Saturday, 30 June 2007

There's no business...

Well now that Uncle Tony has left what is the future for him? No doubt his role in the Middle East will be one hell of an adventure and a spectacular place to go after being the PM of UK for a decade. But what next after that? An author, an orator, Lord Blair? The list is quite possibly endless. No doubt these will probably happen to him as the years advance.

But there is one thing that I, in all seriousness, believes he wants to do. TV. The guy is pure TV, already been on the Simpsons, and he seems very comfortable in that medium. Other blogs have, in a tounge-in-cheek-way said that he is to have a chat show, but I honestly believe he will go for that. Live on the Sofa with Tony Blair? Probably in America.

Anyway, have a look at what was probably his greatest performance in all his years in power. Enjoy:

Friday, 29 June 2007

Paperwork, it never ends!

It is my first ever application for a grant to a film body and my, what a process it has been! Three full weeks dedicated to this, (and the preperation started in May) culminating in tonight's epic paper filling contest that reminds me of the time that I was smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee like the marlborough man in order to keep myself awake during the wee hours of the morning to get an essay in. I am older, but obviously no wiser as I rattle away to finish off the last of the paperwork before printing it all out (probably by 3am today).

It is a great way to start the four day weekend.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

PM's Questions

Right, that's it. Uncle Tony's gone, long live Uncle Gordon and the fourth Prime Minister I have lived under. Grown up as one of Thatcher's children, was a Major Teen and Blair guided me through those formulative years of bing s young adult. Now Brown, will be the new man in charge of the Uk's nuclear weapons.

So, as one of nine countries with a 'nuclear deterrent' (I love that phrase. It almost makes 'the bomb' huggable), what would Gordon's reaction be in the event of the 'big boom'.

Would he follow the US and France and try to save what remains of the UK in a massive blast of 'kaboom'! Or will he let the submarines slink around in the corner, biding their time until later, much later, oh yes, so much later, so they can make a graceful attack and 'do their best' to strike down the terrors that hold 'this Great Britain'.

Interesting. It's something that probably none of them think about until they get into office. But that is one major responsibility to have over millions of lives. Don't go 'boom' in the night.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The end...

Today marks the end of a two month torture session. For this period of time, I've been driving a pathetic single decker route round and round until it is virtually up my own backside. Today is the final day of that as next week I rejoin the 'big boys' and go back to a 'real' bus going through the heart of South London. Happiness is not exactly garunteed, but it is a step in the right direction. Away from the more pathetic areas of South London to somewhere a bit more funky. I have never been more gimpy in my life.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The Week so far

Sorry to all that I should have contacted recently. It has been a very busy week. Got to hand in a load of paperwork on Friday and wouldn't you know it, that is also the day that Royal Mail go on strike so it looks like it is going to be hand delivered to that office.

Ho hum.

Oh, and as always, gimpspace doesn't work properly.

Monday, 25 June 2007


For all your funky beads and jewellery, visit here. And yes, I have used them for my films already and will be using them some more. I have plans for them in my upcoming films. Partly as they are all very unique pieces and they look good on the camera.

And guys, do yourself a favor. Make your missus happy without breaking the bank. Visit and watch them smile.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Vivid Dreams

When you are jerked out of bed by an alarm at a stupid time in the morning, not only do you feel knackered but you have some vivid dreams. The one I woke up to this morning was me swearing my head off to one of my friends. I won't say which one (not that there's much to choose from) but it was weird and it left me with a feeling of 'why am I up this early' as always.

Oh well, still enjoying the fast internet connections. No need to wait for 'buffering'. Who needs a TV this early in the day.

Anyway, here's one that I like for today

Another thing. Myspace is now filled with spam. Today's friend request (ugh, I can't stand that term): one porno site, one video site, two 'make money with us' sites and another 'social networking' site.

Delete, delete, delete...

Saturday, 23 June 2007

The World of Lilly Wong

Around ten years ago, The Independent were in the middle of publishing 'Lilly Wong', a series of cartoons by Larry Feign about the adventures of a Hong Konger and her life in that city. After July 1st, it stopped printing them and that little slice of wackiness stopped.

Anyway, I was hunting around when I came by this.

I like these three in particular. Enjoy!

Friday, 22 June 2007

More earlies.

One day on from the Summer Solstice, the fun season of sun, shine and burn is finally upon us. And we have been looking forward to it during the previous nine months of gloom.

Of course it is absolutely freezing at 5am and there is clouds as far as the eye can see, but that's besides the point, right?

Day two of early shifts. Ugh. At least this morning I can stomach some breakfast. Albeit slowly.

I must admit, one of the nice things about a ridiculously early time is the speeds on the internet. Zoom-zoom is all I can say.

Oh well, off to work.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Shift Work

Early mornings after a month of lates. Very bad on the body. Need 'more' than just caffeine...and one day down, six to go.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Enjoying my work

Making films on a no budget can be a reall pain in the backside. You are on your own. You got to get to your own deadlines by yourself. You become not just a director and writer and so creative but also an editor (way too technical) annd a producer (ah paperwork!). Getting a budget is essential.. Mainly so that you can actually pay yourself for the amount of work you put in.

And there are some really tedious thinga that you have to do. Fill in forms for film festivals (who usually do not reply back), fill in forms for grants (a stupendous list of things to do) and edit scripts (you will not believe the amount of spilling errs in my work).

Today has been one of those days where I have been all over the place, trying to meet deadlines and realising that the light at the end of the tunnel really is a train screaming - JUNE 29th!!! - hurtling towards me.

And so it is on days like today that enjoyment doesn't really factor high on my lists when it comes to making films.

However, while editing my script, I found mysellf needing some tunes to get in the mood. And flicking through my player I came across a long lost file burried deep in the bowels of my hard drive. I dusted off the cover, slipped it in and started to feel a little more in the 'East End Mood'.

And yes, there is a best of on my itunes player...

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

I want to be Ah Lok

Movie heroes. The characters in films that inspire us. The random ramblings of one writer portrayed onscreen that make the weak minded audience think, I want to be like him. Fortunately most of us grow out of this when we're nine or ten. For someone like me, I have never grown up.

Some of us wanted to be Hans Solo or Indiana Jones. A few of us Marty McFly of Peter Vakeman. Others wanted to be Mr Blobby (there are a few of us who have actually succeeded in this) or like Rajinikanth. However all of these fantasies die down to the side once you watch 'Bullet in the Head'. You realise there is only one man that you ever wanted to be like. And that is the character of Ah Lok.

You never know if he is actually working for the good guys or the bad guys. He just seems to be on his own mission. Stuck in Vietnam, making money, loving everyone and no-one. He seems to have his woman and yet is not tied down by her. If someone close to him dies he takes a moment then goes back into the fray. He is able to lead crack commandos as well as fight a one man war. He knows how to make some very cool explosions. And no one looks more cool while gunning down the bad guys than Ah Lok does. And he sports a funky looking goatee. What more does anyone want from a character.

Bullet in the Head flopped at the cinema, and although DVD and Video sales have recouped it, it isn’t known as John Woo's best outing. I like it. Not love it, but like it. However, the character of Ah Lok, the greatest creation in modern cinema is something I will cherish forever.

(Ah Lok is in White)

Monday, 18 June 2007

Bullet Time

Oh yes, oh yes! Finally I have managed to watch the last of that DVD order. I took out some time and treated myself to a John Woo fest of fun and funk. And did I like it. Oh yeah! 'Bullet In the Head is an awesome film. I'm not that big a fan of war movies in general, so I actually delayed watching this film, needing time to get into the mood. But this is one war funky war film. None of that petty stuff about psychology or personal pain. Well, there was, but it was layered with plenty of action and a little politics from 1989.

But most of all I loved the character of Ah Lok. Every man alive, once they have watched this movie wants to be him. Ah Lok is the guy that should be the role model for a generation of men. Possibly the greatest character created in the whole history of cinema, this man is the King of Cool, the Daddy and all round Don.

I want to be him.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Where I'm from 6: Visiting Kingston

Visiting Kingston is like taking some illicit drug. The anticipation and excitement at arriving in a place that you know is bad for the soul but at the same time, you just can't resist its pull. It passes itself off as one of the more affluent areas of London, but it has the look and feel of just any town centre. Not metropolitan enough to be cool; not country enough to be quaint. A sort of stuck in the 'middleness', something that is trying to be more than the sum of all its parts and is always trying to cry out for more attention.

I suppose I am being harsh on the place, but having gone to school here for seven years, you can't harbour nice feelings about the town. There is something inherently wrong about an education system that leaves you scarred by its utter futility. How many of the skills I actually learnt at school are necessary to the current life that I am leading? Chemical formulae, Technology lessons, the rules of German grammar? All of these things have absolutely no bearing on my life. And because of those things, even today I approach Kingston Upon Thames with a sense of dread.

Shivering my way through the one way system you realise that the town centre has been butchered by its own relief road. Everything within the lines of mad drivers is clean, functional and expensive. Everything on the 'outskirts' is dirty, dysfunctional and cheaper. Nothing is dirt cheap however as this is London. This is daytime Kingston. However at night, 'Hyde' comes out and the respectable suburban character is uncloaked in an orgy of drinking and illicitness. Going through the town centre is to put it bluntly an unpleasant experience. A mix of wannabes and filth wandering where they please, trying to get laid and always glassing the general public. Smash ups abound and the MET seem to wander around sirens ablaze but actually do very little. Despite the proliferation of CCTV, you can actually get away with a lot.

The crowning point of Saxon Kings, ancient market town and an important crossroads in historic times, it seems quite hard to find the gems in this town centre. In fact it seems as if the council takes a deliberate pleasure in hiding anything that seems worthwhile from the general public. Instead, the 'Royal Borough' seems intent on cramming as many people in during the day to shop and in the night to drink. A useless economy, the economy to shop is what keeps Kingston alive and at the moment thriving (the nearest threat is Croydon, not an Out of Town Centre). Rumours are abound for bigger shops and bigger bars. Expect the pleasantries to increase.

However there are a few gems to be found in this town, but you have to look hard for them. Kingston's great delight in hiding anything of merit becomes apparent when you actually find out there are a few ancient monuments scattered around the town centre. The Coronation Stone, Clattern Bridge, All Saints Church. The pretty marketplace, the spectacular riverside. Further out, there is some great nature in Richmond Park and along the Hogsmill River. And there is actually a lot of interest about the town, hard to believe when you walk through it. But my goodness, it is hard work.

Getting there: Maybe. It's on the train line from Waterloo and at the centre of South West London's bus network. I'll explain more at the end of the month when I revisit this lovely town.

व्हेरे Where I am from 5: Kingston Upon Thames

It has been a poor day. No Internet, I am on a windows OS and I have also just been to work. Apologies for the lack of post earlier on. I am not too sure how this post will format, but here goes.


If I am going to talk about where I am from, then this insignificant corner of London probably has more significance than I would like to admit. One of four Royal Boroughs in England and Wales, the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames was where I was born, where I was brought up and all the significant 'firsts' of my life probably occurred within the boundaries of this little part of the Capital. Yes, this is one funky borough to visit.
Being on the back end of London, this is one of the lesser known part of it. No major tourist attractions to visit, no stunning pieces of nature (most of Richmond'>">Richmond Park< /a> is in Richmond Borough) and not that much 'cool' from the local populace, this place is even more ignored than Seychelles or Sri Lanka. If I could pick three insignificant places to call 'roots' I think I've hit the jackpot. These three places are always in the shadow of something bigger. In the case of Kingston, it was swallowed up by the heaving mass of London and is now just a suburb. Sri Lanka is lost in the shadow of Indian and Seychelles is lost in the mass of blue known as the Indian Ocean.
However, even after all this, I still got to show you round my home town. The irony is that even though I do not want to be here, I am probably living far closer to Kingston than I ever thought I would. Talk about an inglorious return...

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Where I'm from 4: Visiting Mahe

Ah, the childhood memories of Seychelles. Stepping off the plane and feeling the wall of heat hitting my face as I left the air conditioned cabin. Frolicking in the sea, the hot days and the hot nights. Thunder and massive rain drops splashing in the evening and sitting out to cool off from the sweat. Climbing the rocks by the beaches, eating food. lots of it. Food, food, food. Seeing family who I didn’t know existed or their relation to me. Old, older, oldest. Young, younger, and new born. Compared to anywhere else I have travelled, Seychelles has always been an easy place to visit. Sun, sea, sand, good weather, clean drinking water and lots of family everywhere. I’ve visited it five times and so I’ve had a pretty good feel for Mahe and some of its surrounds, but I’ve never been to the Outer Islands.

It’s weird what I conjure up because of my visits to the islands. Most people when they think of the beauty and the idyllic setting. For many it is the ideal honeymoon setting. Quite the opposite for me as I do not want to bump into family every five minutes on any honeymoon I may take. Secondly people talk about the postcard settings and the wondrous wildlife, but those things past straight over my head when I was younger and ever now, the whole concept goes over my head. In a way I always think, yeah, yeah, I know.

I suppose all those childhood visits to Mahe changed what my idea of paradise is. Most people want the beach and the tropical weather (along with a bar of Bounty of glass of Malibu). I like the desert. Hot, dry and dusty. The complete opposite from the tropical paradise of Mahe island.

But that doesn’t mean I will never go back. I always go back. The family, the food and the actual relaxation of the place. And really the photos do not do it justice. When you see if for yourself you will really know what paradise actually looks like. And I if I am lucky, I may well revisit paradise later this year...

How to get there: Do, but make sure you take plenty of cash as you will need it. While currency restrictions are in place there is a thriving black market but as will all things illicit it carries its risks. For those willing to try it, you could probably get at least double the official exchange rate for your currency.

Flying into the country is the way you get to Mahe. All int'l flights touch down at the airport and there it is, you've arrived on Mahe. The capital, Victoria, is about an hours walk from the aiport or a short ride away.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Where I'm from 3: Mahe

Finding the Seychelles on a map can be difficult. Think small, very small. Nope, smaller than that. That's it. Then think in the middle of the sea. And no, we're no Caribbeans head over to the other side of the world. Yep over there, that's it. A lot of people have difficulty locating us, and that's no surprise. So I tell them this. Head to Kenya. Go east along the equator for a bit. Stop, and a little to the south is the Seychelles. A few thousand miles south west of India of a thousand miles to the east of Mombassa or north (way north) of Madagascar. It's hot, it's tropical and it is paradise, if you are to believe the local tourist authority. Famed for erotic plants, stunning scenery and unique wildlife it's a pretty funky place to call home.

Mahe is the main island. We've actually got over a hundred islands spread over a vast area of the Indian Ocean, but Mahe is pretty much where everyone lives. It's not really that big but it holds the capital town (we don't have something big enough to call a city), the main port and airport of the islands. And it is where my family originated from. If you could call it that. Unlike Sri Lanka, Seychelles has not had human settlement for that long; around 250 years for permanent settlement. That's probably why it retains a lot of its natural beauty, we haven't had the chance to muck it up.

Even more so that Sri Lanka, the Seychelles is a tiny country. The population of the Seychelles would fit into Wembley stadium and there would still be space. And it would only take a day to walk around the main island (I've walked round half of it) but you would sweat like a pig for doing so. While I wouldn't say that everyone knows everyone, everyone does know your business. I normally like to visit unannounced. Something I tried to do two years back, but failed miserably. By the end of the week, all my family knew I was there before I arrived to 'surprise them'. However the country is relaxing and actually feels like a holiday destination, despite the huge debt of the islands and the unrealistic currency fix. I suppose I can get round these far easier because I am a Seychellois while other passport holders will find it a pain to spend cash over here.

One day I may return here to live too. Like Sri Lanka, I have an incredible affinity for the place and I know the language (Kreol) better than I know Tamil. That helps a lot. Also not having a civil war makes you feel more optimistic about the place. However, the economy is non-existent and to get anything done over there just doesn't happen. It is paradise, but a slow moving one. I don't think I am used to that.

But like Sri Lanka, at the least the food is good.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Where I'm from 2: Visiting Jaffna

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Sri Lanka five times, but I’ve only been to Jaffna twice, due to the ongoing civil war. Once in 2000 and again in 2004. Despite the fact I was there last year, no such luck, the main road to Jaffna, the A9 was shut. The ‘technical difficulties’ of a ceasefire.

I remember my first sight of Jaffna in July 2000. I woke up and looked out from the deck Red Cross sponsored ship at that time the only way to get to Jaffna unless you were part of the military. I was looking at Point Pedro. I snuck some carefully hidden batteries into my camera and took a few snaps before the army came on board. Being an NGO ship we were free from martial regulations. The day before the army searchers in Trincomolee (were our shipped had disembarked) nicked my batteries as well as exposing my film. Bastards!

We were processed and shuffled through before given a jolting ride into Jaffna Town. I didn’t know exactly where I was going, there weren’t exactly maps available to the casual traveller, no guidebook researcher had been there for nearly twenty years. All I had was the address of my Aunts and a pocket of cash. It had taken me nearly two weeks to arrange the paperwork to come here. I was lucky. I had been given preferential treatment because I was a foreigner. Even today, I cannot believe that I actually got that permit. The balls of youth, where did they go?

Off the bus and down Hospital Road, my first taste of Jaffna Town. I walked past the surprised army checkpoints and wandered on the potholed roads, watching old Asutins and Morris’ puttering down Jaffna’s main drag. I knew that one of my Aunts lived nearby, but where? I asked a few people and they kept pointing me. I think they were bemused at the sight of this lanky tourist trying to find a small side street. Here, there. Eventually I came outside a house. Hello...and the rest is history.

2004 was a completely different affair. We were enjoying the fruits of a long ceasefire (by Sri Lankan standards) and many more tourists had braved the road since I had first went. While I was dusty and confused the first time, this time I recognised the exact place and managed to get the driver to halt right outsider the road I wanted No more curfew and so I was also free to see the city at night. Not exactly bustling but always pretty. I was also able to see some of the outer islands, another attraction of the Jaffna Peninsula and spooky in some ways. Like walking through a ghost world, but well worth it.

Visiting Jaffna has always been twinged with a stroke of sadness. My father passed away before he was able to take any of us there. So as I visited the city for the first time, it was not only emotional because of the grief it took to reach it, but also due to a lot of personal grief that I was feeling. Also seeing a city such as that in ruins. Grand art deco styled mansions everywhere, now with outgrown palmyras, shelled out buildings and everywhere the sense of emptiness. A mere shell of a city. Jaffna is (unsurprisingly) a risky business. While wandering in a patch of overgrowth, I suddenly spotted a sign telling me of the land mines. If it is not tarmaced, don’t walk off the path. Also, being shelled or blitzed isn’t the nicest experience, and I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to get out.

I will return to Jaffna. One day. And live there? Maybe, depends...

Getting there: ‘Don’t’ is the simple answer to this. But for those feeling a bit risky, even in these times there are actually flights from Colombo (technically there is still a ceasefire) and a ship from Tincomolee. Take plenty of patience, a foreign (ie: not Sri Lankan) passport can help speed any beauracratic processes and loadsacash. Plastic is useless that far north and you could be stuck there a very long time.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Where I'm from 1: Jaffna

FInd Sri Lanka on a map. Not too hard a task, it is the small island to the south of India. A teardrop in the Indian Ocean if you believe the tourist authorities. Head to the north of the island and wade through the mud of the Elephant Pass. This spit of land surrounded by the calmer waters of the Palk Straight and the Bay of Bengal is what I would call 'The Fatherland'. Currently home to a quarter of a million people, the Jaffna peninsula was once a hub of economic and social activity for the island. Home to and the centre of the Sri Lankan Tamils it is an area with a long history of human settlement; it's hard red soil has been tilled for centuries and probably hold enough prizes to keep the average archaeologist interested. It shares a similar climate to the rest of South India. Hot and sticky all year round, particularly in the dry season, the area is dominated by the North-Eastern monsoon from November to February when it becomes stupidly wet.

No talk of Jaffna is complete without mentioning the civil war that has dominated Sri Lanka for the last two decades. And I do have opinions on the subject, but as I have not been called to air them, they will remain silent, for now. Around half a million people have left Jaffna since 1983. Many internally throughout the island or across the water in Tamil Nadu (India). And of course there is a large Jaffnaese population in the wider world, including Tooting, East Ham and Barnet. Continuing to this day, despite the fact there is a 'ceasefire', it is currently impossible to reach Jaffna by land. Try a ship or an expensive internal flight. Of course in more peaceful times it was actually a challenge to swim across to India, rather like swimming across the Channel. It is also impossible to legally fish off the coast of Jaffna, such are the security restrictions imposed on the area. The Jaffna area is in other words a mess.

One day, there maybe a future for the city. Before the 1980's the expatriates from Sri Lanka were 50/50 Tamil/Sinhalese. However, today, the majority of expatriate Sri Lankans are Tamils and many of those have their roots from Jaffna. A huge amount is currently sent back in remittances. Eventually the warring parties may actually realise the vast amounts of untapped wealth being generated by the Jaffna Diaspora and that will be the day that a peace will be pursued. Give it another quarter of a century, maybe the guns will fall silent and people will start to return. But before that, can the last person in Jaffna please turn off the lights.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

The 'Other' Box

To all my 'regular' readers, sorry about the delay. It's been a busy day. Up at 5am, off to work. Finished at 4pm, off to East London, saw a Tamil Film and then made it back just after midnight. It's been a little tiring.


Anyhow, I'm filing out some forms at the moment. And I bring this up also because I was listening to Choice. In her show, Asha was talking about Britishness and the recent fuss about being British. Interesting was the texts and comments that the listeners gave, bearing in mind that it is a London based audience.

And yes this form, we got a whole load of ethnicities with which to tick. From top to bottom:

Asian or British Asian: Indian; Pakistani; Bangladeshi; Any Other Asian Background.

Black or British Black: Caribbean; African; Any other Black Background.

Mixed: White & Black Caribbean; White & Black African; White and Asian; Any other Mixed background.

White: British; Irish; Any other White background.

Chinese or Other Ethnic: Chinese; Any Other.

Mmm, bearing in mind that I have a mother from the Seychelles and a father from Sri Lanka I would have to think carefully about which box to tick. The choices are pretty funky. Usually 'Other' is a safe option.

But what is it like to be part of the 'Other Box'. Find out next week...

Friday, 8 June 2007


All hail the Funk Pod!

My funkiest one yet, I love the funk juice from Jay and Kay.

...con leche

Ah, the precious milk. How I love it. It fills me with delight to see this glorious drink, seductively watching me in its glass bottle. Curvaceous, not in that American soft drink bottled way, but in that safe British way, slightly curved at the top, its unassuming lines protecting a cool and refreshing pint for those that dare to grab its heavenly contours.

There is something scrumdiddlyumptious about drinking milk from a glass bottle. Something about a traditional pint of milk that a carton could never replace and that the plastic bottle is just a cheap and unworthy imitation. I personally love drinking milk, but I can't stand drinking it direct from any container except a milk bottle. The bog standard one pint bottle delivered by the milkman to your doorstep, or if you flag one down, bought off him while he is on his early morning rounds. Milk from the glass bottle tastes infinitely better than from its plastic counterparts. In fact, milk is always better from the glass. The decline in milk consumption is probably a direct result of putting yucky tasting plastic as the envelope to this precious liquid.

Popping the foil of my Redtop. The supermarkets have done to milk what Walkers have done to crisps. Changed the colours to confuse and disorientate the shopper. Yellowtop, extra creamy milk from Jersey cows. Greentop, dangerously unpasteurised, a European delight. Silvertop, the childhood favourite, splashed on cereal, full fat milk. Redtop, the semi-skimmed pint, the backbone of the milk float's inventory. Bluetop, skimmed milk a 1980's fad, the favourite with mad dieticians until they decided that diet soda was a better way to loose weight.

The top is pressed, the cover removed and suddenly I take my first swig. Delicious. Cool and refreshing, lighting my taste buds as the liquid hits the back of my throat. Gently caressing its way down into my stomach, the king of drinks, commander of breakfast time and soul to any decent fridge. Its white liquid pulsating its way through my system, gurgling through the body. Calcium for the bones, lactose for the gut and Vitamin D for the joints.

And now it's come to an end. A few short gulps and the precious liquid has finished. Its service completed for a day, no longer to be touched until tomorrow. A glass now empty but not useless. The milkman tomorrow will collect it and reuse the container in order to fill it with a precious liquid in order to satisfy my insatiable desire for all things derived from the udder of that most humble being, the cow.

CWP5, out tomorrow.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

A South London sunrise

London lies at a latitude of some 51N of the equator. Random numbers to some but to put it into perspective that's around the same latitude as Newfoundland or Lake Baikal. In other words, some pretty cold places. Luckily due to the Gulf Stream and the fact that we're on an island as well as the fantastic amounts of pollution we kick up, we've actually got a fairly warm climate for our distance north.

However sunrises and sunsets are two things that can't be altered by weather systems. In the winter we get jack-shoot daylight and in the summer we get ridiculous amounts of the stuff. And as we're coming up to midsummer's day, the days just get longer.

So, last night/yesterday morning just as I was going to bed, I took a peek out of my window.

Good night.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Single or Double?

For anyone observant enough to notice the time (only on blogger as myspace is stuck on LA time), it is at a ridiculous hour on a Tuesday morning that I am posting this blog. I just came back from work, and was hungry. So having a nibble, I couldn't go to bed yet, so I might as well start tomorrow's blog and internet stuff today, or today's blog today, or something along those lines. Allow me, it's 3am. And the spelling will be more attrotious (see!) than normal.

Most people, when they meet me after X-amount of years normally see me when I'm driving the bus. I don't really get out enough and so my cab provides my biggest outlet on the wider world. After the usual bemusement that passes across their lips at bumping into me in a place that most would not expect, I do get asked a few questions. And the most common one is, which bus is easier to drive, the single decker or the double decker?

One of London's finest single deckers, screeching away. Do I like driving these things? Hell no! The bottom line is that they drive like a sack of shit. The acceleration is almost always awful, the brakes are funky and the thing will shake, rattle and roll its way through each round (that's a return trip to the uninitiated). Most of the single deckers around are longer than the two deck variety, another factor which makes them a pain to drive. However, there are advantages to driving these. No worries about low bridges (unless they are below 11'), they are usually on the quieter routes (unless you're crossing Hammersmith Bridge, but that's another blog posting) so you are less busy and they do corner well, the obvious advantage to not having a top deck.

Ah, the classic London workhorse. Big, red and filled with muck, they transport the bulk of the capital to and fro wherever to and fro happen to be. They are a beauty to drive and if you get a good one, they are fast. Especially when your shift starts/finishes around this time. You might hit 30mph! The brakes are a lot better and generally it is a nicer drive. You have a top deck, excellent as all the undesirables are out of your face. However, you are normally busy all day and night long.

All right, I think you guessed that I prefer the deckers. Yep, not only are they a nicer drive, you're busy, so you can just blank everything and everyone out. No one gets to know you, perfect for the annonymity factor. The fact that they are big means that you can be far more assertive on the road. Believe it or not, LGV's, PCV's and HGV's cannot use their weight to move forward. The reality in London is that if you are not a little 'pushy' then you won't get very far. A double decker allows you to get your way a little more effectively that a single. In essence other drivers will notice hieght before they realise that the gap is too narrow for them to squeeze through. Also a loud horn on a double decker is so much fun to use and a great way to terrorise the citizens of South London.

And summer's coming up. As the weather gets hotter and the flesh becomes exposed, expect a lot more toots.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Andulcian Travels

To any of my regular readers it seems that I start something but never finish it. Ture, it is a characteristic of mine, but I do get to the end eventually. And I finally finished the biography of Lauri Lee. And wow, iit was beautiful, especially the second half about his travels and subsequent return to Spain to fight in its Civil War.

When I was in Andulucia, of course it was a place much changed from Lee's travels. I too trapsed around the place for three months. It was a place modernised and embracing the benefits of the EU and of course home to some of the friendliest people a lonesome traveler could ever meet.

And that was a long time ago. Yes, I've been abroad since then, buut never in the same capacity. My wanderings ended at Malaga airport and every vacation since has been quick and 'back home'. And even then, when I do go abroad I am never completely relaxed. I always have to be doing something.

Maybe in the future I might revisit the South of Spain again...

Sunday, 3 June 2007

An interesting week

It has been one iintennsive film making week. And an interesting one at that. On the front page of Ohmynews and Vmix which has tilted a few more viewers into the pot. A lot of long blog postings including the continuing series on river and the documentaries of EET. Opening up new accounts on the net and sending off to film festivals. As well as that, also driving up and down London with the best and the worst that the city cn offer. It's been entertaining.

And today, we've been shooting again. This time a concept trailer. Always trying something new...

Saturday, 2 June 2007

CWP4 - A Short Sketch

I've been on the computer too much this weekend.


I thought this was going to be just another social networking site like myspace. Stick up your photo, post a few videos and increase the numbers of people who watch my shorts. In other words, prostituting myself on the altar of the www to gain a few more viewers.

Oh my life, what a surprise, the number of people from my past. And it's not just one or two, virtually all of them are there! Flipping hell, I though I was meant to leave them all behind when I ran out of that 'institution'. Obviously not. The scary thing about the internet is that you can and will be found. All the mistakes and f-ups you made when you were younger will come back to haunt you. Anyone remember the famed 'SNES-Fund'? Or getting kicked by a bunch of women on the front steps of a certain university building or grabbing a leg of mutton from the barbecue in a field (three days without meat and I am not a pleasant man). Yup, all those horrors that you want to leave behind suddenly sharpen themselves into focus. Oh dear. Did I really drink at that pub at that age! Ooh...

And do I behave more cool now that I am on facebook? You see, on myspace, I knew nobody. Okay, you meet a few people through the website but generally you don't know anyone personally. You may 'get to know them' but everyone on myspace is there for one simple reason. To promote themselves and their wares, whatever it may be. But this facebook, it 'seems' more genuine. Scary, I'm not genuine. Maybe it's due to the fact to HAVE to be a member of some sort before you can actually browse through it. And since everyone is nosy to some degree, once you give up your e-mail, you suddenly think, eh, why not go the whole hog.

So yes, do I behave more cool. Come on, these are the people from your past. Surely you want to prove to them that you are the 'daddyo'. Rich, successful and laid. Or getting lots at any rate. Just look at the photos on facebook. Men in suits or partying; women as brides or bridesmaids or looking incredibly sexy at some function or do. Or just having a party, but still looking good. Hell, even my picture isn't that bad (the same as the one on this blog profile). But it is really weird seeing everyone and they look really successful. And me...well if I was some hot shot director, 'yo baby'. But driving a bus doesn't really seem to fit in with the whole 'facebook ethos'. Looking at everyone else, seems I've ended up on the bottom of the pile.

Well for better or for worse, I chose this path of 'dreams'. And I have to admit, given the choice again I would probably not take this road. That is the honest truth. But now I've started, I might as well finish (or die trying). And I better hurry up as I'm driving the last bus back home tonight.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Crossings of the River Thames 2b - Hampton Court Bridge

Sauntering downstream from Molesey Lock, you quickly come to Hampton Court Bridge. The first of the many bridges across the river in London and a relatively new bridge by the Capital's standards. Opened in 1933, it was part of the spate of building that this part of London experienced in the 1930's. As I have mentioned earlier (second post) this was the time when forward planning and expansion were in the minds of the people who ruled London and its surrounds with an iron fist and loadsamoney. Then the greenbelt kicked in and London became trapped in its own sprawl. The approaches to Hampton Court are relatively long, straight and wide, something that did not come from an old trackway upgraded to 20th century (we won't get to the 21st century for a while in this city) standards. This was a purpose built road, a highway of the 1930's (for want of a better phrase) and in some ways, thanks to the greenbelt, the rest of London and its surrounds did not end up like L.A.

This bridge is as simple as it gets. Three arches, brick lined. Four lanes of traffic and two wide pavements with a cycle path badly marked out on the upstream pavement. In the rush hour it is a bottleneck (which bridge isn't?) and at all other times it is pretty free flowing. It is built in a style that is sympathetic to Hampton Court Palace (at this moment lost in the cover of it's front garden's foliage). And it actually works pretty well. Easy to drive over, a bit hairy to cycle over and a pleasant stroll over the Thames.

As with many crossings across the Thames, Hampton Court Bridge is currently in its 4th incarnation. The previous three structures of either wood or iron proving too weak for today's standards. In fact the old approach still remains. On the southbank there is a wall and plaque commemorating the fact while on the northbank the Mitre Hotel stands in the way of the past alignment.

In some ways this is an unusual Thames crossing. Not for what it is but for what it isn't. It doesn't have that long a history to it. It isn't architecturally impressive (though it is actually quite a nice construction). It isn't a major pain to cross the river at this point and there is nothing quirky about the crossing. In fact, it is perfectly functional. Something that is quite unusual about the crossings of the Thames, as you will all find out.

However, there is one treat for visitors to this part of the river. Hampton Court Palace. A grand and imposing building, started by Cardinal Wolesey with touch ups throughout the ages including a refit by Wren in the 1700's. Along with two massive parks nearby, Hampton Court Bridge possible has one of the grandest locations in London. It is one of three river crossings that stand next to a Royal Palace (the others being Westminster and Tower) and it is a very underrated spot in terms of its surroundings. With the river slowly curving into the centre of London, this happens to be one of the most beautiful parts of the Thames. And now that summer is here, it is possibly one of the better places to visit as there is a lot of outdoor space to enjoy. Until next month...

And yes, one day, I will blog about the Palace. But that is another blog post and another year...

Bus Routes: 111, 216, 411, R68 as well as 451, 461 and 513. 267 on Summer Sundays. Nearest Rail: Hampton Court.