Saturday, June 28, 2008

things that go bump in the night

i wasn't going to type this up, but i relayed the story to jason when he rang me this afternoon, and once he'd stopped laughing he demanded i make it public. i don't think anyone related to me is going to be too impressed, so i'll just promise now that i will never ever get myself into this situation again. also, i would like to make the point that i didn't pay for any of the weed i smoked in this story. i think thats pretty impressive.


it's my first night in amsterdam. i'm tired grotty and unimpressed. i'm also drunk and stoned. there are five of us in the dorm. an irishman (paddy? i think so. we'll call him paddy) who is in the same state as me. two english girls who have eaten two boxes of mushrooms each and aren't on the planet anymore. and one argentinian who i am ready to kill. it will not be a pretty death. and after he is dead, i will parade his body through the streets. it is 3 a.m.

what happened was this: Paddy and I went for one beer ('just one mind, i have to be in jerusalem tomorrow!') typically this turned into three beers, and before i knew it i had a joint in my hand and wasn't as pissed off with amsterdam as i had been previously. Paddy and i were talking about how Irish politics are deeply linked to Judaism. then this big hairy thing sits infront of us and starts talking in a thick south american accent. Paddy scowls and refuses to relinquish the joint. i can't understand a word either of them is saying, so i meander up to the bar for a refill. there i bump into an icelandic couple who have taken too much LSD and are paranoid about polar bears. they say this with such straight faces that for a moment i too am paranoid about polar bears, before i return to Paddy and Hairyman, when i become paranoid about hairy South Americans. i manage to make out that this guy is a teetotaller who is trying to get to Barcelona but keeps missing his flight as he does not have a watch. Paddy inerjects - he is going to get food, do i want some? i nod and the irishman saunters off. i am stuck with the two icelandic paranoids and Hairyman. he tells me that 'when i was 20 i took california for one year. i try everything. everything except the sex'. i have another beer. Paddy eventually comes back. no food, but he has had a shower and changed his clothes. i persaude him to take me out for pizza. we try to convince the waiter to pay for us. Paddy says he wont kiss him if he pays our bill. we get a discount, i think.

its about 1am before we throw ourselves up the stairs. i have never been this stoned in my life and am convinced that the best thing to do is open a vegan commune in sydney called something pretentious. Paddy promises to visit and bake food for it. neither of us are vegans. when we get into our room, our shins are bruised beyond belief - victims of the cliffs that amsterdam likes to call stairs. we find the two english girls lying on the hostel floor giggling helplessly at the pretty things they are seeing. one of them proclaims over and over that she 'is in such a state' Paddy passes out on the floor too. i manage to make it into bed. the argentinian is already asleep, fully clothed on top of the covers in the bed opposite mine. someone (me? i dont know) hits the light and we all drift off.


until this colossal snoring wakes us up!! the walls were shaking and the english girls trips were suddeny not as pretty. i resolved to kill whoever was snoring. it would be a shame if it was Paddy, he seemed like a nice guy. the snores got louder and louder and louder. then, oddly, they were interrupted by a stream of spanish. that was it. i was going to have to kill the argentinian. it would be an international crime, but i was willing to do so in order to get some sleep.

the snores started up again, but five minutes later i was hit in the face by a pair of jeans. i floundered and swore and sat up, throwing the pants on one of the english girls. there was a second thump - the argentinian throwing his shirt onto Paddy's sleeping face. i found myself looking at a naked sleeping argentinian. well. not all of him was sleeping. one part of him was very awake. i curled up in a ball and tried to think happy thoughts of bunnies and other innocent things. the snoring had stopped at least.

but when he started panting and whimpering 'mama, mama' i wanted to ask him if he'd mind snoring again. he got louder and louder and faster and faster and i was lying two metres away shaking with rage and anger. finally he let out one final drawn out 'mamaaaaaa!'

it was at this point Paddy woke up 'aw, for fucks sake! heathen!' i made a run for it, back downstairs to the bar. i sat there laughing for half an hour before noticing the icelandic couple. the girl was asleep but the boy was rolling up. he offered and i told him what had happened. there were tears streaming down our faces when Paddy stormed into the bar 'that's the third fucking time this week! i'm putting that bastard on his fucking plane to barcelona tomorrow whether he has a fucking watch or not!!!'

the icelander placated Paddy with pot and beer. i was already pretty placid, but not going to say no to another pint. we stayed down there for a few hours, talking, smoking, Paddy occasionally shouting abuse in the direction of our room. i went to sleep with my head on the table for an hour, i think. Paddy went to get food but had a shower and changed his shirt instead. when the sun came up, i went back upstairs to get my stuff. the argentinian was still naked but face down, hairy backside greeting the world. i grabbed my things and left. Paddy gave me some philosophical words as i went out the door 'you get some strange fuckers in amsterdam'

i nodded, and went to meet my grandparents.

Friday, June 27, 2008

just because i'm losing doesn't mean i've lost

luxembourg is not a town for long stays. yesterday i went to their art musuem, the casemates and um bock. i also managed to read half my book, book a eurostar ticket, play football with some local kids, watch spain beat russia and offend the irish catholic in my room.

the casemates was pretty awe inspiring- its the ruins of a castle called 'Um Bock' and its crypts. very very very old and very small. i've got some pretty cool photos, will upload them when i get back. everything here is really pretty. the art musuem was interesting, but i'm over looking at things at the moment. after the BA, V&A, NPG, NG, Van Gogh and Rikjsmuseum i think i deserve a break.

in the afternoon i was sitting in the park near the hostel when a small boy came up to me and said something in french. i blinked at him, and he repeated his request in english 'would you play football with me madamioslle?' there was no one else in the park except for this boy and his mum, who was busy with a baby of some sort. so i agreed and we kicked the ball around. that must be some sort of code in Luxembourg, because before i could explain that i have no football skills whatsoever, more kids (from about 7-15) turned up and suddenly we had teams!! we played for ages and i couldnt tell you who won or lost, only that it was fun, and they were very nice to me, and seemed pleased that i had a french name. the boy who initally came up to me was called Jorges, but his mother called him Monsueir Petite. very cute.

it doesn't get dark here until about ten pm, so once i had had dinner and read some of my book, i was a bit bored. then i discovered that the Russia vs Spain match was on. i have become a football convert, i'm terribly sorry. it started the night before last when i watched Germany beat Turkey in the German pub around the corner. it was fantastic, not only because the bartender was terribly drunk with jubilitation and therefore gave me free beer, but also because the Germans are very very friendly and happy to explain the game to me. the final match is Germany vs Spain on Sunday. Germany better win.

and then i offended the irish catholic girl in my dorm. mostly because i dropped my book on my foot and swore 'jesus fuck' but also because i refused her invite to go to church with her on sundaz. she doesn't seem to understand that i am going to be back in the uk on saturday afternoon.

yes, i'm going back to the UK. i think that i'll go up to the lake district, or to the cotswalds. i want to rent a bike and zip around little pubs and read three men in a boat again. i want to see a cricket match, and maybe a football match. i want to go to oxford. i want to find my feet in a country where i don't have a language barrier before i try europe again. the past week has been a very steep learning curve, in that i've discovered how shy i can be but also how desperate for attention and companionship i am.

i've been reading the three musketeers again. for the umpteenth time. its my favourite classic because its an adventure. its friendship. its family. its everything that i don't have nearby at the moment. its an adequate replacement, i guess. the new coldplay album is also surprisingly good. im going to get the new sigur ros album on sunday. expect more ranting then.

(sorry for typos, these keyboards are very different)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


amsterdam was like being inside a clock. luxembourg is like being inside a chess game. i have never ever in my life felt this anxoius and this exhausted and this tired. i feel like a big angst ridden failure, and it is verz difficult to enjoy myself at the moment. im thinking of going back to the uk. its ok to be disappointed in me.

im disappointed in me.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

first impression

amsterdam is strange, and my first impression of it was "erk." its very flat and full of americans. possibly everywhere except america is full of americans. my hostel room for tonight isn't very nice, but the one i'm going to tomorrow is supposed to be. it's also grotty. it's a different kind of grot to london.

i keep having these horrid reality checks, and i keep thinking that maybe it would be easier and nicer to run home with my tail between my legs right now. good thing i've never really liked making things easy on myself.


on the train from the airport to centraal there was a german shephard asleep under the seats.


i have to go and sort out my phone.

cold days from the birdhouse

this will probably be the last post for about a week. i promise i'll try and write something at least once a fortnight, even if it means forgoing dinner or something. stupid exchange rates.


i'd been trying to write thursday's post for about three days and when it finally got to thursday i had a hangover and wasn't particularly impressed with anything. so. 

adventure with my second cousin freddie
is my paternal grandmother's father's sister's grandson. i think. we're not sure if we're actually related at all, but we met at Embankment and there was something that just made us go "ah, family!" i think really we were just after an excuse to drink. which we did in Covenant Garden which is very quaint and full of italians. we had dinner in a theatre/music place called Joe Allens and i dont remember what i had except more white wine. and then some more. and then some beer. and then we got rained on. and then somehow i was back at Hazels. but it was nice to hang out with someone who understands my ability to forgive Snow Patrol for "Chasing Cars". we're going to try and meet up in Paris to see Bark Cat Bark. actually, i think the thing that made us realise we were related was that we're both quite small. he's about 5ft7 and i'm 5ft. oh, and freddie, emily (his first cousin) and i all played the cello at the salubrious private schools we were sent to. 

adventure with my cousin-once-removed Elaine
so. thursday morning, still in the throes of hangover i tottered off to Baker Street Station (which has tiles with Sherlock Holmes! but i felt too ill to take a photo) where i met up with Elaine, the sister of Lisa (who many of you have heard stories about her wonderdog Jarvis). both are cousins of my dad, so once removed from me? whatever, it was fun. well. kind of. we traipsed up and down Oxford Steet, Elaine thrilled that she had a "daughter for the day" (her words not mine)  and refused to let me pay for anything! I ended up bullying her into letting me pay for lunch, but when i fell in love with grapefruit coloured cotton skirt, i suddenly found myself in possession of it as a birthday present(granted it wasn't stupidly expensive, but still!) but Oxford Street is mad, as is much of London. i found a bag that fitted all my requirements for handbag (zip, big, not plastic) except for its weird caramel colour, which i'm still not completely sold on. but for £10 (discounted from £30) i couldn't really say no to it. then we caught the train back to Elaine's place in Stoke-Mandeville. very picker-esque. picked up Elaine's husband Sean and went to dinner at Chequers, which is old school english pub. food was lovely. it didn't get dark until about 10pm, so we didnt really end up in bed until half past midnightish, i think. i do know that i woke up with a cat on my chest this morning, a big fat thing called Toby. 

caught the train back to Maryleborne, then from Baker St to Finchely then bus to Golders and now i'm knackered. i go to Amsterdam tomorrow, which i'm terrified and excited about. i have to leave here at about 6am, which will be fun, and then i'll have to find the hostel once i do get there. 

i don't really know what to make of London. there are far too many tourists (which is not the same as foreigners, thank you very much mr racist bus driver) and far too many people looking annoyed. it smells like one of my brothers socks if the sock had managed to survive for three billion years. but at the same time i've never been somewhere so alive. something is always happening and i imagine that whatever your taste, you can find it in London. but i don't really know if i could live there. my granny always told me "oh you'll love London the moment you get off the plane" but i'm not so sure. i think i could grow to love it here (i could move into thr BM or the Portrait Gallery or Ken Wood tomorrow) but it just feels too big. a person could disappear here. people probably do. 

having said that, i've only really been here two weeks. i've barely scratched the surface. (athough i did go to Neasden. which was depressing) maybe when i come back at the end of august. maybe when i come back in the middle of november. maybe not. 


i'm not really that homesick. 

that's a lie. 

mum rang me when i was in the V&A on wednesday, and after i spoke to her i had to leave The Supremes Exhibit and go and sit in the Cast Courts Room before i felt i could take on the world again. and there are a bunch of greek tourists who think that australians are insane because they see a plate with three girls drinking on it and get all weepy (for the record it made me think of our nights at the Shakey, alright?) and sometimes i see people sitting in cafes talking and suddenly there's a lump in my throat. i don't know. i'm too sensitive and too defensive for normality. 

but i think i thought i'd leave and that would be it. that would be the end of my time in sydney and i wouldn't miss anyone or anything. but i put down roots there, made ties and bonds and friends and enemies. i grew up there and even if it never felt like home because of teenage angst, it is home. it's where the people i love are (and they fucking well better be missing me and my idiot tendencies) it's where i got drunk for the first time, where i saw my first gig, got stoned. it's where i've lived and i've left scars all over that city in the same way that city has left scars all over me. it's not so much that i miss the buildings or the people who i didn't know. but i miss having my city to bitch at, the same way that sydney probably misses having me to mess about with. there's one less scowling person on the train, one less professional cynical person in the dingy pubs, one less barton in our house (which is apparently falling down.) but at the same time i don't feel australian yet. i don't sound like an australian but i don't sound english or polish or nigerian. i sound like a maddie. a madeleine (i sound like a small cake) and even if i never get comfortable in my own skin i think i'm slowly adjusting to the fact that this is my skin and my body and i have it and i have to reach some sort of compromise, i can't be that wannabe headcase girl anymore. which is liberating really. i don't know what i'm writing really, if any of it makes sense or if its just pretentious and self indulgent, but thats the great thing about being my age. i'm allowed to say all these things and think all these wanky thoughts (because if i don't think them now i'll turn into a vegetable.) because i'm 'finding myself'

i just wish i'd left better directions.


i've managed to get my hands on some songs by The Twilight Sad. i wish i'd known about them before i'd gone to see them, i think i would have enjoyed them even more than i did. they're definitely fantastic.  

Thursday, June 19, 2008

'we're no' fuckin' guns 'n' roses, ay?"

i have the first (of many) northern hemisphere hangovers. no real difference to southern hemisphere hangovers. except for lack of waking up with bread bag/emma/miscellaneous objects in my bed. i feel shocking, but i think its mostly because i've been pushing myself quite a bit. normally if i go to a gig (like i did on tuesday) i'll spend the next day recovering. instead i dragged myself to the V&A and then out to meet my second cousin Freddie. and that's where the trouble started, really. i think appreciation of wine is a family trait. 

Tuesday - london gigs are much louder than sydney ones* which lead me to think that perhaps all the smog and pollution makes for ear insulation? or something. anyway. i trotted off to Cargo to see one band that i knew and three that i didn't. breakdown is as follows

a sort of. well. a'capella beach boys? except if that sounds good in your head, you might be a bit disappointed. the main problem with this band is that there's too much going on, but at the same time each song sounded the same - and started in a really jarring way. still the record scouts sniffing round seemed to sense potential and zoomed in on them. if they can tighten their sound up a bit, and maybe introduce some diversity into their songs (gosh, thats a bit contrary) then theres no reason why they couldn't be indie's next big thing. (especially if they continue to wear button up shirts down up to the collar)

the one band i knew! the reason i went tonight! i was a bit worried that this band would take themselves too seriously or something, but they were lovely to watch and even more lovely to listen to. "Strays" was formidable and brooding, "Mysterious Skin" meandering and gentle. OAV remind me of Leonard Cohen when it comes to their subject matter, but their lead singer trips and stumbles over his words with a softness that Cohen doesnt't have. they're a very endearing band to watch. also they get bonus points for having a female drummer. 

it's very poor form of me to say this, but when this sextet (i think there were 6 of them. i couldn't really see because the lead singer of everything everything kept standing in front of me.) took to the stage i thought "huh. farmers." and then they played their first song and i thought "huh. this is awesome." i think their music probably sounds better live than on record, but they were pretty great to watch, as every member seemed to play about four instruments each, including ukulele and accordion and cello. the lead singers voice is unabashedly scottish and folksy but the music is like. electric folk punk almost. very very very very good. they deserve to be huge. 

intense. very intense and serious, until the lead singer dryly comments "this is the first time we've come on stage to steely dan and we never want to do tha' again". the music is massive in sound and reminded me of coal mines and oil rigs, i have no idea why. it's not indie pop, but Twilight Sad is definitely indie in the true sense of the word indie, that is 'independent" and has its own acidic edge and snarl. it was a little too loud, but that didn't bother me. standout track was "Here It Never Snowed. Afterwards It Did." which has a swirling soundscape and a low growly storyline. other standout moment was the lead singer chiding the drummer for an exhuberant drum roll that followed his "we're the twilight sad" *drum roll* "ach, we're no' fuckin' guns 'n' roses', ay?" 

pretty good night, except that london is like fucking purple sneakers all the time, and my self esteem isn't really strong enough for that. you need tits of steel to handle being looked at like you're a colonial. except my new thing will be to say to them "you, you and you. fuck off, i'm having tiffen." 

*excluding brmc at the metro. there were aliens dancing to spread your love and their neighbours were screaming 'turn it down!' 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

this great ghostly garden

meant to put this photo up earlier. this is one of the best things i've seen in london so far - in Queens House, which is part of the Tower Of London and is the Governor's home. i'm not sure how well you  can see it, but its washing. in the Tower of London. it probably says something rather unflattering about me that i took photos of this rather than of the scaffold sculpture. i would have liked a better picture (theres a pair of red knickers just out of the shot) but alas i was too short to get anything better than this. 

i spent the day at the British Museum yesterday. i think i'll need to go back when i come back in london at the end of august. it's massive and busy and fantastic. highlight was hearing a bunch of Greek tourists complaining about the Pantheon. the Rosetta Stone is smaller than you think. Ramses II was clearly a tad self-obsessed. and oh, the clocks! i wanted to take the boat clock home with me! it was so very awesome and intricate and who cares if the actual clock part was only about the size of an orange, this is a gold boat clock! it had cannons! and figurines! i wish it still worked. or maybe not. i might have been arrested trying to smuggle it out (is that a boat clock in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?). Other highlights of the day included nearly knocking some school children off the staircase and i don't know. everything. will have to go back to see the Hadrian exhibit when it opens.

i had a haircut today. i'm fairly sure that I've got a cold - clogged sinuses and head feels like a brick wrapped in cotton wool being bashed on a chalkboard. also my throats all scratchy. feel like i should be out doing something, but considering i'm going out tonight (to see Orphans & Vandals! yes!) and then out again tomorrow night (family!) and then i'm in Stoke-Mandeville thursday night (more family!) and then on a plane at a very early hour on saturday morning (Amsterdam! grandparentals!) i feel quite justified in curling up and reading for a bit. might go for a walk on Hampstead Heath this afternoon. its grey again and i wish the weather would make up its mind. 

Monday, June 16, 2008

With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly

i'm listening to the new Sigur Ros album, "Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust" which is streaming here but you need to go out and buy this album right now.  i wrote about their new single "Gobbledigook" a few weeks ago. but it just keeps getting better. Sigur Ros are one of the reasons that I've always wanted to go to Iceland, because a country that is capable of producing such epically intimate sounds has got to be the best place on earth. this is the sort of music that makes all the bad stuff worth it. 

the album title translates "with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly" which rings true for every music fanatic who goes to gigs and refuses to wear earplugs and then listens to their ipod on the way home. one of my best Sigur Ros memories is catching the train home from seeing Bloc Party at the Hordern Pavillion last year. i was bruised and exhausted and pissed off, but when i put on "Saeglopur" (one of my favourite songs ever), everything melted away. the idea that music is endless is fantastic. listening to Sigur Ros is an experience that simultaneously separates and glues you to the world. 

i don't really like writing about music like this because it comes off sounding very very very very very wanky, but this is a band that you need to listen to, because they will make you believe in beauty and hope again. this is music for sunrises and sunsets and rainy days and sunday afternoons. this is music to listen to as your plane flies you somewhere new or somewhere old. this is music for being stoned to, music for sobriety and absolute drunkenness. this is a soundtrack to life, this is music that will change your life. it will make you slow down and appreciate things, it will make you want to try new things. Sigur Ros are considered one of indie music's 'best kept secrets' but i think that's elitist bullshit. this is music for families and soloists. this is the stuff of dreams, and if all this ranting hasn't convinced you to go and listen to them yet then you must be made of stone. just take five minutes with this band, and i dare you to tell me that your heart didn't quicken, your breath wasn't stolen. 

and even if they don't change your life, they'll at least make your day different. 


think i may be getting a cold, which is annoying. i feel all sluggish and clogged up. not fun. went to Hampstead Heath today and had breakfast at Ken Wood. felt like i was in a Jane Austen novel, sadly no appearance of Mr Darcy. lots of dogs however, including a family with three (THREE!!) Airedales, all off their leashes and behaving beautifully. very different to my own airedale Spike. i've seen a lot of airedales around (well. five.) and they all have this familiar mad gleam in their eyes that says "yes, i'm behaving, but only because you're watching me. the minute your back is turned i'm going to roll in the mud and jump on your bed" also saw lots of toy dogs which aren't really dogs, just animated balls of fluff. i could easily live in Hampstead. except for the fact that some of the houses go for over £8 million. and also its very snobby. very very very snobby. but the Heath is beautiful. you can see all of London from it, and it's interesting, the way London seems very big but isn't really a sky scraper city. it's just sprawling. 

yesterday i did Portobello Markets. got to see where Greer used to hold court. the markets themselves are like Glebe or Paddington, except with added crush. i looked at a skirt for a while until i realised that the reason it looked familiar is because it's maddywatts' pop art skirt that she got in the markets in Sydney. so much for originality. nearly bought a Gordon's Gin handbag but the zip on it was broken and the guy wants $25 for it. not happening. bought lunch and ate it in Hyde Park, before polishing off Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which was fantastic and insane and brilliantly written. when i've got my head unfuzzed i'll review it properly.

in the evening Hazel and i went to a concert at Wigmore Hall which was very posh. performing were Fenella Barton (no relation to me) on violin and Simone Dinnerstein on piano. They played Bach's Sonata in C minor BWV 1017, Beethoven's Sonata in A major Op.47 "Kreutzer", Philip Lasser's "Chaconne Variations for violin and piano" (which was a world premiere!) and Schubert's Fantasie Op. post.159 D934. Of all four pieces, my favourite was the Beethoven, which rollicked along tremendously. i'm not a big fan of either instrument, but Dinnerstein plays in such an emotive fashion that i couldn't take my eyes off her. Barton's playing is crisp and defined and together they made for a lively performance. the main gripe i often have with classical music is that there's no interpretation of it, the artists just play the notes on the page. that's not art. when you get a feel for how the artist feels about the piece, when you find yourself exhausted after a fifteen minute performance because you have been so intently focusing on the sound, that's art. and that was last night. i was a bit shocked to be told that Fenella has only recently recovered from acute rheumatoid arthritis. you'd never know it, she's fantastic. 


sometimes i come across sounding like a snob, don't i? sorry about that. but i enjoy what i enjoy, and its very rare that i don't want to share things that i enjoy. that's probably why i've never really been accepted by the indie crowd. well, that and i'm not tall enough. or skinny enough. 

the sense of humour and post modernism probably don't help that much either. 

Sunday, June 15, 2008

ding dong

i think a small child has broken into the church next door and is ringing the bells with inordinate amounts of glee and very little attention to rhythm. i bet it knows just how annoying it is, too. i bet all the small children in the area get up extra early on sunday morning in order to run to the church and ring the bell, cackling. 

little bastards. 

Saturday, June 14, 2008

you've gotta spend some time, love

Bre will undoubtedly roll around on the floor laughing at me, but i really really really like the new Death Cab For Cutie song - "I Will Possess Your Heart."

There are a few reasons why this song is pretty awesome.

1. It has a long introduction - it's not until about 4:33 that Ben Gibbard starts singing. This is a Good Thing. 
2. It has a nice bassline - I am a sucker for basslines*. This bassline doesn't really go anywhere, but it makes itself known. There is nothing wrong with being nice. Nice is good.
3. It has a video that is rather nifty - it's probably because I'm traveling at the moment that I like this video, because its a montage of a girl traveling. (I'd like to think I'm better dressed than her though.) 
4. It has a sinister undercurrent - this is Death Cab For Cutie we're talking about here. They don't really do sinister or songs that have the sort of sexual tension/predatory nature that is predominant in a lot of music I listen to** but if you really listen to the lyrics, there's something lurking there. The protagonist in the song insists that if the object*** of his desires hangs out with him, then she'll see things his way "you've gotta spend some time with me, i know that you'll find love"  but his idea is one of possession, as evident in the title of the song. "I Will Possess Your Heart" that's a bit presumptuous, isn't it? This guy is a stalker! "there are days when outside your window i see my reflection" and we're supposed to find this romantic??? I think DC4C are having us on here. They know this song is about obsession and that obsession breeds darkness in the blood and other nasty things. I don't know why I find that appealing. Maybe its because as nice as nice things are, sometimes the underbelly is much more fun. And in this song, there's a mellow blend of the two. A meeting point
5. It is a long song - at 8:27, this song is long enough for me to listen to from the bus stop to Finchley Road Station. Normally I like a little variety in my transport songs, but as I'm still getting used to where I am, this song is unobtrusive enough for the bus ride. By next week though, I think I'll be ready for something new.

*this is my excuse for liking Fall Out Boy - Patrick Stump knows the power of basslines. Pity about Wentz being the bassplayer and all. 
** when I say 'sexual tension/predatory nature' I'm talking about songs that have a strut to them, a swing, something that makes you feel a little defiant, a little powerful, a little dangerous. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "Spread Your Love" is the best example of this. With a song like this, you could take over the world.
*** he's probably singing about a girl. but with boys like this, the girl is an object. they can't help it, it's a sort of whimpy sexism that's inbuilt. blame it on their skinny jeans or something. 


The Revenger's Tragedy @ The National Theatre
June 12

After spending the afternoon in The National Gallery & The National Portrait Gallery listening to The National, I decided to wander across Waterloo Bridge to The National Theatre and take advantage of their £10 tickets. Turned out to be a Very Very Good Decision. (Partly because it was a windy cold day and inside it was warm and snug.)

When I bought my ticket, I was informed that I could either have a seat in the front row or a seat in the back row. I went for the front row, and was a little apprehensive when I got to my seat as the stage was as about as high as me. However I had a fantastic view of what was a fantastic play. 

The Revenger's Tragedy is by Middleton, a contemporary of Shakespeare's, but I found it a little easier to grasp the language of - perhaps because it was bawdy and vicious. The play is about a man called Vindice (played by Roy Kinnear's son Rory) whose sweetheart has been poisoned by the Duke. His brother Hippolito (played by Jamie Parker who was Scripps in The History Boys!) encourages him to go to court to attempt revenge, ends up working for the Duke's son who is trying to seduce Vindice's sister. Meanwhile the Duke's stepson is on trial for rape, the Duchess is shagging the Duke's bastard and the other two stepsons are idiots and Vindice's mother is bonkers and the third courtier had a very nice bum. It's a romp, there's no denying it. Kinnear & Parker were fabulous, bounding around the stage spitting couplets everywhere. The staging was interesting, set on a revolving floor, divided into four sections. It was all very imposing and decadent. Unlike most productions that deal with texts that are 400+ years old, this production didn't attempt to drag the text into a modern context, instead it provided the context through the dress of the characters (a melange of rave and 1950s costuming) and set ( a study, an expensive strip club, a court and a courtyard) that allowed the text to breathe and be interpreted as the audience saw fit. 

Personally I thought it was wicked in every sense of the word. There's an air of decadence that fits in both with Middletons and contemporary society, which perhaps says that we haven't changed all that much in the intervening years. The play also points out that there is nothing humans love more than the concept of more.

(I enjoyed the performance more than I've enjoyed anything by the STC in the past 2 years, which is a little sad. The National Theatre is just one of the many theatres in London, and I wish that Sydney could equal it. Or surpass it. That'd be awesome.) 

Thursday, June 12, 2008


it was always about leaving. and my pathological desire not to be held down. even though i made a habit of letting you down. but. i don't believe in goodbyes or bon voyages or happy sentiments. i don't think those things matter, and as i recall, you didn't believe in the word 'friendship' so your high horse is a shetland pony. we're on even ground here. i fucked up big time, but so did you. in this world of quick shots, you've gotta learn to count your bullets. after all, i did.


my main gripe with sydney is that it's alot like paris hilton - technically pretty, but icy. and kind of weird - you know there's got to be some sort of hidden depth but fucked if you can work out how to access it. my opinion of london so far is that its a lot like kylie minouge - warm and welcoming and sparkling, but boy, you have to work hard to get some meaning out of it.


i want to write on this blog the way i did on my old one, but the idea of doing that freaks me out a bit.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

the gentry cove

It's a bit of a nanny zone, is London. In my three days here, I've been told what to do by automated voices more than I ever have in twenty years of Sydney transport. turn your headphones down. touch in - touch out with your oyster. the next stop is embankment. change for circle line. mind the gap. this is the 13 to aldwych. this is oxford circus. please be patient. there are delays. stand to the right. silence in the chapel. don't do that, this or that. thank you and have a good day. oh, and don't do that, either. It's not that bad. Just mildly irritating. 

One has to admire londoners - in a city that is essentially a beehive that collided with a maze and then was sick on top of a whirpool, they've managed to at least sort out the transport. Everything is run with a sort of cool stiff upper lip attitude. Much different to the "well. we'll do something about it eventually" attitude of Sydney. How is Morris (dil)Iemma, by the way? Still fussing over John Della Bosca (prick) and his horrid wife (I couldn't believe I found myself agreeing with Dr Nelson when he described her as an ugly bully)?

Yesterday I got the 13 bus into town, walked along the Thames, over the Thames, along past the National Theatre, the Globe and then crossed back over, went to Tate Britain, wandered through Westminster, past Houses of Parliament and the Abbey and all that. Clogged with tourists who've forgotten how to get dressed in the morning. For once I felt quite chic in my little blue skirt and striped shirt. Don't think I really heard any British accents in that area, just pissed off Americans who were complaining about the heat and the fact that there were all these other tourists who kept getting in the way of their photos. I must confess to a sick delight of mine - walking through people's photos. Having my headphones in means I don't have to hear them yell at me. 

Hazel and her godson Sam took me out last night for Indian, which was delicious. Different to home, sort of, being a South Indian restaurant, (although my local is South Indian. Best onion pokoras ever) but I did have a half of Kingfisher. Not sure when (if ever) I'll be able to manage a pint of the stuff. A pint glass is nearly the same size as me. Then we went up to The Spaniard for a drink - it was about 10pm and still light, which was novel. Another drink, then back home to bed. Will definitely try and get there again, place was quiet and snug. Very different to the Mercantile or the Shakey or bloody Star Bar. 

Today it's been a bit cooler and grey. I took myself off early to see the Tower Of London. Best thing about it was the small exhibit dedicated to Paddington Bear! Also amsuing was the four Germans who found Henry VIII's codpiece hysterical. Henry VIII was huge. And terrifying. The Line Of Kings was interesting, as was the Medieval Palace, but being forced to watch the QE2's coronation as I waited to get into The Jewel House was a bit much, or so I thought until I saw the Crown Jewels, which were definitely too much. All that money, just sitting there when people in Africa and India and the Northern Territory have nowhere to sleep tonight? Ugh. Of course the Gift Shop(s) were the most busy places, so I avoided them like the plague and tottered over The Tower Bridge, down to City Hall (which looks like a very big hen accidentally left an egg behind) and did the Queen's Walk, which was basically a very windy walk along the Thames. I think I did it backwards or something. Hopped on the tube at Monument Station (tried to go up the Monument, but heard American voices and retreated) and went wandering around South Kensington for a bit, before the weather went foul and I came back here. Hazel is out - last I heard she was having lunch at The House Of Lords, which is a bit posh, so she's probably done something like gotten herself arrested and I'll never see her again. 

At some point, I'm going to have to start spending money - so far the most I've spent is £14 on the Tower. One of the nifty things about cashpoints though is that they let you take out £10 amounts, as opposed to Sydney ones, which won't let you take out $10 or $30. 

I'm trying to read "The Piano Teacher" but it's. Well. It's not as good as Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which should be made compulsory inflight entertainment for long haul flights. Music wise I've been listening to a lot of Bloc Party, Dirty Pretty Things, Yeti and Black Kids. I'd really love to go and see Yeti, but I don't think I can be trusted not to have some massive fangirl moment and embarrass myself in front of John Hassall. Those cheekbones should not be legal. Apparently he can open bottle tops with them. (Harmony told me that when I interviewed them for sadly defunct Shoot!Bang!Fire! Thats the only reason they keep him around, yknow.)

Once my jet lag has been vanquished, I'll do my best to get to a gig or two. I'd really like to see Her Name Is Calla, but that might have to wait until I get back from Europe at the end of August. Also on the list is Bark Cat Bark. I was going to go to festival in France, but realised that on day two my arch nemeses Panic At The Disco are playing. I'm not so dumb that I'd walk into the mouth of the lion. 

And that's about it really. I'm a bit lonely, hence the length of these posts. This blog is so different the my old one, which was all about how I wanted to be perceived. I have to remember with this one that there are a number of people who know about it's existence who will call me on my bullshit. I've also started to realise that you can position yourself however you like, but there's always going to be someone who sees right through you and calls you on your wanky behaviour. It's not really a question of people misunderstanding you but of people not getting your facade. I'd love to crap on about representations and images of self  and all that stuff, but I'm exhausted and hungry and anyway, you know it all, don't you?

Monday, June 9, 2008

my eyes are saucers

So I'm in London! It's 25 Degrees Celsius, sunny, and totally not stereotypical London weather. I arrived at 4.45am this morning, and the enormity of what I've done still hasn't hit me. I spent most of the first leg of my trip reading the new James Bond book which was probably not the best idea (in true Bond fashion, he ends up on a plane and you can guess the rest), listening to Youthmovies, Voxtrot and mixes made by Libby & Laura. The man next to me alternated between swearing at how long it was taking (nine hours) and snoring. The headphone socket for my inflight entertainment was broken, so I got given lollies by Charles the air steward, who also rescued me when I wanted to get things out of the overhead locker and couldn't reach. He was trying very hard not to laugh. I wasn't. I think it's hysterical, my hight). 

Landing in Hong Kong was sticky and dark, but the skyline is fantastic (although slightly ruined by the profile of my still snoring seat mate) We were given stickers to prove we were transfer passengers, and then let loose. At 11pm Hong Kong time, not much was open, but I wandered around, nearly locked myself in a toilet permanently, and looked at their "Innovation Invention" displays, which included a weird floating radio shaped like an anchor, and some sort of sperm shaped thing designed to open and heat cans. After ninety minutes of that, back on the plane, different seat (exit row aisle! oh the leg room!) but next to a baby who wasn't impressed about being on a plane for 13 hours. Well ducky, neither was I, but I didn't scream and holler and try to steal other people's teddy bears, did I?? The baby's mother decided the way to calm her baby down was to go "tchk tchk tchk" at it repeatedly. I watched Horton Hears A Who and read Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell, before trying The Other Boleyn Girl, which I tired of as quickly as Henry VIII did of both sisters (oo, historical joke). So back on with the ipod, Editors, Sigur Ros and The National doing their best to make the 13 hours go as quickly as possible. Unfortunatley the deep voice of Tom Smith didn't drown out baby, so I escaped to the back of the plane and made friends with one of the stewards, and talked about first time travel and airplane food. Then I managed to catch a bit of sleep, before waking up and being told we were over Amsterdam and due to land in about an hour and a half. 

When we did land, it was textbook. Apparently landing is the easiest part. I suppose it isn't that hard to hit the ground. I managed to tug my bag from the overhead locker and get off the plane, then walk the eighty bajillion miles to the baggage carousel, wait for half an hour for my bag, catch the Heathrow Express (best train trip of my life.) to Paddington, where I was met by my grandmother's second cousin Hazel, who I'm staying with. She gave me a warm welcome, and I stood in Paddington, thinking "holy fuck, what am I doing here?" (a repeated thought of the past twenty hours). London is huge and complex and I haven't even seen much of it yet, but I'm overwhelmed. It's sunny and green. We caught a black cab (Hazel's car has been stolen) and went past the infamous Abbey Road. The traffic was non existent, a rarity for London. Hazel's house is like a dream - every possible surface is covered in books and paintings. I can hear kids screaming and it's starting to hit me, just how real this all is. 

I can't quite believe I did it. Claudia, Mum, Emma and Lizz saw me off at the airport, and I didn't cry that much, honest, only because I was too busy thinking "oh shit oh shit oh shit" but I'm so glad I'm here. I can't wait to explore. Tomorrow I think I'll take it easy and have a bit of a wander around. Hazel is taking me to meet her mum this afternoon, and has promised a tour tomorrow evening. We've already booked a flight to Amsterdam on June 21st, which is going to be awesome. Now that the nerves have dissipated, I'm full of excitement. 

I'm in London, and it's a long way from home. But that's what this trip is all about really, isn't it? It's about being scared. It's about being excited. It's about seeing new things and new people. It's about making a new home that I can carry around with me all the time, as wanky as that sounds. It's about taking risks and making mistakes. It's pretty fucking awesome, now that I think about it.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

last minute OCD

A Black dress that smells like Indian food from last night.
Penguin Leggings.
Ankle boots that will reach the end of their usefulness when I reach London.
French Necklace.
Dog Tags.
Clean Underwear


Campbell's Soupcan Dress
Mozart Dress
Fairytale Tunic
Art Smock
Snowflake Dress
Woolen Dress
Denim Skirt
Sailor Skirt
Red Plaid Plath Skirt
Green Schoolgirl Skirt
So many many many stockings
Band Shirts
Plain Shirts
Rainbow Paddlepop Scarf (knitted by Laura)
Clean Underwear

(Not enough.)
The Piano Teacher
Life: A User's Manual
God's War
London Guide
Scandinavian Guide
Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell
And The Ass Saw The Angel

(Not Enough)
(see profile for details)
Every single Editors song and remix I could get my paws on.

Fuji FinePix (nicknamed "The Hot Shot")

Jacques The Emo Bear

One very very very very very very very very very very nervous and excited Maddie Barton

Saturday, June 7, 2008

dance dance dance to the radio

my farewell-slash-twentieth birthday party was last night. it went down like the titanic - lots of screaming, drinking and denial. screams and hoots of "i can't believe you're leaving!" & "i can't believe i'm leaving!" & "oh my god! i know!" followed by "quick, my glass is nearly empty!" and eventually. well. eventually dancing. (see photographic evidence - me the short one, libby the tall one)

the idea of parties never exactly thrill me, because it inevitably means cleaning. however emma and i stumbled on what it probably a tried and true method of cleaning up after a party - continue to drink! i noticed this morning that i had been savaged by an unknown kitchen appliance. my finger hurts.

so now its getting closer to lift off, and i'm terrified, i'm petrified, i'm not even excited anymore. this all seems too big, too badly organised, too slapdash.



so it won't be all bad.

and i've been told i have to make this a music blog, not a whiny blog, so.

bands that are, for want of a better word, totally kicking it right now.

1. The Joy Formidable
2. Orphans And Vandals

3. Her Name Is Calla
4. Tim Steward
5. Bark Cat Bark (technically not a band, but his remixes are amazing)

i'm so drained right now - the hangover hung around all day, kicked me twice as hard when i realised that i had to pack, and then was mollified by indian food - the restaurant organised a cake for me! and now i still haven't finished packing my toiletries, and the thought that i'm leaving the country in a little over twelve hours has got me twitching.


and yeah, it's my birthday now, and people think its fabulous to rub that in. there are some sick fucks in this country, people who tried to get under my skin and worm past my ribcage. lucky me, i've got one hell of a bile duct. there's no room for fuck ups and betrayals in this game i'm playing. so, yeah, it's my birthday and we haven't spoken for sixth months, and if things could stay that way, i'd be as close to content as i've ever been. because in this game i'm playing, you aren't even on the board anymore.



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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

it'd be really very nice if all mothers were like they are in picture books.

Monday, June 2, 2008

trust me

i'm not exactly skilled at planning ahead. the word "tomorrow" never held much sway over me. i almost liked the way everything backfired at me. until now, when i really really really can't afford to fuck things up. it's probably ironic - the one thing i didn't want to mess up, i made catastrophic.

i was supposed to leave on my birthday (a design to help me avoid the damn thing) but my own self destructive nature put a stop to that. i'm not even nervous about going anymore. not even excited. completely apathetic, which is disappointing.

disappointment is the worst thing in the world.


people think that i talk a lot of shit, and they're right. i rarely go through with anything, and when i do, people are a little surprised. they like it when i fuck up, its a regular thing to rely on, especially when i'm so unreliable. and now, now they're all expecting this, even if they won't ever say it out loud. and thats what really tears at me. the fact that they all knew i'd fuck this one up, and they were all just waiting for it to happen.


i dont even want to go anymore. seriously.