I have the same views as mostly everyone you know about the current state of the world - the last week's been largely been a nightmare on that front, comedy Macbeth from the Tories aside. The options are disaster now or disaster later, hate crimes are on the rise, the Labour party is engaging in startlingly ill-timed convulsions that can't end anywhere good, and a cloud is spreading over pretty much everywhere.
So, here's some stuff I've been doing to distract myself:
Hanging out with Jen has been been a regular thing for a while now of course, but we're in the middle of an interesting week - her parents came into London last week (having come down from Perth to babysit her niblings in Kent while her brother and his wife went off on holiday) and we went out for a meal, and to meet each other for the first time. And this evening I'm getting a train to Gatwick (okay, two trains as the direct one has been cancelled), meeting her there, and then we're to Dublin to meet my sister Brenda and her partner, and on to Navan tomorrow to meet Josephine, her family, and Mum. I'll be a little calmer once the weekend's over, for sure. But I'm a little calmer around her anyway. We've been hit differently by Brexit - her post-doc is paid-up for the next two and a half years, but everything after that is ????, whereas I'm securely paid in a company that may just fade away if the word "passporting" appears in future EU-UK negotiations. Plan C (or D) is "go to Edinburgh, wait a few years, maybe don't even leave the EU" - it's a big step but these look like big times. The weekend will be the first time we've shared a bed two days in a row - all practice for the Big Trip this October, a wedding of a friend of hers which we'll expand to a Sydney->Melbourne road trip.
[Trinity Buoy Wharf / Longplayer]
And then on Sunday, we had some time to spare, so we went on a trip, by train to London Fields and on by bus to the area between the Isle of Dogs and the Excel centre, where the roads belie the original use of the land (Oregano Drive! Saffron Avenue! Nutmeg Lane! Clove Crescent! All just south of East India Dock Road). There's a lump of land there, where the final contortions of the River Lea (now containing the souldead 'New Manhattan', London City Island) meet the Thames. And on that lump is London's only (ex-training) Lighthouse, and a lot of art, and several buildings made of shipping containers.
And up in that lighthouse, is Longplayer, a music experience intended to run for 1000 years. It's a 20-minute piece by Jem Finer, played on Tibetan Singing Bowls, and a series of rules on how to modulate the piece which will guarantee it doesn't repeat over the duration. It's a little conceptual - it can be played anywhere, there are computers you can listen to it on, you can probably find out "what will be playing on 21st May 2135" - but it's also a lovely soothing sound.
The sound is best heard in the listening gallery, which is a small room at the top of the lighthouse (where the bulb would have been), with two nice chairs in it. And so we sat there for a bit, and took it in. The view is interesting - the cable-car over the Thames to the left, the Dome in the centre, Canary Wharf etc to the right - all potent signifiers of evil if you're that way inclined. But also all part of London by now, drawn into the city. I spent some time just watching a cable car crawl up and across the river, which with the chiming score reminded me of Koyaanisqatsi, which we'd tried to watch a few weeks before (but you need to be in the right mood). There was a sky with every different type of cloud in it, and the occasional roar of a jet overhead, and I felt something profound but (as you can tell) difficult to communicate.
And then on Monday, the mighty Karaoke Circus made a return. I wrote a little while ago about the revival of this live-band night of Karaoke for comedians and punters, which had been brought back specifically to mark the death of David Bowie. They unwisely ended that one with "See you all when Prince dies" - so here we were.
I was a little concerned - David Bowie has a lot of songs that are a good singalong, while Prince's stuff is frankly fiddly - but all involved did well (except the girl whose schtick was being terrible and screechy). Two of my friends got up - toriar for Little Red Corvette and operacat for Starfish and Coffee. The comedians did okay, a certain amount of over-egging is probably understandable under the circumstances (though I'd have felt better about it if there was a single non-white person on stage apart from possibly the violin player who came on for two songs) - the surprise was "Tall Prince" aka Tim effing Vine, who did a perfect rendition of Sign of the Times, sans lyrics sheets, while dressed as a slightly-modded Elvis. The modification was adding a third lens to a pair of purple sunglasses, in the style of Twitter Prince, and worked quite well.
And then there was Lisa, who apparently walked up during the first interval and asked to sing, who may well have been there by herself (she had to park her backpack on the stage), and who nailed Kiss. I don't think there was anything exceptional about her voice (though I'm no expert), but she rode the rails of the song expertly and brought us with her. And then when she was acclaimed as the (punter-only) winner, she was just as suited to Purple Rain, which was inevitable as the last, sing-along, track. I like the idea that she had a train on to Amsterdam later on, a great and implausible story to take with her.