Archive for July 2012
From the moment I emerged blinking in to the light from Turnpike Lane (one of our more imaginative sounding tube stations) I discovered that residents are remarkably proud of their local Lido. As I asked for directions, and told people I was working my way around London Lido’s folk couldn’t wait to tell me theirs was the very best. ”In my humble opinion” added one girl with multi-colour dreadlocks. I couldn’t help but think the mass of rainbow tangles on her head must get very heavy when wet. I was eventually escorted by a scruffy raggedy bunch of kids who asked to borrow a £1 for the lockers. Turns out the lockers are 20p and I think they ran off to the sweet shop. They saw me coming.
I had only two other companions in the pool with me so was a bit braver with my strokes. Inspired by the Olympics I decided to go for a tumble turn around a metre from the wall. Any experienced swimmer will be wagging their finger at me right now as this is far too close to execute and I ended up swallowing a ton of water and exposing a boob to an indifferent Magpie. Lesson learnt.
Price is usually £5.50 but as I arrived near closing time the lovely people only charged me £3. Although the upkeep wasn’t as slick as Brockwell Lido (remnants of sand or grit at the bottom of the pool, but I honestly don’t care about little things like this, all that matters is water being present at the end of the day) surroundings are more comfortable to flop out on to benches or grass when you’re done swimming. Lockers are 20p and more plentiful in numbers, outside changing cubicles are also available. Basically, it’s a lovely pool to swim in, quiet and the staff were chirpy.
|Temperature:||Nippy around the nipples|
|People doing serious swimming:||1|
|Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot:||0|
|Women swimming in sunglasses:||0|
|Kids doing classic “bombing”:||0|
|People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand:||0|
Searching for Sugar Man, swimming pools and our new hero….
1. Before Friday I was mainly ambivalent about the London Olympics, and like a lot of Londoner’s was more concerned with transport failing and being stopped every five yards to be asked for directions to [insert any old landmark here]. Danny Boyle has not only dashed my sport cynicism to the train tracks but made me feel so very proud to be British. Frankly, not something I have felt for a long time. The opening ceremony was utterly bonkers, quirky and bat shit wonderful. I, along with a ton of people, shed a few tears during this historic moment. To him and all involved I am truly indebted, thank you!
“This will be about us, and if some people don’t get it that’s fine. That’s what we’re like”
– Danny Boyle
Fact: Emeli Sande sang the hymn Abide With Me which was wrote by the Reverent Lyte, penned in the little town of my birth Brixham.
2. The almost eerily beautiful Bat For Lashes returned with this heart cracking sad song this week. Such a woeful song with an equally saddening video for Laura. Stunning and has me almost holding my breath when I listen to it, and I’m never sure whether to cry or feel lifted by it. Strange but joyful quality.
3. Earlier this week I took my first literal plunge into a self-imposed challenge to swim all of London Lido’s over the next few weeks. Blog post here if you missed it. In love with swimming again.
4. This week I fell in love, new music to my ears from a very old musician in Searching For Sugar Man. Such a moving documentary, made me cry, laugh, smile and shake my head in baffled disbelief. A musical fairytale. Any music lover, regardless of taste in tunes, will connect with this film immediately. Seek it out.
5. Another skill, brill and ace video from Hot Chip demonstrating their playful randomness to end this post on, released this week for their single How Do You Do? ♥
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A couple of weeks ago I decided to set myself a smattering of (hopefully achievable) goals. One of the items on my new to-do list is to swim every Lido in London. It struck me that in all my years living in London I have never once visited one, and can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been swimming since being here. I grew up in a seaside town, if we weren’t in the sea kicking at the bootstrap seaweed wrapping around our legs, we were sneaking in to the holiday camps to use their pools memorizing chalet numbers as we climbed through gaps in hedges in case we were challenged. Once upon a time I was a water baby.
Yesterday I started my Lido mission and visited Brockwell, known as ‘Brixton Beach’. Diving into a moderately chilly pool in this stifling London heat made me happy as a pig in shit. Swimming past a group of teenage girls singing a mocking song which consisted of a chorus made up entirely of repeating Nick Clegg’s name over and over also had Jo & I in laughter. The below feels like a fair way to judge the Lido’s I hope to visit over the next two months.
|Temperature:||Chilly but warmed up after one length|
|People doing serious swimming:||2 (until a triathlon team turned up)|
|Men grabbing their danglebobbins indecently:||3|
|Women swimming in sunglasses:||4|
|Kids doing classic “bombing”:||Lost count|
|People just dipping their toes with iPhone in hand:||3|
On London’s hottest day this year understandably there was a queue to get in and there are limited lockers if you’re not a member but you get to swim in a well-kept olympic size pool (I got carried away with this fact and as a result every bone feels like it’s creaking and screaming at me today) in a Grade II listed art-deco building.
Pelicans, Mist and Sausages…
1. Finally got my chops around a Big Apple Hot Dog on Friday. Smoky, Chunky and Juicy. Anyone suspicious of exactly what meat usually goes into hot dogs will have their faith restored by this local London business. 94 – 98% meat content accompanied by pickles, every mustard you can think of, freshly baked buns. Track down their whereabouts on their website.
2. The debut book by Erick Setiawan, Of Bees And Mist, has a touch of Neil Gaiman about it in the element of magic and the fantastical. Centred around three strong and proud women tied together by family is saddening, life affirming and deals with the tough choices women have to make on a daily basis wrapped up in a fairytale. All from a young, male author.
3. The third single from Lucy Rose was released this week. Adore the unexpected pace change in Lines, around 40 seconds in. Her debut album is released in September and if the strength of her releases so far are the level to prejudge then it could be a contender for my album of the year.
4. Had a very merry (and by merry I mean very drunk) night at Zoo Lates on Friday. Such a fantastic idea, that us adults get to be as giddy as the children but with a pint in our hand. I have a new-found love for Pelicans, by far the most entertaining. Such a comic way of preening, dancing and parading. Now The Maccabees song has a new memory attached to it. You can book on London Zoo’s website.
5. BBC’s The Hollow Crown came to its conclusion with Henry V last night. I am not brave enough to put into words just how brilliant the adaptations have been. All actors involved, and those that made it possible, produced something to be truly proud about. Of course it wouldn’t exist had it not been for Shakespeare. A man we have so much to be grateful for. Catch it while it’s on iPlayer, I urge you. I was utterly blown away by it.
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother”
- William Shakespeare, Henry V
Last week I blogged a mixtape made up of twenty-five tracks that have rocked my socks at the halfway point of 2012. This is born out of Twitter discussions with Marc and he’s agreed to let me put his list up so here are his. I expect he’s sleeping off Latitude somewhere so this will potentially pass him by. There’s a smattering of similarities to mine but it feels like a very different mixtape given the tracks he picked in comparison. I can’t stop playing the Purity Ring track.
- Friends – Friend Crush
- Best Coast – The Only Place
- Passion Pit – I’ll Be Alright
- La Sera – Please Be My Third Eye
- The Maccabees – Pelican
- Solar Bears – Alpha People (feat. Keep Shelley in Athens)
- Lower Dens – Brains
- THEESatisfaction – Ecnhantruss
- Pond – Elegant Design
- Purity Ring – Fineshrine
- Sleigh Bells – Comeback Kid
- Nicolas Jaar – With Just One Glance
- Charli XCX – You’re The One
- Death Grips – Get Got
- Alt-J – Breezeblocks
- Kindness – House
- Beach House – Wild
- Polica – Dark Star
- Hot Chip – Motion Sickness
- Sharon Van Etten – Serpents
- Django Django – Waveforms
- Burial & Four Tet – Nova
- Perfume Genius – Hood
- Grimes – Oblivion
- Oneohtrix Point Never – I Only Have Eyes For You
*Not all the tracks were available on Spotify as he’s clearly too out there with some of the choices so for the full list YouTube is the best option.
“If he plays Thunder Road I’ll go home happy” was my first sentence about the anticipated set list. The fact that he opened with a stripped down, bare and fragile version of this track stopped me in my Wellington boots and kept my feet planted still on the soggy wood chips, holding my breath. Springsteen had already joined John Fogerty (“he uses Just for Men”, my mums opinion of the Creedence Clearwater Revival star) on stage for Rockin’ All Over The World. The set list continued to run like a dream and there were so many highlights. The River, Glory Days, Badlands, Dancing In The Dark. Impossible to pick out one particular moment.
It will go down as one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Springsteen creates something like a call to arms for all the downtrodden, the working classes, the people put upon that need raising up. He is also surrounded by the very best, musicians that have the same natural ability as he does for drama, theatre and occasion. Moments of hushed heartfelt emotion to rallying cries to stand up and be counted. Sounds over the top? No, not if you’ve seen him perform at the level he did on Saturday. Bruce (or Buff as I like to call him, as he still is) Springsteen is 63 and plays with more passion and energy than bands hungry for success. As my Dad said “In my lifetime and yours, you won’t see many Bruce Springsteen’s”.
In the past two years my brave and brilliant closest friend has lost both her parents, she said to me the night before that sharing something like this concert with mine would be something to truly cherish. It goes without saying she is utterly right, and whatever your shared connection with your family is (reading, music, theatre) create those amazing memories with them. Both in their sixties they sang, dance and drank with me. My mum in particular being very quick at her bar duties, she said “I don’t know what it is, I’ve just always been fast at getting served”. To which my Dad rolled his eyes and replied “Nothing to do with the fact she likes a drink”. For me, standing there with them screaming “I’m just tired and bored with myself”, laughing, smiling, toasting our warm wines. It was much about being side by side with them as it was about the man on the stage.
Of course much can be said about the council pulling the plug, there’s been a whole heap of people popping up on Twitter who believe the right decision was made and Springsteen should have stuck to his allocated time. Of course, they have a point, he had been playing for three and a half hours already. But, I doubt one of those people were one of the 80,000 people in Hyde Park and you have to be a pretty damned Scrooge to not feel swept up in the sense of community and occasion Springsteen had created Saturday evening, not to mention that Paul McCartney was playing at his side. Dave Rowlinson did make the very valid point that at least it stopped before we were subject to Hey Jude. Still, Bruce and The E Street Band left smiling as did every person penned into Hyde Park. A fitting reaction to the fun ruiners, they didn’t and could never of soured our night.
Bruce Springsteen played Thunder Road ▪ Badlands ▪ We Take Care Of Our Own ▪ Wrecking Ball ▪ Death To My Hometown ▪ My City Of Ruins ▪ Spirit In The Night ▪ The Promised Land ▪ Take ‘Em As They Come ▪ Jack Of All Trades ▪ Empty Sky ▪ Because The Night ▪ Johnny 99 ▪ Darlington County ▪ Working On The Highway ▪ Shackled And Drawn ▪ Waitin’ On A Sunny Day ▪ Raise Your Hand ▪ The River ▪ The Ghost Of Tom Joad ▪ The Rising ▪ Land Of Hope And Dreams ▪ We Are Alive ▪ Born In The U.S.A ▪ Born To Run ▪ Glory Days ▪ Dancing In The Dark ▪ I Saw Her Standing There ▪ Twist And Shout
Feels like it’s been a massively busy week in terms of the very favourite thing I like to submerge myself in, the thing that helps me completely ignore all those nagging questions I like to put off. Questions like why haven’t I wrote a book yet, whats the meaning of life, could I ever become a proper vegetarian, should I risk the handwash cycle on the washing machine? Music, wonderful music. My excuse to ever procrastinate and drown out the nagging voices in my head.
1. Full post of Bruce Springsteen to follow, for now I am still in that lovely haze of a gig high so will save my words for another day. For now listen to this lovely stripped down version of Thunder Road that he opened with. Perfection.
2. Lianne La Havas released Is Your Love Big Enough this week and it’s instantly become the soundtrack to a new chapter in my life. To hear the storytelling of her loves and loses at the tender age of 22 shows a true life wisdom. Feels like it’s a womans world in the music industry this year, makes me immensely proud. I believe we’ll be talking about this lady in the same breath as Joni Mitchell, Lauryn Hill and Marianne Faithful as the years roll by.
3. I imagine I’m not alone in being batshit happy about the return of Bloc Party this week? Octopus is exactly what I’d have described had someone asked me what I’d want from their return track. Ferociously fast strummed guitars, that constant thud of drums that drowns out your own heartbeat and Kele’s honey vocals drizzling effortlessly above the noise. Perfection.
4. One of my very favourite bands Summer Camp (live, for their album Welcome to Condale and general understated brilliance)released their Always EP this week to help tide us over with new material. Love the underlying menace and sneering in title track Always. Dark.
5. A couple of weeks ago Frank Ocean posted poetic and brave words about falling in love with a man on his Tumblr. As a result I suspect people who hadn’t even heard of Odd Future, and many who dismissed them, have sat up and taken notice of a refreshingly vulnerable and honest performer. The release of Channel Orange was brought forward and it truly is brilliant. Comedic, fragile and clever. ♥
For a split second I very nearly omitted Joy Division from the final ten, but then I realised a lot of people may lynch me for axing them. The Letter J mixtape, a mix of songs that make me feel woefully sad and melancholy. The type of mood where you want to sit moodily under a tree in Hampstead, dressed like Catherine from Wuthering Heights and drink cheap rum alone (Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley). To tracks that never fail to make me think the world is a wonderful, amazing place and put me in the greatest of untouchable moods. The tracks that make me want to dance on tables, embrace the unknown and not go home until the morning (Janelle Monae, and the utterly ridiculous John Otway).
- Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye
- Joy Division – Atmosphere
- Joni Mitchell – This Flight Tonight
- John Grant – Queen of Denmark
- The Joy Formidable – Whirring
- Jim Bob – Cartoon Dad
- John Otway & Wild Wily Barrett – Really Free
- Jackie Wilson – Reet Petite
- Janelle Monae – Tightrope
- Justice – New Lands
Earlier this week I found myself having a conversation with one of the Director’s in my office. He was telling me he suffers terribly from “middle-aged resentment”. That he’s constantly aware at all times, someone out there younger than he is, will be having the time of their life. His best days are behind him.
At the time it wasn’t something I could entirely connect with, I laughed and thought “poor sod”. Until I took a peek at his passport the other day and realised he’s actually only a couple of years older than I am.
I’m 34 this year (we all say how old we’re going to be next birthday don’t we? Never the age we’re at now) and have never thought that put me in the ”middle-age” category. I always thought I was smugly past those rosy days of your twenties when you think life is spontaneous and chances are handed freely to you just by merit of your naive enthusiasm. Feel like I’m not quite in the days of my forties where I fully expect to feel like I have let myself down in not saving the human race or keeping a plant alive for more than a fortnight and then start buying shit loads of cats. Then I found out Chris Packham is 51 and I am hugely confused about where middle-age starts, and strongly suspect that actually maybe these age brackets that try to define us don’t exist anymore. Being that he looks as youthful, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as a boy scout.
I like lurking in my thirties. So my hangovers can last a couple of days and Topshop feels increasingly like its laughing at me for trying to remain in its demographic. But my boobs are exactly where they should be still (although I strongly suspect my bum may not be, but I don’t have to look at that). I still feel like I have time to ignore my ever-present nagging conscience saying “what are you going to do with your life?”, I pretend not to hear it over the Tinnitus.
We always talk about our idyllic childhoods don’t we? No one ever tags that word on to our adult years. Tragically sad really.
Around this time last year Marc listed his top 25 tracks of the year so far and challenged me to do the same. This year we’ve only bloody well done it again, and below are the tracks that have very much floated my boat during the first half of 2012, a smattering of them the same as his list produced. You’ll probably guess from the running order that they’re in no particular order, given Sharon Van Etten follows on from Azealia Banks being one good example of my inability to pick a favourite.
At the end of the year I compiled my top 50 tracks and will look to do the same this year if I’m still whittling on and boring you via this blog. One thing I am utterly certain of (and I seem to be uncertain of so much these days) is Beach House will still be there come December, this album captured every single cell in my body.
- Savages – Husbands
- Beach House – New Year
- Kindness – House
- Santigold – Disparate Youth
- Grimes – Oblivion
- The Maccabees – Feel To Follow
- Hot Chip – Motion Sickness
- Sleigh Bells – Comeback Kid
- Crybaby – We’re Supposed To Be In Love
- Kwes – Bashful
- Twin Shadow – Five Seconds
- Azealia Banks – 212
- Sharon Van Etten – Leonard
- Mary Epworth – Black Doe
- Friends – Mind Control
- Polica – Dark Star
- Lucy Rose – Red Face
- Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Garden
- Two Wounded Birds – To Be Young
- Chromatics – Kill For Love
- Zulu Winter – Silver Tongue
- Julia Holter – In The Same Room
- Alabama Shakes – I Found You
- Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zero’s – Man On Fire
- Lianne La Havas – Lost & Found