Showing posts from 2016

La mort

I don't dwell too long on the thoughts of mortality which seem to come my way so much more frequently than they did when I was younger.  I don't consider myself old, yet I have reached the point in life where the remainder of my life no longer seems to stretch out in front of me like the endless path beyond the horizon I would amble along in my youth. Recently, amongst the very old and gnarled apple trees in the garden, we planted a young quince tree.  It's about eight feet tall, and not yet fruiting.  It will get there eventually, but I won't see it reach the size and character of its neighbours even though I hope some day to be able to candy its quinces for Christmas. When you're young, death for most people is a mercifully distant thing.  You know it exists and you see the impact it has on people around you, but until it starts to creep closer towards you, I don't think you fully understand just how final the end is when it comes. Until the

Trying and failing to write a story

When some people see a crowd of dancers moving in time with each other, they are forced onto their feet by an urge to join in.    They start to move slowly in time and gradually pick up the steps as they go.  They watch the dancers around them and modify their own body movements to match as closely as they can those around them.  They become part of the thing they enjoyed to watch and so come to enjoy it even more. I’d never do that; I wouldn’t dance in public if you paid me a million pounds.  Genuinely. But I’m not immune to seeing something happen and deciding I’d like to get involved; whenever I read something I am pulled by an urge to pick up a pen and try to turn some thoughts into words. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I write a lot.  I keep handwritten journals which I update most days.  Not for any reason other than the act of putting pen to paper and building forms with words.   It’s a challenge to take the ideas which live and breathe in my head and see if I can record

The Trouble With Toilets

I have no idea how many times I've been to the toilet in my life.  But I'm going to suggest it's probably upwards of one hundred thousand times.  And yet it's something we never talk about.  When you watch TV or films, how often does a character say "I'm just popping to the loo", unless it's in order to remove them from the scene for dramatic purposes? And yet we all do it.  Even though I have no direct evidence, I'm pretty sure that even The Queen uses a toilet. But so shrouded by societal secrecy is the whole process of going to the toilet that the insides of toilets can remain something of a mystery.  I was was astonished, for instance, to discover that an adult female friend of mind had never seen a urinal.  Logic says to me "but why would she have seen one?" but the idea that something I've used pretty much every day of my life since a very young age would be such a mysterious object to someone else fascinated me. In one of

What makes a concert so good..?

I've been to many concerts over the years.  In fact, before starting to write this I tried to work out how many I'd been to. I couldn't even count how many times I've seen the Pet Shop Boys previously... I suppose that exposes me as a bit of a fan.  Which is true.  I've seen them doing small gigs - including doing the tour for the album "Release" when they went all guitar-y.  And I've seen them doing Arena things.  They've been camp.  There've been lots of lots.  And it's always been loud. And then there was "Inner Sanctum". Not quite a tour, "Inner Sanctum" is for four nights only at the Royal Opera House.  Es Devlin again coming up with the stage design and promise of something unique.  Something "special". And so it was. I don't know why it was so good.  It's entirely possible that a combination of my mood, and the level of expectation meant I was going to enjoy it.  But even once we got a


(J'ai réécrit cet article en Français ici ) We recently got a place in the countryside.  So we're now splitting our time back and forth between the house out here and the flat back in Wapping. And so that means the guinea pigs come back and forth with us too.  At first they weren't so keen on the idea; previously the cat basket had been associated with trips to the vet and the ensuing prodding and poking, so they didn't take too kindly to it.  But now, after only a couple of months, they've settled into the routine of going back and forth between two cages. Given we moved into this house when it was still cold, their cage was in the sun room.  I wouldn't call it so much as a conservatory; it's just a simple building attached to the back of the house with lots of windows, and heating and lighting - so ideal for the guinea pigs in winter when we wouldn't really be using the room anyway. Also in there are the gerbils.  They don't always come bac

Crime Museum Uncovered

This weekend, I went along to the Crime Museum Uncovered exhibition at the Museum of London. I wasn't really sure what to expect.  I guess I was expecting it to be a little bit gruesome and disturbing.  It wasn't really either. It was interesting and thought-provoking. One of the first exhibits is a row of nooses, hanging from a beam.  In front of each one is little label giving you the name of the person who was hung using the noose.  Just beyond is an "Execution Box".  A box of the necessary equipment for hanging someone was arranged in a glass case.  The hood to go over the head.  The weighted bag used to test the noose overnight before the execution.  And the noose itself, of course. It's easy to become distanced from execution.  Here in the UK, the last capital punishment happened way back in the 60s.  And don't believe those people who tell you that you can still be executed in the UK for "murder in a dockyard" or "high treason"

Farewell to Chiswick

Soon, I'll no longer be making my weekday trips over to Chiswick.  For the past four-and-a-bit years I've been coming over here Monday to Friday.  I've learned every bump on the District Line from Tower Hill to Gunnersbury and recognise quite a few of the faces of the people who have an overlapping daily routine.  I don't know them, of course, but the faces of a few people who travel to Chiswick Park every day are familiar to me. I didn't really know anything about Chiswick before I started work here.  Years ago, when I used to play badminton regularly, I used to sometimes play at the leisure centre in Brentford after work.  I didn't work over this way, but it was halfway between work and where my friend against who I played lived and so it made sense to make the trip out here.  After playing, he'd quite often drop me back at Gunnersbury in the car, and then I'd take the District Line all the way back over to home in Wapping. At the time, I didn'