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 92 entries, showing page 2 of 7 
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...

Tuesday, June 13th 2023
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2023: heatwave #1
Every year around this time the same thing happens, and I’m forced to try and think of a blog title I haven’t used before to indicate that the temperature has risen above around 25 degrees; frankly it’s so warm today I can’t be arsed. When I’ve finished languishing on the settee watching Pokémon Go videos on YouTube and organising my Lego sets, I really ought to make some lists.

Given the increasing heat and following a busy weekend, I’m looking forward to a relaxing few days after having been traumatised by had the privilege of attending a preview of Episode 3 of the new Black Mirror series; ‘Beyond The Sea’ last night at the BFI. The five new episodes will be available on Netflix from Thursday morning and there will be no spoilers here in the meantime, suffice to say that Black Mirror has been a favourite of mine since the Channel 4 days and anybody who’s seen it will have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Still; fucking hell, Charlie.

Harrowing entertainment aside, the longest day of the year approaches; I had mistakenly thought that was last Wednesday after waiting an hour and a half in the V&A’s online ticket queue when the latest batch of Chanel exhibition days went on sale, but as a veteran of the overnight FrightFest pass queue in Leicester Square (and more lately the queue to pay my respects to the late Queen – the standard to which all future queues will be held) an online one has no fear for me, and at least in this instance I could queue without even getting out of bed. Good times.

The onset of sunshine also reminded me that I have not yet made my regular pilgrimage to the opticians for contact lenses, which I buy a pack of every year in desperation theory so that I can wear my (many, varied and some expensive) sunglasses on bright days, before remembering that they don’t suit me, I can’t see properly in them and will likely use three or four pairs at most on special occasions before consigning the rest to the recycling box in SpecSavers. The last time I wore contact lenses was to see Prodigy at Brixton last July – an extremely sensible decision given the likely fate of any loose objects at a Prodigy gig – and a pair to wear for the Chemical Brothers would be similarly handy, so that’s a job for an upcoming weekend. I still took the Prodigy ones out on the bus home; why are they so bloody uncomfortable?

Back to the present day, and between visits to my adopted balcony once the sun has moved over I will be kicking about at the flat as usual until Friday afternoon; the aircon is working (praise be!) and all is well. For now, it’s back to the iced tea and Lego while the countdown to Thursday morning continues…

More soon!

Monday, May 29th 2023
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here comes the sun!
And it’s back to the grind after what should have been the final of the seemingly endless long weekends, the first of them consisting mostly of spreadsheet building, database caching and general faff with my website after it decided to fall on it’s arse for no particular reason. Thank you, website.

Respite (of sorts) came in the form of the Prince Charles cinema whose gruelling Bank Holiday Wong Kar Wei marathon was a joy in every way apart from the physical; my eyes have settled back into normality but my back took it’s time (thank you, co-codamol). The coronation is also well and truly over and done with, which means having to pick my way around loosely gathered mobs blocking the pavement to look at the Walkie Talkie on their way to the Tower every time I want to go anywhere is over for another few weeks, and hopefully the same can be said for the escalator-standers; my normal calm and serene disposition is tested to it’s limits by this (and I know I’m not on my own). That said, I spent the whole of that actual weekend at the beach – yay!

Summer is almost upon us; the air con has now been on twice and the urge to get out and about rather than spend every evening on the sofa in front of Springwatch is well and truly back. A trip over to the Natural History Museum to see the Titanosaur has been a recent highlight, and was followed up by some serious Eurovisioning after a big stock up from my new local M&S at Moorgate; the Saturday afternoon yellow sticker madness was in full swing and carried the rest of the evening along nicely, even if Finland were definitely robbed (and anybody who didn’t see the BBC’s BSL interpreter was equally so).

In the spirit of supporting local cultural goings-on I also have upcoming tickets to flamenco and ballet at Sadler’s Wells, Cabaret – the one with a capital letter, which I managed to get a rare sensibly priced seat for – and a BFI preview of one of the new Black Mirror episodes, all spread over the next few weeks. With FrightFest and Pokémon Go Fest in August things are definitely looking busy! Thankfully my job means that I get to lie down a lot.

Back to this last weekend and another Bank Holiday – the opening of a new Lego store is always a cause for celebration and I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to combine it with a few hours at Battersea Power Station, which most will know has come a long way since it’s derelict (but still lovely) state in 2013 when I visited for Open London. A queue of less than two hours passes in no time with Pokémon Go and a big bag of Maltesers, and after a good look round including examining the custom build pictured at the top (14,500 bricks!) my far more modest mission (there's a picture on Proper Blog - we only get one here) was accomplished.

I also bought the soon-to-be-retired London skyline build which now sits proudly on top of the TV stand (this helped me avoid whipping out the credit card on impulse for the giant Eiffel Tower that would barely fit in my flat), and whilst I didn’t try the glass lift to the top of the north west chimney (one queue per day is enough) or hang about long enough to check out the cinema listings and make a day of it, I had a good stroll around to look at the restored BPS exterior and even managed to sit outside on the grass for a good half hour before complaining about the sun and bogging off home to get on with the unboxing. Next time I’ll remember to take my Factor 50, a nice packed lunch and a book.

To the week ahead; it’s business as usual until Thursday pm – other commitments plus the lack of trains on Friday have necessitated yet another long weekend, for me at least. As far as I know it’s also school holidays, so for reasons already detailed above I will be retreating to (and staying in) my flat most of the time once I’m all direction-ned out, so for anybody fancying a wander over, fingers crossed.

More soon! And that includes the photos that I’ve now been taking and deleting, planning and putting off and generally buggering about with for months…

Tuesday, April 4th 2023
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the end of an era...
This week I am in mourning (sort of) for my local M&S on Fenchurch Street, which finally closed it’s doors for good last Friday. I first went in to buy myself a huge and mood improving bed-picnic in the food hall the first time I ever worked in the Square Mile (2011 or 12 maybe?) and completely ballsed up my dates; the amazing bargain price for the hotel was something of a Pyrrhic victory when we consider that I booked it the week between Christmas and New Year when the entire neighbourhood was deserted. Ahem.

Thankfully I managed a good stock up before the doors shut for the last time, and as a consequence can barely get into my kitchen for blue corn tortilla chips, Welsh cakes and the luxury hot cross buns, plus a myriad of oddbod fridge stuff that was reduced to clear so they didn’t have to move it. There were some varied combinations over the weekend, right enough; I did also manage to knock a black forest cake together on almost entirely from cupboard, fridge and freezer stuff which cheered me up no end, so now I just have to work out where I’m now going to buy my bloody bread from.

Other victories this week included managing to get a Chemical Brothers ticket for the O2 in November before they sold out – it’s been far too long! The last time I was at the O2 arena was a good eighteen months ago for the Ministry Of Sound 30th birthday thing, which coincidentally will be almost two years to the day earlier than Tom and Ed take to the stage in November. Even taking into account Fatboy Slim and Prodigy on consecutive nights last July, it has definitely been too long.

Back to this week and the Easter weekend is approaching; as if anybody needed to be told, I don’t work Bank Holidays (and even if I did, would you want to pay double time?) and will be having a pleasant and lazy time with TV, Pokémon Go and chocolate. There was a great deal of charging about last weekend thanks to neverending errands, and whilst a half hour spent sitting amongst the hyacinths at the Royal Exchange after a walk around the City’s sculpture trail catching pokémons revived me no end and I may well do it again soon, I have no plans at all to be perpendicular for the duration of Saturday and Sunday at least.

Easter Monday brings the Wong Kar Wei all dayer at the Prince Charles which means I won’t exactly be exerting myself then either bar my regular up-escalator run at Leicester Square, which I’ve always done despite it being an absolute bastard. I also always run up the even longer one at Angel (thankfully for my knees, I don’t often go to Angel although as the only decent-sized M&S in the vicinity is now at Moorgate, I won’t be too far away at least a couple fo times a week).

So the sun is shining and a short week is on the cards! Easter egg chocolate awaits (sadly the cake is long gone), and a bit of R&R is hopefully forthcoming for us all - I’ll be here until Thursday evening and then persona non grata until next Tuesday, when I will be a person who spent the entire previous day in a seat at the PCC. It could go either way.

More soon…

Sunday, March 26th 2023
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the arrival of spring...
It’s been busy! The extra-long puffa coat which makes me look like a Dalek is (probably) put away for another year and the average daily temperature has very much taken a definite turn for the better. Leaving aside the occasional blip hopefully it’ll be full steam ahead until Easter, when appalling weather is guaranteed under the Bank Holiday Act (thankfully the Act also includes the requirement to have an array of dodgy old films on TV for the duration, so with that and the chocolate the weather isn’t important).

The warm weather has offered a few more chances to get out and about for the purpose of sitting in a dark room, and I am currently taking any opportunity to run up to the Genesis where all films (in all screens, including the ones with the little armchairs) are £5 per ticket until the end of the month. The Prince Charles is also keeping it’s end up with Fantasia on Tuesday (with a look at the Ramadan lights on the way home) and a couple of marathons well worth the ticket price; the previously mentioned Bong Joon Ho all nighter is preceded a few days before by the Wong Kar Wei all dayer on Easter Monday, classic Hong Kong cinema being the perfect way to spend a Bank Holiday.

The original plan for last weekend was a trip over to Kew to see the Spring flowers – including my annual quest to find the best place to look at cherry blossom in London – then sanity prevailed and I will be leaving it until a far quieter weekday. It will definitely be soon; crocuses wait for no man (or woman) and a nice peaceful train ride with a book, a sandwich and a can of Irn Bru will amp up the outing even more, but in the meantime an evening walk along the South Bank with Pokémon Go and a packet of Maltesers was a very fair substitute.

The annual punishment that is the clocks going forward an hour means the onset of lighter nights which will make a change when it comes to the sustained after hours Pokémon playing necessary to progress to level 46 (which will mean nothing at all to most but is a deeply serious matter to me); the wandering about outside in the rain paid off last Friday evening outside Fenchurch Street station with an unexpected visit from the beautiful Routemaster bus pictured while I was battling something or other next to a skip. I was delighted to see that the buses are available for hire but sadly only with a driver; the chance to take the controls of a vintage bus and razz around the Square Mile unbridled by passengers, routes or timetables would be worth it’s weight in gold, but not terribly sensible (especially given that I don’t have a driving licence). Maybe one day.

More soon, and all is well for the week ahead – yay! Bedtime yoga beckons, and I haven’t even had my tiramisu yet.

Monday, March 13th 2023
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small objects of desire...
And the above is possibly the most exciting and desirable photograph I have ever posted online anywhere; I should point out that no tomatoes are kept on the premises overnight (or for any length of time beyond that which it takes me to eat them), just in case anybody was getting any ideas.

The past few weeks have brought plenty more by way of excitement and new things to do, despite the onset of Spring definitely taking a back seat these last few days and the temperatures falling all the way back down again. At least the snow is pretty even if my electricity bill won’t be.

I have been to (in?) a soundbath, which included an actual proper gong as well as singing bowls and more tinkly/boingy/generally noisy things; this was added onto my yin yoga class as an extra relaxation aid although an hour was a bit much as it turned out, and whilst I settled down with all the best intentions my attention wavered before the halfway mark after getting a bit cold and being unable to avoid turning my focus to the apple pie I had in the fridge. Probably best to stick to spinning, at least at tea time.

In the where-did-the-time-go category, the twentieth anniversary of Oldboy, heralded a very fitting first visit of the year to the Prince Charles cinema, since I last left at around quarter past eight on New Year’s Eve. More are already booked, including a Bong Joon-Ho all nighter which I will need to survive until the end to see Parasite again; many peanut butter sandwiches and cans of Irn Bru will be required. Korean entertainment has loomed large in the popularity stakes recently and no one could be happier about that than me, even if I will never be on Physical 100 for as long as I keep on with the apple pies.

The vigilant will have noticed an increase in Saturday availability of late, and this is likely to continue for at least as long as the trains continue to be an expensive, time consuming pain in the arse – not least this very evening when a power failure earlier meant multiple cancellations and standing all the way to Kings Cross as a result, although I’ll get a refund at least. I have never looked forward to getting on the Northern Line quite so much, partly because of the opportunity to finally sit down for ten minutes but also because it afforded my first chance to check out the long-awaited new Bank station entrance at Cannon Street – yay!

Every other weekend is the current MO, and whilst I like a Saturday morning lie in as much as everybody else, there’s also a lot to be said for making hay while the sun shines (plus when the sun is shining at this time of year it’s really bloody cold, so it makes sense to keep warm in any practical and available way). Plus I can just go back to bed whenever I like, because weekend.

Back to the week ahead and I will be here throughout; I have contingency plans Luther on Netflix in the event of quiet spells in and out of the strikes and crap weather forecast, and a bit of peace and quiet won’t hurt. I may even (finally) get the new bloody photos done.

For now, I will soon be settling down to watch the Academy Awards until silly o’clock. Let the mad dresses and even madder speeeches commence!

More soon...

Tuesday, February 14th 2023
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nobody's perfect...
Well I couldn’t pass up a chance to immortalise the best final words of any film!

An unexpected free ticket for a Valentine’s Day trip to watch Some Like It Hot at the BFI presents as good an opportunity to do so as any, hopefully preceded (or followed, or even possibly both depending on how hungry I am) by dinner somewhere nearby, which means one of my old Waterloo haunts (realistically either Ping Pong or Black and Blue) unless everywhere is horribly full and Option 3 – a mini-rampage around the M&S at Waterloo Station – is invoked. Any or a combination will do me fine; no massacres, please.

After the energetic goings-on last weekend (and for anyone who wants to know, I made it round in under an hour despite a dodgy earbud and a few lapses in concentration to have a bit of a wave), the February half term week is upon us! This is a traditionally peaceful and non-hectic week which may or may not provide me with the opportunity to catch up on some housekeeping and admin, as well as a planned wander down to the National History Museum to see Dippy now she’s returned for a visit.

One of my earliest memories of London is seeing the dinosaurs (and the blue whale!) at the NHM some forty years ago, and it will be nice to catch up – I still have my much-prized balsa wood model from the shop, albeit with a few less-than-crucial bits missing. I may even head back over the river for a walk round Battersea Park, a look at the new BPS shops and a ride in the chimney lift followed by a ride home via Battersea Power Station Station; all of this is working on the assumption that I’ll be able to stop watching Physical 100 on Netflix for longer than the time it takes to get more sofa food and make a brew. Yeah, right.

Meanwhile, it’s still only Monday and I’ve already had a trip up to Angel, one of my favourite old stomping grounds and home of both my optician and one of my favourite cinemas; sadly I didn’t have time to call in at the Screen On The Green as my Pilates class beckoned, but a reminder that I still have a chunk of Everyman gift voucher to spend was handy. Maybe this weekend, since I’m in town anyway!

More soon! The week ahead beckons, for those of us still here and not getting in everybody’s way at the UK’s many travel hubs or pissing people off in the tourist towns. I’ll be here all week…

Saturday, February 4th 2023
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run the world...
And whilst a trip to Canary Wharf wouldn’t be anybody’s most people’s first suggestion when deciding where to round off birthday activities, the Winter Lights Walk provided a fitting end to mine, even if wandering around the ever-dystopian cityscape for an hour and a half in the dark (and in January) didn’t sound like a great idea on paper. But I have never and would never pass up the opportunity for a ride on the DLR, and after as leisurely a stroll as the temperature permitted I was very glad I gave it a chance.

This week – as annually demonstrated by the snowdrops at the bottom of the Walkie Talkie – has reverted back to almost-Spring, thankfully for the heating bills! Despite the conditions, tomorrow brings my first London Winter Run for three years and with it the accompanying prayers for cold dry weather (I think the last time I did it it was minus 2, which was perfect) and no shenanigans from my dodgy back, or at least nothing that a couple of decent painkillers and a Crosstown donut or two won’t fix.

I have have had a couple of mini practices as well as my usual week-in-week-out regime at the gym, not to mention three weeks of Hyrox training which has by turn made me want to cry, puke and jump up and down (and there’s another nine weeks to go) so fingers crossed for a personal best. That would be the personal best I always plan to aim for, and then get overexcited on the day and lose at least a minute or two waving at spectators and hi-fiving giant huskies and penguins on the way round, but by then it never matters. The completely unnecessary but wholly enjoyable carb loading has started in earnest, and will likely continue for a couple of hours yet.

The week ahead is looking straightforward but busy; I will be setting off earlier than usual on Friday and there are a couple of evenings out in the offing, but the remainder of the week is all as it should be. After looking on in horror at the prices of first Madonna and now Beyoncé tickets, nights in are likely to be the norm for a while, although the posters for the ABBA thing out at Stratford are drawing me in every time I get on the Northern line, and I suspect resistance is futile (plus I have many sequinned clothes that don’t get aired often enough AND it means another ride on the DLR. Hmm). Maybe once it warms up a bit more…

This week's title (as well as linking nicely to the trip out tomorrow), was going to be a celebration of the shiny tickets I had to see Queen B herself, but not at those prices – long standing blog readers will remember that I already had my turn almost ten years ago (back when £4.80 for a plastic pint was outrageous to the point of barely acceptable), so I will be gracefully sitting this one out and the song can stay anyway in the spirit of tomorrow. And neither of us have aged a day!

More soon! And I will try to leave the huskies alone this year.

Sunday, January 22nd 2023
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end of a (half) century!
And Happy Birthday to me!

In addition to being both my birthday and Chinese New Year, today is apparently National Hot Sauce Day, National Polka Dot Day, National Blonde Brownie Day and the (inordinately twee-sounding) Celebration of Life Day, but I didn’t find these out until just now, so the brownie will have to wait until I’m next passing Konditor. C’est la vie.

The last few months of my forties have definitely been some of my better ones; seeing Prodigy at Brixton Academy on a July evening so hot I wound up dancing in running shorts and a bra just like we did the nineties only without the gear. Also without the broken collarbone I sustained falling off a speaker stack the first time I saw Prodigy in 1992 (when I was nineteen, and thankfully more bouncy than I am now). Hopefully they’ll be back soon, although Lord alone knows what’s happening with Brixton.

Other highlights include the pork pie from Mrs King I bought at Borough Market on Thursday 22nd December and had already demolished by bedtime on Christmas Eve (it was not a small pork pie), ditto unexpectedly finding out that I live in palatial luxury, rather than a lovely but otherwise unremarkable 1 bed flat – admittedly with aircon – a discovery made when viewing other ‘luxury apartments’ in the same price range a few weeks ago. But my favourite thing without a doubt, has been my gym. Worth every penny of the (not inconsiderable) membership fees if only for the means to wash my hair somewhere with a water softener, and throw weights around without being glared at by Serious Weight Training Men. And less than five minutes’ walk from my front door!

Not that I’ve spent much time there this weekend; I decided to start early with a Friday night walk over the bridge to check out the new(ish) Everyman cinema at Borough Yards and Babylon, which turned out to be even longer than one of my favourites of last year – Elvis, which took me two attempts to get through without falling asleep (the 8.30pm start was a definite rookie error). Despite Babylon having no plot, wafer thin characters and some seriously woeful rippings off homages I thoroughly enjoyed it, and this is bearing in mind I hated La La Land to the extent that I kept my coat on for the first twenty minutes in case a sharp exit was necessary to avoid wasting any more of my life on Damien Chazelle than I already have. The setting (including superior toilets, presenting the German Gymnasium and The Wolseley with some stiff competition) definitely helped, as did the hot dog and ice cream sundae delivered to my armchair.

A scant twelve hours after getting in, I was on my way up to Farringdon station armed only with my Oyster card, a bottle of Evian and a reliable pen for the TfL treasure hunt – yay! This also took me through Paddington, Edgware Road, Baker Street, Great Portland Street, Euston Square and Kings Cross St Pancras looking for clues; since the latter is the only one I’ve spent any amount of time in, many exciting discoveries were made and after a couple of hours exploring I was finished, answers checked and ready to claim the bounty that is my new Love The Tube shopping bag (above). Hopefully there will be more events – there were plenty of others joining in and after a pit stop at the big M&S on Moorgate (which also gave me a change to try out my new bag) I was back by four o’clock, and asleep on the sofa after a mug of tea and a couple of scones by five. Result!

At the time of writing, I’m preparing to head off to Trafalgar Square for some New Year celebrating and a dragon or two – possibly. After a late night on Friday, over twenty thousand steps yesterday and given my advanced age, the sofa and well stocked fridge may turn out to be the best birthday options after all. The clothes are on, the water bottle is filled and the bag is packed, but the wavering has started. Update next time.

More soon! One way or the other I have dumplings to get on with, whichever way it turns out.

Sunday, January 15th 2023
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back to reality...
And with Tree long since collected and safely back outside with the other trees until next Christmas, the Christmas food almost done with bar a spare pudding that I bought by accident, plus a few frozen leftovers (and their days are numbered given that I’ll be hoiking them out as soon as the fridge is looking a bit thin) and everybody’s lights put away for now, the air of normality is settling in nicely and a return to the usual routine is actually quite welcome, for me at least.

The trouserless tube ride went off without a hitch but also without me in tow after I decided to give it a swerve, not least because I’d forgotten to top up my Oyster card and I wasn’t sure how many actual entries/exits were included. Given the number of pictures posted all over the national press I’m happy with my choice, although it seems a shame that apparently nobody can do anything or go anywhere fun now without a photographic record being posted all over the internet whether we like it or not. And I don’t like it.

My lovely gym is finally back to it’s proper opening hours; the London Winter Run beckons in three weeks’ time and whilst treadmill running isn’t my thing, hot yoga, HIIT classes and lifting heavy things very much are, and it all helps (as does lying around the pool with occasional sojourns to the steam room, and even the odd bit of actual swimming). It’s been a few years; my last crack at the LWR was in 2019 and I’m looking forward to getting out among the penguins and polar bears to run a Sunday morning 10K pretty much (as it’s since turned out) around my own neighbourhood.

Meanwhile the birthday planning for next weekend continues! Saturday brings the Tube 160 Treasure Hunt, marking one hundred and sixty years since the first ever ride on the London Underground (or at least last Tuesday did) and comprising a poke about the seven original stations of the day; I’m less interested in what the prizes are than I am in the chance to bugger about on the Hammersmith & City line (certainly via the German Gym for breakfast, since Kings Cross St Pancras is also on the itinerary) looking for Tube Clues, but I will do my best to win one anyway! And as it’s Chinese New Year on the actual day I’m waiting to find out whether the Trafalgar Square celebrations are on or off this year, but either way the makeshift plan so far is to eat dumplings until I can’t walk.

A pre-match visit to the London Transport Museum is on the cards too; after two infuriating trips to the (predictably mobbed) V&A and the Tate Modern last year on my actual/Saturday birthday, I’ll be making sure I do that during office hours. My tolerance for crowds isn’t what it might be and I have still yet to have a go at driving the Northern Line train on the simulator there purely because my timing has always been atrocious. Setting off in good time for opening and smug as fuck one weekday morning just to turn up at exactly the same time as a school trip was probably the pinnacle. For now, the temperature is finally dropping again, the afternoons are slowly but surely getting lighter and everything is peaceful. How long it will last is anybody’s guess.

More soon. Business as usual this week – will see you there! Or preferably here, since it’s definitely getting cold.

Saturday, January 7th 2023
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and that is why...
…I never make plans for New Years Eve.

The optimism of the morning was scuppered at every turn, not least by Waitrose (who forgot to give me the main item in my special New Year order, which I didn’t discover until I got home), TfL (who ensured the punter I had to get back for and whose booking prevented me from immediately returning to Waitrose to sort it out was so late I actually could have made it with a good twenty minutes to spare) and eventually by good old fashioned twattery itself.

Despite running so late I had no time to eat any of the things that did make it into in the Waitrose order before dashing into town, I decided to try and throw the day’s shit-cloud off and get on with my evening, only to have some monumental cunt in the seat behind me at the Prince Charles roaring with laughter at the top of his voice throughout the film. Bearing in mind that I’m deaf and I could still hear him, I imagine most of the auditorium – certainly including me – spent much of the screening planning his violent demise, and the combination of this and being so ravenously hungry I could have eaten my seat cushion pretty much finished me off.

As much as I endeavour to stay upbeat wherever possible without being the sort of insufferable twat everybody wants to punch, I had to admit defeat and instead of taking my ticketed place on the embankment to watch the fireworks, I threw in the towel and went home; even a quick detour for a look round the new Elizabeth Line station at Bond Street wasn’t enough to change my mind, fabulous though it was.

Cue my next mistake, which was thinking that feeling a bit better after some dim sum and half a Waitrose raspberry trifle meant I should put my coat on and find somewhere to watch the fireworks I had been looking forward to for months – this ended with a pointless walk down to St Pauls only to find the bridge shut, and with twenty minutes or so left to pick a vantage point that wasn’t a three inch gap between buildings on Lower Thames Street I gave up; I did hear a lot of loud bangs and even saw a few sparks from the side of a building, but the rest was watched on YouTube when I got in. I could have saved myself an hour and a half if I’d just sat tight in front of the TV in the first place to see the fireworks I’d been looking forward to for months – no fireworks photo for the header either! Fuck you, Laughing Man.

Thankfully, 2023 (aka the following day) brought a complete about turn, with the requisite New Years Day big lie in and a fry followed by a trip up to Angel and Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at Sadlers Wells. Given that some sixteen hours earlier I couldn’t have felt more sorry for myself if I’d tried, this was definitely a result; the only real shame was that the shops were shut, but to be fair I can ransack the yellow stickers at M&S any day. Tchaikovsky, dark fairies and vampires for the win – yay! And all barely twenty minutes away from my front door.

Onward to the present, and being once (or rather several times) bitten after barely making it back from negotiating an endless procession of cancelled trains, engineering works with lengthy diversions on far too many occasions over the last few months, I decided to quit while I was ahead and stay put for this weekend too (I might even join in the Trouserless Tube Ride tomorrow – watch this space!) The coming week is hopefully back to business as usual, and with only two weeks left of my forties to go, the birthday countdown can start in earnest; plans are being made, but nothing is finalised – after New Years Eve, going with the flow on the day may well turn out to be the way forward.

More soon! I’ll maybe see you in the week…

Saturday, December 31st 2022
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eat, sleep, rave, repeat...
As the title might suggest, 2022 has been a year of catching up on the fun I missed out on, although my days of ESRR-ing are admittedly long gone. Still, at least I had them.

Christmas on the other hand is always a time of peace, quiet and R&R with a well stocked fridge and the TV remote taking centre-stage; the outside stuff is done, and whilst I’m never convinced about enforced time off in theory, in practice there is nothing quite like switching off the phone knowing it won’t be on again for the best part of a week.

It’s a distant memory now after being well and truly back since Wednesday and some busy days indeed; the final weekend of 2022 is looking slightly more lively but still mostly sedate (as befits an almost-fifty year old), and in addition to the aforementioned regular NYE Prince Charles cinema trip, I have a ticket for the fireworks on the South Bank tonight – yay! Who would want to watch it all on TV when you can stand in the middle of a crowd of strangers in the freezing cold and see them live? Definitely not me.

The first day of 2023 will see a big lie in, a giant breakfast and a trip up to Sadlers Wells for some ballet in the afternoon; my ballet days are even longer-gone than the rave years given that I haven’t trained since 1985 and my plié is certainly not what it was, but watching others do it is still a favourite of mine. I will be wearing Vivienne Westwood (may she rest in peace) and I will also have a Waitrose click and collect order replete with luxury(ish) items waiting in my fridge for when I get back at tea time; matinées are definitely the way forward.

New pictures are almost in the bag (or at least in the phone), and – fingers crossed – should be appearing soon. The big challenge at this time of year is catching the roughly ninety minutes of the day where it’s light enough to take any, at least at any distance more than two feet from the window (the other big challenge is not deleting them all by mistake like the last lot, but the less said about that the better).

As usual, Mondays are a pretty much never even without a Bank Holiday, so 2023 will be kicking off on Tuesday. More soon, and I’ll see you on the other side - Happy New Year to everyone!

Saturday, December 24th 2022
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merry christmas!
It’s here!

I am not, however (and I’m probably asleep), but I do have some 2022 posting to catch up on now that the last minute shopping, packing and charging about is done with.

Depending on when you read this, it’s a fair assumption that I will be cooking and/or eating something, watching Muppet Christmas Carol or possibly even out in the fresh air for a Christmas walk and a spot of Pokémon Go, depending on the ever-unpredictable weather.

The phone is (naturally) off and will remain so until Tuesday afternoon, after which anybody feeling a bit restless and ruddlerless in the limbo week before New Year can (and is welcome to!) wander over from Wednesday on. Before that, it’s a few days off for a well deserved rest.

Merry Christmas to all, and see you soon…

Saturday, December 17th 2022
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it was a very good year...
And it’s an extremely belated first blog of the year – one year to the day since the last one, and 2022 is almost gone along with my birthday, which encompassed a trip each to the Tate Modern to see the Mirror Rooms and the V&A for some Fabergé (followed by a peaceful swim and a sauna at my lovely gym and a big dinner), an awful lot of cinema trips including my first trip on a plane since 2018 to go to Glasgow Frightfest in March, and some seriously great nights out – yay!

I hadn’t planned quite such a blog hiatus, but I’ve had a lot of catching up to do given that within six weeks of my City move back in February 2020 everything was shut, and catch up I will. The working hours are now fairly stable, everybody is slowly (some slower than others) learning that booking involves no more – and also no less – than a polite text containing the day, time and booking length desired, and things are ticking over as well as can be expected; all has settled down nicely.

I’m unlikely to be the only person who remains eternally grateful that the Prince Charles Cinema is still open, and including for a couple of long overdue allnighters when they hosted a Godfather triple bill (it’s magnificence taking up most of a ten hour stretch between 9pm Saturday and 7am on the Sunday) plus a classic horror marathon for Halloween, where I watched all five films without nodding off and staggered home boss-eyed at 10am. I’ve had plenty of other exciting events to fill the time too; not least Fatboy Slim on Brighton beach in July followed by a blistering Prodigy return at Brixton Academy a scant twenty four hours later (on possibly the hottest night of the year) and in almost diametric contrast, a very long queue to see the Queen.

As we’re no doubt all aware, and to get swiftly back to the present, the days of my reaching gratefully for the aircon controls in my flat just to get the room down to a bearable 24-25 degrees are just a distant memory. The current temperatures are more befitting of Christmas past; I won’t be the only person who looked out of the window in disbelief last Monday morning at the snow (I wasn’t even sure the Corporation allowed it, if I'm honest) and whilst reports suggests it’ll soon be just a memory it was very pretty and extremely festive, at least when not having to put on five layers and go outside to flounder about in it like a pissed penguin. The intrepid determination of the punter on a mission never ceases to amaze me even in the face of the Arctic weather plus train strikes, tube strikes, erroneous Bank Holidays and Acts of God; those who remember the hurricane back in February (I think?) may or may not be surprised to learn that it and the following day remain my record-breaking busiest of the year, and thanks to the gale force winds I couldn’t even get a bloody Deliveroo after.

There have also been a few recent moments when I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be here at all, given a stratospheric rent increase followed by a handful of flat viewings so depressing they would drive many to give up altogether (the ‘amazing luxury development’ in particular was an eyeopener at a bargain £3200 a month) but the long and short of it is I’ll be digging my heels in and staying put, for now at least. Apart from anything else, I’ve just got nicely settled in with Tree (pictured above and back from last year, courtesy of Christmas On The Hill) and some pre-Christmas chocolate for a Secret Life Of Pets double bill, and the thought of having to pack up and move out of my amazing neighbourhood (where even a trip to Sainsbury’s for tea and bananas means waiting at the bus stop outside the Cheesegrater and strolling back through Leadenhall Market) in January at a month’s notice makes me want to cry.

This does mean possible price increases, if only because it has to come from somewhere. I haven’t decided, so rather than tell half a story I’ll give it a bit more thought, but either way, anybody who has visited in the last twelve months won’t be affected. If nothing else, it’ll pay for the underfloor heating to stay on – everybody likes underfloor heating (except in summer, when everybody likes the aircon) and since I’ll be here over most of the next couple of weeks bar Friday 23rd to Tuesday 27th, I will be glad of it too! Since I’m making myself useful, I will also be about through the New Year week including New Year’s Eve, at least until 5pm-ish and it’s time to get ready for my annual trip to the Prince Charles to watch When Harry Met Sally and follow it with some Szechuan round the corner before the fireworks.

Therefore, the blog is definitely back! More soon, honest - Christmas is a week away!

  

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