Friday, February 29, 2008


One post in the first week of February; two posts in the second week; two posts in the third week; and seven posts in the last three days. We can see what’s happening here, right?

This is not quite what I anticipated when I set the rules for my blog this year (12 posts on average each month, but not to fall below nine or exceed fifteen to improve consistency). Must concentrate more on an even spread across the month!

I could blame my lack of posting on work commitments, but really I’ve just been feeling a bit blah and meh. Almost gave up on the aim of twelve posts. However, that part of me which does pep talks explained I would be feeling even more meh and blah if I didn’t keep to my commitments; hence my late spurt.

So, hurrah, yay me for me, etc etc. Onwards and upwards . . .

P.S. I can do colours now. Wooo!


Marc Quinn’s latest exhibition at White Cube’s Mason’s Yard Gallery (25 Jan – 23 Feb) was superb. He’s a very interesting sculptor, directly confronting the canon of classical western sculpture with his exploration of the human body.

Evolution presented 9 huge sculptures demonstrating the development of the human embryo. Each showed the embryo emerging from its marble bedrock, directly referencing Michelangelo’s Slaves, right down to the unpolished artist’s chisel marks (these get progressively more polished away as the embryo develops). I thought it was a very beautiful and major work; he is certainly developing an amazing oeuvre. One of our best and most underrated sculptors.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The History of Me in Cocktails: No. 1 – The Beer Shandy

Now, I have just bought a very definitive book of Cocktail recipes, and the Beer Shandy doesn’t feature (from this I deduce it must be utterly utterly uncool; don’t order this at Mahiki). However, this was the first alcoholic mixed drink I ever drank, aged three-and-a-half and upwards. My mother was partial to the beer/lemonade mix and I used to have a sip or two. I also remember enjoying the froth on my dad’s beer, and apparently in solidarity with my granddad’s mates demanded Guinness at the pub aged 2. I think though I may have ultimately settled for smarties and a coke.

These were the glory years of my beer consumption: can’t stand the stuff now; I swear I’m allergic. Can only drink wine or gin or vodka. Doesn’t make life easy at the pub after work; although I am an exceptionally cheap date – I’m usually drunk after half a glass!

Thank heavens for Wikipedia – more about Shandies here.

The History of Me in Cocktails: No.2


Last night, in the ticket queue at Norbiton Station:

Silver fox lady: A return to Waterloo, please. Can you put tomorrow’s date on the receipt?
Ticket seller: I’m going to have to see your toyboy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Earthquake in London!

Both the Evening Standard and BBC London relate that residents in London felt the earthquake that hit the UK last night (5.2 on the Richter scale, the biggest in almost 25 years). The epicentre was Market Rasen in Lincolnshire.

I was awake at 1am and definitely felt nothing untoward happening. Maybe it was just West and North London that felt anything? Growing up in Johannesburg, we frequently had tremors, caused by the gold-mining activities thousands of feet down.

Modern Painters: The Camden Town Group

Went with Catriona to the private view. Have always avoided the Camden Town group wherever possible in the past, and the first room reminded me why! – they are all so reductively derivative; aping the concerns and style of French post-Impressionism. Yargh!

Luckily, the Tate peps things up a bit with contemporary documentary film footage of London. I enjoyed seeing a top-hatted gent descend the (open) rear staircase of a horse-drawn omnibus as it pulled up Whitehall into Trafalgar Square – all the buildings remain recognisably the same, but everything else is so different. I wonder how this stretch will appear in a hundred year’s time? A glowering, attitudinal bowler-hatted boy was clearly just waiting for hoodies and the onset of Catherine Tait. Chavtastic before his time.

Refreshed by the film footage, the following rooms were far more enjoyable. Especially, it was charming to see familiar London sights expressed Post-Impressionist stylee. Charles Ginner’s Piccadilly Circus (1912) depicts another London bus: the 19 to Clapham Junction!

The most distinguished Camden Groupie is, of course, Walter Sickert. Catriona was intrigued by Patricia Cornwall’s theory he was the real Jack the Ripper. Apparently, Cornwall spent $6 million of her own money investigating this theory – controversially, she even destroyed a Sickert painting she bought searching for forensic evidence!!

Sickert’s prostitute paintings and paintings of the Camden Town Murder can easily be explained by his French Post-Impressionist influences: Manet, Toulouse Lautrec and Degas all painted prostitutes and sometimes violent scenes of ‘real life’. Also, it is unclear why Sickert, if he really was Jack, would wait 20 years after the Ripper murders to start painting such scenes. Also, has anyone checked out Sickert's knowledge of the backstreets of Whitechapel? In justice to the unfairly accused Sickert, let us hope this exhibition causes his prices to rise and Cornwall to regret her misguided iconoclasm.

The exhibition ends with more newsreel footage. Be warned, though, that footage of the suffragette Emily Davison throwing herself in front of the King’s horse at the Derby horse race in 1913 is included, and is pretty shocking: think frog in a blender. I’m amazed such an event was caught on camera at the time. I don’t think she meant to kill herself, just interrupt the race. A glancing blow from the leading horse knocks her right in the path of the horse following and down she goes, in a welter of hooves and skirts. What this has to do with the Camden Group, who knows, but it is interesting.

Modern Painters: The Camden Town Group
Tate Britain

13 February – 5 May 2008

Oscars 2008

I am absurdly pleased and proud of Europe’s success – all four best actor prizes went to America’s foundation colonial powers (UK = 2; Spain = 1; France = 1). However, can’t say I’m planning to see any of the films – they are either too scary or too worthy. Two of them (There Will be Blood and No Country for Old Men) definitely have very scary haircuts and moustaches.

Javier Bardem’s haircut mercifully was vastly improved for the Oscars. However, can’t say the same for Daniel Day-Lewis – he was channelling Elizabethan travelling player style with lank locks and earrings. I do not agree with all the flak Tilda Swinton and Marion Cotillard got for their frocks – I liked both their outfits; it’s nice to see individuals expressing their own taste rather than displaying the safe stylishness imposed by stylists. Julie Christie especially looked great.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quote London

I can walk about London and see a society that seems an absolutely revolutionary change from the 1950s, that seems completely and utterly different, and then I can pick up on something where you suddenly see that it's not.
~ Penelope Lively

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bad water

So, after last night bottled water is now on every eco-warrior’s hit-list: it’s the new Chelsea Tractor or patio-heater. BBC’s Panorama programme made a really strong case against – the transportation and (plastic) bottling of water is a real ecological nightmare and complete waste of resources. Discarded plastic harms wildlife and pollutes the oceans an will hang around for hundreds of years.

Fiji water turns out to be quite a bad deal. Originally funded by the EU to source fresh water for the islanders, the government now licenses an American company to bottle and export the water to North America and Europe. But a third of the islanders do not have access to safe water and typhoid is still quite prevalent. The Fiji water company is doing something to help this situation, but obviously as a private company doesn’t have the responsibility to supply the islanders with their water needs. One wonders what their government is doing with all the royalties from the export of their fresh water.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Rules of Shopping

1) Sainsbury’s guarantees never to have the crucial ingredient Hedgie needs. This ingredient will always be the last item on Hedgie’s shopping list.
2) Hedgie will always choose the wrong queue at the check out. This effect will be magnified when shopping on limited time at lunch hour, when there will be a confused moron in front of Hedgie who queries a £2 special offer, causing spiralling confusion amongst the till operator and her supervisor, finally resulting in an IT meltdown which will take 20 minutes to fix. It will then be found that the moron was mistaken and the bill was correct all long.
3) And what is it with Asda’s bread? It certainly wins the prize for most bizarre baguette ever. A bouncy, chewy texture much like a doughnut, with a sugary crust much like a doughnut. Not unpleasant, but definitely weird and definitely not ever to be given to French friends.

Made in the Dark . . .

And should have stayed there!

V. disappointed with Hot Chip’s new CD – it’s massively different to The Warning, their excellent 2006 release, and to my ears not as good. At first listen I like only two tracks: the first single “Ready for the Floor” and “Don’t Dance”. About 3 or 4 other tracks are ok; the others are either dismal dirges or just noise. Some Sunday paper reviews felt it was “more commercial” – not so!!!

I’ll give it a few more listens to give it a chance, but in the meantime, disgruntled of Clapham signing off . . .

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tube Rage

Blissfully, I have managed to avoid rush-hour tube travel for almost 25 months. Unfortunately, however, I had to take the tube up to Euston on Monday morning at 7:18 am.

From previous experience, I thought this would be early enough to at least be able to squeeze into a carriage at Clapham Common station, if not actually get a seat. However, we were packed so tight I was able to identify people’s preferred toothpaste brands. At least, and thank goodness, people on the southern end of the Northern line use toothpaste in the mornings!

Well, things were fine if tightly packed ‘till Stockwell, where I changed to the Victoria line. I then unwittingly stood in the personal and private space of someone else on this packed platform (he had followed me closely all the way from the Northern line platform, huffing and puffing). When the train came in this gentleman elbowed me roughly in the ribs in order to get into the carriage first, then deliberately blocked me off from getting a seat (unsuccessfully). He glowered threateningly at me. I glowered as fiercely as I could back, and thankfully before things escalated the carriage became packed and we were separated.

So – beware of Mr Angry on the Northern line: a middle-aged gent with a few wispy ginger curls clinging nostalgically to his bald pate. Doesn’t look like a yob but is a total psycho. Hope he gets seized by the authorities and forced to watch Ken’s “courtesy on public transport’ video back-to-back all weekend.