Thursday, 24 April 2014

Crossing the river

If you have to cross the river as part of the commute there's nothing better than doing that above ground - over one of the many bridges. This morning i rode the train from St Pancras and it took me over Blackfriars Bridge - part of the new station. Sun dappled the Thames sparkling brightly. The view east included the Millenium footbridge straddled with people walking, and London Bridge with Canary Wharf and her cronies misty shadows as a backdrop. I tried to ignore the awful walkie-talkie building. Monstrosities like that, which take up more air room than their footprint on the ground, shouldn't be allowed - they flout the aesthetic rules for skyscrapers with blatent disregard - and the only fun thing about them (the concave surface focussing sunrays into such powerful light that they can melt jaguar cars) having to be fixed to save the wrath of the banker wankers who may want to park outside them. South london train journeys are above ground which gives a great view of London going past - its mesh of new, victorian and older. And a totally empty train which is a commuting revelation. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


When will the Hoxton Beard thing be over? On the train on the way to work there were two men both with impeccably well groomed hair - short back and sides, slicked quiffs - sporting short beards (trimmed over the upper lip and cut to an even length all over). The beards not really matching the hair for grooming, despite there clearly being work done on them. Not enough work done on the lower neck below the beard line however, stubbly, unattended growth. Not keen on the way the whiskers look around the lips. 

Off the train in Peckham there was a man with the same haircut but a proper full-on long beard - hiding at least half his face, growing length well below the chin, fanning out like it had been brushed. 

This is a look like lumberjacks from the 1930s. It seems inappropriate in the same way range rovers do in the city. What are all these young men hiding from? Or do they think we will be impressed with their hair growing prowess? I'm not averse to a bit of stubble, or even a bit of a goatee. But these big square jaw beards in all shades of brown and orange and white are quite unattractive. And sometimes are just odd when teamed with a waxed mustache or pulled out into strange shapes. It doesnt even seem to be a lazy perspective of not being bothered to shave because there is still quite a bit of looking after to be done.  

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Pub games

Never been very good at pub games - crap at pool, bit of a danger at darts, dont know how to play bar billiards. Used to play Mortal Kombat in the Vibe bar in Brick Lane but was rubbish at it. Was in the Grafton Arms yesterday and apparently they have car racing video games in the urinals (i've been reliably informed, evidenced by pictures of said game not in use). The controls are in tne bowl - hit this spot at the back to go left and this other spot to the right to go right. I was very intrigued to see it but didn't know any man well enough to go in and have a look... And it doesnt seem to be a good idea to ask for film evidence of it in use - men pissing in public tend not to watch so i hear. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


Today the sun is breaking through the crispy white clouds to warm a chilly april day. The rays are so bright passing the glass of the cafe window i have had to take off my glasses to allow my eyes to deal with the light unhindered. The Shard is looming over the street with a glinting sunspot harshly flashing off one of its fascias. People walk up and down the street, fetching lunch, looking about, taking in the daylight. I think of people who are not here right now. Wonder what their day is bringing them. Concern, and hope for good things. I prolong the agony of having to go back to the battery-hen open plan office. So much grey utilitarian desking. So few people of interest. So little colour and spark. Like so much mud to wade through. Maybe it's time to wear red. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Words i learned this week

So i do a bit of pinterest pinning: collecting visual stimulation into groups. Lots of ceramics, photos of the human body that i might eventually draw, quotes and stuff. I learned some new words this way this week. Words that seek to explain or describe aspects of my psyche that i didn't realise had names. 

Sehnsucht (pronounced zEn-'zukt)
"The unconsolable longing in the human heart for we know-not-what"; a yearning for a far, familiar, non-earthly land one identifies as home. 

I didn't know there was a word for this ache - i have it most of the time - particularly when there is not enough stimulation in my life. Bails says she doesn't understand my craving for excitement - she thought i would grow out of it and is suprised that i havent so far. But this is how sehnsucht manifests itself in me, an urge for something more, more than i have, more than I'm experiencing, more, just more. I fear i live a boring life. I don't want it to be dangerous or scary but more eventful and perhaps slightly debauched. Less routine. See more things. I think that might be why i am drawn to people who are edgy. And why i get itchy feet when i've been in London too long without a break. Im currently dreaming of selling everything and taking myself around the world to see if i can find what it is that the heart desires. 

Love of darkness or night; finding relaxation or comfort in darkness. 

I first felt this when i was a child and we drove into Exeter at 2am. Something thrilling about the street lights flashing past the rear window of the car. I didn't know that would become a stimulation in later life. A second wind comes to me frequently after dark, things are more exciting then, in the city anyway. Something in the darkness allows a release that daylight confines. I dont think I have done enough in life to harness this to its most advantage. 

The overwhelming desire to kiss. 

I love kissing. There are people who you know without testing will be good at it. Something about the set of their mouth, or an arch of eyebrow (not that there is any correlation but when a man has good eyebrows they are generally ok - perhaps its just something about attraction). Sometimes its a test of will not to kiss someone, even a stranger - I get that sometimes on the way to work on the tube. Crushed in, focused only on a small fraction of the face - not staring. Then there are times with people known to you where the time or setting makes it inappropriate and that is a harder-still test of will. But it is no longer attractive to snog furiously in public (at my grand age I really dont want to look like middle-aged desperately clinging to youth). I remember a night bus journey home from Leicester square to Enfield Town where the man and i didnt draw breathe once. The thrills of youth. All in the past. But its the worst part about the complacency of a lengthening relationship - less kissing, and less passionately.