Monday, October 29, 2007

Spider dog, spider dog,

Shitty drizzly morning, but curiously warm. I'd already decided to have a morning on Southbank, mostly to check out the trestle tables of used books. One tube-change and we're at London Bridge station, and able to take a long leisurely walk back along the Thames towards the London Eye.

Outside the Globe Theatre: the mummers and the pup

One of these pictures is of Southwark Cathedral

A music store I visited along the way was playing Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen from Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem. It sounded quite a lot like the famous old Klemperer recording that I've had for nearly twenty years, but at some point the quality of the recording indicated that it was something more recent [Rattle]. I opted to get another new recording that had caught my eye, Brahms' transcription for piano duet, known as the 'London' version, performed by The Sixteen under the direction of Harry Christophers. It's designed for choral societies who don't have an orchestra and organ to hand, but compensates with some clearer musical lines.

The gigantic spider Maman by Louise Bourgeois. "My best friend was my mother, and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, neat and useful as a [spider]."

The body of man imprisoned for inscribing an unnecessary apostrophe (now obscured) in the sign for the entrance to The Clink; graffiti horror which gave the face-detection software on my camera something to chew on.

Before crossing the Thames again, I had lunch and finished off the Jane Jacobs book. She is such a remarkable writer, and her perspectives bubble in my head while I walk through interesting urban terrain like this. I read in the Sydney Morning Herald this week that the spread of shopping malls is another contributor to the widening of waistbands in Australia. I've been kind of lucky that through most of my life I've either lived in country towns, just off the main commerical strip, or in high density multi-zoned city areas where there is constant foot traffic, so that people actually meet each other through the course of their days (as a cornerstone of making a real community) and they're not wedded to the car so much. Experiencing the bedroom suburbs of Seattle and Sydney bores and depresses me because they end up being 1/4-acre prison cells, where neighbours rarely meet (except in dispute) because their cars carry them away from the front doors each day.

Some of the street signs along the way show an interesting contrast in style. A high-rise estate off the Thames Path had a sign which says something like "No dogs, skates or skate-boards permitted on this estate. Dogs, skateboards or motorcycles found here will be immediately removed." I wondered if there's a regular inspection of apartments to make sure that no one has any skating contraband. Unnecessarily invasive.

In contrast, there were signs which looked to originate from the City of London, such as "A police or council officer may ask you not to drink alcohol in this area." That strikes me as much more pleasant - it doesn't prohibit the act, but it gives civic officials the opportunity to moderate bad behaviour without micro-managing the majority of well-behaved pedestrian or picnicker. That's where so many malls get up my nose: they micro-manage every part of a person's outing so that they can twist shopping into a lifestyle which they can get revenue from. Their built environment is overly homogeneous and barren to a degree which makes me beg for real town squares, and boulevards where people live and work, not the strictly segregated zones where those who are not working or shopping (ie "hanging out") are viewed with suspicion. More on this anon.

Bondi at Guilty Kilts showroom

I've gotten used to dem youngfolk using "sick" in place of "cool" or "hot" or "[your favourite positive adjective]", but my head spun after a teenager passed Bondi, saying "that's sickening" to his friend.

For years I've been hovering on the verge of getting myself a kilt. Apart from my quarter-helping of Scots genes (although my DNA analysis seemed to indicate that I got a greater proportion bequeathed to me), I've just fancied having some unconfined netherwear that wasn't going to have to get re-seated as soon as my (presumably Scots-derived) swimmer's thighs rubbed out the intervening cloth. When I lived in Seattle, I sometimes saw guys in the locally produced Utilikilts but they just didn't do it for me.

AND I'm not entirely convinced that a tartan was necessarily the way to go. Firstly, the whole clan tartan thing is a comparatively recent historic fashion, not yet 200yrs old, and tracing which clan one is affiliated with is a rather delicate art, easily peturbed for the sake of selling a few yards of cloth to heritage-deprived American tourists. Secondly, if I did buy into all of that, then which clan tartan do I go for? Well, there's number 3, I don't particularly care for any of them. Even the so-called Williams Welsh tartan is not something I would rush to wear.

A fortuitous connection led me to the (don't take it personally guys, but it's not very good) web-site of Guilty Kilts, and today to their showroom off Carnaby Street (where else?). There were a few kilt choices that appealed to me, but I quickly settled on a well-made black pleated cloth with the sporran and kilt-socks.

So, any day now you might see me out in my kilt, looking sickening.

Mary-Kate and Ashley

While grabbing my morning coffee at Munsons last week, a young couple with their 4-5yr old son were admiring Bondi. Bondi was already working the crowd, sitting unasked, to plead for a biscuit treat. "Look at that focus!" the woman exclaimed, prompting her son to run around in circles for a while, yelling "focus focus focus". I feel like I'm back in the workforce already.

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to seeing you in your kilt! I too, pondered and deliberated over whether to purchase myself a kilt in my clan tartan (which I must admit I rather like) but decided my white legs look better in jeans or trousers! ;-)