strange_complex: (One walking)
I’ve been slack on the Classic Who front for a fair old time – I blame the BBC for making too many new shows that I’ve wanted to write about instead! But a weekend at home has given me the chance to fill in another slot in my viewing of the Hartnell era.

The setting for this story makes it very clear that change is in the air. We’ve seen almost nothing of 1960s London since An Unearthly Child: only Barbara and Ian’s return there at the end of The Chase, and a passing visit during The Dalek’s Master Plan. But now here we have it in all its glory – the programme’s first full contemporary-Earth story since 1963.

In fact, The War Machines falls into a particular sub-category of contemporary Earth stories, in that there is no alien menace in it )

Other fore-shadowings of later stories )

Swinging Sixties London )

Dumping Dodo )

Picking up Polly )

Bouncing off Ben )

Class tensions )


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London weekend

Monday, 22 March 2010 13:08
strange_complex: (Twiggy)
My main reason for going to London was to attend a JACT Council meeting on the Saturday morning. I do this every six months, but normally only attend the Ancient History sub-committee (of which I am a member) in the afternoon. This time, though, I was asked to represent our committee on the main Council in the morning, which was quite good fun, actually - I certainly learnt a lot more about how the organisation as a whole works than I knew before.

Sneakily, since my travel to London is being paid for anyway, I usually take the opportunity to catch up while I am there with [ profile] rosamicula, so I did just that this time too. I stayed over with her and the lovely [ profile] itsjustaname (whose new blonde, 20s-style bob looks fantastic on her), and we were also joined by [ profile] qatsi and Mrs. Q. on the Saturday evening for dinner. Much wine was quaffed and conversation enjoyed, while we gorged ourselves on a menu well up to [ profile] rosamicula's usual culinary standards: chicken, chorizo and pumpkin pie with absolutely perfect pastry and accompanied by cheesy, creamy mash and veg, followed by an Imperial Purple Penny cake which she has invented in my honour. This mainly featured blackberries, blackcurrants and chocolate, but there was also a secret ingredient which we have all vowed solemnly never to divulge.

The cake in all its purple glory

Since the Ancient History sub-committee itself was not meeting this time, we also had some time free on Saturday afternoon to do a bit of sight-seeing. Friday evening was too full of wine and end-of-week decompression to make decisions about this, so I told [ profile] rosamicula that I would just phone her when I came out of the morning's meeting, and she could surprise me with whatever idea she fancied. She came up with the Sir John Soane Museum, which preserves the house of the man who designed the original Bank of England building, and was also a fervent collector of antiquarian curiosities. He treated the house as much as a museum as a residence during his life-time, and it is still more or less as he left it on his death in 1833, in accordance with the terms of his will. It's really amazing - every nook and cranny absolutely crammed full of a bizarre mix of real and reproduction antiquities, including a huge Egyptian alabaster sarcophagus, hundreds of pieces of Roman architectural and funerary sculpture, drawers full of insects (which reminded me, inevitably, of Ghost Light) and models of Classical temples. In fact, it reminded me a very great deal of [ profile] big_daz's house, which is much in the same vein only with fewer cremation urns and more commemorative plates.

The journey back wasn't so great, since it involved spending about 40 minutes stuck in Stevenage station while we waited for a broken-down train to be towed out of the way. But I made it back in the end, to curl up with Friday's episode of True Blood and some 'bear crunch' which [ profile] rosamicula had sent me away with - nuts, fruit and chocolate, and extremely delicious.

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strange_complex: (Room with a View kiss)
Seen last night with [ profile] big_daz at The Light.

I haven't read the book of Brideshead, but I fairly regularly catch bits of the classic Granada TV adaptation on ITV3. In fact, over the last couple of weekends, I've been watching it systematically, since - in a fairly obvious scheduling move - they have been re-broadcasting it from the beginning on Sunday afternoons to coincide with the release of the film.

Pretty much every review of the film I've seen has said the same thing, and I can't help but agree - it's slavishly indebted to the TV series, but doesn't manage to improve upon it. Sebastian in particular seemed the weak link to me - whereas in the TV series, he comes across as complex and tragic and fantastically enticing, here he just seemed like your average petulant teenager. Perhaps because the development of their relationship wasn't given sufficient screen-time, it was hard to understand why Charles Ryder was particularly interested in him; and despite the fact that they actually kiss on screen, the chemistry between them remained far less homoerotically-charged than the one which Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews created.

Still, that said, Emma Thompson and Michael Gambon as respective matriarch and patriarch of the Flyte dynasty did an excellent job - as, indeed, did Diana Quick (oops!) Hayley Attwell as a self-possessed yet vulnerable Julia. And as for the location footage! Between Oxford, Venice and Castle Howard, the only place I hadn't visited was whatever anonymous London street they used to house the Ryders of Paddington - and really, I have walked down enough London streets to get the general picture. It was like a tour of some of the richest and most cherished parts of my life.

Tom Wolfe famously dubbed the Granada TV series (along with Upstairs Downstairs) 'sheer plutography', but it seems to me that this is only true on a superficial level. Fundamentally, the story of Brideshead is about a (relatively) normal person becoming fascinated and seduced by a close-knit group of individuals who are utterly different from him, and whom he can never quite connect to or integrate with, no matter how hard he tries. The divisions between him and them in this case happen to be wealth and Catholicism - but they could equally well be poverty and Judaism, or any other combination of strong social identifiers. The story, and the tragedy, would be the same.

Consider the book to have moved up a notch on my 'to read' list.

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My first Prom

Wednesday, 8 August 2007 17:27
strange_complex: (Nennig musicians)
Yesterday evening, I attended my first ever Promenade concert, in company with Cie. It occurred to me, sitting in the Albert Hall as we waited for the performance to begin, that this was a slightly odd thing to be doing for the first time now that I've moved to Leeds, given that I'd never managed it the whole time I lived in Oxford. But honestly, the trains from Leeds to London are so good, that it's practically just as easy from here.

I met Cie after work, and we caught up over dinner at Wagamama's - another first for me, and a good one, although I made the mistake of assuming that when a Japanese menu described soup as 'spicy', they wouldn't really mean it, only to find that actually they did. We then proceeded to Hyde Park, where we circumambulated the Albert Memorial for a while, gaping in mingled awe and horror at its sheer rococosity, before deciding that it was a bit nippy out and repairing to a basement bar within the Albert Hall. There, we drank coffee and ate cookies, until we were joined by [ profile] qatsi, who had just been enjoying a programme of Britten and Mahler in the evening's early Prom. Sadly, [ profile] qatsi couldn't stay for the late performance, as he needed to get home to Reading at a Reasonable Hour, but we got a good half-hour's chatting in nonetheless, so that was nice.

Concert review )

After the concert, we went back to Cie's flat in leafy Ealing Broadway, where we hooked up with her partner, Mark, for a bit before collapsing into bed. And then today dawned, all bright, breezy sunshine and views across people's gardens from Cie and Mark's lounge windows, coffee in hand. By lunch-time, I was safely back in Leeds - just in time to greet my Dad, who is installing curtain-rails for me downstairs as I type. Speaking of which, it's probably time I went and fixed us both some dinner.

Let me leave you with some pictures from my adventure )

strange_complex: (Vampira)
IMDb page here, official page here. Seen at the Light with [ profile] gillywoo, [ profile] nigelmouse, [ profile] glennkenobi and [ profile] sturmed.

Totally spoilerific - read at own risk! )

I agreed very much with [ profile] mr_flay when we saw the first one that it should have just ended when the taxi crashed into the gates of the military compound, so that the last few human beings alive in Britain have actually killed each other with their aggressive, macho behaviour rather than help each other against a common enemy. And having recently come across the following words from Federico Fellini, I now know why a bleak or unresolved ending is so much more intellectually satisfying than a happy one:
"My pictures never end. They never have a simple solution...Because there are no 'solutions' in [the audience's] lives...By giving happy endings to films, you goad your audience into going on living in a trite, bland manner, because they are now sure that sometime, somewhere, something happy is going to happen to them, too, and without their having to do anything about it. Conversely, by not serving them the happy ending on a platter, you can make them think, you can remove some of the smug security. Then they'll have to find their own answers."
I'm not saying a Zombie movie is going to chance the face of world politics as we know it. But in the current climate, we certainly need to be doing some thinking.

Chez Handel

Saturday, 29 July 2006 19:32
strange_complex: (Handel)
On Wednesday, I visited the Handel House Museum with [ profile] redkitty23, who had not seen it before, and specifically the current Castrati exhibition, which neither of us had seen before.

I think the best bit was the three large portraits of Farinelli, Senesino and Guadagni, all lined up in rich, colourful and self-assured glory in Handel's rehearsal room. But I also enjoyed the general sense which the exhibition conveyed of the extraordinary range of castrati singers Handel had worked with, as well as being in a place where lots of people were getting to listen to Alessandro Moreschi singing for the first time (on a CD in the main exhibition room). [ profile] redkitty23 was underwhelmed: "He sounds drunk," she said. But at least she had the chance to listen to him and forge a reaction. Meanwhile, those who were more taken by him had the opportunity to buy the OPAL CD of his surviving recordings and Nicholas Clapton's book in the gift shop.

There was a worst bit, too, though: the very tedious woman on duty in Handel's bedroom, who just could not shut up and let us take in the atmosphere of the house in peace. I mean, I get that she knew lots of stuff about Handel and wanted to share it with us. But I already knew practically everything she said anyway, and she just didn't pick up on hints such as giving very short answers and not making any eye contact which were supposed to convey to her that I just wanted her to leave me alone and let me experience the sense of Handel's presence in my own way. Interestingly, when I began mentioning this on the phone to my Mum, who had visited the exhibition in the spring, she immediately said, "Oh, I know exactly the woman you mean: she really was irritating, wasn't she?" It made me realise that my experience probably wasn't unique, and think that perhaps I should write an email to the people who run the house, just politely pointing out that although some visitors might welcome a very chatty and enthusiastic guide, others prefer to be left to themselves. I'm sure that woman wouldn't want to think that she is actually having a negative impact on some people's experience of the house, and a polite word or two about how to tell the difference between people who want to talk and people who just want to look might help to prevent that in future.

Wednesday was also one of the hottest days of the week, which perhaps wasn't the most sensible time to go down to a big, dusty, busy city. In fact, we went shopping in the afternoon around Oxford Circus, and I wasn't at all surprised to hear on the news that the following day many of the shops we had visited had had to close due to power-cuts caused by too high a demand on air-conditioning systems. Still, we managed, and although we didn't really buy anything in the end, we had a very nice lunch (mmm, grilled halloumi!) and some much-needed iced coffees before getting on the train.

That was probably the last visit I'll make to London before I go off up to Leeds: but definitely a good one.


Tuesday, 27 June 2006 11:37
strange_complex: (Default)
I'm back from London now, where I had a fabulous time. My various hosts (Friday = Charlotte and Nicolas, Saturday = [ profile] mr_tom and [ profile] sneerpout and Sunday = [ profile] rosamicula) made me feel extremely welcome, cooking me fabulous meals, taking me out to interesting places, providing comfortable beds and generally being a delight to spend time with. Many thanks to all of you, and I hope you will make return visits up to Leeds before long!

I also decided I like London itself more than I'd thought, probably mainly as a function of the rather nice bits of it I got taken to over the weekend. I tend to think of it as grey, grating and tedious to get around, but while there is a strong case to be made for all of that, it does also have places like St. James' Park, the general Whitehall area, Banqueting House, the South Bank area, Borough Market, The Crown pub in Islington, Tate Modern and its very own Mithraeum, all of which combined to make up my weekend there.

My thinking when setting off for the weekend was that I was going primarily to see people, with the location they all happened to live in being of very little importance. But while people remained the primary focus, I'm prepared to concede now that the place turned out to have something to offer, too.

I'm still glad I'm moving to Leeds instead, though.

Things unblogged

Friday, 19 May 2006 11:33
strange_complex: (Darth blogging)
Gosh. I would appear to have some free time. Nominally, I'm at Warwick doing essay returns. But since I only have 11 people to see today, as opposed to the fearsome 35 I got through yesterday, there are a lot of gaps in the day when I can do other things. And I've actually run out of minor administrative tasks to perform, so that means I can write on LJ - yay!

What I'm going to do here is give quick accounts of some of the things I would have blogged over the last couple of months, if I'd had the time to do so. They probably won't get the same level of detail as they'd have had if I'd written them up at the time. But at least this way they won't be completely forgotten.

18th March - celebratory meal at Gee's )

30th March - Robin Blaze at the Wigmore Hall )

1st April - 'Springtime Baroque' concert at the Sheldonian )

24th April - QI recording )

8th May - Rik Mayall in 'The New Statesman' )

Well, that was a great relief! I feel a lot less weighed down by a back-log now, and more able to get on with posting about things day to day. There are still some Big Posts I need to make about things like my new job, and my book and so on. But this has definitely been a good start.
strange_complex: (Purple and black phone)
Wow! I am sitting in a TV studio, about to watch a recording of QI! How cool is that? Big ups to [ profile] kaz_pixie for getting us the tickets!

strange_complex: (Claudius)
So, the noble whale of London town is dead. What's more, a dead porpoise was found yesterday on the shore at Putney (I can't seem to find an online source for this Important News Item, but I assure you it's true - I saw pictures yesterday as part of Sky News' continuous live whale coverage).

In summary, dead and dying marine mammals are hurling themselves at our shores. You know what Cassius Dio would say. Get out of the stock market - now!

The next stage, apparently, is for experts to examine the body to ascertain the cause of death. I do hope they will pay special attention to the liver, since everyone knows that's where the gods most like to leave their messages to humanity.
strange_complex: (Janus)
Saturnalia is sorted: off to a cottage with the Bristol Bunch.

Christmas is sorted: parents.

But I'm still pretty vague about what to do with my New Year's Eve. I find myself looking in the London direction, since I know I owe the people of that fair city a visit. And I'm aware that there's a New Year's B-Movie going on. So:

[Poll #632064]

Edit: And, of course, option 2 on question 1 should read 'I might if I can still get a ticket'. Bah.


Wednesday, 7 September 2005 12:09
strange_complex: (Default)
I'm planning on coming down to London for B-Movie on Friday night, so any and all Londony-type people are heartily encouraged to go along so that I can see you! I should also be staying overnight on Friday, and around during the day on Saturday, so if anyone doesn't fancy B-Movie, but would like to meet up for a coffee / pint on Saturday afternoon, let me know.

I'll be checking LJ at least once more before I set off, so will see comments left here, but the more reliable means of contact right now is my mobile: number in here.

EDIT: corrected 'Saturday night' to 'Friday night' for B-Movie. Doh!


Thursday, 7 July 2005 10:25
strange_complex: (Penelope Pitstop)
Gosh, I really hope all you London-based people are OK!

I also really hope this is just some technical fault or human error-based thing, and not something anyone has done deliberately.

UPDATE: Just heard from sister - she and her partner are safe.
strange_complex: (Default)
Dangit: I was so certain I was never going to post anything in this livejournal, and now I've been sucked in, just as [ profile] venta predicted in the first place!

It started with more regular checks on my friends' journals while I was in Hong Kong and bored, then I got into dropping in on random people's journals from time to time[1], and finally I discovered communities. Already becoming hooked, I was then pushed over the edge into actual posting by flattery: I spent this weekend with [ profile] brummiepaul and his lovely wife and son, and was repeatedly told my Paul that I 'should post on livejournal' because I have 'something to say'.

Hmmm, well we'll see about that, but you all know who to blame now if I don't!

Not quite sure what sorts of things I will say just yet, or how often. But for today, proclaiming my intention to post in future rather than just responding to other people's posts will do nicely.

Love to all for now (and see some of you in the pub later!)


[1] From which I learnt that most livejournal users are either goths, Russians or teenagers: or sometimes a combination of these.


strange_complex: (Default)

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