Archive for February, 2007

Mind melt

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Like eeeeeeemail man
It’s official: email ruins your mind. Why not have a fag whilst you do the hotmail shuffle and send yourself to a better place. Man.
Now where did I put those enlargement pills?

Welcome to Planet Google. Secretive plot to take over the world.

“If you have been affected by any of the issues covered in this programme you can call the BBC action line in confidence…”
They don’t tell you that they’re going to record the call though.

Am I turning into one of those strange people who wander the neighbourhood being strange? During my weekend spring photography sesh I was spotted by someone I half know who was passing in a car as I emerged from the undergrowth. I know this because this person decided to announce this to a group of people I was with today. Now they all think I’m a bit weird. What’s new?

Southern light

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

One of the greatest visual revelations in my life was, when I travelled abroad for the first time, that the light in other countries is different to that in the UK. The strength of light, its intensity and its angle have a profound effect on colour, space and, in my case, mood. When I arrived in Australia for the first time, the contrast in light between here and there was very marked. A fresh visual memory of an English summer against present reality of an Australian winter is something I’ll not forget. The brightness of Southern light, the crispness and long shadow is unlike annything I’ve experienced here. This all came back to me in reading the text of a lecture by the architect of the new National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Richard Johnson. A uniquely Australian view of the significance of light in architectural spaces. He gives a considered discussion of Jörn Utzon’s genius in developing the Sydney Opera House; the shells of which, I now know, are aligned to maximise their visual distinctiveness in the harbour light. The notion that light gives a unique sense of place has informed the design of the new gallery. I remember the site of the new building. Canberra to me was Milton Keynes with monuments. A strangely soulless place laid out in grand style with hugely expensive buildings and a seemingly captive population to service the offices of state which are located far from where most Australians actually live. The gallery will be a neighbour to the High Court, concrete edifice with brutalist tendencies. My abiding memory of a visit to the building was massive raw concrete ramps and an earthy receptionist I engaged in friendly conversation. She confided that most of the judges were ‘wankers’. You’d never get that at the Old Bailey. Johnson’s discussion of the principles behind natural lighting in a new gallery is really interesting. It made me think about how you can handle the light in your own locale and how our perception of the environment, built and natural is so intimately bound up in our perception of light.

Spring has sprungeth in the bignjuicy neighbourhood

Plastic fire engines
Gloucestershire County Council have bought four new fire engines which are made of a thermoplastic material. Er, thermoplastics melt when they are exposed to heat.

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007


Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

It’s funny how you sometimes ‘click’ with people isn’t it? Something about you is attractive to them and you get a positive vibe which makes you feel positive about them and you start to like them. Gradually trust builds between you and before you know it you are getting on well. People I click with tend to be those who are down to earth and willing to share something of themselves in a chatty way. It helps if they are interested in what I talk about as nobody likes to feel that they are boring the arse of the audience now do they? I try not to talk about my collection of 1920s dried fish until I know them a little better. I like to listen too and this usually aids the clicking as quite a lot of people like to talk about themselves I find. Sometimes this is counterclickive because I get bored hearing about their skiing holiday or nightmare banking experiences. Smalltalk is also not click-conducive; I like a bit of substance in a discussion. Please don’t tell me about your journey on the ringroad, tell me instead about your opinions on public transport policy. I’m not really interested in what you cooked for dinner last night but I’ll happily engage you in a discussion about vegetable rights in Albania. Maybe we could discuss your views on modernism? That would do nicely.
Do you click? Could we click?
Click below to tell all.

Not mushroom
What’s the difference between a field mushroom, a breakfast mushroom and an ordinary mushroom? I need to know.

Quick question – update
I ran to my Tai Chi class and was so exhausted I had to go next door to the wine bar for a restorative bottle of Shiraz. Hic.

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Surprisingly still alive: no 6
Max Bygraves is 85 and is, amazingly, still performing.
Shopalongamax. You know you want to.

Quick question
Should I:
a. Start running again after a three year break?
b. Take up Tai Chi?
c. Drink more wine?

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Has anyone else noticed a unique species that walks amongst us? The Middle Aged Muttering Male? They are often to be found in public places, sometimes in the company of dominant females. They will approach you for something; perhaps directions, to borrow the sugar, request use of that spare chair etc. They will mutter whingeingly as they walk away. They are grey, bearded and they obviously wish their lives were better. There are many M.A.M.Ms around here and I want to punch them and tell them to get a grip and a razor. Beards can be such a sign of decline for some.

Which brings me to Son of Hyacinth
I’m sure I must be the last person in the UK to discover that Mr Joe Swift is the son of Clive Swift who is Mr Bucket, M.A.M.M of Hyacinth Bucket which makes Joe officially Son of Hyacinth though he’s not at all like I expected him to be, having heard mummy talk to him on the phone. He does look like his Dad though.

TV moment of the week
The Top Gear Reliant Robin space shuttle launch. It was pointless, hugely expensive, environmentally damaging and I hate myself for finding it mesmerising.

How they did the engineering for the shuttle.


Sunday, February 18th, 2007

With Banksy‘s stock continuing to rise – [ £102k for a canvass paid 10 days ago. ] – the inevitable greedfest has begun. Back in November a Banksy’d door in Liverpool was nearly stolen. Other thieves were successful in January, taking an angle grinder to a wall in Paddington, London. The piece then appeared on eBay for £20k but was withdrawn after complaints. Presumably Banksy is now considerably richer than he used to be and even has an agent to sell his stuff. Interestingly all the stuff on the agent’s website is ‘out of stock’ so it must be selling well [ or it’s a crap website that’s not working properly ]. Banksy’s own site is currently carrying the legend, “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit”. But buy it they do and now, in the most extreme collision of capital and subversion yet an early Banksy mural, painted on the side of a Bristol house is being marketed by estate agents as, ‘Muriel for sale with house attached’. Aside from the predictably inept spelling of the estate agents, something else about the listing on UK property website, Rightmove, raised my curiosity. According to the site, “The vendor is not looking to accept offers before April 1st.” The work, at 21 Mivart Street, is also being marketed by a Devon art gallery which has some nice images of the ‘muriel’. Given Banksy’s record of subversive stunts, it’ll be interesting to see how this story develops and which of the competing channels will sell the work first – if indeed this is a legitimate sale .

Previous Bignjuicy Banksy.
BBC London gallery of Banksy street work.

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Criminal tendencies
“A quarter of British prisoners have an IQ of less than 80” – like this is some sort of revelation. If you end up in jail – doesn’t that say something about your intellectual ability?
“This research reveals for the first time that high numbers of people with learning disabilities and difficulties are held behind bars.” Reading on, it is then suggested that education, social care and family support may be at fault and lead to criminality. The Guardian half of me thinks they may have a point whilst the crusty old Daily Mail part of me thinks, ‘criminality is not compulsory – they have a choice’. What do you think?

Meanwhile Dr Hardnut builds more prisons.

Gilbert & George at Tate Modern

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

.. is a mammoth show. So mammoth it had to be done in two parts with an extensive refreshment break between times. I recommend the house Champagne – drink it in a wholly socialist, east-end down n dirty stylee. G&G would approve. For I can’t quite get over the fact that the entire floor of Tate Modern given over to this exhibition contains, in my guestimate, getting on for half a billion quids worth of art. Not bad for two lads of humble origins who, whatever you think of them, have shown a degree of integrity to their art unmatched in modern times. They’ve lived in the same house in the east end since 1968 and produced work inspired by their London surroundings for over forty years. They’ve worn matching suits, eaten at the same cafe and restaurants every day and produced a vast, intricately researched and catalogued body of work for most of that time. There’s a sense of relentlessness about the two and at the end of my first visit my ‘head was done in’.

Texture is everywhere and nowhere. Vast slabs of brightly coloured panels line nearly every gallery. Detailed, often microscopic, images offer a continuous panoply of everything you ever wanted to know about Gilbert & George but never thought to ask.
If you’d wondered what Georges willy looks like – it’s in room 13. If you want to see micrography of their semen, it’s in room 14 – where you’ll also find shit, piss and probably Gillian McKeith. You might be shocked by some of the stuff – rude words abound too – but my guess is that you’re more likely to be overwhelmed by the sheer vast sameness that envelopes you whilst you wander shell-shocked from room to room. Gilbert & George peer out, up and down at you from nearly every work, never quite making eye contact. Sometimes they have distorted heads or eyeballs. Sometimes they are red. Sometimes they are monochrome. Sometimes they have their suits on and sometimes they are stark bollock naked. But always they are there, divided up into their square panels, part of the work, living sculptures – as they have always styled themselves. Slowly you are drawn into their shove it in your face, enamelled universe. Your mind is assailed by images of rentboys, street signs, giant turds, pictures of London and more graffiti than Banksy will ever do. Your brain slowly starts to expect more and more of the packaged, standardised visual language they use. Cartoonesque, pervy and subverted with a degree of presentational uniformity only the truly anally retentive could achieve. You realise as you reel out of the exit that you will have to come back again for more.
[ Show continues until 7th May ]

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007