Monday, October 30, 2006

Game On? “Shame on” more like…..

Yesterday, Graeme, the 3 Bedfordteers and I all went to the “Game On” exhibition at the Science Museum. An exhibition about the history of computer gaming? Sounds fab! The potential was amazing and the exhibition blurb played up to that potential.

When we first entered the exhibition there was a timeline of major milestones in computer gaming history. I was immediately aware that it was almost a timeline of my life, as home computing only took off during the early 1980s. I can remember the Amstrad, Spectrum, Commodore, BBC Micro and far too many other computers. Most of the games mentioned, I can remember being released. The geek inside me found this revelation pretty exciting. So far, so good.

Alongside all the games on display were large-scale artworks posing all sorts of questions and providing food for thought. However, that was as far as the exhibition went in terms of being thought provoking. There was so much opportunity to explore things like gaming and its impact on the body (increased reflexes but a potential for increased waistline too) but it was just wasted. I’d have loved to have learned more about game development and seen examples of game evolution. Something as simple as having all the Mario Bros games next to each other, so you could follow the improvements in graphics, would have been interesting to see.

Instead, there were just rooms filled with kids fighting over computer games, which didn’t even seem to be grouped in any logical way. It was impossible to get near some of the games, as considerate (note the sarcasm) parents tended to hog the games until their kid finished on one and came over to play the next one. Issues like violence and computer games were just brushed over, as were female gamers and female role models in computer games. I found it a bit insulting that the only mention female gamers got was next to the Sims feature. Don’t get me wrong I love the Sims but it’s not the only game I love. I also know plenty of blokes who love the Sims.

I just feel the whole thing was just entirely superficial and obviously aimed at capturing the kids at half-term. The only thought-provoking the exhibition did was with regards to how it could have been improved.

Shame on you, Science Museum, I expected much better.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Tonight was the first airing of Torchwood on council telly. I have been so excited all week about it, and unfortunately, now I’m a little disappointed. I have to say the first two episodes weren’t greatly inspiring. Both were predictable and nothing new. I mean how many times has the old “alien who feeds off sexual energy” storyline been rehashed?!

I admit Captain Jack is a highly attractive lead character but can we just stop with the so-obvious it hurts sexual tension with Gwen thing? Doctor Who was turned into a sci-fi soap opera with the whole Rose/Doctor soppy nonsense. Now, it’s happening again. The sad thing is, in my opinion, that these episode writers are no longer writing for an audience interested in science-fiction or just good old adventure stories. They just churn out any old nonsense because they know enough kids will watch. However, Torchwood isn’t for kids, it was supposed to be adult sci-fi. Well, if that’s the case, can we have some intelligent storylines please?!

Monday, October 16, 2006

A true goddess!

Last night we went to see the delectable and utterly glamorous Dita von Teese. We were so lucky to get tickets for her first public show since 1998. Apparently, they sold out in 24 hours. Graeme and I saw tickets selling on Ebay for £250!

I have to say that she was fantastic. She did two performances – Bird of Paradise and the Champagne Glass. Bird of Paradise involved a gilded birdcage and a fan dance with beautiful fuschia pink feathers. The Champagne Glass consisted of rather a lot of splashing about in a human sized champagne glass and looking like she was having such good fun. After watching her perform, I fully understand why Dita is one of the world’s top burlesque performers. She is ultra stylish, ultra sexy and not tacky in the slightest. Dita puts many burlesque performers I’ve seen to shame.

Unfortunately, the whole evening was almost ruined by the venue. Koko, although lovely, is not a good venue for a performance. It’s tiered but the tiers aren’t tiered (if you get what I mean). So, if you’re not at the front and you’re my height, you’ll see nothing. There were loads of people like me complaining that they couldn’t see a thing. When a group of us finally stood up on a bench to get a better view, an ape of a bouncer told us to get down. It must have taken him a lot of guts to tell some small, petite women to get down from a bench. Eventually, Graeme took matters into his own hands and being the wonderful person he is, managed to blag us into the VIP lounge :o) It was great – a clear view, a private bar and come celebs to keep us company (apparently, Gary Kemp and Amy Winehouse were there, although I only had eyes for Dita). I am so happy that Graeme managed to turn a potential disaster into an amazing night. Makes me realise how lucky I am to have him :o)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lady Jane Grey and other tragic women....

Since arriving in London, I have wanted to visit the Tower of London. I have been there twice before, once as a child and once as a teenager. The place has always amazed and fascinated me. I love castles - all the little hidden places to explore and feeling all that history trapped in one place.

My desire to visit there in recent years has been triggered by my interest in women through history. I have a great amount of empathy for Henry VIII's wives. Two of which - Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard - died at the tower. However, it is not them that I feel the most for. It's Lady Jane Grey, the nine days queen, who has captured my interest.

I blame the film with Helena Bonham Carter in it, that I saw at my gran's house as a child. The story of how such a young, innocent person could be executed seemed so terrible and tragic. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is still tragic. A young woman who was, by all accounts, well-educated, was used as a pawn by her family and died for it.

I think I connected with the historical figure of Jane Grey in some deep way that I cannot really understand. Everytime I think of her and her tragic end, it makes me very sad. So, I wanted to go and pay my respects in the chapel where she was buried. To do this, you have to do a yeoman warder tour as they escort you in there. It's a small chapel next to Tower Green called St Peter ad Vincula. Buried there are Jane Grey and her husband, Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Margaret Pole and many others. It's a very sad little place but I am glad we managed to spend some time in there.

Even sadder was seeing all the carvings made by the prisoners in the Beauchamp Tower. Some of them were very beautiful but many were just names. Two carvings just simply said "IANE" and were probably carved by supporters of Jane Grey (J wasn't in use at the time). Those carvings broke my heart and all that I could think was "why?" I really don't think I'll ever understand.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Kew harvest delights

Today, I visited Kew Gardens for the very first time! Before even getting into the gardens, I invested some money in becoming a friend of Kew, as Kat had told me she spent loads of time there, when she lived in London. Now, I can say I see why! We had a gorgeous day for it and despite being there for about 5 hours, we didn't see half of what was in there.

They're having a harvest festival at the moment, which I knew I had to go to. One of the highlights is the gorgeous cranberries growing on one of the lakes in the gardens. When they are ripe, they will be harvested (if the ducks don't eat them all first). There was also a wonderful sculpture of a man made out of all different types of pumpkins and squashes. He was fab! I love pumpkins, I really do. I just think they are such a cheerful looking vegetable. I can't really be sad when there are pumpkins around.
We then visited the Palm House, which was wonderfully tropical inside. It was an amazing jungle of palm trees, ferns and other exotic plants from around the world. There was a papaya tree absolutely loaded with papayas. I hope none of them fall on anyone's head! I also learned that all-spice actually comes from one plant - I thought it was just a mixture of a load of popular spices!
After a while, we got too hot and had to escape back into the cooler open air. We discovered the most beautiful fungi all around the gardens. It was the first time I have seen so many mushrooms and toadstools in the one place. We also found a chestnut tree with a carpet of conkers underneath it. The squirrels were having a field day!
I enjoyed myself thoroughly and can't wait to go back. I don't know if we'll ever manage to see everything in there!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Look what my lovely UKS team mates made me :o)

This wonderful mini-book popped through my letterbox this morning. It's gorgeous and it certainly brightened up a rather dull, wet morning!

My creative journey begins.

I recently joined an online group called "Creative Journey". Our aim is to explore one theme/concept through a series of monthly arty challenges. Our first challenge was to sketch out a mind-map of our theme. After lots of thought I decided upon the theme of "trees". It has plenty of scope and branches (ahem) into many other areas that interest me.

I'm hoping that I can use the theme as an introduction to botanical drawing, which is something I have wanted to try for years. I'm also going to use it to help my tree identification skills for when I start my ovate grade. It's a theme I can use to bridge both my artistic and spiritual side - ideal as I have neglected both since moving to London.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Kat-tastic weekend

Today was back to Earth with a bang after Kat’s visit. It was great to see her again and we had good fun.

On Friday we visited the British Museum. It’s fast becoming a favourite place of mine. They had an exhibition on “Power and Taboo: Sacred objects from the Pacific”, which was fascinating. It’s interesting that the concept of taboo originates from the Polynesian practise of “tapu”, which meant managing and working with the Gods. It seems to have evolved from being something quite active and positive into something very passive and forbidden.

Afterwards, it was off to Ponti's for a late lunch and then a browse around the bookshops in Tottenham Court Road.

Saturday was Ally Pally Stamp and Scrapbooking Show. I can't say I was overly impressed. It was far too busy, far too warm and many people seemed to be lacking in manners. I also found it difficult to get anything I wanted to buy. I expect I may be far too picky now. In saying that, I managed to get some lovely Banana Frog stamps, a couple of Brilliance inkpads and some utterly yummy Blonde Moments embossing powders!

On Saturday night, we let Kat loose on the Sims 2, which in combination with a few glasses of wine was rather amusing :o)

Typically, the weather on Sunday was pretty poor but that didn't stop us taking Kat to Hotel Chocolat (nothing could stop me where there is concernced!). Some lovely treats were purchases and a lot of ooohing and mmming went on. Then we introduced Kat to the wonder of Dim Sum. We got rather more than when we took my parents, as Kat seemed to get into the swing of things better. The final part of our day was spent looking around the V&A. It's another place I could spend days :o)

All in all, it was a lovely weekend. The only downside was Monday morning arriving too quickly!