Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sunday Sunrise

I think *(Asterisk) is a clear winner here - best sunset last night and also best sunrise this morning. (In the UK at least). Shep, who I think started all this, is clearly in the wrong part of the country. I may have had the worst sunset but I think my sunrise is acceptable.

Pickled Olives on the other side of the water is half-way there. As is From a Lofty Perch.

Tanya has a sunrise that was definitely worth getting up for and Candy Minx has joined us too.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Note to Self

You hate Tesco. Never again try to pop in for a bag of potatoes at 5pm on a Saturday. It just isn't good for your health.

Synchronicity. Sunsets.

The idea was hatched here. Take a photo of the sunset tonight and the sunrise tomorrow.

A simple idea... foiled by clouds.

Instead I give you a dodgy shot of Tesco's car park.

Let's hope for clearer skies tomorrow.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Autumn Sunshine

Sat last Friday afternoon in Regent's Park I could not believe the sunshine. It was glorious. I had high hopes for this week (being half-term). Sadly, as is usually the case, the weather took a turn for the worst and we've had rain, grey skies and more rain.

I don't watch the weather bulletins. I wouldn't say they are intentionally mendacious but they're often wildly inaccurate. I rely on looking out the window when I get up (which in itself can be problematical). Wednesday evening, however, I caught a weather person proclaiming blue skies and sunshine for yesterday. Combined with my new car (just five years old) I didn't need any more persuading to head for the coast.

End of October. Aldeburgh beach. Fish and Chips. Sunshine. A sublime moment.



Thursday, October 26, 2006

St Paul's

I only remember the Whispering Gallery from when I was a child. I cannot remember going outside and admiring the views from the Stone and Golden Galleries (the latter only 530 steps up). We did so on Monday.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Off with their heads!

I can trace my indifference to royal families back to the last year of junior school. I'd just battered Joanne Pierce (not her real name) and had received a proper telling off from the Head. I was fuming and she (Joanne) was still crying. I thought her weak and stupid and she probably thought I was some horrible bully. We were told to make up. I refused. In an attempt to get us talking the school secretary took us into the library and said she had a secret letter to show us. It turned out to be from the Queen congratulating the school on its forthcoming centenary. Joanne Pierce started swooning and fainting at this piece of news. I, on the other hand, demanded to know “What's so special about the Queen?”

A few years on, during my A-levels, I became fascinated by another royal family. French - and long gone – Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (hardly surprising given I was studying French and history). I honed my essay-writing skills analysing the causes and consequences of the French Revolution and by the time I reached uni was discoursing on Du Contrat Social in French no less.

So, it was with scepticism that I agreed to see Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette with my mum. She'd seen photos of the costumes and decided this was a 'must-see'.

The film was a visual feast. There's no end to the words to describe the costumes, the food, the scenery. Sumptuous, exquisite, magnificent. Fabulous, luxurious, extravagant. (“How much do you think that cost to make?” mum whispered at the end).

I'm sure I'm not the only person to comment, however, that this is a costume drama without much drama. Marie Antoinette leaves Austria to be married to the Dauphin at the age of 14. They become King and Queen of France at a young age. He goes hunting and plays with locks. She drinks, eats and spends a tremendous amount of money on clothes. The mob appear at the very end (no mention of the trouble brewing through the rest of the film) but unfortunately we do not see Kirsten Dunst or Jason Schwartzman lose their heads.

This would have been poetic justice. Coppola may argue that she intentionally created a King and Queen who did not have the authority or gravitas of a king or queen. (Louis moans “We are too young to rule!”). What we end up with are two vapid, superficial characters dressed in authentic 18th century finery with modern American accents engaging in banal 21st century dialogue. (Think spoilt brat dressing up for a laugh; Paris Hilton would have done just as well). Add to this music from Mozart to New Wave and you can easily see how critics have liberally employed two words: contradiction and anachronism.

Ultimately, Marie Antoinette, looks good but lacks depth of any kind.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Three Things

Three things I have been called recently:

  1. a "still point in the turning world."
  2. a social reformer.
  3. a fucking dickhead.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Looking at ACT's holiday photos I remembered the cat on Kos. Does she give the penguins a run for their money?

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Telling it how it is

I love Shadwell tube. It's deep, dank and damp. There is the constant sound of water rushing through. I like to think the atmosphere is a link to a near forgotten past. I rarely have occasion to use it but it never fails to send a shiver down my spine. I probably look like a loon breathing in the air and giggling to myself.

Last night a group of women moved down the platform. Their bags suggested they had just been to some kind of beauty trade fair. One was sporting a huge pass with the word MODEL splashed in big, bold letters across the middle. I shook my head thinking sad cow.

The Irish drunk who had already passed me with his loyal and obedient hound took a slightly different approach. "You fucking need that, love. Never would've guessed otherwise. Fucking model!"

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saturday in the City

Guessing that evey man, child and his dog would be visiting the slides at the Tate Modern, we opted for the other Tate. Tate Britain and the Holbein exhibition.

We had a rather unexpected pleasure watching a bright yellow, forty-eight tonne* steamroller take off and gently fly. To see such a hulk of machinery glide through the air with such ease and grace was actually amazing. The fifteen or so people watching burst into spontaneous applause as the steamroller touched back down without so much as a bump. It's outside the Chelsea Art College next to Tate Britain. It's fun and free!

The Holbein costs a tenner. A price worth paying we agreed. The portraits for which Holbein is best known are superb. Oil on oak in his hands is certainly something. The colours, the light and shade, the richness and detail all combine to create such wonderful life-like portraits. In our own amateurish way we decided the ultramarine background definitely had a big part to play.

We weren't without our criticisms (one piece looked truly awful) and silly comments - "It looks like it must have been reduced on a photocopier" while studiously staring at an intricate sketch in miniature and G's remark that the gold baton being held by Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, looked "like a snooker cue."

We were also quite disappointed to discover Anne of Cleves didn't look like a moose. As the accompanying notes point out she seems quite attractive to the modern eye.

A fabulous exhibition - you've got until 7 January 2007 to see it.

*ok, maybe 48-tonnes combined with the counter-balance weights etc.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Does he have a brother?

We'd just passed the Freemasons' Hall on Great Queen Street when C. asked "Did you see who that was?"

"Kind of."

"I think he's still an MP."

Without a shadow of doubt or moment of hesitation I replied "Tony Banks. Thought he looked familiar."

By the time we'd reached Long Acre I was having a rethink. "Isn't he dead?"

The answer to that question, dear reader, is yes.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


A closer look at the statue on top of St Edmund's RC Church in Limehouse. I've no idea who it is supposed to be. Jesus? God?

The blue railings belong to the DLR from where I first spotted this. It's very strange and a little freaky. Posted by Picasa

Before today I have never ventured into the church yard of St Anne's. It's a refuge for winos and the atmosphere, to me at least, has always seemed ominous and oppressive. This impression was reinforced by reading Ackroyd's Hawksmoor earlier in the year:

They [the Settlement of Sturdy Beggars] are a Society in Miniature, and will nurse up a brood of Beggars from Generation to Generation even until the World's End. And their place is next to my Church: they are the Pattern of Humane Life, for others are but one Step away from their Condition, and they acknowledge that the beginning and end of all Flesh is but Torment and Shaddowe.

Eerie. I took the plunge today taking a deep breath as I stepped through the gateway. I've survived to tell the tale.

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Stormy Weather

I was on a mission to create a challenge around Limehouse and Canary Wharf for a group of kids. The sky went from this...

To this...

Before turning back to this...

I was rained on, thundered on, rained on, lit up by lightening and rained on some more. The sun came out again while I was on the train back from Limehouse but not surprisingly disappeared the moment I stepped off the train. I got rained on some more. Posted by Picasa