This is primarily about the LLSB, Long Live Southbank campaign but it also rambles charmingly on about London in general. So if you aren’t a Londoner but one day hope to visit, consider this an incentive. Alternatively, if you are into skateboarding, check out the video at the end.
One of the joys of being a Londoner is just the sheer amount of stuff that is going on all the time. Truly if you are bored of London, you are a boring bastard indeed. There is not just so much going on that you feel guilty every time you browse an issue of Time Out, there is also a ridiculous variety of things all around. I love all the book readings by famous authors, comedy nights, world famous bands playing live, the greatest selection of theatres on the planet, the markets, the pubs, parks, and random events like boat races/fireworks/pageants/random art happenings/street performances, etc. There are also things I don’t really give a shit about – opera, human statues, invigorating swims outside in the winter, performance art, vegetarian restaurants, chessboxing, religion, skateboarding, and so on.
But just because I don’t give a shit about these latter examples doesn’t mean I don’t want them around. They add something to the city.
For example, a place I love is the Southbank. This stretch on the south side of the Thames holds pretty much everything I have mentioned in both lists (not sure about chessboxing but I wouldn’t be surprised). It has Shakespeare’s Globe theatre (which must be experienced), the British Film Institute, the London Eye, Tate Modern, second hand books stalls, bars, restaurants, theatres and art galleries. It even has a beach!
It has also a place for skateboarders which has been there since I was a kid. As I said, I don’t really care much about skateboarding but the Southbank skateboard park is something I would be very sad to see disappear. It adds to London’s diversity. It seems a fun place for all the young youth-types to hang around. It’s always a laugh watching someone trying to show off and falling flat on their face. Besides, the area has been dedicated to the skateboarders for 40 years. Everyone likes it, including tourists.
If the Southbank skateboard park is shut and replaced with chain shops/restaurants, it can only be a bad thing for a city trying to stay one of the top places for art,creativity, and diversity. I think it will be a massive shame to lose this. So do lots of others. Consequently, the LLSB or Long Live Southbank was set up.
I wrote most of this because they have now made a short video that they want to try and go viral. It’s actually really interesting, even if you aren’t into skateboarding. (Their website is here and is worth a look: http://www.llsb.com/)
At least watch the video and make your mind up. I learned some new things.
A friend just posted this on Facebook. It’s basically a map that shows what will happen if the sea levels rise due to all the ice melting. I have a house in Essex, live in London and will probably end up living in Bangkok at some point. According to this map, I should practice swimming. I found it interesting and thought I would share. There is a link below this picture of a damper than usual Europe.
Thanks National Geographic.
I saw this on Facebook and felt the need to share. It’s pretty amazing to see colour video from the 20s and this is even more amazing if you happen to be a Londoner. It’s mad to think that my teenage grandad might be in one of these shots, taken almost 100 years ago. It was certainly a glorious time if you like to wear hats. Enjoy.
Ok this isn’t Thailand OR beach related. Happy? If you are a trainspotter or a Londoner, you will probably find this pretty cool. It shows the position of every tube train in London. Live. Something even the guys who work in the little booths claim they can’t do when you ask them ‘Where the bollocks is my train?’ It must be magic. Anyway, I thought it was pretty interesting. For a bit. Here’s the link:
Dear readers, I apologise most profusely for my lack writing. But I do have a pretty awesome excuse.
I left my flat of 4 years and had to pack everything in storage. As anyone who has ever moved apartment will know, this was a massive stressful ball-ache. Not just the lifting but calling half of Britain to cancel direct debits. Just try calling Camden council and you will see that the stress induced is reason enough for my not having time to write.
I am in the final stage of my degree and am now entering the ‘Massive Bastard Essays’ stage. I have two huge fiction essays to write and accompanying essays of several 1000s of words. This is all while moving. I probably shouldn’t be writing this in fact.
As well as being technically homeless, I am now technically unemployed as well. I probably shouldn’t say this but both of those facts are brilliant and I love being in this state of limbo. Consequently though, I am now constantly scouring the job pages to persuade someone, anyone, to hire me. To do anything. I work in TV, write fiction, am a journalist, and can teach, so please send me an offer at firstname.lastname@example.org. This leads on to the next time consuming point.
I also left Britain. Quite frankly, it was cold and the natives were grumpy. Maybe these points are connected. I flew to my old home and place of birth – Hong Kong. I bloody love it there and in the 5 days we stayed we drank, met people, and generally revelled in the futuristic awesomeness that is Hong Kong. Superb place. I also applied for some jobs while there in addition to looking at property and writing the aforementioned essays. Busy but brilliant times.
The next stop was the current one. Bangkok! Again, a place where I have lived and loved and lagered. I spent a couple of years as a journalist here and that is another option on the cards. I have spent the last week looking up old contacts and going out with friends. A lot. Oh yeah, and the essays.
So there you go. I’ve been a busy boy so cut me some slack. If you are rich and live in Hong Kong/ Bangkok/ Singapore and want to hire someone to write some stuff or work in a TV studio you own, give me shout. Then I can write more here as well and everyone’s happy.
In case you feel a twinge of pity, there really is no need. I am headed to this beach in a couple of days. Bye for now.
The exhibition comprises over 300 pieces of art, sculpture, anthropological pieces, and more. I’m no expert but I thought it was brilliantly curated. Great lighting, well presented, and er, other curatorial goodness. The first room is full of art relating to death with lots of ‘Memento Mori’ – which is Latin for ‘Remember your mortality’ or ‘Remember your going to die’ (I did 5 years of Latin at school and it just paid off). Then things diverse into skulls, masks, models, pictures, and even cool things like a bone candelabra. It’s downright fascinating.
I would have liked a bit more anthropology however. There were some really cool masks and statues but they were so interesting I wanted a few more. It is a minor quibble though.
Here are some photos to give you an idea of just quite how much Death is on display:
Death: A self-portrait is on at the Wellcome collection until the 24th of February. It is well worth a visit and like all exhibitions at the superb Wellcome collection, it is free. So if you’re in London, check it out.
Here is a video about it:
The Wellcome collection is at 183 Euston Road, London (opposite the main entrance to Euston).
For more info, click this link. Death: A self portrait.
I saw this exhibition yesterday at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (London). It was downright awe inspiring. Alongside Cartier Bresson, Adams is probably my favorite photographer in equal first place. I guess I’m a sucker for black and white photos.
Ansel Adams is best known for his stunningly detailed photographs of American landscapes. In particular Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, and the Californian coast. He does do smaller more intimate pictures but my favorites are his huge and epic pieces. You can see a few at the the bottom of this post but quite frankly, the only way to do justice to his work is to see it on a larger scale. Which means you should go and see this exhibition if you happen to be in London. I have been a fan of Ansel Adams since I was a kid and this is a worthwhile exhibition with a variety of examples of his work – from the small and intimate to the large and epic. There are also a couple of interesting documentaries.
ANSEL ADAMS Photography from the Mountains to the Sea is on at the National Maritime Museum (which is fascinating anyway) from 9th November 2012 to 28th April 2013.
As promised here are some bigger pictures. Imagine them even bigger.
Happy Christmas wonderful readers! If you aren’t a Christian, then happy Tuesday! No need to worry really Christmas is hardly a religious thing. Like Easter it is a made up date supposedly celebrating something to do with Jesus but in actuality is a mashup of wacky traditions. You don’t have to be religious to like Santa, Christmas trees, presents, the Easter Bunny, chocolate, and so on. So feel free to go mad.
I was going to write this tomorrow on Christmas day but I have been a good boy this year so I will probably be playing Assassin’s Creed 3 and watching Doctor Who as God intended. I doubt you will read this till at least Boxing Day anyway.
In case you aren’t lucky enough to be a Londoner I found this great time-lapse thing for you to enjoy. Lots of lovely Christmas lights to get you in the mood.
So happy Xmas! Enjoy!
London is one of the world’s great art centres. Lots of art fans are currently descending on the city from all over the globe to take part in or see the colossal Frieze art fair. This is a great event but visitors should know that there is a lot more to see. Most of London’s established art scene is in the West, North or middle of the city but huge amounts of exciting new stuff is coming out of the East. An area of hip and trendy struggling artists, writers, musicians and unemployed.
In the depths of East London there is a mini hub for all this emerging art called Vyner street. The first Thursday of every month there is a bit of a party with the collection of galleries that line the street opening late to admit lots of excited and slightly inebriated art fans. It’s good fun and cultural to boot.
Of particular interest is an exhibition of Thai modern art called Origin-Originality at Forty7 Gallery, 47 Mowlem Street (Off Vyner St). You don’t get much Thai modern art in the West, so this is an ideal opportunity to see some and buy some. It will be worth millions soon. One of the artists has already featured in a Christie’s Auction, so you’d better get in quick as Southeastern Asian art is very ‘in’ right now. This exhibition looks great, the art is intriguing and the whole thing is on from the 4th-14th October. It is curated by the superb Nim Niyomsin. If you are here for the Frieze art fair or just like art generally, you should check the area out. It’s where it’s at.
Here is a link that will tell you all you need to know about the background to the exhibition, the artists involved, and where all the excitement will be happening. http://www.origin-originality.blogspot.co.uk/ There is also info at the bottom of this page.
Here is some of the art:
Here are some details:
About First Thursdays and the area including Gallery Forty7:
The Olympics are currently in full swing here in London town. Lots of Londoners, myself included, were originally against them. We weren’t asked if we wanted the games but we were expected to pay for them. It felt a bit like being mugged but without getting the chance to run for it or telling the culprit to piss off. Not only that, but getting around our own city to do (admittedly pointless stupid) things like work, was predicted to be a nightmare. Then there were the security problems, the missiles on roofs, anger over Olympic lanes, and sponsors behaving mean and spiteful to pretty much everyone.
Fickle bastard that I am, I’m alright with it all now. If you didn’t enjoy Danny Boyle’s superb opening ceremony you must be a pretty joyless individual. Sure some bits were better than others (the weird music text story for example wasn’t my thing), but generally speaking it was all fun, rousing stuff. Quirky is probably the word. It had Bond, Bean, and the Queen. Surely you must like one of them.
I’m not normally into sport, but the brief glimpses I’ve had of the games (between pointless work and epic train trips) have been great. The joy of the Olympics is that alongside main sports like tennis and football, you might find yourself inexplicably absorbed by something random – women’s archery or women’s pole vaulting or women’s beach volleyball or something. (They were just random examples you understand.) I’m sure these sports are on at other times but because it is the Olympics, it now has some kind of meaning or purpose to it all. If you live in London you are frequently bumping into events and can have a quick cheer. It makes life here about 10% more exciting.
It would be nice if the sponsors chilled out a bit though. Stop patrolling the streets looking for anyone heinously supporting the games with five round objects suspiciously overlapping, and just let people have fun. I’m a bit nervous just talking about them, they might burn down my website.
Transport has been a bit worse but it is so awful usually, most Londoners are coping quite well. The trains have all worked at the weekends which actually makes for an improvement.
I guess we shall see if the Olympics actually does make a profit. The organisers (or possibly the government, I wasn’t paying attention) reckon we might make a profit of £2 billion. Hopefully this will mean the mascots knocking on doors and giving everyone in London a couple of hundred quid each. Or at least a 6 pack. Most of us are easily bribed.
So go Olympics! We’ve paid and sufferend already, so we might as well enjoy it. To celebrate this, here is a funny sketch about the Olympics. It’s funny, quirky, a bit weird, and British. Go Monty Python!
Everyone loves a good Apocalypse and everyone seems to love John Martin’s work. I certainly did.
John Martin was hugely popular in the 19th Century and toured the world with his spectacular paintings of the end of the world and scenes from the bible of God smiting the shit out of everything. Obviously most of the paintings come from the Old Testament when God was going through his ‘angry phase’ and regularly destroyed cities and drowned the whole planet. Fortunately he chilled out a bit after that and started banging on about being meek and merciful as if all the mass destruction had never even happened.
Martin’s work focuses on these more exciting bits of the bible along with other scenes such as debauched feasts and epic battles. Man, the bible went downhill in the second half (apart from the epic destructive end scenes, but it was too little too late to save the book in my opinion).
At the time, plebeian Victorians flocked in their thousands to see the huge and exciting pieces of work. They were the blockbuster cinema equivalent of the time (it was boring back then, hence all the warfare and Empire building). Of course the intelligensia of the day slagged off Martin’s work as being distasteful and dubbed him the ‘people’s painter’. Intellectuals hate stuff that gets too popular and John Martin was the Michael Bay of his time. The main difference is that Martin is now seen as being ahead of his time, whereas I suspect Bay won’t be.
John Martin: Apocalypse
is well worth seeing. I loved it. There’s an added bonus near the end where a load of arty actors have done a voice over for a sort of mock up of the sensationalism that surrounded his tours. This consists of a triptych of pictures (three paintings in case you’re an oik) with lights and cool effects. The left picture is of heaven and has cherubs lolling around fatly and pointlessly. The centre has Jesus being judgemental and condemning half the population to eternal torture. The painting on the right is of hell and collapse and general coolness. This is accompanied by the actors recreating the sort of cinematic voice-over sensationalism that was used to publicise his work. ‘SEE THE DAMNED CONDEMNED TO THE FIERY PITS OF HELL’ sort of thing. It was brilliant.
As I said, I loved it and so did everyone I was with. It’s on at Tate Britain until mid-January, so you have plenty of time.
Bizarrely, here’s a trailer:
I guess I felt like writing about this after being bored with all the news about the Occupy London crowd in front of St Pauls. First there was the Occupy Wall street lot in America and quite frankly they have a massive point. The USA has huge wealth inequality. Apparently the top 400 richest Americans have the same amount of dosh as the bottom 150 million. Real lords and peasants material. According to CIA rankings that is a worse situation than that suffered by say, Egypt. Who seemed pretty pissed off recently.
The majority of the protesters come across quite well. There’s the odd twat, there always is, who advocates bringing down capitalism or killing the rich, but on the whole the message is that wealth distribution needs to be more equal. There are even some quite decent suggestions on how to do this.
This campaign has spread across the world. Here in London the protest has made its point but feels like it is losing credibility. The message, which is a good one, is largely the same. Perhaps I’m just being a victim of biased selective press but our campaign seems to have a lot more pillocks being even more vague. I’ve seen a lot more interviews with protesters who are against capitalism itself. Others who just hate rich people – a common sentiment on this envy-ridden isle. I haven’t seen many coming up with any decent solutions, just pointless comments about how capitalism doesn’t work. What shall we replace it with then you idiots? We need solutions not vague whinging – we aren’t all students.
I’m not going to come up with a solution as I’m not a trained economist or someone who has even vaguely studied how the system works. So I won’t be so arrogant as to denounce the “system” because you know, people shouldn’t be so rich yeah? The decent and logical idea of supporting a capitalist system but one with more regulation and checks is thankfully present and supported by the intelligent organisers. I suspect they are the older and/or more educated. But I think they should stop now.
One reason is that the twats seem to be becoming more prevalent. People with signs like ‘What would Jesus Do?’ and ‘Rich beware your days are numbered.’ Their days aren’t numbered you moron. There will always be people better off than others and this has been the case since the dawn of time and in all societies. Getting rid of the rich will just mean that they move countries and we end up even poorer. London is one of the major financial capitals of the world and brings in billions into this country. It would be dumb to scare this money off as Britain will be poorer for it. What is needed is not redistribution of the wealth Robin Hood style, but tighter regulations and controls. I’ve fuck all idea how to do this myself but there are plenty of independant experts (some are among the Occupy London crew) who could certainly make an informed start.
Alas the morons are ruining it. Apart from mentals dressed as Jesus completely missing the point, and the anti capitalists and rich haters doing the same, there are other elements. Last night a 1000 protesters marched on Trafalgar square (a capitalist hotbed), presumably to complain about the nasty Lord Nelson stopping the lovable dictator Napoleon from invading and covering our streets in gold and socialist joy like he did to so many other parts of Europe. Another group split off and headed for Parliament where they starting fighting with police and smashing things. Amusingly they were wearing those Guy Fawkes masks the dude from V for Vendetta wore seemingly unaware that each mask bought creates more profit for the huge conglomerate Time Warner (who owns the image). Way to stick it to the man!
The final nail in the coffin for me is that the church are now chipping in. The Archbishop of York has started banging on about it. What the hell does it have to do with him? Does he not feel the slightest bit hypocritical that archbishops were the CEO equivalents across Europe for a millennium? The wealth gap was massively worse then. The upper echelons of the church in England during the middle ages, of which the Archbishop of York ranked second, lived in incredible unbelievable luxury when the vast majority of people literally lived in shit and starved. They made it worse by telling the superstitious peons to hand over cash or they would burn forever in hell. With that money they built things like hugely lavish cathedrals. Cathedrals that while admittedly spectacular seemed more to wow a medieval audience into parting with cash than anything Jesus probably wanted.
I remember a bit in the bible (I’ve read it and am an atheist – make of that what you will) a story where Jesus and his mates watched a rich man and a poor man give to charity. Jesus didn’t say, ‘Rich bastard’, he simply commented that percentage-wise the poor guy gave more to the pot.
To answer the question, what would Jesus do?
I suspect he would agree with lessening the wage inequality. I suspect he would be mildly exasperated that people still miss the point of nearly every point ever made. I also suspect he would marvel at the beauty and majesty of the building of St Pauls but would then be horrified when he found out what the building was for and how the church has been behaving in his name.
An entire week ago, I wrote how warm and pleasant England was. It’s now back to its standard grey drizzle. Ahh, normality. In fact, two days after the warmest October day ever, it snowed in Scotland. Again, normality.
Apparently, though, this winter is going to be one of the coldest winters ever. From November onwards, for months and months, brass monkey will shedding extremities with abandon. Which sucks. I’m taking solace in the fact that the same people predicted that the summer was going to be a ‘scorcher’, when it was in fact ‘shite’.
In fact, I read somewhere (probably on the infallible internet), that if you predict that the weather tomorrow will be pretty much like the weather today, you will be correct about 70% of the time. Professional weather people get it right about 80% of the time. Which isn’t that much of an improvement. If you are thinking of going into meteorology it’s something to keep in mind. If you’re looking for a cushy number, it seems a winner. Plus you might get to be on the TV. Just saying “Yeah, more of the same…” for loads of cash.
I’m partly writing this as a warning in case you are planning a holiday to this soon to be blighted isle - or are lucky enough to live here. But mostly because I’m British and we are curiously obsessed with the weather. If you are a meteorologist and have been offended then I apologise. Feel free to point out my hypocrisy – my last blog entry could easily have ended: next entry, “more of the same…”
Yesterday, Mrs Wordofward and myself were all cultural and went to the BBC Proms in the Park. It’s the world’s largest classical music festival and is now in its 117th year (although I’m pretty certain it wasn’t called ‘BBC’ proms a century ago). To my shame I had missd the previous 116 Proms so it was time to rectify the situation.
The idea is to basically have a mass picnic while listening to live classical music. The whole shebang is hosted by Ken Bruce and Terry Wogan and is broadcast live on BBC2. As you may have guessed the crowd was older than at most festivals – the average age was about 40. It’s the first festival I have ever been to where medical emergency crews outnumbered security.
We arrived just before 6pm in time to catch Deacon Blue sing. Which was a surprise as I had assumed they had all died years ago. We wandered around and eventually found a gap and spread our blanket. We then unpacked our picnic which consisted of a half eaten crepe, some Haribo sweets and lots of cans of beer. Damn we’re classy. Deacon Blue had finished by this point and we lay back on the grass to enjoy the Overtones (an acapella band), followed by the cast of Rock of Ages doing some classic 80s rock tunes. Which was actually pretty fun although I still don’t want to see the play.
These acts were just warm ups while everyone got settled and inebriated. Then an orchestra belted out the theme tune to Indiana Jones. I’m not too highbrow or ashamed to admit that John Williams is one of my favourite composers. The legendary Sir Terry Wogan then arrived on stage to compere the evening and generally take the piss out of everyone. The highlights were many and I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed everything. Lang Lang was awesome and tinkled the ivories with gusto. Katherine Jenkins was superb and smokingly hot. Rolf Harris was fun and legendary and had a wobble-board. Some fellow I had never heard of called Russell Watson sung some opera tunes and was incredible. (Now there are some words I never thought I would write as I don’t really like opera.)
In short the whole eveing was a massive drunken delight in a park. I wasn’t so keen on the next bits though. As a finale, Westlife played. I’m sorry but I don’t like Westlife. I would have preferred Deacon Blue to come back for Christ’s sake. There then followed a live link up to other proms in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as the Royal Albert Hall. Suddenly the evening turned into Nationalist Karaoke Night. Everyone was waving Union Jacks and sang ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘God save the Queen’. This is all very well, everyone was wasted and loved it, but it just struck me as odd. Maybe it was because most people were older and they expect that kind of thing but I just didn’t get the link between BBC/classical and a Britain-is-awesome love-in.
Don’t let this final bit put you off if you are thinking of going though. Lying on a blanket in Hyde Park listening to classical music while drinking Pimm’s, beer, and wine is a magical way to spend an evening. There were even fireworks at the end. You can’t dislike anything that ends with fireworks. Give it a go.
Apparently there is going to be a scheme where people convicted of certain crimes, say looting or graffiti, are forced to work five days a week if they are unemployed. It will consist of four days of community service, cleaning stuff for example, and one day looking for work. I assume this means chain gangs of hoodies being forced to scrub walls down, hopefully in humiliating outfits. No one seems quite sure yet how this will work as it will have to be enforced somehow. I get the impression that the government wants to pander to people demanding that criminals pay back something to their communities – but without it actually costing anything.
I have to admit I am all for this. Like most people, I find myself getting more right wing as I get older. I think it is due to the fact that when you are young you want to go to illegal raves, take drugs, get drunk in parks, and generally embrace things you might think are cool. Like graffiti or skateboarding or just general loafing about pissing of the police and authority. When you are younger there seem to be more people telling you what to do all the time and you naturally want to rebel. As you get older to tend to have your own property, you possess more nice things, you want your neighborhood to be safer and look nicer.
When you are younger you might think that people living on the edge of the law are cool and sticking it to the system and exposing the flaws of our decadent consumer society that embraces greed and possessions. When you get older, you just want the prick who stole your phone to be beaten with sticks. I remember when I was 25 and worked my ass off to save up for a playstation. Then some wanker broke into my bedsit and stole it. I would still like his feet broken.
People sometimes bleat on that education is the key. Even given the fact that you can lead an illiterate twat to a desk but can’t make him learn, the education aspect doesn’t seem to be working. A level results have been improving every year for 29 years implying that we are ever more a nation of geniuses. Or that the exams are getting easier. Either way people seem to be learning things.
Nope, call me a fascist but I think amusing punishment is the key for low level criminals. Not prison where the more violent actually have a better time than the less violent, but more unusual and funny punishments. I think embarrassing chain gangs would be a good start. Make them dress up like morons while they do it. If a criminal smashes a window, make them wash the neighborhood’s shop windows. While dressed as a ballerina. If they are caught doing graffiti get one of those temporary tattoos that last a month and write ‘Twat’ or ‘Loser’ on their forehead. If someone loots JD Sports (one of the hardest hit by the rioters), make them do sport – 8 hours of hopscotch or something.
I do worry that my increasing hatred of crime and scummery will lead me to inevitably read the Daily Mail but thankfully I am all for immigrants or anyone that contributes to society. My wife is an immigrant for a start and she’s out working a 12 hour shift while I write this on the couch.
If you are a liberal type who thinks that Britain can be fixed with counselling and hugs then fine. You are probably a nicer person than me generally. Kudos to you. You’re going to hate it when I’m in charge though.
A load of twats in hats tried to burn London down. And because London leads the way, there were then riots all over England. It was like the film Rise of the Planet of the Apes out there – except that the apes in the movie are literate and you can understand their motives and empathize.
It seems to have calmed down now and people are analysing the aftermath. Londoners are a fairly resilient group and it’s business as normal.
I’m a bit annoyed with all this rioting shenanigans. They trashed a sushi place and a Dominos about 10 minutes from my flat. Some are saying that it is because they are poor and feeling frustrated and boo and hoo. In case you haven’t been to England, please don’t think that our poor are all under 25 and in hoods. Our poor actually come from all walks of life. Some are even old and quite a few are now homeless as their houses have been burnt down. The poor desperado looters are apparently angry at a consumer society where others get things that they don’t. Curiously though, these tracksuit wearing thugs used mobile phones to organise this attack which has largely specialised in looting sports clothing shops and mobile phone stores. Some even arrived in cars to maximise their looting efficiency and correct this imbalance.
This is just opportunism and fun for an underclass in society that doesn’t have much future, knows there will be no real comeback, and doesn’t really care about others. The people I feel sorry for most are those who are equally broke but have just lost their shops and homes. Because the looters don’t travel. They just trash their own underprivileged neighborhoods. It could be argued that the looters are so distanced from society and a sense of belonging that they no longer care. The fact that a lot of the crime was caused by local gangs somewhat negates that separation from their neighborhoods.
There have also been some tragic deaths because of this. A guy called Richard Bowes from Ealing died last night after he remonstrated with looters near his house on Monday. He was beaten so badly that it killed him. Also, in Birmingham three guys were protecting their business when a group of the poor disaffected types, who had a car, drove into them and killed them. Quite frankly, I’m surprised there wasn’t more loss of life but these tales are tragic enough.
Someone sent me a link to a Telegraph article which pointed out that this lack of ethics and morality are prevalent on high and well as down low. MPs are lamenting the poor morals of the young and broke and some are getting positively indignant about the lowlifes. Their hypocrisy is pointed out as several of these MPs were found guilty of claiming thousands in expenses. This is ethically on par if you are just talking about theft and barefaced greed. The difference is that after the expenses scandal, a lot of MPs paid the money back. An even bigger difference is that genuinely poor working people didn’t have their houses burnt down or were killed because of the greed.
People are worried that this sort of thing might affect the Olympics. It won’t. There are shopping malls in that part of town and these ‘disaffected’ dicks aren’t protesting or making a statement in order to get heard. They only attack shops.
What has been touching about all this are people getting together to clean things up. Groups formed on twitter which led to armies of people armed with brooms sweeping up all the smashed glass and discarded playstation boxes. That Malaysian student who got mugged by hoodies pretending to help has had a mini charity set up so that his parents can fly over from Malaysia to visit him in hospital. My local Budgens has pledged to feed the 100 or so people from Tottenham who were made homeless. These acts of kindness show that the English aren’t all bad, no matter what the rest of the world may be thinking given the images they have been receiving.
It’s all pretty ugly and unpleasant no matter what you think of the motives behind it. Are they mindless, looting, murdering pricks or has society let these morally void cherubs down? At least the press and bloggers and news sites can slag them off. The chances of anyone involved sitting down and reading anything are nil. I saw a funny tweet from Sky News welcoming all their ‘new viewers in Tottenham watching themselves loot on their new Hi-def TVs’.
Looting is pretty unpleasant anywhere as it tends to punish local communities of equally poor people who are just trying to get ahead in life. The only people who have benefited from this are the looters who got away with it and those involved in the phone hacking scandal and are no longer in the media’s spotlight. A sad consequence of this switch of focus is that other news is being pushed back a few pages. Syria is getting increasingly violent and in Somalia a human tragedy on a colossal scale continues to unfold. Kind of puts things in perspective a bit.
We decided to see this the other day as we had an evening free and happened to walk past the Duke of York theatre where it was playing. If you are a Londoner this can be a recommended way of going to see a play as you can get massive discounts at the box office a few hours before the play starts. We got premium seats and instead of of paying £70, we both got in for £45. Bargain. I just mention this to gloat and be helpful.
So, the play. ‘Ghost Stories’ was written by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson. Nyman is best known as Derren Brown’s co-conspirator and he helps write a lot of his tricks and stage acts. He was also superb as a sweary TV producer in Charlie Brooker’s genius zombie series Dead Set. Dyson is best known for writing The League of Gentlemen, a genuinely creepy and darkly funny show. So both are good writers and no strangers to a decent foreboding atmosphere.
The tension starts the moment you walk into the theatre. The walls are covered with cobwebs, police tape, and ominous chalk numbers. The whole place, inside and out, is lit by flickering lightbulbs. Even the voice telling you to make sure your mobile is off is pretty damn creepy.
The play begins with the superb Andy Nyman giving us the audience a lecture on Parapsychology. Specifically ghosts. He then introduces us to three chilling ghost tales – ones that he thinks deserve further investigation. He links these stories as part of his lecture. I can’t say much more without giving things away.
I have to say, I loved this. It was great fun and once you have seen the whole thing and think about it, you appreciate how brilliantly crafted the experience is. Everything is linked and builds to the ‘shock’ ending. I watch a lot of horror films, often on my own at 3am to maximize the scare factor, and am pretty immune to genuine fear induced by entertainment. God bless desensitisation! I do feel tension, suspense, shock and enjoyment, however, and these are present in abundance.
If you are easily scared, and want to be again, go and see it. If you are a hardened horror fanatic and enjoy the genre, go and see it. It’s damn good fun.
Below is the trailer and you can see audience reaction. I can guarantee that these aren’t faked reactions. There are some real jump out of your seat moments and they could get footage like this any night. I almost spilled my gin and tonic at one point.
Last week myself and Mrs wordofward went to the mysterious sounding ‘Secret Cinema’. We were invited by our hip and trendy friends who took us to Shunt. It’s not just a cinema event, it is primarily an art event happening experience thing. Which are always fun.
We were told to wait outside Wapping tube stop dressed as if it were the 40s. In case you don’t know London, Wapping is a bit of a shithole. It’s lucky that it wasn’t the forties as the whole area was pretty much wiped out in world war two and rebuilt in the architectural style known as ‘characterless’. In case the gathered crowds got too rowdy, a few policemen turned up in 1940s police outfits. One even had a moustache which is as authentic as you can get.
We arrived and lurked around the pavement with lots of other people dressed vaguely 40s-ish (although some were distinctly late 1930s, the amateurs). At precisely 6:30 there was suddenly loud chanting approaching us from a side street. A load of people in period clothing arrived chanting ‘Freedom to create!’ and carried banners saying the same. People in the crowd joined in this plea to be free to create. This confused me a bit because I thought we were free to create in this country. Unless I missed a meeting or something. I’m pretty sure there are art galleries everywhere and London is one of the art and culture centres of the world. But hey, what do I know? Let us be free to create you fascists! Yeah!
We followed these chanters to a large warehouse known as Tobacco dock. Here we joined a huge long queue. We were entertained throughout though as a load of actors in character wandered around chatting with us. A nice lady asked us our names to check if we were on the list. We weren’t just on the list, we were on the elite list. Our friends had a display/installation at the event so we were suddenly in a queue of 10 people as opposed to 900. Consequently we were soon in.
The interior was basically like a large shopping mall with lots of open areas. Instead of shops there were art things and bars. The first room we came across was a bar which sold the classy Stella Artois Black beer. There was also a fellow on the piano and a lady who sang and played the kazoo. We grabbed a couple of pints and headed for culture.
All around us were gents in suits, hats, and moustaches with dames in sexy dresses and those old fashioned stockings with the line up the back of the leg. Which look great. We decided to check out some of the installations and as always with these things, they were a hit and miss affair.
One room was full of paper for some reason. Tons of it, shredded and lining the walls. One room had lots of ballet shoes hanging from the ceiling. As you do.
In another room was a strange man who I think was supposed to be an old time actor. He sat there looking at roses in front of a mirror. Which is what actors do apparently. The freaks. On a similar theme, another room had a lady in it who changed poses while wearing a white dress that had what I think was supposed to be blood around the hem. It was bizarre but it looked good in a photo. As you can see.
There were more rooms with videos and the like going on. Our friend’s room was pretty cool. You stand in front of a large screen and thanks to some computer jiggery pokery the screen interacts with you. For example, the lady on the screen beckons someone forward while holding up a dress. A real person then steps forward and they can see themselves on the screen wearing the dress. There was more to it than that obviously but I’m trying to keep my descriptions quick. Here is our friend Francesco watching a clown in the room:
In addition to all these rooms were open spaces that held performances and sold food. Obviously the food wasn’t that authentic as there was some and it wasn’t rationed. The performances varied from dances to acrobatics to music and were all really well done. One of the highlights was a very limber lady hanging from the ceiling by two lengths of cloth. The music was very tuneful too. There were a lot of actors wandering about and when they weren’t on stage they acted out random scenes among the audience. For example, we saw two guys dressed in ‘old school’ labourers outfits – trousers and vests – being shouted at for being late with the luggage they were carrying. The luggage was ‘old school’ too.
Finally, there were the inevitable screenings of old movies. These vary each event and set the theme for the whole evening. One Secret Cinema event was Lawrence of Arabia and was held in huge tents with kebabs and belly dancers. On our particular night it was the movie ‘Red Shoes’. You know, the one from the 40s.
All in all, it was a superb evening. It changes each time and due to its popularity it rapidly becoming less of a secret. I look forward to future events like this especially if they are Scifi or porn related. That would be a cool but probably a different type of evening. Scifi porn!
I will end with another picture of some random people and then a video of the event that someone kindly created. Thank you Sophie for all the pics.
It turns out the 40s were cool. Apart from the first half. Pip pip stout fellows.
Being the cultural man about town that I am, I went to the Susan Hiller exhibition at Tate Britain yesterday. Actually, it was my wife’s suggestion otherwise I would have just gone to the pub. I’m glad I went though as some bits were awesome.
The exhibition was £11 or £9.50 with concessions. For some reason I was charged £15.50 for the two of us. Work that out.
The first thing we saw was called Recycled Work, which was essentially some bits of cloth made into a book. I’m sure it had a brilliant meaning or something else I missed, but I wasn’t that impressed. Then there were some books where people had written down their dreams. I discovered that not everyone dreams of zombie apocalypse, alien invasion, and lots of naked ladies every night like I do. Which is a shame as it would have been more interesting.
Then there was a bit called Dedicated to Unknown Artists. This was pretty interesting. It was a load of postcards from all over Britain featuring rough seas at various points along the coast. Some of the pictures were pretty cool but I was always under the impression that postcards were a kind of advert for the area. These had full on storms in some of them. It was a good idea though and had an accompanying map.
There were a few other things that were ok, but not great. A series of photos of Hiller’s belly when she was pregnant looked quite interesting due to the way it was presented. There was also a collection of items, literally just random stuff, where I must have missed the point. We then watched a video called Magic Lantern which consisted of a series of coloured circles and some audio recordings of people saying random things.
The rest of the art was pretty cool though.
At some point, Hiller found a forgotten monument in London that mentioned lots of people dying in heroic ways. She took photos of these and displayed them on a wall. Most of them were pretty sad. Things like a ten year old boy who died saving his eight year old brother from drowning, or a guy who saved lots of people from a burning building but then never came out again. It was genuinely quite moving and there is an audio tape too.
In one section there was a mock up of a living room with a TV that showed a picture of fire. Accompanying the fire was a whispered voice that told how in the old days before 24 hour TV (ITV not included – who watches nightscreen??) people heard voices and saw apparitions in the fuzzy picture left after broadcast stopped. Things like John Lennon saying that everything will be ok. Even though the sort of person who stays up watching ‘noise’ is probably prone to hallucinations and bouts of madness anyway, it was still pretty creepy.
Next up was a big room with five screens in it showing clips of psychic chicks from movies like Firestarter and Stalker. As the girls start to levitate things and burn things the soundtrack of drums builds to a crescendo. It was really effective and interesting and made me want to watch Firestarter again.
Another room was pretty creepy. It was dark but had videos playing in two corners – two screens in each corner. The visuals were a repeated and edited video of Punch and Judy, which sounds pretty innocuous. The videos were reddish in hue and the shots were of Punch or Judy beating each other repeatedly with clubs. This was accompanied by screams and aggressive music. It somehow seemed really violent and impressively shocking. Give someone some LSD and they would go mental in about 10 minutes.
Then there were my favorite two rooms.
The first was called The Last Silent Movie. Cunningly, it was almost the opposite of a silent movie. It had audio and subtitles but no video. It was the subject matter that was fascinating though. It was a series of recordings of languages that were either extinct or close to it. They were varied enough to be interesting. Sometimes it was a song, other times a fable or personal story. It was quite sad hearing the last people speak a language. Especially when a caption then appeared saying it was the last speaker and they died 50 years ago. While doing my English degree I studied how languages arise and become formalised and it was moving to think that these were the last utterances and that an entire language was dying.
Then there was the best room of all. It was called Witness. You enter a large blue-lit room that seems to have a load of string or wire hanging down, with some kind of disc attached to the end. In fact, it looked exactly like this:
When you get closer you start to hear a weird whispering noise. A bit like a theatre audience just before a performance as heard from the stage. The discs at the bottom are actually speakers and each one has a recording of someone recounting a UFO encounter. They are in all languages so you soon find yourself wandering among the strands and speakers listening for English (presuming you are an English speaker obviously). There are quite a lot of English ones and the stories are really interesting and I speak as one who believes in alien life but doesn’t think they fly around and probe us. One of the best things though, is the strange sensation of wandering among the voices. You feel like Professor Xavier when he is doing that search thing among humans and you hear lots of snatches of conversation from hundreds of different people. Or that chubby cop guy in Heroes, who can hear people’s thoughts. I’m trying to think of a non geeky example but I can’t. It’s a really cool and fascinating experience.
So, to some up: there are some hits and some misses. Even the misses aren’t too bad and they could just be misses because I am an uncultured oik who missed the point. The majority of the exhibition is really good and thoroughly interesting. I highly recommend it.
The Susan Hiller exhibition is at Tate Britain (nearest tube is Pimlico) and runs until May 15th. It’s worth the money. Whatever they charge.
Well I’m back in Blighty. Bangkok was, as always, very exciting and warm and fun and full of hot sexy, er, food. I’m feeling mildly homesick for the place which is a bit odd as I only lived there for two years. Maybe I just miss South East Asia – my home for over two decades. We landed in the evening on Tuesday and as I write this I have yet to see some sunshine.
Still, mustn’t get too maudlin. My wife and I have a plan and by the time I hit 40, things should be sweet.
We arrived and partied. The first stop was the Bangkok Trader magazine party. Nim used to work for them and I wrote freelance articles for them. I looked through one of their new issues and to my surprise I had an article in it. It was a rerun of an old piece which can be found here: http://www.suite101.com/content/gift-giving-in-thailand-a276529 Technically, I should have asked for some money but I couldn’t be bothered. Plus I was a bit drunk.
We did a lot of other things too, like go to art gallery openings with the Danish ambassador (he was there, we didn’t hitch a lift with him or anything) and other cultural things.
We also appeared on the Bangkok Podcast. This is a great podcast run by a guy called Tony and a guy called Greg. I’d like to think that we were asked after these Bangkok experts scoured the expat community and picked the two most erudite and charming couple they could find. It is more likely though that they wanted to talk about Thai weddings and Greg is a mate of mine who actually went to our wedding. Whatever the case, you should check out the podcast. Especially if you are in any way interested in Thailand. The website is found here: http://www.bangkokpodcast.com/
I apologise if I’m not my usual witty and amusing self. I’m back to work tonight and the greyness of London is crap. Soon I will be beaten down by the humdrum of life and will have come to terms being back. Think of the plan, think of the plan…
Here’s what I was looking at just a few days ago. I apologise.