HMS Illustrious

HMS Illustrious, originally uploaded by eat your greens.

There’s a parked up by Deptford Creek. Worth taking a look at if you’re down near the Cutty Sark. She’s in London for Remembrance Day and will sail out again next Wednesday, 12th November. The BBC have video of her coming through the Woolwich flood barrier.

Update: Simon Starr took a lovely photo of fireworks over the carrier last night.

Sea monsters in the Thames

People waiting for the monsters to appear.

Australian video artist Craig Walsh has an installation, Classification Pending, running alongside London Bridge until Sunday, 19th October. It is brilliant – go and check it out if you have a chance. It starts running around about sunset at the north-west end of the bridge, and twilight is probably the best time to see it. Two dinosaurs swim around in the water, occasionally popping their heads up to look around. The BBC has a video of the installation.

Top London web sites

Staff outside Sainsbury's
Staff outside Sainsbury’s, 114 Lewisham High St, c. 1915
Photo credit: Lewisham Library.

Time Out published their top 50 London web sites recently. PortCities London featured in the history section, which pleased me no end. I was technical lead for the PortCities consortium, built the catalogue database used by the National Maritime Museum team and was heavily involved in building the London web site.
Put together using local London libraries and archives, as well as the National Maritime Museum, this is a treasure trove of material covering all aspects of the capital’s essential and enduring relationship with the river. The archive photographs are brilliant.

>Click The ‘port facts’ that are littered through the site – like the fact that bird droppings and animal blood were imported and turned into artificial fertiliser at Silvertown.

Nine while nine

Early birthday present yesterday – my first Sisters of Mercy live experience at the Astoria. They were dreadful though – so much smoke that you couldn’t see the stage at all and a sound mix that left the guitars and vocals inaudible behind the drum machine and bass. We were trying to guess the songs from the drum beats, until they got to the chorus and the audience sang along – “Anaconda? Alice? Mary had a little lamb?”, audience starts belting out “hey now, hey now now, sing this corrosion to me…”

“This is shit”, observed Jon. “Let’s get drunk.” And we did. Oh yeah.

Still, I got to sing along to Lucretia My Reflection and Alice. And I got to sing Run to the Hills, which went quite nicely with the beginning of one song. No idea what the hell Mr Eldritch was singing.

Later, we retired to the Intrepid Fox. They have a barmaid with beautiful red hair and an AC/DC t-shirt, which cheered me up no end. And I got to wear the black t-shirt with a naked lady on the back. It fits so few social occasions nowadays, and usually sits, neglected, in the wardrobe.

Update: in response to Christine’s rather snippy comment below, here’s the gig discussed on Heartland. Reviews vary between ok and dismal, but nothing to write home about. Quote of the night, which I’d forgotten, from Eldritch: "I’m sorry, I can’t hear me either." in response to chants of "Turn it up!" from the crowd.

We’re an American band…

Once, back in 1993 or thereabouts, young master gribley came into my office. “Wotcha!”, said I, or something to that effect. Time has blurred my precise memory of the conversation. “Yo La Tengo are playing. We should go and see them”, he said.

“Who are they?”
“A quiet little acoustic, folky band”
“OK”, I said, after mulling it over a little.

Later, we were ensconced in the Club de Wash (now, sadly, burned to the ground). Yo La Tengo came on stage carrying electric guitars, emitting a wailing feedback noise that would have put My Bloody Valentine to shame. They then played 30 minutes or so of electric, feedbank-drenched rock.

Since then I’ve been to see them at every chance I’ve had, including a fine open-air gig with Calexico at Somerset House a couple of years ago.

I noticed that the film Junebug is showing at Greenwich Picturehouse. The description of the film ends, ‘Bolstering its impeccable credentials is a score from Yo La Tengo.’ I may have to go and see it.

shoot the crow

Went to see Shoot the Crow last night at the Trafalgar Studios in Whitehall. Very enjoyable play. Four Irish tilers are working on a job. Out front is a pallet of tiles not accounted for on the delivery sheet. They have plans to steal it, and each has his own hopes for the money that they’ll get. A lot of it’s played for laughs, but with some quite poignant moments. Jim Norton (Bishop Len Brennan from Father Ted) puts in an excellent performance. Man, I wish I could talk like him. Him, Orson Welles or James Earl Jones.

Waterloo sunset

Sunset last night, from the walkway at the top of Tower Bridge.

We had the launch party for PortCities in the walkways at the top of the bridge. Pleasant company and free booze. After leaving the bridge, Matt led us in serenading David Blaine with a selection of traditional West Country folk tunes.