Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Now I'm here, now I'm there (Queen)

Cultural high points came thick and fast this week, our last in London before returning to Waipukurau.

We took in the splendour of the Victoria and Albert Museum and then went to see a musical that a friend of a friend is in at King's Cross Theatre.

Wow! Big time wowsers actually.

The V&A is amazing inside and out. It's billed as 'the world's leading museum for art and design' and I am not going to argue with them.

SWMBO and I spent a day there and loved every minute. 

Gasp out loud (GOL) moments for me were the Turners and William Blake paintings, a Buddha from 200AD, a religious model/carving of The Virgin's death (above), camera obscura photographs, Cameron's Victorian photography get the idea! Lots of GOLs.

Then we went to see In The Heights

Now I'm the first to admit that musicals are not my thing but the dancing and singing on display was so energetic and amazing that I suspended my disbelief for 2 and a bit hours and really enjoyed the experience.

There is so much talent around London, it's scary!

And that's it for our latest U.K. tour - England and Wales! Hope to see you again soon!

Off to Heathrow now to catch a plane to L.A. and then back to Nu Zild with SWMBO.

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London (Ralph McTell)

I love the anonymity of walking London's streets.

I'm not a big crowd person but if I can hide in the anonymity of a big crowd I'm okay. More than okay!

As Frédéric Gros says about the stroller in A Philosophy Of Walking
He melts into the mechanical mass, but voluntarily, to conceal himself there. After that anonymity is not a constraint that crushes him but an opportunity for enjoyment, enabling him to feel more vividly himself from his private internal vantage point. Since he is hiding, he won't experience anonymity as oppression, but as opportunity. Amid the dense,  gloomy solitude of the crowd he carves out that of an observer and poet: no one can see what he is looking at. He is like a wrinkle in the crowd. the stroller is out of synch, a decisive maladjustment that without excluding or distancing him, abstracts him from the anonymous mass and makes him singular in himself.
I think he sums this feeling up brilliantly.

This is exactly the feeling I had again last week, while in Oxford St and Westminster Abbey watching the illuminations that Boris Johnson had shouted the people of London.

There was most definitely a crush of people but being out of synch and in myself was a definite advantage to me as I watched. 

These couple of photos by SWMBO capture that perfectly.

Where's Wozza?

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I take your entrance back... can't let you roam inside my head (Pearl Jam)

Westfield's Stratford City Mall, London, with SWMBO's happy place!
Monsieur Gros in his book A Philosophy Of Walking says 'one always walks in silence'. Specifically he is talking about walks out in the country where the cutter of city noise is left behind and where 'all is calm, expectant and at rest'.

Recently, during our holiday break in norf London we've been taking the superb London Overground service from Canonbury to visit  the Westfield mall at Stratford. 

As you'll see from the photo, it's quite big - spread over four floors - there are over 30 places to find food alone.

Mr Gros would hate it! We went before Christmas - dumb dumb dumb - and it was a mad cacophony of noise and thousands of shoppers. We've been a couple of times post school getting back in session and it's now a manageable place to visit. 

Still, he wouldn't like it! Chatter is all pervasive - a wash of murmur that grows as more people arrive during the day.

Gros on chatter - chatter deafens: it turns everything into nonsense, intoxicates you, makes you lose your head. It is always there on all sides, overflowing. running everywhere, in all directions.

Hard to argue with him but I don't actually mind it too much - voices become largely indistinguishable - everything blends and after a while the brain just accepts it and blocks a lot of it out. Then the only thing that comes through are the ones with louder voices close to you. Some English people have piercing voices!

On our first visit (before Christmas remember so PACKED) a women started yelling close to us after we went from Marks and Spenser's to get to Zara. She was pushing a stroller with a couple of other kids in tow. 

Clearly her boyfriend/ husband, whatever, had done/said something she didn't like. Very loudly she started telling us all about it, passionately and LOUDLY shouting ' you're a f-ing wanker, a f-ing wanker. Everybody - there's a f-ing wanker in the mall!' And then she really let him have it. 

We did our best to slink away - hard given the relentless press of people and attendant body spam.

Clearly Christmas is a stressful time!  Remind me never to go to a large city mall before Christmas day again, okay. Instead - a long walk in the country sounds just the ticket.

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, January 10, 2016

London calling to the imitation zone (The Clash)

Some of the many things I love about living in London are the book deals and the number of book stores (yes - still) and the walking to the book stores!!

Recently SWMBO and I have been doing a lot of walking! A LOT OF WALKING. We are averaging about 10 kilometres a day and that has taken us to some wonderful places, both new and older haunts. Many of these places involve stores SWMBO loves AND I can usually find a nearby bookstore! Huzzah!!

On one recent excursion I found A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros in a Foyles store (an excellent 3 books for 2 deal).

It seemed to be appropriate. It's a thoughtful look at, yes, walking. I've bookmarked quite a few pages so far. Some of which I want to address in the blog.

For instance: I loved his mention of Hindu philosophy which distinguishes four stages on the journey through life.

The first stage is the pupil/student/disciple. In the second stage the man becomes the master of the house, married, responsible for a family.

The third stage is where I'm at. 

This stage, that we call the current empty nest years, is the afternoon of his life - it's a 'withdrawal to the forest' stage where he becomes a hermit 'in which through contemplation and meditation he familiarizes himself with what has always lain unchanged within us, waiting for us to awaken it: the eternal self, transcending masks, functions, identities, histories.'

[The final stage of the journey is as a pilgrim - dedicated to travel and endless walking which 'illustrates the harmonization of the nameless Self with the omnipresent heart of the world'. Sounds pretty cool huh.]

I love this idea of awakening things that have lain dormant inside me. There is a real peace attached to that idea and finding them.

I think my recent longing for familiar touchstones of my past is part of this: the return of vinyl; Star Wars Episode 7; The Trigan Empire; London; Arsenal; Disneyland...I could go on.

The phrase 'my happy place' is often used now - it lies within! I'm enjoying exploring it!

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Looking through the bent backed tulips to see how the other half live (The Fabs)

I admit to, at times, seeing life in the U.K. through ever so slightly augmented lenses.

This post is designed to bring balance to the force.

Clearly, austerity measures have had an obvious effect on local councils, the rubbish collection regimes in London have been hit hard. Pretty much everywhere we go there are reminders of this.

Included in that niggle are all the horrible people who didn't pick up their dog's poop. Smelly when it gets on the shoe!

The other obvious downer is the number of people smoking in public. Because of the clamp down on where they can go, the dwindling number of people (in Great Britain 22% of adult men and 17% of adult women are smokers) indulging in death sticks have taken to the country's footpaths. 

Generally, smoking is more prevalent among the poor and is highest in the 25 to 34 age group so it's depressing seeing these folk lighting up slavishly and thinking that they have to do that a large number of times each day to maintain their addiction. 

Not cool people! It ain't a good look!

And that's it - apart from those two things I LOVE everything else about this great land!! Great Great Britain.

Love and peace - Wozza