Thursday, December 29, 2005

Picture This *

No, I haven't been slobbing around the house all week, drinking alcohol and watching football on the box. Well, okay, Boxing Day did consist of slopping around the house all day watching football, except in the afternoon when I slobbed around the pub for two hours watching Liverpool easily beat Newcastle.

But, as for the following two days ...

Suggested to 'er indoors that we should go out for a walk, the "we" being just us two as there was no way of persuading the boy of the benefits of a brisk walk in the freezing cold as he had a friend round and was quite happy playing one of his numerous new playstation games. Anyway, off to Rotherhithe, where our river walk began. Rotherhithe down by the Thames is a very different place from the one I encountered when I moved down here in 1988 and an extremely interesting one. No longer the rundown and disused dockyards and factories, now it is all luxury apartments and marinas, with a long stretch of bars and nice-looking restaurants the nearer one gets to Tower Bridge. But, wait, I'm getting on too fast, cos first we pass this and take in this excellent view, which is next to this superb landmark pub. Back in the old days, I spent many a time sitting on the wall outside this pub - well, with this view, who wouldn't?

I have to say at this point that it's bloody freezing on this walk, with a biting wind adding to the cold and I'm regretting not having put on a hat, gloves or, even, a jumper.

So bounding on we go and eventually end up here, which is just below London Bridge. Never been in here before and I'll probably never be in here again - as 'er indoors commented, it's a bit like a hotel bar, lifeless and soulless. Anyway, they serve bevvy. On getting the drinks in and taking our seats I take off my jacket - note, jacket, not coat - and she realises why I've been complaining of the cold as I only have a short-sleeved shirt on. After a couple of pints, we leave. 'er indoors takes stage right and on to home as she's had enough excercise for the day, I go stage left and carry on with the walk along the Thames. First I pass the Golden Hinde and am reminded of the day, 25th January 1998, when two of our friends were married on board. I remember the precise date cos, as any Scot will tell you, that's Burns Night and, that being the date, there was a Burns theme to the celebrations. My contribution was in giving the Address to the Haggis, during which the bride's son jeered me for being, in his words, "a Jock cunt", but everyone else seemed to enjoy it. Oh, and he got into a fight with his other brother later on, so, no, of course he didn't bring shame to his mother's big day. I also remember that date because it was on this day that my then employers took a decision which established a dispute between them and us and which resulted in me and my colleagues going on strike for six weeks. This also gives me an opportunity to have a pop at the Socialist Workers Party as they point-blank refused to print our strike bulletin - wankers! But I should also praise Militant (and this is not something I usually do) for they took no time in agreeing to print anything we wanted them to print. I suppose it's the difference between middle-class people playing politics and an organisation which at least had some base in working-class communities, even if I would hardly say I was ever a supporter of the Sheridan, Nellist, et al.

Anyway, back to my walk, and on and on I go past Blackfriars Bridge, past the Tate and the South Bank and past Waterloo Bridge and Westminster Bridge and take in this view, my favourite scene in the world and eventually decide to cross the river at Lambeth Bridge and move into town. I head on up Whitehall, buy a newspaper and retire to a pub for a couple of pints and think: "what a nice walk that was!" And then it was on to home to watch the darts on the box, after which is a late-night watching Ricky Gervais on Politics - particularly liked his description of the beret-wearing students on his philosophy course taking the marxism classes.

Got up late yesterday and decided to have a day of cultural enlightenment. "Do you want to come to the Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery with me?" I ask. "No," is the response.

So off I go to the former and note straight away that the place is packed - and the amount of foreign accents around suggests that every tourist in London has come to the Tate Modern today.

I must say from the off that art doesn't excite me in the way, for instance, that music, film or literature can excite me and that probably stems from ignorance and an inability to construct ideas about what certain artistic creations are saying to me and the world around me. But at least I gave it a go and walked round most of the galleries and rooms. I am always impressed with the works of Picasso, probably because I know that this was an artist who had definite views about what art should be used for - i.e. to change the world for the better. And there was something about the Rothko works which I found fascinating, while the familiar Warhol stuff I enjoy also, with the Jackie Kennedy piece and the full-size double image of Elvis shooting from the hip in particular looking amazing. But it was on entering the room titled "Revolution" which I found most interesting, featuring as it does some wonderful propaganda material from the Soviet Union in the period just after the 1917 uprising. This was art which would appear on lamp-posts and factory notice boards, on the streets and town halls, accessible to all the people and for all the people. Yes, I liked this stuff.

Then it was over the Millenium Bridge and a walk along the north bank of the Thames and eventually on to the National Portrait Gallery and, like I did at the Tate, side-stepping the "suggested donation" box in favour of believing that my taxes already contribute to the upkeep of such institutions.

Headed first for the exhibition for the Photographic Portrait Prize and found it extremely interesting containing as it does some of the most beautiful photographs I've ever seen. I then went on to see the Cornel Lucas portraits of some of the most famous actors of the 40s, 50s and 60s. Okay, maybe it would be difficult to take a bad pic of the likes of Bogart, Monroe, de Haviland, et al, but Lucas' works are a delight indeed.

Walking into the Heads of Government room, I was both shocked and disgusted - well, you would be if met with this lot filling the walls in front of you, wouldn't you?

I had really wanted to see this one, but I believe that no decision has yet been made on when or how it is going to be hung, so I'll need to keep my eyes and ears peeled for an announcement.

Then it was couple of pints and off home to watch the unbelievably one-sided Merseyside derby match and to hear the welcome news that Millwall picked up a point from the on-form Watford, ignoring the description here of it being a "dire spectacle".

Today? Today is definitely take-it-easy day and I'm about to check out if any old decent film is on, so that's all from me folks, see ya later.

Oh, forgot to say, the soundtrack to all this walking around London lark have been the stunning Cole's Corner by Richard Hawley and the Magic Numbers, both of which have been downloaded over the past week.

* Blondie

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Be Gone *

The fools want me to do this? Have they forgotten this story? I'll stick right here, thank you very much!

* British Sea Power

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Parklife *

Had to get out of the house today, so took a walk - and a superb walk it turned out to be in a lovely bright day - up to Blackheath and into Greenwich Park from where I stood just outside the Observatory and took in one of the most beautiful views of this most beautiful city. From there, I sauntered down to the market, said hello to a stall-holder I know who sells the most gorgeous printed fabrics for the likes of pillow cases, lamp-shades and dish towels and then popped into a wonderful music shop. If you're ever in Greenwich and think there's something missing from your back catalogue, this is the place to be. I purchased (for the grand total of £21):

Forever Changes by Love
Mummer by XTC
Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire by The Kinks
Easter by Patti Smith

Walked back home via pub to find out that 'er indoors has a major tummy bug (no, I'll spare you the details). The boy is just on the right side of hyper-excitement to make the evening really nice and he's just gone to bed. His mum and her mum are also in bed and Reidski's up playing Santa. On that score, the boy is now 12 and doesn't believe anymore, although it has taken him a few years for the final confirmation. For the last two or three years when he has asked us of the existence of Santa, we have told him that it's what he believes that's the important thing and he's really understood what that means. But, a month or so ago, he approached 'er indoors and said that she must tell him "the absolute truth." So she told him and the boy stood there for a brief few moments and, according to his mum, tears welled up in his eyes and gulps were taken before he bounded off by saying: "Yeh, mum, I knew that anyway." I think we can call it a rights of passage moment.

Anyway, he's still getting a stocking filled with pressies at his bedside as well as having pressies waiting for him at the bottom of the tree.

On that note, I'm signing off. I'll be popping in and out of the blog over the next week or so, but, for now, merry Christmas to everyone who reads my crappy blog - I love you all!

* Blur, of course


Well, everyone else is doing it.

Take my Quiz on!'

* Us3

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Internationale

This is happening - so support these guys! Well, from my reading of it, they need supporting!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Feline *

This is for Renegade Eye - just to keep a balance on things, of course.

* Dust

Ugly *

A counter here to Lisa's cute dogs

* Sugababes

El trago *

Excellent post over at Victor's regarding the (over-rated, in my opinion) White Stripes and Coca-Cola - it's a must-read!

* 2 in a room

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Il Buono Il Brutto Il Cattivo *

Washing the dishes this morning and looking out of the window I thought: "Those clouds look well weird. And it's otherwise a cloudless blue sky!" Wasn't until I switched the radio on that I found out that this is causing this. Ho, hum, another day in the industrialised West!

So we need cheering up - how about this? I know it won't please Kev, right enough. In fact, I'm sure he'll concur with my Hibs mate, whose take on it over a pint last night was: "dirty cheating weedgie cunts!" A bit harsh, I thought!

Anyway, to really put a smile on our faces, I would suggest a read at Martyn's post on...smiling. This is a little taster:
"The foundations of the Labour movement in Britain were based on the positive promise that self-organisation could deliver a better life and a better world."

Here, here, we all say.

Unfortunately, a trawl round the rest of the world's news today will wipe the smile right off - try this or this or this, a truly shitty world.

* the one from the soundtrack of this

So Long, Farewell

So it's goodbye Richard Pryor - he was very very very funny!

* The Von Trappe Family

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Poke Your Eyes Out *

This was well nasty - couldn't believe how blatant it was. And I'm sure Jane wasn't impressed with either the incident or the overall performance of her Cobbler boys.

It was our office Christmas party on Friday night and, despite thinking that a good time was had by all, I'm rather nervous about getting back to work tomorrow morning - well, man of my reputation, I have no idea if I should be embarrassed about anything or not!! (note for Messalina: please don't come into my room on Monday morning asking about any party gossip - it will result in a few red faces). Although it was good to see that she was at the party. I know that I spent far too much of the evening attempting to quote just about every line from the classic film The Warriors - needless to say, it was tedious for everyone within ear shot.

Spent yesterday watching replays of this - what an utterly tremendous display of bowling from Akhtar and Kaneria. So it seems that England, despite the hype from last summer's Ashes series, are not the most brilliant cricketing side the world has ever seen after all. We then had a nice family dinner and evening in front of the telly watching Raiders of the Lost Ark followed by the excellent Family Guy and American Dad.

I've also been picking up on the likes of this, this and this and find that it is no wonder that preparations are under way for this. I also note this story, which, surprise surprise, informs us that imperialist invasions being undertaken as a result of dodgy intelligence advice is nothing new.

Got the house to myself today as 'er indoors has gone to Bluewater for some Christmas shopping and the boy has gone to the cinema with his friend to watch the latest Harry Potter film. So, I'm going to relax in front of the FA cup second round match between Worcester and Huddersfield.

* Warners