I love my city because...
It is constantly changing and yet familiar. Anonymous but friendly. Residential, industrial and entertaining. Fast paced with sedate pockets. I love my city because I am a Londoner.
PREFACE This instead of an about page. Some background information to this blog and blogger. There are two parts to it - 10 Things (brief version) and The Interview (longer version).
Hidden London Lesser known places in London (from the Independent - tip from my sister AD).
London Open House Buildings across the capital open to the public (wanna see something you can't normally?).
MUSIC NOW PLAYING Elvis Costello - North 50 Cent - Get Rich or Die Trying Gotan Project - La Revancha del Tango Greens Keepers - present the Ziggy Franklen Radio Show! Kill Bill Vol.1 - Original soundtrack Ol' Dirty Bastard - Return to the 36 Chambers Out Kast - The Love Below / Speakerboxxx Tom Waits - Blood Money Tom Waits - Alice Barry White - greatest hits
FAVE FILMS DEAD MAN What an idea, the man is dying for almost the entire length of the film, the music is fantastic, its black and white, ideology, mythology, funny, sad, Johnny Depp sex god...
THE DRAFTMAN'S CONTRACT The first Peter Greenaway film I saw and possibly the most accessible. Beautiful set, costumes, direction. Fantastic soundtrack.
MULHOLLAND DRIVE I knew exactly what was going on right up until the last 15 minutes and damn it but then I lost it.
NIGHT ON EARTH Jim Jarmusch made the only film with Winona Ryder worth watching and it had Beatrice Dalle (say no more)
O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? Roar out loud with laughter and tunes that make you love country music. My sister had to sneak out of the cinema ahead of our dad and me cos she was so embarrassed at our laughing.
ORLANDO Quiet, passionate, time travel.
PITCH BLACK Bails and I watched this with its bleached scenery and its whoar factor star. We LOVED him, Mr Diesel take a bow.
RESERVOIR DOGS Tight Tarantino gang heist gone wrong. Great soundtrack. And there's something about Michael Madson, dancing just before cutting off the cop's ear...
There was a girl who was trying to clear out the attic of her parents home because they were going to sell it soon. The attic had been abused by years of shoving boxes full of stuff into it - stuff that was cluttering up the living spaces downstairs but was too valuable, sentimentally to throw out.
So, many years had passed where this had happened. And now the task was upon them that they had to clear this attic once and for all. So up in the dusty hot place surrounded by a million old cardboard boxes she was rifling through treasure long forgotten: old dolls houses; the original resting place of the first and most loved home-made Pooh Bear who had been laid to rest when his belly kept falling out of the worn through orange toweling along with the cot blanket that had provided comfort for some years; books - favourite picture books cared for lovingly (and sometimes the cause of great punishments - poor care of books had one time brought the wrath of father down upon a five year old's head so as to ban her from having them for two whole weeks - this may seem a short time but at the time it felt like a lifetime), books with fantastic stories illustrated by fantastic pictures; knick knacks of childhood collected through time. Its a fun task, though long winded, reminiscing and remembering.
Deep in one of the boxes she came across a terribly tarnished old brass lamp. Giving it a hard rub with her finger she revealled a shiny patch so bright she could see herself in it. Behind her reflection there appeared a genie who thankful for her releasing him from his hot and cramped confinement granted her three wishes. His only criteria being that they had to be things, for he was a genie bloated with greed and didn't appreciate the selfless wishes of world peace (shame - cos its not like we couldn't use some), ever lasting health (getting to that age where that looks like a good thing) and untold wealth (certainly needed in this fair town).
So thinking with her most greedy head on (so as to please the good genie naturally) she wished for a mini ipod (but only a pink or green one), a Motorola V600 convertable cover in midnight ruby, a copy of Zaha Hadid's the Complete Buildings and Projects. And puff the genie vanished out into the ether and the three wished-for things crashed through the ceiling and clattered around the girl.
And then the almighty task seemed to weigh on her shoulders and she had to get back to clearing the attic.
This genie was brought to you from King of Blogs and not because its my birthday in a few weeks (!).
At the end the tutor said she had been on the stage a lot when younger - namely as one of the diddymen with Ken Dodd. We laughed.
The hot weather has made Angel smell like metal. Gets in your throat and hangs there. Comination of this, the fact I was facing backwards and the jerky bus driving was making me feel sick on the way home. Opposite me was a doll-faced girl with perfectly formed small full mouth and expressionless blue eyes.
I followed a mid-teen girl up my street who was pretending to be a drum majorette. But lacking a drum. Air-drumming, in fact. Just before reaching home I was passed by three people singing a chorus of Touch Me from Rocky Horror. Thrill me chill me fulfil me creature of the night.
Today we drew a dancer who was born with a forearm and hand missing. Class was crowded, I had had two weeks off - one bank holiday and I was in Leicester last week. 10min, 1min and 40min pose. Quite enjoyed the session. It really does make a difference to my week when I get to class.
Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.
On a Sunday morning (provided Saturday night hasn't been late one) a nice leisurely stroll around Columbia Road Flower Market is a loverly way to start the day. Plants and flowers exotic and common, wild and cultivated. The street is built on a small scale and seems to be transported from Victorian times. Perhaps our only mistake being to go there on the second greatest day of spring so far (very very crowded). But fab all the same.
This is not something I engage in very often but I did have a discussion with HS about teapots today. And specifically about pouring ability and how to recognise it.
Teapots can be either good or bad pourers. The pouring ability of teapots, of course, has little consequence to those of us who use teabags to make tea, but to my mother, her generation and her mother's generation much discussion was to be had about the pouring ability of their pots.
While admiring a single cup pot at a cafe we were in HS said that it was a good pourer because it had a hole in its lid. Personally I thought all teapots had a hole in their lids and that good pourability was more to do with the shape and finish on the spout. But on thinking about it I couldn't decide whether either reason was right.
...I wrote the words: I promised myself during my 30th year that I would publish some of the poetry I have been writing since my mother died. Sadly I am a coward and still haven't done this, despite the fact that I am now rising 33. So having discovered blogging I thought I'd do this instead.
So began In the Aquarium.
A year on, I go through various ups and downs about whether I'm still meeting my rather vague aims, whether I continue to be interesting or amusing or close to either. I'm not winning any popularity contests but I do have regular readers which is great, and people keep emailing me to say hi, that they appreciate what I'm doing, that they like the site or that they'd like to use a picture or a poem which is great.
Big up to my own top 20 big hitters (idea as borrowed stolen from Diamond Geezer) - because its nice to recognise the reader-referrers even though it is post-plagerism.
Also big up to all those who's visiting presence is less visible - non-referring readers both blogging and non-blogging, and those who didn't make it into the top 20. So a big HELLO to everyone out there - without you all there would really be no point.
...Someone just searched for WETLOOK BUSINESS SUITS and found intheaquarium. Don't say shiny suits are going to make a comeback. Its a mistake, it'll be disastrous, it won't make you look like a pop star, and it won't make you look sophisticated...Make the 80s go back where they came from.
I'd like to nominate Tesco's on Stroud Green Road. Its not that they are really really bad but the checkout chicks and dicks don't look at you, interact with you, barely tell you how much you owe them and smiling would crack their faces it seems. And its like this every time I go. Thats about once a week since I've been working here. So instead of it being a one off awful experience, its one of those build up scenarios.
A pregnant woman wakes up because her waters broke and finds her entire family dead, I thought I'd lost a day and was watching Six Feet Under but it turns out they are actually suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
She arrives at County and gives birth. And it appears a of parenthood is afflicting the ER. Weaver has just had one (boy with two moms), Susan is expecting (I always think this is a funny phrase but a friend of mine is always using it!), as is Carter's girlfriend Kem. And then, a woman complaining of tiredness who is a grandmother 5 times gets it. Something in the water...
Lambs (tiny) tres cute. It suddenly reminded me of being at my grandad's in Scotland when he used to keep sheep. There was always a horrid time of year to visit when the lambs had grown enough to be separated from their mothers and they would get penned awaiting market the following day. The most heart wrenching bleeting went on all night. It always made me feel my grandad was cruel. And he would call me a silly girl. A bit like when he made us eat rabbit pie after we had seen the dead rabbits lying outside the front door for ages (all the cousins didn't really enjoy dinner that evening, even the boys). I'm not really surprised I became vegetarian eventually.
Hares by a hedge in the bottom of a field.
20 swans in the grass by a wetland lake.
A marketing girl and her colleague talked shop for a while, discussing the approach to the market research for weetabix, questions about breakfast cereals etc etc. Then she got hayfever and started rubbing her eyes so much she looked red and streaming by the time she got to London. Very itchy.
Two Americans and a Brit, on the way back from a meeting, talk about:
Whether they are hungry.
Airplane delicacy that one of them ate that was a cross between pizza and lasagna (can't imagine it at all).
What anyone wanted from the buffet car.
Fact that one American hadn't worn a suit, just a white shirt and some blue jeans.
Football - how the season ended - with play offs or a league.
Rugby, because the Brit didn't follow football (honestly I knew more about it than he appeared to), and the Americans had been in Sydney when England beat Oz in the world cup.
Salt and vinegar crisps (as a flavour).
Which of their kids played which particular sports.
Daughters - ages of them, dating, the boyfriends...
Finally I just had to stop listening because it was getting on my nerves.
Long day spent inside the Walker Stadium, the home of Leicester City Football Club. I didn't realise it was called the Walker Stadium because of Walker's Crisps. Their logo is everywhere, as is Gary Lineker. There was no way to see the pitch cos there were no windows on the inside. Only so much conference and hotel food is palatable and I was glad to be able to leave to set off home.
Commuters all get on with their work. Paperwork. Notetaking. Doing important stuff on laptops after taking them out and looking round to see who's watching them using their laptop. Mobile calls, discussing metal parts that are uniform in size but don't fit the sockets.
They don't notice the huge grey sky outside which is triangular and pointing tot he horizon. Or the change to rolling fields, golf courses, farm houses and sheep after we pass the M25. Or the trees budding but largely leafless. Couple more weeks and their skeletons will be covered.
Then theres the tourists, been in London for a few days but on the way home now. Cameras. Fizzy pop and travel sweets shared round a group spreading through the carriage. Buffetcar mad.
There's one of those circular holes in the sky that they used to paint God in, in old religious paintings - fluffy clouds with dark undersides and gold edges with bright sky behind.
Remember Marathon bars now renamed Snickers to fall in line with the name elsewhere? It was launched at the first London Marathon. The one where the two leaders held hands to cross the finish line, as did the two coming in last. Bit wet for it today though (as a spectator).
A man, we call him Leon, a lawyer writer and performer struck up a conversation with Bails when we were crowding round him trying to get to the bar. While squeezing out of people's way and into his space we apologized for crowding him, to which he replied, "I don't mind being crowded by beautiful women". She exchanged some words with him, we got our drinks, moved away and eventually sat down. The girls were talent watching, of which there wasn't much, although there appeared to be more hopefuls in Primrose Hill than there had been of late in Islington (Islington has really gone to the dogs recently). Bails spied an inappropriate-looking greasy haired, goatee-sporting man who she thought might be dirty enough. I just don't remember the last time I saw so many men wearing shirts and jumpers.
Two ladies came in, one of whom was heavily pregnant and bumped into a man who fell into HS's lap. They then propped up the bar drinking wine and smoking. It turned out that the heavily pregnant woman just had a large belly (AL's judgement on bumping into her in the toilet).
Later Leon came over to give Bails a card and a flyer about a forthcoming event, and in passing told her that he thought HS was cute and asked after her story to which Bails said he should ask her himself, so he went back to his drinking buddy. We advised HS that she should casually go up to the bar, take some time to get a glass of water (since she still had plenty of her drink left) so as to give him a window of opportunity to approach her. HS acted coy and nervous. We persisted. She dug her heels in. AL told her the evening was coming to a close and she should run to the toilet and then do as we had said. On her way back from the toilet HS made eye contact with Leon and he beckoned her over. She needed no further prodding and that was the last we saw of her until she came back saying we've been invited to a party. (Its always the quiet ones!)
I'm so glad I don't have to engage in teenage kissing anymore. Public displays of affection, while sweet quickly become cloying when sat next to them for a whole bus journey.
Girl was pretty and cool with a great sarcasm. Truly idolized by the boy who kept leaning round for noisy wet smackers on the lips, cheeks, big wrap-round hugs inbetween lavishing praise on her about her wit and repartee, telling her how much he loved her and excitedly discussing plans for later. Big soppy puppies with droopy eyes and long wet tongues come to mind.
She'll be sick of it in a month or two - there's only so long you can stand being the cause of such adoration - and then she'll swap him for a bit of rough for a change - all wham bam and no slobbering.
Bails was bemoaning the fact that the more appliances you acquire the more domestic chores you have to do.
When she had no washing machine and no iron or ironing board she used to pack all her washing off to the launderette (on a service wash with a quick hello and exchange of money and later a swift collection of a bag full of clean warm clothes) and a trip to the dry cleaners for those things that needed to be pressed and couldn't be machine washed. For little effort there was a wardrobe full of clean, pressed stuff.
Now she has to do the washing, hang it to dry, iron it, fold it and put it away.
First there was Barclay's with their ads starring Samuel L Jackson, walking and talking, monologues, he said, she said type of story. Dark. Grey. No mention of banking or the brand (I think). Now there's Volvo with Robert Downey Junior. Equally obscure, but with lots more product placement. Film stars in commercials. At the height of their fame, or perhaps infamy, (as opposed to those oldies who are desperately trying to cash in on their fame of yesteryear).
There's also an Alienesque Wrigley's Extra ad (chewing gum saves lives). There was Gladiatorial Pepsi ad with the divas. I think these are less filmic in their own right more like remakes (never as good as the original). Quite some time ago there was also that ad where the couple were racing through the train and she fell out of a hole nearly hitting the tracks - that was around the time of Speed I think.
It makes a change from the soap opera style (remember the OXO family and was it the Nescafe couple who eventually got together?)
That the weather wasn't so nice because it would be lovely to be outside.
That there was another week to go before I had to go to a conference in Leicester.
That I didn't have to be at work.
That I had met a rich man who could keep me in lifestyle I have become accustomed to.
That he would buy me a small business that I could tinker away at safe in the knowledge that it didn't have to make a massive profit.
That he would have an open air car (as my sister predicted so long ago) and would come pick me up from work and whisk me away.
That he had a big house building project that I could get stuck into (love Grand Designs).
That the house had a huge garden to plant stuff in. I want blossom trees in the bottom of the garden. And miniature waterlilly ponds in huge pots like they have in Thailand. And topiary. And wild meadows.
That I could spend my days painting, doing embroidery and reading (well perhaps not quite that 18th century - I'd be bored in a month).
Things I did on the Bank Holiday But Didn't Blog About at the Time
Arsenal on TV intermittent phone conversation with the boyfiend. Bus journey through the city. Empty, big buildings. Borough Market. Cooking dinner for the girls. Trip to West End, getting freaked by the crowds (can't handle it always). Coffee in New Oxford Street Starbucks. Dinner in Strada, Exmouth Market. Drink in the Medicine Bar, Upper Street. Newspaper from outside the Business Design Centre before going home. Arsenal on TV in the pub with boyfiend. Crap movie in Wood Green. Walk to Alexandra Palace Garden Centre. 3 foxgloves planted in the blank space at the back; sweet peas, geranium and lobelia in the hanging basket.
I have on many occasions thought about the search terms that somehow reach my blog but have never blogged about them before.
Today some poor soul was looking for answers to the question What Causes a Cricked Penis? and found their way to In the Aquarium. Not much help I will have been I should think. I don't even know what that is / or means. Never come across it in my life.
Neither do I know the Parrot Shop in Seven Sisters Road, or where the post office squat is in London UK. I have never come across paint bowling either (I think perhaps this is a malapropism and they mean paint balling) but I think it would be interesting to figure out how exactly paint bowling would work - would it be skittles full of paint that explode when struck by a bowling ball or a bowling ball full of paint that explodes when it hits the skittles...
After watching the highly predictable Gothika (see review here) we decided to have a drink before heading home. Closest to the bus stop and cinema and therefore winning the contest of which bar will be the least horrific we popped into Chicago Rock Cafe. Wanna meet a bit of Wood Green rough? This is the joint.
3 bouncers required on a Wednesday night. Full bag checks all round. Much pawing through those miniscule ladies handbags.
Inside the door is a big circular bar. There's a second bar at the far end with a huge video screen over the top. Between the back bar and the front bar is a raised platform, a lower dance floor with a glass DJ booth, seating on both sides with a raised platform for standing and drinking.
The DJ is banging out club anthems. Its relatively early and fairly empty. We grab a table in the restaurant and watch over the balcony.
A couple of men sitting in a booth looking out, they don't say a word to each other all night. Women come in pairs. Sit in pairs. Go to the ladies in pairs. A pair of blonds just in front of us are very popular eye candy. Men ogle. Girls giggle.
There's an unmarked route between the front bar and the back bar which is like a seaside promenade. Women sit along it. Men stroll up and down strutting their stuff and surveying the scene.
Its a bit like whores in a Toulouse Lautrec brothel. They are playing Lady Marmalade as sung by Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink, Lil' Kim and Missy Elliot. They've already played Christina Aguilera's Dirty. The guys can't peel their eyes off the video screen. Roles models of the punters would include the lovely Christina and Peter Andre. There's enough grease, collectively, to keep a caf in fried eggs for a year.
Men strategically place themselves close to their girls of choice. Or alternatively at a high vantage point where they can survey the entire venue. The lights are high. Visibility is good. A couple of lone guys dance at the back bar. The dance floor is empty. One in particular dances as if he's at an exercise class - you can see boxercise routines and moves from bruce lee movies creeping into the choreography.
Two girls arrive. Blond. One short with a very low cut blouse. The other tall wearing a racing back FCUK t-shirt. Two men independently come up to her and greet her with encompassing hugs and kisses. Its the kind of place where a girl can shag her way around the male clientele (apparently). These dominant females gradually become surrounded by males. Circling, getting closer, not making a move just yet.
On the promenade baboons and gorillas stroll up and down eyes bulging. Half expect wolfman to appear with his jaw on the ground and tongue lolling out the side of his mouth.
Pretty girls entertain neanderthals because they have a decent car. The atmosphere is expectant. Waiting for something to happen. Guys gradually close in towards the dance floor. Before long you know there will be ladies dancing like Christina with men rubbing up behind them all over the place. Just in front of us a couple is engaging in some bad kissing - noses getting in the way, upper lips being pulled, too much teeth.
Having seen enough of men who would be peacocks we decided it was best to make a run for the door before our glasses, age and work clothes stopped being a barrier to advances.
The model was five months pregnant - showing a little but not huge. Definite changes in the belly and breasts. We drew 10 and 5 minute poses until the last two which were 20 minutes each (first two drawings top row are 10 minutes, bottom two standing poses are five minutes, and the dark one on the top row is a 20 minute). Interesting.
Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.
The bar we are in is invaded by all the people being chucked out of other pubs that shut at normal closing time. The joint is heaving.
Two smartly dressed larger ladies with smoothed straight hair dance in the corner in eye shot of the gold-toothed bouncer. Obviously they have come here to ogle him. They have a 'cute' little dance that they keep doing where they bounce ample bosoms together.
A young man in a gold nike tick teeshirt (with his hard nipples showing quite remarkably for such a hot venue) is running around the bar chatting up women.
Its pouring with rain outside and the bouncers have a fascist anti-hat rule that is vigourously applied.
A man and a woman standing leaning up against the bar just behind where we are sitting are deep in conversation. He's saying, "..how do you want me to be? I can be anyway you want me to...missionary position...I can pull it out...Its all about compatibility. I've been too open now..." We wondered whether they had actually had sex yet or NOT (we thought eventually). Later he continued, "You're beautiful. You won't regret it..." So tonight he'll be lucky but I think he has built himself up and has a lot to live up to.
In the toilet HS overhears the girl in the short denim ra-ra skirt and pink high-heeled timberland boots (a very barbie look, it has to be said), " I paid £1,900 for this boob job and that included the consultation. My uncle's a plastic surgeon".
The large ladies leave promptly at 1.00am in a kind of huff of not being noticed.
Nike tick teeshirt and nipples has finally found a girl who will snog him. They prepare to leave, but first she has to have some discussion with the friend she came with.
And at our time of departure the man who was talking the woman into bed was just glad of our seat.
Theres a place on Seven Sisters Road opposite Finsbury Park called the Happening Bagel Bakery where their turnover of bread is such that you can almost always go in for a Cholla and come away with a loaf still warm from the cooling racks.
Nothing better than the taste of a warm end of the loaf torn off and eaten while waiting for the bus in the evening. Melt in the mouth freshness.
With the onset of spring London pigeons (manky specimens with club, or indeed, missing feet) have been engaging in mating rituals. This involves the male of the species puffing his chest up, spreading his tail feathers widely and dragging it on the ground as he chases young females round. Since our mutual friend, complaining of being jealous of said pigeons, was having a birthday Bails and I decided that rather than find her a mate of any sort (difficult to fulfill) we would invest in a vibrator for her to stave off the desperation.
We popped into Harmony, top of Charing Cross Road, and found ourselves faced with an array of adult toys that hadn't seemed to progress in style or design for some years. Vibrators still continue to largely look like big flesh tone willies, or alternatively large shiny black numbers. Often complete with veins. For some reason it seems odd that most designers of these things have not thought about the aesthetics of these toys beyond realism (and hyper- or extreme-realism - where it looks realistic but MUCH TOO LARGE). Willies aren't that lovely to look at (unless its someone's you really like), and can be downright scary in some of the proportions used here.
Eventually we went for a newer model from the german company Fun Factory. Yes its willy-shaped in that its long and conical like the gherkin building but it was made of baby blue silicone with defined ridges. Others were designed to be zodiac signs, or dolphin shaped, in a huge variety of colours and not a single one had pearlescent beading or shiny black ribs or veins of any description. Nicely styled with wit. Williesque but no realism.
The only other one I can think of is Tom Dixon's Bone thats on sale in places like Purves & Purves and Selfridges.
So we wrapped it up and on giving it got a little bit nervous in case mutual friend was incensed. Fortunately she wasn't.
And in the following discussion we got to pondering the willy vs the non-willy aesthetic. Her analogy was that it is like making non-meat beefburgers for vegetarians that look and taste like meat. Its frequently done but for the true vegetarian theres really no point since the meat was given up on purpose. If we are going to have a substitute why does it have to look like a willy when it isn't really anything like the real thing?
Never can get used to this chaning time twice annually (even though I've lived here all my life). It always takes me time to adjust. At least this year someone reminded me that the clocks were going forwards on Saturday night so I didn't have a repeat of the time I actually didn't realise until I arrived to college an hour earlier than I thought.
So this summer time I find myself awake in the middle of the night watching bad movies.
Sunday it was Dracula 2000 by Patrick Lussier - the guardian says "fairly silly update with Drac hunting Van Heslings daughter. She works in Virgin Megastore", but I still watched it, all the way through.
Monday was the end of Spielbergs Amistad, a worthy film by all accounts but I only caught the end part where Anthony Hopkins was making a great speech while sounding like the wizard from the wizard of oz.