the black rider (2004-06-19 - 8:19 p.m.)
I was on the bus yesterday when a guy climbed on with a dog. Keep in mind that these are double-decker London buses: the dog had climbed up the stairs behind him. They sat in front of me, the guy on one seat and his dog sitting across the aisle. It was quite a large dog, so its hindquarters were on the seat while its front legs extended to the floor. It looked quite happy to be riding on the bus, although the guy beside it looked sceptical (especially when it started licking its hindquarters.) The guy was dressed in a sweater over a shirt and checked plus fours buckled over his knees, plus a large moustache and a checked cap. Never seen anything quite like it. Sometimes I forget that London can be a ridiculously cool place, at least as far as seeing weird stuff on the bus!
Last night was England vs. Switzerland. The entire office shut down and a TV was put on every floor so everyone could watch the game. The phones were technically still on, but anyone who did actually ring up had their patriotism called into question once the call was over. Oddly enough, it's true that the only people who called during that people were a). Americans calling for the Work in Britain programme, and b). Irish people!
It was very odd when I was walking to catch the bus. I walk (of course) past eight or ten pubs in the four blocks, and you can tell how the game was going because a stream of cheering and moaning follows you down the block, getting louder as you pass an open pub door and fading between pubs. I managed to watch all three goals (that's right, England trounced 'em) by seeing the first at work and the last two as I walked into the flat. Worked quite well.
Anyway. Also went to see "The Black Rider" this week. It was quite something. It looked, in fact, very much like you would expect a collaboration between Tom Waits and William S Burroughs to look, although I'm told that's more down to Robert Wilson (the director/set designer etc) than anything else. Completely surreal, very bizarre, quite dark. I loved the first bit, was entertained by most of the middle, and felt like the end really started to drag. And the next day, I was starting to think I'd dreamed the whole thing. It was that kind of a show. It looks like someone's dream, possibly someone who's done far too many hallucinogens.
It was basically actors in fright wigs and gothy makeup doing strange, stylized, modern dance movements with Tom Waits songs thrown in. It was very much like watching puppets or a silent film, which lent itself to some bits better than others.
Marianne Faithfull was actually quite impressive as the Devil. (Named Pegleg, just like my guitar isn't.) She pulled it off, although her costume looked like it didn't quite fit or something. I was hoping to be blown away by Mary Margaret O'Hara, being as she's a Canuck and all, but she actually really annoyed me. Was quite worried about hating the story, as William S Burroughs DOES annoy me (although all I've read by him is 3/4 of Naked Lunch, so maybe not the best judge). However, he only used the word "junky" once, instead of 365 times per page as in Naked Lunch, so it was actually not too bad. The best part about the whole thing was definitely the music (not surprising, given that it's Waits) although the visuals tended towards the pretty incredible as well. Very glad I got in before it closed. But anyway, here's a thing about the show and this production of it.
On a totally different note, went to Greenwich today. Nope, didn't visit the Observatory or stand on the meridian (although I crossed it a fair few times over the course of the day). I did go into the Cutty Sark, though. Very cool, well worth doing. They have lots of good info about the tea trade and the ships that fueled it, plus they've got all the cabins etc set up like they would have been. The bunks are tiny. Not sure I would fit too comfortably, never mind anyone over five foot five! Maybe you just had to be really short to be a sailor...
Standing on the deck of the Cutty Sark made me really want to try sailing on a real ship. I seem to have a complete fascination with water. I hope I can indulge it at some point, although I'm not sure how I'll get near a sailing ship in this day and age. The closest would probably be a cruise, and I can't see that happening! By the way, in case you're wondering, a "cutty sark" is a "short shift" (dress) in Scottish. It's from the Tam O'Shanter story, where Tam refers to a witch named Nannie as "Cutty Sark" because of her short dress and almost meets a nasty fate at the hands of Nannie and her friends.
I went to the little Greenwich market as well, and visited the Tintin exhibit at the Maritime Museum. It was pretty good, although a little short for £4 I thought. That brings me right back to when I was a kid, begging whichever brother was going to the library to pick me up a Tintin or an Asterix comic on their way back. I will have to go back and do the museum properly sometime - it looks quite good, but by the time I was done with Tintin I was museumed out.
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