A Million Reasons for Wanting to Carry on Living

A Life Lived Out Loud

The sea, the sea
marnie
millionreasons
On Yorkshire Day, we went to Kent, which, despite what my mother claimed, wasn't shut*. We took a trip from Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey: a suprisingly nice Victorian port with a Dickensian harbour (one can imagine Magwitch rising up out of the marshes, and a press-gang** catching the drunken sailor unawares in the Old House pub), littered with boats, one olde sailboat is complete with photovoltaic hub, and the Grain Island power station lurking in the background. A plaque next to an anchor tells us that we're looking out at Dead Man's island where Napoleonic prisoners of war were interred and then buried. The right of way is permitted by Abbot Labs, which is behind us: I wonder if their half-pig half-human experiements will rise, zombie-like, to flee to roam the marshes, ending their undead days on Dead Man's island.

Redsands Sea Forts - 03 - 01-08-2015 10:55:19

Anyway, we're here to do a trip out to the Red Sands sea forts on a fishing smack run by a man only known as the Skipper and his first mate Mark. The boat takes almost two hours to get there, as the forts turn from black spots on the horizon to old fashioned Hollywood tripod cameras to alien landing crafts to At-Ats frozen in time on a post-climate change Hoth to strange, huge, physical, rusting hulks collapsing into the sea. The clouds blow away and we sun ourselves on the deck. The Skipper kept mentioning that the charity that runs the tours needs £30,000 to renovate one of them to use as a hotel (hopefully not a prison for migrants). We saw a posh Tea Clipper from Whitstable on their tour, but we have to ignore it as they are the arch-rivals of the Skipper and Mark. There is also a small red boat, basically a dinghy with an engine, that has attached a rope to one of the forts and we can see a figure running around on the roof. I think it's urban explorers (maybe this is the cool new thing to do now that Bill Turnbull has decried tombstoning), but the Skipper is convinced that they're thieves, asset stripping the edifice. We circle around them for a while as Mark shouts that he's called the PLA (Port of Lonon Authority) who'll be out to get 'em. Eventually we set off back to the harbour and have chips in the town (we're at the seaside, after all), before getting the train back to London.



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Redsands Sea Forts - 27 - 01-08-2015 13:38:29

Redsands Sea Forts - 07 - 01-08-2015 11:43:56

* She even said that the Eurostar wasn't running due to the migrant "crisis" - I'm thinking of booking the care home for her now.
** Georgian, rather than Victorian
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Hordes Of Scribbling Women #18
marnie
millionreasons
The Last Kings Of Sark have abdicated. Review. Next up is The Sea, The Sea, by Iris Murdoch, because I've got to the age of 42 without ever having read a novel by her.
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At The RA
marnie
millionreasons
We went to see the Summer Show at the Royal Academy. As ever, the fun was had not looking at the art (there's far too much to take in, starting with the stairs which were zig zagging brightly, and therefore difficult to walk up), but guessing the price-tag. There was celebrity corner: Damien Hirst by Harry Hill, for the inconsequential sum of £2K, Grayson Perry by Una Stubbs (a mere four hundred quid), and Simon Cowell by Jean Samtula (NFS). Elsewhere, we found a large abstract in oils for £57,000 and a small watercolour of a gas holder (£250), which I liked equally. The most shocking price was £9 for a gin and tonic from the in-gallery bar.

Unlike, for example, the NPG's annual portrait prize, which always features: a small child, an old person, a celebrity, a self-portrait and a person from a different race to the artist, the Summer Exhibition is multifarious: sculpture, wood cuttings, aluminium canvasses, portraiture, architectural objects, tapestry, neon installation, traditional watercolour landscape painting, post-impressionist street-scenes, all of life is here. There was also some dreadful shit.

Dave and I both liked this Venn diagram come to life:



Afterwards, we ate lunch at Cha Cha Moon, which gave us both bad stomachs. I looked up their awful food hygiene rating, and have become a little obsessed with this site. My favourite Stoke Newington Indian restaurant also has a two!
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Summer '15
london
millionreasons
I haven’t been wasting the summer just reading books. I’ve been “playing” four-a-side football (and have the bruises to prove it), visiting Tjinder Singh’s record shop in his front garden, seeing Prolapse at the Roundhouse (leading to more bruises of the ocular kind), eating ice-cream on the hottest day of the year, attending birthdays in pubs and parks, going to see Carsten Nicolai’s Unicolor at the Vinyl Factory on Brewer Street, as well as DJ-ing with off centre records at the sound installation in the same space, then popping over the road to the Lights of Soho ultra-neon exhibition, and visiting the Serpentine pavilion on the second hottest day of the year (it was so blisteringly boiling inside that I was prepared to pay £4* for an iced coffee at the Fortnum and Mason concession stand).

* let Dave pay £4 for an iced coffee at the Fortnum and Mason concession stand.








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Hordes Of Scribbling Women #17
marnie
millionreasons
NW has been travelled. Review. Next up is The Last Kings Of Sark by Rosa Rankin Gee, which I want to read because I once went to Sark and thought it was lovely.
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Hordes Of Scribbling Women #16
marnie
millionreasons
Tigers In Red Weather is read. Next up is NW by Zadie Smith. I have a bit of a difficult relationship with Ms Smith. Like everybody else, I read White Teeth, and I liked it; however I didn’t think it was the game changing masterpiece it is now considered to be. It was an enjoyable tale of three generations of Londoners, but more than that? Really? I couldn’t help but feel that it was so revered because the white, middle class literary establishment like to let in an outsider now and again (c.f. Tracey Emin).

Anyway, then I read The Autograph Man and hated almost every page of it, so I decided that me and Zadie were through. However, a couple of years ago, The Guardian printed the first chapters of NW and also Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan and strangely, since I normally like McEwan (Amsterdam, Chesil Beach and Saturday aside), I much preferred NW.
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Hordes Of Scribbling Women #15
marnie
millionreasons
I Can Barely Take Care Of Myself is all over. I started writing a review, about how the author is irritated by the same things I am (noisy toddlers, obsessional parents, child-free spaces not being kid-free), but I thought it was all a bit self-evident. Next up is Tigers In Red Weather, written by Liza Klaussman, influenced by F Scott Fitzgerald.
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Hordes Of Scribbling Women #14
marnie
millionreasons
The Country Girls have left the building. Review here. Next up is another non-fiction work, I Can Barely Take Care Of Myself by Jen Kirkman, which is about not wanting to have children, not because you have a wonderful career, not because you want to spend all your life and money drinking cocktails and wearing expensive shoes, but because you. just. don't. want. them. At least, that's what I hope it is. She's also done a stand-up show on the same theme, which I intend to watch once I've finished the book.
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Hordes Of Scribbling Women #13
marnie
millionreasons
Wanderlust has been walked off and my review is here. Next up is The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien because I kept reading about E O'B, and this seems to be her grand oevure.
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Solstice
london
millionreasons
The anti-austerity demonstration starts at 12 sharp. Or it would have done, but the police hold everyone until 1.30, presumably thinking people would get bored and leave. We march behind Arts Emergency, then the pink bloc Everything for Everyone. The NUM march next to the Green Party. Marxists march with Class War. Animal rights activists, pro-Palestine people, Charlotte Church - all of humanity is here. There’s a lot of lurve for Jeremy Corbyn, the only Labour leader nominee in attendance. The police guard the war memorial monument and the boos and hisses go up as we pass Downing Street. Some shoppers on Fleet Street boo us, presumably because we are in their way, "Dossers," one woman says, as if the only reason people protest is because they have nothing better to do. A confused stag party, dressed as characters from computer games, try to cross the road. We take a quick break in Pret A Manger, bastion of capitalism, but here, it has failed as there are no sandwiches left; so much for supply and demand theory. However, the manager is chill with people using the toilets.

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A better review from LRB blog.

After Parliament Square, we walk away, back into normality, though the tourism of St James Park, past the pelicans. We meet Martin for his Central line birthday pub crawl at Holborn (some of the stag Marios are in here), moving onto that weird little pub next to Oxford Circus that I’ve passed a myriad of times but never been into. We stand outside and immediately it starts to rain, so we move onto Bond Street, a pub Rob’s sister used to work in during the late 90s. It’s now a Japanese bar so we have sake, which tastes like Fino sherry. Onto Marble Arch, a pub down a side street I could never find again; the cricket is on but we leave as England need 7 runs from 8 balls to win, I take my gin and tonic with me but leave it in Marble Arch tube station, onto Lancaster Gate where I’ve run out of drinking energy and retire, hurt.

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Sunday, I go sit in Springfield Park for Music Day with Claire, Nic and Trev. The park has split into two - one half is thirty-something dads who've taken their kids to the park for Fathers' Day and are drinking beer  the sunshine, watching a garagey band called Hot Dog Girl and pretending they're at Glastonbury - and the reggae/rap side, populated by white dreadlock-wearers with dogs, pretending they're at Womad. It reminds me a bit of the Green Fayres you'd get in the 90s/early 2000s where the local dub band would play and the council would give away free low energy lightbulbs and the travelling veggie van would be down from Nottingham.

We get the tube over to Hyde Park for the British Summer Time gig featuring Chic, Grace Jones and Kylie. I hope Grindr have turned on their back up servers. Chic are three quarters of the way through their set and are playing Le Freak when we enter. They go into a late 70s megamix mash up of Good Times and Rapper's Delight and then play Let's Dance. I wonder if they're going to do Notorious, but instead Nile brings on his celebrity pals, Sam Smith and The Edge. He's a living ledge, don't get me wrong, but it all feels a little bit cheesy. I'm presuming the backing lady singers aren't the original Chic-ers, they looks chic, but very young. Mind you, the portrait in Mr Rodgers' attic must be grimly gnarled by now.

Whereas Grace Jones's attic would be full of the body fat she doesn't have. The woman is the same age as my mother but she has never appeared on the stage of Bawtry Amateur Dramatic Society wearing nothing but a glittery bowler hat, a thong and body paint. At least, I hope not. She (Grace, not my mum) prowls the stage like a hungry lion, disappearing for costume additions, playing Slave To The rhythm, which she hula-hoops through, and Pull Up To The Bumper (I remember her performing the 1985 re-release on TOTP and DJ Mark Goodier saying: "I don't think this is about cars." No shit, Mark. I think even I, aged 12, knew that). She sings a few bars of Amazing Grace (why not go the whole hog and do Me and Mrs Jones?) and then, clad in a gladiatorial white head-dress and what strongly resembles the rug you had round the toilet in the 80s, decides to go for a ride on a security guard, in what is either the best or most terrifying five minutes of his life.



Dom comments that the queues for the beer tent are much smaller than when he was here on Thursday for The Strokes. Indeed, the atmosphere is very gentle. There's no lager laddy behaviour, just lots of twirling. When a man treads on my foot, he apologises. I think we should probably get rid of straight men. Maybe we could keep a few, who pass a strict test, for reproductive and carrying heavy things purposes* but really, how much better would the world be with just women and gay men?

Kylie is fully covered up, dressed like the Red Queen and her backing dancers look like sweets, wrapped up in bows and dots: an Alice in Wonderland/Nutcracker mash-up. Either that, or it's a few leftovers from a PSB live show, apt since Your Disco Needs You sounds like a rejected Neil Tenant song.

The pint sized pop princessTM does all the hits, including a cover of Bette Davis Eyes, which is quite nice but a bit bland. Maybe this is the probs with Kyles; she's a consummate performer, but she's just too family-friendly. Despite the murder duets with Nick Cave, y'can't imagine her doing anything really avant-garde. She'll carry on ploughing the same rainbow field for some time to come, chucking out the odd cover version if her career dips.

*maybe the England cricket team too.
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