From Desk Till Dawn

My mainly music & nerd bird blog

Archive for August 2012

Lido Love No.6 Serpentine Lido

with one comment

I won’t lie. I had to psych myself up for the Serpentine. I had turned open air swimming (by that I mean in rivers and ponds) into a watery theatre full of creatures Neil Gaiman would write into his books. Water rats and eels… before the cockney’s jelly them. A friend convinced me that my overactive imagination wouldn’t reflect the reality, thankfully she is to be trusted. A few lazy birds lurked at the side and a duck skimmed my swimming cap as it started a low flight to the water. No creatures below.

It was freezing, the ramp down to the water is slippery and its very shallow. At all points I could plant my feet on firm soil. But there’s something about swimming in fresh water, even in the chill. Getting that inevitable mouthful of water doesn’t taste quite so foul, even if you narrowly avoid a feather or two. The view is stunning, you won’t beat it. When I was doing backstroke I looked up at the sky and it felt like it it was going on forever. Felt like I was suspended in that moment alone, no niggling worries or stresses on my mind.

Serpentine Lido

The heritage and history of the Serpentine Lido is something to feel connected to. George II created The Serpentine for Queen Caroline between 1727 – 1731. Only a few weeks ago I was sat in the stands during The Olympics to watch the women’s 10K marathon swim (so I’ve technically shared the same water as Olympians, how many people can say that?). Then of course there’s the Serpentine Swimming Club, formed around the 1830’s. What’s not to love about a swimming club that hold a Christmas day meet called the Peter Pan Cup.

The London swimmer Jenny advised me this was only suitable for a dip, and she’s right. But I still loved mentally shouting “I’m doing more exercise than you losers” at the people plodding past me in pedalos. Also, there was a woman swimming that looked exactly like Frida Kahlo in a neon orange swimming costume so I sort of love it for that reason, even if my thighs are still trying to convey their numbness to me three hours after getting out of the water.

Temperature: Freezed my tits off
People doing serious swimming: 4
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
Cost: £3.50


The Letter ‘N’ Mixtape.

I am fast approaching the letter Q which worries me, I think I may struggle with Q in the quest to mixtape every letter of the alphabet. N has been a pleasure though.

I run to N.W.A, I turn to Neutral Milk Hotel when I want to be in a better place and I go back to being an awkward teen at the mere mention of Nirvana. When I hear New Order I can smell my sisters mix of Christian Dior Poison, potent and sprayed in abundance to cover up the cigarettes she’s been smoking on the balcony before she goes out. That perfume never did really hide the smell from my parents.

A couple of months ago I recorded Music for Films on Resonance FM with Tim. I picked the Nico track I’ve included below as it featured in The Royal Tenenbaums. You can listen to my underlying Devonian lilt and waffling here.

You can play my letter L mixtape on Spotify or YouTube

  1. New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle
  2. N.W.A – Express yourself
  3. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
  4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Deanna
  5. Naughty By Nature – O.P.P
  6. Nirvana – About A Girl
  7. Nico – These Days
  8. Nina Simone – Sinnerman
  9. Neil Young – Heart Of Gold
  10. Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Written by Anon PA

August 30, 2012 at 11:40 am

Lido Love No.5 Richmond’s Pools On The Park

leave a comment »

Only on my fourth Lido I have already exposed myself and gave myself a heart attack when I thought I was about to swallow a lump of poo. Pulling myself out of bed yesterday to head down to Richmond with an almighty hangover made me feel as if some fate worse than the above was waiting for me. David Cameron copying Ian Thorpe and lurking poolside perhaps, seeing as I didn’t get to experience either at Tooting Bec.

Instead I got the chirpiest staff I have encountered during my trek so far (found myself awkwardly and self-consciously hopping from foot to foot in my swimming costume as one staff member decided to have a lengthy natter about my nail varnish). A huge maze of indoor cubicles and the most amazing Tardis like machine for children to clamber in and dry off after their dip offers you the luxury of stripping indoors.

Richmond’s Pool on the Park

You have to walk around the indoor pool to get to the Lido so it allows you that moment of smugness to congratulate yourself on being hardened to the elements enough in choosing the great outdoors. However, the moment I jumped in I realised that actually this pool is heated so cheats somewhat. It was like the dying heat of a bath you’ve been in for a bit too long, and although the pool isn’t of the scale of Parliament Hill or Tooting Bec it is the perfect hangover size. Anything larger I may have struggled yesterday. The indoor/outdoor divide seems very clear. Swimmers outside, families inside.

To balance out the wonderful staff I encountered some miserable swimmers who clearly had the hump I was daring to have a well deserved sit down at the shallow end, I think I ruined their perfectly timed laps. Residents of Richmond may not like strangers in their pool, especially one with the remnants of last nights mascara clinging on to their face. I won’t mark them down on account of this though as aside from that it was a perfect hangover cure.

I felt a sense of achievement exercising on a hangover yesterday…. until I read about Diana Nyad. 63 and on her third attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage!

Temperature: Roasting
People doing serious swimming: 6
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
Cost: £4.60


Written by Anon PA

August 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Sunday Swoon. August 26th

leave a comment »

Its been a few weeks since I posted my weekly round-up. I have a new obsession with Lido’s and running around my local park. Time is ticking before half of London’s close for the winter however so service shall be resumed. A musical, book nerdy, Hackney mix below…

1. I was late to the hype surrounding Jessie Ware but now I have the album I find myself regularly lost in what sounds like the love child of Sade and Prince. Album Devotion is out now, instantly accessible and a pleasure to the ears from start to finish.

2. Every now and again a book lands in my hands that I just get utterly lost in and can’t put down. Thanks to Phil on Twitter Ben Aaronvitch came to my attention and in a week I’ve read both Rivers of London and Moon Over Soho. Think Neil Gaiman meets Luther under London skies. Itching to read the third in this series. I want to magic Peter Grant (the lead character) into existence. Somehow.

3. The lovely people behind Hackney WickED couldn’t host their two-day festival this year due to the Olympics, but they still managed to deliver a smaller knees up in a Shoreditch car park. Good cocktails, local artists, the weird and wonderful all served up on battered leather sofas and sand. Such a shame I couldn’t repeat last years weekend but looking forward to its return to the Wick next year. Photo’s from last year on Flickr. See their website for more events and open studio days.

4. One of my biggest band crushes Sleigh Bells have just released a video for End of the Line. Alexis Krauss looks like a Bronte vampire while she laments over the end of a relationship. I love this. Gives me the urge to be barefoot in rags and red lipstick, wandering over Hampstead Heath.

5. When I spotted Stealing Sheep had released Into The Diamond Sun it was a lesson in how time flies as I could have sworn I reviewed Noah & The Paper Moon a couple of months back for Flush The Fashion. Turns out that was November last year. This follow-up is trippy folk and is a contender for my album of the year.

The Letter ‘M’ Mixtape.

leave a comment »

I will never get over how glamorous Metronomy make Torquay appear in their video to The Bay. The most realistic thing about the video is the girls spreading their legs behind the bushes outside the leisure centre on Torre Abbey. I grew up there, I can speak with authority. This is a town where bronzing balls are used on your cleavage and not on your cheekbones. Joseph Mount’s concept album The English Riviera is so unbelievably close to my heart for the very reason I was born and raised there.

Anyway. I am tired and grumpy. I have a couple of bruised and battered toes taped together and I thought I nearly swam into a poo at Tooting Bec Lido earlier this week. Then I done a mini cry over the beauty that is Mercury Rev’s The Dark is Rising. I completely forgot how emotionally woeful that track is. So if you are on a Friday high perhaps skip the final track of my M mixtape.

You can play my letter L mixtape on Spotify or YouTube

  1. The Maccabees – Love You Better
  2. The Mighty Wah! – The Story Of The Blues
  3. Metronomy – The Bay
  4. McAlmont & Butler – Yes
  5. Mint Royale (feat. Lauren Laverne) – Don’t Falter
  6. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – You’re All I Need To Get By
  7. Mary Epworth – Black Doe
  8. Marc Almond – If You Go Away
  9. The Middle East – Blood
  10. Mercury Rev –  The Dark Is Rising

Written by Anon PA

August 24, 2012 at 11:15 am

Lido Love No.4 Tooting Bec

with 3 comments

Let me tell you about the time I was merrily front crawling my way up and down Tooting Bec Lido. I was, for want of a better term, in the swimming zone. I was concentrating on my breathing to take my mind off the fact I think I’ve broken my toe and it was agony, my goggles were misting up. Something brown and small came into my line of vision just as I had exhaled and was returning my head underwater. My heart stopped for a very long millisecond as I thought “Is that poo?”. I managed to avoid a clash with the small brown thing by swimming down to the bottom of the pool, where my heart stopped for a second time as I thought “Did I just nearly swallow poo?”

As I surfaced three children were getting a scolding for eating their chocolate ice-cream cones at the poolside and an embarrassed Dad was plopping into the pool to retrieve the dollop I mistook for a number two. Oh how we laughed and laughed (while all the time I was crying inside).

Tooting Bec Lido

Tooting Bec Lido is framed by trees and beach hut coloured changing cubicles, I was half expecting a Punch and Judy show in one of them. I got the impression from my two hours there this is a Lido that serves, and is well-loved, by its local community. There are no lockers (although they can keep valuables safe for you) so you have to trust that some clever sod won’t run away with your clothes. This was second nature growing up in Devon where we left front doors unlocked, but in London it was harder to leave my belongings out in the open. It’s a brilliantly huge 90m pool so even with kids splashing around there’s more than enough room to get an uninterrupted swim in.

Just as I arrived home last night I put on the radio while I unpacked a sopping wet towel and nursed my bruised and battered foot, not Lido related I must stress, just my own clumsiness. Tom Ravenscroft played a track from Darren Hayman’s Lido album (London Fields, one I have yet to visit). It was the perfect homecoming, a sign from Neptune. Or whoever the God of Lido’s may be.

Temperature: Toasty warm
People doing serious swimming: 16
Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot: 0
Women swimming in sunglasses: 0
Kids doing classic “bombing”: 17
People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand: 10
Cost: £6.00


Written by Anon PA

August 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Musical Snobbery

with 2 comments

The past few weeks I have been hitting the Facebook equivalent of a fat thumbs down on Twitter and clicking unfollow on those that display musical snobbery.

I’m not talking about people’s preference or dislike for certain bands, each to their own when it comes to music tastes. I expected a lot more from The Vaccines than what I was being lead to believe and had to refrain from scribbling that on their “What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?” posters. I happily chose a steel pan band over Mumford and Sons at a festival last year, hearing them cover Wayne Wonders No Letting Go was my preference (and mine alone, I was the only one watching them). I wouldn’t dream of belittling or sneering at those that have taken the bands I don’t grasp to heart, shouting “you idiots” at the thousands of people in a Mumford frenzy.

Down with musical snobbery! It is dire. Don’t make people feel small or stupid for still cherishing [insert someone you hate]. Recently I witnessed a harsh lampooning aimed at people still daring to listen to Oasis, spitting out disgust that music has moved on and they were vile creatures with no taste.  They’re not my cup of tea but to a lot of people those first chords of Wonderwall evoke memories of first festivals, first sexual encounters, first parka jackets. That’s part of the beauty of music surely, those places and memories we associate certain songs with. In the same way my Dad feels about hearing The Kinks for the first time I guess. But of course, The Kinks are deemed as untouchable cool so no one would ask my darling dad why he hasn’t moved on musically (which of course he has, he thinks Mark Morrison’s Return of the Mack is a great song).

Mary Mary Shackles is on my iPod even though its one of those cheesy holy R&B songs. Coldplay’s Clocks and Black Box Ride on Time are both on my running playlist. I know all the words to Betty Boo’s Doin’ The Do and it makes me smile.  If you like it then that’s enough. Don’t let anyone make you feel foolish for doing so. I guess tagging them “guilty pleasures” doesn’t help musical matters.

Written by Anon PA

August 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm