New York, 1936

Wednesday, 24th April 2013, 9:20pm

View of Manhattan

The view from New Jersey: A man peers across the Hudson River into Manhattan from his perch on the George Washington Bridge on December 22, 1936.

If I go back to New York, I’d love to visit this spot to recreate this photograph.

More NY pics (the dead bodies are strangely fascinating).

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Tuesday, 23rd April 2013, 12:14am

Stars, hide your fires!
Let not light see my black and deep desires.

I try to watch Shakespeare plays whenever I get the opportunity, which isn’t as often as I’d like. When I saw the ad for this production of The Scottish Play, starring the lovely James McAvoy, I knew I needed to see it. I was gutted to have missed out on Patrick Stewart’s rendition of the same play (though I did manage to see him all bare-chested in The Tempest), so I got really excited about this opportunity to see McAvoy on stage again (saw him in Three Days of Rain a few years ago).

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

That said, I ummed and ahhed about tickets, debating with myself about ticket prices and whether to go without my friend who couldn’t justify the expense. So then it got sold out. Shit. Started looking on gumtree and eBay, but missed out on a gumtree deal when my hotmail account went on strike for a couple days. Then the crazy prices started appearing on eBay, £100+ per ticket. Even I couldn’t really justify that. Kept an eye out still, and was rewarded for my perseverance. I managed to find a couple of 5th row seats for £85 each, snapped them up, then sold one on eBay for £150! Naughty, I know. I sold the spare to a lovely girl from Belgium, she was coming here for the weekend and was hellbent on seeing the play. I met her at the theatre just before to give her her ticket.

It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood.

Macbeth axe choke-holdSo anyway, the play itself was marvellous. This production was set in a dystopian future where everything was filthy and discoloured. Blood everywhere. Banquo first appears with blood all over his face, and it was still there later when he greets the king in the castle (me wondering, when will he wash his bloody face). Despite my distaste for bloody faces, it was a good visual foreshadowing of his murder later in the play.

I also found it interesting that the witches pronunciation of ‘fair’ in their chant ‘fair is foul and foul is fair’ made it sound more like ‘fear’, a subtle but powerful change which for me really brought that theme to life in the rest of the play. It was fear that led Macbeth to betray his friend Banquo once he’d murdered the kind king for his crown, and fear that fed his tyranny.

Those he commands move only in command,
Nothing in love.

I studied Macbeth for my GCSE English way back in my youth, and I’d watched the bonkers Polanski movie and another theatre production of the play last year, but I’d never before really appreciated the sense of conflict between the Scottish and the English that runs through the play. Even an amusing gesture, such as a servant spitting as she mentions the English, helps to makes this a prominent theme of The Scottish Play. The future dystopian setting of the play also brought to my mind a consideration of the recent Scottish moves towards independence from the UK, and where this could lead if unchecked. The play also brings to mind all those dictatorships of recent history and the current time.

McAvoy himself was as splendid as ever. At times he portrayed Macbeth as a force of nature, a creature whose physicality had him bounding around the stage from his entrance in which he slid on his knees across the stage floor to halt just before a lucky audience member, to his dramatic downward slide down a high ladder. His character was also very physical with his lessers, slamming servants into walls and using his axe to intimidate others. The only thing that I didn’t really like about his performance was the tremulous vocal tone which he used in his soliloquies. Plus all the unnecessary spitting, but I didn’t mind all the manly chest beating.

Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe topful
Of direst cruelty!

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

I’ve heard that a lot of critics didn’t like Claire Foy’s version of Lady Macbeth, but I really liked her in that role. There was also a great deal of chemistry between her and McAvoy, and you could really imagine them as a couple in love and in grief. They made much of the hint of their miscarried baby, with Macbeth caressing her stomach at every opportunity, leading you to wonder whether their grief was a key element in their murderous intentions. The horrifying conclusion to this line of thought was the appalling moment when Macbeth finds Macduff’s hidden child and murders him. A woman in the audience hid her face in her hands as Macbeth peers into the the boy’s hiding place before pushing his sword into the child.

Methought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep

All in all it was a great play, and I’m so glad that I went to see it. I’m hoping to see Othello starring Adrian Lester at the National Theatre soon.

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Murder on the dancefloor

Tuesday, 9th April 2013, 12:56am


Last Friday after work I went to Bar Salsa on Charing Cross Road. It was a fun night and it was packed as ever. Weird thing was, I’m usually always ready for a dance if the music is good, but I felt really uncomfortable when I decided to have a quick baile. Unless you’re dancing as part of a couple, you feel out of place on that dancefloor. That feeling was really palpable and I’ve never experienced it before.

When I went there for my birthday a few weeks ago, one of my mates nearly got into a fight with a couple when the guy knocked into her and then the woman stepped on her foot with stilettos (ouch). When my friend said something to them about it, they were like – we’re dancing, this is what happens. No apology.

I still got in a couple of dances with some guy friends, so it wasn’t a total waste.


Write Now

Sunday, 9th October 2011, 10:38pm

Yesterday I attended my first day school for the Open University’s A215 Creative Writing course. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be; we spend about 45 mins talking about ourselves and our writing influences, then did a sequence of exercises, which started small (a body part – mine was the bicep) and developed into an interesting narrative (I ended up writing about a soldier).

This is my second OU course, I just finished AA100 The Arts Past and Present at the end of September. I won’t know my final result until December, but completing it was a big achievement for me. I’ve abandoned several courses over the years, I even dropped out of uni when I was 18. It’s so easy to quit when it gets tough, to talk myself out of continuing, to give myself excuses not to carry on. Weirdly enough, I’ve wasted hundreds of pounds on ditched courses, but this time I received funding to cover the course so I didn’t have to pay a penny towards it.

AA100 also improved my essay-writing ability, although I’m still not so confident in that area. I might have even gotten a distinction overall on the tutor-marked assignments if I hadn’t messed up the 4th assignment on English Christianity in the 16-19 centuries…

To be honest though, I decided to study AA100 to pass time as I waited for the next scheduled Creative Writing course, and because it’s the compulsory course for most of the Humanities degrees. I’ve wanted to do the writing course for years, but always talked myself out of it. Now I’m enrolled, and I’m really nervous about it. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, since I was a kid. I used to write all the time until about 10 years ago when I started working full-time and got bogged down in crap. I’m hoping that this course will give me the support and structure to get my flabby writing muscle fit again. I’m not a fan of writing exercises, though I know that many people find them helpful. When I used to write I just followed my own inspiration, and I find it hard to follow random prompts. However, I’m going to try to be open to the process, even if I find it uncomfortable at first. No pain, no gain – right?

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Ravenclaw… I like it

Sunday, 4th September 2011, 9:58pm

You are a RAVENCLAW!
As a Ravenclaw and as an NFP, you value imagination, ideas and intelligence. You are probably somewhat of an individualist and avoid conforming just for its own sake. You are insightful and perceptive, and since you are empathetic and value harmony, you usually try to avoid conflict. Of course, you may enjoy participating in heated debates, but only as long as they remain on an intellectual level and not a personal level. In general, you are open-minded and curious, and set high standards for yourself.

Quiz: Hogwarts Sorting Hat: Based on Myers-Briggs Personality Typing

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Thanks for staying! Come again soon.