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Proms in the Park = surreal

National Pride (?!)

The BBC Proms was something that needs to be experienced to be believed. My thought process when someone tried to explain it to me went something like this.

Proms, but no a prom. Not the American version with drunk teenagers misbehaving in dark corners. Oh that could happen but under a giant British flag?

Oh it’s called the Proms!

It’s a giant classical music festival? You mean people spent an entire season watching this stuff?

Then on the last night, they have Proms in the park?

Oh I understand now, it’s similar to Symphony in the Domain?

Except everyone brings flags and it’s a hugely patriotric event…now I am lost.

My head could not compute the rather odd equation of classical music, British patriotism and sitting around in a park doing all three. Somehow in the course of one night I ended up seeing the last two and listening to the first.

British brotherhood

Amazingly the weather was un Britishly fine for a day that was predicted to be cold and wet. Not knowing what to expect, I was a little overwhelmed by the amount and variations of British flags that greeted me the moment I entered the park. There was a festive, carnival like air and it was rather amusing to note that the official merchandise stalls sold mainly British flags as souveniers.

I had never seen so many flags outside of a sporting event and thought this display of national pride would have been more appropriate in the States rather than in the UK. Somehow after settling in with a glass of wine and overdosing on cheese and nibblies it was easier to enjoy the experience rather than analyse how odd everything was. I didn’t expect to hear the James Bond medley or the Star War theme for a start.

Part of the highlight was watching Sue Perkins, the winner of Maestro conduct to a crazily happy crowd waving crowd. Granted their reaction was probably bigger when Bjorn Again was on stage hamming it up with their pseudo Swedish accent, but it was probably something to do with being able to sing along to Abba. It wasn’t until the cameras panned closeby that we realised the VIP tent was just behind where we were. With the best view in the park, the VIPS were plainly bored at the best of times as they surveyed the plebs sprawled on the ground. Though they seemed to perk up when some Elvis songs were played.

Go figure.

Silver lining

Silver lining

The week in review.

Can’t sleep, lack of sleep, lost concentration, endless days blurring into negative days and no energy. Thank goodness it’s Friday and I will be in the city for work for Monday!

European Weekender Part 1

Brussels 2008

Twenty four hours ago I was walking down the streets of Brussels with the London Flickr Meetup Group for a nocturnal shoot lasting from dusk to dawn. The weather was thankfully much warmer than the London shoot and I was able to keep my delirium until just before dawn.

It still amazes me how easy it is to hop on a Euro train and wander across the channel to a completely different country within a couple of hours.

So what can you see if you go to Brussels around this time? Well, you get to see annual Brussel flower carpet for one. Spread across the market place, it’s almost impossible to understand what the pattern looks like unless you are viewing it from a very high vantage point.

Brussels 2008

According to Wikipedia the other tourist attraction in Belgium is the Atomium (giant atom looking thing) and Manneken Pis (small bronze statue of a peeing boy). Crazily we managed to cover all three within the space of a few hours while fitting in the much needed food stops.

Brussels 2008 Brussels 2008

Brussels seemed rather aback being invaded with twenty people heavily armed with cameras, but we weren’t approached by a single policeman unlike London. I wasn’t all that thrilled with a lot of the photos I ended taking and ended experimenting on textures, on the other hand I did have a grand old time and loved every bits of it.

Brussels 2008

Brussels 2008

Life so far

Roast dinner

Life is oddly getting back to normal. Often times it feels like I live in an odd pararell universe for working in the same company. Having friends over for a roast dinner helped to make life feel ordinary again. Things I’ve done lately in no particular order:
– Wander around the streets of London for a midnight to dawn photo shoot (cold, dark, very cold)
– Spent more time on trains going for work to and from Northampton than I expected (out of pocket before my first pay check)
– Smile more often than I have in the past 3 years
– Met more new people in the past two months than I have in the past 3 years

I guess everything balances out in the great scheme of thing…

London Night Shoot

Manchester Zine Fair

Hi guys

I might be getting a table for the Manchester Zine Fair, still needs more details but they have let me know that it is available.

If you would like me to flog your stuff, let me know by the 16th and start sending material by then as well. The fair is on at the end of this month!

Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

During the writer’s festival last weekend I bought a ticket to listen to Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie speak about Lost Girls, their erotic comic collaboration that have spanned 16 years.

I didn’t know what to expect and had this image of Alan Moore as a rather explosive, reclusive character so was a little thrown back when he was so congenial throughout the two hour session.

The session revolved around the two of them working together as well as censorship. I think they were somewhat surprised that the work was not banned in several countries, a factor they both attributed to the fact that they have marketed it as a work of pornography in the first place. Moore mentioned Blankets as an example of a work that was banned in the states (he also said it was too sweet for his taste), something I wasn’t aware especially since it was so harmless.

Mr Tang I was in too much awe to get a photo with him, Tang style but he was rather lovely in person and I do have a signed copy of Lost Girls now.

London Pride 2008 (and seeing Ian McKellen)

London Pride 2008

London Pride 2008

When my housemate said, do you want to go to Pride this Saturday I had no idea what he was talking about London Pride. Turned out, he was talking about , the London version of the Sydney Mardigras, similar but not the same.

Pride starts in the morning here, and it felt a little strange to have the sun still up once the floats have disappeared, though it did result in a less than nightmarish trek home.

Pride London is more grass root than the Sydney version I realise, as one of the first group to march were members of the civil services such as police, firemen, army, navy and the like. It was essentially a march, rather than a parade of floats and dancers, surprisingly there was very little nudity overall. Perhaps it is the time of day, but overall it was less rowdy than I would expect.

What I didn’t expect was seeing Ian McKellen almost discretely marching along a group of Heinz protestors. Background story behind it was after making an ad featuring a gay couple, Heinz bowed to public pressure and pulled the ad.

London Pride 2008

So many to see, so little to shoot

Morris Dancer in front of Westminster Abbey

“The circle line will not be in service on account of a person under a train at Monument”

I couldn’t quite believe my ears, but judging from everyone else’s reaction this happens often enough for it to be a non-event.

I can’t quite shake the feeling that London reminds me a lot of Sydney, I know it’s meant to be the other way around, but there are enough similarities between the two to make a Sydney sider feel almost at home.

1. Australian soapies – check
2. Australian accents – check
3. The same three chain of McDonald, Starbuck and Burger King on every corner? check, check, check
4. Similar chains of stores e.g. Monsoon, Borders, heck Muji and Uniqlo are also around, making it feel as if a part of Japan ended up travelling with me to London.

After a while, it’s becoming increasingly easy to accept that I’m walking on a street which is hundreds of years old, with a half dozen famous dead people who used to work/live in the area. I’m finding it difficult to want to take photos and every shot ended up being a tourist snap shot of “I’m in London now”. Perhaps I’m spoiled by bein used to the harsh Australian light, that makes shots like this almost an everyday thing.

Sydney Sky

Everything here is much softer, almost muted compared to the sky and light back home, maybe it’ll just take time.

Living life in London

The uncanny good weather is making it very difficult to dislike London. The first time I turned up on this side of the world was in December, it rained every day, windy and the chill in the air seemed to enter my bone everytime I stepped out.

London in summer, is quite simply glorious. My favourite past time is wandering around Regent Park and just soaking up the sun with a good book. There’s an orderly prettiness about the parks here, the grass are softer, the flowers plentiful and even the ducks are fat and content.

Things done so far:
– Revisited the British Museum
– Visited the National Potrait Gallery
– Wandered off to the Tate
– Visited the newly opened Winston Churchill museum
– Visited Harrods
– Watched Shakespeare in the park
– Joined a London walking tour
– Knitted at a London Stitch N Bitch meet
– Turned up at a London Flickr meet, which happens to be at a Filipino Festival!

In between I found a place and am still looking for a job. The latter is starting to freak me out in weird and wonderful ways. The market is so much bigger than Sydney, but so is the competition. Saying that, there is just soo many things to do in London and if you have a hobby/interest chances are it is so much bigger over here. There’s also something incredibly inspiring being surrounded by so much art, history and activity. The feeling that this city is breathing and thinking is difficult to get rid of.

Filipino Festival

London 08

London 08

London now

I doubt you would believe me if I say that the sky is blue for almost the entire week so I’ll show you instead. Along with the sky are ofcourse topless British men showing off their very pasty white chests for the world to see.

London Sky

Still can’t quite believe that a week ago I was in Japan and a month ago I was in Australia. Really looking forward to settling down and doing some serious job search and start living.

In the meantime here are some of my memories from Tokyo.

Yoyogi Park performers

Yoyogi Park performers