commonpeople1: (Avatar)
One Direction by hmv_getcloser
One Direction, a photo by hmv_getcloser on Flickr.
In honour of the approaching NaNoWriMo, I'm going to start writing one hour a day. I don't mean necessarily write for one hour, but have that time and space dedicated to it. I may just stare at a screen or a paper journal for 60mins.

What I want is routine. I already have one with exercise, and even with my little cafe excursions on Monday mornings before work, so why can't I have an hour a day for writing? And for days when I absolutely can't get an hour to myself, I could add it to the weekend so - say - on a Sunday when I'm at home, I can write for three hours and catch up on the hours I owe (though that sounds like a cop out already, doesn't it?)

So I'm here, sitting in the living room listening to Jarvis Cocker's show on BBC Radio 6 (<3), the wind rattling the windows (bring it on Super Storm of the Decade About to Hit Britain), only a few minutes gone by in my allocated hour.

Can I write on LJ during my allocated hour? Yes I can. Can I write on Twitter or Facebook? No, I can't - those networks don't count.

I wish we had a cat. It would nestle against me when I was focused, then sprint away when I tried to pet it.

My mouth tastes faintly of chai tea. And a little bit of the cheese and onion Ruffle crisps I had for lunch with a salmon and cream cheese bagel, on a bench in Victoria Park.

I went to the gym first thing this morning - it's always empty on Sundays, which I love. I took a bath in the afternoon, with a candle for company (a scented one that one of the Sissies gave me for my birthday.) I listened to songs from my iPhone while I soaked - 100 randomly selected songs from my iTunes.

I have a brasilian friend in town who I met for drinks and a play at Soho Theatre last night. (A very good feminist play that was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe - highly recommend you see it you have a chance: Bryony Kimmings: Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model.) We were meant to go to Columbia Road's flower market today... I'm still waiting for their phone call.

Last Tuesday my boyfriend and I marked 15 years together. Fifteen years ago we went on a date in Montreal, to see Bride of Chucky. I gave him David Sedaris' latest book, which I bought at Gay's the Word (one of London's best bookshops). He gave me a collection of short stories written by bloggers, edited by Dennis Cooper.

He's now in his cupboard office, going through his bills. We just watched the final episode of The Killing III. I'd been under the impression that it was the last series ever, but the ending has left a door open and a return more than likely. This makes me happy even though the Scandinavia portrayed in the series is as bleak as fuck.

A few weeks ago I toyed with the idea of doing a fanfiction NaNoWriMo - a thriller based on One Direction. Here's my pitch: girls from all over the world adore the boys and want to meet them at all costs. But little do they know that... One Direction have a bloodlust for their fans! They enjoy hunting and killing them for sport. (There's some subplot about One Directioners disappearing and a cop who wears ugly knitted sweaters investigating these cases.) The opening scene is a One Direction bus pulling out of the stadium, with blacked windows - girls screaming their heads off around it and begging the boys to come out. Little do they know that inside its soundproof walls, Harry Styles is wielding a chainsaw and advancing on a terrified Directioner... and so on. My heroine in this fanfiction comes from Nottingham and survives a night in One Direction's hotel after her friend is killed. She turns into prey as the band hunt for her, even going so far to track down her family's home (they announce to the world that they are bringing their arena tour to - surprise surprise - Nottingham!)

I may have Moussaka for dinner tonight. I bought some at M&S during the week and put it in the freezer. Oh, I forgot to mention: we didn't have Pancake Saturday yesterday! I don't know if the boyfriend has been reading my journal but it suddenly became French Toast Saturday and I was in charge. (I make some mean french toasts I'll have you know.) I'm determined to have Pancake Saturday return next weekend.

1985s

Aug. 31st, 2012 09:45 pm
commonpeople1: (Default)
1985 by cphollywood
1985, a photo by cphollywood on Flickr.
My boyfriend and Sissy A have gone to a goodbye party in Stoke Newington and I'm home alone. Listening to 80s music and wishing I could - on these first hours of my two week off work - be in a nightclub dancing to new wave songs.

I'm slightly tipsy on white wine. I have a bottle of Jack Daniels I'm going to finish off. Rubber Rodeo's Anywhere With You is now playing on my iTunes.

Ok, wait a sec, I'm going to go get the drink and will be right back...

I'm back. It's about two fingers of JD plus six small ice cubes. Somebody take me out!


Mellow Days

Apr. 7th, 2012 05:38 pm
commonpeople1: (Default)
In Shepherds' Room by Hamed Saber
In Shepherds' Room, a photo by Hamed Saber on Flickr.
It's 17.32pm Greenwich time and I'm drinking tea from a mug that says "Sex" while listening to indie music on iTunes shuffle. I've been alone most of the day - my boyfriend left in the morning to meet his sister across town and take a £13 yoga class. Like yesterday, he woke me with a cup of coffee before banging the front door in his wake.

I watched videos on my laptop for a while then took a bath (still can't take showers.) The plan was to take a bus to Stratford and walk to the communal garden - do a bit of digging in the dirt before heading downtown to meet [livejournal.com profile] loveinsuburbia for a drink. But the minute I stepped outdoors I knew the day was wrong: ominous drops hitting my head, heavy clouds over London, a sluggishness that couldn't leave me even with the help of soap box screamers outside Westfield. Bought some things in Sainsbury's (why were all the chocolate Easter eggs gone?!) and took the bus back home.

Did a creative writing exercise where I imagined myself to be a half-naked woman about to perform on a cabaret stage with two other lasses. Read a poem by T.S. Eliot. This made me think again of my story - of how the two cabaret dancers and I were performing to soldiers from the 1st World War.

Moved on to A Clash of Kings (the sequel to A Game of Thrones) while Radio 3 played Late Junction from a few days ago. Then I played Xenoblade Chronicles for a few hours (oh god it's going to take me years to complete this bloody soap opera JRPG).

When Sissy A was visiting, she let me copy dozens of films from her hard drive onto my laptop - we watched one of them last night (the new version of The Thing). A friend built a blanket fort in her living room two days ago and held a horror marathon underneath it - I'm tempted to do the same.
commonpeople1: (Schiele)
On my train ride to Toulouse I sat beside a girl with a dog on her lap. On my train ride to London yesterday I sat beside a girl with a cat on her lap. The dog was called Diana and was as blond and shaggy as her owner. She got slaps whenever she growled at loud small children wandering past us. Her owner's laptop had Dexter's cast members as its desktop image. I think the cat was called Emel and it was quiet, dignified and gorgeous. Its owner fell asleep often but the cat never tried to jump away. The three children in front of us kept peaking over their seats at it.

We stayed with [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale's sister and her french boyfriend in a modern apartment by the river. Our blinds went up and down with the help of a remote control ("I feel like I'm in L.A.!") Later in the week, Wink's other sister and her husband joined us from London (there was minor drama with this because of all the flights being canceled thanks to the snow). They stayed with Wink's parents, who were in an apartment nearby rented specifically for the holiday.

Our typical day consisted of breakfast followed by walks through Toulouse and its shops. We did most of our Christmas shopping there. The city's centre ville reminded me of a Parisian neighbourhood, perhaps Le Marais sans les pédés. The architecture hinted at medieval but had very modern homes, pretty shops and restaurants. At night, we had dinner back at one of the apartments.

The whole point of the trip was to have a Christmas dinner with the french boyfriend's family. They consisted of the boyfriend's brother, parents and grandparents (a couple in their eighties and a "papi" who was 93) . Real characters - a very boisterous, fun-loving group of people who spoke perhaps 5 words of English between them. Thank god for my previous french courses! They gave us a banquet on Friday that consisted of a whole bunch of sea food I'd never eaten before in my life. I had a go at oysters, bigorneaux huîtres (small snails for you and me), langoustines (just the meat in their claws) and bulots (large snails that look like fuzzy, pinkish snot). And a pie that contained fish brains. It all tasted good, but what a trial! When the plates arrived, I felt like Indiana Jones in that scene from the Temple of Doom. All this food was topped with trays of cheese and dessert - and a lot of great wine and champagne.

The eve ended around 4am. We returned the next morning as soon as we woke up for more sea food, foies gras ("just keep telling yourself it's hummus"), haricots verts, gratin dauphinois (potato bake) and a franken roast that was delicious, composed of duck, pig and a few more animals. It was prepared by the young brother, who is a butcher. Again, followed by cheeses, dessert (ice cream and fruit salad). Plus the usual wine and champagne.

We took loads of pictures but the camera is still with Wink. When he's back in London (on the 3rd) I'll upload the photos and post a link. Tomorrow morning a friend from Brasil arrives to stay with me for a week or so. It's her first visit to Europe. I'm looking forward to seeing London through her eyes.
commonpeople1: (Steven Lubin)
Yesterday, I took my camera to work and recorded some footage from the No. 8 bus. I wanted to capture the street piano again, hopefully with someone playing it like the day before.

Want to know what it feels like to be in my skin when I commute in the morning, sitting in the No. 8's second floor, with the iShuffle plugged in? Here's my footage (with Broadcast & The Focus Group's "Royal Chant" as soundtrack):



Didn't make it to the community garden today. I'm hoping to meet my brasilian friend Vini Bambini sometime this afternoon and/or go for a long walk. Tomorrow, myself, [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale, [livejournal.com profile] desayuno_ingles, one of the Sissies plus some other friends will be attending and volunteering at Cancer Research UK's Pride Walk. There will be a lot of men in drag, apparently.

On Thin Ice

Jan. 7th, 2010 07:00 pm
commonpeople1: (Clarice)
Sissy A is trying to convince [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I to move to Toulouse. She's on her way there this month, to join her boyfriend and work long distance for an architecture company in Montreal. Rent for a two-person flat is around 500 euros. Jobs for those who speak cranky French but fluent English are available. But I could also just take out a loan and be a student for a year; learn French really well for an eventual job; wash some dishes... so tempting. No temping.

I go back and forth on this idea of doing a MA in Portuguese Studies here in London. Really, what kind of job am I guaranteed afterwards? Will I have to return to admin and bite the bullet until my loans are paid off? Or would I do well enough to become a researcher, or perhaps work for a Brasilian organisation? I know I should just take a deep breath and be courageous but I keep remembering the years after I graduated from university and my History and English Lit degree's mystifying quality.

Only one more week left at work. Since the snow, Regent's Canal has been all mine. Thank God I haven't slipped and broken anything! I love walking down it at night, past the barges that line the canal by Victoria Park, their engines running and the air smelling of burnt wood. That's what I'll miss the most when I (most likely) return to commuting downtown.
commonpeople1: (Suzi)
Ever since Sissy Jen's wedding a month ago, I've been wondering what it would be like to marry Kevin. What kind of ceremony would we hold? Would it be a big affair? A small event? And what exactly do gay couples do when they get married? I have never been to a gay ceremony so I was struggling to come up with theoretical ideas.

That is, until a colleague of mine sent me the photos below from an acquaintance's wedding.

These have made me feel really inspired and now I'm looking forward to the day when Kevin and I can be joined in matrimony under the eyes of God, our family and friends. Now I just need to figure out a way to get the money for it!

Inspirations for Mine and Kevin's Dream Wedding )
commonpeople1: (Peta)

All Saints Church Chelmsford
Originally uploaded by LIGHT_
Kevin's sister got married this weekend in Chelmsford, Essex. I used to think the whole of Essex was as unappealing as Romford but I was wrong: Chelmsford has a nice little downtown centre, a canal teeming with fish and canoes, outdoor tables that nearly transport you to continental Europe and a very affordable Travelodge (£20 a night!) with the friendliest of staff. The ceremony itself was very traditional (and beautiful), performed in All Saints Church, which looked and felt distinguishedly old (Restoration period, with newer bits attached to it?)

I was asked to be one of the ushers, a red rose pinned to my brand new H&M black suit's lapel by the mother-in-law's sister a few minutes before the ceremony. I stood by the pews with Kevin and the groom's ten-year-old nephew, handing out programmes and directing people to either the right (groom's family) or the left (Sissy Jen's fam).

Amidst the small group of formally attired family members, I noticed a mother and daughter dressed somewhat casually. They took programmes from me and sat with the groom's family. I didn't think much of it until the ceremony was over and I saw them walking away. I pointed this out to Kevin and he wondered if they might re-join us for the party after the dinner. They didn't. I now wonder if they are "wedding crashers" - taking an hour of their Saturdays to sit through any ceremony that will offer them choir songs, beautiful dresses, some tears, some tangential magic. Wedding Spotters.

I was worried about meeting Kevin's family from Canada and Ireland, an older generation of Catholics born and raised in small towns who travelled to Chelmsford especially for the occasion and who had never been in the same room together. They couldn't have been warmer and friendlier. By yesterday, when we were saying our goodbyes, we received invitations to visit and stay with some of them. It made me feel how lucky we are to have such open and understanding families - people who are fully aware how long Kevin and I have been together, and who are happy for us, and who want to get to know us better. Last night, it felt like a come down to have our apartment empty of Kevin's mom and sister, the expectation and tension of the past two weeks finally over.

Some people asked us when we are getting married. Weddings are such terrifying things, I can't even think about it for a second without freaking out. I don't know if it's the thing for us... we have been together now for nearly 11 years - why change? But, at the same time, it was so lovely to see these families meet, share a day, stagger away happily drunk from too much food and drinking.

I'll need to attend a few more weddings (for research purposes) before I make up my mind.

End Mile

Apr. 11th, 2009 02:47 pm
commonpeople1: (Bobby)

Mile End.
Originally uploaded by tommygunatkins
Our tower block is below the airplane routes from London City Airport and Heathrow. Sometimes, when I'm washing dishes and looking at Canary Wharf, I can see planes slamming into one of the financial skyscrappers. I think about my digital camera and whether I can reach it in time, if it has enough battery, if my photos will end up on a broadsheet front page. Or I imagine those planes heading for me as soapy water drips down my hands. Or Kevin, alone in the apartment as I watch the disaster from Victoria Park. Most of the time, though, I'm very proud of our view. We can see the changing seasons in London so beautifully. We've bought some hardy plants to populate our varanda and keep us busy this summer.

Sissy Jen is spending the weekend with us. We went to the Rich Mix yesterday and saw Religulous. It was an atheist's call-to-arms through humour, which is always the best sort. Afterwards, I asked myself if Bill Maher (who goes around interviewing religious figures and generally bursting their arguments) was guilty of entrapment, ala Borat. I don't think he was. His approach was open and friendly - intelligent - when interviewing people from all faiths, across the world. He gave them a chance to explain their beliefs. Some of them had never met in their life a person willing to challenge their views, and that's the film's ultimate success. Sure, there was some choppy editing for cheap laughs, and the film is more TV special than cinema material, but it's far less belligerent then anything by Michael Moore or Sacha Baron Cohen. So yeah, go see it.

I've also bought the Yeah Yeah Yeah's new brilliant album, "It's a Blitz!", and the Pet Shop Boys' best of compilation "PopArt". It's party time chez Ollie.
commonpeople1: (George O'Brien)
It was an unusually beautiful Sunday in London, the likes we haven't seen this summer. So, of course, Kevin and I filled our thermos with coffee, grabbed some books and a bedsheet, then headed for Victoria Park for a bit of sunshine. Lying on the grass, listening to my new iPod, watching a young boy play football with his father and grandfather, it dawned on me - and I know this is trite - how little time we have for anything: we'll never get to read all the books we want, hear all the great music recorded, watch all the top notch films, attend all parties, dance in all night clubs, kiss all the beautiful boys, swim in all oceans and seas... you get the picture. The New Yorker has a podcast in its arts section where an author, each month, reads a short story by another author. Where am I gonna find the time to listen to these, on top of all the other things I want/need to do? (I still haven't cracked open the two gay mags I bought in Paris, for example.)

This existential drama played in my head as I reflected on my two social engagements yesterday. I had a housewarming party in Walthamstow with friends and, across town, a ticket for some stand-up comedy. I tried to do both - and it worked out fine - but it left me feeling at the end of the night that I didn't get enough of anything.

I brought vodka to [livejournal.com profile] suzi's housewarming (also known as The One Girl And A Whole Lot Of Blokes Party), drank pina coladas and cheap lager, answered the hostess' mobile phone and intercom in my best impression of her, laughed a good deal and was hitting my stride when the clock hit midnight 7.30pm and I had to dash out. (Did any of you witness my near fall when I stumbled down the step?) I'm particularly sad I missed out on the magic cookies...

Suzi has a great terrace just off her studio (which is a charming little lodging that reminds me of a cottage) with plenty of space for BBQs and social interaction. If there were firecrackers, we would have lit them; if there were banners, we would have waved them; if there was a snogging line, [livejournal.com profile] craig would have been first in line since he's the primary one. See... just thinking about the general silliness, the drunken text messages I exchanged with the party goers afterwards, makes me regret missing the rest of the party (and the ones who arrived when I was leaving/gone).

The 99 Club, temporarily housed in a pub just off Tottenham Court Road, hosted routines by Holly Walsh and Paul Foot. My experience with stand-up comedy (years and years ago) has been that there's usually one or two good performances, and a whole load of mistakes and deadly silence from the audience. Last night was generally great, with both acts delivering really good routines (they lucked out with the crowd). I didn't know this until afterwards but Paul Foot is a bit of a celebrity (he was even on an American TV show, Last Comic Standing.) There was a group of teenage boys right at the front who got teased mercilessly by him (they loved it). Afterwards, Paul joined us (he knows Sissy Jen and her fiancee) for some late drinks and food; we ran into the teenage boys and they fawned all over Paul as if he was the Second Coming. He suggested we go for omelettes at the Laguna Cafe, a dive just across the street from the Astoria, after he dispatched his fans but, oh boy, he must have really regretted that suggestion! He ran away from our belligerent selves as soon as he'd scoffed that omelette and downed his Coke.

The Party Dance )
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)
Kevin and Sissy Jen bought plane tickets to Canada this Christmas... with Zoom Airlines.

I'm guessing they'll be OK because they bought their tickets with credit cards... or at least I hope so. Anyone got experience with buying from a company that goes bankrupt?
commonpeople1: (Rockasilly)
There's a giant Sainsbury's supermarket by Whitechapel. Since it's on my way home, I decide to drop by and purchase a few things. I'm in the pizza aisle when an announcement comes on telling us to remain where we are. Everyone stops for a brief moment, looks at their neighbour, then continues to wander around. The staff look as bewildered as the shoppers. The recorded voice message is on repeat, telling us to stay put.

I'm getting near the shampoo aisle when the message changes to a fire alarm. It's loud, interspeared with a message telling everyone to evacuate. I shove my basket above the nappies and head towards the exit. There's only about ten other people doing the same; everyone else stands around with a mild look of if-there-is-no-fire-I'm-gonna-keep-shopping. The staff have congregated by the door; they lift their shoulders and shake their heads to the few people who ask what's going on. It reminds me of an experiment I once saw on TV, where a man sat in a room filling job applications, little knowing that the other people with him were actors. When the room began to fill up with smoke, the actors didn't budge, kept on writing their applications as if there was nothing wrong. So the guy did the same, against his instinct to run away. The need to shop overrules the need to survive (for some.)

Sissy Jen called us last night with the news that she found a worm in her Tesco salad bag. She had just poured some dressing on her plate, so it was hard taking photos for evidence that distinguished the worm from the creamy sauce.

After Sainsbury's, I walk towards Bethnal Green Road. A beautiful black-haired young man comes out of the fire station's garage, spits on the asphalt, then strides like John Wayne to a payphone. One block away, a red double-decker bus rolls down the road, a big sign for the Respect political party hanging from it, Gloria Gaynor's Aretha Franklin classic track blasting through speakers: I'm about to give you all of my money, all I ask of you in return honey, is to give me a lil' Respect (just a little).

A car with young asian boys honks at the bus, and when the Respect members wave back at them the boys stick their arms out of the car and give them the middle-finger.
commonpeople1: (Rockasilly)
The best time of the day to listen to an album by The Cure is when the sun is about to set, bordering the horizon. And if it has been a pretty, sunny day, then all the better.

We just came back from a walk, where we got to enjoy London's spring-time weather. Roman Road market was as busy as ever, with stalls selling discounted winterwear, pirated R&B and rap CDs, and even "brazilian" donuts. Children had overrun the library and Victoria Park was the domain of dogs leading their owners on a feverish butt-sniffing quest. For the first time in months, I left my mitts at home.

We cut through the park because I wanted to buy some coffee from the bagel shop on Grove Road. We then found an empty bench awash with sunshine which faced boys playing football. A dog ran between the boys, trying foolishly to catch the ball. While Kevin read a book he borrowed from the library (on how to manage your own business) I worried about going blind from too much sun in my eyes.

Plenty of joggers went past us, followed by children on bikes and mothers pushing prams. We circled the park and reached the largest pond, where all the daffodils have bloomed and white stalks that resemble pussy willows line the edge. A black pug overtook us and lapped the water with gusto. Lula! Lula! Tallulah!, called the owners, to a very unconcerned little dog. Tallulah ran off, mildy interested in the Canadian geese, coots and moorhens that sailed the pond.

Sissy Jen, who's visiting us for the weekend, regrets not coming for a walk with us. We left her with copies of today's Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, but there isn't enough news in this world that can substitute a bit of fresh air.
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)
Dexter


The FBI believes 85% of the world's serial killers are in the U.S.A., and that 20 to 50 of them are active at any given time. I wonder if any of them watch Dexter, and if they enjoy the show. Do they feel a unique connection with Dexter? Do they have pre-orders with Amazon for the series' boxset as soon as it's available?

I didn't think much of the show when I watched it with [livejournal.com profile] desayuno_ingles in Brasil. We watched the sixth episode and, despite most of the plot being explained to me, I still found the show convoluted, badly acted and somewhat hackneyed. When I returned to London, I learned that Kevin and Sissy Jen had gone through a Dexter marathon, thanks to the episodes being available for free, on demand. I decided to give the show a second chance, from its start, seeing that I was unemployed and had nothing better to do all day.

Dexter comes close to being great TV. It's not quite there yet for me, but it's almost there (I'm currenly on episode 8 of the first season). The premise is brilliant: Dexter is a blood splatter specialist with the Miami police who also happens to be a closeted serial killer. However, Dexter was raised by a foster father with Nietzschean ideals, who believed his son's psychopathy could be used as a force for good, i.e. he trains Dexter to direct his bloodlust at bad people. From there, the show constantly pits Dexter against notions of good and evil in modern life. If you are a nurse who poisons patients, you deserve to die in his hands. But if you killed a boy who raped you, then it's OK to retaliate; Dexter will let you get away with murder because you fit his view of what is acceptable.

The supporting actors are the main reason why this show isn't excellent. From Dexter's stilted cop sister, to the horribly miscast Lt. Maria Laguerta, the characters vary between downright bad acting to passable work. The show would benefit from new characters being introduced after an explosion that wipes out most of the old ones. However, the bad acting could be due to first-episodes-shakiness; I'm hoping they'll get better as the show grows. Right now, Michael C. Hall plays Dexter to perfection. He's all-American charm as well as enigmatic and camp. References to the novel American Psycho, as well as a host of other serial killers in pop culture, don't go amiss. You feel for Dexter when he finally gets his chance to confess to someone that he's a serial killer. And you can't help worrying for his relationship with the perenially fucked up single mother Rita as their relationship grows. To go from being a traumatised victim of domestic violence to lover of a serial killer has got to hurt!

My biggest worry right now is that the free episodes will end soon (it was a month-long promotion for FX channel) and I will have to wait until the boxset is available. I'd rather face Dexter's chopping board then wait a whole year for my fix to be satisfied.
commonpeople1: (Default)
Up to 200 people have died in a plane crash in Sao Paulo, Brasil.

When [livejournal.com profile] hunterjr told me about this, I thought it was a crash without casualties... I can see now that it was a horrible disaster. Sissy Jen called this morning to find out if I had left England already for Brasil.

Congonhas is not the airport I'll be using in Sao Paulo; my plane arrives in Guarulhos, so I'm assuming my flight tomorrow won't be affected (but I'll check beforehand.)
commonpeople1: (Paul Simonon)
Harold and Maude


Sissy Jen had never seen Harold & Maude before. Her boyfriend gave her the DVD for Christmas, but it was only last night, after dinner, that she got to experience "Harolding" and "Maudism"1 in its full glory. In the bedroom scene, when Harold is contentedly blowing bubbles, Sissy Jen said "this has to be the trippiest movie I ever saw."

To me, the film grows with each viewing. It's now in my top 10 favourites (as it must be with most people who have seen it); and it's become one of the few films that make me cry through it (the others being Central Station and Buena Vista Social Club). I'm unstable like that.

I realized for the first time how much Wes Anderson's career rests on Hal Ashby's work, including his soundtrack and stylistic choices. The use of portraits in the background, in H & M, is very similar to The Royal Tenenbaums; there's Cat Steven's song "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out" which Anderson has used somewhere or other; and Bud Cort even plays a part in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I'd love to hear one day that Cat Steven's song played by a busker in the underground.

1. I personally prefer to call it WWMD? (What Would Maude Do?), which a high school friend and I came up with after I saw the film for the first time. E.g. Would Maude spend a beautiful Sunday indoors, playing videogames? Hell, she would!
commonpeople1: (Morrissey)
One day, I'll walk into Fopp (or any other music store for that matter) and find a copy of The Smashing Pumpkins "Siamese Dream" for a decent price (say £5 or so). Today, I had to contend myself with The Cure's "Disintegration" and The Velvet Underground & Nico's debut album. When in doubt, go with a classic missing from your record collection.

Covent Garden on a sunny Saturday: tattooed couples; Abercrumbs and Filch shopping bags; hour-long line-up for H&M's dressing room; testy sales assistants; gay men cruising coffee walkers on The Steps; and spotting Hester and Krys as they go by our pit stop.

The girls stop for a chat while we finish our cappuccinos. After a quick catch up, we say our goodbyes and head home, leaving the girls to finish off their shopping.

As soon as I get in, I put on The Cure's album. The sink is filled with dishes. "Disintegration" becomes perfect music for soapy hands and a bright London eleven storeys below. There's the solitary pigeon flying towards the council homes in Bethnal Green; and Canary Wharf, opaque like a deserted emerald city. We wait for Sissy Jen to arrive -- bringing a copy of Harold and Maude for tonight -- so I can start frying the steaks, cooking the beans and boiling the rice. The bottle of wine is chilled and ready to be open.

This April feels like mid-summer.
commonpeople1: (Jehovah Witness)
Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath


I visited Kenwood House twice this weekend. The first time was Saturday, when Kevin and I met up with Sissy Jen and Tim for a picnic. We brought ham and brie; they brought baps and trifle. We sat underneath a tree on the hill that overlooks the pond and spent a good hour laughing at other people's children and dogs. When the sun became too much, we headed for Camden and watched Sunshine [trailer]. It was a very tense, but enjoyable, sci-fi movie.

Today, I left home early to meet [livejournal.com profile] sarcaustick and [livejournal.com profile] thirstypixel at Kenwood House, for breakfast. The city was bright, warm and empty (as it has been all weekend.) I broke some kind of record climbing Hampstead Heath because I was late. We spent a good few hours chatting and strolling the grounds of the house. Too soon, they had to leave and drive up to York (they must still be in their car, hopefully not dealing with too much traffic.)

When I got home, I discovered my boyfriend had cleaned and vacuumed everything.
commonpeople1: (Morrissey)
Gilbert & George's The Wall
Gilbert & George's The Wall


Gilbert & George are having a major retrospective at the Tate Modern. For those of you who don't know them, they are a pair of artists who graduated together from St. Martin's College in the 60s and lived, together, for the past three decades in London's EastEnd. They call themselves "living sculptures". They started off with large hand drawings, like this one, which immediatly garnered them critical success and hefty sales. From there, they decided to move into art works that were less about technique (it bothered them that people were in love with their drawings) and more about ideas and emotion. From young street boys to microscopic images of piss and blood, Gilbert & George travelled the years with massive photographic panels that simulate grandiose types of iconography (e.g. churches' stained glass windows and death memorials). As Kevin said, they are in a quest to become icons themselves.

Because I'm a lucky sonofabitcha, I know someone (Sissy Jen's boyfriend Tim) who works at the Tate, and who managed to get us free tickets and free state-of-the-art digital hearing devices. Zipping on our touch-sensitive screenpad, we entered into the first room and followed the audio tour. Honestly, I can never visit an exhibition again without those listening devices. Sometimes I watched little movies on the tiny screen, or interviews with the artists; I was given plenty of choices and detailed background on selected art works. It was the first time I properly explored an exhibition from beginning to end without giving in to my aching legs.

The South Bank was brimming with queer folk yesterday, thanks to the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival taking place at the BFI South Bank (have you got tickets yet? Hurry up then!). Those queer folk must have wandered South, into the Tate Modern, because there were plenty of them at the exhibition. They provided an interesting context to the show since so much of Gilbert & George's work is about gay men: escorts, youth sexuality, AIDS, pervy old men (them) and so forth. Gilbert & George say that they only depict men because so much of Western Art is about depicting women. I think this is bullshit. They are gay gentlemen who want to photograph young guys and put them on pedestals. The voyeristic aspect is there, including Gilbert & George themselves, in the paintings, lusting after or commanding the young "knights". A pair of gay men walking around the exhibition were carrying a shopping bag from Abercrombie & Fitch, an American store that just opened in Britain, and which requires all its shop attendants to be models. I found it fitting somehow that a shopping bag from Abercrombie & Fitch should be in the same room as Gilbert & George: one wishes to dress them, the other wishes to undress them; both wish to idolize youth (and make a buck out of it.)

Because Gilbert & George work with colour-dyed black & white photographs, I couldn't help being reminded of the iconography used by The Smiths' in the 80s (example) but also Belle & Sebastian's record sleeves (example). Morrissey, of course, goes on to follow Gilbert & George's path of self-icon creation by only using himself in his solo record sleeves. The icon's ubiquity is a cliché, but serves its function of making the artist into something unescapable (and immortal?) Gilbert & George clearly want to stick around forever since many of their slogans are about "eternal life" or "eternal art".

A few of the art works depicted tower blocks in the EastEnd (Flat Man, 1991), which made me wonder if one of them was the tower Kevin and I live in. Kevin says he once saw them in Brick Lane, walking around and posing for photos. Maybe if I ever bump into them, I'll ask if they've ever used the tower blocks that rise beside Victoria Park in their art work.

Germaine Greer: There is only one way Gilbert and George can complete the work - by dying, in unison.
commonpeople1: (Schiele)
About two weeks ago, a man was murdered near my home. The route that I take to the Maida Vale library goes by the place he died and today, for the first time, I got to see the many flowers and messages that were laid on the spot by his family, friends and neighbours. The neighbourhood I live in, despite having a large estate filled with strutting teenagers, is actually quite safe. In all the years I've lived in Northwest London (or at least in this square mile) I've never heard of anything more serious than mobile phones being stolen, or the occasional car break in. Sissy A had some trouble with the local teenagers last year, when one of them threw an ice cream at her. She'd just come from a kickboxing class so she gave them a run for their money.

I've walked at night past the spot where the crime happened, sometimes drunk and alone; I got so used to seeing London as a safe city (in comparison to the extreme violence experienced in Brasil's metropolis) that it now feels strange to think that something like that could happen. But the truth is that urban violence exists everywhere, but some cities are better at disguising it than others, or have lower levels so that when it actually happens in your front door, you feel the shallow layer of security being torn down and paranoia settling in.

Earlier, Kevin, Natalia and I had gone for a walk near Paddington so Kevin could pick up a package from his mom at the post office. We heard some shouting and noticed a middle-eastern man grabbing a white guy and shouting for his friends. He worked for Tesco Express and it looked like the white guy had taken something from the supermarket. He pulled the white guy across the street, back to Tesco, just as two other middle-eastern guys came out of the supermarket. The white guy, panicking, tried to wriggle himself free; the Tesco employee held on tighter and slapped his face. Kevin kept trying to get Natalia and I to keep walking but we were glued to the spot. The three Tesco employees then pushed the white guy on the floor and dialed a number on their mobile phone (the police?)

A man, who had been watching the whole thing from his car, pulled out from the kerb and hit the car infront of him. A black man came out of the car and strutted to his driver window. I didn't know if I should watch the white guy struggling on the floor with three supermarket employees holding him down, or the impending confrontation between the two drivers. A traffic warden appeared out of nowhere, followed by another, but they stood on the other side of the street watching the drama like bored expectators. I had my camera inside my bag, loaded with a black & white film, but I only thought about taking photos when we'd already left the scene and were walking along the canal. We didn't wait to see the police arrive.

April 2017

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