Monday, 27 December 2010

Pictures of Deserted London - 2010

Like last year, I spent some of my Christmas day morning cycling in central London, taking pictures of the eerie deserted streets. This year, the expedition was made all the more easier by the lovely Kenny Farthings aka Boris Bikes. No need to borrow a bike for a flatmate I no longer have.

Click here to view this year's batch (Elephant and Castle, the Southbank and Covent Garden mostly) and here for last year's (Westminster and the West End).

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Clair de lune over 2010

It's the end of the calendar year and with it comes a strange need to stop and take stock of the year gone by. This impulse is augmented by that melancholy and contemplative Sunday evening feeling most of us seem to experience.

Tonight I am sitting on my six-month old sofa, looking at the lovely urban view I am sharing with you below. And I look back on 2010...

Clair de lune

A year ago at this time of year I was in the last throes of the Christmas session with the London Gay Men's Chorus (my 15th season with them - eight years). After three performances at the Cadogan Hall at the beginning of December, and an invitation to the Mayor of London's Choral Service at Southwark Cathedral, we only had a few performances left on the stage of the Royal Festival Hall as guests of Sandy Toksvig's show, before packing up the tinsel for another year.

This year, I wasn't part of the Christmas show, having taken the season off after the summer concert at the Roundhouse and a visit to a defiant Europride in Warsaw. This gave me the opportunity to see the Chorus on stage for the first time. It was an odd but proud experience.

During the year, I attended several protests and demonstrations, that brought a bit of excitement. A rally in defence of street photography in Trafalgar Square; two protests against the State visit of the Pope, one in advance of and one during the visit; a very wet picket outside the Malawi High Commission in support of an imprisoned gay couple.

During the year, there was a visit to Oxford, one to the deserted streets of London, and one to a tunnel under the Thames. And a few others besides.

During the year, the Cycle Hire Scheme was introduced (not without troubles) and I have now become a cyclist, I suppose, going everywhere possible on one of those trusted Borisbikes.

During the year, I spent possibly even more time online (particularly on Twitter) than I used to spend before.

During the year, I bought my first artworks (one of which, a diptych, is not in this photo set). I think that (and listening, sporadically, to the Archers) may make me middle-class...

During the year, I celebrated the first year in what is the first permanent job I got directly from an interview (previous jobs had all been temporary or contracts; my only other permanent job coming after a succession of both temp and contract work in that organisation).

But most importantly, during the year, I did something I wasn't expecting I would be doing, even 10 month ago.

During this year, within a few days of marking ten years of life in London, I became the part-owner of a one bedroom flat, after living for five years in a smallish room, sharing a flat with 4 other people (only one of whom remained there all that time).

And not only, is it my own space where I don't need to queue for the loo when I need a visit, or bother to get get dressed to go to the kitchen, it is my own space in one of London's landmarks; its tallest residential building, Strata SE1. A little bit of the London skyline.

During the year, I bought a sofa (mentioned above), a mattress (and possibly a bedstead very soon) and a Persian rug (that was today, actually). How very grown up that feels...

So all things considered, I think 2010 can be classified as a landmark year in my life, rather than simply an incredibly positive one.

The only negative note, the one dark shadow on this luminous painting, is the same one that has been the bane of my life for as long as I can remember. And the one that will probably remain just that until the end of that life.

During the year, not only did I fail (again) to meet that special someone, I remained the sad loner that, I am starting to suspect, most people who know of me have no idea I am.

Yes, moving to Strata has provided some glimpses of hope in that respect, thanks to the friendly and sociable mindset of many of its residents but there is no indication that these will be more than occasional glimpses.

There have been lone, similar glimpses before and most have remained just that or have quickly vanished, quenched in the implacable shadows of my social ineptitude.

So here is to hoping that the momentum accrued so far carries on gently for a long while. And here is to hoping that you, my dear reader, find yourself born by that same momentum.

Merry festive season, and a happy and prosperous new year to us all.