Thursday, 31 May 2007


Strolling through the Southbank yesterday starting spotting the Gormley sculptures standing looking towards the exhibition. Lots of interest on the street and photographers crawling all over the place.

Reviews haven't been good though - Brian Sewell (Standard) and Laura Coming in the Guardian both spoke of his mega-ego, repetativeness and laziness (churning out same old same old).

I think the gorms standing on buildings around the southbank register with public because they are recognisable, and designed to be spotted. People like a little challenge (i.e. they like to feel they have risen to the challenge - so it shouldn't be too hard to get). It reminded me sort of the opening credits of Prisoner where it sort of spun around looking for who was watching you. Popular because of its ability mimic popular culture. The men are all watching the Hayward Gallery (because thats where the exhibition is, stupid). Pointing in the direction you should be going. Boyfiend said they looked like they were about to commit suicide. I haven't yet been to the exhibition but I do quite like his sculptures that are in the public domain - you come across them periodically leaning head to head through a huge plate glass window or leaning on a building's wall in Hoxton. We are surrounded by public art which has little impact on us as we pass in a bus or walk from the tube to a restuaruant. Better these than the old graniose statues of soldiers standing severely on plinths. These are the kinds of objects that you start to have a relationship with just because of familiarity. This is presumably why people campaigned to keep the ones on the Crosby coast - little pieces of everyday art that they like because of their familiarity. They work in situ placed on a human level, unnecessary to be intellectualised or charged with the artist's bullshit in order to be understood. Popular art. Not ever considered good by the establishment but popular with the populace. Perhaps the critics would like it better if he didn't try to put some greater, deeper meaning to it all.

I quite like the men standing on all the buildings, across the river, far and wide. I like them as well as I like the crowd of people in Broadgate, that tricked the boyfriend the first time he saw them (momentarily thought they were real), and the videodrome style floor of one fo the courtyards, or the big steel pod-like thing I see off the number 12 as it comes round the roundabout onto Westminster Bridge (never been close enough to find out who made it or what its called). They make the urban landscape more interesting and lively. But it isn't great art in the sense that you have a real emotional reaction to it.

Flickr photostream of some of the gorms.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Smoke gets in your eyes...

And in your lungs and throat and ... News that another of my dad's friends has cancer. A smoker and drinker. The numbers of them is creeping up.

There was a heavy smoking woman who worked for him. Smoking was allowed in offices then. So presumably more got smoked. There was a friend and colleague more recently, a smoker, but not sure if a heavy smoker. Given six months to live and slowly, or maybe six months is actually rapidly, came to death with a remarkable acceptance and composure. There was a close friend from America.

The common aspect of it is that death by lung cancer is painful. And takes you early. The latest one isn't lung cancer, its in the throat.

Somehow its hard not to link smoking and cancer. Obviously when people are young and start smoking they are at an age when death is an abstract thing. The simple pleasures seen as naughty grown-up vices. And yet they are storing up trouble for their late-middle age. My parents' generation are becoming the proof of it.

Personally I'm looking forward to the ban on smoking in public places.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Bus Journey

One man talks to another. 1st man has a big bag that he keeps pressing against my bottom in an entirely accidental but totally annoying way because it is bigger and more unwieldy than he can manage. He's talking to a man in a very manoeuverable wheelchair who looks like he's recovering from eye-lift surgery. His eye lids are gently bruised - yellow and palest mauve rather than darkly purple and there are stitches in arhces over his eyebrows. They're chatting about how easy it is to ride the bus in a wheelchair. Eye-lift man is saying mostly the buses are very good - particularly the bendy ones like this one. Bagman then asks what he used to do. He used to be a banker working in the city until he was made redundant 13 years ago.

Eye-lift man gets off by Stoke Newington. Bag man leans over to chat to a woman. I decide he isn't out of control of his bag, he just doesn't have a concept of personal space. He makes the woman converse with him by asking lots of questions. She's slightly trapped in the corner and obliges only because she can't really do anything else. She gets off at Stamford Hill, glad to get away.

I look out of the window - a carload of lovelies (small yellow susuki with 5 girls dressed in shiny spangled sequined dresses, hair piled up or tong curled) crosses the lights and attempts a U-turn that isn't sharp enough and ends up 3-point turning on the high road. They zoom off after holding up a line of cars.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007


Either my tongue is much more sensitive or they didn't make sweets in the 70s that were quite so aggresive as the replicas they make now. My sister sent me a couple of swizzel lollies (orange and white, sort of solid and slightly sherberty). Sucking one this evening has made my tongue bleed. Bleed. Its supposed to be a pleasure. This is sort of like torture. And I kind of can't stop.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Karaoke BBQ

I'm mowing my lawn (a weekly chore that I keep up since my neighbour asked me when I was going to do it - the previous owner being very pleased with his lawn and all, personally I would have a planted slower growing variety) and raking to the strains (and I do mean strains) of some neighbours behind my garden having a karaoke bbq. I've never heard so many massacres of the power ballads, love songs and wedding favourites. We've had flat renditions of I am a woman in love, dream dream dream dream, daydream believer, I will survive (sung unusually by a man), hello is it me you're looking for, say you say me..., amongst others, and some almost unrecognisable versions of things sung by extremely poor singers with equally poor pronounciation. The russian neighbours two doors down my street are competing with euro techno. And we reach the end of another ballad - the crescendo into the big final chorus (a screech and missed high note). Its really not enhancing the lovely evening.
A View

In this view of the city the Tower of London is hidden behind Tower Bridge. London is growing to look unlike itself. A tangle of glass, metal and marble - not all of it good. The skyline is rising and changing. Gherkin is huge but seems less imposing because of its shape. The once massive Nat West Tower is being joined in height and stature by other less attractive, prominent and bland tall buildings. One of my old favourites - the Lloyds Building - is dwarfed, its blue cranes no longer visible above its neighbours. Wouldn't be so bad if there was something good but mostly its the naughties equivalent of those 60s office blocks that have been torn down. Cheap. Quick. Ugly. Disposable.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

On the Line

Setting off home from Stockwell today hoping to catch the Victoria Line they announced as I walked into the station that the line was suspended in both directions due to a person on the line at Green Park. I wasn't aware of ever hearing this blatant truism before, other lines I've travelled on would refer to it as passenger action. Perhaps the people of the Victoria Line are deemed to be better able to handle the truth than the conservative (small c) and possibly highly strung city workers who frequent the Northern Line. I've only recently started travelling by the Victoria Line regularly recently. I'm going to have to listen to the announcements more carefully to test the theory...

Monday, 14 May 2007

Birthday Cake

Here is a cake. A birthday cake. A 37th (oh my gad, I can't believe I'm that old) birthday cake. The first cake made in my new oven (had it since last November but never had the cause to bake in it as yet). Its not temperamental, and as a result I over cooked it. It was actually slightly burned on the edges, sort of. However by the time it had whipped cream sandwiched between the sponge and jam between the sponge and the cream and butter icing with strawberries on top glazed with rose jelly and shavings of chocolate nobody even noticed.

The WHOLE thing got eaten in almost one sitting - enough people were round for a non-BBQ (rained off, grilled sausages instead) that everybody got a thin slice each and that was just about it.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Ceramics Class

Good news - the college has reprieved the ceramics department from closure at the end of term (big campaign, lots of complaints letters).

Anyway we continue our aim of making pots using crank to be used in raku firings (summer term is a good time to do firings outside using real fire - exciting).

Lacking some inspiration I started making something added frills and then hated it. Encouraged by the classmates I squeezed it. So I give you the resulting Ugly Pot.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

New Office New Journey Home

78 bus through Bermondsey past antique shops, past the Cat and Cucumber cafe that I always saw off the train when I used to work in Lewisham several moons ago, and over Tower Bridge. Past Tower of London much less imposing in its modern surroundings than it probably was in its day as royal palace and then jail for traitors.

Around to Aldgate - a part of town that I seldom have cause to visit - and onto Liverpool Street. Past the juxtaposition that Spitalfields has become - the old buildings with narrow windows and red bricks next to the painfully modern glass buildings built with impossible narrow angles like shards of glass or blades of knives and ones in the process of being built boasting of their soon-to-be space, views, dynamic office space.

Then onto the brick railway bridges by Brick Lane. The tea for two building with its arrow and then the trendily shabby shops and bars of Old Street. Often dark and unassuming with suprising wares (70's retro, chandeliers) and services (Prick Tattoo, Sh! women's sex shop).

Change buses at Shoreditch church. Travelling up Kingsland Road past old haunts (used to love to while away saturday night at Herbal - drink, dance, listen to music). Watch trendy young people - their skinning jeans and 70s dresses with smocking, ruffles, bold prints, and asymmetric hair cuts and patches of colour. Tres cool.

The nondescript road turns into Dalston. Centreprise cafe gallery its 30s styled sign coming out from the building. The Rio cinema where I once studied Tape Slide & made a sort of animated film from poems and pictures. Ridley Road market covered in cabbage leaves. Used to pop by on our way from somewhere to home late at night for bagels and cream cheese. Customers drunk and enjoying the food and warmth and yellow glow spilling onto the street corner. An oasis of activity in the cold dark.

Beyond. Getting ever deeper north we arrive at the familiar territory of Stoke Newington. Yum Yum's and Abney Road Cemetery. After the Bird Cage and the new dagenham motor showroom it turns into Stamford Hill. Large estates and big run down houses, Hebrew schools, synagogues and a library which is shut on Saturday but open on Sunday. Men with big beaver hats, long black coats and white stockings. Women with bad wigs and girls in sensible shoes and calf length skirts. There's a new public toilet. Round with cubicle doors all round the outside - perhaps 10 of them. Built by popular demand from older residents tired of being caught short at the shops. Newsworthy due to its status as the cheapest doss house in town, discovered by homeless migrant polish and eastern block construction workers who stay overnight for 20p, sleep on the floor, get up, wash and go to work.

Whizzing past the huge brick St Ignatius Catholic Church, grotty pubs of South Tottenham and along to Seven Sisters. Neve sure which are the actual Seven Sisters trees b ut I know they are here somewhere. Onwards to everyday territory along the home stretch of Tottenham High Road.

New office, new journey home. New enough not to have jaded my vision.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Tube Porn

A woman on the tube is being surrepticiously filmed by a man. What a perv I was thinking as he aimed his video cam at her from his lap. She was flushed and sleeping. Smiling. Head occassionally dropping and her jerking it back up. Never opened her eyes though. She had a ladder in the knee of her tights. When he stood up and filmed in her face the woman sitting next to her gauped in astonishment and laughed. Pervy man smiled at her astonishment. And then panned down to the woman's chest, and slowly back up. Her head went back, right back, exposing her long neck and pushing it forward. Her eyes seemed to be rolling back in her head - eye whites momentarily visible through a crack in her eyelids. Still the grin. Very slight barely perceptible tremours in her shoulders and upper body.

I decided this was a set up. A porn video for one of those "secretly filmed" websites. And it all stopped being pervy and seemed extremely seedy instead. Felt a bit unsavoury witnessing it first thing in the morning on a rush hour tube. Pervy man then seemed smug, rather pleased with himself, especially attracting the attentions of the woman next door to his star.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Ceramics Class

Finally the frill pot came out of the glaze firing. White crackle (nice smmooth) with red under glaze tips.