Thursday, July 29, 2010

London Stone


Like a child outgrowing its toys, London has its very own transitional object: the London Stone. The city has clung onto this object for so long it has forgotten why it was important in the first place: fertile ground for urban legends to flourish.

“Already a subject of speculation in the 16th century, subsequently identified in turn as a Roman milestone, as a Druid monument, as the ‘Stone of Brutus’ and as ‘London’s original fetish stone’, it is now considered by some to play an essential role in the ‘sacred geometry’ of London. How have such diverse opinions as to its purpose arisen? – and can we truly identify its date and its original function?”

Apparently it’s on very important ley lines; it may have been part of an ancient megalith circle; it is reputedly the fountain of authority in the city; it protects the city from harm. And it is does all this from a frankly grim spot on Cannon Street across from the station - housed in a dirty little wrought-iron shrine at ankle height, built into the side of a shortly-to-be redeveloped shop. Sad and crumbling and no different to any other lump of stone you’ve ever come across.

It’s documented way back (mentioned by Shakespeare, no less), and according to John Clark (the former Senior Curator (Medieval) at the Museum of London) was sited in a very interesting location in the geographies of both Roman and Anglo-Saxon London. However, the Enlightenment in its arrogance moved it (all?) out to the side of the road and the Victorians bricked it up in the side of a church. Oh, and completely removed all archeological trace of its original site when Cannon Street was cut-and-covered for the Circle Line.

So there it is. A London mystery.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A cucumber grows in Clapham

..................................A tomato too . . .

..................................Farmer Ed for the win!

Monday, July 26, 2010


<<spoiler alert>>
Inception brilliantly marries the folded Russian doll structure of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas with the surreal CGI of The Matrix, with all the ravishing visual aesthetics of House of Flying Daggers thrown in as a bonus. It is very ingenious and very thrilling to watch, and fully deserves all the acclaim it has received.

Leonardo Di Caprio’s Dom Cobb and his merry band invade the dreams of corporate chief Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) in order to implant an idea beneficial to the corporation’s competitors. However, it becomes clear the young victim has had training in repelling this kind of invasion and his subconsciousness throws up defences against the attackers.

In order to reach their goal they have to go deeper – to a dream world within a dream world within a dream world. Of course they are up against obstacles and deadlines in all three worlds simultaneously, making for an exceptionally action-packed ride.

My slight quibble here though is the uni-dimensional nature of the defenders – they essentially do the same thing on all three levels (so why have levels?) – and have a severe case of baddy-bad-aim-itis (excepting one lucky hit at the beginning). Fleshing out the interior psychological landscape of Fisher – something hinted at but never ultimately deeply explored - may have made for an even more entertaining and surprising journey.

It transpires the emotionally damaged Cobb brings the subconscious projection of his deceased wife Mal with him and she becomes the film’s real and major threat – chillingly played by Marion Cotillard. (The acting throughout is superb but to be honest none of the roles is a real stretch for actors of this ability.)

Christopher Nolan superbly and quite originally uses the conventions of film-making – a scene cut for example – as a metaphor for a dream state. This allows him a bravura ending: superficially quiet and unwinding, it subtly increases tension and threat until one is left hanging, breathlessly, on the very last frame.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Went to see Eclipse the movie on eclipse the night (go figure - it's New Moon as well) with Emma.

Taylor Lautner is a shoo-in for the Oscar for Best Torso in a Motion Picture. That is all.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hup Holland Hup!

Well, today is the World Cup Final! Whoever wins, it's been a superb win for South Africa and indeed the continent. The overwhelming majority of news out of the continent up to now has been sad - poverty, famine, bad governance - but there always has been another side that the developed world has been slow to appreciate: the magnificent fortitude, ingenuity, persistence and warmth of its people. And these days Africa is taking off economically and politically. South Africa indeed with its excellent regulation regime escaped the financial meltdown that has struck Europe and North America. Thabo Mbeki hoped for an African Renaissance and it looks as though it's starting to happen. This hugely successful World Cup tournament finishing in South Africa today is an indication that Africa is indeed on its way. For the first time is what seems like forever, the entire world is focused on a happy, joyful event which has been staged and managed superbly well. Having grown up there, I know what a massive jolt of confidence and pride this is giving all South Africans and I am very happy about that.

I'm going to be supporting Holland in the finals today - I think it would be a pleasing result regarding Holland's lengthy relationship with South Africa, and Holland has never won before (neither has Spain, though).

Last week I watched the semi finals in a pub in Soho with my flickr friend Charles Roffey. De Hems just off London's Chinatown is the official Dutch pub in London - and has been for over a hundred years! One always learns something new about London. The pub was mobbed by huge crowds of thrilled Dutch supporters. Charles was interviewed by Winkball.

Wishing all those Dutch supporters the thrill of a lifetime this afternoon!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Britain is not a passively accepting country

Still obsessing over the direction we are heading in economically - looks like we're heading for a perfect storm in a couple of years' time! I intend to periodically track our progress or otherwise to economic Armageddon. First up, this quote I spotted the other day from Prof Greg Philo:

"The slash and burn economics which we are now being offered will depress economic growth, since much of the stimulus for private enterprise comes from public spending. The public is likely to reject the cuts because they believe our problems result from the misdeeds of a wealthy minority. There is no political capital in asking the bottom half of the population which has only nine per cent of the wealth to pick up the bill through lost jobs and regressive taxation. Britain is not a passively accepting country; when in the past government policies have been seen as profoundly unjust, they have provoked social agitation. If this happens, the markets will be depressed even more and we move further down the economic spiral that the coalition with little mandate and less economic sense is now producing.

The UK has £5,500 billion of private wealth agglomerated in the top 20 per cent of the population, much of it in inflated property values making it effectively dead money. A far better way of tackling the deficit would be a radical tax on property, which would re-cycle some of this wealth back into the productive sector via government spending" - Prof Greg Philo, Glasow University Media Group, in the Evening Standard 6 July 2010(not on their website)