rashbre central: February 2008

Friday 29 February 2008


leapyear.jpgO frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

The first leap day experienced by rashbre central's blog.

Helps make the year 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds, or so I'm told.

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A reflective topic thats 'cropped' up few times lately is the 'colourful' one of whether to mess around with photos after they've been captured.

Here's some of us, London bloggers, earlier in the week and upstairs in the Camel and Artichoke, where the topic of illustration did pop up in a couple of conversations. Many proper photographers explain they will try to get the picture framed fully and then not manipulate the final image more than the barest minimum when its published.

I'm not talking about making starlets look less blemished or having different proportions, just generally cleaning or roughing up an image for whatever use.

For me this creates something of a dilemma. I like the idea of taking properly framed pictures, but I'm afraid much of the time they are 'grabs' taken on the fly, with random devices from mobile phones through to SLRs.

So I suppose I'm a bit too digital to be a proper photographer. I seldom post to this blog without a crop, a bit of fake blur, some saturation, a bipping of the contrast and so forth.

I suppose I see it as part of the process, like correcting my speling and tiping.

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Thursday 28 February 2008


Many Londoners read on trains, which assists to avoid eye contact with other passengers, both in the tube and on the overground.

Today, though, instead of browsing METRO and the Stannit, I thought I'd press my phone to the window and hit 'record' for a short part of this journey. Here's a snippet of a commuter line from the deceptively sunny countryside, via Clapham Junction and into Waterloo.

With the accompaniment of a Dire Straits vs Sex Pistols vs The Hives mashup.


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Wednesday 27 February 2008

standing in the way of control

beatles hamburg germany
Oh, Prawns, I'd planned an early night but then I noticed 'Backbeat' on Film4 so I've started watching the mid 90's version of the mop-headed 5 piece Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Best and Sutcliffe Beatles. I'm semi wondering whether it should have been shot in monochrome.

AstridKirchherr.jpgI'd watch Beatle's stuff (even without any of their songs - presumably because of royalties) over Elvis anytime.

This movie includes Astrid Kirschherr who created many of the early photos (When we was fab), amongst other things.

And then there's the Reeperbahn, Kaiserkeller, Top Ten Club, Seeleute, Rickenbacker geetars, usw.

Einen Eindruck der Zeit viel verursachen.


Earthquake.jpgI somehow missed the earthquake which was supposed to have shaken the UK yesterday. I've been in proper earthquake zones before, including places like the San Andreas Fault where they give visitors briefings about what to do in the regularly occurring earthquakes.

One time I remember quite vividly was when I was with some friends in a shopping mall somewhere around Seattle. We'd all been er - drinking - and were tucked away at the back of a bar. At some point during the evening there was a series of events a little like a ship turning in a big swell of a sea, but at the time I thought it was more to do with a combination of jet-lag and alcohol. The gang I was with were similarly oblivious.

For whatever reason, we decided to leave the mall, in our own time and fairly undramatically. As we got to the outside, we could see fire engines, police cars and flashing lights. It unfolded that there had been an earthquake of moderate severity and the ship-like effects were the building's way of handling the waves as the earth literally moved.

We had some kind of bus to return us to our hotel and sure enough, the radio was filled with the story. If only we'd all paid more attention when it was happening.

more than twitter

Cutting back across Waterloo station forecourt at around 23:00 last night, where the busy people were transitioning from shopping in Marks and Spencers to the remaining few pie and sandwich bars that were still trading.

I'd been in the diverse mix of the London Bloggers, where I managed to spend a little more time than at the last event. Whereas the last time there were considerable blogging artifacts in evidence, this time most people seemed to be in the moment for a chat and whilst there will no doubt be photos, it didn't feel like one was being overly recorded.

Notable is the diversity amongst the attendees and the broad range of topics covered, including commerce, music, photography, parties, travel, advertising, protests in London, great alleyways of the City and all manner of other chatter.

Organiser Andy has managed to achieve a mix of 'regulars' and a good number of newbies at these events which can also help accelerate one's appreciation of the use of social networking.

Tuesday 26 February 2008

where's the camel?

Another meeting of London bloggers tonight.

The regular attendees all seemed to have little MOO cards referencing their blogs last time and several attendees had cameras and even video recorders to capture aspects of the event.

I plan to drop by at some point during the evening.

not cold and windy, really

Who says its cold and windy around Canada Square at this time of year?

There's a contrast between the winter coats and the hardy souls out shopping in shirt sleeves or even standing in shirt for a chat. Of course, there's vastly more people moving about underground in the various tunnels and malls of this area of London's Canary Wharf.

I was 'in transit' but decided to sit outdoors for one of my conference calls, and this was the wintry view.
canada square

Monday 25 February 2008


Waiting for the Tube
A regular working day today, with me in a couple of different locations including Canary Wharf. For less experienced commuters, the Jubilee line has those special arrows painted onto the platforms indicating where to stand to (a) align with the doors (b) but stand out of the way whilst others get off the train. Remarkably, they are by the electrically operated glass doors along the platform. I suppose it is good for the avoidance of doubt.

The rather temporary looking markings are different at Canary Wharf and Waterloo, but I'm told its all part of a cunning experiment.

I somehow don't see it as iconic as 'Mind the Gap'.


After attending the BAFTAs a couple of weeks ago, its quite interesting to see the Oscars on television as a comparison. There's a few more of the central Hollywood gang already arrived, but also many of the nominees are the same folk that were at the British Awards.

I've been working with the television flickering in the background. Its quite interesting seeing quite well known Brit/Irish actors being generally as excited and 'normal' as anyone else would be to be on the red carpet.

Daniel Day Lewis seems to be wearing the same somewhat distinctive tux, whilst the ladies seem to have swapped their swish. I gather the coverage continues through to GMTV's morning television show here. I suspect some of the guests may be somewhat tired and emotional by that stage.

Sunday 24 February 2008


A pleasant surprise on my short trip to Tesco's today; The Observer newspaper had a DVD of 'la dolce vita' bundled with it.

I havn't seen the film for ages, but its one of those that warrants a proper movie evening. There's many famous scenes in it, shot artfully by Fellini in black and white.

Many people know the Trevi fountain scene also from the reference in 'Lost in Translation' but even the opening has been copied in other movies and the scenes in the car were referenced in Pulp Fiction. There's been a Woody Allen affectionate more or less re-make set in (where else?) Manhattan and the film gave the term to paparazzi, based on the name of one of the characters who shoots candid pictures of stars.

Seven nights and seven dawns.



Cheltenham Spa
Not exactly a postcard view of Gloucester, because a postcard view would have edited away the dual carriageway from this picture taken a few hours ago. I guess that's one of the things with taking photographs, what to include and what to exclude. I could have moved the camera a little further to the left, which would have removed the bypass, but then I think I'd have somehow included the big tin sheds in the foreground.
Large tin
If that didn't work, then maybe I could have made a feature of the A417 roadway although then I might have lost the view of the Mendip Hills in the background, although perhaps that way I could hint at the country, town, industrial convergence.
Or another way to look at it would be to put the road off to one side (sort of rive-gauche) and try to capture more of the wintry colours in the few minutes of sun on a rather sold and blustery day.
Cold winds near Birdlip
Or, I suppose I could try cropping the picture to give a different viewpoint. Maybe if I crop the last picture to make it more wide-screen panoramic, still including the road and some hint of the way to the hills?

torchwood babiez

torchwood babiez
In case the television series is not enough. Click the pic to enjoy.
torchwood babiez 2

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Saturday 23 February 2008

Cheltenham sin

sinners enclosure
Cheltenham from Friday evening, and it didn't take too long to find the Sinners' Enclosure, which rather conveniently was in our very hotel.

There seemed to be a strong emphasis on horsing around in that particular area and actually in the hotel in general, with some fun touches like the extra bathtub in the bedroom of the imposing Georgian building.
bedroom bathtub
We later found the informal and very enjoyable restaurant underneath a chandelier of wine glasses.

They know a thing or two about red nectar at the hotel and we drank a special Gevrey Chambertin with our supper. Of course, by Saturday evening, we'd also explored the town, but that is a whole further story.
chandelier of wine glasses

Friday 22 February 2008

year of the rat

Bob-kat just commented to me with that alleged Chinese curse about interesting times. A lot of people believe it is level one of a three level curse originating in China.

Most Chinese folk seem to refute it though, saying that it was made up by a westerner in the 20th Century a bit like the various 'Confucius, he say' type of statements.

I'm taking no chances here though. I've decided to hang lots of bright red lanterns from a couple of weeks ago celebrating the year of the rat onto the top of rashbre central for the day, to ward off any evil spirits that might be passing.

"They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom", as Confucius might have said.

Thursday 21 February 2008

fiddle de dee

Sometimes when I'm travelling (like this week) the act of keeping a blog sort of conspires against me. I don't usually spend more than about 10 minutes on a post, but sometimes even for that I'm caught short if the electronics don't work.

I prefer to add a picture if I can, but as my PC flickr loader has crashed I can't add anything from my camera today. And yesterday the network links were rather intermittent in my previous hotel. Its quite embarrassing when the line crashes in the middle of adding comments to someone else's blog, when its not quite what I wanted to say.

I'm guessing this hotel will have better food, though I need to work this evening on a presentation for tomorrow, so It'll be room service again. I did venture out for a few minutes to a nearby coffee shop though in order to have some sense of the people and the place instead of just the white box view of hotels and meeting rooms.

Some of my friends say this is a little like being a spy, travelling around, random hotels and so forth, but I don't think I'll be applying for a job with SIS, even if it could improve the news.

And there certainly seems to be a fair amount around today, Castro resigns, the Bridgend tragedies, Gordon's latest positive thought and even 'our Tone' getting back onto front pages with more talk of the European Union presidency. Now he's being supported by Sarkozy the whole thing may turn out to be a bad idea. According to my friends in France, Nikky is well past the honeymoon stage with the electorate, even if not so with Carla. Allegedly Germany's Angela Merkel is also not so keen along with those that have started a 'Stop Blair' website.

Then there's Vince who cabled his ideas about the rocky northern bank long before the teams of highly paid consultants concluded with the same idea. As its anathema to new Labour to nationalise things again, it will be interesting to see how long dithering Darling survives, or indeed whether Gordon makes a sacrifice of him.

And now that the '125% of property value' mortgages are surfacing and the separate Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called 'Granite' has been used to hold all of the 'good' money from Northern Rock, it gets kind of interesting to see what is left in the nationalised shell - presumably a much smaller than anticipated number of less than 'rock solid' securities.

Perhaps Westminster, too, has also been caught short in the current situation.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

its only temporary

I'm travelling this week and yesterday arrived at my current hotel around mid foggy evening. I've stayed here before and had a vague memory that the room service food wasn't very good, but it was late so I gave it a try anyway. My memory was right so tonight I'm holed up here with a carrier bag of salad dips from a nearby supermarket (there's not much else around here except a football stadium).
The thing was, as I arrived at the check-in yesterday, they seemed to know me and had all my details right down to the newspaper I'd like in the morning. The paper didn't arrive though, so I'm only catching up on the news this evening after a busy day from first meeting at 07:30 and the last one ending at 20:00.

So National Rocktastic has only just entered my thoughts, with the new excited, nationalised public servant Rockin' Ronnie in charge on £90,000 per month whilst he presides over the £55bn debt which is increasing at roughly £3bn per month. Of course the share price has zoomed south from £4+ to around 90pence over the last few months as well, so we seem to have the company equivalent of a nationalised death star in the midst of the British Economy.
The smiling Tweedledum and Tweedledee-like pronouncements from our arm and eyebrow waggling leadership restore confidence that everything is all right really, but I can't help wondering still where the money gap will end up. Now the taxpayers are directly involved, I'm sure we'll at least be forking out for the recent £100m of legal fees accrued, £55bn divided around the UK taxpayers is still quite a lot of per capita wonga.

So just as my hotel serves 'home made favourites', Gordon and Alistair are telling us that they've taken all the right decisions at the right times.

As the Northern Rock website says today: 'Business as Usual', then if you hit 'proceed', the next screen proclaims 'Catch it while you can'.

Tuesday 19 February 2008

though the night is daylight-saving

I've just had three interludes with different people who have been staying up late (partying; not sleeping; just chillin'). I was marvelling with one of them at the cold crisp night and the superabundance of stars. Somehow I had a flashback to a well-known poem by Adrian Henri called 'and so we'll go no more a raving' (which is best recited with a Liverpool accent) and then I remembered this one which sort of fits the night-time too.

Galactic Lovepoem
Warm your feet at the sunset
Before we go to bed
Read your book by the light of Orion
With Sirius guarding your head
Then reach out and switch off the planets
We'll watch them go out one by one
You kiss me and tell me you love me
By the light of the last setting sun
We'll both be up early tomorrow
A new universe has begun


Monday 18 February 2008

Made in China

There's something immensely hypocritical about the way that world powers can separate sport and politics when it suits them.

The planned Beijing Olympics is a case in point, where some recent polemic suggests that there's no connection between the host country for a sporting event and any of its other actions on the world stage.

China has been moving to the centre of manufacturing and progressively increasing its importance as a world economic power, yet it has both internal challenges in the way that it handles its own people and additionally is supporting the Sudanese government in their continued carnage within Dafur.

Over the last five years, more than 200,000 people have been killed and a further 2.5 million forced from their homes in the conflicts.
Furthermore, within China itself, elementary rights of freedom of speech, assembly and belief are systematically violated.

Journalists, academics, people of religion and varied activists are routinely detained in a gulag-like environment. The internet is censored. Tibet has had the democracy sucked out.
Steven Spielberg has flagged the problem by withdrawing his services as artistic director to the event, but it can't have escaped many that there's parallels with the German Olympics of 1936, when Leni Riefenstahl directed films whilst Hitler moved his Third Reich emblems further into prominence and hid the anti-Semitic posters which had been placed in Berlin.

Now that a strong letter of protest has been issued by a coalition of Nobel Prize Winners, Athletes and some politicians, it at least sets the stage for some close scrutiny of what is happening.

If the Olympics are supposed to be about peace and international co-operation, then China's President Hu Jintao needs to fix a bloody thing or two. China is buying two-thirds of Sudan's oil and selling weapons to Khartoum which can only further support the Dafur massacre. The silence about Dafur inside China is now being emulated with attempts to include gagging clauses to prevent discussion of the politics by athletes planning to attend the event.
UK's politicians are mixed up on this one at the moment. Olympics minister Tessa Jowell says that calling for a boycott of this summer's Games over the Darfur crisis does not serve any purpose.

Meanwhile Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, is under pressure to take a stronger line during his visit than Gordon Brown did recently in Beijing.

China wants to draw a distinction between the games and human rights by saying linking them would "politicise" the Olympics. I hope some of the politicians and the major sponsors involved learn lessons from the history of Berlin.

Sunday 17 February 2008

what we did at before the baftas

Now that Shoot Bafta! has loaded more of the pictures from our wanderings in the West End last weekend, I thought it would be worth posting a summary.

I'm not sure that anyone could derive the original captions for this subset of the fine work produced by looking at them, but if anyone wants to have a go, then most welcome.
We were mainly in the heart of tourist London around Soho where, in addition to a large number of restaurants and cafes, there's other forms of trade in abundance. 11403.large

One of the clues featured the Windmill Theatre, and another one was something to do with PG.

Some people managed to find very interesting uses for tea bags, but I think if I posted those pictures they may shut down rashbre central.

Come to think of it, several of the pictures could probably shut down rashbre central.
As you can see, there was all manner of 'Frenzy' in attempts to find unusual ways to make a point and quite a lot of clothing inventiveness and some inventiveness even without clothing.

There's many more shots here in addition to those featured from The Bottleheads, Snappy Tom, Wee Papper Girls and Global Girls. Our rashbre centrral team didn't win any prizes, but we still had a blast.

Okay and as requested by Naomi, here's some more sensible shots of the BAFTAs.

Saturday 16 February 2008

addiction to the twiglet zone

Debra, this may help.


The Brits have television series called "Big Brother" and "Celebrity Island" where a cross selection of oddball characters are filmed continuously whilst undergoing mild forms of torture. Its cheap television and sometimes dominates a whole channel for days at a time.

The French have a television series called "Ill de la Tentation", where fit, beautiful people are filmed continuously on a paradise island whilst being expected to pair off in front of the cameras, whilst drinking Pina Coladas and Mojitos.

The Brits seem to feature the unclothed upper bodies of participants in their tabloid press, where they become minor celebrities and some of them make a lot of money on the appearance circuit later.

The French seem to feature the unclothed upper bodies of participants in their tabloid press, until those featured cry 'non' and take them to court for image infringement and overtime abuse for being filmed 24x7 in a series when they are only expected to do a 35 hour week.

I see the first three French participants have just been awarded payments after court appearances for the abuse of working hours whilst performing hard on a sunny fantasy island in the Maldives.

Friday 15 February 2008

political pause

Parliament in mist
I arrived near Westminster a little early in the morning before a planned meeting. Instead of heading for the nearest coffee shop, I decided to wander along the South Bank.

It was a crisp and slightly foggy along the Thames, with the sounds slightly damped by the mists. I thought the Houses of Parliament looked quite thoughtful and relatively peaceful before the usual political hubbub begins.

Thursday 14 February 2008


Many folk will be thinking of the Italian Cupid today; I thought as a Londoner, that the appropriate Greek Eros of Piccadilly would be my slight variation. In one story, Apollo made fun of Eros by saying he was a poor archer, and in return Eros caused Apollo to fall in love with the nymph Daphne who was not so keen on Apollo.

The main story, though, is about Eros in the struggle between love, trust and the soul epitomised by Psyche. Eros's mum, Aphrodite gets a bit annoyed that men are finding Psyche too attractive. Eros is told to make Psyche fall in love with someone ugly. Unfortunately, Eros then falls for Psyche himself but gets betrayed by her jealous sisters and has to make a wounded escape, leaving Psyche looking for her lost love. To gain reconciliation, Psyche performs three tasks using powers of nature to eventually become immortal, gets reacquainted with Eros and eventually bears a daughter Hedone named after pleasure.

So next time Cupid fires his bow, remember it can sometimes get complicated, though its great when it ends with happiness.

Wednesday 13 February 2008

re: cycle

velib parisienne
I see that there's a plan to increase the Congestion Charge in London for Chelsea tractors, from the current £8 per day to £25 per day. It applies to cars in Band G and is supposed to start in October. Announced a few hours after the plans to set up a Velib style bicycle rental scheme for London, along the lines of the one in Paris.

I think the bicycle idea is a good one, although there are always stories of schemes where all the bicycles get stolen, like the previous scheme in Cambridge, where the full set of 300 bikes disappeared on the first day.

Some places like Amsterdam seem to have solved the bike theft problem, mainly by everyone driving around on slighlty old looking bikes all fitted with the same strange back wheel locking device. The Amsterdam weather is similar to London, so that should be a good sign.

In Paris the Velib bikes are a sort of gun-metal colour and very heavy, so whilst quite retro stylish, they are not particulalrly nickable or usable out of their home context. Unfortunately because of the first 30 minutes being free, then chargeable, there's a new style of bike-rage when the bikes are being returned to the sometimes insufficient docking stations. Paris also has a few interesting hills, so bikes can be in short supply at the top of some areas.
It will be interesting to see whether the new Green Low Emission Zone to restrict smelly lorries, the increased fees for gas guzzlers in the centre, the relatively pervasive and good value Oyster card and now the rent-a-bikes will somehow change the nature of travel in the centre of London.
I enjoyed the zone around Leicester Square on Sunday with quite a few of the roads closed to traffic and people able to walk around large but still relatively accessible central areas like a super pedestrian precinct.

So now the "soon for re-election" Mayor of London has to see whether (a) the schemes and changes get accepted and then (b) whether they really make a positive difference.

I hope so.

Tuesday 12 February 2008

close to the edge

I just watched a television advertisement for Ebbsfleet, which is the intermediate train station for the Eurostar to Paris. I was trying to place Ebbsfleet, which isn't somewhere I've spotted in the past. There's a virtuality about some of the outer edges of London now, like the new green signs proclaiming the 'low emission zone' called LEZ, which is now another perimeter defence for the Capital.

There's nothing obvious as you pass these new signs, which seem to be on every side road into the centre, except if you are in a big truck with insufficient exhaust management when it will create an instant £200 fine for every visit. Apparently cameras spot the licence plates of undeclared vehicles and send bills to the driver.

And there's nothing obvious about Ebbsfleet either, except a train station and a football club that used to be called Gravesend. That gave me a clue to Ebbsfleet's location and I find fitting that its also declared itself very 'Green' no doubt because it, too, has those special signs. Roger Dean, the famous artist from nearby Ashford in Kent may have been prescient with his early drawings inspiring the M25 and these new worlds.

Monday 11 February 2008

Shoot Bafta

After Saturday evening which involved very late car rides, private screenings and then an early start on Sunday, we finally arrived at the British Academy of Film and Theatre Arts at around 11:15, or putting it another way, just before the bar opened. Others drifted in shortly after us and by midday we were ready for a short screening before we were let loose to the streets around Theatreland to 'Shoot Bafta'.
The streets were closed to traffic in several areas, because of Chinese New Year, although that did mean that the areas around Lisle Street were rammed with people, and there was even a pedestrian one-way system in some parts.
At various times throughout the afternoon fireworks exploded loudly with plenty of smoke then curling across Leicester Square from Chinatown.
We eventually made our way to Covent Garden, checked out the red carpet which was still being prepared and then found some nice reserved seating from where we'd be able to watch proceedings in the evening.

Later we viewed the "15 shorts" (introduced by Mark Kermode). These are fifteen one minute movies - I liked "Frank", "Speed Dating" and the "Little Dinosaurs". Then (fanfare) we had a private screening of our own handiwork of the day in the "Shoot Bafta" Awards.
The scene by the red carpet area is quite amusing, with so many people jostling for views. Ubiquitous photographer step ladders and many people hoping for a glimpse, touch or autograph.

There's police everywhere and a huge procession of limos of all shapes and mainly large sizes.

We had our special wristbands which meant it was easier to wander past the various security folk with red jackets and into our special area.

So we watched a few friends from the movies arrive and then took our seats for the main event. Here's a short excerpt with Marion Cotillard winning best actress.

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Sunday 10 February 2008

Covent Garden

One of today's destinations, along with 195 Piccadilly then Leicester Square, Chinatown for the New Year of the Rat and then later along to The Royal Opera House for some film celebrity moments.

With yesterday's unexpected two thirty bedtime and this morning's early start, right now I need sleep.