rhythmaning: (whisky)
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a pub in the West End I’d never been to before. There are lots of pubs in the West End, of course, and I haven’t been to most of them, so that shouldn’t be too surprising.

The gathering was organised by a teetotaller, though, so that she should find such a great dive – in the best sense of the word – is a little surprising. (OK, I think she had some prompting, but hey…) And this pub, a tiny place that the ten or so people who turned up managed to pack out (the regulars didn’t seem to mind – they just moved to the bar and took the piss in a very friendly manner each time we went to the bar), had a really great juke box. This juke box was full of vinyl 45s – sorry, that is so shocking I have to say it again - full of vinyl 45s dating back to the late 70s and 80s. It was brilliant: like being back in college again.

And I took a few photographs (with a new camera I bought a couple of days before)…

DSC_0055
A few more pictures behind the cut… )

rhythmaning: (sunset)
Yesterday, I met up with [livejournal.com profile] coughingbear and [livejournal.com profile] hano and we went to Dennis Severs’ House in Folgate St. in Spitalfields. It is a curious part of London: a mixture of city steel-and-glass skyscrapers and Georgian brick houses. I used to work nearby, twenty years ago, and had had to visit for work much more recently; it is strange revisiting old haunts. I was prompted to go to Severs’ house by [livejournal.com profile] tubewhore, who had been very taken by it.

It is a strange building; I found it intriguing and fascinating, but also irritating. The irritation stemmed from a certain kind of preciousness – I described it as po-faced yesterday: a desire to play games – that it wasn’t a museum but instead and installation.

It is a multilayered experience. Severs lived in the house from the late sixties until he died in 1999. He recreated the house, each room taking a different historical style; and the conceit is that the occupants have just left.

It is crammed full of interesting objects – letters, paintings, drapery, everything; but people.

But Severs lived in the house like this: no electric lights (candle only), no heating, no plumbing. Part of the interest stems from the conceit, then; but part also from thinking about Severs’ life – at both high (why?!) and low (how?!!!) levels. No loo or bath, for instance – I mean, really, how? How could it be cleaned? Was it cleaned – were the spiders’ webs real or fake? How did they stop the candles setting fire to the drapes?

(I was reminded of when I was first househunting in Edinburgh; I saw a Georgian flat that had been lovingly restored. It was beautiful: amazing floors and fireplaces. But of course, no central heating. Which I would have wanted to put in. I didn’t buy the flat…)

This felt a bit the same, except that it was stuffed to the gunwales with objects and furniture.

Some of the rooms needed a lot of attention (that may have been deliberate – the crumbling walls may have been period detail rather than signs of collapse); the plaster falling away, exposing the wall behind.

But it was also very interesting. The detail was engrossing. I liked the kitchen best – the food looked very edible. The cat was cute, too (as [livejournal.com profile] hano pointed out, they must need to keep the mice down one way or another). There wre Christmas decorations all over – and several references to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

I don’t know if it was an installation, and interactive artwork, or a museum. I feel pretty certain that had the same pieces been displayed in glass cases, I wouldn’t have felt curious or intrigued. But the installations of a similar nature – the Dark Pool by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, for instance – grabbed me more; I went back once more to look at the Dark Pool today in Oxford, out of curiosity to see how it stood up after the grand design of Severs’ art, and it was more interesting – because you could really interact: in Severs’ house there were notices telling you not to touch the objects.

Still, it was a wonderful experience: a slice of history – well, several slices – a look at life; and a chance to wonder; and thank God – or Faraday, at least – for electricity…
rhythmaning: (sunset)
Yesterday, I met up with [livejournal.com profile] coughingbear and [livejournal.com profile] hano and we went to Dennis Severs’ House in Folgate St. in Spitalfields. It is a curious part of London: a mixture of city steel-and-glass skyscrapers and Georgian brick houses. I used to work nearby, twenty years ago, and had had to visit for work much more recently; it is strange revisiting old haunts. I was prompted to go to Severs’ house by [livejournal.com profile] tubewhore, who had been very taken by it.

It is a strange building; I found it intriguing and fascinating, but also irritating. The irritation stemmed from a certain kind of preciousness – I described it as po-faced yesterday: a desire to play games – that it wasn’t a museum but instead and installation.

It is a multilayered experience. Severs lived in the house from the late sixties until he died in 1999. He recreated the house, each room taking a different historical style; and the conceit is that the occupants have just left.

It is crammed full of interesting objects – letters, paintings, drapery, everything; but people.

But Severs lived in the house like this: no electric lights (candle only), no heating, no plumbing. Part of the interest stems from the conceit, then; but part also from thinking about Severs’ life – at both high (why?!) and low (how?!!!) levels. No loo or bath, for instance – I mean, really, how? How could it be cleaned? Was it cleaned – were the spiders’ webs real or fake? How did they stop the candles setting fire to the drapes?

(I was reminded of when I was first househunting in Edinburgh; I saw a Georgian flat that had been lovingly restored. It was beautiful: amazing floors and fireplaces. But of course, no central heating. Which I would have wanted to put in. I didn’t buy the flat…)

This felt a bit the same, except that it was stuffed to the gunwales with objects and furniture.

Some of the rooms needed a lot of attention (that may have been deliberate – the crumbling walls may have been period detail rather than signs of collapse); the plaster falling away, exposing the wall behind.

But it was also very interesting. The detail was engrossing. I liked the kitchen best – the food looked very edible. The cat was cute, too (as [livejournal.com profile] hano pointed out, they must need to keep the mice down one way or another). There wre Christmas decorations all over – and several references to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

I don’t know if it was an installation, and interactive artwork, or a museum. I feel pretty certain that had the same pieces been displayed in glass cases, I wouldn’t have felt curious or intrigued. But the installations of a similar nature – the Dark Pool by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, for instance – grabbed me more; I went back once more to look at the Dark Pool today in Oxford, out of curiosity to see how it stood up after the grand design of Severs’ art, and it was more interesting – because you could really interact: in Severs’ house there were notices telling you not to touch the objects.

Still, it was a wonderful experience: a slice of history – well, several slices – a look at life; and a chance to wonder; and thank God – or Faraday, at least – for electricity…

All Souls

Nov. 3rd, 2008 05:34 pm
rhythmaning: (bottle)
I had dinner at All Souls. I hadn’t had dinner at “high table” for many, many years; and All Souls only has high table.

It was all slightly weird: lots of servants being rather obsequious, which doesn’t naturally fall within my comfort zone. The whole thing – the very grand setting, the portraits (famous scientists and politicians were the ones I recognised), the servants – made me think of a meal in Gormenghast, or perhaps something out of His Dark Materials.

I sat between my friend and an ancient historian. (She was quite young herself.) Indeed, most of the people there seemed to be ancient historians. She wasn’t particularly chatty, but since my friend was talking to the person on her right – who taught her when she was an undergraduate (she wasn’t sure if he remembered!) – I pushed ahead with a conversation.

Her speciality was twelfth century France (though I guess it wasn’t called France at that point), and much more specifically, the legal basis for various wars that were fought. Knowing nothing about twelfth century France, let alone the legal basis for wars, this was a which seam of conversation and was rather interesting.

She hailed from the mid-west, so we talked about the States, too.

The food was good-ish – chicken breast stuffed with brie (although they seemed to have forgotten the brie in mine, which suited me perfectly) - the wine, better (a 1999 Jaboulet – I can’t remember the specific provenance).

I was a little confused because my friend had said we wouldn’t stay for dessert, so I was thinking we would leave before pudding, but we didn’t. This was good, the pudding being baked pears soaked in some kind of alcohol.

We went to another, much more homely, room for coffee, where we talked with another ancient historian, this one on loan from a university in Paris. Her topic was fascinating – basically, the information systems in place following the collapse of the Roman Empire, and more specifically, how did Christianity manage to (more or less) maintain its integrity rather than collapse into a myriad of cults. (It goes without saying that I know nothing of ancient information systems or early Christianity – I know bugger all about Christianity period aside from thinking medieval cathedrals are beautiful, awe inspiring things.) This was fascinating; her view was it all came down to gossip – the ancient version of Facebook…

I was looking for the port, thinking this might be quite special, when my friend made moves to leave. It turns out dessert is port and a bit more food – but tends towards the pompous if there aren’t a lot of guests, which is why she wanted to skip it.

So we went off to play with her family and, particularly, their kittens, instead.

All Souls

Nov. 3rd, 2008 05:34 pm
rhythmaning: (bottle)
I had dinner at All Souls. I hadn’t had dinner at “high table” for many, many years; and All Souls only has high table.

It was all slightly weird: lots of servants being rather obsequious, which doesn’t naturally fall within my comfort zone. The whole thing – the very grand setting, the portraits (famous scientists and politicians were the ones I recognised), the servants – made me think of a meal in Gormenghast, or perhaps something out of His Dark Materials.

I sat between my friend and an ancient historian. (She was quite young herself.) Indeed, most of the people there seemed to be ancient historians. She wasn’t particularly chatty, but since my friend was talking to the person on her right – who taught her when she was an undergraduate (she wasn’t sure if he remembered!) – I pushed ahead with a conversation.

Her speciality was twelfth century France (though I guess it wasn’t called France at that point), and much more specifically, the legal basis for various wars that were fought. Knowing nothing about twelfth century France, let alone the legal basis for wars, this was a which seam of conversation and was rather interesting.

She hailed from the mid-west, so we talked about the States, too.

The food was good-ish – chicken breast stuffed with brie (although they seemed to have forgotten the brie in mine, which suited me perfectly) - the wine, better (a 1999 Jaboulet – I can’t remember the specific provenance).

I was a little confused because my friend had said we wouldn’t stay for dessert, so I was thinking we would leave before pudding, but we didn’t. This was good, the pudding being baked pears soaked in some kind of alcohol.

We went to another, much more homely, room for coffee, where we talked with another ancient historian, this one on loan from a university in Paris. Her topic was fascinating – basically, the information systems in place following the collapse of the Roman Empire, and more specifically, how did Christianity manage to (more or less) maintain its integrity rather than collapse into a myriad of cults. (It goes without saying that I know nothing of ancient information systems or early Christianity – I know bugger all about Christianity period aside from thinking medieval cathedrals are beautiful, awe inspiring things.) This was fascinating; her view was it all came down to gossip – the ancient version of Facebook…

I was looking for the port, thinking this might be quite special, when my friend made moves to leave. It turns out dessert is port and a bit more food – but tends towards the pompous if there aren’t a lot of guests, which is why she wanted to skip it.

So we went off to play with her family and, particularly, their kittens, instead.
rhythmaning: (cat)
I woke up early and gazed at the cathedral in the dawn, and then slept some more.

When I finally got up, I was still unsteady on my feet. I walked around the cathedral, staring at the ceiling. It was astounding beautiful.

My ongoing confusion about charges to see around cathedrals was – well, ongoing: there was no charge at Bristol to either look or take pictures. Instead, I left a contribution: I had to go to the shop to get change, and the woman behind the cash desk expressed surprise and thanks when I gave five pounds; I didn’t think it was much for the hour or so I spent wandering around.

I had lunch, and then went back and dozed for the afternoon; then I showered and walked back to G.’s: a mutual friend, an old schoolfriend of mine – and his wife and three children – were visiting from New Zealand (the large number of visitors – not least children – explains why I was in a hotel rather than staying chez G.!) Children were paraded, adults sat around talking – there was a lot of talk of dying, or, more correctly, its aftermath: grief, emotions, and how people work through it.

A lot of wine was drunk – including by me, so I must have been feeling a lot better (though I also drank gallons of water – as if I were flushing something out of my system).

It was a very good evening, surrounded by old friends. I really must visit New Zealand again! Now that would be a good trip…
rhythmaning: (cat)
I woke up early and gazed at the cathedral in the dawn, and then slept some more.

When I finally got up, I was still unsteady on my feet. I walked around the cathedral, staring at the ceiling. It was astounding beautiful.

My ongoing confusion about charges to see around cathedrals was – well, ongoing: there was no charge at Bristol to either look or take pictures. Instead, I left a contribution: I had to go to the shop to get change, and the woman behind the cash desk expressed surprise and thanks when I gave five pounds; I didn’t think it was much for the hour or so I spent wandering around.

I had lunch, and then went back and dozed for the afternoon; then I showered and walked back to G.’s: a mutual friend, an old schoolfriend of mine – and his wife and three children – were visiting from New Zealand (the large number of visitors – not least children – explains why I was in a hotel rather than staying chez G.!) Children were paraded, adults sat around talking – there was a lot of talk of dying, or, more correctly, its aftermath: grief, emotions, and how people work through it.

A lot of wine was drunk – including by me, so I must have been feeling a lot better (though I also drank gallons of water – as if I were flushing something out of my system).

It was a very good evening, surrounded by old friends. I really must visit New Zealand again! Now that would be a good trip…
rhythmaning: (sunset)
In the last week, I have had a great time. I have also been a little, weirdly, ill.

I…
  • drove down to Bristol, rushing down the A701 through hills and heather, to get caught in a long traffic jam on the M6
  • lost all adequate sense of balance, whilst sober, leading me to collapse to the right
  • spent an evening and a morning in bed, lest I fall over
  • spent a good couple of days in the company of old friends
  • visited two cathedrals – one in Bristol, one in Oxford
  • went to the Tudor House and Bristol City Museum, where I looked at glass and silver and dinosaurs and pianos (all at the same time!)
  • wandered through the stones of Avebury, my heart breaking
  • found some old, fascinating family history
  • had dinner at All Souls with A. and lunch at Blackwell’s with [livejournal.com profile] white_hart (a bit dangerous, I thought, meeting in a bookshop…)
  • finally saw the Killing Machine, “a theatrical meditation on capital punishment, inspired by Franz Kafka’s In the Penal Colony”, which wasn’t working the last three times I tried to see it
  • drove up the east coast back to Edinburgh
  • sopped off for a few hours at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where I have meant to visit for many, many years; it was brilliant, wonderful, and I had a really good time. Lunch was good, too…


I took 325 photographs; so over the next few weeks, I may even write about all this a little bit more.
rhythmaning: (sunset)
In the last week, I have had a great time. I have also been a little, weirdly, ill.

I…
  • drove down to Bristol, rushing down the A701 through hills and heather, to get caught in a long traffic jam on the M6
  • lost all adequate sense of balance, whilst sober, leading me to collapse to the right
  • spent an evening and a morning in bed, lest I fall over
  • spent a good couple of days in the company of old friends
  • visited two cathedrals – one in Bristol, one in Oxford
  • went to the Tudor House and Bristol City Museum, where I looked at glass and silver and dinosaurs and pianos (all at the same time!)
  • wandered through the stones of Avebury, my heart breaking
  • found some old, fascinating family history
  • had dinner at All Souls with A. and lunch at Blackwell’s with [livejournal.com profile] white_hart (a bit dangerous, I thought, meeting in a bookshop…)
  • finally saw the Killing Machine, “a theatrical meditation on capital punishment, inspired by Franz Kafka’s In the Penal Colony”, which wasn’t working the last three times I tried to see it
  • drove up the east coast back to Edinburgh
  • sopped off for a few hours at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where I have meant to visit for many, many years; it was brilliant, wonderful, and I had a really good time. Lunch was good, too…


I took 325 photographs; so over the next few weeks, I may even write about all this a little bit more.
rhythmaning: (bottle)
My mother’s funeral was more than a week ago; there were lots of things I wanted to say about it, but I am not sure if I can remember them all. It might still be too soon.
Read more... )
rhythmaning: (bottle)
My mother’s funeral was more than a week ago; there were lots of things I wanted to say about it, but I am not sure if I can remember them all. It might still be too soon.
Read more... )
rhythmaning: (cat)
I was talking to my friend A. last week, and she mentioned that she was now attached to All Souls College, rather than Catz, where she used to be based.

Catz is a comparatively new institution, founded in 1962; All Souls is over five hundred years older, and occupies an esteemed position in British academia.

When A. told me this, I couldn’t help thinking, and saying, “You know, this may sound snobby, but being a fellow of All Souls sounds a lot better than being a fellow of Catz.”

And she replied, “That’s because it is!”

It was only afterwards that I realised I wasn’t sure if she meant All Souls or my snobbery.

And two other thoughts: if the fellows of All Souls are so smart, how come they forgot to use an apostrophe?

And whilst Catz may not be as good, it did seem appropriate for A.: her cat has had another litter of kittens, and she seemed surrounded by the animals!
rhythmaning: (cat)
I was talking to my friend A. last week, and she mentioned that she was now attached to All Souls College, rather than Catz, where she used to be based.

Catz is a comparatively new institution, founded in 1962; All Souls is over five hundred years older, and occupies an esteemed position in British academia.

When A. told me this, I couldn’t help thinking, and saying, “You know, this may sound snobby, but being a fellow of All Souls sounds a lot better than being a fellow of Catz.”

And she replied, “That’s because it is!”

It was only afterwards that I realised I wasn’t sure if she meant All Souls or my snobbery.

And two other thoughts: if the fellows of All Souls are so smart, how come they forgot to use an apostrophe?

And whilst Catz may not be as good, it did seem appropriate for A.: her cat has had another litter of kittens, and she seemed surrounded by the animals!
rhythmaning: (bottle)
Some of the photographs I took by candle light came out ok (several didn’t, of course – but I like the idea of chance taking a role!).

Here are a few…

candles G 1
Read more... )

rhythmaning: (bottle)
Some of the photographs I took by candle light came out ok (several didn’t, of course – but I like the idea of chance taking a role!).

Here are a few…

candles G 1
Read more... )

Friends

Oct. 3rd, 2008 07:02 pm
rhythmaning: (bottle)
Last week, I saw two of my closest friends on two separate evenings.

On Tuesday, needing some definite space after a solid four days in very close proximity to my brother and my aunt, I went around to see A., who I was at university with all of – well, nearly 30 years ago.

She still looks amazing – she has very beautiful, ice-blue eyes.

We only meet up once or twice a year – maybe a little more frequently since I have been down in Oxford more often in the last eighteen months or so. (A.’s rather sweet response to the break up of my marriage was “at least we’ll get to see you more often!”)

Catching up with her was precisely the antidote I needed. There was a very easy familiarity; we didn’t talk about death or emotions; we talked about science, about how we both hated “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (some time I might write about why I disliked it so much; but at this point, the fact that a professor of mathematics hated it even more than me was just wonderful: she couldn’t finish it because she kept throwing it across the room in disgust; I couldn’t finish it because it was appallingly written and generally crap) and all sorts of stuff.

We shared a bottle of wine, some comfort food and a really fun couple of hours.

It was a really good evening.

* * *



On Thursday night, my old friend G. came up to Oxford and stayed the night. I have known G. for over thirty years. Scary. My brother, his wife (who had flown over from the States that day – what is it about my family and long distance relationships? Incidentally, when she arrived, she gave me a hug and burst into tears; for about five minutes – whilst not letting go of me! I thought I was meant to be the one who was upset…), G. and I went out for a couple of pints at the Eagle & Child (I was going to say that it was cool that a pub had its own entry in Wikipedia; but then I clicked on the “category: public houses in Oxford”, and saw that there are at least six in Oxford alone – including the Turf Tavern, where my brother and I had had a couple of pints a few days earlier; like so many other places in Oxford, it reminded me of furtive sexual encounters…). We then had a long supper at Brown’s, with another couple of bottles of wine.

Again, it was really good to catch up with G.; he was being very supportive as well as challenging and entertaining. Simply another really good evening. Magic.



Friends

Oct. 3rd, 2008 07:02 pm
rhythmaning: (bottle)
Last week, I saw two of my closest friends on two separate evenings.

On Tuesday, needing some definite space after a solid four days in very close proximity to my brother and my aunt, I went around to see A., who I was at university with all of – well, nearly 30 years ago.

She still looks amazing – she has very beautiful, ice-blue eyes.

We only meet up once or twice a year – maybe a little more frequently since I have been down in Oxford more often in the last eighteen months or so. (A.’s rather sweet response to the break up of my marriage was “at least we’ll get to see you more often!”)

Catching up with her was precisely the antidote I needed. There was a very easy familiarity; we didn’t talk about death or emotions; we talked about science, about how we both hated “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (some time I might write about why I disliked it so much; but at this point, the fact that a professor of mathematics hated it even more than me was just wonderful: she couldn’t finish it because she kept throwing it across the room in disgust; I couldn’t finish it because it was appallingly written and generally crap) and all sorts of stuff.

We shared a bottle of wine, some comfort food and a really fun couple of hours.

It was a really good evening.

* * *



On Thursday night, my old friend G. came up to Oxford and stayed the night. I have known G. for over thirty years. Scary. My brother, his wife (who had flown over from the States that day – what is it about my family and long distance relationships? Incidentally, when she arrived, she gave me a hug and burst into tears; for about five minutes – whilst not letting go of me! I thought I was meant to be the one who was upset…), G. and I went out for a couple of pints at the Eagle & Child (I was going to say that it was cool that a pub had its own entry in Wikipedia; but then I clicked on the “category: public houses in Oxford”, and saw that there are at least six in Oxford alone – including the Turf Tavern, where my brother and I had had a couple of pints a few days earlier; like so many other places in Oxford, it reminded me of furtive sexual encounters…). We then had a long supper at Brown’s, with another couple of bottles of wine.

Again, it was really good to catch up with G.; he was being very supportive as well as challenging and entertaining. Simply another really good evening. Magic.



rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I met up with a couple of friends for dinner last night.

We'd spoken on the phone on Monday, when they said they were in town. They were meant to be flying to Canada for their holiday last Saturday, from Glasgow, and their flight had been cancelled because of all the kerfuffle. Other than being sorry they were missing a week of their holiday, I thought no more of it.

Last night I learned that they and their two children were actually in Glasgow airport when two guys tried to blow up their car.

Not only were they there; they saw it happen. If the attack had been "successful", they would all have been killed.

I was stunned and angry. They were so close.

I think I am still rather shocked.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I met up with a couple of friends for dinner last night.

We'd spoken on the phone on Monday, when they said they were in town. They were meant to be flying to Canada for their holiday last Saturday, from Glasgow, and their flight had been cancelled because of all the kerfuffle. Other than being sorry they were missing a week of their holiday, I thought no more of it.

Last night I learned that they and their two children were actually in Glasgow airport when two guys tried to blow up their car.

Not only were they there; they saw it happen. If the attack had been "successful", they would all have been killed.

I was stunned and angry. They were so close.

I think I am still rather shocked.

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