28 November 2008

In which Helen explores clothing fashions over the decades

from London Lite

The world's oldest person has died aged 115. Edna Parker, of Shelbyville, Indiana, US, was born on 20 April 1893, and was the world's oldest person for just over a year, according to the Gerontology Research Group in California.

Imagine that! This woman was born in the Victorian Era. Born a woman without the right to vote.

Lived through the two world wars, through the depression.

Saw women get the vote. Lived through the jazz era of the 20's, and the revival of the victorian era that was the 50's and the feminist 70's.

Lived through each different fashion decade that in many ways defines the era itself.

Through --

the late victorian period:

the Edwardian period (1901 - 1911):

post world war one 20's:

turbulent 40's:

the watershed family-centered (post-world war II) 50's:

The "modern era" 60's, exemplified in Britain by the modish Twiggy:


(real airline stewardesses at the time)

punk-rock 80's:

my adolescence, the 90's:

And today:

Just compare this last pic of Britney with the late Victorian outfit -- and you can tell what evolution has been made in the clothing industry -- or perhaps I should say devolution.

She saw cars (which existed when she was born) completely take over the horse and buggy --in most western societies.

My own picture of an Amish buggy and child (taken years ago before I discovered they don't like having their photo taken). Near Erie, Pennsylvania.

She was born in an era of individual will -- one the Amish still try to preserve -- to live through to the era of mechanical dependence.

I imagine she never thought she would live to see the Millennium.

She was born in an era that looks (almost) completely different to what it looks like today.

Which only makes me think how different the world will look if you or I live to 115 -- or 100 -- or 90, 80. Either way, I guarantee it will look much different to what it does today.

27 November 2008

It's William!!

This is William -- the guy Stacey and I tried to find when we went back to our former college. He was our dorm security guard/know it all. Our best friend away from home. Impossible not to love. Here he is in Reid Hall.

more photos, yay!!! on this (American) Thanksgiving Day

So I told myself that I was going to do some proper book reading for clarse before I left for the play, but instead I, uh, started taking photos of myself:

What the hell. I swear the camera doesn't register my image correctly:

I'm super excited -- going to see Oedipus with Ralph Fiennes, yay!!!

And here are some photos I took today, along with a few from when Stacey was here

Stacey and I at the Bond Street Christmas Lighting.

Me getting candy at the South Bank Christmas Festival. Yay, I know your jealous of my ear muffs

Stone statue guys on a bench. (I'm not feeling him up, I swear).

Here are some photos of the South Bank I took today:

Where I'm going to see Oedipus tonight. The National Theatre. Laurence Olivier was the first artistic director of this theatre. I bought a biography on Olivier at the bookstore there this afternoon -- plane ride home reading.

The South Bank by the way was blitzed during the second world war. What remained was nothing but marsh land. In 1951, the government decided to hold a festival there (in celebration of the Great Exhibition that took place exactly 100 years earlier). They built the Royal Festival Hall, which is so large that I couldn't get a good picture of it. It contains various concert halls. A sort of place to meet and greet. Contains bars and shops as well. It is also where I saw the jazz trio with Stacey last week.

Yes, you have finally found me out folks. I have come all the way to London to see the Andy Warhol exhibit.

South Bank books. Whoever runs this has three tables of books here all day, every day.

Skate boarding area:

St. Paul's in the distance:

I should have probably mentioned (if it were not obvious) that the Sound Bank is on literally on the river Thames.

Down the street from where I live this view

26 November 2008

hilarious/outlandish articles from London newspapers

from the LONDON LITE:

Stuck in reality TV, get me out!

Scores of people are suffering a psychiatric condition which sees victims believe they are stuck in a reality TV show. US mental health professionals have been inundated with complaints from patients with the delusion, including a man who walked into a government building to demand his "show" was stopped. The illness is known as The Truman Show Syndrome.

10k given away by a credit card prankster

A WEB entrepreneur gave away 10,000 pounds to astonished Londoners last night -- by projecting his credit card details onto a wall in 10-foot high letters.

Bertrand Bodson, 33, of website Bragster.com, displayed a massive version of his MasterCard on the side of The Bank of England and a corner of Kensington High Street. Anyone was free to write down the card number, expiry date and security code.

The projection also had directions to a website where Bodson had provided his address details for telephone and online purchases. The card was loaded with 10,000 pounds of credit.

Bodson said: "With all the doom and gloom, we wanted to bring a little Christmas cheer. Everyone is welcome to spend the money how they want."

Many Londoners were suspicious of the offer, but other less-cynical shoppers took full advantage of Bodon's generosity -- including one who ran up a 7,000 bill at apple.

Harvard-educated Bodson, 33, from Belgium, set up Bragster, based in Shoreditch, 18 months ago. The site boasts more than a million members.

from the LONDON PAPER:

Dead pianist in HAMLET

David Tennant will fulfil the dying wish of a concert pianist when he uses the musician's skull in the West End production of HAMLET next month. The Doctor Who star has agreed to use Shakespeare fan Andre Tchaikowsky's skull in the Act Five scene featuring Yorick's remains. Tchaikowsky, who died of cancer, aged 46 in 1982, donated his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company.

here, by the way, is an article I just came across about Tennant in The Telegraph.

24 November 2008

Kevin Spacey wins Evening Standard Award

Kevin Spacey has been given a special theatre award for rejuvenating one of London's best-loved play houses.

By Stephen Adams, Arts Correspondent
Last Updated: 4:32PM GMT 24 Nov 2008
The Telegraph

The Hollywood actor, turned London theatre director, was recognised at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards "for bringing new life to the Old Vic".

He took over at the theatre, near Waterloo Station, five years ago to the bemusement of some critics.

Speaking at yesterday's (Mon) ceremony, he said: "I can't quite believe what has happened to the Old Vic."

He said he remembered when some critics were "asking me to pack my bags and get the hell out of town," he told the Evening Standard.

The Old Vic was the home of the National Theatre until it moved into its current premises on the South Bank in 1976.
A decade ago it went though a period of deep uncertainty after being put up for sale. Suggestions were mooted to turn it into a themes pub or bingo hall, but after a public outcry it was bought by a charitable trust in 2000.

Three years later came the announcement that The Old Vic would once again become a producing house, with Spacey as the first artistic director of The Old Vic Theatre Company. He vowed to bring in new talent and famous names from film.
Yesterday the LA Confidential and American Beauty actor, 49, said he had told staff that "if we kept our heads down, kept focused on the vision, we would eventually emerge and establish ourselves".

The awards panel was particularly impressed with his company's revival of the Norman Conquests trilogy by Sir Alan Ayckbourn, for which it built a special circular theatre.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, who acted alongside Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington in American Gangster, won Best Actor for his Othello at the Donmar Warehouse. Penelope Wilton and Margaret Tyzack shared Best Actress for their performances in The Chalk Garden, again at the Donmar.

The Best Play went to Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters at the National Theatre, about a group of 1930s miners who took up art.

23 November 2008

In which Helen has an adventure with Stacey

[Regent's College -- former school]

Have had an uncharacteristic last few days, spent with Stacey, an American friend of mine who I went to school with at Regent's.

Here are some photos, and maybe a bit of descriptions in-between.

A lot of ducks and pigeons in Regent's Park, where Stacey and I went to after walking around The Wallace Collection near the park. The WC is (not a bathroom) but a home -- a mansion really -- that has a collection of paintings, including one of my favourites (shown first) and one that is very popular:

The Swing

Portrait of Madame De Pompadour (not here shown entirely). She was the mistress of King XV of France in the 1700's.

So Stacey and I decided, spies that we are, that we would try to break into our previous college in order to have dinner there and perhaps see our favourite (security guard? -- I can't even remember now what he did -- he just sat at a desk in the dorm hall & chatted with students all day -- our very own google -- he knows where everything is in London, the nearest Tesco, etc...e) -- ah, yeah, so we were going to try to find William too. Alas, the way we used to sneak into the school was blocked off and so instead we decided to be sensible and just go to the front desk and ask. At first this seemed very unlikely that the guard there would allow us in. How were we to prove that we didn't want to blow the place up? But in the end, after two hours of walking around the park before dinner would begin to be served in the halls, thinking of just how we would phrase it so the guard saw us for the innocent, slightly kookie girls we are (ie: harmless), we went in, walked up to the guard, and told her that we were former students and wanted to have dinner there, to which the guard replied, without a moment of hesitation -- "Yeah, okay, sign this book, I'll buzz you in."


So not even asking for i.d., references, or collateral for our eventual return, we signed our names in the guest book and were allowed to enter.

It was very sad for both of us that the place has changed so dramatically since we were last there. The front hall itself has had a complete make-over. Now very corporate looking. When once two cats would roam the foyer that had couches against the walls (where the black cat would often lie) now there are flat screen tv's on either side of massive stone desk that one can hardly see over, replacing the small one that used to be on the side where two men sat day in, day out, listening to music on a hand-held radio. The refectory underwent a complete rejuvenation as well, and even the food was much different. I told Stacey that I think it is a new food company supplying the food. Stacey was particularly upset that the round booths (another homely object relinquished) were replaced by a deli area. The food is also very pricey, especially for us as we discovered that as no longer students of the college, we are called "delegates" and have to pay nearly double. Across from the refectory is now a very fancy bar/eating area where you are served at your table. This is geared naturally toward the "sponsors" of the college, as it was evident by the people we saw in the two roomed area.

We snuck into the dorms twice -- waiting for students to swipe their cards in and out of the halls -- but were unable to find our fun loving gay scottish man (otherwise known as "glitterboy") William. Twas very sad.

Me: sad.

We took a double-decker from the college afteward, stopping at Trafalgar Square to walk down Whitehall (past no. 10) and across Westminster Bridge. Went down to the South Bank intending to walk home but came across a christmas festival, with vendors selling chocolate crepes -- of which stacey and I got one each -- and ornaments, gifts, and even a merry-go-round. Very fun. We ran into the Royal Festival Hall so I could use the loo and came across some people warming up for a jazz performance that night -- also the jazz festival going on here -- and decided to come back at 10:30 to see them perform. Got there late so only saw about 10 minutes, but went to see them again the next morning at the Natural History Museum.

Crappy photos but didn't want to put on flash b/c I was so near them. They are really really good. The Nick Crowley Trio. The pianist is like the guy in Life is Beautiful. Not italian; English, but very upbeat. Ran to kiss his little son and his wife who were there before beginning. Jumped up and down many times, talking to the other guys in the middle of performing, continually moving his legs up and down to the beat. Very fast piano playing.

Stacey left this morning at 9:00 for America, something which I will be doing very soon, in less than a month, on the 15th of December. Surreal.

20 November 2008

In which Helen presents photos of a Christmas nature

Reindeer at the Bond Street Christmas Lighting:

Debenhams lit up (legally):

Christmas World in Harrods:

Advertising new James Bond film in about twelve Harrods windows.

Harrods really likes James Bond:

And now for something entirely different.

Hyde Park:

Hey, there's a horse:

18 November 2008

In which Helen expresses hatred for banks...and other such people

Long story short:

I've been trying to set up an English bank account to transfer my loan money into. Went to Nationwide when I first got here, two weeks later was told that they lost my application. Did it again. Two weeks later (today) I got a letter saying that b/c I didn't put my phone number on the application, it was torn up and I have to fill out a new one.


So I went to the bank (natwest) that my school sponsors. They say that they can't process an application for me until they see verification of how long I am going to be living here from my school. So now I have to go to student services, get a letter from them, go back there, show them that and they will process an account for me that may take two weeks to appear.

Then it takes two weeks for my loans to transfer.

Which may mean that I won't have my loan money for when I leave to go back to America.

Which means I won't have enough money to buy a plane ticket back, until I can get money from a relative.

Beyond agrivating!

I wrote on here -- but then deleted it b/c I thought it too "negative -- that I had received a letter from my school saying I would be suspended if I didn't pay my rent money for my flat -- Now the credit control office had ASSURED me that since I signed my loan checks it would automatically be paid -- but lo and behold, three weeks after it should have been paid I receive said letter. Had to chase them around like little kids without their bonnets to get them to do what they should have done in the first place....

It is sad that this happens every time. No wonder I worry that something will go wrong -- it usually does, especially if people are involved.

17 November 2008

In which Helen goes to the movies

Continuing with my "things I never do" today I went to see a movie -- alone.

I've been to plenty of stage performances alone but never to a movie theatre alone.

I went to the Screen on Baker Street, my movie theatre. Right down the street from where I used to go to school the last time I was in London.

(not my picture)

I thought I would be the only one in the theatre but then a few old ladies showed up and two young americans -- probably current students at Regent's.

The theatre is so small that you feel like you're in someone's living room. Much more preferable to the "high class" joints in Leicester Square, where the theatres are like opera houses, and you have to deal with a lot of people.

And the seats are like red velvet -- and really comfy. :)

So what did I see?

16 November 2008

a realization

Keeping your lights on in your room in order to prevent yourself from falling asleep while you rest your eyes is, I've just discovered, not a very sound argument.

[picture: Big Ben "inside" the London Eye. Discovered this for the first time while about to walk over the Waterloo Bridge]


The Sunday Times Cartoons

Hey, here's me, looking stoned, while reading my massive course pack.

I wonder if it would be any more interesting if I were.