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I've been unusually politically engaged this time round -- faced with a local slate of Conservative (incumbent), Lib Dem, Labour, UKIP, Green and Socialist Party of Great Britain, I went to the local hustings.

Historically I have voted LibDem, Labour and (I suspect) Ecology, and I think I've only voted for the winner once. I *think* last time I didn't vote Labour thanks to Iraq etc, and returned to LibDem. This time the fall out from ConDem coalition makes such a vote less likely but...

Conservative 22,050
Liberal Democrat 16,002
Labour 7,940
UK Independence Party 1,907
Green 1,137
Money Reform Party 173

UKIP would have to steal a lot of votes from the Tories to allow the LibDems in and they may well be as likely to take from Labour according to the people in South Thanet. I went into the hustings thinking that I would choose between Green and Socialist Party of Great Britain, but the latter candidate impressed me even less than the SWP people I knew at university. The LibDem candidate was the better speaker -- but tuition fees was a nightmare.

So last night I went off the see Bisi Alimi speak in Ramsgate, billed as Farage's healthcare tourist. He was the first person to come out on Nigerian television and, facing violence and criminal charges, he sought asylum. He is now a British citizen, a lecturer, working in HIV counselling and advocacy, with a particular emphasis on Africa. He was an impressive speaker -- but then it looks as if he's been doing a lot of this kind of thing. His plan was to spend today talking to UKIP voters and posing the question, what have immigrants done to you?

There is a loose alliance of people in South Thanet campaigning to keep Farage out, and good luck to them. This particular event attracted candidates from
Al-Zebabist Nation of Ooog and the Labour Party -- who appeared to be the sponsors of the event. It was disappointing to see that Will Scobie the Labour candidate left before the talk and discussion started.

What was striking was that, aside from the first respondent and the Hope Not Hate representative, all the speakers were women. Unusual.


I aint ded

Oh look, I haven't posted here in nine months. I've been having trouble logging on at home, then wifi died on the Mac and I've not really had time to follow through.

For example, right now I should be writing a three-week-overdue 7,000 chapter on gay young adult fantastic fiction. Except each of those three terms need a thousand words to gloss. And I'm not convinced it fits the book anyway.

That Ol' Cognitive Estrangement Feeling

I'd only ever been to Somerset House on trips to the Courtauld Collection (free and expedited entry with Art Fund membership - one of several thousand reasons to get a membership), but at some point I'd noticed a photography exhibition there for free. I think I'd spotted a review or something, and then maybe spotted a poster there, but I've now been to several interesting shows. There's a link to fashion, mostly, which is odd as I don't think King's teaches fashion (but what I keep hearing as London Fascist Week* shows in the courtyard), and there's a certain saccharine quality to fashion photography that recalls reading supplements in the bath.

Currently there are three shows -

AOI Illustration Awards 2013 (Until 27 October 2013) with some interesting work, including some adorable cockroach pictures ( and stuff that might be eligible for BSFA Awards (although I'm wondering if publication was actually 2012).

The Prix Pictet Commissions: Munem Wasif, Ed Kashi, Chris Jordan & Simon Norfolk (Until 31 October 2013) is the product of social corporate responsibility - Swiss private bank Pictet & Cie commission a photographer to take pictures of a country in which a sustainability project is being undertaken. Chris Jordan's pictures of slaughtered elephants are very moving, but the real beauty is in Simon Norfolk's pictures of Afghanistan (there was a Tate show of him and the Victorian photography of the country, yes?), where he takes four photographs from exactly the same spot over a period of time. These are shown on a plasma screen, so the pictures morph together. There is a melancholy beauty to it that is greater than the pictures alone ( lamentables would like, I'm sure.

But the real pleasure was RIBA Forgotten Spaces 2013 (until 10 November 2013), which I'd just assumed was pictures of abandoned spaces in London (and I'm not sure why London), but in fact was architectural proposals for the reuse of such spaces. It takes place in a forgotten space - those deep voids you are warned about around the edge of Somerset House. Descend into the basement and go outside - there are four coal stores with proposals in, lit by vertical neon tubes, and then you follow the kennel around to a space underneath the fountains (it's leaking) that is known as the Deadhouse (a cemetary was relocated here).

Forgotten SpacesForgotten Spaces

There's clearly a utopia impulse at work - take those brown field sites, those disused spaces and put them to work for community use. Part of the old Rams Brewery should become a museum of forgotten beer...
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* "Brown shirts are in this year."

** Actually, post-impressionism and London overlap - the various paintings by Van Gogh of Selhurst and Crystal Palace - also Pissarro's Lordship Lane Station, feeding into the Camden Town school I suspect.

In Dreams

I have the Explicable Travel Anxiety Dream (sometimes buses, mostly trains, rarely cars, most frequently getting across London by Underground), sometimes with the Explicable Second Hand Bookshop Reverie, the Explicable Unprepared Teaching Dream (campuses segueing into cinemas, theatres, underground foyers, conventions, conferences) and the Explicable Moving House/New Flat Dream.

More recently is the Inexplicable Technology Dream, that tends to happen when I wake with the sense that I have a handheld device of some nature that I've lost. It's not my phone, but it could be the PalmPilot or Psion or Kindle, and it tends to be some kind of black data entry device. What's odd is I don;t recall dreams about it, just wake realising I've lost it.



You'd think, being tired, I wouldn't be waking at 5.30 am. Sigh. And that in the gap before 10 I could get some sleep.

So today I've fixed the front door lock for now, edited what I think is the fifth set of proofs of a review, written another review, and had a mysterious three hour siesta that included hearing most of a Philip Palmer radio play.

What I Did On My Holidays

Back about three four hours ago from day two of the exhibition in Broadstairs of the photos I took circumambulating Thanet, all thirty miles of it. Trying to avoid going to bed too early.

Obviously trying to get photos sorted was one of the many things I did in a run up to a so-called holiday at a certain festival - said holiday involving writing a PhD report, checking some proofs of a review and briefing new staff. And a panic attack.

Being a creature of habit, I broke the journey at Wakefield, and stayed at a Travelodge in a spirit of optimism (don't ask). I got to the Hepworth, seeing the William Scott show I hadn't seen in St Ives, and out to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where I saw Seizure and some other interesting stuff and probably walked about eight miles. Wakefield I suspect has the world's largest Greggs, what I like to think of as Greggs Extra. I coincided with Pride, once more a rather mixed experience. More importantly I returned to Fernandes Tap and Bier Keller and sampled many ales, some of which were fine.

More beers were sampled north of the border, mostly Scottish, with some interesting bottles sampled from beer shops with better selections of London beers than 99.9% of London off licences. (Is now the time to note the closure of the never open off licence in St Pancras? Sourced Market remains.) I managed to pick up the two best bottles in the shop. Craft Beer Pubs are spreading, although I'm largely disappointed by the fizziness of even the cask selection. Does fizzy beer attract young men as lager once did? There is a distinct demographic. Holyrood 9A and The Hanging Bat sampled, along with the Stockbridge Tap, Smithies', Cask and Barrel and The Blue Blazer. There is a recurrent, brackish, burst caramel taste to a lot of the beers I sampled, that I am not a fan of.

Pleasingly I have found enough sense of geography to avoid all but a little bit of Princes Street with its walking three metres a minute pedestrians.

Most of the people I wanted to see weren't there, but repeat views for The Noise Next Door (top of their game), Mitch Benn (singing about stuff, heavier again), Will Adamsdale (genius), Bo Burnham (still looking twelve, still breathless) and new discoveries Max and Ivan (meh), Johnny and the Baptists (as heard on The Now Show), Ursula Binns (Peruvian harp) and The Full Bronte (disappointing). A Marcus Brigstocke improv with the usually suspects. Was that it?

And art and art and art - walked to Modern One (some weird stuff) and Modern Two (Paolozzi and sf, plus withccraft), Man Ray (as deliberately not seen in London), Church (again), Peter Doig, Peter Liversidge, Leonardo, Franz West, Gabriel Orozco, Elizabeth Blackadder, Croatian Scottish Art... a trek to Summerhall - lay out infuriating even with a map in their programme book - to see Michael Nyman with a Movie Camera, work based on Jarman's Blue, Sun Ra photos, Fiona Banner ... I failed to see one item that hid. And thanks to a school friend's insistence, a bus trip out to a sculpture park... Thousands of photos to follow.

Still no castle, no zoo and no fucking tattoo.

No books, either, as I was carrying Macbook and a Phd and the back is a year older.

I do like Stockbridge though. Very bourgeois of me, I suppose.

And then, naturally, down to Liverpool and another Travelodge (again in optimism, which I scuppered), and time to see the Shergar exhibition (the horse was missing) but not the Rankin, and a pint and a half at the Baltic Fleet. I ran out of energy for the Ship and Mitre and - after several pints in Ormskirk the next day - it's a relief Sourced Market was closed by the time I got to St Pancras.

Some of this needs more attention, I doubt it will get it. I need to list beers sampled, but in another place.

Many Hands

Saturday I got up at daft o'clock to celebrate the 25th anniversary of my driving test - I caught the 6.00am train to Victoria, breakfasted in the Regency Cafe and was the first person through the doors of the Lowry exhibition. Imagine! Having the whole exhibition to yourself! After doing something similar for Lichtenstein and Hirst, I'd imagine crowds, but I had the place largely to myself - there were no more than four people in the same room as me at any time. A fantastic show, although light on biographical context.

And I am still pondering whether his liking of Pirandello might explain him somehow.

You could buy flat caps in the shop. But not, as far as I could see, whippets.

I also did Caulfield and Hume - shows rather light on explanation, and I rather bounced off.

I'd planned to do the Psycho show at Pace, but ambled first to the Pace at the rear of the RAA where I saw a Robert Irwin show (presumably not the same Robert Irwin...).

At this point I ran into and - against a certain degree of cynicism - watched half an hour or so of Pride. I confess and would like to risk expressing mixed feelings. It's the first one I've seen.

The theme this year seemed to be marriage and I can see the if-it-quacks-like-a-duck argument for extending civil partnerships, enshrining equal rights, clarity of medical decisions and access, inheritance of property etc. On the other hand, I have reservations about marriage as an institution for anyone. I'm also torn between the seashift of corporate attitudes that means people can now march as workers with Tesco and on the other hand the question of whether, say, BP and Barclays are in a position to gain positive PR from this. (I realise Apartheid is over now. I still have a distrust of Barclay's). I was all for the scattered placards complaining about the commercialisation of Pride, but on the other hand these were branded Socialist Worker.

On the other hand, it is good to see public displays of commitment, across the QUILTBAG spectrum.

On the other hand, whistles still annoy me...

Were there people marching for themselves or with partners who weren't under a brand? Or do you have to be part of a gang? (I suppose I should have been marching with my colleagues, had I chosen to, although I didn't recognise anyone there.) Was there a group of miscellaneous marchers at the back? If so I moved on before I saw them. The old visibility problem, perhaps. Where are the banners for people with no banners save their own visibility on the march?

Several of the crowd didn't remember - pace the placards - Lucy Meadows. I'm ashamed it took a couple of minutes to place the context.

It was hot in the sun. I was beginning to dehydrate. It was all rather moving.

It took a bit of wandering to locate Pace, proper, and it required an entryphone to be negotiated. I passed, for now.

Then a long wander up to a pub I like in Finsbury. On the other hand, I've twice been when Whitstable IPA was one of the choices and I can get that locally. Not all the beers taste great. And there was only one choice this time. I rapidly moved onto Clerkenwell and the Craft Beer Co, where there was only one beer at 4%. The rest was 7% plus. I settled for a 7% Thornbridge/Dark Star collaboration and a Sirens at 11.4%, but only a half. £10.50. Ouch. On several levels.

That left a stagger down to Temple, and the train home from Victoria.


Is that really two months since the last post?

It has been sixty days of reading and writing and failing to sleep and failing to wake up.

There has been art - Lichtenstein, Frink, Riley, Hodgkin - and photography, with a picture on show at the Sidney Cooper. There are photos.

There has been beer. On the one hand too much. On the other hand not enough. Inroads into Lincolnshire.

Oh yes, a plenary paper.

A failure to take a vacation.

(See failing to sleep and failing to wake up.)

Not enough walking. Too much rain and cold.

One day, I will have content.
  • * Eastbourne: Towner "Bon hiver: A journey through a Winter Landscape" (1 Dec 2012–1 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: Whitechapel Gallery "Aspen Magazine: 1965-1971" (11 Sep 2012–3 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: Barbican "Random International: Rain Room" (4 Oct 2012–3 Mar 2013) Website
  • * London: V&A "Halfway to Paradise: Photographs by Harry Hammond" (13 Oct 2012–3 Mar 2013) Website
  • Edinburgh: Scottish National Portrait Gallery "Leading Lights: Portraits by KK Dundas" (29 Oct 2012–3 Mar 2013) Website
  • Oxford: Modern Art Oxford "Audiograft: ROLF JULIUS" (26 Feb 2013–3 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: Whitechapel Gallery "Artists in Residence: Lucy Cash" (15 Dec 2012–8 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: Whitechapel Gallery "Gerard Byrne: A state of neutral pleasure" (17 Jan 2013–8 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: V&A "Collecting Abroad for the V&A 1851-1914" (1 Sep 2012–9 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: V&A "Waxing and Waning: 19th-century women sculptors and wax modelling" (1 Sep 2012–9 Mar 2013) Website
  • * London: Tate Britain "Focus: Charles Harrison as Curator" (21 May 2012–10 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: Whitechapel Gallery "Collection Sandretto Re Rebaudengo: Viral Research" (15 Dec 2012–10 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: V&A "'So Peculiarly English': Topographical Watercolours from the V&A Collection" (7 Feb 2012–12 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: White Cube: Mason's Yard "Kris Martin" (18 Jan 2013–16 Mar 2013) Website
  • Margate: Turner Contemporary "Maria Nepomuceno: Tempo para Respirar (Breathing Time) " (14 Sep 2012–17 Mar 2013) Website
  • Coventry: Herbert "His Dark Materials: New Art By Adie Blundell " (24 Nov 2012–17 Mar 2013) Website
  • * Canterbury: Sidney Cooper "Michael Craig-Martin: Alphabet" (22 Feb 2013–23 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: National Portrait Gallery "Marilyn Monroe: A British Love Affair" (29 Sep 2012–24 Mar 2013) Website
  • Birmingham: Birmingham Museum "Arrow in the Blue: The Koestler Exhibition for the West Midlands" (19 Jan 2013–24 Mar 2013) Website
  • * London: Haunch of Venison "Thomas Joshua Cooper: Messages" (1 Feb 2013–28 Mar 2013) Website
  • * London: Haunch of Venison "José Parlá: Broken Language" (6 Feb 2013–28 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: Pace Gallery "Keith Tyson:PANTA RHEI " (7 Feb 2013–28 Mar 2013) Website
  • London: Gagosian (Britannia Street) "Robert Rauschenberg: Jammers" (16 Feb 2013–28 Mar 2013) Website
  • Leeds: Leeds Art Gallery "Dawn Chorus" (28 Sep 2012–31 Mar 2013) Website

    Finish April 2013Collapse )

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    End 2014 or laterCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at, as part of my photography blog. Please comment there.

"Modern" Opera

I recall a British company who did modern translations (ie rude) of operas, but I can't for the life of me remember their name. London Mozart Players? English Opera? I think it was semi-professional, and it was either the Purcell Room or BAC if I ever saw them (which I think he did).

Tamaranth should remember...



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