsters look like hipsters, bankers look like bankers. We (unconsciously?) try to fit into the stereotype of what we think we should be or look like. Have you noticed? Just watch the news and you'll see confirmation of that.

Who am I? Whom do I look like? I see pictures of myself from 5, 6 years ago and realise how gray my hair has become.

I've also been this week to a launch party by a famous British rapper, and written a letter to a famous dancer (now retired) asking if she'd like me to teach her how to use emails and the internet.

Yesterday, I witnessed two women getting into a fight at the bus stop outside Westfield Stratford. One of them was wearing a hijab and looked Somalian; she was sitting down beside three white British women when she suddenly broke into a loud, angry rant. She accused them of making remarks about her hijab and called them some bad words. Everyone looked at her as if she was mentally ill. A few minutes later, she made a phone call and, during it, began to make offensive comments about the women again. One of them couldn't take it any longer and shouted back: how dare you be racist to me? Somalian lady replied that no British woman shouted at her, which only made the other one shout louder.

An elderly man (muslim as well) tried to calm things as well as the British woman's daughter, but in vain. I saw a policeman walking towards us and made gestures at the daughter that the police was coming. When she understood she tried to stop her mom, but by now there was no stopping that verbal war. More police arrived and the Somalian woman tried to leave. But the police were having none of it - they wanted an explanation as to what was going on. Now Somalian lady looked meek and perhaps aware she was in deep shit (witnesses were also not being allowed to leave - perhaps because it was a suspected racial incident?) I picked up my shopping bags and quickly made a getaway for the Tube.

Later, on my way to friends for a Twin Peaks Marathon, I saw police cars and firetrucks outside my building. People were looking up at the tower block next to ours... one of the flats was on fire.

This morning, I'm debuting a new pair of glasses I bought at Westfield Stratford. The world looks wonky and 3Dish. I can see all the lines on my pale face and I feel even more old.
commonpeople1: (Sea)
I've received two phone calls this afternoon from the housing association that runs my tower block: there was some kind of water leak on the roof and the main electrical box has blown/shut down/died.

Looks like it will be an evening spent in darkness, with the company of candles and my iphone (until it runs out of juice.) Not looking forward to climbing the 10+ floors home.

On the plus side, I've got a gas oven (for my M&S moussaka), hot water (I hope) and a bottle of white wine to keep me company.

Might update later if electricity returns!
commonpeople1: (Default)
Last Man in TowerLast Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The word Shanghai conjures up images of an utopian paradise where all are happy and life is good. In this novel, The Shanghai is a new development planned beside Mumbai's airport by big shot (and unscrupulous) real estate developer Dharmen Shah which will bring to the area smart apartments, shopping malls and other comforts that the rising middle-class in India believe is their right. There's only one obstacle in Shah's way: a retired and grieving teacher, Masterji, who lives in the old building - Vishram - where the new development is planned. Unlike his neighbours, Masterji refuses to take the big payout offered by the real estate developer on principles that sit at odds with modern capitalistic India. His stance sets in motion a chain of events that throws him against his neighbours, leading to tragedy.

Mumbai holds up a surreal mirror to London. Like here, Mumbai is riddled with a greed and fever for property development that leaves winners and losers in its wake. The growing poor and homeless in London may now not be too far from the slum dwellers in Mumbai; the alienated rich in their smart neighbourhoods (where working-class communities used to exist before) could easily be the converted Victorian houses in the West End that sit beside crime-ridden council estates. The lives spent on uncomfortable commuter trains that occasionally grind to a halt because of someone on the tracks is all too familiar to both Londoners and Mumbai residents.

The novel is beautifully set in Mumbai, offering the reader a glance to the lives of the very poor all the way up to the new rich.  Adiga's characters quickly lose their humanity to the money offered to them. Where once they lived in harmony in a communal society, helping and looking out for each other, the introduction of a chance to make it big exposes them to dark desires that had remained silent until then. The Vishram's residents love for Masterji's Agatha Christie's novels is a sort of foreshadowing of what's to come.

View all my reviews
commonpeople1: (Default)
My family bought its first VCR in 1985, when I was ten years old. Our building had an inhouse cable TV channel (very modern for the time) which showed two films at night (picked by the building manager); but we lived right by a large film rental shop and had wanted for a while the option to choose our own films. The weekend routine was for me to pick five films (this would allow us to keep them until Monday morning) - one comedy, one drama, one action/thriller and two horrors.

The first two films we rented were Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and a B-movie horror from 1983 called The Lift. Indiana was my brother's choice while The Lift was mine. Afterwards, I invented a game with my friends in the building where everyone was trapped in a space (say, a part of the playground that was made up of three walls) while one person played the killer lift (arms for wires that snuck through the door, latched onto legs and dragged them out to their death.)

This memory came back to me today as I was waiting for my tower block's elevator. There's a sign by it that says: "don't throw any garbage in the elevator. CCTV is in full operation." Pointless: you can find all sorts of things in the elevator, from chewed chicken legs to napkins and candy wrappers, and as far as I know nobody has ever been penalised for this. The elevators are new too, installed just last year at great expense to all property owners, but they are already keyed, scratched, spat and battered.

I toyed with this private fantasy as the elevator rose, of it coming to life as someone was defacing it, the walls slowly starting to close in on them as the light flickered and they desperately tried to get out (to no avail). Squish.

The version of The Lift I watched back in 1985 was dubbed in Portuguese - I somehow always thought it was an Italian film. Just discovered that it's actually Dutch and you can watch the whole thing on YouTube.

Here's the trailer with a Marc Almond lookalike for the hero:

commonpeople1: (Default)
Elevator of Doom by olliefern
Elevator of Doom, a photo by olliefern on Flickr.
I came home yesterday to find a young woman sprawled inside my elevator, trying feebly to stand up. It must have been 6.30pm. She was barefoot and she held a plastic bag with two slippers inside. She stunk of booze and had dried blood on the hand she offered to me when I tried to help.

I called the concierge and the both of us carried her into the foyer and sat her down against the wall. Her left leg was dead - she kept saying it was broken. I asked the concierge if there was anything else I could do and he said it was fine - she was coming from Apt. ** and he knew her.

Other noteworthy moments in my day: going past Mile End Park in the bus and noticing various tents pitched up; and having lunch with [ profile] millionreasons near my work. I asked if the tents in Mile End Park were to do with Occupy London spreading and she answered that no, it was just the rise of homelessness in the city.

Home Alone

Apr. 6th, 2012 03:04 pm
commonpeople1: (Default)
How's everyone's long weekend coming along? I haven't left the house yet (and it's sunny in London.)

After drinking this coffee I'm going to hoover the living room, mop the kitchen and clean the bathroom.  Then I'm going to put old clothes and books in a donation bag.  All to the sound of Madonna. (Old time readers will know this is the soundtrack I use for cleaning the house.)
commonpeople1: (Default)
Veronica Falls @ Scala by Park012
Veronica Falls @ Scala, a photo by Park012 on Flickr.
Three shocking things I learnt about [ profile] zenithed last night at Veronica Falls' gig at the Scala:
  • He's never seen a Friday 13th movie ("They look rubbish so I never bothered")
  • He's never played any JRPG (Final Fantasy, etc)
  • He thinks I'm growing a moustache
We met before the gig at a nearby pub called King's Cross Social Club, with Britpop on the speakers and some decent beer on tap. He didn't believe me when I said Shed Seven have quite a few good songs.

We arrived at the Scala just as Nutella Novella started their support act. I'm still reminded of Smashing Pumpkins when I hear them, but they've definitely moved their sound now to shoegaze waters (with new fringe bangs to match.)

Second support band was terribly-named Male Bonding - four Shoreditch blokes going for a Grunge sound. Terrible.

By the time Veronica Falls took to the stage, I had four pints sitting in my empty stomach. It was over too soon and the new songs didn't leave much of an impression.

We lost Zenithed on the way out and [ profile] wink_martindale then pressured me into eating some Burger King because he'd "only nibbled on celery" that day. Back at home, the bed span whenever I closed my eyes so I had to sit in the living room and watch Poker Games on Channel 5 until I was good enough to sleep.

Woke up this morning to no water in the flat, including the toilet's cistern. Joy.
commonpeople1: (Default)

Today was looking bleak and depressing until halfway through the afternoon, when a co-worker asked if I'd like to have the office's lamps.  We are in the process of moving and most of the desks and lighting are up for grabs; but I assumed that others would have laid claims.  Oh no - the lamps are mine for the taking as well as a brand new desk to put in the living room and finally move away from the rickety picnic table I've been using for writing all these years.

I've brought some magic to people's commute this evening. Curious stares, little smiles, double takes. One of the staff in Camden joked he'd never be able to afford the lamp. A boy who climbed in at Old Street said "nice lamp." It's now in my living room, by the sofa.

I'm in bed, about to watch Source Code. Then I'll read a bit of Robinson Crusoe on the kindle (the first book I read on an eBook, and I love the fact that it's the first novel written in the English language!)  Then the land of dreams.  And may February be kinder to me (to all of us) tomorrow.
commonpeople1: (Default)
[ profile] wink_martindale is taking a bath. It consists of me boiling water in pans and the kettle, then taking them in there and pouring them by the faucet, being careful not to scald him. He thanks me everytime I do so.

He's reading a stream-of-consciousness novel written by one of John Waters' friends. I'm listening to Will Young's new album on Spotify.
commonpeople1: (Default)

Lying on the couch, catching up with LJ and reading The Mythological Unconscious, sipping Lemsip and listening to Late Junction on Radio 3. Tired, achey fingers.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

commonpeople1: (Default)

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.

commonpeople1: (Default)
[ 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: (Straw)

Would anyone like some straight porn? [ profile] wink_martindale was cleaning our hallway closet and he found stuff that belonged to the Australians who lived here five years ago. If Playboy's hottest calendar girls and the babes of FHM are your thing, let me know. We also have a tumble dryer in this hallway closet which we have never used. Inside, we found a pair of jeans and silk boxers with sharks.

Last night we watched Bright Star, with Ben Whisham and directed by Ozzie Jane Campion. The film is about the last years of life of the poet John Keats, who died when he was just 25 years old. I spotted Ben Whishaw in Victoria Park in July 2009 and now I wonder if he was researching his character for this film. The way he was sitting on a park bench and writing in his journal was exactly the same as John Keats in the film. The film was shot that year and released in September. Once the film was finished, I flicked through Keats collection of letters which I received from a stranger in New York a few years back [1]. The letters I peaked at weren't as romantic as the ones on screen.

This morning, we had a chilled out morning in the flat before I went do Broadway Market to meet an old co-worker for a coffee.  Never saw the place that empty.  Then went to Stratford's Sainsbury's with Wink for our weekly food shop and watched Agatha Christie's "The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side" after dinner.  

I bought a Lottery Ticket.

[1] The book was sent to me as part of a pyramid scheme involving books.  You got a list of names from someone who you were meant to send books to and, in return, your name got sent to twice that many so they could mail books to you.  I did pretty well in this exercise, ending with Keats' letters, a Haruki Murakami and <i>Snow Falling on Cedars</i>.  I know some people who got nothing.


Sep. 14th, 2010 07:29 pm
commonpeople1: (Paul Simonon)
On Saturday, after I came back from the community garden's harvest festival, I noticed the tower block next to ours was cordonned off, with two investigators in suits having a chat while a cop stood nearby. I just found out from my landlord that they were there because of a nine-year-old girl who fell from the 15th floor. They think she may have been leaning too far out to speak to a friend when she fell. So so sad.
commonpeople1: (Steven Lubin)
I could watch shows he doesn't like (Glee, Spartacus, True Blood, Big Brother)
I could watch shows he doesn't understand (brasilian soap operas A Favorita, Passione)
I could listen to music full blast he doesn't like (Madonna, Lady Gaga, Girls Aloud)
I could strike a pose in the living room and hang around the kitchen in my underwear, acting like a lady
I could read books
I could make plans with friends to go out dancing and/or drinking
I could invite friends over for John Hughes marathons and sleep overs
I could go to the gym everyday
I could sleep in the middle of the bed
I could imagine that this is what single life is like
I could fill the cupboards with junk food and the fridge with beer
I could go through his stuff
I could chat with him daily on Skype

I could do most of these things if he was here anyway.
commonpeople1: (Sea)

Originally uploaded by paper_pal
I've applied for Job Seeker's Allowance and Housing Benefits. I have an interview tomorrow at the job centre but can't find our latest lease: I'll have to come up with some excuse - maybe give them my landlords' contact details to prove I live in this high rise? This is all just in case my temp agency doesn't find me any work in the next while. I'm also applying to at least one job a day - at this stage, I'm really not that fussy... just need some money coming in!

I've said this before: the best thing to do when unemployed is to exercise. It's a good break to the day and the endorphins help keep the spirits up. Yesterday I went to the pool, today to the gym. Tomorrow, the pool again after my interview at the job centre. Then a yoga class first thing Thursday morning. London pools are diiirty but I must stop comparing them to the clean, well-tended beauties in Brasil. This is my life and this is where I live.

I've got no job, no savings and a huge credit card debt. Funnily enough, Barclays just decided to double my credit rate. Coincidence?
commonpeople1: (Jehovah's Witness)

victoria park.
Originally uploaded by Stakka Carn
I arrived in London yesterday at 1pm. On the 277 bus home from Canary Wharf I was reminded why Londoners are some of the rudest people on earth. The flat was empty and had the feel of someone who's lived alone for six weeks, who slowly encroached on the territory of the lover who flew to Brasil: plants on the kitchen windowsill nearly reaching the ceiling, a drawer knocked out and propped against the wall, piles of newspapers on tables and floors. When [ profile] wink_martindale arrived, he confessed that he'd become addicted to EastEnders while I was away. I looked into his eyes and wondered whether a body snatcher had taken over. (What's all this business of Lucas murdering little Ben Mitchell?!?!)

I slept for twelve hours and dreamt with ghosts. I woke with Wink leaving a plate of toast and a mug of coffee on my bedside table. We pottered around all morning and then I made chicken wraps with tzaziki for lunch. (It's really hard to be a vegetarian, for me, but I'll keep trying.) I briefly spoke to my mom on Skype, who is learning how to use it. She told me to take a shower and shave while my grandmother moaned in the background that I was living too far away.

After six weeks of being on the horizontal, stuffing my face with homemade cakes, I figured I should go for a walk and get back into some sort of exercise routine. Victoria Park was stunning under the sun's warmth and the afternoon's silence, though there were quite a few people sunbathing, biking, jogging, clearly skiving of work. I did a circuit of the park and sat on a bench facing the pond. I brought my camera and had two great, but missed, photo opportunities: an elderly homeless man sleeping inside one of the park's half-shells dedicated to the 1st World War; and three hasidic jews whistling at the ducks (one of them on a wheelchair).

Now I'm downloading Lost episodes while Wink bakes fish and chips. We'll eat our dinner while watching EastEnders catch up (Wink just gave me a brief rundown on all the recent craziness with Syed and Christian.) I'm completely broke and if I don't find any work soon I'm gonna be in deep trouble.

April 2017



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