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Friday, 31 July 2009

calibrating the packing for weekend exit

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Yesterday I started piling things into a heap ready for this weekend's departure. Its different from a biztrip, where I have a complete, compressed and more or less standard kit of parts, depending on the number of days.

My objective will still be to travel light so I'm already having to make decisions about which clothes/footwear/technology and general stuff gets included in the final pack.

I chickened out on the online check-in though...when it asked how many bags, I said 'two'.

Each.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

long languid breakfast in the country

croquet
I drove to the country house to meet for breakfast and my Canadian friend who lives in Spain had already bagged the best corner table looking out into the garden.

We ordered toast and coffee and chatted amiably about English stately homes before our business guest arrived and we turned to serious charts and statistics. Our move to a room for a presentation was delayed so we wandered outside to the large garden, which included a croquet lawn next to the swimming pool and across from the discreet helipad.

My friend could hardly contain herself at this display of 'Englishness' with morning summer weather that looked sunny but was still slightly cool, necessitating her to unfold and wear a large pashmina wrap.

The lawns, the arcane game, a pond with a fountain, twittering birds and the lurking helicopter. All we needed was a sudden storm.

Yes, we managed that as well.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

charge

stonehenge
Wednesday evening and I'm in that transitional phase between work and starting a vacation. By blasting away at work tasks I'm within sight of completing everything realistic before I leave for holiday at the weekend, and its unwise to start new things which will barely get under way when I take flight for a few days.

That's not to say that everything is finished.

This afternoon I have been on some rather condensed training and then tomorrow I'm off to a business breakfast at a posh country retreat before a workshop and then later in the day I'm hosting a European meeting.

But as I finish tidying my current tasks and telling the respective recipients that I'll be away, there will at least be a short gap before it all starts up again.

So whilst new meetings start to drift into my calendar, I'm quietly starting to look for luggage.

the field of pattern recognition

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I've read two or three books about pattern recognition in its broadest sense.

PopCo by Scartlett Thomas and the one by William Gibson spring to mind.

They both include the idea of the person that spends their time divining the Zeitgeist and figuring how to repackage it for greater corporate profit.

Both stories include protagonists who are a little off kilter with their peers. In PopCo the heroine travels on a midnight train to avoid her co-workers and in the Gibson we see someone who has a phobia towards all brand labels.

They'd understand the little quote I heard today whilst travelling across the countryside, "I really want sunglass frames that colour", pointing towards the bales of hay in the field.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

just jammin'

give peas a chance
Its supposed to be the start of the school holiday season, so that the roads clear for a few weeks creating easier journeys to work.
Somehow this isn't fully working this year.

Firstly, I'm guessing more people are staying in the UK. What's that horrible word? "Staycationing" Yuk.

Secondly, there's a competition amongst the various road construction companies to see how few miles of the motorway system can be left unconed.

My estimate is that there is still a tiny stretch of M25 in Hertfordshire without cones, and they've missed a small piece of M3, but kept the speed limits on it in any case. Apart from that, it looks like pretty comprehensive coverage, at least in the areas that I drive.

Monday, 27 July 2009

beside the seaside

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We've somehow managed to fit in the stately home picnic, the castle, the dressing up as animals, some music and seaside moments this weekend.

Inevitably the compressed nature of the last few days means limited blogging compared with plenty of exploits. I'm guessing I'll find a way to link a few more moments into future posts.

If only I wasn't so busy.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

animal collective castle moment

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Sunday we moved to a castle about 150 miles from the stately home of Saturday.

This time we were supposed to dress up as animals. Something of a gear change from the picnic table dining of the previous evening, with weather veering from hot sunshine, to rain which seemed to only affect small parts of our site.
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Ever adaptable, we passed the jousting knights and the mysterious story telling and found handy beds strewn with cushions in the pennant draped fields where we could sip the honeyed nectar and gaze at the other animals.
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Saturday, 25 July 2009

picnic in the country

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Saturday evening was time for a picnic at a very big house in the country.
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We'd arrived and parked, then sauntered in to mingle, sip fizzy drinks and enjoy al fresco dining.

Music, wine, friends, sunset and fireworks.
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no city bars this weekend

bars
No time for city bars this weekend; we're heading out to country and seaside or a reasonably bizarre trip which lasts through until Monday.

Any blogging is likely to be from the phone.

Not sure if these bars at Downing Street are to keep us out or certain politicians in?

Friday, 24 July 2009

importing happiness

hero3
My iTunes said "importing Happiness" this morning, which I thought was a good way to start the day.

It made me smile.

Friday's work pattern is "work Thursday until already Friday morning, set early alarm. Work all day against immovable deadlines and then finish late."

May need superhero assistance.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Chihuahua


I couldn't help thinking about Taco Bell today, what with the story about Gidget's demise. We have a sort of ritual when in the US to pay a visit to a Taco Bell somewhere and usually manage to mis-order significantly and wonder why so many different things in shells arrive.

I'll admit I sneakily like Taco Bell, yet when they temporarily opened here around Leicester Square they didn't last long and don't seem to have returned.

The big Chalupa was clever marketing adding "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" to my limited Spanish. Their 'Taco Light' was pretty clever too, with the small print 'Not lower calories' ... although I always thought their 'thinking outside the bun' with something called the 'Plug Club' was an unfortunate choice.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

infinity nets are the new black

another infinity net
Sometimes the blog posts just write themselves.

The pictures from yesterday of the trees wrapped in red with polkadots are part of a famous Japanese artist's metaphor about reality and infinity. The idea is that the dots are where an infinity net overtakes the reality we all see. It could be like seeing into the atoms of the structure. Seeing behind the everyday form.

Once its in the subconscious its another form of pattern recognition, like noticing masonic eyes and Triangles.

The thing that really surprised me today was seeing a woman in a black dress with Yayoi Kusama's polkadots. She was on the same train and I couldn't help notice the three sizes of dot, just like the ones in the infinity net.

Kusama famously first suffered from mental illness around the time of the first dots appearance and still today is a voluntary patient in a Tokyo mental hospital.

『ディクレアリング インディゴ』 キット登場!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

ascension of polkadots on the trees

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Out amongst the ascendant polkadot trees of the South Bank, where Yayoi Kusama dreams of infinity nets morph into another universe.
yayoi kusama
We'd decided to meet in Gabriel's Wharf and three of us spent an evening watching the river and chatting about our recent adventures over beers, buffalo mozzarella and roasted pepper salads.

Its later that the impressions from Kusama's earth, sun and moon dots trick back into the mind as a reminder of reality edges.

Monday, 20 July 2009

I am so sorry. Goodbye

geodesic barbican
Barbican with some typical group lateness before the Sunday gig.

Not me this time, though.

I had time to sample the hibiscus tea of Heather and Ivan Morison's Escape Vehicle Number 4 as part of EXYZT's plans for a changing planet.

The glazed dome on the top of the structure creates a spaceship allusion and the whole device can become a vehicle to transport one away in time of trouble. The conjoined domes are inhabited by a guardian whose task it is to keep the stove lit, water boiled and visitors supplied with hibiscus tea. The guardian has the vocabulary of the words: I, am, so, sorry and goodbye.

Across the way in Dalston, the emergency urban psychoanalysis commando unit, UPIA, are making an investigation into the urban unconscious of the city.

Results next weekend.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Harry Potter scenes cut

Harry Potter scenes cut
We all know that there will be more films from Harry Potter than there are available books. They are cutting the last novel into two parts for filming.

But it's the current one where we see first significant editorial decisions to meander from the J.K. Rowling storyline. I won't say too much, because it wouldn't be right to spoil it for fans, but they've chopped a couple of significant book sections and added a linking scene to gloss and explain it.

da doo ron ronIf course, this give more time for the scooby snacks between Harry and his new best friend as well as Hermione's special moment. My own thinking now is for the screenwriters to play around with this a little more in the next volumes. Kid around more with the Ron & Lavender, for example.

As rashbre central, its important to mention the extensions of London coverage with tube lines and the now surprisingly scary Millennium bridge, alongside a few Night Shyamalan bleak outposts and cornfield moments as well.

Anyway, plenty of dark tasks and dark secrets and dark caves and general darkness. I've always preferred the spirit of the films to the books, so I quite like the thought to create a little controversy around variation of storyline for the closing three.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

be glad for the song has no ending

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The bent twig of darkness grows
the petals of the morning
And shows to them the birds singing
just behind the dawning
Come dip into the cloud cream, lapping.


...and so do others watch the dawn. We will be with them tomorrow, Barbican bound.
Pass the finger cymbals.

And as my cloud pulled out of view,
There come failing down a gentle shower of rain.

Happy rain come failing down,
Red, green, blue and golden.
And every drop, as it fell, it smiled
And, throwing back its head, began singing,

"Oh float with me to distant lands, wondrous and fair;
Float with me to distant lands, wondrous and fair."


Ting.

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(Click the picture to download the programme)

uninvited guest

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I see dawn creeping away, walking like a dream in this early morning light.

Not stippled white stripes of four, but a crimson slash of five before choosing first attire.

Now is the time to walk with this guest before rowdier elements define daylight.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

elemental sandwiched tryst and travails

pret sandwich
Yesterday I mused that I'd get some elements upon my skin today as I headed across to Canary Wharf for some meetings.

I sure did.

Brilliant confident sunshine as I started the journey; then blasts of air swirling the skyscrapers of the wharf making walked phone conversation difficult, a pause to admire the river before ferocious rain storming with horizontal lightning shards and coin sized rain bubbles frothing from the pavements.

Sandwiched between fire, wind and water.

My earthy moment was whilst I spent a few subterranean minutes in a sandwich bar - such is the design of much of the Canary Wharf complex.

Sandwiched between two sets of people.

To one side were the couple who had broken free from a nearby tower block for a tryst in a darkened corner, with much curling of arms. To the other side was the yolky salesman working extremely hard as he explained a fantastic story to a hard-boiled recipient about how life would be so much better if product X was added to the portfolio.

For the first couple, anyone could spot the intensity of a new lovers' relationship. A less clear cut story in the sales scene though. The eyes and facial gestures of the salesman suggested the hard fought story he was telling had a few fabrications along the lines of 'what does this guy want to hear'.

I could be wrong, about both, of course. But it was my one of my elemental moments in the day.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

more blurred london scenes

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Another day where I've been purely desk-bound working on the same thing that I was doing yesterday. I actually started at 06:00 which gave me a sense of achievement by nine thirty. I was on my second expresso as other people were sleepily clearing their in-boxes from last night.

And then later I had an afternoon of those hurdle type meetings, most of them in 30 minute successions.

Munich, Houston, London, composite, Milan, Paris. You get the picture.

Low carbon footprint because I didn't have to travel to any of them. The rest of the day has passed in a blur again.

Tomorrow I shall step out to somewhere by the Thames to feel some kind of element upon my skin.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

nine o clock and matisse is going blurry

matisse goes blurry
I've spent the whole day since quite early logged onto my computer moving lots of boxes and squiggles around as well as producing sufficient wordage to make it all make sense. But it does seem to be proceeding at a snail's pace, compared with my expectation.

I just looked at the clock here which is around 20 minutes fast and noticed it already shouts nine o'clock in the evening. It feels to me like it should be around five thirty and I still have a bundle more things to do.

My reason for this short pause is whilst I old-school print the story so far so that I can take a malicious pen to edit it into something more sensible in line with my deadline.

I'm not sure I'd call what I'm doing art, but I'm getting a sense of the need to stand back from it and not to get bogged down in detail.

Henri Matisse did this when he asked his assistants to help him assemble his own interpretation of a snail which is hanging on the walls in the Tate.

I notice that if you walk up close to it, you can still see the writing on the underlying paper square where he overpainted the green.

Monday, 13 July 2009

dancing in the dark

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We made it to the festival by late Sunday afternoon, giving a chance to move from a weekend of work to a little fun and games.

Taxi ride from train station dropped us into a world of dayglo paints, unexpected tu-tus and stalls selling herbal remedies. A tex-mex later and we were ready for anything. Well anything except the strawberry dacquiri angostura rum drinks which froze my head after two sips.

But there was music and banter and then a big grin from the sun. We danced through to the dark and although the weekend had arrived late, at least it finally felt as if there had been one.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

punctuation from a working weekend

train
In truth, I've had to do a fair amount of work this weekend, interspersed with modest unsatisfactory television grazing and a spot of (well received) cooking on Saturday evening.

Apart from that it's been a rather quiet weekend, although not one where I feel particularly recharged because the working part has blurred it into a 'working from home' weekday sensation.

Right now I've decided to put everything work related away, checked the weather outside (now sunny again) and to find myself heading out to make a late appearance at a music event. It's somewhere in Surrey and will involve varied transport.

At least there will be some punctuation from the working week and I'll head into the proper office tomorrow.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

destructobase or 2010 Torchwood competition?

children_of_earth

We need a Torchwood competition...now read on...

Like many, I watched the Torchwood series this week, not as a fan exactly, but as one who expected some good plotline compressed over a few days. I thought the idea of aliens using children as drugs was sufficiently evil, if somewhat Matrix-like.

The original trade of 11 of children back 40 or so years ago and the later consequences was clever thinking although I had a bit of a problem with the step change from a dozen to millions as the next logical increment. They must have been passing the kouchie an awful lot back on that tentacular planet.

The stock film of London Town and Cardiff got a large airing though, for the location signposting. Perhaps a spot of Michael Mann/Spooks editing would have compressed some of this to good effect. I suppose the HD viewers could wonder why the streets were both traffic jammed and deserted at the same time.

And speaking of Spooks, in that series they are fairly cavalier with their lead actors, expending them whether or not the replacement character is already in view.

The difference with Torchwood is that it has a broad fan-base including many from the Doctor Who environs. So the snuffing of a lead like Ianto after a couple of others were erased in the last series leaves a conundrum if the series is expected to go anywhere further.

The gender politics of the series was also something of a vanguard and this has no doubt suffered a few setbacks if the plan is to keep Torchwood as a brand.

Slightly more into the storyline, there were some interesting ideas dealt with quite rapidly - I know many have been used elsewhere, but there was sufficient to keep one guessing:

- keeping the thunderbolt space alien landing in London almost secret
- handling the chanting kids as a kind of bemused news static
- self interests around deciding who to protect
- children being used as alien drugs
- the essence of the trade ‘just 12’ turning into ‘ten percent’
- resolving who gets selected (the epsilons, of course)
- the lack of challenge of the decisions
- the tiny coterie of involved individuals
- the obedience of the military
- the good ol’ “reverse the polarity of the standing wave” moment
- the final sacrifices to resolve it
- no ‘not really dead’ resolutions (except Jack)
- the blemished hero

Maybe Russell T Davies and co have decided to shut down Jack on earth. Perhaps he is about to go intergalactic?

So here’s my suggestion: I think the BBC could have a fantastic coup now to open a competition to rewrite the last episode of that series of Torchwood.

A different ending x 5. Public submissions and then professional scriptwriting.

Start the petition.

Parallel universes anyone?

Oh - and let's not forget the other space aliens with proper space ships that landed 27 years ago and have been holed up in District 9 in Southern Africa.
Click to explore the zone
district 9 (restricted)

And good prequel mini-doc here:

Friday, 10 July 2009

amphibious for linear and non-linear space

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A small joy of quietly sitting drinking a coffee today was reading a random discarded magazine, which had the intriguing front page story about amphibious aggregation of non linear rights.

I decided to look at the pictures instead and worked out its something about the excellent 'Green Wing' being re-shown on telly.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

alleged hacks hacking hacks off public figures

brickThe technology of digital phones is supposed to make call interception more difficult. By chance I watched the Wire yesterday evening which had an episode about it taking more than a week to get a tap onto a 'pay as you go' mobile.

Today's Guardian allegations imply that there's other weak points to intercept.

My guess is that its through the voicemail, guarded by its massive 4 digit code, which for Orange used to be 1111, for Cellnet/O2 was 8705 and for T-Mobile was 1210. I guess if people change it the most likely substitution will be to their birthday date (ie DDMM* or MMYY).

So any malicious eavesdropper can take a punt that one of the default pins will work, or simply look up the person's birthday.

Three attempts should do it in most cases.

imagesPress to hack rashbre central voicemail

* unless American-influenced, of course.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Millbank space aliens find a parking spot

mind the dangly bits
I'm watching the Torchwood series this week, albeit slightly later than the original screening times. The aliens have decided to land in London in the Security Services HQ at Thames House by Vauxhall Bridge.

I'm just not so sure that this type of alien would attract as much attention in London as the one in the television series. Sure, the children freezing and chanting might get noticed, but a smoke filled glass tank with some thrashing tentacles? in London??

There's stuff like this happening every day.

that was a heck of a cocktailWhether its silver painted statues walking around, over sized beer bottles having parties on open topped buses or just generally people with tentacles walking about, there's still plenty of Londoners who would take this in their stride. I know I've seen that gunk on walls and windows as I walk around too. I'll grant that in the TV series they blocked off the north side of the Embankment, but everyone knows that there's a cone army on continual manoeuvres in the central area.

So it could all kick off tomorrow when the aliens get angry and the tank of poison gas explodes, but at the moment I'm wondering whether the aliens got MI5 to build them a rooftop parking spot and flew in to avoid paying the Congestion Charge?

I shall still watch though, and keep a sofa handy in case I do need something to hide behind.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Plinther Group - I, Plinthian

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Burdened with a surfeit of rum this afternoon (Sunday). At least its not a surfeit of palfreys, or I could end up like Henry.

More importantly, I think I have one of the last pictures of The Empty Plinth. Just before it gets grabbed by the daily Plinthers.

It will be webcammed too.

I think I may even build a link.
I, Plinthian
And here's one of the first...
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Sunday, 5 July 2009

eyes on virginia at the national portrait gallery

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NPG for lunch yesterday, and fittingly my menu had a portrait of Virginia Woolf on it. Why? The National Portrait Gallery's restaurant balcony looks out towards Trafalgar Square which, as the many rainbow flags attested, was the destination for London Pride 's march and party yesterday.

vannessa-bells-book-cover-virgina-woolf-a-room-of-ones-ownSo why? The exhibition downstairs included Virginia amongst its selection. A different picture and not one that I'd seen before. Staring into the camera whilst smoking a cigar. Defiantly Bloomsbury rules, I would say.

I found myself looking long at the brown eyes of this iconic independent feminist writer. "A room of one's own" is probably her most well known publication and was self published in 1929, with the cover art drawn by her artist sister Vanessa Bell.

I remember first picking up on Woolf when still at school; the stream of consciousness writing of someone with more history than she would admit. Child abused, promiscuous marriage to Leonard Woolf, co creator of the Hogarth Press, long relationship with Ms Vita Sackville-West, depressive and finally suicidal, filling her raincoat with large stones before entering the River Ouse.

Those eyes.
virginia woolf from NPG (PS'd)

Saturday, 4 July 2009

sandwiched in the jamm

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The ballroom light was slowly twinkle turning under air-pressure from the darkened room when we arrived at Jamm. Ten 'o clock, we'd woven past security, the outside drinkers and the chill-out bar and drifted into the early acts of the evening.

Busy room and the Hazeltones on stage. R&B - they looked like a family, with the youngest peering out from a precisely played drumkit. A soulful lead singer come bassist and a slightly swirly keyboard player. Afterwards we headed outdoors and heard relatives of the band chatting. London locals had brought a following to Brixton this evening.

We compared other gigs of the week, having between us attended Spinal Pap (signed sign to prove it - John handed a deliberately wrongly spelled sign to a roadie, and it came back signed - we'll never know who did it, but always suspect). Then Tindersticks the next evening with deckchairs in the park and cited as an exceptional gig. And not forgetting Blur, which was -ahem- atmospheric rather than visible.

During our chatter, we spotted The Spirit arrive and mingle and then a few moments later Rock Freebase wearing his trademark cap. And a few patted down heavily tat and hatted folk carrying small items into the bar, who looked as if they'd be on stage later.

Back inside, we'd somehow missed the CC Smugglers completely, fresh back from their busking tour of Canada. Most people were spread between the outside area we'd just come from and the bar we'd just entered.

"Hello!" smiles and beams from across the way. I turn and its a Fabulous Work Colleague. "Fwasgrh", I reply "Navxtryvqw", and similar utterances until I get over my surprise and start introducing everyone. You'll detect a certain improbability about this particular co-incidence and I'll have to exchange DETAILED reasons for our co-presence when FWC and I manage to speak next week. There will be a further story I'm sure.

We regained our separate groups in time for some hard edged angry poetry accompanied by a man sitting on a wooden box. The billing said Zenyth, but when I googled a few seconds ago, that seemed to be a guitar band, so I'm guessing this was someone else. Or maybe we missed two complete sessions?

Somehow during the last number, the man with the box seemed to be adding bass and trumpet improv, and we realised that the next band were quietly jamming along in the corner. A Tom Waits moment.

By now we had drifted a little too close to the front for this type of gig. You can usually spot the danger in a crowd like this and there was one spot which moved around saying "don't go here".

We didn't.

And on they came. The Congo Faith Healers. A four piece trumpet, double bass, drums and steel guitar, with around a third of the front audience already fans. Fast sweet gravel voiced guitarist, who could play anything, spikey and soulful horn, grooooved drummer and fluid bass. They were having a blast. And so were we. Instant party as they swept through rock edged, Mexican influenced numbers, with an intensity and humour to get everyone moving. An express train was running through the room. In a good way.

Two am. Nearly time for the headliners. They wandered out to plug in microphones, test the guitar, water bottles on stage. Then they appeared. Another incarnation of the Alabama 3. They ain't Three and they ain't from Alabama. I think they'd regard Brixton (or Coldharbour Lane) as a sort of spiritual home. Now the room was rammed. The bulldog trouble was over to the far side. Several bodies away. We could relax into the set. I still had half a Sol. They threw a few waters out for those needing hydration.

no Jamm pix - so Alabama 3 subset unplugged with Kate Nash

Into "Woke Up this Morning" as they started their set - we knew it would be unplugged so the guitar of Rock and the harmonica of Harpo Strangelove made the main music, with the rest of this particular formation cracking the vocals. A game of two halves and a mystery interlude. Plenty of the good stuff played well and with full participation, plus a middle stretch which dived off into that aceeedhousestuff with freestyling turntable clicks and enough bass to start an earthquake. We were momentarily confused mid set when the house lights came up and we were asked to chant things for the new CD, apparently to be Pro-Tooled into the album mix.

Then back to business, with more from their surprisingly large catalogue of good tunes. I'll describe the gig as unhinged as indeed were most of us by this point.

Three Thirty. Out into the arc light of Brixton. People still trying to get into the Jamm. We decided to kick-out.
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Friday, 3 July 2009

friday will be outlaw jamm with alabama 3

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The ghost of Mississippi Fred McDowell haunting the fingers of Rock Freebase on guitar, Larry Love’s larynx looser than Howlin’ Wolf. Devlin Love’s vocals as sweet as Sister Rosetta and Harpo Strangelove’s harmonica cooking up a Sonny Terry vibe - welcome to the Delta Blues alive and kicking in 2009. In Brixton.

SWSX08

Thursday, 2 July 2009

very big country house escape from rat race today

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And so today's story begins.

I spent most of today at a very big house in the country.
There was rural charm, though no animal farm, in the country.
It had city dwellers and professional fellas, living life to the limit
In the country.

I had sunshine days and a heat filled haze, in the country.
There was Pimms so sweet, enough food to eat, in the country.
A kind of centuries remedy, not so Jackanory,
In the country.


In truth, it was all a bit of a blur. Pitching up at a big house, Pitching, Pimms from a pitcher and then leaving. You get the picture.

Maybe I should take a herbal bath.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

London Hot Weather Warning Level 3

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I didn't know we had such a thing as a hot weather warning level 3 until today, but that's what the weather people were saying this morning.

Plenty of advice about using sun screen and being sure to hydrate.

As I strolled to my meeting in Canary Wharf, I initially noticed the lack of people on the streets - were they taking heed of the 90% risk level? Of course, Canary Wharf has many tunnels which people habitually use to go between the buildings in this area, so maybe everyone was out of sight.

But then, I turned a corner to cut across one of the tree-lined squares and sure enough, it was filled with office workers watching the news on the big screen telly. Encamped on the grass without the aid of any portable furniture (forbidden), but with the aid of many sandwiches, salads and wraps from the subterranean shops.

Amber status heatwave in action.