Brilliant journalism happening. We've got Sky telling us there are 45 dead and 1,000 injured and BBC reporting 2 dead and 150 injured.
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A workmate has just had a frantic call from his sister to say that their brother might have been injured, so he's left, as have a few others worried about loved ones. I participated in the massive mobile communication and have rung everyone I had reason to worry about. Dan's mum was scheduled to be in the area and he hasn't heard from her or been able to contact her, so he's quite concerned. (On that note: minorhank and propolitikal, if you read this, you may want to ring him, if you can.)
As usual, I don't have anything profound to say, so I'll let Red Ken say it for me:
"I know that you personally do not fear to give your own life in exchange for taking others. That is why you are so dangerous. But I know you do fear that you will fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society. I can show you why you will fail. In the days that follow, look at our airports, look at our seaports and look at our railway stations. And even after your cowardly attack you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners, to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential. They choose to come to London as many have come before because they come to be free. They come to live the life they choose, they come to be themselves. They flee you, because you tell them how they should live."
Prayers and thoughts to all those affected.
I stopped in Hertford at the weekend and discovered today that I really shouldn't have. Work is killing me. I shall die now.
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I've realised by now that no one actually gives a toss what I write here, so I feel safe spouting my rubbish. Nevertheless, if you're a living, breathing person and want to share a bit of your own rubbish insight, go on!
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The Ban. Waterloo Cup. Fox Hunting. ETC.
Heritage and culture are being throttled by legislation and over-emotional law to aggrandise their decency in the public eye. The heralds of justice, peace, and safety.
For woodland creatures.
I should imagine that more stags, hares, and foxes are killed on the roads by motorists each week than by hunters in the span of a year. (I'm aware that's a blatant exaggeration, but you see my meaning!) According to the government's very own research, none will be saved through this nonsense; it's just encouraging a bit of publicised class-rivalry. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Blair was elected to improve education, health, and such, not to venture into countryside politics and stir up a battle that cannot be won and will only result in sod all.
I've attended the Waterloo Cup twice in my lifetime, once as quite a young boy and again at fifteen. I have family in one of the most rural areas of England, living on a farm, who hunt regularly. If the police are going to monitor illegal hunting according to resources available, they'll be doing absolutely nothing and the hunts can and will continue to provide a valuable service to the rural community and to livestock producers.
This is a flagrant case of some opposing their values on all. It's just another sign of the dissolving of an era here. Hunting with hounds is about much more than the controlling of a pest (which these animals very well are), it's a way of life and a whole community for thousands of people. It's a sad day for rural England.
How is this so much worse than fishing? The hare are fluffy and cute -- is that it? And slaughtering livestock? At least the animals in the case of the hunt have some chance, however slight, to escape and survive. It's a hunt, for God's sake! The animal isn't being led to its murder in a closed environment. The hunters have to put forth quite a lot of effort and must require skill.
I'm an animal lover and regularly attempt (and fail at, if I must admit) vegetarianism to protest large industry farming procedures, so don't think I celebrate the deaths of Mr. Rabbit and Sir Fox, but I see hunting as a very integral part of Englishness. I see this ban as a triumph for the VIP capitalists and Bitter Bobs whining about class issues.
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Fine coffee in the Photographer's Gallery (favourite cafe in central London) to an arbitrary photograph of the Arts Theatre billboard. Great Newport Street.
I hope everyone is enjoying St. Valentine's sacrifice today and has a good snog or a slow dance. Or just chocolates.
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I plan to purchase trousers tomorrow and I dread facing the shopping centre on a Friday evening. I'm not entirely sure where I plan to undertake this endeavour, which is why I might be taking Nancy (shopping guru extraordinaire), who mentioned that perhaps I should buy moisturiser for the winter months. Should I be offended?
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I hadn't intended to stay up this late, but cassmoney, in her state of total disenchantment and contrariness, was too tempting to ignore.
I have a few "international" friends who live in the USA and I find it interesting to hear what cultural etiquette problems they come across. And, of course, like the lovely person I am, I like to listen and try to help. It's hard to break old habits, we all know, but ones so inherent in a person's nature are even more difficult, which is very sad when they cause the person problems. Relationship problems, in particular, are interesting, but I won't go into them, because I'm about to fall over and sleep hanging over the side of the chair.
Perhaps Gere is trying to redirect his activism, since the whole Tibetan thing isn't getting anywhere. I find it difficult to believe that, with their families being killed and homes destroyed, the personal opinions of Richard bloody Gere are going to be of utmost importance to them.
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I'm done with my posting rush for now.
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The Work of Ingres is possibly as close to fashion design as painting can get, because in form, he disrupts all ideas of two- and three-dimensionality throughout his career.
Ingres' work is, of course, all about surface. One has to see his portraits in person to really grasp the smooth, luminous, porcelain glory of his subjects’ skin. It truly is remarkable. Every fabric is so diaphanous and thick, so heavily tactile, its very texture seems to want to break free from the confines of the paint.
The folds in his drapery are so sharp as to be almost violent. The forms are fully three-dimensional, but there's something fundamentally hollow about them at the same time. It's almost as if he's wrapped these beautiful, perfect surfaces around nothing at all, that they are mere shells enclosing empty volumes. In a way, this treatment of the three-dimensional world reflects the act of painting, in general, in that the surface of the canvas, like the surface of his bodies, describes volumes that are physically absent. In fact, despite the fact that the draping and spatial arrangement of the objects has been modelled in perfect, idealized detail, if one stands close enough to the canvas, it's almost as if they have no substance or weight to them, but are like mirages of objects. The volumes are extremely, mechanically geometric and hard, but the soft surfaces that envelope them breathe and glow, as if alive.
The other quality I find interesting about Ingres' subjects is the contrast between the perfect beauty and mystical glow of his surfaces, and the fact that the representation of his human subjects is anything but flattering. In fact, his representations are somehow even grotesque. He almost always gives them the most vapid expressions; big, bulging, lazy eyes and insipid, simple-minded grins. Their soft skin shows little bone structure, and while we understand this was the aristocracy who was patronizing him, he represents their plumpness as infantile, almost suggesting weakness of character.
The best example is his portrait of Madame Ines Moitessier (1851), a girl (although she was a mother) with a lazy eye, an arrogant, bored, spoiled-rotten expression on her unremarkable face, a plump figure never deprived of any meal, and the glowing, absolutely flawless skin of a goddess. A second portrait of her (1856) is equally unflattering. In the second one, the extreme extravagance of her costume and surroundings makes her bored indifference all the more contemptible.
I have yet to read the biographical information about Ingres that might clear this up, but it would seem that he resented having to paint many of the subjects he was commissioned to paint, and so gave them a product that--by outward appearances--would seem to be beautiful in execution, but which would show them with an honesty they would never have chosen to reveal voluntarily.
Possibly his standard of beauty was contorted differently than ours is now, but I doubt I could be so blind to changing ideals. I would prefer to believe that he had the vision to purposefully manipulate contrasts of form, and that he was capable of making a more profound social statement for those who could interpret his underlying themes, and which his subjects would be too naive to notice.
I expect no one will be interested, but I love having an outlet where I could care less. So I'm taking advantage.
Electric Lane, back of the tube.
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Captured on the Central Line platform at Tottenham Court Rd.
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Slumbering commuter captured on the tube.
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There's usually loads of unfortunate souls to be found sleeping rough around the St John the Evangelist Church on Waterloo Road, as the church offers assistance to the homeless. The building itself was built in 1824, nearly blown up by bombs during the war but was repaired in time for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Charming in its way and the people inside are good enough.
They say those raised in the city become oblivious to the homeless around them, but I never did: I've always seen them.
Having been swept up for about two weeks now in a solid round of parties, shopping, and loads of imbibing, I'm having a last-minute attack of the ab-dabs and have realised: "Oh, yes, Jesus." I'm not religious, but I suppose I should take a moment to consider the Jewish lad who has bestowed upon me this lovely holiday of gluttony.
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Thank you, Jesus.
I'm finding myself a bit bored of Christmas already and the day's tomorrow. The build-up is so much more pleasurable than the actual day itself: the first frosty days, the cat staring blankly at the newly installed Christmas tree, getting the first (and, if you're me, only) Christmas card, the delicious anticipation of spending that special day with those we love (or, failing that, our family).
The most feared Christmas build-up tradition for me, though, is that of "doing a show". Even the words themselves are unattractive, conjuring up, as they do, images both gynae- and scatological. And as for the reality? A freezing journey with family to whichever inconvenient theatre your mum's chose. And, because the two trains before it have been cancelled, it is absolutely packed so tightly with bodies that everybody gets off pregnant, even the men. Thence to the timeless glamour of Theatreland and the traditional running-of-the-gauntlet between the terminally loveless seeking their next chemical high and the brutally stewed pissing where they will. Honestly, I can get that at uni.
But once you enter the theatre, this vibrant bazaar of Thespis, and take your seat to Dreamland, you will soon wish you were back on the street taking your chances with the druggies and thugs. If you're really unlucky, you'll find yourself at Christmas With The Rat Pack, which is mysteriously subtitled Live From Las Vegas, which it obviously isn't since it's at the Strand Theatre.
What is it about the very suitably named Rat Pack that still, half a century after their heyday, addles the brains of men who like to think of themselves as honourable? Any sentient creature with two brain cells to rub together would have dismissed this gaggle of bullies, bigots and suck-ups as the dysfunctional dickheads they were long ago - yet they remain a beacon of beatific bachelorhood, the essence of The Best A Man Can Get. Oh, those stories of sordid footballers with their roastings - no style, not like Frankie! That'll be the Frankie who once ate his dinner off the body of a naked prostitute, using extremely sharp knives. That'll be the Frankie who simpered and giggled whenever the goons of the Mafia hove into view, the Frankie who pimped for the Kennedys, the Frankie who cracked the vilest racist jokes at the expense of his "buddy" Sammy Davis Jr in front of cackling white audiences. When Davis, a sweet and long-suffering man, dared venture the reasonable opinion that, "Though I love Frank and he was the kindest man in the world to me when I lost my eye and wanted to kill myself, there are many things he does that there are no excuses for. Talent is not an excuse for bad manners - I don't care if you are the most talented person in the world, it does not give you the right to step on people and treat them rotten, as he does occasionally." Sinatra responded with typical grace, before icing his career for the best part of a year, "Dirty nigger bastard." When Davis was finally allowed back into the fold, it was with a part in the Rat Pack film Ocean's 11 - as a singing, dancing garbageman.
But come to think of it, maybe the Rat Pack - with their clammily claustrophobic relationships, fake bonhomie, desperate boozing and tired routines - are ideal for this time of year. And as millions of unhappy families brace themselves once more for the prospect of having to spend time with each other, this tribute to the saddest swingers in town - melancholy Dino, tormented Sammy, freaky Frank - acts as a consoling reminder that not succumbing to domesticity is even worse.
I'm off to mum and dad's now. Happy Christmas to anyone who stumbles upon this.
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Certainly an interesting combination of goods and services available from this Berwick Street buildling. Imagine the possibilities
Coming home on the DLR yesterday, my very, very polite guard/person/whatever you call people on the DLR said to me: "Thank you for travelling with us today. We are now at Bank and I'd like to wish you a safe onward journey towards home. Have a lovely evening."
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I don't know how mum can claim it's an uncivilised way to travel. Honestly. And yet, I still would have to agree with the rabbit's approach to public transport.
This is quite the boring introduction to my life, but the only reason I really got this blog is because keahi_knows goaded me into it. Something or other about educating the masses on the disenfranchised youth of London. Boy suffers from high ideals, I'm telling you.
I don't know how much education I can offer. I can give my take of late on the world, but other than that, this thing will just be recounting my impromptu pub crawls.
Generally, we enlightened types like to think of hypocrites as Those People Over There - the ones with the blinkers and net curtains and the narrow minds and the lights-out sex lives. Those people who are really, really, really quite weird, we tell ourselves, not juvenile delinquents and illegal Albanians. Why? Because they're doing stuff in secret, and only pretending to be normal. And to cover up, they work twice as hard at condemning other people. They say one thing and do another; they are hypocrites, and they are bad.
But the unenlightened and repressed have an excuse for being hypocrites: they're unenlightened and repressed. And therefore presumably don't know any better. No, no, it's the hypocrites who fascinate and repel me: the enlightened, unrepressed, liberal thinkers whose deepest governing belief would appear to be: "Do what I say, not what I do." And who seem to believe that the rest of us are too thick to notice the yawning credibility gap opening up between their feet as they pontificate.
No, sir, "mind the gap" is no longer something we should only be hearing when travelling.
You expect it from the young, rich, and oblivious. You expect Ms. Dynamite and Justin Timberlake to mouth off against Americans in Iraq/US Cultural Imperialism, just before signing massive deals with Pepsi and McDonald's. You expect Catherine Zeta-Jones to say stuff like, "I find divorces repulsive. I grew up in a small, strictly Catholic fishing village on the coast of Wales. The people there have a different attitude to life than those in Hollywood - people stick together," having left said Eden at age fifteen in order to fulfil a destiny that included going to Hollywood and marrying a divorced ex-nympho. Was his divorce repulsive? Or just everyone else's?
You're no longer surprised that Uma Thurman keeps banging on about peace, love, and Buddhism, while appearing in films that treat the most explicit depictions of violence as a sexy, groovy giggle. Yet even now she can explain why she personally never watches violent films: "It's so powerfully effective - I feel the pain I'm watching."
You positively wriggle with delight when King Hipocrite Sean Penn gives yet another interview talking up his greatest role yet - that of anti-Bush, anti-Iraq-war peacenik. In October last year, Penn spent $56,000 publishing an open letter to President Bush in the Washington Post, putting the case against the war, before flying to Iraq and meeting the foreign minister of the genocidal, parasitical, murdering junta then ruling this unfortunate country. Is the Sean Penn who instructs the west to turn the other cheek when faced with Islamofascism the same Sean Penn, one wonders, who seems barely capable of seeing a cheek without itching to punch it? In the 1980s, this obvious heir to Gandhi spent a month in jail after a glorious attack on a harmless extra who committed the cardinal sin of trying to take the great man's photograph on a film set. When one of his cars was stolen shortly after he returned from Iraq, it contained two guns. Doesn't it occur to Penn that his peacenik preaching is hipocrisy of the worst kind?
It seems to me that far too many liberals believe that once you've ticked the Brotherhood Of Man box on your spiritual census, this gives you the right to be as big a bastard as you choose to be in your private life. The sexual duplicity of "enlightened" men is legend; be it the liberal lawyer Michael Mansfield with his wife and mistress installed in the same hotel or the Tory-hypocrisy-slaying Angus Deayton snorting cocaine off the bodies of hookers in seven-star bunk-ups when his partner was pregnant with their child. And the Alpha Male role model of these awful males is, of course, good ol' Bill Clinton, sticking cigars up the help between bleating on about human decency.
It is partly my suspicion that if you scratch a member of the Brotherhood Of Man, you're likely to find a woman-hater, which makes me suspicious of the current alliance between socialism and extreme Islam. Being anti-racist is admirable, but if one is not equally anti-sexist, then it makes a nonsense of the argument, and leaves one woefully wide open to accusations of hipocrisy of the silliest, sleaziest kind.
Racist murders are vile and their perpetrators should be banged up for life - but, equally, so are "honour killings" and the people who commit them. (BTW, isn't it encouraging that one hears of so few white fathers these days who kill their daughters for marrying black men, delightfully common though such multiracial unions are?) I don't like the idea of members of the BNP being school governors, as I heard a Muslim parent protesting on the Today programme - but knowing how the practice of Islam frequently downgrades the education of girls, I wouldn't be altogether happy about a hardcore Muslim being in that position, either.
Do as you would be done to. This issue is quite delightfully simple. And if you want it to be complex, it's because you just know that your argument wouldn't stand up to the stark light of day. For the truth, as the sexy old Situationists used to say, loves nothing more than to stand naked.