diamond geezer

 Saturday, July 13, 2013

I had a busy Friday.

• I went round the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly. This is the annual showcase where would-be exhibitors bring their art along and if the committee like it, and it fits, it becomes part of "the hang". There's lots to see, and if you don't like one picture you'll probably like one of the dozen surrounding it. The paintings have a wide variety of subjects, not just flowers and landscapes, plus there are drawings, photographs, sculptures and architectural models. Not so many kittens this year, I thought, but pelicans and badly-painted zebras are catching up on the rails. A red dot signifies that a member of the public wishes to purchase to artwork, or a print. The painting with the most red dots added was a blank white canvas surrounded by red dots - a good joke, but it's been done now thanks, so don't try submitting it again next year. Grayson Perry's six class-based tapestries are in the final room, and well worth a look if you haven't seen them yet.
I also went round the Mexican art exhibition upstairs. That doesn't take so long.

• I popped into Woolfson & Tay. It's still a very nice independent bookshop, and it was good to see it attracting customers into the backstreets of South Bank Southwark.

• I walked past the bottom of the Shard. It would have been a lovely day for a trip to the viewing platform, for anyone who had £29.95 to spare. Only the 'sunset' session was fully booked - every remaining slot had tickets to spare.

• I got hot and sticky, because it was a hot and sticky kind of day.

• I listened to the new Pet Shop Boys album, Electric, which is released on Monday. It's very dancey, and it's easily their best effort since the 90s. I'm currently torn between Fluorescent, Thursday and Love is a Bourgeois Concept as the best track.

• I went to Rough Trade East in the evening for the launch of St Etienne's London Trilogy DVD. The whole of the band were there to celebrate their three London films being released together for the first time, courtesy of the BFI. That's Finisterre (the film-poem), What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day? (the pre-Olympic drama-documentary) and This Is Tomorrow (a celebration of the Royal Festival Hall's refurbishment). We didn't watch those, but we did watch all of the DVD's extras, including two shorts about closed-down classic cafes, a day in the life of Hendon FC's lamb-costumed mascot, a revisit of the Lower Lea Valley seven years on, and ten minutes on South Bank - a Teeside town suffering economic (but not yet residential) collapse. They do like to document normality on the cusp of disappearance, do St Etienne. In the Q&A we learned that a fourth London film is in production, this time based on archive film from 1950-80, and that Sarah, Paul and Bob are currently working on the music. We learned that their 2005 album is named after Turnpike House because their filmmaker Paul Kelly lived there at the time. And we discovered that Sarah had missed her son's Sports Day victory to come and sit in a hot sticky Brick Lane record shop, so thanks Sarah. The DVD costs £5 less if you buy it at Rough Trade, and currently comes packaged with a set of four signed postcards.

• I took my DVD out drinking in the West End. I think I was the only person there with shopping. I asked for a bottle of Becks but they pulled me a pint. I didn't last until closing time.

I also have a busy Saturday.


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