These Have All Made Me Laugh

Paris and birthday details are coming (I promise). In the meantime, here are some funnies:

Everything is Amazing, Nobody is Happy

On Love and Relationships

Racist Dolphin

American Idol

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Beat Boxing in the Victorian Toilet

Last night I went to a show in a place called Ginglik, an old Victorian washroom in Shepard's Bush in London that has been converted to an art centre/bar. The night was called 'Best of the Buskers' and was a performance/advocacy event to raise awareness about stupid laws that have been enacted to make busking difficult. For example, buskers need to call ahead to book their spot in Tube stations. The catch is that the call is expensive, they charge by the minute and people often have to wait as long as an hour before they can get through and book their spot. It seems crazy that in a town as artful and dynamic as London these kind of barriers would be in place.

The talent was mostly hit with a little bit of miss built in. The first two acts were, by far the best. Steel Pan Sam was the first act and plays the steel drums. He introduced himself by remarking that most people think that all that steel drums are good for is calypso and then proceeded to wow us by playing Bach. It was amazing and at points sounded like he was playing a range of instruments, not just one. He was followed up by MC Xander (from the video above) who makes noises with his mouth, loops them and turns them into fully completed songs. He was by far my favourite act of the night and I would love to see him perform again.

The rest of the acts were kind of meh in my opinion. A man played a didgeridoo and really, I don't think there's a lot you can do with that instrument. Then there was a folk singer who reminded me a bit of Phoebe from Friends and finally a drummer who used a bike instead of a drum kit. He was pretty good and the crowd was really into him but after the Steel Pan Sam and MC Xander, he left me a little cold.

From their website:

"Ginglik is west London's premier suburban beat bunker, which has rapidly established a reputation as one of the finest alternative venues in the capital. Boasting a members base of over 16,000 it fuses some of the city's premier electronic and underground DJs , musicians and bands with comedy nights, film nights, exhibitions & video installations, with a friendly, pretension-free atmosphere; the club has become a focal point for artists, musicians and general connoisseurs of cool."

It is quite an experience to visit it as from the outside it really does look like one of those sidewalk bathrooms that you can find anywhere in London (but that you never, ever want to use). The only difference are the Christmas lights that are strung around the entry way. You go down a steep stair case and enter this teeny, warm little bar. It's really quite charming.

As is sadly the case with many cool, arty venues, Ginglik is having trouble with City Council who wants to shut them down so they can develop the space (Ginglik is located on the edge of a small urban park). It is always amazing to me that councils are often willing to give breaks to retail chains like Walmart but are so quick to try and destroy authentic, independent places.

Instead of the Council being upfront about their intentions, they are couching things in expensive repairs they want Ginglik to make. Again, from the Ginglik website:

"Due to the planned £3.3 redevelopment of the Common, which starts next year, the council have said that our roof will need to be stripped back and the corroded iron supports repaired. We also have damp walls, which has never really bothered us but apparently if the council were to offer us a new lease they would have to completely damp proof all walls too, which is a costly and time consuming process. The cost the council said of getting the property into this state would cost £300,000 more than the cost of filling the venue with concrete, which is what they've decided to do."

A North American might read this and think that it sounds reasonable. Damp walls are not OK, right? In the UK, damp walls and structural problems are an accepted fact of life. I would venture to guess that the majority of buildings over 50 years old (which is almost everything over here) have a problem with the damp. Hello! It's the UK! All it does is rain over here! It is interesting that city councils only get involved when they suddenly have an agenda for a particular building or space.

If you care at all about maintaining a very cool, unique venue you might want to join the mailing list and think about signing the petition. You can do that here:

Paris and my birthday were fab. More next week when I get back to Cardiff and have a chance to download some pictures.

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London, you may be a sissy but I still love you...

Over the past week, the United Kingdom has experienced its biggest snowfall in nearly 20 years. Though I don't miss the severe (-40 C) cold back home, I have missed the snow. Especially during Christmas and New Years, which didn't feel real to me at all without the white stuff. So when the weather people began to forecast that blizzards from Russia were on route to hit the UK, I was really excited, though skeptical. Over here a big snow fall is a light smattering that has melted into slush within minutes of landing. My expectations were not high.

On Sunday night the temperatures dropped to around freezing. I took the train from Cardiff to London and by the time we rolled into Paddington Station there was already a bit of snow falling. And then it snowed more and more until London was in the throes of a genuine blizzard, even by Canadian standards. By morning there was about a foot and a half of lovely, clean white snow. What was most amazing was how excited everyone was about it. Kids were out playing, people were walking their very excited dogs. It was an event.

The problem? London is a sissy and is not well equipped to deal with snow. By Monday morning all city buses were suspended and even the underground was mostly shut down. I was lucky and managed to get on the one train leaving the station for the Soho office. I was also lucky in that I was able to get a train back at the end of the day and didn't have to spend the night in said freezing cold office. It is bizarre to me that an underground train is incapable of running because of snow above ground. Lots of people have been complaining about London's lack of preparedness for the storm, but I found the whole thing endearing. London, I have a bit of a crush on you.

After Monday the worst of the storm seemed to be over and by Tuesday almost everything was at least functioning in London. Last night I took the train to Bath for a networking event and all things weather related seemed clear, until I went to leave. At about 10 pm, Bath was suddenly engulfed in an 'extreme weather event' (what they call snow here) and the train back to Cardiff was suspended so I ended up staying the night in the Royal Hotel, which was far from royal but well located across from the train station, where I scampered to catch my ride back to Cardiff at 7:30 am. As I sit here, I am still wearing the same clothes as I was yesterday, my hair is barely brushed and my teeth haven't been cleaned since yesterday morning. I am lovely. On a positive note, I did get to see the snow covered British countryside roll by this morning on the train and it was perfect. Snow here feels different than in Canada. Maybe it's the way it clings to the buildings that have been here for hundreds of years. I don't know, but it was beautiful.

This whirlwind week continues with a dance party tomorrow night where an acquaintance is DJing, then back to London on Saturday for another dance party that night, then a comedy show on Sunday night and then back to Cardiff Monday or Tuesday. Then back to London on Thursday so that I can fly out to Paris on Friday morning. Yay me! If it doesn't kill me, it's bound to be fun!!

Also, to all of you still in Canadiana... I've booked my tickets home and am planning a bit of a whirlwind trip of visiting people. I am flying into Calgary on June 27th and am planning a few days around there visiting and maybe take a day to go to Banff (Lindsay, I hope you're around!!), then to Regina for Canada Day (July 1st) where I'll be for about a week. Then Toronto (Crystal!) from July 8th to 11th, when I fly back to London. So you better be around bitches! Put me in your calendars!!

(Photos are from here. I forgot my stupid camera in Cardiff. Sniff.)

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