Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A Scaredy-Cat's Ode to Halloween

Despite the fact that London has been damp, chilly and miserable for almost two weeks and my feet are little blocks of ice even with big socks and rubber soled slippers nothing can dampen my spirits today. Why? Well because it's Halloween and I love Halloween. An unnatural love perhaps for someone my age, with no kids and who is so easily terrified that I have to change the channel when an advertisement for a horror film comes on. I am just full of contradictions like that (it's what makes me so intriguing, mysterious and marvelous to be around - except when I'm whimpering during the jumpy-out bits of CSI).

I wonder if it all comes from my obsession with fiction. Halloween is a night (or a week) when everyone gets to transform into something other than what they are. I love all the gypsies, pirates, hippies, nurses, vampires - no doubt we'll see a 'trampire' or two this year -, zombies, ghosts and dead brides that suddenly appear on the streets. I especially love it when people come up with really funky out-there costumes. The last year we lived in the US a little girl on our street dressed up as Betsy Ross. You don't know who that is? She made the first American flag. Now that's out-of-the-box thinking. This year, a cousin of mine made a tank costume. It's incredible; full camouflage and all. He looks just like a tank when he's in a heap on the ground, but standing up it doesn't turn into a tank-shaped backpack, he becomes a transformer. Joy for all us children of the 80s. Regardless of anything else, he won't have to worry about being confused with the 5 other Supermen at the pub tonight.
We're a talented family - best costume. Ever.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Loving a London Fog

For the past few days London has been filled with a damp, thick fog and I, for one, have been loving it. Walking through streets lined with terraces houses, catching a glimpse of a famous landmark through the shifting, cloudy air, crossing the Thames enveloped in mysterious mists. It's all very dramatic and plays into my more melancholy, self-indulgent and melodramatic sides. It must be difficult to think of me as melodramatic, but there it is. I've been curling up with books, writing things that will no doubt turn out to be more angsty and forced than dark and intriguing, and there has been a veritable run on hot chocolate in our house.

Amidst all my Jack-the-Ripper-dreaming I have also been thinking about how this is the first time in a year and a half that I have seen a true, honest-to-goodness London fog. Not just a morning mist or a hazy day, but a fog thick enough to require fog lights on cars, one that disrupts flights at Heathrow and one that settles in for the long haul. Except I haven't seen a London fog. I've just seen a fog in London. Less exciting all together, until I started Google-ing "London fog." Oh, the magic of Google search and Wikipedia, is there any better way to while away a couple of hours on a Wednesday evening when you ought to be getting on with real work? I think not.
Can you spot Battersea Power Station? You might know it from Pink Floyd.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Christmas already?

Being originally Irish, I don't generally feel much culture shock after moving from the US to the UK. Driving on the left, the all important difference between asking for a 'ride' and getting a 'lift' home, the belief that a cup of tea can cure most ills, all this I can handle fairly deftly. What does my head in, though, is the Christmas mania of this country.

Maybe it's because I live in London and it's nothing if not commercial, but I still think that October is too early for Christmas. No one needs a three-month Christmas season - that's a full quarter of the year being bombarded by McV****'s seasonal biscuit tins. I'm not a big celebrator of American Thanksgiving. (you can read here what I was saying about it last year, though I might be coming 'round to the American way, slowly, year by year) I think gratitude is a lovely reason for a holiday, but its glorification of the forced colonization of North America and mass murder of Native Americans, sits a little uneasy with me. Perhaps if I'm completely honest, though, it's mainly because my family isn't American and national holidays really come from your familial culture, not the country where you live.

When I was growing up, my mother always used to say, "The problem with Thanksgiving is that it's too close to Christmas. Who wants two turkeys in a month?" For many years, I agreed and thought that the Canadians had it right, celebrating Thanksgiving in October. That gives a comfortable ten week break between the birds. Then I moved to England.
It can't be time for this guy, yet...can it?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Loserville - Get Your Geek on

If you commute in London you've seen the signs for the new musical, Loserville. The advertising campaign has been big and effective. The posters are photos of a cast member leaping through the abyss of a stark, white background and then, of course the usual claims to being the best musical ever. A couple of weeks ago friend of mine got a deal on tickets and asked if I wanted to go with her.

"They say it's the next great British musical, so it must be good."

At that, my inner cynic reared her ugly head. "They're hardly going to call it 'the next perfectly mediocre British musical', are they?"

But, seeing as I've yet to meet the musical that I didn't enjoy I was all in for what the advertising compared to Glee and The Big Bang Theory. The next great British musical about nerds? I'm in.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Not the shrew I knew

In August of this year my taller half spoke words that can only be described as magic to the ears of a literature nut who took every Shakespeare class available at her university:

"I was thinking of getting tickets to the Globe. Do you want to see The Taming of the Shrew or Richard III?"

Insert moment of Shakespearean drama: Which child do I love more? I love thee both! etc. etc.

As the other half is not quite the Shakespeare fan that I am, we went for the comedy. A raucous but definitively uncomfortable evening followed last Monday night.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre