Monday, January 28, 2008


I read something today that discussed the Korean phenomenon of ‘Well-dying’. It’s quite common practice in major Korean corporations, whereby workers are placed in a coffin, laid in a hole in the ground & a few handfuls of dirt later are reborn with renewed priorities, ideas & values. All in an attempt to improve productivity!

I wonder how well this actually works? Or if it’d work in individuals personal lives? After all, people always seem to say that after surviving life threatening situations they feel renewed with a new lease of life. Either that or they suffer some form of post traumatic stress. It makes me wonder if all sorts of companies will eventually spring up offering all manner of near death experiences as the new ‘carpe diem.’

Oh, I forgot, that’s what they invented bungee jumping for.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Battersea Elephant

Can you spot the elephant?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Art School

I’ve been thinking about using art school entry portfolio advice as inspiration to get myself together. Who needs the classes when you’ve got the words. They say b/w photography, I say the city at night – easy peasy. Although I wouldn’t do that, I’d come up with some bizarre concept to fit it. The kind of thing I can write an essay on, and how it reflects the London mayoral candidates’ race for victory, or something. I’d take a picture of a pigeon-less Trafalgar Square for Ken, and a toupee gallery for Boris.

But seriously, i was taking a look at a couple of college's entry level requirements, and it gives the impression all you need is a checklist of work. One film, tick, one 3D animation, tick, one life drawing, tick... etc. I know its good to have an all round grounding & interest in different artistic disciplines, but surely there has to be some merit, and surely not everyone is good at and has attempted every discipline there is! Apart from me of course.

Anyway this is all besides the point, I think it'd be interesting to see how I'd fare through self motivation, and by completing the prospectus briefs as a sort of exploration into the governing factors of artistic classification. After all it is the 21st (and 20th) century cool thing to do.

I may have stumbled onto something there…

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Nightbus

Do you ever find yourself over hearing some fantastic conversations? I do and I always wish I had a dictaphone on me to record them. I spent some time on an N13 from Golders green last night, and this is what I over heard:

(young man who later we find out is called Harvey enters bus)

Harvey: Does this go to Charing Cross?

Driver: Yes

Harvey: I need to get to Charing Cross.

Driver: This bus goes to Charing Cross.

Harvey: Oh...

(Harvey stumbles on first deck of bus, dropping his phone in the process)

Harvey: (to plaid shirted, Carlsberg swelling bloke) Can I borrow your phone?

Bloke: Why d’ya wanna borrow my phone?

Harvey: Mines run out of credit, I need to call my friend.

(Bloke mumbles something indecipherable, hands Harvey the phone. Harvey drops the phone)

Harvey: Shit, sorry. (Dials number) Gary it’s Harvey, where are you?... Who are you with Gary?... Can you ring my mobile?

(hands Bloke back his phone)

Harvey: (to bus driver) Does this go to Charing Cross?

Driver: Yes.

(Phone rings)

Harvey: Gary, where are you? Where? I can’t hear you… Who are you with? I don’t like your friends Gary… Oh, just some Guy… I’m on a bus…. (louder) I’m on a bus! I don’t know where…

Bloke: Baker Street.

Harvey: What?

Bloke: Tell him you’re at Baker Street tube.

Harvey: I’m at Barker Street.

Bloke: Baker Street.

Harvey: I’m at Beaker Street… Beaker Street! (to Bloke) Where am I?

Bloke: Baker Street!

Harvey: (to Bloke) Can you tell him.. (hands phone to Bloke)

Bloke: He’s at Baker Street tube station mate. Baker Street! (hands phone back).

Harvey: Where should I get off Gary? Where? Who are you with? What did he say?... I don’t like your friends, I’m lost Gary…

(the bus approaches Oxford Street)

Harvey: (to driver) Excuse me, where am I?

Driver: Oxford Street.

Harvey: Gary, I’m on Oxford Street. Where should I get off? I’m lost Gary, I’m on a bus and I’m lost…

(Harvey walks over to the driver)

Harvey: I need to get off the bus, let me off the bus.

Driver: Only at the bus stop.

Harvey: But I need to get off now!

(Driver slams shut the window and the bus speeds up, causing Harvey to nearly fall over)

Harvey: They’re shouting at me Gary, shouting at me, they won’t let me off the bus! They’re not letting me off the bus! What should I do, They’re not letting me off. I’m lost Gary…

(Bloke starts to laugh to himself)

Saturday, January 19, 2008


The other night I went on a great trek through the city. Starting with a choir service at St Paul’s I was treated to a little spirituality before I embarked on a journey that would ultimately lead me to Battersea.

The last time I was at St Paul’s, I must have been around 8. It was a school trip where we got to do the obligatory crayon tracings on copper plaques, as well as a treasure hunt of dead royals through the crypts. But one great adventure was to go to the top of the dome and see up-close all the fantastic paintings and golden markings. It reminds me of an old urban myth my Dad tells whenever we discuss St Paul’s, about how Sir Christopher Wren designed the building with less pillars. Subsequently, no one believed Wren when he said the building would stand without these extra pillars, so he was made to put them in. However, years later it's said that when some maintenance work was carried out they found that the pillars where in fact too short, and weren’t holding up the structure at all! No idea if this is true, but it makes a great story to tell tourists.

Anyhow, back to my journey, which then took me past Ludgate Circus, up Fleet Street, along the Strand, through Trafalgar Square, up the Mall, past the seemingly deserted Buckingham Place, down to Westminster, past Parliament, up Whitehall and past Downing Street. A bit of a trek then, stopping for a few real London ales along the way, I was giving a German friend of mine a little taste of the city's sites whilst avoiding the tube. I like to think I was giving myself a bit of a tour also. It's not often we really stop and take a look at our surroundings. Usually I'm marching through the streets at breakneck speed, dodging free papers & what not whilst trying not to get hit by a bus. But taking the time out to whisper through the roads we walk is always worth it. It can clear the head.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The ones disaster forgets

A somewhat ugly non traditionally romantic poet, Peter Reading, has been within arms reach these last couple of weeks. In fitting with past discussions of romanticism, Reading’s ‘Perduta Gente’ explores the great unwashed. The dossers, dispossessed in their dreadful dispositions. The winos & unworthies, expendable & gagged in the modern world.

His use of graphics in the book is commendable. Taking newspaper layouts and spitting satirical smirks at the property market. Notebook formats and medical reports tell stories of which we never learn the outcome, yet remind us of the mundane, the tragic & and thoughts that make us feel sorry for another.

It’s a great exploration of city street dwellers, taking on the accent of a drunk & the swelling scents of a diseased limb. The kind of writings that make me want to list a thousand words I’ve never used before in a context completely indescribable. That perhaps, is what makes good poetry…

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Most who know me will know one of my common phrases is, 'I read in the Guardian that...'. This is probably because the Guardian is pretty much the only paper/news site I read. Anyway, this morning I read an interesting article to do with miniature novels in cigarette packets.

Designed by design firm TANK, the concept was simple. To coincide with last years smoking ban they would release a series of popular short & cult novels by classic authors such as Hemmingway, Kafka, & Tolstoy in miniature form in the standard 20 cigarette packet. However what started as an interesting novelty idea to promote reading on-the-go has turned into a law suit with British American Tobacco.

Yes, BAT are bidding to have the books pulped because they 'conflict & damage' the image of their brand. In particular the one causing this 'offence' is Hemmingway's Lucky Strike-esque Snows of Kilimanjaro. Apparently it is BAT policy to protest against anything that resembles their brands due to the laws surrounding advertising tobacco in the UK.

My point on this matter is, wouldn't the novelty cigarette packet novel surely do more to romanticise and perhaps promote use of the brand rather than attempt to demonise it. Perhaps this is all part of BAT's plan, to create a storm of PR around their brands in a favourable light in order to combat the lack of advertising.

I'd like to see if sales of Lucky Strikes are up...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Domestic Romantic

One theme I love in literature, is of the wandering soul. The simple careless breeze of a character onto which a reader can place anything they like. The kind of character whose attributes are mere observations of others, and whose interests usually amount to life’s simple pleasures; music, food & long walks. An individual whose life can be imagined in snapshots or picture postcards found in the back rooms of bars.

I find these types of characters interesting. Lonely fools whose lives seem extraordinary because they are so ordinary. Obviously, it's usually the story which makes them interesting, but that is true of real life, we are only as interesting as the stories we tell ourselves and each other. Take someone you know for example who's a great pub story teller, or someone who's great at pulling jokes out their sleeves, and they're usually the ones who have the ears of others. The ones who command the conversation, and to whom we all want to speak. In short the ones sat in the middle of the table, the leaders of the pack. Obviously we only see the story they let us see, thus hiding their depth. Where as the lonely souls are the ones who traditionally let us see this depth.

The lonely wanderer is key throughout literature. It's as old as Romeo, Jesus and Holden Caulfield. The romantic disposition of a man searching for themself, finding it in politics, booze, vice and the arms of women. But here is where the line breaks off into another. Here a second type emerges from the sterotype. The sound of a sigh by the sea, and the cross legged lunchtime reader whittling the hours on a bench with a book. The one content to be alone for sake of not knowing another way. But if one is to truly look into the trend & phenomenon of the blank canvas or tabla rusa character, then it has to be said that this theme lacks a leading female model. Literature is awash with the typical broody male traveler written by broody male travelers, and it has become an expression men have toyed with all to much.

I didn't wish to break into this subject so suddenly, I need to think a little harder on the matter. I simply wanted a good introduction to the film I watched last night called 'Tony Takitani'. Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, the film tells the tragic tale of a true lonely son of a jazz musician and his fashion obsessed wife. The strange thing here however, was this character never did 'find themself' in any of the typical inspirations, and ultimately remained removed from the world around them. The plot told us this was because of Tony's upbringing, and firmly stood by this view. It didn’t glamorize or portray his life as a detached swirl of debauched living, but rather of domestic living. The 21st century male, a clean home proud passive individual, head swimming with nonsense with contact lens eyes blurred by the city.

Every time I stumble across one of these lost souls, I find myself connecting a little more with their character, gradually splashing a little colour into mine. I like the way the theme has evolved from the romanticism of Byron and the thrill seeking 20th century beats, but to an altogether more reserved individual; who does the dishes, takes out the rubbish, drinks at the weekends, and takes paracetamols for their migraines. In this, like the novels of Murakami, we see the inklings of a domestic romantic, who perhaps is a little too wise for the mistakes of his ancestors, yet too afraid to become anything more than an ink stain on a forefinger.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Do you hear the people sing?

I've had a mad Saturday. It all began at 6am when I first hit the snooze button. That didn't last long, and before I knew it I was on my way to Heathrow airport to meet a German colleague flying in from Stuttgart for the week. His flight was to land at the painfully early time of 8.15am. So after a long Piccadilly line ride to Heathrow and back I found myself at the Merlyn Court Hotel in Earls Court explaining the tube system. After a short breakfast and a quick introduction to Knightsbridge, we were off to Fulham Broadway for the Chelsea vs Spurs game at Stamford Bridge. Now, I'm a West Ham fan by rule, but not an avid fan. I couldn't name the team off by heart or anything but nevertheless in family tradition I support the hammers. The last game I had seen was back when Julian Dicks played for West Ham in 94 or 95, so I wasn't going to pass on the chance to see a Premiership Football match. We sat with the Chelsea fans, so any feelings for the underdogs had to be firmly masked. The game ended favorably for Chelsea with a 2 - 0 victory, continuing their unbeaten home run of over two years.

Jumping on a District line train to Sloane Square the second part of my day began, and I started to get into character for a culture clash performance of Les Miserables. Part of me was still with the football crowd, cheering and jeering at Tottenham fans, so the fear was setting in, what if I were to start chanting in a lout-esque way as Enjolas and the Students led the revolution against the brutal French police? Ruling this out I headed home, and after a quick meal, wrapped an arty scarf around my neck and jumped in a cab to Shaftsbury Avenue. What followed was three hours of revolt, romance, revenge & tragedy, accompanied by Schonbergs' recurring compositions and themes typical of a Cameron Mackintosh production. I’ve grown up with the songs of Les Mis, from car journeys, dinner tables & home visits, the songs have provided a soundtrack to me, and it came to great surprise to see it all finally fit together, and discover the songs that don’t feature on the soundtrack I own.

I guess what I love about this musical is its revolutionary themes and the feeling of great change in the air. Melanie and I spotted a few elements that felt a little dated so it’ll be great to see if anyone will update it in years to come. Who knows maybe it’ll be me. And as my day ends with the chants of masses ringing in my ears, I can reflect on two very different events and draw similarities with a football match and the story of Les Miserables. How the characters wanted change and freedom, and the football patrons wanting victory, an expression of freedom. And this leads me back to this very blog, and how in writing this, I am in fact flexing my own muscles of freedom. It all fits together…

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cloud Shapes Over A Purple Sky

Last night I went to see the Jonathan Bratoeff quartet play at the Spice of Life pub just off Cambridge Circus. The gig was part of the Fire Collective festival currently taking place in London. It was evening of smooth licks, furious drumming and some fantastic facial expressions. I'm a big believer of musicians who pull funny faces whilst playing, I myself was always mocked for the strange pout I end up doing, but I think it's a great tool of expression. Bratoeff, however is in a different league all together, I was mesmerised by the way he used his mouth to imitate every note he made in true scat fashion, all the bee bops, dee dops, buh boo buh's stole the show.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Okay, so the plan here is to eventually include some pictures so I apologise with the text heavy content to date. I will upload some visual stimulus as soon as I can.

But what I want to discuss today is lunchtimes. I work in a particularly busy part of London, and I can’t find for love nor life a decent place in the winter to sit, eat my sandwiches, and embark on any musings I see fit. Obviously summer is a joy since its warm and the rain is no problem since I love the stuff (more on that late), the problem is the flaming cold! How can one sit and read when one's hand is shaking violently in the icy British wind? Suggestions are welcome. But the other major problem you see, is coffee shops. I happen to take lunch at the same time as everyone else does, say between 1 and 2. Sometimes I'll try to hold on longer so I know a seat will become available and I can read & write in peace, but hunger always gets in the way. The clock chimes in desperation for the arrival of the 'lunchtime', like beasts we'll roam the streets blinded by hunger, arms stretched out feeling through the busy cab laden roads for the stench of a sandwich, a hot potato pie, or a basil chicken pasta salad. And I’ll find myself fighting for my life, dragged through the barrage of tourists & directions, and sucked into a traffic jam peopled soup fit for the jolly green giant.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Going back to my previous statement, I read this morning that Nokia claim that over the next five years up to 25% of all entertainment will be created, distributed & shared amongst consumers. So this would mean that by writing a blog I am directly contributing to Nokia's predictions. If I where to stop writing this now would that be a mini revolution against their corporate prediction? Or is this a seemingly worthless statement in the face of a more 'democratic' approach towards the output we consume. Time will tell...

One element of this self created entertainment is the growth in trend of online subculture. Now it seems Myspace and its contemporaries are dominated by individuals & groups setting up their own busineses, whether it's selling T shirts, band cd's, or selling tickets to specialist club nights. There's a whole load of youngsters out there making money from the internet. For example there's a whole world of underground poetry events and publishers, as well as online zines, and all this sudden activity begs the question, where did all these people come from? Have we always as a nation set up and promoted our own niche groups on a mass level? I suppose the old way was through word of mouth, distribution of flyers, meeting dates stapled to laundrette notice boards and now evolution has dictated that these events are to be promoted digitally.

This, on one level is fantastic as it breathes & breeds creative expression and a self motivated desire to make something happen. On the other hand though, it becomes hard to really work out if a 'scene' of some description actually exists. As with most art forms today, there is pratically every form ever created available to view or experience, and this in turn begs the question where and when will the next big innovation come from? The abundance of prolific creative events and partakings on offer make it hard to decide what the follow and actually 'believe'. Overall this could lead to such a great diversity of subcultural trends that the classification of such a concept even existing becomes impossible.

I'm sure this is a good thing, but on the flipside the diary takes a bit of a bashing when theres upteen events going on in a single night and you, like me, want to go to them all.

Here's a link to an acticle on Guardian Unlimited that dicusses the trend on Myspace subgroups.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cashew Nuts & Garibaldi's

On the way home I had to buy some treats. I picked up a couple of things that for reasons beyond by control, I hadn't had for ages. A packet of salted cashew nuts and a packet of garibaldis. It was like meeting up with old friends and doing something pleasurable, like going for a drink.

When I was younger in my final years of school I used to love going to the supermarket. I'd love buying all sorts of random crap, cookie dough, roast chicken flavor crisps, supernoodles. Maybe it was my first foray into the adult world, a feeling of independance, that I could buy anything I wanted. I'd then go home with these little treats and spread them on my desk whilst I worked. Obviously as I got older things didn't stay the same, as a student it was cheap tuna and pasta, hardly exciting purchases. And now, thanks to the inevitable move to the city, its internet shopping, which isn't fun at all. Who wants to spend two hours glued to the screen searching for basic orange juice with juicy bits and anchor spreadable butter? It can be infuriating. And then it'll never be there on time, all hell will break loose and you'll end up expecting the whole load for free, like pizza's that never arrive on time in films. I'd much rather go to the shop myself, actually interact with the food I want, and then enjoy the immediate hunger that comes with it. But the point is treats. This evening I found that pleasure of dropping into the supermarket and buying a couple of choice items again, and for that I am grateful, like alot of things really that I'm sure I'll mention in due course.


Sometimes I'll stumble across a few websites or books, or cd’s that make me feel like I have something to say. In short I guess this either gives me some sort of inspiration or either makes me insanely jealously that I am not doing anything similar.

And so it seems the internet is a great harbour of self expression, and I ask myself, why am I not a part of this? I read somewhere that less than 10% of the internet population (actually I'm thinking it must be even less) actually contribute to the information we read and access each day. So that means, all the youtube videos, flickr photos, blogs, & even comments on websites and forums are provided by a vast minority. However, this does make sense, if we all added content everyday then the whole sh'bang probably wouldn't be able to cope.

So here goes my attempt...