Sunday, 30 October 2005

Summer Time Ends

The fall-back extra hour gives us light in the morning but brings the dark prematurely. Going out at 5.00 feels like 7.00pm. Struggling to overcome that hibernation urge to snuggle deep into the duvet with the curtains drawn and a mug of hot chocolate. Outside feels slightly dazed.

The cellophane of several bunches of flowers pinned to the fence of Finsbury Park (marking the site of a death) persists long after the flowers have died and fallen out of their wrappers. A shadow of their former remembrance but still vaguely visible. Close by a lone purple flowered weed grows from a crack in the tarmac of the pavement. A man holds his toddler close to his chest under his sweatshirt which is stretched over both of them for warmth.
Unilever Series

I liked the Bruce Nauman whispering gallery thing and everyone loved the Eliasson sunshine. Kapoor's massive scale was overwhelming. The lifts used the vertical space. And of course it all began with the enormous spider and the towers.

So now we come to Rachel Whiteread - my one time lifedrawing tutor (at Middlesex Poly when doing art foundation). I've always followed her work out of interest. Loved House in Bow, Ghost and also the work that was displayed when she won the Turner Prize. While I liked Monument, the see-through upside down plinth she did for the fourth plinth at Trafalgar square, it marked the use of casting material which keeps less detail than plaster and cement. [There is something subtle and beautiful about the crisp details captured by castings done in such intricate materials (each little crack is filled by the tiny particles in the mixture).] So the fourth plinth work was much more about its invisibility, or see-throughness, but lacked the crisp edges of her previous work - and was a little reminiscent of (as someone pointed out to me) a fox's glacier mint, only lacking a polar bear.

This piece is made of casts of cardboard boxes. Cast in some white plastic-type material. Multiples of the same castings. Stacked in a number of ways across the space, chaotic and neatly, creating walkways. I liked the towering, and the vistas. But somehow was disappointed with the obvious repeats of some of the castings and again the less crispy feel of the material. Sugar cubes came to mind. But I suppose that in itself - that something so big can bring to mind something of a tiny scale - is interesting. And that's kind of what I felt - it was interesting but not as awe-inspiring as some of the other exhibits. But then again I was also not feeling well, so perhaps I'll have to go back.

Lynn Barber Observer
Adrian Searle Guardian

Saturday, 29 October 2005

Salisbury Friday Night

Crowded bar, all the nooks and crannies filled with the weird and wonderful of Harringay (2 rs and an a to differentiate it from the borough).

The band is resting. A woman, who may be a man (they're in the back room a bit far away from me so I can't quite see), wearing a silver sequined frock and feathers in her hair takes up a guitar looking uncomfortably restricted by the tight long skirt. Singer in a long red dress coughs slightly away from mike. Silver frock strikes up first - deep resonant blues comes out. Then the red dressed singer joins in.

Like many pub bands the instruments and vocals are all competing with each other making the music rather unsubtle and noisy. Or perhaps they are used to a a larger auditorium.

Friday, 28 October 2005


I love a spin on the eye. Not really a spin, a revolve. I love to see London expanding as you slowly move up over it. Love the river bending in a way you don't notice when you walk along its edge. Love the sky over the city. Love sighting the landmarks of your neighbourhood far away, and the favourites elsewhere (Post Office Tower, Battersea Power Station, Lloydds Building, Gherkin). And seeing the great buildings from above like a plan rather then just their fancy facades - amazing how far the old GLC building goes back.

Clash of Holidays

A trip to the supermarket at this time of year means having to contend with the weird clash of christmas and halloween specials. A bit like the film the Nighmare Before Christmas, where the holidays get all mixed up.

Thursday, 27 October 2005


A thought passed my wondering mind as I sat contemplating the clear blue sky, that in the future (in fact, probably not too distant future, actually those of you with children probably now) we will talk about the time when computers didn't have mice and always had a black screen with flickery green writing and you had to know a raft of commands which you typed at a c prompt. And the most exciting thing on it was pacman - a rudimentary computer game without graphics. How alien!

The eighties. There was always some 80s film where the geek got the girl in the cocktail dress with big shoulder pads and big bow on her ponytail, and they had to break into a bank or something and crack the codes on the computer which was huge and had a tiny screen. Yuppies. With big computers and gigantic mobile phones. So dated so fast.

Saturday, 22 October 2005

Sunday Drivers

I've only just noticed (because I avoid the tube like the plague outside the working week) that the weekend underground suffers from the same weekend lethargy as the roads - sunday passengers. Lacking purpose, direction and familiarity the users dawdle, splay across the corridors and fail to move swiftly away from the top of the escalators. Altogether makes a hardened-commuter's journey majorly frustrating.

Its also interesting to see the corridors full of tracksuits rather than grey suits and coats. How colourful people are on the weekend.

Thursday, 20 October 2005


I saw a play on Friday, the kind of play that urges the creative juices and at the same time makes me question what I am doing in a job that is basically about monitoring contracts leaving me feeling stifled. It was curious, mysterious, and exciting. It wasn't in a theatre and required you to wander around the 'set' making you, as the audience, part of the action.

In searching for the spelling of Proust I came across this very useful page about Russian Gymnastic terms (roll on the olympics, I'll be able to get a good handle on that sport now!).

The smell of marijuana hangs heavy in the residential back streets of Peckham on the path between work and the train station. The trail of somebody no longer there.

A mini metro screeches up the street at speed, skimming across a puddle which sprays up over the pavement. Swinging into a u-turn and racing back in the direction it came from.

Raindrops spatter on the ribbed plastic platform roof, a tinkling dribbling sound like a rainstick. A man spits noisily onto the train tracks.

The sky is dark, purple and yellow, electric, expectant. Storms coming.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Morning Flirt

The man, well boy(ish) face on a body which had been concentrating on upperbody workout in the gym, was wearing cream slacks and a black tee-shirt. He was giving the eye to the woman opposite him (both on the lean-against buffers on the tube). He had one arm outstretched holding the pole high, good for flexing the muscle that had purposefully been developed in the bicep. He stared hard at her, with the flicker of a smile on his face. She had auburn locks and a jean-jacket but was old. Now I don't mean that in the manner a youth would (30 passed her by a long time ago), she was middle aged, her eyes had crows feet which never smoothed out, and the greys were showing in her roots. She never noticed his intense gaze. Which was a shame, I think she'd have liked it.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Blogger Spotter Extraordinaire

A long time ago I wrote about a man typing in Tinderbox with a caps lock on the wrong side of the keyboard. Stephen from O Poor Robinson Crusoe thought it might have been him (I think it was the first time I became aware of his blog).

Today I went into Tinderbox for a coffee before meeting some friends I passed a man with curly hair, writing on his laptop. I had an extended look. He was familiar even though I didn't know him. And eventually I went over and said hello, I recollect a photograph of himself on his blog I think. And it was Stephen.

We had a conversation about blogging and the virtual community. Remarkable always that you can strike up a conversation with a stranger (in old terms) because you have read their words on the internet. It automatically makes them seem like people you know, even though you have never met. He felt that the term vertual community didn't really convey the familiarity of bloggers who read one anothers blogs, and I think he's right. There are people I know, who I barely exchange comments with but who I feel some weird sort of attachment to. There are others, who I have met who I consider to be friends. Some of whom have subsequently stopped blogging and who I miss a great deal. The uncomfortableness of being strangers is overcome because you have read a blogger's words.

Then we talked about the England game.

Sometimes I love blogging. Connections across the world (and the city).

Thursday, 13 October 2005

The Mouse and the Hoola Hoop

Peckham Rye mouse makes a treasured find. A hoola hoop, likely lost by a school child on their way home, devouring a salty snack to keep their teenage body going until dinner.

He carries it over his nose. Not dissimilarly to when you stick them on the ends of your fingers. Good food for a mouse.

The troube is that the hoola hoop won't fit through his house opening. He carries it up, and although his body shrinks to fit through the slit between two bricks where the cement has worn away, the hoola hoop steadfastly refuses to go through, persistently falling off his nose. Several attempts later and he sits down to nibble some off.

Finally sliding it through a gap underneath the brick.

Tuesday, 11 October 2005


A solitary woman in a floral dress presses wadded tissues into her red rimmed eyes to mop up tears. She sits on a bench at the far end of the platform, almost out from under the iron train shed. Not too far away a railway worker fiddles with the train doors of the driver's carriage and collects his things.

Monday, 10 October 2005

Monday's Life Class

Hard today. Don't know whether its because I found the model hard - difficult to get a handle on the angle sometimes, or whether it was just a difficult-to-draw evening.

Top row - 2 min drawing, 30 second drawing. Second row - first drawing of the evening (15 mins), then 10 mins, and finally 40 mins. Last drawing of the evening came together in the last 5 minutes of the pose when I shaded his whole body in rather hurredly.

Want to buy a drawing? See the lifedrawing gallery for details or email me.

Candid Arts Trust: open access sessions and more formal taught courses in both life drawing and painting. Behind Angel tube, Islington - first left down City Road. Contact: The Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, Tel: 020 7837 4237.

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Of Hairy Bottomed Builders and Other Construction-Related Questions

Coming into London Bridge there is a congregation of cranes - they are on the building site close to the London Assembly Building (colloquially known as Ken's House) and they are likely to be building some glass office buildings. But the question that came to mind whilst passing was how do you build a crane? They are huge. They have those massive concrete blocks slotted in the back to balance out the weight of the lifting arm. How did they get those blocks up there? Surely they'd need a crane to lift such weight. Do they build the crane from the ground up, bit by bit? Or do they have an array of ever increasing-in size cranes to build the BIG one? You see, I've never seen a half-built one.

"Do you remember Paul?"
"Paul Booth?"
"Yes, he and his girlfriend were walking under a site like this one day and a piece of scaffolding fell on her head."
"Did she survive?"
"Oh yes, she's still alive. I was just thinking about it because of those planks going up."
"Yes, but better that than a hairy bottomed builder falling on your head."
When I eventually got off the bus, some time after the place where the scaffolders were throwing up their scaffolding (a painter & decorator friend of mine once confided that he was a little intimidated by scaffolders because they were nutters - liked chucking the poles up to one another and working at the fastest speed possible), I was intrigued to find that what I had imagined was going to be a suave Mr Big-alike (a la Sex in the City) and his elderly mother, turned out, in fact, to be a large middle aged posh man in a large herringbone tweed jacket (black and white large checks, rather loud) and his elderly mother.

Tuesday, 4 October 2005


Its not normal. Mice we are used to, busy little creatures speeding across the floor under the tracks, occassionally across the platform (saw one last week trapped on the platform of the Jubilee line - unable to get back down until the platform doors opened). But this morning as I stood waiting for the next Northern Line train to arrive at Moorgate (it had been announced, but took about 5 minutes to actually appear) a pigeon nonchalantly sauntered along the platform edge, wary but not too frightened of the people waiting behind the yellow line. Every once in while he would inch towards what he thought were crumbs, so long as the passengers didn't move their feet. Eventually it became too much and he flew up to the station roof looking for a perch, coming to rest on the train indicator board.

The Northern Line is one of the deepest, and at Moorgate has been underground for some time. Where he came from I can't imagine. Did he ride a tube train and hop out here (its unusual but not unheard of - on my train to work a couple of weeks ago a pigeon got trapped in a train to Beckenham Junction, but felt quite at home sitting on the handlebar of the luggage rack). But I would be suprised if he managed to do that in the morning rush hour - there aren't many commuters who would be happy to share a carriage with a grubby london pigeon, particularly as they are uncomfortable sharing with so many other humans. Or perhaps he flew down the tunnels. But there isn't much space between the trains and the walls and I would be suprised if he had managed to come so far without being crushed. Or maybe he took the escalator down from upstairs.

I wonder when the station staff will notice, and who they will get to catch him and bring him back to surface.

Monday, 3 October 2005

Partial Eclipse

It was overcast in Peckham until 10.15. But when I went to look out the window, thin cloud was covering the sun just enough to make it easy to see the moon passing in front. A bright sphere with a dark sphere crossing over. The sun, a crescent that we normally associate with the moon. Lovely.

Saturday, 1 October 2005

Couples Night

It appears to be couples night in the Medicine Bar (well unofficially). Or maybe the new accessory of choice is a boyfriend (babies and dogs are, like, so last year).

A guy sits on a stool by the bar, she sits on his lap. His hand has slid down her crotch, and stays there for some time. Another couple come in and while waiting to be served start snogging while leaning on the bar. Later they stand close together. He runs his hand over her bum. Then he slowly rubs up and down her arms with his big hands. She puts her fingers into his front jeans pocket and reaches down inside. At the other end of the room a couple of boys in cowboy hats dance on a table.

Bails decides that the male quiff is making a comeback. I think its been hard for them to ditch the Hoxton fin, having gotten used to high volume hair men need some other towering style to take its place.