Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Manbag

It's the dilemma du jour facing many a (straight and gay) man. To manbag, or not to manbag.

On Thursday we took the Eurostar from St Pancras to Lille, for lunch.

Whilst there we browsed a selection of bags in the men's department of Printemps, in contemplation of me buying one.

On reflection, I just might buy another bike-bag. You see, it may be du jour, but I'm not yet convinced that a manbag is really me.

Unlike mon C, for whom it's not an issue. Mind you, he is French and he works in fashion.

(If you think that I'm being flippant let me tell you that mon C refused to let me take a picture of him modelling these bags dressed casually as he was. He would not be seen in his lounging-about-the-house sweater. "If you are going to do this then you at least need to do it properly". Here's one I sneaked of him wearing it though).

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Xfe has four manbags. Two are canvas and two are leather. At the moment he prefers to use the leather over the canvas ones.

Here Xfe is showing his Jas-M.B. London and his Chris & Tibor bags. But I can't tell you which is which.

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Here's the bike bag I'm much more comfortable with. But it is far less stylish, and I can't really work it around any of my Ted Baker stuff.

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I came home without a manbag, having decided that it's a little less masculine than I'm looking for right now. However, I wasn't totally disappointed, because I found this wonderful scarf.

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How's that for style; isn't the colour a dream?

Although I didn't get a manbag, I did get a shopping bag for life. One that I'm very excited about.

Far better than your British offering, this Carrefour delight is powder-sky blue. Not only is it stylish, it has a message that's totally "tendance".

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(ps you can see Xfe's discarded sweater hanging on the window)

I can't wait to go shopping with it (even if it is only to the Dalston Sainsbury - I think I'll stop short of using it in Selfridges).

Further Reading:

Fully Loaded - what's in your manbag?, G2 Fashion and Style, Friday March 28, 2008

Le Cas du Cabas, PREFmag, Mars-Avril 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jan Abigail Hamilton OR Terminal 5

If you are looking for the post about my school days with Ian Hamilton the sex change para who became Jan Hamilton, then you need to go here.

If you are looking for the Heathrow T5 post, go here.

Or, alternatively, you can hang here and watch this. It gets really special around 1m50s!



(with thanks to Inside The Gay Gate for bringing this to my attention)

Let The Calm Wash Over - Can I Help? - You

Following our wonderfully relaxing experience at the Thermae Bath Spa, it was just as well that I was "in a deep state of relaxation". For the woeful journey home.

When we got to the train station in Bath to return to London, there was no sign of our train on the scheduled departures. Eventually, having failed to find anyone to help elsewhere in the station, we returned to the ticket office only to be told that our train had been cancelled.

Of course it was my fault, the ticket person told me, for not checking the First Great Western website. Despite my having given my mobile number and email address at the prompt of "where to send updates or notification of any change of service" when booking. And it was the Easter weekend.

We were given two options. We could wait another couple of hours, for the last service back to London, with no guarantee it would be on time, and no guarantee of a seat.

Or alternatively, we could take the train to Chippenham (only 10 minutes away), where we would wait (another 20 minutes) for a bus. The bus would take us (in 40 minutes) to Swindon, where we could get the Cardiff train to Paddington, taking another 1 hour 50 mins, coincidentally the time of our original scheduled journey from Bath to Paddington.

We decided on train-bus-train as the lesser of two evils, on the basis that it should still get us in earlier than the last Bath-Paddington service.

Britain - Not So "Great", More 3rd Rate

The bus was late departing. People couldn't find which of the many was the Swindon bus (there was no-one at the station to assist).

To give credit, the bus driver only took a couple of wrong turns at two roundabouts, and there were no traffic jams to contend with. So we were dropped off only just in time to get on the train that was now being held back for us.

If there had been any traffic problems, we'd simply not have made it.

Finally on the train, finding seats was a problem. Eventually we persuaded people to shift their bags and shopping off other seats to give us one. After all, that's what seats are for.

Little wonder then that I hardly ever travel in the UK by train. Each time I do I remember why.

Let The Calm Wash Over You

So, it should come as no surprise that Heathrow Airport's and British Airway's flagship Terminal 5 opening yesterday, didn't quite go according to plan.

"Heathrow Terminal 5 - a new era for air travel and British Airways

On 27 March 2008 our brand new home, Terminal 5, will open. It will revolutionise the way that passengers experience air travel.

At London Heathrow Terminal 5 we’ve created a natural, logical journey that’s so calm, you’ll flow through. It should only take ten minutes to get from check-in to departures*. Transferring and arriving are just as simple and calm. Spend the time you save enjoying the excellent range of shops, cafes and restaurants. Or simply relax and be wowed by the world class architecture.

* Based on the average time it takes one passenger using a self-service Check-in Kiosk and checking one bag at Fast Bag Drop on a normal operational day."


So claimed BA on their "Terminal 5 - Welcome to terminal 5 - British Airways" website.

In the event, 27 March 2008 was yet another chaotic Heathrow experience for travellers, with problems being blamed on the state-of-the art-baggage handling system... that, erm, doesn't work.

As many as 68 inbound and outbound flights were scrapped yesterday by BA. Baggage check-in was halted. Queue's and chaos abounded, and passengers were stranded, with some spending the night on the new terminal floor.

The problems are continuing today. So far this morning, 37 flights short-haul flights out of T5 and 44 inbound have been cancelled. It is estimated that between 11,000 and 14,000 passengers could be affected by cancellations today.

This morning the BBC Today programme were reporting that many BA staff had "no idea" how to operate the high-tech chech-in systems. Passengers reported waiting over an hour for their baggage, with the arrivals hall "stacked-up" with bags.

Oh, those proud BA boasts:

"Here are a few of the Terminal 5 features that make us the most proud:

* Terminal 5 offers seamless check-in, with 96 Check-in Kiosks designed to eliminate queuing

* There will be huge improvements in punctuality and baggage now that we’ve brought nearly all British Airways flights together in one terminal

* The state-of-the-art baggage system has been designed specifically for Terminal 5 using proven technology already in use at a number of global airports

All these amazing features are exclusive to you, the British Airways traveller."


Some flagship T5 turned out to be.

As the gateway to the UK, it really is no wonder that people forget about the "Great" and experience instead 3rd-Rate Britain.

And in many ways, isn't it just.

Let The Calm Wash Over You

We started our week with a trip to the Bath Thermae Spa, Britain's only natural thermal spa. It was a wonderfully relaxing experience.

Bath itself I found rather dull and boring. I don't think that the weather helped. It was cold and grey.

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Bath is a city famous for its elegant Georgian architecture, with "perfectly proportioned" Georgian Crescents, and greenery.

Perhaps I've been spoiled by staying so often with friends' living in Edinburgh's New Town. I found the spa town's architecture rather unimpressive, a poor cousin to the far more elegant Edinburgh.

The Pulteney Bridge, "modeled on the Florentian Ponte Vecchio") was the only building that caught my attention, with its buildings spanning either side of the bridge.

River AvonRoman Baths

The Roman Baths have made the city famous, "the best preserved Roman spa from the ancient world stunningly restored during the Victorian era".

Iron in the waterGhosts
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You can drink the water in the pump room. For me, it was like drinking some warm slightly salted water - the kind you would gargle at home after a tooth extraction.

Water Spa

I'd booked us both in for the de-stress thermae treatment. It was wonderful - especially the aromatic moor mud wrap and back, neck & shoulders massage.

I'm not into the whole massage/treatment thing. Xfe is, of course. But wow. I could certainly feel the wrap soothing deep inside. To experience that while having my head massaged was wonderfully relaxing.

On a couple of occasions I realised my head was empty. I was thinking of nothing at all. After laying there for 50 minutes, in my wrap, having my head massaged I was simply soothed.

After showering my therapist actually gave me a full body massage. She spoke no hype when she told me that I was "in a deep state of relaxation". Truly, I was.

That night, back in London, I slept as well as I ever have in my life.

It is certainly something I will do again.

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You have to book the treatment, and it is an extremely popular place, so you have to book well in advance. However, for us, the next time we'll go for he day. It's close enough to do it that way, without staying over (like the town itself, the Hilton hotel we stayed in was spectacularly tired and disappointing).

Urgent! Abbey National Security Spell Check Needed



The quality of this phishing scam leaves a lot to be desired. Either that or my branch manager needs some higher education. Wait a minute though...I don't have an Abbey habit.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sweet Dreams

I suffer recurring and other vivid dreams.

I may have mentioned some before, elsewhere here. But it suits me to see just how often the recurring ones do, so I'm going to note the occurrences.

As a child I used to have a recurring dream. I still remember it. But I stopped having that one many years ago. Now there are two main ones.

The Aberdeen/London Dichotomy Dream

Over 7 years ago I resigned from a top 10 Scottish law firm, where I was a partner. I was giving up a secure future to move to London and a position much less than partnership.

As a partner there is a great deal of autonomy and prestige. You are your own boss, though accountable to your partners.

As an associate, you work for the partners.

Even though it has been more than 7 years I still dream about going back to Aberdeen and the law firm that I left, which has gone from strength to strength. However, in that dream I'm still working in London, living in London. But I have the opportunity of putting that on hold and working in Aberdeen again.

In my dream I'm torn between the two. London, and the freedom of living in London and the life I enjoy, or Aberdeen and the security of being my own boss.

Sometimes the dream also includes moving back to the wonderful flat I sold after I moved down here.

The Grandparent Regret Dream


In this dream either my GrandMa or Nana is still alive (the first died over 20 years ago, the other about 10 years ago).

In my dream I'm with them. I know that they have been absent, but now they are back. The dream deals with loss and grief. In my sleep, I cry. Often the sobbing wakes me up.

Another theme often occurring in my dreams is the loss of my teeth. Not all of them, just some. But I've not had that one for some time now.

Last night I had the Aberdeen/London Dichotomy dream. But it wasn't the only one.

I was watching a professional football match. There was a striker and a defender. The striker scored. By way of goading the supporters of the other team, and demonstrating his dominance, he fucked the defender on the pitch. Kind of like somersaulting to celebrate a goal, but different.

Both the guys were Middle Eastern or North African looking. Dark haired, hairy. Very hairy legs and arse.



Very much like those guys.

He did it on 3 occasions. It wasn't sexual. Merely a way of demonstrating the submissiveness of the unsuccessful defender. Very matter of factly and completely to taunt.

Now, I wonder what that means.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life Flows Better With Visa



It certainly does!

A Walk To Dalston Kingsland

We live in N1. We are in the London Borough of Islington, but the other side of the road is Hackney. They share the N1 postcode though.

De Beauvoir Church

De Beauvoir Square

There are some beautiful houses around Northchurch Road and De Beauvoir Square. Then, just on the other side of De Beauvoir Square, it all changes.

De Beauvoir

from De Beauvoir

Welcome to Kingsland Road and Dalston Junction.

the Junction

just around De Beauvoir

I'm sure that it will gentrify soon. The cranes you can just about make out in one of the pictures are constructing around the extension to the East London line.
It is also the corridor to the 2012 Olympic site.

Kingsland Road is so very different from Upper Street, even although they are (almost) close neighbours, separated by Essex Road and a gap of wealth.

Pawn Again

They seem to rather like their pawn shops, though I swear I've never seen one on Upper Street.

Luxury!

How's that for a luxury bed? I wonder how many people have bought one (such a bargain price), and who exactly buys a bed like that? Those red, satin-feel sheets. Pure luxury.

Not here though. We never looked in. I'm not sure if I needed anything for a £1 today.

£1

Maybe you need a wig?

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Dalston Junction

More pawn then...

More Pawn

Pawn

Here in the Kingsland Centre is the Matalan where another murder took place at the weekend. You can read about it (and various other murders that have occurred recently in the area) on Bryn's blog here.

More Kingsland

Other close-by residents include Calvin Holbrook.

Hmm. Someone has green fingers. I wonder what they are growing?

green fingers

Doctor Who Series 4

Less than 2 weeks to go until S4 of Doctor Who kicks off.

We saw a slightly extended version of the trailer below (which is the one that's been doing the rounds in the cinemas for a little time now) at the Doctor Who Exhibition at Earls Court yesterday morning.

Season 4 Doctor Who looks dramatic enough - almost epic. Perhaps something of that nature to come...



A couple of years ago we went to the Who exhibition in Cardiff. This one is more of the same, with some added costumes and a few more figures. But ultimately it's all about the sales.

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(These photos are from Earls Court).

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(a rather limp-wristed Slitheen)

The exhibition shop was busy. Which is good for the future of the show. Viewing figures are important, but all the merchandising income and opportunities can't be ignored.

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Listening to the parents telling their kids that they couldn't have any more money, or that they could only choose one thing out of the two or three items they wanted took me back a bit!

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Merry Christmas!

Is the exhibition worth it? Well, it's only £12 entry. It's worth seeing the extended clip of season 4, of course. Some of the exhibits are ok. If you like Cybermen there's a great montage and if you like Daleks, an even better one. Overall, however, it's really nothing special.

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And it's full of noisy kids.

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Cybermen have always been my favourite. Mind you this one looks exactly like the Character Options Cyber-Controller figure.

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And the spooky, creepy weeping angel.

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...and the dress whot Kylie wore.

There are some more pics (including Daleks) on the MadeInScotland Flickr photo page. Just click on a pic and it will take you there.

Now I did notice that amongst the toys in the shop, there were quite a few Davros models....

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