|Monday, January 16th, 2017|
|Camden & The End Of Christmas
I finally caught up with my friend Sarah today for a much belated catch up and exchange of Xmas gifts. Sarah of course is always a pleasure but with this meeting I can also draw a more or less final close to the Xmas 2016 season which as usual for me has lasted almost exactly two months starting with my friend Jacqui's birthday back in November.
For various reasons I suggested meeting in Camden. I wanted to catch that Punk exhibition (see previous entry) but Camden in one of many places roughly half way between us and has many places to meet, eat and drink. Sadly I had forgotten Camden's wide appeal to tourists, wannabe punks, wannabe hippies and annoying teens who think they have invented an original way to live because they have bought something in a shop. Consequently Camden was unexpectedly choc-ful of annoying bastards half of whom seemed to carry selfie sticks which is a fresh level of hell that has developed since my last trip to Camden.
Luckily meeting up with Sarah made it all worth while, but its likely to be a long time before I suggest meeting anybody else in Camden though! Current Mood: awake
Earlier today I managed to catch the '40 Years Of Punk' photo exhibition at the Proud Gallery in Camden in what seems to have been my first visit there in ages (possibly years?). It was lucky I did because the exhibition is due to close on Tuesday - it has been running since sometime last year alongside various other events to mark the significant anniversary. I can't say the small exhibition was brilliant but some of the images were interesting. as an unexpected bonus it was also nice to see the London of the 1970's - especially seeing some parts which I have become very familiar but from the time when I was a little kid. I think I found that to be the most evocative aspect of all.
This week I have been mostly re-reading: The Periodic Table by Primo Levi Current Mood: awake
|Labyrinth Masquerade Ball (post-Bowie)
I took my girlfriend to see Labyrinth on Saturday. It was being shown as a special 'Masquerade Ball' at the Prince Charles cinema in London. This was the second time I had attended such a screening and I cannot count how many times in total I have seen the film - probably 20 at least. For Lilia it was the first time. She had never seen the film before, been to any sort of special screening before or even been to the PCC before so it was with her fresh eyes I watched the proceedings this time around. The fancy dress section was the biggest I have seen yet but by contrast the audience was comparatively quiet when it came to shouting and heckling at the prompted moments. Many were in full voice when it came to the songs though. Bowie's character was given a lot of vocal support though. I cannot remember if that was the case when I last saw this at a screening but being so close to the anniversary of his death it was both pleasing and poignant. Lilia seemed to think it was pretty wonderful and I have no reason to argue. Current Mood: awake
|Sunday, January 15th, 2017|
Following the double header at the Portrait Gallery I popped around the corner to the National Gallery for their exhibition of works by 'Australian Impressionists'. Of the three exhibitions I caught on Thursday this was the most entertaining. It was both odd and appealing to see very familiar styles and techniques of painting applied to such unfamiliar landscapes - and given the time period (late 1800's) a rare glimpse into Australia's past as a developing nation.
The exhibition was comparatively small (it wasn't the main show currently running in the gallery) but was great value. The short film they show on a loop withing the exhibition was also very useful for putting the displayed works into the context of the time. The three exhibitions together made for a very nice afternoon but this one was my clear favourite. Current Mood: awake
|Picasso Portraits & Photo Portraits
On Thursday after my shift finished I decided to catch a few exhibitions before heading home. First up was a trip to the National Portrait Gallery for a double header. They are currently holding a pair of portrait exhibitions, one featuring paintings by Picasso and the other (one of my favourites) is the annual Photographic Portrait prize. Given that I was going to be charged entry for both exhibitions I decided that I would opt instead for an annual membership as that will save me money over the course of the year even though it is a tough time of year to be spending that amount of cash.
The Picasso exhibition was nice, but despite the high profile prestige was for me the lesser of the two exhibitions, in my expectations at least. The photo portrait prize as usual featured some work both striking and inspiring but seemed slightly weaker this year than in some previous. I have found myself saying that about a number of annual exhibitions I attend and is hard to tell how much the quality actually drops some years compared to hom much my own experience is tainted by nostalgia and raised/lowered expectations.
So the bottom line seems to be that I preferred the photo portrait exhibition to the Picasso portraits but the thing I am happiest with is getting the ticket that will get me into unlimited exhibitions for free for the next year. I'm not sure if that is a victory for art or not! Current Mood: awake
|Monday, January 9th, 2017|
|Eat The World - Spain & Italy
With my Goddaughters in town over the weekend we were finally able to advance our 'Eat The World' project a little. On the Saturday night after the theater we went to a nearby Spanish restaurant called Andalucia. The food was excellent and the girls all tried Tapas for the first time so that was a success all round. On the Sunday it was my turn to be treated so we visited an Italian restaurant in Harrow called Prezzo. It's part of a small chain I think but was very nice (I had rabbit for the first time in ages and with pasta for the first time ever!). We all like Italian food so there were few surprises here, the choice was mostly based on it's proximity to the cinema in Harrow as the girls were taking me to see 'A Monster Calls' as a birthday treat (beautiful film BTW).
The Project so far has taken in C=Cuba, S=Spain and I=Italy. I'm sure there is more to come, though me might have to start getting a bit more systematic soon before it starts to get confusing, though I did notice that in 'Eating The World' so far we have managed to spell out C.S.I. which can hardly be a good omen! Current Mood: awake
|Book Of Mormon
I had my fiend Kate and my Goddaughters down over the weekend to celebrate Christmas and my birthday. On Saturday I took them to see The Book Of Mormon musical, a show we had all been waiting to see for quite a while. I think we all found it to be genuinely impressive. Above all else it was really very funny (as I had hoped) but also had some great tunes, choreography and some brilliant turns from a very talented cast. Considering this was created by the guys behind South Park and Team America the humour was comparatively tame (but still had plenty of moments). The narrative nails its colours to the mast pretty early: religion in general - and Mormonism as a focal point in particular - is pretty bonkers but remains generous enough to suggest that ideas that bring people together and help those less fortunate can be a good thing even if they are bonkers.
Most importantly, everyone had a good time and we were all glad that we were finally able to snaffle some tickets.
This week I have been mostly re-reading: Topple The Mighty by Leon Kuhn & Colin Gill Current Mood: awake
|Saturday, January 7th, 2017|
|Gallery Catch Up
I had some unexpectedly free time today so with some exhibitions I have been meaning to catch for months due to close in the next few days I got off my butt and caught up with some galleries...
First up was The Photographers Gallery
and an exhibition of Feminist Avant-Garde photography.
I liked the ideas and much of the politics behind this work (challenging notions that define women and images of women, etc.) but as usual the photos themselves were a pretty mixed bag when it came to levels of appeal and engagement.
A short bus ride from Regent Street to The Strand led to the next exhibition at Somerset House: Malick Sidibe - The Eye Of Modern Mali.
This was a small (free) retrospective of the photographers work from the 1960's showing the lives and activities of the people of the newly independent Mali. I really enjoyed this exhibition as accompanying the lovely images was (unusually for a gallery) a soundtrack of suitable music which nicely enhanced the feeling of that particular time and place. https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/malick-sidibe
From the opposite side of Aldwych I then took another bus (this time on an original routemaster working the tourist route. This was an unexpected treat and a reminder that London has lost a little something with the phasing out of these transport relics) for another short ride up Fleet Street towards St. Paul's and the wobbly bridge across the river to Tate Modern
I finished with two exhibitions here - Wilfredo Lam
and The Radical Eye
. Lam was another artist new to me, a Cuban artist (I learned) very much in touch with the modernist movements in 20th Century America and Europe with very much his own style despite obvious influences of Cubism, Surrealism and more. (I like it when I discover a 'new' artist and really like them!). The 'Radical Eye' exhibition looked at modernism in photography and was curated entirely from works in the personal collection of Elton John. I have to say that I found his name attached to the project more of a deterrent than an attraction but there was very little emphasis placed on the celebrity aspect and the exhibition (a fraction of his total collection, I'm sure) was both impressive and engaging.
I managed to get all of this done in a single afternoon and am now feeling all 'cultured up' for a couple of weeks at least. I'm glad I made the effort to catch these before they closed. Current Mood: awake
|Friday, January 6th, 2017|
I had my forty-third birthday this week which means I survived being forty-two. Who would have thought it? There were moments when I even surprised myself. Here goes forty three then. So far, so good.
This week I have mostly been re-reading: Shadows Over Baker Street (Anthology Edited By Michael Reaves & John Pelan). Sherlock Holmes enters the nightmare world of H.P. Lovecraft Current Mood: surprised
|Monday, January 2nd, 2017|
|State Of Me
For a while it had started to look like my life was stagnating to a large degree. For several years I remained in the same job, lived in the same flat, enjoyed the company of (mostly) the same friends, remained single whether it suited me or not (and there were times for both) and generally speaking one year looked pretty much like another. In retrospect now I can see how certain significant events in my life have started to give a different shape and feel to my life.
At the end of 2013 my father died. By the end of 2014 I had seriously fallen out with someone who I had thought was one of my closest friends - that relationship has never been repaired and it's breakdown to be honest probably hit me harder than my father's death. By this point I had resolved that in some significant ways I really needed parts of my life to change. 2015 was the year that brought me a nearly catastrophic failure in my health, a significant shift in my perspective on life and at the end of the year - a promotion at work with a transfer to a new service.
2016 has been interesting too. I started the new job at the new service with the new team and new tenants. That was all pretty new! I had a major upheaval when my new landlords tried to hike up my rent by 40%! There have been various other odds and sods in the mix as usual. Friendships have had their ups and downs, world politics has gone seemingly insane and I have started my first proper relationship in eight years! Life has continued as normal but just lately (comparatively speaking) there have been some major changes in most significant aspects of my life and I am pleased to report that for the most part they have been changes for the better. Lets see what 2017 has to offer... Current Mood: awake
|Museum Of Childhood, NYE
I have been wanting for a while to see the Sonya Hurtado exhibition at the Museum Of Childhood and I was running out of time as the exhibition closes next week. The exhibition comprises only 12 images so I found it difficult to justify the time it would take to cross London for it, but it looked really good. Luckily I was working on Saturday and the guys I support were looking for something to do with their afternoon and were happy to check out the museum (though this small exhibition itself held little interest for them).
The tenants ended up enjoying looking at the various exhibits and in particular the current main exhibition about board games. I was glad to do something different with them for a change. The exhibition I wanted to see was also very good - beautiful photographs working issues around complex childhood emotions with fairy tale imagery. http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/exhibitions/tales-photography-sonya-hurtado/
After we got back to base and had some dinner I took the same bunch of guys to an LD New Years Eve Disco and they had fun there too! It was nearly 1am by the time I finished and I didnt make it home until about 2am. I've had worse New Years! Current Mood: awake
|Friday, December 30th, 2016|
|Post Xmas Blah
I've returned from Wales and returned to work since my last entry, still working towards the 'Back to normal' status I always crave at this time of year but wont quite get for at least a ouple of weeks yet.
Family wise, my mum continues to crumble but at a fairly slow and steady pace so no drama this trip. My brother was too unwell to see me on this trip but whether this was down to purely physical ailments or a mix of that and poor mental health remains to be seen. On future visits I may return to my regular M.O. of just rocking up to his house uninvited. That way I can at least find out how he really is. The rest of the trip passed by without any real drama - a real indication of how much of a malign pressence my father was when alive. Every Christmas I remember with him was frought. anxious and unpleasant but the past few years have been comparatively sedate affairs. Its a pretty sad indictment.
I managed to see a few of my friends, including ones I missed on my last trip due to my mum's epic fall. If I had known that I wouldn't be seeing my brother I would have used that time to catch up with some others instead. Sorry folks. Now that I am back I still have fixtures piling up of people at this end I still need to catch up with and this weekend at work contains plans for both a massive New Years Eve party (for the service users) and another tenants birthday. In less than two weeks I will have clocked up a full year in my new job. I might use my space here to do some stocktaking on the changes of the past year. I am in a very different place now than I was at this time last year, that's for sure.
This week I have been mostly re-reading: Redemption Song - Muhammad Ali & The Spirit Of The 60's by Mike Marqusee Current Mood: awake
|Monday, December 19th, 2016|
|The Further Inches Of Christmas
Just a couple of more shifts at work and then I break for Christmas. The preparations have gone well so far. Since the last update I have written/posted/distributed my Xmas cards, wrapped my presents, seen my friends Viv and Rita, attempted (and partly succedded) in arranging to meet friends both here and back in Wales (family too!). We also completed the Winter Wonderland trip at work (see previous entry), Celebrated one of our tenants 50th Birthday today, arranged for a trip to the Panto on Thursday (which I am gratefully not attending!). Basically it's all systems go. Just about one more deep breath and I will plunge right through it. That's the plan anyway!
This week I have been mostly re-reading: The Divided Self by R.D. Laing Current Mood: Imagine Dragons - Its Time
|Thursday, December 15th, 2016|
|Winter Wonderland 2016
I think I somehow managed to avoid going to Winter Wonderland last year. The mix of over-priced Christmas market and over-priced funfair in Hyde Park is a massive draw to the learning disabled residents of Westminster and I usually end up supporting some of them to visit and have their cash vaccuumed out of their wallets. Last year I managed to avoid it but this year I did not and I even got suckered in to supporting an 'after dark' trip for my guys this year - the lights being a special part of the attraction.
I am usually much more comfortable in the over-priced craft market section but tonight our guys had eyes only for the over-priced fun fair and over priced food concessions. I think they all had a good time though. I was lucky enough to be paired with my lovely colleague Lilia who is more than game for the funfair rides. Luckily now I don't think I will have to do that again, this Winter at least.
This week I have been mostly re-reading: The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James Current Mood: awake
|Monday, December 12th, 2016|
|Kew At Night (3 of 3)
I finished the third of my three planned visits to the Illuminated Walk at Kew Gardens tonight. I took my friends Viv and Rita (as their Xmas present) and I think they very much enjoyed it. I am still enjoying it even on my third visit in barely two weeks. I did manage to grab some pretty snazzy photos and even some video footage on this visit though, which is more than I managed the previous two times. I think that may be enough now for this year - next year I will surely be back for more. Current Mood: awake
|Sunday, December 11th, 2016|
|Paul Nash AT Tate Britain
A few years ago there was an exhibition of Paul Nash sculptures at Kew Gardens. I was quite fond of these sculptures as they looked brilliant i in the naturalistic setting of Kew - especially that one time I visited in the snow and everything looked spectacular. Iv'e been keen to see the current exhibition at Tate Britain since it opened and on Thursday after work I finally got my chance.
Most of the exhibition seemed to focus primarily on his paintings rather than his sculpture - and of the two I think I prefer his sculptures. I did learn a couple of things which mostly serve to highlight my own ignorance. Firstly, I had no idea that he was so closely linked to the surrealist movement and secondly I had no idea that he had served as an official war artist in the first world war (or even that lived in that period). Both of these insights shed a load of light on his work from me. Now that I know these things I can absolutely see their influence in much of his work that I have seen but prior to this exhibition I had never put the pieces together in my mind. I only wish is that I could go back and have another look at his work at Kew. I may have to dig out that old catalogue.
This wek I have been mostly re-reading: The Blood Never Dried - A People's History Of The British Empire by John Newsinger Current Mood: awake
|Wednesday, December 7th, 2016|
|Christmas By Inches
The Xmas holidays are edging inexorably closer. In the past week I have visited my friend Claudia (and baby Leila) in Croydon, wrapped some presents, written and posted some cards (these are jobs I hope to complete this weekend!) completed the last of my Xmas shopping, visited my friend Kate in Northampton and dropped gifts for her family there, booked tickets for the tenants at work to see an xmas Panto, decorated their lounge, received my first xmas card, heard my first brass band and am starting to feel the pinch as time is rushing forward and pland and preparations still need to be made. Three weeks from now it will be more or less over, apart from the final slog into the new year and back to normality. Current Mood: awake
|Sunday, December 4th, 2016|
|Ross Noble's Brain Dump
Back To Northampton for my friend Kate's birthday and a trip to see Ross Noble at the Derngate again. By my count this is our fourth Ross Noble gig but the first time we have taken the kids who were appropriately blown away by his mastery of weirdness and non-linear narratives etc. The first half of his show was (as usual) electrifyingly manic, the second half slightly more flat but good fun all the same. He is a comedy hero of mine and I think he might now have two more fans. Four shows feels like plenty now though, I might give him a rest for a while! Current Mood: awake
|Saturday, December 3rd, 2016|
|Kew at Night (2nd Of 3)
So back to kew again with the night walk, slightly disappointed but not entirely surprised that it didn't quite live up to the magic of last week. Part of the step down was due to us already knowing what we were going to get so the surprise element had gone. Between our first visit and our second security had been stapped up slightly so where on our first visit we could right up to (and under) some of the illuminated trees now more of it was fenced off and constrained. It was still all very lovely and a pleasant way to spend the evening in good company. recognising how much of a step down the second visit was I guess highlights how good it was last week on the first visit.
This week I have been mostly re-reading: Vietnam - An Anatomy Of A Piece by Gabrial Kolko Current Mood: awake
|Wednesday, November 30th, 2016|
|Beyond Bedlam & The British Library
A bit of a weird confluence of minor events shaped my day today. I thought that after I finished work I might be heading back to Kew gardens with one of my colleagues from work. It turns out that the Illuminated Walk isn't open at Kew at the moment on Mondays or Tuesdays. Bummer. My working day also finished (unusualy) on the Euston Road as one of my service users is currently recovering from Knee replacement surgery at University College Hospital (UCH). A plan B soon presented itself and so after work I met my friend from work and we went to see first of all the 'Beyond Bedlam' exhibition at the Wellcome Collection and then onto the British Library.
The Beyond Bedlam exhibition was one of the least coherent I have seen at the Wellcome, who are normally pretty good. There were some interesting ideas about mental health treatment - especially from those who have experienced it from the patients point of view but I didn't get as much out of the exhibition as I had hoped. The British Library was good though. My friend Lilia had never been (but recently expressed her desire to do so). We had a little look around the building and then had a look at the 'treasures of the library' exhibition which is free and if you are a lover of books (as we both are) stunning.
If either te Kew Gardens thing had worked out or if my shift hadn't been due to end at UCH on the Euston Road my evening would have taken a very different shape. This was good.
This week I Have been mostly re-reading: Bye Bye Balham by Richard Herring Current Mood: awake