Sunday, 31 January 2010

Mi Gustas (5)

I like...Chungking Mansions!



Down and Out in Hong Kong? Then look no further than Chungking Mansions. First 'recommended' to me when I started my travels as a wee sprog, I have used and abused this building every time I have visited Hong Kong. Where the world comes to do business, most of the locals are terrified of this place, believing it to be a hotbed of dirty devious foreigners. Don't you just love the Hong Kong people?

So being a place where the outcasts hang out, I always make a beeline to it. If you want the best curry east of India, this is the place to come! If you want accommodation for £10 in the heart of Hong Kong, on the Nathan Road, this is it! If you want to buy something, you can get it here!

Yes, the building is filthy, and the whole place is a firetrap. One day, it is going to come crashing down and it will be redeveloped with the usual slick sanitary conditions that characterises the rest of the city. So while you can, enjoy this place. What is so special about Chungking Mansions? It is the world in a microcosm. Hong Kong is not a cosmopolitan city, despite the hype. But in Chungking Mansions you can find a genuine piece of humanity in this city...

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Tony Blair - you lying, murdering bastard!

I could get killed for saying that. But it is the truth. However, you could also hear the truth yesterday and hear exactly why he is probably the smartest man in Britain. He took this country into a war to lower the price of oil. Simple. Gordon Brown may be a bad Prime Minister, David Cameron is going to be an arsehole, but Tony Blair is evil. The UK is better off without him, but history will judge him as a mass murdering butcher. I hope for the rest of his days, he is tormented by the screams of the children that he killed.

We are lucky here that we still have the level of civil liberties in the UK to question a former PM while his political party is still in power. Unbelievably he has not been able to wipe that off the map. But yesterday's performance, his insistence on weapons of mass destruction was the perfect cloak and dagger that has typified his leadership of the UK. Go back to earning your cash, and stay out of our lives. Before it ends too soon...

Friday, 29 January 2010

London Diary (14)

'Get me a coffee man!'

I stopped by the vending machine as The Sponger looked at me with his pitiful eyes.

'Yeah, that'll be 30p.'

Now, thirty whole pence is not a lot of money. But it is night time, I am working and I need to keep myself awake for the whole night. Hence the need for me to drink a coffee rather than rely on my flask of tea. And also, this man here is on the same wages that I am on. So what stops him from putting his own coins into the machine. He has a mortgage, so what? I do not. I live in rented box. He's made his choice, I've made mine. He has a piece of land, I have my coffee.

'Oh man, come on, don't make me beg!'

But that is exactly what you are doing. Begging. Okay, if it was a one off, I would be all right with it. But everytime this man sees me, he looks mournfully at me and asks for a cup of something, tea, coffee, or chocolate. And you know what, he can buy his own cup of hot drink, I have seen him do it plenty of times. Without offering me a cup.

'Yeah, well, I'm also broke. I only have enough cash for myself'.

I hate spending money at work. My mentality is that I come to work to earn not to loose cash. I take the bus into work, I don't drive, unlike my 'friend' over here. I bring in my own packed lunch, and my own drinks, so I do not have to buy anything while I am working, unlike The Sponger who not only spends his own cash without offering, but then looks to other people to support his habbits.

'Oh man!'
'Yeah I know'.

I would love to tell him to f**k off, but this is a work place. And I got to bite my tongue, for now...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

iWank

A new concept in personal experience...touchscreen...10.5 inches long...beautiful to look at...great for surfing the net...can do all the things your computer can do...just look here...no here...that's it...this will revolutionise the way you go about your day to day business...will make you feel good...oh yeah...just like that...so if you're in the toilet at work...at home all alone...at least you have this...to make you happy...

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Release your inner doughnut monster...

I am a custard doughnut monster. At least that's what the packaging on the pack of doughnuts tells me. But am I really a doughnut monster? Do I turn into some ravenous beast that cannot control himself at the sight of a doughnut. Or is it the combination of human instinct and the sugars/fats of the doughnuts that makes me into a monster? I suppose it is like putting an attractive woman in front of me and hoping that I remain rational. IT AIN'T GOING TO HAPPEN!

Ah, slick marketing. Sex and doughnuts always sell...

Monday, 25 January 2010

Cash for YOUR Chav Gold!

Pawn shops are nothing new. As old as humanity itself, there has always been a need to trade personal valuables for short/long term cash. What is new in the UK is the rise in 'Cash for Gold' merchants. These businesses advertise on satellite TV during daytime soap operas claiming to solve all your money worries (what's new?) by giving you cash for your gold.



Of course with gold at an all time high, we at Caution Wet Paint are proud to announce our newest partner! If you have tatty gold lying about in your home, then send it to cash_for_your_gold.co.uk and they will give you money! Yey!

Cash for YOUR Chav Gold!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Mi Gustas (4)

I like...Milk




(Sorry El Maestro, but I love this song so much that it had to be repeated)

This week I have had a real craving for milk. Lots of it has been consumed by me in various forms. I have been guzzling the drink at every available opportunity. I have been eating vast quantities of cheese. I have been smothering butter on every available slice of toast that I have chewed on. I love my milk! I want my milk! I need my milk!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The Taxman smiled, so I spent!

So what is a man to do? I am one of the lucky few that has received a little bit of cash from the taxman after it was found that I overpaid in the financial year 2008-9. Only £50 (which in most parts of the world is a small fortune, but here can barely buy you sushi), but any money is appreciated. And so what did I do? Did I save it? Why of course not! Our government is encouraging me to spend and to be blunt, if I saved it, next year that £50 would be worth so little. So what better than to spend, spend, spend! Such are the morals of my generation, plus I would be giving a little bit back to HMRC ;)

To celebrate my most recent splurge, here is what I bought:

Chinese take away (awful, filled with salt and soya fed chicken).
A tank of petrol (necessary).
A broom (need to clean away the filth of the front garden).
The Amores Perros DVD (seen the film before, but it is just too brilliant!)

There you go, £50 in the blink of an eye. Plus about £15 of that was VAT and Fuel duty so the government didn't do too badly out of that either. A win/win situation, I kept the economy moving and made myself 'happy' by shopping!

Personally, the only good thing on that list was the DVD. And maybe the broom.

Friday, 22 January 2010

London Diary (13)

This particular post contains strong language (swearing) and descriptive content of an adult (sex) and derogatory (misogynist) nature . This is a filthy (and fictional) post, and if you are easily offended, do not read on. You have been warned!

---

Full after the serving of Chinese food, they both lent back in their seats satisfied at the extent of demolition that came after two ravenous men. C got out a cigarette. It was long past closing time and the owner did not care who sparked up in his restaurant. In fact, the owner would be joining them later on to gamble away the days takings on rice wine and cards. But first, they had to digest while the owner cleaned up out back.

'That was nice food Mei!'

The waitress politely smiled at C's comment as he puffed away on a cigarette. C leant closer to M and whispered.

'You know that bitch needs a good fuck! You can see it in her eyes, with her small, round tits aching to get suckled on!'

And with that, C blew smoke rings into the air. He sucked on his teeth, trying to get at the piece of flesh that was stuck in his mouth.

'In life, there are three actions that define us!'
'Go on,' replied M.

M eyed up Mei as she waltzed past towards the kitchen. Her tiny figure, squeezed into the simple black uniform tempted him as much as it tempted C. He could also see that look for lust in her eyes, hidden behind the demeanor of a simple waitress.

'Three actions. Fucking. Lying. And dying!'

M laughed at C, but he was deadly serious as he continued.

'Look, we are born from a fuck! If it is not for a fuck, you and me are not here, sitting down, eating Chow Mein and eyeing up fit bitches with tight pussies! And we want to fuck, our lives are built around fucking. I mean you and me, we're dogs. We'll eat any pussy that comes our way, we'll fuck any pussy that comes our way and we'll do anything to get that pussy. And there, comes the lying. We lie since the day we are born to get pussy. We lie that we love the bitch, we lie that we are rich bastards, we lie and tell them they are beautiful. Just to fuck! And then we die. After everything that happens in life, we stop fucking, we stop lying and die. A fucking shell in the ground. After all the vullshit we go through to get pussy, we finish it. Dead'

C stubbed out his cigarette.

He put his head in his hands and held himself there for a while.

M looked up at him. He knew that C missed his daughter, but there was no way that he would see her ever again. She was in another country, far away, and despite the bravado of C, he knew that it was a cover. Plus the fact that C was hyper-sexed!

'That food was good man!'

M knew that C was covering up his true thoughts. But like everything he said, there was a kernel of truth in his latest rant. It was true, life was dominated by fucking, lying and dying. The lies especially dominated M's life at this moment in time. Everything he did was a lie. But was it worth it? Was she worth all the lies? Why did he lie for her? It was a question M pondered to himself as he glanced Mei's sultry walk from the kitchen.

'He'll be out in a second,' she said as she placed a tray of liquor on their table.

'Mei, you are a sweet woman! Why don't you come and join us at the table tonight,' exclaimed C.

Mei sweetly smiled and shuffled towards the kitchen. C took a good look at her as the door swung shut.

'She needs a good fuck!'

Thursday, 21 January 2010

You have f**k all money!!!

The Bank of England was last night quivering in delight as the inflation rate shot up to 2.9% in the last month of 2009. Confirming what the rest of the British population knew already, prices have soared hitting the public where it hurts the most all the essentials of life such as property prices (a.k.a. a place to live), gas bills (a.k.a. keeping yourself alive during the snow), electricity bills (a.k.a. how else can I light up my house with only seven hours of daylight during the winter) and transport (a.k.a. a 33% increase in bus fares over the past two years) have contributed to the latest hiccup in the 'recovery'.

Uncle Mervyn, the one man saving the current government from complete annihilation at the polls by making sure that all the UK's debtmongers still have a roof over their heads, brushed off inflation fears.

'Don't worry,' he was heard to have quipped at Nigella's dinner party, 'Inflation will remain low as due to unemployment, wages are not going to be following those prices up. More wine anyone?'

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The crumbliest, flakiest, takeover...

And so that is it. The last British industrial giant around has been swallowed, lock, stock and Bournville by an American Cheesemonger. Wave your Dairy Milks in disgust as another iconic British brand becomes McSumed into another all powerful conglomerate. Romantic stuff, eh?

The battle for Cadbury has grabbed the imagination of the British public far more than say the sinking of P&O or the swooping up of BAA. After all, we may occasionally board a ferry to jump off to Calais or hop on a jet to the Costa, but my gosh, we buy our chocies on daily basis. Who can resist the lure of milk chocolate buttons or the bunny rabbit appeal of a caramel bar. Mmm?

Let us be honest here. Cadbury's chocolates have tasted like trash for a very long time. The only two Cadbury's products I consume with any regularity (and it is rare that I ingest chocolate) are Green and Blacks and the Flake (as part of the delicious 99, the only ice cream I like). The rest is awful. Have you actually tasted the pulp that is Dairy Milk? I'm sure you have had enough tasteless Roses over the Christmas period and are now wondering why you even bothered with the box of pre-wrapped tat. We seem to forget that Cadbury has lost its altruistic edge a long time ago and it is just another company.

The sad thing will be the inevitable loss of British jobs that will accompany that deal. But not to worry, there are plenty more beans for the lawyers to count! And after all, in today's Britain, that is what really matters. Oh, what a delightful turn of events...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Crossings of the River Thames 26: The Millennium Bridge

It has been a very long time since I have last wandered down towards the Riverside and took a stroll across one of its many famed crossings. No, I have not forgotten my monthly timetable, but I had so much fun in India, that I had to share with you, three unique crossings from that land. But I am back here in the UK, with my feet very much on the ground and so here I am back in the centre of town, with London's newest bridge!



It was initially opened in 2000, at the height of the giddy celebrations of that year. Of course it was short lived. After three days, the bridge was shut. It wobbled. And so two years later, it was reopened, without the giddiness, but with all the purpose of the original. To link the artistic hub of the Tate Modern on Bankside with the historic St Paul's in The City.



The standalone footbridge is the earliest form of river crossing. Since ancient times a log across a stream sufficed as a means by which to keep ones feet dry. London has never really been big on these stand alone structures however. The Thames is a fairly wide river, and if you are going to make the effort of bridging it, you want to construct something more substantial than a mere footbridge. And so the Millennium Bridge is one of only two 'foot only' bridges across the River, the other being at Teddington Lock (with the Richmond Lock footbridge actually a part of the lock). This is partly a quirk of geography. The area around the Millennium Bridge is far too built up to build a road crossing. But more importantly, it serves a need. In this part of town, it is often quicker to walk between destinations than hop on the tube (Waterloo and City Line anyone?) or travel by car. And the leisure activities in this part of London has also meant that since the first day of (re)opening it has been well utilised.



I love this crossing point. Seriously, I do. It is rare, that planners and politicians alike show such vision. The Hungerford Bridge is another such example of fine planning. It is something that is so futuristic and yet so necessary for today's needs as well. Add to that, the Millennium Bridge is actually quite a striking design. It is not necessarily the most beautiful crossing in London, and unfortunately, the grey really do not match our climate. But the way that the bridge has been constructed is remarkable, unique and original for a Thames bridge. As I slowly meander through London's remaining crossings, I certainly look back at the Millenium Bridge as one of the more iconic crossing points of the River Thames...



Getting there and away:

The Southbank can be reached by bus routes 381, N381 and RV1. The Northbank is a short walk away from Blackfriars rail (the tube station is closed for the mo), Mansion House Tube (District/Circle) or St.Paul's (Central Line). The Northbank is also served by bus routes 388 and N550.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Spinning the Wheel

The truth is a tough one. Do you reveal the truth or do you let it slide past you and the rest of the world? How much is necessary to tell? It is necessary to reveal all? Is honesty always the best policy? Does lying actually work? How about white lies? Or just not revealing the whole story...

When you are young it is simple. You like this or you do not. You tell the truth or you are a liar. Truth is good. Lies are bad. But life becomes more complex, greys are added in between the blacks and white. More importantly, self preservation, the real reason to lie, becomes more subtle.

The big question is, how many lies is written on this blog? Or is that too much ego for one simple South Londoner?

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Mi Gustas (3)

I like...The Clock!



Essentially, you are looking at one of London's romantic hotspots. It may not look it from the blurry photo, nor when standing on the concourse of Waterloo on a cold evening do you feel a cosy feeling in your heart, but the clock is a common rendezvous for couples about to begin their first date. You see, Waterloo is a big place, and the clock provides an iconic spot that can be seen above the crowds of people and chain stores that litter the station itself. A reminder of a bygone day, and scarily accurate, the clock is one of the few things that South London does right...

Saturday, 16 January 2010

The Rise of the Chicken Wing...Why?



Chicken tastes great when fried or curried, but when compared to other meats, it has a rather boring flavour. So why, are chicken wings such a popular dish in the UK? The scrawniest part of the bird, with more skin than flesh, they are consumed with much gusto in cheap Chinese Buffets and late night pizza take outs.

In the 1980's these bits of the bird were thrown away or used a stock. But with the reinvention of KFC and the sale of Hot Wings came an appetizer that is now lodged in British fast food tradition. And it is awful. No meat worth mentioning, filled with grease and skin that stick to the gullet. Ugh. And to top it all off, it is now an expensive purchase at the supermarket as that is what the palette of many UK residents are now used to. To scared of the bones from the thigh or back and now tired of chewing breast, chicken wings are a premium option in the shops!

From crap to caviar in a generation...

Friday, 15 January 2010

London Diary (12)

'Man! That carpet is really red,' he thought to himself.

He looked around the room. He had been to hundreds of budget hotels around the world, and no matter where he went they were all the same. He may have been in a hotel in one of the world's largest and richest cities, but it reminded him of the same awful dives he had stayed while in Guwahati, Guangzhou and Guadalajara. The same spartan furnishing accompanied all those rooms. A light switch, an old television, a basic wardrobe with a mirror. A bedside locker (sans Bible), a bin in the corner and an uncomfortable bed. The only thing missing from this room was an ashtray, a casualty of the smoking ban, now law across the land

'Man this bed is uncomfortable,' he thought. But he still was tired. That was always the way that men think afterwards...'Sleep.'

But for women, it is different. They never go to sleep. They lie awake. They talk. Or they jump into the shower. That's where she was right now, after she realised that he was not listening. The water trickled down into the drainpipe, 'but who cares,' he thought as he drifted to sleep.

The shower stopped running and she came out of the bathroom. Her hair was slightly wet, and she had some marks across her body. 'Scars of the night,' he thought as he winced in pain. He also had his fair share of bumps and bruises from their wild encounter.

It was only a few hours ago but now the dynamics of the relationship had changed. Up until that moment, he had been chasing, while she was the prey. Now, it was the other way round. She was trying to keep him, while he was thinking of ways to escape. As he gazed at her drying herself with the towel provided by the hotel, he smiled to himself. Satisfied, but tired. They had a few more hours together until the morning, and then they would both go their separate ways.

She sat on the edge of the bed, drying her hair. Unlike him, she was not smiling. In fact, her countenance was deadly serious. 'Ugh,' he thought, 'why?'

'Why can't she just be happy for once. Forget about the life she's leading. It's out there, a million miles away from this damn awful hotel room, across the river in a different world,' he thought to himself.

He leant up and kissed her. She reluctantly accepted the peck. He rubbed her arm as she continued to remove the last of the damp from her body. Her composure had changed little from when she entered the shower. Washing away her sins, his scent or the memories of the night. He did not know and to be blunt, he did not care. A few moments ago, they were writhing together in ecstasy, but now, afterwards, the thoughts of life came flooding back to both their minds.

First she would think. Always, the woman thinks first. She would be thinking about the husband she was married to, about the lies she would tell him, about their next encounter.

But for him, he was just too tired to think. His thoughts could wait until the morning. After all, why worry about a life you could not control when the rest of the city sleeps? But one thought came back into his mind as he lay back on the bed and tried to get back to sleep.

'Man! That carpet is really red!'

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Blur...

My mind, it is whirring away at the moment. Need to level out the head for a bit...focus...damn!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Songs of the week...

To kick off what is to be a political week here in the UK, three songs to get you going:

Mr. Brown by Bob Mareley, and the lyrics are really appropriate.

War by Edwin Starr, to commemorate the inevitable whitewash that is the Iraq Inquiry.

And lastly, off to Northern Ireland, a far flung part of the UK with a song by Simon and Garfunkel...

Monday, 11 January 2010

Tax Haiku

I must do my tax.
Recently I have been lax.
Now must work the max.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Mi Guatas (2)...

I like...The Defiant!



The Defiant was one of the best things about Star Trek. Okay, let me redefine that. The Defiant was the best ship on Star Trek. Hell, it was probably the best Sci-Fi ship ever. You have to think, before the late nineties, with special effects costing so much, 'space ships' may have had loads of guns, but never really used them that much due to the costs of SFX. Since the late 1990's, every starship has been blowing everything else to bits and so they all fade into sameyness.

But The Defiant came at the right time. It was the first time a space ship on TV kicked ass as it was at the time when SFX was becoming affordable. So when Sisko called out 'Battle Stations', you know there was going to be fireworks! Plus, being on the iconic Deep Space Nine meant that it had a hallowed place in TV history...

It was a shame that The Defiant was destroyed by the end of the series. But like everything on DS9, it had to go. The series was wrapped up perfectly, and of course, the original Defiant had to go along with the rest of the show. So I look back through reruns and internet streams as the most fun you could ever see on the small screen...

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Snowed Under



In London we have an unusually warm climate. This may seem strange to say at this time but remember, we in London are further north than the 'famed' hotspots of Astana, Calgary, Kiev, Vladivostok or Ulan Bator. We are warmer partly due to pollution (mainly from buildings and cars giving off heat), partly due to the fact that we are located on an island (so the sea moderates the temperature extremes) but mostly due to the Gulf Stream (a warm blast of air and water that starts in the Caribbean and ends up in Europe).

Global warming is tricky business to predict. Many things can happen. And one of the predictions is that Europe could get colder as the Gulf Stream is switched off. No one really knows. But what would happen to us here in London is such a thing happened?

Well, we are getting a taster of it now. I am not saying the current weather is here because we have no Gulf Stream, just that the northerly winds from Siberia are stronger this year. In essence we are having a freaky winter. But what will happen to us.

Well first of all, do not expect the cavalry to dig you out. Once again, the UK has demonstrated how awful its local councils/infrastructure companies are when it comes to winter planning. You would not hear of a chip shop running out of salt nor would a kebab house run out of grease, yet institutions with billions of pounds within them struggle as soon as a snow flake falls.

In London, anyone living off a main road is sliding away, while pavements remain death traps for the elderly and disabled. Dishwasher salt and cat litter in the supermarkets is at an all time low - something which I stocked up on beforehand ;) - as individuals take to clearing their own front paths. Cars are no good in this weather as the belief in 'power' and speeding off at the traffic lights has left our vehicles completely inadequate for the weather.

So what to do. Well, as I hinted above, the way forward is to go ahead by yourself. Do not expect to be helped out by anyone but yourself. You may pay thousands every year in fuel bills and taxes, but that does not mean you are going to get anything for your cash. While everything is normal, all is good. But as soon as 'freaky weather' appears, you are stuck if you are dependent on anyone else for your day to day needs.

And this is exactly what will happen in the Gulf Stream turns off. Incompetence. Only individuals will be able to cope with it, and they are the well prepared ones...

---

In a side note, TfL has done pretty well in keeping the roads/underground open. After last year's farce, Boris is determined to keep the London flowing. Accountability seems to work very well. What you really need is someone to point the finger to, not a faceless Press Assistant...

Friday, 8 January 2010

London Diary (11)

I stepped outside and felt the ice crunch under my bare feet. I looked out on my garden and saw it glistening white. It was cold, it was inconvenient, but it was SNOW!

I couldn't help but smile. Despite the fact I was standing bare feet in six inches of the stuff, there was a warmness emitting from my body. Maybe it was my inner child, maybe it was the child that I was carrying inside of me, but no matter what, it was SNOW!

I walked round, barefoot to the front of the house. The snow had not stacked up along the alleyway. Looks like I need to get some cavity insulation to remedy that. But as soon as I went out onto the street, I saw a multitude of events. Cars spinning their wheels in vain to go on their way. Grumpy commuters waiting at the bus stop. And children throwing snowballs at each other. Well, at least someone knew had to take the snow with good humour.

'Aren't you a bit nippy going barefoot, love?' called out a postman on his cycle.

I grinned back. I don't know why, but since I was a kid, I always liked going barefoot whenever possible. Beaches, concrete paths, forests, but in particular on snow. And this was the best snow that I had seen since I was a kid. The last time it was this thick for this long, I was playing in my front garden, I must have been four or five and suddenly I took off my wellies and ran round with them over my head. My mum came out of the kitchen, scared that I was going to freeze to death. But I got such a rush.

And now, in a few months, I will be holding my own little one. I will be the one watching over him or her. Looking out for the quirks, protecting him or her from what he or she will get up to. And one day my own child will look on a snow storm like this and reminisce about their younger days...

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Spare time?

This really is quite cool. And a great way to waste fifteen minutes of your life. Oh the happy memories...

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow in the UK (and the predictable consequences)



That's the view outside my window in an ordinary London suburb. It has just gone midnight and so there are few cars on the road. There are few gritters out and about too.

By daybreak, millions of people will be struggling to work, home or school across the Capital. Public transport will undoubtedly take a turn for the worse and while it is unlikely that the buses will be called off the road again, I would not bet against it. Of course it will be hell to come in by rail or by tube.

A few schools will shut for health and safety (I love lawyers), which means parents cannot come into work. The usual shut down in services, knock on effects will begin, like a domino. People will crash, kids will play in the snow, and people like me with a day (or night) off will be very happy to enjoy this day of fun.

Then the moaning begins. The puritans will soldier through, complaining about the lack of spirit amongst those that do not bother showing up for work. The legendary Twittersphere will be up in arms about how their lives have been inconvenienced. Wow. Talk about self inflation of their lives. But it does provide a justification to the monotony of what happens everyday.

So, to all those braving the cold tomorrow. Good luck! Enjoy it, it only happens once a year for a few days. While the snow in December was relatively early, what we are getting now is about right for the time of year. It is only going to last for a day or two so why not do a runner from work. Have a snowball fight with some mates. Find a reindeer. But most of all, live a little. And don't moan about it. I think we could be heading for a barbecue summer again...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

January Blues...

It is nippy.

Oh what the hell, it is freezing!

Not just here in London.

India, the US and China.

It just is a pattern of winter on this side of the planet.

Head south and it is very different. Wet and wild.

In other words, be careful. We live on a very unpredictable bit of rock in space...

Monday, 4 January 2010

Blue Moons

Anyone else noticed it, up in the sky? The full moon. A Blue Moon in fact.

To put it another way, have you been unusually argumentative. Have you seen fights spontaneously erupting, people feeling tetchy. Okay, more tetchy than normal? Is it the season to be jolly or just one of folly?

Anyway, working during the nights of the Christmas period, I have seen far too many arguments, fights, scuff ups for it to be a normal Christmas period. Maybe it is the liquor, but there is something in the air, I swear. I see it every full moon, how much more crazy the city is, and it was a full moon on 30th/31st Dec. The 30th December was particularly nutty. I had a riot on the bus due to an open window, no joke.

Some say we go a little bit gaga with the full moon and on my observations, that is certainly true. Oh well, enjoy going back to work. I think I'm having a day off today...about time!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Mi Gustas (1)

I like...Plov.



I first encountered plov on my travels through North Western China in 1999. Since then I have been fascinated by all things matriarchal as well as all rice based meat dishes. It was wonderful to eat something so familiar to the palette, yet so different to the taste buds. And it is one of the few recipes that I have sampled abroad and managed to successfully cook at home!

Plov rules! It kept me alive in the cold nights of the desert of Xinjiang, put a smile on my face after a two day bus journey from hell and impressed many ladies in the art of seduction...

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The New Year's Day Parade

London has a busy social calender. Everyday of the year, something is always taking place in Europe's biggest city. And why wait just because the first day of the year is a public holiday? So without further ado, I decided to visit (and take part in) The Capital's second public festivity of the year (the first being the fireworks) and attend the New Year's Day Parade.



After the hi-jinks of New Year's Eve, it takes many brave (and sober) souls to make it to Green Park on a bitterly cold January morning. But, do not underestimate the spirit (and folly) of Londoners. We may be a dour city most of the time, but we love a good parade and more importantly, so do the beautiful tourists that line the streets of the West End ;)

Oh, and the classic cars - Mama!



And because it is an event not frequented by most Londoners, it is one of the more relaxed parade's of the year. No drunken yobs or the like, just a lot of fun, a bit of partying and the usual British eccentricities on display. I loved it, particularly as I was on the Redbridge float as part of NuSound Radio. Yep, the boroughs have their rivalry, each with their own am to win the crown of best borough, but it also raises a huge amount of money for charity to boot! Competitiveness indeed, but it is great to see all parts of London, with their own unique aspects take on each other. Often people equate the city to Big Ben and St Paul's, but there is a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, and the great thing about the Parade is the civic pride from the local areas of London.

The result, well, I'll find out when I get to the station on Sunday. Until then, here is a view of the crowds at Westminster...

Friday, 1 January 2010

London Diary (10)

I looked down at the crowds below. Ten years ago, I was doing exactly the same thing as they were. Singing, dancing in the streets, smiling. Happy. Back then it was 1999, and anything seemed possible. Things could only get better. Surrounded by friends and family, we heard Big Ben chime away. We held hands and sang. A couple of Australian women were close by and joined in with us as we clambered on top of some statue. Someone had a bottle of champagne and we splashed it around like a set of Grand Prix winners. Okay, we never got to see the fireworks by the Thames, but somehow, it didn't matter. Man, it was 2000, there was something special about the occasion! It was the beginning of the third millennium, this was it! It was our time! This was not just our year, but our life!

And so, ten years later, as I looked down at the crowds lining the streets below me, I did not smile lovingly as I looked back at a lost decade. That was it, ten years, gone. Finished, never to return. If I was lucky, I would have another four or five decades left on this Earth, then that will be it for me. My pitiful existence, gone, with another moron taking my place amongst the masses, looking out over the river and singing away with their hopes and dreams ahead of them.

Where had the last ten years gone? Nowhere. I was not any better than I was ten years ago, I could not point to some great achievement that I had made, life was still the same, I had not changed.

And what did I have to show to the world? Nothing. No hopes, no love not even any cash in my hand. I was as poor now as I was then!

It was as if the whole decade was just one endless series of hoops, being jumped through, but I was the only one setting those hoops. All those trials were for nothing. Friends had been lost, and enemies had gathered around me on this road known as life. I had seen too many good people die for no reason other than to validate the phrase, 'it's life'. And I had seen too many bad people continuing to live, polluting this Earth with their existence for no other reason then to validate the phrase, 'life is unfair'.

The last ten years, have, been unfair. Where was this hope, this mass of goodwill that was stacked up as a result of a few digits turning to 'zero'? Year 2000, Y2K, the New Millennium! Just think, such an event comes round once every thousand years, and really should be a point for humanity to reset itself and become better than it was.

Instead, all we got was more wars, more mistrust and more hatred. There was no love from the last ten years, only more of the same, but worse. There was no reason for all this, negativity, this let down of society. We had it all, the technology, the communication, the vision and the hope to really make ourselves altruistic, to move forward like at no other point in our shared history. Instead we got caught up in the greed of the times, we wanted more for ourselves, we thought only of our own pockets. How to get on top of the grease pole and stay up there. We wanted to reach for the stars, but instead of helping our brothers and sisters up, we shut the trap door on them.

The fireworks are already over, and the euphoria is gone. People stop looking at each other in hope, and look down at the pavement as the minutes tick past midnight. There is no more holding of hands, no more shared vision, no more love. Just a need to get out of the snow, to go home to our over-mortgaged lives and back to our so called security. An illusion that we have created for ourselves. Ten years down, four more decades to go...