14/12/2010

Tina and Tasman left at 5:30 exactly this morning to spend a few days in Amsterdam, leaving Lucy and I in the flat on our own. As a result I now have the opportunity to tell a brilliant story illustrating what is either an unusual knack of mine for attracting famous people (in particular, those of personal significance to me), or luck, or both.

 

Lucy and I got up at some point with no particular plan in mind for the day. After however long it took her to get sick of me playing David Gilmour guitar solos on the couch (and on my guitar), she decided she would go to the bank to pay our months rent using the money we three had supplied her with. After much deliberation, I decided to go too. We walked to town, paid the money at the bank, then realized we had no idea what to do for the remainder of the day. On a whim, I suggested we followed The Strand until we found a Subway sandwich bar, then develop a plan of action. We ate and realized we had no plan. It was more or less at this point that we decided to pick a direction we hadn’t been in and walk in it until we felt like not doing that anymore. We walked for about twenty minutes, talking about how cool seeing celebrities had been, and how cool it would be to see a member of Pink Floyd (specifically Roger Waters, but that bit makes the next bit seem less impressive, so feel free to ignore it if you so wish). Eventually, we decided to turn left on the grounds that we were bored of the street we were on. Having done so, we found ourselves walking down the same street as David Gilmour. The sheer coincidence of this was most odd.

 

I was struck by how much David Gilmour looks like David Gilmour. Much more than any other celebrity I’ve seen here. In fact, much more than anyone else I have ever seen.

After having talked about this for a bit, we made our way back to the flat, satisfied that we had done something, and satisfied that we didn’t need to do anything else.

 

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08/12/2010

Nothing like getting up early to take a wander ‘round the cold, alternately snowy and slushy streets of Lambeth looking for a post office which might not exist where a package for someone who isn’t me might need to be picked up if it’s there. Actually it wasn’t that bad, Tina agreed to come with me to pick up the package (which was after all, hers), and after a shorter walk there than I expected, we caught the bus to Harrods, where we had both wanted to go for some time. In fact it actually took us longer to get to Harrods than it did to get to the P.O, since I directed us to get off at the wrong stop, and tried to improvise the route in the wrong direction.

 

Harrods is incredible. I have never been to a department store which has made me feel so inadequate. Even the cost of the underwear was prohibitively expensive. Not specifically to either me or Tina, but in general. I was also disappointed to note the ease I had in finding the perfect tweed jacket to fit a three year old child, when I myself had been having tremendous difficulty. Of course, the price was enough to bankrupt a major city, let alone a three year old. The pet section also contained a few surprises, like gourmet flavoured bones, and dog beer.

 

At this point the keen reader may have noticed a trend in the pricing system at Harrods, and their food was no exception. The cheapest hotdog they offered was fourteen pounds. Both Tina and I made the decision to order whatever we wanted without looking at the price and after having eaten that, we went halves in a chocolate icecream yoghurt with choc chips, raspberries, brownies and 23 carat gold flakes. Thank god we went halves.

 

Then it was back to Oxford street, probably the street we returned to the most during our stay in London, to do some shopping, or rather, so Tina could do some shopping.

 

This short shopping excursion was woefully curtailed (after about two and a half hours) by our joint realization that we probably should leave to make sure we weren’t late to the gig which we had arranged for the night a few weeks earlier. As it turned out, we had more than an hour to spare by the time we got back to the flat, but there you go.

 

One of the acoustic acts was clearly very much influenced by the same style of guitar playing, probably even the same select few artists as me. This was something which was quite evident in his set as he played solo, using a looping stompbox, and Tasman couldn’t resist pointing it out at every opportunity. Considering the fact that his set went for about twenty minutes, this was quite a lot of opportunity, and quite a lot of pointing out.

 

We were the first of the electric acts to play, and after a fairly shaky start with Lucy’s guitar cutting out on our first song, we played a blinder. Definitely the best gig we’ve had over here, and definitely my favourite. We seemed to engage with the crowd, and we all had fun. I finally got to use my Electric Mistress footpedal, which I’ve been aching to use since I bought it about three weeks ago, not realizing that I didn’t have an amp to use it with at the apartment. There’s never anything more fun on stage as learning to use a new pedal in the middle of a set, and eventually I found a nice David Gilmour-y sound to use on some solos. Tasman said it was awesome.

 

Unfortunately (and there is always a but or a however or an unfortunately), we were immediately followed by the comedy stylings of someone with little to no sense of style, or indeed comedy. It sort of killed the mood in much the same way as a man dying on stage might have done and it developed into him doing precisely that quite quickly. 

2/12/2010

Up early again (being in England has made me think 9:00 is early). This time to go to MadameTussaudsWax Museum. Again, for varying reasons, neither Lucy nor Tasman wished to be a part of this expedition, so once more it was Tina and I going it alone (except not really because there were two of us).

 

Firstly, let me point out to anyone who hasn’t tried it that having a snowball fight with no gloves is the worst idea. Ours lasted the time it took me to form a snowball and then drop it in equal parts because of the coldness on my hands and the knowledge that I didn’t have the guts to throw it at Tina’s face as I’d intended anyway. This proved to be one of those days when the tubes ran perfectly, and so we were soon at Baker Street station, making our way into the Museum.

 

We were less than successful trying to use the two for one ticket this time. They wouldn’t believe us when we told them we must have lost our tickets (possibly because we were lying barefacedly), and so eventually we had to give in and pay the full twenty eight pounds each.

 

The actual experience of being in a confined space, surrounded on all sides by wax figures proved less intimidating than it had seemed. The images from the first hall make it look like we met quite a few A-list celebrities, but they were all sweating profusely.

 

One of my favourite parts of the entire museum was the fact that in the middle of a merry-go-round on the Spirit of Britain ride populated by generic waxworks, there was a wax figure of actor David Jason for apparently no reason.

 

Another odd thing was the fact that the last exhibition was entirely devoted to Marvel cartoon characters, which was supremely strange after the lack of fictional characters throughout the rest of the museum. There was also a ‘4d’ film as part of the conclusion to this exhibition, which was different and quite cool. Though I would argue that spraying water on the audience doesn’t constitute an extra dimension.

 

Then shops of all kinds following the museum. Rock and roll shop, Beatles shop, Chess shop and lunch in Chinatown after stopping for just long enough for Tina to drop her iPhone, smash the screen and cut her thumb open on it.

 

I have finally gotten the hang of using chopsticks. Not well, but that’s something which will, I presume, come in time. It turns out that all I’ve needed over all these years was someone to show me how to do it instead of encouraging me to ask for a fork instead.

 

We made a quick stop off at the Forbidden Planet store on Shaftesbury Avenue, and rushed home so Tina could pick up her ticket and join the others for their Arcade Fire concert that night.

 

So, they all went out to that, and my own day ended with the movie Mickey Blue Eyes, playing on channel E4. Classic.

30/11/2010

It’s eight in the morning, and though I don’t usually write at this time of the day, I thought it best to write about this now. It’s snowing. I’ve never seen snow before (barring a passing glance out of a window for about three seconds or pictures and TV). It’s quite nice, and looks exactly like I expected. By employing my keen intelligence, I have noticed that it is easier to deal with from inside an apartment than outside. I still can’t feel my finger, which is becoming a cause for concern.

28/11/2010

The birthday of Tasman. Tina, Lucy and I got up early. Tina went to Camden to pick up Tas’ present, while Lucy and I traipsed miserably to Tesco’s to get ingredients for the cake and for his breakfast in bed.

 

I remember my grandfather telling me stories about being in England. One time in particular he told me about the experience of having hands so cold that when they were warmed inside, they stung. Having now had that feeling myself, there is a strong sense of identification with my grandfather (simply because he happened to be the one to tell me, I’m not under any illusions that this might be anything like a unique experience), and I know now what he meant when he said it felt like someone had been at his hands with a horsewhip. Oddly, after making the journey back with the shopping and warming my hands in the sink, I never regained feeling in my left ring finger. Strange.

 

Tasman’s breakfast in bed came as something of a surprise to him, particularly as it was served at lunch time on the couch, hours after he had gotten up. We all had eggs Florentine (courtesy of Tina), and watched one of my new favorite shows.

 

As far as I’m aware, we don’t have The Jeremy Kyle Show in Australia. It’s a tremendous pity. Basically it’s like taking Dr. Phil, removing his qualifications, and making him angrier. The satisfaction of watching the man yell at a guest who has come to the show expecting sympathy for being such a jerk is surprisingly satisfying.

 

Later we decided as a group to let Tasman decide where to have dinner. We settled on a pub between our flat and the tube station. The walk was peaceful (if painfully cold), until

 

Egged!

 

We were egged from a hole in the side of a building we were passing (probably a window). At least, that was the intent of our attackers. In actual fact, only Tina was egged (though she managed to score a spectacular own goal for our group by leaning eggily on both Lucy and myself before we reached the pub).

 

The pub itself was lovely indeed, we all had good meals, and we also opted for scrabble over the other forms of entertainment. The pubs scrabble set was more than a little dodgy, being partly comprised of pieces from classic ‘scrabble’, and partly from ‘junior scrabble’. The real disadvantage was that even this accounted for only about 47% of an actual scrabble set, so the game was tough. Everyone could see everyone else’s letters, and only about fifteen of the letters in the game were vowels, meaning that the game ended before the consonants ran out, but not before our patience. We retreated to the apartment for Lemon cake which we followed with the viewing of slapping contests on youtube while eating Banana and Coconut cake.

 

One other thing worth mentioning is that over the past few days, the bad cat (which is what we have taken to calling him) has become more and more daring in its encounters with us. It now frequently ventures out from under the bed, retreating only when it hears someone it can’t see or when it sees Lucy. An unfortunate side effect of this is that it is now vomiting over a less concentrated are than just under the bed, which is a nuisance.

 

27/11/2010

Lucy and I have been watching more Fry and Laurie than usual. Not a lot, but more than usual. The others have too, but not so much and only by virtue of the fact that they live in the same space as us. Makes me want to fall down in humorous ways a lot more.

 

Tina and I went to Deptford today. Attempts to get there to see their vintage market led us to Greenwich, right by the O2 arena. Which was lovely, but left us with no idea where to go, or how to get there. Basically the solution we came to (which seemed to work more by accident than by design) was to walk away from the Thames until we came to a bus stop, and hope the bus went where we wanted. With the aid of a map (which by the way should be more plentiful for precisely this reason, we tourists aren’t made of getting to where we want to go with no help), we eventually found a bus that did, and were on our way to Deptford!

 

As I remembered while walking down the high street, Deptford was the location of the flat which Dire Straits shared while making their first album, and the location of their first gig on the same estate in 1977. Some people may be interested to know this, others likely not. I didn’t have time to dwell on these thoughts because I suddenly had to deal with a ridiculous ATM which told me I had no money, then allowed me to withdraw 80 pounds.

 

The Market itself was largely people selling store products from tents, but there was a large square just off of the market street which was just full of second-hand junk, which is precisely what I think a market should be full of. Fantastic. There was also a section which smelt wonderfully of fish. Also fantastic, but in a harder way to appreciate.

 

Half of the two of us had lunch in a small restaurant based in a rail carriage, just off the high street. It was a very nice place with great service, and what Tina let me eat of her food tasted great. We stopped to pick up some soy milk, and made our way back to the bus stop. It was more or less at this point that I suggested we might try getting to Upton Park again. Tina kindly agreed.

 

Not wanting to pay for unnecessary travel, we opted to walk to the nearest Tube station. This meant quite a walk in the cold, but ultimately it proved to leave us with plenty of time, and save us some money. Good idea Tina.

 

Tubes ran fine, and we were at Upton park quite quickly, and met with a huge body of people. From the exit stairs, it was like looking at a sea of undulating skinheads and football scarves.

 

The crowd didn’t thin between the tube station and the football stadium, but once we were past there, it was a veritable wasteland. Of course after a brief stop in the store I wanted to visit, and another so Tina could buy a backpack (this was actually before passing the stadium, but I forgot to write it back there and then I started writing this, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to delete all of this and put it where it belongs) we followed the heavy stream of humans back into the tube station and made our way back home.