Friday, 26 November 2010

3.33 is the magic number

3.333333333 recurring.

Or should that be 3.33 recurring? Or even 3.3 recurring? At what point does one stop writing numbers while maintaining the look of a figure that’s recurring? Ahh, the aesthetic challenge of turning maths into literature.

Does it even matter? As long as it suggests infinity, something that will go on forever, something important, something without an end, something significant.

It’s a figure I think about a lot.

I went out with someone for 3.33 recurring years...

Saturday, 26 June 2010


I screwed up. I forgot my book. I’m on the bus and I have nothing to read. I don’t even have my iPod to listen to. What will I do? [Write for my blog as a result of utter desperation it seems.]

I know, I know, I could look out the window. The problem is I’ve done this specific route for over ten years. On foot, in a friend’s car, in a taxi and on the bus (top and bottom deck). There is officially nothing new to see, I could recite the order of shops, bars, offices and hotels with my eyes closed.

But weirdly, unlike on the tube where most passengers travel armed with books, nobody else on the bus appears to be reading today. It’s a Saturday, so there are no free papers on offer. Even more weirdly, no one seems to be bothered by the fact that they’re not reading – maybe the shop signs and billboards are all the literary stimulation that they need.

I however, am decidedly cross.
Because I forgot my book.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Excuse me sir, would you mind filling this in?

My ex-boyfriend (and wise counsel) thinks I should give prospective boyfriends a questionnaire. He reckons, due to my love of efficiency, that it will separate the wheat from the chaff and prevent me from wasting my time dating chaff. Which, it could be argued, is becoming a bit of a habit.

But the question is – which questions should I ask? Which of course leads to that eternal question – what do women want?

So maybe I should reflect on why the last batch all fucked up and cover those topics first with prospective candidates.

Question 1: Do you want a relationship?
If no, please go away. If yes, please go to question 2.

Question 2: Are you in a rush to have a family?
If yes, please move onto the next woman, and I would recommend you target the over-35s. There’s a huge batch of women in that category who are desperate to start birthin’ some babies.
If however you would like to spend a few years having fun while getting to know me, giving me sufficient time to ponder whether I really want my genes to mingle with yours, then please go to question 3.

Question 3: What are your thoughts on gender equality?
This one kinda relates to what you look for in a woman. I would like to think that I only date smart intelligent men who are intellectually my equal (or higher – that’s even better as I love to learn from my boyfriends).
However, history has shown that my choices do not accurately reflect what I think I have chosen.

If you want a 1950s wife/mother type, then I am not the one for you. I have a busy social life – I go out most nights of the week – theatre, galleries, restaurants, pubs, cinema, random events (flashmob pillow fight anyone?). You will always be welcome to join me.
Want to do something different? Stay in and watch tv, go for a meal together, do something that no one else is invited to? That’s fine. I love that stuff too. Give me a date and I’ll put it in my diary. Once it’s in there, I will not cancel on you. Just don’t resent the fact that I have a life and I have friends that I want to spend time with. They’ve lasted longer than all boyfriends past so don’t expect me to be one of those dumb girls who dumps her friends as soon as she gets a new man. (Note for the female readers – because if you’re that kind of girl, then one day you will be single again, only this time you’ll have no friends to fall back on. Lecture over.) Oh yeah – and some of my friends are boys. I expect that some of yours will be girls. So no need for either of us to be jealous then…

Anyway – the social life issue cuts both ways. I’m sure you will also have a busy life. You will want to meet up with your own friends. You’ll want to go on holiday with them as well as with me. That’s cool.

So if you’re looking for a quiet girlfriend who agrees with everything you say, has dinner ready for you when you come home from work and sits in the kitchen doing the darning while you watch football, then I don’t think we’re going to be compatible.

If you’re looking for an equal, who will take you to fun places around London while listening to your stories (and recounting a few of her own), who also happens to make a mean tiramisu, then please go to question 4.

Question 4: So when are you next free?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Postcard from Schiphol airport

I wrote this in a copybook (how old school am I? Pen and paper, people. Pen. and. paper.) while waiting for my flight back to London on Monday night. Good thing I brought it with me. My flight was delayed by three and a half hours. And annoyingly, my friend Aoife (she who wows the boys at my parties), dropped me off an hour and a half before my flight. I thought an hour would be fine but she insisted. Security was quiet so I breezed through. Decided to kill time buying a birthday present for my nephew. But I knew what he wanted so that only took five minutes. Damn.

Then I discovered that there is a museum inside the departures area. How cool is that? But, as you may have guessed by now, it was closed for the evening. So I decided to read for a bit. But as my book is only 112 pages long (Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own in case you’re wondering), I didn’t want to tear through it and then be bored on the flight. Or have nothing to read while waiting for the train to Gatwick to London, which according to my flatmate who looked it up for me, was going to be a long wait of an hour and a half – bloody brilliant. Or even while on the train itself. Or on the bus from the train station to my house. Oh god. When was I going to get home?

Anyway. I got a coffee, sat down, and thought about writing for a bit. I kept seeing things moving in the shadows. Decided that I was tired and that my eyes must be acting up. Looked again. Saw a mouse. I don’t think I’ve seen a mouse at an airport before. I watched it running around the place for a bit – it clearly knew its way around. I began to feel really happy that I had plumped for a coffee and avoided food. Who knows what surfaces had felt the pitter patter of mouse feet?

Then my boredom turned my eyes to the seats that the mouse had just run across. They reminded me of something. Ah yes. Dali’s sofa in the shape of Mae West’s lips. I don’t know why they didn’t go the whole hog and fashion them the same way instead of turning them into a symphony of red and pink in pvc.

But best of all were the airport police. They rode around the airport on Segways. A bit like the dude in that mall cop movie. Well, the trailer anyway as that’s all I’ve seen. Didn’t really give the policemen an air of authority, but then all I could think of was that old Harry Enfield sketch anyway, so I just looked down at the table and smirked to myself.

As for my reflections on Amsterdam itself? Well, it’s been 15 years since my last trip, and I still haven’t been to one of their famed coffee shops. No doubt I’ll want to go to one when I come here again in about 15 years time and they’ll be illegal by then. I did see the prostitutes standing in the windows and I spotted the sex shops which are just about everywhere. Not sure how my aunt managed to take my friend and me around the city when we were 14 while avoiding all of them.

Saw the Purse Museum, two of my cousins, and of course my friend Aoife, which was the main purpose of the visit. Oh, and there was one other thing of note – chips with mayonnaise are great. But 15 years ago, they were definitely the weirdest thing ever…

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

I'm so excited...

...that I've just had to do a little happy dance. Last year I went to the Guggenheim in Bilbao, which I think is now my favourite museum (although the V&A does still have fashion, so maybe let's say it's my favourite art space). The purpose of the trip was to see an exhibition by the amazing Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. And it was incredible.
So, I was just looking online to see if he had anything coming up in the vicinity (he doesn't - Shanghai is next on his hitlist), when I wondered (cue Carrie Bradshaw-esque voice over) "Maybe the Guggenheim Bilbao might have something good coming up."
And I checked.
And it does.
And that was when I did my happy dance.

The Anish Kapoor show that was on at the Royal Academy last year is going to be at the Guggenheim from now until October. So very exciting. I was gutted to have missed the exhibition last year when I was in Hong Kong (it started after I left and finished before I got back), so much so that I even looked for cheap flights back to London to see if I could nip home for a weekend to catch it. Sad I know. But now I have been rewarded as (a) I will finally get to see the show and (b) I get to tie this in with a trip to Bilbao, which is a super city.

So if you fancy a trip to the Basque country, gimme a shout.
And the picture in this article is one I took in the art musuem in Phoenix, Arizona. In the flesh, the sculpture is jet black. It was only when I photographed it that it took on the silvery hue. And that was without a flash!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

It's gone all quiet again

Sorry folks - I have been meaning to update my blog - but have been kept away from it by my busy social life. In fact, I've resorted to multi-tasking. A few weeks ago I went to an event entitled Gay Africa. Not only was it something to do, but it was also a place to bring my date (note to the ladies - this is an excellent way to see if the guy you fancy is a closet homophobe. Mine wasn't. I win). And it also served as fodder for a piece I wrote for Ctrl.Alt.Shift. Which you can read here

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Going for a slash in the park

Decided to tackle tai chi again – tackle being the operative word is this case. Found an instructor who taught a number of styles, including sword form which I wanted to learn here, so I popped along with a friend. After numerous phone calls and 20 minutes roaming the park, we eventually found the class. It didn’t seem particularly like tai chi to me, although the instructor had said that he doesn’t teach his classes in the usual manner of a tai chi class. After practising some moves in pairs about how to deflect a punch to the face, the instructor then pulled some knives from his bag. They were blunt training knives, but looked enough like the real thing to freak me out a little. Then we put the deflecting moves into practise armed with the knives.

“Aim with intent” he kept encouraging us. “Don’t aim for the side of the head, aim for the middle of the face.”
“Great”, I thought to myself. “With my slow reflexes, I’m bound to get stabbed in the face.” Thankfully, I didn’t.

However, I did manage to keep tangling my arms, so I asked the instructor where exactly I should be positioning my hands on my opponent’s arm to deflect the attack. “It doesn’t really matter. In the heat of the fight, you’re not going to have time to check that your hands are in precisely the correct position.”
True, but then in the heat of the fight, I’m more likely to kick my opponent in the nuts and scarper than try practising some new martial arts moves. And what’s the point in learning the moves if you don’t learn how to do them properly in the beginning?

He then whizzed through a sequence of moves for the sword form and asked me to repeat them on my own. All I could think was – if I was doing this with my class in the UK, what you’ve just sped through would take at least three classes to teach properly. So it wasn’t the class for me, which was a pity. I think the instructor is probably quite accomplished, just maybe not suited to teaching people. Well, not suited to teaching me anyway. Although I do now know how to stab someone in the face with a knife. Which is bound to come in handy back in London…

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Explore, explore, explore

So as I enter my final month in Hong Kong, the race is on to make sure I have seen all the key sites before I leave. Today I ventured to Kowloon for two reasons: The first was because there were a number of markets I had yet to visit, Apliu Street Flea Market in Sham Shui Po and the bird, flower and goldfish markets in the Prince Edward area. The second reason was because some contractors are doing work in my building and it sounded like someone was standing beside me with a Kango hammer, so I needed to escape. The flower market was pleasant enough and featured the ubiquitous bunches of roses with each flower wrapped in polystyrene.

The bird market wasn’t that big – possibly due to the old bird flu issue – but it did have a lot of bugs for sale, which was pretty squeal-inducing for a wimp like me. I also enjoyed watching the local birds nipping in and out around the stands, hovering up the spilt grains of birdseed.

Then to the goldfish market, which for some inexplicable reason stank to high heaven. As the fish were already packaged in plastic bags like funfair prizes, I’m not entirely sure where the whiff was coming from. However, with prices starting from $10 a fish (80p), I know where I’ll be coming should there be a food shortage in the future...

New Dan Flavin installation?

Or stall in Sham Shui Po selling a variety of light bulbs? You decide...
You can read about Dan Flavin here.


The original inspiration begind cheerleaders' pyramid formations?

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Happiness is...

…self gifting. Turns out the Americans were right all along. I decided not to give or receive Christmas presents this year because (a) the thought of posting loads of packets from Hong Kong was a headache and (b) I had no way to bring anything back from here as I had already exceeded my luggage allowance on the way out. So, having saved all that money, I decided to self-gift and spend £30 on a small box of chocolates and three pieces of cheese. Rock and roll. And so bloody Western too. Oh and the crackers are from Shanghai. Yes, I went all the way to China for Tuc crackers.

Luckily some people took pity on me and did hook me up with some amazing prezzies. Thanks to my dad for The Sunday Times (real journalism…how I have missed thee), to my mum for the mince pies (well it wouldn’t be Christmas without them) and to T for the card (although I’m not sure I approve of violence against pandas).