Richard Ayoade and Adam Buxton

The last week of September was pretty insane.  There were a couple of days where I clocked in 11 hours at work and when I wasn’t in the office, I was asleep.  It always is madness at the start of semester, so goodness knows why I arranged two things to do in London.  I’m clearly a masochist.

The first event was seeing Adam Buxton interviewing Richard Ayoade for a Guardian Live event where they discussed Richard’s new book The Grip of Film by Gordy LaSure.  Richard is a fairly introspective and reticent interviewee, but it feels like Adam and him have a genuine friendship so it made the evening a very intimate and relaxed chat.  I’m a huge fan of Richard’s films

I hadn’t heard of the venue before – the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster, a church-like building with very dramatic mood lighting.  Whilst is was a beautiful looking building, we did suffer from sitting in pews for 90 minutes.  Husband lost feeling in his legs, my butt was in a lot of pain, and Tim’s spine turned into the spine of a much older man.  Pews are not build for comfort.

In those 90 minutes, Richard and Adam chatted about his book, his films, and other random nonsense – fans of Adam’s Podcast would have recognised this as a classic Dr Buckles ramble chat.  There was also a lot of talk about film, and I was pleased to hear Richard’s cinematic journey was much like my own.  He didn’t watch films as a child – neither did I – so hasn’t seen a lot of the ‘classics’ that almost everyone has seen, a good example being Jurassic Park.

There has been a lot of historical Ayoade/Buxton crossover, with episodes of Gadget Man, Travel Man, Adam’s own podcast, and most recently The Crystal Maze so Richard did seem quite comfortable, but he did seem to tense up a bit when it came to the audience Q&A, particularly as the first question was a bit mean spirited for comedic value.  The rest were really good questions however, which I genuinely wasn’t expecting.  The audience clearly had a lot of respect for the talented filmmaker.

And at the end, a bonus book signing which I felt terribly conflicted about.  It was clear Richard wasn’t looking forward to a queue of needy strangers… but I did want my book signed.  I thought long and hard about what to say to him.  As a fellow introvert, I could feel his discomfort and I didn’t want to add to it so simply told him I really enjoyed listening to the talk, and he promised to pass this on to Adam as well.  I couldn’t have empathised with him more.

I’m looking forward to reading his book – his first book, Ayoade on Ayoade was surreally delightful and this one promises the same.  It will have to sustain me until his next outing as a writer or director.

Stuff is good

StuffocationAt the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to read 90 books in 2017, which is three more than I read last year.  I’ve made a strong start and have even been able to branch out from my normal fiction favourites into a very different area.

I’ve never been a ‘self-help’ book person but a couple have jumped out at me whilst perusing the Amazon shelves.  I started with The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight.  Nothing too revolutionary here as I already am quite good at not giving a f**k on a variety of things, but it did make me feel better about my attitude.  Knight argues that it is possible to not care about something but be polite about it as well – that was mainly my issue as I was forever worrying that saying no would make me come across as a bitch.

The book was of course a parody of Marie Kondo‘s similarly named book, although it does have invaluable lessons to take away from it as well as being very funny.  I actually considered getting the Kondo book next but instead went for James Wallman’s Stuffocation.

Living in a tiny house with only 5 rooms, Husband and I have fallen into the trap of owning a lot of stuff.  I assign a lot of emotion and attachment to random crap, so it has been quite hard for me to purge in the past.  A CD collection which I have not added to in around 10 year – I have them all digitally but can’t get rid of the CDs.  Same for DVDs.  I have 6 duvet sets but only one bed.  Boxes of shoes that only get worn once a year.  A cabinet in the living room full of… actually, I don’t know what’s in that cabinet as I never open it.

In short, I have too much stuff.

In an ideal word, I would love to embrace minimalism but I have never thought it was doable in the real world so automatically turned way from it.  That’s what initially drew me in to Stuffocation – it highlights that minimalism is “too negative, too reductive”.   “…if stuff is so good, why would anyone join a movement that says you should have as little of it as possible?”.

Wallman instead values experientialism – a system where experience is the source of knowledge and which he believes can relieve stress and anxiety.  It’s led me to really consider purchases and culminated in a trip to Ikea where I bought literally nothing.  I think this is the first time that’s ever happened.

Stuffocation has allowed me to become more mindful when wielding my debit card, and yes, I have started to get rid of my CDs and DVDs.  I’ve had trips to the tip, to the charity shop, and I’ll shortly start ebaying.  And I do already feel better for it.

There are some things excluded from my stuffocation policy but I argue that I will always need:

  • Tatty Devine jewellery – you can pry my collection from my cold dead hands
  • Mr Jones Watches – ditto
  • Clothes and shoes for work – I do have a lot of ‘fancy’ dresses which I could never wear at work so I’ll stop buying those, but I do need look fairly put together for work
  • Beauty items – I need to clean my face!

Next time I’m in a shop, I will think “do I really need this, will it get used?” and maybe I’ll save enough money to have a lovely summer trip, spend on experience rather than stuff.

Just don’t look in my suitcase when I come back from New York.

Adam and Joe – Live at the BFI



I was not a very worldly teenager.  I hadn’t travelled, wasn’t too hot on pop culture or current events, tended to watch whatever my parents watched on TV.  You could almost say a bit sheltered.   So when I saw Adam Buxton dressed as a Klingon singing a terrible song about Star Trek: The Next Generation, I had no idea what to think.  It was so weird to watch intentionally bad TV – Takeover TV was my first real experience of subversive media and I loved it.  

Over the years, I became obsessed with the Adam and Joe Show, and their various stints on radio.  So much of their 6 Music show has become ingrained in my life – there are certain links which made me laugh so much that I can picture where I was when I heard them the first time, like squirrelling away in the old filing cabinets at work, or stuck in traffic in Guildford.

We’ve seen Adam Buxton a bunch of times over the past few years (as documented on the blog), including a visit to BUG last week which I haven’t blogged about as yet.  But Joe has always been just out of reach for me – despite the fact he’s done plenty of filmic events over the years, I’ve never seen him (except in Forbidden Planet about 12 years ago.  He was buying comics.  I was giddy).

Adam and Joe together though?  I thought it an impossible dream.  I could never imagined that I’d go to a live recording of a podcast, and one that celebrated 20 years of their professional partnership.  But it actually happened, and I had a hysteria-caused sore throat to prove it.

A&J_2

There were two shows on Thursday night, and I am very grateful to Tim for getting us tickets for the first (although if there wasn’t such a thing as a last train home, I would have tried to go to both).  It overran by quite an extensive amount which I’m torn about – the audience was privy to some naturally hilarious conversation between the two of them, but when Adam skipped us ahead in his slideshow to get to the end, we saw how much we’d missed out on.  Hopefully, the podcast will feature enough of the bits we missed.

We did get to see some very nostalgic clips though – like People Place which was brilliantly bonkers – and some amazing animations made for the evening, including this one which was filled with in-jokes and my favourite from the night:

Whilst it took Joe a few minutes to get comfortable in front of the sold-out crowd, they were both on excellent form and got adorable giggles at Joe’s mime act and Adam’s impression of the Queen.  I similarly got the giggles, and by the end of the evening, I had cried the make-up off my face.

Plus, I got an Adam and Joe tote bag, which is something I never thought I’d own.  The teen version of me would be incredibly jealous.

The moaning wind went wandering round the weeping prison-wall

Reading Gaol 1I’ve had a peculiar fascination with crime and punishment for as long as I remember.  Growing up, various members of my family worked at Broadmoor Hospital and my grandparents practically lived next door so summers were spent playing in the shadows of the walls.

It’s not as odd as it sounds, I promise.

I also had a weird obsession with Reading Gaol, mainly because it is directly opposite the Toys R Us where my parents would take us to spend our birthday money.

Again, not as odd as it sounds.

I didn’t ever think I would ever get to see inside however.  Short of pulling off and then getting caught for an epic crime, how would an ordinary member of the public get to walk the corridors of this monument.

Reading Gaol 2Enter Artangel and their brilliant transformation of the prison into an exhibition space.  Empty cells interspersed with cells filled with art and letters all on the theme of incarceration and confinement.  There are some extraordinary pieces to be found as you explore each one of the wings, and all three floors.

You’re left to roam the prison freely, but they do give you a map.  Husband and I decided to go through each wing systematically, going into the cells, visiting the Governor’s Office and the chapel-turned-sports-hall which now has an jarring mix of stained glass windows and squeaky vinyl flooring.

Reading Gaol 6Of course the spirit of Oscar Wilde was around every corner, with his cell being the main one people honed in on (for selfies, unfortunately).  It was actually difficult to get near it when we visited so we didn’t get to see inside but his original door is exhibited in the chapel/sports hall, which is also where readings of De Profundis are performed.

Reading Gaol 8There were several pieces of art which captured my attention, including Steve McQueen’s The Winter (above) and Roni Horn’s Still Water photo-lithographs.  But the pieces that just blew my mind were Robert Gober’s Waterfall.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before.

Reading Gaol 11What looks from a distance like a tiny screen in a jacket was actually a fully functioning waterfall, a portal through to another dimension.  I was amazed.

The whole prison amazed me.  It’s open for another month or so – I cannot emphasise enough how much you should go visit before they turn it into a cultureless housing development.

Reading Gaol 10

If a building becomes architecture, then it is art

img_20160910_145328My Mother-In-Law always find fascinating things to do in London, and a few weeks ago she mentioned that she’d booked a couple of events for the Heritage Open Days.  I clicked around the website and saw so many places I wanted to visit, but one immediately jumped out at me – a National Trust tour of the Danish embassy in Sloane Square.

The  Arne Jacobsen designed modernist building was built in the 1970s, and really doesn’t match anything in the area.  Concrete, aluminium, and big boxy shapes look completely out of place, but I love it – it’s so iconic.  I can imagine how everyone would have hated it back in the 70s though.  The National Trust tour took us round the offices and into the residences of the ambassador at the top.  And made me insanely envious.

Our visit started with a mini-lecture on modernism and brutalism which was right up my alley.  One of the first slides was of the Royal Festival Hall so I knew I was in the right place.  We were given a brief history of the building and of Arne Jacobsen’s designs before being split into two groups for the tour.  Weirdly, Husband and I noticed that one of our National Trust guides was Eleanor who had taken us round the Southbank Centre last year – even weirder after speaking with her and finding out that she hadn’t run any tours for a year.  I felt I had to assure her we weren’t stalking her.

img_20160910_124318We then went to the parking garage where Husband and I geeked out over all the concrete.  From there, we made our way upstairs in the world’s tiniest lifts and were taken into the Ambassador’s office.  Within seconds, we’d spotted:

  • Lego
  • a Maersk logo (Husband’s former employer)
  • a framed Radio Times cover featuring Sidse Babett Knudsen
  • A Bang and Olufson TV

I’m sad there wasn’t any smørrebrød on the table to complete the scene.

The Ambassador has a beautiful office, with stunning pieces of art and amazing furniture, including the obligatory Swan chair.  The other two offices we visited were just as impressive – the offices of the press officer and the cultural attaché.  It made me desperately want to be the Danish cultural attaché – she has some beautiful Montana units full of books and ceramics, fabulous chairs, a great desk.  In the corridor were posters of Mads Mikkelsen and Pilou Asbæk.  Why can’t this be my workplace?!

After I had finished making my interior design shopping list (the tour should really had come with a catalogue), we crossed back over the courtyard to visit the ambassador’s residence.  We were only allowed into the “public” area of the residence – it would have been a bit unfair for us to traipse through their house, so the floor we saw was where they entertain visitors and host events.  I loved all the Danish ornaments dotted around the place – dala horses, Normann Copenhagen bowls, wooden soldiers, even “The Little Book of Hygge” on the piano.

They had some pretty amazing furniture and art on this floor as well – pieces painted by the Queen of Denmark and the Ambassador’s wife, Susanne Fournais Grube.  I really loved her paintings – she paints maritime scenes which almost look pop arty.

And then our tour was over after almost an hour and a half and we said farewell to this extraordinary building.  On the walk back to Waterloo, Husband and I tried to figure out a way of getting a job there, but I suspect you have to be Danish.  So now we just need to be Danish.  I’m sure that’ll be easy.

img_20160910_145310

Book review 2015

Once again, I’ve tried to spend every spare moment reading, and have reached a tally of 81 books completed in 2015 (possibly a couple more if I can get them done by Friday).  I’ve read a few books this year that others raved about but I didn’t get at all – Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff being one and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline being another.  I just got irritated by them both.

I also haven’t shied away from weightier tomes, two of which made a lasting impression on me and are included on my favourites list.

A Little Life
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
I’ve already briefly mentioned this book before on my blog and I don’t think there’s really more I can add.  Every now and again, I remember a little detail, or something about Jude St. Francis and want to cry.  I was a bit intimidated by the length (720 pages ain’t no joke) but I am so pleased that I slogged through it.  Not that I had a choice really – once Jude, Willem (Beautiful Willem!), JB, and Malcolm found their way into my heart, I couldn’t possibly have stopped reading.  I will have to re-read it again.

Station Eleven
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
One of the first books I read this year (and oddly not the only one about travelling performers).  I love the dystopian setting, and found the writing very elegant, quiet, and subtle – I was completely sucked into the story from the beginning.  I love how the writer wound each of the stories around each other.  Just magical.

The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I’m a little late to Donna Tartt’s work having been convinced to read The Secret History by Husband last year.  I think I liked The Goldfinch even more.  Another monster of a book (881 pages – oof), I loved reading every second and truly loved Theo despite all his flaws.  I really hope they actually make the film adaptation (and make it well).

One More Thing
One More Thing by BJ Novak
I hate the UK cover of this book so held off buying it until I was in New York earlier this year (seriously – look at the beautiful cover above, and then click on the Amazon link.  Why have we got crap?).  Anyway, it was worth the wait, and I delighted in every one of BJ’s short stories.  He’s a wonderful writer.  My favourite, as I’m sure most people’s favourites is:

“If you love something, let it go. If you don’t love something, definitely let it go. Basically just drop everything, who cares.”

There were so many other books that have stayed with my this year but I didn’t give 5 stars to – A Man Called Ove, Why Not Me, All My Puny Sorrows, A Place Called Winter, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.  I had thought that this year wasn’t that memorable but I did ok.  Not sure what’s coming up next as nothing is grabbing me at the moment.  I need to dig myself out of a bit of a rut.

It’s just busy work to make you feel like you’re contributing

Advent Calendars

My poor neglected blog.  I don’t want to fall into the trap of always having to start a post with an apology for not posting more frequently, but here we are.

Work is exhausting and when I’m not working, I’m sleeping.  I did manage to get to the cinema twice over the passed few weeks – once for Bond (meh) and once for Mockingjay (KATNISS!).  Mockingjay was as good as I wanted it to be and was better than expected.  I’d seen a lot of reviews saying it was dull but it wasn’t – it did keep me on my toes.  I re-read the book two days before which nicely refreshed me and they kept it fairly faithful.

Speaking of books, I’ll be doing my annual book review next month but I think I have my book of the year.  I recently finished the epic A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and it broke me.  Husband regularly looked up to find me sobbing, and I was left emotionally stunned by the ending.  Jude St. Francis might just be my most loved character ever.  If it wasn’t am insane number of pages, I’d go back and re-read the whole thing again.

So with December almost here, I have been told that my workload should suddenly drop once we get this statutory return done next week.  I’ve got BUG 49 in a couple of weeks, which will be followed by a screening of all three Richard Linklater’s Before… films giving me a very BFI weekend.  And then it’ll be time for us to go to Copenhagen for our holiday.  And then 2016!

Most importantly, it’ll soon be time to open up my two beauty advent calendars – one from Liberty and one from Marks and Spencer.  I have been waiting a long time for 1st December.

They’d Better Be Building a Kitchen – Bug 48

Bug48

Another photo of Dr Buckles on his bike signals another Bug review. I’ll need to think of more creative ways to photograph his lovely cycling pre-credits sequence.

As with the last Bug, I didn’t love all of the songs, but I have become obsessed with one of them at least:

Robin Schulz’s Sugar is insanely catchy. I cannot get it out of my head. The video is a cute take-off of the Taylor Swift cop video and amused me for a few minutes, but it’s the song that’s most memorable. I was worried Robin Schulz was a douchey DJ dude, but he’s European so that’s impossible. I’ve just discovered that Nathan Barnatt who stars in this video was also in a Yelle video for Que Veux-Tu which is one of the best songs ever.

Data Ft Benny Sings – Don’t Sing is a good concept for a video. I loved the moment when I suddenly understood what was going on.

The video for Darwin Deez’s Kill Your Attitude had me rolling my eyes a bit – a female video character lead and all she’s concerned about is the washing up and dirty laundry? Really? But it’s a catchy song – I hadn’t heard of Darwin Deez before so I think I’m going to investigate further.

I loved the video for Lights by Hurts, mainly because it reminded me a little of a club I used to go to when I was younger. The choreography is great, and I’m just a teensiest bit in love with Theo Hutchcraft because of it. I’ve heard their song “Wonderful Life” on XFM and Lights continues along the same vein, so another band for the list.

Bug was the first of two shows that we’ll see Adam at this month – we’re off to the Greenwich Comedy Festival next weekend to see him again. He ended Bug with a very funny Bob Dylan video which I would guess he’ll show again at the festival, but we shall see.

The pleasure, the privilege is mine

Liquid Fire1The Southbank Centre is currently in the midst of their Festival of Love – a summer of music, art, and exhibitions culminating in a weekend of weddings at the end of August.  I would dearly love to get married on the South Bank (which, as this blog has established, is one of my favourite places in the world) but I’m already married, so I’ve settled for photographing every piece of neon they’re currently displaying.

Liquid Fire2Love and Liquid Fire is a exhibition of recent pieces from God’s Own Junkyard, a place I spent a blissful couple of hours at last month.  There are also ‘behind the scenes’ treats scattered around the Royal Festival too – a making of video, notes, and sketches.  I squeed with joy every time I turned around to find more neon in all the corners of the 2nd floor – they look glorious from the outside but even more amazing inside.  We awkwardly got in people’s way when photographing them, but it was totally worth it.

Liquid Fire3This is my favourite photo from my exploration, and yet another display of “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” art that Tim and I have stumbled across.  Just look at that arrow!  How perfect that would look on my bedroom wall, and it matches my Tatty Devine Fairground Lights necklace.  Someone buy it for me?

The beautiful neon is going to be at the Royal Festival Hall until 6th September – my other photos are in my God’s Own Junkyard album on Flickr.  I might need to visit every week.

Clever, I’m very clevery guy

dhmisThis short film nearly made Tim poop himself.  I mentioned this in my last post but it warrants mentioning again.

Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared is a “musical horror” series, currently up to episode 4.  It was created by Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling, two insanely talented people who have also created music videos, other short films, and a Selfridges window display.   Adam Buxton showed the latest episode at Bug and I loved it so much that I have since rewatched it a bunch of times.

I love that what starts out as a lovely children’s story about computers turns into a demented descent into utter madness – Adam Buxton confirmed that you should absolutely not show this to children which I think he learnt first hand.

Our favourite part is around 3:15 where Colin the Computer is explaining to Red Guy, Yellow Guy, and Green Bird what 3 things you do in the Digital World.  I had tears of laughter pouring down my face and Tim could barely breath.

I guess you had to be there…

dhmis2The other three episodes are pretty funny as well, but my favourite is number 4.  I can’t wait until the next episode comes out.