Archive for January, 2006

An Open Letter

To the mother of the 12a’s seated 5 rows behind me at the Cineworld Chelsea yesterday:

Since, after chastising your darlings in public, you have asked me to deal directly with their parents, I address you.

No, it is not OK for your children to whisper incessantly in the cinema throughout the entirety of Terrence Malick’s masterpiece “New World.” Whispering is just as annoying as talking.

No, it is not an excuse that they are young. They are over 12 and should know that it is impolite to disturb other patrons who have spent £17 (not including the price of snacks) to see the film.

Yes, I will mind my own business. But only if your children are not whispering their business in my business.

Yes, I am an obnoxious American who thinks I can come over here and tell people what to do…especially since I pay taxes that support benefits afforded you because you have children…especially since I’ve been living and contributing here for some years…especially with regards to your rights infringing upon mine. I think that in this country I have the right to go to the cinema and watch the film without molestation. I also think that I have the right to voice my opinion regardless of whether or not you feel that I am an obnoxious American. I think this is a country that allows free speech (unlike my own), and I like to exercise it.

To the ratings board: Think! Just because a film doesn’t have sex in it and only violence palatable to 12A’s (as if any violence is) does not mean that you should rate something 12A. “New World” is a very sophisticated and poetic film that is totally over the head of most minors. Some parents such as the aforementioned lady do not do their homework to find out whether this particular 12A might be interesting enough to their little whipper snappers to keep them quiet for plus two hours.

Yours Truly,

Daneeta Loretta Saft


I saw a blurb in the Times about a council-led movement to start cleaning up the mass of chewing gum that befouls our streets. I’m good with that…

What about a tax on chewing gum, to go to the effort? I like the idea of biodegradable chewing gum (also helps me deal with the unforgettable myth that it stays in your stomach for 7 years…), but I like the quick fix of taxation.

And, at the risk of sounding like my mother, less gum-chewing can only be a good thing…

Britain’s Most Famous Hoe

The Guerilla Gardening movement (see earlier post) has taken off. I like to think it was our endorsement (that, and the Daily Mail article, the radio show, and the recent appearance on Richard & Judy) – but it does seem like the idea of beautifying horrid public spaces has some momentum behind it.

Amusingly, it’s now hit the eBay stage of fame, in which ordinary household items can hit celebrity status. a great flatsharing website

This is a massive shout out to It’s helped me find almost every flat I’ve had in London, easily and for free. What a pleasure compared to the sub-human letting agent pond scum.

It’s a great flatsharing site; I’ve used it, mates have used it, and it’s all the good things: dead simple (a la craigslist, and a true sign of greatness in my book). It’s even got a geek manifesto, Google-style, from author Julian.

Don’t be a sinner…


A London icon has gone a-roving. The ‘Don’t be a sinner – be a winner!’ man-with-a-megaphone in Piccadilly Circus has been photographed in warmer climes (Sydney, apparently).

He’s certainly achieved local celebrity status, and I find it strangely comforting that this photo has been sent around in such quantity.

And, for those that don’t feel like waiting until his return to be inspired, you can buy the t-shirt. The profits go to charity, as well.

Good News for Commuters

According to those excellent purveyors of fatty goodness:

Platform 3 is the place to be!

Waterloo Station is a busy and bustling station, just the place to grab a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut and some coffee to enjoy on the train or on the way to work. And why not pick up a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts to take to the office? It will result in instant popularity!

Opening day is Tuesday 31st January at 7 a.m. – come along and see us at our new platform 3 location.

Worst Day of the Year?

The newspapers are saying this is the worst day of the year. Check out the Garudian to see the formula for how some professor calculated it so. Balderdash! Things aren’t that bad. You could be that dead whale. Speaking of which…£100K was spent trying to save that whale. While I think it’s important to save whales and stuff, I don’t understand why people don’t get just as upset at the 19,000 children in Africa who die daily from easily curable diseases. Maybe it’s just too big a number to think about daily. Maybe it’s easier to think about one whale…swimming up the Thames…towards the Japanese embassy to protest their whaling policy.

For visiting Americans…

There’s always the need to watch the hometown sports. I, for one, have a hard time sleeping at night knowing that, somewhere, the Kansas City Chiefs may be playing without my support.

Unfortunately, it’s the same situation as July 4th – rather than having one small, localized community, for which to head – there are hundreds of unbelievably bad knock-off bars (Fridays, etc), with no quality contenders in the bunch.

There are two main competitors in central London. Many of my friends reverently attend the Sports Cafe on Haymarket. Overpriced, loud, always packed, but if you could get a table, you got a private screen, and there was always some sort of beer special to bring things from ‘Exorbiant’ to ‘Justifiable’. It does what it says on the tin, so you can’t complain too much.

I’ve always been more partial to Bodean’s BBQ – now with a second, quasi-suburban Clapham location. The food is phenomenal – I highly recommend lunching there on a Monday or a Wednesday. Also, the wait staff (especially downstairs) is knowledgable about cooked meats and brown alcohols, and very friendly. Unfortunately, they’re currently going through – yet another – menu re-jigging, and the prices have gone up. So lunch is more recommended than dinner.

And for the sport? Not bad. There’s a decent cable package that means they can show a game or two, but – what was once a well-kept secret has been too solidly marketed for their own good. A fairly grumpy junior management type was shuffling people off tables as soon as they had downed their food, in order to maximize the churn of the waiting customers, and the queues wrapping around the restaurant. All in all, a bit distracting, and it gave me the impression of unavoidable growing pains due to new-found popularity.

Still, skip the sport, go midweek, and treat yourself to rack of ribs or some burnt ends. It’s a good restaurant, and the owner, Bryan, is a great guy. Hopefully the growing pains get sorted soon, but in the mean time, I may invest in Sky…

The picnics over for Tufty.

We’ve got loads of them here. I’m looking forward to seeing the guys from the council trying to catch them :-)

Some fact s on the little red one.


Personal Space and Shoes

I’m thinking about personal space. I used to live in Tokyo where personal space is at a premium. The only way to get it is to close your eyes and go inside yourself. This is what people do when they are packed like sardines in the train.

PJ and I were at a coffee shop in Central today. It was packed, as they are. People were muscling in on tables, and it was interesting to watch the dynamic.

A woman sitting at a three-person table…two metrosexuals approach and ask if they can occupy the empty seats. “Are you going to talk?” she asks. The metros affirm that they will. “Then, no. I can’t concentrate on reading if people are talking around me. Why don’t you go over there?” She points at a table of boisterous teens. Surprisingly, the metros comply without a fuss. I think they are just shocked that she’s denied them.

I am amused and go back to my reading. PJ, however, starts to fidget. He starts to obsess as he is wont to do. I can see the wheels turning in his head…”what if someone asks to sit at our table…will they even ask…or will they just sit down…then what will we do?” “Don’t worry,” I tell him. “Our table is too small to share.” This doesn’t appease his anxiety, and we soon have to leave.

And now for something completely different:

A friend asks: When shopping at Shelley’s for shoes, you find a pair marked down from £50 to £12. You try on the 38s, which usually fit. They are too big. You try on the 37s, and while trying to fit them on your foot, you break them. What do you do?

a) March up to the shop assistant and complain that these shoes are cheap and probably made by children in some third world country and you don’t want to buy them any way.

b) Humbly approach the shop assistant and explain what happened and offer to pay for the shoes knowing that you can take them to be repaired for a tener

c) Clandestinely put them back on the shelf and sneak out praying that the in store security guard doesn’t follow you out.

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