Thursday, July 13, 2006

iTunes Rules

Well, only one actually - Never buy a whole album, just singles - experiments, fillers, whims, etc. I prefer having CDs as a back-up should my poor powerbook have a meltdown. And although I love them I don't really trust Apple.

However, last week I broke the rules for India Arie, and it was worth it. Completely fabulous album which is chilling me out at all times of the day.

Monday, July 10, 2006

French and Saunders

The end of the TV contract? - or diversifying?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Pride in the Navy

Originally uploaded by justinwstephens.

original caption:
"...handsome, shy sailor he met during World War II. Frank was a gentle soul and a loner. He was awkward around people but loved animals, especially birds.

Every time he got a shore leave in California, he stayed with my uncle. The two had a great relationship and when the war was over, Frank wanted to live with him, tend his huge garden and have lots of pets. Sadly, Frank never made it home from the Navy...

Until his last day on earth, my uncle always kept a birdbath in his garden with a statue of St. Francis on it, for Frank. As little kids in uncle's garden, we always called it St. Franks birdbath."

I'm having a bit of a naval moment. I found the above on Flickr and it choked me up. The pathos of that poor bereaved soul - not able in those days probably even to attend a military funeral for his partner to commemorate his life and sacrifice; having to be content with that private memorial in his garden (but what a beautiful one).

So we can be very proud of how far we have come, as the Royal Navy's contingent at EuroPride demonstrated. Of course, our military still has a way to go (as evidenced by the RAF and Army's behaviour over Pride) but still, the Americans are virtually back in WW2 days in terms of attitudes.

I posted my pic of our proud sailors below, but again on Flickr, Lewishamdreamer took this amazing portrait of a Naval officer at Pride. His photostream is well worth checking out.

Royal Naval Pride
Originally uploaded by lewishamdreamer.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Everywhere I've been (so far)

create your own visited countries map

Friday, July 07, 2006

Words from the Mayor

Ken Livingstone, on 7/7/05: “Nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.”

Worth repeating.

7th July anniversary

Weird day in London today. I slept badly - indeed, didn't sleep at all. At 4:30 am gave up and got out of bed and puttered about.

Amazing how many changes have happened in my life since last year. At least, I am so lucky to have had the opportunity of another year.

Thoughts and prayers today for everyone who lost a loved one, or who is living with injury.

Of course, all Londoners were affected on some level - it's quite staggering how even in a huge city with teeming multitudes, so many of one's friends and acquaintances (and indeed oneself) passed within a whisker of random terror.

I'm relieved and thankful no further outrage has happened in the last 12 months.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

News from Cambodia

It's cooller today - thank heavens for that; London was just getting nasty. Apparently, there were thunderstorms early in the morning the day before yesterday, but I missed them. I lay awake until past 4 am, and then when I'm asleep hurricanes and earthquakes can't wake me. However, the cooller weather is very welcome.

I got busy today writing another batch of job applications - hooray! So feel very virtuous now. Liz (She Who Must Be Obeyed) told me to go to the Brompton Oratory and light a candle to St Jude - patron saint of lost causes. Well, I might just do that!

One of Liz's endearing habits is to give all her nearest and dearest multiple (private) nicknames. Hedgie is one such example.

I heard from her today. Like me, she left her previous employers in controversial circumstances. Like me, she had to negotiate and sign a compromise agreement. However, in her case the payout was M-A-S-S-I-V-E. I suppose it helps if your ex-employer is a large multinational. Oh and did I say they are paying for her summer holiday this year?

Good old Liz - she's off backpacking in South East Asia: she can easily afford 7 star luxury all they way, but she prefers to save the money, and travel 'real' and get to know the culture and have experiences. When it all gets too much she books herself into the most appropriate luxury hotel for a chill out.

Her email informed me she had to send most of her clothes back, due to the difficulty of finding reliable porters on isolated Thai islands. Oh yes - and now she is regretting taking her powerbook. WiFi is difficult to find and expensive; much better to do what the backpackers do and book into an internet cafe.

Her last line puzzled me.

'Schmoozle is pregant'.

Who is Schmoozle? Do I know her? And why is she pregnant?

(P.S. The above gorgeous pic can be purchased as a fine art print here.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Whatever one's opinion about Damien Hirst's work, he is certainly adroit in his career choices and ability to leverage any context to his advantage.

Consider the above massive sculpture - entitled The Virgin Mother - currently residing in the forecourt of the Royal Academy as part of its Summer Exhibition. (I love my little mobile pic - it captures the threatening gleam wonderfully. Better, fantastic photos of this sculpture can be found here and here.)

The huge size of the piece means that this was the only possible location for it in the show. Outside, on its own, separated from the ghastly rubbish in the galleries. This piece will be the first and last thing people attending the show will see; also everyone passing down Piccadilly will see it too, without even having to pay money to get inside.

So, Hirst gets all the kudos of appearing in a RA show, without actually having to associate his work directly with the numbed-down crud within. And the RA gets a massive, name artist with a significant piece to raise their creative profile.

The bargain gets more and more strained every year. I walked the galleries desperately imagining ways to improve this show; of course, that's not the point at all - it's degenerated into an unholy mix of Academy ego massage and commercial exploitation: as a significant part of the London Season it rakes in huge amounts of dosh every year. Reynolds, Gainsborough, Turner and Constable must be quietly screaming in their graves.

So, if you are an Ordinary Joe artist, here's how to play the game and make some money:

1) Forget painting - a numbered print edition (say up to 200) priced between £150 and £250 will do the trick

2) Relatively small size - needs to hang on a domestic English wall

3) Three subjects - Pedigree dogs (or cute puppies); cats and kittens; and whimsical views of suburban London (umbrellas on Primrose Hill, etc etc etc)


Monday, July 03, 2006

EuroPride, 1st July 2006

A N Wilson, in the Evening Standard last friday:

“The gay rights activists who began to campaign in America and carried their good work to Europe a quarter of a century ago and more were men and women of enormous and innovative courage. They have transformed the outlook of civilised humanity from one of ‘tolerance’, as though there was something to tolerate, to a celebration of homosexuality as one version of being human. People used to think it was virtuous to cane children. They used to think it was all right to keep wild songbirds in cages or to send the poor to workhouses.
Brave people challenged these assumptions. Those who march in EuroPride celebrate a comparable liberation from a hell, where gay people were sent to prison. It ill becomes a Minister for Equality, whatever her religious views, to stay away.”

He was talking about the Labour Government's Minister for Equality, Ruth Kelly, who is apparently a member of Opus Dei.

I don't know whether she changed her mind or not, but the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, marched at the head of the parade on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon:

Behind Ken came the disabled paraders and then the Royal Navy's contingent, the first time the defence force has officially attended a pride parade in dress uniform:

As usual, there were plenty of happy people on jolly floats:

This gentleman gets full marks for fit body, imaginative costume, and pose:

Props to all the fabulous drag queens who walked the whole way in killer footwear and huge wigs (in the heat):

More and more fabulous people everywhere:

And this being London there were a few fabulous buses too: