Thursday, 2 June 2011

Socially unacceptable

Another scorching day in the capital and the tube feels like a fan-assisted oven. Thankfully a window is open somewhere, and I'm getting periodic blasts of a cooling breeze, which is just about preventing me from wanting to punch the woman who's sweating arm pit juices onto my wrist. No wonder everyone in London is grumpy.

I've been in Hoxton all day. I had a meeting this morning to discuss a Soho-based film project, which would be very exciting were it to come off. We went to the swanky Shoreditch House and sat on sofas in front of an enormous window, which seemed to look out over the world. That place is so fancy. It even has a roof-top swimming pool, which I was desperate to dive into. Unfortunately, I suspect throwing myself in would have been socially unacceptable. I suspect the pool is there simply as a glistening backdrop for preening and pouting. One is only allowed to dive in if one is an adonis involved in a photoshoot for a glossy magazine. I felt like a fish out of water, really, and it must have showed, for I was far too regularly stopped and asked if I was okay by members of staff who were plainly insinuating that I didn't belong there! "Are you okay, Sir?" [trans, "please leave this place, you're bringing it down with your shuffling, bohemian, poverty-stricken vibe. You're making cool people feel embarrassed to express their superiority.]

I went to see Philippa and Deia in the afternoon, and we did some gardening. I massacred an out-of-control sage plant, which Philippa described as her lovely sage forest. If by forest she meant a terrifying, hitherto unexplored eco-system, then she was bang on the money. It seemed to be a breeding ground for more moths and mosquitos than I could wave a pair of pinking shears at, and it absolutely had to go! Deia was particularly good company all day. One of the few benefits of being horribly unemployed is that I get to spend more time with those two.

In the early evening I visited two gay bars in Hoxton. At the moment we're attempting to either prove or disprove the idea that there might be a link between the rise in homophobia in Tower Hamlets and the questionable views of a fair number of its young Muslim residents. Sadly, no one wants to talk about the enormous elephant in the room, because by acknowledging its presence they run the risk of being called xenophobic. Scratch the surface, however, and you'll find a frightening number of gay people in the area admitting to crossing roads to avoid gangs of young Muslim lads and deliberately avoiding side streets for fear of attack. Yet they still feel uncomfortable joining up the dots, which is particularly irritating when we start to look at the double standards knocking around. The guy who stuck stickers on buildings all over the East End which said "gay free zone" whilst quoting the Koran, was today fined a mere £100.
On a totally unrelated issue, I really fancy a tomato this evening, but am worried about this E-coli outbreak. Usually us vegetarians get to feel somewhat smug when the food scares happen, because they're so often associated with meat. What is life without tomato?!

Sunday June 2nd, 1661. Whitsunday. Pepys had an early appointment with his barber, who no doubt spruced him up nicely for church. Probably just a shave and a little trim. People did wash their hair in scented water at the time, but Pepys hated getting his extremities wet. In fact, he frequently complained about the dangers of washing feet. Poor Elizabeth!

After attending church, twice, he was visited by his new buddy, Ralph Greatorex, who was expected for lunch, but obviously got his timings muddled up. Greatorex was an instrument maker and an inventor, and the two men sat in Pepys’ chamber drinking wine and eating anchovies, whilst Greatorex talked mathematics. “Among others he showed me how it comes to pass the strength that levers have, and he showed me that what is got as to matter of strength is lost by them as to matter of time.” Whatever, really. I have no idea whether this is an illuminating theory, or just 17th Century quazi-scientific clap-trap. I suspect all this was written just before Newton, or whoever, was attacked by the apple.

It had rained all day, as it had for many days, and Greatorex rather outstayed his welcome by waiting for the rain to clear before leaving. He may have had one of London’s greatest minds, but he was obviously also a crashing bore!

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