Friday 15 February 2013

Dear George

I recently gave you a 'cast list' for Don't Panic. RTFM.  You can find it here.

Gay George and Gay John moved out of the office not long before Christmas...but we've kept in touch.  They decided that they'd like to have a virtual office in readiness for George moving to the country.They're good guys, really good fun to have around and I think of them as friends.....even though Jon's share tips are to be avoided like the are his betting tips.  I can't tell you how much I've lost through his recommendations.  Whenever I bit and went with one of Jon's tips, a wry smile would come over George's face as he himself firmly zipped up his wallet and put it in his pocket.

Since they moved out, we've saved a fortune in tea costs.  These two are chain-tea drinkers.  They are never without a mug of PG Tips in one hand.  When they first arrived, I thought I could handle it and tried to keep up with them...but the exercise I got from running backwards and forwards to the toilet was wearing me out. The dishwasher could barely keep up as well.

When it came to food, lunchtime would always be a hot dog.  Day in, day out.  The smell was tantalising   And this was frustrating because they would eat lunch at no later than I had to stick it out for another couple of hours.  Eventually they decided to vary their diet and would wander down to Sainsbury's to see what was on offer.  Anything cheap was good.   Sometimes they would come back with half a dozen shepherd pies which would keep them going for a few days.

Sport was always a hot topic...I could join in using my best 'blokishness', but really didn't have a clue - Cricket, Football, Rugby were daily conversations.  Tennis less regularly...but eventually I found I could express an opinion on whichever team or player and they were wise enough to just nod and agree.  On other topics, the debates could be lively.  George was invariably vitriolic about anything where he had an opinion...trying to get a word in edgeways was nigh on impossible.  We shared a common view on bankers and politicians.

I was due to meet up for a beer with Gay George, but surprisingly hadn't heard from him.

I got this e-mail last night from Jon

"George has had an accident and been knocked off his bike. It happened last Friday and he hasn't been conscious since. There is some pressure on his brain so they are treading carefully. He has facial fractures and fractures to the hip and pelvis. Will keep you posted"

George is married, in his mid-30's and has two young children.  He cycles everyday - their business is 'inventory clerks' so they would go from property to property on folding bikes.  George wears a helmet.

I'm knocked for six by this...and desperately hoping he pulls through.  I hope his wife and family are coping, it must be really traumatic for them 

Thursday 14 February 2013

Foreign sagas

The Oscar Pistorius saga is unfolding as the day wears on today, and it's left me feeling quite melancholy.  Who knows what the eventual outcome will's sad enough that a promising young woman has been killed.  Pistorius helped light up the summer last year, and inevitably, this will cast a shadow over the memories of those glorious days.

Last night, The Cat's Mother did something that she would never have done before she met me.  It's a fascination how we can end up doing different things when we meet someone.  She has spent many years enjoying more 'mainstream' entertainment...I, on the other hand, enjoy different, new, challenging.  Together it makes for a rewarding life.  So we took to the streets of Dalston, one of London's roughest/trendiest areas to find The Dalston Boys Club.  We were going to The Art of Dining - an experiential dinner evening.  The theme was Victorian dining, called 'Eat your heart out'.  With these you turn up and sit amongst either love it or you hate it.  As well as your meal, there is this case, a lady and a gentleman extolling the (humorous) virtues and vices of Victorian marriage.  It took a strange turn when  the husband suggested that after the initial passion subsides you should turn to buggery, and the wife suggested intimate friendships with her lady friends.  But apart from that, it was a marvel.  The hall had been decorated with lots of Victoriana (mostly faux, but certainly adding to the theatre of the evening).  It was a five course meal with cocktails and a bottle of wine.  I can remember some of it - to start a beetroot and apple soup, followed by a thinly-sliced heart salad, then a mackerel pate with rhubarb jelly, and then duck and finally a delicious tart.  We started off with a champagne, gin, Cointreau and marmalade cocktail, enjoyed a beetroot bloody Mary, and finished with something else...all washed down with a scrummy red wine.  Apologies if the details are sparse, but neither of us are used to downing large amounts of alcohol in the middle of the week.  This morning was not fun at all.

We sat next to a Russian couple.  Exactly as expected, he was a digital technology guy, and she was a model (she had just come from a photo-shoot with Rankin...and had the photos to show us!).  They were very sociable, and we very much enjoyed their company.  For me what was totally extraordinary was that they hadn't come from the great metropolises of Moscow or St Petersburg, but from a city called Perm.  On his right arm...the whole length - he had a tattoo of the city's Contemporary art museum. I'm betting you've never heard of it...we certainly hadn't.  It has a population of about a million, and from the way they described it, it is a sort of communist-built Milton Keynes.  I think they said it's a three-day train journey from Moscow...that's a long way - it is definitely Europe's most eastern city, and sits in the Urals on the 'border' with Asia.  That is so remote....I looked it up on a map.  For some reason I've got a little obsessed with it, trying to work out how two people from such a far-off and remote place could end up living and working in London.  I think it says something remarkably good about how London in particular, and the UK in general is seen by the outside world.  It certainly made for an enjoyable and interesting conversation.

I don't think our model will thank me for this picture of her

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Investing in the future

Given the latest food crisis, I'm a little worried about The Cat's Mother suggesting we have Toad in the Hole for supper.  It was bad enough eating Hot Dog last night.  And as for the Horseradish sauce on the beef at the weekend...

On Monday evevning we fought our way through the snow to go and see an off beat production at The Roundhouse in Camden.  It was my choice, and based on me thinking we would be seeing something different and challenging...just the way I like my theatre.  In fact Robert Lepage's Playing Cards is two and a half hours of tedium....some very clever staging but a bunch of ill-defined and uninteresting characters.  It was quite a spectacle as you can see from these pictures...but it failed the 'bum test' long before you start wriggling on your seat - I managed ten minutes...leaving another another 140 to go.  It did pass (oh for heavens sake!) the todger test...yes one of the male characters was all naked and flaunty.  I'm still waiting for some theatre with boobs and bits, whilst The Cat's Mother keeps eye-balling the male offerings.

You know I like Street Art...well here's someone making our telephone exchange boxes a bit more attractive

Crowd sourcing is the new 'thing'.  If you've not come across it, essentially it's about getting a large number of people to cough up a little money to make a thing happen.  Most famous is 'Kickstarter'...currently trying to persuade a very large number of people to find some ready dollars to build a Death Star.  If I remember rightly, they need $54,000,000,000,000.  Which is quite a lot.  I got involved once in the funding for some very clever bicycle lights...called REVO Lights.  They've gone through all the testing, prototyping and so on before going into production.  My set arrived.  I read the instructions, realised that to fit them was more complicated than building a spacecraft, so they now sit unloved in the garage.  If you knew how much I'd spent, you'd think I was an idiot.

Foolishly, I failed to donate to Lloyd Cole's latest album...he was looking for funds to pay for the recording of the music.  I hesitated.  I don't know why...I would love to have thought of myself as a record producer.  I still feel the music world beckons.  Anyway, the album will be out soon(ish)

My latest venture into Crowd Funding is 'Unbound'.  I've contributed to the costs of publishing a book on Street Art here.  If you fancy it, put a little bit of money know I want you to.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

I am Superman

I was doing my favourite thing on Friday night...falling asleep on the sofa whilst everyone else was out.  Peace and quiet and a hopeless French (comedy) film - OSS117

But then The Cat materialised and wanted a lift to the station.  I returned to a text from The Cat's Mother that she was nearly at the station after her evening.  Naturally I went to pick her up.  Except she had jumped in a cab.  Even before the snow fell, it was a little frosty.

Saturday daytime was taken up with rehearsals for The Chinese New Year's Parade, before we headed off to a card evening with friends and around thirty two other people.  I hate cards.  And I didn't know the rules for whist.  So whilst consuming large quantities of slow-roast pork belly I drank gallons of red wine.  In my head I was the funniest person there.

And then the early start for the Parade.  There were supposed to be changing facilities...but the women had taken over the men's tent, as well as their own, and got all arsey when we started taking our trousers off in front of them.  So we retreated and I decided that rather than undress in the road whilst getting soaked by the rain, I would get into costume in a telephone box.  I can assure you a telephone box just of Trafalgar Square on a Sunday morning is not somewhere you want to be for long.

Eventually the parade started and we were mobbed by a vast was fabulous, although a little un-nerving.  We went up from Trfalgar Square, along Charing Cross Road, down into Sftsbury Avenue and then along into China Town.  Unlike the Olympic Stadium there was literally no distance between us and everyone watching...with all those cameras going, I began to understand what it must be like to be famous.  We all loved it!  We did our choreography...but remarkably someone managed to take this just as we were having a rest!

At the end we cut off and relived our performance in Leicester Square, gathering quite a crowd.  All good fun if a little damp and freezing