Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things About London What Is Good

So, I have recently been accused of being "a whiny backpacker", "a knapsack of emotions" and "a little shit face everyone hates". No, I'm not suddenly a wildly successful blogger whose words ignite his enormous readership into arguments about whether he speaks the word of God (it's true) or whether he's a mealy-mouthed hack (it's not true). This hate mail comes from two people who I once considered my friends. No, I kid, whatever problems Ainsley and Josh have with anger-management and their complex complexions (you're blotchy - I'm saying it as nicely as I can, okay?), I love them very much.

So, in an attempt to win their favour and to avoid this page turning into the endless moaning of an angsty emo, I thought I'd write about the fun things I've been doing lately so future Liam can look back and think "wow, living in London was pretty cool and I sure wasn't a little bitch".

I've seen plenty of amazing cheap gigs, notably Mew, a Danish indie-prog band who sound so much better than the descriptor "Danish indie-prog band" suggests, and Patrick Wolf, my favourite artist of this decade, putting on a show at The Palladium with a string octet, backing singers and ridiculous outfits (black jockstrap and silver body glitter, anyone?). Coming up, I have Gary Numan playing The Pleasure Principle in full, Marilyn Manson, Luke Haines, Pet Shop Boys and Emilie Autumn.

On the subject of music, I've been listening to BBC 6 a lot. I haven't listened to the radio properly in more than a decade, but I found out that Cerys Matthews, the singer of Catatonia, one of my favourite bands as a teenager, hosts afternoons on BBC 6, and her show is fecking awesome. So is the dude that follows her, so I've been tuning into that. It shits all over what passes for radio in Australia.

I've just moved house, and the area near me is clogged with Polish delicatessens and African restaurants. Australia is really multicultural, but has a predominantly Asian and Mediterranean influence. This proliferation of eastern European and African cuisine and culture just doesn't exist in Sydney, so I'm enjoying it while I can. (In fact, I took myself out for a meal of borscht and golabki when I was feeling down on myself the other week, to remind myself of why Europe is awesome.)

Some friends and I got lost as we were heading towards Brick Lane for dinner. We were stumbling in the rain and trying to hold onto umbrellas, but our aimless and impromptu tour took us past many notable Monopoly addresses. So that was fun, albeit damp.

My mum's in town this week (more about that later), so we've been doing the whole musical thing: we saw Les Miserables, which we both love, and Salad Days, which Mum performed in while she was at high school. Salad Days was ridiculously fun: the theatre was set up like a 1950s university lawn, and as we arrived, the actors, dressed as professors, congratulated us on our graduation and showed us to our seats. The musical was a very campy, old-school one, until the plot was bizarrely derailed by the arrival of a spaceship in the second half - a completely ridiculous and unexpected deus ex machina, but still, it was a stupendously fun night.

Shopping. Good God, the shopping. The supermarkets here are stupendous, and shopping centres are open until 9pm every night. EVERY NIGHT. Not just Thursdays. It's outrageous and I love it. Of course, I'm dirt-poor, but it's fun to wander and look at the different food and fashion they have. (While we're on the topic, what do the Brits have against natural fabrics? It's nearly impossible to find something that isn't blended with at least one other unpronouncable synthetic material.)

Loving the food. While I'm a fan of the stodgy pub food (pies! burgers! bangers and mash!), the produce here is amazingly fresh and cheap. People had warned me that I wouldn't be able to find good fruit and vegetables. True, if you eat out, but the supermarkets are crammed with excellent produce. I've been outing out a lot while Mum's here, but apart from that, I've been taking salad snack boxes to work and making amazing sandwiches and stir fries.

History. Museums, random old buildings, anything old: I love it. It's been a busy few weeks, so I haven't been exploring much, but I love popping off to the British Museum or the Tower of London when I can.

And I still get a kick out of working for the BBC. (Or, in the words of Ainsley and Josh, "You’re working at the BBC! The BBC! You are peaking! You will never be more than what you are at this moment. You’ll be like the hot girl in high school who’s ass got big! The BBC!" Thanks, guys.)


  1. Haha! Whoop, we got a mention! (About fucking time). Ps Thanks for the link onto our blog. It was only a matter of time before we went viral.

    Love you long time! Xxx

  2. My two suggestions for radio good times are 'I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue' BBC 4 at midday sunday (and no I don't care at all about the middle-aged stigma surrounding BBC 4),and try to listen out for when they play 'Mornington Crescent' which is designed to sound like a gameshow but actually they're just saying words. Then for something a bit more exprimental, have a look at Resonance FM on the net. Maybe you could even approach them to produce a show! it's