Thursday, 30 May 2013

Sunbury Lock, Island and The Weir Pub - Bank Holiday

Now we know when summer 2013 was: 26th-27th May. I could actually sit in the garden and read: Avatal Ronell's The Test Drive, since you ask, or at least a chunk of it. Anyway, Monday I went with my family (of origin) for an outdoor pub lunch at The Weir, by Sunbury Lock, in a very pictureseque setting, but also between an oil refinery / store one one side and a gasworks on the other. Neither are visible from the pub. When the sun is out and the sky is blue, all sorts of places in this country can be pleasant. But England's green land is pleasant only when the sun is shining, otherwise it's grey and grim. Anyway, this is what Monday lunchtime looked like.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Patio Close-Ups: Homage to Teller and Tillmans

So at the start of May there were, oh, twenty minutes of sunlight and I fired the DSLR up, not really knowing what I wanted to do, but oddly taken by the weeds growing on my patio. Then I came all over Wolfgang Tillmans (in landscape rather than people mode) for about half-an-hour taking these and more. I've liked Tillmans ever since he started publishing, though I can live without the live nude disks. Like the other 'T' - Jergen Teller - his work is immediately recognisable no matter what the subject is and he manages to dodge the genres, or maybe he and Teller just invented their own. Has anyone come along since with the impact the two T's had?

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Birthday Inventory and Resolutions

I turned fifty-nine a few days ago. When I was a know-nothing sixteen year-old, a fifty-nine year old was irrelevant. Old. Married. Compromised. Soft. Out of date. Ticking off the days until final-salary retirement. Not so now. I'm still learning and I'm pushing as much weight as I used to. I'm ahead of a lot of the kids around me and it's starting to dawn on me that I always will be. Girls half my age tell me that I am not "harmless". 

I own my house. My pensions are a joke. I will need to work until I'm at least seventy, and I am going to die in the harness. That smell coming from next door? That will be me, two weeks after I die.

The office I work in is enervating. The air conditioning doesn't work and from midday until about two-thirty it smells of food. The colours are drab, the carpet is dirty, the desks too small, and we have to put our laptops and papers away in a perspex box and put the box in a locker. Like infant school. The IT is a joke: we're using XP and IE 7. I can't send attachments externally, and half the websites I want to look at for ideas and even actual business use are either blocked or don't work properly - I mean The Guardian's site crashes the browser. I can't focus, can't get into a groove and the days last a long, long time. Even though I'm in at 08:00 and out prompt at 16:00.I can work in a bureaucracy that size, but I can't take it seriously and I'm not good at the corporate games. But heck, I figure they will employ me for as long as I want to work, unless I get re-organised out.

The weather has been grey, cold and dispiriting for maybe four years straight. I don't want to go out at the weekend, or work on my garden. I haven't been watching any DVD's or going to the movies much. Or reading a lot. Or taking photographs. Or doing much of anything, outside work, gym, Tuesday meeting and basic household maintenance. I feel as if I am just curling into a little ball. I am not alone in feeling like this, but not many people will talk about it or admit the weather is affecting them. 

Going to bed even at 22:00 and waking up at 05:45 is un-natural. The alternative is commuting on a train I may not get a seat on, and I don't want that. What other disabling beliefs am I giving myself?

Age, age, age. 
All big companies suck and only big companies employ analysts.
I have no energy left at the end of the day and certainly none on Saturday morning.
I will put on dangerous amounts of weight without fair vigilance.
I should weigh about 82 kilos - so I'm overweight now. Fat, fat, fat. (I'm not, but, you know, I'm a fuck-up).
There are no attractive women in London - that I stand a chance with.
If I take a job somewhere else, they might cut me after two years if I move and then I'll be fnerked
I can only really enjoy being alive in sunshine.
I don't enjoy going-away holidays, and I certainly don't enjoy coming back home afterwards.
I'm getting poorer every year

Some of this stuff is real (logistics) and needs a work-around. Some of it is about a contrast with what I think I "should" be doing (culture consumption). Some of it is a mixture of attitude and physiology (sunshine, energy levels), and some of it is a mixture of fact and attitude (women and jobs). I am not a couch potato, I am not taking drugs with names ending in "statin" and "formin". I am not rotting my brain watching television. 

A lot of this is pretty darn environmental. I have found that I feel perkier after taking some L-glutamine, and I may go back to doing that every day. I might also give the magnesium a rest, because I know it alters my mood for the mellower, and I'm not very good with mellow. I may switch weekend gym day to Saturday, because if I don't get out of the house early Saturday, the whole darn day goes to pieces. I used to go for walks on Sundays, but the way I react to all the pollen now, it's walking through Chemical Warfare by Nature. I'll be sound asleep after half-an-hour and not in a good way.

I can spend a lot of a weekend waiting for the sun to shine and so not doing anything useful. Maybe until the sun shines, I draw the curtains and play the box-sets. Why not? Or write the next opus. What should I do when the sun don't shine and the rain falls down? Not sit noodling on the Interwebz as if any moment now the sun will shine. Watching the box-sets would be more constructive. 

Then there's the whole get-another-job and find-a-female-companion thing. Which is another post entirely.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Odd Views From Amsterdam and Utrecht

I spent the weekend with my friends in Utrecht, and the weather was forecast to be so grey, cold and dull that I had no sooner put the DSLR in my bag than I took it straight back out again. So there are just a few odd snapshots from the walking we did, which took in too-long queues at the re-opened Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum, a wander round the Steidllijk Museum, a coffee in the new Cinema Museum on the Northern IJ bank, and then supper at our regular restaurant in the Griftpark.

The point is, the place looks like this, anywhere you turn, almost.

A photograph under glass outside a house. And those wildflowers were put there, it's not photogenic by accident.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridge

There's a private little world bounded by Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridge, and the Thames and The Cut. Start at St Johns Church on Exton Street, and proceed along Roupell Street, taking a little diversion to look up and down Brad Street, before checking out the new student flats being built at Paris Gardens, at £215 a week.

Then reach Blackfriars Road and a new building that will age as fast as the 1980's beige bin across the road from it. It all looks very workers-cottage and local working class, but there's a lot of expensive iron parked outside those houses on Roupell Street and the prices are pretty damn London - if there's ever one for sale. And everything looks wonderful under a blue sky.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Stables Market and Camden High Street, May Bank Holiday

I've tried before to get a sense of the sheer thronginess of Camden Lock on a public holiday or a sunny weekend, and the trusty Canon A90IS just wasn't big enough to do it. Sometimes you need a 35mm DSLR and sometimes you need a medium-format.

Psylo is in Stables Market and Sis likes their stuff, as indeed I was taken by a couple of the men's pieces, but they don't really cut for, uh, people who work out. There's all sorts of tish, tosh and good stuff there, including a small headphones stall (booth? shop?) whose owner told me that, yes indeed, my ten year-old Sennheiser HD 580's were indeed still pretty much the best open-back headphones I could get without spending silly money.

If you to Camden Lock, don't get out at Camden Town itself. Go one stop on to Chalk Farm. It's an altogether less crowded experience.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Middle Yard, Camden Lock, May Bank Holiday

Bank Holiday Monday, Camden Lock. Middle Yard is where the best food is, but it's always packed and I have never managed to eat sitting down. There's everything from yummy soft French nougat to Kangaroo and Camel burgers, which was what Sis and I had.

There's a man who does hand-made leather bags, belts and stuff, and I'm now the owner of four of his belts, the latest one being a hand-dyed dark blue between black edgings. More discreet than it sounds.