What I Learned This Morning

Shortly, I’d like to mention that I’m on a bit of a sabbatical since Sunday. I won’t go much further into it, but will instead go off on a bit off a tangent about things I have learned between 7am and the very moment I type this (so the fact that I recently discovered that the 170 bus goes all the way to Roehampton won’t play any part, unfortunately).

Firstly, that Erdogan is hilariously backward, but we knew that already. That ridiculous things happen even at places like Oxford (this abortion debate business); and that once again ones (conservative-)liberal values are forced to somehow clash with the rest of ones values because everyone’s a monger nowadays (even, thankfully, the Spectator) – but that I truly thought a little higher of society and its tastes. That there are a bunch of fun things one can do to make ones house smell Christmassy – even in November, when nothing’s supposed to smell Christmassy. That even if I’m a terrible grump denouncing this far-too-early Christmas spirit, here’s a nice little compilation of Christmas markets and fairs (sorry, not sorry) happening around here. And, that even if there are lots of wonderful fairs in London, let’s not forget that it appears to be a horrible world out there (an unarmed teenager! 3 blacks and 9 whites! It reads like they’re asking for riots, surely – whatever the details of the case; which I’m embarrassed to say I’m not far too familiar with). Being a pacifist myself, I still cannot fathom how there’s a shock whenever a riot breaks out over something like this. I didn’t know the godawful Bono/Geldof-promoted/ing Do They Know It’s Christmas? is about to get an even more godawful remix by David Guetta (let me reach for the nearest bag, bin, or bucket) and I didn’t know that William Whitaker’s partner is Swedish. I didn’t know that 110 people control 35% of Russia’s wealth (It’s in the Economist; but can that even be correct?!) and that I’ve still got the vague remains of an artistic talent left in me.

My Questions of the Day

  1. Has anyone actually leased Poveglia (Europe/the World’s scariest island)? Yes. Early last summer, Poveglia – the beautiful Venetian isle turned plague quarantine – turned insane asylum – turned abandoned food for horror movies – was to be auctioned off on a 99 year lease by the Italian government, in hope that some real estate tycoon would swoop it up and turn it into a resort. I never heard much of a follow-up on the matter; and now I read that Poveglia was auctioned off for 513,000 pounds. The isle stands less than 20 acres; and the buyer, Luigi Brugnaro, would be expected to pay 16.25 million pounds to restore the old asylum buildings. Also, rumor has it that the soil is 50% human ashes, and that fishermen avoid the island because there is a high likelihood of netting human bones. Being the home of plague pits and lobotomies, and the death of 150,000 people, it does sound like a little piece of heaven; but surely superstition shouldn’t get in the way of such things. It’s only a little creepy, but also ridiculously attractive – and a real bargain, as a matter of fact.
  2. Is there really an Egon SchielVENEZIA 10/10/06 FOTO AEREA ISOLA DI POVEGLIA   © GRAZIANO ARICIe exhibit underway? Yes. Although I am a bit of a traditionalist, I can’t deny that I am swept away by Egon Schiele, who was, after all, born in 1890 (and succumbed to the Spanish influenza, together with his pregnant wife, at the young age of 28). Schiele’s exhibition is taking place at Richard Nagy and there is no entrance fee – so no excuse not to go, either. It covers sketches that deviate from his normal depictions of human form, and stands until the 5th of December. Chop chop. Other than that, I might point out that there is Moroni at the Royal Academy of Arts, Rembrandt (as we’ve briefly discussed before) at the National Gallery, and Turner at the Tate. You know what to do.
  3. What have you learned this autumn? That finding a nice flat in London wounds the soul, but isn’t impossible. That eating too much takeaway is bad for you (but oh so delicious). That I really need an iphone (sorry, Samsung). That dressing gowns are crucial to ones existence and that one cannot get up in the morning, unlekauernderss immediately stepping into a dressing gown. That a dressing gown also works as a parka. That as a journalist, one must rather defy court and be jailed/pay a fine than disclose a source. That the gym is a nice place. That old friends are gold. That curry is gold. That ebay is gold (but we already knew that). That referendums are a waste of time (but that doesn’t stop politicians from throwing them all over the place).

Recluse Ramblings

HRS SchulquadrilleThe last few days have been infernal. I’ve got my NCTJ exam on Wednesday, and have literally spent my entire week in self-imposed house arrest, forcing myself to read McNae’s Essential Law For Journalists from cover to cover (with notepad and highlighter frantically clutched). The furthest I got from McNae’s was taking out the recycling. Life has been hell. And while all this has been happening, London seems to have been alight in splendid things to do; ice skating, nights out, markets, even the tour-stop of the exceptional Spanish Riding School of Vienna (performing at Wembley).

I had the great pleasure of being taken to a performance at the actual School at the age of fourteen. The summer week I spent in Vienna was magical; almost surreal, lakes and boats and spare ribs all around me, from what I can recall. And even though I got a cold, it was one of my most memorable summers (this was only that June – plenty was to come). Horse-mad girl-child that I was (and still am), I couldn’t think of anything better than the Spanish Riding School; I’ve still got the ticket, badly dogeared and abused, lying about in a drawer somewhere. The performance was a dream. What made an even greater impression on me was the sweetness in which it was all Bellotto_Colonel_Piotr_Koenigsfelsconducted. Treats were given after every jump; the horses were continuously stroked and reassured by their uniformed Austrian riders, who I had expected to be stern and correct in every movement, like your usual competitive dressage rider. Not so. The horses were treated with such innocent candour, like they were being gently coerced into every step. It was pretty overwhelming. There was simply not a second’s stress to the performance, no judging, no scrutiny of the smallest details. Just art, and history, and excellent horsemanship all come together in one beautiful performance.

Three Articles

Briefly, I’d like to applaud the BBC for its sensible journalism in an era when you have to dig like a starving dingo for quality news/writing, while being spoon-fed drivel from dusk till dawn. As it’s a widely understood concept, I won’t go anywhere near a tangent of abuse over the appalling lack of self-education out there, but will instead highlight my personal favourites of the day.

  1. Cameron’s newest stunt about ‘benefit tourism’; being one of these horribly naughty (potentially job-stealing) EU immigrants myself, I find the recent EU farce to have gotten completely out of hand (mainly as a result of atrocious journalism). Curious as I am about society’s absurdities, I couldn’t keep myself from reading some of the deeply intellectual remarks that always seem to surface once you invite the more clueless parts of the public to have a say. I know that what I just wrote comes off as smoothly as a goat trail (and incredibly undemocratic), but if a society fails to educate itself it’s obviously welcoming disaster with open arms. It seems as if between the freedom ohomeycameron120dpif being a cretin and the freedom of doing minimal research, we’re applauded for our emotional braying and not for basic, civilized, educated correspondence. Anyway. I shall only fleetingly mention that when it comes to ‘job stealing’ and how the blue collar jobs ‘offered to the British workforce’ are ‘below their dignity’, I can tell you that if the UK universities offered free/cheaper education to the UK public, or maybe educated nurses and NHS staff for free (they seem to forget this is a very well-off country) instead of making them pay appalling sums of money to perform a relatively low-paid job, the NHS wouldn’t be looking elsewhere. The public would hardly feel like it’s competing for blue collar jobs. Can we just like, take a moment to think about this. Privatising the universities has basically made a large percentage of the UK public border-unemployable, unless they had money to begin with. As the comments show.
  2. Danny Shaw’s article about sex offenders; with the Ellie de Freitas and Ched Evans cases plastered all over the place, it’s funny how this is finally brought up. And just so painfully obvious. In the first case, we have a young woman with bipolar who mustered the courage to report a man she didn’t have enough evidence against, but who had clearly done her wrong in some way (I say this only because the police believed her story). The case was dropped, the man went unnamed and wasn’t even brought to court – and suddenly there’s a huge fuss, lots of money thrown at the whole thing, and a young woman takes her own life. In the second case, we’ve got a convicted rapist who is suddenly invited back to be a public figure, still denying his guilt. And then we ask ourselves why rape and sexual assault is so seldom reported – well, you sure don’t get this sort of contradictory hullaballoo over alleged robberies, I can tell you that. Shouldn’t we, as a society, have a little more sense and a little less prejudice? The year is 2014. Ordinary people don’t sing rape from the rooftops, they just want a fair chance in the justice system. Why would a jury even be used for the Max Clifford case? Anybody willing to illuminate me?
  3. The fined banks; I’m terribly ignorant on this subject, but I feel like we all knew this was sort of happening. But – quite the interesting subject to acquaint myself with. My only question (scroll down to the chat room interaction part): how clever do we actually think these blokes are? I was simply waiting for the ‘well played’. Mate.

A Very Cyprus Problem

CY coastline; picture obtained from http://melissahekkers.com/protecting-shores-right/Before heading off to bed, I thought it necessary to post a little something about the Cyprus coastline. In short, Melissa Hekkers has written this fine article, discussing the looming dangers of what the Cypriot government’s got in store for the island’s shores. It’s all rather unfunny. Having spent my teenage years living in Cyprus, and experienced first-hand the monstrosities erected in the name of ‘real estate’ (so terribly tasteless), I’ve signed this petition; hoping this will all remain a greedy wet dream of the Ministry of Interior. There’s also a facebook page about it here.