Thamesside Parkour

30 January 2009

Today’s Evening Standard Pic Of The Day was taken by a former work colleague of mine (and one of the loveliest Kentish Taarnars I know) and I had to share it with you…The kids were photographed doing Parkour by the River Thames…

Gotta love the Underground

29 January 2009

London Underground are, apparently, looking for love – stories of love. “Has someone on the Tube ever caught your eye? Did you take a chance on love and ask them out for a date? Did Cupid’s arrow strike and stick?”

Whether it’s a pre-valentines publicity stunt or a pre-redundancy love-in who knows, but some of the stories of Dave Hill’s blog have been particularly sweet, particularly the Guide Dog love story… (see comments section here – i have taken the liberty of copying the story below).

My favourite moment happened many years ago and would have been either the District Line or Hammersmith and City line as I got on at Aldgate East. There was a young blind woman seated with her guide dog in one of the seats that face each other. To the whole carriage’s delight a few stops further on a young blind man got on with his guide dog. We all watched with bated breath as the man’s guide dog made straight for the other guide dog, forgetting its professional deameanour in much waggy joy and forcing the blind man to sit opposite the woman who said ‘oh, is it another guide dog?’ and they started a conversation. There was a collective romantic sigh before the usual hustle and bustle started up again. But I like to think that a true romance or friendship blossomed from that meeting.

This slightly sickeningly-sweet story – much more so that Alan Hollighurst’s alternative ‘love’ on the Underground in The Swimming Pool Library(which I won’t go into detail on this blog but is far more lust than love, as you may be able to work out from the rather racey wikipedia entry linked above).

I’ve never had any such experiences myself, sadly. I guess the five- or ten-minute commute from central London to Camden town is not far enough to make lasting eye-contact and relationships on a crowded carriage, particularly when snugly nuzzled against the armpit of a businessman holding the grabrail above my head, as it often the case. But on a cramped underground railway carrying about three million people a day you can’t always help getting cosy with the person next to you – i guess the lesson is, if you possibly can, choose carefully who that may be…

links for 2009-01-27

27 January 2009
  • For years, napping has been derided as a sign of laziness. We are "caught" napping or "found asleep at the switch". But lately it has garnered new respect, thanks to scientific evidence that midday dozing benefits both mental acuity and overall health. A slew of recent studies have shown that naps boost alertness, creativity, mood, and productivity… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
  • The beginning of the end for West End clubbing… The history of Soho as a place to be and be seen, a place for fun and entertainment… but… why? Is it all market forces, unsuitable venues or the overly restrictive licensing policies of Westminster council which say that – although it's the bohemian capital of London – Soho's a residential area and – rather than choosing to more proactively manage and utilise the gay entertainment industry in particular – decide to kill off the historic entertainment centre of central London and the gay community?

links for 2009-01-26

26 January 2009

Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race! (Burns Night)

25 January 2009

25 January is Burns Night, the celebration of Scottish poet Rabbie Burns. The “king of sentimental doggerel” wrote such famous odes as A Red Red Rose, To A Mouse and Johnie Lad, Cock Up Your Beaver (which apparently is about Johnie wearing a hat). Arguably though he’s most well known for tonight’s Address to a Haggis.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

This year, 250th anniversary of Burns’s birth, the Scottish First Minister has instigated homecoming year, encouraging people to “come home, to the ‘birthplace of valour, the country of worth’“. I have an unexplored Scots heritage: my Grandmother, who died in 2007, was a Fraser. Maybe I’ll take up the challenge and go to Scotland for the first time since a short trip I took to Glasgow over ten years ago.

Tonight is a night for celebration of everything Scotch. Being a vegetarian, though, Haggis doesn’t have quite the same appeal (despite vegetarian immitations being available) as for those meat eaters.

For those who don’t know, the Haggis, of course, is a small four legged creature found in the Highlands of Scotland. The legs on one side of the creature are smaller than those on the other, which means they can only run one way around a hill. One species has longer left legs, the other longer right legs: so while one goes clockwise around hills the other goes anticlockwise around them. The two species coexist peacefully, but cannot interbreed. Over time, therefore, the leg-length differences have become more marked. Haggis are hunted in the wild, particularly during Haggis season, culminating in Burns Night tonight.

To all those who will celebrate Burns tonight, in whatever way, enjoy the Haggis, the Whisky and maybe I’ll see you in Scotland this year.

Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

Tweet Tweet

24 January 2009

I recently discovered that London tweets more than any other city… The ‘micro-blogging’ phenomenon which lets you tell people what you’re doing in 140 characters or less has become well known in media-circles and was utilised by Barack Obama in the run up to the US election, by British stars such as Stephen Fry (whose tweets are particularly amusing) and even by 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson (from a boat, no less)… and me… (a friend of mine has more twitter background here if you’re interested). It’s a way to tell people what you’re doing, where you are and can be used to post to this blog, if I wanted, or update my Facebook status (for example) by sending a text message/SMS without actually having to be online…

It’s also become – like Facebook – a social networking tool which is used by companies, such as Aleksander Orlov from (are we getting a little too off the wall here? The Meerkat founder of a website allegedly oft-confused with a famous insurance comparison website sending tweets?). He even sent me a personal message saying “Many thank yous for kind follow.I spend long time finding best meerkat and hope you enjoy website.I look forward to internet speakings!Aleks” (who on earth has the job of doing that?!)…

It’s also a source of news itself – or at least news breaking – sending an SMS/text message update while seeing a plane crashing into a river, or the like, will always announce what happened to the world faster than any news wire could ever be. And when it’s not a source of news it’s providing comments on it, such as the concern over Huw Edwards freezing during the Presidential Inauguration this week.

Long live twitter!

Flying South

23 January 2009

So last Friday, after leaving a job I’d been doing for 5 1/2 years I went on a short holiday for some winter sun. Well, I had some time off work so thought, why not! It was the kind of holiday I’d never had one to go on before. Three hen parties, lots of young families and the odd gay boy flying with EasyJet to Las Palmas airport in Gran Canaria with us.

We had an “oh my gosh I’m on the kind of holiday parents take” moment, you know, when you arrive at the airport, hire a car and drive to the coastal resort to pick up the keys for your accommodation. It was certainly not like my normal holidays which more often involve a train or bus from the airport for a city break.

We stayed in Playa del Ingles which, in itself, is multiple holiday destinations: the hen parties and ‘lads’ holidays, families, gays and hundreds of snowbirds – though these were mostly older German couples there for a quite some time.

The beach though was amazing, the dunes great to walk over, and the weather warm (not hot, but warm) and hot when the sun was clear. We also spent a day driving inland – well worth doing if you ever find yourself on holiday in Gran Canaira… Amazing scenery although scary roads (narrow, mountainous, winding and with large coaches driving in the opposite direction). We drove to Fataga and San Bartholomew.

Of course, returning to London after six days was quite a shock, cold, wet and rainy – a months worth of rain fell in just 12 hours yesterday. Despite how much I love living in London, and how much I wouldn’t want to live in Gran Canaria, it does sometimes make me whether somewhere warmer would be more enjoyable – perhaps I’ll become a snowbird myself… Or perhaps I’ll just keep hoping – as usual – that we get some kind of summer in London this year. And if not then I’ll keep my promise to myself to go to South America next winter…

At least after all my wisdom tooth problems I can start to eat properly again and, even better, cook properly! Now I have to start preparing for my new job… an exciting task ahead of me

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