Monthly Archives: April 2010

Up above and beyond

Up above and beyond, originally uploaded by still awake.

Dogtooth, a reflection

A couple of warnings about Dogtooth, stay until the end and don’t get lost in the content. The synopsis describes it as a film about a dysfunctional family where the parents keep the children away from outside influence in a utopian setting. A slow breakdown of this reality ensues when the father brings in someone to satisfy his son’s sexual needs.

This Greek movie is a powerful examination (and I do mean slammed against the wall and then struggle to catch your breath kind of powerful) of relationships and what holds people together.

This blog has moved. Read the rest of the review at this link.

Dogtooth is screening at the Watershed in Bristol until May 6.

Alphabeat, Bristol

Two location changes saw Alphabeat‘s gig move from the green and prettily located Anson Rooms in Clifton, down to the centre and then to the back-of-an-industrial-estate feel of Bedminster. Through an alleyway, in the rain, I made my way to Fiddlers and got there eight minutes early. He arrived eight minutes late which gave me plenty of time to absorb all the smoking going on around the door and note with interest a car pull up with a young woman driver. She offers to sell two tickets and then gives them away after mentioning she had won them on the radio. Two girls rather indifferently take said tickets and then use them to get out of the rain rather than wait for their friends who had theirs.

My ticket’s arrival in the pocket of my beautifully luminous friend saw us make our way into a much more pleasant setting. Fiddlers was small enough to let us get quite close to the stage and at the same time spacious enough to host six or seven tables on one side, a large bar in the middle (cash only) and a stage with a setup that provided a pretty great sound.

This latest Bristol gig for the Danish band was six months to the day (and date) since they last entertained us at the Thekla. The supporting acts last night were Pearl and The Puppets and Eliza Dolittle. I heard the strains of the first act when I was out by the front but only really caught Eliza’s act properly. The soulful, coffee shop jazz was wonderfully melodious with the aid of a guitarist/ukulele player and a double bass. I loved the music which could have just as easily set the mood for drinking whiskey in a smoky, dark, little room with a saxophone just out of sight but winced at some of the contemporary lyrics about banisters and poles and skinny jeans. Fusion cultural offering at its best and probably easy to get used to once I give it another try.

Quality in small doses was obvious with the next band as well who were of course the main act. Friends were surprised that the venue was so small for such a big act although at the time it all seemed just right.

Anders and Stine were friendly and social in between songs taken from their last two albums. Fantastic six kicks off the night and Stine tells us that it is the last night of their tour. They cover songs such as Hole In My Heart, Chess and Heatwave from the new album The Beat Is. The latter song is quietly appropriate as the music venue keeps getting hotter during the night. I looked up to see whether there were any heating vents but apparently it was just the enthusiasm of the crowd. Anders needed a towel and his enthusiastic loping dancing was a little more muted as he dripped with sweat. With a towel around his neck he was still energetic enough to sing Touch Me,Touching You, Go Go and 10,000 Nights of Thunder.

As at the previous show, the end came way too fast and with Stine announcing their last song, my equally dismayed friend looked down on me and prophetically said but they haven’t played the Spell, DJ or Fascination. So then they did. The latter two were brilliant encores. To be seconds away from such fortune telling was quite impressive although it was all a bit forgotten when Anders threw his towel in to the crowd to excited and disappointed gasps (mine for being too far!).

The crowd was a mix of younger afficionados of skinny jeans, older shuffling dancers, joyful vivacious lovely blonde girls and some sportily attired fans. I’m sure that everyone walked out feeling cheerier than when they came in out of the grey, rainy evening. A later curfew at Fiddlers meant the walk home was at a time closer to midnight than 10pm and through the edge of Bedminster rather than the prettily lit Queen Square. However it was nice to be so close to a charming band although the location and heating may be a reason that it was available at such short notice for the band’s last change. No complaints though as it was a fantastic band which provided for a fascinating evening.

Tate down, love

Tate down, love, originally uploaded by still awake.

All the lunches I never had, Bristol

After coffee with the lovely Eleanor today, I wandered around Bristol to run some errands and find something delicious for lunch. We both had Americanos at Bordeaux Quay and then I headed off to Broadmead while she went off on her own way.

I could have had pasta at Bottelino’s but walked on to not have a rocket and crayfish sandwich at Chando’s Deli. No lunch special of two courses and a glass of wine at Brasserie Blanc and no arancini ball at Carluccio’s. No lasagne at £9 at Piccolino’s although the most beautiful green colour of the seating was extremely enticing. I didn’t have a mushroom and cheese panini at Starbucks accompanied by a vanilla soy latte, no rough and ready sandwiches made with home made bread at Sourdough, the new sandwich shop at St Nick’s. No jerk chicken at Caribbean wrap and no Kofta kebab with babaganoush at the Real Olive Company. No lamb sweetbreads or pork, chorizo and clam stew at Source just past Trethowan’s cheese stall. No mezze platter at Big Chill Bristol followed by warmed up pecan pie and no coffee and no panini with haloumi and roast vegetables at Gusto. No smoked salmon and cream cheese sauce on spaghetti at the Watershed (pasta of the day) and no chips at £2.25 from @Bristol cafe. No La Reine pizza at Pizza Express and no king prawns and aromatic crispy duck at Zen. No curly fries at Las Iguanas and no food and non-alcoholic fruit cocktail at the Living Room.

I didn’t even venture up Park St so no soy latte and no bean burger with potato wedges from Boston Tea Party. No amai udon at Wagamamas and definitely no tamarind and chilli pavlova for dessert. No lunch time buffet at Cosmo for £12.50 and no charcuterie platter at Browns. After wandering from a quarter to 12 until almost one thirty to try to find some lunch, I started to get fed up (no ironic pun intended). I couldn’t decide on what, but I wanted something amazing and it occurred to me that whatever I ate it would probably not be as wonderful as the next thing along. Nothing to do but let someone else decide.

So I took home a Caribbean pasty and a feta and spinach triangle from Royce Rolls and I shared them with my housemate who had his lunch at home. Lunch was his choice and accompanied by crisps and four Oreo cookies it all worked beautifully. There is so much from which to choose in Bristol that it can get very tiring. Was a great wander around town though.

Forget me

Forget me, originally uploaded by still awake.

London Marathon, how many miles?

The cruellest people on Sunday, the 25th of April, weren’t the old people with their arms out like pterodactyls, they weren’t the drunks offering support by getting lairy with crying runners, they weren’t the ones dropping their mostly full water bottles in the middle of the road or the ones walking with their friends side by side and blocking off most part of the course. No, none of them were the cruellest. The ones I’m talking about were the spectators handing out aniseed flavoured jelly beans. Joyful, gleeful laughter characterised these people as they stood with their outstretched arms offering black malignant little morsels of candy. I gave them evil glares and waited for the next person with the tasty Haribo or Jelly Belly treats. This was the first time I’d taken up the offer of sweets from the sidelines and I found it a fun little distraction to look out for the next bowl or outstretched hand. I was also overcome with a craving to consume as much as possible. A woman was eating a sandwich and I briefly considered how that would taste along the way. I didn’t reach for it though.

Random thoughts throughout the 05:10:11: I never want to see another woman’s bottom in lycra, ever. No more orange Lucozade (I left my last half-full bottle on the train). The Marathon goody bag was the best one yet. Could not believe people were drinking beer at 10 o’clock in the morning – all those supporters gathered around in happy socialness.

Most confused by people who would spot their friends, boyfriends, girlfriends by the side of the road and go up to them for a chat. Really? You have time for a quick chat? I found the surprise and discomfort on the spectators faces quite apt, they were there to support and wave but what do you say to someone who has rushed over? Quick conversations such as you’re doing great keep going. One woman rushed over to chat and hug her friends not 200 metres from the finishing line. We’d rounded the corner, the end was visible, I was counting down the metres and she veered off course with an enthusiastic yelp and rushed over. Insane.

There was a woman behind me at the toilets having a full on conversation on her phone. Is Aisha alright? is she not feeling well? put her on. Aisha? Aisha? hello? Aisha? I can’t hear her. I couldn’t hear her. If she’s not feeling well let her stay at home. Fair enough.

A couple of times I wondered whether I should have my name on my top. For the first half of the race it would have motivated me. For the second half, it would have distracted me from my little chanting mantra and brought me back to the pain-filled reality (over-dramatic cliche but a little melodrama about a 42km run never hurt anyone right?). I ran close to people with Jo written on their t-shirts twice and waited for the crowd’s support. It never happened and I went on and I ran by.

Dismay at realising that it wasn’t 42km and my last few metres had to be extended. The Garmin says 42.9km.

I ran my longest run three weeks before the marathon and on that day I was incredibly bouncy – so much energy that my thoughts would race ahead and I could ‘feel’ myself bouncing off walls and posts and everything in front of me like one of those Parkour people. At the end of 29km I could have kept going. At 25km on the day of the race I decided that I couldn’t.

As a strategy, because I knew I wouldn’t be stopping, I started counting down as opposed to counting up (1, 2, 3, 21, 22km…) until that point. I started at 17km went to 16km, 15km, then to 12km. 17km was a comfortable long run back home around the harbour and then up the Ashton-Pil path. I had run 10 miles the previous weekend and I had been disappointed that I probably wouldn’t even finish a lucozade bottle at such a distance. I did finish it but had not needed any energy gels. I knew I could run 10 miles. After those 10 miles it would be the last 10km and I could run that distance even feeling unwell. So getting to that point gave me an extra boost of energy. Once I got to 10km I started counting down to 100m and just repeating it over and over. 9.6, 9.6, … 7.5, 7.5, 7.4, 7.4, over and over.

My left knee gave me the most pain and I stopped three times to stretch out my legs.

I saw people (women primarily) with eight or nine energy gel packs attached to belts around their waists or to arm bands. One woman consumed one at 4km. I had two with me and I used one of those, and one Lucozade one, when I felt myself getting a stitch at around 32km and 35km. I drank a lucozade at the runner’s village when my attempt to buy some bottled water that morning had failed. It cost 99p and I only had 85p on me. Lucky it did really because I needed 30p of that money to use the bathroom at Paddington.

I picked up a bottle of water at the first table and then picked up a lucozade bottle at every opportunity after that. I had either one or the other (or both) in hand the whole way through. I had some worries about hitting the wall and felt pretty relieved once I passed 20 miles. With 2.7km left of the race I threw my lucozade bottle to the side and I felt pretty freaked out doing it. What if I needed it? what if I suddenly ran out of energy? well I had one last gel pack in the back of my running kit so I thought I would risk it. By the way, I now have a bruise where the two gel packs kept rubbing against me.

My left knee hurt from around 8km and I guess my right knee joined in at some point but it was never bad enough that a stretch couldn’t ease it up a bit. I was used to the knees but at some point and it really was all of a sudden, my right hamstring jerked into painful awareness. I stumbled, I hobbled, I felt a twinge and then I kept running. Twice before I’d had some sort of surprising issue like this. After the Bristol half-marathon last year, my right hamstring was the one thing that kept me from running for about three weeks. It hadn’t been a problem before and it faded soon after that. Two weeks ago I was running by the harbour and had to quickly side-step when passing a car park exit. The next step down was a hobbled one and I had to stop. Now, during the marathon it was only a twinge more than pain but enough to alter my running. I slowed down a bit, I limped a bit, I did my best to ease the pain a bit, and then I just kept going. It faded in and out of awareness and I lost track of it with my new pace of around 7:20/km.

The streets were crowded, at times I had to walk because I couldn’t run past. My vivid memories are of KFC ‘restaurants’ and the smell of BBQs.

When I approached the finish line I managed to speed up and crossed the ‘line’ (the foam mats) with a big smile. I got my tag cut off in a narrow little walk way and the woman in front of me, for some reason that nearly got her violently pushed over by moi, had to take out her shoe laces to get it off. We’ll cut it off said the woman collecting the tags, you can get new laces later.No, no, I’ll just undo this. I went back and walked through the next little walkway. The medal was placed on me just after the tag point and I didn’t take it off until I got to Bath. I took off my race number just past Reading and kept it on my lap from then on.

Today I ache but I’m happy with the pain as long as I heal well enough for the Bristol 10k on the 9th of May. I still don’t quite believe that I did it but the medal and the pain helps to remind me. A great adventure.

NY, Bruce Davidson at the Tate Modern

I have a special fondness for photographers. They are the often unnamed historians who capture moments which can define a situation without needing a single word. Not that all photojournalists avoid writing. The Columbia Journalism Review’s column ‘Picture This’ mentions a memo written by a staff photographer and sent around on his last day at work. The online version is abridged but it’s still worth a read: The version in the magazine brought tears to my eyes.

I was killing some time at the Tate Modern on Saturday and I came across Bruce Davidson’s photographs. His images have been described as “extraordinary for the depth of their feeling and their poetic mood”. When the subject matter consists of broken windows, poor east side communities or lonesome journeys on the subway then the depth of feeling can be quite impressive.

This photo in this post is a little tribute although I’m not sure I was supposed to be taking photographs.

Marathon jitters?

The ipico timing chip is attached to my right shoe, my race number is pinned to my running top, my race number is affixed to the appropriate bag, I’ve had pasta for lunch, I’ve got my pasta meal ready for dinner and I can’t actually taste anything. Initially I thought the problem was the bland food at Amano where I had to add salt, pepper and parmesan cheese to my pasta al funghi. While it wasn’t the best dish I’d ever eaten I couldn’t lay the blame entirely with the restaurant. I could eat but I had no appetite and I couldn’t taste much of the food. I walked around the Tate Modern and my lips felt dry. My mouth was dry. Everything felt so slow. Going from picture to sculpture felt like forever. This was my first visit so I forced myself to walk around the free exhibitions and I felt some excitement at the Liechtenstein, Warhol and Bruce Davidson originals. I would have loved to reach out and touch them but no such action took place and then I had to get out of there. I found a Marks and Spencer for some jelly beans, pasta salad and water. Waiting in line was slow. Waiting at the check out was slow. When the woman asked if I wanted the Tate map, I said no thanks I’ve already got one. She looked at Me strangely until I realised that it was my pamphlet she was handing over.

I decided that I best just get back and rest. I’ve talked to my parents, had supportive messages from amazing friends and now I’m just waiting. I’m not actively nervous about the London marathon but it’s mainly because I won’t let my thoughts dwell on it for too long. My body however has no problem in suggesting that I take myself out of action for a while. So I’m hiding away until morning and I won’t let myself think about it until I can enjoy it. ’til tomorrow then.


About to be stepped on, avoid

About to be stepped on, avoid, originally uploaded by still awake.