Friday 27 January 2012

On the fringe

It's been a funny old month.  But then January usually is. Christmas is over, and try as hard as we might it seems difficult to really get 2012 into gear.  It can't be that the snow has slowed us down.  There hasn't been any in these here parts.  It can't be because work is slow.  It's frantic.  It can't be because of lack of opportunity.  there are plenty of things to get my teeth into.   I even wanted to go and see the 'comedy' Sherlock Holmes in Soho...and despite an impressive prompt, we simply forgot (I'm really, really sorry).   It can't be because we are slumped in moribund depression.  We have lots to celebrate.  But we have for certain caught Auntie Gwen's 'Can't be arsed' gene.  Getting out of bed in the morning is practically impossible.  I'm sure it's darker when we wake up than when we go to bed.Hopefully with February just around the corner the pace of life will pick up.  This week in anticipation, and despite heavy frost on the ground, I cycled to the office twice.  Surely a sign that energy levels are returning?

Once upon a time I had more shoes than any man I know.  I can't remember the exact number, but it was at least 42.  That's pairs, not individual shoes.  So I've been vaguely amused to find that suddenly I have no black work shoes to wear.  Every one has a hole in the sole, which means that this week as the rain has poured my feet have got soaked.  We still have a local cobbler in Bermondsey..nice folks - support Millwall and their politics are probably entirely red and white - and proper locals.  For any local shop times have been hard as the chains have moved in, so I'm very happy to give them my support when I can.  I could see his eyes light up when I turned up with my six pairs of shoes.  They're done and done well now.  And I hope he has a lovely weekend.

I may have to eat my words. I may have been rash spouting off about Scottish independence.  Ridiculous as it is.  My tongue may have been sharper than it should.

The stage is The Cat's one great love.  She's doing drama As level, succeeded in joining the National Youth Theatre and performing on the South Bank last year.  She can sing you every Sondheim song he has ever written, and has gone to more plays in the West End than any other teenager I know.  The Boy is also a great performer.  He has a real talent for acting...and his performance in the school's production of Gogol's The Government Inspector is still talked about two years after he had the lead role.  He has other interests though so doesn't live his every waking moment thinking of the stage.  So two different teenagers, each talented.

The school has decided to take a production up to The Edinburgh Fringe and both the offspring auditioned.  They both auditioned for roles.  They have both been chosen for lead roles.  The Cat's Mother and I are over the moon.  The kids are too.  We'll be heading north of Hadrian's Wall.  Knowing The Cat's Mother, we'll be taking a coach load of supporters.  Tonight we will celebrate.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

A big Mac please

It's no coincidence I am sure that the lawyers I face in the current legal tussle I'm involved in are called leech.  Of course they don't spell their name quite like that, but the pronounciation is the same.

 I was a little displeased by the Oscar nominations yesterday and was wondering how much they actually reflect true talent, and how much Hollywood politics.   Do they know anything? It could just be that my tastes are different....anyway I was really delighted that Pina has made it on to the list of nominees.  It was, remarkably, my favourite film of last year.  A German film documentary by Wim Wenders about a choreographer.  But somehow it succeeded in doing what films should do - capturing the magic.  If you get the chance to beg, borrow or steal the DVD, then do, I think you'll surprise yourself.

I thought Tinker, Tailor deserved more, but knew it wouldn't..hopefully Gary Oldman will do well, but I won't be placing a bet.  I really enjoyed Midnight in Paris...but best film?  No's light, fluffy and must be the Woody Allen factor.  Why War Horse is on the list I have no idea.  Really no idea.  Why it's nominated in the cinematography category is equally beyond me...Spielberg should have learned by now that 'more' is not always more.  The Artist is excellent, but I suspect it will end up with many more nominations than actual Oscars.  Anyway I shall wait and see the outcome, and then no doubt will get on my high (war) horse again.

There's the faintest possibility that the some of the next Jason Statham film will be shot in my office.  The location manager has been round and likes it, so we'll have to see.  I'm very excited at the prospect, even though knowing the type of film he makes the whole place will be blown up after a fight between Jason and fifty evil henchmen.

A few years ago, when The Boy was only as high as my hip, we were walking through Brighton when someone stepped out his Range Rover.  It was Paul McCartney, so I smiled and waved, and he cheerily waved back.  I guess he was still in the first flush with Heather.  I then spent some time explaining to The Boy who Macca is and why he's such an important person.  Down our road..the office road that is...Paul McCartney is doing some filming today and tomorrow.  It was a nice coincidence then that Q Radio was playing some Beatles this morning.  I think this is for an advertisement, and I have to ask myself why he would do it....obviously not the money, but perhaps he just needs to keep himself occupied.  As some of the filming will take place in the Mews itself, I'm hoping to get a picture.  Star struck?  Me?  Noooooo.  It seems that a Range Rover is not good enough anymore as the man is arriving by helicopter.  Well obviously.  If you were Paul McCartney you would as well.

And don't forget "Dance dance otherwise we are lost".  I think that may be my motto for the year.

Tuesday 24 January 2012


Opposite the office we have a new White Cube gallery.  If you don't know White Cube, it's the spiritual home of the new wave BritArt.  The first one opened in trendy Hoxton Square and almost single-handedly made the whole area the trendiest place in London.  Not bad considering that before, you'd get mugged/raped/throat slit if you took a wrong turn.  That's only a mild exaggeration.  The Gallery is splendid - it was an ugly storage depot, and with a few deft strokes by the builders it looks more than passable.  I mentioned before that I've been in it, and there's a terminal case of Emperors clothes.  Thank heavens they're hoping to open a bar so you can stagger around, hardly noticing that there's nothing to look at.  Anyway, it'll do the area good, so I'm not moaning.  What I am moaning about though is that there are half a dozen cycle racks on the pavement outside the gallery which have been there for years.  And very useful they are too.  Clearly having cycles outside a trendy gallery is an aesthetic nightmare for the owners, and (I'm only speculating here) they appear to have prevailed on the Council to have them removed.  That's a bit shitty if you ask me.

I'm interested to see that the Government's attempts to 'cap' benefits has been blocked by LibDem peers and Bishops.  Now for me this is interesting.  The cap is £26,000.  If that's a familiar figure to you, it's because that is the UK's average wage.  So that means there are millions of people who earn less than that.  I may be over-simplifying it, but if the Government wants to encourage people to get a job shouldn't the benefit cap be way below he national average?  I think so.  An average wage implies you can afford some of the nice things in life...but why would you work if you can get those without work.  I may be turning into Mr Grumpy here.  Please let me know.

At the other end of the scale I see Vince Cable has set out plans for giving shareholders the say in how much company Directors are remunerated.  Well it's a step I suppose, but not really much of one is it.  As share values have gone Chief Executives salaries have gone up and we're all right to feel pretty aggrieved about that.  But shareholders are, in general, not you and I.  They are enormous pension funds, wealthy investors and the like, none of whom represent the people whose jobs and wages are being squeezed whilst the Fat Cats get fatter.  Strangely, it seems the politicians have vetoed the idea of including workers representatives in the remuneration committees of major companies.  By contrast, in Germany, this is how it is.  And look how their economy has performed whilst ours has coughed and wheezed.  Of course history says that there is a different economic and social mind set...ours is management vs workers, and theirs is management and workers together.  That's not to say Germany has had it all its own way, but at a time when we need a radical change in this country, it might be better for us to look in that direction, rather than across the Atlantic for inspiration.

Back on two wheels, I was frustrated yesterday that the front lamp on my bicycle has stopped working.  It was new in August.   There it was flashing away when I arrived at the office yesterday morning, and dead as a Dodo in the evening.  It's not the battery, and of course, I don't have the receipt to take it back.  It's a familiar lights seem to last no more than six months...I suspect the makers are on to a good wheeze.  It's certainly one that costs me a fortune.  Anyway, I wasn't completely caught out and left to cycle the 17 miles home in the dark - Santa had brought me a pair of lights that go in the handles of racing bikes giving a rad glow facing backwards and white light forwards; if I press the button they will flash orange as a turn indicator too - brilliant.  Let's hope they last beyond June!

Sunday 22 January 2012

The devil of a post

UP is a very clever man.  In his wisdom he decided that if he was to see The Artist he would see it at the Barbican Arts Centre cinema, on the basis that you would get a more discerning audience with fewer of the normal cinema distractions.  He was right.  We went to see it at the Stratford Vue (that's the one in the new shopping centre near the Olympic stadium, not Shakespeare's home town).  We knew it wasn't going well when we sat down and from a few rows back we heard one girl turn to her friend and say "Is this in English, I heard it was made by the French", then a couple of seats to our left two girls arrived, one with a large coke and popcorn, the other with two cartons of popcorn - their chewing was as much an accompaniment as the film's soundtrack.  Finally, in the seat next to me, half way through the film, there was a sound of a text message arriving.  I glared at the woman next to me, but she just smiled in the same way that she always does when she's done something naughty....

Apart from that, it was a fabulous film...a novelty yes, but beautifully put together and with some lovely conceits.  Unlike Spielberg's War Horse.  I struggle to understand how a stage production with puppets could reduce me to tears with its powerful emotions, whilst on the silver screen all that was completely lost.  Yes it was big and glossy, but the tissues remained firmly in my pocket.  A travesty.

Matilda, which we went to see last weekend, on the other hand is an amazing stage production and highly recommended for children of all ages from five through to eighty five.  I hadn't realised what a great talent Tim Minchin is before, and going forwards I'll pay him much more attention.

I meant to mention, but forgot, and now will, although it would have fitted better in the Meryl Streep post.  A friend works for a big accountancy business in London.  They have had a presentation from a very senior person in the Metropolitan Police about how to manage people working this year.  By way of introduction he said that the Police faced three major public event challenges this year.  Obviously The Queen's Jubilee.  Obviously The Olympics.  But then without missing a beat added 'Margaret Thatchers state funeral'.  I wonder if anyone has told the woman that this is THE year.  I did a bit of Googling, and it seems it was Gordon Brown who agreed with The Queen that she deserves a state funeral.  I'm not going to comment, but I guess everyone will have an opinion.  And a strong one at that.

This is evidently my 666th post.  That's a lot of writing.  I'd say each one takes about half an hour, so 333 hours of my life given over to writing.  That's two whole weeks of doing nothing but tapping out the usual drivel.  Equally it's two weeks of sheer joy and pleasure.  Nappy Valley persuaded me to start, and I'm still absolutely delighted she did.  I don't write as well as her, but in my own little way, I'm delighted.  I think when I started I wasn't sure "Why?", but I realised pretty quickly that it will be great in years to come back and look at the things we've been doing marking the changes in our lives...the good and the bad.  Plus, Grandma in Cyprus gets to know what we're up to...and I think she likes that.  As does The Brother.  And of course writing this has opened up the blogosphere to me...and reading everyone else's efforts is a real delight.