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Croydon [Mar. 24th, 2014|09:12 pm]
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Euston Road, where else [Feb. 24th, 2014|11:50 pm]
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Euston Road
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My bus broke down. I mean, it was inconsolable. [Feb. 24th, 2014|11:38 pm]
I gave him twenty for a taxi. Didn't know him so well, but he said he'd pulled; I didn't see her, but it was a matter of urgency for him. Later I asked the barmaid if he was regular, she told me his name; I just as soon forgot it.

Didn't expect to see him or the twenty again. Same time next week, same place, he wasn't to be seen until close on last orders. He appeared beside me at the bar, gave me back my score, and insisted on getting my round for me. Insisted.

And he said: "That bird, last week... yeh."

"Nice one."

"Did you see her."

"Not really."

"Her body, I'm not being... from her hips to her ribs... she went on forever. Look."

He's fumbling with his phone. Again he says: "Look".
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East Road, N1. Yesterday, as it happens. [Feb. 10th, 2014|12:21 am]
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East Road, N1
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All this in one evening, it's going a bit fast for me [Feb. 10th, 2014|12:12 am]
I put my foot in it - I wasn't to know - we were talking about the choreography of young couples on the tube, visitors, on the escalators. For a short while their respective heights are altered by one being a step above the other. The way they lark about with it, for the duration of the ride up or down. She teared up, apologised. They'd been broken up for a while but this was some kind of anniversary... The other two filled me in later. Some kind of escalator memory I suppose; you don't know, do you?

Two women, braced between them a younger one needing support. So that made three, making slow progress down Clerkenwell Road.
One on the outside said to the one on the inside: you wait 'til you're forty, my girl! Then it starts, then it starts.

In the pub there were screens, videos. Massive Attack, 'Unfinished Sympathy' at one point. He said: do you remember this? I was in Wigan when this come out, with Marie. Fuck. Takes me back, you know?
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We had fought in a campaign of war; our enemy had been ourselves [Jan. 13th, 2014|09:55 pm]
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. [Jan. 10th, 2014|12:59 am]
"Halfway through our second interview the next day Norman asked me if I was tired. I’ve spent time with elderly people and I know what that question means: he was tired."

Andrew O'Hagan on Norman Mailer, LRB 7 November 2013
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You need a drink [Jan. 5th, 2014|01:27 am]
We met in a Costa on Piccadilly. He was passing through; we were catching up.

His hairline had receded. I noticed that. Once I would have pointed it out, taken the piss.

There somehow seemed less of him now. The tics and traces that I had come to know as indicators of this man's happiness were missing.
As a friend, albeit an old one not frequently refreshed, I wanted to draw that out. But there wasn't time. You need a whole evening to get to that. You need a proper drink.

I now think the anecdote he told me then was a feint, a means of distracting me from a fundamental distress by focusing my attention on a small discontent. In this respect it worked. Though further from me than my friend's plight, it still troubles me now.

He told me that he'd been supermarket shopping earlier in the week. His girlfriend would be in her native Pomerania, so he was buying only for himself. He'd seen the local food bank were collecting, and decided to make a donation; he thought the most appropriate approach would be to buy for others what he'd buy for himself. He said:

What I did was, one for me, one for you, all the way along.

The food bank lady took the food he offered, but then there was a problem. They wouldn't take his drink. The diet Coke and the fruit juice weren't a problem, but the four cans of Grolsch and the bottle of red they refused. She said:

It wouldn't look right.

He told me he fair went into one: how could it not be right for people to have a drink at Christmas? But there was only so much he could say, and nothing he could do. He didn't want to be having a pop at the food bank volunteer, she'd only be following orders. He said to me:

So I walked off, left it there. They're not going to throw them away, are they? But I'm fuming about it. Now, still.

We wished each other a good new year as we parted. I'm a bit worried about him, but just for now that thought gets associated with and cut across by his experience with the food bank. So now I'm thinking how squalid things have become that we need food banks in the first place, and that for some petty puritan reason they can't or won't pass on a few cans of cheap Dutch lager or a bottle of supermarket plonk to people who can't afford them.
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remote access [Dec. 22nd, 2013|12:03 am]
The IT people were trying to make something on my computer work. It would have been too time-consuming, imprecise and laborious for them to talk me through the process and rely on my account of the changes on the screen. They had to access my computer remotely. So I watched the cursor as it was moved around by a mouse in Lancashire, transferring files, switching from one application to another. I slouched in my seat, phone pressed to my ear. I think I was fiddling with some paper clips.

Then I realised a colleague was standing behind me; he was watching too. In an uncharacteristically small and uncertain voice he asked:

'How... are you doing that?'
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In ten years, nothing has changed [Dec. 15th, 2013|08:53 pm]
Not a commercial... [Dec. 15th, 2003|12:20 am]

At the Algerian they grind the beans for you on the premises. Stovetop espresso, electric espresso, paper filter, permanent filter. Cafetiere, if you must. It’s a floor to ceiling place, shelves crammed. Tea, yerba mate. Nougat, too, high cocoa content chocolate (80+%)…

I carried my coffee to the cinema. 2 kilos of Algerian, half a kilo of Mocha. All through Soho and Bloomsbury whiffs of aroma were rising up at me. The auditorium was sparsely populated when I got there, I stowed my goods beneath the seat then covered them with my coat. But I could still smell it, could almost hear it, humming the Marseillaise, with a Rai backbeat.

The cinema filled around me, busy for a Monday evening. I thought I was in a peripheral position, out on the wing, the screen an irregular rectangular, exercising perspective. But they swooped in around me, UCL kids and their lecturers, people getting in out of the damp cold, devotees of Icelandic cinema.

Trailers and adverts, but not so loud that I can’t hear the voices of my fellow patrons. Oh, hell is other people when they chew and fidget and kick my seat-back. But some proportion of the reason I come here is their presence. Anonymous and different. Whole lives of depth and hope in warm bodies to left and right. The blue and green glowing screens of their mobiles distract me in the darkness, but that’s all right.

‘Do they do coffee in the bar up there? Would they let me bring it down here?’
‘I think someone here has one.’
‘I could really do with a cappuccino. But I’ll be pissing…’

I reached down to cover the carrier more completely. Damn, the smell was getting to me, too. I could feel it first as a beguiling notion, then as a brute craving at the back of my jaw, top of my oesophagus. Down in the bag the packets were warm, taking the chill out of my fingertips. It wasn’t a chemical reaction, the grinding process generates heat through friction and that afterglow stays for several hours.

Gradually we all became inured. At one point someone left, then returned.
‘Can you smell burning? Or roasting or something?’
‘[whisper, whisper] …fire detectors..[whisper]’
‘No, it’s nice.’

In the film, almost everyone died in an avalanche.

[The film was Nói albinói]
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I have no idea why [Dec. 11th, 2013|11:32 pm]
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The northbound platform at Blackfriars Thameslink, Monday evening. A woman I do not recall having met before was walking towards the Bankside exit. She turned as she passed me, and said:
"You should be ashamed!"

I've been doing this Livejournal thing for two days short of ten years now. Not so much recently though.

Surrey Street, WC2
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Hoog Catherijne [Oct. 13th, 2013|12:08 am]
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Hoog Catherijne
'Celestial Teapot', Lily van der Stokker
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he wears cor blimey trousers and he lives in a council flat [Oct. 13th, 2013|12:00 am]
They were lost; I think they were students. They were very pink, flushed. The alcohol fumed off them.

They were trying to get somewhere. It had taken me until about now to get away from any street I recognised; I wasn't in a position to assist.

"Oh, you're lost too!"

They were walking faster. Something was happening elsewhere and they were missing it. They had got some way down the street when I heard one of them say: "That's a Tower Hamlets bin! We're in Tower Hamlets!"

Then another called back to me: "We're in Tower Hamlets!"

That didn't narrow it down much for them. But one thing about Tower Hamlets: you always know you're in the borough when you see one of those bins.
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As if the main course arrived late, then the waiter took it away before you'd finished [Oct. 8th, 2013|01:02 am]
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Prompted by an account of a man required by the police to turn out his pockets, Auxerre, 1933 [Oct. 5th, 2013|03:34 pm]
The change had begun long before I was born; soon afterwards it was almost as near to completion as now.

Handkerchiefs were once ubiquitous for women and for men and across the social classes. Then people gradually ceased carrying them.

Do we really blow our noses, or cry, or say goodbye, less often now?
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Amersfoort [Sep. 30th, 2013|11:50 pm]
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we know all about you yes we do [Sep. 30th, 2013|12:11 am]
A man, sitting on a bench, had just written in his notebook, closing it, returning it to his pocket.

As he did this he appeared shifty, wary, guilty; as if he were only just getting away with something. It was not a raffish look: it did him no favour at all.

I would not have been aware of this. But the ground floor glazing of the office block opposite was so damnably reflective.
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via Conservatorio [Sep. 25th, 2013|09:00 pm]
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Milano / Milan

Posters are pasted up. Then a man from the Commune di Milano comes around to rip and tear them and make them beautiful.
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I did not get a photo of this [Sep. 25th, 2013|08:43 pm]
Depiction of conflict on the base of a monumental column in a square. Various figures involved including a woman who has lost her top or removed it so that it should not restrict her in battle. Also a lion.

The lion is at the rear of the column, and appears to be spilling out of the fray. He gives the impression of being not quite of the melee. A prosaic explanation of this is that the sculptor had been given a commission involving a lion, but not provided enough space to include the big cat in the tableau.

Alternatively its marginal position may be an accuracy of depiction: that the lion had merely been passing through the scene of confrontation, and happened to be caught up in it when things kicked off. Which would explain its position here, falling sideways from the main knot of struggle, with an expression not so much of vanquishment as eagerness to reach the adjacent bus shelter.
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derivation [Sep. 24th, 2013|12:45 am]

Toni Servillo, in "La Grande Bellezza", Paolo Sorrentino, 2013
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