Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't make a move til I say action

Today, I sat and watched my latest televisual adventure. I've been doing bits and pieces of presenting work for my job, either as the person delivering a podcast (warm mellifluous tones, with just a hint of West Country/lisp) or being the person saying "Hello and welcome to COMPANY NAME'S video presentation about another scintillating health and safety hot topic". The above might not be The One Show, say, but I have to be honest readers, I'm a frigging natural on camera.

As an unrelated point, I also found myself giving an old chum gardening advice via email today.

I was thinking, maybe I could carve out a niche for myself as a sort of indie Alan Titchmarsh, or a more scary Kim Wilde? It's a thought.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It’s educational!

2011’s going out trend continues.

Saturday: to Borough Market, Southwark Cathedral’s Refectory (to catch up with CH and eat a marvellous scotch egg), then on to Dulwich to the Picture Gallery. Dulwich has three stations, one of which is about fifteen miles from the Gallery. Guess which one we chose to alight at first…

Norman Rockwell is an acquired taste. So much of what I saw at the exhibition was utterly cheesecakey. I can’t deny that it had an astonishing quality to it, but it didn’t move me. There was a wall crammed full of his covers for Picture Post, but the gallery was too crowded for me to really spend any time looking at them. Instead, I went out into the general gallery and studied the Reubenses and van Dycks and Rembrandts, and found myself drawn into this fabulous portrait of Sir John Soane.

It also occurred to me: how have I never been to Dulwich before? Even on a grey, freezing day, it was as gorgeous as Hampstead (but without the arseholes).

Monday saw a lovely but long-overdue trip to the boozer with Merv. Which was about bloody time.

Last night we went to see Dan Maier do his talk Ideas Man: The Stranger Notions of Francis Galton. Galton was a Victorian polymath and scientist. He had some properly good scientific ideas (including work in fingerprinting, meteorology and [whisper it] eugenics), but also some very odd ones: these included Arithmetic by Smell and a categorisation of the size of women (six categories from ‘Thin’ to ‘Prize Fat’). Other matters he concerned himself with were dog whistles, an estimation of whether all of the world’s gold would fit in his house (conclusion: it would, in fact it would completely fit in his dining room, with space to spare), and the killing a number of exotic animals through carelessness. Find out more about Galton here.

The remainder of this week: a band, some gastropub action, and a sleepy weekend (I hope).

I also just wanted to comment that I was sad to hear about the death of Trish Keenan of Broadcast. I’m not qualified to discuss her work – I don’t know enough about her. However, it’s clear that she was a warm, wonderful human being who was loved by a lot of people, and it’s always sad when one of those slips away.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shine a light

I've been using a light box over the past week or so. It was a chance purchase (of sorts). By that, I mean I bought it on a whim, following a chance comment that JJ made about a month before Christmas about seasonal depression.

Twenty minutes each morning, I switch the light on and angle the light at my face. It's no bigger than a paperback, but jesus, is it bright. I think it's working, so far. It used to take me until about 10.30 to wake up most days (that's a full two hours after arriving at work, not good), but now I feel...well, it's hard to explain, really. Somewhere between awakeness, alertness, something else.

That went nowhere, didn't it? Perhaps I'll post about the light again in a few weeks. If you're interested in lightbox-based anecdotes as well as other inanities, subscribe to my tweets. You won't regret it. [PS, you might regret it.]

Anyway. There are lots of plans afoot at the moment. Oh, the drinks evenings that are cluttering my diary, darlings! It's the most I've been out of the house in months on end. We are booked up to see The Horne Section at the end of this month. I'm considering going to see Janelle Monae once more.

Of course, what I really want is a holiday. Having just watched Rich Hall's extremely funny and clever programme about the Dirty South, I am hankering for Memphis, while simultaneously eyeing our friend's photos of her home in Costa Rica with a gimlet eye. So, that's Elvis or coffee. Both are wonderful and essential things, in my opinion.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Expensive shit

The all-new positive me has had a bit of an up-and-down week thus far. I was craving routine so was looking forward to returning to work, away from the piles of food, bad TV and the relentless Call of Duty: Black Ops. The rosy glow wore off within two hours.

By the time I left work and was on the train into town to see DH and KF, I was at a very low ebb. South West Trains frequently used to reduce me to tears when I used them for my daily commute, but something about the cold, overlit carriage on Tuesday evening took me to the edge of a very gloomy place. Anyway. We met in a chain pub on High Holborn, the pub I spent my 30th birthday in (and coincidentally, in exactly the same seat. I know how to have a good time. Yeah). Thankfully the two young folk quickly got me out of my bad mood, especially when the conversation turned to wedding reception playlists, one of my specialist subjects.

Wednesday night was Fela! night. Yes, that's Fela! As in Streetcar! Regular readers of this blog will be aware I have a well-documented hatred of the genre of musical theatre, owing to an over-long stint as a member of the electrics team on a long-running West End musical. Fela! was different though. We got seats for a tenner each, so we couldn't really quibble with that. I was fully prepared to go home at the interval if it was shit.

Luckily, it wasn't. Neither was it the most fully-realised piece of drama I've ever seen - the first act was waaaaay too long, and too slow to set the scene. However, the music was great. So that's a win for Afrobeat.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

On Winter Hill

2011 started inauspiciously. We went to Leith Hill, which is in the middle of nowhere in Surrey, for a walk on New Year's Day. It was freezing cold, and there was virtually no visibility once on the hilltop.

The days that have followed have been strangely flat. In fact, although Christmas on the whole was largely enjoyable, it was very quiet.

However, it's the fourth of the month today, I've returned to work (the routine I have needed has returned and I'm, whisper it, enjoying it to some extent) and I am trying to be positive about what lies ahead.

This seems to be a general theme with me..."I was trying to be positive"..."I started out feeling OK about things, then quickly abandoned ship". Well, I am absolutely giving it my best shot this time. This month sees some drinks with old friends, a bit of culture, a bit of comedy, and maybe some visits, and I am frantically emailing everybody I have ever met about getting together (apologies if you're already sick of my over-keen emails).

2010 was the tedious wallflower year. 2011 won't be. I'm determined.