I wonder which of the Celebrity Big Brother contestants (who all go into the house later today) is not trying to kick-start their career?
In common with any page of links, many of the pages noted below have long since moved, closed or cease to be updated in any regular kind of way. Facebook and Twitter have meant some of those who I used to read have moved on to the next way to communicate their thoughts. I keep this here as a nice remineder of the early days of blogging!
As I started redeveloping this site, it became apparent that I wanted to link to my collection of daily blog reads and this became the place to keep them.
The first, almost daily, read is Jase Wells. I guess I have been something of an invisible online stalker to this site for years. I have watched it move, change and develop since sometime in 1994 when I first came across it. It still remains one of the best personal homepages on the web – and I am very pleased to see that he has turned it into a blog.
Next on the list is Tom Coates’ plasticbag.org – which must be one of the best around and, if I am honest, I miss it if he doesn’t post. You will find notsosoft linked from there which, I think, contains some of the best writing on the web.
trabaca, posterboy, eric and contrasts.net provide additional regular reading from the US, while Adam’s photoblog provides stunning pictures on a regular basis. overyourhead is a UK take, while prolific is based in Amsterdam. Haddock blogs is a collection of well-known UK internet names.
Of course, blogsphere is represented well by Metafilter which I try and check out most days.
Finally, if you’re not interested in reading the ramblings of people you may never have heard of, then click along to Wil Wheaton’s blog which is a fascinating take on the world of celebrity.
I am about to embark on a Friday night out in Clapham. More specifically, a colleague (we’ve worked together now and have previously worked together) and I are off to meet two ex-work mates (from the last job we worked at) for Friday night drinks. I believe I am turning into some kind of hermit because I want to stay in the whole time so, although I know I will have a great time (and possibly one to many drinks), I would rather be catching the 19:07 home. A bid sad, isn’t it?
plasticbag.org has a great new item about the community of UK webloggers – plasticbag.org | files | Who’s afraid of community participation? I’m too tired – as it’s too early/late – to comment so go read it!
Tim Smit provides an insight into the group vision that resulted in one of the more successful Millennium projects – Eden. And the fact that it is the work of a committed group of people is not lost on the reader. Smit regularly repeats the mantra that Eden was only developed thanks to the work of a wide range of individuals from contractors to councils, and not forgetting the plant-men.
If you want to understand some details behind the way such projects are developed then this is a book you should read. When the project was floundering while all the funding partners came together then Tim Smit was there and he relives it through the book. Sometimes you wonder how it call came together.
On the other hand, if you are a plant-lover, gardener or horticulturalist then this is also a book you should read. Smit tells the fascinating story of the development of the biome concepts and the plants they chose to grow. More importantly he discusses the relationship between man and the natural surroundings we inhabit; debating our fragile relationship with a range of environments along the way.
However, what you take from this book is a mixture of all of the above. Landscaping, plant husbandry and environmental considerations sit alongside planning, funding, road building and visitor education projects. It’s one man’s personal account rather than a definitive history and the cast of characters seems endless and, sometimes, confusing. However, the determination and vision that drove the project; the commitment and enthusiasm of all the people and the role Eden believes it should be playing on the world stage are all presented in an accessible, very readable account of, what seems to have been, a long but successful process. If this book doesn’t inspire you to aim higher and better, then nothing will.Buy Eden at Amazon.co.uk
I went to see Boy George’s Taboo last Friday and have been contemplating the blog entry ever since. I have to say that I thought that it was fabulous and I want to see it again (I even ordered the soundtrack last night!). It’s a fictional account of a lot of real people but most of the plot must be based on Boy George’s own life story as I recognised may of the characters and plot lines from his book Take It Like A Man. Obviously, he is a key (though not the central) character. I would thoroughly recommend to this anybody visiting London regardless of the way you feel about Boy George. It’s a strange time capsule of a musical and his songs are great – although several of them are old (some of which are taken from the under-rated album Cheapness and Beauty which I regard as one of the best of all time). The story is tender, the performances top-rate and the whole thing is laugh-out-loud funny (especially, Julian Clary). Lastmiunte.com often has cut-price tickets a few days before a show. Go see it. Often.
I also posted a review to the musical fan group at Yahoo! This is what I wrote:
I thought Taboo was fantastic – and I wasn’t sure what to really expect. I think I had envisaged it as something akin to Closer To Heaven, but it wasn’t really like that at all. I loved the fact that The Venue is quite small and quite intimate which made you feel closer to the stage (and the audience bits help) and, of course, it brought memories flooding back (although I was watching events in the early-80s from the safety of the north).
I am a big fan of Boy George’s more recent albums – Cheapness and Beauty is one of my all time favourites. When I heard some of the songs were being reworked for the show I was worried. Luckily, few have been re-penned and those that have been re-done are still as good as they are on the CD (although different). I was stunned by how much the mannerisms of the Boy George character seem to be like the Boy George we see on TV etc. It was a remarkable performance. Duncan Bennett as Billy was superb (was he really in the band Point Break? I don’t remember him) as well as being some appealing eye candy It was a thoroughly entertaining night out and I would recommend it to anybody.
Julian Clary was superb and, of course, looked stunning in those Leigh costumes. I would be interested to see how other people play the part as he put his own stamp on it without it seeming to be too Julian Clary.
I’ve ordered the CD – the cheapest I could find it was Â£10.99 at play.com – although it was on back order I notice tonight that they have posted it to me. I’m sure the CD doesn’t do the show justice (they rarely do) but I hope it will be brilliant anyway! Lastminute.com always seems to have discounts on top price tickets. I bought the cheaper seats direct from the box office and, to be honest, I think my view was as good as anybody with the more expensive ones (the theatre isn’t really large enough for it to make a difference). However, Lastminute’s discount seats are even cheaper and I shall certainly be going again.
I could have spent much of this week writing about going out eating and/or entertaining but decided that would be too dull. On the other hand, on Wednesday night we (American and I) went on the London Eye (always a fantastic treat) and then wandered down the South Bank. It is, probably, one of my favourite areas of London.
- Old County Hall. It’s a pleasuredome of treats but the best bit, is the aquarium. We didn’t go in this time, but I love the place and am writing this as kind of note to self: go back to the London Aquarium.
- The London Eye. My thirtieth birthday was spent on The Eye in a hired capsule with a whole bunch of friends – all of whom had almost no notice but arrived for drinks, ride and pizza. This time we were on The Eye as the light started to fade – which actually made it all the more magical. We even bought the tacky tourist snap that they take on the way down.
- New Hungerford Bridges(s). I have spent years walking over the old, narrow bridge avoiding the winter floods and the summer camera-wielding tourists. The new bridges look stunning. They are boulevard wide and, actually, very pleasant to walk across and each bridge has very different, but fabulous, views.
- Royal Festival Hall and National Film Theatre. They may be concrete and they are certainly not photogenic but they are some of my favourite locations. Long may the concrete jungle live.
- Oxo Tower. A great building with a great restaurant (even if I can never afford to eat there) and, if you don’t want to go on the wheel, the viewing gallery at the top (free and near the restaurant) provides a stunning view of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
- Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge. After all the fuss at the turn of the century these are two worthy additions to the London landscape. The interior of the Tate Modern is fantastic (the sheer size of the entrance is great). And the Millennium Bridge is in just the right place and looks gorgeous when lit (although the last few times I haven’t seen the lights on).
On the way back from these sights (we didn’t do new City Hall or Tower Bridge, Hayes Galleria or Butler’s Wharf) we stopped for a psudo-traditional pub meal of chips and beer. Even though, I suspect, the pub was full of tourists it felt as though it was the kind of place I went to regularly, so I guess, had an air of authenticity.
After all this on Wednesday, I was looking forward to last night. Last night was meant to be an evening not operating as tour guide (not that I mind but the break would be good). I was having dinner with some friends (and some old friends who were coming down from Scotland). My friends in Worcester Park were preparing dinner and it was to be (in fact, it was indeed) and evening of memories and fun. However, things did try and put a blocker on the evening.
- I was late. I was attending some presentations with a client they over-ran.
- My friend Jo, who was cooking, had been taken ill and been in and out of hospital for two nights (nothing too serious, thankfully). So, she didn’t feel like cooking – her husband decided to and he the food was excellent.
- We were all so tired (me from working, them from the illness/hospital adventures) that we called a halt to proceedings at 10.30pm.
It’s a shame when things don’t quite go according to plan and you have been looking forward to them. I had been hoping to have a long catch-up with the folks from Scotland and we ended up with the briefest of chats. Ah well, maybe next time Â…
For several years, I have worked for American companies. Working for a satellite office of a US company is difficult for all concerned (including the US parent). A ex-colleague (and now good friend) of mine used to say the worst thing about being an American working in London was that, as a native English speaker, you put less effort into understanding the culture of the UK. You felt it was, somehow, the same as New York, Boston or whichever US city was applicable. The problem is, the UK is not the same. We have different sensibilities, a different outlook, a different way of expressing ourselves and a whole different way of working. This, of course, leads to a whole range of new problems over-and-above the more obvious (why can’t this software work in Sterling?) procedural, production or product issues. I did vow that I would never work for a US company again as the effort required just to do some of the more menial minutia of day-to-day working seemed unnecessarily hard (when will they get my tax code correct?). Still, I did it and this week we are playing host to a colleague from our New York office.
Today has been her first day in the London office and, it’s strange, because every time I meet an American co-worker I go through the same process. I must try to stress that the UK is different and instil an expectation that, although speaking (more-or-less) the same language it’s not downtown NYC. Except this time, she (I am refraining from naming for no real reason except, dear readers, you will have noticed I do not name many people in this blog) is a real Anglophile. She loves England. Tudor England, maybe, but loves it. She understands that things are not the same. Warm beer is not a crime against civilisation; it has a whole heritage and history of its own. It is truly refreshing and, in a bizarre way, made me quite happy.
This evening, therefore, we went to dinner together at Joe Allen’s restaurant because I like the theatrical nature of the place and I know it serves great food. We had a fantastic evening just talking (and, of course, we discussed office politics but not too much). I thoroughly enjoyed spending the evening with somebody who was wide-eyed to London (in fact, who seemed to be falling in love with the city that I fell in love with) and not jaded (as many of us who live here are). I even vowed to take more buses so I could see the city and not live my commuting life in an underground hell. A new perspective on my city has done wonders for me.
Without stating the obvious, and as a direct follow on to yesterday’s insightful comment, today is September. September is great because it signals Autumn and that’s my favorite season. I am not good in heat and sun and tend to dislike the dampness of winter. Autumn is cool and crisp without being damp and soggy. Autumn has the wonderful rustic, golden colours that work so well with a cloudless blue sky. The light will be perfect for the next two months. September, however, was always the month back to school after the long summer holiday. September is also my birthday which makes me the centre of attention for at least one day – and I hate that. I liked my birthday being in September when I was a child because it got overlooked at the start of a new term. If your birthday was in May, people started planning for it. In September, people conveniently missed it because they were talking about their holidays in the sunshine. So, I guess, September must be my favorite month – which means I was born in the right month. Twisted logic but, somehow, just right.
This is the last day of August. Why is it that time seems to go by much more quickly as you get older? Is this just an age thing? Clearly, time passes at the same rate – although I probably spend more time asleep at this point in my life (and, to the best of my knoweldge, I haven’t slept for six months).
I want to visit all seven wonders of Britain. I’ve done four leaving only these to visit:
- Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland
- Eden Project, Cornwall
- Windsor Castle, Berkshire
The Guardian also lists The Angel of the North as the eighth wonder. I haven’t seen that either! If you’re interested, the others (that I have seen) are:
- Big Ben, London
- London Eye
- Stonehenge, Wiltshire
- York Minster, Yorkshire
More unease about war plans – Iraq attack plans alarm top military [Guardian]. It’s all made me think how little I really understand a) the politics of the middle east and b) the culture of the middle east. Then again, everyday I realize how little I know about the culture and politics of my own country.
In random wanderings, these caught my eye on Metafilter today: America’s CEOs aren’t greedy enough [Philly.com] and Vanguard Airlines intends to file for protection under Chapter 11. Imagine having your termination notice posted on a web site!
I keep hearing that tension is mounting and we’re heading for some kind of war with Iraq. The West, apparently, wants rid of Saddam. The thing that concerns me most is that I have not heard or seen any evidence so show that it is right for The West to start throwing their weight around in that part of the world again. It is always suggested that we should fear this man (and maybe we should) but can somebody please tell me why we are doing this? Reason would tell me there is some terrorist threat. President Bush is going after the terrorists in every country. I would like to believe we have some sound arguments (and, of course, some evidence) for any attack. In a democracy, aren’t we supposed to know why our leaders may send fellow citizens to war?
Apparently, the church even think it’s immoral. However, as they don’t appear to have any more of a clue than I do what all this is about, how can they say that?
The anti-Iraqi messages coming from The West (and most importantly, from The White House) reminds The San Francisco Chronicle of Orwell’s 1984. While everybody with a weblog on this planet may be linking to this article at the moment, it’s not going to stop me from pointing you in that direction too.
And it’s my Dad’s birthday today. My mother is with him somewhere the former Soviet Union for five weeks while he tries to do some work. Unfortunately, his mobile ‘phone doesn’t seem to work and he isn’t replying to emails, so Happy Birthday Dad!
UPDATE: You may also want to check out next year’s entry for more information.
I may not agree with everything our delightful new Mayor does but I have to say that I think the London Assembly building, which was opened by The Queen yesterday, is a stunning building. I am pleased to see that, in this age of taller, squarer buildings, we (occasionally) still strive to build something that is visually stunning. Now all I have to do is get down there and see it with my own eyes.