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w/e 2023-09-10

I spent the first couple of days of the week in Essex with my folks, including cutting the garden back a bit. Bonus late-season grass care content: Doing strimming while wearing shorts is not a great idea, but a week later my legs are mostly healed.

Then I had 30 hours in London which I enjoyed very much indeed. In that time I visited 4 pubs, 3 cafes, 3 coffeeshops, 1 bookshop, 1 department store, 1 cinema, 1 Barbican Centre, and a quick whizz around the National Portrait Gallery, at least some of that in an effort to keep out of the heat.

It’s hard to untangle how much of the pleasure I get from being in a big city – walking around, cycling from place-to-place, sitting watching the world go by – is in contrast with, and making up for, the lack of people and things at home, versus how much I also enjoyed while living in London, but took for granted. Certainly some of it I did enjoy while there – using a hire bike to zip across the busy city on a sunny evening has always been a kind of magic. I don’t know. I don’t miss the hustle but I do miss the bustle.

It was lovely to catch up with several friends, including M, who was only in the country at the last minute, taking over leading a tour group from a guide who fell ill. A fortunate misfortune.

I went into Marks & Spencer to buy some smart summer trousers but, apparently, summer is over and all their summer clothes have been replaced with autumn wear. “What a shame that summer’s over,” I thought, as I left the store’s air conditioning and walked into the humid soup of 31ºC (88ºF) Oxford Street. On the plus side, when I got home I discovered that it was still summer on M&S’s World Wide Web Site, so I ordered two pairs of trousers (two pairs so I could send one back, like what young people do) and they both fit. That never happens. No clothes I buy online ever fit. It’s a summer an autumn miracle.

§ When I got home, after dark, I was in the kitchen and heard something knocking on the window… oh no. I carefully rolled the blind up and there were a few hornets trying to fly through the glass. Next morning I went out and saw the giant things going in and out of a vent high up in the wall. Urgh. Argh.

But one phone call, some debit card details, and a couple of hours later a nice man from Wales had pumped some powder through a very long metal stick into the holes, and by the end of the day there were no more hornets.

§ Other than that, it was straight into a day or two of client work which was probably a good thing, preventing too much post-London, home-alone, moping around. But it was, and remains, too hot. Even with opening the windows first thing – which does nothing, the still air just sitting there – and closing curtains and blinds as the sun moves around the house, it is too hot. By late afternoon I’ve ended up in the kitchen, the coolest room of the house, because even a shady spot outside was too steamy.

§ In London I went to see Afire (Roter Himmel) (Christian Petzold, 2023) which I liked a lot. I’ve enjoyed all his films that I’ve seen and I think this was one of the straightest (as in, least tendency towards magical-realism), the most Rohmer-esque.

On TV I watched Official Competition (Gastón Duprat, Mariano Cohn, 2021) which was quite fun but started dragging, and just now I had no memory of which film I’d spent two hours the previous evening watching.

I really want a great new-to-me comedy series to start watching but I fear I’ve seen all the likely contenders. I started re-watching People Just Do Nothing but this time it felt a bit too grim. Time for another re-watch of The Thick of It or Veep?

§ I fear some of these weeknotes are ever more Adrian Chiles-like in their mundanity but, I guess, that’s what personal blogs are for. Unlike the pages of a professional national/international news paper/website.

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  1. How was the NPG? I haven't been since the refurbishment!

  2. Hi Phil, don't worry about any self-perceived mundanity of the weeknotes, I thoroughly enjoy reading them. It might be that I'm just nosey, but being of a similar age, sharing similar interests and activities (scything, programming, music etc) I find your reports, self-reflection and humour quite uplifting. I only feel bad for not sharing my own experiences publicy!

    I was looking for some comedy to watch too and I noticed Ben Elton recommended a couple of series that I've never watched: Curb Your Enthusiasm and Stath Lets Flats. A quick search of your site reveals you've already seen them... so somewhat Chiles-like, I have nothing new to offer right now.

    Thank you for sharing and for helping keep parts of the web pleasant to visit!

  3. @Ian It's been so long since I last visited the NPG that, other than the new entrance on the north side, I'd have trouble telling you what was new!

    @Tom Thanks for the kind words. A re-watch of The Thick Of It has commenced.