Sunday, 28 September 2008

Dry toast and redbull

Welcome to the week three that just kinda wasn't. Thanks to a delightful stomach bug I've been alternatively listless and sooky and well, just not happy Jan. Both arms have been used to haul me up the bannisters to get to lectures and heavy injections of redbull have mitigated - just - the desperate urge to put my head on the desk and visit some happier place for a short but restorative while.

Weather like this...

... hasn't helped matters.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

A room of one's own

As sad as it will be to not help keep Mike in Belsize Park warm through the winter months I do suspect a lovely room for one in Bethnal Green will make for a suitable consolation. Thank fucking god - I have found a room. But more than that - I have found a room in a lovely house owned by a truly lovely girl that I would love to live in - and they it seems, would love me to live in too. Collective sigh of relief please.

Add to that two days of consecutive sunshine and I could weep with joy.

Not sure when I'm going to move in - hopefully next weekend - but I'm terrified I'm going to jinx it somehow so don't want to think about it until I've handed over my paltry Australian shekels, got my key and dumped my crap all over the floor. Fingers, toes, eyes all crossed until then please.

School is still going well - but the work has started all of a sudden - last week it all seemed so civilised, with early finishes and vino after lectures. The concept of actual work hadn't really occurred to me. Oh how that has changed. I spent two and a half hours yesterday at the Tate Modern working on two object analysis assignments. Really so interesting but exhausting - was completely catatonic by the end of it - not even a scenic walk over the historic Tower Bridge could assail my sookiness. It is pretty phenomenal though when you can pause momentarily at any one random spot in London and have the extraordinary history of this city overwhelm you.

I caught up earlier in the week with an old friend from Brighton days nearly a decade ago (p.s. when did I get this old?) Anyway, we had a grand old time but it really drove home for me how exhausting Making New Friends can be. Am enjoying it - and there are some really incredibly fabulous girls on this course (and have I mentioned yet that when I say girls I mean girls - not even a token gay man. Welcome to impending spinsterhood...) but I'm finding it strange and occasionally disconcerting to be "the Australian", "the one who's always wanting a 'quiet, early night'", "the one who proposed the 'Up Yours' theory in the Tate Modern" (which is catching on by the way), "the one with the necklaces", "the one with nice skin whose cheeks turn pink when I talk in class" (uhuh...), "the one who turned up 40 minutes late to the welcome party and arrived right in the middle of the speeches only for the new Institute director to then ask who the token Australian was?" Excellent.

I would have a crisis about it but I'm too busy having crises about employment, the cost of public transport, whether or not it's acceptable to eat Special K for breakfast and dinner and the fact I am already sick of everything I own and have nothing to wear.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Desperately seeking....?

WARNING: This here is where my pithy observational blog turns desperately and momentarily Bridget Jones. Maybe I'm over-tired, maybe I'm overwhelmed but is everybody in this city hooking up, making out or holding hands in MY PUBLIC SPACE? STOP IT. Please. The first four hundred times it was charming - London the new Paris when it comes to love blah blah blah. But seriously - enough is enough. I'm broke, potentially homeless and currently unemployed - must we highlight single as well? Whatevs. Just please get a room.

Speaking of... still looking, still fighting the rising panic that London is full only of mad people and dodgy accommodation. I looked at a room this evening in Whitechapel - renaissance ghetto is a term that comes to mind. Nuh-uh is another.

House-hunt/panic ongoing it's nevertheless still been an interesting way to explore London. Wandered through Shepherd's Bush on Saturday - kind of a big hole full of Australians - but a gorgeous sunny day which encouraged a stroll to Notting Hill and Portobello Rd. Gone are the days of frivolous purchasing sadly but je-sus those triple chocolate brownies make a case for "essential buy" status...

School is still going well - off to the Tate Modern again tomorrow and counting down the days until the Mark Rothko retrospective opens (10 in case anyone is interested...) First assignment is due in a fortnight - a 400 word exhibition review. Now if only they were going to pay me 40p a word to write it...

Have been walking the streets of central London quite a bit the last week, looking for galleries and tarot readers and the like (while fighting off the Heathrow Injection... multi-task, multi-task) and yesterday I came across my first Banksy work - on Newman St. Not sure how I feel about Banksy but I like his wit. And I like that for whatever reason it's been allowed to stay. For now anyway.

More house-hunting tomorrow. Oh and a hard-hat tour of the Whitechapel Gallery's renovations. Just for something different.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Pick me...?

First of all I should admit that thanks to a technical glitch I'm typing this from the Apple store on Regent St (looking and feeling like a total prat...) but no internet at home means a girl's gotta go afield. (It was here or Starbucks...)

As far as first weeks go it has been pretty fabulous - but I am like the walking dead now. We had a lecture yesterday on Mark Rothko - I think most of us were certifiably in raptures. It's like porn for art lovers. Day off today but heading to the Sotheby's preview of the Damien Hirst sale tonight. Now that will be interesting - and not just for the menagerie of animals in formaledhyde (someone not have a puppy as a child?....)

Not much else to tell at the moment - still a'house-hunting... god it's depressing. It's situations like this that make me wish I'd embraced the whole blind dating thing - because I don't think my plaintive wail of "pick me Pick MEEEE. Please?" is really working.

But speaking of dating (or thereabouts) have finally found a perk to peak hour morning travel - it's called "Welcome to Second-Base". Ahh for beautiful men in bespoke suits.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Free room for lovely caring girl

Reports of a snot-riven, mascara-ruined post-first day meltdown aside (I'll get to that...) this crazy and exhausting city nevertheless continues to beguile me. Don't get me wrong, it's fucking mental a lot of the time but then occasionally something charming or completely left of field happens and you get to pause and have A Moment. And then someone shoves you out of the way and you get on with it. But there are moments to be had - discovering a ferris wheel in the middle of Regent St was one. Appreciating the lush green expanse of Clapham Common on the stroll to the tube was another.

Thank god for The Moments though because it has been a crazy couple of days. I had my first day of classes yesterday. No packed lunch and no parent to drop me off but several lovely emails from friends reminding me that sarcasm and self-deprecation are well and good but perhaps not on the first day.

I think it's going to be phenomenal. Scary as all get out but challenging and interesting and the steepest of learning curves. There are brilliant, enthusiastic lecturers, trips to the north of England and Germany (oh and Venice next year... sigh...) and some really great girls who I'm really looking forward to studying and playing with. It wouldn't be replete of course without a handful of "daddy's going to buy me a gallery" types but then what better way to bond with new friends than by having a scurrilous bitch?

A good first day by any account (dorky awkward introductions now thankfully fucking over) but a strange and overwhelming one too. No more income, no more clocking off at 5, no comfort of familiarity and routine. Add to that two glasses of wine, a crap night's sleep and a need to start house-hunting and you've a god-given recipe for a total toy drop. In truth I was expecting it to happen - just not for another couple of weeks. I'd like to put it down to new-found efficiency that I just got it out of the way early but who would I be kidding?

Today was a new day though and a great one at that. Not least of all because we had an excursion to the Tate Modern.

Sorry. Was just taking A Moment. Such an incredible institution - and such a mind-blowing work of architectural re-invention. Pretty thrilled by the knowledge that we're going to get to know the place intimately over the next 14 months. Was an interesting assignment today - in small groups we were allocated an artwork in a specific wing of the building - in this instance the "Material Gestures" wing - and given 40 minutes to work up an interpretation of it and a context for it within the room and the wing at large. Oh and then to verbally present our ideas to the rest of the class. An intimidating prospect but I got so much out of it - just learning to really look and to bounce ideas of each other. And in truth I rather enjoyed getting to stand in the hallowed halls of the Tate Modern and say that I felt the gesture of 'material gesture' was essentially an up yours...

And then it was lunchtime and the school day was over.

Spent the afternoon catching up with old special friends - had another Moment sitting under Waterloo Bridge near the open-air book stalls watching this nutty old man play the violin and dance like his pants were on fire - and then went to look at a room for rent.

Having trawled online the past few days I don't doubt for a moment the horror stories you hear about trying to find accommodation in London - and then surviving said accommodation when it turns out by "cosy" they mean bottom bunk and 14 fellow Australians on the couch in the hall.

Am not sure if I'll manage to get the room I saw tonight but it was a lovely room in a good flat with two really great girls. A positive start if nothing else. Because "Free room for lovely caring girl" kinda gives me the creeps and I really hope it doesn't come to that.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Clapham if you're happy

Have spent the last couple of days wandering around Battersea and Clapham. Despite, or perhaps thanks entirely to my semi-bewildered state, it's been a genial introduction to London. After my last visit to London, where I was inadvertently pushed, shoved, ignored, trodden on and walked over, to say I was a bit apprehensive about returning would be a statement of gross under-emphasis. Ambivalence would be a polite word, fucking dreading it would be several others...

So the last few days have been a great balm to my trepidation. Northcote Rd - just around the corner from where I'm currently staying - is full of cool little bars, cafes with names like Boiled Egg and Soldiers and a fabulous weekend street market offering all sorts of evils of the Heathrow injection variety. There's a real air of village life to it - which is pretty fabulous given how close it is to the hell of central London. I need to start looking for a place to live - and feel excited about the prospect of discovering similar enclaves on the other side of the river.

Tomorrow will be my first foray into central London sin
ce arriving - for my first day of class. I feel sick with nerves - and that's just about deciding what to wear. Is there such a pair of shoes in the world that scream "I'm fabulous and hilarious and lovely and smarter than I look and we should be friends?" I don't know but I'm fairly sure I don't own them.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Row 68 Seat H. The non-pointy end of the plane...

There's usually nothing I love more than turning up to the airport and going overboard in the newsagency - Vogue from every corner of the world, the latest issues of Hello! and The Economist (one hidden surreptitiously inside the other...) I think 'cruel irony' is the only way to describe my reading of a natty Q&A in said Vogue with a jet-setting model who explained that all she ever needs to survive a long-haul flight is a bottle of Evian, some hand cream and a cashmere throw rug.

As miracles might happen, I managed to sleep most of the way to London. All
I needed was three preceding nights of no sleep, a small but nevertheless traumatic accident in my mother's car, an emotional farewell at the airport, two sleeping tablets and a vodka. Good times.

Am off to buy an umbrella. Welcome to London!!