Thursday, August 18, 2005


A good day.

First - standing up straight lessons. I'm still amazed at the change that Alexander Technique is making to my physical wellbeing. I'm really happy I took the plunge and got on with it.

Then - shopping and a beautiful lunch; vegetarian thali at the indian place in soho - with the most extraordinart vegetarian curry I have ever tasted; beans and greens and banana and gorgeous. Followed a marvellous lunch up with coffee in my favourite cafe; as usual, the eccentrics were in. An elderly gentleman, skewed of trouser and hard of hearing came in asking for apple pie; not something they stock. The proprietrice took him calmly in her stride; being charming and straightforward as he explained the cost and significance of all of his jewelery - worn in the manner of a retired soho spiv, it should be said. He went on to talk about knowing how to say goodbye and thankyou in Spanish and Italian being a vital skill; except ciao came out as 'Cee-Aye". He ambled off, with his potatoes (actually, palmiers) eventually.

One of the things I love about soho are the little pockets of culture that are unchanged since the 50s. In particular, knowing the foibles of these old places amuses me; one should never ask for a pint in the French, nor Cappuccino in Maison Bertaux. Quite how these traditions promulgate I don't know; I feel they're a joke on par with Mornington Crescent, a peculiarly english form of in-the-know humour.

The most marvellous thing, though, was a trip to see the Rebecca Horn show at the Hayward Gallery. Horn really is one of my favourite artists, and whilst this show was a slight dissappointment after the retrospective at the Tate a few years ago, it was still magical and unsettling to see her work again.

The compelling aspect of Horn's work is it's coded sexuality. She is one of the group of artists who rejected the cold calculatedness of minimalism and concepual practice in favour of a personal language, and an exploration of internal myths. Like Beuys, she draws on a personal object code, which is (to me, at least) all but impenetrable. Books, mirrors, reflecting pools, the symbolism of alchemy, eggs, suitcases... all of these appear regularly in her work. For her, they are part of a coherent personal language, which is what I have no access to. But those very objects are also numinous for me; they have a resonance and heft to them that sparks associations, semi-conciously. Her show at the tate was the first time that work has given me a sexual buzz in a gallery situation; her feather masks that enclose the face, and the head of the lover-being-kissed are perverse and beautiful and erotic and disturbing, all at once. Along side that are her twitching objects... that shudder slowly in to life, then so slowly ratchet themselves up to a shuddering release; watching them is like watching the mating dance of violins, or witnessing the erotic reverie of a carving knife. It feels voyeuristic, and intimate, and suffocating. I love it.

I wanted to sit and watch her films - but the sound was terrible. And frankly, they were like watching Fassbinder, and I am not clever enough.

Finally, after Pimms with mr Binding, we finished off the day with a trip to the cinema. UNplanned, so we went to see The island. I don't think I can possibly do the film justice by describing it. Suffice to say that it does away entirely with a second act, instead replacing it with a car chase and a lot of explosions. A LOT of explosions. And a car chase that was obviously conceived by watching the car chase in the second Matrix film, and deciding to piss on its twitching corpse, before packing it with semtex and blowing it up. And then blowing up the scenery. And driving through a building. Which blew up. With a sponsors logo on it. Madness, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Yes, a good day indeed.

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