Sunday, 7 October 2012


I went to see a film at the IMAX today. There’s a first time for everything and I was impressed. The screen, which is the biggest in the UK, is vast; so vast it almost seems to curve. We saw a documentary film called Samsara, which is quite an astonishing piece, shot in countries all over the world. It’s a documentary with no speaking; just music and extraordinary images of far-off places. Places I never even knew existed. There was a green, green world, filled with ancient temples, which must have been in the Far East somewhere. I’ve no idea where. After 20 minutes of the most stunning, wild landscapes, the film starts to show images of people. The first are from African and South American tribes, but then we see Buddhists in isolated temples, creating astonishingly detailed sand paintings. We see Jewish people rocking at the Wailing Wall, and hundreds upon thousands of people preying in great circles at Mecca.

Then it’s the turn of commercialism; the world’s latest religion. We see factory production lines. Chickens being swept onto conveyor belts at a battery farm. Huge circular moving platforms with cows standing in endless rows being milked by machines. Cars at night time driving down endless boulevards in LA. Prisoners line-dancing in a Korean jail. It became a film about conformity; the need, I guess, that we all have deep down, to somehow fit in and have the nicest things for the cheapest prices. And then, once again, we return to people at the other end of the spectrum, the simple cultures, who have next to nothing. Their lives were shown in close-up. Sadly no one in the film was allowed to smile (apart from a group of lady boys in Thailand), so it was difficult to know if there was anything that the director felt we could feel proud of in the world, apart from its beautiful scenery. I walked away feeling that he didn’t like people very much. There was no love or joy in the film, but it was epic and extraordinary.

We emerged from the IMAX and walked along the South Bank. There was a real bread festival going on, and Philip stopped to talk to people at almost every stall. Every few paces someone would come and ask for Matt’s photo. Sometimes one photo would generate another, and then he’d be surrounded by a sea of people holding iPhones. He deals with it so wonderfully well. I can’t imagine how intrusive it must feel, and can well imagine why some people talk about their persona when they’re out on the streets; always on guard, always on show. We walked slowly towards Parliament, past buskers and street artists, and a group of hugely impressive acrobats.

City Hall has become a curiously tacky amusement arcade, filled to the rafters with penny drop machines, flight simulators, mini bowling alleys and room after room of flashing lights, beeps, whirls, sirens and neon. Matt thrust £2 into a weird box, told Philip and me to get inside, and filmed us enduring a blast of 100 mph hurricane force winds. Philip cowered and screamed, his hair billowing into the air. I laughed like an imbecile.

Tuesday 7th October, 1662, and Pepys went shopping with his wife. Correction. Elizabeth went shopping, and Pepys “walked up and down” with Dr Williams, talking about business and law. Pepys did, however, purchase two “bands;” fashion items for the neck which succeeded the ruff. I believe that lawyers still wear them today.

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