Freebies, Food and a Film!

 

This Tuesday me and The Goth celebrated six years since we met and two years since we got married, we both took the day off work, rare considering we’re both self-employed and headed up town for a day out of freebies, food and a film.

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We started off at the V&A for some freebie exhibitions.

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The Prix Pictet in the Porter Gallery showcasing work by artists such Michael Wolf, Benny Lam and Saskia Groneberg on the theme of Space.

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We also swung by Soviet Visuals exhibition which took some walking around the third level until we stumbled upon it. It was only two rooms but interesting to see the development of style.

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Then we headed over to My Old Dutch on Kinds Road for Pancakes.

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Then we had a little walk up and down for me to take some photos which will be coming in another blog post and also to walk off lunch a bit. We then headed to the cinema on Fulham Road to watch Alien Covenant.

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I’ve missed quite a few releases recently just due to laziness. I don’t do well with sitting in the same spot for too long as I get numb bum syndrome, which is hard considering most films these days are over two hours long but some films should be seen in the cinema. I have to say I wasn’t a fan of Prometheus but I did like Covenant.

And that was just my little post of what we got up to on our anniversary.

The Return of The Riot Grrls!!

In my teen years the Riot Grrl movement was born and was a huge influence on my life. These bands had something to stay and didn’t give a shit, they were loud and brash and I loved them. It was good to have so many female orientated bands to relate to that weren’t warbling on about being heart broken or having chimneys on their head!! I was completely in love with Babes In Toyland and Kat Bjellend screeching vocals. I set the video to record late night shows such as The Word so I could watch L7 notorious performance that included tampon flinging,  my only regret was that I never got to see them play live back then, all my friends were into different music to me and I didn’t have the confidence back then to go on my own. So you can imagine my happiness when I discovered that all these bands are reforming and playing again. I was totally pissed that I missed Sleater-Kinney playing, that one went completely off my radar! Not sure how seeing as I’m subscribed to a bajillion gig lists!

On Tuesday 26th May we toddled off to The Shepards Bush Empire to see Babes in Toyland, I wanted to make sure we got there on time because I was pretty sure the support bands they had chosen would be good. They were. I ventured down nearer the stage whilst it was less crowded, I don;t do well with being squished like in my younger days and prefer to hang out at the back where it is a little more relaxed, although that’s where all the talkers hang out as well. I never understand the let’s go to a gig, ignore the band and shout over their set types!!!

First up was sister duo Skating Polly, I really liked them, there songs and they way they switch instruments. Granted there are only two instruments a guitar and drums but still it bought a different sounds with the change over.

Second up were the pins from Manchester, they were good, I liked them but probably not enough to go buy their album. They were more heading towards The Bangles and Fuzzbox than riotgrrl but still enjoyable to listen to.

Then Babes In Toyland, by this time  I had left the pit to move back to a less squished distance and discovered that I forgot to put the memory card in the camera!! So limited pictures here. The set was short and sweet but still worth every penny. Classic were played, jokes were made and the sea of thirty to forty something moshers at the front was endearing. Never letting go of our roots, reminded again why we were (and still are) angry in the first place, Babes In Toyland will always hold a special place in my heart for guiding me to being the person I am today.

The Death of Soho

Everything changes eventually, it’s a natural evolutionary process but whats happening in Soho is quite frankly below the belt, it’s reminiscent of what happened in East London when they wanted to build the Olympic park, it’s all about making money but dressed up as for the greater good. Since the closing of Madam Jojo’s, the Soho arts scene is rapidly disintegrating as more and more business close, lose their license or can’t afford the 70% rent hikes! I have been told by a few that there’s been planning permission on Madam Jojo’s since 2013, suddenly a fracas happens and they lose their license!

Walking through Soho last week I was hit hard by the changes, it’s not a subtle change that happen naturally over time, when an old business closes for whatever reason and makes way for a new business to come in. I have always love Soho, being a Londoner it is one of those places, that despite having a seedy and rough reputation it’s also full of character and personality. Berwick and Brewer Street have always been my favourites, the cloth house, the music stores/exchanges, the Japanese grocery shops, the newsagents that sell indie fashion and music magazines are all slowly going and being replaced by hipster cafes showing movies whilst you sip ‘the best coffee in London’ probably the most over used phrase by coffee shops or expensive pop shops that stock one type of clothing in two colours and the shop display is just those two tops!

Carnaby street was famous in the 60s for the place to go and buy your clothes, it was mainly factory outlet and market stalls, today it’s just another brand alley, housing expensive high street brands and chain restaurants and pubs. I would say this slowly creeping through Soho but actually it’s happening so quickly people are being blindsided by it! I was on my way the Bead Shop on Carnaby street and cut down Brewer Street, it was only because I stopped to ask myself why the fuck has the sweet shop been replaced with a marketing suite (an empty one at that) that I saw a notice for the Bead Creative which is now located in a little courtyard off of Brewer Street, I wandered in wondering if it was the same place but relocated and it turns out it had. I overheard them saying to another customer that it was the old shop and that they had relocated. I got talking to one of the staff whilst paying and we had a long old conversation about what was going on, apparently their last rent hike went up by 70% but we agreed that the new space was better and bigger, the shop used to get a little crowded but still 70% is morally wrong but it’s the normal tactic for landlords who want tenants out especially when developers are enticing them with big wads of cash. 
The music scene is suffering as well, we’ve already the London Astoria to the cross link, BM Soho was also forced to closed over contractual dispute you can read the reasons for closure here, Black Market records has also closed for pretty much the same reasons, both literally gone just like that and that’s the brutal nature of ‘gentrification’. I’ve never been a fan of the sex shops but Walker’s Court has always been their home of these since before I can remember, so imagine my surprise when I did my usual scurry through the alley from Brewer to Berwick street and found they had all pretty much closed down and been replaced by vintage shops, charity shops and cafes. I’m just hoping the market is not under threat. 
Darwin says that the key to survival is not be the most intelligent or the strongest but the ability to adapt to change but when you’re not even being given the chance to change, demise is inevitable.
The problem is that an area’s success built on hard work, community, reputation etc ends up being the cause of it’s own demise, the big soulless corps want in on the action, they see the tourists going their wanting to see a bit of authentic London knowing their is money to be made and they push out the traders who built it up, they knock it down, build shiny now expensive building full of lights and expensive mass produced items and sell on the history of the area. It’s happening everywhere, Camden is already well on it’s way to be a cloned high street, Brick Lane is still managing a healthy balance and natural evolutionary change, though the vintage shops are still too way over priced and you know my history and love affair with that part of east London.
If an area is left to perish, then by all means change it. Take the Trocadero, it used to be good, they had great plans for it, then it was abandoned and became some weird, forgotten no mans land between the Rain Forest cafe and Piccadilly Circus. Broken escalators, ramshackle shops selling knock goods and if you made it that far up, a half decent cinema! But it got to the point where something needed to be done, it had to go, mainly for health and safety reasons!!
Some parts don’t need cleaning up, they don’t need cleansing and replaced by middle class hipsters who can be heard proudly declaring over their mochachocholattes made with milk that has been coaxed out of an almond by singing it lullabies, that they live in Soho now, the most popular area of London. No dude you helped kill that area, London is one of the most diverse capitols in the world, it is filled will some many cultures, you can almost find any restaurant serving food from any number of countries/cultures, there is only so many cafes you can have in a city before they become a dime a dozen, yes people want tea and coffee but they want good tea and coffee, not overpriced shit tea served out of a jam jar (I have yet to come across but as soon as I do I may have to seriously think about quitting London), London survives because of it’s cultural mix, it’s diversity, the fact that you can  pretty much find what you want somewhere in this city but if it’s all replaced we lose a little bit of it’s personality, what makes it real.

But at the end of the day the cold stark truth of reality is that this going to happen no matter how we feel, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t kick up a fuss and put up a fight in the mean time, if we just roll over and accept it means more will try and do the same! After drafting most of this I went to work at an event at the Roller Disco in Vauxhall, turns out next week it’s being knocked down to make way for a block of flats! There are 263 new tower blocks planned for London you can read the article here, the argument is that London’s population is growing but only 63 of those towers are residential and not affordable housing. It’s an amazing venue, it’s a cool place to go out to, I also hear rumours the Vauxhall Tavern is under threat. I hope those rumours are just what they are rumours but I won’t be surprised if it goes, my response to this whole issue is death to gentrification!

Anyway that’s just my rambled opinion on the matter!

Explore Some More!

Exploring my city is always on my agenda, I’ve lived in London my whole life (the part where I moved to Essex temporarily has been wiped cleaned from my memory!) and have barely scratched the surface of exploring it. The urban landscape of London is always changing, shops, restaurants, etc are always opening, closing being replaced, There is always a new exhibition to go and see, a graveyard to go and explore. I try and make more of an effort in the winter as it is so easy to stay indoors and hide under the warmth of your duvet.

On Sunday we headed off to Somerset house, it would have been Saturday but the alarm went off, was switched off and we both promptly fell back asleep, classic for two night owls sort of on holiday (ie we were working at home). I wanted to see one exhibition before it closes on the 25th and that is the Chris Stein photography exhibit celebrating 40 years of Blondie. Whilst we were there, I also wanted to see the Guy Bourdin exhibit.
I like to get to exhibitions earlier, I don’t like packed noisy galleries, I like to move around and view stuff with ease and not precariously tip toe to look over someones shoulder as they hog a piece of art work! It’s a small sacrifice to get up earlier and go and view an exhibit in peace and quiet. I just hope the rest of the world doesn’t catch on!
I hadn’t really heard of Bourdin but realised that I must have some of his work without realising it in the 80s through advertising. The exhibit is a mix of photographs, video installations, home movies and never before seen paintings. Most of the work was from the 70s and revolved around a shoe campaign he was working on. It was interesting to learn about how he designed and developed each of the compositions for each set of photos and the models he worked with during this period. It’s an interesting exhibit and all aspiring photographers would benefit from this. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be learning more about his work.

The Chris Stein exhibit was also very good, comprising of pictures he had taken on tour and in New York, mainly in black and white accompanied by little anecdotes about each of the portraits. It was a more personal exhibit, like being at a friends house whilst they show you a photo album and tell you stories. There are some pretty amazing photos and of course I bought a poster of my eternal girl crush Blondie.

Travel Diaries – Berlin

Friday

One of these days I’m actually going to learn a language before I go to a country instead of embarrassing myself with my piss poor attempts so they end up speaking in English if they can or what turns into a game of charades! After getting up at 6am to catch a flight at Gatwick, we landed at Schonefield Airport to a very much ‘sunnier than England’ Germany, we got a weekend travel ticket with a welcome card which gives you tonnes of discounts at the info booth and we caught the express train and the S-Bahn to our hotel. But as check in wasn’t until three so we found a place with a sushi buffet where between our piss poor German and the servers lack of English (obviously this is no reflection on her but our poor trip preparation) managed to to order lunch and the lady appeared to take pity on us and kept giving us more sushi either that or they were desperate to get rid of the sushi!

We then checked into out hotel The Tryp Berlin Hotel in Mitte. It’s a nice hotel and as advertised has free WiFi but they don’t tell you in that is only 50mb and you have to pay for the rest! It’s clean, beds a little uncomfy and an over priced mini bar and breakfast is 18 euros! But it’s pretty central and right next to a U-Bahn station.

This was the view from our hotel window, street art is everywhere, some good, some bad.

We rested for a while before heading back to Potsdamer Platz to see the Dali exhibition because well I love Dali and the museum is open until 8. We then had a wander and found a shopping centre and my love spotted me a C&A and bought me some clothes (C&A closed in the UK in 2000 much to my dismay).  We them came back and raided Netto for some snacks and caused some confusion over bananas with neon green mould! Turns out the decent supermarket was across the road!

We’re staying in Mitte, which is the most central borough and turns out the part we were staying in near Nordbahnhoff Station which not too central is undergoing some major road works and regeneration works right now and I mean major. I kinda liked staying not too central but the road works are a bit of a pain but it turns out we’re only ten minutes from the natural museum!

Saturday

Got up after a lie in and went across the road for breakfast at Karaca, I probably should have investigated gluten free places to eat but this wasn’t my best organised trip. But Karaca is nice, the staff are lovely and the food is good. We got on the U-Bahn  and went down to Kochstrauss to Checkpoint Charlie, go early it’s a tourist hotspot and they turn up by the coach load!

We then visited the Currywurst museum, which is fun and great for kids and adults like me who are basically big kids! Oh and you get a free sample of currywurst. Interesting fact I learnt in there, popcorn is one of the world’s oldest snacks having been made since 3600BC!

Giant foam chips!

Stopped for coffee and then went off to find the Berlin gallery! Couldn’t find the gallery so we took a walk a round the back streets to Alexanderplatz, found a park and took some outfit pictures for my other blog.

Alexanderplatz is your typical tourist hotspot and with a four hour wait for the viewing platform in the TV Tower meant we decided to come back to the hotel for a chill out before exploring our area more and some dinner. We had dinner at Co chi a Vietnamese restaurant which is also gluten free, I had the most awesome chicken mango curry.

Sunday

Had another lie in, had lunch at Karraca again because we decided to go to the Natural Museum which is only five minutes round the corner or ten after figuring out the confusing road works! The we went and explored the Berlin Wall Memorial by Nordbahnhoff Station, turns out Mitte was right on the border of the wall! Nordbahnhoff station  has a little open museum inside as you make your way down to the platforms showing how the public transport system operated during the divide.

The memorial is a mile long and parts of the wall and original light posts and watchtowers have been preserved. You can take a walk up a viewing platform to see a stretch of no man’s land between the outer and inner wall that has been kept.

The sides of buildings at the beginning of streets show what the street looked like pre1990.

We then caught the train to Nollendenplatz to go the Bauhaus Archive museum which is well worth a trip if you’re into art and design.

Came back had a walk up Chausseestrasse to find somewhere to eat and discovered the shops,  including a vintage shop probably for the best as I’m broke!

Monday

I managed to give myself an anxiety attack by despite checking the train times and getting to the station half and hour earlier so not to miss the train, missing the train by sitting of the wrong f******g platform!!! Thankfully I’m so paranoid about missing my planes that I made us get to the train station to catch the 10.33 train so that if anything happened like it was cancelled or dumbass here got the wrong platform we would still be able to get another train in time to the airport, although this did involve a fair amount of running, my lungs giving up on me because I’m so out of shape and then the plane was delayed taking off anyway! But apart from that it was an amazing weekend away and I would definitely like to come back and explore Berlin more and maybe next time I will have learnt a bit more German!