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91 entries, showing page 1 of 7 
Tuesday, April 23rd 2024
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and they're up!
After a lot of faff and fanfare, a couple of aborted attempts and even this last successful try almost coming to grief too upon the discovery that the phone-holding bit attached to my ancient tripod has had a fairly crucial component snapped off somewhere along the line, there are new pictures!

As someone who loathes having a camera pointed anywhere in their general direction more than almost anything else (to the extent that if somebody is taking photos in public the most they’ll get is my back while I walk swiftly in the opposite direction), I consider this a done deal now for a good long while. A few new backdrops (which will look familiar to some already) make life a lot easier, but Christ, it’s one of the few parts of my jobs that is a real chore and one I’m in no rush to repeat.

By way of making my different strokes for different folks point, this last weekend I have also finished all my accounts for the last year and even more enjoyably, built my new spreadsheets for the next – yay! With the admin almost out of way and the weather definitely on the up, the opportunity to get out and about has been grabbed with both hands, and I spent a lively hour with the London Symphony Orchestra over at the Barbican the other evening (a seat for the Half Six Fix on a Wednesday can be had for £10 and I was out, over to Waitrose and home again in time for dinner) plus time beforehand for a look at Purple Hibiscus, where the lakeside bit of the Barbican Centre has been wrapped in handwoven purple fabric and embroidered garments from Ghana. It’s sadly not permanent, but will be cheering the place up until August.

Unfortunately I also went to see the Amy Winehouse biopic, against my better judgement. My better judgement (as always) was right all along and I left in a foul mood until I happened across a pack of cinnamon rolls that I’d bought in the yellow sticker and forgotten about, and all was right with the world once again. Seriously though, just don’t; go and see Civil War instead (or don’t go at all). OR, continue the 90’s nostalgia with a bit of Portishead! The Barbican cinema is screening Live at Rosedale NYC in a couple of weeks and I will be there, quite possibly with some more cinnamon rolls. I’ll likely forgo them for Cypress Hill in July, mind.

In other news, and as the eagle-eyed may have noticed from the pictures, my old glasses are back! Actually not quite – I am currently navigating the new world of varifocals and have so far managed to successfully do the grocery shopping without breaking every bone in my body, but not a great deal else. Unfortunately while the reading part is fabulous the distance vision is crap, and since I’m getting tired of flagging down the wrong bus I may be heading back to the opticians for a tune up assuming I can remain in one piece for long enough to get to Covent Garden. Leaving the actual need to be able to see properly aside, I’m still very glad to be back in my proper frames. I missed them.

Back to this week, and it’s business as usual – it’s a busy time of year, so try to book a day ahead if you can! I don’t like having to turn away anybody who texts after 12 noon any more than those texting like me doing so, but at the moment it’s pretty much par for the course. My days and hours are right there on the site as ever, so lets hope the weather holds too!

More soon! Time to try and make dinner without burning down the building or any trips to A&E. Fingers crossed.

Friday, March 29th 2024
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Happy Easter!
Easter is here, and a four day weekend! I’ll keep this one fairly brief after the behemoth of last week, as time is ticking.

The current Bank Holiday plan (as ever) means having more to do than any normal work day, that being finishing the decorating, putting up shelves and assembling a flat pack, hanging some pictures and cooking an Easter dinner at some point, as well as nipping into town for an (overdue) eye test and possibly a film or two at the Prince Charles while I’m there. My favourite of last years’ London Film Festival Late Night With The Devil is finally among us; a must-see for any religious holiday, (and pretty much any other day too!)

A festive trip to Aldi in anticipation has taken place (if nothing else they have the best chocolate) and my phone will be off until Tuesday morning; anybody wanting to book then would be well advised to get in early on the day, although I may look at it briefly on Monday afternoon in between chocolate and leftover lamb pittas. If you’ve texted and I haven’t answered, that’s why (not to mention being up a ladder for most of the day), but I will be here next Saturday to make up for it before heading over to ExCel for the supremely serious business of the 2024 Pokémon Europe International Championships on Sunday – battle commencing time TBC. Wish me luck!

In other news, and after an hour in the Royal Albert Hall online waiting room followed by another hour in the online queue, I managed to get a ticket for Cypress Hill with the London Symphony Orchestra in July – yay! The seat is admittedly not what I’d hoped for, but nobody is in front of me and they sold out so quickly I’m counting myself lucky to have got anything at all; a look at Viagogo this morning showed some fairly unremarkable spots being touted on at £200+, so my modest £79 outlay is looking like a bargain. Now all I have to do is find how to get to the Royal Albert Hall since in sixteen years of working in London (and twenty+ of spending whatever downtime I could afford here) I don’t believe I’ve ever been, although my memory is crap and I’m prepared to be corrected.

On with the R&R then - Happy Easter everybody! More soon...

Wednesday, March 20th 2024
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fifty eight days later...
A few weeks on, and everything is steadily returning to normal, the unpacking is just about done with (and is gradually morphing into the being-terrified-things-I-can’t-find-have-got-lost; my clothes brush is currently number one on the list) and we’re even come out the other side of Oscars night again!

Even though I have little time – in theory – for the organisation that completely overlooked Midsommar and Uncut Gems and favoured Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction, I just about succeeded in my mission to see all the Best Film nominees in time for the ceremony, admittedly bar the handful you couldn’t pay me to sit through (Oppenheimer, Poor Things, Maestro), so not an entirely fair and objective undertaking. I did get through American Fiction, Zone Of Interest, Past Lives, Anatomy Of A Fall and Killers Of The Flower Moon as well as Barbie, which seems like eons ago now but was well worth another watch as a reminder.

I left Killers Of The Flower Moon not just until the last minute (eminently doable with a cinema fewer than five minutes’ walk away), but late enough that I walked back through my door fifteen minutes after the ITV coverage started – three and a half hours of film immediately followed by three and a half hours of TV was punishing stuff indeed (and it’s no wonder my eyesight is so terrible), but it was worth it to see Godzilla Minus One get the visual effects award, not to mention the Kens all back together – yay! I did wonder whether I’d inadvertently nodded off when Slash from Guns & Roses appeared.

The new-venue nerves are thankfully settling down, and it’s all getting very much back to normal which is a relief for the stress levels, as is the slowing down of the new-venue purchases and the subsequent effect on the credit card bill. I remember moving into my fully furnished Monument flat costing me just under £2K in stuff I didn’t have, so given that I have bought paint, pictures, new lights, curtains and curtain poles, shelving and a new mattress (amongst other things), the AMEX has taken something of a kicking.

For anybody who wants to know, possibly the best thing I’ve bought this time is the IKEA garlic press at £3.50 – a gamechanger equal only to the little non stick frying pan that cost about seven quid – and the giant sea urchin-esque light shade which took me ten minutes to build, and over an hour to find a ceiling light it would fit on. The fourth and final (for now) descaling of the kettle has also taken place; a sentence I was starting to think I would never type, but I suspect its capacity has probably increased by half a litre at least. An honorary mention too for the Hello Klean shower head, even if the spelling makes my eyes hurt.

In between decorating, unpacking, rewiring light fittings, moving pictures around and scrubbing limescale off everything in sight I have found time to get over to the BFI for Mark Kermode in 3D, which I got a ticket to after noticing it was at the IMAX while NFT1 is being faffed about with; the last time I was in the IMAX being when I went to see Jaws last summer (I think), and both that time and this I was filled with smug self regard after finding the entrance on the first attempt. I have spent a Sunday afternoon sitting amongst the cacti and orchids in the Barbican Conservatory, had a nice walk down to Paternoster Square to see the baby animal bronzes and read my library book in the fresh air, and wandered over to Smithfield to have a nose at how the museum move is coming along; I will be roughly ten minutes’ walk away when it opens (hopefully at least, and providing all continues as planned).

The next couple of weeks sees Easter creeping up earlier than usual plus the clocks going forward – a combination of hot cross buns, large dinners, Bank Holiday films and decorating jobs is planned and my phone will be off from Thursday evening onwards. The other main job planned for the weekend is to finally get some new photos sorted, a job which was actually planned for last weekend until I realised that I’d taken suitcases full of potential things to wear back up to my Scarborough flat months ago so I had less to move, and I haven’t brought them back. Duh.

Easter update soon! I’ll also take this chance to apologise for my sometimes hit-and-miss final directions over the last few weeks as I’m still learning the surrounding street names, but to be fair if you went to the location you were asked to in the first place so I knew where you were rather than calling from two streets away in an unknown direction, I’d make a much better job of them. Just a suggestion.

Monday, February 12th 2024
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back to square one...
So after four (mostly happy, if expensive) years, last week saw me close the door to my Monument flat for the final time, although to be fair I haven’t been living in it for almost a month.

It had it’s faults – greedy bastard landlords, an awful heating and hot water system, view of a brick wall – but handing back the keys on my first London home was still a bit of a wrench, not least because moving house is absolutely fucking awful. Plus it was very handy for Assenheims.

However, the worst of the moving nightmare is now well behind me (fingers crossed) and what we do now have is a new location not too far away, limitless heating and hot water and a flat that couldn’t be more different – yay! All I need to do is pull my finger out and get back to a normal work routine, not to mention another go at some pictures now I have a few more backdrops to choose from. Hopefully both will be this week – there is still a fair bit to do, but in my (considerable) experience most visitors don’t really care if the place has piles of stuff everywhere a few boxes kicking about and the only person who does is me.

The all-consuming terror of starting work in an unfamiliar set up is not to be underestimated – even back in the hotel days a new venue was stress personified right up until the first booking, and I will be going cautiously for the first few weeks for the sake of my sanity, if nothing else. That feeling that everybody within a quarter mile knows exactly what you’re doing is not fun, but just like the mess it goes away and (depending on who’s visiting) generally sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, I have been exploring my new neighbourhood! This has included joining the Barbican (which to be fair, I’ve been meaning to do for years), finding the recycling centre, the Post Office and the Aldi (praise be!) and chasing a few pokémons around Bunhill Fields. I have also found Whitecross Street Market, where I plan to spend a few quid on lunches when I don’t have much on in the afternoon, and discovered that I can be on the Elizabeth Line in nine minutes from standing outside my flat door, which is handy to say the least.

As the above suggests, incalls are being limited to fairly low numbers for a while so that everybody (me) can find their feet, get used to the directions and generally calm down – this doesn’t mean any real difference to the booking process for most, but if the sort of text you generally send doesn’t result in an answer, it’s got even less chance now. Just try to sound like a sensible adult who read (at least some of) the site and everybody gets what they want.

More soon! The boxes of oddbod bits I don’t know what to do with but don’t want to throw away won’t sort themselves…
Monday, January 22nd 2024
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birthday
Well I try not to miss a birthday blog, even if it’s an exceptionally brief one out of sheer necessity.

As a fair few will know, the next couple of weeks will be my last at Monument; the extortionate rent got too ridiculous in the end and having found more flat for less money just up the road, I’m off! The good news is I will be barely spitting distance away at Moorgate (if you’re coming from the East) or alternatively Barbican (if you’re coming from the West, and also if you have no sense of direction). The difference in the two distances is negligible, to say the least.

Today has been spent doing my usual Monday volunteering followed by a suitcase run between flats, a spot of decorating in my new bedroom and some flat pack assembly in front of Family Guy. I can confidently say I’ve had far worse birthdays, although my planned trip to check out the Barbican cinema practically next door was thwarted by a rogue bedside cabinet. I’ll go next Monday.

I will be playing the next couple of weeks entirely by ear as (and which anybody who has moved house will know only too well) I have a million things to do and even more to clean, but fingers crossed it will be back to business as usual in all-new surroundings asap! For now, it’s as much notice as possible please; it could be said that I have a lot on.

More soon! It’s going to be a frazzled couple of weeks, but it’ll be worth it.

Sunday, December 31st 2023
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the end of no man's land...


And with that, we move into 2024 and Christmas is over with for another year, although as somebody who favours peace and quiet above anything else it’s not a particularly frenetic time of year and this one was no exception. Next year I may up the ante a little, and get dressed at some point between December 23rd and Boxing Day.

After a week of doing virtually nothing bar eating and watching TV I am happy to be easing back into things, and after the disaster that was last New Years’ Eve I planned today with far more care, made easier by it being a Sunday and therefore no possibility of bookings. I checked my bloody order properly before I left Waitrose this year, too.

Tree will be departing on Tuesday, so tomorrow will be spent taking everything down and tidying up, with an outing to see either Priscilla or Casablanca providing a mid afternoon break; I managed to doublebook myself so the decision will be mine to make at about half past two! I may set off a bit early and see the New Year’s Day parade on the way, and I may also take the rest of my trifle with me (I keep a special ice cream spoon in my bag at all times, for reasons anyone who has suffered the new wooden ones now provided at Cineworld will have no trouble understanding).

For now, by rights I should currently be on Waterloo Bridge awaiting the fireworks rather than sitting on my sofa; I walked back through my door roughly an hour and a half after walking out of it having turned the corner off Kingsway and arrived at such complete pandemonium I gave up even trying to find which of the queues I was supposed to be in, let alone trying to find the back of it.

Some forty minutes of wandering around Aldwych in circles looking in vain for signs and remaining none the wiser, I remembered that fuck this for a game of soldiers is the only sensible answer to some situations and despite having to walk home, I’m happy with my choice. They were still queuing next to me when I passed the Royal Courts Of Justice at around 9.30pm, if that gives anybody an idea.

Meanwhile I have the post-Christmas Pringles, cheese and dates, the tail end of a tub of Heroes and a duvet in front of a large flat screen TV. Things could definitely be worse.

More soon. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19th 2023
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not long now...
The season is well underway, the Christmas break looms ever closer and I am getting very much into the Christmas spirit, hastened by a special trip to see everybody’s favourite festive tale of suicide and financial ruin It’s a Wonderful Life at the Prince Charles last Wednesday evening.

I even managed a poke around the Fortnum’s Christmas shop pretending I could afford things on the way, and I will be back at the PCC tomorrow for the Muppet Christmas Carol singalong (followed by the new Godzilla over the road at Cineworld, a sterling double bill and pure dumb luck that I got a seat at the former). I will hopefully get a chance to nip down to Battersea Power Station to see David Hockney’s ipad Christmas trees en route (and if I do, there will be a picture!); at least that’s the plan, and we all know what normally happens to those.

Today marks the start of my final working week before a well deserved few days off, and while it won’t all be R&R (and a lot of F; every December I resolve that I will not spend a ridiculous amount at M&S, Konditor and this year Morrisons, and every December the grocery bill gets higher), I will return next week hopefully rested and revived after what’s been a far busier month than I’d anticipated. I may look even more like a bouncy castle than I do now, but that’s really par for the course, and I doubt I’ll be on my own.

A last bit of housekeeping then, I will be packing up in good time on Thursday 21st unless somebody declares their interest by lunchtime or so, and as far as next week goes my phone will be off from then until lunchtime-ish on Thursday 28th. This means that texting at 5pm expecting to turn up at 6pm is not going to happen (not that it does anyway, as a general rule). New Year is currently a play-it-by-ear situation which depends largely on the time I can be bothered to get up on the second of January, so again, I’d advise booking in good time.

A brief update I know (and there is more on the proper blog which wouldn't pass muster under the rules here), but there's things to do! More soon...

Tuesday, December 5th 2023
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five gold rings...
Well it is the fifth day of Christmas after all, and I am freshly back from a good singsong at the Felix Project carol service in South Ken last night (which has given me an irredeemably sore throat today and necessitated a bit of a rest, but not to worry).

Some (very) quick updates then now December is here! My Christmas tree is on the way – Tree’s third Christmas sharing my living room is likely to be her last (since she’s getting a bit big), so I will be going all out with the baubles as befits the occasion, and next year we can start all over again with a little one! ETA is on Friday at a time anywhere between 9am and 6pm, so anybody wanting to book might wind up helping...

Like many others I was poleaxed by recent news that not just the Caramac but the red Bounty bars are no more – and efforts to build a stockpile of either have sadly been fruitless – but the growing stash of Christmas chocolate is building nicely alongside everything else, and preparations for a bit of a break are ticking along too. I have decided to flirt with disaster again by ordering New Year food from Waitrose even after they sent me away without the main components last year, and all travel, activities and other Christmas must-haves are booked (I think).

As anybody who fancies a wander over to my site and the proper blog (rather than edited highlights hacked about and copypasted here) will find, the Christmas blog page is up with available dates and details, and the next two-and-a-bit weeks will (hopefully) be calm, peaceful and relaxing. There is some more exciting news on the way but it can wait, and it’s business as usual for now! I will be here all weekend for a change, so anybody at a loose end on Saturday is welcome to get in touch too.

More soon! I’ll try to keep everything posted as and when so we all know where we are, and for everything else there’s text messages. Thank God for text messages.

Thursday, November 30th 2023
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I went, I saw and I conquered!
And some pictorial proof above from the top floor of One Canada Square and with even more thanks to everybody who contributed; 48 floors and 1031 steps later we have (so far) raised £470 for the Felix Project, and with a bit more to come in yet! For the stats fans, I did it in twelve minutes and twenty three seconds and I have no idea how either. The promise of mince pies, crisps and beer at the top played it’s part.

It’s been a lively couple of weeks, with the stair climb spliced between the Chemical Brothers at the start of the month (OK, but I left early after giving up trying to see past the six foot four bloke who wound up immediately – and I mean nose-between-his-shoulder-blades immediately - in front of me no matter how often I moved), a good few cinema trips including more Nicolas Cage, and the highlight last weekend with my enduring favourites Prodigy, all the way up at Ally Pally.

I think it’s ten years at least since I last trekked up to AP, but it doesn’t get any quicker or easier for anybody who doesn’t live within a few minutes’ walk and having jumped up and down a lot for almost two hours at the end of an already-long day I then had the monumental pain in the arse of a ninety minute journey to do the six miles home. It was still worth it, even if I was more tired the following day than I was after the stair climb.

Christmas is creeping up on us all; I will provisionally be here and available until end of play on Thursday 21st December and then back from Friday 29th/possibly late afternoon Thursday 28th if all goes according to plan (if I get to it I’ll stick the Christmas hours page up too). This does not mean I will be sitting around the flat in my work clothes with everything primed for bookings any more than I do the rest of the time – the ‘now?’ brigade have been out in force this week, and be assured it will get you nowhere. I would include a reminder for Adultwork users to just try reading the bloody page properly and then you’ll likely get what you want, but as ever, there is just no point.

I also managed a trip over to the West End to see the Christmas lights and Selfridge’s windows; a lengthy ride on the 139 bus and a lasagne at Waterloo later I was definitely ready to get festive. A free mince pie workshop at Bread Ahead followed last Sunday, and this coming week includes the Felix Project Carol Service and the tree lighting over at Trafalgar Square (availability permitting) – I will endeavour not to burn out too early, but given that I spend most of the actual day on the sofa eating my body weight in pretty much everything, Christmas activities need to be worked in in good time.

*this is the point where Song Of The Week goes on my normal blog, so as I can't post videos here I'll reclaim the space here to apologise for the squares on the Leadenhall Market photo above. People (verboten) are under them, for anybody who was wondering*

More soon! The heating is definitely on…

Wednesday, November 1st 2023
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and (as promised) the winner is...

...Grazer! All hail the fat bear Queen!

The annual cinema-fest which makes up October is at an end, and with a side trip to the opera too! Despite the appalling weather, I wasn’t going to pass up a half price ticket to the opening night of La Traviata at the Coliseum, especially when the finish time coincides neatly with the nearby Itsu’s daily half price hometime sale. Sushi for everyone!

Film highlight of the month has certainly been Late Night With The Devil (which will hopefully get some distribution so I can see it again), although FrightFest's Halloween offering managed a few crackers over last Friday night and all day Saturday. I even stayed for the last film instead of bailing and was glad I did, even if it was mostly to try and avoid the rain (had I left early I would have avoided the Central Line night tube though, so it was all a bit academic in the end and Soho on the nearest Saturday to Halloween is pretty good value in itself, after all).

Training for the Santa Stair Climb continues despite the endless rain; the stairmaster at the gym will never be a favourite of mine and I won’t be sorry to see the back of it, but as anybody familiar with the Felix Project will know it’s for a very good cause. Thank you again to everybody who has donated – I’ll be getting some far more enjoyable exercise on Saturday courtesy of the Chemical Brothers over at the O2 – it’s been far too long, and I cannot wait. Bring on the lasers!

This week has also seen the traditional pre-Christmas clearout and eBay sale/charity donation/recycling drive get properly underway; all was going splendidly until Lego decided to mock and torment me by releasing the brand new Natural History Museum set early. A combination of two of my favourite things is going to be seriously difficult to pass up, even if it means having to build it on the floor just for the space (and having just disassembled the Palace Cinema I do have a little bit of room), so some avoidance of Lego related anything will be the modus for the next few weeks. Or I could just jog my memory by looking at my AMEX bill.

My plans this weekend mean a bit of availability on Saturday for a change – let me know! Next week may be hit and miss for reasons beyond my control, but I’ll do my best and in the meantime, I’m going to have yet another crack at some new pictures if the sun comes out again – getting up in daylight over the last few weeks after weeks of the alarm going off in pitch darkness has been delightful, even if it won’t be for long. C’est la vie (and the onset of Autumn Proper suits me just fine in every other conceivable way, to be fair).

Halloween is done with, the clocks have gone back (so the blinds are being drawn at 4pm) and I will be doing a lot of hibernating – come and join in!

More soon…

Sunday, October 8th 2023
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stairs, premieres, & very fat bears...
And it’s October! I began the month with a visit to the Lookout at 8 Bishopsgate, one of the newest ways to take a long ride in a lift and with a lovely view (although sadly not of my building, unlike the Walkie Talkie’s Sky Garden); the viewing gallery at the Twenty Two has opened since which is higher still, but fifty floors up is fine to be getting on with.

No stairs were involved either on the way up or the way down so an impromptu rehearsal for the Santa Stair Climb wasn’t on the cards, but I can live with it. Training continues and the total raised so far is now over £250 – to everybody reading who has contributed, it makes a huge difference (and to anybody who hasn’t – I will point out that I’m going to Canary Wharf so you don’t have to). If nothing else I’ve rediscovered my love of the spin class, which is a bit like clubbing during the day and for the middle aged (coincidentally daytime clubbing is exactly what I will be doing the very day before the Santa Stair Climb, timings being what they are).

The 2023 London Film Festival began last Wednesday, but due to various spanners in the works and general annoying circumstances I’ve yet to see a single festival film! I will be getting straight into the spirit of things starting tomorrow with a two film day; dashing between different venues to make a second (or third) festival film has always been one of the fun parts and I’ve yet to mistime it, although getting from the BFI to the Ciné Lumière in South Ken on forty minutes a few years was a very close call (I made it, but only just).

It may yet be a three film day since my second venue is the Prince Charles Cinema, and if I’m walking out of there around half past eight I may as well give my Cineworld Unlimited card a flex. I had idly planned rounding off the evening with the chirpy-but-nasty Saw X, but after deciding to down tools early on Friday I’ve both already seen it, AND followed it up with apple pie and custard in the café a few minutes away which cost less than an ice cream would have been at Cineworld – result. The LFF itinerary for the rest of this week is mostly evening screenings and I’ll be here on Saturday too, so business will be pretty much as usual if a little earlier for the daily cut offs (definitely on Tuesday, at least).

Apropos of nothing in particular, over in Alaska it turns out that Fat Bear Week is drawing to a close – with heartfelt thanks to the person who drew it to my attention and brightened up my day. My vote has stayed with Grazer (bear 128), but only the fattest bear can triumph, and I will be following the results with keen interest (I promise to announce the winner here; I sincerely hope the prize is salmon). [Unfortunately - as ever - I can't include a link with the details on here so it's all a bit redundant, but there's one on the proper blog for those with the sense to go to my site and find it].

More soon! I’ll see you on the red carpet…

Thursday, September 14th 2023
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well, that was odd...

Or alternatively, it seems that both I and the folks at the London Film Festival decided to be properly prepared after the catastrophic ticketing failure last year – yay!

Last Wednesday morning at roughly 08.30hrs I decided to assemble food and drink for the next hour or two, make myself comfortable on the sofa and log into my BFI account in preparation for the waiting room I’d read would be taking over the site from 9am, and on my phone – waiting room screen as expected. On the laptop, however; still browsing films at 09.58, and after pressing Refresh – with not a little apprehension – a second after 10am I was in immediately, and after a brief timelapse because of the disbelief, tickets and seats were chosen and everything booked and paid for by 10.06.- result! The LFF runs from the fourth to the fifteenth of October and tickets for non members went on sale yesterday, I think.

Having had enough of sitting around being eaten by mosquitoes in a flat hotter than the sun (only visitors get the benefit of the aircon as a general rule, such is the electricity cost, although I will admit to having cracked on Friday evening just to get some sleep without feeling as if I’d been locked in the sauna), I decided some affirmative action was required and took myself off to the O2 on Saturday afternoon, where Cineworld is huge, food choices are plentiful and the aircon is nothing short of brutal. The pints of iced water were a helpful addition too after the Cornetto I got from the corner Tesco Express – sadly the Calippos were long gone.

Past Lives is my hands down recommendation for this week unless the heat has meant difficulty sleeping for a few nights; in this situation I would point you to The Nun 2, a box-ticking franchise addition so woefully dull and pedestrian I nodded off for a good fifteen minutes and didn’t miss a thing. In Nun 2’s defence, I only picked it because I haven’t been in the X Screen (a wraparound affair where the picture is on the left and right hand walls as well as the front; Jaws would be fabulous) before, and it finished at a convenient time for me to head over to Wagamama for some ramen, green juice and lollipop prawns before the much better Past Lives started at eight o’clock.

For those unfamiliar with the dystopian wonderland that is Canary Wharf, that’s a bit of it on the bottom left photo at the top. The pointy-topped building slightly to the right of the middle is One Canada Square, and I will be getting a much closer look at it in roughly nine weeks time when I will be heading up forty eight floors of stairs for the the Felix Project, a London charity which collects and redistributes surplus food around the city, reducing food waste (and as somebody who used to work for our favourite high street store with it’s popular food hall, trust me that there is a lot of it) and alleviating hunger. The reason I don’t work Monday daytimes is because I’m one of the people volunteering there to help them do it.

The Santa Stair Climb is a way to help a bit more; vans cost money, kitchens cost money, even fundraising costs money! So without preaching or banging on about it any more [and as I can't post links here I can't really be any more expansive - there are a couple on Proper Blog which this is copypasted from, for those able to read my profile that far down], anybody who would like to sponsor me (consider forty eight floors, over a thousand stairs, having to go to Canary Wharf) and help some people have some dinner before they go to bed while truckloads of good food is saved from landfill, let me know. You don’t have to book to do this.

Training so far has involved incline sprints, lots of weighted lunges, squats and donkey kicks, barre and spin classes and (predictably) just the one attempt at running up the ten flights of stairs in my building in thirty degree heat before giving that one up as a bad job. More vigilant readers will have spotted that my pre-event warm up will in fact be an all dayer at Fabric on the which starts just shy of twenty four hours prior, and should give my legs a proper stretch. It’s a good job I’m a trooper.

More soon! The stairmaster at rhe gym beckons...

Monday, September 4th 2023
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I don't care what the weatherman says...
The heat and humidity has been back and with it my nemesis, the London mosquito. Thankfully I spotted the vicious little bastard before it could do as much damage as last time (when an onlooker could be forgiven for thinking I had a dose of the chicken pox), but I have still been well and truly chewed. If anything the worst part was having to keep the bloody windows shut.

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks again, and I have still not seen Oppenheimer. I have seen Blue Beetle in the 4DX screen (which always seems like a fun idea; unfortunately my dodgy back means I come out feeling like I got a working over from Anthony Joshua, and not in a good way), Theater Camp (their spelling) and Barbie again, plus a couple of classic repeats in The French Connection and In The Mood For Love, one of my all time favourites and one which thankfully pops up a couple of times a year in the ping pong between the BFI, the Genesis and the Prince Charles cinemas. Plus FrightFest! Twaddle as always, but still an unmissable weekend (plus a good way to keep the rain off and eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches, Greggs sausage rolls and Baskin Robbins three days in a row).

After all that, this next couple of weeks will be peaceful! The nights are drawing in, the very early signs of Autumn are showing and it can’t come soon enough for me – the London Film Festival tickets going on sale is an unofficial marker, and I will be online at ten on Wednesday morning hoping that we don’t have a repeat of the BFI website disintegration from last year. If we do, I will also be online at ten on Thursday morning.

The next few months activities are now pretty much fully organised (such is life for the gainfully self employed with astromomical rent); I have the film festival, a ballet and an opera, gigs, daytime raving at Fabric with Clockwork Orange and baking a pork pie (amongst other things) at the Bread Ahead bakery school’s Christmas Workshop in December. I’ve been trying to get on a (any!) Bread Ahead workshop for months, so the 50% off 10th birthday code was an ideal kick up the arse to sit and wait when they went on sale rather than just cross my fingers while all the places filled up.

In eyebrow news, mine are settling down nicely after my top up and the subsequent sprint down Whitechapel High Street with a pirate hat made hurriedly from the Evening Standard on my head to keep the rain off – is there a single day it hasn’t rained? So anybody who visited early last week will be glad to know I no longer look like Angry Birds.

More soon! I'm here all week...

Tuesday, August 15th 2023
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think pink!
And it’s August already! July has flown past with a whoosh of theatre trips (unusual for me, although they would be less so if we had a few more flamenco festivals), blockbuster films and – finally – some cooler weather; lovely though having central air is, paying for it is not fun.

The Cineworld Unlimited card has been doing some seriously heavy lifting with Elemental, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (even if you skip the film, Spotify the soundtrack), Talk To Me and naturally Barbie, which I first saw the day after release at a sold out Genesis cinema resplendent in pink, bar a small enclave headed to see Oppenheimer in Screen 2 (no mid century suits and hats were in evidence, sadly).

Despite my Unlimited card I have not seen Oppenheimer, since three and a half hours in a cinema seat makes my back hurt and Christopher Nolan is a pretentious cunt really not my cup of tea. I may change my mind when it’s the ITV2 Bank Holiday film and I don’t have to leave my couch, where subtitles are freely available for those who might like to engage with Nolan’s dialogue but lack the hearing of a bat – far more my speed and also on the war theme was Cabaret at the KitKat club, which is well worth a visit and also includes free schnapps for the drinkers. Knowing all the songs helps immensely (probably not with Oppenheimer), and I will never knowingly turn down a chance to wear sequins in broad daylight.

Last weekend saw Pokémon Go Fest in London, the only time the in-person event has ever been to the UK and an opportunity to get out on foot for an entire weekend – yay! Unfortunately I chose the Saturday afternoon for my ticketed visit to Brockwell Park and thus spent a fair bit of the afternoon cowering under trees trying to keep my phone screen dry enough to play, but all things considered it was well worth the sore feet and dead batteries; 22,000 steps and 17km or so later I staggered back to the bus stop a happy sausage with my new catches safely stashed to pore over later on. A pack of four yum yums (retro!) on the bus helped.

Back to business and I’m pleased to say that my ongoing problem with early arrivals has greatly improved of late, although I’m well aware that I’ve jinxed myself by pointing it out. Needless to say that when one door closes another opens, and my current bête noire is the slow but inexorable increase in visitors who ignore my clear directions to the lift on the way in and instead take it upon themselves to use the stairs, thus passing every other flat in the building before mine. For the love of God, please stop it.

When you arrive at my door I will tell you over the phone where the lift is before I do anything else, because if I leave it until you’ve rung the buzzer I will be bellowing it down the intercom which I would prefer not to do. Equally, and strange though it may seem, I would prefer you didn’t run into my neighbours or the people who clean my building – not because they’ll look at one random bloke and immediately think ‘oh, the person in Flat X must be a prostitute because a man is going in there’ but because if you are the third or fourth random bloke to do so that day/week, well, they just might. We don’t ask you to do X, Y and Z for shits and giggles – there is always a reason, and the sort of arrogant, entitled bellend who thinks my reasons are not important is not welcome in my flat. Just. Use. The. Fucking. Lift.

If you have a pathological fear of lifts, book somebody else. If you like running up steps (and I do too), book somebody else who works near Angel tube and you can run up the longest escalators on the underground. Problem solved, everybody happy. And if you deliberately troll me and decide to use the stairs anyway, good luck with your service; obviously all providers are on top form when you behave like a twat.

Phew – I know, but it’s been a long week. The upcoming one is looking promising indeed both weather and availability-wise, so cinema tickets and lift-phobias permitting, get in touch!

More soon...

 

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