Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ouch! Not to mention Brrr!

It's been a stressful day at work, and changing into my bike gear in the over-warm changing room, I try to ignore the tiredness in my body and hope that it will be forgotten as soon as I get in the saddle.

Outside, it has been dark for an hour or more already (blimmin' English Autumn, innit?), and the first drops of rain hit me as I unlock my bike. My heart sinks a little - this doesn't feel like the usual gentle shower - as I wheel my trusty bike out of the courtyard, the gate clanging shut behind me. I heave an inward sigh as I realise my front light, whose plastic face went missing a few days ago, has completely fallen off without me realising. Great. Now I'll have to ride home through the city in the rain and dark, with no front light.

As I pull out onto the road, the rain gets heavier. I grit my teeth and carry on, wiping my glasses at the red lights, waiting patiently for my body to warm up a bit. It doesn't take too long. By the time I have crossed Southwark Bridge, standing up to pedal the slight incline, I am feeling warmer despite the cold raindrops.

The rain gets heavier, big splatters hitting me and obscuring my vision. I can feel my face taking on an expression of grim determination; forehead down, mouth set, eyes narrowed.

I pedal on.

As I cycle towards Old Street, I notice that the rain is really getting quite insistent. In fact, I can feel the individual drops hitting the front of my arms and tops of my thighs, and my face stings from the assault. It feels exceptionally cold; almost like tiny bullets of ice hitting my face as I rush through the dark streets. Probably because it is ice. It's hailing. Lightening flashes overhead as I dodge people hiding under umbrellas, rushing to make it to the nearest bar, the nearest respite, not watching where they're going.

My face, the only exposed part of me, is really stinging now, but I am determined to make it home and the hailstorm only spurs me on. There are chunks of ice caught in the folds of my gloves. I feel surprisingly cheerful.

I pedal on, taking stock as the hail finally lets up and the rain takes over once more.

I am completely soaked. Water runs down the underside of my arms and fills up my gloves. My tracksuit pants are getting heavier and heavier, dragging at my legs. My shoes are filling up. Water runs down my face and funnels into the corners of my eyes, as I try to blink away the remnants of mascara that are making them sting. I can barely see; luckily the road is fairly quiet. Now my underpants are starting to fill up with water. I take a moment to consider this novel (and rather disturbing) sensation, and pedal on. Not far now.

Riding the last stretch towards home, I don't bother avoiding the (now massive) puddles. What's the point? I can't get any wetter. I keep this thought in mind as I put my bike away and stand at the front door in the rain, pulling my gloves off and struggling to open three sets of locks.

Finally, I am inside. I stand dripping in the hall, feeling like I should somehow record this moment, having survived the rather epic journey home. Instead, I pull off my sopping wet clothes and jump into the shower, marvelling at my bright pink arms and thighs which look as though they have been dunked in boiling water.

My mood has lightened considerably. But I wouldn't want to do this every night.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lookout - gig avalanche!

Where to begin? I have so much gig-ly goodness booked for the next few months, just flicking through the dates marked in my diary is giving me an anticipatory thrill. I had promised myself that I would start going out and seeing more stuff in London after I had such a wonderful time making the most of New York. In reality, I have been struggling to settle back in, and as a consequence I just haven't had sufficient motivation to get myself out there.

But now I'm back baby - or at least on the way back to usual capacity. I have been feeling the faintest blush of optimism recently, and oh my goodness that is certainly welcome after so many up-and-down months, lightened only by a wonderful couple of weeks with my parents.

But enough about me! Onto the fun stuff!

Murray from Flight of the Conchords (otherwise known as Rhys Darby) at the Riverside Studios. Gentle, funny, and a little bit geeky. Not actually that far off Murray then. But where poor Murray is a bit of a loser, Rhys is definitely a winner, or a wunner as he would say in his charming New Zealand accent. FOTC has given me a much greater appreciation of all things from that exotic land; and I was most impressed to see that the New Zealand consulate had booked the first two rows and a special place at the bar for pre-gig drinks. They must be fun to work for.

Rhys has some killer sound effects up his sleeves, and uses them to great effect in describing exactly how much of a geek he was as a kid. Who needs friends when you have your own jetpack? In fact, who needs a girlfriend when you can have weird, bubbly underwater sex with a mermaid in Brighton?

The Mighty Boosh at the Brixton Academy. So, so much fun; like a glam rock concert but with comedy and even more outrageous costumes. This was two hours of the most joyous, raucous, shambolic mahem I am ever likely to witness. It was worth it just to see Bob Fossil in pink spandex (over his zoo-keepers outfit, obviously), teaching the audience some new dance moves. And for the sight of Noel clad in scandalously short gold loincloth, blonde wig, silver breastplate and angel wings during a hilarious routine contrasting Vince's electro-glam vision of the future with Howard's bleak apocalyptic one.

The boisterous crowd obviously shared the boys' enthusiasm for a bit of creative costuming, and had devoted many happy hours - sewing machine and glue-gun in hand - to putting together some fabulous outfits in homage to the show's characters. There was a lady in a mirror-ball suit, a scarily realistic crack fox, many Hitchers, and a few Old Gregs (male and female, appropriately).

I was so caught up in the excitement, I bought my first ever tour T-shirt!

Luka Bloom at Bush Hall. Any boys who may be reading this, listen up (read up?), because I won't repeat this. If you ever want to seduce a lady-friend, take her to a Luka gig - preferably in a beautiful old-timey hall of intimate proportions. Trust me on this.

The most enduring impression I had was of a man utterly suffused with his music; radiant with love for his fellow man (or more likely, his fellow woman), doing what he was born to do. His guitar is so much a part of him, it is like a beating wooden heart sitting against his chest, producing the most wonderful silvery sounds. And then there's his voice - rich and warm and flowing like a river (except when he's berating the audience for sitting down at the front like it was "feckin' woodstock"). Sorry, Luka!

I must confess, I don't know much of his back catalogue, but every song was a joy to listen to. I particularly enjoyed the stunningly lovely Joy of Living, the "one people" message of Tribe, and Sunny Sailor Boy with the crowd singing along to the chorus in hushed tones.

The Acoustic Motorbike, a rythmic ode to the benefits of cycling, is my new riding anthem. Not that I listen to my ipod when I ride (do I look like a suicidal bike-courier?), but this will definitely be running through my head as I pedal on, pedal on through the streets of London, not quite "the Kerry mountains or the Wicklow hills", but possibly "the antidote to my emotional ills".

As for his rendition of Monsoon, well, let's just say any bloke who takes his lady-friend to see this performed live is guaranteed to be struggling to get his coat on and running to keep up with his woman the minute the gig ends.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Things I learned about classical music (from watching one performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra)

The clarinet is the most melancholy of all the instruments.
Flutes are the most light-hearted.
French horns sound impending doom.
Trumpets add a sense of urgency.

The organ is so large, it is easy to overlook. The effect is one of your vision zooming out in stages, so that you take in one set of pipes before realising there is an even bigger set next to them; and a truly epic set right next to those. Also, the organist gets to sit with his back to everybody, including the conductor, so he has two special little TV screens to keep him in the loop. Neat (in both senses of the word).

The trombonists generally just sit there looking portly.
The violinists are the most numerous and noticably busy of all the instrumentalists.

The solo soprano gets to upstage everybody else in sartorial terms - think cherry red, floor length show-stopper with plunging neckline and a train trailing obsequious in her wake.

The conductors's hands float in an hypnotic yet unpredictable way, like the flight path of a butterfly. At times they seem to be plucking grapes from an imaginary vine; at others, daintily hanging invisible washing on an invisible line. Sometimes they describe the shape of a particularly voluptuous woman; sometimes they repeatedly open and draw a set of invisible curtains; and occassionally, they seem to calm a particularly volatile (but once again, invisible) horse.

I must admit my mind was wandering by this stage.

And finally - it is innapropriate to whistle after an orchestral performance: even if you know one of the members of the choir. He just won't appreciate it and neither will your white-haired neighbours in the audience.

I saw Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, just so you don't think I am a complete philistine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Hot List*

1. Jemaine Clement & Bret McKenzie
Geeks + facial hair + the funny = volcanic hotness (nb. they only work as a pair).

2. Dave Grohl (circa 1997)
It's the combination of the rocker hair and the goofy smile.

3. Gael Garcia Bernal Benicio Del Toro
Gael has the stunning eyes and exquisite cheekbones, but Del Toro has the hulking presence, the squint, and the dangerous streak.

4. Dylan Moran (as Bernard in Black Books)
Grumpy, surly, Irish, drunk - and all the more lovable for it.

5. Andrew WK
The wildcard - a piano-playing metal-head with brains. Lethal!

Special mention

Robert Pattinson

Me and fifty bajillion pre-teens. Blood-suckers are so hot right now. Too new to make the list, but I'll be keeping an eye on him.

Runners up

6. Jason Schwartzman
Love the eyebrows. And the eyes staring out from beneath them.

7. Keanu Reeves
Ever since Point Break. Sigh.

8. Paul Dempsey
Meloncholy Melbourne rock-god.

9. Zach Braff
Cute, funny, well-written. Ka-ching!

10. Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman
Jesus, I never knew what the fuss was about until I watched this for the first time just recently.

Don't know why you like them, but you do

1. Jon Heder
Girly, goofy, mormon - yet hot.

2. Javier Bardem
See Benicio Del Toro, but taking the danger levels up a notch.

3. Noel Fielding/Vince Noir
I know I'm not alone on this one.

4. Chevy Chase in the 70's
Those sideburns. That smirk. Ouch!

5. Tony Curtis (in Some Like It Hot - confusifying!)
I just love the ridiculous conversation he has with Marilyn on the boat, in between kisses.

*you know, the 5 people you're allowed to cheat on your partner with if said crush was to happen to be in town and you happened to be sitting in the same bar and were drawn towards each other by an IRREPRESSIBLE force of nature. But I seem to have accumulated 16.

Whaddaya gonna do with all the hotness in the world?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Books currently strewn about my bed

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry
The story of a serious and inquisitive little prince and the world he discovers when he decides to venture out beyond his home asteroid one day. Full of wonder; heartfelt and exquisitely moving.

The Introvert Advantage by Dr. Marti Laney
The best self-help book I have ever read (and believe me, I've read a few - or should I say, started them and given up after the first few chapters), and by far the most relevant to me. It's nice to know that I'm not alone - 25% of people (apparently), like me, are inwards looking, get their energy from being alone and need downtime to cope with the outside stimulation of everyday life. I can't tell you how much this book has opened my eyes to my own nature, and helped me to accept it. It's nice to know I'm not a freak. Well, at least not a certifiable freak.

You are What You Eat by Sham Dr. Gillian McKeith
Yes, I find McKeith loathesome for reasons I can't quite articulate, but in a moment of madness I decided to do the one-day detox she describes in this book (including the body brush and mineral bath before bed) - and I have to say, it was surprisingly easy. Plus, my new juicer is the funnest toy ever. Yes, I know funnest isn't a word. But it should be.

Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties by Rainer Maria Rilke and John J.L. Mood
Rilke is a German poet I discovered in a very roundabout way. A bit over a year ago, when I was going through an epic break-up and trying desperately to find some peace of mind, my yoga teacher quoted a line from this poem (the words in bold) and it affected me so much, I had to trace it to the source. This book is some consolation for those who, like me, seem to suffer more than their fair share of heartache.

...and still struggling through A Suitable Boy. In fact, I seem to be at a standstill. Somebody make a film of this already, for gosh sakes! I am only one-sixth of the way through the three massive volumes that comprise this monster, and I am losing momentum.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Random observations

A few weeks ago: We are sitting at our computer screens at work, beavering away, when through the open window comes the sound of Allanah Myles wailing out the chorus to "Black Velvet" from a van stopped at the lights below. I haven't heard this song for about a hundred years, and had completely forgotten how much I loved it as an angst-ridden pre-teen; and how truly bad it is.

The office cracks up at this unexpected 80's flashback.

Tuesday morning, 9:05am: Cycling over Southwark Bridge, I catch a snippet of a phone conversation from one of the grey-suited corporates walking in the opposite direction: "Yeah, sorry mate, I was just listening to some soft cock rock..."

Surely your love of a little bit of the Bolt in the morning is best kept to yourself? And it raises a whole host of questions for me: namely, who was he talking to? His boss? His girlfriend? What possessed him to admit that out loud? Also, do Coldplay count as SCR as well as MOR?

Last Thursday night, Charing Cross station, 6.27pm: A guy wanders by in full 1980's Axl Rose regalia, with leather studded jacket, skin-tight black jeans, white reebok pumps with their fat tongues standing up, and massively permed (possibly even highlighted) hair cascading down his back. Judging by his bellicose expression and wide-legged swagger he's never even heard of the word "irony".

A final random observation: It never rains in London between the hours of 8.45am and 9.15am. Brilliant! I can ride my bike every day, and no matter how heavy the skies, no matter how dark and gloomy, it just never rains at that time. Ever.

Thank you God, for these small, puzzling presents you seem to enjoy handing out willy-nilly. Now get cracking on my love life already.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...