diamond geezer

 Sunday, October 07, 2012

» I wasn't planning to visit Trafalgar Square on Saturday, I didn't know anything was happening, but a row of telltale tents along the front of the National Gallery reveals otherwise. Which nationality or religion might be imprinting its image beneath Nelson's Column today? Ah, it's Japan, in the annual Matsuri festival, with lanterns and rising suns dotted all around the parapets. London's Japanese community are out in force, as well as hundreds of others enjoying the culture, the live music and the food. A lot of hot food is available, from miso soup to tempura, and several clusters of pleased-looking folk sat on the steps slurping noodles. Two of the major sponsors appear to be airlines, one dishing out blue balloons, while martial arts are on display up near the Fourth Plinth. Artistic visitors can get folding with the British Origami Society, or add their drawings to a (not entirely convincing) Manga Wall. Here's Fran's report of what you missed, and how wonderfully colourful it all was. But if you're thinking you might like to have visited, sorry, it's all over until 2013. The Visit London website had no mention, and there was bugger all about it in this week's giveaway Time Out. In a London where listings are so inadequately incomplete, alas, it's amazing such events get any audience at all.

» The Saatchi Gallery, on Chelsea's Kings Road, can be a bit hit or miss. Their idea of contemporary art is often a bit too contemporary for me, or talentless as those less positively inclined might say. But the current exhibition is three floors of photography, which makes a refreshing change, and not a pile of twisted spray-painted metal in sight. A great variety of styles is on show, from deep-coloured landscapes to sliced Hollywood portraits, plus a woman with an octopus for a face, which is even more arresting than it sounds. But my favourite gallery featured works by Jon Rafman, if you can call "cut and pasting images off Google Street View" work. Jon's been searching five years of camera-car images from around the world for the unlikely, the appalling and the absurd. A body lies covered in the street, a bedraggled child hides behind a bin, a fox squeezes through a gap in some railings, a tornado strikes ahead, a van catches fire, a policeman raises his arms in triumph, a stag walks across the road, that sort of thing. What's unusual is the way each shot has been captured automatically, without human intervention, resulting in a candid if often blurry reflection of real life. Look here. Or visit The Nine Eyes of Google Street View before 5th November.

» "Hello, I need my Gold Card discount added to my Oyster." The man in the ticket office is confused. He's not heard this one before, and proceeds to tell me that a Gold Card and an Oyster card are very different things. At least I think that's what he says, but one of us doesn't speak English as clearly as the other. I persist in my request, attempting to explain that I've just paid for another annual travelcard but I won't get off-peak tube discounts until this fact is manually added. Perhaps it's no surprise he's baffled, it does sound stupid - although the man behind the same counter last year knew what he was doing and actioned an immediate upgrade. Further semi-comprehensible conversation ensues, on both sides, at length. It's fortunate I've chosen to visit on a day when the station is closed, so there's nobody behind me in the queue to inconvenience. At this point the staff member disappears off to make a phone call, which I can almost overhear but don't understand. He returns to his terminal, waves my card around and returns it almost immediately with "NR Railcard" added. All credit to him, this update's never been completed that fast before, and my thanks are duly given. So, just a reminder to anyone with an annual travelcard, you won't get a third off off-peak tube travel unless you ask. And good luck asking.

» My three millionth visitor has got in touch, by email. He's originally from New Zealand, but now tweaks Formula 1 cars in the Midlands for a living. Hello and thanks.
» Now the Olympics are over, haven't the weekend tube engineering works returned with a vengeance?
» There's an autumn sale taking place at the London Transport Museum shop. Minor ranges only, but just in case you're interested.
» The main Britain & London Tourist Information Centre at the foot of Regent Street has closed down. No replacement is evident.
» On Chelsea matchdays, Brompton Cemetery becomes a ratrun of blue shirted blokes streaming through trying to reach Stamford Bridge before kickoff.
» It's Wandsworth Artists Open House this weekend and next, if you fancy poking around the artier parts of the borough.
» Beware of cafes in Kew which don't reveal how much tea and cakes cost until after you've consumed them.
» The lights were on in the Aquatic Centre last night, and at the top of the Orbit, and around the pink pods encircling the Olympic Stadium.


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