Tuesday, 30 April 2013

strung out on lazers and slash back blazers

Bowie and Swinton
We visited the David Bowie event at the Victoria and Albert during the weekend. The V&A have done a good job and judging by the queues it's probably bringing in plenty of first time visitors.

Fortunately, we already had access so skipped the line, which had those Disney style vanishing angles to conceal its true length.

The show was originally opened by Tilda Swinton, who described Bowie as an early muse. As she said, "The image of that gingery boney pinky whitey person on the cover with the liquid mercury collar bone was - for one particular young moonage daydreamer - the image of planetary kin, of a close imaginary cousin and companion of choice."

Indeed, an influence for part of a generation, with his frequent changes of gear and perspective. The main exhibition has a wide range of costumes, photos, posters, records, videoa performance extracts and a guided headphone experience. I enjoyed spotting things like his original 12 string guitar tucked away on the corner of an exhibit.

The exhibition is split into various eras, from the Anthony Newley like early mod period, through Ziggy, America, Low Germany and beyond.

I found some of the smaller items fascinating too, like the early written outline for Ziggy Stardust, sketching the storyline that became the album's concept.
Ziggy plotline
Dana Gillespie was there and she was an early friend of Bowie. She lived across the road from the V&A in Thirloe Square and her parents' basement became 'The Bunker' where early Bowie collaborators including Angie Bowie met. She had a vast range of stories, including some best kept as memories.

The show is called 'Davie Bowie is' and on the last wall of the show was Paul Robertson's periodic table of Bowie.

Not a bad metaphor for this art who fell to earth. Here's "Heroes".

Monday, 29 April 2013

a chorus of human static

Untitled
I was putting away some of the artifacts from the weekend's varied events.

Bizarrely, today saw the addition of belated Easter Eggs to the collection. I know where they will get filed.
The day they landed
But first I'll wind back to cover Friday evening's space invader style landing in a nearby market town. Performance art, involving towering metal tripods and rotating drones of sound, both continuous and pulsating, creating interactions and musical eddies which varied by location and height.

The trance inducing installation was digging holes in the fabric of time and space. An ambient chatter of humans formed an eerie backdrop to the strange machines which surrounded us as we'd emerged from a nearby Italian restaurant.
The day they landed

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Breakfast in Mayfair

London, West End
An early start in Mayfair today, in a fancy apartment that falls out onto Piccadilly. An ideal opportunity for a stroll around the still deserted Green Park. The City of London can be quite deserted on a Sunday, whereas this area should still, by rights, be busy.
London, West End
So it surprised me that the morning brought a sleepy start to the tourists, giving an initial tranquility to the streets and other public areas. Piccadilly with only three cars in sight is a rare view, especially on a sunny morning. Even the area around Eros was quiet, although a few were posing for the statutory photographs.
London, West End
As I drifted into a sleepy Chinatown, the hoards of tourists started to descend. Another half an hour and everything will have reset to normal.
London, West End
I circled back, ahead of a rendezvous at 11 o'clock. As I passed Eros again, it was already busier, with groups beginning to congregate to be taken on walking tours or bus rides around the centre. It is a strange zone here, with many sets of people on different orbits, intersecting but often unaware of the wild range of possibilities within a one or two block radius.
London, Piccadilly Circus & Eros
For me, the last few days have been pretty arty, although my next proper work project was supposed to kick off on Monday. I've just heard that there may be a delay, which gives me time to get involved in another fun project that's been on my mind.

More later, as they say.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Man Ray Portraits - National Portrait Gallery

Man Ray Portraits
Another blog post sitting unfinished was my recent visit to the Man Ray exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. It runs through to the end of May. I've been a fan of Man Ray's photographs for a long time, but I think this is the first time I've seen a whole collection together.

There's some wonderful portraits on show, and a remarkable collection of inter war year Paris people photographed by Man Ray.

We see many of his buddy/co-consirator Marcel Duchamp (he of the subversive 'fountain'). There's a very young Ernest Hemingway, from the time when he'd just published his first novel. A wistful bobbed-hair Iris Tree, Salvador Dali at 24 years old and developing his moustache, a suitably ruffled haired Yves Tanguy. There's a beautiful and caring series of the apprentice photographer Lee Miller.

Oh, Plus Picasso, Wallis Simpson, Aldous Huxley, Virginia Woolf, Coco Chanel, Joan Miro. The list and indeed the co-operations go on and on.
Man Ray - Impressions
The exhibition's limit to portrait photography gives a chance to drill into the emerging techniques.

The handling of focus and sometimes softness, a wide range of lighting moving to patterned overlays. Experimental tinkering with some of the prints. Pen markings. The famous violon d'ingres. Solarisation. Then there's the decision to 'come in close'. Quite a few of the pictures are very close cropped in appearance. Fortunately there's a few contact strips and test prints to look at and to see the decisions about which picture and how the final framing gets selected.

Something else struck me with some of the prints on show. Aside from some keynote pictures, others looked small in their frames. If you've seen the work in books or magazines, it will get a page. Sometimes you need to stand very close to really get the impression.

So here's my tip. Get the catalogue too. It's fantastic. Okay - its £25, but it's a superb rendering of what's in the show plus a good commentary and a section that describes more of the context of Man Ray's other art.
Man Ray Catalogue

Thursday, 25 April 2013

skip a dee doo day

Skip time
The 2013 decluttering season has started and the first skip of the season turned up today. Needless to say, it was soon filled and there is again a small walkable area in the garage.

A few interesting artifacts this time included:

  • The stripy sofa bed, which had to be comprehensively wrecked in order to remove it from upstairs. We really tried to get it out whole, but it just destroyed a wall again.
  • A lawnmower which hasn't worked for 3 years
  • The chassis from three computers, once stripped of their disk drives
  • A novelty musical keyboard which, if switched on, plays continuously because something went wrong with its circuits
  • A surprisingly large amount of cardboard and those bubble bags which need to be individually popped so that they don't take up too much room
  • The scam Italian designer gear I negotiated at the end of that run in London. That has gone into a charity bag, actually.
  • A few broken electronic devices
  • A whole lot of other bric-a-brac that I can't even remember, but not anything that anyone else would want.
Along the way I found an impossibly large collection cleaning products and painting and decorating materials. Crates full of it. I think I could start a separate business as a sideline. Of course, the reason for the surplus was because the prior purchases were all too well hidden in the chaos.

I also found the snow boots I was looking for a few weeks ago, and I'm wondering why we have quite so many pairs of wellington boots.
Skip time
I've also encountered a few species of spider, including an enormous house spider that I decided to encourage to go outside. The garage wasn't big enough for both of us. The foolish thing has hidden under the skip, so I don't fancy its chances if it stays there when the truck returns.

Despite its name, it's one of those spiders that looks perfectly good 'outdoors', but isn't the type I really want in the house.

And now, I think I need a shower and a fresh change of clothes.
Skip time

Life after Life - Kate Atkinson

Life After Life - Kate Atkinson
I've been reading the Kate Atkinson book that is in the pop charts at the moment. Without giving away secrets, it's the one where the main character Ursula is killed off in the first proper chapter. Then we get a recut of the same story, which develops further, until she dies again. And then a further story. Similar, but with necessary butterfly wing beats of difference.

The writing style exercises a variety of creative freedoms, building a storyline via a repeating process most succinctly described as similar to the idea in the movie Groundhog Day.

There's a big difference though, that the prior versions of living are not conveniently remembered, nor is a single actor the pivot for the whole outcome.

I found it quite like the development of a neural network, with a kind of adaptive learning occurring through each iteration of the story-telling. Less a deja-vu sensation, more a prescient awareness.

Of course, the process was having the same effect on both the character and the reader, and for me it was after about 15% of the novel that it really dropped into place. Altogether an interesting way to play a mind game through the story telling and characterisations. Also the way one understands some of the averted outcomes in the later variants.

The action takes place between 1910 and after the end of the second world war, beginning in a fair and pleasant English countryside. There's a range of often bleak scenarios that play out against this bucolic backdrop.

For me, the narrative had to be sampled across the varied outcomes and sometimes pieced together. Playfully, there are even a places where the author uses phrases like 'and so on' to illustrate that the reader probably knows a particular version well enough by now.

Altogether an enjoyable read.

My photo of the cover illustrates another reading point as well. This is a substantial hardback book complete with its single sewn in bookmark. Someone really working at the detail of the plot could probably use three of those markers to be able to compare and contrast the outcomes. It's heft can bulkily fill a bag or make a small weapon.

My own neurons firing, I consequently adapted my own approach to reading it, having learned during the first third of the book. If I wanted to read it quickly, to carry it around, I needed a compact solution.

Yes, I Kindled it.

I find I'm moving to Kindle for modern novels. For older books I'll stick with paper, and also for books with pictures, but for the simple printed word I think I've reached that cutover point to electronic distribution.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Get Britain Cycling

Get Britain Cycling
CTC write-up here.
Report here.
Number 10 Petition here.
Write to your MP here.
London bikes

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Broadchurch: a liberal interpretation of ritual

Broadchurch's liberal ritual
Along with around 9 million others, I watched that final(e) episode of Broadchurch yesterday evening. Overall, I found the series enjoyable and I liked the genuine next-day buzz among the coffee drinkers.

I know that there's various jargon for these kinds of series too - like 'procedural' for cop series, although this one didn't really have a procedural ending. Most of the reveal was handled out of sequence with anything discovered by the police investigation.

The off-kilter discovery of what happened was markedly at odds with another show I watched a few days ago with a serial killer working musically through 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour' and leaving obscure operatic clues. Luckily the constable supporting the investigation was a choral singer and happened to have the right scores available. His Maigret channeling boss (expect a series) was indulgent enough to take the hunches seriously, with a suitably operatic result.

But back to Broadchurch. To be honest, I was waiting for a plot twist after perpetrator was discovered. Instead we spent time on the emotions created in the aftermath. Some of this worked well but it jarred the flow of how these series normally play out.

I'm therefore not sure about a few pieces. Why introduce that the Scottish detective had visited the village in his childhood? It got a whole scene and some fabulous camera framing so maybe it's part of a hastily designed approach for a series 2? But please don't make Broadchurch a new Midsomer-on-Sea? Instead, maybe we'll get the Tennant and Colman Detective agency?

What about those arty slow motion sequences? Definitely not designed to make the episode sluggish? Instead, why not throw in...a slug scene?

Someone will know whether it was proper procedure was to let the father of the murdered child have an unsupervised discussion through the cell's hatch, directly with the perpetrator?

And the broad ritualised beacons on the cliff edges...Could this be a further clue about the current ending?

So maybe I'm in denial, but it all makes me think there's a different ending for Broadchurch and one day we'll get to see it. I already have a cracking plot, should anyone need it.

Monday, 22 April 2013

watching the waterside wilderness of mirrors

Westminster Bridge
In Westminster for a meeting today, although the gaps around it gave me time for a stroll along the south side of the Thames.

I was in that area often used in movies and TV series, that scene when spies or politicians need to meet to discuss something in private.

In US movies it is often 'The Mall/Washington Memorial/Lincoln Memorial'; for UK ones it's 'the south side of the Thames between SIS, Lambeth Palace and Westminster Bridge'.
Spooky SIS
The SIS building is quite well known, not just for its Lego-like construction, but because it's the home of the Security Intelligence Service (SI6 née MI6). It often gets a blue tinge treatment in spook shows. In practice this stretch of river may not be the best place for spies or politicians to meet, because the big spy building is just a few minutes away from Parliament.

The whole strip of the south bank from Vauxhall towards Battersea is undergoing a diplomatic makeover now, ahead of the Americans moving their London embassy from Grosvenor Square to the planned shiny silver cube Sarf of the River. Even faster than the construction of the new embassy buildings, Nine Elms is seeing emerging tower blocks of riverside residences as the dusty area becomes prime real estate.
American Embassy CGI
So I guess we'll be seeing plenty more movies with spies, politicians and diplomats, cast along this familiar stretch of the river.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

in which I make muddy tracks

Bike ride
I'll admit that the route was a trifle muddy in places, but the orange bike is still the default at this time of year.

I do have a mountain bike "the silver boingy one" which is the preferred one for off-road, but my so-called 'winter' bike can also tackle the less demanding off road stretches.

We're just coming up to the change-over when the blue and white bike is pressed into service. It's the one with the fancy light-weight frame and skinny tyres, best left at home in the poorer weather. It wouldn't like the terrain here and would just make a hole in the ground.

The orange bike has wider tyres and all the gears are hidden away, so it is comparatively well-behaved on the poorer roads of winter and spring. It also has a better ability to go cross-country.
Bike ride
I usually keep it on roads, but today ventured along a path that I've noticed a few times. It's a path has been sufficiently soggy to best be avoided, but today, had mainly dried out.
Bike ride
It looks fairly easy going in the pictures, but trust me, there was enough slurpy ground to make parts of the route quite hard going.

I'm sort of kicking myself though, because it's a route I pass quite often yet haven't ever investigated until today.
Bike ride

Saturday, 20 April 2013

We mustn't dwell. No, not today. We can't. Not on Rex Manning day.


I know, Rex Manning Day was the 8th April. It's also not my record player, but I thought I'd acknowledge that Saturday was supposed to be record store day.

Go on, put the single on while reading the rest of the post.

I even visited a record store, although if I'm truthful, it was somewhat disappointing.

It wasn't an independent store, but part of a struggling chain. The selection was limited, the emphasis was on DVDs and games software and there were only a few actual vinyls, mostly at gravity defying prices.

Not quite an Empire Records moment. I don't think even Liv Tyler and Renee Zellweger could rescue this store.

There are some good record stores left, with a buzz and vitality, but the particular shop I visited in a shopping centre lacked any real sense of purpose or enthusiasm.

Embarrassed, I left without buying anything, even after I'd both browsed and also considered a couple of targeted purchases (which were not available).

So instead, here's an old vinyl cover from 1969 that really classes as artwork.
Pink Floyd UK cover
Or maybe something by the same artists, but from the dying end of the vinyl era in 2003.
Audioslave US cover
These were both the work of Hipgnosis and Storm Thorgerson
Unfortunately, ten years on from the latter cover, my visit into the 2013 record store didn't have many creative new wonders to show.

Mainly head-shots of performers, blandly shrink-wrapped. Upper thirds bold type face. "Man in suit taking tie off against bright background".

Notice the Audioslave album doesn't even feature typography on the sleeve. Same for Zep's Houses. No words on the cover. Or Presence. Dark Side. And on.
let it bleed

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Example #23 : Beispiele der paranormale Flaschen drehen

taxi
Central London sipping wine with a friend. Suitably animated and lo, at some point the wine bottle slid off the table.

We hadn't knocked it nor the table so its disappearance over the edge was something of a mystery.

Just as improbably, it had landed on its side and when we retrieved it, the remaining wine was still in the bottle

We carried on but later another bottle containing water performed the same trick.

Some might put this down to the lower quantity of wine remaining in the bottle, but we are sure it was something else.

I checked the area for any signs of previous poltergeist stories, but apart from it being on one of the old London sites of the plague pits, I couldn't find anything abnormal.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

afterwards

afterwards
I was working in the central area on Wednesday, although my meetings had been rescheduled because of the big ceremony.

It meant I wasn't right in the area when it was all happening, although I was back there for work soon afterwards. London seemed particularly quiet in the afternoon. Little traffic and not the surge of people that I'd expected.

It was the same as I crossed a surprisingly empty Trafalgar Square, well known as a rallying point.
afterwards
A few people with a banner, some token barriers to protect the statues from spray painting and a smattering of people in high visibility vests to act as marshals, which I guess wasn't needed.
afterwards
There's something about London's ability to handle big events and still continue its normal business. I'm quite used to the area around Westminster being fenced off and managed for all kinds of situations, from the basic walks of the Prime Minister to and from Parliament, to the Queen rolling past in a golden carriage.

It fact, we get used to dodging around barriers and even knowing where to walk to avoid the slow-moving tourists.
afterwards
I was still surprised with the speed of the reset on Wednesday. By mid-afternoon, the cameras had come down, the barriers had been lifted and other routine London activities were in progress.

Back at Parliament, I could see people from both Houses chattering on the terraces in the afternoon sunshine. I walked past a noisy protest across the street from Downing Street, but it was related to Indian liberties.
afterwards
A small troop of horses and soldiers passed me. Part of the Household Cavalry, routinely changing guard before returning to Buckingham Palace.

And then on Sunday the barriers and cameras all go up again, ready for the runners in the London Marathon.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

skip alert before bike tidy

the messy shopping bike
Out on the messy shopping bike briefly today - before switching to the orange one for a longer run. Over 40 miles today, and this evening I can feel it in my legs more as a gentle heat rather than anything worse.

The shopping bike is the one with the leather saddle, permanently attached mudguards, cyclo cross tyres, panniers and lights. There's also a big D-lock in the pannier on the back making a heavy bike. It could do with some TLC. Tender Loving Care.

There's a complicated sequence before I can sort it out properly, because the garage is full again. We've taken some of the furniture from upstairs and moved it to the garage before we redecorate one of the rooms.

I had to break up the sofa bed to move it out. It was the blue stripy one that we had to make a hole in the wall to move upstairs in the first place and now it's come down, although it's in more pieces than when we started.

That, plus a few other items, have somehow refilled all the space I'd created so I'm thinking that next Friday might need to be 'skip day' again.

I'm tied up with work things until then, and I'm wondering what the City on Wednesday will be like, what with Operation True Blue running through the area.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

all the luck in the world

traintime
Sitting on a train, I was thinking about the kerfuffle around that 51 second musical tune.

Beyond the common decency and respect point, there's plenty of others to muse...

How stories get told, how points can be muted, how history's record is developed by the likes of Telegraph journo Charles Moore's supplicant biography and that Meryl Streep movie.

And now, the social media manipulation of populist information as a new form of agit-prop? Of course it also gives the media something easy and self referential to talk about.

It's drifted from folky tunes to popularise critical messaging, via punk, hip-hop and urban styles, now into a wall of digital graffiti.

I tried to think of songs related to recent-ish UK politicians by using Blair as a comparison, there's some...
  • Pulp - Cocaine Socialism (1998) : Jarvis Cocker critiques Cool Britannia and New Labour's attempts to woo the Britpop gang.
  • Radiohead - You and Whose Army? (2001): I loved OK Computer when it first came out and this one sings of politicians up against the wall.
  • George Michael - Shoot the Dog (2002): Yes well. And that video.
  • Manic Street Preachers - Send Away the Tigers (2007) : Nicky Wire on Blair's decline, post Iraq. Liberating zoo tigers may have unintended consequences.
  • Pet Shop Boys - I Get Along (2002): Having donated to Labour, Neil Tennant later writes sadly of Blair's break up with Mandelson.
  • Chumbawamba - Tony Blair (1999) : After that other song about getting knocked down and getting up again, throwing water over Prescott didn't help the sales of this band's tales of a double crosser.
  • Elbow - Snowball (2005): the one about a hundred thousand punctured souls.
  • Muse - Take a Bow (2006): asks the Iraq war creators to take a step forward.
More recently, for Cameron, it's curious. There's musicians who have stated they don't want their tunes used in Conservative events, like Radiohead's Thom Yorke, and the Smiths saying they are suspicious that Cameron claims to like their music.

Poppy boy-band One Direction managed to get around Cameron for a photo-opportunity, so I suppose he must like their music - or probably their reach into popular culture. The only real agit-prop I could quickly find was a version of Common People, about Cameron and Osborne.

It kind of makes Maggie's influence top of the pops for this, with more than 20 songs around, without even including the controversial show tune.

Of course, if we included Billy Bragg there'd be more, but for this process I'd only count one of his, like 'To have or have not', or maybe 'Thatcherites', although that last one might be more about John Major.

The same with Elvis Costello, where Shipbuilding doesn't even make buzzfeed's list.

Friday, 12 April 2013

park lane park life

45 Park Lane
In a rainy Park Lane, people watching London wrapped against the wet and cold.

Enough traffic to remind that this area of London continues at full strength, and the procession of expensive new carrier bags along the pavements sufficient to show that people were out buying.

It's the top two squares on the UK Monopoly board, so not too surprising that it seems to be recession proof.

I'd parked underground and the adjacent cars were four Porsche, a Bentley and a Roller. The adjacent Dorchester hotel entrance is a well-known spot for supercar spotting.

Judging from the noisy mobile phone calls as we walked from the car park, much of the foot traffic around the area was from overseas.
bugatti veyron + lamborghini reventon
Our dining was a consequence of the many special offers in the capital at the moment. It's traditionally a February phenomenon to go to fancy restaurants on a low tariff, but this season, like the poor weather, the offers have extended right into April.

I won't describe the all the courses, suffice to say that the butter lettuce salad, avocado, shropshire blue cheese, and Champagne-herb vinaigrette topped with edible purple flowers was delicious.
45 Park Lane
And I wonder how how long it will be before Google adds an extra colour to street-view to illustrate prime celebrity viewing zones?

In London, this is a film star, rock and models area, with the Dorchester, 45 and China Tang as good spots to see people.

This Wolfgang Puck restaurant boosts the attraction for out of town Hollywood folk, looking for a familiar equivalence to Spago. It was actually amusing to see people from other tables look towards us as we left...Just in case.
45 Park Lane

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Pope's Head Alley

popes head alley
We decided to pop into a wine bar after work, quite close to the old lanes in the centre of London's city.

The wine bar was in an ex bank head office established after the Great Fire and nowadays reminiscent of an old London coffee house, spacious and discreet.
Coffee House London
We were by Pope's Head Alley, which is part of the labyrinthine city area where the rich and highly influential Catholic Lombardian bankers were given special dispensations to continue their faith during the reformation.
Pope's Head Alley
King Henry VIII had it renamed as King's Head Alley, but it later changed back in Queen Mary's reign.

Like many of the small alleys around this area, there's a ghost story too. This one is about how a catholic priest fought the devil in the alley - a kind of early P.R. job by the church.

The story now is that if it's dark and you feel the wind on your neck, it's not the wind, but someone with horns and a tail.

High up the wall a stone bust has been installed as protection. Yes, it's a Pope's Head.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

the stars are out tonight

bowie
I took a look at my draft blog posts tonight, thinking I might find about 20 or maybe 30 lurking unpublished. It's those moments when I start writing something, get interrupted and then don't go back to finish it.

Or sometimes it's just that something else comes along which overtakes the original post.

I haven't checked through them in detail, but I must hold my head down in shame as I admit that it says I have 222 draft blog posts at the moment.

I clicked on a couple. The first one that intrigued me was called "You look at me like an emergency" and is about nuclear testing. There's another few that are reviews of music gigs and similar. Of course, when they get more than a few days old, they lose their currency and that's probably why they didn't get posted.

Another approach that I sometimes use is to combine two or three ideas into one post, which will kind of supersede the individual ones. I guess this post is a hasty case in point.

Since I've had my own car back, I've been listening to that new David Bowie album through the iPod, and it still has a freshness that I'm quite enjoying. I was given the album at easter as a vinyl double and it came with a CD tucked into the covers.

I used to think that the old Ziggy Stardust album sounded as if the tape had been gently speeded up on some of the tracks. It was probably something to do with Bowie's vocal register, and I still notice it on the title track.

But then, I also thought that Hugh Jackman sang quite like Bowie on some of the early parts of Les Mis.

No signs of speed-up trickery in the new album, where Bowie can still sing quite high, but generally stays in a safer vocal range. There's also a few moments among the tracks where there's little references to older material too. No doubt having some fun.

And I enjoyed the video for the stars track, with Bowie and a be-wigged Tilda Swinton playing a married couple shopping in urban America before getting to meet the neighbours.

I put it up as a this is my jam track, but I still haven't really figured out how to get any critical mass of listeners to that site.

Monday, 8 April 2013

division

thatcha
I'd already left the UK when Thatcher came to power. I was living in Germany. One of the jibes from Germans was the one recent English word that every German knew.

"Strike"

Before that, I'd been living in a basement flat in Kensington, outside of which the rubbish sacks were piled to the sky because of the various public service disputes.

We'd only get power three days a week and I can still remember the regular scene of the Earls Court Road lights switching off as the next power cut was enforced.

This was consequential of the preceding Teddy Teeth regime and was around the time that I decided to see what it would be like living somewhere else in Europe.

Boeblingen, near Stuttgart, became home within the wealthy southern German Swabian area. Car manufacturers (Daimler-Benz and Porsche) and computer companies (IBM and Hewlett-Packard). Many small and medium sized enterprises and a surprising diversity of locally produced goods. There was a pretty full spectrum of jobs on offer and a managed programme of Gastarbeiter (imported) labour.

There were still the quirks of langer Samstag (the occasional Saturday when the shops remained open) and the weirdly short lunch breaks measured in tenths of an hour (you had to be clocked out for 36 minutes minimum at lunch-time).

By the time I returned to the UK, things were changing. The bins had been emptied, but the infrastructure of the manufacturing and production economy of Britain was being dismantled. The south was getting new work from the progressively deregulated financial services industry, but the 'making things' mentality was dissolving. Quick money was being made from selling things in public/state ownership back to the part of the public that could afford it.

I used to think that Thatcher was an unstable bully although the madness storyline didn't get much presence at the time. There was too much fighting in the streets/pits/factories/tax offices/oceans to allow time for that kind of reflection.

I also didn't think Thatcher had reasoned solutions, more that she was the one in position when things needed urgent change. The hardcore route she selected wasn't the only one available and unfortunately her choices cost the country decades of damage.

Most of the media has been jammed with related stories and pre-canned television shows. I decided to switch off twitter until it subsides again.

We'll get the televised event next Wednesday in Central London, with a sort of irony related to a state funeral for the arch privatiser.

Someone said the one word summary of her was conviction.

I say it was division.
Katherine Hamnett

Friday, 5 April 2013

tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar has given you the call

Untitled
Off to the land of the sheesha today. Or the West London variant in any case.

I've worked in various countries around the middle east, where the caterpillar's favourite smoking device seems to be referred to as a sheesha rather than a hookah. Adding it as a suffix to an order for coffee seems to bring the full paraphernalia.

In London it's fairly commonplace to see them around Edgware Road, mainly in those cafes that can have a sort of sheltered outdoor section, which is a kind of weather adaptation.
hubble bubble
The system reminds me of a sort of reverse barbecue, with the coal on the outside and the smoke going downwards into the water. I was once told that a single session with one of those pipes was the equivalent of inhaling the smoke from 100 cigarettes.

We were inside the restaurant to enjoy Fattoush and maybe some Sambousek Jebneh and even a Kafta Khosh-khash whilst chatting in the early evening.

I did think briefly about that pine nut and rose water rice pudding too, but it will need to wait for another day.