Wednesday, August 29, 2007

bank holiday smasher

Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 7
Hair day: awright. Visited Green's in Hoxton for a very expensive and mildy ok cut. Feel the need to be more edgy, like girl from the Noisettes.

The August bank holiday is always a time to cram in as much rampant activity as possible into 3 days... so we did these things:


Chanced upon fabulous vegetarian restaurant, The Gate, in Hammersmith, hidden away round the back of a less inviting Jesus of the Seventh Advent of Heaven Messengers or something Christian Meeting Centre. Ate many vegetables served in intricately enchanting ways. Visited the Riverside Studios to see Cabaret du Neant-style outfit Pulse, who delivered darkly silly torch songs wearing feather boas and cheekily-perched hats.


Hopped (well, struggled onto, trying to cover lumpen thighs with short skirt) onto my purple chariot of fire and had a lovely sunshiney cycle ride with Andy around the Regent's and Hertford Union Canal, the Lea Navigation and the Limehouse Cut. Got glimpses of old and new: the derelict, creepy backwaters and burly tattooed lads fishing; the legoland-looking new flats being built everywhere; the nice old Hammers fan jogging past; the Cityfied chumps drinking on their balconies. Had a chilled drink on the terrace of old-school pub The Grapes in Limehouse, looking over the Thames. Saw 'The Bourne Identity' at strangely vacuous newish cinema on Bethnal Green, Rich Mix. Liked the film, but thought editing was a little bit too seasick-making, and wondered why Matt Damon never had to carry a bag (where did he keep his toothbrush? and his many passports and various foreign currencies and change of clothes?). Talked film over in vibrant scuffed Moroccan bar Casa Blue at the top of Brick Lane. Had fun drining caipirinhas until there was a fight in our corner and we got showered in beer bottle shards and ice when one of the guys got glassed. Police arrived amazingly quickly and the bar was serving drinks again within seconds. We miraculously escaped unscathed. Calmed our jangled nerves at The Spread Eagle over a Macallan and then scoffed a Brick Lane Beigel on the way home.


Got up blearily early to get tube, two trains and a bus to Camber Sands on the East Sussex coast. The beach was so wide, broad, long and deep that even though packed with families we still had tons of room to lounge and sunbathe and picnic. It's a stonking place, with a dune bank riddled with paths at one end, and the tide stretching almost further than you can reach at the other end. Back in London in the evening we popped into Favela Chic for their after-Carnival party and saw ineffectually yowling Brazilian Cibelle play live before she more successfully DJed global party tracks.


Visited acely absoring 'How We Are: Photographing Britain' at Tate Britain. Loved it all really, especially the quirky 30s photos of musical hall stars and mannish-looking female political fugureheads. Drank at the Morpeth Arms, where once stood Millbank Prison.

All manic here, counting down days of freedom before school and freelancing kicks in next week. Currently working on football book as a small publisher may be interested, and writing reviews in application to be Time Out Music Writer, and writing proper reviews for spnm, and finishing DOLLYman pieces, and doing juice planning, and doing a new vocal tune... gosh, not sure I've ever written '7 hours' creative work done in last 24 hours up there before...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Notre lune de miel

Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Hair day: Bit shoddy. I did quite classy home-dye job on the underside of my fringe but it glows a little yellow rather than arctic blonde. Needs chopping back into East London-sharpness.

The word ‘honeymoon’, did you know, translates directly into the French. Why ‘honey’, and why ‘moon’, I’m still none the wiser, but hey, it’s more poetic than ‘post-wedding excursion’ or ‘after-nuptial outing’, and there was a lot of swooningly romantic moons and an awful lot of bees’ own gloopy stuff consumed. Little did I know, however, that I’d be spending my first night not just with Andy but with three other men as well. And a woman,

Not as ‘Erotic Review’ as it sounds, quelle dommage. Our honeymoon, like Wedfest, kept up the eco-friendly theme by cutting out the flying (always a bonus for sweaty-palmed moi), so we journeyed to the south of France sur le train. We piled on at Gare d’Austerlitz to find that the first romantic night of our hol would be a 6-in-a-cupboard affair, squeezing on planks just as wide as my thighs (not that is NOT that wide thank you very much), cramped accordion-like in order to accommodate suitcases on said plank, on a train that mostly felt like one of the runaway carts at the end of ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’.

We fell out of the train at the rusting shack of Najac station in deepest Aveyron territory, half-crazed with lack of sleep and food, and started to get used to our surroundings. Najac was just a pinch-perfectly beautiful place, all quirky tumbledown houses, cobbles, shutters and curling vines, with a kick-ass 12th-century castle lording it at the top with its views of richly dark green hills, a gorge and the winding town. Our own place was a converted barn 7km away, next to gregarious Dutch owner Ronald and his dog Cookie, who is now nominated for the Best Dog In The World For Services In Cuteness Award. We lived within thick stone slabs, lit by a gothic candelabrum, nestled under a gossamer mosquito net, eating sweet milkbreads, bricks of butter and local honey and drinking slightly acidic rough red wine.

Life became pared down to the simplest of pleasures: sleeping, eating, reading, swimming, eating, sleeping, reading, eating, swimming, sleeping. A big event would be getting ourselves to Najac for supplies, either by walking or hitching with all manner of brilliant French people, from a slightly surly tattooed local to a lady who was working on her third book about the sociology of women and clothes. There was nothing better than lying prone on our chaise-longes, with the pool outblueing the blue blue sky, looking out over the undulating countryside, drinking mint tea with pungent stuff we picked from the pathside, whilst the plum tree swayed gently in the breeze and fuzzy-felt bees purred and snuffled at the lavender. Andy looked like slickly Bond-esque in his tiny black swimming trunks and colossal shades, and I a much fatter/paler Ursula Andress in my bikini. In more animated style, we discovered, after attempts at windy badminton, snorkelling and falling off the blow-up crocodile, that inflatable water volleyball was the best sport ever. We also played darts, dominoes, the piano and pool in the only drinking establishment within walking distance, a pub run by a brash Liverpudlian. Who needs London…

Well, we got ourselves back to the Big Smoke eventually, or should I say Le Grand Gauloise, as we stopped in Paris in an author’s bijou flat near Montmartre. We ate many croissants and drank many glasses of bierre blanc or rosé, tried our best to avoid the tourist traps and instead hang out louchely in bars still billowing with tobacco clouds: Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud and Oberkampf were essentially East London’s coolest dives all in two streets. We combed the Centre Pompidou and absorbed 6 hours’ worth of brilliant modern art, including a fabulously twisted Annette Messager exhibition (think the Chapman Bros but with more soft toys), and in high-art homage, we visited the graves of Sarte and De Beauvoir, Serge Gainsbourg, Man Ray, Baudelaire and Beckett, for whom we wrote a tributary mini-play which we left on his slab. Parfait!

Back in the real Big Smoke now, nice to be back in my own bijou flat. So far have enjoyed beating my twin-headed fear of flying and heights with by intrepidly gliding over the Yorkshire Wolds for 7 minutes, a juice trip to Bristol to record music for a short film, a brilliant exhibition of Heath Robinson's daftly witty cartoons, and the sight of Antony Gormley, who was showing his folks round or something, looming out of his own fog box (his work Blind Light) on the day we visited his exhibition at the Hayward. Class!