Friday, November 30, 2007

I am dusting off my Chipmunk's Christmas Special CD as we speak...

Jinga ling ling, Christmas time is coming up. The lights are up, shoppers are going crazy and all is jolly and merry in the air. As I sit, wrapped in my scarf in this cold glass building, I sneak peeks at the Christmas fair that has gone up outside Potters Field and feel a bit better about the winter chill... Little children appear out of no where (don't they have school to go to?) and everyone rushes out in their lunch break to buy some mince pies and Christmas cards. The best thing about winter in this country is Christmas time, the whole city lights up and there's something special in the air... I love watching the lights go up, this year I especially like the Art Deco lights of Regent's street and not very impressed by Oxford Street this year. I am certainly most impressed by the decorations in our flat...

Our tree was bought last year when my flatmate went out to get a "small little jobbie from Waitrose" and came back with a huge 6 foot (fake) tree with a trunk full of decorations. She had a sparkle in her eye and infected me with Christmasitis, we had a ball putting up decorations. I always liked Christmas decorations, but I suppose coming from a place where we don't really celebrate Christmas I was initially shocked by how far my flatemate goes to decorate the flat. I'm not just talking christmas lights, a tree and some baubles - I'm talking mini little snow topped cottages on our tree skirt and plushy beefeaters, as well as a few Christmas doggy ornaments and the special coffee mugs that come out every winter. Every night we get a chance to settle on the couch to watch some tv, the first thing we do is put on the Christmas lights on the window, light up the tree, and then sit in the relatively dark living room to relax. We always have to have the tree up before SinterKlaas (my flatmate is Belgian) and we must on the night of the 5th of December put out a carrot and a drink for Santa and his horse (yes, we're not 4, but before she wakes up I make sure there are some chocolate gold coins in my flatmate's shoes... and to my surprise, when I wake up the carrot and drink are gone! Must be a Christmas miracle...).

In the office there hasn't been much of a Christmas feel until today - the day of our Christmas Ball. The jolly admin staff have already sent around an email to notify us that we cannot ruin our brand new building in any way, so we are not allowed to hang Christmas decorations - well, at all. I mean, we can put some our desks but what fun is that? Let me tell you, the secretaries are not pleased.... This means nothing from the ceiling, no fake snow on the windows, no snow flakes or little christmas teddies anywhere. I understand it's not professional, but come on... it's Christmas... and if I can't have office decorations, well then Ricky Gervais lied to me in The Office. Hmph. Scrooges.

This is our busiest time of year in my department so I haven't had much time to do any Christmas shopping or go to a Christmas Fayre, but I will make time soon enough. Although last year I had the pleasure of spending Christmas with two of my dearest friends, I've opted to go back home and spend this time of year with my family, especially my nieces. If anything, Christmas is for them (how funny for me to say "them" and not "her"... there's two of them now!) so I want to go back and just be with them... I now wonder what I would have done if I had to spend Christmas here alone (probably working) - Although it is a lovely time of year, it's the most lonely if you'd have to spend it by yourself and that I am not planning on doing... No sirree...

And while we're at it, I feel like I should put up my Christmas Wishlist for those of you who are stuck for ideas:

1. An iPod that will not die after a few months of serious usage, can hold all my photos, my music, tell me the weather, pull up maps of dingy side streets when I'm lost, look pretty... basically, an iPhone.
2. Sunshine in a jar. Comme ca.
3. Some nice leather boots
4. Perhaps a nice handbag to go along with my nice leather boots
5. A Castle (or for those on a budget, the pink Sheera castle I had when I was a kid needs to be replaced)
6. A baby grand piano
7. Gift certificates for John Lewis (sensible aren't I?)

Let's all get into the spirit now... xxx

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Absolutely Gutted

Yes you twat, cry.... hold your umbrella and sob because after tonight's performance, I really don't see how you'll be keeping your job... You may not want to resign but you'll definitely think about it when you come home to a trashed house and your car on fire...

It is completely your fault England have not qualified tonight... they played appallingly tonight... 4-3-3? What were you thinking? Why? And then watching Crouch play alone oh my... He may have scored the second goal but what were you thinking.... The whole team was absolute rubbish...

Carson... my oh my oh my... I don't think there's anything I can say that hasn't been said already...

I'm so upset... I can't believe we were clinging on to Andorra as our last chance to equalise against Russia... Andorra who haven't made it in the last 29 years were supposed to score a goal for us and they couldn't come through... All fairness to Andorra, they probably weren't as horrible as England tonight...

So much I can say but I think I should go to bed... goodnight...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Out and about: London Jazz Festival

I really needed to chill out. Predicting a peak in what one could call emotional instability, I sent an email to a friend with a link -"jazz at lunchtime?" - to which she was quick to agree to meet on Sunday at Waterloo ready to switch off and just chill out. The long sunny week passed and when Sunday came, the weather was horrible and we had to walk far too long to get a cup of coffee, but when we finally got to the Royal Festival Hall and saw the dim light stage, we relaxed. After finding a proper seat, I slipped into a stream of rhythm and forgot about my worries and my doubts...

We attended a performance consisting of 3 of England's top contemporary jazz bands in the Southbank Centre and although we only got to see one band, it was well worth it. The band consisted of a piano, saxophone, trumpet, bass and the drums and the composition of the music was very young, very vibrant and very, very good.

The nice thing about listening to contemporary jazz bands is the different ways of integrating each individual sound together. In the band we saw, there was no singer - which I prefer only because I tend to focus on the instruments rather than the singing (and usually the piano, just my own personal preference). The type of music that was being played wasn't the type that you could write lyrics to, let alone sing along to: any attempt to add any written words would have ruined it all for me personally. The final sound that came out together was just right for the audience of all ages and very current to today's tastes.

Some people don't like this particular style of music because they don't find it uniform enough and hard to follow - there's no obvious bridge or scale and can sound off key. Every instrument plays a different role which on the surface doesn't seem like it goes with the rest of the band - for instance, the piano player sounds like she's constantly hitting the wrong keys while the trumpet sounds like it would be better off alone. But what's great is that once you dissect each instrument and musician by himself, that is a song in itself - and every musician was playing to the same subtle tune. In one song, each musician had a solo in which at the end of the mini performances, when they all came together, the song made sense and you appreciated each musical contribution separately.

Some people also think that this sort of music requires a lot of improvising from the musician. I have to disagree with this because although it may sound like a lot of improvising (what may sound like a lot of mistakes, a lot of missed keys) - a lot of the time, it's actually not. After paying attention to a whole song, you'll notice the pattern of the music that really requires talent by someone who is trained in that genre.

As I said, I tend to focus on the piano if there is one because it's my favourite instrument so my eyes were glued to the pianists fingers - she was incredible, and I could tell it was from a lot of practice to refine that particular song. A lot of funky finger rolling was going on and I was just in awe, which also made me appreciate the rest of the band because the music wasn't all in the piano - the whole band was extremely talented and I could see why they were one of the best contemporary jazz bands of the country at the moment.

Although I really love the piano, I much prefer listening to a jazz band than one musician. There is talent in playing a musical instrument but there is far more talent in synchronizing your music with someone else's, especially in a genre like this. The band was very good and very original - they avoided the whole mainstream jazz scene which is exactly what I wanted to hear. It was a good end to the week and a much needed change from the norm - I'm hoping to catch another performance soon so long as I'm not stuck in my office building too often...

The London Jazz Festival will be on until Sunday the 25th of November with events on every day. Events at the Southbank Centre can be seen here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Forster Gallery

You can buy me the prints. All of them.

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