Thursday, June 28, 2007

DSC_2804 - Stack and StoreIt's been a while, hasn't it? It must have been if IAF's done 3 posts since my last one. So what to tell? Although I suspect the questions really should be "what is there to tell?"

I'm actually not sure where I to start, or even if I ought do so. Rather than being thoughts bounced from the news or elsewhere, or echoes of other parts of the internet (though in fairness I've only forward I've seen for months - exempting those not quite good enough from my father (the fogcam being among the more memorable) - was a clip of baby panda sneezing, and I'm not quite sunset-kittens desperate yet) this blog has become like an extended game of "I went shopping", only not restricted to shopping, and not run in alphabetical order, and possibly about as fun as the downwind traffic jam of a Bank Holiday heath fire which normally leads to such games.

And I've already completely forgotten where this post was going. So I'll cheat and do something I can remember doing, despite it being of the "and then I did" variety (and ill use of the last word if ever there were one).

So a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, in the land of Summer, in the city of Sun (told you it was a long, long time ago), I met someone. Well, ok, so we arranged to meet at a certain time, he said he'd have to go to see a man about a house first, so he'd be late, so I relaxed a bit, rearranged the time and left late thus losing my safety margin completely, then had a text saying the viewing had been cancelled, so were we still on for the original time? Given I'd just missed the fallback train by seconds, I said no, stick with 12. A text comes back saying he'll see me at 11. I breathe deeply, think calming thoughts, and then remember I have an mp3 player now and stuck waiting for the next train might be a good time to actually use the thing. As I discover Amy Winehouse does have a purpose after all, I also realise that the exasperating text message was sent before the one I replied to, but such are the vagaries of the system that it arrived afterwards. How long will it be before someone invents first and second glass text messages (though if they work on the same principle as Royal Mail post the only difference will be in the price paid).

Have I mentioned my funky new mp3 player before? It's not actually all that funky, having a blue screen which lights up with a welcome message for 15 seconds, despite telling it not to and a distinctive command structure, in which the volume control is the same buttons as skipping forward and back, so one has to get it into the volume state, then change the level while hoping it doesn't revert and take to the song before. The file browsing system is awkward, not helped by the truncated names, which, having been entered by me, tend to say helpful things like "Athlete - V&A 01 - El Salvador.mp3" and thus come out as "Athlete - V~.mp3". It's that extraneous .mp3 which irks; that's four characters of unimportant information blocking anything useful leaking through. And for some reason it doesn't list the directories in alphabetical order.

I would list the myriad other design quirks but the battery has run out already (it did so on the train home, leaving me distraught at the thought of... having to do what I normally do, and thus stare out of the window, or possibly stare into the window and so at the reflection of that reasonably good looking guy across the carriage while pretending I'm fascinated by the glimpsed terraces); this either means that it has really a poor power consumption, that the Chinese TOMO Super Heavy Duty (makes it sound like a bin bag) battery wasn't very good to start with (should have been using Mega Sexy, like my mother's birthday present one, which I set up) or possibly that learning to use it while in the back of a dark car, and so with the light on the whole time, mullered the charge.

But it was a present, not linked to Christmas or a birthday, and more to the relative who won it in a raffle not having a computer, so the negatives can never get it a less than zero score. And because it came with one track pre-installed, which gave me literally minutes of entertainment as I tried to work out how to use it, and then wonder if I'd broken it, what setting I'd managed to put it on and whether it was skipping. I don't know what this music is called, nor can I play it to you, as it appears and 01.mp3 high in the hierarchy and beyond anything apparently accessible by USB (and I haven't the wherewithal to work round this). But I do know that traditional Chinese music - all drums, twangs and skillums (it's what they sound like) - in range of non-Western keys and interesting plays in the rhythm is not really the best thing to have as the first thing coming out of a player aimed an Anglophone market. It's quite nice music, once one gets used to it, but it does tend to make anything it's played on sound broken, or at least as if the file is corrupted (you know that noise some CD players make on meeting a data CD? It's a bit like that).

Anyway, this gets away from the dangers of an mp3 player, which is that the shuffle function can be both cruel and dangerous. Cruel in that the selection I have on there is a series of albums chosen for their dissimilarity: Will Young, Skunk Anansie, Avenue Q, Classical, Amy Winehouse, Madonna, Athlete. It's only one gig, I'm using about half of it, and this selection was chosen to cover as many moods as possible. Cue the most unfortunate segues ever known. From Zadok the Priest to Sorry to The Internet is for Porn to the middle of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto to that one where they shout 'chorus' to All Time Love to Twisted (Everyday Hurts) to Special.

Oh, and did you know classical music is inaudible in modern life? Sitting on a quiet train and pretty much any pop, rock, whatever song can be heard, but anything tinkly or brooding vanishes. It's not a matter of fluctuating volumes on the tracks, but simply that some pitches survive better against background noise, and classical music tends to only passes through those, whereas pop has them as a near constant. I imagine a lot of filling in goes in our brains once we can hear the ever present beat of the song, whereas classical is far more varied in structure throughout and between pieces, and so finding and predicting the recognisable bits becomes far harder.

Another 'oh', musicals, especially childish singalongable ones which make use of genuine muppet fur are not really suitable for private but in public consumption. Trying not to sing, dance or mime along to 'If you were gay' while being asked if I've got my Young Person's railcard on me can prove quite hard and potentially disastrous.

It's just so hard not to sing. I can't sing, but then all the cast are singing in whiny New York accents so it'd be harder to tell, to me at least. And it's just so god damn jolly. And catchy. And tempting. And insidious.

Anyway, enough of the fringes of my musical taste (I was being indecisive, so couldn't pick which Radiohead album to put on there [ditto Muse, ditto many other things], and thus managed to fail to put any on). The train arrives I get on, the train arrives and I get off, a train arrives and I get on, that train arrives and I get off and lo, I came to be at Green Park and very shortly the RA.

As I'm early and there's no sign of the other party, I do all the stuff one traditionally does upon arriving, including go up to buy a catalogue. Except it turns out I obviously looked so ineffectual that I got offered one that had been handed back and thus did not have to pay. Yay me for looking pitiful.

I wait in the courtyard, he appears, and after a not as awkward as it could be greeting, we go in, with me in traditional tour guide mode and so forgetting not to lose him. Browsing and conversations about art, the temperature and the RA ensue. He kindly doesn't point out my ignoble attempts to sound like I know what I talking about, thus somehow coming to the conclusion that Seurat is a place in France painted by Monet, no, I think it was Manet. I realise that other than confusing artists and towns, most of things I say are variations on what was said with my brother and co. Although the trompe l'oeil stuff is less convincing when seen across a sparsely crowded room, rather than the shuffling sauna of the preview days. Incidentally, in an echo of the SIL, his taste in art is not like mine.

He spends an inordinately long time going round the architecture room. Actually, it's about the amount of time one probably should spend on each room, but usually doesn't have the energy to do so; pacing becomes very important. Somehow we manage to maintain concentration into the closing stages, thus allowing me to notice things missed last time. I like Foster's souk, though not the compromise tower. The man playing golf in the photographs room isn't. The blinding Light is Love in the final room makes far more sense once one has learnt how to look at it (askance and moving); last time I think we all just abandoned it while trying not to cry.

After this food is proposed, and I think the ambivalent acquiesce was mutual, which does make decisions slightly hard to come by. I suggest the £3 pizza place on Goodge Street, he has to recharge his Oyster, so instead we walk into Soho at my suggestion (his mother has forbidden him from passing further east than Liberty's), ostensibly to seek out a suitable cheap cafe. Instead I find myself in Hanway Street, having successfully navigated diagonally through the place through being more intent on crowd beating than scanning for available food. Cheap pizza it is.

A margarita and tap water for me, the same but with coke for him. We chat, interrupted by an electrocade of calls and messages for him. As he doesn't know where he is, or what to do, I drag him to the Building Centre, where I try not laugh at his knowledge of London. Thence through the British Museum, as a squiggly short cut, and so southwards, discovering another branch of the pizza place on Drury Lane (he saw, I was too busy trying plan overtaking people ahead), ever southwards spotting very GWLable items along the way, but not quite having the confidence to say "do you mind if I just do something slightly odd but which will take longer to explain than to do?", I skip them. A couple of instances of leaving him standing at lights later and we walk out over Waterloo Bridge, where I strove to improve his London knowledge.

Southwards still, having Gormleyed, and so managing to let him walk right past a naked and rusty man without noticing. Cue grabbing him by the shoulders (he's a good size for easy manhandling) and rotating him to face the statue, and rather too long waiting for him to stop asking what he's supposed to be looking at before twigging. After he's suppressed the giggles (embarrassment from not noticing, or because there's a slightly surreal naked man in front of him, now helpfully circumcised by the London crowd?).

Off to the Tate, showing him and explaining the redfriars stubs, as he failed to recognise them at the RA. Up to the members room to think and gawp, as we mull over what to do next, then realising we haven't much time to do anything, and so going to South Ken via Southwark. Parting soon after, having passed assorted people known only to him, including the buskers (who I'd swear were playing the music from Tetris on a flute and drums), and doing so only marginally more awkwardly than the greeting (he tried being young and cool and I... was me).

I then explored eastwards until Knightsbridge, taking the tube back into town, from where I head home, having wandered ceaselessly with clear intent.

And somehow through out all that I managed to avoid mentioning who the he was. He is of course is Azuric, child of the indeterminate blue. But as I'm not quite sure what to say about the experience, I repeat what I've said elsewhere (please forgive the formatting and references you won't get).

And now in a change to some listings, the next paragraph will contain mildly effusive praise. You're delightful to be with. Not only are you kind, patient and humorous, but you have the gall to be intelligent and good looking too (you're right, it couldn't be option two). Confident, inquisitive, attentive, if a little unobservant, you come across as much more adult, more mature, much more likeable than your blog has sometimes suggested (and so by inference if I was willing to meet the perceived you, you can work out how wonderful it was to discover the improved version). A nice guy (as I somehow managed to put repeatedly in an earlier email to [Omega]. Admittedly I also said - I suspect you may hate me for this - "Tries to be 'street' but ends up just sweet", which along with calling you cute [hey, you are], managed to send him off into completely unintended territory. If the Australian gay mafia [presumably a subdivision of the Evil Gays] try to matchmake us I can only apologise).

Of course, the publishing of this is artfully done, being on the eve of him leaving the country (although by the time I finish this he'll have flown out, terror and storm cells permitting).

Think that's it for now, except for today's random sentence that lost its context:
Dave Gorman's endless procession of socks (lot of blue).

Along similar apropos of nothing lines, I've very recently discovered smoked salmon and redcurrants. Not individually (that would just imply very odd things about my life so far), but combined between slices of decent stoneground. Do I need to add wholemeal, or are we all of the ilk that assumes such things? Do they even make stoneground white bread? And isn't it odd to discover those rare people who think bread means white (I know this sounds very white middle classes, but I listen to Radio 4 too, so I probably am, despite what customs people think)? Especially when you've just suggested banana sandwiches as about the only things the hosts claimed to have in the house were bread and couple of overripe bananas. Like white bread and pretty much anything but butter, they don't mix. And suddenly I remember school holidays, which were the only times we were allowed white bread in the house. I've no idea why there was a ban for the rest of the time, but it took me years to figure out how cunning my parents must have been to convince both children that white bread counted as a treat, thus negating the need for any actual treats. But then I remember them convincing us that pasta was special too. Either the eighties were very, very different (which given my grandmother probably never realised that tinned spaghetti on toast was just carbohydrates layered on carbohydrates; it's in a tin, in the same sauce of baked beans, and baked beans are a source protein, so it follows that spaghetti hoops are too) or my parents had the complete measure of us. I remember broken party rings [iced biscuits] used for birthdays too (we only bought them because they were broken, being too expensive unless reduced), and this being a treat. But actually, thinking back to the Waitrose with the sloping floor (which was the only supermarket in town, and would be small by today's scales, despite being the biggest in the area for a large chunk of my childhood), I think it all was quite different.


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