Posts from 21st April 2005

Apr 05

Blind (candi) Date

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Not a questionable dig at any partially-sighted/blind prospective MP, but a rubbish (perhaps badly-advised) pun-based observation of the church-hall meeting I’ve just been to. The four main candidates in our Ward attended a meeting that was meant to be Question Time in format and mood, but felt a bit closer to Blind Date. “Suitor number three, how would you withdraw… from Iraq?”

It was an odd imbalanced affair – Karen Buck has what they call a comfortable majority – and there was little, really, to separate what was said by the LibDem (bad mic-technique), Green (nervous climate scientist) and Labour (our Karen) speakers. Only the Tory fella, who looked every inch a Tory Boy toff (sorry, but he REALLY did) was not down with the panel on renewable energy – apparently there’s a balance to be had between cheap nuclear energy and saving the planet. Pff.

There was much talk of pensions because of the audience mix, which I’m pretty sure does not actually reflect the local demographic, but does perhaps reflect the fact that other people my age have better things to do with their lives. There was also much talk of Tony Blairs and of trust and, of course, Iraq. at which point the audience finally got agitated and almost blossomed into a slanging match.

I think there were probably more tetchy, old Tory grannies in the crowd, but we sat next to a Guardian-wielding old (50-something) beardy man who stared at the ceiling throughout. He kept nodding vigorously, sighing “YES!” and “Precisely!” at the Green candidate, and occassionally scribbling in the bit next to the cryptic crossword. There wasn’t much new to be heard (Tory boy claiming crime was out of control cos he’d seen a fire, LibDem saying they’d be nice) so we only stayed 50 mins, but it feels good to see the people in the flesh before making my mark.

Declaration: I actually voted for Karen B in the previous two General Elections. Last time I deliberated for some time between her and the Socialist Alliance candidate. In the end I did some research and found out that I liked the things Karen had raised and the way she voted in The House. Plus the Socialist Alliance guy turned out to be a fantasy novelist (as reviewed by Martin here). Writing for a living is bad enough, but his writing is just LIES!

Fun with graphs!

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i think we can safely say that Gorgeous George and his friends have no [ahem] Respect for how to do a proper graph, as can be seen from this graph below:

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OK, so they may have got 15% in these four wards, but the graph appears to be somewhat incomplete, if you add up the 5 bars, you see they only come to c. 60%, where, Mr Galloway, is the huge great 40% Labour bar? Wouldn’t want the voters to think they were wasting their vote now would we?

THE SEEKERS – “The Carnival Is Over”

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#206, 27th November 1965

What sort of qualities must a song have for both Nick Cave and Boney M to cover it? What those two acts have in common is a fascination with piety, and a fondness for playing up a track’s seriousness so that it totters into kitsch*. “The Carnival Is Over” ticks the first box with its stately pace and hymnal arrangement, and by the time Tom Springfield’s lyric reaches Pierrot and Columbine the kitsch potential is obvious too. Potential sadly unrealised in this original: I want to like it because it’s such an oddity, a restrained folk-pop tune that rejects the models for family-friendly balladry and strikes out for more austere shores. But it never quite connects with me. The smooth nobility of Judith Durham’s singing is attractive; the song as a whole though feels like a starchy exercise in writing a ‘folk ballad’, archaisms and all.

But perhaps I don’t like it just because the title is so good, so immediately evocative of things – horseboxes and caravans that vanish in the night, empty fields full of bootmarks and lolly sticks – that the song was never meant to deliver.

*(This is not all Boney M are good for, of course.)

Indie Chicken

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 491 views

Supplement A

Well, it might not have been purchased from a shop dedicated to the art of fried poultry (and the occasional lipsmacking rib), but it was certainly very independent. Some greasy kebab shop on the Lower Clapton Road (of which there are many) provided me with a couple of pieces of fried beast (species indeterminate) the other Sunday evening, when filthy food was sorely needed after a lengthy walk down the Lea Valley and a couple of pints. The ‘chicken’ was dried out and crusty (and not in a good fresh bread type way) from sitting like Miss Havisham in the hot cabinet while most customers to the shop ordered chunks of sweaty lamb, watched hungrily as they were grilled and popped in pittas, then left to devour them at the bus stop, but nevertheless I requested some, not being in the mood for hot kebab action. The experience was adequate if leathery, but becomes a pearl of memory when compared to the horrific 2-hour multi-bus journey home after a road traffic accident blocked off the only passable route through Stoke Newington.

Anyway, my question is this: How wrong (or indeed wilfully perverse) is it to eat something from a shop or restaurant that is not the establishment’s stated speciality, even if you don’t particularly like the speciality or have been dragged there when you’re not feeling it? Now, I’d generally sneer at ordering chips in a Chinese takeaway, for example, or refusing smacking-fresh fish at the seaside, as it seems indicative of small-mindedness and fear of the unknown. However, I don’t feel there’s that much in it when you’re talking lardy fast food, although ardent connoisseurs of Middle Eastern grilling may disagree.

BAD Story

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 320 views

Underneath The Archesss….
Peckham Rye Station. Underneath. Now Neil Gaiman – King Of The Goths – wrote a shonky TV series called Neverwhere which took place in the forgotten places under London. Bar Story is the licensed establishment version of this rubfest, just not as goth. More importantly though, forgetfulness is the byword of the place. Like staff forgetting drinks, customers, food happily burning under the grill.

And yet it is a nice place. A pleasantly breezy arch with half hearted corrugated iron to help insulate the sound (it doesn’t) and make it look lie a cheap Blake’s 7 set*. The regulation thrift store tables and chairs were set out almost canteen fashion up to the decks at the back where good friends of mine were putting some very tasty looking Tannoy speakers to the test. It had a Glastonbury vibe, fresh air, the waft of cooking and music.

But the staff. Can I count the number of way that the staff let us down. It got almost amusing after they started scurrying into the rain to pour lager from a spigot. Cocktails made with the expertise of a five year old playing with the bathroom cabinet. The food smelled nice, and the chef at least seemed to own some whites, but after the previous billows of smoke from toast, we were put off. Perhaps it was just the curious juxtaposition of a friendly building, and unfriendly staff that means it might ping my radar again.

Peckham may not need a style bar, so perhaps it is just as well Bar Story isn’t one.

*Unable to use Doctor Who in this comparison any more.

The Joys Of DVD Rental: #3

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This joy was specifically to mop up films I had never seen from – ahem – the canon so I feel more confident when I slag them off/talk anout them. Note, that is more confident, I can currently slam down a nicely nuanced argument about why One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a skewed portrait of mental illness happier to be used as a weak lemony squash satire, still having not seen it. A skill picked up from having a slightly earlier bedtime than friends at school, I am embarrassed by it and should stop it.

Which means I should watch the damn things.

But who is going to get Interiors out of the video shop when you can get the most recent Woody Allen film (answer, most people SHOULD). So I have been flicking through Woody’s back-catalogue, dipping into more rarefied arthouse territory and finally getting round to seeing the Three Colours Trilogy. In the wrong order (one thing they have to sort out with LoveFilm).

It also means, that having seen Interiors and Broadway Danny Rose in the same week I saw Melinda And Melinda I have a good grasp on Woody in serious and comic modes. And in Melinda & Melinda, he was in neither.

I have Nothing Sacred in my bag to watch on my flight later today. There is surely a joy of DVD rental.