After an informal and a-little-bit-boozy business meeting in Hatch End’s Black Pepper restaurant about rebooting a client’s slightly tired looking (but only eighteen months old) website, I took the slow train to Euston.
My first experience of the new London Overground trains…Initial thoughts? Orange and spacious. And plenty of room for ‘NDub’ school kids to parade through.
Later on I met Nick, my business associate/partner (what is the correct term?) for a swift beer or two in Hay’s Galleria, just off Tooley Street. He was over from Athens to join clients/friends for the winter festivities.
At the end of our not-strictly domestic, not-strictly business chat, Nick offered a hassle-free weekend stay for me and Juliette in Athens next year on him.
Christmas Cheers Saint Nick!
After a very productive business meeting at the Elephant & Castle yesterday afternoon, I hooked up with a couple of chums (Adam and Joe, not the Radio 6 presenters) for a Xmas meal at the Butlers Wharf Chop House on Shad Thames.
Meaty mushrooms on toast were followed by beer-battered fish and chips. The tartare sauce and mushy peas arrived in preservative jars. ‘Poncey’ as Adam would say (and probably did). A traditional trifle completed the Trad Brit experience.
Brass monkeys need only have applied for the walk up the Thames back to the tube. But there’s something about these luminous December evenings as the city lights glow against the darker-than-usual sky…A port and brandy at Skinkers on Tooley Street (next to The London Dungeon) and Spurs topping their Champions League Group with another boring 3-3 draw nicely rounded the night off.
I visited my Dad’s burial plot on Sunday with my Mum and girlfriend Juliette today. He passed away 8 April 09 and we’ve paid our respects several times since his funeral on 20 April (which was filmed by the BBC, but never made it to final edit).
Dad had no spiritual allegiances and mine have eroded over the years to unvarnished atheism; so I find Epping Forest Burial Park a fitting final resting place for my dear old Pop.
As we did last Christmas, we left some flowers in a heavy windproof wooden vase. Everything at the burial park is eco-friendly and the plots morph into the forest floor as time passes, as Dad’s has now.
Losing a parent is a life-altering event as it forces you to confront your own mortality. Tough in this death-phobic society we inhabit.
Twenty months on and I’ve adjusted to Dad’s absence. It’s still a huge gap in Mum’s life though I think the visits to Dad’s plot slowly slowly assist the healing process.
After we wound our way to Brookman’s, a restaurant near Hatfield. Even at 3.15pm it was very busy so we were seated in the bar area being aurally pummelled by a Chrimbo CD on repeat play. I love Christmas songs but ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ sung by Not Mariah Carey every 40 minutes or so tests even the most tolerant music lover (which I’m not).
Grub was fine. Carrot and coriander soup, Lamb roast followed by Xmas pud. As the kids party started in the main restaurant, service ground to a halt. Getting up to request the bill is a good indicator of bad service. Shame because during less busy times of the year I reckon Brookman’s would be worth a visit.
Not everyone’s idea of a good time. But it was for three charities including one of my clients, eco-innovators Global Generation. This 24-hour ‘gig’ was the brainchild of brand innovators Pipeline Project.
The Good Gym turn a societal infliction into positive purpose by linking joggers with isolated older people. Ace notion.
The Great Football Giveaway take footballs to far flung and occasionally war torn corners of the Dark Continent.
The meta concept was loadsa people doing good tings for our trio of good causes.
Friday was the de-brief, Saturday the collective effort. Everyone split in three teams, some jogged to an old people’s home to put up Xmas decs in 10 mins. Some went to the Skip Garden in Kings Cross and the Football team beavered away from the massive EC1 offices of Splendid Communications.
Then about 6-ish the presentations. Re-edited videos and enhanced websites were greeted with loud applause. The Global Gen team had come up with some superb ideas. A web enhancement that mixed audio, video and photos. A calendar for members to book onto events, visit growing spaces, volunteer etc. Cards for business pitches that had a tagline on the front and staff experience on the back – current Global Gen partners include The Guardian and Wolff Olins.
And my favourite was the green felt ‘common ground’ with cartoon butterflies, fishes and trees. Now potential business partners can get the GG vibe in their offices, what a great way to start a meeting. Nice One G4N Guys!
I saw Arcade Fire perform at the aka Millennium Dome last night.
One rammed tube trip on the Jubilee Line later…welcome to the pleasure dome. I didn’t visit in 2000 so was intrigued to see how the reboot turned out.
Its now a circular shopping centre with almost every franchised restaurant you can think of. No McD’s or BK as they have their own chicken-centric burger joint.
Seats were on Level 4, the O2’s version of The Gods. The seating gradient resembled a sports stadium and way way way above the stage.
Support act were so-so. Velvets-like but much murkier thanks to the echoey acoustics.
A 15-minute queue for beer and AF landed on stage. Their set melded old ‘Neon Bible’ family faves with this year’s ‘The Suburbs’. A video backdrop played home movies and surreal black and white images from who-knows-when.
The Fire’s mini-orchestra of guitars, keyboards, violins,accordion and percussion filled the O2 surprisingly well. Their intimate songs don’t immediately lend themselves to this huge space but sometimes their sound roams towards the epic.
After a two song encore it all wound up about 10.45. The walk back to the tube felt like the end of a footie match but far more orderly with one Arcade-inspired chat (more musical than ‘Spurs are on their way to Wembley’…) and a busker warbling ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ kept us warm until the escalators transported us into the depths of the tube system.
I zapped blues and reds in Planet Hemel Hempstead this lunchtime. In a segment of the Marlowe Shopping Centre that time nearly forgot I relived my mid-80s youth at Quasar Elite.
Later watched Tottenham in yet another, we’re-gonna-score-one-more-than-you win against Liverpool, a diluted version of what was once a great team. My fave Spurs player Mr Aaron Lennon scored a blinding winner, his first Premiership goal for a year. Who knew?
Then X-Factor finally finished off the wonderful Wagner, despite his surprisingly-not-bad rendition of ‘Creep’ (‘I don’t belong here’) and OK reworking of ‘Addicted to Love’. He was never going to be saved by the judges and gracefully bowed out to shout-y Mary who did yet another Shirley Bassey song (or maybe it was her first, she makes all her songs sound like the Welsh songstress). Shame.
I’ve started going to a monthly musical event called Tapestry. It’s been going for years and a good mate of mine Lloyd (aka DJ Johnny Clash) is a strong supporter of its aural adventures.
Last month’s line-up of Hidden Master’s Scottish folks-psychedelia plus headliners Anglo-American Hexa’s pop-punk was brill, if slightly let down by a mediocre PA that didn’t do Hexa’s two female singers justice.
This month I managed to miss Viz founder, Chris MacDonald’s stand-up routine (too busy necking beers and chatting) but did see Circulus. If folk-rock of the ‘hey-nonny-nonny’, non-ironic early 70s variety and songs about Atlantis and stargates are your thing then check these guys out. I won’t be. Ever.
Enormous Christmas stars float along the West End’s main thoroughfare courtesy of The Narnia Franchise.
My latest dining experience was on All Saints Road at Ruby & Sequoia, an upscale restaurant in fashionable W11. Another mid-week deal on a well known foodie site so cocktail, starter and mains just over 20 sovs per head.
The maitre’d was excellent. After a chat about a nearby eaterie called Beach Blanket Babylon (nice but over-priced) and an explanation of the term ‘Sugar Daddy’ (older guy, younger gal, economic not emotional relationship) he tended to a party of 20.
Our grub was a little tardy but a glass of prosecco on the house more than compensated. My fillet of beef (medium rare) was burnt and not quite bloody. Lovely. I just wish restaurants would tell you when veggie accessories are limited, some pomme frites would have finished off the dish a treat.
And later that evening my team, Spurs, aided digestion by reaching the last 16 of the Champions League on their first attempt after a 3-0 win against German team Werner Bremen at the Lane.
Hello everyone, I’m Ian and I’m an X-Factor fan.
There. I’ve said it. I’m a reality TV show addict and X-Factor is probably my fave of the bunch. My top contestants are
Rebecca: Dull-as-anything Scouser, but what a voice. Evocative of Billie Holliday, Tracey Thorn, possibly Nicolette (remember her?) and way more original than your marginally-better-than karoake finalists.
I’d thought about Voting Vagner but after Cheryl Cole”s outburst last night when she blasted Wagner for suggesting she came from a council estate and was very lucky to be where she is now. Isn’t that the same Cheryl Cole who comes from a council estate and got lucky in the Popstars: The Rivals TV show when she joined beat combo Girls Aloud back in 2004?
Mr Carrilho’s response was gracious, positive and will win him through to next week.