Sunday, August 30, 2009

Turn the sound up

Way up. Put that cup of tea down, and clear some floor space.

I dare you to listen to this without indulging in a bit of air-drumming and/or dramatic interpretive dancing. And falling a little bit in love with this flame-haired goddess.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Why I ♥ London, part the second of many

London is a shock to many Australians when they first arrive. I spent my initial months here heartsick and lonely; numbed by the crush of the crowds and the cool distance of the people, dismayed by the grime and the grey. I lived in Archway (shudder), commuted for hours every day to various jobs where people barely spoke to me, and turned a lurid shade of pale from the lack of sunlight. I have never felt so utterly dispossessed as I did in those early months of 2003.

Strangely, despite how miserable I was, not for a nanosecond did I consider turning tail and going home. I'm stubborn like that (or maybe just plain stupid).

I'm not sure when the turning point came. I don't think it was until I found myself single after a four-year long relationship that I truly fell for London, heart and soul. It was my London now. A lot of people expected me to move home after that break-up, but instead I dug my heels in and looked around me with fresh (if somewhat red and watery) eyes. This time around, London nurtured me. I'd put in the hard yards. For the first time, I felt free to make the most of living in such a populous, diverse, surprising, stunning, rich cultural centre. I moved into a bright, girly flat in a pretty area with a lovely English girl. I knew about some of London's secret oases and went out of my way to discover new ones. I relaxed my self-imposed rules about saving money and just committed to enjoying my time here. I started going to gigs again. I said "yes" to most of the things that people asked me to. I bought a bike.

Now, I fall deeper for this city every day. Several times a day in the Summer.

I love the incredible music scene, the soft quality of the light, the sly and silly humour, the pretty Victorian/Georgian/Tudor architecture, the millions of cultural happenings going on all over town, all the time.

But above all these things, I think the thing I admire most about London is that there is an audience for absolutely every kind of pastime imaginable, no matter how random or esoteric.

Examples? Here is a smattering of odd things in which I have recently taken part:

- the Iron Cupcake competition (as a taster, not a baker);

- the Sunday Stroll, a massive meet-up of roller-bladers who stop the traffic and take over the city streets for a couple of hours every weekend;

- urban barn dancing;

- Laughter in odd places (Richard Herring at the Museum of London, amongst the bones and arrow heads: v. funny); and let's not forget

- the European Hard Court Bike Polo Championships (spectating only, apparently you have to have a moustache and knee-high socks to play).

I know that you could probably seek out similar weird and wonderful underground happenings elsewhere in the world (including Melbourne), but London does seem to be the epicentre for eccentricity, attracting odd-bods from all over the globe. Random silliness has been elevated to an art form here (see: Monty Pyton, the Goodies, the Mighty Boosh et al). No sport is so crazy that some damn fools wouldn't try it, no bet is too ridiculous to follow through on, and no subject is so seemingly narrow that it couldn't have a museum dedicated to it.

London is full of people who refuse to grow up and start taking life seriously young man, harumph, you think this is all a big joke, don't you? and that suits me just fine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why I ♥ London, part the first of many

The meaning of life

Looking for the Meaning of Life? Aren't we all! Click on the image above to reveal one artist's response in full (discovered while cycling home through the backstreets of Shoreditch one evening).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Bike-Related Outrage

So I finally levered £100 out of the now-notorious van lady. It took a few weeks worth of negotiations over the phone, during which she tried to convince me the damage was superficial (it wasn't); to get me to let her take the bike to a mate of hers to fix up (I refused); to avoid my increasingly irate calls by "losing" her mobile down the toilet (the lovely WPC Caroline gave me a hand there by leaving her a no-nonsense voice message); and finally, to bargain me down to £80 (by now I was too furious to budge).


So imagine my horror when I got back to Angel station to discover the bike that I had left locked up there - a bike which I had borrowed from a friend of a friend while I am temporarily wheel-less - was gone. Gone! Oh god. Lesson learnt: do not leave a bike of any description at Angel, no matter how good your locks are (I had a D-lock worth £40). This is London, y'all - you could bludgeon somebody to death on the street and everyone would avoid eye contact and step carefully around the body. A bike being lifted by some punk at one of the busiest hubs in North London wouldn't be worth breaking your stride for.

Thankfully the owner was very understanding and didn't seem all that fazed (I was prepared to be sworn at). She even suggested that it saved her the hassle of getting it from Islington to Chiswick, funnily enough.

I guess this gives me a good excuse to buy a new bike...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


skinny jeans

I sloped into work today in my very first pair of skinny jeans (purchased from the rather marvellous - and dirt cheap - Uniqlo). One of my fellow designers looked me up and down and remarked that my legs pretty much don't change shape from the ankle - they just go straight up like a couple of straws.

I'm reminded of the bit in the Mighty Boosh (series 1) where Vince describes Howard's legs as being "like a couple of hosepipes propping up a beanbag".

*sigh* it's not easy coming from a family of chicken-legged folk.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Hot List – revisited

Some of you may remember a previous blog post in which I listed my top 5 celeb-crushes (as well as a few more who I couldn’t bear to leave out). Being of the eternally fickle female persuasuion, I feel the time has come to update and ammend that list to reflect my current mood, and to acknowledge the general Summery freshness that is currently happening on the wrong side of my window. The unadulterated excitement of wearing unsheathed legs and toe-nail polish has gotten to me, evidently.

I’m sure if I put my mind to it (which I would happily), I could create a constantly shifting league table like those cheeky slappers at the Observer Woman do. But these mere 10 cherry-picked from past and present will have to do for now...

1. Robert Pattinson.
Me and the entire female tween population of the world. There’s just not enough Robert Pattinson to go around.

2. Justin Long
First came to my attention in the brilliant TV series “Ed”. Way up on the geek-o-meter (which can only be a good thing in my book).

3. Ed from “Ed”.
While we’re at it.

3. Friendly Fires
Make me want to jump in the pool.

4. Jason Bateman
Cute, puckish, slightly dishevelled, likes scarves - my ideal man.

5. Stephen Mangan
A face for comedy (especially the eyebrows). Outrageously hilarious as Guy in Green Wing.

6. Chris in the Morning
I wish I could wake up to Chris’ Cali drawl on Radio K-Bear every morning.

7. Aladdin.
Again with the eyebrows. The full extent of my geekiness is revealed.

8. Bernard Fanning from Powderfinger
Charisma personified.

9. Bob Dylan
No wonder he had women falling at his feet back in the day.

10. Ben Wishaw
Can’t wait for Bright Star.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Ten songs that turn my brain orange

There has been a lot of scientific yakkety-yak lately about the effect music has on the brain, and it seems that the boffins have discovered that a song will light up some parts of one person's brain and different parts of another person's - possibly indicating that we are predisposed to like a certain kind of music, or suggesting that our reaction to music is biological rather than aesthetic? I'm a little bit hazy on the details, but the idea that "music which produces extreme pleasure, or "chills," activates the reward systems in the brain" chimes with me. Music has been the most constant source of pleasure in my life.

I also love the idea of certain songs turning my brain orange. It makes sense to me (orange is my favourite colour*). These are songs that I loved instantly and fervently upon hearing them for the first time; songs that still give me a shiver of pleasure, everytime.

Feeling Good by Nina Simone: Epic.
Sea Lion Woman by Feist: Frenetic.
Cannon Ball by The Breeders: Delirious.
A-Punk by Vampire Weekend: Infectious.
That Teenage Feeling by Neko Case: Vast.
Play Dead by Björk: Kooky.
Tear In Your Hand by Tori Amos: Interstellar.
Homeward Bound by Simon & Garfunkel: Joyful.
Lilac Wine by Jeff Buckley: Heady.
Vicious World by Rufus Wainwright: Silvery.

*Sometimes. Sometimes it's sunflower yellow; sometimes it's bright kermit green, sometimes it's fuschia. But orange is the colour I am most known for using in my designs, so I guess it is the most favoured of the favourites.
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