I don’t often go out in The City of London (that’s the financial heart of London). I am a much bigger fan of hanging out in the the West End – which is mainly where I have worked and socialised for all the years I have been here. I’ve just got back from a drinks with some colleagues in The Counting House – which is on Cornhill and a few seconds walk from Bank station. It’s a fabulous place full of character and ornate splendour (the domed roof is wonderful). Then we went for a curry and a decent Indian restaurant which was, unlike the ones on the West end, quiet at the end of an evening. The only downside on the evening: it was just a little harder to get home. I must do this more often.
So I spent the weekend in Brighton: it was a fantastic idea for a last minute get away and I am really quite pleased that I went. The weather was cold and crisp but very sunny and PY and I had a fantastic time roaming the shops, walking the pier, drinking coffee and doing all sort so of good things.
We left earlier this afternoon for the hour car ride home only to end up stuck in four hours of non-moving traffic at the end of the M23 (where it joins the M25). Sitting in a car, going nowhere, starring at the rear brake lights of the vehicle in front (and watching people dart form lane to lane to try to move 100 metres forward) was a very depressing way to end what had bee, until then, a relaxing weekend. It’s such a shame our transport system means I am now more stressed than when I left the office on Friday night (it also means we’ve just eaten a stack of take away junk food but that’s another story).
Maybe I should start looking forward to the week ahead!
On this day…
On this day…
I posted this picture over a Flickr tonight as it stunned me that I could walk onto a platform on the Northern Line at Charing Cross station and find it deserted. All the best movies had alien invaders clearing the streets while our lonesome hero wandered the empty streets and echoing buildings. It was very strange indeed and a great relief when somebody else made it to the platform and stood waiting the few minutes for the next train. I’ve spent the day in central London training some customers on our software products and so have been on my feet all day, talking. I find it quite hard to be engaging for six hours of so and do find it very disconcerting when I can see the participants interest wane. I imagine it’s a great relief for all that we make it to the end of the day. I was glad to head of for a meal with friends – which is why I was taking the train!
On this day…
Having read the positive reader comments on the BBC’s story about The Producers I suspect I may be a lone voice in expressing a little (and just a little) disappointment. I hadn’t read many reviews but I did know about the reception it had received in the US and the praise heaped on Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
I haven’t seen the film which, judging by the number of people sitting around me who had, means I was possibly one of only a small number of people in the audience who hadn’t. I wonder if that made a difference?
I saw it a week or so ago and it was good but not as good as all the raving would imply. While Nathan Lane’s talent, comic timing and performance cannot be faulted I did find weaknesses in the show. I thought some of the musical numbers in the middle were slow and the Ulla character was not engaging at all – in fact she was positively irritating. James Dreyfuss was camp (which, I guess, is the intention) but in that 1970s OTT cringe worthy way. Humour is, of course, personal and subjective, but I found it only amusing and notÂ laugh-out-loud funny as many of the reviews suggest.
Still, I would take issue with the review of Lee Evans’ performance which says ‘he just about holds his own’. I would argue that he did far more than that. He too was excellent, believable & humorous and while I’ve never been a big fan of his stage antics he worked well in the role. In fact, for me, he worked so well I can’t imagine Broderick in the role.
I will, however, recommend the show because it stands out from much of the rest of the West End right now – it is good. It’s has some wonderful comedy and delightful musical moments. But the sum of those individual moments does not, in my opinion, add up to a great whole. IÂ even bought the soundtrack in the hope that familiarity with the songs will make me warm to more of them.
Maybe it’s just me.
On this day…
Can it really be a whole year – yesterday – since I lay on the floor at The Tate Modern on the South Bank and looked up at that bizarre, yet compelling, installation that was Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project? The very fact that I loved it, and wrote about it, made me realise that, generally, art doesn’t feature a great deal in my life. I mean paintings and installations don’t come high up on my list of things to do. I have spent time in most of the major London galleries since I have been here but nothing ever ‘clicks’ with me and, to be honest, apart from an Annie Leibovitz exhibition a few years ago I can’t recall much that I have seen. I wonder why paintings, sculpture etc. don’t resonate with me? I went to the Dali museum/gallery on the South Bank months ago as I thought the surrealism might be more appealing – but it was only marginally more so. In 2001 I went to see Martin Creed’s Turner Prize winning lights (going on and off in a room) and just didn’t get it (at all). It’s very strange really as I would like to appreciate art more and I would love to be able to take good photographs. It’s not that I don’t see that it’s good (or bad) art but more that most of the art I have seen simply washes over me. It doesn’t grab me. Maybe I should just keep looking! As for other things that I did last year, I really won’t mind being on a plane back to Helsinki but my boss went instead.
On this day…
Tonight I am not going out socialising. Ever since Gym Buddy Day a free evening would have meant a trip to the gym but, this evening, I am sat ripping music so that my computer’s jukebox contains a few more of the CDs that I am running out of space to house. It’s a rare, spare, evening but I couldn’t face the thought of the gym tonight. It would have been the third consecutive day I would have gone and I have, so far, been fairly religious about my ‘ever other day’ rule. I tend to find evenings at home with leisure as my only goal are the worst in terms of eating; which is why I am sat ripping music. I have given myself a purpose for tonight. Usually on evenings such as this I would go to the gym but restrict myself with a few lengths of the pool – I have always felt that swimming doesn’t contravene the ‘ever other day’ rule as I find it the hardest of exercises because I don’t do it properly. Therefore, it doesn’t count as exercise. Sure, I stay above water and motor up and down but I have no technique and I always feel that when I am out of breath in the pool it’s because I haven’t been breathing correctly. Anyway, there are two pool-based classes back-to-back on Tuesdays which means those of us who just want to swim are restricted to a small portion of the water and that makes it too hard. So, I am sat here listening to The Hidden Cameras and enjoying every minute of it.
On this day…
2003: Weather Project
Mobile phones and PDAs – something I try to talk about occasionally and not very well. It’s at times like this that I bow to somebody with superior writing and thought processing capabilities. Therefore, gentle reader my I present Lance Arthur: The MBEN Cometh. If you read these words of wisdom you’ll understand what I was trying to say.
On this day…2005: Blog Madness
2004: Eleven Years In The Big Smoke
2003: Gangs Of New York
Eleven years ago today I started my working life. It was my first post-university full-time job. I was a support engineer on a satellite audio network: the shifts seemed awful and the pay (at least in the first few years) not much better but I loved the job and the people. Many of those colleagues continue to be friends to this day although we haven’t worked together for seven and a half years. It also means that I have been living in London for eleven years, yesterday. I’ve been trying to locate things that have changed in that time. I live in a different place (but only the second place I’ve inhabited in London) and I’m on my 5th job. I don’t work the shifts anymore but, in many ways, miss them and the routine they gave you. I’m wi-fied, pda’d, multi-channeled and mobile (in the phone sense) where I wasn’t – which I guess means my money is being spent on more frivolous things.
London has changed that’s for sure. We have a Mayor and Congestion Charging. Docklands has grown beyond all recognition in the last eleven years; there are some new building on the skyline and the Southbank has been opened up considerably. Like Edinburgh, there are now branches of Starbucks (and every other coffee shop you can imagine) where once there were other retail outlets. The Gap no longer seems to be the height of fashion but then again I can no longer wander a branch of C&A looking at all the clothes I don’t want. There’s still a good sandwich shop on every street but they’re now mixed in with branches of Tesco and Sainsburys who seem to have rediscovered town centres.
I know an eleven-year working life has allowed me to travel to places I, perhaps, would not have gone without work (and many I couldn’t have gone to with the cash from working). It certainly has allowed me to try more restaurants and cuisines of other countries than I ever though possible. I imagine I own more than I did back then but I can’t really quantify it (I may be a frying pan down and a dinner plate up but I’ve never really counted them).
I’m older, but fitter, than I was eleven years ago. I have a wider circle of friends in London than I could have thought possible eleven years ago. I’m always short of time now whereas I used to have to find things to fill the hours when I wasn’t working.
Of course the biggest change in those years has been social use of the internet: email, usenet and the web were not commonplace when I started working. It was that first job that introduced me to more than academic networks. When I first got an email address I only knew one person outside of my company who I could give it to. Now, it’s given me a career, a whole new way to express and organise myself and – probably – hours of entertainment.
All in all, I think I am a wiser, happier and more contented individual (perhaps I little more stressed). So, happy anniversary to me.