Archive for July, 1904

A Park in Summer

The Royal Parks web site has the copy line ‘London’s personal space’ (ah) only slightly spoiled by a second copy line ‘You know it’s spring when . . .’ (update, update).
It lists St James’s, Hyde, Green, Kensington Gdns, Richmond, Greenwich, Bushy, Brompton Cemetery (the only Crown Cemetery) and my personal favourite, Regent’s.

roseevening park with sculpture
hydrangeaducks on park lakeducks on park grass

there are places i’ll remember all my life…

last weekend my mum came down to visit me. when i first moved down here i mostly looked upon her visit as an opportunity for shopping trips and meals out that i wouldnt have to pay for, but as time goes on i realise that maybe i should make an effort. so nowadays when she visits, i enjoy taking her to some really touristy places. ive taken her to the eye, to see parliament, and on river cruises. shes a small town girl after all, and they dont have big buildings, huge observation wheels, or even a starbucks where she comes from. plus i also love how doing touristy things opens up parts of the city you forget about when youre busy living your life here – it shows it in a different light, the light tourists see it in, and as far as i can tell, it can only make you appreciate the place even more.
so this time, we went on a Beatles walking tour. i picked up a leaflet for London Walks at my university of all places (yeah, one of the three days i was actually there this year….) and was quite excited at the range of tours they do, and the simplicity of it all (you basically just turn up at a specific place – usually a tube station – at a specific time, and away you all go). so my mum being a beatles fan, i thought the “beatles in my life” tour sounded perfect.

and here is everyone outside some house in marylebone where paul mccartney once spent more than five minutes in, intently listening to every word our odd little guide says. i cant remember his name, and to give him his dues, he did know an awful lot of probably useless information about the beatles. a bit too much, if you know what i mean. he was very proud to show us the church where paul mccartney got married in – yes the very same church he got married in last year – and if you can just make it out, thats the fab four themselves printed all over his shirt….
still, my mum was overjoyed to make it to abbey road…

and even though they do have zebra crossings where shes from, she still very much enjoyed crossing the famous crossing. several times.

so if any beatles fans reading this wanted to see where paul got married, or where john almost got arrested once, or a lot of tourists stopping traffic by crossing the busiest zebra crossing in the world – and dont mind a slightly too obsessed tour guide with a funny voice, the Beatles “in my life” walking tour comes highly recommended.

See them before they disappear for another year . . .

Today, the sensory pleasure of Japanese Anemones (I think that’s what they’re called), seen on a London walkabout yesterday (research on male loos, of course, is still ongoing – see pPod blog of 28 July).

Shakespeare at midnight with an American accent

Last night I went to see a performance at midnight of an extraction of Othello by a group of American teachers who’s been visiting and working away at the Globe the last couple of weeks as part of Teaching English Through Performance.

I made friends with one of them, Devon, during the course of her stay and I had to shamefully admit that as a Londoner*, I knew very little about the Globe.

It is quite simply, an amazing place. You have to visit it to really get the feeling that you’re in a city which is very old and has very strong and important historical ties. To think that Shakespeare himself walked around within a few feet of where I sat last night watching this performance is incredible.
The present Globe Theatre, located on the banks of the River Thames is a careful reconstruction of the original theatre of that name in and for which William Shakespeare wrote many of his plays. It looks and feels really old. The reconstruction of it was done with as close to as the original real materials that were available at the time, and the actual story behind the re-building of the Globe makes for fascinating reading. The students on this course were lucky enough to attend talks by key people involved in the re-building.
The Shakespeare Globe is now the only commercial building in London with a thatched roof.
Well worth a visit if you can. The cool thing about the Globe is that they’ve kept it all like it was in Shakespearean times; you can come late for a performance, or only attend one or two acts if you want, no problem. You can walk around, and even approach the stage during a performance, no problem. You can cheer along or do other similar not-done-in-English-society-today stuff. Very nice indeed.

– Riaan
*Yes anonymous, I’m a Londoner. I live here, eat here, pay council tax and send postcards to my London flat when I travel. London is home.

Summer in London is the best

It does not happen that often, neither does it last for long in London, but when it’s summer in London (I mean proper summer, with hot weather, sunny days and superb evenings) it’s really the best place in the world.
Took a wander last night for some drinks on the river at the Riverside Studios, with the view from it’s outside terrace being the one above, late at night.
On the way there I could not get enough of the moon shining on the river, the light breeze and the general happy atmosphere that’s about. Sigh, London is great.
– Riaan

Coming up soon . . .

Male loos, as promised – coming up soon – we are still in the research process.

Goin?? Nunderground

I descended the lift to catch my usual Northern Line tube train, for my sins.
The journey was largely unremarkable until late on, after most passengers had left the carriage, when I was joined by a jovial looking nun who sat down next to me.
My intense scrutiny of Metro’s cartoon page was interrupted as I realised my nun’s joviality was deteriorating towards mild panic.
She was sighing over her hastily-unfolded tube map, looking confusedly at its contents. My nun was looking flustered. My nun was looking blue.
Being the good Samaritan, I asked if I could help. She explained she needed to get to Archway, and was worried she was on the wrong train.
I could be of assistance here, I thought. I knew the Northern Line well. Actually give accurate instructions, rather than just pretend.
“Don’t worry.” I reassured her, “You’re on the right line. Just the wrong branch. You need to change at Camden, and all will be well, sister.”
Alas, she didn’t seem to understand. Clearly, she was not in the habit of travelling on the tube. But precise explanation of what she needed to do, and where she needed to go, appeared to assuage her fears. I was confident that absolutely nothing could go wrong.
Our journey continued, and I returned to Metro’s cartoons.
Before long, the automated voice announced: “The next station is Camden Town, Edgware branch. Change here for Northern Line trains to High Barnet and Mill Hill East.”
My nun looked alarmed. I guessed she was used to hearing voices in her head, just not that one. She really needed to get out more.
I nodded friendlilillillly, indicating this was her right stop. She smiled and thanked me for my help. I resisted the temptation to wink, and just told her she was welcome. She made her way towards the door. I returned again to Metro’s cartoons.
The train slowed to a halt, and my reading was once again interrupted, this time by a mild kerfuffle. Passengers further down the carriage gestured towards my new-found celibate friend.
My nun was repeatedly pressing the ‘Open Door’ button, exclaiming “I can’t get out! I can’t get out!!!”. My poor nun. This must have been hell for her.
Looking around, I immediately realised what had happened. The train had stopped before reaching the station, waiting for another train to clear the line ahead. I calmly explained to my nun that she was attempting to disembark in the tunnel, and should wait instead until we reached the platform.
A minute or two later, the train shuffled forward to the platform, and my nun stepped off without further incident.
I finished reading Metro’s cartoons, and skipped the business and sports pages for the day.
My work was done. I ascended the lift at my destination a Better Man.

The London Loo Papers, Part I: Engage (and that means you)

The London Loo Papers initiative is the result of an announcement over the weekend that a unique aspect of London life has been singled out for review on the next iPod application.
And no, it’s not London’s fun, scholarship, music, theatre, literature, architecture, engineering, fashion, food, etc.
It’s London’s public loos!!!!!
The first thing those commercially minded programmers choose to introduce visitors to our city is the state of our public loos.
Billed as a multimedia toilet guide it’s downloadable to PC or Mac and uses the iPod text facility. As an interactive guide to which loos are clean and which not, which has an attendant, opening hours, if any, &c, it’s called the pPod. But of course.
And the men and women who leave public loos in a such a state that they’ve been singled out to define our city? We’re walking around with them . . .. (Think; engage; how can they be shown the error of their ways; how can they be stopped from crapping basically on the rest of us.)
And the men and women who clean up in such places? They deserve every honour going and a big place in our esteem.
Related sites:
more on pPod
more on loos
Next up: men’s loos

Pub quiz, a few pints but no fag

My local pub in Fulham Palace Road hosted the first of an apparently now to be regular on Tuesdays, pub quiz.

It’s obviously a great decision to go to a pub the day that you quit smoking. Nothing like having no fear whatsoever.

Man, were those questions difficult. And it did not much help that his audio was rather shabby, kinda hard to hear exactly what he was asking.
Still, the “Frozen Dwarfs” (erm, my team) did not do too badly, considering the GEEKS who were also playing. Common, who seriously gets 21 out of 21 quiz questions correct? Most of the things mentioned last night I’ve not even heard of before.
I did learn that you have to be at least 35 to be President of the United States.
And that they drew just over 6 million dots for the Disney animation of 101 Dalmations. (You moron, do you not know there’s about 25 frames per second..?)
Erm. Yes.
I have to shamefully admit to a bit of cheating. You see, my phone has a Instant Messenger client on it, which means I can chat on MSN using my phone. As it happens a friend or two (thanks Edd, Mark) got random questions via MSN last night with a sense of urgency to respond. Not that it helped. (And I did stop that after 2 or 3 questions since the guilt was getting to me…)
Anyway. More importantly, NO CIGGIE. Lots about, but none in my hand, or near my lips. Nice one.
Today is a different story though. It’s really tough sitting here and NOT having one. And this in the comfort of my own living room. I actually got up and walked to within 10 yards of the local shop, determined to buy a pack of 10s and having “1” since I was convinced that I could not function without a ciggie. How silly.
You’ll be glad to know this blog was written without any nicotine.
– Riaan

Further to The London Loo Papers, Part I:

I forgot to mention – as well as London’s fun, scholarship, music, theatre, literature, architecture, engineering, fashion, food, etc.
there is our tolerance; our creativity . . .
PS: also, I recommend us all to go to the Vienna blog and look Daniela Zaremba’s blog – and at the delightful dialogue that is developing between male Vienna and female Vienna as a result of it.

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