Sunday, February 03, 2008

DSC_9527 - Dakers on BlueHe lives in a house, a very big house in the country.

I've no idea who does, but it's the song stuck in my head that isn't a chunk of Carmen (and I can't even tell you which chunk as Realplayer's data-grabber refused to work when ripping, so I know it's somewhere around track 5, of about 40. I could read the CD to find out, but it's in my remote storage facility whose caretaker just so happens to be my brother. Yes, of course it's a legit copy [ignoring the whole own-personal-use thing which apparently never was legit, cassettes seemingly being sold as purely decorative items]; I don't have a receipt for it only because I make cavity wall insulation from them, and it was a present, came free with the Guardian and was rescued from the surf of a Devon beach anyway. This excuse is equally true of the rest of the hastily 128-VBRed collection).

So when I wasn't enhancing the spread of musical knowledge I've been being the temporary custodian of the aforementioned remote storage facility. This meant much discovering that everyone buggers off out of London during late January, much watching of Hitchcock films to fill time (the SIL's presumably, given they were on the not-standing-on-the-arm-of-the-sofa shelves) and discovering the foresight demanding nature of cooking without a microwave. Oh, and wandering strange bits of London which aren't all that strange (well, actually...) because they were there and I'd never quite figured out where those particular theres were, slowly getting more infuriated with each Guilford [sic] Street sign (why not 'Gilfud' and be done with it?).

The films:
Spellbound (diverting enough, but I'm not sure what the point of it was), Strangers on a Train (the longer British cut version, because the DVD had two sides and I didn't notice), Fargo (I can never use 'yah' again), Mean Girls (I hadn't seen it, and no one was around to notice me watching it), Team America: World Police (sometimes funny, sometimes missing badly, being what it purports to mock), Hot Fuzz over tepid curry when the B and the SIL got back. I've never had a biryani before which came with a barcoded pot of 'biryani sauce'; I suspect they've missed the point. SIL promptly ill, blaming the orange juice on the plane. Odd girl, but at least she didn't blame my reduced-frozen-defrosted-kept-on-hold-in-oven sausages. For future reference do not cook while waiting for the jet-lagged to wake up, holding off the almost blanching of the accompanying vegetables until both are showered and dressed, whereupon the last one through will decide they're not eating. Also, do try to remember how to use cornflower* and not expect to be able to break up the lumps with a floppy, detachable silicon spatula; the permanently invisible upstairs neighbour started mocking my small saucepan peals.

* Fruedian typo, but it makes better imagery and would have enlivened the onion gloop.

Other happenings included camera induced accostions (so is a word). Two random groups wanting the photograph taken using my camera (makes a change from people with the same model asking me to do the honours). One of Spaniards (or descendants) at the end of Snigger Alley in Soho (incidentally I've discovered Berwick Street Market ditch their unsold and potentially unsellable stock at the end of the day, so I had a bag full of apples and apricots by this stage, having rejected all the tomatoes and not known what to do with butternut squash except rugby); it was taken without a flash by the local neon, so is a bit blurred, but then they were a bit too far gone to wait round for another or to pass on an contact details.

The others were two little, black girls (or does inoffensiveness dictate that should be 'black, little girls'?) who pestered me for a shot when I was mentally cropping the chimneys of Eclectic Avenue (you should try it sometime. Apols for Googlefudging). Cue two huge grins, which faded slightly before the shutter went showing the nervousness of the younger. The shot again was fractionally blurred because the low sun was only just scrambling over roofs and I don't like using the flash. Cue the mother arriving cross, having children babble about chimneys, attempting to rage against me but not quite being sure whose fault it was and whether anything was actually wrong with people taking photographs of other people by mutual consent. The only words I spoke, which possibly highlights my inability to discern words within strong accents and dialects (imagine the jive-talkers in Airplane) hence follow the family's conversation, were "they asked me", which isn't really the greatest of killer lines, but diverted the inquisition to the eldest daughter, allowing me to slink off. I was going to offer to send them a copy, but the incomprehensible diatribe put me off.

The other stoppages were police based. Having been completely ignored by a van full of police just moments before, I was stopped by the taxi rank of St Pancras Station (you know: big, new, shiny, every third person has a camera in hand) for the crime of "male taking pictures". So after quarter of an hour of the light going, him - who turned out to be a British Transport Police Hobby Bobby Community Support Officer, so not a real policeman on two levels if one chooses to look at it like that - admitting the reflections in the blinds was a 'nice effect', me offhandedly leaning against the suspicions-raising window chucking out the occasional 'yah' (yep, I got all Home Counties on his arse, and yes, I do substitute 'arse' for 'ass' in all such phrases*; an ass is either a donkey or the law. Anyway, it's good to confuse policemen who pick on the easily-tanned, dark-haired and Dorset-nosed), supplementing the necessary information when the radio kept pointing out the failings of the man on scene and generally treating the whole thing as an utter bore to be borne. He chose not to search me - and even told me to carry on, which is a rarity - but instead gave me the usual foot of paperwork (ooh, pink this time) all filled out in his best-termed distinctive handwriting.

* Apparently shouldn't attempt to do so in proper nouns like "Jackass". Yeah, it's not just policemen's arses I go all Home Counties over. And that sounds disturbingly like a euphemism, admittedly an insanely implausibly derived one. Hmm, spellchecker doesn't know 'arse' (how about callipygean? Or perhaps callipygian? Dough! Yes, that's sic, although the HCer version would probably d'Eau), so I've just added that along with 'yah'. Ah, I think may need to something like 'bampots' in, just to balance the lexicon out. It's odd, thinking about it, because typically when I ought to scrambling up social strata I'm aware of sounding as state school as they come; I seem to have the unintentional ability to use the opposite accent to that prevailing (perhaps it's just the one accent and it's only my perception of difference that changes).

So off I went, having discovered that showing and explaining disrupts the script within a policeman's head so much that he quite forgets to be suspicious, cynical and thorough. And emboldened by the pink slip, which I saw as a permission form despite saying no such thing, I went off into the main part of the station, to flaunt my potentially terrorist abetting camera in front of the the tastefully tabarded rentacops entirely unhindered. So why one can yield a camera with impunity at the current Eurostar terminus but not the former? It was only because I was in the shadows round the back that I got stopped, whereas the reverse is true of Waterloo; skulk in the obscure and they don't either notice or can't be bothered to walk all the way over to remonstrate (ah, memories of being too young to sell alcohol on till twenty-something at Sainsbury's), but get a camera out on the concourse and get evicted from the station.

And then the next police incident was by M&S on Oxford Street (I was using my camera as an anti-consumerism device, i.e. I'd just needlessly spent money in HMV [it had Jake Givemeajayorageellenhall in, so can't be very wrong, despite him only being cute in Donnie Darko] so needed something that would stop me wandering into shops). Because it was night I'd just noticed the green neon outside said "The Pantheon" at the top, which reminded me of a Turner I'd recently seen of the Pantheon on Oxford Street the day after it burnt down, and whose caption confused me because the angle of the sun didn't match the time of day stated given the possible orientations of the building. So seeing the site of the building meant I knew it was on the south side, so the image is of early afternoon in winter, not early morning, so the caption was bollocks (as I suspected and as they often are). So while thinking "Oh! So that's where it is" a policewoman [cue Hot Fuzz style "Police Officer"] said "Just a tourist?", which is a bit of an odd thing to say. Am I meant to reply "No, I am a SMERSH operative". Guess who's just started the Bond book boxset and can't remember the baddies in The Man from UNCLE (or UCKLE, as the godless college is sometimes known). Except I've just remembered; they all wanted to catch THRUSH.

Anyway, I made some comment along the lines of "Er... yes, probably, sort of" thus demonstrating my erudite manner, was warned that as this was "a high terrorist area" (are we talking 7ft here or just one on stilts? Perhaps one on a ledge above, about to do one half of a suicide bombing? Maybe both halves if using the swimming pool sense) I should... something or other that got lost in the sound of a passing bendy bus (why do they sound like street-cleaners? Do they incorporate one, thus explaining why they hug the ground, dislike speedbumps and are unable to overhaul mobility mobiles?). There were a few more words I couldn't hear and off they went, leaving me bemused and unsure if that was a check, a friendly warning or a cease-and-desist. Still at least I didn't have to wait while they filled in yet another form explaining that they did nothing but fill in a form.

What else? Do go round the Hunterian Museum (hurrah, I get to type it, not fail to pronounce it once more) by Lincoln's Inn Fields. You have to get a pass from the main desk, but the guy there is quite good at chasing people looking for the signs should you neglect this step. It's free and delightfully security unconscious (due to negligible amounts of visitors, excepting the occasional school group who fluster the chatty woman by the desk only slightly more than a single person wandering in; she just looked so surprised anyone should seek admittance). It's freaky, often literally. And you may end up sitting cross-legged on the floor gleefully watching surgery. Surgeons are disturbingly cavalier, deploying cartilage-mauling crocodile clips, scalp folding paper binders and mini-flailing red hot pokers when they're not stitching the sheets to the patient or being let loose with a stapler. It's probably best to go with the most medical or biological person of your acquaintance, as it's not very inclusively displayed; given I (and I watch ER, oh, and have a biology-based degree) occasionally could only read "word worded wordy word" on the caption next to something brown in a jar, would probably selected 'animal' from the AVM options, but been hard pushed to tell if it was entire, healthy or edible, prior knowledge is an advantage (unless you loiter within earshot of a school tour, although pretty much the whole place is within earshot; it also probably contains one). The only fault I could find was I could only find the disabled loo (and dyslexia counts, right?). But then I am of a mindset that sends hours editing MP3 file names and attributions to make it all match, so probably have quite a high monotony threshold.

It's an entertaining place, but not for the squeamish or unimaginative (there's quite a lot of visualising required trying to figure out where a specimen comes from and how the hell it could fit in there).

Oh, and the Transport Museum expect people to pay, which completely scuppered one plan of mine (how dare it not be free? If the Barber-Surgeons can manage it, why can't TfL?).

Hmm, I didn't really do much museuming when I was there (I've omitted the usual flit round the NLA), partly due to eeking out the contents of my Oystercard, and so only going somewhere one bus away, which was not South Ken. Such are the repercussions of being told by an un-National-ed ex-building-society that I needed a statement from the last three months to get cash out from my going-the-wrong-way account, which as they only send them out every 6 months, and the newest, assuming I've had it, would be buried somewhere many miles away (and getting there and back would literally bankrupt me), was as unhelpful as it turned out to be untrue.

So when I wasn't watching DVDs, wandering and scavenging food from the streets of London, arousing suspicion with each winding on of film, or hoping it'll be easier to place if I cock my head, I invited all and sundry to explore the becellared* wonder of the borrowed flat. All was otherwise engaged and Sundry had a prior engagement which he would make at his soonest convenience.

* Or bebasemented or becoalholed depending who is doing the description.

However Dan was foolish enough to agree to spend an evening so far from his base near the start of the Monopoly board that it's not even on the Monopoly board, and that was without having to resort to the chocolate bribery.

The cooking went well, oddly since me entertaining usually means just that, though frequently unintentionally. I completely forgot the mushrooms and by completely I mean didn't even think of buying any. And the spag bol was fusilli bol because I overlooked the necessity of buying spaghetti if one is to serve it. But it had cooked tomatoes in it so I was happy (yes, I am very easily pleased; lycopeneasily pleased). So food was served and wine was drunk (ta muchly the Dan man of Man; yet to see his Can-Can and no known van) and talk was conversed, largely by me, but 'twas ever thus. And somehow it came to pass that the raspberry schnapps I had been given permission (if not outright instruction) to finish was sampled by my guest to confirm just how much of an acquired taste it was. And being Dan he refused to throw alcohol away, so wincingly drained his glass. Only after he poured himself a good glug did I read that it was from Lidl and the copy on the back starts with the words "Traditionally made" which we took to be as malleable as my old school's statement that they "had no problem with bullying".

The schnapps incidentally gives off a smell of a chemical approximation of raspberries when the bottle is opened, but curiously no such taste afterwards, being largely raw alcohol with a few evocations of a garage forecourt. I've had vodka with more, and better, taste (well, it was in my brother's freezer and Hovis was on multibuy and I know at least one of the bottles was extracted from the freezer of his old, old flat so a rate of knots does not apply and so he's equally unlikely to notice or miss it, having not done the pencil marked label thing [my grandfather's anti-grown-up-children device. My uncle topped it up with water, my mother rubbed the mark out and drew a new one]).

Hmm, and those comments all make think I said this before. Whereupon I've just discovered I started a post about getting stopped before. To nick a quote from that post, buggity.

I'm not sure whether to merge one into the other, or just say sod it and publish both copies (look, it'll make it seem like I'm blogging more and numbers likely to notice the repetition are minimal. And you get to examine the change in attitudes between the post-stop post and the post-post-stop post).


Just because it's an anagram that hasn't yet been done (spot) and also it reminds me of Jenny Agutter shouting it at a train backing away from her (tops).

Anyway, Dan eventually disappeared into the dark of tomorrow (yes, I kept him up till after the last tube) and then tomorrow brought meeting with the nameless Monsieur Cue.

And Dan, again.

Dan who froze by the Transport Museum, because I said I'd be in it to M. Cue, but I got there earlier to find they wanted money, so milled round the shop (oh, New York subway tat too) worryingly spotting potential presents, then run out of things to pick up, price, frown at and put down again so went photographing. Which is how I came to be huddled in an underpass within Covent Garden, aping a NSFW video were a guy in a coat very like yours, M. Cue, is, er, solicited (look, I was handed it, sight unseen, in, er, a hotel bedroom at five in the morning). No solicitations for me, simply odd looks, one wink and a deafening amount of classical clichés (someone needs to tell the quartet that dirges don't pay. Stick with Vivaldi; it may make the place sound like a hotel foyer [or Brickston station, who strangely prefer the music from A Clockwork Orange; goes well with sick fluorescent light shimmering on wipe-clean surfaces. Apparently classical music reduces crime in the station, although there's no word on whether the stats include ultra-violence] but Covent Garden is a just a big holding pen for bored tourists).

So eventually the Cue-man rang to say he was no longer late,

And I thought I'd finished this.

Er, the Cue rang seeking directions from Aldwych to Covent Garden (go up a round, any road, probably beside a theatre and turn where you see another theatre) and panicking slightly because I'd yet to meet Dan, due to standing out of the wind. Then into the oppo-Opera pub, glaring at table pinchers, dancing round a handbag, although it was a handbag only in that it was carried by hand (well, two much of the time) and dancing in the sense of shuffling and leaning to let other pass (and I don't miss having to dodge people bearing through crowds of drinkers with lit cigarettes used as people-ploughs). The Cue informed me I was on soft drinks, which at least shows he took the effort to remember, even if it was only what I had previously drunk, not that I stuck with Coke because last time I was nervous, being indecisive and don't like beer, which he was drinking.

So that happened. Er, what an insightful sentence. We find seats opposite the stool pinching woman, who somehow ends up engaged in an iPl... iPhone without the phone bit, whose name I've - iTouch, no, iPod Touch. Anyway, Dan sat round stroking his new (bought the day before) iTouch Myself or whatever it's called thing often enough that the people over the table started talking to him about it. Cue Cue and I being faintly bewildered because not only can we not quite hear the conversation but we can't quite work out how it came about nor why it has been going on so long. Then the overtables leave and after a bit so do we at my instigation, being hungry.

Then it's all back to mine, via Sainsbury's, where we bicker over vegetables (no broccoli, Dan vetoed cabbage, the Cue wants the presumably Fabergé courgettes whose price has me reacting like a horse affronted by an adder). Back to the flat where we spend about the cooking time of the lasagne trying to get the mortice lock to turn more than halfway (it'd been giving me problems all week. When I later asked my brother about it he later claimed that he never had any problem, then when I pointed out I was using the spare keys he claimed he meant to show me the knack but forgot; he still hasn't). Then it's on with the Get Carter soundtrack (oh, just me then?), out with the drinks (one water, one squash? But we have beer, wine and spirits) and in with the lasagne (tomato-beef pasta, again: yay me) and hacked about potatoes. A brief chat then the Cuemeister does something involving a frying pan, dried herbs, 1.5 courgettes and two half peppers. And thus dinner was served on my brother's best crockery, as I hadn't washed up the day before so only had two clean standard plates, ignoring the fact the best was my grandparents' everyday.

Not terribly long after eating the both buggered off despite it being the weekend (M. Cue had some labyrinthine route planned to get home simply so he could prove a point to some rail company), with the Cue urging me to guide him, and so them, back to the station, despite them both being and an ugly enough to cope. The Cue's theory that it wasn't safe for single men to wander these streets at night was rather undermined by him realising that's precisely what I'd have to do having found them transportation (and that Dan managed it twice the night before and yet is no more harmed than he had been).

Having dumped both at the station, I headed back to the half locked flat, and then buried myself in cleaning, washing, washing up and backing-up music, with appropriate bouts of sleep.

And when I say appropriate what I mean is I spent so long scrubbing on the last night, that I went to bed long after the central heating had turned off, so failed to notice I spun the thermostat up to the maximum to get the water hot enough to wash up with (don't ask why it's the same control), which meant the next morning I was far too dehydrated and overheated and knackered to wake up long enough to anything more than turn the alarm off, so was only finally woken by my brother returning and the SIL complaining about the heat (they were dressed for the conditions they'd just left, something Narnian; and having found outside stifling the Arizonan interior was too much). And then because they were jetlagged I had to relinquish the bed, despite having had about the same amount of sleep as them.

They slept while I found more traces of me to remove (the SIL seems to cope with jetlag by sleeping through all the daylight: novel).

And that's about it for that expedition.


Hmm, sorry for deserting you so early. It was nothing personal. And since I had my laptop in my bag, I had no desire to be mugged, but I am still sorry for the leaving of the Hoo to walk home alone. The bag, incidentally, has now been stolen out of a car boot, but fortunately my laptop was not inside it. I trust that you have not been stolen in the meantime? Or mugged, come to that.
Oh. What was in it? And where was the car?

As for walking home alone, I didn't think anything of it, as I've done it often enough round there and other purportedly insalubrious places that I don't feel any great threat. I only place I remember being scared in was the Barbican, and that was in broad daylight; something to do with the disembodied echoes. I found it amusing that you thought it dangerous for anyone to walk about alone, but hadn't quite planned all the logistics necessary to prevent that happening.

I don't tend to wander round expecting to get mugged; I'm aware it's a possibility, but I don't expect it. Actually I was a bit concerned about using my camera around some of the alleys (pics not on Flickr yet because Flickr is claiming they're not pictures [it's the Flickr resize module that spits them out], hence they have to uploaded individually by email, which takes an age), but then realised the place is full of stall holders and shop owners who wouldn't look kindly on some muppet disrupting business by trying to mug someone (that and realising the inconsiderately parked van is a police one). Due to an ancient bag I managed to walk round the crowded market with the main compartment entirely unzipped for an age; I only noticed it after wondering about all the odd looks I'd been getting. Nothing was missing.

It's where there are only isolated people passing that I start to get a little more concerned, but then just walk healthily, so upright, slightly bouncing - literally walk tall (you'll feel better if you do this regardless of any other factors) - make enough eye contact to acknowledge the presence of other people (which neatly manages to convey the message of "hello fellow human equal" and also might imply I'd stand a better than average chance of giving a reasonable description of them). Be huddled and you'll be hustled. Expect everything to be fine and it usually is.
Sorry, there was more but this didn't get finished and I haven't time now.
There were a couple of moments whilst reading this when I'm sure I had a comment, but by the end I had forgotten them. I'm going to have to start taking notes.
The bag contained various things one has in one's bag after going to Durham for the weekend for a wedding. Suit, shoes, books, phone charger and various slightly smelly clothes. Mostly replaceable and nothing of emotional value, fortunately.

Back to your post...
it had cooked tomatoes in it so I was happy
Glad I'm not the only one to have this preference in culinary affairs. It's great realising that one's criteria for tasty nosh are so easily and simply fulfilled, and thus good food is mostly easy to come by.

The Cue informed me I was on soft drinks
You seemed relieved not to have to make the decision you hate making of "how to order something that will seem socially acceptable but also taste acceptable", a conundrum which apparently is unsolveable unless Coke is made socially acceptable. Sorry if toes were trodden on...
Ben: Control+K in Firefox lets you type notes into the handy search box will still reading the same page. Ctrl+A then Ctrl+C lets you shunt these elsewhere when you've finished reading.

MQ: Socially acceptable drinks... I hadn't really thought about not being able to drink things in front of you two (you're both far too nice to be judgemental about such things, aren't you? Anyway, Dan drinks Lidl raspberry schnapps, which reduces his cooler-than-thou taunting potential*). I was just stuck trying to decide what to have that would match your beers in drunkenness and cost.

* Please don't argue that that comment is based on prejudice. I plied him with it, so any degradation applies to me as well.

What books, btw?

Oh but you had. You were so unwilling to go to a pub last time because you didn't want to drink what you thought you would have to drink. Or something.

Books: Wild Swans and The Bible

Anyway, what was it that "would be far too complicated to explain"?
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