Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Music for Night

Yes...

Live music!

Why would I do that?

Where's my perfect pint? And my vomit lined polo shirt? Why aren't I getting my face glassed? And where are my beer goggles?

Oh well, I certainly enjoyed myself. Fantastic music! And it was a great chance to catch up with El Maestro who was playing in Greenwich. Plus it was a great chance to ride my bike halfwy across South London. All in all, a successful night out...

Monday, 30 May 2011

A Wander through West London (3) - Eel Pie Island



In London, there are plenty of islands, or Aits/Eyots as they are known, in the middle of the Thames. West London is where the bulk of the islands exist, and Eel Pie Island (one of the few on the Thames not called an Ait or an Eyot) is one of the most famous, partly as it has a great history to it. Plus, it is one of the few that is partially accessible to the general public. Many others require a boat ride to get to it, but for Eel Pie, you can simply walk across the bridge.

Eel Pie Island itself is a hidden gem. Much of it is very artistic, probably due to its history as an old Hippie Commune. Today, the island is filled with a mixture of rustic buildings, and slightly more modern fare.



And it is surprisingly tranquil. It is only a small wander over a footbridge, but the lack of vehicles makes this a very peaceful island. Despite the nearby rattle of Twickenham town centre, once you are on Eel Pie, everything is surprisingly quaint and quiet. No cars, no cycles, just people and postmen wandering around the island, taking random photos of what is around...



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Getting there and Away:

Eel Pie Island is just across the river, over a footbridge, from Twickenham Town Centre. Most of the island is a private nature reserve, so look out online for the special open days, when a hike to Twickenham actually becomes worthwhile. The nearest railway station is Twickenham, (which is a ten minute walk away). There are also plenty of buses that make the quick journey (usually 15 mins) from Richmond Tube Station on the District Line. Alternatively, it is a very pleasant walk from Richmond.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Six years later...

My mother passed her driving test yesterday. Six years after I first started teaching her, she finally got her licence to drive.

As a result I have no hair left, but at least she has done it!

Congratulations!

The feeling of freedom is immense!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Peacocks

You know the types.

Men who go strut. Bling-bling, big cars, flashy jewellery, smart phones, good cars.

An image that has been worked on so hard, it is perfect. Like a piece of glass crystal.

Worthless and easy to shatter.

Nice car. Where do you live? In a box room, living off credit cards to finance that widescreen TV?

Hey, you really stand out in the club. Getting laid. Better make sure you get protection, otherwise that kid popping out is going to cost you more than that iPhone.

Ugh, yeah, London is full of these tough guys. Looking cool and muscular. And filled with gold.

Slaves.

That is all you are. Slaves to an image crafted by someone else. So instead of doing something worthwhile, for yourself, you can strut like a peacock for one night, looking cool. For some image crafter.

I hope it makes you feel better. Because this is as good as your so called life actually gets! And yes, it is Friday again. So you better get that aftershave out...

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Talk

...is cheap, but it can also be good.

It can be a friend or foe. Sometimes you say the right things, at other times you just screw it up.

Language can be a barrier as well as a bridge between two people.

Great when you are quoted correctly, awful when you are misquoted. Even worse when someone actually remembers what you said.

Talk however can cost you. If it is the wrong thing you said, it can cost you much more than cash. Friends, reputation, and everything more. It can collapse you world.

But without talking, where would we be. Uncommunicative, hermits. The ideas and thoughts, the collaborations that exist. It is the whole of humanity that is built on what we say. From the first utterances we make as children to our dying breath, what we say can impact far beyond our lives, onto the existences of many others.

Talking helps when it is needed. Many times it is the right thing to say. Sometimes it isn't, but the fact you said something helps, often more than you think.

But talk can be forgotten quickly. Which is why I love the written word. What is noted down is often far more precious than what is spoken. And far more legal...

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

One year of my thirties over

Wow, I have made it to 31. When I was was young, this felt like an old age to be and now I am here, I feel..old?

Last year, I wrote one hell of a long blog post sealing the end of my twenties. And it was one hell of a short post that welcomed my thirties.

How was the last year. Well, it was...interesting. I have done a lot. A lot more than I expected to do. I have achieved a little. There is definitely an upward trend in where I am heading to, but where that trajectory that will play out, I am not yet sure of.

How will the next year play out. Well, indications are that film wise, it will still be a struggle, but hopefully one that will be more fruitful. I really hope that the inter spaced with success will become more prominently successful and will build to me building a successful film making life. In other matters, moneywise and personally, life is getting better, but I wish both were easier in terms of logistics. Nonetheless, by the time i reach 32, life could be even more...interesting...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Puncture

Bastard!

In three years, this car has had two punctures.

I hate it.

Replacing the spare wheel.

Then going to repair tyre.

I hate cars.

Love bikes.

Four wheels bad, two wheels good...

Monday, 23 May 2011

My office



I wish my life was more exclusive. You know, an iPad to do all my networking and notes, a chauffeur to carry me instead of my old rustbucket, and I wish I was actually earning cash, stupid amounts of cash from these meetings. But, the bottleneck is getting smaller, and the struggle gets harder.

Oh, by the way, since last week, I replaced my phone. Yeah, that black and white thing you see in the pic. After four years of getting smashed around, it has finally conked out, and so I have...a colour screen! Oooh! I am sooo 2004!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The end of the World - Rapture!

Why are you here?

You should all be dead by now.

Didn't you hear of the Rapture?

Well, you know, being alive is such an inconvenience. I had my final day planned out just right.

I had my final meal (Donner Kebab), my final drink (the perfect pint of beer) and my perfect night out (with Ken Clarke).

But here I am this morning. Judgement Day has not turned up, and this is where I am. Here, blogging, complaining and looking back at a week of tomfoolery...oh well, at least yesterday was sunny!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

London Diary 46

'So do you have kids,' I asked.

The silence was a bit unnerving. Normally, children and talk of them is what breaks the ice between two men.

'Erm, yeah, but we have not been in contact for a while now. I've been divorced twenty years. That life is long behind me. Thank God!'

He was driving. Flooring it down the motorway to a destination that really was not that important. After all, we were just doing someone else's business. So what was the hurry? We will get there eventually.

Ah sod it, the guy was a prick. I can see why his wife left him, why his kids hated him. He was so full of himself, so full of bullshit. He began to recount his ex-girlfriends. How this girl he met at the supermarket, how he saw one ex-girlfriend every afternoon at 5.15pm leaving her office, how he used to go drinking at that pub with another girl. The man thought he was a film star, but had the balding looks of a man used up by life, but unwilling to admit to it. Looser.

But if he was such a looser, what was I doing in the passenger seat next to him?

As we tried to make polite conversation on the motorway I thought about the mistakes I had made in my life. Instead of ordering people to do my dirty work, I am the man picking up the pieces. The twists and turns of fate are fickle, but each and every decision I made freely to end up here. Next to this wanker. Chatting shit, pretending to be someone far more than I actually am.

The rain began to fall, and the clouds over the horizon were dark, waiting to empty their contents o the landscape that we were traversing. We still had quite a way to go to reach our destination, far from London. I looked out of the window to admire the view. And why not, it was not often that I left the city. By tonight, we would have done what we would have to do. Then it would be a quick ride up the motorway, back home.

He kept on driving, weaving in and out of traffic. How I sometimes wish for a car crash, and us to be in the middle of it all. It would end this life pretty quickly, and all the crap that I am doing would come to an end. Money, and not a lot of it is what keeps me in this car. Doing someone else's dirty work. The fickle fingers of fate have still not finished prodding me...

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Chagos Islanders

Take a read of the following article.


Banished Chagos islanders insist: we are not at point of no return
.

For those that do not know the history, it is essentially one of the greatest acts of injustice that has occurred since WW2 and was a collusion between the British and American governments. Around 40 years ago, the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands were removed by their colonial masters, HM Government, and were dumped on Mauritius or Seychelles. In their place, the shared British/American Base of Diego Garcia was built. There are plenty of articles where you can find out about the injustice of the Chagos Islanders. Here from the BBC. And here for the wikipedia entry..

The reason I take an interest in this is multiple. The most obvious is the sense of injustice, and you can see just how creepy HM Government gets when it wants to do things its own way. Democracy and fairness, my ass, not when it comes to brown skin people. Secondly, I am also a Creole. This could well have been the Seychelles instead of the Chagos Islands, and it would have been my mother's home country that would have had the military air base, but the tortoises saved us.

Oh well, it is an uphill struggle. Whatever happens, will be unknown. But the more people who know about it, maybe the sooner justice can be reached...


(ironically, a shot by the US military, so free for use - from wikipedia!)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Time to be a teenager?

Awkward. Zitty. Growing pains. Lack of confidence. Powerless. Crap.

Who would want to relive those years?

Which is why I never get things like reunions. Happy television programmes looking at fresh faced teenagers. Or music videos of dancy teeny bops. I am just glad I left that lousy world of school and other shite behind.

Not to say I use my adult time any better. What with all my mobile apps, facebook and celebrity trends, you know, like, how can a normal metrosexual guy get a day's work done?

Monday, 16 May 2011

Metropolis

Silent films are tough to sell to today's audience, and despite its iconic status, Metropolis was always going to be hard to watch. And after three hours sleep, I was knackered by the end of the film. But I'm glad I watched it. It was my first time that I have seen a full silent film, something that is unusual for me as a film maker. Personally, I do not ever want to make a full length silent film, although making parodies are a lot of fun...

And do not forget, this was at the cinema, not on DVD or on the TV. So I actually watched this film, in its proper setting. My aim now is to one day get my films into these cinemas...and I got a long way to go!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

A Wander through West London (2) – Imperial Wharf



The site of London's newest railway station, on one of its old railway lines, it is one of a whole host of 'rehabilitations' that have taken place in this part of London, turning a once forgotten part of London into a busy thoroughfare.

But the main reason for building this station was Chelsea Harbour. A brand, new, spanking riverside development. Now, I am not one to advertise luxury apartments. Goodness knows that London is made up of enough overpriced rabbit hutches. But Imperial Wharf is an example of how the public sector really leads the construction of new infrastructure in London. Look, this detail is kind of dull, but the promise of new housing could be the driving force behind the latest extension to the tube network...meanwhile, here is a pic of the new Chelsea Harbour:



Chelsea Harbour, Imperial Wharf. Grand names they are, and it is a grand place to live. But for me, such a dream is far from my reach. Like many other resident of London, it is becoming harder and less rewarding to eke out a living in the Capital. This city likes to market itself as the greatest place on Earth, but the reality as always is more sobering. While the attractions of London, its diversity and its pulse is some of the most exciting on the planet, the reality is that the city is very much a place of haves and have nots.

If you make it in London, great, but the reality is that it is very easy to become marginalised and in the end forgotten. London is not a caring place. I see the division on a daily basis, and in the end few people in positions of power or influence care. We hear arguments of left, right, big society, deb reduction, but for a vast amount of people who live and work in London, these are all meaningless. There was no boom time and the so-called recession has merely been excuse to pin down wages while the price of basic living has spiraled to now unaffordable levels. To live in London is a struggle for the bulk of the population. And one day, when historians look back on 21st Century London, the question will be asked, how was it allowed to become this bad?

Good luck to the residents of Imperial Wharf. The part of London that you live in is shiny, new and clean. It is a testament to the success that your lives have brought you. But take a look up the railway line at Shepherd's Bush, for that is how the other half of London lives. Knowing that their lives will not even achieve an ounce of what you have. Now it is up to the people of these new, happy places to decide if they are happy living in their ivory tower. History suggests that they will be. And history also suggests that it will be another section of the population whose talents and skill are wasted on grinding poverty. Such is the city we live in. The greatest place on Earth?

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My goodness, all this social commentary from a couple of pics. Wow! I even surprise myself...

Oh, and because I am essentially a frivolous person by nature, here is a pic of me taking health and safety at the new Imperial Wharf station very seriously:

Saturday, 14 May 2011

A Wander through West London

West London is a wonderful place. It is a nice alternative to the centre of town, and to be honest, it is pretty easy to get to.



Shepherd's Bush is dominated by the green that is nothing more than an elongated traffic gyratory. Splitting into two major West London roads from Notting Hill, the Goldhawk Road (which goes to Chiswick) and the famous Uxbridge (which leads to Uxbridge), it also receives traffic from Hammersmith, Acton and the Westway. Essentially, if you are a West London resident, there is a pretty good chance that many of your journeys will take you through Shepherd's Bush.

Shepherd's Bush is a weird place, a real collision of rich and poor. Essentially it is a great case in social study and how much of London operates to day - a city of two halves. On one side of the green, you have the bright lights of the Westfield Shopping Centre. It attracts scores of people from across London who take in the rich air and the fancy qualities of boutique shopping and to be honest it looks like any other shopping mall on the planet. It is a magnet for those who have money to spend or debt levels to increase. And despite the fact it has been around for 18 months, Shepherd's Bush is not the death zone that I thought it would end up as...



And that is because Westfield does not attract the local shopper for their everyday needs. If it was not for the transport hub that Shepherd's Bush has become, Westfield would have failed. And that is due to the fact that the local residents do not shop there. For why do you need to go to Westfield, when Shepherd's Bush is one of London's most electic neighbourhoods. As I said before, rich and poor, legal and illegal reside in Shepherd's Bush and for the local people, the thought of shopping in Westfield is unnecessary as there are plenty of better and cheaper places nearby.

Take a look at the shops! Why do you need to go anywhere else. With some of the finest eateries you can find in all of London, you do not need to go to a plastic shopping centre when visiting Shepherd's Bush...



But the area is also one of London's most diverse neighbourhoods. Look at the languages on the shop. Arabic, Turkish, Abyssinian, this is a part of London where there are people from throughout the world. Hey, diversity may be a dirty word in much of the British press, but it is a fact of life in many parts of the capital.



Oh, and tomorrow. Well, I head altogether to a very different part of the Capital...

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Guru - Episode 2 - Despot

Our Guru lends a helping hand to a man who has lost his way and his kingdom.



More satirical fun from your favourite Guru.

Click here to watch!

I loved making this episode. It was a lot of fun to work with Sippy again and it was a real delight to be working with Raj for the first time ever. I hope to be working with them both in the near future. Ah, the plans and delight of this film maker - I absolutely love it!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Overpriced? Overcrowded? Overrated? Us?



Usually when the Lonely Planet Guidebook to Britain comes out, it is a yearly ritual for the newspapers to pick up on the negative comments in the guide as an easy way to garner the more patriotic readers to buy their paper, or at least spend time on the internet watching it.

Those three terms however. Let us start, from my own subjective view...

Overpriced - Yeah , cannot argue with that one. The UK is expensive, so expensive that the cheapest thing you can do is to fly out of the UK.

But you have to be intelligent to save cash in the UK. If for example, you decide to spend your money at all the tourist traps and turn up to a hotel, then yes, it costs a lot. However, if you plan ahead, it can be cheap (accommodation, transport, etc) and food can be a bargain, depending on where you want to go.

In other words, for the care-free, adventurous backpacker, it is expensive. Spontaneity will cost you, unlike Asia, where it is positively encouraged. But if you use the internet, and are prepared to commute when staying in the major cities, it can be cheap...


Overcrowded - Yep, cannot argue with that one. We are a popular bunch of people and we just enjoy each other's company, such is friendliness of the UK!

Okay, a little sarcastic...compared to other parts for the world, we are not that crowded (such as India or Eastern China) but by European standards, the UK is crowded, with the Benelux being more packed out. Attribute that to a Word War that did not slaughter a lot of people.

But more importantly, here is something to think about. The most crowded part of the UK is the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Not exactly a byword for slum living, eh? It takes proper planning to make urban living tolerable, something that has not happened in many years...

Overrated - Yes, I could say that. After all, once you have seen St Paul's, Tower Bridge and Parliament what else is there to see in Britain?

You have to remember, we are a small and expensive island, so you cannot pack in the punch of say, India. Or China. Plus, hey...actually, I cannot defend that one. You have seen this blog, how many times have I gone on holiday in the UK? Take a hint from me, pick somewhere warmer, just like I will next month ;)

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

London Diary 45

It is funny, how people come into your life. One minute you are bouncing along, worrying about your own fears, hopes and dreams. The next, you start worrying for two. And the change is subtle, not instantaneous. At first, the lust of the situation carries you forward, propels you on a giddy high. But then it calms itself down and suddenly, in the cold and dark of night, you are awake thinking of the person next to you. Of her, what she hopes and dreams for. What she fears. And you share those emotions too, even though they remain unsaid, and explicitly uncommunicated.

It is cold. Surprisingly so. I didn't expect this, but the weather has changed over the past three days. The nights have suddenly become sharper, there is a definite chill in the air. And I don't like it. You see, summer brings the optimism with it on its wings. But a plunging of the temperatures, reminds me of winter, and the reality that is my life. Unknown to the rest of the world, destined to be poor and insignificant. Unable to realise anything beyond a drink on a Friday or a smoke on a Sunday. The point of it, what is that point. We get up, we work, we take shit and find ourselves running just to keep ourselves in the same position. Any hope of improvement is gone.

I look at her and think. Will we be happy together. Not now, of course we are both happy right now. We are in bed, sharing one another, emotionally, physically, sensually. But once we get up, and see the clouds light up as morning progresses. Is there any hope and future for both of us. This feeling, this emotion, this love that I feel and that she feels. Can it survive the mists of day, or will it fade, like the so many parts of my life that have already faded. Drifting away from me, slowly but irretrievably along the river that is time...

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Bicycle Diaries - Chestnut Sunday

On a Sunday in May Bushy Park closes to regular vehicular traffic. It means the best way to get across London's second largest Royal Park is by bicycle. But for good reason, as it is the annual Chestnut Sunday Parade:



As befits Bushy Parks military history in the planning of the D-Day landings, a lot of the parade focuses on military vehicles. Fun for the kids, but in my opinion, still a girsly reminder of a horrific period in human history. Maybe it is my recent trips to Poland, but celebrating WWII seems inappropriate to me. Still, they are interesting spectacles to see and it is great fun if you have children:



But most importantly, it is Spring. There is a flavour in the air, a certain bit of fun. I am an eternal optimist, but as the days get longer and the weather hotter, hey, what is there not to enjoy when riding the bicycle?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Bicycle Diaries - Spring 2011!

Just because I have done all sorts of wonderful thing with my little rust bucket, it does not mean I am neglecting my other set of two wheels. With the glorious weather that has recently hit us, I have been out and about on my bicycle on an almost daily basis.

And it is stunning. Here is a pic of Bushy Park last week, in the evening.



Oh yes, long summer nights means that cycling through the parks is no longer a spooky experience, racing the gauntlet with the deer, but an enjoying ride on empty roads!

If you got two wheels, at the moment London is a lot of fun to cycle through. You just got to avoid those rain clouds....but I still think I will be out on pedal power today!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Referendum Result - No to AV...

The following parts of the UK were unhappy with our current voting system:

Glasgow Kelvin
Edinburgh Central
Cambridge
Oxford

And the following parts of London:

Haringey
Islington
Camden
Southwark
Lambeth
Hackney

The rest seem overjoyed with our current electoral system.

Well, good luck to us all, we deserve the governments we inherit in the future...

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Motorcycle Diaries (12) - A New Exhaust...

When I bought my bike it was good but had a few things which needed to be fixed here and there. One of them was my exhaust. Given the bike is 13 years old, the exhaust pipe is probably the same age, and needed to be replaced. A long time ago. It was mentioned on the last MOT that it was due for replacement, and so I knew that for this year's, that will be something that it fails on.

Yeah, so there I went, going away at my bike. Four bolts attach the exhaust pipe to the bike, plus another (large one) needed to be loosened so I could fiddle the pipe into place.



I ordered my exhaust online, and it came with a gasket. And if you are thinking of replacing the exhaust pipe do not do what I did. Actually fit the gasket in. Ugh, I am stupid, but I had to take off my exhaust pipe and re-do it. As I was crushing the box the exhaust pipe came in, out slipped the gasket. Yeah, yeah, I am a dumb prat, but hey, I did it! Again. Gasket fitted (in between exhaust pipe and the engine outlet - a bit tricky to do) and some funky fumes emitted from it as I started the engine, but the bike is as good as new.

And to be honest, my new exhaust pipe makes the bike look so much better. And here is the old one.



Yeah, it needed replacing...off I ride into summer!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Bugger - the vote...and the referendum

Okay, so I just voted:



As you can imagine, I voted Yes in the referendum. As for the local elections, my vote was...wasted...I am a bad citizen, but I despise our local bunch of mini-dictators. So I decided to doodle on my ballot paper. Some may say that is a waste, but I did not ave enough information on any of the local candidates to make an informed choice, and I am not loyal to any political party. As my local council is...crap...I thought I would repay the favour, and doodle...

The results will be known in the early hours of Friday morning, but despite the enormity of today's ballot (the referendum that is) I do not expect anything revolutionary. Still, I hope my vote cushioned the defeat of the Yes vote, and at least that will keep some form of political reform alive...

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Obama - Political Genius!

First of all, let me say, thank goodness Bin Laden is dead, but no, the world is not a safer place. Alongside the Twin Towers and the Madrid Train bombings, London was the scene of Al Qaeda's last successful attack, so I will shed no tears for him.

But let us get back to the man of the moment - President Obama. The man who got the job done, and one of the most brilliant politicians around. At the beginning of the week, he looked like he was in trouble. Challenged by one of the richest men in America, he gave in to demands and humiliated himself by submitting his birth certificate for the world to see...

But as Obama submitted that certificate, he said a crucial phrase. I've got better things to do. And yes, he knew exactly what he was doing. Donald Trump played directly into his hands, shouting from the rooftops that he got the president to kneel to his demands. Trump was King Kong, his cash would buy next year's presidential election. But he did not listen to Obama's words, I've got better things to do. Because the President knew, that week, what he was really doing.

Here is what Obama's diary probably looked like for the week:

27th April - Release Birth Certificate.
28th April - Play with the kids.
29th April - Sign the Order for Operation Blatant House in the Middle of Pakistan.
30th April - Make sure Alabama has enough cash to sort itself out.
1st May - Execute order and tell the American people about Bin Laden's demise. And watch Trump squirm.

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Bin Laden's death is not going to make the world a better or safer place. No one is too naive for that. And in the end, killing him is vengeful, instead of trying to bring him to justice. But at the same time, it would have been awkward and we all know that Obama did not want anymore American casualties. But some good is going to come out of this. NATO (that includes us) will finally be able to withdraw from Afghanistan, probably in 2012 not 2014 as planned. Secondly, we can stop pouring so much money into Pakistan. I love the country (beautiful), but despise its government, and the sooner the west leaves that region alone, the better off we will be. I just feel really sorry for India having the Pakistan government as its neighbour...

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Royal Festival Hall - 60 years young...



This is the Royal Festival Hall - 60 years old this year, and recently refurbished, it is one of the great cultural beacons of London. Now for me, it is normally a cheapish place to grab a cup of coffee and take a look at some of the free events that occurs here. I very rarely pay to go to an event, but that is what I love about the whole of the South Bank Centre. I am not pressured to pay to enjoy culture. Instead, it is just there, readily available to both the casual passer-by and the intense culture-freak. I fall (unfortunately) into the former category, but I really appreciate the ability to just wander past ad take a look at what is going on.

The Royal Festival Hall is the prettier (and refurbished) part of the South Bank Centre which with neighbouring theatres and cinemas makes this one of the real cultural focal points of London. Close by lie the Hayward Gallery and the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with their future swinging from minor tinkering to whole scale redevelopment and everything in between



Here you can see the South Bank Centre as part of the beach exhibition. It is a lot of fun to wander here, and I do often, but not often enough. For me though, what I do like is coming here in the daytime, when it is not filled by pretentious snobs looking for their next coke filled art fix. That is wen normal people, some on their lunch break, others wandering past on their days off get to look around. Or on weekends when families get to enjoy the space.

It is not often that art is able to reach out to so many people and kudos to the people behind the SBC for making it happen. There is still a lot of snobbery that abounds. In fact, in any cultural locations, snobs will often vulture in, so edging out (by their attitude) people who just want to enjoy. But the SBC really is a great social leveller, and that is really due to the fantastic freebies that they are always putting on. Long may it continue for another 60years and beyond!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

London's New Seaside!

We may be fifty miles or so from the sea, but that is too far for the good people of London. And seeing that most British beaches are, to be frank, awful, a brand new piece of sand has been recreated smack bang in the middle of London. With real sand. Real, sand...



Goodness knows how they keep it in place with all the wind that flies about. That is probably why this is not a permanent exhibition, which is a bit of a shame, as I think it is loads of fun to have real sand by...the sea?

Alongside the beach, there are also lots of other seaside bits and bobs dotted around the place, to give the impression and feel of an old fashioned British seaside from the 1950's. For example, there are banners with well known food stuffs (for us Brits anyway) such as '99', 'Raspberry Ripple' and 'Fish and Chips'. Also there are phrases in slang usage such as 'Tan Lines' or unique beach like activities such as 'Sand Castles dotted around the South Bank. And of course, there are old fashioned Fish and Chip vans on the south bank itself! Oh yes, that van in the picture is incredibly well preserved and very old!



Part of the reason for the 1950's theme is the 60th anniversary of the South Bank Centre. For the past sixty years, the South Bank has been one of London's most important cultural hubs, and the beach exhibition is part of that celebration, hankering back to a Britain that is long gone. Like many things in these exhibitions, it is wonderfully nostalgic. The reality is that Britain was a washed up mess, recovering from WWII, still with rations on many provisions and disentangling itself from its messy empire.

And other than the social commentary, I will be back along the South Bank this week to catch more of a glimpse of this great treasure trove of culture...