commonpeople1: (Avatar)
Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gone Girl is an enjoyable thriller in the mould of Patricia Highsmith's fiction, and reminiscent of Lionel Shriver's "We Need To Talk About Kevin".

Nick and Amy Dunne are a New York couple with the kind of perfect relationship that annoys their Facebook friends. They are young, wealthy and good-looking, with media careers and a bit of fame (Amy's parents are the authors of a successful series of children's books.) So why has Amy disappeared on the morning of their fifth anniversary?

The disappearance unravels through Nick's account of the police investigation and the issuing media circus, and Amy's diary. But the novel is also about the breakdown of the American dream - how young couples like the Dunnes have to leave New York for the Midwest in search of work, how communities were ripped apart by the 2008 financial crash. The final twist is marmite-flavoured.

A film version is in production, with Rosamund Pike playing Amy (great casting) and Ben Affleck playing Nick (terrible decision.) To me, Nick should be played, ideally, by a young Mickey Rourke lookalike.

View all my reviews
commonpeople1: (Pietr)
Prom Night

It was my Prom Night yesterday. It was supposed to be the best day of my life - the day when the cool kids finally recognised how amazing I was as I stepped onto the dancefloor and showed them the dance moves I'd been practicing in front of the mirror for the past two weeks. It was the night when everyone would die of jealousy when I showed up with two hot dates hanging from my arms - [ profile] teqkiller and [ profile] purplethings. I'd swirl them around the dancefloor to the tune of "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go", a circle would form around us, and everyone would clap and applaud us. Then, at the end of the night, I'd be crowned Prom King, and my two dates would fight it out in an oil wrestling ring for the title of Prom Queen. It would have been the most AWESOME night of my life.

Things started going wrong when the limousine rental service called my parents and alerted them to the fact that someone was trying to rent a limo with their credit card. I had my ass grounded for life and it was really only thanks to much pleading that they allowed me to go to the prom ("your last night of freedom until Armageddon, or Leyton Orient wins a football match - whichever comes first".)

I had to call my dates and explain that I wouldn't be able to pick them up, that it was better if we met at a bar near the venue (one of the only places in this godforsaken town that doesn't ask for I.D.) Get some drinks in before we had to pay the exorbitant prices for watered down fruit punch. I couldn't get a hold of one of my dates - assumed that I'd see her at the party, or she had found someone with a proper limo to drive her home - but I figured I was still doing OK by going with [ profile] teqkiller.

She was wearing a beautiful polka dot dress that would have killed all the envious cheerleaders. We sat at the back of the bar and drank 59 bottles of beer. And we gossiped about the popular kids in high school. And we talked about our favourite TV shows. And we talked and we talked. By the time we stumbled to the venue, it was nearly time to go home. The line to get in was huge because the Principal made the mistake of booking a place that didn't fit the whole senior year. We stood at the line and noticed that it wasn't moving. We peeked through the windows and noticed there was nowhere to sit, and people were spilling out onto the smoker's area. With a shrug, we realized our prom night was over before it had even begun, and the best way to salvage the night was to drink another 59 bottles of beer at a nearby sports bar. We hoped [ profile] purplethings made it to Prom Night and was having the time of her life for us.

I went home alone. I should have been carrying the Prom King sash. And I didn't get in to any of the colleges I applied for. My life sucks.
commonpeople1: (Jasmin)

Planet Angels
Originally uploaded by Daisy Flame
When Kevin and I left the apartment yesterday evening, we thought we'd meet some friends in a downtown pub for a quiet night of beer, trays of nachos and chit chat. Never in our wildest dreams would we guess that by 5am we'd be wandering the empty streets of London, pupils so big they took up half of our faces, bodies still warm from dancing at Planet Angel.

We nearly didn't go, but [ profile] rosamicula is very good at changing people's minds and making them see the light. So, after a few hours of mellow pub conversation with the [ profile] patsy_social, we headed back to Rosamicula's - courtesy of [ profile] sarcaustick and [ profile] thirstypixel who were in town and willing to drive us - for some food, wine and outfit changes.

Planet Angel doesn't have a fixed address. Every month they throw a party in a different London location. Yesterday's was in Vauxhall, in a venue decorated like a 60s sci-fi film set smoked with hundreds of incense sticks. Bouncers and "carers" wandered around, through a mostly young crowd, smiling at everyone and making sure people were having a good time. Rooms played hard trance, drum and bass or happy house. The latter was my favourite, but it was played in a tiny room used as corridor for the other two main rooms, so one couldn't get lost in the music without someone pushing past on their way somewhere else.

The crowd was mostly young. Really young. As in, I saw groups of 14-year-olds and I wondered how the hell they'd got in. [ profile] rosamicula seems to think many were freshers, and she's probably right. I think it's very precocious of 6th form freshers to party like this these days!

Once in a while, in the sea of smooth torsos, pouty emo boys (oh, how [ profile] sushidog and [ profile] naturalbornkaos would have loved there) and tiny girls in angel outfits, you'd glimpse someone in their 60s, clearly making time there until the outdoors festivals return. A giant poster on one wall, with paint on the floor, encouraged revellers to scribble messages or decorate their own faces. And if anyone felt like getting some rest, there were couches in chill out rooms, videogames, lego and toys to lose oneself in. They even sold food and tea, and occasionally bar staff wandered around with trays of strawberries and grapes.

But despite all this, Kevin and I didn't have enough energy to dive head-first into the night. We tried our best in each room, finding briefly some fun in New Order's "Blue Monday" on the happy house dancefloor, but the feeling never remained. Men kept approaching Kevin and asking him for drugs or lighters. Rosamicula disappeared because she wanted tea and a podium to pound the night away (plus, she seemed to know half the people in there). I was still wearing my work clothes and didn't feel 100% comfortable. So, at 4am, Kevin asked if we could leave.

Outside, London slept and the streets were deserted. We walked past a silent House of Parliament, and it suddenly struck me that I was peaking. I asked Kevin if he felt anything and he jabbered for about 10 minutes on how he wasn't high at all, and how he really could do with some chips, and how there were various places we could catch the night bus, and how he wanted to do some drawing on Saturday, and how he might come to Sushidog and watch X Factor and on and on and on. So cute.

Today, we have been completely useless. We watched Beautiful Thing and Horrible People, and we ate easy fare like oven chips and fish fingers. My lower back has gone to pieces and I keep forgetting what I want to do. I'm surprised I managed to write this post. It must have taken me about two hours, but I can't be sure. What I do know is that the X Factor and some hearty winter food from Sushidog's kitchen will be the perfect way to ease me into the night.
commonpeople1: (Mr Stamp)
Despite attending a "lame" fetish night at Slimelight on Friday, then not getting any sleep, [ profile] tina found enough strength yesterday to get on a train from Walthamstow and come meet the actor who plays Kevin and I at Liverpool Street Station. Every Londoner was out and about after a smiley sun rose above the capital. She looked gorgeous as ever, although a little sleepy; we walked over to Brick Lane for the South African B-B-Q I'd promised earlier in the week, as well as a long-overdue catch up.

Afterwards, we grabbed some coffee and had a look at the stalls that sell overpriced crap by clueless Shoreditch designers. There seemed to be a vintage store every ten feet, which brought the shopper out of Tina and Kevin: soon he had a grey bag for his notebooks and pens, and she had a vest and a beautiful dark blue dress.

We visited Nog Gallery so Tina could check out their zines and art books; we ended up discovering a neat exhibition of darkly humourous etchings made by a Hackney artist called John M F Casey. They are quite beautiful - I believe he painted the wooden canvasses white, then black, then etched through them to create imagery of hellish horrors that would suit Tim Burton's living room.

Birthday Boy tired of treasure hunting London

We said our goodbyes to Tina around 4.30pm and went to Spitalfields Market to wait for [ profile] tom. His girlfriend [ profile] christa had planned for him a massive treasure hunt across London, and we were his almost-at-the-end-of-the-line stop. I had a pirate badge pinned to my bag which said "Happy Birthday to Me"; as soon as he found us, I removed it and he pinned it on his jacket. His task was to sing any of The Smiths' songs in their entirety, with no mistakes, so he could learn his next destination. He shocked me to the Moon and back by not knowing in full any of their lyrics. He stammered through "This Charming Man", failed at "Bigmouth Strikes Again", and was about to bomb on "Shoplifters of the World Unite" when Kevin told me to give him a break and suggest an easy one. So I suggested "How Soon Is Now?", which he murdered hurried through before making his escape. Remind me to never go karaoking with him.

We headed for Waterloo for a meeting with my old friend Kelly at the BFI Southbank. Juliette Binoche's paintings are being exhibited there as part of their "Binoche Season" and they are worth checking out if you are in the area. Her paintings are pairs that match her career's characters with the directors she has worked with. All of her self-portraits are infused with the personalities and physionomies of the directors that created them.

Kelly showed up with a gift for us, some french cheese, figs and lavender she collected from her house in France. We walked over to Soho's Curzon because the idea of watching a grim Icelandic thriller called Jar City on a beautiful September night seemed like a good idea. It was one of those films which could have easily been made for TV - a sort of Prime Suspect with detectives that eat goat heads for dinner and juggle their personal lives with their depressing work. The film had some wonderful aerial shots of Iceland but its main message seemed to be: DON'T LIVE IN THIS FUCKING MISERABLE ISLAND. Iceland's Ministry of Tourism should look into suing.

Party Bus on Charing Cross Road

Outside the cinema, past 11pm, London suddenly seemed overwhelmed by crowds of horny, drunken louts from the 'burbs. Everyone shouted over everyone else, and cars honked uselessly at a traffic that was going nowhere. A gang of women dressed as FBI agents, the leader wearing bridal headgear, stumbled past us. Even the neon lights seemed brighter than usual, intense enough to burn your retinas. A nightmarish sight rolled into view: a red double-decker bus crammed with people, blasting "YMCA". The bus carried girls wearing glittery tiaras who were having a right hoot rubbing their boobs against the windowpanes for the benefit of the men on the sidewalk, their hands banging in the air as if the Village People were the ultimate rave experience. Some girls on the street felt compelled to join the fun by rushing to the windows and doing their own YMCA moves back at the partygoers inside. It only dawned on me to take a photo of this modern horseman of the apocalypse once it was pulling away - thus the shaky photo above.

The Sickly Green Chest of Drawers

Today, we took our iPods and newspapers to Vicky Park, bought some bagels and coffee and lay on the grass in full view of the sun. On the way back, we found this chest of drawers sitting on the sidewalk, not too far from our tower block. There was nothing wrong with it apart from its green snot colour (debatable defect) and food stains (solved quickly with a soapy cloth). It's going to sit in the master bedroom after it failed to look alright in the hallway, the sitting room and the dining room.

The Squirrel Who Thought People Were Made of Carrot Cake

This little fellow approached us last week, when we were sitting on the lawn outside the Geffrye Museum enjoying coffee and slices of cakes bought at Broadway Market. [ profile] dawnkitten made the mistake of giving it some of her carrot cake, instantly creating a friend who thought she was made of cake. I never saw a squirrel this upclose before; he was actually slightly intimidating. It didn't even flinch away from Kevin's paparazzi-style photography. Just look at that mouth. It wants to eat you. Yes, YOU!
commonpeople1: (Under Water)
I sit on a bench facing the Thames, searching for a word to describe the water's colour. There's the sky's blue of course, faint as if from a desert mountain seen from afar, but also the light brown reflected from the old walls that keep the river from drenching London. These two colours alternate in the water's ondulation, only occasionally broken by speed boats. I'm reminded of the sea in how violent the waves suddenly become in one of these aftermaths. But there's no scent of brine, just that faint London whiff which doesn't really smell of anything once you have lived here long enough.

When I arrived at this bench, a shave-headed butch girl was sitting in the middle of it, one foot nearly tucked underneath her ass. Her whole body language spoke of bench ownership, regardless of the hundreds of people walking up and down the South Bank, regardless of the other fully occupied benches, regardless of anyone who might need a little break. This attitude, like a red flag to a bull, challenges me to join her. She slides to the other end of the bench, surprised. A minute later, she's up and off, clearly pissed off.

I don't have the bench to myself for long. Four eastern european girls and a baby buggy join me; the little one needs a feed. The girls are barely out of their teens; they wear miniskirts that tease the men on nearby benches with their fluttering dance as they lean over the railings and gossip over the river's spray. Girls that don't wish to hide very much, and who speak loudly to each other, to the baby too. They leave me abruptly, back in the flow of people heading towards the Tate Modern.

Now a young office worker joins me on the bench. He's got a sandwich and a complete lack of presence. My attention drifts back to the waves, where I spot a football bobbing along, not too far from a soft drink bottle. Behind me, a busker in a tight blue polo shirt and red bell bottoms has set up shop and sings the first lines of a song I've heard before... but I can't put my finger on it. Neil Young? Bob Dylan? I'm searching for the song's name when a guy I know from the National Theatre crosses my field of vision. He's hunched over, smoking a cigarette, looking in my direction from behind large sunglasses. I bite my lips and look elsewhere just as he gives me a double-take and walks away. If he had stopped to speak to me, he'd have spoiled my day.

Five people performed Tai Chi this morning in the park outside St John's church. They held invisible suns in their hands.
commonpeople1: (Rockasilly)
The Long Blondes
Photo by Emma Obanye

The Long Blondes played the last date of their UK tour last night, at The Forum. They were touring their second album, "Couples", which I haven't heard yet (nor have I heard good things about.) They enter a stage lined with naked mannequins that face the audience, to the sound of The Mutantes' "Panis Et Circenses". Kate Jackson, the lead singer, is a leggy non-blonde whose good looks and belting voice can't be properly summed up by videos or photos. I witness a few tongues roll to the ground from the men surrounding me when she takes over the mic (the same men who will later call out for her to take off her top, and give me more insight into the appeal of the band for some.) I keep my eyes on the bassist, who is mates with [ profile] woodsrule; she plays the set to the side, giving the audience a variety of quizzical and shy looks. It's hard however to get your eyes off Kate, the indie-girl-gone-off-the-tracks that keeps the band together. And she knows this too when she joins the drummer during the first song (a track from the new album that reminds me of Siouxsie & the Banshees circa 1980) giving everyone a coquettish view of her slim body.

The only songs to get the crowd going come from their first album. The new tracks in their live versions lack melody, catchy choruses, or even the oomph from some of their earlier singles. The only stand out track is new single Century, which comes across as a psychedelic take on The Cure (the album track sadly pales in comparison to what I heard last night.) "Century" shows an interesting direction the band could follow, away from the sub-Blondie songs that seem to litter this new album. Just like the stiff mannequins, the Long Blondes are coming across this time around as slightly too mannered for their own good. When Kate points to someone in the front row and says he looks like a young Morrissey, the cynical in me can't help but wonder if she's trying to conjure up a certain mood. In any case, it's not enough to cause rapturous stage invasions or a new Britpop revival.
Photos from the gig: Emma Obanye, Piano Cktail
Other people there: Lib Dem councillor Matt Davies, This Is London
commonpeople1: (George O'Brien)
It's snowing in London. I only had three hours of sleep last night. I woke up at 7 to grey light pouring into the bedroom and snow flakes hitting the window. Looked outside and saw the city disappearing under a heavy flurry. My first thoughts were for the flowers that bloomed, the creatures that came out of their hibernation this past sunny week, getting covered with snow flakes. How hippie am I? When the flurry subsided a little, about two hours ago, a small pterodactyl flew past my living room window towards Victoria Park.

I only had three hours of sleep because I drank a lot yesterday and ate a large hamburger at 2 in the morning which didn't agree with my stomach (I'd been a fishetarian for the past two weeks.) The hamburger was consumed at Balans, on Old Compton Street, a queer establishment I had not visited before (I always thought it was a bit over my budget every time I walked past it, and it turns out I was right - but they do have damn good food!) Two crazy ladies accompanied me: one who has a long history with the restaurant; another who simulated a loud orgasm that got the nearby tables giggling when I slid her engagement ring back on her finger. The touchy-feely gay waiter had his bum pinched, wine got drunk and we may have run away from a cab driver without paying the fare.

Yesterday started out as such a nice and calm day; I couldn't have guessed that the dark storms were drawing in and my friends would be as wild as them. Two friends had come down from York for the weekend. I showed them my neighbourhood - including Mile End Park's Ecology Centre - before we met with another friend (the one who knows Balans well) for a visit to Tower Hamlets' cemetery. The day started sunny but by noon it was clear that things were going to get progressively worse (I suppose leading up to today's snow flurries). We decided to skip the cemetery for a walk across soggy Victoria Park and some posh fish & chips. Our friends from York then drove us to Camden to the sound of Siouxsie Sioux. We found a parking spot near the market and were shocked to discover every single table in Bar 55 reserved for the happy hour (oh unhappy lack of foresight! But how were we supposed to know the place would grow popular after Camden's fire?) That didn't stop us taking tables, then moving to other tables when réservées arrived and kicked us off.

Friends began to arrive at Bar 55 and the place got progressively full of 12-year-olds (no, seriously) and louder. One of our friends got accidentally covered in a sugary drink and spent the rest of the night wiping her black leather bag and dipping her hair into glasses of water. Later, at another pub, she also had her breasts fondled by another female (the one who later would reach orgasm in my hands). Men looked jealously at my harem collection, and more than three women asked me how many times I'd slept with girls and why had I given it up (I've got horrible straight man shoes so I'm obviously in denial about my heterosexuality.) Before we arrived at the night's final pub, where a birthday party was taking place (which we crashed), we had a brief stop at the Ice Wharf, which was filled with orange people from Essex. Strawberry beer was drunk. People then started buying me beer (thank you again!) and conversation disintegrated into TMI, silliness, gossip, innuendo, surreality and banality. Women sat on my lap, men treated me like shit (one even threatened to kill me in Soho, but I think he was high on something), and everyone felt the need to confide secrets in me (the kind of shocking secrets that could send ripples through London's Goth Scene). I'd like to take this opportunity to say that your secrets are safe with me. Yes, I do love gossip; but I'm not a gossip. Do you get the difference? I'm a collector of gossip, a gatherer of information. I'm that character in an Agatha Christie novel that eventually gets murdered for knowing too much. It will be up to the detective in you to unravel the secrets I take with me to the grave.

April 2017



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