j4: (livejournal)
Happy new year!

So, that decade meme. A few points before I start:

1. It's surprisingly hard to reconstruct the LiveJournal-less years, and surprisingly hard to reconstruct some of the actual events even from the years with a LiveJournal (I do seem to write an awful lot of rubbish, don't I?).

2. I've not gone into details about all the relationships because I don't know to what extent other people want to forget things, particularly since most of them are now in other relationships too; the only ones I've mentioned are the ones which I'm fairly sure are public knowledge. Shout if you want me to delete anything.

3. It's surprisingly hard to find any kind of narrative thread. I did some stuff, and then did some other stuff. (I guess that's life; maybe if I spent more time on it I could turn it into a real story, but then it'd be a grillion words long and nobody would read it.) It came as quite a shock to the system, though, after 19 years in full-time education, just how little structure there is to life when you're not subject to the tides and terms of a school or university. I think that's one of the reasons I wanted to go back, if I'm honest with myself; I still like being able to divide the year up into terms and holidays, though I'm starting to find my own kind of rhythm to things in addition to that.

4. This is long and boring and I don't really expect anybody other than myself to be interested in it! There's no easter-eggy tickybox-poll at the end to see if you did read all the way through, I promise.

So, here goes...

2000: studying, romancing, examining, defecting, working )

2001: Perl-munging, driving, househunting, singing, drinking )

2002: moving, festivalgoing, blogging, driving, engaging )

2003: driving, disengaging, quitting, fiddling, volunteering )

2004: temping, crying, webmastering, escaping, loving )

2005: moving, raining, working, eating, singing )

2006: meeting, twittering, moving, returning, rethinking )

2007: jobhopping, geeking, engaging, running, spodding )

2008: running, queueing, marching, planning, waiting )

2009: wedding, running, homeowning, protesting, sparkling )

And now here we are in 2010, continuing to potter along through life. I've done a lot in the last 10 years; I've done next to nothing in the last 10 years. It all depends where you're standing. Either way, though, it's a lot of coffee-spoons. End of a decade: it's nothing special.
j4: (badgers)
We had a lovely low-key bonfire night at the Isis Farmhouse: a decent-sized bonfire in the corner of the Meadowside garden, delicious lentil and chestnut soup in a mug, equally delicious (and powerfully brandy-ish) mulled wine in another mug, and free sparklers from the bar. No fireworks of their own; their events email promised "a view across the Meadows of Oxford's fireworks", but we didn't see any at the time and in fact we were content to stand in the warmth of the bonfire for a while drinking our mulled wine, and waving our sparklers for a few moments of electric crackle in the woody darkness. On the way back along the moonlit towpath we heard fireworks, and ended up standing on Donnington Bridge watching some quite impressive fireworks far across the fields and beyond the ring road (Kennington, maybe?), all huge blossoming reds and greens. Then came home and were treated to another brief but no less impressive fireworks display from the house nearly opposite, tweetly crackly doodlebugs and rockets exploding into massive chrysanthemums of fire across the street, leaving charred spiderwebs across the cloudy sky.

The Isis is our nearest pub now; I'd always thought of it (insofar as I'd thought of it at all) as a summer pub -- a riverside tavern for punting to, or for sitting outside in the sun with a cool beer and a view of the boats going past -- but at the moment it's a wonderful warm autumnal hearth-from-home, hidden among the wet leaves, its flickering lights reflecting on the dark water. The flickering lights aren't just poetic licence: it's heated by a wood-burning stove, with incredibly low lighting (just the stove, candles, a couple of lamps, some red fairy lights across one wall). It's also only barely decorated, raw plaster showing through in places, but the overall feeling is not so much "building site" as "I know we haven't finished decorating but we couldn't wait to start inviting people round, come in, sit down, have some nice warm soup" -- a lovely homely feel. And talking of soup... we've been there a few times for food now and it has always been delicious: meals I recall have included a tasty and filling chickpea curry; a big bowl of borscht with slabs of warm crusty bread; tonight's lentil and chestnut soup; and (not strictly speaking a meal, but still very welcome) big slices of home-made cake. The food menu usually only has two or three choices (one of which is always beans on toast, but it's a good-sized portion of beans on a doorstep of crusty toast, with cheese on top), and it tends towards the one-pot style (soup, curry, stew), but I've still always struggled to choose because everything on offer looks tasty! The beer is mostly Cotswold lagers (plus a couple of guest beers in casks); there's a choice of proper bottled cider (Henney's, Weston's, and something else I can't remember); it's also the sort of pub where I wouldn't feel self-conscious just ordering a coffee.

At the moment the Isis seems to be trying lots of different things (as the Jam Factory did in the early days of its current incarnation -- and it seems to have been a successful tactic there!): a Stornoway gig earlier this year, a free mini-festival at the end of the summer featuring local-ish indie bands, and other music nights coming up soon ('Mongrel English folk' session on Friday 12th, trad English folk session on Sunday 14th); films showing in the converted barn at the side of the pub (which was also the main stage at the festival); bonfire night tonight; open for Christmas and New Year. It'll be interesting to see whether this will mean they start to open on more nights of the week -- if I had to think of something to complain about (and I'd be struggling) it'd be that they're only open Wednesday to Sunday (don't worry, [livejournal.com profile] addedentry has added their opening hours to the excellent new opening-times.co.uk wiki, so you don't have to remember that).

As well as being cosy and welcoming, the Isis seems to be doing well on the environmental front -- not just because you can't get there in a car but in a far more focused way than I'd realised until reading the owners' latest mailshot:
"When we arrived at the Isis, it was an ecological mini-disaster area. Having sorted out the piles of rotting rubbish, and got the sewage treatment plant working (it does discharge straight into the Thames, after all), and cut down some dominant and alien conifers, and taken the 500 litres of used vegetable oil to the biofuel manufacturer, and removed the three skip fulls of scrap metal on site, we could start to think about our carbon footprint. Now, we burn only wood on our stove, so most of our space heating is carbon neutral. And our new air-conditioning is via an air-to-air heat pump, providing about 3kW of heat for every kW of electricity. And we're about to insulate the roof of The Barn, our film / party / meeting space, so that it's warmer, uses less energy to heat, and is better sound-insulated."
(I hope they don't mind me quoting them so extensively. It's just because I'm impressed.)

Far too many riverside pubs seem to default to either beefeaterish blandness (people will visit for the view and a cold beer, why bother trying beyond that?) or leather-armchair gastro blandness (I'm looking at you, The Perch) -- the Isis has managed to be completely different without being gimmicky. The food and drink is great, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and it's near enough to us that we can run and hide there when our central heating breaks down.
j4: (score)
Chess: the musical
Oxford Playhouse, Thursday 27th November

I wish I'd written at the time about the semi-staged production of Chess that we saw in the summer -- a marvellous birthday present from Owen, who knew that I'd've travelled a long way to see any production of Chess, so a concert performance at the Albert Hall hosted by Tim Rice (and starring Marti Pellow) was the icing on the cake. If I'd had the review of that to refer back to, I'd've been able to compare notes more easily; tonight's production at the Playhouse was very different in all sorts of ways. For a start, it was fully staged, with an incredibly busy stage: I've always thought of Chess as a very static story, but this production managed to fill the stage with dancers and chorus nearly all the time -- which of course threw the one- and two-person scenes into much sharper relief, gave them much more of a sense of showing the private face of public characters.

Probably only of interest to people who know the musical )

For those who haven't heard the musical (and therefore hopefully skipped all the dissection above!), I thoroughly recommend it: it's got a serious plot that's not your usual musical "girl meets boy/becomes famous/becomes a nun/flees Nazis" stuff, it's got clever and witty lyrics, and some really fantastic tunes -- several of which are available on last.fm.
j4: (star)
Street Cred Sudoku
MTV Studios, Camden, Tuesday July 11th

Last night [livejournal.com profile] addedentry and I went to see an episode of UKTV game show Street Cred Sudoku being filmed. Googling for the show will give you the mistaken impression that Steve Punt may be involved, but sadly (at least for this aging Mary Whitehouse Experience fan) that wasn't the case: team captains were Robin Ince and Rufus Hound, their respective guests were Lucy Porter and Ben Norris, and the show was not-actually-very-ably hosted by Andy Goldstein.

It's not a good start when the presenter and the panel can't agree on how to pronounce "sudoku". It's just a nein by nein grid )

It was funny, though, even if part of me hates to admit it, to hear all the jokes that were clearly never going to make it on to UKTV -- the self-referential asides, the gratuitous swearing, and what became a running gag about Nazis which was far funnier than it had any right to be, even if only through repetition and the sense of a shared secret. It may not be big, it may not be clever, but we sat at the back and sniggered and had quite a good time in the process.

If you have UKTV, I think the show's is on air tonight. (If you don't, I still think the show is on air tonight, but you probably won't care.) If you look closely, you may be able to see the back of our heads. Do let me know. I mean, I brushed my hair specially and everything.
j4: (music)
This month I have mostly been going out a lot. Below is a quick and dirty write-up of a lot of time, a lot of fun, and probably utter financial ruin.

Broken Family Band; Battle; The Producers; Covert; Editors; Club Goo; Macbeth; The Threepenny Opera; Ladytron )
j4: (music)
Tagged by [livejournal.com profile] camellia_uk. (Don't make a habit of this, now.)

List five songs that you are currently digging - it doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions and the five songs (with artist) in your blog. Then tag five people to see what they're listening to.

The meme doesn't mention writing about the songs in any detail, but I've got to make this more interesting somehow, if only for me. So, my five tracks are... )

*

I'm not going to tag anybody explicitly, but I'd be delighted if people wanted to follow up with something that's currently on their "must listen" list. Extra bonus points if they provide an mp3 link so I can listen!

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